Thursday, August 17, 2017

The Bear And The Nightingale by Katherine Arden

My rating: 4.2

In the depth of winter in the Russian wilderness, Marina tells her husband that she is pregnant with their fifth child and she believes it is a girl who will be bestowed with the magic that her mother had. The girl is raised with her sibblings huddled around the fire listening to her nurse's fairytales...which cross with reality. Evil creatures in the forest become demons that cannot be controllled.

This is reality intermingled with fantasy. This is poetry. This is beautiful. It did drag a bit for me in parts but I would definitely read more by this author.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

My rating: 3.0

Newlyweds, Alice and Jake, are given a wedding gift to join a mysterious group know as The Pact. The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. .until one of them breaks the rules and it turns into their worst nightmare.

There is a lot to 'get past' with this book. If you can get past a bright couple agreeing to stupid things, an attorney not reading a contract before signing it and several other implausible things in this story, then this is a light easy read where you just have to go to with it and enjoy the ride. The implausibility and sci-fi feel aside, this was a very readable book.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Beartown by Frederik Backman

My rating: 5.0

In a tiny community set deep in the forest, a Junior ice hockey team is about to compete for the semi-finals. All the hopes and dreams of the town rest on the shoulders of these teenage boys. This is about the boys, the coaches, GMs, managers and the town - everyone's life hopes and dreams revolve around the team.

This reads somewhat like a thriller with flashbacks. Not only was I brought up with hockey but my niece Olivia played goalie for a AAA team in a remote town this past winter.  I can say that this NAILED hockey, a hockey town and their mentality perfectly. IMO, this is Backman's best book yet. Stunning! Don't read too much about it as there is a spoiler.....which I was shocked was in the description of the book - don't read anything more about it!  Just get the book..

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

My rating: 4.7

Two women - Eve & Charlie - two different times:

1915: Young Eve Gardner gets the chance to fight the a spy.
1947: After WWII, Charlie St. Claire finds herself pregnant, with her beloved cousin missing.

These two worlds intersect with Eve trying to drink away her memories and Charlie trying to find her missing cousin.

I really enjoyed the character and story of Eve.  Charlie's character was mediocre for me but did get better as the book went on. Reminiscent of Rose Under Fire and Code Name Verity. I would definitely read more by this author.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

My rating: 4.6

This sweeping multi-generational saga starts in Korea in the early 1900's with the unplanned pregnancy of Sonja threatening to shame her family. An unexpected offer of marriage can save her but will take her to Japan where Koreans are despised.

This is a beautifully written quiet book that was extremely enjoyable. I felt for the characters and there were a couple of points where I audible bemoaned some of their choices. The only slight criticism I would have is that while I do understand that it was a saga but felt that it could have been edited down a bit. Still, all in all, a fabulous read.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

My Rating: 4.9

Samuel Lake is a passionate politically incorrect preacher.  Every year when congregations are assigned, his three children understand that he will be given a different congregation and they will have to move. The annual family reunion at his wife's hundred acre farm in Arkansas gives the children a chance to be free from the scrutiny of being the 'preacher's kids' as well as to spend time exploring and being kids and reconnecting with the family.

Oh, where to start?  I LOVED this wholesome wonderful tale. All of the characters from the adults to the children came alive for me...ok, maybe the 'bad' characters could have had more depth but that is a small complaint. It captures the innocence of childhood, the first time someone talks to you like and adult and really listens to you 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My rating:  4.9

Cath and her twin sister Wren are going away to college and Wren has told her she doesn't want to be roommates. This is the first of many adjustments for Cath but, she still has her writing of the Simon Snow fan fiction.

