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review 2018-06-07 21:18
Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan
Evening Is the Whole Day - Preeta Samarasan

Why should I feel sorry for her when she doesn’t feel sorry for me? It could be the family motto, this question, something to emblazon on their coat of arms, except that not one of them has noticed how often the others ask it.”

This is a fantastic book with a tragic story, about a well-off Indo-Malaysian family slowly tearing each other apart. Don’t be fooled by the simplistic design and bright colors of the cover; this is a dark and complicated novel that offers plenty of sympathy but little hope for its damaged characters.

The book begins in 1980, with a teenaged servant being sent home in disgrace with her drunken father. From there the book moves backward in time, tracing how events arrived at this point. Between the recently-deceased grandmother, the older daughter who has transformed from an exuberant girl into a withdrawn teenager interested only in going abroad for college, the younger daughter who talks to ghosts, the parents with their toxic marriage and the uncle who has been banished from the house, there’s a lot to unpack, and Samarasan does so slowly, layer by layer, with close attention to emotional detail.

The mysteries at the center of the story and the non-linear storytelling through which readers can piece them together are compelling. But the characterization – the complexity and psychological insight with which each character is drawn – is what really elevates this book above the rest. The book is full of flawed characters hurting each other, but the reader comes to understand where each of them is coming from and why they react the way they do. We get to know these people and their relationships with each other so well, and they are so three-dimensional and realistic, that it’s hard to believe they don’t exist in real life.

But the book goes beyond just the family’s life, delving into class divisions and racial politics in Malaysia, where ethnic Malays are privileged over the large Chinese and Indian populations. It is a history not without violence – though thankfully not overdone for shock value here, as some authors are tempted to do – and I learned a lot about Malaysia from reading this book. The author also shows a keen understanding of how money and social class influence people’s behavior.

So I have little criticism, except that I never quite believed the father’s choice of

mistress

(spoiler show)

and the book did take me around 50 pages to get into. The language is lyrical and seemed a little overly stylized until I came to trust that the author knew what she was doing. Once I finished though, I found myself flipping back to read sections of it again.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who loves reading about complicated characters and relationships and who doesn’t require well-defined heroes and villains. It was a treat to read, and I look forward to more from this author!

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text 2018-04-29 15:16
April 2018 Reading Wrap Up
Paper Girls (Book One) - Matt Wilson,Cliff Chiang,Jared K. Fletcher,Brian K. Vaughan
Witches of East End - Melissa de la Cruz
Barefoot Season (Blackberry Island) - Susan Mallery
Evening Stars - Susan Mallery
The Three Fates - Kate Quinn

April was all about the love for my library. I discovered that in addition to having a subscription to OverDrive, my library also has a subscription to RB Digital (a service that has some book choices that overlap with OD, but also has more offerings, including magazines).

 

Books attached to the post are my favorites for the month.

 

Dewey Read-a-thon stats: 5 books, 279 pages read; one mini-challenge completed; 6 hours and 41 minutes reading time. 

 

 

Challenges:

BL/GR: 42/75 - I increased by goal by 23 books and I am already over the 50% mark!

Pop Sugar: 10 new prompts filled; 24/50 prompts filled total

 

 

Read:

1. It's in His Kiss (Lucky Harbor #10) by Jill Shalvis - 3 stars

2. Paper Girls (Book One) by Brian K. Vaughan et al - 4.5 stars

3. George by Alex Gino - 3.5 stars

4. Once Upon a Spine (A Bibliophile Mystery #11) by Kate Carlisle - 1 star

5. Witches of East End (The Beauchamp Family #1) by Melissa de la Cruz - 5 stars

6. Barefoot Season (Blackberry Island #1) by Susan Mallery - 5 stars

7. The Irish Americans: A History by Jay P. Dolan - 2.5 stars

8. Hospitality and Homicide (Tourist Trap Mystery #8) by Lynn Cahoon - 3 stars

9. Three Sisters (Blackberry Island #2) by Susan Mallery - 3 stars

10. Wonderment in Death (...In Death #41.5) by J.D. Robb - 3 stars

11. Evening Stars (Blackberry Island #3) by Susan Mallery - 5 stars

12. Island Girls by Nancy Thayer 3.5 stars

13. One Wish (Thunder Point #7) by Robyn Carr - 2.5 stars

14. Winter Eve (Shifters of Ashwood Falls #0.5) by Lia Davis - 3.5 stars

15. Catherine Finds Love (Ruby Springs Brides #1) by Karla Gracey - 3 stars

16. Desperate (Lipstick and Lead #1) by Sylvia McDaniel - 2.5 stars

17. Doc's Town (Prossers Bay #0.5) by Cheryl Phipps - 1 star

18. Three Fates by Kate Quinn - 4 stars

 

DNF'd:

1. I Contain Multitudes by Ed Young - I couldn't make it through the first chapter. Sorry Flat Book Society. 

 

2. Death on Tap (Sloan Krause Mystery #1) by Ellie Alexander - Boring, badly drawn characters and lots of details about things that don't matter. Suffers greatly from first book-itis. Still no dead body at the 20% mark so I cut my loses there.

 

3. Driftwood Cottage (Chesapeake Shores #5) by Sherryl Woods - Stupid morons, their poor kid who is already one year old and looking for an escape away from his parents, and his meddling family left me cold at the 15% mark. Couldn't care about any of these characters to read their stories, so I am DNF'ing the whole series. 

 

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review 2018-04-20 23:04
Evening Stars (Blackberry Island #3) by Susan Mallery
Evening Stars - Susan Mallery

This is a story about Nina and her weird, sometimes dysfunctional family. Nina is the lead nurse and right hand woman to Dr. Andi from book two. Nina had dreams of medical school and leaving the island, but family issues convinced her to choose nursing school and staying to help take care of her family and the family business (antiques). So Nina pushes her sister to leave the island and explore her dreams, but that leaves Averil at almost 30 with a lot of unanswered questions and stunted maturity which leaves her marriage to a great guy in jeopardy. To help her move on and become an adult, Averil returns home and old wounds are re-opened but are actually dealt with by Averil and Nina (not so much the mom). 

 

Added to Nina's plate is the return of her high school sweetheart Dylan. He broke her heart and she gave up on her dreams after that. He is back to go into practice with his father and to try and win back Nina. Complicating that is Kyle, a Navy fighter pilot who had a huge crush on Nina when he was a kid and she was babysitting his little sister. Kyle is a smooth talker and according to Nina, a sex god - according to me he came off as CREEPY AS FUCK. Seriously, everything he said was a line or a dramatic declaration of undying love. I'm glad Nina got her needs taken care of by him, but slow your roll dude. He walked the devoted/stalker line every time he was on the page. 

 

I read this book in one day, because there was a good mix of plot and character arc development. I'm firmly on Team Bertie - she was the unsung hero of the book, with a honorable mention to Cindy, the antique miracle worker.  Also loved Nina's ending, giving a strong HEA vibe without engagement/marriage/baby mentions that typically end a romance novel.

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text 2017-07-20 11:20
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