Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Another series in which the second book really doesn't live up to the first or third in a trilogy

I enjoyed book 1, book 2 lost me a bit along the way, and this one was more of a page turner again that kept me entertained for the few days that it took me to read it.

This final chapter of the trilogy was fast-paced, and I enjoyed our three female lead characters much more (Charlotte, Melanie, and Dale).  The gloves were off a little more, more vulnerability, and more growth.  Different folks had learning circles close, and the female relationships were back again at front and center.

I think what I liked best about this series (besides women in leadership roles), was how it was peppered with how hard it is to balance any career with motherhood, and the prices that women pay in this precarious existence. This was fine summer reading for me. With the US presidential candidate nomination races going on - an interesting snapshot in to the political lives of the insiders, especially as a woman could be running for president next year, and given the impact terrorist actions have had in the last decade.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Great recommendation

I love Summer reading. I am not quite sure how it is truly different than Winter reading. Ah yes, curling up on a blanket outside rather than on the couch with a big glass of cold water rather than a coffee. A friend from work recommended this author, and when I checked out more info, folks said that if you liked Diana Gabaldon's type of writing (check), you would likely also enjoy Kearsley (check).

I love finding new authors. I really enjoyed this book.  Well researched, and two time period story lines that were well woven together.  I would have almost liked more of the present day story, but it was a good read.  I apparently like books with a bit of magic tossed in, as well as good, well researched plot and interesting characters. I will be reading more from this author!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

A welcome respite

I read the first installment of the "Irish Country" series a year ago, and I am surprised it took me so long to come back to it again.

These are truly lovely reads.  It is truly easy to get lost in the fictional town of Ballybucklebo, Northern Ireland of the 1950s'ish.

This novel finds us following O'Reilly in both modern times and reflections from his experiences as a Naval Surgeon during WWII.  I find the prose easy to read, the characters engaging, and I like learning about past lives and how the 'present' weaves in and out of past events. There are many things to like about these books, and if you are looking for an escape in to another time, where the drama is on a local scale, this is your series.  You finish the book wanting more, and also feeling good.  These aren't dark novels, they are about relationships and the role of your country GP that looks at their patients holistically and how small towns evolve in ways different than that of the city.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Provocative title...

This is an autobiographical work the follows two American college grads as they set out to experience the world.  First stop, China in the mid 1980s.

I was 13 in 1986 when Susie and Claire graduated and departed as they tried to locate their next selves with around the world tickets in their hands, a backpack, and big dreams.  There are parts of this book that strike a chord with me - and easier to engage with than having recently read Wild, by Cheryl Strange. I remember envying my friends that had a copy of Linda Goodman's Love Signs...and all that angst growing up, and not having a clue what I was going to do after I went to university.

This novel covers about three months of an ill-fated trip that was many things.  I think I laughed a few times, I know that I cringed a few times, it was quite the story, and it didn't always reflect Susie and her friend, and North Americans in all that great of a light.  It is well written, but there are passages that are downright offensive about how they both behaved, and also how truly naive they were.  They don't always treat the locals all that well, and they definitely come off as self-centered at times.  Isn't that what growing up is all about? I remember my own month long backpacking trip back in 1995, and the experiences that I had, and the people I met along the way - it is far different when you go Ireland and the UK rather than to Asia. When the travelers end up back in the US after Claire's mental breakdown, you never do learn what happens to Susan's travelling partner, and likely, that is for the best. I appreciate that this was Susan's story - there are times I think about writing about our experiences - and I think about whose 'voice' and whose 'story' would it truly be - for me, although I may write about my kids or my husband, or the people I care about, but it would be my 'story' that is told and it would be my evolution I struggle with.

At the end of the day, and interesting snapshot of China in 1986 as it slowly opened to the West, a coming of age story, and an intriguing travel read.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I do like the cover, but I am not sure if the title truly fits but I can't imagine another one....

Truly, this book has helped with my slump.  Very interesting, very compelling, totally different.

The soundtrack running through my head is Vance Joy's "Riptide"... it keeps looping in my mind and playing it a few times hasn't really helped.

Again, it is interesting how certain books seem to come along at certain times.  Sometimes there is a message, or a reason why it has come along at this certain moment of time.  I suspect this could be one of those kind of books - especially since it delves so much in to family history, and breaking free and creating a new history. The whimsical part of my really liked this book - it fits with the theme perhaps of the 'other' worldly a lot of  my reading has taken me in the past year.  I get the feeling this is another polarizing book that will either draw you in or you will never become a part of it.

I like the idea of being practical from this novel - that it brings strength, and a clear head, and an ability to weather a storm.  This is a book about family, and choices, and how our paths can intersect until a circle is closed (for lack of a better analogy) to break free from the past.  It is about circuses, and oddities, family, and love. It is about appearances that can be deceiving, and about life on the margins, and creating family out of nothing. Very interesting.

I like this booked in ways that I can't always articulate.

This is a quote from one of the last pages, as the crisis passes, it strikes a chord with me as I am working on figuring out how to move forward with my mom, and my family, and how do we carve a different path from the one we have walked for almost the  last decade.  It is time to start a new cycle, and a different kind of caring within our family love:

"I am not used to being carried, but there are obligations  that come with family, letting them care for you when they need to...We carry our families like anchors, rooting us in storms, making sure we never drift from where and who we are.  We carry our families within us the way we carry our breath underwater, keeping us afloat, keeping us alive.  I've been lifting anchors since I was eighteen.  I've been holding my breath since I was born." (p330).

It is funny, I rushed to the last dozen pages, and then I stumbled my way through them - breaking to distract myself that it was almost done.  At least I have a book waiting for me at the library - tonight I will need to take this one back, and fetch myself a new one.

And turning to the last page, we reach the point of where the title comes in to it's own for this book... especially about family and personal histories... "'sometimes we'll make it up.  The first secret about history is how much of it is conjecture.' He shrugs. 'And we'll fill in spaces.  They were good at inventing themselves.'... she knows that her name will find its way in to his speculations.  So will his. Because there are things you do for people you've known your whole life.  You let them save you, you put them in your books, and you let each other begin again, clean." (p339).

Friday, July 10, 2015

Fell.

It has been a while since I have read a Lescroart.  I think I would have enjoyed this book a WHOLE LOT more if it wasn't a large print novel. I must remember, do not order the large print novels, they are really distracting to read.  I think this is also part of the reason why I don't want an e-reader. I like turning the page, I like the feel of the pages until my fingers.

It was a decent read.  It was nice to read about some familiar characters again, and see glimpses of San Francisco.  It felt like this was a story line where too many things were happening, and that there were a lot of strings that needed to be pulled together before the story came together.  Not completely satisfying.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

The girl who wouldn't stop riding the train... even though she should...

For me, this is a solid, average book. I enjoyed it more than Flynn's books (not nearly as dark of a worldview), but this is not quite how I like my crime novels.

It is an interesting novel - but not truly page turning or really compelling.  I can't even say that I passionately cared about the characters, and it felt like there were holes in the how the police investigation took place.  This is where my bias reveals itself, I have loved several series of police procedurals and how the stories and characters are crafted, and the mystery is solved.

I am struggling a bit trying to describe how I reacted to this book in a snappy, quick review.  Did I mention I would give it 2.5 stars out of 5?? I guess what got me that there really wasn't a lot of character growth. The twist that is revealed isn't all that surprising, and it is more just sad how things work themselves out,

I can't quite say that I am going through a reading slump, but I can't say that I have been books that have been knocking my socks off or rocking my perspective either.  Next up, I am playing it safe and reading a book by John Lesrcoart and returning to the world of San Fran.