Sunday, May 26, 2013

Ask Me Why I Hurt by Randy Christensen

Ask Me Why I Hurt

My rating:  3.6

Dr Randy Christensen and his 38 ft Winnebago go around the streets of Phoenix to provide medical care to the homeless youth.  I am in awe of his energy and passion to not only pursue this dream but, to do it day after day, week after week and year after year.

The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox by Maggie O'Farrell

The Vanishing Act of Esme LennoxMy rating:  4.4

Iris gets a call that she has a great Aunt, Esme, that she never knew about who is about to be released from the asylum.  Iris visits her Alzheimer inflicted grandmother, Kitty, to ask her about her never before mentioned sister.  O'Farrell spins a wonderful tale told by Iris, Esme and Kitty.  Kitty and Esme's portions are told in unfinished thoughts/sentences that capture their befuddled metal states so well and, in the process, reveal history in dribs and drabs until you piece together what happened.  A very enjoyable read.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I loved this.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Woman Upstairs by Claire Messud

The Woman Upstairs
My rating:  3.8

This is the story of Nora, an elementary school teacher, and her relationship with her new student Reeza and his parents Sirena and Skandar.  It is also about friendship, art, growing old, your purpose and outlook on life.

I started of completely dazzled by this book - both the story line and the prose....then it waned.  The ending pulled me back in a bit.  This felt like a short story stretched out to be a novel.  Messud is an extremely talented writer with great character development and delicious prose but the pacing of this book needed some work.

Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne

My rating:  4.7

If Gwynne had been my history teacher, I would have loved history!  At the center of the story is the kidnapping of 9 yo Cynthia Ann Parker by the Comanches but Gwynne masterfully weaves together a variety of diverse events about the Americans and the Comanches in the 1800's.

 This shows that the Comanches were the most powerful tribe in American history, due to their equestrian skills that they gained from observing the Spaniards, and details the harrowing violence of their attacks.  I highly recommend the audio version as the narration added so much to this book for me. This felt like an impartial telling with the strengths and flaws of both sides laid out in the telling of this fascinating piece of history.

Friday, May 10, 2013

We The Animals by Justin Torres

We the AnimalsMy rating:  2.5

This is about three Puerto Rican boys coming of age - or more aptly, about poverty, sex and violence which felt very stereotypical.  I felt that the story was weak with overly melodramatic moments and it was a struggle to get through this book.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Celestial Navigation by Anne Tyler

My rating:  3.4

Jeremy lives with his mother.  Jeremy has never left home.  Jeremy's mother dies.  This is about Jeremy and his social phobias and his take on the world.  At times, I felt like his sister Amanda and wanted to hit Jeremy to break him out of his passive daze but, true to form, Tyler got me to feel compassion for someone so different from me.
Celestial Navigation

This is uncomfortable and awkward and a journey into the struggles that were taking place inside the characters as they tried to define their lives in terms of social relationships and artistic vision.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

The Love Song of Jonny Valentine by Teddy Wayne

My Rating:  4.1
The Love Song of Jonny Valentine
This was a light enjoyable read that definitely smacked of Justin Bieber's life.  I felt the prose hit the perfect note between being very sophisticated when it came to the music world when he talked about his target demographic and re-branding and ratings, but still had the realism of an eleven year old boy.  So sad the responsibility so many child stars have on their shoulders but I felt the author did a fabulous job of blending his complete world of also being a child with the video game.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Lost Memory of Skin by Russell Banks

Lost Memory of Skin

My rating:  2.8

Interesting speculation on the impact of our actions vs. intentions but felt like the plot line failed to deliver.