Reviews by Beverly D. (Palm Harbor, FL)

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Vox
by Christina Dalcher
chick lit Handmaid's Tale... (4/25/2018)
So much potential....disappointing execution. A timely, possibly feasible cautionary tale for today's political climate; an easy provocative read but the writing is uneven and often awkward;( too much medical/techno jargon...we KNOW what an MRI is...) There are many disagreeable characters with little plot involvement. At times this story was dystopic, at times too much like chick-lit. I also had a difficult time with Jean's non-linear narration. Perhaps a SERIOUS edit could help...
The Girl Who Smiled Beads: A Story of War and What Comes After
by Clemantine Wamariya, Elizabeth Weil
Powerful memoir...a MUST read! (2/17/2018)
We no longer need to imagine the horrors of the Rwandan genocide; Clementine Wamariya has set it out for us in an astonishingly brutal examination of a life in constant upheaval as a six year old. And all of these experiences formed the amazing woman she has become today, even as she fights with the conflicts she still keeps inside. The writing grabbed me from the first page there was an immediacy and flow to this story; the back and forth from Africa to the U.S. worked well here. The break from despair in Africa (although sometimes joy)melds well with the hope in Chicago (although sometimes despair). A perfect book club selection!
The Milk Lady of Bangalore: An Unexpected Adventure
by Shoba Narayan
COWS !!! Who knew??? (12/13/2017)
What a delightful and "unexpected adventure". The author's return home after years in NYC offer a perfect opportunity to educate both her daughters, AND us on some of the more interesting customs and beliefs of the Hindu religion specifically and India in general. Cows are an integral part of everyday life and we learn why through Narayan's friendship with the milk lady, Sarala. Their daily interactions give an insight into the give and take that makes India...India. Highly recommended.
Never Coming Back
by Alison McGhee
Six stars! (9/5/2017)
This was the best book that I have read this year. I had tears streaming down my face more than once. Alison McGhee just "gets" the whole mother/daughter dynamic and has been able to put it down on paper without being overly cynical or overly sweet. Her writing evoked so many disparate emotions. Some of the passages were absolutely sublime. I highly recommend this book for adult readers as well as young adults...a perfect book club entry. Bravo!
A Piece of the World: A Novel
by Christina Baker Kline
A quiet gem (12/26/2016)
The quietly contemplative story of the inspiration for Christina's World. The lyrical writing invites us into her world, a hardscrabble farm life from which she never escapes.Kline's sense of place and the times makes her story memorable and moving. Highly recommended...excellent book club choice!
I Am No One
by Patrick Flanery
Too Close for Comfort. (7/27/2016)
The writing is chock full of descriptors, asides, but never overbearing; simply lyrical. The subject is one we ALL need to consider...how paranoid does one need to be in this age of hyper (if sub rosa) surveillance ? "He is a completely ordinary American whose life is no longer private"... and how would I react if this was my story? I found this book to be intelligent, yet unnerving ...read at your own risk.
North of Crazy: A Memoir
by Neltje
Neltje (6/13/2016)
Another poor little rich girl story...A seriously dysfunctional family forces Neltje to claim her own way in the world. Unfortunately, getting to her new life in Wyoming takes up a lot of the story and I found the writing to be uninteresting, "and then, and then"....Once established, her story and writing becomes more passionate and interesting; however I would find it difficult to recommend.
The Last Confession of Thomas Hawkins
by Antonia Hodgson
18th Cent London at its finest! (1/5/2016)
A quick, entertaining read for those who enjoy historic fiction laced with true events. Well researched and including the "History Behind" I appreciated the fast paced storytelling and the assortment of characters...gents, criminals AND royals. Based on her descriptions I can see the streets, houses and back alleys of 18th century London. This is a good choice for book clubs looking for different discussion topics.
Hunters in the Dark
by Lawrence Osborne
Too many words... (11/18/2015)
Why say "It was a dark, rainy night" when you can add so many descriptors to change the statement into a literary masterpiece??? This was a very difficult read for me, even though the locale was a big draw. Robert was not a likable character and his "whatever" attitude just grated on me...Davuth, however WAS interesting but was used indifferently. The ending was too neat...full circle, no resolution. Disappointing all around.
Girl Waits with Gun
by Amy Stewart
WOW. (7/8/2015)
Loved this book. Smart, interesting subject matter, very well written and fun! Seemed like an old fashioned serial in some ways. Constance is a well developed character and I'd like to see what happens next with her and her family. I would recommend this novel for historical fiction lovers, young adults and book clubs....and people from New Jersey!
What Doesn't Kill Her: A Reeve LeClaire Series Novel
by Carla Norton
ZZZZZZZZ (5/11/2015)
To quote author Debra Doyle...... "The Author is Making a Point; things work out the way they do because The Author's Point Requires It." I have become skeptical of all thrillers...why do all the protagonists seem to have almost super human abilities...I would feel so much better if they were called fantasy or sci-fi. Although I did not care for the story, so predictable, the writing itself was well done. It will do well in a Dan Brown, John Grisham loving readership.
