Another one bites the dust!

Another month has gone by, and for me, another year! September 1 is my birthday and therefor marks one year since I started my blog. It’s been great fun, and except for slacking off this summer, I’ve done a pretty good job of keeping up with the project. I’ve read a lot of great books and and few not so great… I’ll give you the final flash review before and a total wrap up before I reset the book counter!

Book# 35- The Collector, Nora Roberts

collectorRating: 3- it was a good book

Synopsis: Lila is a professional house-sitter with a habit of observing her surroundings through binoculars as she settles in to a new place. One job gives her full view of the soap-opera going on in the building across the street; and she is the sole eye-witness when a young woman falls to her death. Lila believes there is foul play involved, especially when the woman’s boyfriend is also found dead. Ashton is a New York artist and the brother of the young man who was found dead. He doesn’t believe his brother is capable of murder and he wants to get a better understanding of the situation, so he tries to question Lila. When the two begin talking, they realize there must be more to the story that the police are putting together. Ash has unlimited resources and great connections, but he wants to keep Lila involved and more than anything, he wants her to pose for him to paint. The two are thrust into a hunt for answers and lost art. And find unique connections all along the way.

My Impressions: I’ve been a Nora Roberts fan for many years, starting with her Chesapeake Bay saga for its home town appeal. When I want to get lost in a suspenseful love story, I know she will deliver. This story, while romantically predictable, had a great element of mystery incorporating the art world. A fast paced story to get swept up in!

Read if you liked: Sweet Liar (Jude Deveraux), The Violets of March (Sarah Jio), Carolina Moon (Nora Roberts)

 

 

Book # 36 A Tale For the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki

A-Tale-for-the-Time-Being Rating: 2- Not my fav!

Synopsis: Nao is a sixteen year-old girl writing in her diary to describe the life of a girl in Tokyo after moving from America. She is bullied, trafficked into prostitution, and constantly on the lookout for her father to commit suicide. Ruth is a middle-aged novelist living on the Pacific coast of Canada, struggling to adapt to life on a small whaling island and failing to write her next book. Ruth finds Nao’s diary washed up on a beach after the 2011 tsunami, along with a few other items that may lead to the identity of the intriguing young author of the diary.

Nao begins her diary intending to recount the life of her grandmother, who is a Buddhist nun, and has taught now how to survive her life and appreciate what you don’t see. Ruth becomes obsessed with reading the story and trying to locate Nao and her family despite faulty internet and frequent island storms that limit her connections to the outside world. The two seem somehow connected through the diary which Nao wrote to no one and Ruth came to own randomly.

My impressions: Well, not my favorite… because this could have been a much shorter book if the story were the central focus. There was a lot of deviation to explain, in detail, many things that didn’t really need such thorough telling. For example, WWII Japanese suicide bombers were a big part of the story, however the personal aspect was lost (and not added to) by the detailed history of the troops that was given. Also the concept of Schrodinger’s cat was discussed. And while there was a (very literal) tie-in to the story, I’m not sure that I needed the entire philosophical principle discussed in the text.  The story itself was very interesting. Very cross-generational, with comparisons to be made from post-war to modern lifestyles. But not enough to balance the drawn explanations and slow moving story.

 Read if you liked: The Briefcase (Hiromi Kawakami), Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes (Eleanor Coerr)

 

 

Book# #37 Still Life with Bread Crumbs, Anna Quindlen

still life Rating: 2- Not my fav!

Synopsis: Rebecca Winter found fame as a photographer in her younger days, first by capturing the detritus of a dinner party, then the intimate angles of her infant son. But her star is no longer rising and she is out of favor and out of money! She sublets her New York apartment and moves to the middle of nowhere to save some money. Her little cabin is small and already inhabited by a creature. SHe meets Jim when he comes to free her of a raccoon and fix her roof. She settles into small town life while trying to find a new muse and sell a few photos. Her new view of life leads her to discover that her perspective has been off for years.

My Impressions: I kept waiting for something to happen! I liked the characters okay, I thought they could have been interesting if they were actually doing something in the story. There was just no story progression for me. It moved slowly and there were not really any connecting events to help string it together. Just kind of a snap-shot of a life that mosies along.

Read if you liked: Promises to Keep (Jane Green), Love the One You’re With (Emily Giffin)

 

“Picking five favorite books is like picking the five body parts you’d most like not to lose.” ― Neil Gaiman

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Who do you think you are?

Anyone who has ever enjoyed an audio book probably felt like the experience was enhanced by the voice performance of the reader. Anyone who has ever disliked an audio book probably had their negative opinion influenced by the voice of the reader, the pace of the reading or their attempts to give different voices to characters. Bad accents, annoying trills and lack of inflection are some of my biggest complaints about readers because these detract from the story rather than add to it. I have not had much experience with the author as the reader and I can see how it would work for memoirs, but for fiction, I’m curious if it’s always a hit. In the case of this book, you couldn’t have had a better reader than the author herself!

Book #16  The All Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion, Fannie Flagg

filling stationRating: 4- Would recommend to a friend

Synopsis: Sookie lives in Point Clear, Alabama. She is Mrs. Earle Poole Jr: her gentle and grounded husband a dentist in town. She lives in the shadow of her ostentatious and overbearing mother, Lenore Simmons Krackenberry. She has 4 children (the 3 girls have just gotten married in succession). She thinks she knows exactly who she is as wife, daughter and mother until she receives a letter indicating she was adopted.

Fritzi Jurdabralinski grew up in Pulaski, Wisconsin next to her family’s business, a Phillips 66 gas and service station. Itching for bigger and better things, Fritzi learns to fly airplanes in a flying circus until WWII America calls her home to run the filling station. She and her sisters keep the station going through most of the war until her services are needed by the US government to fly military planes. Fritzi is spunky, strong and passionate about life.  She is also the mother of Ginger Jurdabralinski, the name on the birth certificate in Sookie’s discovered papers.

Sookie takes off on a journey of self re-discovery and historical research to learn who and where she really comes from.

My Impressions: This was a fun book! Sookie’s sweetness and innocense  are felt all through out the book. She is so quirky! And Fritzi’s  personality makes you want run out and learn to fly and airplane! She was the poster girl for Rosie the Riveter!  Such spirit of duty and adventure.  The story unfolds  between the two women in a third person narrative, jumping between Sookie and Fritzi, 2005 and 1940’s. It’s not hard to follow because the story line in each time period is chronological and the theme of events tend to mirror each other. The  relationships between family members is a central theme in this book, and is very strongly developed. For that matter, all of the characters are well developed and very distinguished from one another.

I’m sure that my impression of each character was influenced by the voice that the author/reader gave to them in the audio book experience. She was able to pull off that “deep-south”  accent perfectly to help you better understand the kind of person and presence Lenore really was, and she did justice to the “deep-snow” mid-west accent to add flair to Fritzi and company.  Such an enjoyable experience that I didn’t want to stop listening! Ms Flagg is truly a story teller.

Why you should read it:  Did I mention how fun it was? Okay, this is not a book I can see my boyfriend enjoying anytime soon. It might be a little girly for his taste. But I could see my Mom and Dad enjoying the audiobook on a car trip together.  There was a little bit of WWII history that I wasn’t aware of, and some insight into immigrant culture too. All in all, a fun story, read or heard.

Book #16 in the bag.

“Reading one book is like eating one potato chip”– Diane Duane, So You Want to Be a Wizard