Monday, July 23, 2018

Book reviews

“Books are a uniquely portable magic.” 
― Stephen King

     I think the last time I did a book review, I was just starting to read "A Gentleman in Moscow" ***** by Amor Towles.  Well, I am here to tell you it was one of the best books I have read in a long time!!! I loved every page of it!  It begins in the early days right after the Russian Revolution.  Count Rostov has come before the Tribunal to be sentenced for having written a subversive poem several years ago. We discover he didn't really even write the poem but took the blame for a friend who would probably end up in the Gulag, whereas, the Count's sentence is to live the rest of his life in the Metropol Hotel where he had been living anyway!  The book takes us through 30 plus years of his life in the hotel...wonderful characters, fascinating historical  tidbits and quite a bit of intrigue especially towards the end!  Did I mention that I liked this book immensely!!!

      Another book I did enjoy was "What She Left Behind" ***** by Ellen Marie Wiseman...the story of a foster girl who is working with her foster parents who work in antiquities and restoration  cleaning out a now closed Insane Asylum...trying to piece together some of the stories of the inmates from their personal possessions left behind....I also gave this five stars, because it really kept my interest and tells a great deal about those institutions of the early 1900s...warning...not for the faint of heart!

     "Burnt Mountain"**** by Anne Rivers Siddons, a mystery taking place in the Appalachian Mountains in Georgia...not a hillbilly thing, but in the areas where the wealthy girl falls for boy parents don't approve of, etc..I found the story to be pretty intriguing.

     "The Cuckoo's Calling"*** by Robert Galbraith (actually JK Rowling under a pseudonym)  but nothing like Harry Potter and I didn't know it was hers until I did little research on the author for this blog! Her detective Cormoran Strike is a one-legged large man, who is full of angst but likable, compassionate, struggling to make ends meet.  He is Rowling/Galbraith's newest character and this is the first of the series written in 2013.  There are three more out and I will probably try to read them all as Cormoran is a pretty interesting character. A good audio book.

     "To Capture What We Cannot Keep"**** by Beatrice Colin...a historical novel about the building of the Eiffel Tower and the men who had the dream.  Very enjoyable...I found the descriptions of the development  and the moods/opinions of the tower as it was being built very interesting.

     "Night Woods"*** by Charles Frazier...another mystery taking place in the Appalachian Mountains. This time, murder and intrigue involving more poor folk! A good audio book.

      "The Chalk Man"***  by C.J. Tudor... a murder mystery/ intrigue reminiscent of "Stand By Me".  A murder took place when these kids were young; now as adults, it comes back to haunt.  A good audio book.

     "Laura and Emma"* by Kate Greathead  I am not alone in saying this book leaves a lot to be desired...the original premises is not girl wants to be independent, has a baby, but always knows she has her family wealth to fall back on...whine, whine...and then just as I am kind of beginning to think we are getting somewhere...the baby is now a teenager...the book ends...and the poorest, dumbest ending ever!  Did I mention I did not care for this book???

     "The Family Next Door"**** by Sally Hepworth. I liked this book.  It takes place in Australia; four lady neighbors living in probably a cul de sac. We get to know them and their problems; post partum depression is one of their concerns..a bit of hanky panky for another...past wrong doings coming to the surface!  A very good audio book.

     "A Is For Alibi"*** by Sue Grafton I had never read a Sue Grafton and when I read that she had died awhile back, I thought I would give her a try....she has written soooo many books!  I listened to this as an audio book and would listen to others.  Her protagonist is a lady detective, Kinsey Millhone who is your typical tough gal, get 'er done, kind of character.  This first novel was written in 1982 and Grafton's last was "Y Is for Yesterday" in 2017.  She died of cancer before she could get to her last one, "Z Is for Zero". It will be interesting to listen to  a more recent one to see if her style changed through the years even though Kinsey remained her lead.

     And my last book to review is "Ruthless Tide"***** by Al Roker (yes, THE Al Roker!) Again a very good read...although I did listen to it as an audio.  This is non-fiction about the the Johnstown flood which happened in Pennsylvania in 1889, one of our countries worst disasters.  A spellbinding account of what happened.  I didn't know Al Roker was an author; I'll need to see what else he may have out there!

     So that sums up what I've been reading or listening to lately.  I have learned to really like audio books to have on hand when I am busy doing other mindless, laundry etc.  I don't turn on tv until evening and I practically never listen to the news any more so audio has become my new entertainment!!  I still like a good ol' fashioned paper book, too, though!


  1. I always enjoy your 'book reviews'! Just download Chalk Man from our library...will check other the others...Heard about Al Roker's book but forgot about it! That will be my next download. Thanks again!

  2. Some of these would be good book club suggestions.

  3. Listening to Chalk Man! Thanks...good story so far! Now to add the other ones to my reading list!