Professional Reader 80% 25 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Eagle & Crane - Review

Eagle & Crane A Novel 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Suzanne Rindell
Published July 3 2018 by G. P. Putnam's Sons

I love this author and this book was a fantastic read.  I'll read anything she writes after The Other Typist, which had me bewitched but also bewildered.  Eagle and Crane fortunately skips the bewilderment and goes straight to endearment and heartbreak.  

Two boys, one a Japanese American, the other white, grow up on the same section of farmland in pre - World War II California.  Their common age and venue make friends out of them despite their families' histories.  Eventually they join a flying circus together and spend some time away from home learning to be stunt men and pilots.  Their friendship hits some bumps but nothing like when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and the war and internment camps are in their backyard.  Oh, and there is also a young woman involved.

To avoid spoilers I'll simply say that the ending has some nice twists, one you might see coming or not, which is always a good thing.  The characters and the story, adventures and history galore, will stay with me for a long time to come.  

Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher.

Friday, June 22, 2018

The Last Cruise

By Kate Christensen 
Published July 10 2018 by Doubleday 

3.5 stars rounded up.

If you have no desire at all to ever embark on a cruise ship, this book will reaffirm that notion.  If you have cruised and want to go again, you may change your mind after reading this book.  I am firmly in the first category since I suffer from motion sickness.  Now I also suffer from fear of being stranded in the middle of the ocean with no power, no crew, diminishing food supply, and a chance of rain.  For these passengers on the final voyage of The Isabella, at least there was plenty of wine and whiskey.  

The Isabella is being decommissioned or whatever you call it, and this one last voyage from California to Hawaii will be reminiscent of the good old days, in both music and food.  We get to know the musical quartet, from Israel, and one of the chefs, Hungarian, plus a couple of the passengers, Valerie and Christine.  The crew has discovered that they're  all being fired by the cruiseline once in Hawaii, and it's  not going over well.  Valerie is there to write about the dynamics of a crew made up of diverse cultures and their treatment by corporate, and then her story turns into something much larger in scale when the crew quits.  Christine is the light of their cruiseship lives, but she doesn't know if her own life, her marriage to a farmer, is what she wants.

So much going on here yet I had no problem keeping up with all the names and places.  The ending might make you angry or sad or confused, depending on how you take it.  My thanks to the publisher and NetGalley.   

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Love and Ruin - Review

Love and Ruin by Paula McClain
Published May 1 2018 by Ballantine Books

🌟  🌟  🌟  
3.5 stars.

At nearly 400 pages, I'm afraid this felt long-ish to me.  Not a fan of war stories except WW2, I probably should have skimmed  through the Spanish Civil War and the Finnish Russian war in the first half of the book.  I probably did skim the parts on Ernest Hemingway's second marriage to Paula, who he is leaving for our narrator, Martha Gellhorn.  No matter how romantic the adventures of Ernest and Martha may have been, I am not a fan of serial cheaters being seriously considered as husband material.  You know what they say:   "If he cheats WITH you, he will cheat ON you."  I couldn't buy Ernest as a romantic, knowing how many wives he ultimately had.  He actually was a little boy in need of constant attention and reassurance.  He was brash and brazen.  Sound like anyone else you know?  Yuk.

What kept me reading was that ultimately I came to like Martha for her independent thinking and having goals of her own, other than that of being his wife.  Also the fact that they were both writers working on different material, their struggles described in great detail, and the many different homes they had, was all interesting to me.   Then WW2 hit closer to home at about 75% in, and the ending was sad but a fine depiction of a woman with ambition, spirit, and intelligence.  The author had a great admiration for this woman, which is evident in the story telling.  

My thanks to NetGalley and Ballentine Books.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Every Note Played - Review

Every Note Played🎡🎡🎡🎡
by Lisa Genova
Published March 20 2018 by Scout Press

4+ stars.  I am a huge Lisa Genova fan, having read and loved every one of her books now (Still Alice is still my favorite).  I always learn so much in her books, and each is about a different disease or condition that someone outside of the medical community like me may not have heard much about--as in Still Alice and Love Anthony, or were completely unaware of-1as in The O'Briens and Left Neglected).  

One of my Utah cousins, when we first found each other 13 years ago as a result of our genealogical research, told me at that time that his wife had ALS, which I had only heard of as Lou Gehrigs disease, and I knew only that it was very bad.  My cousin gave me periodic updates on her deterioration (I never met her),  until death finally freed her from her misery. What I remember most is when she could no longer swallow.  How can your body fail you like that and yet you're still hanging on?  But it wasn't long after that.

