Review: Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is brilliantly, beautifully written with a clear and incisive voice. I didn’t like the half-hearted, predictable romance between Ifemelu and Obinze, but this was a smaller part of the book than the first few chapters and dust jacket would have you believe. I’m fine with authors using characters as vehicles for social commentary, but if a story is built on two levels, it needs to function on both. Strangely, I found myself reading the commentary and skipping the romance (usually it’s the other way around). read more

Review: The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Wow. The toughest aspect of the 20 Books of Summer reading challenge hosted by Cathy746books isn’t the reading, it’s the blogging. David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks is mind-blowingly layered and fantastic. “Wow” pretty well covers my reaction, but I suspect you’d like more information…

Similar to Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks jumps around and contains six solid narratives told in first person by five narrators (one gets two sections). If you recall, my biggest complaint about Cloud Atlas was the way each story was cut in half just when it began to get interesting and not resumed until hundreds of pages later. In The Bone Clocks, each story is a complete arc. Though all arcs end as they become interesting, they end in less of a cold-shower way because they build on each other. Each answers questions from the previous sections, often in teasingly subtle ways. Many people compare The Bone Clocks‘ structure to Cloud Atlas which isn’t fair—The Bone Clocks is much better. read more

Review: My Uncle Oswald by Roald Dahl

I still read The Best of Roald Dahl and hold it up as the “best collection of short fiction (by a single author).” When I needed a gift for a friend, I gave her this collection accompanied by My Uncle Oswald. There’s an Oswald story in the collection and it’s a riot; gifting more Oswald stories without reading them seemed an easy call. Then I finally read My Uncle Oswald and texted “Ohmigosh. I just realized I gave you porn!” (Soft core.) It’s hilarious, but I only recommend it if you’re a) not shy about sex, and b) in possession of a robust sense of humor. read more

Review: My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier

I don’t give much thought to the order in which I read books, but I’m starting to realize that the order in which I read an author’s books shapes my opinion of that author and their style. Having read Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Jamaica Inn, I couldn’t repress a number of expectations for My Cousin Rachel. The book encouraged my expectations by establishing a tone that is similar to du Maurier’s others. The tension built unbearably as I read and I turned the pages faster and faster, digging for the clue to kindle The Big Reveal, but it never came. I was stunned to turn the last page and realize the story had ended. On some level, Rebecca and Jamaica Inn prepped me for a tied-off ending. Ambiguity is well-used in My Cousin Rachel, but it never occurred to me that the central mystery would remain unsolvable. If it had, I might have read more slowly to better soak up every nuance and red herring. read more