Archive | May, 2018

Opening Up to Non-Fiction.

29 May

May is almost over and I’m pretty pleased with my reading progress. 3/4 of these really hit the spot, and one was just poorly timed (for me).

The Ensemble has been getting tons of buzz and I really, really enjoyed it. I did skim over all of the music-orchestra-pitch-composer specifics because I had no idea what a lot of it was. In spite of that, I loved it. It’s about 4 graduating seniors who are members of a quartet that is competing at a national music competition. Two men, two women. We follow these four as the quartet matures (they stick together long after graduation) and I really felt like all four characters were so beautifully written, I could see them so clearly. 4 stars

Fruit of the Drunken Tree comes out in June and it is a doozy. You know I love a good story of women during political upheaval ala In the Time of Butterflies (Julia Alvarez) or Perla (Carolina de Robertis) and this one falls right in there. Set in Bogotá during Pablo Escobar’s heyday, we follow Chula (wealthy young girl living in a gated/guarded community) and Petrona (poor, slightly older girl living in the mountain slums) who comes to work as Chula and her sister’s maid/nanny. Things get real. And scary and ugly. So of course I was totally gripped. 4 stars

Heart Berries is short and written so beautifully but just too too depressing for me right now. I read the whole thing, and I know it’s great and everyone thinks she’s great and she is great, but it just wasn’t for me. It’s a memoir, the author is Native American and had a troubled childhood. As the book begins, she is  diagnosed with depression, an eating disorder, and Bipolar II. 3 stars.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark oh-m-gee this one has me up late at night locking and re-locking every door and window in my house. It is so creepy. AND TRUE about the authors obsession with and personal investigation into the Golden State Killer. She gave the perp that moniker, previously he’d been known as the East Area Rapist (EAR) and the Original Night Stalker (ONS). Probably the only reason I can even finish this book right now is that just recently the man was caught (all of his crimes were in the 60s and 70s) so I know he’s not out there peeping in my windows. If you like true crime, or going to bed scared, this is for you. 4 stars.

New, New, New & Old

4 May

Here it is, my promised post of what I’ve been reading lately. It’s not as exciting as I’d like it to be, but it’s not too bad either.

Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie I really really liked. It’s the story of a muslim family living in Britain – the older daughter raising her twin younger siblings after their mother’s & grandmother’s deaths. Isma, the eldest, travels to the US once her brother and sister turn 18 to pursue her academic dreams and one morning she recognizes the son of a powerful British political figure and the course of her life (and her family’s) changes. I thought this was so well done – all of the characters were sympathetic and interesting and believable. And it has one of those “OH MM GEE” endings that I totally love. 4.5 stars.

Americanah is an oldie that keeps popping up on my radar. It has been sitting on my shelf for literally four years and in order to motivate myself to read it I had to enlist my five sister-in-laws to read it with me. I enjoyed it – wondering if Ifemelu and Obinze would reunite definitely kept me reading – but a lot of the third quarter I skimmed and I feel like that quarter was the whole point of the book – a lot of big thoughts about race and prejudice. I don’t have the mental capacity right now to really dig in to it and I feel bad about that but that is just how it’s going right now. Basically the story is about young loves Ifemelu and Obinze who live in Lagos – Ifem goes off to the States to study with a plan that Obinze follows. He ends up in London and they seem to go their separate ways until the wind up in Nigeria at the same time, decades later. 4 stars.

These last two were only so-so for me, but lots of people have been loving Tangerine by Christine Mangan. The best part about it is the setting (Tangiers) and the fast-pace, otherwise I was a little unimpressed by the writing and the plot (I think I’ve read it before just not in Tangiers?). Alice and Lucy are best friends at University when something happens to drive them apart. Alice marries right after graduating and moves to Tangiers with her husband. Out of the blue, Lucy shows up at her doorstep one morning and things get crazy. It’s already been optioned for a movie, rumored to star Scarlett Johansson. The movie should be much better (for me) than the book! 2.5 stars

Gateway to the Moon was popping up in my book-centric social media a lot and I’d never heard of the author, Mary Morris, so I decided to give it a go. Sounds like a lot of the things I look for in a book – back and forth between present day and long ago relatives (the long-ago ancestor being Christopher Columbus’s translator during the Spanish inquisition or shortly thereafter). I had to put this down halfway through while I try to decide if these two graphic scenes are over-the-top or if I’ve just become a wuss when it comes to reading anything super dark (it’s possible). I’d been really liking it and will probably finish it up after I give myself a little breather. Stars TBD.

I Finally Finished a Book…

3 May



I have been MIA, I know. But I have been reading and will get a blog post up soon. In the meantime, I noticed that I neglected to review a novel I really liked (maybe my favorite so far this year) that came out April 24th. It’s a pretty slender novel and feels a little bit like News of the World in terms of setting/pace but the story itself is a much different. (Tim, if you’re reading this, this might be one for you!)

West is the story of a recently widowed man who reads an article in the newspaper about some mysterious discoveries and he becomes obsessed. Certain that famed (and contemporary) explorers Lewis and Clark have overlooked something crucial on their expedition, Cy Bellman sets off on his own. He leaves his young daughter in the care of his disapproving spinster sister and the story alternates between Cy’s travels and his daughter’s struggles at home. 4.5 stars

More reviews to follow soon! Reading one right now that I’m liking called Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie.