Review: The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd: Book Cover

Product Details

  • Pub. Date: January 2003
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Format: Paperback , 336pp

Synopsis

“The bees came the summer of 1964, the summer I turned fourteen and my life went spinning off into a whole new orbit, and I mean whole new orbit. Looking back on it now, I want to say the bees were sent to me. I want to say they showed up like the angel Gabriel appearing to the Virgin Mary, setting events in motion I could never have guessed.” So begins the story of Lily Melissa Owens, a plucky girl, rich in humor despite heart wrenching circumstances. Living on a peach farm in South Carolina with her harsh, unyielding father, her entire life has been shaped around one devastating, though blurred, memory- the afternoon her mother was killed. Four at the time, she remembers innocently picking up the gun. And, she has her father’s eyewitness account of the gun firing. People remind her it was an accident, yet she’s inhabited by a torturous guilt. Lily’s only real companion is Rosaleen, a tender, but fierce-hearted black woman who cooks, cleans and acts as her “stand-in mother.”
South Carolina in 1964 is a place and time of seething racial divides. When violence explodes one summer afternoon, and Rosaleen is arrested and beaten, Lily is desperate, not only to save Rosaleen, but to flee a life she can no longer endure. Calling upon her colorful wits and uncommon daring, she breaks Rosaleen out of jail and the two of them take off, runaway-fugitives conjoined in an escape that quickly turns into Lily’s quest for the truth about her mother’s life.
Following a trail left ten years earlier, Lily and Rosaleen end up in the home of three bee-keeping sisters. No ordinary women, the sisters revere a Black Madonna and tend a unique brand of female spirituality that reaches back to the time of slavery. As Lily’s life becomes deeply entwined with theirs, she is irrevocably altered. In a mesmerizing world of bees and honey, amid the strength and power of wise women, Lily journeys through painful secrets and shattering betrayals, finding her way to the single thing her heart longs for most.

Initial Response: 

I loved this book.  It made me think of the civil rights times in a completely new way.  Not only that but this coming of age book touched on a lot of sensitive subjects in a tactful way.  This is an outstanding book.  It truly reminds me of many of the Oprah picks.  I am surprised we have not seen this book there.

My Review:

Outstanding coming of age book.  Lily is a young girl who has seen her share of difficult times.  She knows her mother died when is was young but she is unclear of the circumstances.  She lives with her father T. Ray, who is a hard man, and does not seem to understand what Lily needs.  There is also the house attendant,  Rosaleen. Once the civil rights laws have been passed Lily is going with Rosaleen into town to register her to vote but they run into trouble. Lily helps Rosaleen to escape jail (hospital at the time) and follow the only clue Lily has about her mother and what may have happened.  This journey takes them to the pink home of August, May and June.  Lily learns a lot about bee keeping and about life.  It takes Lily a long time to confront August about her mother and when she does she learns things she never wanted to believe were true. We also see the frustrations of falling in love with someone of a different color and the challenges it presents.  There is so much emotion in this book everything from love, to mourning, and everything in between.  This book should not be missed.  It is an outstanding read and one that should give everyone a better understanding of what the world was in 1964.

Indulgence in Death (In Death, #31)

Product Details

       Pub. Date: November 2010
       Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
       Format: Hardcover , 384pp
       Series: In Death Series , #31
       ISBN-13: 9780399156878
       ISBN: 0399156879

Synopsis

An indulgence for readers: the new Eve Dallas novel from the #1 New York Times-bestselling author.
First it was a limo driver shot through the neck with a crossbow. Then it was a high-priced escort found stabbed through the heart with a bayonet.
Random hits, thrill kills, murderers with a taste for the finer things in life-and death-are making NYPSD Lieutenant Eve Dallas angry. And an angry Eve can be just as an efficient and dangerous predator as the killer.
As time runs out on another innocent victim’s life, Eve’s investigation will take her into the rarefied circle that her husband, Roarke, travels in-and into the perverted heart of madness…

My Review

This is by far one of my favorite series.  And it has proved to be true with this book as well.  I love how this book starts – in Ireland with Roarke’s family.  We get to see the softer side of Eve by seeing her surprise Roarke with a children’s park she has build and dedicated to his mother.  What a great way to start the book.  We also find that murder seems to follow Eve everywhere as she helps a green officer in Ireland solve a murder while she is there.  While it isn’t a tough case and is solved quickly she still helps him through the process.

After arriving back in New York City, she tags a murder almost immediately.  It seems to be a most unusual case of a limo driver shot with a crossbow.  Fairly quickly there is a second murder of one of the best escort is NYC and she is shot through the heart with a bayonet.  Eve quickly realized that the murders are linked.  I love that Eve always seems to be one step ahead when she working a case.  As always there is a creative ending to the book that I did not see coming.  You will have to read to find out.

As always my favorite part of the book was the banter between Roarke and Eve.  I love that she had a constant fight with independence and Roarke constantly is fighting her on it.  It seems after all 31 of these books that has not died but she is starting to become more aware of others and their feeling. 
The one thing that bothered me about the book was that it just seemed long.  There was a long period of time between when she knew who the murders were and the case was actually solved.  Normally, I can’t put a J.D. Robb book down but in this case it took me several sittings to get through it. 
 All in all, I really enjoyed the book and would give it 4 stars.

Book Review: Happy Ever After by Nora Roberts

  • Pub. Date: November 2010
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Format: Paperback , 355pp

Synopsis

Dreams are realized in the eagerly-awaited fourth novel in Nora Roberts’s Bride Quartet.
As the public face of Vows wedding planning company, Parker Brown has an uncanny knack for fulfilling every bride’s vision. She just can’t see where her own life is headed. Mechanic Malcomb Kavanaugh loves figuring out how things work, and Parker is no exception. Both know that moving from minor flirtation to major hook-up is a serious step. Parker’s business risks have always paid off, but now she’ll have to take the chance of a lifetime with her heart…

My take:

I was hoping that I would enjoy this book as much as I enjoyed the first 3 in this series.  I am happy to say that I think that I enjoyed this book even more than the first three.  I love the charter development that continues through each of these books.  Parker was calm and collected through the first three books while we got to know her and how dedicated she is to her friends, who she considers her family, we never really saw the soft side of her.  I was pleased to find that she was not as collected as we all thought.  Mal has been the same bold character thought since we were introduced to him.  I love that we get to know Mal’s mother and the history between her and Mrs. G.  I love that we get to continue to explore the other three brides to be while getting the real focus on how Mal and Parker move into their relationship.  I think my favorite part of this story is how Mrs, G finds Parker’s mother’s wedding dress out for her at the end of this book.  All in all, I wish there was a follow up series about these weddings and how they go off.  I love reading Nora Roberts she just has a way of telling a story.

For me this was a 5 star book.