Category: Reviews

American Gods

American Gods by Neil Gaiman Released from prison, Shadow finds his world turned upside down. His wife has been killed; a mysterious stranger offers him a job. But Mr. Wednesday, who knows more about Shadow than is possible, warns that a storm is coming — a battle for the very soul of America . . . and they are in its direct path. My … Read More American Gods

The Marriage Plot

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides It’s the early 1980s—the country is in a deep recession, and life after college is harder than ever. In the cafés on College Hill, the wised-up kids are inhaling Derrida and listening to Talking Heads. But Madeleine Hanna, dutiful English major, is writing her senior thesis on Jane Austen and George Eliot, purveyors of the marriage plot that … Read More The Marriage Plot

Lolita

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov Awe and exhiliration–along with heartbreak and mordant wit–abound in Lolita, Nabokov’s most famous and controversial novel, which tells the story of the aging Humbert Humbert’s obsessive, devouring, and doomed passion for the nymphet Dolores Haze. Lolita is also the story of a hypercivilized European colliding with the cheerful barbarism of postwar America. Most of all, it is a meditation on … Read More Lolita

Plainsong

Plainsong by Kent Haruf In the same way that the plains define the American landscape, small-town life in the heartlands is a quintessentially American experience. Holt, Colo., a tiny prairie community near Denver, is both the setting for and the psychological matrix of Haruf’s beautifully executed new novel. Alternating chapters focus on eight compassionately imagined characters whose lives undergo radical change during the course … Read More Plainsong

The Monk

The Monk by Matthew Gregory Lewis Set in the sinister monastery of the Capuchins in Madrid, The Monk is a violent tale of ambition, murder, and incest. The great struggle between maintaining monastic vows and fulfilling personal ambitions leads its main character, the monk Ambrosio, to temptation and the breaking of his vows, then to sexual obsession and rape, and finally to murder in … Read More The Monk

I Wrote This For You

I Wrote This For You by Pleasefindthis THE DEDICATION LIST To the small. To the star counters. To the cloud watchers. To the inspired. To the birds. To everyone who’s ever cried. To everyone who’s ever tried. To those who pull themselves up off the floor. To those who can still find love in their hearts, even after everything. To those who paint the … Read More I Wrote This For You

Talking About Tolkien (The Dark Globe)

I’m over talking about Tolkien at the Dark Globe today. For those of who have been wondering what I’m doing over at the Dark Globe and what that means for isleofbooks, keep reading. For my own blog, I’m not planning to do anything differently. This will still be a blog devoted to rave reviews about books along with author spotlights, series spotlights, literature readings … Read More Talking About Tolkien (The Dark Globe)

Local San Diego: Eileen Myles

UCSD New Writing Series Presents Eileen Myles, 3/12/12 This is the image they used to advertising Myles’s reading. To me, it kind of sums her up perfectly. As an artist, as a writer, as a poet, she is incredibly human. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to her read at UCSD three times now and every time I am amazed by how utterly normal … Read More Local San Diego: Eileen Myles

The Lover’s Dictionary

The Lover’s Dictionary by David Levithan How does one talk about love? Do we even have the right words to describe something that can be both utterly mundane and completely transcendent, pulling us out of our everyday lives and making us feel a part of something greater than ourselves? Taking a unique approach to this problem, the nameless narrator of David Levithan’s The Lover’s … Read More The Lover’s Dictionary

The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten. This isn’t the type of book I … Read More The Fault in Our Stars

Beloved

Beloved by Toni Morrison Sethe was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has borne the unthinkable and not gone mad, yet she is still held captive by memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. Meanwhile Sethe’s house has long been troubled by the angry, destructive ghost of … Read More Beloved

The Devil’s Highway

The Devil’s Highway: A True Story by Luis Alberto Urrea So many illegal immigrants die in the desert Southwest of the U.S. that only notorious catastrophes make headlines. Urrea reconstructs one such incident in the Sonoran Desert, the ordeal of sun and thirst of two dozen men in May 2001, half of whom suffered excruciating deaths. They came from Vera Cruz; their so-called guide … Read More The Devil’s Highway