More March Book Reviews

Since we are minus Marlene’s book reviews and I am reading a LOT, two posts this month.

The Mermaid’s Daughter by Ann Claycomb. Wow. That’s it in a nutshell. I am writing to this FIRST NOVEL author and crossing my fingers that she will let me interview her for my blog. This is one of those unique ideas that I wish I had! Claycomb has taken a well known fairytale and turned it in to high class literary fiction. She is an amazing writer…characters are so deep and the surprises kept me reading non-stop. Young Kathleen is studying opera and shows great promise. She is plagued by stabbing pains in her feet and a terrifying sensation of her tongue being cut out….I don’t want to say too much…no spoilers here because you need to appreciate how this story unfolds. Rate: 4.9

In Farleigh Field by Rhys Bowen. So I had tried two of her series, which were fun reads. So this is a novel…while she is certainly a good writer I found that the novel was the same subject matter as the series…England, Royalty, high class vs low class, but without the humor. A fine read, but nothing to stand out about it. The story is during WWII and has of course the mystery to be solved by everyday people, although in this case Ben at least works for M15. Rate: 3.0

The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai. This one passed along from my mother (I think). Told in the style of one of my favorite books (People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks) this one starts in 1999 and section by section takes the reader back in time. All events happen at Laurelfield, a historic estate that has kept many secrets. The reader must be on her toes to catch the subtle implications Makkai has woven into the story. Kind of like foreshadowing, only these are references to the past. You will meet the family members, find out their secrets, learn the stories of who haunts the house, live the relationships between those who have lived in the house, find out about the artists who had residencies during the “artist retreat colony” period…and more. A well told tale. Rate: 4.0

Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline. I couldn’t finish this one. Within the first few chapters there were so many irritating writing factors…like a chapter that started off with everyone speaking in exclamation points…no kidding, about twelve in two paragraphs. Then there was the woman who fainted while lying on the bed petting her dog….just didn’t seem plausible. Then there were the teachers who all said the goodbye party in the teacher’s room after school was “such a great party.” Right. But when I got to the part where her husband and Christine met at the medical center by coming in separate cars and when they left her husband said “Let’s go to my car, it’s closer than yours.” How did he know this? They arrived separately. Anyway…I looked it up and lots of the reviews on-line said “not as good as her other books.” Then I looked back because I knew we had read one for book club…and we didn’t like it…and people said “not as good as her other books.” Hmmmm….don’t think I’ll be reading any more by this author. No stars, didn’t finish.

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes. A middle grade book that I purchased when I was trying to write for that age group. This on is a Newberry Honor Book, and it is good. As an adult, I actually like reading these books because I feel it puts me in touch with what issues young people might be having, very different from my own. A heart felt read. Rate: 4.0

Tell The Wolves I’m Home by Carol Rifka Brunt. So I highly recommend this book but I never quite figured out the title. Yes, there are wolves in various forms (figurative) throughout and I have some ideas what the reference was, but not totally clear. That said, this coming of age story of young June Elbus, age fourteen, and the unexpected love between various characters. When her uncle dies of AIDS (the year is 1987) June is left confused and guilty. Brunt does characters quite well and the underlying story kept me reading far into the night because I wanted to find out what was going to happen next. Rate: 4.0

Key for my personal rating system:

5.0 – A book I will never forget, will quote, will tell everyone I know they MUST read it.

4.0 – An excellent book, but doesn’t quite make the best books of all time list.

3.0 – A recommendation, good read, decently written

2.0 – Some redeeming qualities, I finished it, but I’m not likely to seek out more by the author.

1.0 – Don’t wast your time.