BFG, Flora and Ulysses, Ben & Me, and Ender’s Game

Oh, I am hard-pressed to say which of the characters in these books for kids/young adults I love the most! The Big Friendly Giant, Ulysses the flying squirrel, Amos the mouse who lives in Ben Frankin’s fur hat, or Ender, the 6-year-old military mastermind. Okay, my feelings for Ender aren’t exactly affection or delight like I have for the others, but this is my most recent batch of books read for homeschool. The BFG was yet another Roald Dahl I’d never read before, and I’m…

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The Winter Girl by Mark Marinovich

Synopsis: When Scott and his wife Elise move into her father’s Hamptons home to await his death in hospice care, he becomes fascinated by the house next door, which is seemingly empty and not-empty at the same time, and the actions he takes to alleviate his curiosity have devastating consequences. Review: The Winter Girl is a dirty piece of business that makes Gone Girl seem like a romance. I was fascinated by the extremity of the story, repelled by the depravity, and sucked in by…

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The Blondes, Fates and Furies, And Again, The Fifth Season

Some strong reads in the last few weeks. I want to get Fates and Furies out of the way because I basically hate-read it. I just didn’t get what the big Story was. While I liked Mathilde’s backstory and some of her choices in the second half, I just couldn’t get over how fusty and edge-less it felt to me. Not enough rock ‘n’ roll for a story about young people in the West Village in the late 1990s… maybe because that’s where I lived…

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After Birth, Garnethill Trilogy

Elisa Albert’s After Birth blew me away. So much so that I just wrote the author an email to thank her for getting it right, and immediately after finishing my library copy I preordered the paperback so it can live in my permanent collection. Ari is coming on her son’s one year birthday, but her postpartum depression and inability to heal from her traumatic birth experience has her coming undone. When pregnant Mina, a former rock legend, moves to Ari’s small town up the Hudson,…

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Elizabeth Smart, Scientology, Big Magic, Tearling

I have 18-20 books in my TBR pile right now and I want to read them all. Please remember me in your prayers, that my children would leave me alone so that I can READ! I have so much respect for Elizabeth Smart after reading My Story, her memoir of captivity and escape. Her faith in the midst of suffering is inspiring to me, and her commentary on the toxicity of purity culture eye-opening and brave. Leah Remini’s memoir Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology wasn’t…

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Witch of Blackbird Pond, Roald Dahl’s Witches, and Sign of the Beaver

In our homeschool, we just finished Week 12 with Sonlight Core D and we are still really happy with it. I have jettisoned a couple of books because I didn’t like them, but it was easy enough to substitute other books. We really loved the read-alouds Sign of the Beaver and Witch of Blackbird Pond, both by the tremendous Elizabeth George Speare. She brings such a deep humanity to her historical fiction, and is a master at building suspense. Both books brought history to life…

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Cormoran Strike, Dungeons and Dragons, and Creepy ‘Eileen’

I’m utterly enthralled by Cormoran Strike, the private detective at the center of JK Rowling’s pseudonymous crime series. The third book, Career of Evil, finds Strike and his assistant Robin Ellacott the target of a psychopath with a penchant for dismemberment–and Robin seems to be his target. Rowling (as Robert Galbraith) understands that she can’t just deliver an intricately plotted crime story, she also has to take the characters further on their journey. At the end of the book, I was so heavily invested in…

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Last from Ruth Rendell, Fantasy Debut

I’m so sad to be writing a review of Dark Corners, because it’ll be the last book from one of my favorite authors of all time. Ruth Rendell died earlier this year and left behind a tremendous legacy. As her alter ego Barbara Vine she wrote beautifully complex psychological thrillers, and while her Rendell books were more procedural they still always had crazy amounts of depth. Dark Corners isn’t her greatest Rendell work (I reserve that praise for Judgment in Stone), but I was duly…

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The Lake House by Kate Morton

I really, really wanted to love The Lake House by Kate Morton the way I loved the first book of hers I ever read, The Forgotten Garden, which still stands as one of the finest contemporary Gothic mysteries I’ve ever read. I wasn’t as thrilled by The Distant Hours (which I couldn’t finish) or The House at Riverton (which I don’t really remember), but her skill with structure will always keep me coming back. The Lake House definitely kept me turning pages, but overall I…

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Elena Ferrante WTF FTW — The Lost Daughter

A friend of mine came back from a trip to Italy singing the praises of Elena Ferrante, a pseudonymous author whose true identity is shrouded in mystery. I don’t go in much for literary speculation, so I choose to believe that she’s some kind of demiurge, shaping herself from the collective unconscious of female readers who are stuck reading Gone Girl knockoffs and imposters, searching for the kind of deeper literary exploration of the complexities of womanhood that third-wave feminism seems to have no need…

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