Thursday, July 20, 2017

A few more selections...

...from among the reviews of the Summer Reading Club for Grown-ups!

What Alice Forgot, by Liane Moriarty

Reviewed by Margaret B.     

I will preface that I am a fan of Liane Moriarty's style. I like that her characters are moms--usually living in Australia. There is always a mystery or questionable event that is uncovered in layers as you learn more about the characters. In What Alice Forgot, our main character Alice hits her head and forgets the last 10 years of her life. Her last memories are of being happily married and pregnant with her first child. Now, 10 years later, she has three kids and a pending divorce, and doesn't remember any of it! I did really love the fact that she wakes up to a skinny body (that's my fantasy). We follow with Alice as she searches for who she has become and what happened to make her so. Well done, engaging. Made me reflect on how my own life has changed in 10 years. If you have enjoyed Big Little Lies, The Husband's Secret, or any other L. Moriarty books, I highly recommend What Alice Forgot.

I'll Be There, by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Reviewed by Kelly R.     

This wasn't a book that I finished in one sitting. The subject matter was difficult for me to take all at once. My father was a social worker with Children's Services, and I heard more stories of child cruelty than I ever wanted to hear. In fact, there were times In this book that I thought I wouldn't be able to pick it up again because I just couldn't stand the thought of something terrible happening to the two brothers at the hands of their father or the system. However I'd find myself picking it up, skimming ahead a few pages to make sure that nothing outrageously terrible had happened, and then continuing to read. I'm glad I did. The author writes an inside perspective from every character in the book. She even gives us the perspective of a black bear. That method is probably what kept pulling me back in. I was interested in all of the characters, even if I didn't particularly like all of them. I wanted to know what would happen to everyone, not just Sam and Riddle, who had my heart from the beginning. I loved the way everyone's story evolved. Contrary to my fears, the ending was extremely satisfying. It's the happy ending that I wanted, with all of the loose ends wrapped up without it seeming too contrived or saccharin sweet. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA books, compelling characters, romance, difficult life situations, survival, IHOP, golden retrievers, words typed on pages...It's a great book.

Editor's note: I love this book. There is also a sequel, Just Call My Name. I didn't love it quite as much, but if you want to know what happened to everyone...    

Unaccustomed Earth, by Jhumpa Lahiri

Reviewed by Joanne L.    

It is no wonder this book is a national bestseller. Author and Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri has the ability to truly capture the delicate thoughts and feelings of the vulnerabilities in human experiences and cultural dynamics. Unaccustomed Earth is a book of eight different stories. The stories are centered on different lives of people from the Benghali culture who are living in America, and the various family secrets and struggles they experience. Part one contains five separate stories, told from a woman's perspective as a child reminiscing about a boy she had a crush on. The second section is from the boy's perspective. The third section is the girl, now grown up, bumping into the boy become a man, later in life.

What originally interested me about this book was that the author is female and she writes about cultural barriers and transitioning in America. I liked the use of different perspectives, from someone observing and talking about another character. She eloquently takes the reader into the depths of her characters' struggles. I appreciated her ability to capture human struggles, culture, and relationships. I felt touched by her language and also by the beauty of the internal battles the characters face.

by David Grann

Reviewed by Denise D.     

This account of the "Reign of Terror" on the Osage Reservation after oil was discovered in the 1920s reads like the murder mystery it is. David Grann (The Lost City of Z) has done a meticulous research job and presents the narrative in a skilled and compelling way. Because our government deemed these Native Americans not competent enough to handle their own affairs, they were assigned white "guardians," many of whom systematically stole thousands of dollars from the Osage and murdered them. When the local authorities did nothing to solve these murders, the newly formed FBI became involved. This book should be required reading for all Americans.

Thunderbird, by Chuck Wendig

Reviewed by Darrin B.    

[sequel] Thunderbird continues the story of Miriam Black, a feisty mid-20s girl with a curse: She is able to see the moment of someone’s death. This book and series is not for everyone. Wendig mixes humor with a crudeness one might expect from a character who is witness to the death of every person with whom she comes in physical contact. While this may seem too dark for some readers, the bright spot comes from the fact that Miriam has discovered how to intervene and change those circumstances. In book four of this series, Wendig has taken Miriam on a quest to find the one person she thinks can help her be rid of the curse. Fair warning: This book (and the series in general) contains adult themes, language, and a storyteller who likes to describe death in vivid detail. But I found the book enjoyable, with plenty of humor and twists that kept the pages turning. I would also recommend reading this series in order. Several characters and plot lines may be hard to follow without knowing what occurs in the first three books. If you like tough, smart-alecky heroines who survive against all odds, consider giving this series a try.

Editor's note: The previous books, in order, are Blackbirds, Mockingbird, and The Cormorant.

Our Summer Reading Club for Grown-ups runs through July 27th. It's not too late to sign up, log some book reviews of your own, and become eligible for one more weekly drawing, plus our three grand prizes: a $100 gift card for The Castaway restaurant; two tickets to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour; or a $100 gift card for The Smoke House restaurant!

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