More Book Reviews for August

This is a long month of Fridays…so here you have it. (PLUS I’m behind on my BLOGS…I have been reading and writing instead.)

Woman Last Seen In Her Thirties by Camille Pagán. This was a recommend from someone or somewhere (I need to start making notes!) And while stylistically the book is without fault the story was…I don’t know…too cliché? Husband leaves wife, wife rediscovers herself. That is pretty much the whole story. Readable and not a waste of time or anything, just not gripping or full of surprises. Rate: 2.8

Traveling With Charley by John Steinbeck. This was written following a road trip Steinbeck went on later in life, at age 58. His goal was to reacquaint himself with the American People. I enjoyed this book, but wished I had read it for a book club discussion. The strangest part was there were so many things he noted happening back then that are happening now. Does this mean these things are always happening or we are looping back? For example: “With all the polls and opinion posts, with newspapers more opinion than news so that we no longer know one from the other…” or the fact that as he traveled folks he interviewed were fearful of expressing their political support out loud. Very interesting from a historical perspective. Rate: 4.0

Take Me With You by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This author was on my list, but as usual, I didn’t note where the recommendation came from. I have two books by her, and I read this one first. I have to say, I almost didn’t read the second one just because of so many “glitches” in this one. The writing is good, the pace is okay and the topic is unique. This is the story of August, a science teacher with the summer break who takes off for the summer. At the beginning of his trip he ends up with two boys, aged twelve and seven, coming along for the summer. A good enough plot, but so many details that were just too far off the mark. I get that this is fiction, but the details add up. The author didn’t seem to know much about traveling in an RV, especially an older one (a subject that is near and dear to my heart). She has them “plugging in the coffee pot” and “making toast” while camping in Joshua Tree National Park…..right? No. There are no hook ups in the park and unless they cranked up their generator (and they are getting up at 4:00am to get an early start) they didn’t have power to do this. They also make calls on cell phones…uhh…no service at all in this park. I could go on, but you get my drift. Rate: 2.0

The Rules of Magic by Alice Hoffman. Of course we all remember Alice Hoffman because she wrote Practical Magic. This is another tale of magic, the story of three siblings who have to deal with the curses and rules set in place long before their time. Lots of character, description and emotional detail, but not a very complicated plot. It was a decent story, with details that were quite pleasing. Rate: 3.5

Allie and Bea by Catherine Ryan Hyde. This is the second by Hyde, and after I finished the first (above – Take Me With You), if this one hadn’t already been in my possession I wouldn’t have read it. I’m glad I did. This was much better than the other. The story of seventy-something year old Bea, who is barely scraping by since her husband died, and is forced into a homeless state, and fifteen year old Allie, who is on the run after her parents are jailed for tax fraud. I know part of why I liked the story is that I’m familiar with all the places these two travel, but the story is a great exploration of how two very different characters get to know each other and change and grow in the process. 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.