Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Book Review Club (September 2013)

Welcome to our September Book Review Club! For a little fun, here's some  trivia about the month of September: The planet Neptune was discovered on September 23, 1846.  My mother and Prince Harry were both born on September 15. Johannes Gutenberg printed the first book, the Bible, using moveable type on Sept. 30, 1452. Still on the topic of books (sorry, that was not pretty or subtle, but it's late, and I have to get this post done), we've reviewed quite the variety of books this month. There's a little something for everyone. Enjoy!

 THE SECRET LIVES OF THE FOUR WIVES by Lola Shoneyin  (adult)

This is the debut novel of Nigerian poet, Lola Shoneyin. Ms. Shoneyin was born and currently lives in Nigeria where she teaches English and drama. She was educated in Great Britain. The novel was written in English and long-listed for the Orange Prize in 2011.

The Secret Lives of the Four Wives takes place in modern Nigeria and is a story of polygamy. Following a traumatic incident, our protagonist, Bolanle, a young, university-educated woman, opts to become Baba Segi's 4th wife. Bolanle's looking for a safe haven. Instead, she winds up in a house where the first three wives resent her and are cruel to her. In fact, the wives aren't all that nice to each other either. There's lots of rivalry and jealousy over each others' children, etc. After two years (and her fair share of nights with Baba Segi--it's all very organized), Bolanle still isn't pregnant. She goes to a modern hospital for tests, and things in the household unravel from there.

This story is told from five perspectives: Bolanle, Iya Segi (wife #1), Iya Tope (#2), Iya Femi (#3), Baba Segi. Lola Shoneyin has an absolute gift when it comes to characterizaton. As a reader, you get inside all these characters, which makes for a rich, absorbing story. There is tragedy. There is humor. There are lots of secrets.  There's a brilliant resolution.

Heartily recommended! Click here for a BBC interview with Author Lola Shoneyin. She explains why she loved writing wife Iya Femi, the most evil of the lot. Also, the author reads from the book. 

Please click through the links below for WONDERFUL, INSIGHTFUL REVIEWS


Stacy Nyikos: PARCHED by Melanie Crowder (Middle Grade)

Stacy of The Cat's Meow: CITY OF BONES by Cassandra Clare (Young Adult)

Sarah Laurence: ROSE UNDER FIRE by Elizabeth Wein (historical YA fiction) *author interview

Alyssa Goodnight of the Writers' Road Less Traveled: THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING by Kari Luna (YA)


Linda McLaughlin: AFTER THE FOG by Kathleen Shoop (historcal fiction)

Prairie Rose of Prairie Rose's Garden: THE SECRET KEEPER by Kate Morton (historical fiction)

Ellen Booraem of Freelance Ne'er-do-well: THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil Gaiman

Beth Yarnall: ARSEN by Mia Asher (contemporary romance)


 Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: OUR MAN IN TEHRAN by Robert A. Wright


Note to Reviewers: Any errors (broken link, missed review, etc), just shoot me an email or leave a comment. Thank you so much for your reviews!


  1. I can't get into a book unless I enjoy the characters--sounds like Ms. Shoneyin has done a masterful job of characterization. Thanks for hosting this once again, Barrie!

  2. That sounds like a perfect book club book. Thanks. Returning to La Jolla in January if you are around.

  3. Fascinating! I can see how this would be a very interesting character dynamic. And a good book club book!

    Thanks, Barrie!

  4. Thanks for hosting, Barrie! I've missed the book club this summer. What an unusual premise for a novel! How did you find it?

  5. Oh, this sounds fascinating, Barrie! A modern African version of Raise the Red Lantern, maybe? I'm definitely grabbing this one asap.

    And yes, thanks for hosting the Book Review Club!

  6. This sounds really different and interesting. Good review.

    I will try to get to everyone's reviews this month. Promise!

  7. Thanks for hosting, Barrie.This might be a good one for me!

  8. Sounds good!

    This book has actually been on my shelf for a long time. I bought it when Borders was going out of business. I'll have to move it up in the TBR pile.

  9. I need to check out Patti's book. A film I always found intriguing. Especially that last shot.


Comments are always welcome!