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review 2020-05-06 05:29
The Dutch House
The Dutch House - Ann Patchett

OK, full disclosure. I love Ann Patchett, and I say this with the authority of someone who has read a decent number of her books and has even visited her bookstore, where the people who ring up your purchase compliment you on your choices and tell you interesting facts about them that you won't find in the normal book blurb. So yes, I'm a super fan—skeptics take this with a grain of salt, but really, you should read it anyway. This is not a perfect book, but honestly, it is about as close as I've come in a while. The characters are all flawed, and ugly and remarkable, just the way I like them. I've seen reviews that cast the narrator in a bad light, but he bared his soul in the telling, and was willing to admit he did not always do the right thing. Also, the narrator of the audio book is Tom Hanks, so you literally forgive him everything. Definitely recommend the audio-book on this one, especially if you are quarantined and eager to hear a new voice in your house. 

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review 2019-12-19 14:49
Red at the Bone
Red at the Bone - Jacqueline Woodson

Wow, this was a beautiful story, and a really great audiobook. If you've never listened to a book before, this might be a great one to try, since it's under four hours. Also, there is a remarkable cast reading it, including the author. I have never done this before, but I marked one chapter while I was listening, and then, when I finished, I went back and listened to it again. And again. Chapter 7. This book is truly amazing, a gift.

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review 2019-11-18 05:31
The Starless Sea
The Starless Sea - Erin Morgenstern

Morgenstern's first book, The Night Circus, continues to be one of my favorite books, so I was eager to see if her next book would live up to that promise. It did not disappoint. Given what I consider to be an extraordinarily high bar, this is a terrific accomplishment. My biggest dilemma reading this one was trying to savor it without racing through it; but, in taking my time, losing some of the thread of the complicated story. When I picked it up, I tended to do a bit of rereading to get me back into the action. This is not a criticism, maybe just a warning. If you have a comfy couch, a lot of free time, and enough snacks, I would definitely recommend binging on this book.

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review 2019-11-08 04:59
The Library Book
The Library Book - Susan Orlean

Years ago, my husband gave me a copy of The Orchid Thief as a gift. This was back before I ventured much into non-fiction, and one of those gifts that he figured would be great because we could both read it. While we are completely in sync in our love for books, we have our differences when it comes to genres. There are plenty of classics we both love, but generally he is more action/non-fiction, and I am more historical fiction/memoir. In his defense, though, The Orchid Thief had a novel-like plot, and was so much more than a story about orchids. As a birthday present, though, it was a bust. He read it before I did, and even he did not give it rave reviews. I think he described it as “quirky”, which is apparently a negative for him, but usually a plus for me. I read it. Ok, I tried. I wanted to love it, I really did, because honestly, that cover was beautiful!


Fast forward to late last year, and NetGalley offered a new book by Susan Orleans. It had been so long since that last one, and, like childbirth, I’d pretty much forgotten the experience. But the real reason I begged for the book? It’s about Libraries! Ok, it’s about a particular one, the Los Angeles Public Library, and a fire that changes many lives, along with the library system. I don’t know if I’ve just matured and come to appreciate non-fiction more, but Orleans wowed me with this book.


Besides tremendous research and investigative skills, Orleans brings warmth and a generous spirit to the story. She gets to the heart of the systemic problems, uncovers information about the long-standing arson suspect, and brings to life on the page all of the people who help make this library hum. When so many people do the majority of their reading on their phone, this book brings me hope. It is a love letter to all public libraries, and an inspiring acknowledgement of their important place in our communities.

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review 2019-11-08 04:05
Transcription: A Novel - Kate Atkinson

Just when I thought I’d read enough World War II books (are they a genre? Should they be?), along comes another from Kate Atkinson, who has brought me through the war twice already, in Life After Life, and A God in Ruins. Ironically, I have these reviews back-to-back, but I actually read Transcription first, and am working my way through a backlog of reviews. In case you can’t tell, I’m a fan of Atkinson’s writing, and think that it can elevate even a mediocre storyline. There are compelling themes here—the women’s roles described offered yet another new perspective on the war—but the characters did not seem as developed, and the story as well-plotted as her other writing. You can see that even a partial miss for Atkinson still earns a respectable rating, because I liked it enough to finished it in a couple of days, and, even better, I learned something in the process.

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