Wednesday, May 29, 2019

First Frost

First Frost
by Sarah Addison Allen

I've loved SAA from the first time I read one of her books.  I don't know why this one has gone unread for so long, it may be because I didn't buy it right away.  I found it at an outlet mall a month or so ago and realized it was time. Past time.  Way overdue!

First Frost takes us back to Bascom, North Carolina and the people who we met in the book, Garden Spells.  It's ten years later when we meet up with them again. Magic is still part of the every day lives of the Waverly women, which is much of what I love about Sarah's stories.

Both Claire and Sydney are married to men that love them deeply, but that is not enough to quiet the niggly little fears that live inside their heads.  Sydney's daughter Bay is coming of age, which is to say that no one on earth could possibly understand her less than her mother.  Oh, my heart - been there done that!  And just who is that mysteriously strange older gentleman who lurks nearby? In short, can the Waverly women learn that the people they can depend on the most have always been right there in front of them?

This is not a book with a big suspenseful climax, nor huge mystery or big reveal.  It's a book about feelings and the need and want to belong or know that you are in your right place.  SAA works us through their stories and *spoiler alert* wraps it all up with a pretty bow.  This is a feel good novel and I don't mind in the least that it works out well for everyone.

That is not to say that the bow couldn't come loose or untied... I'm almost inspired to write some fan fiction starting with the next "Ten years later..."

I give this book a five shots of five just because it's the perfect book to read on a stormy day like to today to lift me out of the gray sky doldrums.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Night Circus

The Night Circus
by Erin Morgenstern

Disclosure:  I should never read a review before I read the book or while I'm reading the book.  It tends to influence my own view and subsequent review. Such is the case with The Night Circus. I'm trying to forget what I've read and keep this review my own.

The Night Circus originally didn't call to me but learning that it was high on the list of some of my friends I added it to my list as well. One of those friends  sent me a copy which moved it to the top of my 'to read' list. (Thank you, Victoria!)

The premise behind the story is that magic is real and only real magicians know that it's more than an illusion. Two ancient magicians challenge each other's talent by pitting their proteges against one another in an unnamed, unspecified duel. The winner is the survivor, the loser deceased. 

The platform for the duel in this story is the Night Circus, an incredible traveling circus that arrives and departs without notice and is only open during the hours of darkness. 

The book is full of wonderful characters set in the late 1800's early 1900's.  The circus is not scary and foreboding as one might expect but delightful and very imaginative.  I would truly love the Night Circus to come to my town!

I was drawn back to the story each time I had to put it down, which is something we really want in our books, right? But I found that when I got to the end of the story I was still looking for the great duel between the two proteges. It was clear that they had beat their mentors by both surviving, but for me the climax of the story was a little less than climatic. 

Read this book for some great imaginative settings and the characters we are introduced to.  But know you will be kept in the dark just as much as the two young magicians regarding their challenge. 

I give this book 3 of 5 shots. 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Nine Perfect Strangers

Nine Perfect Strangers
by Liane Moriarty

Liane Moriarty is one of my favorite authors. I'd been eagerly looking forward to starting this book. It did not disappoint.  

Much of this story is a character study of nine different people at a health spa. An author, a lawyer, a family of three, a wealthy young couple, and so on. Their different stories unfold during their time at the spa while the spa "experience" becomes even more unusual.  Nothing is what they expected or bargained for up to a point where their collective situation becomes unbearable. 

And I had to wonder all along, just who is this owner of the spa? Is she who/what she says she is? Is her desire to help sincere? Or is she someone very sinister? 

I give Nine Perfect Strangers four of five shots. 

A Separate Peace

A Separate Peace
by John Knowles

I really wanted to love this book, or at the very least like it. It's been on my bucket list forever as a classic I wanted to, needed to read. 

I was simply bored to tears. I could not find enough to make me care about the characters or their lives. Perhaps they just didn't come to life for me, I don't know. I was more than halfway through the book before I gave it up.  And I hate giving up on books!

Before giving it up, I began flipping through 5-10 pages at a time to stop and read and hopefully find something that would make me want to keep going, something that said, "Keep reading - this is what you're waiting for!" 

Sadly, I never found it. 

Just one of five shots. 

The Woman in the Window

The Woman in the Window (Audio Version)
by A. J. Finn

As the title suggests this book in reminiscent of Hitchcock's Rear Window.  A woman living alone with agoraphobia spends her days spying on her neighbors and counseling others online. Of course she witnesses a crime and tries to convince the authorities that what she saw was real, despite all the evidence against it. There are other factors at play here which include her tenant who rents out the lower portion of her house, her husband and daughter who have apparently moved away, and her online clients. 

I found this story to be suspenseful and as with any suspenseful book, tried to work out what was "really" happening.  

The narrator did a good job with this book but I think I would have enjoyed the
"climatic ending" more as a reader than a listener. It's one of the drawbacks of audio books in my opinion. Either I really connect with the narrator or I don't. 

I liked this book. I give it three of five shots. 

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Past Reviews

This is simply the list of books by title that I have read and reviewed through this blog site. If you wish to see what I had to say, including any comments of my followers, just click on the book title.

Books reviewed 2013 through 2016 are here.
Books reviewed prior to 2013 are here.

The Unseen World

The Unseen World 
by Liz Moore

WOW!  I can't believe it's been three years since I've written a book review. It's not like I haven't been reading.... I guess I just haven't been writing. I'm not going to try to fill in what I've missed, my memory is too bad for that.  


The Unseen World is a story that spans the life of Ada, a young girl, into adulthood and beyond.  She is a child being raised in unconventional ways by a single father.  There comes a time when her father begins experiencing early onset Alzheimer's and her young life begins to change.  

Along with Ada's struggles to try to cure or control her father's Alzheimer's and then to fit into a world she doesn't feel she is a part of, we share her anger and hopelessness.  And worse is discovering that her father isn't who she (or anyone else) believes he is.  But that knowledge doesn't provide the answer to who he actually is.

We time jump between her present, her father's past and along into her future as she works out the puzzle of who her father is and ultimately who she is.  

This story also includes the progress of our digital/electronic/cyber world from it's infancy to beyond what we know today.  Although it is integral to the story it also upsets me in a way that the movie IA upset me.  That artificial intelligence could take on human attributes and ultimately find itself alone.  In some obscure way that disturbs me. 

I listened to this book as a audio download from Downpour.  I give it four of five shots.