When I read Carry-On I found out that it was written after Fangirl. Now that I have read both books, I am glad that I read them in the order that I did (although I can see how they would work the other way they were written). It was great to read the parts of Carry-On and remember that story and see how brilliantly Rainbow Rowell tied it all together. Part coming of age, part love story and part fantasy literature - genius! If you like Harry Potter and/or Young Adult, I think you will love this.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

She's Not There by Joy Fielding

My Rating:  2.8

A couple celebrates their 10th anniversary in Mexico with 3 other couples. They leave their two children alone in the hotel room while they go downstairs for dinner only to have the two year old disappear.  This flashes back and forth in time from the kidnapping to the years since.

The characters were flat and not well developed. The husband is so bad and shallow and has no redeeming traits. There is no depth or complexity at all. The conclusion was so over the top that it felt like a bad made for tv movie.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

My rating: 4.8

Ginny Moon is a 14 year old autistic girl. After being in foster care, Ginny is with her 4th 'forever family'. Ginny is trying to make sense of a world where things don't add up. Despite trying to tell everyone something important, no one understands.  Thanks to Ludwig's fabulous writing, we understand Ginny exactly perfectly.

I was worried this was going to be syrupy sweet but instead, discovered that this novel was such a delight. You will understand the mind of a 14 year old autistic child and Ginny will capture your heart. This was extremely well written and captured all perspectives so well. Phenomenal writing. I think that everyone should read this wonderful novel.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani

 My rating: 4.8

It is 1950 in glittering, vibrant New York City. Lucia Sartori is the beautiful twenty-five-year-old daughter of a prosperous Italian grocer in Greenwich Village. Lucia is the apprentice to a designer at an upscale department store and engaged to her childhood sweetheart.  All of her dreams are coming true.

This sweet book captures 1950's New York, the styles, Italian families, food and so much more. Listening to this on audio added so much richness to the telling. Such a joy. I will be reading more by this author.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Women In The Castle by Jessica Shattuck

My rating:  3.0

A group of German resistors understand that Hitler is crazy and have an assassination plot. Marianne hears their conversations and takes a vow that, should anything go wrong, that she will be in charge of helping the other resistance wives  This historical fiction novel takes place at the end of WWII with three widows - Marianne, Betinna and Ania -  living in an old decaying Bavarian castle. Marianne, now a widow from the failed assassination plot on Hitler, has rescued Martin the six year old son of her best friend who was part of the plot. Another wife, the beautiful Benita is in a refugee camp and encounters Ania, another resistor's wife.

Marianne assembles this makeshift family. Told through flashbacks, you quickly understand the horrific dark things that each have had to come through. I was quite interested in the plot line of the assassination plot on Hitler but this was very minimal in the book. The characters felt very flat so it was difficult to care about any of them. I typically love books told from alternating perspectives and through flashbacks but this felt disjointed. Despite a promising plot line and being interested in this being war from the women's perspective, I was disappointed in this book and wouldn't recommend.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

My rating: 4.8

Set in Tulsa Oklahoma, this flashes between 17 yo Rowan (modern day) and Will Tillman (100 years ago). During renovations of her family's guest house, Rowan discovers a skeleton on the family property and is determined to find out who it was. Back in 1921, Will Tillman is discovering Jim Crow laws, segregation and who he is. In alternating chapters, this unfolds in both of their lives.

This was masterfully told and had so many layers to it, both in 1921 Tulsa as well as modern day. Very powerful and again, so horrific what man can do to man. This is a little talked about time in American history and something that everyone should be aware of. Definite recommend.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

My rating: 2.9

Claire's husband Nick and their four year old daughter are in a car crash that kills Nick. Claire is left with daughter Maisie and their new born son Felix. Grief, obsession and sleep deprivation have Claire convinced of something sinister and that Nick's death was not accidental.Told in alternating chapter between Claire's hunt for the truth and Nick's last months leading up to the crash.

I found that I kept on having to make excuses for both Nick and Claire's nonsensical behavior. It was frustrating time and time again to have each of them act in such illogical ways. Being dragged step by step through the minutia of Claire's irrational fears got where I felt more exhausted than she was. Definitely not on par with Kubica's other books.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

My rating: 4.8

This follows two half-sisters, Efia the beauty and Esi and their offspring from Ghana in the 1700's to today in America.

