Professional Reader 80% 25 Book Reviews 2016 NetGalley Challenge

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Trespasser (Dublin Murder Squad #6) - Review

The Trespasser   💛💛💛💛💛
by Tana French
Published October 4 2016 by Viking

Finished 10/29/16

Tana French, I love everything you do!  5 magnificent stars, this may be my favorite of hers yet.  From the get go, the  setting and the mood are in evidence.  This author's descriptive writing is unsurpassed, in my opinion.  I wanted to provide some sample quotes here but to illustrate the full impact of her pages would require several long paragraphs.  And I don't think my words alone can do this book justice.

Antoinette Conway is the only woman on the Murder Squad and still somewhat of a rookie besides, so she and her equally young partner Steve feel like they're under constant scrutiny to prove their worth as detectives (Ds).  Conway is guarded, introspective, and on edge,  ready to explode, while Steve is a "chirpy little bollix."  They play off each other like seasoned pros. They're handed a case that the other Ds say is a slam dunk, but their senses tell them something is off and someone wants this solved a little too quickly.  

Much of the plot progresses via the smart dialogue, and like no one else, French gives us not just their words but also every little eye twitter, mouth twitch, and nervous jitter so that we feel like we are there seeing the action, feeling the tension, and not just reading it.  I was on the edge of my seat throughout, with a few laugh out loud moments to lighten the load at times.  In the end, there is no one  else in the same league as French. 

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Woman on the Orient Express -Review

"The Woman on the Orient Express"    🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Lindsay Jayne Ashford
Published September 20, 2016, by Lake Union Publishing

Finished  10/24/16

Of all the films made from Agatha Christie books, Murder on the Orient Express has always been my favorite. In the back of my mind ever since, I have wondered about the train, The Orient Express, as it seemed like an amazing way to see and experience life and history all at once.

This book offered me the next best thing, plus a fictional account of a time Ms. Christie traveled on the train following her divorce in 1928. I just loved this book and learned so much! Agatha meets many interesting and diverse people, some real, some fictional, and her life is changed from making the trip. It culminated in traveling from Baghdad to an archeological dig in Ur, where a good portion of the story takes place. A little bit of history, women's fiction, love, friendship, and adventure in the desert all rolled up into one.

The train, like life, must go on until it reaches it's destination. You might not always like what you see out the window, but if you pull down the blind you will miss the beauty as well as the ugliness. 

An ARC from NetGalley and the publisher.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The House at the Edge of Night - Review

The House at the Edge of Night     🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Catherine  Banner
Published  July 12 2016 by Random  House

Finished 10/23/16

Some will think me odd, but this is my favorite book cover this year! I think it's  just gorgeous.

It turned out to be quite an enjoyable saga, and kudos to the audio narrator for making it so.  Eduardo  Ballerini's  pacing and inflections  often reminded me of Louise Penny's expert reader, the late Ralph Cosham, but with the occasional Italiano thrown in instead  of French.  So it made me want to sit back in a comfy  chair  with some vino or Limoncello and just enjoy.

This is the story of five generations  of the Esposito family on a mythical island near Sicily. From WWI to present day, we fall in love with each member  of the family.  The house is first acquired by Amadeo  and remodeled  into a bar, a business venture which holds the family together for generations.  The island itself undergoes  major transformations, from its old fashioned ways into modernity as each generation matures and brings in automobiles, refrigeration, computers, modern banking, and the problems each carries. The bar keepers evolve as well, and I really liked Amadeo's daughter Maria Grazia most of all (sorry if misspelled; I haven't seen it written).

I  did like the earlier years better than the modern ones, and that could be partly due to  the length of the saga.  In general, a book this long needs some mystery  or plot  twists to hold my interest.    But it's  not an exciting story, rather it's  pretty docile, like the island.  I could probably do well to listen to the last hour again since I found my mind wandering so much.  But life's too short and other books beckon.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Risen - Review

The Risen    🌟🌟🌟🌟 4.5 stars
by Ron Rash
Published September 6 2016 by Harper Luxe

Finished 10/20/16

A tale of two brothers, bewitched, bothered, and beguiled one coming-of-age summer  by a beautiful girl who likes to think she's a mermaid.  But she's something else.  One brother catches on; one stays under her spell.  One brother goes on to become a successful surgeon; the other a drunk.  Any correlation?  Ultimately,  what happened  that summer altered their lives  forever.

