Three Quick Reviews

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The Round House 

The Round House by Louise Erdrich

Five words from the blurb: victim, attack, Native American, legal, justice

I’d been wanting to try Louise Erdrich for a long time and the reviews for The Round House were so good that I was persuaded to buy a copy the moment it was released in the UK.  The book follows a Native American woman who is raped on a North Dakotan reservation. It shows how her loving family look after her and try to get justice for the crime. The story shows the investigation and reveals the differences between tribal law and the US legal system.

It was good, solid story telling and it was interesting to learn more about Native Americans, but I occasionally felt that it was contrived and too many legal facts were crammed in. Having things narrated by the thirteen-year-old boy worked really well most of the time, but his innocence gave the book less emotional power than if it had been narrated by the women herself.

Overall this was a great read, but it didn’t quite live up to the enormous hype that preceded it.


The Hive

The Hive by Gill Hornby

Five words from the blurb: parents, school, betrayal, community, power

The Hive appealed to me the moment I heard about it. The book is set in a small primary school and looks at the dynamics between the mothers who drop their children off there each day. I’ve seen how interesting the interactions between parents can be and so looked forward to trying this one.

Unfortunately The Hive was too light for me. The characters were one-dimensional and gossiped with a bitchiness I found intolerable. If you enjoy fast paced chick lit then you’ll probably love this one, but it didn’t have the depth or insight I was hoping for.


Up High in the Trees

Up High in the Trees by Kiara Brinkman

Five words from the blurb: Asperger’s, extraordinary, boy, family, turmoil

Up High in the Trees is written from the point of view of an 8-year-old boy with autism as he learns to cope with his mother’s death. The book accurately portrayed autism, but something else wasn’t quite right. It lacked that special spark and I failed to be interested in what he was saying. It swung from being boring to being overly sentimental. I only finished it because I have a special interest in books with autistic characters. I think it would be more suited to a younger audience.


Have you read any of these books?

What did you think of them?

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  1. Flo says:

    I’ve read none of the books but the first one is more or less on my wishlist. Unfortunately, your conclusion doesn’t surprise me. When ‘everybody’ praise a book, I become a little bit suspicious or I fear to have too many expectations. I’ve read quite recently ‘Shadow Tag’ and have been frustrated; and yet, I like this writer.

    1. Jackie says:

      Flo, I still plan to read her other books as I did enjoy this one. It was a very good read, just didn’t reach the heights I expected given the huge amount of praise heaped upon it.

      1. Flo says:

        I had loved ‘The Painted Drum’.

        1. Jackie says:

          Thanks for the recommendation!

  2. David says:

    Fortunately I read ‘The Round House’ before it was shortlisted for (and won) the National Book Award, so other than the author’s reputation I had no expectations going into it. I have to say I loved it – compelling and with plenty to say on an issue I knew nothing about. It reminded me a little bit of ‘Stand By Me’ (the film) and also Larry Watson’s novels, and all the Star Trek references really appealed to my inner geek. I know ‘Plague of Doves’ revolves around the same family, so I really must read that soon.

    The cover of ‘The Hive’ is appealing, but then I read about the author being married to Robert Harris and the sister of Nick Hornby and I’ll admit I wondered if that is how she got a publishing deal. Maybe not, but it sounds far too chick-lit for my tastes.

    1. Jackie says:

      David, I’m not a fan of Star Trek. Perhaps that is why I didn’t fall in love with it in the same way? A lot of the cultural references didn’t do much for me, as I was into other things. I didn’t realise that ‘Plague of Doves’ was about the same family. I would be interested to hear more about them and I at least now have a better idea of what it will be like.

      I think that The Hive will be too fluffy for your tastes – it was for mine! I’m sure having that many members of the family in the literary world helps to get a publishing deal, but I was interested in reading the book before I knew the family relationships. I’m sure this book will sell well anyway.

  3. Laurie C says:

    I’ve just started a review copy of The Hive, and had wondered if the author was any relation to Nick Hornby. Haven’t read the other two, so can’t share an opinion on those yet, either!

    1. Jackie says:

      Laurie, I look forward to seeing what you make of the book as a whole – I hope you enjoy it more than I did!

  4. Mystica says:

    I’d like to read the first book. The subject is one of heated debate in India right now – with an antiquated justice system trying to get to grips with a problem which is emerging on a daily basis. I’d really like to see how the people of this Reservation deal with the issue.

    1. Jackie says:

      Mystica, It sounds as though your personal interest in the subject matter will make this book shine. I hope you enjoy it!

  5. Judith says:

    I’ve only read the Erdrich book and agree – I don’t think it’s as good as many people have us believe. I read it before most other people and it was my first Erdrich book, so I had no preconceptions about it. But yes, I was a little disappointed although the story was not bad at all.

    1. Jackie says:

      Judith, It is good to see our opinions matching up again!

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