March Book Reviews by Marlene

IMG_2056Unearned Pleasures  and Other Stories by Ursula Hegi.  This author is a masterful and artful writer as each short story: packing in full lifetimes in a short story. Each story stands on its own and your emotions will be tapped gently at times and other times with a hammer.  It’s not a feel-good set of stories but a real life glimpse at familiar and not-so-familiar settings.   A recommend. (Yes, Marlene. Hegi is one of my favorite writers!)

Jar City. A Reykjavik Thriller by Arnaldur Indridason.  Another super Nordic thriller with an interesting plot that keeps leading to more secrets.  Interesting thought process by the author.  This is a great view of Iceland although it might not inspire travel there as it is painted a bit darkly.  Some of the characters could use more depth but overall I enjoyed this part mystery/part family drama (that’s the part that needs some depth).  A recommend.

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah.  Why oh why did I just keep listening to this book?  Guess it’s only because I didn’t have another one to listen to and had lots of chores to do.  It’s the story of the friendship of two girls/women through many decades of their life.  It did take a major upheaval before either of them learned to make the most of who they are and what they have.  So you can imagine my impatience for them to wake up. Oh yes, it would have helped to have some bad sides to some of the characters and some good sides to the bad ones.  So, the characters are cardboard personalities and the plot mundane, more of the same stuff.  No guesses…not a recommend.

Bartender’s Tale by Ivan Doig.  There are books that make you wish for the end because you just have to know what is going to happen. How will the mystery be solved or the conflicts resolved.  But here is one I didn’t want to end.  I was having such a good time with the interesting and unique characters that I just wanted to follow them their whole lives.  This is a marvelous tale told by a young boy with a rather unusual upbringing and a delightful way of looking at the world.   You will love the characters, even the irascible ones.  I want some of them to come live in my life.  Doig is a master story teller so do not hesitate….read this book!  High recommend. (Sounds fantastic, it is next on my list.)

Private by James Paterson and Maxine Paetro.  I am finding books that Patterson shares with other writers are not up to his intriguing thriller in the Alex Cross series.  This is a suspense/thriller with several scenarios  going on that are not related except that there are cases for the private investigation firm of  “Private.”    The plots will keep you reading (or listening as in my case and by the way,  the audio is well read) to find out just how this will all work out.  People fall in love with people with little substance and while the main plot is resolved, we are left hanging. Oh dear, I guess this means a sequel but I have to admit that I am not interested enough to worry about it. Not a recommend.  There are superior Patterson books out there.  (But thanks M, for the loan, it did keep me entertained while I did my chores!).

Serendib by Jim Toner.  A delightful tale on several fronts.  A 73-yr old rather straight-laced judge makes a surprise visit to his son serving in the Peace Corps in Sri Lanka.  First is the story of father and son finally connecting against the backdrop of Sri Lanka, a third-world country torn apart by violence and War.  Then there is getting acquainted with an endearing culture and the wonderful acceptance and respect for foreigners that Sri Lankans nurture. It’s a feel good story but I feel some realities were left unsaid which might have spoiled the tone of the book but would have given a rounder picture of Americans coming face to face with third-world circumstances.  Some of the changes that the father experiences seem rather sudden given his background but it they are true to form, I am charmed and delighted!   It is fast reading and you will enjoy the visit to Sri Lanka! Yes, a recommend! (For those who don’t know Marlene, she is a world traveler extraordinaire!)

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