Saturday, November 28, 2015

Falling Leaves

Though I am taking a break right now and don't plan a post on my main blog till Wednesday...and it looks like a lot of other people are taking a break too right now....I thought we needed a new book on the list!  Let me just cut & paste my Goodreads review here for Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah:

"An excellent memoir! So sad and disturbing on so many levels. And such a great intermixing of the author's story with the background of the history of China as she was growing up. What a triumph of the human spirit! Adeline Yen Mah is an inspiration!"  I would only add that I would recommend this memoir very highly.  Really good book.

The Goodreads book description says:
"A compelling, painful, and ultimately triumphant story of a girl's journey into adulthood, Adeline's story is a testament to the most basic of human needs: acceptance, love, and understanding. With a powerful voice that speaks of the harsh realities of growing up female in a family and society that kept girls in emotional chains, Falling Leaves is a work of heartfelt intimacy and a rare authentic portrait of twentieth-century China."

Looking for something different, this is a good choice!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Mississippi Blues

I recently read a book that was a bit out of my general line of reading. True it was a mystery (which I do not usually read) and true it was a romance (which I have been known to read). I really like this book. It keeps you turning pages, trying to figure out what would happen next. I think you would like it.

When you find your best friend standing over a body with blood on his hands, and you are forced to testify in court about what you saw... well, that can pretty much destroy a friendship, even tear families apart. 

After Trey's testimony, Jace was sentenced to prison for life. Trey, at the insistance of his father, who happens to be the Chief of Police, joined the Army. When he returned five years later, Trey begins to discover the truth about what he had seen. He's determined to set the record straight even though his actions may make him lose the love of his life and it, for sure, will uncover some very dark secrets that have been hidden for years. 

A page turner for certain!!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Alphabet Weekends

I brought the book Gone Girl with me on my last vacation. Well, it was so good that it was gone in a flash! But luckily the rental where we were staying had a pile of books. It was especially opportune since we were lodged in a remote area of Costa Rica. The Tico Times or a Spanish novella might have been my only other options. 

Clearly this book was left behind by a female traveler. It definitely was not part of the home owner's collection. His stash seemed to be all male. Politics, John Grisham and obscure biographies. But this booked screamed, "Read me on the beach! I'll entertain you." And it was a fun and fast read. Just look at the cheery cover. That usually says it all.

I'd definitely take Elizabeth Noble on a vacation. I bet she is just as fun as her characters. But she would probably prefer I take one of her books. In this book we meet Natalie and Tom. Tom is trying to win Natalie's heart. So far, he's been unsuccessful. Then he proposes an unusual arrangement of dates that run the garment from A- Z. The first thing they do is Abseiling. What the heck is that? Well... 

Abseiling (/ˈæbseɪl/ or /ˈɑːpzaɪl/; from German abseilen, meaning "to rope down"), also called rappelling, is the controlled descent of a vertical drop, such as a rock face, using a rope. Climbers use this technique when a cliff or slope is too steep and/or dangerous to descend without protection.

It was a fun book.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Since You Asked, Marie ...

...  I'll give you a list of what I've been reading.  I see I haven't posted since Oct 1st.

I'm not in the right frame of mind to write a review of any of these.  If you see an asterisk consider it an exceptional read.

1. The Last Camellia by Sarah Jio

2. San Miguel by T.C. Boyce

*3. The Last Runaway by Tracy Chevalier

4. My Name is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

5. Mrs. Lincoln's Rival by Jennifer Chiaverini

6.  Echoes by Maeve Binchy

7.  FDR and the American Crisis by Albert Marvin

*8. A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler

*9. I'll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan

*10. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

11. The Girl Who Wrote in Silk by Kelli Estes

12. A Night to Remember by Walter Lord

13.  Death of a Liar by M C Beaton

*14. The Daring Ladies of Lovell by Kate Alcott

15. Survival Lessons by Alice Hoffman

16. A Good Place to Hide - How One French Community Saved Thousands of Lives During WWII by Peter Grose

*17. Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Book Store - A Novel by Robin Sloan

I am currently reading The Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey.  That makes book # 63 for this year.

