Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Stack of Books

Based on the lack of book reviews on my blog lately, one might suspect that I haven't been reading much. Though I've suffered a few unpleasant reading slumps, I've actually read several books in the past month. Here are my mini-reviews on the books that have graced my night stand since Thanksgiving.

Books for Review : 2
Books from shelf : 2
Ebooks (previously purchased) : 2
Books purchased : 1

The God of Small Things
by Arundhati Roy

I bought The God of Small Things at the library book sale back in October and everyone told me that it was very good. I've enjoyed several book sets in India and so I was anxious to get a chance to read it. I was nearly finished reading it when I realized that I might already have a copy of this book. When I got home, I checked, and sure enough there was a copy on my shelf that a friend had given me years ago. While I checking I found a second copy of another book I bought at the library that day. My book hoarding collecting has reached the scary level, folks.

The beautiful language and intense emotions combined with the exotic setting kept me completely enraptured. It's a disturbing novel but valuable. I would highly recommend it. 


The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs
by Matthew Dicks

The Perfect Comeback of Caroline Jacobs is one of the SheReads Book Club Fall Selections. I've enjoyed all the others this fall and fully expected to enjoy this one too. Caroline is a quiet wife and mother who suddenly speaks out when she just can't handle the essentially bullying behavior of the PTA President. This surprising surge of courage spurs Caroline on a quest to confront the bully from her school years.

It's a cute idea that is certainly timely but the novel often felt preachy. While the story and ending are fine, it's also predictable and a little too neat. Honestly, I was bored and while I expected to connect with Caroline, I found her character to be annoying.


The Sense of an Ending
by Julian Barnes

The Sense of an Ending has been sitting on my shelf for at least a year. Attempting to reach my GoodReads goal (not going to happen) I wanted to add some quality but shorter novels to my reading list. As expected, I read the novel in an afternoon.  With lovely and engaging writing, I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and story of Tony Webster and his memories of his friends and girl friends from school.

The novel is downcast and dreary but meanders through Tony's memories of his young adulthood and his relationships with a sense of nostalgia and regret. The ending surprised me and I may have to read it again to see what I missed on the first quick reading. Well written and honest, I loved this introspection and meaningful novel.


What She Knew
by Gilly Macmillan

Rachel and her son Ben were on their usual Sunday walk in the woods near the park. She lets him run ahead to the swing but when she gets there Ben is missing.

Alternating between Rachel's point of view and the reminiscing of Jim, the lead detective, What She Knew starts out as an intense and emotion search for a missing boy. Right away, Rachel becomes a suspect in the media as viewers doubt her sincerity. She must prove her innocence while also recovering her missing son.

The novel got off to a great start but got bogged down in the middle--a very long middle. I nearly lost interest. The novel finally gains speed again toward the end and has a satisfying conclusion that almost felt too fast.


Alice I Have Been
by Melanie Benjamin

I've enjoyed other books by Melanie Benjamin and during a bout of insomnia read Alice I Have Been on my phone, in my bed, under the covers.

A researched historical novel about the life of the real Alice that inspired Charles Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) to write the beloved novel Alice in Wonderland. Filled with the innocence and wonder of childhood, misunderstandings, scandal, love, loss and growing up, Alice Liddell lived an interesting life.

I didn't love the style of writing with this particular story. So much of it is just telling the story. Finally, as Alice starts to grow up and find love, things actually "happen". It was worth reading but I wasn't overwhelmed by it.


King Leopold's Ghost
by Adam Hochschild

My college friend picked King Leopold's Ghost as our book club read and I was excited. It's been a long while since I've read a history or a biography and I do enjoy both. Focusing on a time period that I am not overly familiar with, I liked learning more about the colonization of Africa. A horrible period of greed and corruption, King Leopold ruled the Congo with violence and butchery. It's an enlightening book on the wicked ends people will go to gain power and wealth. It was also interesting to see those who couldn't abide by the evil and actually stood up for it. I enjoyed the connecting between this book at the novel The Heart of Darkness.

While detailing the horrific atrocities committed in Leopold's Congo, Hochschild is quick to point out  that this is only a small amount of atrocities committed by colonizing countries throughout the world.  It was a valuable read. It was very dark and depressing and I read two lighter novels at the same time for balance.


The Last Anniversary
by Laine Moriarty

I loved Big Little Lies and enjoyed The Husband's Secret so when I couldn't sleep and was selecting an ebook to read in bed, The Last Anniversary jumped out at me. Sophie is surprised to inherit a house from her ex-boyfriend's aunt on Scribbly Gum Island. She's loved the island since she was a little girl and has always been fascinated by the unsolved Munro Baby Mystery. As Sophie moves onto the island, feelings are stirred up among the few residents and the truth will be discovered.

Written in the same easy and comfortable style as Moriarty's other novels, I read it quickly. It's cute and clever and witty. I enjoyed it though not as much as her other novels.



Andi said...

I enjoyed The Sense of an Ending very much when I read it a few years ago. I read The God of Small Things many years before that, and I didn't really enjoy it, but I had different tastes back then. Finally, Alice I Have Been has been on my shelves for yearrrrs. Maybe with a focus on my TBR I'll check it out in 2016. :)

Des said...

Thanks so much for the reviews. I always enjoy your take.