It has been far too long since I have posted a book review. I know some of you enjoy hearing about what I have read and enjoyed (or not!), so over the next three blog posts I will give you some brief reviews of books I have read since last March. I am a voracious reader, so there is a long list of books! I have read some good ones (and a couple of turkeys), so grab a cup of coffee and a pen and paper and let's get to it.
Starting in April, I read a Book of the Month selection called The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee. This was a book I was afraid I might not like, but it was terrific. The subject of the novel is a young American girl who starts out her professional career as a rodeo stunt rider and ends up as an internationally famous opera star singing for the Paris Opera. If you like historical fiction, the descriptions of the late 19th century are wonderful, and the depictions of the gowns, the manners, the customs of the time are so engrossing. Ultimately, it is a love story, and a gripping one at that.
If you enjoy a good psychological thriller, Mary Kubica is always worth a read. Pretty Baby concerns a woman who cannot have more children who brings a homeless teenager and her infant into her household, much to the chagrin of her husband and daughter. Weird things start happening and the reader feels off balance trying to figure out if the narrator is mentally unstable or if the homeless girl is up to no good. You have to suspend logic while reading this book (whose husband would put up with their wife dragging in a homeless person and their baby and putting them up in the den?), but it was a good book.
A Thousand Naked Strangers by Kevin Hazzard was so engrossing! I did nothing else over the couple of days it took me to read this work of non fiction. It is an autobiography of a fellow who, after 911, decides he wants to do something to help others, and becomes a paramedic in the worst area of Atlanta. His tales of adventure and encounters with some really down and out characters was just fascinating. Trust me, you have no concept of what a paramedic is called upon to do until you read this book!
This was a book that made me think. Under the Influence by Joyce Maynard is about a woman trying to turn her life around. She is at a low point in her life, having lost her career, her marriage, and custody of her son due to her drinking. In this period of her life when she is trying to recover from her addiction and prove herself worthy of having her son back with her, she meets an influential couple who seem to want to help her. Or do they? Sometimes we have to ask ourselves what the cost of some "friendships" may be.
No One Knows by J.T. Ellsion is another psychological thriller with a million twists and turns. Amanda has been grieving her husband, who seems to have disappeared/died five years previously. Or did he? After five years of being missing he is declared dead. No one is who they pretend to be, and everyone is hiding something. This book will have you turning the pages as fast as you can.
Amazon describes Helen Simonson's The Summer Before the War as a book to help you over your Downton Abbey withdrawal. I don't know about that, but it was a very fun read. Set in 1914 in a small English town, the main character, Beatrice Nash, has come there to teach school and gain some financial independence from the trustees who control her inheritance from her recently deceased father. A wealthy and eccentric local woman takes her under her wing and all sorts of situations arise. I highly recommend this book if you enjoy historical fiction, PBS style English dramas, and a good story.
The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix-Sweeny concerns four obnoxious adult children who are waiting for their shared inheritance to come through. If you enjoy books about dysfunctional families and unlikable people who make very poor choices, by all means get this book. Can you tell I didn't care for it?
Another Book of the Month selection, I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh, was a book with a difficult subject. The book begins with a tragedy. A young mother and her five year old son are walking home at dusk in the rain. As they approach their house, the child lets go of his mother's hand and runs into traffic, with terrible results. This book was another psychological thriller, with an ending I did not see coming. At all. I was blindsided! If you like a book with plot twists and turns, this one will keep you up late until the very last page.
Those were the highlights from April and May. Check in tomorrow for June and July, and on Wednesday for August, September and October!