Reviews by Donna W. (Wauwatosa, WI)

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Delicate Condition
by Danielle Valentine
Delicate Condition (7/14/2023)
The story had a slow start for me, but I did get caught up in Anna's story.....her IVF problems, her pregnancy issues, and the story did become a bit of a thriller. However, I never connected with the characters and the short vignettes that were interspersed were supposed to add to the story, but instead they were just interruptions. The constant pregnancy problems got to be a bit too much, and took away from the flow of the story.

The book was just ok for me, and I definitely wouldn't recommend it to anyone who is pregnant, or thinking of becoming pregnant.
King of the Armadillos
by Wendy Chin-Tanner
King of the Armadillos (5/2/2023)
Although really a coming-of-age story, this book has an added dimension because it has the side story of Hansen's Disease (leprosy) included. This brings an interesting and enlightening element to the story. The characters are appealing, and I came to know them all as the author built them up throughout the book.

At the age of 15, Victor, who has lived in the Bronx since emigrating from China is diagnosed with leprosy. He is sent to live in Carville, an inpatient hospital in Louisiana. During the next year he will grow to learn more about himself, his family, and those around him. The character development is excellent, the description of surroundings is beautiful, and the straightforward facts about how leprosy was treated is interesting. I had a hard time putting the book down. Unfortunately, I thought the story ended too soon. I would have liked to know more about what happened to each of the characters.
Last House Before the Mountain
by Monika Helfer
Last House Before the Mountain (2/8/2023)
This is the story of a family living through a war. Maria is the mother left at home with the children, while her husband Josef goes off to war. It is a beautiful, rich story but the fact that it was told across several generations proved to be a problem for me. There was so much jumping around in sequence, that it just felt like interruptions in the telling of the story.

The story is told by Maria's granddaughter. She tells the story in its own time, but then will add things from her own life so it is sometimes difficult to know where you are in time.

A lovely story but told in a disjointed manner. I would probably give it 3 and 1/2 stars.
Stealing: A Novel
by Margaret Verble
Stealing (11/30/2022)
This was an excellent book. I was drawn in from the very first page. The story is written in the style of a young Indian girl writing in her journal. She tells of events in her life...being taken away from her family, being put in a boarding school, dealing with abuse..., and even though it is told from a child's point of view, the storytelling speaks in a very adult way about very serious and disturbing matters.

I couldn't put the book down. It was a quick read, and the main character, Kit, is very likable. I wanted to find out what happened next. The book is written in an out of sequence manner, but that helps to add to the plot. I highly recommend this book.
The Poet's House
by Jean Thompson
The Poet's House (6/10/2022)
The book started out as an interesting read with a lot of quirky characters. Unfortunately, the characters popped in and out so quickly that I didn't form an attachment to them. They became a distraction and didn't add to the story. It bothered me that the main character, Carla, was accepted into Viridian's inner circle so quickly, and even the poetry that was thrown in, didn't seem to fit.

I never felt comfortable with the events of the story and didn't feel the story flowed very well.
Fly Girl: A Memoir
by Ann Hood
Fly Girl (3/29/2022)
This book is a great look at the life of a flight attendant, and the aviation industry in general, during the 1980s. It is very interesting and informative. It doesn't have the normal feel of a memoir, but it is an easy read, and flowed at a good pace. Enjoyable for anyone who has ever flown.
On a Night of a Thousand Stars
by Andrea Yaryura Clark
On A Night Of A Thousand Stars (2/9/2022)
I didn't know much about the history of Argentina, and this book opened my eyes to this era. History lovers will read this book with interest. Unfortunately, for me, the character development was rushed, and I never connected with any of the main characters. There were also many extra characters that I found hard to keep track of. Switching back and forth between time periods also didn't help the flow.

The book was written with a feeling of excitement, and I do think it portrays this dark period well. I would probably give it 3 1/2.
Blind Man's Bluff: A Memoir
by James Tate Hill
Blind Man's Bluff (8/10/2021)
This was a good book, and an interesting look into the life of a handicapped person. It was written with self deprecating humor, and was easy, and quick to read. The author has a good style of writing, and he let me see into his world. I felt the pain he went through as he was growing up, and the difficulty he continues to go through on a daily basis.

I was attracted to the character, and interested in his life experiences, but at times I felt his writing jumped around too much from one time frame to another. I would just get into one event, when he would unexpectedly go to another event. Certain events could have been fleshed out more, but it didn't take away from the feel of the memoir. A talented writer, and I would be interested in future books.
Mrs. March: A Novel
by Virginia Feito
Mrs, March (4/18/2021)
This was a great book from the very first page to the last! The writing was extremely descriptive and I could picture Mrs. March in each scene as I read.

I went through so many emotions as I read and the character was so intriguing that I was carried along at a fast and increasingly suspenseful pace. I found my opinion of her changing back and forth as I read.

