May 2020 Book Reviews

The Tenth Muse by Catherine Chung. So, those of you who follow these reviews know by now I’m not a fan of memoir. I almost gave up on this novel because it reads like a memoir….telling instead of showing. This is the story of a woman mathematician and I was dragged through the details of her early life in the sluggish pace that leaves me dissatisfied. But the last third of the book changes tone and suddenly I was engaged. I only wish that Chung had written the whole thing in this manner…so, my rating is mixed. I do recommend the book, but have some reservations about the style. Rate: 3.5

Stella Bain by Anitia Shreve. Even though I have been a bit worn out on war novels this one had a unique flavor. In 1916 a women awakens in a field hospital with no memory of who she is. Gradually she remembers she is a nursing aide and she can drive an ambulance. Shreve takes us through the brutality of war and this woman’s journey back to her memories. Well written, an easy, satisfying read. Rate: 3.8

The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy. I read this book before, but it came to me again and because of my trip to India I decided to read it again. I was curious how I felt about it before, so I searched. This time around I was impressed with the innovative techniques used…the strange word changes (e.g. Bar Nowl as the name of the barn owl who lives near the characters. This is the story of twins, Rahel and Estha, and their complicated family who runs a pickling factory in India. The timeline is mixed, with flashbacks and tastes along the way, but it isn’t hard to follow. I think this book is probably not for everyone because of the drifting ideas, but I loved the creativity. Rate: 3.8

The Liar by Ayelet Gundar-Goshen. Wow. I totally enjoyed this novel. Read it nearly without putting it down. But, it’s not on par with the greatest novels of all time, there is something crazy different. I think it’s this author’s abilities to use metaphor and simile in an original and clever manner. As the book is translated from Hebrew it had me wondering what the original was like. Anyway, the story of young Nofar, lonely, shunned and desperate. A terrible lie slips from her lips and her life is changed. The story weaves the turmoil of teen angst with the human fragility that one moment can change everything. Rate: 4.5

The Ghost Clause by Howard Norman. Hmmm. Another one that’s a bit difficult to rate. The language is a bit….flowery? I don’t know the correct word for something that’s overly descriptive of internal emotions. I liked the book, overall, but it took me a long time to finish. What felt like the arc wasn’t the arc, but a sub story (the disappearance of a child which one of the characters, a detective, is investigating.) I was ready for things to wrap up but they didn’t and the last part was a struggle for me. This is a bit of a double love story. Simon and Lorca loved in the farmhouse until Simon died of a heart attack at age 48. Lorca sells the house to Muriel and Zachary, but Simon is still in the house, witnessing the lives of this young couple. Rate: 3.8

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.