My Own Little Book Corner

Saturday, December 12, 2009

2009 Book Reviews #11

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

It's hard to start describing this book. It is actually a collection of short stories set in the town of Crosby, Maine. Through most of the stories Olive Kitteridge makes an appearance in some way - even if as just a mention. Through these snapshots we get a picture of the how others view Olive and eventually as she views herself. She is an interesting character and through out the book she reminded me of different people I know. But this book is about more than Olive. In one of the chapters an observation is made about seeing the houses around us and not really knowing what kind of life people have. To me this book is a glimpse into many lives. It is a somewhat sad story in that so many of the glimpses are of the things that are wrong in their lives. Even when I was beginning to feel a little cheery half-way through reading Winter Concert, that story took a turn. This story offered many different perspectives on people and events in life and is one of those that after reading has stayed with me a little.

Belong to Me by Marisa Los Santos

really enjoy Marisa de los Santos and her style of writing. She has an almost lyrical way with words. This story covers some heavy topics when you step back and think about it, but she writes in such a way that you don't feel burdened, but rather that it is all part of life and the ebb of flow of good and bad times. I read "Love Walked In" last year and while you do not have to read it to understand this story, it will add a little depth and understanding to some of the characters. A good book.

The Last Noel by Michael Malone

I enjoyed this book about friendship, kindness, struggle, love and family. The book covers 30 years of friendship between Noni and Kaye - a white rich girl and a poor black boy. The story is told over 12 Christmas days which also coincides with Noni's birthday, Kaye's birthday and the anniversary of when they met. Some of it is predictable but there are a few twists. It is a bittersweet story with layers to be peeled away and upon which to reflect.

Water Witches by Chris Bohjalian

Not my favorite by Chris Bohjalian - (that would be Skeletons at the Feast) but it is still a good story. It is an environmentalistic novel that mixes drought, lawyers, water witches, and business. I like Mr. Bohjalian's writing style and enjoyed this one too.

A Widow for One Year by John Irving

Another book that definitely isn't my favorite by the author. (In this case that would be A Prayer for Owen Meany.) This book is complicated for me to describe. I like how Mr. Irving develops his characters but the situations in this book were not what I normally read. There were times that I wanted to put it down, but like one of the characters in the book who is an author - I had a need to see what would happen. Besides that I felt like it ended abruptly in some ways - almost a manufactured ending in my eyes = but one that was trying to make you think up your own ending. To me it was so manufactured that I really didn't care what happened to the characters once the story ended.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

2009 Book Reviews #10

I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

This is a Young Adult book that I really enjoyed. Things begin getting weird when a young taxi driver becomes a hero by foiling a bank robbery. After that event, he recieves 3 playing cards that each have an address.

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff

An interesting story that jumps between the 19th century and modern day with two stories of wife number 19 - one married to Brigham Young and the other to a modern day polygamist. My impression is that the bulk of the book is set in the late 1800's and since I like historical fiction, I enjoyed greatly.

Left for Dead:My Journey Home from Everest by Beck Weathers

Not exactly what I expected. I thought it was going to be more about the experience on Everest. Instead it is more a story of his life and marriage. It was ok - but nothing spectacular. A below average read in my eyes.

Welcome to the Great Mysterious by Lorna Landvik

I really enjoyed this book. It is a story of twin sisters - grown - whose lifes have taken different paths. One is married living in the midwest and is the mother of a downs syndrome 13 year old boy. The other is divorced, with no children living the life of a Broadway star in NYC.


2009 Book Reviews #9

A Song I Knew by Heart by Bret Lott

An "OK" book. I expected much more of a book based on the story of Ruth. The storyline was a little weak in areas and while the story of love and forgiveness is definitely a good one, this book just didn't deliver as well as I expected it to.

One L by Scott Turow

While this book is old - published in 1977 - I still found Mr. Turow's reflections of his first year as a law student very interesting. I know part of the reason is that in the late 70's/early 80's I worked with 2 people who were also attending law school. It brought back memories of what they were going through. It would be interesting to read a more current book written by a 1L to see how much things have changed over the years.

Sutter's Cross by W. Dale Cramer

I like Mr. Cramer's books. This one did not disappoint. A story of family, greed and miracles. Another one worth reading.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

A really good book! It was one of those stories that drew me in and kept me wanting to read and learn where life was taking the characters. A wonderful story of friendship and family.

Music and Silence by Rose Tremain

If you like historical novels, you will probably like this one. A story set in Denmark in 1629 revolving around the King of Denmark, the queen, a musician and the queen's lady. Well written.

Sleep Toward Heaven by Amanda Eyre Ward

I like Ms Ward's books. This one is a thought provoking story of grace, mercy and forgiveness. It made me wonder how I would react if I were the different characters. Not a light read but not overbearing. One that stays with you.


2009 Book Reviews #8

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks

A very good book. The book in the title is a rare Haggadah. The people in the title are those who owned the book or had some other connection to the book over the 300+ year history. This is a very well written story that brought to life the many persecutions that people have gone through because of their beliefs. A nice work of historic fiction.

The Known World by Edward P Jones

I stuck with this but don't know why. A depressing, story that was a drudgery to read.

We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg

I enjoyed this story. There were just enough twists to it to keep it interesting and a little less predictible. I felt like I knew the characters and that's always important to me for enjoying a story. The story also gives you things to think about as far as stereotypes and prejudices. A good one.

She Got Up Off the Couch:And Other Heroic Acts from Moreland, Indiana by Haven Kimmel

A continuation of Ms Kimmel's memoir. Interesting life.

The Beautiful Fight by Gary Thomas

I read this with my Bible study group. A good book for that setting that made me think - but not my favorite from Mr. Thomas.

The Used World by Haven Kimmel

A big disappointment. I've enjoyed the memoirs written by Ms Kimmel, but this story was hard to get into, then a little entertaining, but then took another turn that made the storyline seem a littel contrived to me. I wish I had not taken the time to read it when there are so many more books out there worth the time and effort.