bookreview

Review: Neverwhere

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NeverwhereMy rating: 3 of 5 stars to Neil Gaiman‘s Neverwhere, a fantasy full of quirky characters and commentary on society, published in 1996. This was another book group selection (not mine), but by someone who has very good taste in books.

I’d never read Gaiman before, but he seems to be immensely popular. We read it in 2009, many years after it first hit print, but still at the cusp of my interest in fantasy books. I think it was too much of a fantasy for me, as I tend to need some rules or boundaries, and I couldn’t tell what was real here. Seems it’s all real, but for a newbie at the time, I was lost.

Essentially, a man wandering around London, falls through a hole of sorts… into fantasy world… and when he returns, everyone has basically forgotten who he was. Right from that point… I’m not sure what’s real anymore. But I stuck with it… and he meets tons of people after him, including a mouse (yes a mouse)… Door (yes, that’s her name) is his new friend, and she’s helping him thru this new world, but then she disappears. Very complex. Door must stand for something. I might consider re-reading this one again to see if I’m more open-minded about it.

And this refers to my understanding of the book and the graphic above about “I’m lost and returning…” Never happened.

Key Take-a-Ways
1. The characters are wonderful. Imaginative. Vivid. Very likable, but also a tad confusing. Was this Peter Pan in Neverland??????? Alice in the Wonderland?

2. London is very dark. Scary dark.

3. Life is not what it seems. Don’t ever try to be a Good Samaritan and rescue someone. NOT WORTH IT!!!!

4. Gaiman is a master at intense visuals.

5. I’m not as creative as I think I am.

So… read this if you love fantasy. If you don’t, I wouldn’t chance it. This was a very “out there” type book for me… though it had many funny and wonderful parts.

Good Luck if you cross that one…

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The Time Traveler’s Wife

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The Time Traveler's WifeMy rating: 3 of 5 stars to Audrey Niffenegger‘s novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, published in 2003 and later made into a movie. This one is a hard book for me to rate. There was so many great things in it, but there was also a lot that made me step away and think about how it all happened…

Overview
A young couple are constantly ravaged by the husband’s ability to move between time periods, but rarely in a controlled way. They are stuck in a haphazard relationship, never knowing when he may just disappear for months at a time. As a result, readers put the pieces of their love story together chapter by chapter… knowing the conclusion to some things before you find out how it happened.

What I Liked
1. The entire concept of moving around throughout someone’s life, not knowing what time period it is until a few things happen. This created a lot of suspense and drama, which for the most part worked significantly well; however, on a few occasions, it pushed me over the limit of confusion.

2. It’s a heart-breaking tale of what happens to a young couple who very much want to be together, in love and share a lifetime of orderly memories. Note, I said, orderly memories.

3. The images created are quite wonderful. With words being the tool to convey the emotion of something none of us have ever been through, it’s especially important to have strong visuals. This was successful on most occasions. And when it wasn’t, I didn’t dislike it; just wasn’t anything special.

4. It was unique… hardly ever, if ever, done before, in such a way or manner. The author should be praised for it.

What I Didn’t Like
1. The concept was too complicated. I kept stopping to think if the author built the scene correctly. I naturally doubted it, assumed there was a mistake in the time sequence. Maybe that says more about me being a Doubter than it does about the book… OK, maybe I should stop here on this item.

2. Some of the passages were included purely for humor, and the effects on other people of his time travel were a bit too much. I’m good with someone getting beat up, or some silly naked embarrassment… but it felt too contrived and one-sided.

3. I wasn’t happy with the ending… and that’s all I say.

Final Thoughts

You really should read it and then watch the movie. It’s a different way of handling the story, so that’s why I suggest both. Ultimately, it’s the kind of book where you think you love it, but then things start falling apart in your mind about the gaps and the confusion… and you feel like you had part of a story, not the whole thing. But this is one you need to check out for yourself. Just go in knowing it’s not a brilliant and perfect piece of literature. Still a good story, and possibly a bit higher than a 3 on my scale, but I’m sticking with the rating.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: U Is for Undertow

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U Is for Undertow
U Is for Undertow by Sue Grafton

3.499999 of 5 stars (rounded to 3 since that’s my only option due entirely to the laws of fractions and decimals) for the twenty-first book, U Is for Undertow, a mystery published in 2009 by author Sue Grafton.

When I first stumbled upon this series, I was super excited that there would be 26 books by the same author, all about the same character. But as I started reading the series, as much as I loved it, you could tell it gets a bit harder and harder to keep up with the creativity. Grafton does a good job at this, and I suspect since she knew there would be 26, it was planned out fairly well in advanced — at least enough to know it could sustain the plethora of content to come. Sometimes the antics remind me a bit of Scooby Doo.

