Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Manuscript Found in Accra - Beautiful!

I’ve been traveling and haven’t reviewed many books lately. But I’m still reading A LOT. I recently finished Paulo Coelho’s Manuscript Found in Accra and just had to say a few words about it. I loved Coelho’s The Alchemist and, although totally different reading, this new book is just as rewarding. Manuscript Found in Accra has been described by some reviewers as a “quietly beautiful book.” So true. It takes place in 1099 AD in the city of Jerusalem, which is about to be destroyed by Crusaders. People have gathered to listen to and ask questions of a man named Copt. The entire book is comprised of questions asked by the people and answered by this mysterious man. His answers are simple, truthful and loving. He’s a man of great wisdom and we can all get something out of these writings. The Bible comes through loud and clear but there’s no “preaching” as such. The bottom line is just pure and simple wisdom of old. And beautiful. This is not a book that will keep you up at night wondering what comes next, but it will keep you up at night reflecting. And there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s truly something for everyone in Manuscript Found in Accra. Read it!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Don't Waste Your Time With This Spice

I struggled through Just Add Spice by Carol E. Wyer. And I only finished it because I had to review it. This book is disgusting! Who really reads this garbage? A woman, done wrong, gets revenge in a brutal and demeaning way – over and over again. Many men will pay for their sins because of this one person who wants to put them all in their place – and not in a ladylike manner, I might add. Don’t waste your time! I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review. – again, the only reason I finished it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Jemay's Latest Travel Mystery Needs an Editor

J.A. Jemay is back with a new Ainsley Walker Gemstone Travel Mystery, this time set in Portugal. The Portugal Sapphire sees Ainsley taking a job in Portugal to find a stolen azulejos with a sapphire imbedded in it. The search takes her all over Portugal with some death-defying adventures, a friendship with a criminal, and a little romance to boot! The history, culture and port wine lessons are wonderful, but the story itself is a bit farfetched. I think I felt the same way about the last book she wrote (The Puerto Rico Pearl). Although a bit unrealistic, the story still kept my interest. One thing that really upset me with this book is that there were many grammatical errors. I think Jemay has a good thing going here with her travel mysteries, but she definitely needs a good editor. If errors don’t bother you, you may love this book. But they drive me nuts!

Friday, October 4, 2013

The Burgess Boys is not Olive Kitteridge

Elizabeth Strout's The Burgess Boys is a novel centered around a dysfunctional family from Shirley Falls, Maine. The brothers have relocated to New York City while their sister remains in their old hometown. But each has its own issues and none of them get along so well. When their nephew gets in trouble for throwing a pig’s head into a mosque (yes, this is really in the story) for no apparent reason, the brothers are pulled back to town to help with legal issues. Slowly, their history from childhood is revealed and eventually we can understand why they are the people they have grown into. But, really, this story is not just about the boys. A great part of the story centers around the sister and her son and the wife and ex-wife of the brothers. It’s fragmented. A great deal of the book covers the immigrants that have taken up resident in Shirley Falls. I enjoyed learning about the Somalis, but I have to say the story seems to jump from one character to another. It is entertaining but it doesn’t come close to Strout’s previous book, Olive Kitteridge.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Starboard Sea - Too Little of Too Much

The Starboard Sea, by Amber Dermont, is a story told in the first person by Jason Prosper, a very well-to-do young man. Jason has been thrown out of his classy prep school and now attends another school for those preppies previously discarded from other prep schools. Of course, Jason’s father’s money helps get him in. Jason has no interest in his father’s money nor his father, for that matter. He befriends a young woman who has other serious problems. The novel talks about parties, about bullying and cruelty, and about the rich and spoiled rotten. The story tries to deal with issues such as being gay, bullying, suicide, and what’s behind a lot of this - the parents of these spoiled young people. I feel the story tries to touch on too many of these social issues and doesn’t really handle any one of them adequately. I also know there are folks like this out there, but the majority of the “rich and famous” young preppies do not fall into the stereotypes set up as the mainstream in this book. I have to say that Ms. Dermont tried but she may have done a much better job dealing with only one issue in this book. She’s a good writer but has to save some of the issues for another book. If you’re interested in a quick book to read, this is for you, but don’t look for much substance here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Round House

The Round House, by Louise Erdrich, was not an easy book to read. I must admit I was left cold for awhile, but as I neared the end of the book I began to understand the underlying messages. The story centers around a rape on a Native American reservation. It’s told by Joe, the son of the woman raped, and tells how it affects her, and his father, and of course, himself. His mother, the secret keeper of the reservation, is directed to the round house where she is raped. She escapes but is never the same. She doesn’t help the authorities for, in doing so, she would release secrets she’s sworn to keep. Her husband tries to help her return to life and also understand the mystery surrounding the rape. Joe has to deal with losing the mother he knew and trying to understand her reaction. Along the way, Joe is introduced to spirituality and at one point suspects the priest of the rape. As the story unravels we slowly learn who had committed the crime and the reasons behind it and behind the secrecy. But it does take time to get there and I think that’s why some folks may not care for this book. In the end, I feel The Round House was a good read but admit it took me awhile to get there. But learning the workings of the reservation and the justice system there was intriguing. I believe the book is definitely worth the time and hope others understand the underlying meanings instead of taking it all at face value.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The View from Penthouse B - Worth the Read

The View from Penthouse B, by Elinor Lipman, is a good quick read. Gwen is suddenly widowed and very much alone. Her older sister, Margot, is divorced from her husband, infertility physician and “victim” of a sex scandal. Margot also falls prey to the Bernie Madoff scam and loses most of her money. Hence, she is stuck in a beautiful penthouse she cannot afford. Solution – Gwen moves in and they share expenses. But the sharing of expenses is not adequate, so they add a boarder to the mix. Anthony is a young gay man who is a breath of sunshine and helps with a different perspective on the women’s troubles. After a trial Margot’s ex heads off to prison, but is released early and suddenly arrives at Margot’s doorstep. This is where the fun really begins. And we can’t forget Anthony’s sister who shows up after leaving her job as a nanny. I’ll let you read the book to learn about this part of the adventure. This story is full of humor and a very quick read. It’s well written but won’t become a modern-day classic. However, it’s definitely worth taking some time out of a rainy afternoon and to try The View from Penthouse B. Enjoy!