At times, I got lost as the chapters transitioned to the next generation of who I was following but, I just stuck with it and soon understood how it tied to the previous generations. This felt like many short stories tied together. This was masterfully told and very vivid in the atrocities that so many went through.  Amazing author who made you feel and understand so much. The audio version was fabulous.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

I Let You Go by Claire MacIntosh

My rating; 3.0

Jenna leaves everything behind in order to escape her past and to start a new life on the Welsh Coast. Unfortunately, her past follows her and has to face it.

I found this extremely predictable which detracted from the story line as I kept waiting for the 'twist' and there was none. Instead, it felt rather boring. I think the high ratings are from people who didn't see things coming...then it would possibly be one of those "wow, that twist caught me totally unaware' type of books. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of those people.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

My rating: 4.7

Eighteen yo Solimar Castro Valdez gets smuggled into America and shows up on her cousin's doorstep in Berkley. While she tries hard to overcome her circumstances,

Kavya and Rishi are in their mid-30's and working hard at their careers and are American while dealing with their parents being traditional Indian. When Kavya realizes she desperately wants a child.

This is the heartbreaking journey of different women, cultures and values at odds. You know it isn't going to end well and, no matter how it ends, there is going to be loss and heartbreak. Beautiful writing that captures so much on so many levels. This would make an amazing book club discussion.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein

My rating: 4.9

While flying a plane from Paris to England, American Pilot Rose Justice is forced by the Nazis to land her unarmed plane.  What ensues is a vivid gripping account of her time in the Ravensbruck Concentration Camp.

I loved the first book Code Name Verity and I think, if possible, this may have been even better (yes, I know others disagree with that and I even waffle with which one I loved more). You don't have to read them in order as they work as stand alones. It is graphic and uncomfortable but such an amazing read. While the characters were fiction, the events were real...oh so horrifically real. This one will stay with me for quite a while. Definite recommend.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan

My rating: 5.0

Pino Lella is a normal Italian teenager, obsessed with music, food and girls when WWII breaks out. This is based on the amazing true story of Pino Lella who is still alive and well today living in Lesa Italy.

If you like historical fiction or if you loved All The Light You Cannot See, The Nightingale or Unbroken or are just a fan of great writing, then you need to read this book.  I thoroughly enjoyed and have already gotten several friends to read it and they feel the same way. I am sure this will be made into a movie. Definitely makes my 'Best of 2017' list! 

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Bookmarks Magazine

It is Saturday and in my mailbox I discovered my latest edition of Bookmarks magazine. Nothing is as delicious as getting my Bookmarks and having time to delve into it right away.

On first pass, these are the books that have jumped out at me and I will be adding to my queue:



These are already in my queue and now I am really anxious for them to come in on my library hold list...well, except Into The Water which got a poor review but I will still give it a try:


There were quite a few 'short story' compilations that I am sure others would love but I have learned that 99% of short stories don't appeal to me

If you get Bookmarks, please share any of your picks that I missed. Happy reading!

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Secrets You Keep by Kate White

My rating: 2.8

Bryn was in a car accident and has amnesia. She is trying to piece together what happened and her wonderful supportive husband Guy suddenly seems to lose patience with her. Is he tired of her fragility or is he doing things behind her back? Then a woman who caters their party is murdered. From there, things unraveled very quickly for me.

What should have been a page turning fast paced thriller was a slog that was difficult to get through and turned out to be extremely predictable and boring. I waffled between 2 and 3 stars.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

My rating: 3.0

Ann is Wade's second wife.  Ann attempts to piece together what happened to Jenny, Wade's first wife who is now in prison. This is told in alternating perspectives at it flashes back to what happened when Jenny, Wade and their two girls went out to chop wood.

