Book Reviews


Reader Review: "The River"


by RobertaW (Los Ranchos): Best friends Jack and Wynn embark on a river trip which should be idyllic but is not. We know from the first sentence that there is a fire up the river. As they are traveling in their canoe, they meet a pair of Texans who are camping out and who seem unconcerned about the fire. As they head on they overhear a couple having a heated argument.

Thus begins a good action, adventure story. The author is clearly an outdoors man and his descriptions of the river and surroundings are beautiful. I loved the pace of this book which builds into a thriller. You are likely not to put the book down until you are finished.

I do think the author's descriptions of the Texans were somewhat stereotypical and I wanted to know more about the arguing couple (especially the husband) and their relationship. The reasons for violence in that marriage didn't make sense to me.

This book is a great read and one that I think most men would enjoy. I'm always looking for a good "guy" book and The River is now on that list.

Reader Review: "The Beekeeper of Aleppo"


by Tired Bookreader (Florida): This book will haunt me for years. Every time a 'conflict' is on the news, the discussion only involves the soldiers. But what about the people who aren't involved in the fighting? The ones who were just living their life and now can't? The ones who no longer have a home, family, livelihood? And, yet, they also have no place to go, to try to find normalcy...whatever that can be after such horrendous events. I will never understand this need to cause a war with no plan for those who just want to have their life. Thank you Christy Leftri for the heart wrenching novel.

Reader Review: "The Color of Air"


by K Fox: A welcome panacea to the times we are living in is how I would describe reading this story of Daniel Abe, a successful doctor in Chicago, as he returns home to Hilo two years after his mother Mariko's death. A secret has driven Danial home, though, and I was enchanted by the story Tsukiyama weaves switching between "ghost voices" and "island voices" as the prodigal son and his long-ago community are united again.

A Powerful story of love and pain, told so gently through the eyes of Daniel, Koji, Mariko and Nori, I felt as if I was there, in the lush and abundant fields of Hilo, sharing in the lives of the characters and becoming part of the community. Hoping with each turn of the page that the forces of nature will not destroy their homes and livelihoods and wondering if secrets held so tightly will ever be revealed.

Gail Tsukiyama is the author of six previous novels, including The Street of a Thousand Blossoms, Women of the Silk and The Samurai's Garden.

Reader Review: "Where the Crawdads Sing"


by Ruthee (Aptos): I really enjoyed this book. It had a heartwarming ending with a real twist along the way. Very clever story line. I am looking forward to more books by Delia Owens.

Reader Review: "A Gentleman in Moscow"


by Ingrid Rinehart: To enjoy reading is a gift. To read a beautifully told story is an honor. Such a story is "A Gentleman in Moscow" by Amor Towles. The story surrounds us with the best of human emotions; love, loyalty, respect, friendship and infinite kindness. The book is a beautiful canvas on which each reader can paint and soon become immersed. I thank Amor Towles for this piece of Art and would recommend it to anyone.

FYI: I would be interested in knowing who his favorite authors of old are?

Reader Review: "The Stone Girl"


by Kim K. (Portland): My husband read this book before I did, and encouraged me to pick it up as well. When he asked me my opinion, I replied, "Do you want my personal opinion or my technical one?"

From a personal standpoint, I loved this book. It was a perfect dose of escapism and exactly the kind of fast-moving, not-terribly-deep novel I needed right now. As such, it's a 5/5 for me.

That said, I found the plot pretty convoluted and improbable, so if I think too much about it I kind of roll my eyes at the twists and turns it took. From that standpoint it was a good solid 3/5 for me.

... and so my final score is a compromise at 4/5.

Reader Review: "The Paris Hours"


by gerrie (camel, IN): This book is composed of brain burning, gasp inducing scenes that will stay with you forever. One day in Paris, four main characters, mystery upon mystery and it all unwinds and just when you think it's over,,,, it really isn't. The Paris Hours is not a long book but it packs one heck of a punch. The writing is beautiful and thought provoking. Humans are human no matter where they are from, where they live, or their station in life. Their paths often intersect as do their secrets, sometimes with disastrous results.

Reader Review: "Hollywood Park"


by Lani: Prior to reading this, I knew nothing about the author, nor his place in history as the frontman of the band Airborn Toxic. In fact, as I immersed myself in the book, I had to remind myself that these events really happened to someone, sometimes outlandish and always painful. I immediately had the same feeling that I had when I read Educated, but this time a startling story of a blighted life from when he was first raised in a famous commune/cult called /Synanon. Separated by their birth parents the children had to live on their own in the "School" after 6 months. One day his mother escaped with him and his older brother Tony but life inside was more stable than the outside world. A narcissistic mother who expected her children to care for her, frequent men, temporary husbands, violence, drugs and alcohol permeate the book and wreak havoc in all their lives. Enter Dad. The ex husband. Another character who though he was an ex junkie and prisoner, spends summers with the kids in a crude but very warm and loving fashion.The book starts from Mikel's perspective as a child and metamorphosis into a more mature man as he struggles with the questions of life and experiments with who he wants to become. It is the struggles and love that are the backbone of this book, and pulled at my heart heartstrings. The pain was raw, and I found myself constantly underlining passages . Readers will understand later when I say.."He saw me!"..Definitely a book not to miss!

