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review 2020-06-03 13:05
The Life of Elves
The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery (2016-02-09) - Muriel Barbery

by Muriel Barbery

 

This Fantasy story has a very fairytale-like tone to the narration and starts rather abruptly, as if in the middle of the story, but the reader soon catches up and the situation becomes apparent. A foundling child, Clara, appears under mysterious circumstances and is adopted into a Christian home to have a normal human childhood, but something about her is very fairy-like.

 

Another child, Maria, who "talks like most people sing" is adopted in similarly strange circumstances in Italy. The connection between these little girls becomes apparent as the story unfolds.

 

There is very little dialogue, especially in the early chapters, but the story is told in an adult's version of the fairy-tale storytelling voice with a sort of dreamy quality. It is not an immersive read, yet it is entertaining enough to keep reading, despite sketchy description of what's going on. A lot of new characters are introduced through the story and their non-human nature is often inferred more than made clear.

 

There are digressions to tell background stories of various characters and sometimes it really is like following a dream, jumping from one sequence to another with only a tentative hold on the connections, but all is made clear by the end. I noted in the acknowledgements that it is translated from French, which explains some of this.

 

Overall a pleasant Fantasy read, but not one that will stimulate the emotions to a great extent

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review 2020-06-03 13:01
The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster
The Lemoncholy Life of Annie Aster - Scott Wilbanks

by Scott Wilbanks

 

Oh my, where do I start? This is a time travel book, my favorite subject, with an interesting selection of misfit characters. As far as the mechanism for time travel goes, it's a simple magic door, or actually a more complex magic door than the usual, but we're only given hints about how it actually works.

 

It starts out in 1895 with some rough city life and the leader of a sandlot gang being warned to flee, though we don't yet know why. The gang are pickpockets and scrounge food in an almost Dickensian situation, only they're in Kansas City. Then we move out into the country in Kansas and still in 1895 and meet Elsbeth Grundy. She owns a farm, but one day finds a house on her back 40 and writes the occupant a letter of complaint.

 

The letter is received by Annabelle Aster, only she lives in 1995 San Francisco and sees the farmhouse as an intruder into her back yard in her own time and location. There was an anomaly about other girls swooning over David Cassidy when Annie was growing up, which seemed to be in the wrong era, but otherwise so far so good.

 

Annabelle writes back to Elsbeth, explaining her side of things and the story begins to develop into something that becomes very interesting and intricate. Annie shows the farm to her best friend, Christian, who has his own strange experiences of repeatedly seeing a face in a crowd. On one occasion time seems to slow down while this is occurring, then speeds up again.

 

There's a great quote in reference to dumbing down writing: "Never lower yourself for others. Make them rise to you. Whether they can or not is their burden, not yours."

 

The writing for this story is very good and I considered giving it the full 5 stars, but a few things towards the end could use some clarification and I had to stretch belief a little far concerning something about the bad guy's sidekick.

 

The story did include an excellently written high tension climax, some very creative methods of self defence and the most erotic kiss I've ever read, ever! The erotica writers could take some lessons from this.

 

I'm being careful about saying too much about the plot because part of the joy of reading this story was discovering the intricate connections along the way. It involves a stage magician, a murder, some rough business dealings and hiding a baby in time. I found it all very original and absorbing and pretty much read the second half of the book in one sitting.

 

In places it feels like a nice story of friendships between women, or an in-depth look at flexible morality issues, or a high action story of intrigue. There's something of everything in there and plenty of mystery to boot. Most importantly, it was a great read and will leave me remembering the characters for some time to come. I'll also be keeping an eye out for anything else written by this author.

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review 2020-06-03 07:30
Fate
The Mixtape to My Life - Jake Martinez

Justin tends to be inside his head.  Not too many people understand him, and fewer try.  He has a few friends who seem to care.  This year it looks like that may change.  Like everything may change.

 

Dominic is back and living next door.  The past is catching up to both of them as they realize they may have more in common that they thought.  If he can just tell Justin the truth, and hang on to a friendship that could turn into more, this may be their year.

 

Characters that move me, well more than one per book is rare.  I found I loved both of this couple as it motivated me to read faster and get to the end.  I was pleased that there was romance, charm, and more among the angst.  So many surprises and a worthwhile read.  Hope we revisit this bunch of friends.  I give this a 4/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This copy was given in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2020-06-02 18:25
Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus
Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus - Dusti Bowling

This sequel was just as enjoyable as the first book in this series and I enjoyed hanging out with Aven as she began her first year in high school.  If you haven’t read Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus, you can still read this sequel, but I highly recommend that you read the first book, as you’ll enjoy this story more.

 

I liked how the author kept the characters real.  Their voices rang true to their feelings and they never sounded flat.  Each character felt important and their stories were important to each other.   They each struggled yet they didn’t lose all hope.

 

I remember seeing a girl in my high school who also, had no arms.  She was a few grades ahead of me and she amazed me.  I remember trying to watch her from a distance (I didn’t want to stare at her), as I just couldn’t believe that she was actually going to “my school!” This was in the early 1980’s and I don’t ever remember hearing a negative comment about her in fact, this girl was quite popular. She was also a great swimmer on the school’s swim team.  I think it’s interesting that after all these years of being out of school, I can remember this girl’s name yet, other individuals I saw everyday or hung out with, I can’t.  This unique individual, left an impression with me which at the time, I didn’t realize.    

 

This is a great book that I highly recommend.  If you haven’t read the first book in the series, I recommend you read that first, if you can.

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review 2020-05-31 18:54
Dear Life ★★★★☆
Dear Life: Stories - Alice Munro

I don't think I could do this book of short stories justice with a review. Munro writes stories about ordinary people in everyday situations that are a turning point in their lives. To have an affair, to stay or leave, to wait or act, to be silent or speak. She writes without any literary tricks and often at a remove from the characters, but each story still pulled at me in some way. 

 

Paperback. I discovered Munro while vacationing at a rental beach house and had finished the book I had brought with me, so was browsing the completely random selections on the bookshelves. I didn't get to read more than the first story in this collection, but it was enough to know that I needed to have a copy for myself. 

 

I read this book for Booklikesopoly 2020, lot Mountain Cabin 15: Read a book with a tree or a mountain on the cover, or read a book that features a main character who is a father. This book has a tree (or tree trunk, I guess) on the cover with a woodsy background.

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