While the writing was beautiful, I had such a difficult time connecting with any of the characters. Both Jenny and Ann have such extreme psychological issues that I not only didn't like them but I didn't trust their perspective at all. It started out fairly well but quickly went downhill. As another reviewer said, the characters were so bizarre and unrealistic it felt like you fell down the rabbit hole. Not one relate-able character makes it difficult to enjoy.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

An Unseen World by Liz Moore

My rating: 3.7

Ada is raised by her father David. David is a brilliant, socially inept single father who runs a science lab and home schools Ada.

For myself, while this wasn't a must read, it was a very intriguing read for the first half but the second half dragged. I thought it was a fairly solid read overall and have to admire Moore's writing and deft handling of this topic.

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Dry by Jane Harper

My Rating: 4.7

Federal Police Investigator Aaron Falk returns to Kiewarra Australia for the funeral of his childhood friend Luke.  This resurfaces memories for Aaron of 20 years ago when, in high school, he was accused of the murder of Ellie, and Luke was his alibi. The investigation of Luke's murder overlaps with the past and everything unfolds.

A very well written mystery that flashes back and forth in time and kept me on the edge of my seat until the very end.

Friday, June 2, 2017

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

My rating: 4.4

Madeline/Mattie, also knows as Linda, lives in the Minnesota woods in abandoned commune cabins with her parents. For this, she is an outsider at school who is labeled as 'Freak' or 'Commie'.  A teacher at school is charged with child pornography as well as something that may or may not have happened with a student. Linda becomes the babysitter for the Gardner family across the lake who are devout Christian Scientists.

This book is disjointed as it is how a teenager thinks. Linda is trying to fit in and yet isn't quite sure what is ok and is trying to absorb and figure out clues of how to act with everything around her.  We all have those odd moments from our childhood that stand out (I think that was what Mr Grierson was for Linda) and other moments that define you and even set the course for your life.

This may not be for everyone but, for myself, I had to just read and enjoy without trying to figure out where this was going. I got lost in the beautiful writing. Wow. Such beautiful readable writing had me so enamored that I didn't realize what was looming. 

Monday, May 29, 2017

Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover

My rating: 2.0

Tate moves in with her brother who's apartment is across the hall from Miles. Miles doesn't want love and she doesn't have time for love so they embark on a casual affair.

This was a Harlequin Romance with better developed characters and slightly better writing.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Before I Go by Colleen Oakley

My rating: 2.0

On the eve of celebrating her four year cancerversary, Daisy gets diagnosed for the second time with cancer and, this time it is terminal. Daisy makes it her mission to find a new wife for her husband.

 I liked the characters, the writing was ok but I didn't care for the plot line.  It was cheezy and completely implausible so it lost me. This implausible plotline that I couldn't connect with then made me notice the writing which felt very formula. This went from an interesting story line to so boring. I really enjoyed Oakley's novel "Close Enough To Touch" so found this very disappointing. Glad that this was written prior to Close Enough To Touch as that says Oakley's writing is improving as are her plot lines so, I hold out hope she may have more books to come that will continue to be solid.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Black & White by Dani Shapiro

My Rating: 4.6

Clara returns to New York to see her ailing mother, the controversial photographer Ruth Dunne who became famous through her discomforting nude photos of young Clara. This is uncomfortable and captures so many levels of emotion. Definitely not a plot driven book. I found that it evoked so many emotions in me for Clara and her situation, both as a child and an adult.

I really enjoyed Shapiro's writing style of leaving sentences unfinished and somehow conveying the emotions with even more punch. This is not for everyone but I enjoyed it.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Private Life of Mrs. Sharma

My rating: 4.5

Mrs Sharma is a 37 yo woman who's husband works in Delhi to provide the family with a better life. She lives with her in-laws along with her 15 yo son Bobbie who has dreams of becoming a chef despite his mother's dreams of something grander for him.

