August Book Reviews

The Orange Girl by Jostein Gaarder. Another oldie, published in 1988. I really enjoyed this one. A fifteen year old boy received a letter from his father…who died when he was four years old. In the letter his fathers tells a story. Poignant, mysterious, and wonderful…a quick read. Rate: 4.5

The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian. I have read a lot of Bohjalian’s books, and I have to say this one is different. It was published in 2013 so I am guessing he has the great ability to switch up his style a bit to maintain his readers loyalty. This is the story of an Italian family, the Rosatis, in 1943 and 1955….and the war difficulties they went through. BUT it is also a murder mystery. I liked it a lot, but was a bit disappointed with the end…no spoilers, so I won’t go into detail. Let’s just say I didn’t feel the foreshadow was accurate…when I read a mystery I like to guess at the who-done-it…Rate: 3.5

Testimony by Anita Shreve. A popular, award winning author who has written tons of books. I know that I have read some in the past (The Pilot’s Wife and Body Surfing) and enjoyed them. This one….hmmm…not so much. Written in 2008, I appreciate her clever use of different Points-of-View and tone with each character listed at the start of the chapter. Some flash back, some present, some future, some interviews, some journals….many different things going on. The basic story is sexual misconduct at a private school and how lives were ruined. It certainly was worthy of reading, but somehow failed to hook me. What should have been a quick read took me days…I found myself picking up the book and putting it down again to do something else. Rate: 3.0

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. What if you knew the exact date you were going to die? That is the premise for this very good novel. The story starts with four siblings visiting a Romanian Fortune Teller…and finding out just that. Benjamin weaves the lives of Simon, Klara, Daniel and Varya as they each live with this knowledge. She does an excellent job of individualizing each of the characters and leading the reader through the lives, coincidences, evolutions, of each. Rate: 4.0

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Something I read on-line (don’t ask me what, I can’t remember) prompted me to read this book as an adult. I had read it as a child, but let’s face it, that was a long time ago. I totally enjoyed this book and realized it is one of those children’s books with a lot of adult stuff in it. It waxes philosophical in a very wonderful way. I recommend you read it again. Rate: 5.0

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.