Saturday, February 21, 2009

Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson


Where does it lie? In a face? A voice? A bundled string of events we call a lifetime? Is it in our DNA, bone, flesh, ancestry? How do we define our identity, and is it a once and for all definition? Or is it always changing?

Who am I? Can anyone ever know for sure just what it takes to be who we are?

We all search for our place in this world and how we fit in, but for Jenna Fox that search reaches dark new dimensions when she wakes from a coma and can’t remember who she is. Worse, she doesn’t remember the people who claim to be her parents. There is something curious about them, about the house they all live in--in fact, curious describes her whole life, as she attempts to unlock the secrets of who she was, and who she has become.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox is about Jenna’s search for identity, a quest as old as history, but as startling as the future.

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson looks like an interesting view of medical ethics and how technology can change our lives. I think that would make an excellent book club discussion!

Check out Heather's review on Book Addiction, including links to other reviews.

Published: April, 2008
Pages: 272
Author's website:

Monday, December 22, 2008

Losing Kei by Suzanne Kamata

A mother, Japan, a mother-in-law, a demanding husband, a painter. All intriguing concepts in Losing Kei by Suzanne Kamata.

A young mother fights impossible odds to be reunited with her child in this acutely insightful first novel about an inter-cultural marriage gone terribly wrong.

Jill Parker is an American painter living in Japan. Far from the trendy gaijin neighborhoods of downtown Tokyo, she’s settled in a remote seaside village where she makes ends meet as a bar hostess. Her luck changes when she meets Yusuke, a savvy and sensitive art gallery owner who believes in her talent. But their love affair, and subsequent marriage, is doomed to domestic hell, for Yusuke is the chonan, the eldest son, who assumes the role of rigid patriarch in his traditional family while Jill’s duty is that of servile Japanese wife. A daily battle of wills ensues as Jill resists instruction from Yusuke's mother in the proper womanly arts and even the long anticipated birth of a son, Kei, fails to unite them. Divorce is the only way out but in Japan a foreigner has no rights to custody and Jill must choose between freedom and abandoning her child.

Told with tenderness, humor, and an insider’s knowledge of Japanese family life Losing Kei is the debut novel of an exceptional expatriate voice. -- Leapfrog Press

Read Julie P.'s review at Booking Mama.

Published: January, 2008
Author's first novel
Pages: 216
Author's website:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo

I enjoy the books S.Krishna recommends at S.Krishna's Books. She reviewed another one that I think would make for an interesting book club read and discussion.

Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth by Xiaolu Guo is summarized below:
From the author of the 2007 Orange Prize finalist A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers comes a wholly original and thoroughly captivating coming-of-age story that follows a bright, impassioned young woman as she rushes headlong into the maelstrom of a rapidly changing Beijing to chase her dreams.

Twenty-one year old Fenfang Wang has traveled one thousand eight hundred miles to seek her fortune in contemporary urban Beijing, and has no desire to return to the drudgery of the sweet potato fields back home. However, Fenfang is ill-prepared for what greets her: a Communist regime that has outworn its welcome, a city under rampant destruction and slap-dash development, and a sexist attitude seemingly more in keeping with her peasant upbringing than the country’s progressive capital. Yet Fenfang is determined to live a modern life. With courage and purpose, she forges ahead, and soon lands a job as a film extra. While playing roles like woman-walking-over-the bridge and waitress-wiping-a-table help her eke out a meager living, Fenfang comes under the spell of two unsuitable young men, keeps her cupboard stocked with UFO noodles, and after mastering the fever and tumult of the city, ultimately finds her true independence in the one place she never expected.

At once wry and moving, Twenty Fragments of a Ravenous Youth gives us a clear-eyed glimpse into the precarious and fragile state of China’s new identity and asserts Xiaolu Guo as her generation’s voice of modern China.

Read S. Krishna's review here and then add to your book club's list!

Published: August, 2008
Pages: 176
Author's website:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Going Down South by Bonnie J. Glover

Summary: From the author of The Middle Sister comes a heartwarming tale of second chances and the unparalleled love between mothers and daughters.

