It has been six years since the release of Khaled Hosseini's best sellers A Thousand Splendid Suns (2007) and The Kite Runner (2003) and many fans, including myself, have awaited his next novel. Hosseini's new release,And the Mountains Echoed is a compelling story about love, loss, family and acceptance. I confess that I stayed up until 2:00 a.m. engrossed in this epic novel that spans generations and countries from Afghanistan to the United States.
The book unfolds in a way that feels like a variety of short stories with multiple characters. At times it can be a little confusing, but in the end the author weaves all the different stories together. In this clip, Khaled Hosseini talks about the many themes of the novel and his inspiration for writing the book.
This book will make you think about how a single act or event can reverberate or "echo" for generations to come. If you have read Hosseini's previous books or you are looking for a new thought-provoking novel, this is a great choice.
Weird, funny, unsettling, and intense. Meeks is a post-modern fairy tale filled with unreasonable laws, bizarre characters and the feeling that there is something deeply true nestled in the surreal landscape Julia Holmes has painted. A great companion read to one of my former blog-posts, Light Boxes.
Debut author Shanna Mahin offers a fascinating a peek behind the silver screen of Hollywood’s rich and famous or at least their B list stars in Oh! You Pretty Things. Jess is in her late twenties, divorced, and working in a coffee shop. As a former childhood actress herself, she is fascinated with Hollywood, but hides behind her sarcasm. She lives in an apartment in Santa Monica with her best friend Megan, a C list actress who is pretty down to earth. While trying to get her life on track, she is also dealing with her unreliable mother and the history of their tumultuous relationship.
Jess stumbles into a personal assistant job for a recluse composer which eventually leads to a job with Eva, one of Hollywood’s up and coming TV stars. Jess must cater to Eva’s every whim and mood swing. One moment she wants to be best friends and the next she ices her out. Mahin provides excellent descriptions of the crazy lives of the famous. I particularly loved the description of the show that Eva puts on when eating in public; onion rings, ice cream, etc. She takes one elaborate bite while people are watching and but will not eat for the rest of the day. Jess thinks being a part of Eva’s life will only help her, but she realizes that it is hard to have a real relationship with a professional actress.
Ma and five-year old Jack seem to have a typical life together . . .they watch t.v., play word games, read books, tell stories, sing songs. Except for one huge difference. Ma and Jack are being held captive together in an 11 foot by 11 foot room where they live day after day. Ma was kidnapped when she was 19 years old and has been imprisoned in a garden shed for 7 years and she is doing her best to craft a normal life for her son, Jack despite the horrible conditions. Room is the only world Jack has ever known and when this world suddenly expands for both Ma and Jack they must learn what freedom really means and how to live in the outside world. Despite the disturbing premise of this book, it is a great book. The narration is told from Jack's viewpoint and the five year old voice gives the novel a very different and interesting perspective than if it were told from Ma's viewpoint. This book is both heartbreaking and heartwarming.
When 16-year old, Nora, goes missing on Halloween it permanently changes the lives of her sister and the boys of the neighborhood. As these teens grow into adulthood and have families of their own, they are still haunted by the disappearance of the girl. Unanswered questions, emptiness and a feeling of what might have been pervades this bittersweet novel. Hannah Pittard currently teaches fiction writing at DePaul University, Chicago.
I can't remember the last time a debut novel made me smile as much as this one did. With characters that are appealing and quirky, The Rosie Project made me laugh out loud at times and wish that it was way longer than 295 pages.
Don Tillman is a socially awkward and brilliant professor of genetics. He freely admits that he only has two friends in the world and decides that it is high time to find himself a wife. So of course he goes about the task in the way he does everything: in an extremely logical and orderly manner. He develops a sixteen-page scientifically based survey and refers to it as The Wife Project. While he has never even had a second date before, he is convinced that his survey will find him the perfect partner, filtering out all of the smokers, drinkers, vegans, and women who habitually show up late to things.
When he meets Rosie, an unconventional and outgoing bartender, he doesn't even have to administer the survey to realize that she does not qualify as a candidate for his wife. Yet as he helps her try to identify her biological father and finds his very ordered life being turned upside-down, he can't deny that there is something very appealing about her. And truthfully, is the person who is perfect on paper always the right person for you?
Nancy Jensen's debut novel takes the reader on a journey of two sisters lives over the course of eighty years. Mabel and Bertie are living with their stepfather after their mother has died and it is a sad and tragic life filled with horrible secrets. On the night of Bertie's graduation a misunderstanding leads to Mabel and Bertie seperating ways and each begins a new life far away from each other. The reader then learns what happens to these sisters and their subsequent families over the course of decades. Chapters are told from various women in the generations that follow. There are secrets, lies and heartbreak that ties each generation together. There is a family tree in the front of the book which was very helpful to keep track of the characters.
"See, we love each other. We just don't happen to like each other very much." This statement is announced on the front cover, before you even open the book. At first glance, the Andreas family appears to be no more dysfunctional than the average American family. Dad is Dr. James Andreas, Shakespearean scholar and professor at a Midwestern college, who communicates largely in Shakespearean verse. Mom is a little spacey - not so unusual - right? The three Andreas daughters were, of course, named after characters from favorite Shakespeare plays - Rose (Rosalind from "As You Like It:); Bean (Bianca from "The Taming of the Shrew"); and Cordy (Cordelia from "King Lear). While other kids were into normal kids' stuff - T.V., sports, shopping, etc. - the Andreas girls were into books and the unrealistic fantasy world they provided. That's not to say that they didn't totally fulfill the characteristic traits set forth by their birth order. Rose, the eldest, was the responsible one, to a fault. Bean, the middle child, starved for attention, became hooked on living an exciting life. Cordy, the youngest, was classically irresponsible and seemingly carefree. That is until Mrs. Andreas became gravely ill with cancer. This gave them all an excuse to come home, bad baggage and all.
Once under the same roof again, they picked up right where they left off. Ever the martyr, Rose feels that no one can get along without her help, and has trapped herself inside a "mental circle with Barnwell at the center of it." Bean has escaped her glitzy life in New York City with embezzlement charges pending against her by her previous employer. And Cordy appears out of nowhere, pregnant and adrift. All the while, Dad is spewing sonnets in lieu of advice like "The Bard" himself.
With a great caste of supporting characters, The Weird Sisters is funny and poignant at the same time. The dialogue is smart, the character development spot on. Eleanor Brown's debut novel deftly explores family roles and how traditional sibling rivalry can grow into mature relationships, helping each other to finally make smart choices.
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