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Jennifer Balke has commented on (5) products.

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Oryx and Crake

Jennifer Balke, November 16, 2014

I've known about Margaret Atwood for a long time and even have The Handmaid's Tale but have never gotten around to reading it. After reading about her recently, I decided to check out some of her work again. I've read a couple of Atwood's recently-published short stories, but basically I started with Oryx and Crake. And - wow... I'm definitely hooked! Yes, it's another dystopian novel, but what makes it different (and a bit unsettling) is that it seems so possible and so true unlike some of the other popular dystopias. Perhaps slightly hyperbolic (but only perhaps) and maybe a bit heavy-handed for some people, it seems to be such a keen-eyed consideration of where our world could end up if we don't acknowledge our problems and try to make changes. On to book two of the trilogy!
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Life after Life by Kate Atkinson
Life after Life

Jennifer Balke, March 19, 2014

I'm actually somewhat surprised how much I've enjoyed this book. I'm one of the few people who saw the movie Groundhog Day and thought that the main character's reliving the same day over and over was really tedious. However, Atkinson makes it work, perhaps partly because at some point in the book, Atkinson stopped going through Ursula's whole life again upon being reborn. Instead, she just picks up somewhere around the point where Ursula dies or else at some pivotal point in her life. I think early on I was interested to see how she was going to die next. As the book progresses though and as her character becomes more fleshed out, the reader gets to know her better, and, for me at least, it becomes easy to forget that she would probably die again at some point. I found it to really be an interesting concept - being able to continually hit the reset button until you get it right. What have you learned from your life and how can you make it better for both yourself and for those around you? This seemed to be the big question the book explores.
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Bel Canto: A Novel by Ann Patchett
Bel Canto: A Novel

Jennifer Balke, January 1, 2013

Wow, what an incredible story! I've heard people talk about this book for years, and now I know why.
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Bel Canto: A Novel by Ann Patchett
Bel Canto: A Novel

Jennifer Balke, September 19, 2012

Wow... I had heard people talk about this book for a long time, so I finally bought it a couple of months ago when Powells was offering one of their special deals. I cannot really express how beautiful this story is. Although I like other things by Patchett, I see why people who have read Bel Canto always compare her later works to this one. Not only does it make me want to listen to and learn more about opera, Bel Canto tells such an incredible story about the nature of humanity.
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The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
The Night Circus

Jennifer Balke, January 2, 2012

I'm not sure if this is a totally great comparison, but The Night Circus kind of reminded me of a cross between The Hunger Games and Something Wicked This Way Comes with its love story embedded into a fight to the finish and the supernatural circus. I can be easily distracted reading books (probably because I'm so busy during the school year), but I was totally sucked in with this book and couldn't put it down. For me the best part of this book was probably all the descriptions, especially of the different elements of the circus, that Morgenstern includes.
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