Friday, September 27, 2019

Review: Bellweather Rhapsody

Bellweather Rhapsody Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Glee meets The Shining.
A bunch of high school musician geeks meet up for a state competition at a creepy hotel in upstate New York. Weird concierge, nut job orchestra director, nerdy kids -- what's not to love?
Loved the writing.
Loved the crazy characters.
Loved all the references to Syracuse and central New York that I'm now familiar with!
There were gaping holes in the narrative - like - if a student goes missing, how are the police not called and the event immediately canceled? So very odd - but I'll give it a pass because I liked everything else.


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Thursday, September 19, 2019

Review: News of the World

News of the World News of the World by Paulette Jiles
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐🌟

Abducted by Kiowa Indians after her parents are killed, Johanna is "rescued" by Indian Agents in hopes she'll be returned to her next of kin.

Thus begins an Odyessan-like journey through the republic of Texas with Johanna and Captain Kidd at the reins of the Curative Waters wagon.

Heartbreaking story of the conflict between Native Americans and western settlers, family carnage, and the plight of a young girl. Also about unexpected love and family relationships.

Narrative is also replete with beautiful descriptions of the geology and botany of Texas.

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Monday, September 9, 2019

Review: Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐🌟
Eleanor Oliphant is not completely fine - and I really enjoyed finding out why. I loved reading about her journey, her quirks, her friends, and her colleagues.
Her mummy, not so much.
Quite a few LOL moments. Quite a few heartbreaking revelations.
Some of the best cast of characters in a book that I've read in a long time. Especially Raymond.
I listened to part of this on audio - and the narrator was fantastic. It was a treat to hear the Scottish accents, which my brain doesn't automatically translate while visually reading.
A great book club choice! We had SO MUCH to discuss!


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Thursday, August 15, 2019

Review: The Field Guide to the North American Teenager

The Field Guide to the North American Teenager The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The life cycle of this book:
I started it as an audio while renovating my house. I was HOWLING it was so funny -- but probably only to me: a High School Canadian teenager moves to Texas and is immediately overwhelmed by all things UT, Longhorn, and burnt orange. As a Sooner, I laugh at ALL things orange. Seriously the narrator was great and the dialogue was whip smart. But then I finished my renovation project and the audiobook I downloaded expired from the library, so I didn't finish. I was intrigued enough that after a 2 week hiatus I managed to check out the hard copy at the library. Once I started reading it, the characters weren't nearly so funny and in fact, they were snarky, mean and annoying. Now granted, they were teenagers, so what would one expect, right? But it wasn't doing anything for me. But by that time I was over half way done, so I persevered. I must say, the last third and the end of the book surprised me -- the teenage relationships took an unexpected turn, there was some racial injustice that was addressed by a parent, and it wasn't tied up in a neat bow, which was refreshing.

Overall -- book started as a 5, middle was a 1, end was a 4 -- I figured a 3 star rating was fair enough.

*Sensitive reader: no teenage sexapades, but plenty of Fbombs.

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Review: The Viscount Who Loved Me

The Viscount Who Loved Me The Viscount Who Loved Me by Julia Quinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't like this as much as the first one -- hard to beat Simon and Daphne.
I'm trying to figure out how Shonda Rhimes will turn this into a Netflix series.


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Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Review: Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've not watched a single episode of any of her TV shows -- but I certainly loved her witty, uplifting memoir. A reminder to "say yes" to opportunities, but be willing to say no to people or things that will drag you down. I read portions of this book to my kids on a current road trip because I felt what she had written was important enough to hear them groan from the back seat.
It would be a great gift for graduating high school seniors. Especially females.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Review: A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh this book...frustrating and beautiful all between the front and back covers. At any given time it could have been 1 star or 5 stars.

Confined to The Hotel Metropol in Moscow after being sentenced to a house arrest (as opposed to being executed) after the Russian Revolution, Count Alexander Rostov becomes a staple of hotel life. He knows the staff, the guests, the secrets of the building. Remember -- he never leaves.

This is why I was frustrated through 2/3 of the book because nothing really happened. It was all character driven interactions and the daily minutiae of hotel operations. The writing was beautiful and the characters unique and multifaceted -- but no one ever left the building!

Then Nina appeared. Then Sophia. Then the last 1/3 of the book was this beautiful, complicated story of love, friendship, relationships, politics, and conflict that were built over the proceeding years (and many, many pages).

So -- I'm so glad I persevered and finished the book. It was a totally worth it in the end.

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Monday, November 26, 2018

Review: The Library Book

The Library Book The Library Book by Susan Orlean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Author Susan Orlean uses the catastrophic 1986 fire at the Los Angeles Public Library as a backdrop to write a beautiful homage to libraries. A mixture of tracing the unsolved mystery of who started the fire, a history of the library itself, the staff that imbibe life into the historical building, to her personal reflections on the importance of libraries. As a library employee of more than nine years, this was truly a joy to read.

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Review: The Lost Queen

The Lost Queen The Lost Queen by Signe Pike
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars
Don’t be fooled by the tag line “Outlander meets Camelot.” Jamie was no where to be seen.
An epic retelling of ancient Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (6th century?) filled with druids, kingdoms, and the genesis of the Merlin legend as told by his sister, the forgotten Queen, Languoreth.
Clearly the beginning of a series, and considering the length it took me to read it, I wish it had been a stand alone.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Review: The Lake House

The Lake House The Lake House by Kate Morton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another atmospheric, page turner from the incomparable Kate Morton.
Loved the setting -- she's simply superb at turning a location into a character: The lake, the manor house, Cornwall - as always, I was completely transported.
I don't think this was one of her strongest storylines -- it took me about half the book before I was fully invested. And the ending...well...too easy. And I'd figured out the "twist" with about 100 pages to go.
But I still loved it -- just not as much as The Secret Keeper.

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