Friday, February 17, 2012

Book Review: The Almost Moon

Title:  The Almost Moon
Author:  Alice Sebold
Publication Year:  2007

Description from

A woman steps over the line into the unthinkable in this brilliant, powerful, and unforgettable new novel by the author of The Lovely Bones and Lucky.

For years Helen Knightly has given her life to others: to her haunted mother, to her enigmatic father, to her husband and now grown children. When she finally crosses a terrible boundary, her life comes rushing in at her in a way she never could have imagined. Unfolding over the next twenty-four hours, this searing, fast-paced novel explores the complex ties between mothers and daughters, wives and lovers, the meaning of devotion, and the line between love and hate. It is a challenging, moving, gripping story, written with the fluidity and strength of voice that only Alice Sebold can bring to the page.

I Gave It:  3 Stars

This is how the book opens.  “When all is said and done, killing my mother came easily.”  I had to read the line twice to make sure I didn’t miss an important word that would negate this sentence.  And then, of course, I had to read on to be sure that what I had read was literally what had happened.  It was. 

(That’s not really a spoiler because you’d learn this even if you picked up a copy and browsed through the first page in a book store). 

Over the next 24 hours, Helen Knightly does some strange and incredible things that can only be explained by the stories of her heartbreaking childhood that unfold throughout the chapters.  We learn that even the people closest to her – her ex-husband Jake and best friend, Natalie – could never have known this completely shattered part of Helen that she is no longer able to keep under wraps.

Despite the subject matter, it’s not a heart-pounding thriller or an edge-of-your-seat suspense novel.  It’s more of a sad exploration of someone’s deeply hurt psychology and I felt predominantly disturbed and then incredibly sorry for Helen’s choices. 

It wasn’t until the last quarter of the book that I realized I had no idea what Helen was going to choose to do next and it’s literally not until the last couple pages that we become aware of her next step.  The last part of the book intrigued me the most.  The rest of it was well-written; I was always happy to pick up where I left off but didn’t feel compelled to learn more. 

I recommend this book to anyone who likes off-beat stories.  It’s definitely not a typical plot! 

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Book Review: Confessions of a Shopaholic

Title:  Confessions of a Shopaholic
Author:  Sophie Kinsella
Publication Year:  2001

Description from
Becky Bloomwood has what most twenty-five-year-olds only dream of: a flat in London's trendiest neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the season's must-haves. The only trouble is, she can't actually afford it --- not any of it. Her job writing at Successful Saving magazine not only bores her to tears, it doesn't pay much at all. Still, how can she resist that perfect pair of shoes? Or the divine silk blouse in the window of that ultra-trendy boutique? But lately Becky's been chased by dismal letters from Visa and the Endwich Bank --- letters with large red sums she can't bear to read --- and they're getting ever harder to ignore. She tries cutting back; she even tries making more money. But none of her efforts succeeds. Her only consolation is to buy herself something ... just a little something ...

Finally, a story arises that Becky actually cares about, and her front-page article catalyzes a chain of events that will transform her life --- and the lives of those around her --- forever.

I Gave It:  4 Stars

This light and fluffy novel was a breath of fresh air - nay, a strong steady breeze of giggles and oh-my-goodness head shakes.  As someone who has quite the opposite problem of a shopaholic, it was so much fun being inside the mind of a crazed shopping fiend while knowing my own bank accounts weren't suffering for it.  Kinsella does a phenomenal job of drawing the reader into Becky's world through the non-stop running commentary that is the entire book, where we learn about Becky's weaknesses and strengths and her adorable heart. 

There was the predictable romance and the save-the-day ending but it was played out very well. We knew what was going to happen but we didn't know quite how sweet Becky was going to get there - and if she'd have her wits about her when she did!  

Overall, a very easy read that doesn't need a special occasion or mood to suit it.  I'm looking forward to reading my borrowed copy of Shopaholic Takes Manhattan soon!