 It's an evocative tale you will want to, and can, read straight through.  Rash  ensnares you with his words and then mixes things up a bit at the  end in ways unexpected but then, oh of course, so shrewd.  Sparse, yet impactful.  What isn't  said says so much.  I am in awe. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The Golden Son: A Novel - Review

The Golden Son: A Novel   🌟🌟🌟
by Shilpa Somaya Gowda
Published October 20th 2015 by HarperAvenue

Finished 10.15.16

This is one of those books you sort of get swept up in, with its quiet brand of storytelling about a culture very different from my own.  The audio narration was excellent with the variation in voices extremely well done. 

Anil is the oldest son in an Indian family, expected to do great things with his life; and he goes to Houston to learn to become a doctor.  Long hours in the hospital, falling in love with an American, a stuttering problem, never feeling like he quite fits in.  After many years, though, he feels the same way whenever he goes back home. 
Leena  was his childhood friend to whom he always felt a special connection.  Her story in India highlights why dowries have been outlawed in India (I hadn't  known that before)  and how despicably women are treated in their culture (this I have heard, unfortunately).  Not all women, but those unlucky to have been poorly matched can be treated like dogs and can lose everything.  There is  always something to learn, something to gain, when reading about other cultures, and that's  what makes it so enjoyable.

Some parts were difficult but overall a really good story.  3.5 stars.

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Nest - Review

The Nest    🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Christine D'Aprix  Sweeney  
Published March 22, 2016 by Ecco  

Finished 10/7/2016

3.5 stars would be more like it.

I didn't  find this book annoying  like many did, but Leo certainly falls under that description.  I enjoyed the many  subjects covered here, as I thought it would be strictly about adult children whining about not getting the full inheritance they'd been expecting.  Which was thanks  to Leo.  I could name a few other unfortunate things that happened to other members of the cast, also thanks to Leo. 

Overall I found it well written and intelligent.   A bit disappointed in the ending, though, thanks to Leo!

The Things We Wish Were True - Review

The Things We Wish Were True  🌟🌟🌟
by Mary Beth Mayhew Whalen
Published 9.1.16 by Lake Union Publishing

Finished 10.7.16

And yet, Jencey understood, there were the things she wished were true, and there was what was actually true. She was learning that there was usually a great distance between the two.

If you can get past the unusual names of the main characters, you might be able to enjoy this story:  Bryte (is it pronounced like Bright  or like Britt?), Cutter, Jencey, Pilar, Zara, and Zell, with a lifejacket thrown in by way of Everett, Lance and Cailey.  I've never understood it when authors settle on such names; are they trying to be unique, or to just confuse the reader?

I did, eventually, get past that, and I did enjoy the story pretty much. The author  experienced something at her neighborhood  pool one summer and wanted to share how it united the whole community with a common goal, a dream if you  will.   She did a good job here, giving us some memorable characters and a title that makes you stop occasionally to ponder how it relates to each one.  My heart was with little Cailey  throughout, and her relationship with Zell was very special.  That's  what this book is about after all-- relationships, the secrets we keep, and the things we wish were true but about which we need to GET REAL.

I won a Kindle version from goodreads first reads.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Cruel Beautiful World - Review

Cruel Beautiful World   🌟🌟🌟🌟
by Caroline Leavitt
To be published Oct 4, 2016, by Algonquin Books

Finished  10/1/2016

 If you read the blurb and  think this is about a 16 year old girl who runs off with her 30 something teacher, you would be only half right. True, Lucy Gold leaves her sister Charlotte and "Mom" Iris in a quandary wondering where she could be, and yes, most of the story  revolves around Lucy's lonely, sheltered existence in the aftermath.  But the offshoots into the backgrounds of the few other characters are handled with ease as well.  Iris is lonely but content  enough with her life when she gets the call asking if she'll raise the two little girls she didn't know existed.  Charlotte is happy to put herself second to her little sister's needs, until she can no longer do so.  Patrick has his own sadness but seems a good man.  In that time of the Sharon Tate murders, Kent State, and communes, there are so many layers to the story. It all culminates with a few story lines left open ended, and a happy ending for my favorite character, who will remain nameless  to avoid spoilers.

Thanks to LT Early  Reviewers for my copy.