I'll get back to writing reviews at some point.

But you asked, Marie, what are you reading and that's what in the last couple of months.


The Life We Bury

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens was an interesting first book by this author.  I was in the mood for more "murder mystery" after reading Gone Girl, and this was a nice choice.  This story carries you along with it at a fast pace.  There are so many questions to answer about the dying Viet Nam veteran who is also a convicted murderer.  The student, Joe, who sets out to write his "story" for a college assignment is caught up in learning the truth.  The characterizations were particularly wonderful....the dysfunctional mother, the girl next door who at first wants to keep her distance, the college boy himself, and especially the wonderfully written autistic brother.  Then there is the veteran himself, the dying convicted felon who served most of his life behind bars for this heinous crime.  But there are questions to be answered...can Joe discover the truth before the man dies?  Well-written, very interestingly crafted tale.  Recommended reading.

We haven't seen reviews from some of you in several months!  What are you reading?  We'd love to know!  Jump right in there!  Let's keep this book review club interesting with a wide variety of titles and opinions!  Thanks....Marie.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Birds of Pandemonium

I have to admit, the first thing that intrigued me about Michele Raffin's book The Birds of Pandemonium was the beautiful cover. It's really hard to believe how many exotic and dazzling bird species fly in our skies and nest in our trees. I love to spot them in the jungles of Central America. But most of them live in places that only exist on my bucket list. 

But not for Michele Raffin. On a whim, she rescued a dove by the side of a California road. No kidding. That is how it all started. We've all had that impulse. To save an injured animal. Or adopt a sad, abandoned pet. Michele took that impulse and ran with it. Now, her sanctuary is one of the largest in the country and she has rescued over a 1,000 birds. And many of the 89 species she has saved were threatened. 

Well, all of that is admirable.  But the real question of a book review blog is, "How's the book?" It is so charming. The reader wakes up with Michele and experiences the subtle, sweet sounds of bird chatter. Well, it is not always so soft and sweet. Sometimes it is demanding and deafening! And the birds, all 1,000 of them, have their own personality. You will discover that not every bird story has a happy ending. But you'll be glad you entered their feathered world for a little while.

It's a good read.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Old Jules

This was a fascinating memoir, written by one of the best writers of her era ABOUT her era, Mari Sandoz!  (She is the author of such books as Cheyenne Autumn, These Were the Sioux, and Crazy Horse: Strange Man of the Oglalas.) What made this book so interesting was the fact that it was about her father, a man who was complex and many-faceted.  You don't like many things about this man as you read his story, but other things you find commendable and even prophetic. You wonder how Mari Sandoz could look beyond his faults and the way he made his family suffer, and write something that reports the bad but celebrates the good.  It is an honest look at one man at the end of the Old West, fighting for the settler and his rights to own land against the ranchers, wanting no monetary gain for his hard work as a "locator" for many people, a lay Dr., a budding naturalist and postmaster.  Yet, for all he did for Nebraska in his time, he was a "lazy" husband and father who preferred to go hunting than to do any work around his farm.  He had a quick-flash temper against those who crossed him, but could be tender in rare moments.  He needed a wife so work could be done around his place, so ended up marrying four times and no woman except the last, Mary, could bear to live with him.   And through it all he held his love for a woman back in the old country as the shining ideal of his heart, not caring that he hurt Mary or his children with this misplaced devotion.  If you described Jules Sandoz in today's vernacular, you  might say he was "a piece of work."

I loved the book, though I was eternally annoyed with Jules, himself, because it was such an honest look as some of the lives of the settlers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and all that they had to face in that difficult time.  It is wonderfully written and very interesting reading, although it did have a somewhat slow start.  I definitely recommend Old Jules.