Saturday, January 30, 2016

Hannah CoulterHannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

2.5 stars
I was disappointed. Novel dragged, characters nondescript, story boring. Too much lamenting and reminiscing for my taste. Difficulties, sacrifices, disappointments, and regrets---we all live in one way or another and I don't have to read about it to know it's true. There was nothing extraordinary about the story, no depth to the characters, no enlightenment in the the solutions to their predicament. Near the end of the book when Hannah began to talk about her children and their lives I started to enjoy the book much more. I think this is a book people either love (most reviewers) or hate. I keep try to enjoy Wendell Berry and end up disappointed.

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Tisha: The Wonderful True Love Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaskan WildernessTisha: The Wonderful True Love Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness by Robert Specht
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read this book about a hundred years ago when it was first published (1984) and loved it so much that it is one of the few books I kept when my recent move to a new community required drastic downsizing. I just read it a second time and loved it just as much. Nonfiction that reads like fiction, it is an incredible story full of adventure, romance, and heart-warming drama that would be enjoyed by anyone ages 10 - 110. It would be an especially wonderful book for teenage girls and definitely ranks as one of my favorites!

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Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Big Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

excellent book...may be my 2016 choice for my bookclub. Here's the promised review:

This is a real page turner, one of those compelling books that keeps you up late into the night because you just can't put it down. The structure is so clever and the pacing is perfect with just enough intensity and suspense to keep you reading.

Liane Moriarty is truly a brilliant writer. She has a knack for creating characters who are so believable they could easily be someone you know. She isn't afraid to strip them bare - even when she shows us their flaws. While reading this book I could really believe and visualize this actually happening in any place at any time.

This is the story of three women. I was fascinated to follow their development and relationships with each other. It feels like such a light and funny read, but it deals with some serious subjects with which these women struggle. Some of the struggles are shared with each other and others are kept locked away. What happens when people start assuming, rumors start circulating, and estrogen runs amok? Big Little Lies ensue.

The storyline is suspenseful and made me think. The pivotal event doesn't occur until near the end of the book. I’m usually pretty good at figuring out what is going to happen, but I was kept guessing. The ending is fantastic - completely unexpected, and a gratifying, believable resolve.

4.5 stars: Unfortunately there are F words and some other bad language. I’m a bit of a prude and usually dock a book 1 whole star level on my ratings. I don't give a book 5 stars easily but this book really deserved it.
No gratuitous sex scenes.
I listened to the audio version of this book and the narrator is excellent, but I recommend it in any form.

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Saturday, November 28, 2015

The Girl with All the GiftsThe Girl with All the Gifts by M.R. Carey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

2.5 stars
My first zombie apocalypse themed book and likely my last. I read it because of the great reviews but was disappointed by the revolting blood, gore and plethora of "F" words. I gave it 3 instead of 2 stars because despite my prudish tastes I found it very well written with believable characters, a few of whom I actually cared about, and it was overall an entertaining read with a bleakly hopeful ending.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

My Brother Sam Is DeadMy Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

1.5 stars
Why you should not read this book:
1. Depiction of American patriots as immature and uninformed
2. Underlying innuendos of American Revolution being a pointless war
3. Colorless characters. As one reviewer said,“They were not loved and lost to me, just there and lost, or not…”
4. Unrealistic dialogue
5. Use of language and cursing inappropriate to time period (and inappropriate read for/to middle school and younger age kids.)
6. Story is just a series of disjointed events with no emotion
7. The ending is abrupt and poorly done. it left a feeling of, “and that’s it?”
8. It is a short book that dragged.
9. Poor writing
10. Audio version is just awful . . . narrator has unpleasant voice and speaks slooowly with looong pauses between events.

