Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Book Review Club (February 2019)

Welcome to the first 2019 meeting of the Book Review Club! We are back in full force with books to recommend. And what about that Punxsutawney Phil and his Gobbler's Knob prediction of an early spring? Spring is great for reading (as are the other three seasons)!  Links to other reviewers are below my post. Please enjoy.

by Lisa O'Donnell 
(adult, winner of Commonwealth Book Prize 2013)

I think the New York Times said it best: "In this first novel she pulls off the unusual pairing of grisly and touching."

The Death of Bees starts with a wallop:
"Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved."

In a nutshell: Two sisters (15-year-old Marnie and 12-year-old Nelly) bury their parents. I won't divulge how the parents died in case you read the book. Anyway, the girls' goal is is to keep the deaths a secret until Marnie turns sixteen and can be Nelly's legal guardian. I will mention the parents were neglectful, abusive drug addicts. So, you really begin rooting for the girls right off the bat.

The novel is told from three alternating points of view.

Streetwise Marnie may be only fifteen, but she's been caring for Nelly for years. Marnie's smart, pragmatic and a survivor. But she is involved in things she shouldn't be. She has dubious friends. She drinks too much. She's having sex.

Nelly is autistic. She speaks like a Victorian novel. Where Marnie is hardened and suspicious of adults and their motives (who can blame her?), Nelly is more childlike and trusting. The juxtaposition of the sisters' perspectives adds to the storytelling.

Lennie, a neighbor, is older and dealing with his own issues. One in particular is his grief over his partner's death. He takes the girls under his wing in an effort to give them a home and keep them safe.

There's lots of conflict, which I love. Various people are trying to locate the parents, such as a drug dealer, a grandparent, a school administrator. The girls grapple with daily life (paying for food, rent, etc.). The girls live in poverty in a housing project in Glasgow, Scotland. Through all this, I was rooting hard for Marnie and Nelly!

I don't remember how I heard of this book or what compelled me to order it from the library. But The Death of Bees stayed with me for several days after I'd closed the cover. Actually, it's still with me. I'm glad I read it.

And now....onto the rest of our reviews. Please click through. You won't want to miss a single one!


Phyllis Wheeler: FLIGHT OF THE BLUEBIRD by Kara LaReau (MG, adventure)

Jody Feldman: FIRE and HEIST by Sarah Beth Durst (YA, fantasy)


Jenn Jilks of Cottage Country: A TRICK OF THE LIGHT by Louise Penny (mystery)

Linda McLaughlin: THE TUSCAN CHILD by Rhys Bowen

Ray Potthoff: SAFE FROM THE SEA by Peter Geye

Sarah Laurence: TRANSCRIPTION by Kate Atkinson (historical spy)


Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: BECOMING by Michelle Obama (memoir)

Margy Lutz: EDUCATED by Tara Westover (memoir)

Patti Abbott:  INHERITANCE by Dani Shapiro (memoir)

                      GEORGE WASHINGTON by Brad Meltzer

Stacy of the Cat's Meow: PURE by Linda Kay Klein

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 think this was the plot of THE CEMENT GARDEN (McEwan).

  2. I will check it out, Patti! Thank you!

  3. Sounds like quite a book, Barrie! Packs a wallop apparently!

  4. Sounds like an intriguing book, Barrie, though I don't see the reason for the title. Does it have anything to do with bees?

  5. Sounds like your type of book: dark with multiple layers. Was it YA or adult fiction? Thanks for hosting!

  6. Wow! That start really gets your attention! Sounds like a good book. Thanks for reviewing. Off to go see if my library has it now. :)

  7. Linda: I *think* the title comes from a statement made by Nelly. She talks about how the death of bees would have a profound impact on the Earth. In the same way, the death of their parents (abusive and neglectful as they are) have an effect on Marnie and Nelly. That's my best shot! :)

  8. Sarah: adult. And I do like dark books, don't I...yet I don't write dark books. Hmmm....

  9. That sounds amazing. I need to read this.

  10. That wounds like a heavy one! I've had students fostered out from druggie parents. It's so difficult.

  11. Topics for young readers sure have changed since I was a teen. Back then I was reading the classics and horse books. - Margy

  12. Jenn: What a tough start in life it must be for those kids.

    Power River Books/Margy: I do think books for teens have changed since we were kids. This is an adult book. Although I bet teens read it, too. :)

  13. Hi Barrie! Sounds like a fantastic book. I really came by to say hi, but I got a great book review in the process! Thanks!


Comments are always welcome!