childbirth

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.

View all my reviews

Review: A Fatal Twist

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A Fatal Twist
A Fatal Twist by Tracy Weber

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4 stars to Tracy Weber‘s A Fatal Twist, the fourth book in her Downward Dog mystery series. I don’t usually read a book from the middle of a series, but this one fell in my lap and I decided to give it a chance. I will go back and read the earlier ones next.


Story

Kate’s a yoga instructor with a penchant for finding dead bodies and adopting homeless pets. When a pair of 6 week old puppies appear on her doorstep, she and boyfriend, Michael, agree to watch them until finding a better home. But their older dog, Bella, not the friendliest of animals to those she doesn’t know, has medical issues, which makes it difficult. And then Kate’s student’s husband is found murdered in the birthing hospital where Kate’s just started working as a doula. She’s got a cast of doctors, nurses and ex-girlfriends to tackle in trying to save her friend from being put in prison. Weaving the puppy adoption, her new career as a doula, her increasing investigation skills and decisions on her relationship lead Kate through many twists and turns, but in the end, she solves the case and finds a home for the puppies. And almost avoids another near-death injury.


Strengths

I know nothing about yoga, but I learned a few things. Might even give a class a try one day. I love dogs and there are many lighthearted and funny moments to make readers think of their own pets.

The entire concept of the doula was new to me, and very interesting. Being a man, and not having children, the concept of childbirth is a bit foreign to me. I know enough now! 🙂 But not in a bad way. The details were handled with great aplomb, and always from a very medical and nurturing perspective. Makes me wonder how I would feel about natural childbirth.

The mystery was in that middle sweet spot. Not easy. Not difficult. Enough characters to create some red herrings, side stories and realistic clues. Very little interaction with the police, which makes the book so much more believable when a non-detective gets close to a murder investigation. I never found myself thinking “this couldn’t happen.”

Characters are funny, sweet and memorable. I want to know what happens to them in the future. Michael and Kate. Nicole and Rachel. Sam and Rene. Betty. Bella.

Writing is clear, direct and at the right level. Not simple. Not convoluted. A few great narrative sections, witty dialogue and descriptive settings.


Suggestions

I’m not sure the title fits. But that’s not a very big issue, is it? Of course it was fatal, and there’s always a twist in the cozy mystery.

I think someone would have figured out the murderer’s true problem (don’t want to give away spoilers) before Kate, given this takes place in a hospital among people “in the know.” But I can close my eyes and squint to see how this turn of events would have happened.


Final Thoughts

I enjoy the series. It’s got lots of side stories between yoga, dogs, medicine, birthing, etc. And the backstory seems interesting, so it’s probably worth reading from the beginning. Plus it takes place in Seattle. Can’t wait to see more of the surroundings!

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