Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Divers Clothes Lie Empty by Vendela Vida

Rating: 3.8

A woman travels to Casablance, is robbed of her backpack which contains her identity. This captures identity, life choices and travels (although I cringed at some of her choices), 

For "The Famous American Actress" was anyone else picturing Angelina? lol! I also laughed at some of the descriptions of Morocco.  I have been in places with no street signs and directed to "go to the shop by the KFC/Pizza Hut intersection" only to find more than one place matching that description.

The entire novel is written in the second person. You will either love or hate this. You will either see the character as immature or go with the story and enjoy it's unfolding. I loved the second person narrative so much that I was able to overlook the character not being particularly likable. This is not a must read or even a recommend but it was entertaining, especially on audio.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Fishermen by Chigozie Obioma

Rating: 4.8

I read this as it is on the long list for the Man Booker PrizeThis is about a close-knit family in 1990's Nigeria. It is told by 9 year old Benjamin. This large family consists of the strict father, loving mother and Ben's 3 older brothers and his younger brother and sister.

This book is about this family's spiral into ruins after a madman's prophesy drives one brother to be plagued with fear. The first part had me laughing out loud with the wonderful stories that capture African families their story-telling and beliefs, the last half had me clutching my heart and wishing I could help the characters. This is a dark, haunting, tragic story that will stay with me. So sad.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Dark Tide by Elizabeth Haynes

Rating: 3.1

I was on a psychological thriller kick while I was in Maui. This was a perfect beach read being light and easy.  Genevieve wants to starts life over again but needs money to buy her dream - a boat.  She takes a weekend job as a pole dancer/stripper.  When she is able to buy her boat she quits her job and leaves London but, she doesn't leave everything behind.

I was a bit disappointed in this book.  It had poor character development and the ending felt rushed and then too 'wrapped up with a bow' for my liking. Definitely not the same caliber as Into The Darkest Corner which I really enjoyed.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica

Rating: 1.5

I really enjoyed Mary Kubica's book The Good Girl so was excited when she came out with a new book.  Unfortunately, I wasn't very far in before I realized that  

The Story:  Heidi sees a homeless teenage girl holding her infant baby and can't get them out of her head.

This book is very slow paced but I could have handled that if the character development was plausible. All of the characters had flaws and pain. I felt that the author was relying on hooking the reader for their sad circumstances, rather than doing proper character development with depth. Here are some things that I just couldn't overlook:

Heidi - Unrealistic and unbelievable behavior.  Doing things we all know not to do, no matter how much your heart is in the right place....and then things go downhill from there
Heidi's husband Chris - I don't know one man who would just go along with his wife's behavior
Willow - One minute Willow is acting like the 8 year old child she was when her family dissolved and the next she is acting like a 17 year old. I don't think the author knew what this girl's personality was supposed to be.  I understand abuse and her character was not realistic. She would revert to being 8 years old at all different tims (not just trigger moments) and her speech was sometimes very simplistic and other times very mature
Zoe - the 12 year old daughter was the most plausible character showing upset and frustration for her mother's unacceptable behavior and being a normal 12 year old

This whole plot line felt so contrived and did not have any twists. Definitely not anywhere near as good as her original book.

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Kind Worth Killing by Peter Swanson

Rating: 4.9

Completely deranged psychopaths with murder on their minds. This one is twisted and unpredictable with characters you can lovingly loathe. The chapters shift in point of view as the narrative unfolds -- teasing the reader to stick glued to the pages. 

Ted Severson, married man, meets Lily Kintner late one night in an airport bar. That's when the trouble begins... Alcohol consumed, secrets spilled, plans made. But all of the players in this complicated scheme have not been entirely truthful, and things fall apart for them in completely unexpected ways.  I devoured this book in two days.  It was so good and kept me on the edge of my seat.  Such a guilty pleasure beach read.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Once We Were Brothers by Ronald H. Balson

Rating: 4.6

Elliot Rosenzweig, a respected civic leader and wealthy philanthropist, is attending a fundraiser when he is suddenly accosted and accused of being a former Nazi SS officer named Otto Piatek, the Butcher of Zamosc. Although the charges are denounced as preposterous, his accuser Ben Solomon is convinced he is right and engages attorney Catherine Lockhart to bring Rosenzweig to justice. 

Ben insists that he can't be rushed and has to tell his story so that Catherine can understand all the background to decide if she will take the case.  As his story unfolds, he draws in Catherine as well as the reader.  I found this was mesmerizing and heartbreaking.  I agree that I could see this becoming a movie.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Benedication by Kent Haruf

Rating: 3.8

The last in the trilogy with three completely new storylines: Dad Lewis dying of cancer, the little girl next door living with her grandmother is reminded of her own mother's death from cancer and a preacher who has moved to town with his wife and son.

This continues with Haruf's beautiful slow writing style but didn't grab me as much as his previous books.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Black Eyed Susans by Julia Heaberlin

Rating: 4.9

Sixteen-year-old, Tessa Cartwright was found in a Texas field, barely alive amid a scattering of bones, with only fragments of memory as to how she got there. Ever since, the press has pursued her as the lone surviving “Black-Eyed Susan,” the nickname given to the murder victims because of the yellow carpet of wildflowers that flourished above their shared grave. Tessa’s testimony about those tragic hours put a man on death row.

IMO, this is better than Gone Girl, Girl on a Train, The Good Girl and all similar types of books. This beautifully well written book is intense, suspenseful and flows. I love the moving back in forth in time and having to piece it all together. I didn't have it figured out at all. If you like psychological thrillers, this is a definite recommend.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Eventide by Kent Haruf

Rating: 4.6

This is the 2nd book in the Kent Haruf's Trilogy. Just like the 1st book, Plainsong, I loved the Rancher brothers characters. I felt for  the mentally handicapped couple, Luther & Betty Wallace, but was equally frustrated as I was sad.

George Hearn was the perfect narrator for this book with his relaxed, throaty voice and slow pace, he captures every character perfectly with only the slightest of alterations.

I have already started the 3rd book in this series, Benediction. So far, I think that his last book, Our Souls at Night, was his best but I think Haruf's calm peaceful writing that captures the folksy lifestyle is so beautiful.