Reviews by Dorothy L. (Manalapan, NJ)

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Scatterlings: A Novel
by Resoketswe Martha Manenzhe
Disappointing (11/12/2022)
I was looking forward to reading this book but I found it a difficult read. I enjoyed the first part of the book more but found the second part very challenging and slow. I can understand where it might appeal to some readers but it was not worth it for me. The language is often lyrical but ultimately I did not find it a fulfilling read so I was disappointed and will be surprised if it will gain a mass audience in the U.S.
Widowland: Widowland #1
by C. J. Carey
Alternate Truths in Widowland (5/30/2022)
I enjoyed reading this book. There are many good things in Widowland. I liked the dystopian premise. I kept thinking: If America had not been attacked and remained isolationist during WWII, would England have survived? In this book, England never engages in battle but submits when other countries are vanquished. I was interested to see how the plot developed but I was disappointed in the ending. I actually turned the page expecting more. I feel the conclusion was too abrupt and although we surmise what will happen to Rose there should have been more clarification as to what will happen in the future to England. An epilogue would have been nice. I suspect the author purposely left the ending this way because she may be contemplating a sequel. We are actually seeing many of the things depicted in this book today--voter suppression, book banning, denial of rights to women's bodies and revisionist history by our politicians even when they are caught on tape saying one thing they deny it. Very Scary!
Good Husbands: A Novel
by Cate Ray
Ironies Abound in Good Husbands (3/25/2022)
I have mixed feelings about this novel. I found the first 70 or 80 pages at the beginning difficult to read. Jumping around with 3 characters every chapter seemed disjointed to me. Initially, it was difficult to keep the women and their husbands straight without any background information. Usually when novels do this, they have several chapters for each character so you get to know them before you go on to the next. The premise was interesting but not that original. Once I got to the last two thirds of the book, the novel kept my interest more and I wanted to see how it would all turn out. I felt the ending was rushed. I read it twice before I understood what the author was trying to tell us. All I will say is that the key on the bracelet mentioned at the beginning is the KEY to the conclusion. The ending was OK but not great and as I said before rushed. Also the book overall was too long. It could have been much better with the changes I indicated above.
How to Find Your Way Home
by Katy Regan
Finding the way Home (11/5/2021)
I thought this was a good book. There are many things I liked about it. The relationship between Stephen and Emily as children was described well. Their early lives were very difficult. The reappearance of Stephen in Emily's life was challenging for both of them but fortunately they did find their way home to each other. I liked the ending often a sticking point for me. Unlike most of the other readers, while I liked the bird watching sections, at times I thought there was too much and it disrupted the plot movement. I particularly liked the transformation of both Stephen and Emily as the novel progressed. I enjoyed reading this book.
The Lighthouse
by Christopher Parker
A Disappointing Read (10/15/2021)
Briefly said, I didn't like this book. I found the first part of the book very slow and actually boring at times. The last third of the book was in the vein of the supernatural and just seemed weird to me. I could not get into it and at times it almost seemed like two books. In addition, there were so many things that were amateurish in the writing. Also there were many unrealistic aspects besides the supernatural. The suddenness of the the father and daughter's move and lifestyle seemed a simple solution to their deep grief and loss. It seemed too pat to me and not realistic considering it was only a month. Not a book I would recommend unfortunately!
Never Saw Me Coming: A Novel
by Vera Kurian
A Mixed Bag (7/6/2021)
I was excited to read this book because the premise really grabbed me. It sounded unique. I found the first third of the book gripping but something happened in the middle and later sections that to me was disappointing. I think the plot went off in too many directions at times and there were scenes that seemed to replicate earlier ones with just a little more depth. I didn't like any of the characters except maybe Charlie. He seemed to have more dimensions than the others. I think the doctor could have had more depth and been portrayed better.The resolution of the book was ok but not great. It really isn't a book I would recommend because my primary feeling is disappointment at what could have been. Too bad!