I couldn't put the book down, and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a fast paced thriller. A really delightful book!
The Phone Booth at the Edge of the World: A Novel
by Laura Imai Messina
At The Edge of the Haight (12/21/2020)
There was beautiful language and lovely thoughts and messages throughout the book. The 2 main characters dealing with grief was sensitively handled, and the road to the joy and happiness that was to come was quite believable.

For me though, the timeline was off. In parts it felt rushed, and in other parts things seemed to go very slowly. This left me with a feeling of unevenness. On the whole it was a difficult topic well handled, and worth the read.
At the Edge of the Haight
by Katherine Seligman
At The Edge of the Haight (9/27/2020)
This book started with an interesting concept but, unfortunately, the elements of the story were not put together very well and I had trouble relating to both the story and the characters.

The events seemed jumbled together, and the characters were so one dimensional that I didn't like most of them. If the main characters had been fleshed out more, it would have helped draw me in. As it was, I ended up not caring what happened to them. While the idea of street people was interesting, this book was not written in such a way that I felt sympathetic.
Migrations: A Novel
by Charlotte McConaghy
Migrations (3/30/2020)
This was a very powerful story! The book was written in such a beautiful way that it touched my heart, and I was really sorry to see it end. There is a bit of a mystery about the lead character's background and this adds to the strength of book.

I was profoundly touched by this book: The author did an excellent job writing such a moving story. I highly recommend this book.
The Madwoman and the Roomba: My Year of Domestic Mayhem
by SandraTsing Loh
The Madwoman and the Roomba (3/23/2020)
This book was funny and quite a good read. I'm of an age that much of what the author said was totally relatable. However, I think mothers of any age will be taken by this book.

She is very clever, and has a humorous way of looking at situations we can all relate to. While the book on the whole is a fun read, it is also touching and a bit sad in places. It presents the perfect combination of feelings that leads to a thoroughly enjoyable book. I recommend it highly.
The Secrets of Love Story Bridge
by Phaedra Patrick
The Secrets of Love Story Bridge (1/2/2020)
I had a hard time with this book. The characters were so poorly developed, and the story buildup was so rushed that I just couldn't relate to any of them. They were all so unappealing that I had a hard time finishing the book. The story had unbelievable events, some statements seemed to be contradictory, and the timeline didn't ring true. Unfortunately, I didn't like this book.
Father of Lions: One Man's Remarkable Quest to Save the Mosul Zoo
by Louise Callaghan
Father of Lions (10/5/2019)
This was a very interesting book. As I started reading, I thought I would be reading a book devoted entirely to animals. Instead I was thrown into the horrors associated with the Iraqi war. I learned a lot about the history, traditions, and people of Iraq.

I enjoyed the book. I had trouble getting into it, and never really formed an attachment to the main characters, but it told a riveting story. The book's main focus was on saving the Mosul zoo and it's animals, and the telling of this event led to a moving and satisfying conclusion.
The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt: A Novel
by Andrea Bobotis
The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt (6/21/2019)
This story starts simply, relating Judith's life presently when she is in the her 70s. Then it reverts to her life as a 15 year old. The story continues as it weaves back and forth between these 2 time periods, and unravels the family secrets related to 1 critical day.

I was drawn into the story quickly and the transition between the two time lines flowed smoothly. The tension built and kept me wanting to see what happened next. I liked the characters and enjoyed the beautiful language. It was a quick, easy read, and thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end.
The Last Collection: A Novel of Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel
by Jeanne Mackin
The Last Collection (2/19/2019)
This was an easy read, and I learned a lot about the fashion scene in Paris in the era of the war. Schiaparelli and Chanel came across as interesting and complicated women. Unfortunately, Lily, the main character wasn't quite as appealing.

She seemed superficial and for the most part not that interesting. It was hard for me to believe she would have come to be so closely involved with both of these fashion icons in such a short period of time.

The book really was more an historical fiction story about the war and the fashion industry was only a side note.

That said, I enjoyed the book, and anyone interested in that era in Paris would like the book.
Gone So Long
by Andre Dubus III
Gone So Long (9/17/2018)
This author paints such beautiful pictures with his words, that everything is clearly seen. The images are so vivid and the characters are so real that anyone who enjoys character driven books will enjoy this novel. The book is not an easy read though, and the story is not at all uplifting.

Even though the imaging was terrific, the over-abundance of it throughout the whole book slowed the story down a bit for me in the middle. It did pick up again in the end, and on the whole was a good read.
Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History
by Keith O'Brien
Fly Girls (5/30/2018)
I found "Fly Girls" to be a fascinating account of a little known time in the field of aviation. Other than Amelia Earhart, all the other female flyers were unknown to me, and the struggles they encountered continue to be relevant. This book brought not only their stories, but the story of aviation in general, to life for me. Very interesting book.
French Exit
by Patrick deWitt
Comic Tale (2/8/2018)
French Exit is a truly engaging book. The characters are unique, the story borders on crazy, and everything fits together in such a delightful way that the book is a great comic read. A quick easy read and lots of fun!
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