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Category Archives: Drama

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of The Chaperone: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover; First Edition edition (June 5, 2012), Hardcover: 384 pages, ISBN-10: 1594487014, ISBN-13: 978-1594487019

It’s 1922 and women have only recently received the right to vote, so when a young dancer has the opportunity to go to New York City to study her craft, she needs a chaperone. Cora Carlise, an unhappy, middle aged woman with a secret past, decides to accompany the girl. In the process she finds what she has been seeking all her life.

Ms. Moriarty has written several novels, but The Chaperone is her first book in the historical fiction genre, it is also a drama.  The story is told in a third person narrative from the point of view of the main protagonist, Cora Carlisle.

The character of Cora, a middle aged woman and the chaperone of a wild and troubled fifteen year old girl, was really well developed. I also liked how Ms. Moriarty tied in Louise Brooks, but I would have liked more insight into Louise’s character. The story was primarily about Cora and spanned over her entire life with details sprinkled in a non-linear fashion. This made the story more interesting because her upbringing and experiences were slowly revealed. Cora was my favourite character, at first I thought she was stuffy, yet she showed her true self right at the beginning when she convinced her friend that the KKK was to be avoided. I thought that she blossomed as the book unfolded. She had many hardships that she had to deal with, but she dealt well with everything that she faced. She seemed at times to be judgemental, but as the story progressed she softened up. The subject matter was surprising, because it touched on homosexuality as well as child molestation. The story was nothing like I was expecting, but it pulled me in from the beginning, and I was never really sure where it would lead.

There were several surprises as the story unfolded. I also found the facts about the orphan trains surprising as well as upsetting. To think of all those little children, in the first half of the century, just sent off without any consideration of the people who were picking them or what kind of lives they would have to lead. It also made me think about why there were so many orphans, but I guess the combination of the great wars, the influenza breakout, and the great depression, caused many children to be left without parents.

This book fell somewhere between good and really good, and I gave it a 2 Treasure Box rating although I enjoyed the book, I was not obsessed with it, and had no problem putting it down

Favorite Quotes:

“Show me a mother with that much thwarted ambition, and I’ll show you a daughter born for success” (page 111.)

I just thought that this was an interesting quote about Hollywood mothers.

“As young as Lousie was, she was a grown woman, a modern woman, smart and fearless of judgement, a lovely sparkle on the blade of her generation as it slashed at the old conventions” (page 302.)

I loved this sentence, I thought it beautifully written and I loved the idea of cutting away the old conventions, which oppressed women.

 

Question to consider: Was this book an accurate portrayal of women during the 1920s? For example, Cora was afraid to show her own husband affection for fear that he would think her forward.

 

To Purchase: “The Chaperone” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister

Book Review

Book Review

Book Review of The School of Essential Ingredients: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Berkley Trade; Reprint edition (January 5, 2010), Paperback: 261 pages, ISBN-10: 0425232093, ISBN-13: 978-0425232095

Food is required to live because it feeds the body, but to feed the soul, connection to another person is required and this is the true fuel. The School of Essential Ingredients provides both, and it is a slice of life story. It briefly introduces 8 cooking students and their teacher, Lillian, telling a little about each. Most of them meet for the first time at an upscale restaurant which holds a monthly cooking class.

Erica Bauermeister has written a few fiction books and has co-written a couple of reading guides. She released a sequel to The School of Essential Ingredients in January, 2013; it is called The Lost Art of Mixing. This sequel is a continuation of Lillian’s story and revolves around her restaurant and the people who frequent it. The School of Essential Ingredients primarily takes place in Lillian’s restaurant and is told in the voice of a third person narrative with each chapter from the point of view of a different character. It falls into the drama genre.

The School of Essential Ingredients is an enjoyable book, although it does not have much depth. In many ways the story was like a recipe with the subtle flavours of the characters all mixing together to create a feast. The book tries to be more than what it is and would succeed better if Ms. Bauermeister shared as much about the characters as she does about food and ingredients.

There were lots of different characters, and the reader learns just a little about each one. The stories are generally uplifting and the cooking class helped each of them in just the way they needed.  Ms. Bauermeister effectively uses white spaces between the words creating a great effect. In many ways the book was laid out like a recipe book. Each section dealt with a separate person. Each person mixed with the others like the ingredients in a recipe.