When fifteen-year-old Olivia Jean finds herself in the “family way,” her mother, Daisy, who has never been very maternal, springs into action. Daisy decides that Olivia Jean can’t stay in New York and whisks her away to her grandmother’s farm in Alabama to have the baby–even though Daisy and her mother, Birdie, have been estranged for years. When they arrive, Birdie lays down the law: Sure, her granddaughter can stay, but Daisy will have to stay as well. Though Daisy is furious, she has no choice.

Now, under one little roof in the 1960s Deep South, three generations of spirited, proud women are forced to live together. One by one, they begin to lose their inhibitions and share their secrets. And as long-guarded truths emerge, a baby is born–a child with the power to turn these virtual strangers into a real, honest-to-goodness family. -- Ballantine

Check out Booking Mama's review of this lovely tale, Going Down South! You can then check out Dawn's review at She is too fond of books.

Published: July, 2008
Pages: 272
Author's website:
Reader's guide: Random House

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner

I am not usually a fan of historical fiction, but maybe I need to rethink this? Julie P. at Booking Mama gave a great review of The Last Queen by C.W. Gortner. Read it here. I usually love Julie's choices so am thinking I need to reconsider my stance against historical fiction.

I know there have been lots of other bloggers that have loved this book too. I will search them out and add the links.
Lisa at Books on the Brain
Amy at The Friendly Book Nook
Shana at Literarily

Hardcover: July, 2008 (new publisher)
Pages: 384
Author's website:

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Professor's Wives Club by Joanne Rendell

"THE PROFESSORS' WIVES' CLUB would make a great book for a lot of book clubs, especially if yours is like mine and enjoys women's fiction... I found THE PROFESSORS' WIVES' CLUB to be a fun, light read; and I recommend it to those readers who enjoy books about women and relationships. "

The above is a direct quote from Julie on Booking Mama. She read The Professors' Wives' Club by Joanne Rendell and enjoyed it.

Product Description:
A debut novel about the intertwining lives of college faculty wives.

Nestled among Manhattan University’s faculty housing, there is a garden where four women will meet—each with a scandalous secret that could upset their lives, destroy their families, and rock the prestigious university to its very core.

With its maple trees, iron gate, and fence laced with honeysuckle, Manhattan U’s garden offers faculty wives Mary, Sofia, Ashleigh, and Hannah much needed refuge from their problems. But as Mary’s husband, the power-hungry dean, plans to demolish their beloved garden, these four women will discover a surprising secret about a lost Edgar Allan Poe manuscript—and realize they must find the courage to stand up for their passions, dreams, and desires.

Published: September, 2008
Pages: 352
Series: None
Author's website:
Reader's guide: Questions for bookclubs

An additional review can be found at Redlady's Reading Room.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagan

A mystery/thriller that is also a great book club book! I was so excited to read Booking Mama's review of Whistling in the Dark by Lesley Kagan. This book sounds like a great match to many book clubs (and to me!) and is an award winner as well!

It was the summer on Vliet Street when we all started locking our doors...

Sally O'Malley made a promise to her daddy before he died. She swore she'd look after her sister, Troo. Keep her safe. But like her Granny always said-actions speak louder than words. Now, during the summer of 1959, the girls' mother is hospitalized, their stepfather has abandoned them for a six pack, and their big sister, Nell, is too busy making out with her boyfriend to notice that Sally and Troo are on the Loose. And so is a murderer and molester.

Highly imaginative Sally is pretty sure of two things. Who the killer is. And that she's next on his list. Now she has no choice but to protect herself and Troo as best she can, relying on her own courage and the kindness of her neighbors. -- NAL/Penguin

Read Julie's, of Booking Mama, review here. It includes more information about the book and a short excerpt. She links to an interview with the author.

Julie's book club was able to have a chat with author Lesley Kagan. She will be posting more on that chat.

Published: May, 2007
Pages: 336
Series: None
Author's website: