Some books need to be talked about after they've been read. This is one of those books. After a strong opening with interesting character development,...moreSome books need to be talked about after they've been read. This is one of those books. After a strong opening with interesting character development, the novel bogs down in the middle, and has a less than satisfying conclusion. At times, the author inserts vague information which does little to advance the storyline. The last chapter was so vague, the members of my book discussion group had varying ideas about which character was speaking. I did have a better opinion of the book after listening to others discussing it, but not enough to recommend it, unless you like wondering what it was you just read.(less)
It is interesting and perhaps a stroke of genius that Frank McCourt chose to write his memoir as seen through the eyes of himself as a child, rather t...moreIt is interesting and perhaps a stroke of genius that Frank McCourt chose to write his memoir as seen through the eyes of himself as a child, rather than as adult looking back on his upbringing. In this way, he merely reports how he and his family lived and what they did to survive, without passing judgment or condemning anyone in particular or society in general. But McCourt does not need to pass judgment on anyone, especially his father: The misery inflicted by the father and his incessant drinking permeates the memoir and inflicts itself upon the reader like a cancer. The story of the family's existence in utter poverty and hopelessness is told in never ending dreary detail, in coarse and often profane language by young Frank. It is an enlightening yet torturous story of alcoholism and its effect on a family. But McCourt told me more than I wanted to know, or needed to know - especially about his mother - to get his point across. I wish I had skipped this memoir and read one of his later books, where, hopefully, in America, his life was better. (less)
In Ann Patchett's novel, Run, a character states that there is always something missing, and that that is true for everyone. While this novel explores...moreIn Ann Patchett's novel, Run, a character states that there is always something missing, and that that is true for everyone. While this novel explores the bond that develops with an mixed race adoption, this novel is more than a book about race relations. It explores loss and the methods of coping that people employ. It examines the lives of "the haves" and "the have-nots." Ann Patchett skillfully weaves a compelling story from the sometimes fraying threads of people's lives, and illustrates how drastically lives are changed by a split-second reaction. Secrets abound, and not all is revealed, and what you wish may not come true. But while you are coping with the things that are missing in your life, don't miss the chance to read Run. Highly recommended.(less)
Death Climbs a Tree is an interesting cozy that brings up some ecological issues that clash with economical ones. Sarah Hoskinson Frommer's story is w...moreDeath Climbs a Tree is an interesting cozy that brings up some ecological issues that clash with economical ones. Sarah Hoskinson Frommer's story is well researched and accurate in its details. This latest installment in the series about violist Joan Spenser is entertaining and informative as it winds its way to a satisfying conclusion. (less)
**spoiler alert** This book would have made a very good first draft, but as a finished product, it comes up lacking. For the most part, the characters...more**spoiler alert** This book would have made a very good first draft, but as a finished product, it comes up lacking. For the most part, the characters are not well developed. Willa Cather tells us, rather than shows us, what their personalities are like. While some aspects of the book are detailed, other details are sorely missing. She describes the prairie and the inherent problems in farming, but she tells us little of the parents' deaths and how that affected the family, other than that they died and that the father puts Alexandra in charge. The author jumps ahead three years, and then sixteen years, and we know little of what happened during those periods, other than the boys married and had children, and Alexandra did not. "The boys" will be dropped from the storyline with little explanation, except that they had a disagreement with Alexandra. She does little to explain how Alexandra finally fell in love. The attraction between Emil and Marie was way too obvious to the reader, but evidently invisible to the characters in the book. Frank was destined to be the bad guy who, after a day of drinking, has a breakdown of sorts, and goes on a murdering rampage. And yet, Alexandra does not blame him, and wants to help him get paroled. I never really got to know Alexandra, so I don't know if this is out of character for her or not. To sum it up, I never felt that I got to know any of the characters. If you like easy reads with an interesting setting and an uncomplicated storyline, this is the book for you. If you are looking for a compelling novel with in-depth descriptions and characters, look elsewhere.(less)
Jacob Jankowski has his life planned out – vet school and then a practice with his father. But his carefully made plans are changed forever in an inst...moreJacob Jankowski has his life planned out – vet school and then a practice with his father. But his carefully made plans are changed forever in an instant with the death of his parents. Leaving school, and by chance, he jumps aboard a circus train and into a life of fantasy and make believe. But the circus presents one face to the public while behind the scenes, a much darker and sinister world exists. Now an old man, Jacob reflects on his life and what is yet to come. Author Sara Gruen with a deft way with words weaves a story so completely engrossing, you will soon be lost in its depths and breathing the very air of the circus. (less)
Life in the early 60’s in Mississippi, for those of affluence and prestige, was one of country clubs and parties, benefits and shopping, dinners and s...moreLife in the early 60’s in Mississippi, for those of affluence and prestige, was one of country clubs and parties, benefits and shopping, dinners and socializing. But for some segments of society, namely black maids, it was a life of servitude and poverty, of fear and humiliation, of barely surviving and having no hope. But circumstances were about to change, because of the inspiration of a newly graduated journalist, and the bravery of a handful of maids who wanted to tell their stories. This novel will grab your heart and twist it, as you realize how these women suffered just to survive. Kathryn Stockett’s descriptive prose and intricate plot as well as memorable characters make this novel a great read, and one you won’t ever forget. (less)
Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows do a masterful job in telling this story through a series of letters. Through the eyes and voices of a variety of c...moreMary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows do a masterful job in telling this story through a series of letters. Through the eyes and voices of a variety of characters, we learn of the German occupation of the island of Guernsey, located in the English Channel. The story begins just after WW II ends, but much of the story centers around the hardships endured during the five years that Guernsey was ruled by the German soldiers. We discover how the Literary Society came to be, how the islanders strove to be brave and help each other, how some made friends with the soldiers, and how others informed on their neighbors, in hopes of currying favors, to the anguish of those who broke the rules. Though it can’t have been easy to write a novel in this epistolary style, the authors have cleverly woven a cohesive tale of perseverance, hardship, hope, friendship, and love. This is a novel you will want to read and own, because you will want to read it again.
For Margaret Lea, books are her world. Working with her father, a dealer in rare books, she has long felt that something, or someone, was missing from...moreFor Margaret Lea, books are her world. Working with her father, a dealer in rare books, she has long felt that something, or someone, was missing from her life. Popular author Vida Winter wants her life story to be recorded before she dies, and she wants Margaret to be that biographer. “Everybody has a story” according to Vida, and in this novel, the stories and lives of these two women become intertwined. A bit of a ghost story with more than one mystery, this tale will cast its spell on you. Will Vida be truthful with Margaret, or will her remarks be just another fanciful tale? Will Margaret find the peace she seeks? This well-written novel with endearing characters will keep you turning pages as it twists its way to the exciting finish.