The writing was great, and the story interesting, but it felt more like a mixture of short stories. I like a story that is big and full, one that pulls you in and doesn’t let you go until the last page. I also like a story with a bit more excitement. For me the overall story was just a little bit lacking, but I still recommend the book as a good read.

Favorite Quotes: 

 “Underneath the wand was an old photograph of her mother holding a baby Lillian, her mother’s eyes looking directly into the camera, her smile as huge and rich and gorgeous as any chocolate cake Lillian could think of making.” (Page 25)

                “There were so few occasions for a zester; using it felt like a holiday.” (Page 27)

 

To Purchase: “The School of Essential Ingredients” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

Book Review

Book Review of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Vintage (May 18, 2004), Paperback: 226 pages, ISBN-10: 1400032717, ISBN-13: 978-1400032716

The neighbor’s dog has been murdered and Christopher is determined to play “Sherlock Holmes” to find the killer. He has an unusual way of looking at the world, which both helps and hinders his investigation. Christopher, through his detecting, unravels more secrets and finds more answers than he was looking for or is capable of handling.

Mark Haddon has written several children’s books and “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is his first adult novel. The story is told in a first person narrative from the point of view of Christopher Boone, a 15 year old autistic boy. Mr. Haddon worked with autistic children when he was a young man.

This is a very sad story about an autistic teenage boy who decides to solve a mystery using his special unique talents. He is highly gifted in mathematics and in solving problems, but he is unable to deal with life and does not know how to respond to people.  He does not like to be touched, and if someone touches him, he will strike back using violence.

This is a standalone story, and it is told in an interesting and unique manner. The story is told in a memoir style from the point of view of an autistic boy who has Asperger’s Syndrome. Rather than numbering the chapters numerically, they instead are numbered in an increasing sequence of prime numbers, which is a good representation of how Christopher views life. I recommend this book as a good read.

Favourite quote:

“Lots of things are mysteries. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t an answer to them. It’s just that scientists haven’t found the answer yet.” (Page 100)

 

 

To Purchase: “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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Where We Belong by Emily Giffin

Book Review

Book Review of Where We Belong: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press (July 24, 2012), File Size: 477 KB, Print Length: 383 pages, ASIN: B0071NMK66

Marian is a successful television producer and she has everything, a great job, a wonderful boyfriend, and a big secret. A secret that she has kept for 18 years, but which is about to be exposed to the world. When 18 year old Kirby knocks on her door, she sees her daughter for the first time in 18 years and Marian is forced to examine the decisions she made 18 years ago.

Emily Giffin has written numerous books, and they all fall into the chick-lit genre but Where We Belong is also a drama and a romance story. It is told in a first person narrative alternating between the main protagonist, Marian’s and her daughter Kirby’s point of view.

The theme of this book is secrets, and it reveals the power of destruction behind the secret. The story shows how a secret can become an emotional barricade that separates us from the people in our lives. The characters are all well rounded and interesting. My favorite character was Kirby, she knew what she wanted and she went after it, even though she was afraid and she did not know how she would be received. Although I could not really understand why she had a difficult time with her parents, I still thought it was believable. I also loved all the scenes with Conrad, because he was an intriguing and sexy character.

Where We Belong is a standalone novel that captured my interest from the very first line and I thought the story built up to a satisfying ending. There were no real surprises and it pretty much went where I thought it would. I recommend this book as a very good read and I stayed up late several nights because I found it hard to put down.

 Favorite Quotes:

“So I guess what I’m trying to say is that life is fast. And it keeps speeding up. Sometimes I lose track of the season-or even the year. And we just have to make the best of it all. Our choices. Our fleeting moments together.” (location 3973)

 “Although too much time has gone by to miss her, I feel regret that I didn’t maintain our friendship. Even if we no longer have much in common, we would have always had the past, which, in some ways, is just as important as the present or future. It is where we come from, what makes us who we are”. (location 4284)

 “It’s about wanting something real-even if it’s messy and complicated. It’s what Kirby has taught me.” (location 5151)

Question to Ponder:

Often in the book Ms. Giffin states that secrets and lies are the same thing, do you agree, do you think they are the same thing? 

To Purchase: “Where We Belong” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Book Review

Book Review of Life of Pi: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Mariner Books; Int Mti edition (October 2, 2012), Paperback: 416 pages, ISBN-10: 0544045203, ISBN-13: 978-0544045200

In Life of Pi a young Indian boy becomes lost at sea after his ship sinks in the Pacific Ocean during his family’s journey from Indian to Canada. For 227 days he lives in a lifeboat, and his sole companion is a Bengal tiger.

