Tag Archives: Goodreads

Rainy Day Read

the husand's secret

What?  Husbands aren’t supposed to have secrets, are they?  I read the book in the middle, according to my Kindle, but I quite like the cover with the butterfly in a jar.  I also love balloons, especially red ones.  So given the choice,  the middle cover is the one I would be least likely to purchase.  In case you were all wondering about that, now you can sleep tonight.

I’ve read “What Alice Forgot” by Liane Moriarty, and have “Big Little Lies” downloaded and ready to go, and now I’m looking at “The Hypnotist’s Love Story”, thinking that one could be next.  So it’s obvious I like this author and her stories a lot.  Sometimes my Goodreads star rankings are based on how quickly I finished a book, two days or less making four and five stars much more likely than if I had to slog through something or couldn’t force myself to care how it might end.

Well, so far, this is a rather stupid book review, but trust me, there are stupider ones out there.  I gave this book four stars.  It is a good readable story, well written, with interesting characters and plot, and a fantastic epilogue.  Every book should have an epilogue exactly like this one for us readers who don’t like endings which leave us wondering why all the questions haven’t been answered in a satisfactory manner.  Especially when the answers we come up with on our own are seriously lame.

Imagine that your husband wrote you a letter, to be opened after his death. Imagine, too, that the letter contains his deepest, darkest secret—something with the potential to destroy not just the life you built together, but the lives of others as well. Imagine, then, that you stumble across that letter while your husband is still very much alive. . . .(from Goodreads)

I was a little surprised at some of the negative reviews I read, which contained words like predictable, shallow and dull.   A one-star person said she didn’t have the patients to read more than 25 pages.  She also misspelled bullshit.  So let’s not take that one too seriously.  There are many five-star reviews too and I’m more inclined to agree with those.

I read this book in less than a day and a half.  I liked it.  And I know how to spell big words like bullshit and patience.  I hope that’s a good enough recommendation for you to give this author a go.

How To Read Two Books At The Same Time

nikolski by dickner

Nikolski by Nicolas Dickner may look a little fishy at first, but it’s an excellent book, even for somebody like me who gets confused easily.  In the beginning it felt like I was reading three completely unrelated stories, but eventually it all comes together as the paths of the characters intersect, although they never really connect for long with each other.

Spring 1989. Three young people leave their far-flung birthplaces to follow their own songs of migration. Each ends up in Montreal, each on a voyage of self-discovery, dealing with the mishaps of heartbreak and the twisted branches of their shared family tree.

Filled with humor, charm, and good storytelling, this novel shows the surprising links between cartography, garbage-obsessed archeologists, pirates past and present, a mysterious book with no cover, and a broken compass whose needle obstinately points to the Aleutian village of Nikolski.  (Goodreads)

Nikolski won the Governor General’s Literary Award for French to English Translation.  It certainly doesn’t read like a translation, so that could be a big reason why it won.

I was interrupted in the middle of reading this by the arrival of my new Kindle.  The breaking of the previous Kindle also interrupted a half read book, so I was torn in two trying to decide where my loyalties lay.  Yep, everyone should have such pressing problems and decisions keeping them awake at night.death of bees

So by going back and forth from book to e-reader,  I have also finished The Death of Bees, by Lisa O’Donnell.  Here’s the great first paragraph and delightful hook for this one.

Today is Christmas Eve. Today is my birthday. Today I am fifteen. Today I buried my parents in the backyard. Neither of them were beloved.

I think you can appreciate my dilemma.  The paper white Kindle is great and I couldn’t wait to use it.  It’s smaller and lighter, with easier to see print.  I’m loving the touch screen except for all my dirty finger prints.  I’m also living dangerously by not yet having purchased a protective cover for it, but I didn’t drop the other one for a couple of years, so maybe this one has some time left accident free.  I’ll get one today.

Sorry, back to the bee book – it deserves a few more praises.  It is a dark comedy about two sisters in Glasgow who could write the book on dysfunctional families.  The story touches on homosexuality, child neglect, child abuse, drug use, drug dealing, drinking, smoking, promiscuity, mental illness, cancer, poverty, being orphaned, social services, and of course the problems that come up when your parents are buried in your back yard.