Shocking Paris: Soutine, Chagall and the Outsiders of Montparnasse
by Stanley Meisler
Outsiders (1/7/2015)
If I could rate 3.5 I would. The amount of information in this book regarding Soutine & the School of Paris is prodigious; however the repetition of documented facts (Modigliani's cafe antics, Soutine's Russian accented French) simply became annoying. The writing style seemed at times to be distracted, adding bits and pieces as if just recalled. However, the look at bohemian life in Montparnasse gave a very good impression of what it was like to be an emigre artist trying to "make it". Perhaps a larger issue for these emigres became the constant fear of the French police and the German Gestapo and how it shaped their lives and ultimately their art. As the "unknown" of the title, Soutine was the epitome of the tortured artist; the one who author Meisler calls one of the most influential artists of the twentieth century. Shocking Paris is a good start to study the School of Paris.
Vanessa and Her Sister
by Priya Parmar
AMAZING !!! (10/2/2014)
I could not put this book down. Convincingly written as Vanessa Bell (nee Stephen) diary entries, we see the interactions between the siblings and their soon to be infamous group of friends, the Bloomsbury group. As an intro to the early 20th century "leaving" of Victorian England, this story shows how life was changing and becoming more modern. Most importantly though is the relationship between Vanessa and her sister Virginia as they try to find a place in this world of arts & letters without destroying each other in the process. The inclusion of post cards, letters, and train/ship ticket facsimiles lends an air of authenticity to the story. I highly recommend this novel.
The Romanov Sisters: The Lost Lives of the Daughters of Nicholas and Alexandra
by Helen Rappaport
Readable Russian history! (5/14/2014)
Comprehensive and well documented, this biography of the last Tsar's four daughters stops just short of their violent deaths as the tide turns in Russia. Half of the book is spent with their mother Alexandra,( her relationship with Queen Victoria) and her ill health, their brother Alexy the Tsaritsa, who suffers from Hemophilia (although a secret from all but the immediate family) and the influence of the "crazed" monk, Rasputin. Granted the title is "sisters" but the story is truly about the Romanov family and how secluded and out of touch they were. Each of the sisters was developing as individuals and Ms. Rappaport treats them individually, noting the lost potential of these lovely "poor little rich girls". I would highly recommend this title.
The Cairo Affair
by Olen Steinhauer
wow. (12/3/2013)
I LOVED this book.I am generally not a spy/thriller reader but this story was so current and gripping. Keeping track of the various characters was simple as the author flowed the story seamlessly. That the "main" character was a woman was a big plus for me. Their secrets, international agendas, moral questions and BIG betrayals. What more could you look for in a thriller? The tying in of the Arab Spring made the story even more immediate. Highly recommended!
To the Moon and Timbuktu: A Trek through the Heart of Africa
by Nina Sovich
NOT a travelogue.... (6/22/2013)
I really enjoyed this memoir...a story of discovery of both self and unknown places. The writing simply flows and carries you along with Nina in the dust and the heat of the western Sahara. Her revelation about the company of women absolutely struck my soul. The need to go to a very foreign place to realize this makes one consider the how disconnected we have all become in the "modern" world. Highly recommended for book clubs, especially those interested in "women's studies".
A Nearly Perfect Copy
by Allison Amend
Not even Nearly Perfect. (3/5/2013)
Art world, cloning, perfect copies....of art works and humans???? I couldn't relate at all to the plot, nor the characters. The writing was less than enticing,"Gabriel had a quick flash of reverie being in Lise's all-white apartment, children hanging off him like rats in some horror movie." "we don't get to decide what children we have or what children get taken from us. I wanted a baby not a science experiment".... Definitely not for me.
Golden Boy
by Abigail Tarttelin
a different perspective (12/27/2012)
This novel was very readable, almost compulsively so.I would call this a coming of self story. I liked the different voices forming the chapters so that each "side" of the story was being examined. What disappointed me was that I could see what was coming ...several of the plot twists were predictable. All in all, however, this was a good first effort. I believe this would be an excellent book club read.
With or Without You: A Memoir
by Domenica Ruta
ANOTHER addiction memoir.... (11/26/2012)
I liked this memoir because of the writing, not the story so I gave it 3 instead of a two. Guess there has been one too many addiction memoirs out there and I don't need to read another one where a gifted kid overcame her surroundings. The writing, however, is clean and precise... sometimes witty and incisive; very readable. I did have an issue with the non-chronological sequences of her story. I will be looking forward to her next effort.
The Devil in Silver: A Novel
by Victor LaValle
less than expectced (8/9/2012)
I wanted to like this book. It is not REALLY a horror story other than the horror of the conditions at the mental hospital and how the patients are treated. The four main characters are well drawn but it took too long to engage me. Simply written with direct comments made to the reader, which I found to be finally annoying, I found this novel to be a story whose idea is much more engaging than the reading experience itself.
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