Thursday, September 2, 2021

Review: The Night She Disappeared

The Night She Disappeared The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Review: The Light in Hidden Places

The Light in Hidden Places The Light in Hidden Places by Sharon Cameron
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Wow. I began reading this book yesterday and finished it today. I didn’t realize it was based on a true story until I started getting to ugly parts of hat the Germans were doing and there were no resolutions to the horror. I also liked the author’s voice. Told in first person, the author tells the experiences of Fusia’s life in Poland during WWII with the slight detachment of a person that lived through the horrors of that time and place. It is abundantly clear that the author immersed herself in the life and times of this woman. The “voice” and POV sounds like an Eastern European woman that tells her story but does not belabor the ugly parts. But they are there. Stephania “Fusia” last name a Polish name that I can’t spell or say became an unwitting savior for 13 Jews due to her experiences and God given goodness. She finds herself living with a Jewish family that have her working in their store when the Germans invade. There is too much in this book to cover in one review so I will give broad strokes of the most striking moments, which is difficult to do.

Fusia’s story gives the POV of a Christian teenager in a German occupied Poland. She is left alone at the age of 16 after her Jewish “family” are put into a ghetto, deported, or just disappeared. She goes to her childhood and family home to find her mother and siblings gone. They have been sent to work for the Fatherland. Except Helena. Helena is the youngest of the children at six years old. She was left in the unfortunate care of a neighbor then saved after some months by Fusia. I loved, LOVED Helena. I can’t say more except that she is clever and observant. She understands the part she must play and uses her childish innocence to fool the officers. Most of the time it works. Apparently, the author spent quite a bit of time with the real Helena in order to write this book about her sister. 

Honestly, the story is amazing but not unbelievable. The author injects Fusia’s concerns about the risks she is taking as she slowly realizes the true danger she is putting herself and, above all, her sister in. I also loved those three moments described in the book when Fusia feels completely hopeless and overwhelmed and the world goes quiet around her as she is somehow encircled by the arms of God and the path opens up to her.

Beautiful story of heroism of a teenage girl who takes on the responsibilities of adulthood far too young but with her eyes wide open.

Review: All Her Little Secrets

All Her Little Secrets All Her Little Secrets by Wanda M. Morris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 - 4 stars

I liked this book as it offers nuggets of wisdom between the scenes. The story wasn’t quite as interesting to me. The writing is solid. The protagonist is unique because she represents an under represented population. She is a Black woman that escaped the poverty and suffocation of a small town with little prospects. She also has a secret in her past, although the secret isn’t much of a surprise. There is a lot going on in this novel and I think I got frustrated with he protagonist’s unwillingness to seek help. There were also moments similar to a horror movie where the audience is screaming, “Don’t open the door!” 

It’s a good book and had many areas of appeal.

Review: Cloud Cuckoo Land

Cloud Cuckoo Land Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book and found it was very well written but difficult to follow and I struggled with its purpose. The story is one told over centuries of time and deals with confines created within our minds and man and the act of breaking free. The book and story was one that I spent many days afterward mulling over. It stayed with me and more meaning revealed itself. It would be a good book club book for that reason.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Review: An Emotion of Great Delight

An Emotion of Great Delight An Emotion of Great Delight by Tahereh Mafi
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Tahereh Mafi has written some really great books. I did not enjoy this ne as much as others. I appreciated the clean read, a cultural understanding of Islam, and the bigotry Muslim women face in America. This is excellent literature. What I really didn’t like was something others will definitely like. So. Many. Words. Describing. A. Touch. Or a near touch. Or being near to someone. Describing the smallest details in excruciating detail. It went on and on and on. It ignited, it thrilled. It delighted, it did more than a touch has ever done for me. It went on for pages. I wanted the story. And, yea, I get it. It’s something that replaces sex on the page. If that’s what you like, the romance, the every little detail, you will love this book.

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Review: A Woman of Intelligence

A Woman of Intelligence A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Review: Project Hail Mary

Project Hail MaryProject Hail Mary by Andy Weir
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read "The Martian" by Andy Weir and was enthralled. Project Hail Mary is another protagonist that has mad MacGyver skills except that the reader is privy to the way Ryland solves his problems. I have a number of praises so I'll dive right in.

First of all, my science and math skills are pretty basic. It's what I learned in my generals in college, a statistics class in my graduate degree, and the exposure I get while working as a school counselor in a junior high. Ryland Grace uses science and math as well as logic to solve problems. I understood it. I wouldn't have been able to do it myself, but the 9th grade math and science I see every day is sufficient to make sense out of most of his MacGyvering. What you may not have learned has enough of an explanation to put it together.

So the problem solving is always clever. This time, though, there is another aspect that is fascinating. The story is basically told in present tense where Ryland wakes from a drug induced coma with near amnesia. As his memories return, another timeline is revealed in flashbacks. Not all at once but in relation to something that triggers them. This was good writing. In reading the book description and looking at the title of the book, I think it is safe to say that he is on a mission to save Earth. Something is threatening Earth's viability. The something that is threatening Earth and all life on it is an incredibly clever (and terrifying) antagonist. I have a lot more to say about this but I fear adding spoilers. Just know that I really liked the creativity, imagination, and scientific aspects of this threat.

Last, the unexpected ally. Loved it. Loved the details, the strengths and weaknesses. Loved the building of the alliance. That's all I can say.

Great book. It is probably as good or maybe better than "Hail Mary" but it is definitely different. What they have in common is that 1) over half of the story doesn't take place on earth, 2) clever ways of solving problems and creating helpful tools and 3) very well written and fun to read. Where it differs with "The Martian" is everything else. Expect something new.

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