I read a lot, probably more than the average person. When I do my recaps of what I have been reading, I usually get positive comments, so I thought I would share with you what I have read since Christmas. First I will tell you about the books I liked and finished and finish up with the books I didn't. It is a longish post, and I hope you enjoy it.
The Ocean at the end of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, was a great read. That author has an imagination like you wouldn't believe. His work is sometimes referred to as a "fairy tale for adults", but it is much more than that. His writing is smooth and thoughtful and his characters mysterious and thought provoking. This sentence is in the first paragraph of The Ocean at the End of the Lane: "I was wearing the right clothes for a hard day". Haven't you been there and done that? And aren't you just itching to find out just why?
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr is probably one of the best books I have ever read in my life. Maybe THE best. The subject matter concerns a blind French girl and a German boy in Hitler's Youth Camp, whose paths converge in German Occupied France in the last days of WW2. The manner in which the author conveys humanity, empathy, and the triumph of good in this novel is simply unparalleled. I loved this book so much that when I finished it I immediately started it over again.
I am always excited to see a new Sarah Water's historical fiction book out. She captures the atmosphere of the time her story is set better than anyone, and her writing style is so literary and engrossing. She describes everything in great detail, which I like. In any Sarah Water's book there is going to be murder, suspense, same sex romance, and an un-put-downable element. This book may be her best yet. A woman and her mother are left in dire financial straits when her father dies, and are forced by circumstance to take in boarders--who of course are not quite what they seem on the surface. Mixed reviews on Amazon, but I give it five stars.
Liane Moriarity is sometimes described as "a woman's author", but her books are by no means light and frivolous. She can make you laugh out loud, but her characters always have secrets...I have really enjoyed everything she has written: The Hypnotist's Love Story, The Last Anniversary, The Husband's Secret, Three Wishes, What Alice Forgot and most recently Big Little Lies. Her characters come to life on the page, and when you finish the book, they stay in your mind for quite awhile. She is an Australian author in her 30s, and I hope she writes dozens more books.
Oh boy, this was a book and a half, I tell you. If you liked Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, you should love this book by Paula Hawkins. The narrater is, shall we say, unreliable. It is a mystery and our narrator thinks she knows what happened. Your notion of what really occured will flip back and forth like laundry on the line as you work your way through this book. Which won't take too long, because you won't be able to put it down!
Another book with "Train" in the title, but so different! This is definitely a book about second chances. The author, Christina Baker Kline tells a gripping story of a litle girl who was left an orphan at an early age. Until the mid 20s, there was no system in place to deal with orphans in our country. It was mostly left up to charitable organizations to place children in "foster care", which often meant they were indentured servants at best and slaves at worst. Little Molly has several vastly different experiences in her young life of being fostered, and her story is one of courage and adaptability. Good book.
It Was Me All Along is a memoir by Andie Mitchell, a young woman who had issues with food all her life, but in adulthood managed to overcome them and lose over one hundred pounds. I found the story (and the author) annoying and self absorbed, but allowed the book to stay in my "enjoyed" list because of her accomplishment and because of her honesty. This is more about the psychology of losing weight and not a "how to" book.
I got this set of the Call the Midwife trilogy because I had enjoyed the BBC TV dramas so much. The problem with the books is that the tv show was so loyal to the books that it was like watching it twice! I got through the first and second volumes, but not the third. I guess, I'd say the drama was as good as the book, but if you have seen the shows you probably don't need the books. Nothing new.
The Light Behind the Window was a good read by British author Lucinda Riley. It turns out the author has written quite a lot of books, and I will definitely be exploring more by her in the future. The subject of this book was a rich French woman who inherits a good deal of propery in Provence, interspersed with blasts from the past tales of a heroic female spy who was her aunt. A handsome and charming man makes himself indispensible to the heiress and proposes marriage. I found myself annoyed with the bone head heroine in this story, but there was plenty of suspense and intrique. Is her husband a scoundrel? What about his crippled brother? Is he as bad as he seems? Or not? And is the WW2 spy ever going to get out of her predicaments? Lots happening in this book!
Don't you just love it when you discover an author you really like, and find out they are positively prolific and have written dozens of books? That's what happened to me with Thomas Perry. I started reading his eight book Jane Whitefield series and am completely hooked. I have read the first seven in the Whitefield series. Jane is part Native American and lives in upstate New York. She is part Seneca (part of the Iriquois Confederacy), and very beautiful as well as clever, fearless and unstoppably brave. She helps people in trouble disappear. Trouble with the Mob? Abusive ex-husband? Some crook after you? Come to Jane and she will find you a new home and a new identity. Her Native American heritage comes into play in all the books as she eludes bad guys through the forest, sets traps to catch them and generally out-manuevers all her pursuers. Not *too* much violence in these books (with exception of the seventh one, Poison Flower), very subtle sex and lots of great description of what she is doing. You will be holding your breath as she gets out of scrape after scrape. Perry has written lots of other books beside the Whitefield books and I hope to work my way through them all!
Now for the books that didn't make it to the "Liked It" list. I won't bother with photos of the covers for these. Luckily it isn't a very long list, because I hate to waste my money on reading material. That being said, if I find that the book is a dog, I would rather waste my money than my time reading it. The following books are not necessarily "bad", they just weren't my thing. Check them out, maybe you will like them more than I did.
So here is my Thumbs Down list:
The Last Days of Dogtown by Anita Diamont
Revival by Steven King
The Union Street Bakery by Mary Ellen Taylor
A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness