Book Reviews June 2020

Dream When You’re Feeling Blue by Elizabeth Berg. I am a long time fan of Berg, but this one failed to impress me. I had to keep looking up when it was written (2007) because the way that women were portrayed bothered me. The story takes place at the end of WWII, with three sisters writing letters to not only their boyfriends/fiancés, but soldiers they meet at the dances in Chicago. Much of the novel is spent relating the letters, which frankly, bored me. I found myself skimming these sections. It was only after dragging myself through this story that the end came and (spoiler alert) was totally out of the blue and rushed. I really needed to go back and read the last few chapters again, because I was in the WTF mode all the way. Sorry Elizabeth Berg. This one was a bust. (But you should read some of her other work, she really is a good writer). Rate: 1.0

The Story of Arthur Truluv by Elizabeth Berg.  As stated above, I really am a fan of Berg, even though I didn’t like that particular book. Just to prove my loyalty I decided to read a couple others that I had in my stash. This book is wonderful! A true love story that made me cry now and again. Match three unlikely characters: Arthur Moses, as he approaches the end of his life without his beloved wife, Nola meets eighteen year old Maddy Harris, a high school student who never fits in, and through in Arthur’s neighbor, Lucille, and you have a story. Berg uses subtle action and underlying them to draw one through what is truly important in life. Rate: 4.5

The Wife, the Maid and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon. Because I liked a previous book of this author I looked for more. This one was good…but it came at a time I was very tired of ready books on my iPad (read “shelter in place” and libraries closed)….if it had been a brick and mortar book I think I would have been more engaged. The story is a bit of a mystery about the disappearance of a judge…and we quickly know he needs to disappear. I do have to say Lawhon is great at foreshadow…just enough. I can’t say more because I don’t want to spoil the story. Rate: 3.8

A Life In Stitches by Rachael Herron. I met Herron at a Mills College Reunion, we both presented at a the Writer’s Salon. This was followed by a book swap…years ago. More recently Rachael hosted a ZOOM gathering, just for positive support during the shelter in place. I followed this meeting up with a search for her subsequent books (I had read three already)…this one is a collection of short memoir essays, with the underlying theme of how knitting has played a role in Herron’s life. Her writing is smooth, easy to read, and carried me through with its underlying life lessons. Rate: 3.8

The Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani. I listened to this book, a rarity for me as audio books don’t keep my attention. The reader was good, but this book seems to be all “telling” and no action. Very limited dialogue…just the memories of people telling their stories. There is suspense…you think you know who “done it”, but with flashbacks and different character’s POV, you are never quite sure. And then (spoiler alert) comes the end…WHAT? really no valid explanation or resolution of all that build up…nope, sorry, going to give this one a rating of 2.0.

Cantoras by Carolina De Robertis. One of my favorite authors…this is her newest book, which I bought in HARDCOVER because I love her writing. I have met her and heard her speak and her writing reflects a life time of hardship and exploration beyond the norm. She is from Uruguay and her stories are of Uruguayian history, something which was sorely neglected in my schooling. Her characters are deep, story line moves through time without a glitch and I would have read the book straight throw but I was SHELTERING IN PLACE, and so I read with patience and care. This is the story of five women, cantoras, which is the slang for women who love women. They move through the hardships of a military government, where freedom of the citizen doesn’t exist. Rate: 4.5

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 waste your time.