Robin’s December Book Reviews

AUDIO: Yep, I have increased my audio time…because I was doing a lot of driving and I wanted to see if I could maintain my attention span.

Little Bee by Chris Cleaver read by Anne Flosnik. I LOVED this reader, and the story as well. The reader was able to move between the two main female characters with ease…and they were very different. Little Bee is a young Nigerian refugee attempting to start a new life in England. Sarah is an English woman, who through a strange set of circumstances takes her in. So much character, thought, weaving, beautiful language, clever words…great story. Rate: 4.5

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett read by Hope Davis. Yep, the reader makes a lot of difference. Thanks Cindy, for advising me on this. Another excellent reader, with voices for the different characters…and not just voices…you feel you are really inside each character’s head. This is the story of a family over the years (many years) and the extreme web of love, guilt and betrayal. Told from many different points of view, the adult children of a blended family, the children as children, the spouse left behind….I was really hooked from the first minute. This story goes back and forth in time, but it wasn’t hard to track. Rate: 4.0

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, read by a long cast of well know characters. Highly recommended by friends. Multiple times. When I first started listening I was like “What?” because I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was going on…it was a list….quotes….different voices and seemed rather random. So I went on-line and read what other people thought. They loved it OR felt like me…at a complete loss. But one reviewer said, “keep at it, you’ll catch on” so I did. And it did get better and I did begin to understand what was going on. And then I didn’t. I tried to listen while I was driving or doing my physical therapy exercises and I was soon lost again. I’m not going to finish it. But, for those of you who might want a bit of an adventure, try it. I’m not going to rate it because it doesn’t seem fair to let my attention deficits impact the number of stars.

Books

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland. This historic fiction led me to look up facts…and it is a good representation of a fictionalized real character. The book held my interest..for the most part. There were times when things dragged along and I believe this is because the author tried to stay true to the reality of Clara Driscoll and Louis Comfort Tiffany and we all know real life can be less exciting than fiction. It did lead me to pull out the leaded lamp my sister made for me forty-one years ago and convert it to a table lamp (it was hanging)…and I’m super happy about that. Rate: 3.0

The Case of the Missing Servant by Tarquin Hall. This is a series so intent that the character actually has his own website (which is kind of entertaining). Vish Puri, India’s Most Private Investigator is a character to be remembered. I found this “who done it” highly entertaining, as well as educational to the ways of life in India. I will be getting more of these tales, as well as exploring Hall’s other work. Rate: 3.5

The Mango Season by Amelia Malladi. I can’t remember why I reserved all of this author’s books from the library, but as I had a vacation hold, they all came in at once. I didn’t bother to look at the publish dates to find out the order, and lucky for me I accidentally read this one first because one of the others is a sequel. Another peak into the lives of another culture, this is the tale of Priya Rao, who came to the United States to study and fell in love. The entire novel takes place in a few days…her journey back home to break the news to her family. So plot isn’t the point here, characters are. Malladi does a nice job with the characters, but I felt the point was a bit belabored…I would have liked more diversity in the conflict (internal for Priya, there was plenty of family conflict). The “surprise” at the end didn’t do anything for me…it seemed to “cutesy.” Rate: 3.0, or maybe even 2.9.

 

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.