September Book Reviews by Robin

lion pawsGreat House by Nicole Krauss.  This is one of those stories which requires some work on the part of the reader. (In case you don’t remember, I LOVE this kind of story). The reader is moved to different character view point, and what at first glance seems to be, a completely different story. By careful focus (and picking up on the section heading clues!) everything comes together. A complex story of life and relationships, of death and decisions, I enjoyed this story. At first glance it is the story of a desk, at second glance the story of surviving the Nazis and other persecution, but once you can sift through the many layers this story is so much more. Rate: 4.5

Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende. I read this book a long time ago and liked it, so when it came to me in a bag of used books I felt the need to read it again. Funny how the story can change with the passage of time and growth of the reader. I didn’t even remember the first half of the book, which takes place in a British colony in Chile. But when the characters came to California, a la Gold Rush, it all came back to me. I am now more attentive to the details of history, having researched for my own writing. This is a great story, both times around. Allende, as is her style, fills the story with many issues (feminism, racism, poverty, wealth, tradition, secrets) but she does this is a seamless way so that the reader is part of what is happening. Rate: 4.5

Ripper by Stefan Petrucha. I’m not sure where this book came from, but it was marked “advance uncorrected Galley – not for sale” and came complete with a warning that the story might be changed before final publication. I hope it wasn’t change much, because I really liked this book. Some how Petrucha is able to make historic fiction feel like science fiction! He takes the reader back in time with such completeness that the “modern” discoveries have the feeling of unbelievable progress. While this is a young reader book, I think it works for adults as well! The hero is fourteen year old Carver Young, and true to young reader books, he outwits the adults and solves the mystery. With lots of foreshadowing one must be cautious about misleading clues, but there are no gaps and everything fits together with perfection. Rate: 4.0

Christine Falls by Benjamin Black. This is another one of those “hard to decide” books. The author, John Banville, has used a psuedonym for this book, and he has tons of awards. And the book Christine Falls, which features Quirke, an Irish pathologist, is the first episode of a tv series. Quirke uncovers the mystery of Christine’s death and a few other surprises as well. But Benjamin Black (or John Banville) breaks a rule of writing that made it hard for me to totally appreciate the story – he switched point of view rapidly and unexpectedly, with no warning to the reader, such as a chapter break or even a paragraph break. I know it is okay to break the rules if you are a great writer, and I suppose he is, but I didn’t like it. This book took me a long time to read. It didn’t “hook” me until the very end, and honestly, if it hadn’t been the only book I had with me on a trip, I might have given up. All said, I rate it a 3.0.


  1. Thanks for sharing. I always love to get recommends. I do appreciate also the reviews that save me the grief of trying a book that probably won’t appeal to me. So many books….so little time. You write well (of course!) in these reviews so maybe I can give up on mine?


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