READER’S LOG 2017: 50 BOOKS

This year I’ve challenged myself to read fifty books. This is no easy task for a slow reader, especially since so many other things distract me. Through this blog, I’ll share the books I’m reading and keep myself on track. Please feel free to offer suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed!

Book Number 28

All The Stars in The Heavens

by

Adriana Trigiani

 

This is a fictionalized story of the relationship of Loretta Young and Clark Gable during the mid-1930’s. There are details about the film industry during the era and how actors were “owned” by the studios. I found much of that interesting.

Because it was fiction, It is hard to distinguish what was factual. The details about Loretta and other real people were somewhat biographical, but much was made up to tell the story.

I was almost immediately jarred by the dialog “errors.” Although many of the exchanges between the actors were humorous and light (like dialog in the movies of the day), there were many instances where words and phrases they used would not have been heard during that era. No one said “easy-peasy” until the 70’s, the phrase “had my ass handed to me” is from the 60’s, “stick-shift” was coined in 1955. I found many more instances of incorrect dialog use—in fact, that was part of the fun for me in reading this book. I was also brought up short by one of the characters, who should have known better, calling Tiepolo a Renaissance artist.  I began to look for these oddities. Finding them made me wonder what editors of big name publishers actually do.

About a third of the way through the book, the story bogged down. It became repetitious to the point that I glossed over a lot of it. I couldn’t take for another 100 pages Loretta’s continual agonizing over her decisions and her “need” to cling to the wrong men.

Author Adriana Trigiani has many followers who adore her writing. Several of them indicated in reviews that All The Stars in The Heavens was far from her finest work. Some of her descriptions of setting and history were nicely written but felt to me like “fillers” to make the book sound good. I preferred her silly dialog and, especially her portrayal of David Niven.

I think this book will appeal to people who like an unrequited love story. Also, fans of the Golden Era of Hollywood might like this although it is a bit too short on details to be classified as a novel about the era.

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READER’S LOG 2017: 50 BOOKS

This year I’ve challenged myself to read fifty books. This is no easy task for a slow reader, especially since so many other things distract me. Through this blog, I’ll share the books I’m reading and keep myself on track. Please feel free to offer suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed!

Book Number 27

 

Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum Series #23)

Turbo Twenty-Three

by

Janet Evanovich

 

 

Turbo Twenty-Three is the latest Stephanie Plum novel by Janet Evanovich. I was excited to read this to see how Stephanie has evolved over 22 years and to note the changes in Evanovich’s writing style. I guess the adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” could apply here.

Stephanie is still young, self-deprecating, impulsive, fearful and fearless. She’s still getting into jams and needing help from friends.

Janet Evanovich is still humorous and imaginative in her writing. The plot takes many twists and turns, there are hints and diversions to solving the case, and many of the characters who populated the first book are still a part of Stephanie’s life. The book is an easy, breezy fun read. There’s terror, gore, and sex to spice things up.

The convoluted plot of Turbo Twenty-Three goes something like this. Stephanie is trying to apprehend a bail bond jumper. She has an accomplice now–none other than the ‘ho Lula. While Stephanie attempts to abide by the law and refuses to use her gun (she doesn’t even have bullets for it), Lula lives on the edge. She has no qualms about stealing an eighteen wheeler which she doesn’t know how to drive and refuses to take blame when she crashes it into a cop car. When they open the back of the truck a frozen, chocolate and nut covered body falls out. Stephanie’s friend and former mentor Ranger enlists her to help him solve the murder (and subsequent ones.)

It’s a fun trip with lots of side roads. Lula and her “little person” friend audition for “Naked and Afraid–Trenton” and are involved in another scheme with bungy jumping. Stephanie works in a candy factory and is threatened by a clown. Her trip with Ranger to Disney World plays a large part in solving the case and in helping her figure out her relationship with cop, Joe Morelli. Oh, Grandma Mazur has a new boyfriend—a motorcycle riding, aged hippie bartender. And Stephanie still has her pet hamster.

