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.