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Becky1

Books, Books and More Books

Stop by and read a few sentences about the books I love and the books I hated. Leave a comment or two. I am a former librarian and a voracious reader.

You need to read this book

American Dirt - Jeanine Cummins
AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins
 
This is an important book. Anyone who thinks all illegal aliens are criminals should read this book. It is heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. It will grab you at the first page and not let go until the last.
Sabastian is a journalist who writes an expose of a drug boss. His family suffers because of it. His wife and 8 year old son flee to el norte to escape the retaliation. This is the story of their journey to el norte from Acapulco. Along the way they meet kindness and terror, friends and enemies, hunger and thirst, murderers and robbers, and worse.
Read this book.
5 of 5 stars

 

a love story with a hurricane approaching

The Promise - Ann Weisgarber
THE PROMISE by Ann Weisgarber
 
 
If you are looking a book long description of the devastating hurricane of 1900 and its aftermath, this not the book for you. While an accurate and terrifying description of the storm does appear, it is brief and secondary to the love story.
 
 
If you looking for a description of life on a hardscrabble Texas farm along with a family story, this is the book for you. The book is well written and well researched.
 
 
Catherine is clearly portrayed as is Oscar. Catherine is a pianist with a problem. The man she loves is married and now everyone knows and condemns her. In a desperate effort to get a new start Catherine chooses to marry Oscar, a man she hasn’t seen in years, and start a new life in Galvaston, Texas in August of 1900.
 
 
4 of 5 stars
 

 

Frothy bit of Russian history

A Countess Below Stairs - Eva Ibbotson
A COUNTESS BELOW STAIRS by Eva Ibbotson
 
If you are enamored with the Russian Revolution and the Tsar’s family or you are a fan of British TV you will like this sweet story of a Russian Countess reduced to serving as a housemaid in England.
 
Anna is almost too sweet and industrious to believe, but this tale written for middle and high schoolers has just enough heft to be an enjoyable romp. You will learn a bit about the Revolution and quite a lot about being an immigrant in a country that is not quite welcoming to the impoverished Russians flowing into England.You will also learn a bit about how wealthy and titled Brits ran their households and treated their servants and fellow gentry.
 
Ibbotson produces well written books with engaging and well developed characters. This one is well worth the effort to read it.
 
4 of 5 stars

 

Lots of history, a bit of love

Next Year in Havana - Chanel Cleeton
NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA by Chanel Cleeton
 
 
A two generation story of Cuban refugees centers on Elisa, 19, when her wealthy family is forced from Castro’s Cuba because of their support of Battista, and Marisol, Elisa’s granddaughter, who travels to Havana when the country reopens to tourists. Marisol carries her grandmother’s ashes with the directive to scatter the ashes in Elisa’s home country.
 
Secrets abound as the story looks back to Elisa’s activities leading up to the family’s escape and in the present as Marisol befriends a politically active young Cuban. Strong characterizations and a healthy dose of history (not always favorable to America) make this a tale of revolution, passion for freedom, morality, friendship, politics and loyalty.
 
Complicated love is a strong element that carries the story along for those not so interested in the history neatly interwoven in the tale of family pride and love of country. Book groups will have much to discuss. This would be a good book for teen daughters and their mothers to discuss.
4 of 5 stars

 

a compelling read

The Glovemaker - Ann Weisgarber
THE GLOVEMAKER by Ann Weisgarber
I almost stopped reading this novel because of the stream of consciousness style of writing and the repetition of a certain phrase. However, by page 20 I was hooked.
Samuel is missing and Deborah, his wife, is waiting for his return when she is surprised by a stranger knocking on her door and seeking assistance.
Utah Territory in the 1880’s is the setting for Junction, a tiny hamlet of Mormon saints who are not anxious to have the official LDS church or the law visit them. The mysteries of Samuel and the stranger make a compelling tale.
The tension of the community builds almost to the breaking point. Weisberger handles the tension and the setting very well. Deborah, and Nels, her neighbor and Samuel’s best friend, are realistically written. The forbidding climate and terrain become a part of the story as the tension builds.
A good story, a good writer, and interesting, well drawn characters all combine to make this read well worth your time.
4 of 5 stars

 

THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE

The Fountains of Silence - Ruta Sepetys
THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE by Ruta Sepetys
Sepetys writes teens beautifully and accurately. Her teens are impetuous, naïve, full hearted, empathetic, selfish, quick thinking and foolhardy. THE FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE tells of teens caught up in the tyrannical world of General Francisco Franco in the aftermath of the Spanish Revolution of 1939.
In 1957 as Spain was beginning to open up to the outside world, a family of American citizens, including their teenage son, entered Franco’s world. Daniel, a camera buff who wants to become a photojournalist, meets Ana, his family’s assigned maid. Ana’s family, formerly professors and Republicans, has been decimated by the Nationalists.
Through Daniel and Ana, Sepetys tells of tyranny, torture, death and bull fighting, friendship, kindness and a people’s yearning for freedom.
As good historical fiction does, she teaches us painlessly the truths of dictators and freedom fighters and the good people caught between them. Written for teens, this book will resonate with adults as well. It offers a multitude of topics for book group discussion. This is an altogether worthy read.
5 of 5 stars

 

THE RISE OF MAGICKS

The Rise of Magicks - Nora Roberts
THE RISE OF MAGICKS by Nora Roberts
This third and final installment in the CHRONICLES OF THE ONE gives a satisfying and fully anticipated conclusion to the series. Roberts is a good writer who has command of her characters and story line.
While the conclusion is apparent from the first pages of the series, that does not take away from the tension and dread of the survivors of THE DOOM who are establishing a new, kinder, gentler world – after 20 years of killing and war, of course. And, yes, beloved characters succumb to the evil of the Dark Uncanny and the Purity Warriors.
If you started this series, you must finish it. If you haven’t started it, do begin at the beginning. These are not stand alones and while you may enjoy the books if you read them independently, you will find yourself wondering what everyone else knows that you do not and being slightly befuddles by some of the references and the meanings of various actions. Do yourself a favor, read them in order.
5 of 5 stars

 

Partly lovely, partly disappointing

SMALL DAYS AND NIGHTS - Tishani Doshi
SMALL DAYS AND NIGHTS by Tishani Doshi
I so wanted to like this book. And I did –parts of it anyway. Doshi in some places (mostly descriptive parts of the book) is lyrical and enchanting, but in other parts (mostly conversations and character development) she is stilted and unpolished. Did she need a good editor? I also found the general outline of the book to be confusing as it jumped back and forth in time.
That said the maturing of the relationship between the sisters grows and changes in lovely ways. Both sisters and Teacher developed as the book progressed. Mother, however, seemed static, even as Grace reveals more and more of her personality and their relationship. Lucia was my favorite part of the book and was sympathetically drawn. I found my smiling as she made her wants and needs known.
Overall, I give the book 3 out of 5 stars for the parts of wonderful writing and Lucia. It is not a book I would recommend wholeheartedly.
3 of 5 stars

 

SHOT THROUGH THE HEARTH

Shot Through the Hearth - Kate Carlisle
SHOT THROUGH THE HEARTH by Kate Carlisle
 
When a multimillionaire throws a conference in a small town, attendees start dying. If you can overlook a “small town” with hotel accommodations for over a thousand people, a well-planned conference with no apparent security, a police force that chooses to stop for a steak dinner instead of investigating the second murder at said conference, and a number of other improbable incidents, this is a pretty good mystery.
 
Those murdered aren’t very likeable, the main characters are likeable and red herrings abound in this cozy mystery by a well known author. The characters are well developed, the plot is interesting and intricate, and writing is more than adequate.
 
A fast, easy read for a lazy afternoon. Carlisle fans will like this outing in the “fixer-upper series.
 
4 of 5 stars

 

BEFORE AND AFTER (Before We Were Yours)

BEFORE AND AFTER - Judy Christie and Lisa WIngate
BEFORE AND AFTER by Judy Christie and Lisa Wingate
 
BEFORE AND AFTER gives the real stories of the children that were the impetus and inspiration for the bestselling novel BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Wingate. The stories of the children – what happened to them then and where they are now – are interspersed with comments by Christie and Wingate, pictures provided by the families of the now grown children and the “reunion” of the children and their families that was organized by Christie and Wingate.
 
 
The stories are heartrending. It is easy to identify which children were the prototype for each of incidents in the novel. It is reassuring to hear positive stories and sad to read of children further victimized by Georgia Tann, Tenneessee and cruel adoption laws.
 
An essential read if you read BEFORE WE WERE YOURS.
 
5 of 5 stars

 

The Guardians - Limited Edition - John Grisham
THE GUARDIANS by John Grisham
Quincy has been rotting in prison for years convicted of a crime he didn’t commit. Cullen Post, a minister and a lawyer, along with the rest of the Guardians agree to help him.
 
 
Who are the bad guys? They are really bad, well protected. and have no compunction against killing a minister, a lawyer, a prisoner, or anyone else who gets in their way.
 
Grisham, a master of the crime field, has another winner in THE GUARDIANS. The clever plot is convoluted enough to keep you guessing, but not enough to discourage you as you race to discover the bad guys.
 
