Tag Archive: Literature



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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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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AffinityAffinity by Sarah Waters

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I didn’t actually read the book but rather listened to the Audible version of the book. Juanita McMahon (Narrator) added her talents to the story so well-written by Sarah Waters. Both the story and the actor made this a wonderful experience.

What can I say that won’t spoil the adventure of the moment by moment read? I can’t seem to come up with anything! I went to look at the blurb and I think even that spoils it. Just know that the main character draws you in and you get curious to see what happens next. Her questions become the reader’s questions and you can only hope for the best and dread anything less.

I wish the ending would have been with the main character stronger from her experiences and then a book two for us to follow her travels. I don’t think that is a spoiler as that is me rewriting the ending. Come back to my review when you finish to tell me if you agree or not.

If you get the chance to read or listen to this book I think you will enjoy it,

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Imagine Me GoneImagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A few days ago I came to the conclusion that I couldn’t finish this book. I just couldn’t like the characters or the story. What parts I related to were triggers of my own upbringing and depressions. I figured this wasn’t a good book for me.

After looking at the reviews and realizing a friend had recommended to me, I decided to stick it out. I must admit that the book got a little better but still was not one I will remember in the future. I would normally give this book a single star, but I do think the subject matter needs to be shared with others that may not have had the opportunity to learn about it first hand. And explore why the treatment of depression and other mental health issues don’t get looked at is because many think the patients are needy, attention-getters or otherwise diminish the pain the person is going through. The author gives us a couple glimpses into the minds of severe depression. So I raised the star rating by one.

Since I review and rate for my own future reference I have to leave it at 2 stars. Others love this book and say it is their favorite of the year. So don’t take my word for it. Pick it up and see what you think. Oh, I should mention this was a library Kindle version.

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Perennials: A NovelPerennials: A Novel by Mandy Berman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When I saw this book on NetGalley, I thought it would be a good book about going away to camp. Well, that is there a bit, but mostly it is people coming of age and lots of drama. It was Far more drama and back and forth in time with lots of characters. Maybe that is my own problem with how I have to read using text-to-speech and not so much reading the words. Maybe you won’t have that problem at all but will enjoy a wonderful book full of family and going away to camp.

There was swimming and boating. And that’s as close to the water that I am getting for now. I must find a pool to go swim in!

Please try this to see if it is for you.

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Animal FarmAnimal Farm by George Orwell

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Okay. I get it. A ‘person’ with no previous experience in running the farm takes over. The gullible listen because it is a strong voice. Rather charismatic. Lazy farm animals rather than using their brains or researching what it takes to run the farm vote this person in. The person sets up rules and keeps them as long as they apply to his own comfort and then changes them while no one pays attention, deflecting that attention by making folks think they had seen it wrong to begin with.

Yes, I see the appeal. But I am no more impressed with this book that when it was assigned to my Humanities class in High School. Sad that all the things we fought so hard for back then are being taken away by the pigs. Living the story doesn’t increase its appeal. It’s still a male heavy story with nothing but fighting and hatred.

But maybe everyone should read it. Who knows what might wake up the rest of the animals on this farm. By the way, this was the audio version that I picked up from the OverDrive library. I had hoped that the E-library would have the Kindle version but it was still out. I will take it off HOLD so that it can go to someone else.

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Greenglass HouseGreenglass House by Kate Milford

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Please check out my friend, Cheryl’s, review on this book as it was what prompted me to go find this at my public e-library.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show…

That is by far a better-written review than I expect to write today. Fibro has me in its grips so I barely have a brain.

Even so, here are my thoughts. I loved that the parents were a part of this story and adventures still happened. I loved the mixture of very fantasy games and real (though fantasy) life. The book kept me wondering what was happening, what would happen next, how could they solve this or that problem. And I loved the vocabulary, invented or real there was a stretch for the reader to work on. I even had to stop the text-to-speech for a moment to highlight a word or two that were easily found in the online dictionary. (Oh, what a modern miracle that I don’t have to pick up a tome of a book to find a word that sends me on a dictionary search for hours! Online dictionaries start with the most logical definitions and don’t stop the story for long.)

I do want to warn the parents of the future readers to read this first themselves. I can see that an inn that is there for thieves and other not-so-law-abiding customers might not be the greatest of settings. And there is a bit of danger for the family involved that the young reader might need their own guidance understanding. For that, I might recommend late middle grades or young adult. But adults will find this a delight and just as exciting as a child reader.

Now I miss the characters and the story. It ended very nicely, yet I wish we could go back and visit again sometime. I couldn’t sleep after finishing last night. It left me wondering about how this author did that. How did she pull me in so thoroughly? Great writing!

