The Lacuna

Here’s my review for the lastest Barbara Kingsolver book, The Lacuna. Highly Recommended!

I’ve read a bunch of contradictory reviews of Kingsolver’s latest work. I think we all recognize that The Poisonwood Bible is a tough act to follow…and I’ve loved every single one of her books. This one is a departure for sure. But as this book settles in my mind, I am finding more and more things to love about it. On it’s surface, it is about a Mexican American boy becoming a man, seemingly alone from the 20’s to the early 60’s. That’s a huge historical mine field. Kingsolver touches on events that I was totally unfamiliar with. I found myself googling historical facts and people to find out what was true and what was fiction – which I love! The result of the glimpses of American and Mexican history is like a picture of a picture of a picture. Today’s disbelief about Japanese-Americans being incarcerated in camps and the preposterous nature of the McCarthy hearings will be the same as our grandchildrens’ disgust with Guantanamo Bay. History repeating and repeating to our detriment.

With wit, lovely prose and not a little humor, Kingsolver presents (I won’t say creates, because Frida and Diego and Trotsky were real) wonderful characters. Presenting HER take on the historical figures, to be sure. I truly enjoyed reading Harrison’s journals and letters. I loved Violet Brown’s input even more. The book made me think, gave me renewed interest in history, gave me alternate perspectives to work with. And made me want to eat good Mexican food! I never felt like the political agenda was being forced down my throat…how could I? Harrison never takes a strong opinion – he’s a spectator with pen in hand. I’m glad I got to see his view of the world.

Additionally, I listened to this book on audiobook. I’m not generally a fan of authors reading their own work, but Kingsolver does a spectacular job. Especially with Violet and Frida.

Books #46 through #58

Well, clearly, I’m WAY behind on my book reviews. So this will be the short and sweet version.

Books #46 – #51: Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove Series

I have really enjoyed these books. So far, there are six books out. The seventh book comes out next month. Debbie’s characters are very sincere, easily relateable, and fun to read about. Each book in the series is named after a the address of a home in Cedar Cove, where the occupants of that home are the central figures of that particular book. Sort of. Actually, all six books could easily be one long book, because while things get resolved in each book, there are ongoing stories that last for several books. New storylines crop up, and get resolved a few books later. I think it’s excellent. I only wish that I had waited until all the books came out to start it, because I hate waiting for the next installment. These are not deep books – this is definitely light, pleasant reading. I highly recommend these books if you’re a fan of romance that’s not trashy with good characters.[rating:5]

Books #52 – #54, Debbie Macomber’s Blossom Street series

I blew through these books in a weekend. I liked the characters even better than the Cedar Cove series. The main character (and again, she’s got tons of characters that step into the spotlight all through the books) opens a yarn store in the first book, and each character is introduced through her (and sometimes his) relationship with the yarn store or a knitting class. I loved the theme of knitting running throughout, because I too am a big believer in keeping your hands useful to calm your mind. There are great characters forming believable (and enviable) friendships – it made me want to go and sign up for a class somewhere. Again – light, pleasant reading. Crafters will especially like this series. [rating:5]

Book #55 – The Nanny Diaries by Emma Mclaughlin and Nicola Kraus

Loved it. I wanted to read it before the movie came out – but now that I’ve read it, I just watched a trailer, and I can see that it’s totally different. I’m kind of glad because the ending made me cry and I was hoping for some different outcomes. I don’t want to spoil it, so that’s all I’ll say. But if you’re a fan of witty banter, quick dialog, and smart chick lit writing, you’ll love this. I instantly thought of Jennifer Weiner and Kristen Gore when I was reading it. I’m also happy to say I have Citizen Girl on my bookshelf that someone left here, so I can read their next book :)[rating:5]

Book #56: The Wedding Planner’s Daughter by Coleen Murtagh Paratore and Barbara McGregor

Loved it. Fans of YA – this one is for us! Willafred Havisham is a 12-13 year old daughter of a super uptight, rule crazy, broken hearted mom who happens to be a world famous wedding planner. This book chronicles Willa’s adventures on Cape and her struggles with her mom, other kids, boys, etc. Super cute, and I’m excited to find that there are two more Willa books out there, so the adventure continues![rating:5]

Book #57: Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich

As always, the Stephanie Plum books are great. However, this was the first one where I DIDN’T laugh out loud, so I was a little disappointed. It seemed to be kind of a place holder – like half of the story could have been in #12, and half could have been saved until #14 because nothing really happened. I mean, Stephanie got involved in some harrowing mystery – but the love triangle of Joe and Ranger didn’t budge, no good Grandma adventures (besides the exploding beaver). I thought it was just okay. Still, I read it in an afternoon. Looking forward to the next one. [rating:3]

