Robin’s May Book Reviews

A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch. I was traveling so I looked through the stacks of “to read” paperbacks that line my house and found one I thought looked good and that I could finish on my trip and leave in Texas. This one fit the bill, although now that I have finished it was good and I would have passed it along! This is the story of Charles Lennox, a gentleman in Victorian times who fancies himself an armchair detective. The writing is excellent for a first novel and a little research showed that Finch has written more, so I can seek out additional detective stories. The bit of politics, the development of full characters, and the subtle clues kept me from guessing who-done-it. Rate 4.0

Winter Wheat by Mildred Walker. This book was written in 1944. Not sure who gave it to me, it has been on my shelf for a bit. The story of Ellen, daughter of an east coast born shoulder who brings a wife home from Russia after fighting in WWI, and then homesteads in Montana. A love story, a coming of age story and a education about growing wheat. The writing is good, at a pace I consider to be “old fashion”, modern writing has to move along more quickly for our reduced attention spans. Rate 3.5

Guests on Earth by Lee Smith. In one of those strange coincidental events I picked up this book and started reading just as I was watching “Z” on Netflix. Both are about Zelda Fitzgerald. This story isn’t really about her, we see the mental institution through the eyes of thirteen year old Evalina Toussaint, but Zelda is a character who floats in and out and impacts the life of Evalina. The historical fiction is fascinating, the emotions are strong and this is a great story about life in the ‘30s and ‘40s, particularly with the rights and expectations of how women “should” behave. Not preachy, just well incorporated into the story. Rate: 4.0

Reputations by Juan Gabriel Vásquez. This is the book that was recommended by a friend and not available at the time, leading me to read his other book, which I loved. This was another read-it-all-in-one-sitting (okay, two days, I did sleep a bit). What a gifted writer. So much depth that I really shouldn’t have read it so fast, slowed down and appreciated all the nuances of his writing. This is the story of a political cartoonist in Bogatá, reflecting back on his life, with easy transitions between present and past—an unlikely as it seems—future. Political, emotional, personal, it is all of these. Rate: 4.5

Mary, Mary by James Patterson. This is another old one from my stacks. I haven’t read James Patterson in ages, so I thought, what the heck? Even though I am tired of his ads on Facebook, claiming he can boost me to stardom or whatever and I have heard he doesn’t even really write his books. For his sake, I hope he didn’t write this one. I put it down at page 32. Nothing to grab me in the first few convoluted-changing-POV-with-no-transition-pages. Sorry, can’t even rate it but not going to waste my time.