I was surprised that Janet Evanovich could sustain the characters over twenty-two years. They retain the same personalities and the same quirks and qualms but the characterization still feels fresh. The book is filled with up to date cultural references, clothes, hair styles, slang, and technology. Stephanie no longer has to carry maps in her glove box. She has GPS.

I enjoyed this laugh out loud story!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

READER’S LOG 2017: 50 BOOKS

This year I’ve challenged myself to read fifty books. This is no easy task for a slow reader, especially since so many other things distract me. Through this blog, I’ll share the books I’m reading and keep myself on track. Please feel free to offer suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed!

Book Number 26

The Zookeeper’s WifeThe Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by [Ackerman, Diane]

by 

Diane Ackerman

 

 

This is a non-fiction book relating the story of the Warsaw Zoo and its keepers during World War II.

Jan and Antonina Zabinski could win anyone’s admiration for their compassion for animals and excellent skills in providing a wonderful zoo for its residents and its visitors. But when Nazis invade Warsaw and begin their horrible treatment of its citizens, in particular, the Jewish population, Jan and Antonina stay and help. They risk their lives daily as they house, over the course of several years, 300 Jewish refugees.

I cannot rave enough about this book. Diane Ackerman has done extensive research and everything she has written is factual. She describes every scene in exquisite detail and provides an abundance of historical information. Critics have said there is too much, but I enjoyed every word. This book reads like a novel. The story is fascinating. At times it is gruesome and difficult to read, but there is a balance of tenderness and hope which softens the pain for the reader.

I recommend The Zookeeper’s Wife to everyone.

 

READER’S LOG 2017: 50 BOOKS

This year I’ve challenged myself to read fifty books. This is no easy task for a slow reader, especially since so many other things distract me. Through this blog, I’ll share the books I’m reading and keep myself on track. Please feel free to offer suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed!

Book Number 25

One for the Money

by

Janet Evanovich

 

Janet Evanovich is a popular, prolific writer. And, I confess, I’d never read any of her books. I’m not a fan of mysteries (at least, what I think a mystery novel might be), but I would like to write something that has a crime or mystery element and humor. A friend suggested I read one of the Stephanie Plum series to see how it’s done.

I chose the first of the series, One for the Money, which was originally published in 1994. I also selected Turbo Twenty-Three which was published in 2016. I think it will be fun to see how the author’s writing style has changed and how the characters have developed over time. I’ll let you know when I’ve read Turbo Twenty-Three.

Stephanie Plum is a down on her luck, New Jersey girl. Broke and unemployed she reluctantly takes a job as a bounty hunter. Her first case is a big one with a big pay off.  Unfortunately for Stephanie, she has none of the skills or know-how for the job. But she plunges in and gets herself into serious trouble.

Stephanie is the narrator of her story and she’s a wise cracking, blunt talking, impulsive, gullible, tough, and vulnerable young woman.

A number of things surprised me about this book (and kept me reading.) I thought it would be one of those cozy mystery stories where all the gruesome stuff happens “backstage.” Not so, Ms. Evanovich dishes out the gory details in explicit language.  Stephanie is no sweet young thing. She isn’t afraid to use rough language that would make her mother blush, she reveals her sexual history, she fantasizes about evil revenge. And she is funny! Her descriptions of her escapades, her environment, and people often had me laughing out loud.

The story is quite a ride. Moves along fast. Seems authentic in many of the details and has twists and turns throughout. The ending satisfied me. A crime was solved, the right people got their comeuppance and, although Stephanie Plum seemed triumphant I got the feeling her future wasn’t going to be all roses and sunshine.

Choosing to read the first book was fun, too, because it was a reminder of the way things were back when. Stephanie has to use road maps and connect an answering machine to her phone—no cell phones and internet for this girl (yet.) I’m looking forward to seeing how she functions in 2016 compared to 1994.

