1717 Followers
24 Following
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.

Haunting

The Book Woman Of Troublesome Creek (Unabridged edition) - Katie Schorr, Kim Michele Richardson
THE BOOK WOMAN OF TROUBLESOME CREEK by Kim M Richardson
In the depths of the depression and hidden in the deep mountains of Kentucky was Troublesome Creek. The people were starving for both and learning. The WPA hired women to ride packhorses or mules and take “learning” in the form of books to the cabins hidden in the hills and hollows. Also hidden in those hollows were the “Blue’ people. Blues suffered from a genetic abnormality that caused their skin to range from pale blue to deep indigo. They were feared and ostracized even more than “normal” black skinned people. Cussy is both Blue and a Book Woman.
This is her story. Based on the real blue Fugate family of Kentucky, this novel ranges from terrifying to humorous to touching.
The writing paints the forests and hills in all their awe inspiring glory and all their fearful terrain. The closed away feeling of the miners and dirt farmers is clarified by the prose. The plot is engrossing. The people are sympathetic and haunting.
Readers will learn more than they anticipated and enjoy it. An excellent book for book groups. Appropriate for parent/middle ager (and up) groups
5 of 5 stars

 

Beirut Hellfire Society - Rawi Hage
BEIRUT HELLFIRE SOCIETY by Rawi Hage
This tale presents the raw outrage, fear, misery, and indelible sadness of a country at war. The writing is excellent. Unfortunately, it is so filled with sex and depravity that I can not recommend this book.
After having to force myself to read past the first few chapters, the book did offer some moments of humor (of the black variety) and the final pages did offer some version of hope after the devastation of hopelessness that war engenders. The feelings of the outcast (religion, societal, employment, mental illness, etc) are clearly shown.
I had hoped for a better read.
2 of 5 stars

 

Heart stopping finish

Blood Oath (Alexandra Cooper #20) - Linda Fairstein
BLOOD OATH by Linda Fairstein
 
This thriller by a master of the art starts a bit slow but by the time you get all the players straight the thrills a minute lead to a heart pounding conclusion.
 
Alexandra Cooper, back from a leave of absence, is the heroine of the tale. Lucy, a troubled young woman is the object of concern. Along the way a wide cast of characters, some good, some evil, come into play.
 
Tightly plotted and unerringly fleshed out, Fairstein’s novel is one of the best of the genre.
 
4 of 5 stars

 

A Death of No importance by Mariah Fredericks

A Death of No Importance - Mariah Fredericks
DEATH OF NO IMPORTANCE by Mariah Fredericks
The backstairs folk always see more than the upper class folks think. Lady’s maid Jane sees and thinks. The writing is good with great characterization, good atmosphere, a realistic portrayal of time and place.
Fredericks throws in some real people and real incidents to give breadth to her story. This is the first of a series with Jane as the sleuth in a tightly crafted mystery. The death is pretty gruesome but, for the squeamish, not dwelled upon. Also, no foul language or steamy sex, just a really good mystery with fully fleshed out characters.
5 of 5 stars

 

RUN AWAY by Harlan Coben

Run Away - Harlan Coben
RUN AWAY by Harlan Coben
This was my first Harlan Coben mystery. It was an interesting, well written tale about a dysfunctional family (Is there any other kind?).
Paige is the runaway. She fell in with a druggie boyfriend at college and is no longer the sweet innocent good girl her father is searching for. Elena is a former FBI agent on the trail of the missing 24 year old son of wealthy banker. Simon is Paige’s father trying to save her from herself.
Lots of action here: death, beatings, drug dealers, gun fights, DNA surprises, you name it. A fast read by good writer.
4 of 5 stars

 

THE FARM by Joanne Ramos

The Farm - Joanne Ramos
 

 

THE FARM by Joanne Ramos
An idea – pay poor women large sums to be the surrogate for busy, important, wealthy, lazy women who want their own child, but don’t want the bother, time commitment, inconvenience of actually bearing them.
 
Ramos has written a novel that presents that idea carried out to the fullest extent. The Farm is a lap of luxury prison for the surrogates. Reagan, an idealist asserting her independence from her father but controlling father, Jane, an impoverished Filipina eager for the large financial payout, and Lisa, a wild child with unknown needs, are the three surrogates.
 
