Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

Fiction by Kelli Estes

The Girl Who Wrote in Silk

This is a story told from two perspectives: a modern white woman and a nineteenth-century Chinese woman. Both women are in Seattle and the surrounding waters.

I really liked the story of Mei Lien in the past, but the modern story was much less compelling. The book is definitely worth reading for the historical information, however. The facts are altered a bit to suit the author's setting, but the essential history told of Chinese immigrant persecution is true.

Monday, February 26, 2018

All I Need to Get By

Fiction by Sophfronia Scott

All I Need to Get By

This book is about a woman who goes back home (with her brother and two sisters) to watch her father die. That sounds kind of terrible, put that way, but essentially that's what they do.

It's an interesting character story; we see how each sibling handles the unexpected frailty of their parents in their own way.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

The Story of Arthur Truluv

Fiction by Elizabeth Berg

The Story of Arthur Truluv

This is a sweet little story about an widowed elderly man.

It reminds me a bit of A Man Called Ove and  The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Frye in that they are also sweet stories about old guys. But Arthur is NOT a curmudgeon, or on the run from his emotions, so he's not really like Ove or Harold.

I liked this book a lot.

I also read recently by this author: Talk Before Sleep

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

eathFiction by Agatha Christie.

The Murder of Roger Ackroyd (Hercule Poirot Series)

This is one of Agatha Christie's best detective stories, and definitely my favorite of the Hercule Poirot books. I've read it before, and recently enough to actually remember whodunnit, but that knowledge actually enhanced this reading, oddly enough. I enjoyed looking for the clues leading to the conclusion.

That being said, if you haven't read this one, DO NOT READ SPOILERS. The surprise is the best that way. Obviously.

Incidentally, I hadn't realized that this book was so early in Christie's writings; it seems she tried to retire M. Poirot rather quickly but instead ended up keeping his character in her repertoire until her death.

I also read recently by this author: The Secret Of Chimneys

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Turtles All the Way Down

Fiction by John Green.

Turtles All the Way Down

John Green knows how to write teenagers. He really does. This book, about a girl with serious anxiety, was realistic enough to give me a bit of anxiety myself.

The story is very good, and believable. I'm a little concerned about recommending it for teens, because I found it so affecting, but maybe today's youth is tougher than I think.

I also read recently by this author: Looking For Alaska.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Every Last Lie

Fiction by Mary Kubica

Every Last Lie (Signed Book)

So... this thriller was not as good as the others I've read by the same author. The story, about a young woman who is trying to unravel the events leading to her husband's (accidental?) death, and including flashbacks from his point of view about those events, is interesting enough.

The only trouble is that the book suffers from a form of I-Can't-Tell-The-Truth-or-the-Story-Will-End-Here Syndrome. Usually this annoying plot device is found in romance novels (see Twenty-Eight and a Half Wishes) and involves the main character withholding some vital piece of information from his/her love interest for a silly reason in order to lengthen the storyline. In the case of this book, both main characters are holding on to major secrets that would derail the plot and shorten the story, and much of their inner dialogue runs along the I-should-probably-tell-the-truth-but-I-can't-because-um-because-no-reason-I-guess. I personally find this rather irritating to read about, although you may disagree.

So, this book was okay, but not great.

I also read recently by this author: Pretty Baby

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

You Will Know Me

Fiction by Megan Abbott.

You Will Know Me: A Novel

This story is about a teenage girl who does gymnastics and her family, and an unexpected death that affects them.

When I say, "a teenage girl who does gymnastics," by the way, I'm talking about one of those kids who will probably be in the Olympics one day. So the gymnastics thing pretty much consumes her, and her parents and her poor ignored little brother.

The story was good but there was something that troubled me about it; maybe I just didn't like the characters. I'm still giving it a thumbs-up, but I wouldn't say I actually liked this book.

I also read by this author: The Fever.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Great Train Robbery

Fiction by Michael Crichton

The Great Train Robbery

The Great Train Robbery cover artThis novel, written in 1975, is based on actual events in the 1850's. It was really fascinating to read, and particularly the audible.com edition I listened to (with the much nicer cover; see right) was enjoyable because of the accents.

The story is about, obviously, a train robbery, and makes much use of nineteenth-century British criminal slang that should be incomprehensible to modern ears, but somehow isn't.

This is really a good book.

I also read recently by this author: Eaters of the Dead

Thursday, February 8, 2018

They Both Die at the End

Fiction by Adam Silvera.

They Both Die at the End

Okay, so this book is set in a world where there's a company called Death Cast who knows what day you're going to die and tells you about it. As, like, a service or something. They call you just after midnight on your day and inform you of your imminent demise, so I guess you can miss out on a good night's sleep as well as dying. Hooray. Oh, and they're never wrong. Whatever you might do to avoid death will be futile; by day's end you will definitely be toast.

This concept is a little far-fetched and creepy, but I was willing to roll with it at first. But it got really difficult.

First of all, the story is set in the present, not the future, so whatever strange forecasting abilities Death Cast had acquired around ten years ago has to be based on current technology. And the company seemed to have no profit motive for all the time and energy they were expending finding out who was dying and then dutifully calling all these folks every day.

Secondly, instead of the old or terminally ill people you might expect them to spend their time calling, Death Cast seemed to predict the deaths of an awful lot of young people. Like, in the city the story is set in, large numbers of unrelated people eighteen to thirty years old are dying on any given day. This seems implausible to me.

And finally, of course.... HOW COULD THEY POSSIBLY KNOW THIS?!?!?!

I kept reading, hoping that these mysteries would be explained. I though that if the story could somehow tie all this together by the end, maybe in some grand conspiracy with an at least halfway-plausible interpretation, then the book would be worth it. I just needed some kind of explanation for this book to have any redeeming qualities I could give at least a partial thumbs-up for.

Well, I'm not telling you the end... but here's a hint:

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

A Column of Fire

Fiction by Ken Follett.

A Column of Fire (Kingsbridge Series #3)

This book is the sequel to World Without End and The Pillars of the Earth, but can definitely be read independently of that series, as they are each set over a century apart.

This particular story is very very good; it is set primarily in the time of Queen Elizabeth I of England and involves the reader in all the plots and conspiracies surrounding her.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Woman in the Window

Fiction by A.J. Finn.

The Woman in the Window

This is a pretty good thriller about an agoraphobic woman who may have witnessed a murder through her window.

Or maybe she's watched too many late-night Hitchcock films...

Friday, February 2, 2018

Fear Nothing

Fiction by Lisa Jackson.

Fear Nothing (Detective D. D. Warren Series #7)

This was a good thriller/detective story about a pretty gruesome serial killer. But don't worry, they'll catch him/her in the end.....