Friday, March 24, 2017

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

My rating: 2.4

Uninvited, Bert Cousins shows up to the christening of Fix and Beverly Keating's daughter. Bert kisses Beverly and sets in motion the end of both of their marriages and changes the course of everyone's life. This spans 50 years and is a grand undertaking in trying to capture each person's perspective of so many situations in detail.

I absolutely loved Ann Patchett Bel Canto but need to remember that, for myself, that was the only one of Patchett's books that I have enjoyed. While Commonwealth started off strong for me, it quickly dwindled and I had to slog through it. It wasn't poor enough to toss aside but in hindsight, I am not sure why I pushed myself to finish it.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A Mother's Reckoning by Sue Klebold

My rating: 4.8

Columbine is a word that we all know from that horrific school shooting in 1999. For Sue Klebold, this was the day her son turned into a murderer and committed suicide. She walks through everything from Dylan's childhood, the day of the shooting and the aftermath. She also explores mental illness and bullying in trying to understand what happened.

While this is so sad and disturbing, it was also so well done. It was 'real'. Sue Klebold's honesty, openness and ability to consider all sides of the situation in order to try to understand what happened was incredible. Her grace and dignity brought tears to my eyes. So very sad but also a worthwhile read.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Into The Dark Dark Wood by Ruth Ware

My rating: 4.5

Nora is invited to spend a weekend at a countryside for a Hen Party (Bachlorette) for a friend, Clare, that she hasn't seen in 10 years. She has misgivings over whether or not to accept but is talked into it by her friend Nina, who is also going. They both soon have misgivings, although they are trapped at the house out in the woods and don't feel right leaving before the weekend is over.

It doesn't take long (ok, it took me well over half way but I was just enjoying the ride) to figure out 'whodunnit'.  Still, I found this to be a very enjoyable read and just the type of brain popcorn I needed after a hectic day when I wanted something light to escape to. I believe Reese Witherspoon has purchased the movie rights and I could see it would make an entertaining Netflix watch (if they pick it up.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

My rating: 5.0

5th grade August (Auggie) who has been homeschooled is about to go to mainstream school for the first time. Auggie was born with a severe facial deformity. This book is told from several perspectives - Auggie's, his sisters, friends at school - and captures all viewpoints in such an amazingly plausible way that you feel for each and every person. The writing is amazing and captures each person's voice and has you ready to cry one minute and truly chuckling the next.

My oldest niece was born with a hair lip cleft palette (which Auggie has as well but, he has so much else) and I know what she went through and I felt for her. This made me understand so much more, from all sides. This has been in my TBR queue for a long time and I am so glad it finally bubbled up to the top. What an amazingly well written book.  Strongly recommend.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Follow The River by James Alexander Thom

My rating: 5.0

This is the true story of Mary Ingles kidnapping by the Shawnee Indians. After a brutal raid by the on Mary Ingles settlement, she is taken captive along with her two boys and her sister-in-law to live hundreds of miles away. Mary is 9 months pregnant. This is an incredible journey of what she endured during her journey and living for months among the Indians.

The author does an amazing job of capturing the suffering - both mental and physical - of what Mary endured. This story left me in awe. Such incredible writing that truly made me feel all of what she experienced. Definite recommend.

The Indian raid in the beginning is very brutal. If you stopped reading at that point, I strongly encourage you to read past that point before deciding if this book is for you.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

My rating: 2.8

This is about the hellish lives of the slaves on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Most of this story centers around Cora. While this captures the horrors for black people in the pre-civil War era, this book does not accurately portray history (the Underground Railroad was NOT literal) and was poorly written. While I obviously felt for the plight of the people and what happened, the writing was so poor that I didn't feel any attachment to any of the characters.

There is no denying that this was a horrible time in American history but there are so much better books about this. One of my favorites is Someone Knows My Names which accurately captures history and has fabulous writing with characters that you care about so much that it will wrench your heart. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Harmony by Carolyn Parkhurt

My rating:  3.8

A family living in Washington D.C. with their 2 girls - Iris a neurotypical and Tilly who has been diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum - PPD-NOS,  This book is told from the mother Alexandra and each of the two girls perspective. It captures so well a parent's thought process, emotions and handling of a different child and, how when she reaches the end of her rope, that she grabs on to the lifeline offered by Scott Bean. Scott is establishing Camp Harmony in the woods of New Hampshire.

Parkhurt did an amazing job at making me feel Alexandra's desperation in dealing with Tilly. Despite doing an amazing job of having each person's story so well told, all of the threads didn't come together to weave the story as seamlessly as it could have been.  The final chapter of having a child with wings was so beautiful but all told this was good but not great.