U is for Undertow is nearing the end of the series, but it is still a good book. It starts off with quite an intro to the mystery. A man begs Kinsey to investigate… and she slowly realizes who he is, a bit famous for some things going on around a few years prior… and she has to investigate a rather interesting family. What’s great about this series is the character of Kinsey doesn’t age much throughout the books. Even though it’s about 30 years from start to finish for the author to draft the books, they all take place in the 1980s… so you often have to remember that you’re reading a book set 20 years prior, as the story doesn’t always tell you that. It’s clear in this one because there are flashbacks and actions to the 1960s…

A good entry in the series. Stick with the series if you start it. Kinsey’s a combination of Stephanie Plum from Janet Evanovich‘s “One for the Money / Stephanie Plum) series and “VI Warshawski from Sara Paretsky‘s PI series. All 3 are similar, but where Stephanie is new to detective work and VI is an ole’ pro, Kinsey’s in the middle. She’s had training. She’s savvy in many areas. But she gets hurt too much for reasons a real PI would probably know better.

Best part of these books… Kinsey’s relationship with Henry, her friend and landlord. They have a wonderful father / daughter connection and I enjoy those parts of the books just as much as the investigation parts. Whenever Henry’s in a scene, I know it will be a good one.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Body Work

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Body WorkMy rating: 4 of 5 stars to Sara Paretsky‘s novel Body Work, the 14th book in her “VI Warshawski” mystery series published in 2010. I read this book when it first came out, as I was already caught up in the series. I need to get back to them as I think there are a few more, as she tends to release one every 2 to 3 years.

Warshawski is a private investigator working in Chicago. She’s in her late 40s/early 50s throughout a big part of the series, very tough and one of the original female detectives written about in a full on series. I suspect she is the incarnation of the author, as I’ve read a bit about her, too. She’s quite fascinating and very open about her life and what she’s doing.

In this book, Paretsky takes us into the underground club scene, scattering around with VI Warshawski’s cousin Petra, a group of artists, tattoo junkies and soldiers back from Iraq with PTSD. It’s the kind of book where you think you know what’s going to happen, but you’ll be surprised a few times. I remember it made me want a tattoo even more than I already did at the time. 7 years later, I still don’t have one… but not because I am worried / scared. I can’t decide what to get!!!

Paretsky’s books are also somewhat educational. She takes care to provide a lot of details (without going overboard) about the social issue and topics she’s handling in each one. It makes for a great mystery, but also a solid learning experience.

The main character, Warshawski, is very amusing in an offbeat way. She’s got a chip on her shoulder and often borders on “I want to knock her down a peg or two,” simply because she sometimes lets her attitude get in the way of her success, both in her personal life and her professional life. However, she’s also a very dedicated and solid friend, so you know you can always count on her.

Lots of great scenes in this book, particularly about the art of tattoo work and the impact of war on soldiers. Also a few highly descriptive scenes including some violence. Not too bad, but enough that it may turn off a few folks who prefer the cozy mystery. I don’t know how that woman gets back up again after being knocked down so many times. I’d stay on the floor and say “I’m done.”

If you’re not up for a whole series, you can read this one stand-alone. Not a big connection between all the books other than the timeline of her aging and some friends that shift in and our of her life.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: The White Bone

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The White Bone
The White Bone by Barbara Gowdy

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

1 out of 5 stars to Barbara Gowdy‘s novel, The White Bone, a story about a family of elephants wandering around the safari. Yes, that’s right, I’ve given out a 1 star rating… of ~500 books I’ve read, only (5) five have gotten this poor of a rating, and this unfortunately, is one of them. I usually try to find something redeemable, but this one will be tough. And I mean no harm to the author, as her writing style was fine… it just was such a poor read.

I suspect this was a brilliant idea gone far off track. To start, it’s about a group of elephants wandering around the safari in Africa, focusing on young Mud. Everything from vicious attacks by lions to childbirth to starvation to fear, find their way into this book. And on the outskirts, it sounds like a wonderful story full of heartache, emotion and that quintessential journey.

But somehow, other than a few spots where you get a bit sad, it feels half completed. When you’re supposed to feel bad for finding a dead family member, remember that the book is seeing this thru the eyes of an elephant. The reaction feels like “oh, dead. let’s move on.” Do elephants not have feelings? I guess not. Now I feel silly for not knowing that.

I couldn’t decide whether this was a half satire, half sad look at the unfortunate problems animals face. But just when it started going down either of those paths, it was a complete reversal and I thought I was starting a new book. Same characters. But as though I suddenly functioned with a lot less brain power. And I don’t have that much to give, Barbara… and now I want it back.

I rarely skim pages in a book. If I find myself skimming more than 3 or 4 pages, I put it down and pick it up a few days later, hoping it was just my mind at the time. No… that wasn’t the problem.