Not totally a lame book as it does give some important insights regarding the resulting devastations that war brings to communities and families. However an implication easily drawn from the story is that the American Revolution was a sad and unnecessary event. Seriously. Near the end of the book the family doesn't really care who wins . . . they just want the war to be over. It really bothers me this is on many 4th-9th grade required/recommended reading lists, not only because of the points listed above but because there are better books on the subject for children and young adults.

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Friday, November 6, 2015

Later the Same Day Later the Same Day by Grace Paley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a small book of poignant short stories populated with independent strong women and their relationships. Her writing style is precise. She uses few words in a clever and effective way. She does not use conventional punctuation, which drove me crazy at first, but once I caught on to her style I found it fitting. Her characters are uniquely believable, the dialogues wonderful, and the subjects addressed important.
She is disdainfully humorous and there are some great one liners.

Here is a quote from GR reader Sarah Hilary that nicely sums up my feelings about Grace Paley (her complete review found here

"Skim-read Paley’s stories and you may end up trying to convince yourself she’s at fault for being too political, or for giving us only glimpses of her characters, or for flaunting the rules of story-telling. But if you’re prepared to meet the author midway, to revel in her mischievous sense of purpose, to take a dive face-first into real lives that may not be explained or described in any traditional manner – grab this collection. Chances are your brain will thank you for the spring-clean."

Grace Paley (1922-2007), a postmodernist writer, taught creative writing at Sarah Lawrence College in New York.

I actually liked her writing so much I purchased the posthumous 1994 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction, The Collected Stories.
Highly recommend.

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Thursday, November 5, 2015

The Book Of Mormon: Another Testament Of Jesus Christ (Official Edition)The Book Of Mormon: Another Testament Of Jesus Christ by Joseph Smith Jr.
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've read this book cover to cover 4 times, and keep rereading and pondering it. The Old Testament and New Testament of the Holy Bible tesify of the divinity and earthly mission of Jesus Christ. This is another testament of Jesus Christ which tells of his visit to the peoples on the American Continent following his Crucifixion and Resurrection.

“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” -Joseph Smith

Isaiah described it, a “marvelous work and a wonder.” (Isa. 29:13–14.)

It is a treasure in my life.

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The Shoemaker's WifeThe Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I've read 5 of Trigiani's other books and enjoyed them immensely...was a bit disappointed wit this. Largely biographical (her family), this was too drawn out and would have benefited by a ruthless editing of a more objective person. There were ideas, and characters, and actions that did not move the story forward or enrich the act of reading in any way. Too many wasted words (470 pages) making the plot line seem secondary to the telling, i.e. too much telling and not enough showing. At least 150 pages too long. It was sweet and sad and somewhat predictable and I missed the humor found in her other books.
I listened to audio version and felt her choice, halfway into the novel, to divide the audio narration between Sciorra and herself was a mistake. Sciorra was a much better audio narrator. One of the problems was the difference in pronunciation of the same names, places & events between the 2 of them. It was confusing to an audio reader that may not have been a problem with the print version. Clean GP read.

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And Then There Were NoneAnd Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well crafted and convincing characters with believable dialogue. Kept me guessing to the end and then pondering the moral dilemma after completion. This is Agatha Christie's best-selling murder mystery novel and I can understand why.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium, #1)The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

1.5 stars
too, too much…
too slow getting into story…200 pages of back story--waay too slow
too many characters
too many characters who were tossed aside
too many dark, disturbing scenes
too many grotesque, revolting, sadistic sex crimes
too many didactic political ramblings
too many lame red herrings
too many mundane details
too many useless, boring scenes
too much violence
too much porn
too explicit
too many email passages/conversations
too many references to American pop culture
too many coffee stops
too many butt plugs
too many useless, meaningless, boring scenes
too much foul language
too much flat cliche-ridden prose
too, too many words
The author’s original title (in Sweden) was MEN WHO HATE WOMEN. I'm not kidding, that was the title. Would you have read it with that title? I wouldn't have, no matter the popular ratings...
I originally gave this 2 stars, but changed rating because there is

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