Sunday, November 6, 2016

"Norwegian by Night"

my take: Having recently been in Oslo, I was excited to read this detective story set there. I was surprised by the issues it made me think about: mainly immigration.

A well-crafted mystery with very interesting characters... the slightly dementia-confused American war veteran and a young Slovac boy who witness a crime which leads to an epic journey to run from those who killed the boy's mother and to run to those who they think can help them.

my source: Hubby found this browsing the fabulous selection at Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor

my verdict: Great read - a definite summer favorite I have been recommending to everyone


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

"The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend"

my take:  Sara arrives in Broken Wheel, Iowa from Sweden ready to meet her pen-pal and take a little vacation from her dull life. Broken Wheel is probably one of the more dull places to visit, but Sara finds much to love.

I so wanted to love this. I was in need of a feel good read after a few heavy hitters. Halfway thru I was MEH. And. I finished it. Although I wanted to quit. I do like to see if a slow starter, not-so-great read can be redeemed. I'm all for redemption.

And. Sort of.

There's loads of book titles dropped and a bit of  book prescribing going on. The best part of the book was how Sara arranged/grouped the books and enticed readers with her category names.

my source: My mother had this on her coffee table ...

my verdict: So-so feel good read ... so so many other books to choose.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

"Some Luck"

my take: I was a little freaked out at the beginning of this novel: a nine month old is sitting alone, looking around seeing doors shut and people far away. I thought for sure he was a goner. This is the first time I've seen life through a baby's perspective and the world seems precarious.

He survives childhood on the farm, which is more than can be said for other characters.

When it became evident that each chapter is successive year, beginning in 1920, I quickly realized that life on the farm was going to get very harsh as the Crash and the Dust Bowl lay ahead. Much to my delight, this is the first in a trilogy which will chronicle 100 years beginning on the Langdon farm and following their family.

This first installment covers post The Great War, the depression, World War II, and into the 1950's. A fascinating look at American history from the perspective of the Iowa farmers and following generations.

BFF Susan says she has the next volume. Which I can't wait to read.

my source: Found whilst browsing Schuler's massive used book section. Love.

my verdict: Great read.

Monday, October 10, 2016

"Commonwealth"

my take: The story of two families, six kids total, and how their lives intersect through divorce and remarriage.

I'd read a blip of a review before reading - which I generally avoid -  that said this was her most autobiographical novel to date. Because I read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, I knew a little of her life story and that added to my enjoyment of the book. It was fun to think about what she fabricated and what she pulled from her own life.

It seems to me each of her books is different - locations, development of the plot, cultures, eras ... so after our discussion of Commonwealth (see below) I found an NPR interview where she says all her books are about the same thing: plucking characters out of their natural habitat and plopping them into a new situation. Yes! AND her works still seem different enough to enjoy each one.

my source: For a trip to Italy & France with BFF and her SIL we decided a book club-ish read would be fun ... including our hubbies, who have been shut out of book club for the last 20+ years ...except for my hubby's desserts ...had a lovely discussion in a VW minivan zooming along the Autostrada on the French/Italian coast packed in like sardines.

my verdict: Good read...not my favorite of hers, but worth a read. See also State of Wonder, The Magician's Assistant, Bel Canto
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Monday, October 3, 2016

"The Ramblers"

my take: As I was sorting through book piles, I came across this HARDCOVER book and asked hubby where & when he'd bought it and if I should read it. Neither. Which meant it was my purchase? I maybe had a book buying binge and blacked-out? You know you have a problem when ....

So! Grabbed it before bed on a particularly insomniac-al night and read till 2 ... and because I was so tired the next day I finished it instead of cleaning the garage. Hard to say if it's THAT good or I was in a particularly needy state.

Three main characters - Clio and Smith, roommates at Yale, and Tate, a classmate - each get their own sections, each beginning with a document of some sort about them - college entry exam, intake form for life coaching, application for graduate school, etc. The action of the plot takes place over the course of Thanksgiving week, with throwbacks to the life traumas that each of them is attempting to overcome. Set in modern day New York City, in particular the Rambles of Central Park.

my source: I. really. can. not. remember.

my verdict: good read

Thursday, September 8, 2016

"Doc"


my take: This took a bit to get into and was well worth the wading at the outset. A combination of a who-done-it and Western chronicling the life of John Holliday (Doc) leading up to the shoot out at the OK Corral.

And this is much more than a Western. Philosophical, introspective characters populate Dodge. A thoughtful story which includes gambling, prostitution, moonshine, politics, religion, literature, education, war, race, wealth, health, calling, and a mother-son bond. Chock-a-block full of ideas.

Even with booze (red sangria and white wine spritzers) and a beautiful view, we stayed on topic for Book Chicks with most enthusiastically engaged (and a few who didn't finish - it's longish with small print).

my source: Book Chicks July 2016 pick

my verdict: Great read - highly recommend - even a summer standout

Monday, September 5, 2016

"The Little Paris Bookshop"

my take: This book is a bit of an enigma. I really wanted to love this. Bookstore, Paris. What more could you want?! A believable story?

Which I get: it's fiction. There are times when I'm willing to suspend reason and logic and just go where the author wants to take me. And there are times when I bump my nose against the mirrors in the smoke-filled illusion.

I didn't love the idea that someone could prescribe a novel to cure you - that the main character could diagnose what ails you and treat it with fiction. Also, I found the love triangle a bit hard to swallow.

What I did love is the description of the French country-side as the bookstore travels downriver from Paris. It made me want to travel to France. Again. Now.

my source: Daughter Anne received to review; hers won't be a glowing report, either.

my verdict: Semi-good feel good.