This first person narrative captured me and despite the continued gradual twisted twists in her thinking I continued along with it as it almost seemed as natural to me as it was to her (ok, not quite but, I still enjoyed the journey).  This captures Indian culture and I loved her voice. I believe that this captures many Mrs. Sharma's although hopefully without the twist.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir

My rating: 4.9

This is my second Alison Weir book and I am so in love with her writing. This starts from when Elizabeth is three years old and progresses into her early adult years. You really feel like you know and understand her and your heart goes out to her and you admire her for all of the situations she has to face at such a young age and handles with dignity.

Fabulous writing combined with so much true drama that it doesn't need embellishment. WONDERFUL!  I can't wait to read the next in this series.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Close Enough To Touch by Colleen Oakley

My rating: 4.9

Jubilee, is allergic to human touch...yes, she could die from simply being touched by another person. She has a humiliating near fatal accident in high school and becomes an unplanned recluse in her home...for nine years! When her mother dies and she needs to be financially independent, she is thrust back out in to the world to fend for herself.

This took a couple of chapters to grab me but, then it did.  All of the characters grew on me with every turn of the page where I was cheering for each of them.  Eric, Aja, Madison, Ellie and most especially Jubilee where all flawed characters that I fell in love with and wanted so much for and had me rooting for them. I drew comparisons to JoJoy Moyes writing when I was telling my friends about this...before I read the descriptions. It is a fun fast read that will capture your heart and stay with you.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Separation by Katie Kitamura

My rating: 3.8

Christopher and his wife agree to separate but to not tell anyone. Then his wife gets a phone call from Christopher's mother inquiring into his whereabouts. Writing about the painful end of a marriage is so difficult and, this captures it so beautifully.  The eloquence and depth of emotion is so beautiful. There is not doubt that Kitamura is an incredible writer capable of capturing so much. I can't emphasize enough how beautiful the writing is...and can understand the comparisons to Elena Ferrante...yes, it is that gorgeous of phrasing.

I also completely understand that this was 'too much'.  It was every single thought articulated to the point of being boring. It is also an extremely depressing topic that there is no 'happy ending' to but, for me, Kitamura's beautiful writing still shone through. This was difficult for me to rate as, even though this wasn't a 'readable' novel it captured so much and was amazing in it's writing. Definitely not one for the masses though.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 4.8

I absolutely loved Simon and all of the other characters. I think knowing it is a "Harry Potter remake" helped me get into this book very quickly: Simon=Harry, Baz=Draco, Penny=Hermione, Watford=Hogwortz etc. etc. For me, the characters just fell into place seamlessly so I instantly got lost in the story line. Then suddenly WOAH!!!...I wasn't expecting that!!!

This is Rainbow Rowell's version of Harry Potter but make no mistake, this is NOT the Harry Potter storyline. If you don't like Harry Potter or if you think that J.K. Rowling owns the Harry Potter concept then, you won't like this at all. If you loved Harry Potter and want another version of it, run out and grab this book.  LOVED it!  Now I want to read Fangirl.

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

My rating: 3.5

In 1908 Sara Harrison Shea was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her 8 year old daughter Gertie. Now, in present day, Ruthie and her family live in the same farmhouse where Sara Harrison Shea once lived. When Ruthie's mother Alice goes missing, it is the clues from the past that will help her discover her mother's whereabouts.

The writing was solid but I don't care for ghost stories as they always strike me as very implausible. If you like ghost stories, you might enjoy this as it was good writing and a solid storyline.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia

My rating: 2.0

Maybe I fell for the hype? Maybe I read too many great reviews? Maybe I wasn't in the right mood? Or maybe this writing and storyline was as bad as I think it was.  UGH!  Could the characters have been any more one dimensional (Peter's character as just one example - double UGH!)

I didn't know for sure "who" did it till a little ways into the book but very early on in the book, the author clearly lets us know who "didn't" do it and then proceeds to continue to try to make it think it was that person.  Between a poor plot line, no character development and a red herring murderer that the author spoiled....if this book hadn't been on my beloved kindle, I would have thrown it across the room. Hopefully this review isn't too scathing but, you know you can always count on me to be honest!