I had a month to read this book, and I seriously couldn’t focus. I read the whole thing, but there were times where I re-read the same page ten times to see if I could get anything out of it worth discussing. And I did. I learned that you can mess words up on a page and create something equal to scrambled eggs when all you wanted was a beautiful, sweet and delicious custard. Oh, how I love desserts. I’d rather talk about them than this book anymore. Ugh.

And to be honest, I’m still confused as to what the white bone is or was… and what the heck it had to do with the whole story. Metaphor? No. Theme? Nah. A weapon to stab my eyes so I’m finished with the read.

I’ll take… maybe 20%… of the fault and blame for not fully engaging, as it just felt like a bad book and I couldn’t get interested. It was someone else’s pick.

And let me tell you what this book club meeting was like… first of all… we took turns having it either at quiet restaurant, or someone’s house. People often liked coming to my place because I cooked and had lots of food options — and wine… and then we all stayed and hung out afterwards so no one had to drink and drive. For this book club, it was at my house… and I couldn’t even talk about the book. Every time I started, someone shoved food in my mouth or poured me more wine. They didn’t want to listen to me go off on it… BUT!!! No one else liked it either, so it was just that I was so vocal, it was ridiculous.

But the other 80%… don’t ask me what happened. I think it was a misprint. Something accidentally got thru and the publisher said “let’s see if anyone notices… they may just be so interested in the elephants that they will still love it.”

I could have been riding the stampede thru the safari on this one and still have fallen asleep. OK, I’ve put you through enough pain.

Don’t read it. Please do not. And if you do, smack yourself for me. Twice, at least.

Ms. Gowdy: Please don’t take offense to my review. I’m sure your other books are good, as you have published quite a bit. I’d like to buy you dinner and understand how this entire thing came to fruition. And then find out your secret to getting this into people’s hands.

Off to find a lion… the only saving grace… elephants have a really good memory, so hopefully they are suffering as much as I did having to be part of this. Only fair.

P.S. I love elephants.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Cutting for Stone

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Cutting for Stone
Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

My rating is 3.5 of 5 stars to Abraham Verghese‘s novel, Cutting for Stone, which was a book club selection about 7 years ago. At first, I wasn’t sure I’d like the book, as I expected it to be quite sad. And back then, I wasn’t interested in reading sad or emotional books; however, this one was quite good and I waffled between a 3 and a 4. I settled on a 3 only because I felt it was a little too formal / stiff for the type of book it felt like it should have been — still above average to me, as far as books go.

The basics: Twin brothers born in Ethiopia, Africa. The mother dies during childbirth and the father will need to raise them, but fate intervenes and they are separated. The book chronicles the separate life of the two boys and the connections between them. It’s about the differences between America and Africa, love and fear, focus and desire. There are many surprises in the book, all leading you to root for certain things to happen in each of the relationships throughout the story.

I had never heard of the author before, and this is the only read I’ve tackled by him, so far. But he’s got several other books and short stories. For me, it was a little too focused on the medical side of their personalities / careers / activities. Not in a bad way, just enough that it didn’t burst at its seams as a superstar book. I also felt like it was a little light in the action at some points, but it certainly makes up for it in some major ways in the last third.

If you are interested in other cultures, different ways of doing things and what happens to twins when they aren’t always near one another… it’s a great read. I’d suggest reading a lot of reviews to decide if it’s for you… as it’s different than most books of its genres or sub-genre.

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

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Review: Crunch Time

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Crunch Time
Crunch Time by Diane Mott Davidson

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Diane Mott Davidson‘s “Goldy Bear Culinary” mystery series is one of my early favorites, and I’m sad that the author isn’t writing anymore. There were about 20 books in total, but this review is for #16, Crunch Time. This was the second or third cozy mystery series I took on, and only the second where I’ve been able to finish reading all books. (LJB’s “Cat Who” series is the other one).

In this book, the crime action comes right to Goldy’s home, which makes for even more fun. Friends are staying with Goldy after their house burns down, and Goldy knows they are keeping secrets. She pushes her way in and tries to figure out how to help them, keep her business running and ensure her own home and family aren’t impacted. But of course, Goldy falls prey to the culprit at one point, too.

I enjoy this series because she is such a real character. And the supporting cast feel like people you’d love to be around. Humor, sarcasm, love… Goldy’s husband and son are very real people.

As far as books in the series, this one falls somewhere in the middle. Not the best, not the worst. The recipes seem fairly easy to follow, if you like that sort of thing.

Some folks thought this was a bit long. I can see why, but it’s still a fast read.

It’s a fun series to read, but you probably only need to read a few throughout to get the gist… unless you can commit to all ~20. Then by all means…

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I read A LOT. I write A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll also find TV & Film reviews, the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge and lots of blogging about places I’ve visited all over the world. And you can find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Vote in the poll and ratings. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.

View all my reviews