Saturday, May 4, 2019

Say WhenSay When by Elizabeth Berg
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is the 3rd book I've read by Ms. Berg, and I've really enjoyed them all, but did not love this. Written from the betrayed husband's point of view, this novel is a tender reflection on the joys and frustrations of marriage and it rings true to what many couples experience as their relationships age. The story confronts the reader with the questions: When is love not enough? When is it not worth saving? What happens when love goes untended? Why is it so hard to let love die? These are serious questions but parts of this book made me laugh out loud. I felt the ending was underdeveloped and am not sure the resolution accords with reality. One is left wondering what will happen.

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Friday, May 3, 2019

Watching YouWatching You by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a really enjoyable thriller. It is not only a whodunnit and a whydunnit, but also a who-is-the- victim and it is a smashing read. The author weaves a web of intrigue and misdirection, which plays on classic tropes and our assumptions. I loved the fact that there was such a large cast of characters, each overlapping and opening up cans of proverbial worms everywhere. Lisa Jewelli is an expert at knowing what makes us all tick and has an instinctive understanding of teenagers with the result being a consummate piece of entertainment.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

The Name of the Wind (The Kingkiller Chronicle, #1)The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

arghh......I really don't care for this genre, but it IS well written and I actually stuck with it to the end so am giving it 3 instead of 2 stars, but I won't read the rest of the series....I hate it when the end of the book leaves you just hanging with no real resolution.

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Atomic MarriageAtomic Marriage by Curtis Sittenfeld
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a liberal agenda-driven 58 minute vignette about a bored wife who is ready to commit adultery with an arrogant and flirtatious yet unappealing man. Curtis Sittenfeld is capable of beautiful economic prose that immediately captures the reader's attention, but I've yet to read anything of hers that is uplifting. This is truly unfortunate because she has so much talent as a writer. This is the sort of romance story I would have expected to read 30 years ago in "Woman's Day" or "Ladies Home Journal." It was an audible freebie for January and Diane Lane, the narrator, with her gorgeous voice was fantastic.

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My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler HamiltonMy Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton by Stephanie Dray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars rounded up to 5. Historians know there is not much written by, or of, women at the birth of the U.S. Because of this the daughters' and wives' stories of our founding fathers have been told primarily as supporting characters which was consistent with cultural norms for almost 200 years. In the case of Mrs. Hamilton, she may not have written about, or even destroyed evidence of, her private thoughts and feelings regarding the peaks and valleys of her life story. Nevertheless, she continued to shape her city and nation long after the founding fathers were laid to rest. These authors have taken what is historically agreed upon, woven in custom and culture of the period, and used intuition and imagination to depict who Betsey, Eliza, and Mrs. Hamilton may have been and how she may have processed all to which she was a witness. Her charitable works that still continue today prove she was more than a survivor. . . she knew what it was to thrive. Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, the authors, balanced it all eloquently. I especially appreciated the notes from the authors, both prior to and following the story, separating many of the facts from the fiction. I felt it started out slow and didn't enjoy it as much as America's First Daughter but truly it is an excellent account of a woman to be admired.

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Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Rules of Magic (Practical Magic)The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This engaging story is pure magic from the first page. It is Alice Hoffman at her best: full of magic, love, hope, despair, and of course powerful women. Witches are among us! Published in 2017, it is a prequel to Practical Magic, published 14 years earlier and stands alone, but having read (and loved) the earlier book I especially enjoyed it. Frannie and Jet, the girls of this story become the aged aunts of the earlier novel. It is told over a generation of time, but the story also includes a brief fictional Owens family history beginning during the 1692 Salem witch trials. The characters are vividly drawn and the narrative compelling with many sweet surprises throughout the story and many life lessons. This is an enchanting escape into magical realism and like Hoffman's other novels, it is beautifully written. . . a wonderful, metaphorical story of love, fear, loss, and living. Highly recommend.

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The Whole Town's TalkingThe Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I have been a Fannie Flagg fan, but was very disappointed with this last novel. It has a promising beginning with her quaint descriptions of small-town rural Americana and unique personalities, but it deteriorates into a boring assortment of births, comings, goings and deaths covering the period of a century. It includes a small mystery beginning in the last chapters, however the epilogue destroys any satisfaction therein with its ridiculous assertion that nothing on earth, or ever after, matters as even the bad guys live in happiness and bliss in an eternity of reincarnations. SERIOUSLY?! I think Flagg is trying to be Neil Gaiman, and she fails miserably.

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Practical Magic (Practical Magic)Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a beautifully written, quirky adult fairytale. If you enjoy reading magical realism you will love this. The characters are likable and well drawn, the descriptive prose is lovely, and the story is just plain fun.

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A Mind of Her OwnA Mind of Her Own by Paula McLain
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Many thanks to Audible Originals for this free March short selection. This is a 1.5 hour story about Marie Sklodowska, a 25-year-old from Poland, before she married Pierre Curie and became world-renowned for her pioneering research on radioactivity. It's a believable story of what it was like to be a woman in the male-dominated world at the Sorbonne University, Paris, 1893. This is not a comprehensive story, but a microscopic view of a very small period of time in Madame Curie's life, with an endless scope of the future ahead of her. It is ta short story of a student, a scientist, a woman, forging her way against all odds, and how she came to partner with her husband. This definitely made me want to seek out a more detailed history of her life.
The narrator, Hillary Huber, was excellent.

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Science FairScience Fair by Ridley Pearson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

OMG Ridley Pearson and Dave Barry! You can't go wrong with either of these two very skilled authors. Ridiculousness abounds in a complex sci-fi adventure plot which involves a middle school science fair project, a teen who makes stupid choices, a comedy-of-errors mystery, and a surprise ending.
This is a very funny highly enjoyable read for all ages with over-the-top satire featuring social and global commentary. There is no inappropriate content in terms of sex or language, so it is suitable for most middle-schoolers and I believe even the child who is "allergic" to reading, will read this relish.

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