Monday, August 31, 2015

The Garden of Letters by Alyson Richman

Rating: 2.8

This is about a girl who is an Italian cello player who joins the resistance movement during WWII.  I enjoyed the first portion of the book but then it incorporated a lot of romance and it felt like typical chick lit.  It is too bad as it had potential.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

After Her by Joyce Maynard

My Rating: 4.4

So enjoyable. This book captures two young sisters, Rachel and Patty, and their relationship.  It is a coming of age story that captures the quirkiness of being a young girl, their adoration of their police detective father, life in the late 70's and growing up in California. Despite their father pursuing a serial killer in the mountains of Marin County, right in the family's back yard, this is not a mystery (that confusion/expectation accounts for almost all of the lower ratings you see on any site).  

I listened to this book and thoroughly enjoyed the voice of Rachel and how Maynard captured her and Patty. I have enjoyed other books of Maynard's and this definitely won't be my last.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

My Future Reads from Bookmarks Magazine for Sept/Oct

I just got my latest Bookmarks Magazine - WOOHOO!  If you aren't familiar with Bookmarks, I consider it a "must have" magazine for any reader (and I don't like magazines).  If you are interested, I did a video on it:

This is perfect timing as I will take the magazine with me to the beach in Maui and comb through it some more but, right now, here are the reads that really jump out at me:


I already have these on my kindle:

These are only the books at first you see why I love Bookmarks!  What books are on your radar?  Also, let me know if you want me to do these posts when I get my bi-monhtly Bookmarks magazine.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante

Rating: 4.9

Wow. Uncomfortable, distasteful, gritty and raw. After being left by her husband, this is Olga's descent into madness.  This got so dark and uncomfortable that 60% of the way through (during the scene where she can't focus on her dog or her children), I was going to stop reading. I am glad I didn't but this was not a fun or easy read. 

Watching someone's life fall apart is never easy but, feeling it with such powerful force is extremely uncomfortable. Olga came completely undone when her husband left her and you feel it. Ferrante is a writing force that doesn't pull any punches. 

This is definitely not for everyone. I am not rating it this high due to the story or even saying I recommend it but you have to give kudoes to Ferrante for being able to write so impactfully.

Warning: extreme raw graphic language

Monday, August 17, 2015

Little Black Lies by Sharon Bolton

Rating: 4.6

I don't generally read mystery books so am not sure how this ended up on my Kindle but, if you were the person who recommended it to me then, 'thank you!'.  This story revolves around the central characters, Catrin, Callum and Rachel, all living on the Falkland Islands. Each character tells one of the three sections.  

Bolton does a fabulous job of capturing the Falklands and Island life as well as making each of the characters come alive.  I had no idea of who did it until the very last page.  If you like mysteries, I am sure you will enjoy this well written book.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Mean Streak by Sandra Brown

Rating: 1.5

This is the first and only Sandra Brown book I have read.  It was very flat with one dimensional characters and absolutely no depth. Maybe it was the audio version that made it horridly flat but, I couldn't get past the flat characters to even give the horrific plot line a chance (predictable, cheating husband, recluse who comes out to find her, yadda yadda yadda).  Definitely not my cup of tea.

As another reviewer said "the only suspense was in when to stop reading".

Friday, August 14, 2015

The Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

Rating: 4.4

Another one that was very difficult for me to rate/review. A huge part of me loved this book.  It was so unique and unlike anything else I have ever read. For most of it, I felt like I was in a dream and wasn't sure what was real and what was the dream. 

This book was about so many things but, the general story line is that after being abandoned by their mother young Sean O'Sullivan is taking care of his teenage brother Finn when a beautiful girl Roza shows up in their barn. Roza is kidnapped away from them and young Finn sees it happen but no one believes him.

Beyond this surface storyline is how women are perceived in the world, how you have to deal with men...their looks at your looks, having your guard up, love and so many other layers that I probably didn't grasp.

I don't generally care for magical realism so I wasn't thrilled with the ending but I have to give the author huge kudos for such an original piece of work told in such an ingenious way. If you care for magical realism at all, I bet you would love this book even more than I did.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Plainsong by Kent Haruf

Rating: 4.8

I had to noodle on this one for a few days to decide how I felt. It was beautiful writing that flowed so easily. It was sparse and yet captured so much.  

The conflict was that I didn't realize how much I cared about the characters until some of the twists and turns unfolded that I really didn't like. I found myself reading in a frenzy to find out how it unfolds and getting very upset at some of their choices. Haruf seamlessly weaves together three stories:
  • Two little boys whose mother leaves them to be raised by their father
  • Two old crusty bachelor brothers who are farmers
  • A young girl finds herself pregnant 
This book is about these storylines and yet more than that, it is about a place, life and choices.

Easy to read in the writing style but not easy from an emotional perspective. This one will stay with me for a while. What an amazing author.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Re Jane by Patricia Park

Rating: 3.0

Half Korean and half American, Jane was shuttled off to her uncle in the States after her mother died and her grandfather refused her. This supposedly is a cultural retelling of Jane Eyre but it is fluffy and definitely isn't worthy of the comparison. That being said, it was still enjoyable as a beach read. I found two things very annoying:

  1. when she would break the third wall "Reader, let me tell you...."
  2. that whether Jane was speaking English or Korean, her grammar was 'very not good'. I could understand her Korean not being perfect but I didn't think she would speak in broken English (and that wasn't just when she was angry).
I did enjoy the capturing of her cultural challenges in both America and Korea as well as the many Korean foods, phrases that the author included.d It was entertaining but not a must read.