"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." Groucho Marx

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Girl You Left Behind by JoJo Moyes

I loved, loved, loved the parts of this book that followed the struggles of Sophie and her family in German occupied France during WWI. When the tale swaps over to the more modern day story of Liv, a young widow struggling to survive and keep the belongings she cherishes, I lost some of the momentum Sophie created. Liv is likable too and her friend Mo is fabulous but I was so entranced by Sophie that when the story moves into the next century it felt jarring. That said, I was kept riveted by the glimpses I continued to get of Sophie throughout the book and the promise of finally finding out what happened to her kept the pages turning late into the night. When the final mystery is uncovered it's hard to imagine receiving the story any other way. This one didn't make the 5-star mark only because the final part of Sophie's story was hard for me to buy into. Regardless, I logged on immediately I bought a couple more by JoJo Moyes. I'm a confirmed fan and can't wait until her new release, One Plus One, in just a few days. 

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17572903-the-girl-you-left-behind?from_search=true.

Alex by Pierre Lemaitre

Woah! This is a creepy one! Working as a librarian, I get book recommendations from library users all day long and (shame upon me) I rarely take them. It's not because the patrons are habitually bad book-pickers. I just have an ongoing wish list that extends beyond the next three lifetimes as it sits today so a book has to be pretty compelling to jump to the top of that exalted list of "to-reads". Well, this one did. I burned through it in two (working) days and still can't stop thinking about it. It's translations like this that make me long for the ability to speak the native tongue of the author. If the translation is this good, can you imagine what it must be like in its natural form? But alas, I am sadly unilingual... Four stars and not five only because there was a certain tone to the writing that made the narrative voice seem removed or distant from the story. I can't tell if this is a product of the translation or if this is the author's style. It's not a bad thing but it disrupted the flow a little for me to be in a gripping part of this creep-festy tale and feel like it's being narrated by Ben Stein. (All my love to Ben Stein, there's nothing wrong with him either-I just don't think I could stay awake for long if he read me a story...) If you are a fan of mystery and/or suspense add this one to your must-reads, post haste. 

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17316535-alex.

Finding Me by Michelle Knight

This is exactly the kind of book that prompted me to start measuring the level of engagement a book holds for me and not just rely on a star rating. Giving this book four stars indicates that I liked it. I did not like it. It's horrifying and heartbreaking. The life Michelle Knight has endured is so cruel and appalling that it was very difficult for me to remember that her story is a true one. Men, yes, more than one, mistreated her to such an extent that I couldn't even wrap my mind around it. Still can't. So about the four stars... Michelle's tale of survival is so astounding I can't stop thinking about how incredibly strong she is. My book club read this one for our last choice and it was the most depressing book club discussion I have ever been party to but, every single person in our group finished the book. That has never happened before. So I gave it four stars. Because Michelle deserves at least that for telling her tale. For putting herself out there. For reliving the nightmares in the retelling. I don't like the story but I do like her. Knock it out of the park, Michelle. The rest of this life belongs to you. I know a book club in Wyoming who is rooting for your every success and happiness.

You will find an official book description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20257122-finding-me.

Home to Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani

This closeout novel to the Big Stone Gap series was a little disappointing. It seems like the storyline is just worn through by this time. There are still good parts, points of value, and even a few belly laughs but unfortunately when you hold this one up to the first two it just can't compete. Each book in the series got just a little weaker but the characters are so lovable and dynamic I kept hoping for a return to what made me fall in love to begin with. Sadly this one never quite gets there. I'm not sorry I read it but I would recommend the first one 100 times over before I mentioned this one. 

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/58823.Home_to_Big_Stone_Gap?from_search=true.

Milk Glass Moon by Adriana Trigiani

I really would have given this one a 3.5 if I had the option. I still love this series but the difficulties that Ave Maria faces are starting to become redundant. It seems like she continually faces the same trials within her marriage without ever making any progress, for better or worse (no pun intended). That is not to say that the book isn't completely worth reading just to keep up with Fleeta, Speck, Iva Lou, and the rest of the wacky bunch populating Big Stone Gap. I wouldn't have missed this one but I didn't love it quite so much as the first two. When I was working on the engagement reading for this one it was especially difficult because all the parts with Iva Lou, Speck, Fleeta, and the others are still 4 stars for me but the parts with Ave Maria slowed the momentum of the whole novel.

You will find an official plot line description at: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/105696.Milk_Glass_Moon?ac=1.