Fun, quick read!

 

READER’S LOG 2017: 50 BOOKS

This year I’ve challenged myself to read fifty books. This is no easy task for a slow reader, especially since so many other things distract me. Through this blog, I’ll share the books I’m reading and keep myself on track. Please feel free to offer suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed!

Book Number 24

The Light Between Oceans

M. L. Stedman

 

 

During the 1920s, Tom and his wife Isabel live on Janus Rock, Australia, where he serves as the lighthouse keeper. Their life of isolation is marred with misfortune. When a boat, bearing a dead man and an infant washes ashore, Tom and Isabel must decide what to do. Isabel, who has suffered two miscarriages and a stillbirth, feels this baby is a gift and she persuades Tom to accept the child as their own. Tom’s moral character is challenged when the couple returns to the mainland for a visit and learn the identity of the child’s mother, Hannah.

I was very impressed with the writing by this debut author. Her descriptions of landscape (seascape)  and the workings of the lighthouse are detailed and beautifully written. Her use of symbolism (especially, the confluence of the oceans, light, and the isolation and meaning of Janus) is apt.The characters are all real and all have flaws which evoke mixed emotions. The dilemmas presented

The characters are all real and all have flaws which evoke mixed emotions. The dilemmas presented create a thought provoking story with no “right” answers.

Learning a little about life in 1920s Australia was an added bonus.

This is also a good “what if” story. Readers could contemplate what the outcome might have been if different decisions were made by Tom, Isabel, and Hannah (or even the minor characters whose actions influence the plot.) What would you have done?

 

READER’S LOG 2017: 50 BOOKS

This year I’ve challenged myself to read fifty books. This is no easy task for a slow reader, especially since so many other things distract me. Through this blog, I’ll share the books I’m reading and keep myself on track. Please feel free to offer suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed!

Book Number 23

Summer People

summer people

by 

 

Elin Hilderbrand

 

The setting for this novel is Nantucket where Beth has spent every summer at her family’s rambling cottage on the beach. When her husband, a New York attorney, is killed in a plane crash,  Beth is left with their seventeen-year-old twins, Winnie and Garrett. They retreat to Nantucket to heal over the summer. To fulfill her husband’s wishes, Beth also invites Marcus, another teenager whose case her husband had been defending.

The summer they had intended to be a quiet time to grieve together is filled with pain, conflict, first love, and the uncovering of a secret that could destroy the family.

Hilderbrand evokes the feel of the island and easily placed me there in the cottage with her family. Her characters are well developed and evoke sympathy as we witness the way they each try to cope with their situations.

This book has conflict, poignancy, romance, conflict, and mystery.  I anticipated a sugary, feel-good story, but the outcome for each of the characters was much more realistic.

An easy, interesting read.

READER’S LOG 2017: 50 BOOKS

This year I’ve challenged myself to read fifty books. This is no easy task for a slow reader, especially since so many other things distract me. Through this blog, I’ll share the books I’m reading and keep myself on track. Please feel free to offer suggestions of books you’ve enjoyed!

Book No: 22

Product Details

Know the Mother

by 

Desiree Cooper

 

Know the Mother by Desiree Cooper is part of the Made in Michigan Writers Series and was chosen by the Detroit Free Press as one of the best Michigan reads for 2017.

This is a collection of short short stories (some could be called flash fiction) which provide reflections on mothers and daughters. Nearly every story deals with loss—some physical, some psychological. Some of the stories end on a hopeful note, many on a note of despair or grieving. Some deal with poverty and racism. All are beautifully constructed.

I found Ms. Cooper’s writing impressive. She provides great detail and emotion with few words. Her characters are real women in real situations who often choose to buck up under their circumstances or move on to face whatever consequences lie before them.

In exploring many aspects of womanhood, as daughter, mother, lover, wife, employee, friend, this small book makes a big impact.