Mini-reviews: The First Husband by Laura Dave; Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry; and Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Title: The First Husband
Author: Laura Dave
Genre: Contemporary fiction, women’s fiction
Publisher: Viking
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: It feels important to start with the truth about how I got here.

Annie’s life is just the way she wants it. She has her job writing a syndicated travel column, a job that allows her to travel all over the world. She has Nick, her long-time live-in boyfriend, and their home in Los Angeles. Her future is all set – until Nick announces that he wants to break up. Still reeling, Annie meets chef Griffin, and he seems to be just what she needs. Three months later, they’re married and Annie is living in rural Massachusetts, wondering what on earth she has done. Author Laura Dave writes with humor and intelligence. I enjoyed every single page, even though I was kept wondering how things would turn out until almost the very end.

Title: Nathan Coulter
Author: Wendell Berry
Genre: Historical fiction
Publisher: Counterpoint
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy borrowed from my mom
First line: Dark.

I don’t think I’ve ever rated a Wendell Berry book less than four stars. Until now. Nathan Coulter simply doesn’t have the brilliant way with words that I loved in Hannah Coulter, Andy Catlett: Early Travels, and That Distant Land: Stories. I was excited to read the story of Hannah’s husband, especially his experiences in World War II, but this was the story of Nathan’s childhood. I appreciated the connections to other Port William characters, but it simply didn’t work for me as well as his other fiction has. Of course, he is still Wendell Berry, and a lesser book of his is leaps above the best of many other authors; thus, the three-star rating.

Title: Beautiful Darkness
Author: Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
Genre: YA paranormal fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Print copy from my personal library
First line: I used to think our town, buried in the South Carolina backwoods, stuck in the muddy bottom of the Santee River valley, was the middle of nowhere.

This really, truly deserves a full review, but I let myself get too far behind. I will simply say that this is rapidly becoming one of my all-time favorite YA series. Star-crossed lovers Ethan and Lena, the gothic South, singular characters like Amma and the Aunts – the authors have combined all of these elements and then crafted a story that kept me turning the pages as fast as I could. Only the best of sequels match the greatness of the original – Beautiful Darkness is one of those sequels.

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14 Responses to Mini-reviews: The First Husband by Laura Dave; Nathan Coulter by Wendell Berry; and Beautiful Darkness by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

  1. Sandy
    Twitter: youvegottaread
    says:

    You’re working on me Carrie! I got (I think?) Beautiful Darkness at SIBA…well it was one of them anyway. I got a chance to hear the authors speak which was pretty cool. They are just a couple of moms that wanted to prove to their teens that they were COOL. My daughter and I both want to read these.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Sandy – I have been begging my daughter to read them – because I KNOW she will love them – but so far, it hasn’t worked. I did, however, send the first book in the series to my sister for her birthday a couple weeks ago, and she is almost finished with it already. And this is the sister who is not a huge reader. :)

  2. Mary
    Twitter: bookfanmb
    says:

    I really liked The First Husband!

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Mary – I will definitely be looking for more of her work – every once in a while, you need a book that can make you both laugh and cry.

  3. Kailana says:

    I really need to decide if I want to carry on with the ‘Beautiful’ series. I wasn’t crazy about the first book, but you never know…

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Kelly – Hmmmm…. I loved the first one and the second one, but not sure that if you didn’t care for the first one that the second would change your mind….

  4. bermudaonion (Kathy)
    Twitter: bermudaonion
    says:

    Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl spoke at SIBA and they were a delight. I really want to try their series.

  5. Vasilly
    Twitter: Vasilly
    says:

    Wow, Carrie! I think I need to add Beautiful Creatures and Beautiful Darkness to my tbr list. Too bad the Wendell Berry novel didn’t live up to your expectations.

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      V – you definitely need to add the Beautiful Creatures series to your TBR list – I think you will like them! And I finished Andy Catlett: Early Travels after Nathan Coulter, and it compltely renewed my faith in Wendell Berry. :)

  6. Melissa
    Twitter: myeclecticbooks
    says:

    I think I should add the “Beautiful” series to my wishlist. Sorry to hear that Nathan’s story wasn’t all you hoped it to be. I was hoping to eventually find out about his war experiences as well after reading Hannah.

    Melissa @ Melissa’s Eclectic Bookshelf

    • CarrieK
      Twitter: booksandmovies
      says:

      Melissa – I just finished Andy Catlett: Early Travels, and it has restored my faith in the great Berry. :)

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