Tag Archive: novel



The Lost and Found BookshopThe Lost and Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book would have been a perfect read if I only had a beach. Even so, it felt like You’ve Got Mail in a way. But the list of books mentioned throughout the book to check out was longer. The book series that contained Ballet Shoes wasn’t even mentioned.

What I loved was the multiple generations not just mentioned but given problems seen from both sides of the issues. And the story goes back generations and includes historical events of their times that affected the outcomes of the current characters.

I love how often San Francisco played in the story. I felt I got to travel just the tiniest bit.

The writing was fun, and the narrator, Emily Rankin, was great.

This is a book that I recommend for fun and leisure. Go for it!!!

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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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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter, #2)Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my second reading of the series. I noticed I haven’t changed my star rating. I’m still only giving it three stars. Jim Dale is part of the reason for this rating. His voice is suitable for all the males in the book but is horrid with the females. I do feel the grumpiness of Professor Minerva McGonagall and the hyper-energy of Hermoine. But for the most part, Mister Dale’s females sound demeaning and whiny.

But things I love about the book are the basilisk and the phoenix. These are two very fantastic beasts. Oh, and I love the idea of a diary that talks to you from someone else. I don’t like the Tom Riddle part or Voldemort parts, but I suppose we need the bad guy. I did like getting to know Tom’s back story.

When I read the tome about a decade ago, I thought it was a slower slog. This book was over quickly. And for these stressful days having something I know and enjoy, helps the sleep come faster at night.

I’ve already started book three. And I remember how each book gets darker. Maybe by the end, I won’t use these as bedtime books.

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Les MisérablesLes Misérables by Victor Hugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Frederick Davidson (Narrator) made this an easier ‘read’ than my last try, the unabridged paperback copy in the 80s. He made the French words sound proper, though I wouldn’t know if they were true French; still, it was far better than my inner voice trying to pronounce them out. He did a great job with different male characters. On the other hand, he did children and female characters appallingly. This book could have used two narrators, a female actress for the children and women, and, sure, Frederick Davidson for the men.

The first time I read it was my intro to all things Les Miserables. I have since learned to play and sing all the music and have watched every version of the story possible. So this listen brought with it layers of meanings and music. At one point, I even put on Pandora on the Les Miserable channel. But it was distracting because it was out of order.

This read also brought a world perspective far different from the 80s. A pandemic and financial life that seems to rival any Victor Hugo had seen and portrayed makes this far less sad. Not everyone has it bad in the book, and the same now. Those with money don’t do so badly, but the majority work hard for low wages and low respect. And we have an illness that threatens the lives of everyone, especially the poor.

Still, I think everyone should read this. Someday I would like to have actual French literacy and a true understanding of France post-Napoleon.

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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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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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The Walking Dead Vol. 7: The Calm BeforeThe Walking Dead Vol. 7: The Calm Before by Robert Kirkman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Well, the title of this one tells it all. The Calm Before… Very little tension, often boring.

A lot happens including birth and suicide. Very different than what happened on the show. I rarely say this about books. But the show is so much better! Still, I love seeing the original and how it all happened ‘for reals’.

I’ve been reading these graphic novels through Kindle Unlimited. And I love the Kindle version better than the paper because I can double-tap the frame and enlarge it so I can see the artwork and fonts better. AND if the font still isn’t large enough I can reverse pinch it.

Can’t wait for the next one!

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The Hope Chest: A NovelThe Hope Chest: A Novel by Viola Shipman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was personal for me. I recently lost a dear cousin to ALS. It was through her mother that I got my antique hope chest. It was one of those dome-lidded train trunks. My grandfather and brother lined that hope chest with cedar and the lid with velvet. With all that family involved in this chest, how could I not fall into the thought processes of the day? Girls grow up and have families. They get married. Become someone else’s. That’s not all bad. (I’ve grown to accept that a hope chest could just be hope of growing up and having a place of your own, not put the hope into another person.) But I had a wonderful family full of aunts and uncles and double the grandparents. No matter how life at school or home was, there were other relatives of love I could rely on.

My hope chest aunt taught me to knit. All the cousins, girl cousins, learned to knit slippers. My other aunt taught me to crochet and sew. Mom didn’t have the patience for all that but having a fantastic extended family gave me hope and taught me what I think everyone should know. That you can love past differences. The uncle attached to that aunt, taught me how to tie my shoes. That uncle and the uncle attached to my crochet aunt, taught me that even if you disagree so much with ideas the rest of the family hold, everyone will still love you. Just disagree with you.

My brother, who helped my grandfather fix up that chest, was killed in a car accident. That grandfather died of Parkinson’s. Even that chest disappeared in the many moves of my life. But the love of that family is still there. My cousins and I see each other on FaceBook daily. It is the only reason I haven’t left social media. It is my new hope chest. It’s in my heart. And so is the cousin who isn’t with us anymore, at least not where we can see her.

This book brought all that up for me. Sure, in ways it is a little hokey. But it wasn’t a stupid romance novel. It was about people who love or learn to love and help each other. The writer wrote characters I could believe. The mom was a little too strict with the little girl, seemed she wouldn’t let her be a little girl. But there are people like that. The woman with ALS seemed a little too perfect, though in pain and having the disease. The husband was every woman’s dream husband, so maybe not so real. Even still, when a book can reach into your heart like this one did and you see and smell the garden and the lake and feel the love, that’s a good book. Bring your Kleenex.

Thank you, NetGalley for letting me read this gem!

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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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The Tea Girl of Hummingbird LaneThe Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I would gladly give this book 5 stars. But making poor people (the Kindle version is $12.99!) and/or those with vision problems to buy the audio-book ($19.99) is just plain greedy! Sure the Audible version helps the reader know how certain words are pronounced. And the narrators are very good. And (although I had to wait until I had a credit over there) it was ‘free’ on Audible. I could have had that Kindle version back to the library earlier had I been able to listen to a Text-to-Speech as I read. All that inconvenience and not being able to save my credit for something else I was planning on, should actually lower my rating. But, doggone it! This was a fantastic book! Please, dear author (Lisa See), since the book is about poor people and their struggles, consider the struggles of those who can’t afford to buy your book and or have vision problems!

Gripe ended. The book was so good that I didn’t want to stop reading it for anything! I loved the amount of research the author put into the whole story. And yet I didn’t feel inundated with information. It all felt quite naturally a part of the tale.

It is told mostly from Li-yan’s point of view in a minority village of China. Later her daughter, Haley’s, point of view as an orphan in Orange County, California. What is genetic, instinct, or just natural curiosity? In a culture discouraging more than one child and girls the least desirable, what are the results on those poor girls sent away? What happens to the country that makes that happen? What are the results for the family or parents that are forced into this kind of situation?

These questions are answered. AND you will learn more about tea than you may ever want to know but find yourself longing to know more!

It has been over a week since I finished reading/listening to this gem. I still miss the characters and wish I knew what happened next. I doubt there is a second book in the making. The book leaves you just wishing for more. If you can get the book or audio recording, I think you will like it! Thank you, Leslie, for recommending it!

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