Saturday, February 28, 2015


Fiction by Marilynne Robinson.


This is the story of a girl who grew up homeless before and during the Depression era (back when people weren't called "homeless," but rather "hobos" or "bums") with a woman who loved her but wasn't her mother. With this upbringing, Lila is almost a wild thing, having never really been tamed to live indoors. One day, however, loneliness drives her to tie herself to a life in a house.

Intertwined with the story of Lila are a lot of unanswerable questions about human suffering and isolation. This is not a light story, although it is a short book. It gives you something to think about.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Gray Mountain

Fiction by John Grisham.

Gray Mountain

This book is exactly what you'd expect from John Grisham: a page-turner about a young lawyer bucking the system and trying to save the world. (Twist: this time it's a young female lawyer!)

It's a good story and very informative about some troubling legal/environmental/social issues.

I also read recently by this author: Sycamore Row,  The Racketeer, The Litigators, Skipping Christmas

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Gifts of Imperfection

Nonfiction by Brene Brown.

The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

Generally I don't like nonfiction much, and I don't care for self-help, but this is the exception.

The title/subtitle says it all. Great book.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Child 44

Fiction by Tom Robb Smith.

Child 44

Another book about Russia (see The Sky Unwashed), this is a rather bleak story set (except for a brief flashback) during the latter part of the Stalinist regime. I suppose one can't expect any happy stories from THAT time period, huh? Nobody makes musical comedies about Stalin.

The book has a really good ending, but there is a lot of awfulness to plow through to get there. It's a good novel all told; still, I'm not sure if I'll read the sequel. (It's the beginning of a trilogy.)

(On a side note, it's interesting that I've read two books with numbers in the titles this month--the other one being 44 Scotland Street--, and both are the number 44. What does THAT mean?)

Friday, February 20, 2015

The DUFF: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

Fiction by Kody Keplinger.

The Duff: Designated Ugly Fat Friend

This is a fun, fast read: it's a teen book written by --gasp!-- an actual teen, so the voice feels very authentic.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

44 Scotland Street

Fiction by Alexander McCall Smith.

44 Scotland Street (44 Scotland Street Series #1)

I have read several books by this author and really enjoyed them. The No 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series is his best-known work; they are set in Botswana, Africa and are nice low-key character stories with some mild mystery thrown in. 44 Scotland Street is similar, but with more characters and less mystery.

This was a nice book. I recommend the audio version, just for the Scottish accent.

Monday, February 16, 2015

They Came Like Swallows

Fiction by William Maxwell.

They Came Like Swallows

A quietly good novel, this story is set around the end of The Great War and during the "Spanish" influenza epidemic.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

The King's Curse

Fiction by Philippa Gregory.

The King's Curse

I have read most (if not all) of Philippa Gregory's novels about England in the 15th and 16th century. They are all good, and each one shows a slightly different view of known historical facts. It is a mark of the author's true genius that she can hold the reader's interest through book after book, even though we all know how it comes out.

This story is about Margaret Pole, a cousin of the Tudor kings Henry VII and VIII, who lived her life a little too close to the English throne for those troubled times.

Also by this author: The Kingmaker's Daughter, The Lady of the Rivers

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

All the Light We Cannot See

Fiction by Anthony Doerr.

All the Light We Cannot See

This is the story of an underage Nazi soldier, a blind girl in occupied France, and a sergeant-major gathering plundered treasures for Hitler.  It is a little long and can be confusing, but still a moving novel.

Friday, February 6, 2015

The Sky Unwashed

Fiction By Irene Zabytko.

The Sky Unwashed

Chernobyl in 1986. I am old enough to remember the horrible nuclear accident there, but it was so far removed from my young American "real" life at the time, I don't know much about it.

This book gives a firsthand (novelized) account of the people involved. It's amazingly affecting.

A short but powerful book, also recommended by my online book club.

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Color of the Soul

Fiction by Tracey Bateman.

The Color of the Soul: The Penbrook Diaries

Good book, recommended by my online book club... last month. It took me a while to get it from the library.