Books I Done Read: January - April

5:08 PM

I have been wanting to talk about these books for weeks, but am way behind because for some reason Blogger keeps rejecting my "book talk" html coding format. I personally like my former format because I use the length of the image as a guide as to how much I say. (It keeps me from becoming too wordy.)  Each time I insert the code the images bounce around the page like monkeys on crack and I say bad words.

I am ashamed to admit how much time I have spent sitting in front of this computer trying get my old format to work. Anyway, I waved the white flag so I can get these "talked about" before I forget what they were about.

And, yes..the reviews are now much too wordy so I apologize to the three people who actually read them. Blame it on Blogger.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

This book definitely reminded me of Gone Girl, but don't let that stop you from reading it if you aren't a fan. This story starts out with the main character, Rachel, who has some serious drinking issues. She takes a train each day to work and on one trip sees a "golden" couple sitting outside on their patio that she names Jason and Jess. Each day on her commute she looks for them and begins to spin a story as to how she imagines their perfect life to be. As she spins out of control with her alcoholism, she becomes completely obsessed with the couple and takes on attributes of a stalker. When Jess disappears she is obsessed with finding out what happened. This is a suspense novel that is well-written, but I deduct points because I figured out the twist before the ending. I still think it's worth reading.
If you have already read Girl on the Train, here is a link to 12 Books To Read If You Loved 'The Girl On The Train' (That Aren't 'Gone Girl'). I have already read four of them and plan to check out some of the others.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

This is not a new book, but I had never read it until now. I loved it! I haven't read a book in a long time that made me sad because it was finished. I almost wish I could erase it from my memory and read it again. The writing format is different from most novels that take a character and feature their story from beginning to end. While the book keeps returning to the main character, Olive Kitteridge, it is actually written in a series of separate short-story vignettes featuring other people in their small town. Sometimes she appears in their stories and touches their lives (both good and bad) and sometimes she isn't even mentioned. She is a strong character and I found that when she wasn't featured in a story it gave me a needed respite from her. I thought the book was original and beautifully written. It reminded me of Barbara Kingsolver's talent for painting pictures with words. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Inside the O'Briens by Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova is known for taking a disease and spinning a story around it. (You can read my summary of Still Alice here.) This time she tackles Huntington's Disease. While I was a little ambivalent about the book while I was reading it because I felt the character development was a bit weak, it oddly stayed with me so much that I wanted to know more about the disease. I did a Google search and found a documentary on YouTube. In that video I saw many of the same stories and dynamics play out in real people exactly as she had described in her book. I wonder if this documentary was her inspiration for writing the novel. If it wasn't, then this would be an eerie coincidence. While I would recommend the book, I also highly recommend watching the documentary Do You Really Want to Know first. I think after you watch this you will be able to "see" her characters and appreciate why this is the most horrible diagnosis you could ever receive.
At the Water's Edge by Sara Gruen

This is about a rich couple and their even richer sidekick setting out for Scotland in 1944 to find the Loch Ness Monster. I found the topic to be a little odd, but was more than willing to give it a shot because I really enjoyed Water for Elephants. I was totally disappointed in this book. If you love romance novels (the ones where the girl is ravished by the cad she can't resist and then discovers he is actually an aristocrat), then perhaps you will love it. I personally found the story to be too predictable, cheesy, and unrealistic, but it still may redeem itself as a good beach read. I think this would probably make a better script for a Lifetime Movie than a novel.

A Southern Girl: A Novel by John Warley

This is a tale of  a couple who adopts a Korean baby. The father is from a very old Charleston family living in a city where your family lineage opens up societal inclusion automatically. Unfortunately, all doors are not necessarily open when you are an adopted Asian child that doesn't share that blood lineage.

I read this book mainly because it received a recommendation by Pat Conroy. The book has Mr. Conroy's flavor, but is missing his writing chops. It was an enjoyable enough read because the author really is from Charleston and much of the descriptions rang true. What didn't ring true for me was how far the dad went to see that his daughter was included in one dance that wouldn't have affected her life one way or the other.

While the book was good at highlighting that adopted children from other cultures face adversity when their ethnicity is different from their adoptive parents, I think the book could have presented challenges using more compelling examples. He focused on one exclusive Charleston event hosted by a private organization where invitation is reserved to only those whose lineage can be traced to the original founders. His example of her exclusion was a product of antiquated by-laws rather than its members' personal prejudice of her ethnicity. Most all of Charleston is excluded from this ball regardless of ethnicity. (I'm sure my invitation was sent to the wrong address.) I would still recommend this book as a good beach read.


If you watch the Bravo show Southern Charm, the upcoming episode is featuring one of Charleston society's darlings hosting his own ball because he doesn't have the blood lineage (nor do the other cast members) to attend the "real" ball.

Have you read any of these? I would love to know in the comments. You can always comment anonymously and only add your name if you wish.

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  1. Great reviews! I was thinking that I need to download books for my summer vaca! Haven't read 'Girl on the Train" but plan to. I was curious about the book about Huntington's Disease. Sounds like a pretty good one. I did start Olive Kittridge awhile ago but couldn't get into it. Thx for the recommendations! Enjoy your week!


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