Ella Minnow Pea (Mark Dunn)

This is one of the best fiction books I’ve read in a while. It was just so clever, and I could not put it down!

Title – Ella Minnow Pea: a novel in letters

Author – Mark Dunn

Page count – 208

Rating – Buy. I will definitely read this again and anticipate recommending it frequently.

Ella Minnow Pea is a teenager living on the fictional island of Nollop, just off the coast of South Carolina. The island is named after Nevin Nollop, the (again, fictional) creator of the sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” (This sentence is a pangram, meaning it uses all the letters of the alphabet at least once.) This sentence is spelled out in tiles on a statue of Nollop, but as the tiles suddenly start to fall off, the islanders are forbidden to write or speak using those fallen letters. The book is written as a series of letters/notes between the inhabitants of the island, including Ella. As more letters fall from the statue, the letter-writers have to get creative with how they communicate to avoid using the forbidden letters.

A quick thought: Sometimes I find the use of long or complex words in a story as the author just wanting to sound smart. I didn’t get that vibe here. The characters simply seem to appreciate selecting exactly the right word to express what they mean. And it helps to highly the change in language as certain letters become forbidden.

**Some SPOILERS ahead for minor plot points, but I won’t give away anything major or the ending. You should experience that fresh for yourself** Continue reading “Ella Minnow Pea (Mark Dunn)”

Silas Marner (George Eliot)

This was a pleasant little book. It’s not one that makes me excited to write a lengthy review or wish I could delve into writing an academic essay. But it was a lovely use of my time, and I think I want to read it again at some point. It reminds me of Pride & Prejudice in that way – I wasn’t too excited for that one either when I first read it, but additional readings have led me to appreciate it more.

Title – Silas Marner

Author – George Eliot

Page count – 185

Rating – Borrow

Silas Marner is a spinner and weaver. As someone who came from another town and – except for his yarn and linen deliveries – keeps mostly to himself, he is regarded by the country folk as a “miserly recluse.” Continue reading “Silas Marner (George Eliot)”

Waiting to Exhale (Terry McMillan)

This is what I’d consider a good “beach read.” I tried not to analyze it too much because I was so drained from my last book – which was interesting but, let’s be honest, a bit pretentious. This one was an easy, fun read about female friendships, love, sex, and how to navigate (in both healthy and not-so-healthy ways) the frustrations of romance and men. Keep in mind that it was published in 1992 so there are some truly funny dated pop culture and technology references.

Title – Waiting to Exhale

Author – Terry McMillan

Page count – 409

Rating – Borrow

This book weaves together the stories of four black women in their mid-thirties living in Phoenix: Continue reading “Waiting to Exhale (Terry McMillan)”

The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)

I have never been so happy to be done with a book! It’s unfortunate because so many people (including the one who recommended it to me) have said it’s their favorite book. But by the end, I couldn’t enjoy the writing and story anymore. I was at a point where I was forcing myself to press on just so I could finish the darned thing. It’s not a terrible story – there were sections that certainly kept my attention – but this is one of those books that’s definitely not for everyone.

Title – The Count of Monte Cristo

Author – Alexandre Dumas

Page count – 1065 (nope, that’s not a typo)

Rating – It’s weird to publicly rate books that people have recommended for you. I hate to say it, but unless you’re looking for a very specific challenge…Bypass.

In a nutshell, this book is about a man who is wrongly imprisoned but escapes to exact revenge. Continue reading “The Count of Monte Cristo (Alexandre Dumas)”

The Blind Man’s Garden (Nadeem Aslam)

I’m always interested to figure out how a book’s title will manifest itself in the story. Is it simply based on one of the characters or a phrase someone utters? (Like Harry Potter or The Color Purple) Or is the meaning more hidden, something the readers have to tease out for themselves? Without giving away spoilers, this book is sort of a combination of the two.

Title – The Blind Man’s Garden

Author – Nadeem Aslam

Page count – 367

Goodreads rating – 3/5 (liked it)

On its surface, this book is about the immediate aftermath of the September 11th attacks and the effects they had in Pakistan and Afghanistan. It’s a fictional story (as far as specific characters and events go), but the struggles, turmoil, and loss are very real. Continue reading “The Blind Man’s Garden (Nadeem Aslam)”

I’ll Give You The Sun (Jandy Nelson)

This is a bit different than my other reviews because I actually listened to this book on CD instead of reading a hard copy. I’m not usually a fan of listening to books on CD; most people I know listen to them in their car, but I get distracted too easily, miss sentences, and feel like I lose too much of the story. I’ve been having trouble getting my hands on a physical copy of this book so I decided to give the CD form a go and…holy cow. This kept my rapt attention; there were even times I sat in my car for upwards of an hour after I got home because I could not. stop. listening. I would have to read it again to know for sure, but I think this is one of my favorite books I’ve read ever.

Title – I’ll Give You The Sun

Author – Jandy Nelson

Page count – 371 (13 hours, 3 min)

Goodreads rating – 5/5 (it was amazing!)

**NO spoilers – this beautiful story needs to unfold all on its own** Continue reading “I’ll Give You The Sun (Jandy Nelson)”

Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)

The one complaint I have about this book is that the paper isn’t cut straight across. It’s that sort of roughly ruffled edge that makes it hard to quickly flip the pages.

That’s it. That’s the only fault I can find with this book.

Title – Americanah

Author – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Page count – 477 (A relatively hefty read, but the pace never drags)

Goodreads rating – 5/5 (it was amazing)

There’s a reason this book has been recommended to me by so many people. As I said in my review of Adichie’s The Thing Around Your Neck, she has a way of using words to engage all your senses and transport the reader into the moment of the story. And Americanah is no exception. Continue reading “Americanah (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)”