The Stone Girl: A Novel
by Dirk Wittenborn
A Disappointing Read (4/23/2020)
I did not enjoy this book. I found it much too long and I really didn't like the characters that much although I sometimes felt sympathy for the three main women. There seemed to be several stories in one larger overall story and the plot seemed very unrealistic especially the many escapes of Evie from innumerable life threatening situations. This is one book that might be better as a movie. I did like the last few chapters but most of the novel seemed like a soap opera on steroids!
The Secrets of Love Story Bridge
by Phaedra Patrick
A Disappointing Read (1/13/2020)
I did not really enjoy this book. It dragged, especially in the middle section. The characters were not well developed and not all that interesting. I thought the author's earlier book The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper was much better and more engaging. I would not recommend this book unless you were suffering from insomnia. It might help you get to sleep. I would have given it a 2.5 if there were such a rating but it finally picked up at the end-- too little too late unfortunately!
American Dirt: A Novel
by Jeanine Cummins
A Book You Will Never Forget (11/24/2019)
There are a few times in your life when you read a book that transforms you. For me, this is one of those books. I found this book riveting from the very first sentence. I felt like I was on the journey with Lydia and Luca. I experienced many emotions along the way--horror, fear, and shock. This is the story behind the headlines and TV segments that we are exposed to very superficially. We don't know the stories behind the faces we see in cages and we don't know their journeys. I never knew what it was like to leave your home and embark on a frightening desperate attempt to survive and all the pitfalls that beset these migrants. This one of the central questions of our time and a book that everyone should read whatever your political leanings. It is the best book I read in 2019 and I am grateful to Bookbrowse for selecting me as an early-reader recipient of this truly amazing book. I might add that I am a very critical reader but there is nothing I can say except to praise American Dirt.
The Secrets We Kept: A novel
by Lara Prescott
The Secrets We Kept Keeps You Reading (8/19/2019)
I found this an unusual and interesting read. I remembered bits and pieces of the Dr. Zhivago story but found the backstory fascinating. I particularly liked the story of the typists/spies. I liked the structure of East and West but found the points of view in certain chapters confusing. The Cold War period was evoked well, as well as the social mores of the time period. I don't think it is a book for everyone but I enjoyed it. I intend to see the movie again because I think my perspective will be different and it will be more meaningful the second time around.
The Guest Book
by Sarah Blake
An Interesting but Imperfect Novel (4/26/2019)
I was debating whether to give this novel a rating of 3 or 4. I really wanted to give it 3.5 but that wasn't possible. There were good things about this novel--lovely writing and description, important subject matter, but this novel could have been much better! What I liked most was the depiction of the time period--especially the pre WWII period. I found this family saga way too long. It needed to be edited more. The middle part especially dragged. I agree with other readers that a family genealogy chart at the beginning would have been helpful and dates at the beginnings of the chapters were needed. There were stereotypes in the ways Jews and Blacks were depicted and I think the author's characterizations were an easier way out for the Milton family's views and actions. Too bad. My feeling at the end was that this novel could have been really special if there was another draft before publication. It was overlong, but yet sometimes lacked sufficient characterization and depth.
My Lovely Wife
by Samantha Downing
A Disturbing Read (11/8/2018)
I did not like this book. I found the whole premise totally unbelievable. Yes, I know it was meant to be a "different" kind of psychological thriller, but this was beyond the pale for me. It wasn't that I just disliked all the characters. I don't always have to like the central characters, but I have to at least like the story line. I found the first chapter intriguing, the last third of the book captured my interest, and the epilogue moved back to totally creepy and disturbing. I would not recommend it although it may turn out to be popular. Maybe it was the fact that there were children involved that disturbed me most and the very end did nothing to comfort me at all.
