Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Once Upon a RiverOnce Upon a River by Diane Setterfield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

4.5 stars
This is a lush story full of mystery and intrigue with beautiful prose, some magical realism, and fascinating, wonderfully drawn characters. Like the river itself, it dragged a bit in the middle, a literary device for which I did not care, but overall it was an engrossing read. Highly recommend.

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Sunday, January 6, 2019

Us Against You (Beartown, #2)Us Against You by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This is a sequel to Beartown and picks up where the first book left off. It is a dark read and I found myself skimming through it because I didn't particular enjoy it. The author, Backman, does a lot of philosophizing, using hockey as a metaphor for life, and I found this to be repetitive and overdone.

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Then She Was GoneThen She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like the way Lisa Jewell writes: fast paced, easy reading despite the dark content, but it was not difficult to guess what was going to happen pages before it did.

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The Story of Arthur TruluvThe Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a light read with endearing characters and I just loved it. The story is charming and uplifting, something we need in our complex troubling times. It would be a fun, easy, book club read. I just discovered Elizabeth Berg has published a sequel and will definitely read it!

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There ThereThere There by Tommy Orange
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The book's description says "Fierce, angry, funny, heartbreaking," but there was not one funny thing in the entire narrative. The language of at least one of the main characters includes fierce expletives, the author is clearly angry about his subject, and every page is dark and depressing leading up to a heartbreaking ending. The subject matter is important but I did not at all care for the way it was handled. There were too many undeveloped characters, too many points of view, too much bad language, and too many unknowns in the climactic ending. It was just too fragmented for me to enjoy, but Tarantino fans will love it.


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An Absolutely Remarkable ThingAn Absolutely Remarkable Thing by Hank Green
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The was an interesting pop-culture, sci-fi novel with a bisexual, unsympathetic female protagonist who liberally shares her opinions on people and society every few pages. I liked the fast moving plot, but did not like the plethora of "F" words. There is a cliff-hanger ending, apparently book 1 of a new series, and although I found the storyline and the characters entertaining I will not read the remaining books in the series.

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The Sun Is Also a StarThe Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Natasha is a Jamaican illegal immigrant whose family is being deported in 12 hours. She has a bright scientific mind, a no-nonsense personality and believes in facts. Daniel is a first generation Korean American who is equally bright but a hopeless romantic poet who believes in fate. Both have complicated and dynamic relationships with their respective families and with the universe itself, the latter of which is treated as another character. This is a fun, fast-paced and insightful read, but for many readers a willingness to suspend disbelief may be a slight requirement. Nicola Yoon, the author, is a skilled writer who gets 5 stars from me for steady character development and an upbeat hopeful surprise ending which I very much liked. Not a squeaky clean read..there is some objectionable language, intense kissing, and while there is no sex there are fairly explicit sexual references which imho is inappropriate for YA fiction.

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Virgil WanderVirgil Wander by Leif Enger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Leif Enger's book, Peace Like a River, has occupied a place in my heart for 9 or 10 years and I have waited for him to write another. Like his earlier novel, there are some magical moments and also some dark forces at play in the fictional small midwestern "Bad Luck" town of Greenstone. The author allows you to decide which ends up stronger. I couldn't put down this beautifully written book with its memorable characters, laugh-out-loud scenes, mystery, and lyrical prose. I was absolutely charmed by this heartwarming uplifting read. Goodreads reviewer Larry H said, "This is a difficult book to describe, but it felt so wonderful, almost like a hug in literary form." I can't think of of a more apt comment.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Silas MarnerSilas Marner by George Eliot
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This classic was required reading 50 years ago i high school and while most of my classmates hated reading it, I loved it. I recently reread it and stil feel the same way. It is a story of English country people, from simple laborers to wealthy landowners, and the role of religion and community in their lives. That makes it sound dull, but there's lots of conflict, injustices, and drama. Uncommon for authors of her time period, she tastefully dealt with forbidden adult themes like sex out of wedlock, unwanted pregnancy, drug abuse and the power of a child’s love and accomplished this without any foul language, gory violence, or gratuitous sex scenes. It is a very touching "reclamation" story with complex characters I came to love. Well worth reading.

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The Lincoln Hypothesis: A Modern-day Abolitionist Investigates the Possible Connection Between Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and Abraham LincolnThe Lincoln Hypothesis: A Modern-day Abolitionist Investigates the Possible Connection Between Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and Abraham Lincoln by Timothy Ballard
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a simply amazing book! I enjoyed it so much and learned so much that two days after completing the audio version I listen to it again ! I then ordered the hardbound copy, which I am currently reading along with the author's other book, "The Washington Hypothesis." LDS readers will gain some new insights and non-lds readers will find this a fascinating historical perspective and an interesting hypothesis. It is the subject matter and the historical events presented in the book that make it so fascinating. The author is not a particularly gifted prose writer, but rather a gifted searcher of truth and meaning. I concur with his conclusions and highly recommend this book.

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