Tag Archive: contemporary



Fruit of the Drunken TreeFruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Though this story takes place in the 1990’s in the times of drug lord Pablo Escobar in Bogotá, Columbia, it’s lessons are current for us here in the USA. It centers on two young girls and how they affect each other and each others’ families.

I actually finished the book a couple days ago. I needed time to think about how to review this. Besides what I said above I just couldn’t decide. If you want to know more about the book go read the reviews on GoodReads. Many just write out the story themselves. Why bother with reading it with all that information? I don’t like to include blurbs about the books I read. I figure there are plenty of those out there. My review is to tell future me what I thought and possible current events or life events and how they might have influenced my feelings. If that helps others, I am glad. So for my future self: remember when they separated babies from parents because of a need to get rid of illegal immigrants? How many of them were seeking asylum from life similar to what the characters in this book were living with? I have friends who lived through being held up by guerrillas. I don’t believe that these people are taking away our jobs. Watch how the costs of foods go up as citizens take back the farming jobs. Just saying.

Anyway, this book was well written, at times even poetic. It kept me up as I couldn’t leave the characters when it was well past time to sleep. I think everyone should read this book. Even if it doesn’t change your point of view, it could help educate on the history and peoples of South America. And if it feels factual, like a true story, know that the author did live through a lot of what the book tells about. The girls playing with injured Barbies. The dreams of the girl’s leg with sock and shoe that the main character saw on TV news minus a child’s body. These are just a couple incidences that felt too real to be fiction.

When I rate a book with five stars I know that I will remember it. It affected me deeply.

I’m so happy that NetGalley had it for me to read for review.

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Still LifeStill Life by Isobel Hart
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Though I finished this book about a week ago, I just haven’t been able to say something nice about it. And though I obtained this book through NetGalley for an honest review, I can’t give it a good one. But thanks anyway.

Give me a good mindless zombie story. Don’t give me a reason to read rape and abuse scenes and blame it on a virus. Please don’t read this if you have issues with either of those. If you can get past that you might feel intrigued to see what might happen in book two. Me? Not so much.

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The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This audiobook (CD) was in the put-away-bag at the library and I couldn’t resist. I knew it was a fairly recent movie so I couldn’t wait to try it out.

Ah, but I wasn’t crazy for it. You would think it would do it for me. I used to take the train to work every day. I know how that imagination can take you places the train doesn’t. In fact, riding the train was how I wrote my first book. So that part of the first character grabbed me. That she had stories in her head about the people she saw in the homes she passed made her an interesting character to me. But somehow I mostly didn’t like her.

It was when the next character voice came in that I perked up my ears. Her voice reminded me of Gilly, Sam’s crush on Game of Thrones. I guess it is just her accent but having that familiar voice had me listening more closely. And I did like this character.

About the time I got into the story my CD player gave up. I ended up using my credit on Audible to get the audio onto my Kindle. That worked out better.

It has been over a week since I finished this book. Lots of life has happened since. So my memories are eroding. Still, I remember how I stayed up until 3 the last part of the book. It was well written and kept me interested.

The narrators: Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey, India Fisher were fantastic and different enough to keep me from getting the characters confused.

As the librarian had warned me, don’t read the last bit at night before sleep it is a thriller and it will keep you awake. Still, it was a good read. I’m glad I read it.

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Testimony Testimony by Anita Shreve
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Our little library now has books on CDs. I saw them the last time I was there and decided I should grab a couple to encourage this new accommodation.

This was one I remember hearing about so I thought I couldn’t go wrong. The librarian said I shouldn’t read it at night, but that is the only time I can sink my teeth into a book.

I realized early on why I don’t like reading with only the audio version. There is no way to look at words or pages to clarify what I just heard. And this book has many points of view incorporating second-person on a couple of them. It didn’t quite work for me. And the actors playing the different characters weren’t always the best, I didn’t think.

This topic is worth talking about with the ‘Me, too’ movement. It shows the other side of the rape story. I don’t think it should send us back to women not being heard. But to remind us that there are those women who don’t care who they ruin with accusations. The main male character wasn’t on a power trip or trying to hurt someone. This story does need to be told. It needs to be read.

But I don’t have to like it. I didn’t hate it either.

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American PandaAmerican Panda by Gloria Chao
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a cute book! What a necessary book. I tagged this story with Feminism because there are cultures who need more individual growth and less tradition. I think everyone should read this book to see where one’s traditions and growth of personhood resides.

The author, Gloria Chao, does a marvelous job bringing us into her world, learning the traditions that she grew up with. It is wonderful seeing that change can happen. That individuals can find their own happiness.

My copy was the Kindle version borrowed from the e-library. If you can you should look it up. It is a light read to have so much to it. I might read it again, someday.

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Almost Missed YouAlmost Missed You by Jessica Strawser
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting take on the love-at-first-sight theme. What if you don’t act on that sight? What if someone else shows up next?

The story was well-written and kept me reading. I wanted to know what could happen next? There was a lot of suspense and a little romance. I’m not much on romance or murder but these were kept to a minimum as there is so much more to the drama than just those ideas.

I love that there are children involved and beaches. Many layers of what? Why would he do that? What the heck is going on? So I highly recommend this to others looking for a good read. Oh, and I love the grandmother. A wealth of wisdom!

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The FrescoThe Fresco by Sheri S. Tepper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I hate it when I do this: read a book, finish before I’m sleepy, start a new book and nearly forget to write my review of the last book! Boo! Me! And this book deserves reviews!!!