In Every Last Note, Richard had been a famous classical pianist before ALS struck.  He was divorced and living alone when he lost the use of one arm and then the other.  Then one leg; then both.  His ex-wife didn't want to do it, but offered up her home, formerly his home,  where she would take care of him along with the home health aides Richard was already paying for.  Genova always gives us the big picture, not only how a disease strikes the victim but also the affects on the caregivers.  She makes us think about our resilience, adaptability, our ability to forgive, and how to move on.  The ending was a tear jerker but I can't see how it could go any other way.  

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher.  

Sunday, May 6, 2018

American By Day - Review

American By Day   πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸ
by Derek B. Miller
Published April 3 2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt  

Oh, Derek B. Miller, it's good to know you've still got it, that incredible ability to take serious, tough topics like suicide, cancer, depression,  grief and loneliness, politics and prejudice, and put  them into a story that is deep, yes, but lots of fun too.  Loved it!

I adored Norwegian By Night, so this sequel had a lot of expectations to live up to; and it managed to make me feel happy, sad, and even a little more intelligent because Miller's writing covers some heavy topics that make you really think.  These are all the same feelings I had with NBN, so this book met and surpassed my expectations.

We get to know Sigrid Odegard much better here, and the New York sheriff Irving Wylie who is trying to help her find her brother is a wonderful character.  Miller creates lonely, quirky souls who worm their way into your very heart.  

In this town in upstate New York, an African American boy named Jeffrey was shot by a policeman who believed Jeffrey's toy gun was real.  The cop was exonerated.  His Aunt Lydia is dating Sigrid's  brother Marcus, and Lydia is soon found dead outside a construction site, having fallen 6 floors.  Whether she was pushed by Marcus, now missing, and if there was any connection between the two deaths is what Sheriff Wylie wants to know; and Sigrid intends to find her brother before the authorities do.  She is much more wiley than Sheriff Wylie, but quite a pair they do make.  The ending might make you cry.

An ebook from NetGalley and the publisher.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

The Perfect Mother - A Review

The Perfect Mother  🌝🌝🌝🌜
by Aimee Molloy
Published May 1 2018 by Harper

A story bound to confuse even the sharpest reader for a little while, based on the mystery introduced in Chapter One. You'll follow a Mommy group, called the May Mothers because they are all due in May, as these progressive over-achievers share their pregnancy stories on line and then birthing sagas in person.  Five or six weeks into their momhood they decide it's time finally for a lady's night out at a local bar, a break from the craziness, and it goes horribly wrong when one of their babies is kidnapped while mommies are cavorting and getting drunk.  The police follow their leads, which I honestly could not follow at all, while the moms form their own theories and red herrings.  All the while they are bombarded with emails on where their kiddies are supposed to be in their development, which wore thin on me, probably because I have never given birth myself.  In the end I solved the crime just before the author revealed it, so the conclusion made perfect sense and wrapped up nicely, IMO.

It was a good read for me, and most likely readers who are mothers will have even more enthusiasm for the lactation and lack of sleep stories.

I just won a printed book from Book Riot (which hasn't yet arrived) and the audio version through, so I listened to this as soon as it was available.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Educated - Review

Educated    🌟🌟🌟1/2
by Tara Westover
Published 20 Feb 2018 by Random House 

I can't  help but admire and respect everything Tara Westover has been through in her difficult life.  I am so grateful to have received a copy of Educated from NetGalley and Random House so I could join my book - loving friends on the bandwagon for this book.  I am there, but sort of on the ledge, one foot on and one foot unsure of where to land.

The book felt repetitive and on the long side; and I know that some things that happened to her happened repeatedly, which is what made her early life so awful, so I should appreciate the many recounts and not be critical.   Also, I should judge memoirs differently than the novels I usually read, where one can wish for a certain outcome, a happy ending or some resolution.   Here I tried to hold a different mindset; but like in most nonfiction, my mind wanted it to wrap up quicker than it did.

What Tara endured and how she overcame it was incredible, unbelievable, although I do not doubt her account. Some of it was hard to read and some hard to fathom.  A psycho brother who wished her dead.  A bipolar father who forced the children to work for him under deplorable, dangerous conditions.  Difficult to understand how she would keep going back to her family for acceptance and validation, even after successfully turning her life around with an education any scholar would aspire to, and after that family spread vicious lies about her.  Even an educated person may need to learn how to permanently say goodbye to people who are bad news.  I fear her story is far from over.