My Own Little Book Corner

Saturday, November 1, 2014

2014 Book Reviews - October

Another month - another round of reviews.  These are more my impressions than reviews as I really don't want to give much away.  I've included links in case you are interested in knowing more about the plot.

I love books and love that there are so many out there.  I'm always looking for new books to read, so send me your suggestions please.

Unbroken by Laura Hildenbrand

I feel unAmerican and heartless saying this, but this was not one of my favorite books.  If you don't know about this book, it is the story of Louis Zamperini - a Olympic athlete, turned Air Force member, Japanese POW, returning veteran, husband.  It is a story of survival, resilience and redemption as it says in the title, which I expected to result in a lot of emotion.  Instead, I felt detached throughout the book and I had a hard time reading it.   The main reason being that to me it read too much like a history book.  I just didn't connect with the writing style of Ms Hillenbrand (author of "Seabiscuit").   As a side note - with all the horrific things that happen in this book, it is probably better that it didn't take me there, but I still wanted some connection.

The cruelty of some people was almost unbelievable - or maybe I should say - I really wanted it to be fiction, though I knew it wasn't.  It is amazing that the men that went through the things mentioned in this book were able to function at all.  It is a story that will make you appreciate the many sacrifices that have been made for our country.  It's one of those books that I'm glad I read because it is an eye-opener, but at the same time it was almost a chore to get through.  If you are a fan of history, then you will probably love it.   To the rest of us - it is worth the read.   Just know what you're getting into before you start.

Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

I next went for a "lighter" read.   I have read 3 other books by Joshilyn Jackson and enjoyed them all. This one did not disappoint.  In this story we meet Shandi, a 21 year old single mother who falls for a man she sees in a convenience store.  There's a robbery, injury, other friends, family and past experiences all involved in the story.   I'd love to tell you all about it, but feel it's best if you discover it on your own.  Being older, at times I had a hard time relating to the 21 year old main character, but before long I felt like I knew her and could have given her some of my mature advice.  :)  Ms Jackson did not disappoint with this story.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands by Chris Bohjalian

Chris Bohjalian is one of my favorite authors.   Most of his books are home runs in my eyes.  This one was not one of those - but it was still a good one.  Emily's parents both work at the nuclear power plant.   When there is a melt down, Emily finds her world turned upside down.  She becomes a runaway, street person and this is her story, told by her.  It's hard to say you liked a story when it's a tragic one, but I did like the story.  I think my problem with the book is that it is told by Emily who is very disconnected emotionally.   It is not the history book type of writing but almost a clinical style.   Mr. Bohjalian has a way of writing about hard topics without beating you over the head.   His books always make me think and I finish them feeling as if I know his characters.  So while this is not my favorite of his, I'm still glad I read it.

Take This Cup by Bodie and Brock Thoene

I enjoy historical fiction.   Having said that, I always hesitate a little to read  historical fiction based on the Bible.  It's so easy to get sucked up into any historical fiction and forget it's fiction - not a true accounting.  I enjoyed this book though and didn't have the problem of forgetting it was fiction.   I don't know why - perhaps because the people from the Bible are one's I know a lot about for the most part.   There is a lot of scripture thrown in and I will say I found myself from time to time thinking," I don't think that's when Jesus said that."   And I really didn't like the portrayal of Peter at times.  But in the big scheme of things, those are minor details.   Overall, it was a good read.

Have No Shame by Melissa Foster

Another book that I feel bad saying I didn't like - but overall I was disappointed in this book.   The story is set in the 60's in a small Arkansas town and deals with prejudice.  The problem I had with the book is that it seemed to lack depth.  It felt like Ms Foster had a main story to tell, but just didn't fit the pieces around it.  I needed to know the background of the characters to help me understand some of the choices they made.   Overall it just seemed a little contrived to me.

One thing I found interesting is that there are 2 versions of the book under one cover.   One has the Southern dialect completely - the other has "proper" English for the narrative and the Southern dialect for the characters.   Maybe that should have been a red flag for me.  :)

Defending Jacob by William Landay

My October favorite.   Another moral dilemma type book.  In this one, the 1st Assistant DA's 14 year old son is charged with murdering a classmate.  The narrative is told by the father, Andy.   It is interesting being in his mind and trying to determine what is the truth and what is his skewed view. There's a few twists and turns and some things I'm still not sure about - though others I have no doubt.  This will make you think about what you would do and how you view your kids.  Well written with great character development.   Read this one!      


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