Books I Done Read: May - June

1:29 PM

I hit a big sale on paperbacks a few weeks ago and picked up a few titles that I never got around to reading when they were in hardback. On the one hand, I'm glad they were such a bargain. On the other hand, if I had picked them up at the library they would have been free so I actually blew $20 for no reason. I am passing three of these to friends and family to justify my purchase. One of these gets passed to the trash bin because I'm embarrassed to admit I read it.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

The heroine, Ursula Todd, keeps dying, being reborn, and dying again. Each time she starts over she intuitively knows to avoid mistakes that led to her demise in her previous life. The longer she lives the more she alters history.

The book starts out with her killing Hitler which alone is a fascinating "what if..." scenario.  I found she made history come alive from the beginnings of World War I to the beginning of World War II. Some of it was historically accurate and other scenarios were "what ifs" had history been changed after she was reborn. Brilliant concept!

Once you get into the rhythm of this book it begins to flow, but chronologically it is all over the place because after dying the story resets at her birth and starts over. There is a little handy-dandy chart in the front of the book that gives you the order of events so you can flip back to remember what happened to her during her first (or more) times living through the events. At first I wondered why it was there, but after a few chapters I appreciated having the guide. I would have gone crazy trying to flip back on my ipad, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend this as an ebook or as an audiobook. If you are holding a "real" book, you can easily go back and reread if needed.

I loved the book and have just started reading her newest book, A God in Ruins.  This book features Ursula's beloved brother, Teddy, who was an important figure in her life. I'm hoping it as memorable as Life After Life.

If you haven't read this one, I highly recommend it. But be will want to talk about it with someone else when it is over. This would make an excellent book club pick.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Take a sci-fi topic, mix in a mystery, and add a dash of National Geographic Explorer and you have State of Wonder. This book is about big pharma drug corporations, researchers who have agendas that are not necessarily the same as the corporations who pay them, and the innocent lives and cultures that are caught in the middle and forever changed. 

It took a little bit to drag me in, but once the story finally made it deep into the rainforest of Brazil the pace of the book picked up. This book is memorable and the descriptions of drug research and lost tribes appealed to my science/anthropological geek side. I think the book was intended to start a moral argument, but frankly it wasn't written on a deep enough level to create that kind of passion. For me it was merely an entertaining story.

The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell 

 If The Great Gatsby and The Girl on the Train had a child, it would be The Other Typist. It was an entertaining read without requiring much thought. The story does carry you along, but it isn't so captivating that you can't put it down if you need to fold a load of laundry. This is the kind of book you tend to recommend as a beach read rather than a great novel. 

It is set in Manhattan during the prohibition. The central character, Rose, is a clerical typist for a New York Police precinct. Nothing much interesting ever happens in her life until the fascinating Odalie joins the typing pool. As Rose gets more sucked into Odalie's life and manipulations, the more she moves to The Dark Side. There is an unexpected twist at the end of the book, but it was such a short account that at first I wasn't sure that a twist happened. Come to think of it, I'm still not quite sure who is the victim and who is the villian.

It is good summer reading and definitely worth checking out. You'll want to discuss the ending with someone else just to get another viewpint of what the heck really happened.

Pill Head by Joshua Lyon

I love a good gritty memoir of addiction, recovery, and ultimately the author's triumph. This was not that memoir. As a matter of fact, I started to omit this one from the list because I hate to admit I read the whole thing.

The author, though honest about his drug use, never gained my sympathy or gave any reason to even like him as a human being. He gave a very thorough education on how easy it is score illegal prescription drugs, the ploys that addicts use to score what they want, and how addicts in rehab manipulate their care to ensure they never truly get clean even while being monitored. The author repeatedly states that he takes responsibility for his actions, but his actions speak otherwise. He spends more energy justifying his lifestyle choices and lack of religious beliefs than focusing on his addiction or the desire to kick it. Much of the book could have been cut and pasted from a Physicians Desk Reference. 

I hope one day Mr. Lyon wants to get clean, but you won't find his epiphany in this book. At least he is honest in letting us know that even when an addict hits bottom, he can still make excuses rather than take accountablitiy.

Until next time....

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  1. I've been waiting for some book reviews from you. The Other Typist sounds like my kind of book. I'm not a big fan of Kate Atkinsen or Ann Patchett, but these sound pretty good. Thanks for your reviews.

    1. I've never been a big fan of them either. These books were talked about so much I decided I would give them a try. I really want another book that I can't put down. That for me is the ultimate good read!


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