Robin’s January Book Reviews

img_1211The Near Enough by Michael C. Keith. I bought this book at a writing group meeting when the owner of a small publishing company spoke. Frankly, I didn’t like what he had to say. He was kind of pompous. But that should not reflect on the author of the book he chose to publish. These are very short stories, lots of them. I did like some of them. But many felt like “the start” to me. Stories that could have been a lot better if only developed just a bit more. It is nice that you can read a few, put the book down, and come back later. I love short stories, although I realize not everyone is a fan. At least these are well edited…Rate: 2.5 stars.

All the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood.  This author posted a blog on one of the sites I subscribe to—Writer Unboxed, I think. Anyway, I liked her article enough to look up and purchase her book. This is definitely one of those unforgettable stories. The writing is excellent, that goes without saying, but it is the subject matter that haunts me. The thin line between child abuse and…something else. There were times when I was sure this was a work of “justification” and by that I mean a writer has an element in their life that is unresolved and so they write about it in an attempt at resolution. Of course, that could just be what I do. Anyway, be prepared for heavy emotions. Rate: 4.0

Every Secret Things by Laura Lippman. This is a book by a prolific writer who has another book on the New York Times Bestseller list (I’d Know You Anywhere).  It is the tale of two eleven year old girls who murder a baby. I don’t know, there was something about the book that didn’t sit well with me. It felt too staged. Too many racial issues tossed in like so much fodder. There was a point to be made somewhere, but I didn’t get it. You can’t just talk about biracial marriage and the poor part of town and white trash and expect them to some how pool together to mean something. Rate: 2.0

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt. This is Leavitt’s latest book, the story of two sisters, their adoptive mother and unconventional love with an older man, a high school teacher. The story is written in multiple point of view, affording the reader a glance into the various lives. For me this was actually the weakness of the story. For the first half I didn’t feel a deep enough connection with the characters. When I finally felt connected to one of the sisters, the stories changes (I won’t spoil it by saying how) but we are then deep in the perspective of the other sister. Leavitt’s good story telling shines throughout the novel, so I give it a 3.5, but I loved several of her other novels more.

The Last Kashmiri Rose by Barbara Cleverly. Published in 2001, this book was a NYT Notable Book of the Year. As it seems to be the first book of Cleverly, I am excited to read more. What amazing attention to detail. I loved the characters and the unfolding clues. For a “genre” mystery/detective story, this author went the extra mile. In 1922 Joe Sandilands, a British police detective in India, is about to head home when he is called to investigate the murder of a young wife. The tale weaves love, history and suspense. Rate: 4.0