Tag Archive: Literature



The Five WoundsThe Five Wounds by Kirstin Valdez Quade
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Libby, the library app, recommended this book as a social read for all. My friends and I all got the notification for it simultaneously. Since we all saw it, we ordered and tried to read it at the same time so we could discuss it later.

It was a challenging read. The writing was okay. But the topic was complex. So how is it I give it four stars?

The book gives five characters a chance to share their point of view. Each has damage to overcome. But, we’ve all seen people that refuse to grow up and accept responsibility. It seems, sometimes, that the pregnant teen is more mature than the rest of the cast. It is through her eyes I could tolerate this story. She gets it and is working hard. Ugh. Until she doesn’t. But she’s human. Right?

The author portrays the story through the LatinX culture in New Mexico. It is also slanted Catholic. Being raised in Southern California, I knew and loved friends of Mexican or Spanish heritage. And though I was raised protestant, many of my friends were Catholic, so I had a bit of an understanding. If you didn’t have a religious background or never participated, this might lose the reader.

If the book doesn’t get you culturally or religiously next, it might generationally. It centers on a family led by the matriarch, soon-to-be great Abuela, two offspring, a granddaughter, and finally, the new baby. I think the author does a good job stepping into each character. They are full of faults and virtues. And each is conflicted due to their past and family.

I must say, some might give up. I almost did several times as it is too real. But stick with it, and you will be rewarded in the end.

Gary Tiedemann (Narrator) did a flawless job. What I mean is that he read females and males with equal grace. I never felt the narrator mocking any of the characters in his voice. Yet, there was a change in characters, so you never feel lost about who is telling their story.

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Yellow CrocusYellow Crocus by Laila Ibrahim
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished listening to this a few nights ago. I still feel warm and fuzzy from the experience. No, it isn’t all a cozy read. But the author went into the characters’ psychology in a way that women. mothers could feel. Most of us haven’t had to experience this kind of life. But it doesn’t take a lot to feel how it might affect us. And how it could mess up the children.

Bahni Turpin (Narrator) was marvelous. I could listen to her voice all day, especially when she would sing lullabies. She expressed emotions fully. And get ready to be angry, and make sure to bring the Kleenex.

This is a beautiful read. I was able to hear the Audible version. But I could have read the Kindle version as I had it for quite a while.

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The Sweetness of WaterThe Sweetness of Water by Nathan Harris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Though this was a well-written story and the narrator, William DeMeritt, did a fantastic job. It is too tough to handle at bedtime. The very things that make this a great book for everyone to read, are what made it hard to swallow when it was time to gentle into sleep. I suggest reading this earlier in the day. The history plays true. The awakening, though fiction, portrays real-life that still plays out in some peoples’ lives. I highly recommend reading this book

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Kristin Lavransdatter (Kristin Lavransdatter, #1-3)Kristin Lavransdatter by Sigrid Undset
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was the longest book I think I have ever read. It was agony. I’m glad I listened to it on Audible.

I’m sorry. I know a lot of people absolutely loved this book. Okay, it is three books in one. But it just seemed to go on and on. It was like living in that miserable time when misogynic religion ruled everyone’s life.

Still, I did like the main character and watching her make up her mind about life. I must have liked it as I couldn’t stop reading it even though I wanted to quit. The whole time I was reading, was it a month? All I could think about was trying to write a decent review. So let me lead you to a review that says what I felt better than I can. Read Rachel’s Review.

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If All the Seas Were Ink: A MemoirIf All the Seas Were Ink: A Memoir by Ilana Kurshan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I was young, and even to this day, I loved to spend time, overnight to weeks, if I could, in other people’s homes. It was interesting to see how other people lived. I learned how different and yet the same my life was to my friends. What rules applied? What was okay? How huggy or talky were the people?

As an adult that is less likely to happen. Slumber parties seem to stay in the child’s world. Really close friends can share their lives. But it isn’t the same as personal observation.

Autobiographies give that kind of insight. You live inside the person’s world, hear their thoughts, see how they try to live up to their own standards. See how they feel when they don’t.

Ilana Kurshan provides that kind of insight. I admire her determination and curiosity. She decided to study the Talmud in a seven-year quest to understand it and her relationship to it better. She lived it as best she could, all the easier for living in Jerusalem, all the harder as a single person, then newlywed, then young mother. But she did her best to apply what she learned along the way.

I was raised protestant. I have many friends of various religious leanings and love to learn their belief systems and how they work in real life. I have a friend who has moved to Israel and thought of her as I read. I don’t know if she read this yet, but I bet she will glean from this person’s challenge.

Rating autobiographies is harder than a piece of fiction. It is personal. I can’t judge another person’s life or their own memories. It was where they are/were and how they choose to live it. Ms. Kurshan’s writing was compelling. I couldn’t stop reading. Since this was an ARC or Uncorrected Copy, there were formatting issues that made my text-to-speech the best way to read it all. But I’m sure those issues were corrected in the retail versions. Other than that it was a delightful read and I highly recommend it to others. I doubt I will ever try the seven-year Talmud, though who knows? I’ve taken on lessor challenges. I was glad that Ilana included scripture so I could feel a part of the quest. And I’m proud of her for taking a feminist view on her religion. It makes it all more real and possible.

I can’t wait to read other reviews about this book.

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Have You Seen Luis Velez?Have You Seen Luis Velez? by Catherine Ryan Hyde
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Can I give this book ten stars? I loved it so much that from 60% I couldn’t get up to go to the bathroom, get a drink of water, turn off the fan (I was getting cold!). I barely moved! I was so immersed in this book!

As a writer, unpublished, I hear that a book needs lots of tension. I didn’t feel that in this book, at all! All I can see is that I loved the characters, right from the start and adopted them into my heart. Then I didn’t want to leave their world.

I usually don’t read books with the main character male. Especially a teen. Since I entered my sixties I go for strong fems by fem authors. That is because most of my life I was subjected to only males by males and I want to see more people like me in books and movies. All I heard growing up when I asked about that, was that boys needed encouragement to read. Then why I would ask as an adult, did those non-readers, lower grading people get better jobs? Why did the world circulate around the males?

But this book didn’t center on a male of privilege. This seventeen-year-old had none of the usual adolescent angst. When would that girl give it up to me; didn’t seem to be on his radar. Rather he was more anxious about his family where he felt he didn’t belong, or how he didn’t even feel he fit in his skin. He only seemed to have one friend and that one is leaving as we meet this guy. And he is sweet to a little kitten. Heart won over!

Then our protagonist befriends an elderly blind woman. Both characters are so well built that they feel like family members to the reader.

The author, Catherine Ryan Hyde, is a genius! She keeps the reader engaged. I should mention, she is the author of Pay It Forward. I loved that book, too, and the movie. Well, I love the concept but it was an extreme tear-jerker. This one was more heart-warming (fewer tears more cheering the characters on) with a similar message of how positive life can be by being kind and caring for other people. I may need to actually buy this book and study it!

By the way, I got this book through Kindle Unlimited along with the Whispersynched Audible. The narrators brought the book to life.– I just looked up the book on Audible and it seems there is only one narrator! Michael Crouch. That was a surprise! I don’t normally like male voices doing females. But Mr. Crouch did an amazing job! I actually thought there were about three narrators acting it out! Wow!

Maybe this should be required reading for the world?!!! I highly recommend it! In case you haven’t noticed.

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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 Bogot√°, 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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