April Book Reviews

Judas by Amos Oz. Another one I didn’t finish….but not because it wasn’t good. It actually is good, but complex. The story of a Jewish scholar who goes to live with an old man as a companion and their conversations, with a bit of a love story thrown in. Anyway…lots of amazing information and I spent the first day looking up things that were referenced (e.g. Bible verses and famous rebels)…the story takes place in Jerusalem, 1957. But I just wasn’t in the frame of mind for such an intensive read…needed something light and as this was a library book I couldn’t set it aside for later. I’ll probably come back to it some day, because it really was interesting.

The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian. It is going to be hard to review this without any spoilers. In fact, when I read the readers guide at the end there is a caution about not even reading the guide before you finish the book. I almost want to go back and read it again because when you get to the end you realize how tightly woven this story truly is. The story of a young woman, Laurel, who was brutally attached while riding her bike and her subsequent life…while still dealing with the post traumatic stress. She works in a shelter for the homeless and befriends a man who carries with him a portfolio of photographs. Enough said. Not a happy book, intensely emotional. Rate: 4.0

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson. This is not a sequel, but rather a companion book to the wonderful Life After Life. You don’t have read that book first, but it is nice if you have. This is the story of Ursula’s younger brother, Teddy. Atkinson is a writer with many tricks up her sleeve, and I don’t want to spoil this one either. (That seems to be a theme in what I’m reading these days.) The story takes place in England, over a large expanse of time but with focus on Teddy’s time in the RAF. The characters are so well done and you get multiple perspectives on the same events. In any other book the repeat of a clear fact would be irritating, but Atkinson uses this to take you on a 360 degree journey of perspective. Rate: 4.0

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. This is a war story with a very different twist. We follow two characters: Marie-Laure, a young blind Parisian girl and Werner, a German orphan. Two different view points of the most poignant nature, their paths eventually cross. Yes, a bit of a love story, but not just between these two. The story of how love and loyalty and responsibility impact young lives during the outrage of war. Doerr is excellent at sending the reader straight into each character, and manages a unique war plot as well. Rate: 4.5

Marriage of a Thousand Lies by SJ Sindu. This author writes about a young Sri Lankin-American woman, named Lucky, who has solved the problem of being gay by marrying a gay man. These two have the perfect (they think) cover for their traditional families. But of course Lucky finds that things are never so simple. Not a huge plot, but lots of good character insight and smooth writing. Rate: 3.9

The Borrower by Rebecca Makkai. I reviewed one of her later books and really loved it, so I found a few more. This is her first novel. What an interesting tale. Lucy, the 26 year old children’s librarian, inadvertently kidnaps a ten-year old patron. The story is clever and tightly woven, with the tongue-in-cheek style of the main character telling the story to a listener. What I really loved was the use of so many of my favorite books from childhood as a structural tool. The chapter name would give a hint, but the references were scattered throughout. As if Lucy lived her life based on those tales, and now, Ian, the ten year old is doing it as well. Rate: 4.0

The Fever Tree by Jennifer McVeigh. I thought I had read this book before, and when I read McVeigh’s Leopard at the Door I decided to read it again…but it wasn’t at all familiar. Other than the fact that the topic is quite similar to Leopard at the door. This novel came first. It is about a young English woman who ends up in South Africa, married to a man for convenience, in love with another man. I liked the book, but it didn’t have the same emotional grab as Leopard….perhaps because the topic wasn’t as novel to me. The reader does learn a lot about daily life in South Africa, as well as the corruption and devastation the diamond industry had on this country. Rate: 3.8

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.