REVIEW: The Pew Group

While Anthony Oliver’s The Pew Group may not be an enticing mystery in terms of the “whodunnit” plot, it is certainly peopled with captivating characters. Oliver creates a wonderfully quirky world filled with offbeat humor and a community of the most likable odd ducks ever to inhabit the genre of British mysteries. 

As implied earlier – if you are looking for a suspenseful mystery that has you gripping the edge of your seat, this isn’t the book for you. But, if you are in the market for a well written, light read that will keep you laughing out loud (as well as introduce you to the  cutthroat world of pottery collecting and dealing) while you try to piece it all together, pick up The Pew Group.

I have already added Oliver’s other works to my 2017 list. 

Rating: 4 Bids

REVIEW: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Let me start by saying that I very much appreciate the overall story related in Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. I connected to many of its characters (particularly the little girl, Havaa). Marra does a standout job of evoking the atmosphere and tensions of the Chechen wars – a period of history that I was sadly unknowledgeable about, and I am thankful that this novel brought to life for me. For a first novel A Constellation of Vital Phenomena shows great promise, and I am interested in reading Marra’s other works.

HOWEVER.

There was too much going on for my liking. I generally enjoy stories with interweaving plots, and, as stated in earlier reviews, I have enjoyed many novels that jump in time and/or jump from character to character. But, combining all of these elements in one novel, that incorporates a plethora of characters, felt a tad overzealous to me. Backstory can be a useful thing, but for the most part I think much of it is better left to the reader’s imagination. Frequently an overly detailed back-story can end up distancing the reader from characters rather than conveying the opposite effect; consequently, I ended up latching onto only a couple of the main players.

I am aware that this critique expresses my personal taste and not Marra’s lack of skill. I certainly wouldn’t steer people away from reading this novel, and would recommend it to many, but it won’t be one that stays with me forever.

Rating: 3.5 Stars

The Alternates: More Top Recs

  1. Winnie-the-Pooh – A.A. Milne
  2. The Housekeeper and the Professor – Yōko Ogawa
  3. Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card
  4. The Franchise Affair – Josephine Tey
  5. Nine Stories – J.D. Salinger
  6. Fight Club – Chuck Palahniuk
  7. The Uncommon Reader – Alan Bennett
  8. 1984 – George Orwell
  9. Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  10. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay  – Michael Chabon

REVIEW: The Little Prince

This is a beautiful story that appears to be simple but contains a life’s worth of lessons. (And in only 83 pages! Win.)

While some may view The Little Prince as a children’s book, it serves as a reminder to adults to keep our minds and hearts open. In a time when society seems to be heading backwards as regards to our acceptance and sense of responsibility to each other, we could all use our own little prince to come along and refocus our priorities. 

This is a short review, but The Little Prince will stay with me through time. It truly spoke to my heart, and, as a consequence, I will smile every time I look to the stars. 

“Good-bye,” said the fox. “Here is my secret. It’s quite simple: One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.”

Rating: 5 Laughing Stars