Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Review: The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

There are so many books I pick up when they are bestsellers--and then they sit on my shelf for years. By the time I get around to reading the book, nobody even remembers it. I did this with The Secret Life of Bees. I feel like the dust has settled and there's no longer a buzz (PUN!) about it. Do you remember hearing about it?

Goodreads Summary:

Fans of The Help will love Sue Monk Kidd’s Southern coming of age tale.The Secret Life of Bees was a New York Times bestseller for more than 125 weeks, a Good Morning America “Read This” Book Club pick and was made into an award-winning film starring Dakota Fanning, Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys. Set in South Carolina in 1964, The Secret Life of Bees will appeal to fans of Kathryn Stockett’s The Helpand Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, and tells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed.

When Lily's fierce-hearted black "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's most vicious racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina—a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love—a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

My Review:
The premise of this novel is extremely moving. This novel takes place in the 1960s in South Carolina, where Lily, a white teen, runs away with her black housekeeper, Rosaleen. They run away to an unfamiliar city and eventually live with a trio of black sisters, who welcome the strangers with open arms, in spite of racial tension.

This novel could have been really stellar, much like The Help. In fact, it is frequently compared to The Help. The problem is that The Secret Life of Bees is missing the element of empathy. Even though Lily had several horrible situations happening to her to lead up to the events in the novel, I didn't care for her attitude. I also did not feel as though she learned or grew significantly throughout the novel. She still seemed like a young, immature teenager not ready to face how harsh reality was. I guess I was looking for a heroine who would see harsh reality and move to change it, not just accept it, like Lily did.

In spite of this criticism, I definitely recommend the read--you won't regret it.

2013 Progress:
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Rating: 4/5          

Pages: 302           
Page Goal: 657/21,500

Questions for my readers:

  1. In a historical fiction novel, what do you expect of the main character? Personal growth? Standing up for human rights? Something else?
  2. Do you read bestsellers right when you get them, or do they sit on your bookshelf for a while, too?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Book Review: The 9th Judgement by James Patterson

My first book of 2013 was, unsurprisingly, a James Patterson novel. I'm almost caught up in the Women's Murder Club series. A new book in the series. comes out each year, so I only have a handful left and would like to be caught up by the end of 2013.

Goodreads Summary:

The most personal
A young mother and her infant child are ruthlessly gunned down while returning to their car in the garage of a shopping mall. There are no witnesses, and Detective Lindsay Boxer is left with only one shred of evidence: a cryptic message scrawled across the windshield in bloodred lipstick.

The most dangerous

The same night, the wife of A-list actor Marcus Dowling is woken by a cat burglar who is about to steal millions of dollars' worth of precious jewels. In just seconds there is a nearly empty safe, a lifeless body, and another mystery that throws San Francisco into hysteria.

The most exciting Women's Murder Club novel ever

Lindsay spends every waking hour working with her partner, Rich--and her desire for him threatens to tear apart both her engagement and the Women's Murder Club. Before Lindsay and her friends can piece together either case, one of the killers forces Lindsay to put her own life on the line--but is it enough to save the city? With unparalleled danger and explosive action, The 9th Judgment is James Patterson at his compelling, unstoppable best

As with most James Patterson novels, this one was completely enthralling. The cases remained mysterious and exciting right up until the end. We also continue to follow the lead character, Lindsay Boxer, and her friends. This novel, unlike most in the Women's Murder Club series, lacked a certain relationship with the characters. The plot was good, but I felt as though I needed a little more from the Women's Murder Club characters themselves. I wanted to follow their personal lives and relationships a little more than Patterson delivered in this novel.

Overall, I highly recommend this as a read for anyone who is going through this series. If you haven't been following the Women's Murder Club series, you might want to consider it--they're fabulous! I would recommend reading them in order.

As previously mentioned, this book was my first one of the year (I know, I'm 3 months behind...). Here's where it started me for the year:

The 9th Judgement by James Patterson 
Rating: 4/5          

Pages: 355           
Page Goal: 355/21,500

Books in this series:
1st to Die
2nd Chance
3rd Degree
4th of July
The 5th Horseman
The 6th Target
7th Heaven
The 8th Confession
The 9th Judgement
10th Anniversary
11th Hour
12th of Never

Questions for my readers:

  1. Is there a series you won't give up reading, even if you didn't like a novel or two? If so, what series is it?
  2. In a good thriller, what kind of ratio of "thriller" to "personal" do you prefer? Personally, I like when the thrilling part of the novel is the detective/main character as a victim or closely related to the victim.