Seems I’ve been on a reading binge about Nazis and death and dying. No surprise that I’m suffering a bit from a case of depression and inability to get moving. I hate it when I get in this kind of rut.
Did you know that I’ve listed a short story on my Amazon page? Just search for Subtle Differences by Tamara Merrill. Enjoy.
Before I go – Colleen Oakley – a very formula book about a dying wife and her search for a replacement wife for her husband. Oakley writes great dialogue and her heroine Daisy is lovable, funny and understandably angry. It’s just that this is a story that has been done too often in the recent past. ***
The Plum Tree – Ellen Marie Wisemen – Written from the viewpoint of a young German girl this book about WWII is slightly different but not different enough. It does show a different perspective on the American occupation. If you like novels about love in wartime you’ll most likely enjoy this book. **
The Fragile World – Paula Treick DeBoard – Living in Sacramento, CA the Kaufman’s are a “normal” family. As normal as they can be when the oldest child is a child prodigy and the father comes from a very dysfunctional family and the mother is outgoing, talented and full of fun. With that kind of foreshadowing you know that things are bound to go wrong and they do from the first pages on when you learn that the favorite child – the prodigy – has been killed in a senseless accident and only the mother is moving forward. I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for the father and daughter and I hated the ending – but – it was well written and will provoke some great discussions! ****
Secrets of a Charmed Life – Susan Mieser – I liked it this book. It used the familiar “elderly woman telling her story” method to reveal the truth about sisters separated in London when the Biltz begins. Miesner’s books are always enjoyable and this one tells a deeper tale than some of the others do. I enjoyed it and think it would be a good book club read. ***
The World Without You – Joshua Henkin – The death of child must be a terrible thing. This story unfolds over the July 4th, 2005 weekend as the family prepares for and endures the one year memorial unveiling service for their son/brother/husband. It takes a look at family dynamics, love, loss, anger. The affects of money on love and while I don’t agree with the simplified political statements portrayed it is sad profound story. ***
It’s been a week for lots of reading and reviews – in fact all I did this week was read and binge watch Orange Is The New Black. I love the way this season is showing backstories on many of the characters. I’m not going to write any spoilers here just in case you haven’t found time to watch but let me just say – it’s a GREAT season!
This Dark Road to Mercy – Wiley Cash – This is a sad/happy book. A tale of love and atonement, blood and vengeance and most of all the story of a wayward father’s love for his daughters and their love for him. Great character development. *****
The Enemy Inside – Steve Martini – I read all of Martini’s books and since these take place in my hometown I was looking forward to the read. But this one misses the mark. Very choppy and difficult to follow and believe me with a plot this simple it should have been easy to read. I’m giving one star for effort. *
The Unfortunates – Sophie McManus – I really didn’t like this one. It was simply a story about whining rich people loosely draped around pharmaceutical drug trials and Wall Street corruption.
Low Pressure – Sandra Brown – When a writer publishes a book anonymously which is based on the murder of her sister 18 years earlier, the writer’s true identity is revealed and the book becomes an instant best seller. And as Brown’s books always do, you are swept into the fear created by a stalker who may or may not be the murderer. A good read. ***
The Qualities of Wood – Mary Vensel White – This is a debut novel from a writer with potential. White writes good descriptions and has plotted an interesting mystery. The ending seemed weak but maybe I was just reading too much! **
Bed Of Bones – Cheryl Bradshaw – If you are a fan of Bradshaw you’ll like this book. It’s number 5 in her Sloane series. Personally I find the Sloane character a little too sweet and the descriptions a little to “romance novelly” but I like Bradshaw’s surprise endings and the story behind the bombing of the theater made for a good back story. **
The Dry Grass of August – Anna Jean Mayhew – A coming of age story for a young women in the throes of the segregationist south. A first book and available on Kindle Unlimited for free. It’s well worth a read. ***
My brain is in total June Gloom mode and I’ve just been hanging about and not accomplishing anything much. For anyone who doesn’t know, June Gloom doesn’t pertain to sadness that summer vacation has started. Here on the Southern California coast it means low lying clouds that may or may not – but usually do – clear in the afternoon and then come right back. It’s a dreary month and I don’t like it!
While I’m struggling to write a page or two of my next book every day – I do keep reading and reviewing – it’s great to have a time wasting vice that others think is a good thing!
The Secrets of Midwives – Sally Hepworth – A mother/daughter, meaning of motherhood story. it isn’t exactly an exciting, page turning novel it is a nice easy summer read. Not too “romancey”. I especially like the grandmother’s story. **1/2
The Dinner – Herman Koch – I re-read this to be ready for my July book club meeting and I didn’t like it any better the second time around. Yes, it’s well written but it just isn’t believable to me. Perhaps I just don’t want to believe that any set of parents would react to their children’s actions in this manner. I can see why it is promoted as highly controversial but not why it is considered suspenseful. The only reason I’m giving it any stars at all is because parenting is difficult and perhaps I’m missing the point here. *
Firefly Beach – Meira Pentermann – I like ghosts and I like painting and I like mysteries but I didn’t like this book. Nothing about these characters made me believe.
Interpreter of Maladies – Jhuppa Lahiri – I love short stories so I enjoyed this book. The stories touch lightly on the Indian traditions but are really universal. ***
It’s been a quiet week here “reading-wise”. I did do a bunch of writing on Book 3 FAMILY MYTHS which made me feel productive. I’ve listed my most recent reads below and now I ‘m off to the library for a fresh supply of books! (Which, of course, makes me happy since I love the library!)
The Life I Left Behind – Colette McBride – I started out loving this book but because the ending dragged I’m only giving it 3 stars. If you like a psychological thriller with a ghost, you’ll enjoy this and you may even give it more stars – it was 3AM when I was reading the ending and maybe I should have just gone to sleep and finished in the morning. ***
You Could Be Home By Now – Tracy Manasteer – All about life in a Retirement Community in AZ. Good variety of characters (young, old and in between), some you’ll like some you won’t, touches on grief, memory, etc. A decent read. **
A Reunion of Ghosts – Judith Claire Mitchell – A family legacy of suicide shouldn’t be funny but it is. The sister’s in each generation are clever and wickedly fun. It dragged a bit but it’s worth a read just because it’s a dysfunctional family with a twist. **
Blue Stars – Emily Gray Tedrowe – A story of ordinary people whose sons and husbands and daughters and wives are deployed in Iraq. What that means to each family and how the politics of the nation and each family affect them all. It is also a very clear look at what it must be like to have your loved one seriously wounded and how different each family member’s reaction may be. Non-judgmental and presents a variety of views about the war. A little soap opera (remember ARMY WIVES) but a good read. ***