The novel presents many topics for book groups to discuss and casual readers to ponder. Among them – attitudes toward money; styles of parenting; the poor; immigrants (legal or not); power vs weakness, education; exploitation by class, money, education, status, or race; crime and punishment; family; and of course, women. A question that is not addressed in the novel but should be: What did Reagan do with her bonus and why? Although there is an epilogue, several questions remain of the final outcome for each of the women presented in the novel.
4 of 5 stars
 
I received an ARC for my freely given opinion.


 

THE GILLESPIE COUNTY FAIR by Mark Hess

THE GILLESPIE COUNTY FAIR by Mark Hess
This book never quite caught me in its web. I didn’t like the characters. They all seemed shallow and grubby. The plot wandered about until the “secret sin” was revealed and then the secret didn’t seem to matter much at all.
Carel, the main character, just wandered about the story making or revealing mistake after mistake, not learning anything from his errors. His wife (current) and daughter do manage to have redeeming qualities of a sort.
The writing is okay, but there are too many German words that are not defined or explained. I read German, so I knew what was written, someone unfamiliar with the language would be frustrated .
I can’t really recommend this book. Maybe someone else will read it and love it, I don’t.
2 of 5 stars

 

Maud's Line by Margaret Verble

Maud's Line - Margaret Verble
MAUD’S LINE by Margaret Verble
Maud, her father and brother live on Maud’s mother’s allotment in the former Indian Territory. Her family is (mostly) Cherokee. Maud has a desire for better things. Electricity, a refrigerator, an inside toilet.It is 1928.
This tale of Cherokee families living in Oklahoma after enduring and surviving the Trail of Tears is filled with fully realized characters, Indian traits, hard scrabble lives on dirt farms, snakes galore, family and mean neighbors. Richly told, Verble has created a world complete. Maud is a captivating heroine. Her family is filled with abundant well-developed characters. The plot, while simple, is richly detailed.
An absorbing and thought-provoking novel, especially for a first novel. Very satisfying.
5 of 5 stars

 

Desolation Mountain

Desolation Mountain - William Kent Krueger
DESOLATION MOUNTAIN by William Kent Krueger
I have not read any of Krueger’s Cork O’Conner mysteries, but I am a huge fan or Ordinary Grace. DESOLATION MOUNTAIN did not disappoint.
The characters were refined and true to character as the book progressed. The area of Minnesota was so clearly utilized it was almost a character.
The plight of the Ojibway Indians and their reservation was clear even though really not a pivotal part of the plot. The mystery leaked out slowly, just enough to keep my interest and the menacing terror growing.
Although there were many deaths, this was not a gruesome book. There is minimal foul language. The plot and all its permutations were neatly concluded in a satisfying way.
A very good mystery by a very good writer.
5 of 5 stars

 

Never Have I Ever by Joshilyn Jackson

Never Have I Ever - Joshilyn Jackson
NEVER HAVE I EVER by Joshilyn Jackson
If you are looking for a fast read that starts slowly, but builds to a thrilling conclusion, Then this is the book for you. The characters are pretty stock and the conversations stilted.
The situations have way too many coincidences and barely believable occurrences, but for an escapist afternoon or two this one fills the bill.
Amy was a wild child with a past who worked on rehabilitating herself. Then a newcomer crashes her book group, takes over and threatens (nicely) everyone present. The newcomer seems to have the goods on Amy and then the fun begins.
If you think there are too many cliques in this post, don’t read NEVER HAVE I EVER.
3 of 5 stars

 

The BLUE by Nancy Bilyeau

The Blue. A Novel. - Nancy Bilyeau
THE BLUE, A Novel by Nancy Bilyeau
Using actual people and events as the basis, Bilyeau has written an engrossing tale of spying, treachery, art, porcelain making, kings and kingdoms. Blue is a difficult color to create for artists and porcelain makers. It was on of the last colors to be made for artists (late 28th century) and was greatly prized.
Genevieve, an English Huguenot who desired to be an historical artist, is the well-developed main character. She is surrounded by chemists seeking the color blue, spies seeking the color blue, kings and pottery makers seeking the color blue and those willing to kill to help or hinder them.
The intricate plot is thick with chicanery and populated with such personages as Madame de Pompadour, King Louis XV, and the founders of Sèvres and Derby porcelain. Of course romance blooms as well.
Book groups who are interested in history, art, or romance will find this tale engrossing and will lead to good discussions.
5 of 5 stars

 

Daughter of Moloka'i by Alan Brennert

Daughter of Moloka'i (Moloka'i #2) - Alan Brennert
DAUGHTER OF MOLOKA’I by Alan Brennert
 
The long awaited sequel to MOLOKA’I is here! Rachel’s daughter Ruth, taken from her the day Ruth was born, is the main character in this family tale that extends from Hawaii to California to Japanese internment camps and back to California.
 
