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Rachel Coker has commented on (74) products.

Paris: The Novel by Edward Rutherfurd
Paris: The Novel

Rachel Coker, March 19, 2015

"Paris" reminds me of the tasting menu at a fancy restaurant where the chef is operating under the misconception that he can do no wrong. Author Edward Rutherfurd serves up some tasty morsels in this epic novel, but he also delivers some rather self-indulgent and incoherent bits along the way. At this restaurant, it would've been better to get the four-course prix fixe than the 12-course tasting menu. The core of the novel, which follows several families living in Paris over the course of a few centuries, is really well done. Great research, interesting characters, beautiful settings, the works! Unfortunately, the novel is also bloated with pedantic passages in which Rutherfurd wants to show off how much he knows about something. I wish his editor had helped to trim this 800-page banquet into a slimmer, more elegant 500-page feast. I read this book over the course of a couple of weeks in which I was first getting ready to travel to Paris and then actually in the city. But what started off as a fun little project soon came to feel like a burdensome homework assignment.
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The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August by Claire North
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Rachel Coker, February 24, 2015

"The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August" offers a fun, witty, occasionally thought-provoking mashup of time travel and reincarnation. It is written as a memoir of Harry August, a man who is destined to be reborn into the same circumstances over and over. It initially appears that Harry can tinker with the events of his own life but not the broad strokes of world history. The adventure really gains steam as he encounters others like himself. If you enjoyed "The Time Traveler's Wife" or "Life After Life," this novel may appeal to you as well.
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Sweet Tooth by Ian McEwan
Sweet Tooth

Rachel Coker, January 27, 2015

"Sweet Tooth" is a spy novel whose protagonist is a fiction-loving young woman. What's not to like? Ian McEwan gives us Serena Frome, the Cambridge-educated daughter of an Anglican bishop eager for a taste of independence and excitement in early 1970s England. When an older man recruits her for MI5, she finds herself living a London life that is by turns boring (endless typing in frigid offices) and thrilling (secret assignations). Serena falls in love with the novelist she's supposed to recruit for an operation code named Sweet Tooth, and the story takes off from there.
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Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty
Rosie Revere, Engineer

Rachel Coker, January 4, 2015

I don't often take the time to leave comments about children's books, but "Rosie Revere, Engineer" is something special. The rhymes are clever; the illustrations are fun. Best of all is the message of this delightful book: You only fail if you give up. This is something today's kids need to hear over and over. Throw in the fact that the book introduces kids to the idea of becoming engineers, and this is a real winner.
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Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel
Station Eleven

Rachel Coker, December 24, 2014

Dystopian fiction has been a favorite of mine for 25 years. Post-apocalyptic dystopias pose special challenges to the author, who must reimagine civilization *and* come up with a plausible cause for the collapse of civilization as we knew it. Emily St. John Mandel navigates all of this with ease, never leaving the reader feeling too lost even as she flies backward and forward through time. "Station Eleven" is a gem. The post-pandemic world of the novel is so interesting and so real that I wish the book were longer!
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