Thursday, October 8, 2020

Alexander HamiltonAlexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finished it! It took me three months, but I did it. I was slowed down by all the songs bursting out in my head, and all the times I watch Hamilton on Disney Plus. There's no point to reviewing this, because there is nothing I can add to what has already been said. If you enjoyed the musical, or just enjoy biographies—read it. Don't be intimidated by the length. Plan on it taking awhile. Even it is only 15 pages a day, read them and savor them. It is worth it!

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Friday, August 21, 2020

When We Were Young & Brave: A NovelWhen We Were Young & Brave: A Novel by Hazel Gaynor
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I always like Hazel Gaynor books and I particularly enjoyed this one. Like many of her books, this one goes back in time. Nancy Plummer, now a grown woman, was a young girl at the time of WWII, when she was in a boarding school in China for children of missionaries. Elspeth Kent was one of her teachers and the leader of her Girl Guides group. Japan is at war with China, and takes over the school. The children and staff are sent to another school, and eventually, to an internment camp. I've read of the concentration camps in Germany, and of the Japanese interment camps here in the U.S., and I'd even read of the POW camps in which Japan held military prisoners. But I had not read of the interment of civilians by the Japanese, so I learned something new, a mark of good historical fiction!

One thing I really liked about the book is that while conditions were bleak and the Japanese soldiers were often cruel, the author also showed us that there is another side. Sometimes the guards could be quite humane! I also enjoyed how the prisoners pulled together to keep everyone's spirits up. I also appreciated that there was an epilogue to bring up up to date on some of the characters. I would like to have known the fate of some of the guards, but then that probably would have been unrealistic since the prisoners most likely didn't befriend the guards afterwards.

If you are looking for a quick read that may teach yo a little history, this is the book for you!

I received an advance copy of this book through the Library Think Early Reviewers program.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Review: Alternate Sides

Alternate SideAlternate Side by Anna Quindlen
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I picked this book up at a Little Free Library in Wentzville because the cover caught my eye and I'd heard good things about Anna Quindlen but had not read her before. This book was a disappointment after the build-up, and I'm not sure I will pick her up again.

I feel that the synopsis was completely misleading. It made it seem that the main characters were in a happy marriage that went bad after 'terrible incident' in the neighborhood. But truthfully, the marriage was already in trouble when the story started, and the 'incident' didn't take place until about a third of the way through the book. The story was slow moving and never really caught my attention. It felt more like reading someone's diary than a story with a point. It kind of felt like a 'coming-of-age' story, with the main character trying to figure out who she wanted to be, but she was in her 40s.

I'm giving this one 2½ Stars - ok, but just barely, and certainly forgettable! If you enjoy Anna Quindlen, maybe give it a try, but otherwise, put it near the bottom of you pile and read something else!

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Saturday, July 11, 2020

Review: Two Truths and a Lie

Two Truths and a LieTwo Truths and a Lie by Meg Mitchell Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a good summer read. It moved quickly and kept my interest. The comparison to Lianne Moriarty is a good one.
The story is told from different points of view, one of which is 'The Squad'—the group of moms of middle school girls—that act as a 'greek chorus' by filling in details from there perspective. They aren't a likeable group of women. They are catty and cliquish—think 'Mean Girls' all grown up.
We know from the beginning that this is a book that does not end happily—somebody dies. We just don't know who or how. I enjoyed the journey. Though I wouldn't classify this book as a mystery or a suspense, there is some suspense along the way. One character is 'in hiding', on the run from a bad marriage. For the most part, the characters were likable and well-developed, though they often made questionable decisions.
The book is a great beach read, but will also appeal to book clubs. It would make a great selection for the summer when clubs are looking for a quick, fun read, but also something with discussion potential. Topics of discussion could include parent-teen relationship, grief recovery, abusive relationship, cliques, and more.

I won this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway!

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