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review 2016-01-14 13:41
The Imperfectionists - Tom Rachman

A collection of short stories, The Imperfectionists tells the stories of the men and women working for a struggling international English language newspaper in Rome. While the stories themselves are those of the contemporary employees ranging from the Editor in Chief to the obituary writer and accounts payable, the in-between moments are woven through with vignettes depicting the newspaper's history.

 

I was rather surprised by this collection. The author set out to write a character driven book, and he accomplished it. I appreciate that he did not go out of his way to make these men and women likable. Which is not to say they aren't, it is just very clear that his intent was to give the reader an inside look at real people, their insecurities, flaws, and imperfections. Too often authors fall into the trap of making their characters too black or white, either all good or all bad, resulting in a caricature of human nature. Rachman does not do that, and we instead wind up with a realistic glimpse into the lives of people who are no different than you or me.

 

While the story does advance to a definite conclusion, this book is not for the readef who needs their books to be plot driven. It is all about the people who reside in its pages. I also don't think it is for anyone who does not enjoy short stories. Once upon a time, I thought that was me. I have since realized that I was wrong. A short story done well can be every bit as enjoyable and complete as a novel. This collection does a fine job at doing exactly that. If you enjoy short stories and character portraits, then I would recommend you give this book a look.

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review 2015-06-20 18:10
Standard Fare for the Genre
Someone to Love - Jude Deveraux

It's been three years since Jace Montgomery's fiancee Stacey was found dead in an English inn. Her death was ruled a suicide, but Jace refuses to accept this and is unable to move on with his life. When he finds a cryptic note in an old book of hers written on the back of a sales flyer for a large English estate he impulsively buys it in hopes of solving the mystery of Stacey's death. True to the genre's form though, he not only manages to find a reason to live, but love as well.

 

This book was everything I remember Jude Deveraux's books to be, light and fluffy love stories, with just a touch of intrigue to keep you interested. I really liked the female lead in this book, Nightingale. She was sassy and independent, with a touch of vulnerability. Jace was typical of all the Montgomery men, kind, intelligent, and extremely good looking. This book was a paranormal romance, and while I could have done without some aspects of the ghost story it was a good way to set up the interaction between Jace and Nigh and the revelation of the mystery behind Stacey's death. Like all genre romances it was over the top and completely unrealistic, but not a bad way to pass an afternoon. It wasn't enough to convince me to start reading romance novels regularly again, but it was a nice reminder of what I enjoyed about them.

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text 2015-06-09 18:34
Slow
The Buried Giant: A novel - Kazuo Ishiguro

I was really excited about this book. Ishiguro hasn't released a new book in a number of years and this one has ties to Arthurian legend, so I was thinking it would be right up my alley. Unfortunately it just didn't work for me. On the surface, The Buried Giant tells the story of an elderly married couple who makes the decision to leave their home to find their son whom they've not seen in a number of years. However, it is clear from the beginning that there is more to it than that. A mist of forgetfulness lies over the whole land, preventing them and everyone else from accessing their memories, even of the recent past. As the story continues it morphs into something greater than just a trip to visit their son into a quest to dispel this fog and recover their lost past.

 

This summary actually makes the book sound really intriguing, and it could have been. Yet it was lacking something. It felt like the same veil preventing Axl and Beatrice from their memories also prevented me from fully connecting with their story. The pacing of the story was quite slowe and even events that should have been exciting and instead made me feel tired and at times bored. As a result it took a long time to complete this book. If you are a fan of Ishiguro, I would recommend you read it, however for those who have not enjoyed his books in the past it is one I suggest you skip.

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review 2015-05-11 19:38
State of Wonder - Ann Patchett

Dr. Marina Singh is stunned to hear that her lab mate, Anders Eckman has died after travelling to the Amazon on company business. Pushed by her boss and compelled ny Anders wife, Marina undertakes her own trip into the jungle to learn the details of why Anders died and to finish the job he for which he was originally sent. Once there however, nothing is what she expected and she is left questioning her own life, past and present.

 

This book had a bit of a slow start, but once Marina finally gets to the Amazon, I was hooked. The story took some interesting turns, and each time I left off, I was anxious to hear more. I was disappointed by one event near the end, and also in a few loose ends that I felt Patchett could have done more to tie up. You wouldn't know it going in, but this book has a very subtle science fiction angle that I think anyone reading it should be aware of. I listened to this as an audio book and felt the reader was decent, though she would occasionally forget the accent when she was narrating an Aussie woman. Overall, I would recommend this book to fans of both Patchett and science fiction.

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review 2015-05-03 14:13
The Glittering World - Robert Levy

When Blue's grandmother dies, she leaves behind a legacy for him. He has lived his life in America, and doesn't even remember the five years he spent in an isolated Canadian community, his, mother a, member of an artist's commune and his grandmother a God-fearing pillar of Starling Cove. When he travels back to look at the property she has left him, he takes his friends Gave, Elisa, and her husband Jason. When they arrive however, nothing is as it seems and their lies begin to unravel.

 

This book has earned comparisons to Neil Gaiman's Ocean at the End of the Lane. While I can understand that, it is not the first book of which I was reminded. It put me much more in mind of Keith Donahue's The Stolen Child. The themes were incredibly similar, and cannot help but invite comparison. Unfortunately, beyond the themes and the underlying darkness, the comparison to both stop there. While those books were dazzling and grabbed me right from the beginning, I found this one to be nothing more than average, and ultimately forgettable. It was an entertaining enough way to pass the time, but I cannot remember more than basics of this novel. It had so much potential, and while I wish I could recommend it more highly, it just wasn't anything special.

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