Reviews by Betty Taylor

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Three Things You Need to Know About Rockets: A Memoir
by Jessica A. Fox
The Witless Fox (6/25/2013)
I began reading this book with great enthusiasm which was quickly dampened. The first part of the book is very slow and quite boring. She lives a high stress life in Los Angeles that she wants to escape. Then she takes off for Scotland on a whim. Okay, that I can relate to. I've done similar trips.

The bookshop sounds delightful (for those of us who LOVE the physical books.) Wigtown is quaint with pleasant people. She was warmly welcomed. A romance blossomed between Jessica and Euan, the shop owner.

It was fun to read of the cultural differences -- Brazil wax, anyone? I'm sure Jessica hurt for a few days after trying to remove the wax. And the party where the local townspeople were told to "dress American", so most of them came with pillows and cushions stuffed into their clothing so they would be "fat Americans". Jessica learned quickly that in that little town, if one person knew something everyone would very shortly know it. But they were all supportive of each other.

What really kind of bothered me was that Jessica, 25 years old, seemed to just kind of drift. She really didn't pay much attention to details, such as visa details. She also seemed to let Euan by with quite a bit. Yes, he was a really nice guy to everyone but she didn't draw any lines. But then she was on a visa living with him. And Euan has a fairly passive personality meaning he has problems making a decision. There's the usual ups and downs of a relationship. But there's the added problems of cultural differences and visa complications. You are never really sure how it will work it.

If, like me, you are curious as to how The Bookshop looks (after all, it says it is so huge), check out the following link.
The Good Luck Girls of Shipwreck Lane
by Kelly Harms
Keep It Interesting... (5/13/2013)
Aunt Midge said keep it interesting...and that is just what Kelly Harms did in this delightful story of the two Janine Browns who both entered a contest for a house and won it. But which Janine Brown was the true winner? As readers, we are all winners upon diving into this book. The characters are charming, realistically human (some lies to benefit one's self, a few drinks too many, sometimes making a fool of one's self), You can't help loving them all and hoping it all works out for them in the end.
The Woman at the Light: A Novel
by Joanna Brady
Some History, without the Pain (6/19/2012)
I loved this book! Joanna Brady did extensive research on the history of the Florida Keys and the lighthouse keepers and some history of Cuba. Some of the characters in this book were real people. It was interesting reading of the difficulties the lighthouse keepers had to deal with -- the difficult work of maintaining the lighthouse, hurricanes, Seminole wars, wreckers, and, most all, the isolation.

Emily, the heroine of the story, was a strong woman and “ahead of her time”. She was against slavery although her family had owned slaves. She did not let others make decisions for her. When her husband disappeared, she insisted on taking his job as the lighthouse keeper at Wreckers Cay even though she had three small children.

Each chapter of this book held me in its grasp. The characters were well-developed. The story moved at a good pace, giving some interesting aspects of our country’s history. A very enjoyable book!
Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths
by Bruce Feiler
A Trip into Abraham's Land (4/30/2012)
I found the book to be very interesting. The author does not claim to be a scholar or an expert on any religion. He set out to explore the monotheistic religions in their settings. He first did this with his book "Walking the Bible". With this book, he looks at Abraham who is the man central to all three of the monotheistic religions. The book is the story of his journey; therefore, it is not written in a scholarly fashion. He struggles with how Abraham is so central to these three religions, yet the religions cannot even agree on some of the "shared" stories from Abraham's life. This helps the reader grasp some some degree of understanding regarding the conflict over Jerusalem and the struggle for the three religions to dwell in peace.
The Finkler Question
by Howard Jacobson
Too Much Worrying (4/29/2012)
I know it seems nearly everyone loved this book but I just could not get into it. It did reflect true life in that it reminded me of people I know who worry all the time about every little thing -- people who make everyone around them miserable with all their worrying. Not something I wanted to read though. I could not make a connection with the characters.
The Things We Cherished: A Novel
by Pam Jenoff
Love Triangles (5/25/2011)
I enjoyed the book even though the story is not all that deep. The two love triangles somewhat mirror each other -- two brothers in love with the same woman. Neither story gets very deep. After all, the book is only 286 pages. It was sometimes hard to grab the thread of the story when it bounced into the past. But the sentimentality of the story saved it. The clock ties the chapters from the past together. Overall, I enjoyed it.
Radio Shangri-La: What I Learned in Bhutan, the Happiest Kingdom on Earth
by Lisa Napoli
Happiness Achieved! (2/26/2011)
Lisa Napoli's description of "the happiest place on earth" certainly made me happy. Ms. Napoli writes beautifully of her visits to Bhutan, a Himalayan kingdom that few are privileged to visit. Her descriptions reminded me of my visits to Thailand where I found the people and the land to be utterly charming. The king of Bhutan works hard to preserve the culture even as the Western world slowly invades the land. Once television was allowed into Bhutan there was no stopping this invasion. There is also the first-time visit to America from one of Ms. Napoli's new Bhutanese friends. We "see" America through Ngawang's eyes which is sometimes humorous and sometimes very revealing of our values.
The Tenth Song
by Naomi Ragen
Ragen LetDown (10/25/2010)
I absolutely love Naomi Ragen's books so was really excited to start her newest one. But what a letdown! I really tried to like it, but it was so contrived. Disasters fixed too easily. Nice words of wisdom from a guru in the desert. Visions of the Israelites following Moses om a trek. Naomi -- you can do so much better!
Arctic Chill: A Thriller
by Arnaldur Indridason
Arctic Chill (10/7/2010)
Even though there is little "action" in the story and it was a bit slow moving, the writing is superb and kept me intrigued. The author uses conversation amazingly well in the book. It just kept pulling me in especially with the two subplots of the missing woman and the pedophile. Well worth the read.

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