Friday, June 24, 2016

What you're reading: People's choice!

Some random choices from the book reviews posted by participants in Summer Reading Club for Grownups!


The Heart of a Woman, by Maya Angelou
Reviewed by "BronteFan"

My first Maya Angelou book, found it at a used book store. Wow! Wow! Wow! What a fascinating woman she was! There is so much to say but it all pales in comparison to reading her written word. She writes about raising her son as a single mother. Her meeting with Billie Holiday was sooooo cool! She wrote about her work with Martin Luther King, Jr., and her writing with the Harlem Writers Guild. I was interested in how she described her life at that time. She always seemed like such a powerful woman to me, yet when she writes of her life, she seemed to be pushed by forces (people, events, situations) more powerful than her. I don't know if the people were just pushy or she was passive, allowing things to unfold as they would. I look forward to reading another of her books to see how her voice evolves.

Editor's note: This is actually volume 4 of Maya Angelou's autobiography. The previous three books (in order) are: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Gather Together in My Name, and Singin' and Swingin' and Gettin' Merry Like Christmas. It's followed by two more books: All God's Children Need Travelin' Shoes, and A Song Flung Up to Heaven. (Her fascinating life gave her a lot to say!)

One True Loves, by Taylor Jenkins Reid
Reviewed by "rliz"

"Good things don't wait until you're ready. Sometimes they come right before, when you're almost there." Emma and Jesse were high school sweethearts who lived an adventurous and happy life. In their 20s they married, and fully expected to be together forever. But fate intervenes when a year into their marriage Jesse is lost at sea from a helicopter crash and presumed dead by everyone. Three years later and Emma has moved on; her life is completely different. She lives on the east coast instead of in Los Angeles, a career as a travel writer has changed into one of a bookstore owner. And Emma is engaged to Sam, an old family friend and is blissfully happy in a way she never expected to be ever again. Then Emma gets a call and finds out Jesse survived. Thus brings on the question: Do we only have one true love?

"You can't be loyal to two people. You can't yearn for two dreams." Taylor Jenkins Reid never pulls her punches. I always approach her books with trepidation because so far every single one I have read by her has made me cry, and this book was no exception. About 25% in, I already had tears in my eyes. Despite its being essentially a love triangle, I really enjoyed this book. The characters are relatable and tangible. It makes you wonder how you yourself would react if you were in a similar situation to Emma's, or to one of her guys'. This book was more than a love triangle, though; it was about Emma's own journey and her self discovery of the person she wanted to be. The one thing I would have liked better from this book was a balance between the two men. We got to read more about one man and his effect on Emma and the other a little bit less. I would have liked to see more of Emma's story with the other guy, as I feel it would have provided more insight into their relationship. Thought-provoking and charming, One True Loves is memorable experience and a delight to sink one's teeth into. A poignant book about the meaning of a soulmate and whether we are destined in life to have more than one. "When you love someone, it seeps out of everything you do, it bleeds into everything you say, it becomes so ever present and ubiquitous that eventually it becomes ordinary to hear, no matter how extraordinary it is to feel."

Editor's note: Burbank Public Library doesn't own this book, but does own another by this author, called Maybe In Another Life. Maybe you'd like that one...

Jackaby, by William Ritter
Reviewed by "CoyoteGrin"

Jackaby is about Abigail Rook, young woman who arrives in New England in 1892, and promptly takes a job as Mr. Jackaby's assistant. Mr. Jackaby is a private investigator who happens to have the gift of noticing the supernatural. Miss Rook, by contrast, happens to have the gift of noticing the ordinary, so together they work to solve a spate of serial murders that take place in their town and the surrounding areas.

Jackaby is an enjoyable read, and a fast one. The characters are likeable, if not wholly original, and the plot is entertaining.

Editor's note: Jackaby is a young adult novel, although completely enjoyable by adults (I liked it too!) and is the first in a series. The second book, Beastly Bones, is also available at BPL.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, by Yuval Harari
Reviewed by "popes"

Step aside, Mr. Van Loon, and all the other explicators of our "glorious" species. For those of us who graduated with degrees in the social sciences but who have no time to go back to school to consider some of the new thinking about our species history, or for those who simply enjoy a good nonfiction read that gently, often humorously, nudges you to reconsider a few long-held notions about you and your fellows, this book is for you! You needn't agree with all of Mr. Harari's ideas, but you will enjoy thinking about them in this fast-paced journey though our species' history. Remember, the unexamined life is not worth living. Enjoy!

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