Yann Martel has written several novels, but Life of Pi is his most well known book, and this book has also won several awards.  It is written in the genre of magical realism and is an adventure story. The story is told primarily in a first person narrative from the point of view of our main protagonist, Pi Patel.

The author’s note at the beginning of the book convinced me I was reading a true story, and it wasn’t until I was about half way through the book did I come to realize that this note was part of the fiction. The story is told in a format that suggests it is a retelling of a true adventure, including italicized notes at the beginning of some of the chapters.

The story is told in three parts.  The first part introduces the main character and develops the premise which explains how Pi could eventually exist alone on a lifeboat with a Bengal tiger. This part takes place during Pi’s early years when his father ran a zoo. There were some interesting comparisons between animals and humans. The second part is his time at sea, and the final part introduces a possible alternative.

This is a spiritual story, and Pi Patel has a strong faith, which he relies on heavily during his trials at sea, but it is not religious or sanctimonious. Overall I thought the story was told in an interesting manner, and generally found it believable. The Life of Pi is a standalone story, and it is well told, although both the beginning and the time at sea were a bit too long.  I recommend this book as a good read.

Favourite Quote:

“To lose a brother is to lose someone with whom you can share the experience of growing old, who is supposed to bring you a sister-in-law and nieces and nephew, creatures to people the tree of your life and give it new branches. To lose your father is to lose the one whose guidance and help you seek, who supports you like a tree trunk supports it branches. To lose your mother, well, that is like losing the sun above you.”

Question to ponder:

Which version of the story did you think really occurred?

What did you feel was the most spiritual or mystical part of the journey?

 

To Purchase: “Life of Pi” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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The Tower by Jade Varden

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Deck of Lies

Book Review: 2 Treasure Box Rating
Deck of Lies, Book 2
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 28, 2012), Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc., File Size: 361 KB, Print Length: 162 pages, ASIN: B007RTX4V4

While Rain is figuring out who she and her family really are, she is also trying to find Laurel Riordan’s killer. Rain knows that the answer to these questions will either lead her out from under the craziness her life has become or will send her further down the spiral into doom.

Jade Varden is the author of the Deck of Lies series, currently there are 3 books in the series with book 4 coming soon. The books are YA fiction and are told in a first person narrative from the point of view of the main protagonist.

The story continues in this installment and it becomes more interesting and convoluted as it unfolds. While Rain is working through the lies that created her life, she remains relatively unchanged. Her name may have grown and changed but she is still the same person.. Once again there were many surprising and shocking events, with an interlocking connection appearing between the characters.

This is not a standalone novel, and in fact it ended with a cliff-hanger. I am curious to find out what happens next and where this story is going to end. I recommend this book as a good read.

 

To Purchase: “The Tower” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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Justice by Jade Varden

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Deck of Lies

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Deck of Lies, book #1
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (May 23, 2012), Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc., File Size: 364 KB, Print Length: 154 pages, ASIN: B006PW51F6

Rain Ramey received a scholarship to the Sloane Academy, but when she arrived the other students made it very clear, that she didn’t belong. Rain’s whole life falls apart after the Queen Bee of the school plays a dirty trick on her.

Jade Varden is the author of the Deck of Lies series, currently there are 3 books in the series with book 4 coming soon. The books are YA fiction and are told in a first person narrative from the point of view of the main protagonist.

Justice is captivating, but at times it was surreal, and had a soap opera feel. Rain is a likeable teenager who faces numerous challenges after it is revealed that her whole life has been a lie. There were numerous moments when I was shocked at the outcome. The story has several twists and turns, some expected, but others were totally unforeseen.

This is not a standalone book, but it is an intriguing start to an entertaining series. As soon as I completed this book, I quickly picked up the second book in the series, The Tower. I recommend this book as a good read.

To Purchase: “Justice” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

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Songs for the New Depression by Kergan Edwards-Stout

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Circumspect Press (November 15, 2011), File Size: 466 KB, Print Length: 253 pages, ASIN: B0068BPU7S

It is 1995 and Gabe has HIV, although he currently isn’t showing any symptoms, he knows he is going to die soon. This is his story, starting at the end and moving backwards through time. Gabe shares with us three monumental times during his life, starting in 1995 and moving backwards to 1976.