Reader Review: "My Dark Vanessa"


by lani: It took the author 18 years to write his novel. Who would have know how prescient it would become during the current "Me-Too" crisis. This is a very unsettling novel examining the life of a 15 year old girl who becomes enamored with her 42 year old teacher as he stealthily draws her in to his affections. Everyone can remember this period of "hormones walking on legs", the insecurities of that age, and for some the deep need for affection and love. Her teacher supplies all those to Vanessa with persistent attempts at grooming her. The author skillfully transitions from the present day to the past constructing the unstable emotions. Painful issues are explored about boundaries, consent, abuse, justice, responsibility, and victimization just to name a few. It is an all consuming read, infested with the ambiguities in scurrilous relationships.

Reader Review: "Surviving Autocracy"


by Victoria: Masha Gessen really nailed it. I'm not much for politics and haven't read too many Trump-focused books because I found that a frustrating and unappealing topic. I picked this up mainly due to author recognition. But it was great. Ms. Gessen's explanations of things that have been happening since Trump was elected were insightful and inciteful. My only quibble is that there weren't enough concrete ideas for action at the end, more of a philosophical wish for how things should change. Because of that, it felt like it ended abruptly. But I would recommend this wholeheartedly.

Reader Review: "Deep Creek"


by BuffaloGirlKS (Kansas): A wonderful book. The abuse by her father and the neglect by her mother and the failure of all the adults in her life, except one, to try to rescue her was hard to handle, but the author's forgiveness enabled me to do so. As she said, Mother Earth became her parent. I share her overwhelming concern for the future of our planet, but her book also gave me hope.

Reader Review: "Miracle Creek"


by Courtney (Chicago): I was definitely not convinced that I would love this book, but I did nonetheless. I was in my 8th month of pregnancy with my first child and the themes of parent/child relationships and of mothers never feeling like their best was good enough were horrifying and addictive. I'd love to re-read this 10-20 years down the road and see if I feel the same amount of fear and trepidation in reading it again.

Reader Review: "The Book of Longings"


by Sue B (Fort Myers FL): This book was so very interesting from the very start till the end, couldn't put it down and thought about it a lot when not reading. What if Jesus was married? What if his brother in law was Judas? What if he lived a very normal, poor life until his ministry began? These and other questions are all looked at from the vantage point of his wife, Ana. Along with a lot of historical background the story is very compelling, I will recommend this to all my bookclub friends.

Reader Review: "The Paris Hours"


by tired bookreader (Florida): The style the author chose for the book is perfect to keep the reader motivated. You have to read 4 chapters at a time (no worries, they aren't long). The story is captivating and shows how barely noticeable meetings with strangers can have major effects on someone's life.

I read this book in record time and have recommended it to anyone who will listen. A must read!!

Reader Review: "Crooked Heart"


by mary c (Portland, Or): Oh, I'm telling you right up front that Crooked Heart by Lissa Evans is going to be one of my top reads! I love books that speak to the human condition - life, love, death and everything that comes in between. This book totally won my heart. I was sad to turn the last page. But satisfied, very satisfied. Crooked Heart is, well, heartwarming, heartbreaking and oh,so very good. Heartily recommended!

Reader Review: "The Paris Hours"


by Maryford: I read this for the book discussion later this month but I need to say right now that it is a beautiful jewel of a book. The writing is exquisite. Definitely the best book I have read this year and it will probably hold on to that title for a long time.

Reader Review: "Miracle Creek"


by Judy G (Carmel, IN): Very early in this book a trial begins regarding an explosion in an HBOT pure oxygen chamber. Throughout the rest of the book the chapters were woven together leading to the revelation of an unknowing murderer. For me there was no avid page turning. It seemed each pick up and put down of the book revealed only more of the same descriptions of character perspectives without building depth of the character. I found no attachment to any of the characters in this book with the exception of Elizabeth who happened to mirror a family member in my life. While there was nothing wrong with the writing per se it failed to intrigue or inspire. The HBOT centering of the novel did not develop into a centering for the characters nor into a reader's conclusion of such a treatment as beneficial or fraudulent. I continued reading based on my obligation to my Book Club. For these reasons I can only rate this an average read.

Reader Review: "Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line"


by lani (philadelphia): Because I adore India and have traveled there several times, I treasured the authenticity revealed in this novel. There are some who may be reluctant to read this because it is filled with poverty, class divisions, sadness, kidnapping ,and abandoned children. However, from my time there I found a richness of spirit that is reflected in the characters. Despite very difficult circumstances, the children who narrate this book were independent, bold, saucy, and determined. We follow a triumvirate of children whose mandatory schooling becomes disrupted due to family obligations and religious tensions, to a life brimming with ambiguity in their day to day life and their future expectations. When children in their neighborhood go missing, the trio attempt to become"detectives" and try to find the answers. Muslim and Hindu tensions arise, which is not dissimilar to what is happening in today's world. The characters felt true to reality, from the scavengers, the beggars, to the local police. Narrated by the children, it felt genuine and honest. This is a novel to explore the credible issues in slum areas, the plight of the children living there, and the power of murkiness regarding their future worlds.


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