Book Reviews


Salvage  by Jane F. Kotapish  my rating 2 out of 5 stars

This appears to be a story about an unhinged thirty-something female who is trying to come to terms with a recent tragedy she witnessed, and her entire childhood. I say ‘appears to be’ as there is really very little plot development here. Any ‘story’ is well hidden behind the writing which constantly takes center-stage. However, the elegant but often flowery prose does not make up for the constant leaps forward and back in time – which happen within chapters and without warning or reason most of the time – and the very limited interest you develop for the main character. Her friend across the street or her mother hold your attention more.

The Buried Giant
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro   my rating: 4 of 5 stars

I wrote a long blog on my perceptions of this novel the first time I read it, but this is a book that stays with you, questions linger, and so I read it again just to check.
It is an unusual mix of Arthurian legend, Norse mythology, dampened historical feuds between former enemies, and the more poignant, personal view of a long marriage and the inevitable mistakes
– great or small – partners make.
It is, as I said the last time, well worth reading even if you’re not particularly interested in dragons and knights in shining armor; the premise and concepts covered will keep your interest.

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A Book of Common PrayerA Book of Common Prayer by Joan Didion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven’t read a novel by Didion, only her essays, and wasn’t sure what to expect. However, her writing style – disjointed, ironic, sharp – is the same and takes the reader on a very fragmented journey of a troubled woman, Charlotte, who deals with the unpleasant facts and aspects of life by re- or mis- remembering them, or choosing only to remember the parts she wants to. This is all reported by Grace who sees it as her duty to be Charlotte’s ‘witness’ although much of what she reports on is based only on others’ memories, which are also skewed for various reasons.
An interesting, if sometimes confusing, read about how we can never fully know anyone and why we shouldn’t presume to.

The Bertrams Bertrams by Anthony Trollope

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fairly straightforward Romance format by Trollope with lots of lessons in this one: be happy with what you’ve achieved; don’t presume you know what others are thinking; marry for love and respect etc. etc.

The Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and NewThe Abundance: Narrative Essays Old and New by Annie Dillard

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Just jam-packed with insight and thoughtful analysis of our world, nature and the human condition. Dillard makes sure you understand your place in the world and what you are missing by not seeing and trying to understand everything.
She’s a modern-day Whitman – just sit and look out!

A Time for AngelsA Time for Angels by Karen Hesse

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A beautifully-written, poignant story about the resilience of children. Hesse is able to write books that appeal to and resonate with any age of reader.

The MiniaturistThe Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Interesting setting and premise but relied on shock value for plot rather than just developing an interesting storyline, and letting the characters tell the story.

Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the WorldHard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another intriguing and slightly odd read from Murakami – but that is what is expected from him. It has the usual double storyline, the strange creatures and settings mixed in with the realism of modern-day Japan, and a single introverted male protagonist. Worth reading if you like a bit of low fantasy, although not as good as Kafka on the Shore or IQ84.

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