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Bookmarks Magazine May/June 2017

This was our first weekend home in a month and I couldn't imagine a more perfect way to spend this afternoon with my feet in the pool and going through my much anticipated Bookmarks magazine:

This edition was packed full of so many books that intrigue me. Here are the ones that I have added to my queue:




Already in my queue from previous issues:

If you get Bookmarks, let me know what your picks are and/or please share what good books you are reading as I always love to talk books :-)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Still Life: A Chief Inspector Gamache Novel

My rating:4.7

In the small close knit town of Three Pines, resident Jane Neal has been found dead in the woods. Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Surêté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of the suspicious death.

For me, this book captured so much in such an understated way - small town life, a police detective and his crew and a French Canadian town to name just a few. This is a true "who done it" mystery but weaves in love, life and friendship stories with the beautiful writing. I will definitely be reading more in this series.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

The Girl In The Red Coat by Kate Hamer

My rating: 4.9

Single mum Beth takes her daughter Carmel to a local fair. In the foggy haze, Carmel goes missing.

First off, the writing. Wow!

"I'm looking out of the window and I can almost see her - in those tights that made cherry licorice of her legs - walking up the lane to school. The missing her feels like my throat has been removed."

While the story was sad and even upsetting, the writing was so beautiful. For myself, this wasn't about the story but about the amazing writing. .I lost myself in getting to know every one of the characters, who they were, how they felt and the unfolding of who they were. I love when I still have questions at the end of the book as the author didn't wrap it all up in a bow. I can't wait for THE DOLL FUNERAL, Hamer's next novel to be released in August 2017.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

My rating: 2.8

Lo Blacklock gets the incredible opportunity to cover for her boss doing an article on the maiden voyage of The Aurora. She witnesses a woman in the cabin next to her getting thrown overboard and things unfold from there.

Although being inside Lo's head is a scary place to be this book wasn't scary or a thriller lol! They have put a lot of hype around this to try to make it sound like Agatha Christie meets Girl On The Train (not even close!). I did have to suspend a lot of my questioning of the plot but Lo being a whining, neurotic, alcoholic with zero conscience for her job was definitely something difficult to get past. Lo's thought process was extremely annoying and implausible. Also, there were no likable characters which is challenging.  To top it off, the writing felt very juvenile and I was constantly being told what I should feel. Definitely NOT a recommend.

Monday, April 10, 2017

The Fall Guy by James Lasdun

My Rating: 3.8

Charlie, a wealthy banker with an uneasy conscience, invites his troubled cousin Matthew to visit him and his wife in their idyllic mountaintop house. As the days grow hotter, the friendship between the three begins to reveal its fault lines, and with the arrival of a fourth character, the household finds itself suddenly in the grip of uncontrollable passions

Very twisted and although I enjoyed it, none of the characters were likable and the ending felt anti-climatic. Not a must read.

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir

My rating: 5.0

The Innocent Traitor is the story of scheming parents trying to raise their lot through their daughter. It brings all of the characters to life and is told by various perspectives of the Tudor court capturing everything from the dress, food and protocol of that day.

Alison Weir may be my new favorite historical fiction author. If she was my historyteacher in school, I would have had an A+ in history as she makes it enjoyable to learn about that time period. Lady Jane Grey was Weir's first novel back in 2006. I am glad that I am late in discovering Weir as she now has over half a dozen more historical fiction books. I have already downloaded two more books by her to my kindle. Fabulous read..

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Faithless by Karin Slaughter

My Rating: 4.2

Sarah and Jeffrey stumble on a body that was buried alive in the Georgia woods.