Since it’s written from the point of view of each sister and a kind but nosy neighbor, it felt like reading the secret journals of each one and thus getting an over view of the big picture.  You would imagine that a book starting out like this one could not possibly end well.  But at the same time you wonder how things could possibly get any worse.  It will keep you reading right to the end to find out what becomes of them all.

I don’t recommend reading books in this helter-skelter manner,  but I do recommend both of these titles and both of their authors.  They are two very different styles and stories, both with unexpected twists and turns.  Maybe they won’t be quite so unexpected if you read them one at a time.

Here’s to Hildy Good

“So alive, I swear the pages of this wickedly funny and moving novel are breathing.” —Caroline Leavitt

good house ann leary

The Good House by Ann Leary is about Hildy Good, a sixty year old divorced realtor, mother, grandmother, and descendant of a Salem witch.  She lives in a small New England town where she has a knack for reading people and is a successful business woman.  She is also an alcoholic in complete denial of her addiction.    The fact that she goes solo skinny-dipping and drunk-driving, makes rambling phone calls in the middle of the night, loses periods of time to blackouts, passes out in her cellar and has excruciating hangovers –  is all perfectly normal sober behaviour – or so she would have us believe.  She is a lonely woman who is her own worst enemy, making mistake after mistake until my pity and concern for her turned to exasperation and I just wanted to yell at her and give her a good shake.  I guess that’s proof that she is a well drawn and believable character, just like her new best friend Rebecca who is also incredibly needy and unhappy and having an affair with Peter, the town psychiatrist.  Frank, the handyman who grew up with Hildy seems to me to be the only character with any sense.  And even he doesn’t have enough of it to make him steer clear of Hildy for his own good.

If all that sounds “wickedly funny” to you, then I guess you will enjoy this book.  But I enjoyed it too without ever once laughing out loud at anything in it.  I suppose I just don’t find addictions all that funny.  Then there is a bit of a twist at the end which I didn’t see coming, so that was a pleasant surprise.

The book is very well written as a rambling account of how things happened from Hildy’s point of view, both drunk and sober. Often I wasn’t sure which details were real and which were vivid but drunken hallucinations.  I also wanted more closure at the end, but maybe sometimes it’s a good thing to find yourself staring at that last page wondering what happens next.  The reader is left hoping Hildy is finally going to pull herself together.  And at the same time not caring enough to anticipate a sequel.  Strange book.  Good, but not funny.

For Flavia de Luce Fans

And if you’re not yet a Flavia de Luce fan, here’s how to become one.  It starts with this book.

flavia 1It continues on with these:

flavia 234
Then just when you think you know all there is to know about Flavia, out comes another great mystery by Alan Bradley in this excellent series.

flavia 5

On GoodreadsFrom award-winning author Alan Bradley comes the next cozy British mystery starring intrepid young sleuth Flavia de Luce, hailed by USA Today as “one of the most remarkable creations in recent literature.”

Eleven-year-old amateur detective and ardent chemist Flavia de Luce is used to digging up clues, whether they’re found among the potions in her laboratory or between the pages of her insufferable sisters’ diaries. What she is not accustomed to is digging up bodies. Upon the five-hundredth anniversary of St. Tancred’s death, the English hamlet of Bishop’s Lacey is busily preparing to open its patron saint’s tomb. Nobody is more excited to peek inside the crypt than Flavia, yet what she finds will halt the proceedings dead in their tracks: the body of Mr. Collicutt, the church organist, his face grotesquely and inexplicably masked. Who held a vendetta against Mr. Collicutt, and why would they hide him in such a sacred resting place? The irrepressible Flavia decides to find out. And what she unearths will prove there’s never such a thing as an open-and-shut case.

It’s a mystery to  me why these mysteries are so appealing to a non mystery lover such as I have always been.  Although I suppose when I consider how much I’ve grown to love Flavia, it’s not such a great mystery after all.  I read this latest addition to the series yesterday, and it was like sitting down to have a long friendly chat with an old friend.  Except that Flavia is barely twelve at this point.

The last line in this book (an eye rolling, teasing groaner of a sentence if there ever was one) has to be a promise that there is more Flavia to come.  So while we’re waiting for that, there’s time for you to read this delightful series (or re-read it, it’s that good) and get ready for the rest of the story.

