Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Swear on This Life by Renee Carlino

Swear on This LifeSwear on This Life by Renee Carlino
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Cute story but just misses the mark for me. Too cute. All the loose ends wrapped up perfectly. Not my cup of tea.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

CommonwealthCommonwealth by Ann Patchett
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Very well written and so very clever. The author uses the reader's power of deduction to tell the story. There are many protagonists but none too similar to have to double check. The author leaves a trail of bread crumbs to link the chapters and the story together. Do not put the book down for too long or you will miss some of the more delightful bread crumbs. The book covers decades and the cast of characters is basically introduced in the first chapter; some concretely, others abstractly but by the end the reader knows every one of them.

Completely enjoyable book. In part, because of the clever way it is told.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Last OneThe Last One by Alexandra Oliva
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

Great premise. Cross between Survivor and Hunger Games and an Apocolypse book. What is real? I can honestly say that I really didn't know until well into the book. I understood Amy's reasoning for the way she approached every new challenge. The story unfolds in such a way that the reader is as much lost as Amy until the reader makes a decision whether or not it is real or not. 

Karolina's Twins by Ronald H. Balson

Karolina's TwinsKarolina's Twins by Ronald H. Balson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a book I could not put down. I have read many accounts of the Holocaust but this one had a fresh perspective. Told by an 89 year old survivor, the protagonist provides a personal narrative that reeled me in.

Lena was a youth in a small Polish village when the Nazis arrived. Her experiences are unique because she spends time hiding, she lives in a ghetto, she finds love, works with the Resistance, and is sent to a concentration camp. The narrative lacks the violent and disturbing details of abuse that is often included in books on the Nazis during WWII. It isn't absent, by any means, but the story is gentrified by innuendo. Regardless, it's still a difficult read knowing the subject matter.

The court case was interesting and well presented. I thought that Arthur's character was flat and predictable. But the core of the book, Lena's narrative, made the book impossible to put down. Well timed, it never drags and stays true to historical events.

The most striking moments were Lena's recollection of returning to her village after the Russians liberate them. Her description of the town square nearly broke my heart. How she returned to the concentration camp that was emptied and deserted. Very moving.

Highly recommend this book.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

The Lost Girls by Heather Young

The Lost GirlsThe Lost Girls by Heather Young

Covering two time periods, a great aunt recounts the story of one summer at a lake in Wisconsin in notebooks in a house that is falling apart and cold. In the meantime, the grand niece is holed up in the house with her daughters, running from crazy people in her life.

I liked both stories and found the unfolding of the mystery to be well paced. I didn't see a strong connection between the two stories except that both women are flawed and not always likeable and make really poor choices. Good book with two interesting storylines that left me scratching my head.

Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

Dark MatterDark Matter by Blake Crouch
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Interesting and engaging story from start to finish with the added complication of String Theory and quantum physics, none of which I understand. That said, the book and story is not difficult to read or follow. With so many different contingencies, where does one reality begin and another diverge? Jason Dessen is looking for HIS reality because any other reality presents him with a life he doesn't want but one Jason already took his reality. How does he get it back? Interesting twists and turns.

Mischling by Affinity Konar

MischlingMischling by Affinity Konar
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loosely based on a couple of actual twins that survived Mengele's experiments, this book tells the story of Stasha and Pearl, identical twin sisters. What is unique about this book is that it is told through the POV of 12 year old girls in Aushwitz and the POV of twins that share a connection of which Mengele was studying. If one twin is maimed, does the other twin experience the pain? What happens when one twin is put in an isolated cage and experiments on?

Mengele is painted in all his clinical and apathetic glory yet strangely enamored by his twins. At the same time, seeing them as near pets. Although pets would be treated better.

The book is difficult to rad due to the subject matter. On the other hand, the author carefully intimates about some of the more horrible details that a person with more knowledge on the subject will understand while a younger audience might miss it. Not that the book is lightweight by any means. Simply that 12 year old protagonists describing some things won't understand all of it and that uncertainty is carried over to the reader with careful consideration.

Excellent historical information told in a unique manner. Must read.