November 2020 Book Reviews

Yep…you haven’t seen any blog posts for a while….I am recovering from knee replacement surgery and so my previous isolation is quadrupled! Plus, I’m drugged and in pain…so know writing. But I’m recovering now so here goes…all you will see for a couple of weeks are books reviews!

The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff. Thank you Marlene for this recommendation because I really liked this book! First, Ebershoff uses my favorite technique of intertwining two stories: one from the past and one current, with everything very cleverly related. The fictionalized version of Brigham Young’s “19th” wife, who left him and wrote a book and lectured in an effort to end polygamy, intertwined with a modern day murder from a cult town where polygamy still prevails. Rate: 4.5

Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann. I think this was a recommend off a FB group, but not sure…LOVED IT! Immediately requested everything the library has by this author. Truly a gifted writer, this is the story of one event, a man stringing a wire between the world trade centers and walking it, in 1974…..and how this event impacted many different characters. Each character is built and fleshed out with great emotional insight, and the characters lives touch or nearly touch one another. Transitions are chapter by chapter, labeled, but so clearly defined that you won’t struggle to move along. There is Corrigan, a young Irish monk recently moved to New York, Jazzlyn and Tillie, mother and daughter prostitutes, a young artist and her husband, a group of mothers who meet, drawn together by the loss of their sons to the war in Vietnam. It sounds like a lot, but you won’t feel scattered in the least. Rate: 4.9

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich. This was a recommend by my friend Marlene. I had to get it on Kindle, and I was struggling to read it. In fact, I put it aside for a bit. I think this was partially due to my eyes not loving reading on the screen, but also to the rather choppy short sentences. The chapters were a bit inconsistent…some in this style, while others flowed more freely. Anyway, my three weeks was up and I had to return the book about half way through. So I then rented the audio book….so much better! With the story read aloud to me it flowed, and the reader did a great job. So my recommend is the audio…the book is based on the true story of the author’s grandfather, a member of the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Council who went to Washington to fight against “emancipation”, which really translates as taking away what was promised in a treaty to the Native Americans. But there are stories of all the tribal members, eeking out a life in North Dakota. Rate: 3.5

Pasadena by David Ebershoff. I did like this book from a historic point of view. It’s about a girl who grew up on the southern California coast and her life encompasses the growth and development of the whole area. But the book was long, long, long and very wordy. I almost gave up, but my interest was maintained…there are flashbacks between times. Anyway, I give it a 3.0.

Zoli by Colum McCann. Yes! A book about a topic I don’t know much about…I always love it when what I’m reading is new, fresh, a novel novel. (okay, lame joke). Anyway, I am kind of addicted to McCann just now…I have a stack of his books waiting to be read. This on is the story of a young gypsy woman, struggling with the fascism that is spreading is Czechoslovakia in 1930. The story isn’t rushed, it takes time to send the reader into Zoli’s emotional state…she is different from the other Romas…her grandfather has taught her to read and write. The book gave a peek into the rituals and lives of the people. 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.