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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Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Almost 60 years ago, as a teen, I did not care for this book, likely because I *had* to read it but perhaps because it was dystopian sci-fi, a genre which I still don't care for. However rereading as an adult who recognized it as a classic best seller I now give it 5 strong stars as a creative, memorable and well-written, story, but barely 3 stars for the terribly amateurish & overwrought prose. The story is excellent.


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The Handmaid's TaleThe Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The prose is excellent but it is not an empowering or uplifting book and I did not enjoy it, perhaps in part because I do not care for dystopian, post-elliptic, or sci-fi. The primary reason I did not care for it is well-expressed by goodreads reviewer, gaby, here:
". . . I found there to be some really alarming undertones. At its core, this novel tells the story of a woman forced into captivity, who falls in love with the captor class, and is "saved" (at least potentially) by a man. I found it dissatisfying that Atwood appears to be . . . reinforcing the very gender stereotypes she aims to dismantle. Delivered from freedom, Offred does not plot a revolution. She does not attempt escape, even in death. No - instead, she becomes a bumbling schoolgirl with a schoolgirl crush on the one-dimensional house boy, with whom she does not relay a single conversation. She reverts to the most base and childish thoughts, becomes simple in her love and lust for the house boy -- so much so that she simply abandons her nascent alliance with Ofglen, the girl connected to the underground resistance. So too, I found the story arch of Moira to be a self-serving stereotype -- the once-defiant lesbian who submits, not entirely without pleasure we're meant to infer, to being a hooker in a harem. What is Atwood trying to tell us? Stripped of financial and physical freedom, are women really just giggling schoolgirls waiting to be kissed by a cute guy? Are we really so simple and shallow? Does plotting a revolution really come second to kissing behind the bleachers, when everything is on the line? In short, this is not an empowering book. And perhaps that is not its purpose. But that is why I ask, again: beneath the obvious exterior of this narrative, what exactly is Atwood trying to tell us about women? "

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I'll Mature When I'm Dead: Dave Barry's Amazing Tales of AdulthoodI'll Mature When I'm Dead: Dave Barry's Amazing Tales of Adulthood by Dave Barry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I giggled and laughed out loud throughout this delightfully funny audiobook. we all need a Dave Berry in our lives. Highly recommend!

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Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham LincolnTeam of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Absolutely brilliant nonfiction for American History buffs! The book focuses on Lincoln's decision making processes during his presidency and the interactions he had with his cabinet and closest political advisors, most of whom were his rivals for the 1860 Republican Presidential nomination.

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The Sleeping Beauty Killer (Under Suspicion, #4)The Sleeping Beauty Killer by Mary Higgins Clark
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was formulaic with the killer and motive no surprise, book dragged, ending was meh. Not a satisfying read.


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Take Me with YouTake Me with You by Catherine Ryan Hyde
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book but my enthusiasm waned as the book dragged on, and on, with nothing really ever happening except travelogues of national parks. I found it to be a depressing & somewhat sappy tale of redemption that just didn't live up to its potential.

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Plain TruthPlain Truth by Jodi Picoult
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this several months ago and it was not one of my favorites While it gave wonderful insight into the Amish community and beliefs, I was (as I am so often with this otherwise gifted author) put off by some of the foul language and crude references. Although the truth doesn't come out until almost the last page, it was what I suspected at about page 250. That it dragged on another 200 pages before reaching the disappointing conclusion was just too much for me. And then there were the "ghost" references which were just completely unnecessary.

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