An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones
Good but not Great (7/26/2018)
I read this book for a book club discussion. I found it a little difficult to get into at first but then was caught up in the story. Our lives often seem to be following a plan, but one action, one moment, can change everything not only for the victim of injustice, but also for those around him. I thought the characters were well drawn, even the minor ones, but there were situations in the book that did not seem realistic to me (I am not being specific because of spoilers). I did, however, like the ending. That did seem realistic to me. I already know that some people in my book group did not like the book and others did so I expect an interesting discussion. And that is what book clubs are all about right?
Our House
by Louise Candlish
Great Ending (7/19/2018)
I was intrigued with the premise of this book. Scam and identity theft are prevalent today and it was clear from the beginning that this would be the book's focus. I felt like I was in the UK and thought the author did a good job describing the deterioration of a marriage. The house was described well and almost became another character.
I liked the beginning. I loved the end. I was not expecting the twists and turns in the last 30 or 40 pages and particularly the very end left me gasping. I did not give Our House a 5 rating because I think it was at least 50 pages too long and should have been edited better. The middle section was slow for me, but I am glad I read it and think it will be a bestseller.
by Christina Dalcher
Chilling Tale and Mesmerizing (5/12/2018)
I loved the premise of this book and it definitely was a page turner. If I could I would give it a 4.5 rating. I would have preferred that the author had not given away the ending in the first sentence. I did think the first half of the book was better than the second half. I found some of the medical/techno jargon at the end too complicated and the ending felt rushed. I agree with some of the other readers who felt that it would have been good to spend more time on how this scenario came to pass, more background on the events leading up to the election of the President. But I am very glad I read Vox. It makes you think and want to be more active politically, especially in our current climate. In the novel, I would have liked to know how the press was silenced. Today we see freedom of the press in great jeopardy.
To Capture What We Cannot Keep
by Beatrice Colin
An Interesting Read (11/7/2017)
On the whole I liked this book. I enjoyed reading about the time period and construction of the Eiffel Tower. The perspectives and opportunities for women of that time was an important focus of the book. I did find it slow at times especially at the beginning. It did sometimes drag and I thought OK get on with it. I didn't mind the slowness myself because I read it when I was recuperating from surgery and was able to enjoy a leisurely read but I do hesitate recommending it to my book club because of its pace.
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby
by Cherise Wolas
A Good Read (7/12/2017)
I really liked this book. It is extremely well written especially for a debut novel. I liked the stories within the story. I think it would be good for my book club but might take two meetings because there is so much to discuss. The only criticism I have is that I thought it might have been edited a bit better. It definitely could have been shorter especially if targeted for book club discussions. I would recommend it though because it is different and well written.
Close Enough to Touch
by Colleen Oakley
Close Enough to Touch (3/29/2017)
This is a good book. I enjoyed it and was moved by the story and characters almost from the beginning. The start is a bit slow but worth the reading. This book is unusual because of the situation the protagonist finds herself in and her journey to wholeness. The three most important characters are very damaged and isolated physically and/or emotionally. When I completed the book, I felt I had been on the journey with them. I will suggest it to my book club because I think the discussion will be very good.
The Stars Are Fire
by Anita Shreve
An Enjoyable Read (3/7/2017)
I liked this book. I thought the main characters, especially Grace, were developed well. Her transformation from a survivor to a strong independent woman was believable to me in the context of the plot. Sometimes we have to go through life altering events in order to find out who we really are. The setting was almost like another character in the book. It changed as the story evolved and provided the external conflict that permeated the novel, man vs. nature. I think there is a great deal to discuss in this novel and intend to recommend it to my book club.
The Girl Before
by JP Delaney
A Very Good Read (12/21/2016)
I was intrigued by this book from the opening page. I kept wanting to find out what was going to happen next. I think there were similarities with Fifty Shades of Grey with the controlling characters of Christian and Edward and their manipulation of women. But I think it was a better book in terms of writing and development. I think it is important to read it consistently and over a short period of time because if you don't, it is confusing when you resume reading after a gap. I liked the ending and I would definitely recommend this book.
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