Monday, August 26, 2013


by Jennifer duBois

Genre:  Fiction Pages:  384 Published:  9/24/13 by Random House Format:  ARC
My rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars 

I received this ARC from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

Cartwheel by Jennifer Dubois is loosely based on the real life account of Amanda Knox, who was accused of murdering her roommate in Italy in 2007. (I knew very little about Amanda Knox and her trial, so the fact that this book was inspired by that story held no meaning to me).

Cartwheel is set in Buenos Aires, where foreign exchange student Lily Hayes is accused of murdering her fellow American roommate Katy Kellers. The novel shifts through the perspectives of multiple people involved in this case: Lily, Lily's family, Lily's boyfriend and the prosecuting attorney. Through it all, the question circulates: did Lily do it?

Even though the question of "Did Lily do it?" is central throughout the book, I don't think the fact of whether she did it or not was the main purpose of this novel. The novel is about the perceptions people have, and how each perspective is skewed by personal biases, the media and other influences. I was especially struck by how many people were set in their beliefs about Lily based on only minimal and incomplete information. And how they refused to change those beliefs even when new information was presented to them. And by how true that is in real life as well!

I really enjoyed the character of Sebastian LeCompte (that name!), Lily's boyfriend. His dialogue was just great. I actually found him to be obnoxious and unlikeable most of the time. But he was still fun to read about! I especially enjoyed the scene where Eduardo, the prosecutor, questions him. Every time Eduardo asked a question, I was on the edge of my seat eager to see how Sebastian would respond.

I wanted to give this book 5 stars, because I really enjoyed it a lot. I thought it was smart, well written, and thought provoking. I liked DuBois' writing style for the most part, but at the same time I felt it was just unnecessarily wordy at times. Like maybe DuBois was just trying a little too hard to make this an intelligent book. I've seen several reviewers comment about an overuse of the thesaurus, and I did feel that it was over descriptive at times while reading. I'm hoping that this is because I was reading an early copy of the book, and that more editing might possibly be done before its official release? I think with just a little editing in spots, this could be an excellent five star read!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Good Father

The Good Father
by Diane Chamberlain

Genre:  Fiction
Pages:  400
Published:  4/24/12 by MIRA
Format:  ebook

My rating:
4 out of 5 stars

The Good Father is about a man named Travis, who become a father as a 19 year old and has spent four years doing his best to care for his daughter Bella.  But he falls on some hard times and is forced to make a bad choice to get money to care for his little girl.  Travis' story alternates with the perspectives of Robin, Bella's mother who was sick and forced to give away her baby girl, and Erin, a grieving mother who befriends Travis and Bella at a coffee shop.

This is my first book by Diane Chamberlain, and her writing reminds me of Jodi Picoult and Kristen Hannah.  And like many books by those authors, this book was not a literary masterpiece.  The story was contrived and a bit far fetched; the characters were fairly stereotypical.  But also like those authors, Chamberlain created a great story that is highly readable and enjoyable.   I devoured this book,  reading almost the entire book in one sitting!

Perhaps one reason I connected so much with this book is that the story centers on a four year old little girl.  I have a four year old daughter, and I couldn't help but put my daughter in the shoes of this little girl and imagine what she would do in similar situations.  I thought this book brought to light some interesting questions about parenting:  about the choices we make as parents and the lengths to which we will go to protect and care for our children.

Friday, August 16, 2013

The Last Letter from Your Lover

by Jojo Moyes

Genre:  Fiction/Romance
Pages:  416
Published:  6/26/12 by Penguin Group
Format:  book

My rating:
4 out of 5 stars

I read Me Before You by Jojo Moyes earlier this year, and I thought it was a great book.  I was excited to pick up another book by Moyes at the library, and I was not disappointed.  This was an enjoyable read.

The Last Letter from Your Lover is told from two perspectives.  It begins with the story of Jennifer in the 1960s, who is in a car accident and loses her memory.  As she begins to recover, she finds letters from a secret lover whom she still can't remember.  Midway through the book, the story jumps ahead forty years to 2003, where a journalist named Ellie discovers those secret love letters and begins a quest to discover the original source.

I wasn't sure if I was going to like the jump to 2003 in the middle of the book.  I really enjoyed Jennifer's story, and I wasn't ready for that story to end and brand new characters to begin.  It was jolting for the first chapter or so, but then I began to enjoy reading about Ellie and her perspective.  And eventually the two stories collide, bringing us back to Jennifer's story and the letters.

Towards the end, there is a plot twist/surprise that I didn't find to be all that surprising.  I'm not sure if that was supposed to be a jaw-dropping moment or not, but I did see it coming pretty early on.  Still, I kept turning pages eager to see how everything played out in the end.

There was a feeling of old-fashioned romance in this novel.  Maybe it was because the story was about real, handwritten love letters, a dying art in this technological age.   I found it to be refreshing.  This is definitely a romance novel, and sometimes romance novels are a little too cheesy or explicit for my taste. But I found this novel to be neither cheesy nor explicit.  Instead it was well-written and classy and sweet.

Now I'm excited to read Jojo Moyes next book, The Girl You Left Behind, which is coming out next week!