Another roller coaster thriller ride that you never know where it will lead. I enjoy the easy read of Karin Slaughter's books...perfect when you want something light but entertaining.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Fever Dreams by Samantha Schweblin

My Rating: 2.0

Amanda lies dying in a rural hospital clinic. A boy named David sits beside her. This is told in various flashbacks. You know how when you have a fever and have the most wild crazy dreams and, when you wake up, you remember disjointed pieces that are just enough to unsettle you. This book was aptly named. Even after it ended I wasn't sure what to think. On one hand, this captured a fevered dream so well - disoriented, confused, bizarre, patchwork of disjointed pieces. Pieces that I didn't feel came together even in the end.

As much as the writing was amazing, this would not be a recommend.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

My rating: 2.4

Uninvited, Bert Cousins shows up to the christening of Fix and Beverly Keating's daughter. Bert kisses Beverly and sets in motion the end of both of their marriages and changes the course of everyone's life. This spans 50 years and is a grand undertaking in trying to capture each person's perspective of so many situations in detail.

I absolutely loved Ann Patchett Bel Canto but need to remember that, for myself, that was the only one of Patchett's books that I have enjoyed. While Commonwealth started off strong for me, it quickly dwindled and I had to slog through it. It wasn't poor enough to toss aside but in hindsight, I am not sure why I pushed myself to finish it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold

My rating: 4.8

Columbine is a word that we all know from that horrific school shooting in 1999. For Sue Klebold, this was the day her son turned into a murderer and committed suicide. She walks through everything from Dylan's childhood, the day of the shooting and the aftermath. She also explores mental illness and bullying in trying to understand what happened.

While this is so sad and disturbing, it was also so well done. It was 'real'. Sue Klebold's honesty, openness and ability to consider all sides of the situation in order to try to understand what happened was incredible. Her grace and dignity brought tears to my eyes. So very sad but also a worthwhile read.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Into The Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

My rating: 4.5

Nora is invited to spend a weekend at a countryside for a Hen Party (Bachlorette) for a friend, Clare, that she hasn't seen in 10 years. She has misgivings over whether or not to accept but is talked into it by her friend Nina, who is also going. They both soon have misgivings, although they are trapped at the house out in the woods and don't feel right leaving before the weekend is over.

It doesn't take long (ok, it took me well over half way but I was just enjoying the ride) to figure out 'whodunnit'.  Still, I found this to be a very enjoyable read and just the type of brain popcorn I needed after a hectic day when I wanted something light to escape to. I believe Reese Witherspoon has purchased the movie rights and I could see it would make an entertaining Netflix watch (if they pick it up.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

My rating: 5.0

5th grade August (Auggie) who has been homeschooled is about to go to mainstream school for the first time. Auggie was born with a severe facial deformity. This book is told from several perspectives - Auggie's, his sisters, friends at school - and captures all viewpoints in such an amazingly plausible way that you feel for each and every person. The writing is amazing and captures each person's voice and has you ready to cry one minute and truly chuckling the next.

My oldest niece was born with a hair lip cleft palette (which Auggie has as well but, he has so much else) and I know what she went through and I felt for her. This made me understand so much more, from all sides. This has been in my TBR queue for a long time and I am so glad it finally bubbled up to the top. What an amazingly well written book.  Strongly recommend.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Follow The River by James Alexander Thom

My rating: 5.0

This is the true story of Mary Ingles kidnapping by the Shawnee Indians. After a brutal raid by the on Mary Ingles settlement, she is taken captive along with her two boys and her sister-in-law to live hundreds of miles away. Mary is 9 months pregnant. This is an incredible journey of what she endured during her journey and living for months among the Indians.

The author does an amazing job of capturing the suffering - both mental and physical - of what Mary endured. This story left me in awe. Such incredible writing that truly made me feel all of what she experienced. Definite recommend.

The Indian raid in the beginning is very brutal. If you stopped reading at that point, I strongly encourage you to read past that point before deciding if this book is for you.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

My rating: 2.8

This is about the hellish lives of the slaves on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Most of this story centers around Cora. While this captures the horrors for black people in the pre-civil War era, this book does not accurately portray history (the Underground Railroad was NOT literal) and was poorly written. While I obviously felt for the plight of the people and what happened, the writing was so poor that I didn't feel any attachment to any of the characters.

