June 2018 Book Reviews

The Goddesses by Swan Huntley. I think this book was publicized on one of my Facebook writer’s groups. It is decent enough, but I didn’t find anything to be a surprise. This is the story of Nancy—Her husband has cheated on her and they uproot and move to Kona, Hawaii with their twin high school senior sons to make an attempt at moving on. Nancy meets Ana, a yoga teacher, and develops a friendship. The reader is quick to decide that this choice was a mistake. I just didn’t feel like the story went very deep, with things happening, but nothing pulling me very deep into the characters. Rate: 2.9

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry. This was one of those books I think I might have read once before. It was published in 2006, so that is a possibility. Trouble is I read for escape, so often I am half way through a story before I say “Hmmmm…this seems familiar.” HOWEVER, I didn’t remember all the wonderful twists and turns of this story, so reading it again was great. The story of Sophya, who goes by Towner, and her return to Salem when her aunt goes missing. Barry is great at pulling the reader into the thoughts and emotions of this character, as well as weaving in the lives of the other important family members, the detective working on the disappearance and more. A great read, even the second time around. Rate: 4.2

The Empathy Problem by Gavin Extence. My third of this author’s books and I liked this one because I learned that Great Britain isn’t really much different from us. My husband recently said he liked the Parliamentary process, but reading this novel about hedge fund manager Gabriel Vaughn and the protesters that set up in a way very similar to our wall street protests, just outside his high rise office, pointed out that things are the same everywhere. A well told tale, with a peek into a different life style for me. Rate: 4.0

The Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle. I read this book some time ago, but when my brother-in-law mentioned his book club had read it, I decided I wanted to read it again. Originally published in 1995, it bears reading again, in light of the crazy times we live in. What I like about this book (and these times) is Boyle uses the real language, racist as it is, to show how the Southern California residents view the illegal immigrants from Mexico. A trend in writing NOW is for everything to be completely non-offensive, and I am left to wonder how an author can illustrate the extremes of human nature. YES, the things people think and say are offensive to another race, but that is the point of this story. To draw the reader into how these prejudices develop—basically through unfounded fears—and to help people to see a viewpoint different from their own. This story is about two couples: Delaney and Kyra Mossbacher in their gated hill community mini-mansion and Cándido and América Rincón, illegal Mexicans living in a nearby canyon. Rate: 4.5

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. This one is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, once again leaving me to feel that there must be something missing from my education. Sadly, although there are beautiful, philosophical reflections, well written, I couldn’t get past page 50. It just didn’t hold my interest. No rating because I didn’t finish it. (I peeked at the online reviews…low and behold, I thought this was fiction and kept waiting for the story. It is NOT, but rather non-fiction prose, meant to describe nature and be philosophical, which it is and does, but not for me.

On Beauty by Zadie Smith. Not a good week for me and books. I struggled up until page 149. It is hard to say why this book failed to keep my interest a bit more, because I can’t really put my finger on the failure. The characters are interesting, and some things are happening…but I guess they just are happening too slowly, and don’t seem related, and I have yet to discover what exactly (or even WHO) this story is about. Not going to finish it, so no rating.

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.