My friend, Kay, gave such a marvelous review that I knew I had to read it. I highly recommend it!

It has everything. Aliens, other planets, other points of view. The main character is female, Benita, who finds herself in a bad, abusive marriage. She is looking to get out and not be found.

What finds her is new opportunities the likes no one would expect to happen. That is all I can give you without feeling I’m spoiling it for you.

Needless to say, there is adventures and space travel, and meeting alien beings. Like all good sci-fi, this has a lot of philosophical, political, social, and spiritual commentary. Much of it tongue-in-cheek humor that may cause snorting of the hot tea if not careful.

If you get the chance to read this, you should. I’m sorry that it isn’t loanable. Seems many Benitas out there might not be able to afford it but would benefit from the read. Benitas need humor, escapism, and ideas. In fact, I think everyone could learn something and enjoy this story.

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BluffBluff by Lenore Skomal
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow! Even now, several days later, I have a hard time letting this one go. And still, I can’t think of how to do it justice. I’m giving it 4.75 stars. I can’t even tell you why I don’t want to give it five I will remember it for a long time. No cliffhangers, strong fem main character–though she is in a coma.

It may be the extra people that came in about 50% in. I know their perspectives helped move the plot forward but at times that was jarring. The other thing is something that would be a spoiler that I don’t want to show.

Still, a lot of heavy topics got discussed from differing points of view. None of them are easy topics, no easy answers. The reader may or may not agree with the answers given.

Okay, okay. I’ve decided it is worth the 5 stars. Read the blurb then read the book. Let me know what you think of it.

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Bittersweet (China Bayles, #23)Bittersweet by Susan Wittig Albert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My librarian suggested this book knowing I wanted to try a ‘real’ book written by and starring a strong female. Now that I am finished with it I can say I did enjoy much of it. (I had to renew it–six weeks!)

“Oh, but here comes her complaints…” I hear some of you saying. And, yes, I do have some negatives.

The very beginning. I think it is highly unnecessary. When you read the Prologue you’re given the answer to the whole mystery. Many call this a cozy mystery. What, I ask you, is cozy about murder? Not just one but TWO? What is cozy about people who think more about money than the environment that we all have to live in humans, fauna, and flora alike?

At least the author uses this as an educational moment. That is what brought it up to four stars. Otherwise, I would have said I was rather bored. Though the excitement of the mystery gets wrapped up, the parts of the book I cared about, the main character’s mother’s husband’s health. It is the cliffhanger of that issue that brings this rating down to a three again. I didn’t like this story where the men of this book were being talked about. If women can grow, let’s show that men can grow, too. Many have been raised with sisters or single moms so they know the issues and don’t need to be cavemen.

I loved learning about the herbs and plants.

I never knew about the shooting-fish-in-the-barrel type hunting and moving the game to places they shouldn’t inhabit and the problems that brings. I will have to look into our area and see if that is here. I don’t have a problem with hunters. I hope we never get desperate enough to look to that as a food source, but if we do I guess I will have to accept it. Plenty of people around here do that for their food source. There are laws to keep it safe and less draining on the environment while filling the freezers with protein for cold winters. I’m a vegetarian because I don’t like the texture of meat, not a preachy one telling others what they should or shouldn’t eat. Anyway, the things I learned here made the rating roundup.

I don’t like to cook. Most of the foods in the recipes here did not appeal to me but I take no points away from the book for these. There are people who will love that aspect. I do appreciate that most of the recipes are at the back of the book where they don’t interrupt the story flow.

One more thing, I did get my eyes checked and will be getting new glasses soon. Meanwhile, I couldn’t read the hardback for very long at a time. Luckily, the Kindle version was available on our e-library to borrow. Once into that version, I was able to immerse in the story and rest my eyes as needed.

Check it out and tell me what you think of this book, regardless of version

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A Different BlueA Different Blue by Amy Harmon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am sad to finish this book. I was lucky to listen to the Audible version. Tavia Gilbert’s narration brought all the characters to life. There is no time that I thought I was hearing all one voice. Each character stood out on their own.

Whoever recommended this book to me, thank you. It was a book that I relished every minute. The main character had that spit fire attitude that I always enjoy. Think Max in Maximum Ride, only maybe even more so.

Though this is called a romance by other reviewers, it isn’t sappy and full of angst like other YA books. In fact, the romance is on the back burner as Blue tries to find her identity.

I even loved the secondary characters. I don’t know if they read as individualistic as the narrator made them sound but they were all lovable.

I almost gave the book four stars as there was a moment I nearly quit reading. It seemed to take Blue into a Jesus saves moment. Not that that is a bad thing in itself. It just didn’t fit with the rest of the story and I thought it was going to stay religious preaching rather than be a story of a person growing. Luckily the author didn’t stay with that theme and allowed Blue to continue life trying to be a good person. Never in a preachy way, just living as life came to her. It almost gave a realness to the story rather than distract. That could happen.

There were points where the book could have ended but the author remembered to cover all the loose thread and tidied up the ending so nicely.

One thing that bothered me is something that always bothers me. Why did Blue stop being herself? Just because a guy finally accepts and love abounds doesn’t mean a woman should become all sweet and pliable. It became too close to the common story of happily ever after and I don’t think that is acceptable now. There should be a part two where Blue realized what all brides need to learn–we have to stay ourselves to make a whole not lose ourselves and become the other person.

I highly recommend this book. Let me know what you think

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