Songs for the New Depression is the debut novel by Kergan Edwards-Stout. It is a drama and falls under the genre of literary fiction as well as gay literature.  The story is told in a first person narrative with the voice and thoughts of Gabriel Travers (Gabe). The story begins and ends in the present with a prologue and epilogue.

The story was written in an interesting manner, and we know from the beginning, or should I say the end, 1995, that something horrendous happened to Gabe that irrevocably changed him.  It isn’t until the end, or should I say the beginning, 1976, that the reader finds out what happened. Each time period explored contains pivotal events in Gabe’s life.  At each point Gabe faces a huge life changing event and how he chooses to react has repercussions that affect the rest of his life. Gabe is a complex character, sometimes endearing, sometimes cruel but always interesting.

This is a standalone story about one man’s journey through life.  It is well written, but at times I was shocked at the explicit gay sex, although I understand that it played an important part of Gabe’s life and story. This book is not just for fans of gay literature, it is a sad and thought provoking story and I recommend Songs for the New Depression as a good read.

Favourite Quote:

“Maybe the next time you meet someone, try keeping your mouth shut and your brain in neutral. Ask questions. Find out everything you can about the other person. The more rounded they become, the less easy it will be to dismiss them.”


Questions to Ponder:
The decisions that Gabe made in 1976 and again in 1986 had huge repercussions on the rest of his life.  Do you think he could have made different decisions at either of these times? Why do you think he choose to do what he did?

To Purchase: “Songs for the New Depression” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

Patchwork of Me by Gregory G. Allen

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Expected publication: April 15th 2012 by ASD Publishing, Paperback, 312 pages, ISBN: 139780983604945

What if you had a secret past? Would you seek out answers or hide in your room? Sara, now in her early thirties, has decided it is time to find out about her roots.  She has a spot on her forearm that drives her crazy, continually demanding to be scratched, but there is nothing there. She has a recurring dream, where she is a man and a father whose child has drowned. She is unable to maintain a romantic relationship and she lies to her therapist.

Patchwork of Me is Gregory G. Allen’s newest release. The story is a drama told in a first person narrative by the main protagonist, Sara Butler. The story follows Sara while she goes on a journey of self discovery.

I loved how this book began. We are introduced to the main character, who at first glance appears to be male, but soon we discover, was a dream character and we are hooked, why is Sara dreaming she is a man? Before long, we are introduced to Sara and her circle of friends.  Sara lives in Arizona and although she has no family of her own, she has a small group of friends that have become  her family.  It was interesting to read a story that centres on a woman, told from her point of view but written by a man.

This is a good read and the characters are interesting, I enjoyed the banter amongst the friends. This standalone story grabs our attention from the first page and keeps us engaged right up to the ending. The story unfolded in a smooth manner, and although it wasn’t thrilling or exciting, it was captivating.  I recommend this story as a light and entertaining read.

 

 

 

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Book review: 3 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: MacMay (March 26, 2009, Format: Kindle Edition, File Size: 83 KB (64 pages), ASIN: B0021AEIUU


Who is Mr. Hyde? Why is he so callous and what is his association with the upstanding Dr. Jekyll? This is the mystery that Mr Utterson and Mr. Lanyon explore to their detriment. Here is the legendary tale of the good and evil that exists within us and what can happen when we do not control the corrupt side of our nature.

Robert Louis Stevenson  wrote numerous novels, short stories and poems  including Treasure Island as well as the novella of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde which was first published in 1886. The majority of the story is told in a third person narrative from the point of view of Mr. Utterson, a lawyer who is observing his friend Dr. Jekyll and the mysterious Mr. Hyde.  The end of the story moves over into a first person narrative by Mr. Lanyon, another friend of Dr. Jekyll and finally by Dr. Jekyll himself. These final narratives are related in the form of letters that Mr. Utterson has received from each of the parties.

The story is well told in an interesting manner. It almost seemed as though we were being told some juicy gossip since the story is about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde but is told through the eyes of Mr. Utterson. At times the writing was truly inspiring and I loved the word descriptions. The portrayal of Mr. Hyde is a good out-picturing of evil in human form and the examination of  Dr. Jekyll’s inner conflict is captivating.

This is a standalone story which builds up to an interesting conclusion. Although most of us are familiar with this story, I still recommend you read the book, because it is well worth the time, especially since it is a quick read.
To purchase The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from Amazon, click here or on picture above

 

 

Posted by on February 20, 2012 in 3 Treasure Boxes, Book Review, Drama, Goodreads, Kindle

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