Brennert excels in incorporating actual people and events into his stories. DAUGHTER OF MOLOKA’I is no exception. The discrimination against Japanese (Rachel is adopted by a Japanese couple) in the early part of the twentieth century, the difficult life of “foreign” farmers in the lush farmland of California and the internment of hapless Japanese during WWII make up the bulk of this novel. The final portion relates the difficulty of adoptees and their birth parents in locating each other and the repercussions that follow.
 
Brennert’s empathy finds expression is his clearly drawn characters, skillful conversations and deft handling of conflict. Book groups will love this historically accurate account of difficult episodes., especially those who have read and loved MOLOKA’I. Groups interested in immigration/emigration issues will find much to discuss.
 
5 of 5 stars

 

Singapore Sapphire by A M Stuart

Singapore Sapphire (A Harriet Gordon Mystery #1) - A.M. Stuart
SINGAPORE SAPPHIRE by A M Stuart
 
In the mood for a multiple murder/gem smuggling mystery with a bit of romance and family drama and a fair amount of diverse culture? Then this is your book.
 
Harriet, newly arrived in Singapore in 1910, is the richly nuanced main character. Most characters are well developed, although a couple surprises near the end seem a bit “out of the blue.” The culture of colonial Singapore is clearly drawn. The main characters are mainly upper class British, with the requisite native servants and lower level functionaries.
 
I read an e-book before publication and there was no glossary – one is sorely needed. The plot is fast moving and well developed. The writing is clear and expressive. The character listing helps keep the many persons straight. There are several murders, but not too much gruesomeness. The sex is merely alluded to. There is no foul language.
 
4 of 5 stars

 

D-DAY GIRLS by Sarah Rose

D-Day Girls - Sarah Rose
D-DAY GIRLS by Sarah Rose
I had to keep reminding myself that this was “real non-fiction” and keep reading. Unfortunately I had just read a fictionalized account of the resistance in France that covered many of the same women/events in this book.
D-DAY GIRLS is well researched and well written. It does jump from person to person and event to event with only a new chapter title to give warning. I found this disconcerting and jarring. The notes are wonderful and enlightening.
Odette, whose exploits begin in the early days of the “Firm” and continue to end of the war, was a fascinating woman. The angst of the old guard in deploying women to danger and possible death is a continuing story even today.
History buffs will love this book. The minutia, letters and intimate details will carry them through. A person wishing a lighter tale or more “plot” should find another book covering the same era.
4 of 5 stars

 

THE LAST COLLECTION

The Last Collection: A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel - Jeanne Mackim
THE LAST COLLECTION by Jeanne Mackin
I was fascinated by the personalities of Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiaparelli and the intricacies of Haute Couture and politics in Paris just before and during WWII. But I was also intrigued by the daily life of various classes of people (upper class, middle class, merchants, professionals, wage workers, spies, artists, military, etc.) during that same period. Even the Ritz Hotel and the various cafes became a part of the story.
I was so curious about the gowns being designed, constructed and worn that I looked them up on Google. Yes, they are all there! I hope the finished book has photographs of Lily’s first Schiaparelli dress and the “tree” costume.
At first I thought this would be just another mildly interesting romance with clothes. I was delightedly mistaken. THE LAST COLLECTION is well worth your reading time and would be a good choice for book groups.
5 of 5 stars

 

The Gown by Jennifer Robson

The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding - Jennifer Robson
THE GOWN by Jennifer Robson
The intimate details of every day life in 1947 England, still suffering from the austerity required by the devastation of WWII, are clearly rendered in the lives of two embroiderers working on Princess Elizabeth’s wedding gown. One woman will become world famous, the other will be lost in obscurity when she emigrates to Canada.
Richly detailed scenes in ordinary home life (rationed, food, clothing, housing), education, and the workplace make this tale of historical fiction come to life. The reader comes to care about Ann and Miriam as they toil day after day on the peculiarities of embroidered flowers and motifs at Hartnell, a haute couture house of fashion.
Robson has done the research. She ably and seamlessly weaves real events and real people into her story. Book groups and history buffs will both find much to love and discuss in this tale.
5 of 5 stars