Tag Archives: reading recommendations

Augustus Family Trilogy by Tamara Merrill

Reading and Writing

It isn’t that I haven’t been reading but it is that I’ve – surprise – actually spent more time writing Family Myths – the third book of the Augustus Family Trilogy than I have spent reading the last couple of weeks.  That, of course, doesn’t mean I  haven’t been reading at all it just means I haven’t read a book a day. So sad!

Besides working on the new book I’ve been “enjoying” a construction project at my home.  This has resulted in massive amounts of dust and dirt and the need to pour a glass of wine for myself the moment the workers leave for the day and then binge watch Six Feet Under.  Hmmm. That might not be exactly what I meant because some times the workers get here at 11 AM and are gone by 1PM.  I always wait for the wine until I’m done fretting about the day’s progress.

Enough about nothing…here’s the new list of what I’ve read recently. Hope you find something you like.

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova – by the author of Still Alice – Genova takes a look a another devastating disease. Huntington’s Disease is a genetic mutation and if you are unfortunate enough to inherit the mutated gene it is 100% certain you will die from the disease. This a warm, wonderful, loving look at a family and their responses to the terrible news that the father has been diagnosed. It will make you laugh and cry and examine your reactions both to those who are “different” and to how you handle the difficult. *****

Saving Grace by Jane Green – a quick read.  I’d call this one “chick lit”.  The plot is one we’ve all read and/or seen the movie but the cooking angle is nice and I actually tried one of the recipes – Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle – and it was wonderful!  ***

In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume – I’m a fan of Bloom so I read this as soon as I noticed it at the library.  It is based on true events – a series of airplane crashes – that took place in her home town during her teenage years.  She does a good job of showing the fear kids felt and how it affected them for the rest of their lives.  It’s not her best book and it took me awhile to get into it.  It was difficult to keep the characters straight – but by the end I was thinking – not bad. **1/2

You’re Never Weird On The Internet by Felicia Day – A quirky, weird ,memoir by Day who is popular young actress and an admitted math nerd.  I was surprised how much I enjoyed this – probably because I’m a bit of a nerd myself. I usually stay away from memoirs written by anyone under 50, unless they have a devastating illness, but Day is a talented, enterprising, obviously smart and successful woman and she has a story to tell. She tells it well.  ***

The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell by Nadia Hashimi – This was a book club choice and I slogged my way through it.  The story is a familiar one about the terrible oppression and abuse of women in Afghanistan. Hashimi uses two stories set against the history of the country – one takes place in the early 1900’s and other in a more modern-day setting.  The writing is awkward and difficult to follow but the discussion reading this book provokes makes it worth while. ***

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan – A light-hearted, funny beach or fireplace (depending on your weather) read. A modern marriage.  A warm female friendship. Big ugly internet seller vs the local bookstore. A peak into publishing. A few tears. a few giggles.  Just a super fun book to breeze through. ****

2015-05-18 00.35.03

Reviews Weird and Wonderful Books Sept. 20, 2015

A spent a wonderful week with a friend in Santa Barbara, CA but I read nothing but weird and unusual books. Take a look.

Normal by Graeme Cameron – Who’s to say what is normal?  Certainly a serial killers’ normal is not the same as mine – and I hope not – the same as yours.  But none the less his/her life is normal and a bit humdrum to him/her until they fall in love with someone whom they do not want to kill.  This a totally different read and I loved it.  I had to read the ending twice to be sure I “got it”.  *****

Fun House by Alison Bechdel – my first graphic novel.  This is an interesting medium that I’m not certain I enjoy but Bechdel’s memoir is an appropriate story to present to the reader in this format. The poignant coming out  detailed literary allusion etc.  *****

Why I Don’t Write Children’s Literature by Gary Soto – picked this up off the newest books table at the Coronado library based simply on it’s title.  Every so often I like to read a book of essays and this was, like most, a good sampling of Soto’s work.  Some were good, some were okay and a couple were great. If you like this type of book give it a try. ****

The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora – Excellent book of dark short stories.  Even those of you who say you don’t like short stores might like these.  They are all linked together and the book reads almost like a disturbing novel. *****

Trans-sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian – The story of a trans-gendered M2F (male to female) and the woman who loves him before the transition.  Also the story of a great mother-daughter relationship and the story of a divorce.  The book is written around an NPR (Nation Public Radio) broadcast featuring the story of the relationship and the towns’ reaction to the relationship – a clever idea that actually works.  I learned a lot about the struggles of transsexual persons and although, I admit, sometimes the graphic sexual details made me uncomfortable it was a very engaging read. *****

 

 

 

Reading

Sept 12, 2015

The hot weather made it a great week for reading and I lucked out.  Both the The Care and Management of Lies and Mudbound were excellent and are likely to become Book Club favorites. As always I don’t give you a synopsis of the book here, just my opinion of the book and my rating of 1 to 5 stars. Click on the link and you can read the full description on Amazon.

