Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Painter by Peter Heller

My rating: 4.8

When I first started this book, I wasn’t sure what I thought of it. The main character, Jim Stegner is not a very likable character.  He is a man with a lot of violence and loss – he is haunted by his mother’s death when he was a teenager and by his teenager daughter’s murder as well as by a man he shot years ago in a bar. He also has a peaceful side that is expressed through his fly fishing and his painting.  He is a successful artist represented by a Santa Fe agent. 

The writing is absolutely pitch perfect stunning and that is what kept me reading despite not caring for Jim and even finding the story line a little boring.  And then something happened…Jim, along with the story, got under my skin and I couldn’t wait to get back to this book.  It is violent, savage and uncomfortable. It is also good.

This isn't as good as his first novel The Dog Stars but, still excellent. Thank you Mr. Heller!  I hope you are working on your 3rd book.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sing in the Morning, Cry At Night

My Rating: 3.5

This is Barbara Taylor’s debut novel.  This historical novel revolves around a family in the 1900’s mining town of Scranton.  Owen and his wife Grace and their daughter Violet have suffered many tragedies and when yet another one befalls them, you are pulled into the sorrow of each family member.  Taylor combines this against the setting of the town’s anticipation of the evangelist preacher Billy Sunday coming to town.

I was so torn with how I felt about this novel.  I felt the characters were very well developed and it was wonderful writing. I loved the story of each of the family members as well as the character ‘Grief’.  The excellently written story line had me enthralled in the first portion of the book.  As Taylor involved more and more of the towns people, the book felt trite and that the characters were all one dimensional (almost all gossipy, nasty people with no redeeming traits) so she started to lose me.  When she finished the story with such a nice neat pretty bow, I really felt disenchanted. What had started off so promising seemed to really fizzle.

Taylor is a gifted writer and this is a wonderful debut but, I hope her future novels avoid some of the flaws and she doesn’t feel the need for such a pat ending.  All in all, an enjoyable read as long as you don’t expect too much from it.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

My Rating: 4.9

Quincy and Biddy are two "Special Eds" or “Speddies” who have graduated from high school and aged out of the system. Their case worker places them together in the home of a woman who needs help with her physical maladies.
This is the story of two girls discovering that they are "real" people. They are valuable and lovable just as they are. 

This heartwarming story was light and a quick read but, one that will stay with me for a while.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

My Rating: 4.2

This is a charming story of widower/bookstore owner A.J. Fikry

In the beginning of this book, I was thoroughly enamored but then found it got fluffy.  Still, this was such a unique little gem that I think you at least need to do your research as you may be like others who fall in love with this quirky book.