Category Archives: Reviews

Out of the Easy

Title: Out of the Easy

Author: Ruta Sepetys

Borrowed from: Ann Arbor District Library

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars*

outoftheeasy

 

Review: Jo, Josie or Josephine (depending on who you ask) just finished high school and needs to plan for her future. Her mother has a disreputable job** in an equally disreputable part of 1950’s New Orleans, her father is nowhere, the mob is at her doorstep looking for money and just when she can see the life she dreams of coming to fruition murder, theft and small lies and truths twist the story round and round. This beautiful coming of age story shares the trials and tribulations as Josie works to become anything but her mother (avoiding bad reputations and less than savory clients) while working in a bookstore with her dream of college just out of reach. Using her smarts and wit, Josie is able to start on her way out of New Orleans and although it doesn’t seem like it, she has a lot of people fighting in her corner to be something better.

Recommended for ages 14 – 18, historical fiction lovers and anyone intrigued by New Orleans.

Of note: This is the authors’ second novel. Her first was “Between Shades of Gray” which is also a beautifully, haunting work of historical fiction set in Russia during WWII. I highly recommend either book for history lovers in your life.

*Truthfully, 4.5 Stars if Goodreads had half star ratings. Sepetys is an author that can really take you places and her imagination comes across each and every page.

Spoilers may be found in the following discussion.

**For those interested: the disreputable job is working for a brothel. Although Josie only cleans the house every morning, many scenes are set inside and within the brothel house and many characters frequent the house or work there. Josie is also propositioned and although she ultimately decides it isn’t worth it, these decisions are not often ones openly discussed. If this is a concern it may be worth it to read this novel with your children or before your child reads it so as a family you can openly discuss issues it raises. I definitely wouldn’t skip this one!

Now for the real discussion: I love historical fiction and I am so excited that I am finding good historical fiction written for teens but enticing to adults. New Orleans has a certain mystery surrounding it (and has always been a place on my MUST travel to list) so seeing it via a teenage girl in 1950’s who is just trying to get out is an interesting perspective.

My Ideal Bookshelf

Title: My Ideal Bookshelf

Art by: Jane Mount

Edited by: Thessaly La Force

Received from: Goodreads Firstreads Giveaway

Goodreads Rating: 5 Stars

myidealbookshelf

 

Please note: this book was received by the reader for free through a Goodreads Firstreads giveaway.

Review: Vignettes of ideal bookshelves tell such interesting stories. The whole concept of this book is for somebody to describe their ideal bookshelf – the number of books doesn’t matter, the titles of the books doesn’t matter, how they are organized doesn’t matter but in the end you get a glimpse of that person. And what a sweet book this is. Jane Mount provides the illustrations and various people tell their stories and their memories through books. From musicians to artists, from authors to designers, chefs to comedians and everybody in-between,  readers are given the chance to look into the medicine cabinet of their souls. And boy, what a treat it is. I often find myself randomly opening to a page and reading about that person, reading the books they love and once again considering what I would put on my ideal bookshelf.

Recommended for ages 14 and up, but especially for the reader in everyone.

Of note: I have always been a person that likes to see what is bookshelves and coffee tables and nightstands. Last year I found Jane Mounts’ “Ideal Bookshelf” art on Etsy and immediately pinned it. I wanted to make ideal bookshelves for my friends’ baby gifts but since I am a broke grad student, I settled for asking for a print for Christmas for myself. After opening the print I knew that one day I would make a personalized bookshelf  but in the meantime was so happy to frame and hang my cookbook bookshelf in the kitchen. Fast forward a year and I heard about this book and knew I would get it one way or another. It is truly a beautiful book and I am so thankful I received it as a giveaway.

Insurgent

Title: Insurgent

Author: Veronica Roth

Borrowed from: Ann Arbor District Library

Goodreads Rating: 4 Stars

Insurgent

Please note: this is the second book in a trilogy and therefore the review may contain spoilers of the first book in the series, “Divergent”. You can read my review of “Divergent” here.

Review: Tris and Four are back along with many others from Dauntless, one of the 5 factions, and they are on the run to save themselves, save their friends and once and for all destroy society as they know it (or die trying). Tris, Four and others must decide who trust, who among them are traitorous and the best ways to get not only information necessary to stop simulations from happening (controlled by serums) but also to figure out why the leaders care so much about the Divergent. The leaders are more ruthless than ever and the cracks in society and among friends are more obvious. With guilt-ridden minds and broken bodies each step is calculated and each choice leads towards one person and ultimately one decision that will change everything forever.

Recommended for ages 14 – 17 (though I’m an adult and found it enjoyable!). This is the 2nd book in the “Divergent” trilogy. 3rd book has yet to be published.

Spoilers may be found in the following discussion. Seriously.

WOW. So let’s get into this shall we?

So – my main question: is the society made up of factions that Tris and Four are living in is ONLY happening in the city of what used to be Chicago? Am I correct in thinking that the people who live within the fence were somehow not infected (or affected?) by whatever happened to society? What is going on outside the fence?

How will the Divergent succeed outside of the fence? What is necessary for them to help change others? Or is there nobody on the outside and ONLY the Divergent get to leave the compound? If they do become a factionless society again, will it be one that mimics what we know today? Something different? SO MANY QUESTIONS!

Also, I fully realize that the characters in this book are teenagers. But all I wanted to say to them was COMMUNICATE. True, you do not know who to trust. True, I am not in a position where I am literally fighting for my life all the time. True, I have had many more opportunities to practice communicating with a significant other than they have. BUT … just talk to each other! Nobody can read minds – and a lot of this book was spent with Tris and Four not fighting but also not telling each other things – things that matter and things that would help each other understand the other. Their love is strong and lasts throughout but it was oh so frustrating to read sometimes. But again, I probably have my “adult goggles” on. Overall I enjoyed this book and cannot wait for the 3rd one to be published! It’s already on my to-read list.

Marketing has totally sucked me in on this one as well: “A choice becomes a sacrifice, a sacrifice becomes a loss, a loss becomes a burden, a burden becomes a battle. One choice can destroy you.” Whoever put those words together completely #nailedit and not in the sarcastic way.