Book Reviews September 2020

Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister. I can’t seem to remember who recommended this one, but I was on a long wait list at the library for the ebook….an interesting premise: a group of women, friends, who are challenged by one of them to do something she picks for them…kind of an individualized act of courage. I found the book a bit dull….a chapter for each of the women, but no development of interpersonal relationships or anything…more just a flashback to tell why each woman had their specific challenge…It wasn’t terrible, just not very engaging. Rate: 2.8

All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. I had heard of this book, but never read it so when Roberta gave me a copy I decided it was time. Written in 1992, the story takes place in 1949, when two young boys (Grady, 16, and Rawlins, 17) decide to run away from their Texas homes…they do this on horseback, crossing into Mexico, where trials await. Initially I had trouble setting into the writing style….kind of a tell, but not really, just dialogue with no punctuation. But after a while (there aren’t really chapters, just long sections) I was so caught up in the story that the writing style was completely a part of the tale told. This book is part of a trilogy, and also a movie, so I’m going to go check out the books and the film. There is a lot of untranslated Spanish in the book, but the story does give enough summation and clues for the reader to enjoy without the exact knowledge. Rate: 3.9

While I Was Gone by Sue Miller. Quite the thriller. I liked the weaving of past and present and the merging of the two. Good characters and easy to read. Jo, a rural veterinarian married to a minister is an empty nester with time to reflect on her life. Her confusion impacts her relationships. Rate: 3.8

The Golden Son by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. Because I really liked The Secret Daughter I sought out more by this author. I enjoyed this one as well, although not as much as the other. This is the story of a young man from remote India who follows his dreams to become a doctor…which leads to an internship in Texas. All of this was fascinating to me because I had been to India all due to a young engineer completing his PhD in Texas! Some parallels, for sure. This book was filled with LOTS of things happening, and that might be part of the reason I didn’t like it as much…and times it just didn’t seem plausible and I felt like there were too many issues. Rate: 3.5

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah. I loved this book, read all 438 pages in two days. Leni is a thirteen year old girl who travels with her parents to live in a remote Alaskan village. Her father suffers from PTSD, although as the story takes place in the early 70s, this isn’t diagnosed. Leni is caught between the battles and abuse her father showers on her mother, and even her. This is a love story, a coming of age story, and there are wonderful descriptions and events that can only be Alaska. 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.