There is no denying that this was a horrible time in American history but there are so much better books about this. One of my favorites is Someone Knows My Names which accurately captures history and has fabulous writing with characters that you care about so much that it will wrench your heart. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurt

My rating:  3.8

A family living in Washington D.C. with their 2 girls - Iris a neurotypical and Tilly who has been diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum - PPD-NOS,  This book is told from the mother Alexandra and each of the two girls perspective. It captures so well a parent's thought process, emotions and handling of a different child and, how when she reaches the end of her rope, that she grabs on to the lifeline offered by Scott Bean. Scott is establishing Camp Harmony in the woods of New Hampshire.

Parkhurt did an amazing job at making me feel Alexandra's desperation in dealing with Tilly. Despite doing an amazing job of having each person's story so well told, all of the threads didn't come together to weave the story as seamlessly as it could have been.  The final chapter of having a child with wings was so beautiful but all told this was good but not great.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Wonder by Emma Donoghue

My rating: 4.8

An English nurse, Lib, that was trained under Florence Nightingale is brought to a small Irish village to observe what appears to be a miracle-a girl. The girl, Anna, is said to have survived without food for months.

I found myself following Lib's emotional journey starting with her skepticism to understanding more as she got to know all of the villagers. This was based on the compilation of several real-life phenomenon of girls appearing to live without food. I thought the author presented this in such a beautiful way and the story was a rich tapestery of so many threads.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Columbine by Dave Cullen

My rating: 4.7

This is presented in a straightforward factual way of what led up to the shooting, what happened during the shooting and after the shooting. This covers all perspectives - the shooters, psychiatrists, the police, the students and the parents.

It lays everything out very factually and shows how many myths and false evidence were believed as fact. This is a very thorough examination of a very sad event. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

Indelible by Karin Slaughter

My Rating: 4.5

Indelible is the 4th of 6 books in the Grant County series and continues with the Jeffrey Tolliver as the Chief of Police and his ex-wife/medical examiner Sarah Linton. Two armed men enter the police station and start shooting.  When the firing subsides, an officer is dead and several are wounded.  Slaughter flashes back to Jeffrey Toliver's home town where we get background on the events that lead up to the stand-off.

As with all the previous books, there are gruesome details and Slaughter is able to make this feel like a fluffy beach read while still having a great writing and a solid story line. The perfect thing to escape to.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Bookmarks Magazine - March/April 2017

I always get so excited to get my new Bookmarks magazine.  Curling up and reading the reviews is such a special time and it really gets me so excited about settling in with a good book and being transported away by the story. There were a few in here that I am super excited to read:



Transit is a sequel so I want to read the first book in this series, Outline:

If you get Bookmarks, I would love to hear your picks and/or what good books you are reading right now.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

All The Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood

My Rating: 4.9

WARNING: This book is not for everyone as it covers subject matter that could make some VERY uncomfortable. If you can't suspend your discomfort, then this book isn't for you. If you can, don't read too much about this book, just get it and read ... and prepare for the most amazing ride.

Eight year old Wavy's father runs a meth ring and this book follows Wavy's journey as she grows up amidst so many challenges. One night, everything changes when she sees Kellen, a tattooed ex-con that works for her father, wreck his motorcycle.

This was such a beautiful book that captured so much on so many levels. It also made me explore some of my own perceptions which I always find interesting.

To cover such a taboo topic matter where the reader gets past the feelings of discomfort (sometimes skin crawling discomfort!) and are cheering for the characters takes amazing skill...and Greenwood pulled it off impeccably. There were a few parts that I felt didn't fit Wavy's characters and the last portion of the book didn't have the same depth but Greenwood's writing would have me overlook just about anything. Emotionally stunning.

The writing was exquisite and the characters were real. I love you all the way.