2016 book reviews

Book Reviews and Reading List 2016

The book reviews and reading list was getting quite long so I created this new page where I will list the books I read 2016 forward (until it gets too long again). Remember I’m always interested in what you are reading, too, so send me a comment and suggest your favorites.

February 2016

  • Cometh the Hour by Jeffery Archer – Clifton Cronicles book 6 – I read all the others so, of course, I read this as soon as it came out. The story is completed in this book but it was rather weak and just seemed to be wrapping up. However, if you read the first 5 read this one! ***
  • The Winter Girl by Matt Marinovich – Okay, this was kind of sick, scary and weird. I read it straight through and is sick/weird stuff doesn’t scar you (think Gone Girl on steroids) you’ll probably like this one ****
  • The Cole Trilogy: Matters of Choice by Noah Gordon – Finally a female in the family. This final book is semi-current. I recommend all 3 books start with number 1. ****
  • The Cole Trilogy: Shaman by Noah Gordon – this was my favorite of the trilogy. The idea of a deaf doctor in the late 1800s was interesting and handled extremely well. I admit, again I skipped the history lessons. ****
  • The Cole Trilogy: The Physician by Noah Gordon – the beginning of the story of the Cole family. Set in the 1100s you will receive a good story and a fascinating look at medicine. History, love and adventure. ****
  • I received all four of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels for Christmas and finally had time to jump in and start reading.  These books are dense and rich in detail.  They are not easy to read but once I got into the rhythm of the writing I was hooked and read straight through the first two books and am looking forward to the next two after I take a break and read some trash.  The story begins in a tough, poor area on the outskirts of Naples, Italy in the late 1950’s.  The two girls, whose story these books tell, are fourteen years old and  are struggling to grow up.  Elena and Lila rely on each other, resent each other, and are by turns best friends and jealous enemies as their paths diverge and converge. I found the first two books to be mostly sad and violent.  The male dominated society they live in is filled with abuse; abuse that is simply accepted as “the way things are”. The writing is generous in its narrative details and characterizations, they are a stylish work of literary fiction and are well worth reading.
  • The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante – ****
  • My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante – ****
  • Plainsong by Kent Haruf – This is a lovely book, lovely in so many ways; the plain simple style of the writing, the grace of the people depicted, the amount of feeling the story invokes in the reader. Alternating chapters focus on eight compassionately imagined characters whose lives undergo radical change during the course of one year.  Especially well executed are the young sons of high school teacher, Tom Guthrie. Ike, ten, and Bobby, nine, are polite, sensitive boys who mature as they observe the puzzling behavior of adults they love. This is a heartwarming, well told story, written in a sparse but surprisingly rich style, and I was delighted to discover that it is book one of a trilogy.  I look forward to reading the next two books. – *****

January 2016

  • Ghostwalk by Rebecca Stott – I really wanted to like this book. The blurb sounded great and mysteries that involve the past are one of my things. But..it dragged and I just never got interested. *
  • 3AM/3:10AM/3:21AM/3:34AM by Nick Pirog – I LOVED all of these. I simply sat and read them one after another as quickly as I could. The premise that Henry Bins – who has Henry Bins Syndrome – is only awake one hour a day,3AM to 3:59AM, fully caught my attention. HIs sleep pattern has been true everyday day of his life from birth on. The author does a great job of making you believe that both the disease and the way Henry is able to life a complete life is completely plausible. Science fiction, mystery and love. What more do you want? *****
  • Never Smile at Strangers by Jennifer Jaynes – This is sort of YA book although the topic is heavy. The characters are well drawn – especially the killer. It’s about missing girls in a small town and if you like this kind of thing it’s a decent read. ***
  • Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson – This was a reread for me and I enjoyed it again. Not a particularly deep or thought provoking story but a good psychological mystery involving a women who has no memories, what caused her memory to disappear and how she begins to reclaim her life. ****
  • Dinosaurs In The Attic by Douglas J. Preston – I read this for Book Club and while I’d most likely never choose this this book, it was interesting and sometimes fascinating. Not only is it a chronicle of the expeditions, discoveries, and scientists behind the collections at the American Museum of Natural History, it is also a look behind the scenes at the museum. The book is well written in a friendly manner. Nonfiction isn’t my thing but it’s always good to stretch yourself. ****
  • Saint Mazie by Jami Attenberg – Because this book is based on a real person, this is an interesting story. Mazie is a great character as are her family and friends. However, even though I usually love books based on diary entries, I found this one unappealing. The fact that Mazie is a strong women in the 20’s and 30’s, helping the bums of New York City during the depression was good – but -the why’s about Mazie were never answered (explained, yes, but not in a satisfying manner. Also, this book was told from too any viewpoints. Still it was interesting. ***
  • The Paris Effect by K. S. R. Burns – This is a terrific first novel.  Food obsessed, displaced worker, unsure wife, and then the death of her best friend.  It’s enough to throw anyone into a tizzy.  The women are all great characters.  It’s a sassy, funny read with poignant undertones. ****
  • The Angry Woman Suite by Lee Fullbright – Written from three viewpoints, full of secrets and lies. Covers three generations of one Pennsylvania family. The story exposes the consequences of the choices we make and legacy’s sometimes excruciating embrace. ***
  • The Gate To Women’s Country by Sheri S. Tepper – In this post apocalyptic tale women rule, living apart from men, and sheltering the remains of civilization. They have cut themselves off with walls and by ordinance from marauding males. Waging war is all men are good for. Men are allowed to fight their barbaric battles amongst themselves, garrison against garrison. But, of course, people are people…. an extremely well written tale. *****
  • The Last Anniversary by Liane Moriarty – This is fun and fast, mostly dialogue.  I like this writer.  I always get a few chuckles from her books and this is no exception.  It’s not a love story it’s a life story. *****
  • Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde – In a strange twist of fate a struggling to be sober teacher, finds himself taking a summer road trip with two young boys. It’s a lovely, sad, sometimes heart breaking but also heart warming story of how the knowledge of love and acceptance by at least one person can totally change lives. I loved this book.  *****
  • The Indenture by Denver McGarey – Based on the author’s life this part one of a trilogy.  Set in the 1970’s the book follows the family’s demise from a life of luxury to a hand-to-mouth existence.  This book is full of all the family dysfunction that I seem to love, ***
  • Left by Tamar Ossowski – A single mother raising two daughters finds herself in an impossible situation.  She takes her daughters and turns to her best friend for help. How does a mother make the decision of which child to leave behind and what are the consequences of that decision? You’ll stay awake thinking about this book. *****
  • Widow, Virgin, Whore by Deanna Lynn Sletten – Three very different women−one house−one devastating diagnosis. Between this one line and the title I had to read this book.  I admit, I thought it would be a lightweight, kind of silly book – but it’s not! This is thought provoking look at sisters, friendship and living with a terminal illness.  I ranted, laughed and cried in equal parts.  *****
  • Christmas Actually: A Holiday Collection by Katie Rose Guest Pryal, Aimee Horton, Cheryl McAlister, Didier Quemener, Laura Schalk, Vicki Lesage – You never know what Christmas will bring and this book of short stories proves that point. It runs the gamut of seasonal emotions: humor, hope, joy, confusion, excitement. I’ll reread this book every year. *****