November Book Reviews

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich. Okay, I’m for sure writing down who recommends books to me because I really want to talk this one over with someone! What a complex, deep, amazingly emotional writer Ruskovich is. In fact, I want to meet HER and talk about this book. This story skips around in time, but the chapters are marked for reference. The reader observes things from various character’s points-of-view, including the very imaginative Ann, wife to Wade. Wade had a wife and two daughters who were all lost to him in a terrible tragedy. Uncovering the facts of that tragedy are what engaged me and kept me reading non-stop. I’m not going to give any spoilers here…it was just very intense. Rate: 4.0

The Long Way Home by Louise Penny. Yep, binging. But I have suddenly fallen in love with Chief Inspector Armand Gamache AND I totally want to go to Quebec. I even want to go way up north, as he does to solve this latest crime, to see the barren shores of St. Lawrence (although the descriptions of the heavy seas and the spots named things like “The Graves” are a little disconcerting.) Penny is a terrific writer (in spite of the shifting POV previously mentioned) and I am totally wrapped in her characters. In this story our dear inspector is retired, but can’t resist the pull of a friend in need. With a view into the art world of Quebec and surrounding areas the mystery unfolds slowly, with just the right amount of foreshadow and hints. Rate: 4.0

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren. One more book to add to my “there is some non-fiction I like” list. Cindy W. recommended this and she knows me well…so it was a keeper. This is a memoir by Hope Jahren, who is acclaimed geo-biological-scientist. The story is filled with incredible scientific information, including the politics of funding a lab, which sounds boring. It isn’t. She weaves her childhood, her relationships, her own mental health issues, into her growth as a woman scientist in the 90’s. This is a great story for book clubs…lots to discuss. Rate: 5.0

Still Life by Louise Penny. So I have organized my binge of this author…by listing her books in order and starting at the beginning. It is odd to know what is going to happen to these characters down the road! I highly recommend reading her books in order. I still am not in love with her changing point-of-view (head hopping!) and I often have to stop and figure out who is thinking a particular thing, but the engagement of everything else (characterization, wonderful ability to make me thing EVERYONE did it, and flow of the story) makes up for the head hopping. Inspector Gamache makes his first trip to Three Pines in this story. And we are introduced to a young trainee detective who I don’t remember from the other books, so now I am interested in what will happen to Agent Yvette Nichol. Rate: 4.0

 A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. Thank you Molly Harrison for recommending this book. Once again I am reading about a time and topic that I have only surface knowledge. Russia in 1922, thirty year old Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to confinement in the Metropol, a grand hotel across the street from the Kremlin. The novel covers the span of his life (nearly) and I found myself web searching for more information on the events and sights, both political and other. That is not to say that this isn’t also a wonderful love story, coming of age story and more. Rate: 4.0 (Note: don’t rush the ending, it’s complicated!)

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.