Monday, November 30, 2015

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner

My rating: 2.0

This is the story of two sisters in WWII England. It includes some flashbacks.  Typically, these are the ingredients for a book that I would enjoy but, unfortunately not with this book.

Not only was this supposedly British book written with American terms but, there was very little character development and at times, it felt very hokey/cheesey. If all of that wasn't bad enough, the pace was all wrong and that really made it fall apart for me. I read "A Fall of Marigolds" by this author which was mediocre.  I don't know that I will read any more by her as this one fell so far short of it's potential.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

My rating: 3.7

Maddy has a rare disease where she can get sick from almost anything in the world.  She hasn't left her house in seventeen years and, the only people she sees are her mom and her nurse, Carla.  When a moving truck pulls up next door and she sees Olly, her whole world changes.

This was a cute young adult book.  I thought I had it figured out and was a bit annoyed at the bait and switch they did but, overall I thought it was very well done.  I could see my niece loving this book.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Did You Ever Have A Family by Bill Clegg

My rating: 4.3

On the eve of her daughter’s wedding, June Reid’s life is completely devastated when a shocking disaster takes the lives of her daughter, her daughter’s fiancĂ©, her ex-husband, and her boyfriend, Luke—her entire family, all gone in a moment. And June is the only survivor. June flees on a road trip.

This is well written, and is told in a very compelling way in flashing back and forth in time and from different narrators perspectives. It has many moments where I gasped as things unfolded. All of these things I loved.  What I didn't care for was the myriad of characters and storylines. There were so many that I started to detach from the story which is sad as it was very worthwhile and I do understand why many have rated this book higher.

This is dark and deep but it isn't maudlin or wallowing.  It is almost matter of fact in the unfolding. This was both good and bad - good in that it didn't get too dark in the face of such tragic events but bad in that I didn't feel much for the characters.

Clegg is a fabulous story teller and I would read more by him.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

My rating: 4.4

After reading "The Kind Worth Killing" and finding out it was based on this book, I moved it to the top of my queue. Guy Haines and Charles Bruno are passengers on the same train. Guy is a successful architect in the midst of a divorce and Bruno is a sadistic psychopath who manipulates Guy into swapping murders with him.

I wasn't sure if I liked this book as it felt very 'dated' to me. We recently got stuck for 3 hours on a tarmac with a delayed flight, so that got me more immersed in the story line.  It is well written for a first novel and like The Kind Worth Killing, none of the characters are particuarly likable. For me, I had to give it leeway for being written in 1950 and the dated feel to the characters but, I did enjoy it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin

My rating: 4.8

I typically don't like biographies even when written as historical fiction so I am really surprised I loved this book so much.  I learned so much about the Lindberghs and a lot of it was not complimentary. This starts with Anne Morrow being courted by and then marrying Charles Lindbergh and covers their lives together.

I have heard people criticize how subservient Anne was to Charles and that she was constantly looking up to him even as she saw many traits she didn't care for. Since they met and married in the 1920's, this did not seem incongruous to me. I have also heard people criticize how they were portrayed and the accuracy of private conversations. Since this is historical fiction, I also didn't have a problem with that.

I thought that this was very well researched, written and informative. I had no idea of Anne's many accomplishments and thought the author did a fabulous job. Very enjoyable read.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskins

My rating: 3.9

College student Joe Talbert has a dysfunctional life with an alcoholic bipolar mother and an autistic brother. He has to complete a writing assignment for an English class. His task is to interview a stranger and write a brief biography of the person. With deadlines looming, Joe heads to a nearby nursing home to find a willing subject. There he meets Carl Iverson, a dying Vietnam veteran--and a convicted murderer. With only a few months to live, he has been medically paroled to a nursing home, after spending thirty years in prison for the crimes of rape and murder. Joe rushes to get Carl's story amidst dealing with his own life.

The story line enthralled me more than the writing but even then, the story was very predictable. I definitely didn't like that it was all wrapped up with a neat little bow at the end. This was a good debut and I would hope for fabulous things in future novels.