Book Reviews

“Great House” by Nicole Krauss

Nicole Krauss’s Great House is intricately crafted, beautifully written, poignantly populated, and kind of plotless.

Great House presents the idea that your furniture—the enduring collection of things with which you surround yourself—defines you. The characters’ furniture even serves as parts of their identities and personalities. Each of the lonely, troubled narrators externalize and objectify the conflicts within and between themselves, placing parts of their souls in their belongings in order to transcend their humanity, like Voldemort and his horcruxes.

“Skipping a Beat” by Sarah Pekkanen

Julie and Michael Dunhill have it all: a gorgeous mansion in DC, a multi-million dollar business, co-ownership in the local basketball team. But everything they have fought for in life–the money, prestige, popularity–have only driven them further apart.

“The Girl Who Played with Fire” by Stieg Larsson

After firmly re-establishing himself as the fearless investigative journalist and publisher behind Millennium magazine—a publication once scorned for its inaccuracy that is now flying off newsstand shelves—Mikael Blomkvist is, once again, on top of his game. So when he is approached by Dag Svensson, a young man who has just spent years writing a dissertation on sex trafficking, Mikael is immediately taken by the idea of publishing Svensson’s controversial findings.

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn picks up where The Adventures of Tom Sawyer left off. The Widow Douglas adopts Huck, and he goes to live with her and her sister, Miss Watson. But Huck isn’t taking to his new life too well; though he wants to please the Widow, he finds himself making mistakes in his new life everywhere he turns.

“War” by Sebastian Junger

Sebastian Junger’s War follows its famous author as he spends nearly a year in Afghanistan as a writer for Vanity Fair. He also captured his experience on on a small handheld camcorder, which was used to create 2010 documentary Restrepo with Tim Hetherington.

“Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad

Heart of Darkness begins as a story among friends on a boat anchored on the River Thames. The narrator tells how Charles Marlow wonders aloud that nearby London, now the largest, most populous, and wealthiest city in the world, was once as dark and savage as Africa. Indeed, before the Roman conquest, London was “one of the dark places on earth,” Marlow tells his astonished companions.

“Yoga for Emotional Balance” by Bo Forbes

Bo Forbes, a longtime therapist and also a yoga practitioner, struggled with the disconnect she saw between the physical and emotional therapy worlds. Often, she says, “we can feel, rather than think, the emotional experiences that heal us.” Instead of just talking through emotional patterns, she began introducing breathwork and restorative yoga poses into her clients’ therapy plans.

“The Oracle of Stamboul” by Michael David Lukas

Eleonora Cohen is not like other little girls. First, there was her birth. During an agonizing labor, which Eleonora’s mother does not survive, a flock of unusually colored hoopoes begin roosting outside the Cohens’ door, and the flock stays to watch over the young girl’s life.

“The Heroes” by Joe Abercrombie

Joe Abercrombie’s new fantasy novel The Heroes continues in the world set in The First Law Trilogy. This time, he takes us to a single battle fought between the comparatively modern Union and the barbarians of the North. The story is told from the perspective of three Union and three Northern characters who all fight in the battle one way or another. Like Abercrombie’s previous novel, Best Served Cold, a few familiar faces from the first trilogy appear.

“The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton

The Age of Innocence begins in New York City in the 1870s, in a social strata so high I almost got a nosebleed. Newland Archer has everything he could want: social prominence; a private box at the Academy of Music in New York; a fine cigar in the family study every night after his work at a law firm; an almost certain union with pretty and affluent May Welland.

“Fly Away Home” by Jennifer Weiner

For the thirty-plus years of her married life, Sylvie Woodruff has carefully monitored her words and appearance in the glare of the unforgiving spotlight trained on her, the New York senator’s wife. She works unceasingly to keep the pounds off and to support her husband’s career; even though some, like her mother, disapprove of Sylvie’s unflinching devotion to Richard, Sylvie is happy with him and the life they have built with their two daughters.

Guest Review! “Good Omens” by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman

The heroes of the book are met at the very beginning of humankind (at least, as the Bible claims it to be). Aziraphale is the angel of the East Gate of Eden, and Crawly (later re-named Crowley, because “Crawly” just wasn’t him) is the very serpent who tempted mankind out of paradise. The two of them meet for the first time just after the Lord has issued his judgment upon Adam and Eve and cast them out of the garden.