June 2019 Book Reviews

Maya’s Notebook by Isabel Allende. I loved this book. I am behind on reading all of Allende’s work, but she is such an amazing writer. This story, the journal of a young woman from Berkeley who is exiled (in hiding) in Chile, weaves in and out of her memories of how she came to be were she is. I liked that I learned a TON about the history of Chile, politics, and more. It is a hard story to read, as in painful. Rate: 4.5

The Practice House by Laura McNeal. This is one of those books that started off in one direction and then headed somewhere else, but it worked. At first I was put off by the omniscient point of view that was a bit too much like head hopping, but I got so wrapped up in the story I could overlook that. In 1930 Aldine comes from Scotland to New York with her sister, but then heads to Kansas to fill a teaching position. McNeal does a good job with the emotions of each family member, in a constant turmoil because of the failing conditions due to the dust storms and droughts. The story encompasses a time when things were hard for everyone, how these people deal with those hardships and the relationships which develop. Rate: 3.8

Hand of Evil by J.A. Jance. Another from the stack my mother passed along. She is a good writer but the books are so similar I was sure I had read this one before. But I found out there are over twelve books about Ali Reynolds, and since all have to give some background that’s why it seemed familiar, yet not completely. A typical genre suspense novel, I do like that it takes place in parts of Arizona I’m familiar with. Rate: 3.0

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom. So, I liked this book and it seemed the author did a lot of research on her topic….an indentured Irish girl who grows up on a plantation and since she is raised with the slaves she identifies with them, only to later have to deal with not actually being like them. Told with chapters from multiple characters view points the story moves smoothly along with a bit of tension, but it got sluggish for me about 3/4 the way through. Hard to rate, because the writing is good. So….Rate: 3.8

Queen of the Night by JA Jance. The style of this book is to give a location, date, time and weather report before each character POV change. I ended up liking it, but initially I was introduced to so many characters with complex relationships I had trouble keeping track…another murder mystery in Arizona, but different characters so more engaging. I suspect there are more Dr. Lani Walker stories out there. Rate 3.5

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 wast your time.