Book #58: Prom by Laurie Halse Anderson

This one was a book on tape, and I liked it, but didn’t love it. I really liked the main character’s family, but the story seemed to drag on. I think I would have liked it better if I read it. There’s something annoying about accents going in and out – less believable. It would have been better if I had given the characters voices in my mind because the audiobook was a little inconsistent. Anyway, cute YA story about a high school senior that ends up helping her best friend save the prom. She’s an unlikely hero, which I like. Again, I think the regular book would have been much better. [rating:3]

Whew. That’s it. What are you reading?

Book #32 Just Listen

Just ListenJust Listen by Sarah Dessen. Thanks for all of you that recommended this one! Loved it. Great coming of age story – I especially loved the sisters and Owen. But my favorite part was all the references to other Dessen books. It made me want to go back and reread them. But I won’t. Too many other books to read.

About this book though – it deals with a lot of teen issues: eating disorders, sexual assault, regular angst, anger management, etc. I loved Owen’s little anger management-isms…they’ve proven quite helpful in my much-older-than-teen life.

Another great YA read. Highly recommended.

[rating:5]

Book #28

The Enemies of JupiterRoman Mysteries #7, The Enemies of Jupiter by Caroline Lawrence. Man, oh man. This was a page-turner. That crazy Jonathan and his hubris.

As always, I love the calm of Mordecai and Nubia. Flavia shows uncharacteristic restraint in this book, but mainly because she isn’t the focus.

I’m intrigued by the Emperor Titus. I know these books are factually based…I wonder if he really tried, as Ms. Lawrence portrays, to be a better man. An excellent chapter in the Roman Mysteries series. I can’t wait to see what happens in book #8.

(I think this was the first real cliff-hanger…the lack of resolution in this one made it all the better for me.)

Book #27 – The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina

12 tasks of Flavia GeminaRoman Mysteries #6, The Twelve Tasks of Flavia Gemina by Caroline Lawrence. Flavia is truly a girl after my own bossy heart. When her father takes up with a woman, Flavia is sure that the interloper is evil. Following the model of Hercules, Flavia wrangles her friends into helping her complete twelve tasks to get to the bottom things. I loved Nubia in this one, and I was happy to finally learn what a camelopard was.

As always, highly recommended! Now I’m just waiting for #7 from the library. Blurgh.

Book #26 The Dolphins of Laurentum

Dolphins of LaurentumRoman Mysteries # 5, The Dolphins of Laurentum by Caroline Lawrence. Flavia’s father is shipwrecked, and returns home very ill. All of his wealth is tied to his ship’s cargo, so his creditors attempt to take his house. The kids and Aristo head to the home of Pliny the Elder, now left to Pliny’s nephew while the banking matters in Ostia are fixed. Of course, adventure ensues, and we get to know more of Lupus’ story. I just love Lupus. I also loved the Christian themes in this one. There are always Christian themes in these books, but this one was particularly moving.

Book #25 The Assassins of Rome

Assassins of Rome
Roman Mysteries #4, The Assassins of Rome by Caroline Lawrence. I truly love this series. The characters become richer and more interesting with each installment. This story focuses on Jonathan, whose assassin-uncle shows up and is wanted by Roman authorities. Adventure and intrigue take the four kids plus the handsome Aristo all the way to Rome to the Imperial Palace. More of Jonathan and Miriam’s backgrounds are revealed.

Book #22

Pirates of Pompeii(Book Binge book #12) Roman Mysteries #3, Pirates of Pompeii by Caroline Lawrence. This one was awesome! I read it in about an hour. Lots of focus on Nubia – who I love. Jonathan’s sense of humor and leadership qualities stand out. A little more of Lupus’ history is revealed.

Read these books already.

There’s no shame in my game…these books are probably for fifth or sixth graders, but I’m gobbling them up like I was 10 again. Good stories are good stories – no matter how old you are.

Book #19

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen(Book Binge book #9) The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen. I loved this book! I started it yesterday, and of course, stayed up all night reading it. At first (the first 20 pages), I thought I wasn’t going to like it, and then the catering team was introduced, and I was hooked. What a great cast of broken but wonderful characters! Good job, Sarah!

Highly recommended – for fans of fiction about family, loss, love. Easily could be for a YA or adult audience.

Also, if you’re into controlling your environment like I am, this book is a nice wake up call that a little chaos goes a long way towards improving things.