Hi Lily Hi Lily Hi Lo

imposter bride Richler

This is what’s written on Goodreads about The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler

When a young, enigmatic woman arrives in post-war Montreal, it is immediately clear that she is not who she claims to be. Her attempt to live out her life as Lily Azerov shatters as she disappears, leaving a new husband and baby daughter, and a host of unanswered questions. Who is she really and what happened to the young woman whose identity she has stolen? Why has she left and where did she go? It is left to the daughter she abandoned to find the answers to these questions as she searches for the mother she may never find or really know.

It all sounds quite wonderful, I know.  And although nothing very exciting or earth shattering ever happens in it, there were still lots of very interesting bits and I still read the whole thing without falling asleep.  Well, okay, I might have done that but no more than twice.  There’s a lot of sadness in this book, with a kind of joy-less story that drones on and on,  slowly building up our curiosity as to why Lily did what she did.

And then finally the revelation at the end is really no revelation at all and thus rather anti-climactic, with no real punch.  Because even Lily doesn’t seem to have much of a clue.

I hope that last bit was sufficiently vague to avoid being a spoiler.

But here’s the thing – ever since reading about Lily, I have had this stupid Lily song in my head and I can’t seem to get it out.  I think I have been singing the damned thing in my sleep.  So I though it would be a great idea to share it with everyone, and thus spread the misery joy.

You are so very welcome.  I live to please. Sing along if you dare.

Katherines Katherines Everywhere

An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green
An Abundance of Katherines, by John Green

This is the synopsis from Goodreads:

When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton’s type happens to be girls named Katherine. And when it comes to girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. He’s also a washed-up child prodigy with ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a passion for anagrams, and an overweight, Judge Judy-obsessed best friend. Colin’s on a mission to prove The Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which will predict the future of all relationships, transform him from a fading prodigy into a true genius, and finally win him the girl. Letting expectations go and allowing love in are at the heart of Colin’s hilarious quest to find his missing piece and avenge dumpees everywhere.

And here are some memorable quotes:

“That brief walk…….was one of those moments he knew he’d remember and look back on, one of those moments that he’d try to capture in the stories he told. Nothing was happening, really, but the moment was thick with mattering.”

“Well, while you were in the bathroom, I sat down at this picnic table here in Bumblefug, Kentucky, and noticed that someone had carved that GOD HATES FAG, which, aside from being a grammatical nightmare, is absolutely ridiculous. So I’m changing it to ‘God Hates Baguettes.’ It’s tough to disagree with that. Everybody hates baguettes.”  “J’aime les baguettes,” Colin muttered.  “You aime lots of stupid crap.”  (Hassan)

“Even if it’s a dumb story, telling it changes people just the slightest little bit, just as living the story changes me. An infinitesimal change. And that infinetisimal change ripples outward —ever smaller but everlasting. I will get forgotten, but the stories will last. And so we all matter —maybe less than a lot, but always more than none.” 

I had never read anything by John Green before, but this book was funny and easy to read and I think I might just go looking to see what else he’s been up to.

Tell the Wolves I’m Home

This is the kind of book you could read from beginning to end on a quiet afternoon, forgetting everything around you.  That’s assuming you’ve got a quiet afternoon with no distractions of course. If you don’t have that, you’ll wish for it once you get started.

No matter, I read the book in fits and starts whenever I had a minute or two, and thoroughly loved it anyway.

This is a love story of sorts;  about partnerships and bonds, siblings and family, relationships and promises, grief and loss, love lost and found.

(Excerpt from Goodreads and Amazon)

1987. There’s only one person who has ever truly understood fourteen-year-old June Elbus, and that’s her uncle, the renowned painter Finn Weiss. Shy at school and distant from her older sister, June can only be herself in Finn’s company; he is her godfather, confidant, and best friend. So when he dies, far too young, of a mysterious illness her mother can barely speak about, June’s world is turned upside down. But Finn’s death brings a surprise acquaintance into June’s life—someone who will help her to heal, and to question what she thinks she knows about Finn, her family, and even her own heart.  

Hard to believe this is a debut novel.  I hope Carol Rifka Brunt has many more stories to share.