Review: The Tiger’s Wife

8366402The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

Genres: Fiction, Historical Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


In a Balkan country mending from years of conflict, Natalia, a young doctor, arrives on a mission of mercy at an orphanage by the sea. By the time she and her lifelong friend Zóra begin to inoculate the children there, she feels age-old superstitions and secrets gathering everywhere around her. Secrets her outwardly cheerful hosts have chosen not to tell her. Secrets involving the strange family digging for something in the surrounding vineyards. Secrets hidden in the landscape itself.

But Natalia is also confronting a private, hurtful mystery of her own: the inexplicable circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. After telling her grandmother that he was on his way to meet Natalia, he instead set off for a ramshackle settlement none of their family had ever heard of and died there alone. A famed physician, her grandfather must have known that he was too ill to travel. Why he left home becomes a riddle Natalia is compelled to unravel.

Grief struck and searching for clues to her grandfather’s final state of mind, she turns to the stories he told her when she was a child. On their weeklytrips to the zoo he would read to her from a worn copy of Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, which he carried with him everywhere; later, he told her stories of his own encounters over many years with “the deathless man,” a vagabond who claimed to be immortal and appeared never to age. But the most extraordinary story of all is the one her grandfather never told her, the one Natalia must discover for herself. One winter during the Second World War, his childhood village was snowbound, cut off even from the encroaching German invaders but haunted by another, fierce presence: a tiger who comes ever closer under cover of darkness. “These stories,” Natalia comes to understand, “run like secret rivers through all the other stories” of her grandfather’s life. And it is ultimately within these rich, luminous narratives that she will find the answer she is looking for.


I’m not sure what to think of The Tiger’s Wife. On the one hand, the story was lovely and intriguing. The way the stories branched off into sub-stories and wound their way back may have seemed unnecessary to some readers, but since that’s how I think it matched me perfectly. But on the other hand, I’m not really sure what the POINT of this book was.

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Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

2967752The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Genre: Fiction
Maturity Level: 4
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Rating: ⋆⋆


We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renée, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Renée is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building’s tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence. 

Then there’s Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter. 

Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma’s trust and to see through Renée’s timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.


The first 250 pages of The Elegance of the Hedgehog reminded me of the first part of Life of Pi in that it’s primarily concerned with philosophy rather than narrative. The biggest differences being that Pi is precocious and lovable, Yann Martel uses stories to describe his philosophy, and the overall message of Life of Pi is positive and uplifting.

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Review: A Study in Scarlet Women

28588390A Study in Scarlet Women by Sherry Thomas

Series: Lady Sherlock
Genres: Mystery, Historical Fiction, Fiction
Maturity Level: 3+
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆


With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her.

But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind. 


I am sad to say that A Study in Scarlet Women did NOT meet my expectations for a Sherlock gender-bender. It read more like a semi-romance historical mystery than a sleuth novel.

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Review: The Martian

18007564The Martian by Andy Weir

Genres: Science Fiction, Fiction
Maturity Level: 5
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars. 

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

After a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive — and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive. 

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first. 

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills — and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit — he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?


Wow, what an exciting read!

I couldn’t put The Martian down. It kept me constantly wondering what would happen next, although by halfway through it got to be rather predictable when something bad was about to occur. Still, I was so looking forward to seeing what the bad thing would be! How grim.

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Review: The Engines of God

337048The Engines of God by Jack McDevitt

Series: The Academy
Genre: Science Fiction
Maturity Level: 3
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


Two hundred years ago, humans made a stunning discovery in the far reaches of the solar system: a huge statue of an alien creature, with an inscription that defied all efforts at translation. Now, as faster-than-light drive opens the stars to exploration, humans are finding other relics of the race they call the Monument-Makers – each different, and each heartbreakingly beautiful. But except for a set of footprints on Jupiter’s moon Iapetus, there is no trace of the enigmatic race that has left them behind. Then a team of scientists working on a dead world discover an ominous new image of the Monument-Makers. Somehow it all fits with other lost civilizations, and possibly with Earth’s own future. And distant past. But Earth itself is on the brink of ecological disaster – there is no time to search for answers. Even to a question that may hold the key to survival for the entire human race… 


The Engines of God is very unique for a Sci-Fi book. The science element is very subtle, mostly limited to the ethical questions raised by the possibility of finding earth-like planets in other systems. Instead it focuses more on the “soft science” of archaeology. This concept of alien archaeology was fascinating to me, and I thought expertly executed.

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Review: The Marsh King’s Daughter

32889533The Marsh King’s Daughter by Karen Dionne

Genres: Fiction, Thriller
Maturity Level: 4-
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Rating: ⋆⋆⋆⋆


When notorious child abductor – known as the Marsh King – escapes from a maximum security prison, Helena immediately suspects that she and her two young daughters are in danger.

No one, not even her husband, knows the truth about Helena’s past: they don’t know that she was born into captivity, that she had no contact with the outside world before the age of twelve – or that her father raised her to be a killer.

And they don’t know that the Marsh King can survive and hunt in the wilderness better than anyone… except, perhaps his own daughter.


Well this was a cool book! As lame as that sounds, I genuinely mean that it was cool. I found the concept really intriguing, the story-telling devices gripping, and the writing fast-paced. The Marsh King’s Daughter really captured my attention and made me think, in addition to be entertaining as heck.

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Calendar Girls August: Best Historical Fiction

What are Flavia and Melanie trying to do to me?!?!?! How am I supposed to pick just ONE best historical fiction????????

Historical fiction. A fictional novel written in the actual past, containing real events, places, and people. The main character might be an actual person, or might be a made up person. It’s a cool genre because there is a lot of flexibility, but you still have to do your research and know your stuff.

I adore historical fiction. This love goes all the way back to my childhood and Laura Ingles Wilder. There’s just something so magical about reading a great novel where you also learn a little bit. Plus, and I’m just being honest here, the clothes! *swoon* I can’t even begin to count the number of historical fictions I’ve read just about Henry VIII, his wives, and his children. It’s probably my favorite genre, if I had to pick a favorite, because I’m a terrible person who picks favorites, get over it.

I’ve been thinking for weeks trying to decide between three of my favorites, which are all VERY different. In the end I am picking the one that I personally enjoy the most, even if it’s not necessarily the most representative of the genre.

So. Drumroll please. Continue reading