This Is Your Life Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison – This is the story many women who grew up in the 50’s and married in the 60’s tell one another – but not until after their spouse has died. Marrying was the expected thing and not all marriages were perfect and not all pregnancies were blessed events but women were taught to endure and “put a good face on it” and they did.  Harriet Chance is 78 – the book would have been more believable if she’d been older – at least in her 90’s but then the timeline would have been off.  So despite the age thing – I’d recommend this book. ****

The Dream Box by Glen Vecchione – I like science fiction and this was a nice read.  The sensual cyborgs Omoo and Amaa have interesting, believable personalities which is something I like. The world created by Vecchione is interesting, and well drawn.  He has a created a society of sinister technologies where the future is threatened by the rising of the “savages”. ****

The Care and Management of Lies by Jacqueline Winspear – written by the author of the Maisie Dobbs series this was my favorite book in this bunch.  It is a beautiful love story set against the damaged world of World War One.  Winspear uses family and friendship, the women’s suffrage movement, the horrors of life in the trenches and a book on household management to create unforgettable characters.  I can truly say that as I turned the last page I was sad to not have another whole book to read – I want to know what happens next.  *****

About Grace by Anthony Doerr – This is the first novel by the author of the acclaimed Pulitzer Prize-winning #1 New York Times bestseller All the Light We Cannot See. It was sad to watch David Winkler destroy is life. The writing is beautiful but it drags a bit.  ***

Mudbound by Hilary Jordan – A prize-winning debut, about the many forms of prejudice, both subtle and brutal. The story is placed in the Mississippi Delta in 1946 and the writing is authentic and thought-provoking.  It’s a story we’ve read before but it’s told in a great new voice and I think you’ll like it. *****

August 29, 2015

It’s been an excellent week for reading – too hot to do anything else. Some days I read at the beach. Some days I stayed inside with the air conditioning on. Six of the books I read were 5 star books! Truly a great week for reading! Next week I must get back to work no matter how hot it is.

The Seamstress by Frances de Pontes Peebles – Two orphaned sisters, both excellent seamstresses, take wildly divergent paths to adulthood in 1920’s Brazil. One makes a disastrous marriage to a wealthy man and the other becomes an outlaw. Full of vivid detail, some parts of this book are excellent and some are just overly long. ***

A Patchwork Planet by Anne Tyler – This is my favorite Tyler book. I’ve read it several times because I love these characters. It’s a story of a totally trustworthy young man who no one trusts. It always makes me feel good when I read this book. *****

The Dream Lover by Elizabeth Berg – I’m and Elizabeth Berg fan so even though I knew this was a departure from her usual style, I knew it was about George Sand and I thought it would be fascinating – but – it wasn’t. How Berg managed to make Sand boring I don’t know but I really can’t recommend this book. But I’m still a Berg fan and I appreciate the fact that she stepped out of her comfort zone and gave this a try. *

After You by Julie Buxbaum – an emotional story about devastating loss. It starts a bit slow but keep reading – it’s actually a well told story that will make you cry and cheer. *****

Swimming Upstream by Ruth Mancini – I thought this would be simple “chick lit” but I gave it a try because it was free on Kindle and I was happily surprised. This is a book about friendship, and rejection, and love, and mental illness and it totally surprised me in the epilogue. Give it a try. *****

Then and Always by Dani Atkins – I have to say this book was Great! I thought it would be okay but it was surprisingly wonderful. It begins with a terrible accident that disfigures a young woman and changes her life but then another accident seems to show an entirely different life – it will keep you guessing right to the end as to which life is real. *****

In The Mirror by Kaira Rouda – a serious look at a young women who is facing her imminent death from breast cancer. But while it is a serious, sad, topic, Jennifer is funny and bright and still thinking clearly. I started this book with trepidation but I loved, and throughly enjoyed, every minute of the read. *****

Defending Jacob by William Landay – this is a well written legal thriller. A normal teenager is charged with murder and his family reacts. The father is an attorney who totally believes in his son’s innocence but as evidence mounts it is hard to hold the family together. *****

Family Matters FB Cover 3

The Dark Road To Mercy – Review

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.  ***