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Everything Belongs to UsEverything Belongs to Us by Yoojin Grace Wuertz

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

NetGalley gave me this book to read and review. Thank you.

Maybe it’s the busyness of the holidays or my usual ADD, but I found this book confusing. I must’ve read the first six chapters 5 times. Once I was understanding whose point of view I was reading, I found the story engaging enough. In fact, I wanted to know what was happening to the characters. But…

The ending was dull, the ending was cheap, and I felt like I had wasted my time. I wanted to feel that the characters had achieved at least the title of the book. But it just left me flat.

That said, taking my ADD and the holidays into consideration, maybe you will love this book. And maybe I need to read it again someday.

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A Tale for the Time BeingA Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Over a decade ago, I met an online friend that would change or at least, modify my life. I met Judith on LiveJournal, you remember that old site, better than MySpace but not quite as social as FaceBook. Judith was chatting in her journal about Chris Baty and the NaNoWriMo scene (Which resulted in my first novel being written between the Ides of March and the Ides of April. I didn’t finish the novel then as we had to move to a new city and I just couldn’t stay with it. But I added more than enough wordage to that novel in November 2002 to “win”. (First of 10 or 11 novels since.)

The other thing Judith introduced me to was BookCrossing.com. The concept that grabbed me with BC was how my read book could be recycled to others and then the new reader and the old could discuss this story. The book could travel even when I couldn’t, so it felt like a message in a bottle thrown out to sea. It is fun to see where your book could end up and the friendships that develop over said book. I still belong but since my eyes aren’t what they used to be, I am happy for the invention of Kindle and other e-readers. So I release far fewer books nowadays.

Besides Judith, what do the above paragraphs have in common, and what do they have to do with ‘A Tale for the Time Being’? The art of writing and the art of reading. Both concepts play strong in this story. Rather than a message in a bottle, this message floats ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox in layers of freezer bags. The writer was in Tokyo, the reader/finder in Canada. Years separate the two. Yet a bond is formed. Oh, yeah, Judith read and reviewed this and hooked me in. I think she didn’t like the Zen parts of the book. I found that part delightful. I have to admit that most of the book is believable whereas the Zen bits are a little more ‘magical’. But the title twinkles with that magic. If you read it right.

Anyway, I HIGHLY recommend this book. I actually read it one and a third times. I borrowed the Kindle version from the library. Between reading it on my Kindle app on my Tablet and listening on my old Kindle text-to-speech, I managed to get to about 36% in. Then I found that my library also had the OverDrive version. So I restarted reading the book with the author’s voice. That pumped up my ratings for this wonderful tale. Each layer of depth into the story has its own built-in amazements. Level one, tree book, and the Kindle version, there are many footnotes and definitions to help with a deeper understanding of that time in history or that country, language. But the narration includes minor helps. Hearing a voice say the Japanese names or words adds to the believability of the whole story. Ms. Ruth Ozeki has an impeccable voice and narration, her variations of voices for each character supreme! I enjoyed rereading the first third with her help. I felt I gained deeper understanding just by hearing her. Please, if you get the chance to pair both versions, go for it!

By the way, I want to thank Jonelle Patrick and her Mysteries and website: http://jonellepatrick.me/ for introducing me to many contemporary Japanese subjects presented in A Tale for the Time Being. At least I was forewarned.

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Five Minutes in HeavenFive Minutes in Heaven by Lisa Alther

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What a ride! Not exactly rollercoaster, but not merry-go-round either. From the beginning, I like the main character, Jude. She is one who doesn’t belong in the world, but finds her way, anyway. She is flawed and confused, with good reasons. I wanted to root for her to win each of her obstacles.

From Tennessee to New York to France and back, Jude struggles with her demons, longing for love to return to her as pure as she put it out. Rarely does it find her. Mostly because of her own insecurities and lack of role-models, love floats out as a fantasy. Never to be achieved.

I picked this version of the book up from Amazon, Kindle Unlimited (which is in fact limited, as you can only have ten ‘checked out’ at a time). I kind of wished I had the Audible version or the Whispersync to go along, but I managed okay without.

My biggest complaint is the French. Not the people. Just the use of the language with no definitions available to the reader. If you only took Latin, Spanish and German in your language classes, French isn’t a language you even have books for. At least that’s how it is in my house. So I had to ignore the language and hoped to get the gist. I hate when authors do that to the reader. It stinks of a superiority to the reader. It wasn’t necessary. If you are conveying a story to the reader. and most of the book is in English, why not continue in that language in the last third of the book?

And the ending? Wish I had been given a grown up, matured, version of Jude when she comes home at last! The last part ended in the same way, that the other two sections had ended. Wondering what next. Still, it was worth the read.

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