Monday, July 31, 2017

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

My rating: 4.6

This sweeping multi-generational saga starts in Korea in the early 1900's with the unplanned pregnancy of Sonja threatening to shame her family. An unexpected offer of marriage can save her but will take her to Japan where Koreans are despised.

This is a beautifully written quiet book that was extremely enjoyable. I felt for the characters and there were a couple of points where I audible bemoaned some of their choices. The only slight criticism I would have is that while I do understand that it was a saga but felt that it could have been edited down a bit. Still, all in all, a fabulous read.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield

My Rating: 4.9

Samuel Lake is a passionate politically incorrect preacher.  Every year when congregations are assigned, his three children understand that he will be given a different congregation and they will have to move. The annual family reunion at his wife's hundred acre farm in Arkansas gives the children a chance to be free from the scrutiny of being the 'preacher's kids' as well as to spend time exploring and being kids and reconnecting with the family.

Oh, where to start?  I LOVED this wholesome wonderful tale. All of the characters from the adults to the children came alive for me...ok, maybe the 'bad' characters could have had more depth but that is a small complaint. It captures the innocence of childhood, the first time someone talks to you like and adult and really listens to you 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My rating:  4.9

Cath and her twin sister Wren are going away to college and Wren has told her she doesn't want to be roommates. This is the first of many adjustments for Cath but, she still has her writing of the Simon Snow fan fiction.

When I read Carry-On I found out that it was written after Fangirl. Now that I have read both books, I am glad that I read them in the order that I did (although I can see how they would work the other way they were written). It was great to read the parts of Carry-On and remember that story and see how brilliantly Rainbow Rowell tied it all together. Part coming of age, part love story and part fantasy literature - genius! If you like Harry Potter and/or Young Adult, I think you will love this.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

She's Not There by Joy Fielding

My Rating:  2.8

A couple celebrates their 10th anniversary in Mexico with 3 other couples. They leave their two children alone in the hotel room while they go downstairs for dinner only to have the two year old disappear.  This flashes back and forth in time from the kidnapping to the years since.

The characters were flat and not well developed. The husband is so bad and shallow and has no redeeming traits. There is no depth or complexity at all. The conclusion was so over the top that it felt like a bad made for tv movie.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

My rating: 4.8

Ginny Moon is a 14 year old autistic girl. After being in foster care, Ginny is with her 4th 'forever family'. Ginny is trying to make sense of a world where things don't add up. Despite trying to tell everyone something important, no one understands.  Thanks to Ludwig's fabulous writing, we understand Ginny exactly perfectly.

I was worried this was going to be syrupy sweet but instead, discovered that this novel was such a delight. You will understand the mind of a 14 year old autistic child and Ginny will capture your heart. This was extremely well written and captured all perspectives so well. Phenomenal writing. I think that everyone should read this wonderful novel.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani

 My rating: 4.8

It is 1950 in glittering, vibrant New York City. Lucia Sartori is the beautiful twenty-five-year-old daughter of a prosperous Italian grocer in Greenwich Village. Lucia is the apprentice to a designer at an upscale department store and engaged to her childhood sweetheart.  All of her dreams are coming true.

This sweet book captures 1950's New York, the styles, Italian families, food and so much more. Listening to this on audio added so much richness to the telling. Such a joy. I will be reading more by this author.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Women In The Castle by Jessica Shattuck

My rating:  3.0

A group of German resistors understand that Hitler is crazy and have an assassination plot. Marianne hears their conversations and takes a vow that, should anything go wrong, that she will be in charge of helping the other resistance wives  This historical fiction novel takes place at the end of WWII with three widows - Marianne, Betinna and Ania -  living in an old decaying Bavarian castle. Marianne, now a widow from the failed assassination plot on Hitler, has rescued Martin the six year old son of her best friend who was part of the plot. Another wife, the beautiful Benita is in a refugee camp and encounters Ania, another resistor's wife.

Marianne assembles this makeshift family. Told through flashbacks, you quickly understand the horrific dark things that each have had to come through. I was quite interested in the plot line of the assassination plot on Hitler but this was very minimal in the book. The characters felt very flat so it was difficult to care about any of them. I typically love books told from alternating perspectives and through flashbacks but this felt disjointed. Despite a promising plot line and being interested in this being war from the women's perspective, I was disappointed in this book and wouldn't recommend.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Dreamland Burning by Jennifer Latham

My rating: 4.8

Set in Tulsa Oklahoma, this flashes between 17 yo Rowan (modern day) and Will Tillman (100 years ago). During renovations of her family's guest house, Rowan discovers a skeleton on the family property and is determined to find out who it was. Back in 1921, Will Tillman is discovering Jim Crow laws, segregation and who he is. In alternating chapters, this unfolds in both of their lives.

This was masterfully told and had so many layers to it, both in 1921 Tulsa as well as modern day. Very powerful and again, so horrific what man can do to man. This is a little talked about time in American history and something that everyone should be aware of. Definite recommend.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica

My rating: 2.9

Claire's husband Nick and their four year old daughter are in a car crash that kills Nick. Claire is left with daughter Maisie and their new born son Felix. Grief, obsession and sleep deprivation have Claire convinced of something sinister and that Nick's death was not accidental.Told in alternating chapter between Claire's hunt for the truth and Nick's last months leading up to the crash.

I found that I kept on having to make excuses for both Nick and Claire's nonsensical behavior. It was frustrating time and time again to have each of them act in such illogical ways. Being dragged step by step through the minutia of Claire's irrational fears got where I felt more exhausted than she was. Definitely not on par with Kubica's other books.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

My rating: 4.8

This follows two half-sisters, Efia the beauty and Esi and their offspring from Ghana in the 1700's to today in America.

At times, I got lost as the chapters transitioned to the next generation of who I was following but, I just stuck with it and soon understood how it tied to the previous generations. This felt like many short stories tied together. This was masterfully told and very vivid in the atrocities that so many went through.  Amazing author who made you feel and understand so much. The audio version was fabulous.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

I Let You Go by Claire MacIntosh

My rating; 3.0

Jenna leaves everything behind in order to escape her past and to start a new life on the Welsh Coast. Unfortunately, her past follows her and has to face it.

I found this extremely predictable which detracted from the story line as I kept waiting for the 'twist' and there was none. Instead, it felt rather boring. I think the high ratings are from people who didn't see things coming...then it would possibly be one of those "wow, that twist caught me totally unaware' type of books. Unfortunately, I wasn't one of those people.