As usual with a Grisham novel, few “bad words”, few sex scenes, the violence takes place off page, but the twists and turns, riveting plot, fully developed characters and excellent writing are all there.
 
5 of 5 stars

 

Berachah story is good, Skip the present day concurrent story

Home for Erring and Outcast Girls - Julie Kibler
THE HOME FOR ERRING AND OUTCAST GIRLS by Julie Kibler
I had a hard time reviewing this book. There are two concurrent stories in the book. One concerns the Berachah Home in Arlington Texas (1903 -1935) that was supported by the Nazarene Church and was unusual in that unmarried, but pregnant, girls were not just encouraged to keep their child, but were given a home for themselves and their child for life if necessary and training for a job if they wished to leave with their child.The second story concerned a librarian in Arlington in 2017 and the college student she has befriended.
 
The Berachah story is excellent. The librarian story is strained, unnecessary, has little to do with the Berachah Home and makes the book entirely too long. I kept waiting for the author to reveal a connection between the two stories – it didn’t happen.
 
So… read the story about the Berachah Home and skip all the parts about the librarian. You will have a really good read about an actual Home that did good work for the duration of its existence. The research is impeccable and the girl’s stories are interesting and well written. Lizzie and Mattie’s stories are based on real people and are heart rending.
 
5 of 5 stars for the Berachah story 2 of 5 stars for the Librarian story

 

My grandmother lived this book

Glow - Megan E. Bryant
GLOW by Megan E Bryant
GLOW tells the heartbreaking story of the young women who went to work for the companies that used radium to make glow in dark objects, mostly watch faces for the soldiers of WWI. My grandmother worked briefly for The Radium Dial company in Ottawa Illinois. Fortunately she remained healthy although she went every year of life (she died at 96) to The Argonne National Laboratory for extensive testing.
GLOW is unflinching in relating the horrific illnesses that plagued the radium workers. Although GLOW is aimed at young adult audience, adult readers will also react favorably to this tale.
Bryant uses the true stories of actual workers to underscore her fictionalized work. Sisters Lisa and Lydia help support their family by the “easy work and good pay” offered by the companies. This mostly untold story is also related in THE RADIUM GIRLS by Kate Moore.
Very sensitive readers may be upset by the descriptions (accurate) of the results of “tipping” to paint tiny numerals on watch faces with the radium based paints.
5 of 5 stars

 

Sweet story

The Prayer Box - Lisa Wingate
THE PRAYER BOX by Lisa Wingate
When the book begins you will want to shake Tandi and tell her to grow up. As the book progresses, she does exactly that, although in fits and starts. Concurrently with Tandi’s story is Iola’s story of growing up unwanted and shunted aside because of the circumstances of her birth.
Sympathetically written, the story details what it is like to escape from one bad situation into another… and another until you feel you have no options left. But people are ultimately good in this tale and Iola’s house becomes a beacon of light.
Tandi is well developed as are Paul and Iola. Iola’s story is one of redemption and survival under trying circumstances. If you like uplifting, positive stories, this one is for you. There is no sex, no cursing and no violence.
4 of 5 stars

 

About 100 pages too long

The President is Missing - Bill Clinton, James Patterson
THE PRESIDENT IS MISSING by James Patterson and Bill Clinton
 
Patterson would have done well to use former President Bill Clinton only as a resource and kept him away from the actual writing. This book is about 100 pages too long.
 
Terrorists are planning an attack on the United States and the president is a prime target. The plot is interesting and well plotted. The writing can be very verbose with little addition to the storyline. That said, I enjoyed the book and I skimmed parts of it with no impact on my enjoyment or the story.
 
3 of 5 stars

 

A little known part of history

The Third Daughter - Talia Carner
THE THIRD DAUGHTER by Talia Carner
 
Batya, the third daughter in a family of Jews forced out of their home in one of Russia’s endless pogroms, is married off to an apparently wealthy and kind American businessman. Unfortunately, his “America” is Buenos Aires, Argentina, where Batya is forced into a life as a prostitute.
 
Many young, innocent European girls fleeing hard times found themselves suffering Batya’s plight in lawless Argentina of the early 1900’s. Carner’s well researched and well written book follows Batya as she is betrayed and then sold into a form of slavery. Carner tells the stories and lives of Batya and the other residents of the brothel with great feeling, empathy and realism. When Batya is offered the possibility of helping to bring the perpetrators of these crimes to justice, it is at great personal peril.
 
 
Carner tells the tale of a little know part of Jewish and Argentine history. Her research is impeccable and her storytelling is impactful. This will be a good book for groups to discuss. 5 of 5 stars