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Reading Wednesday

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich

    This is my third book I have read by author Erdrich, and unfortunately my least favorite of the three. Here is my Book Review of The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich.

    Although the story, which is based on Erdrich’s grandfather’s life, was good, I found parts of the plot too mystical and fantastical.

    However, I did really enjoy the characters Erdrich developed in this fictional story of Native American life and trails. Her grandfather is featured as one of the main characters, Thomas, a night watchman at the local bearing plant where he lives on the Turtle Mountain Reservation in North Dakota. Thomas, a tribal leader takes the fight agaisnt dispossesion form North Dakota all the way to Washington D.C.

    The story follows Thomas and his struggle with the US Government, while also following Patrice, a young native girl who goes searching for her missing sister Vera. Patrice, somewhat coincidentally, falls in with a riffraff group of individuals, who know the whereabouts of her sister and her sister’s baby. On her search Patrice encounters a lot of horrible things, including some dreams and visions that guide the story.

    Two young men who both have falling for Patrice figure prominently in the tale, as the impoverished reservation and it’s residents seek a life of love and compassion, amidst the toil and poverty and lack of promise they all must endure.

    ***Three stars for The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich.

    Read last week’s review of American Dirt.

    My current read The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    I know this book has had a wide range of love and criticism. I have purposefully not followed all of that because I wanted to read the book with out that baggage. I’m glad I did, I enjoyed the book very much.

    I went into the story thinking it was about detention of illegal immigrants and the holding of illegal immigrants in the USA. So I was surprised to learn it wasn’t about that at all. Instead it’s about the trial and peril Mexican and other Central American migrants put themselves through in an effort to get away from certain death in their home countries.

    Following the mass murder of her entire family, Lydia escapes Acapulco with her son Luca. She knows she is being hunted by Javier, someone she thought was her friend but who has killed her family and now wants to kill her.

    On their journey to cross into the USA Lydia and Luca endure ordeals that are unimaginable to most of us. They are traveling with other undocumented immigrants- a wide representation of the human beings who need to escape certain death, rape and torture. Not all of them will make it across the border.

    This book is brutal and told with depth and despair. I enjoyed the writing and the story.

    *****Five stars for American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins.

    Read last week’s review of No One Will Tell You This But Me

    My current read Middlemarch by George Eliot

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Witty and wonderful, this easy to read memoir, Kalb’s first, is a perfect read for these days we are living in.

    Kalb (who is an Emmy-nominated writer on the Jimmy Kimmel show) saved every voice mail her grandmother Bobby ever left her. And with these little gems and a few zingers, Kalb crafts a delightful story of growing up with Grandma Bobby.

    Told in Bobby’s voice after her passing at age 90, we follow four generations of women. Bobby’s mother who immigrated from Belarus in 1880, Bobby’s rebellious daughter in New York City in the 70’s and finally Bess, Bobby’s grandaughter in modern day Los Angeles. Each of these women and their ties to Bobby make up this beautifully told true story.

    If everyone grew up having a grandmother like Bobby, everyone would be successful and happy. What a character she was and she loved so fiercely.

    I enjoyed Kalb’s writing style and the character development was excellent. I found it particularly poignant the huge leaps each generation made leaving a huge chasm between Bobby’s mother and Bobby’s grandaughter. I think we often forget what our ancestors endured so that we could live so abundantly.

    *****Five stars for Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb

    Read Last Week’s review of Love and Other Consolation Prizes

    My Current Read – The Night Watchman

    Wow my review of The Splendid and the Vile is performing excellent on Pinterest. Have you read it?

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

    Reading Wednesday

    I love supporting local authors from my home of Washington State. Jamie Ford is one of those authors. His book of several years ago Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was a New York Times best seller. I enjoyed that book but I think I actually liked Love and Other Consolation Prizes even more.

    Once again Ford brings the reader to Seattle, following the lives of a young Chinese boy, a young Japanese girl and raucous yet refined house of ill repute during the early 1900’s when Seattle hosted the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition.

    Young Ernest (his adopted name on the arrival in Seattle) is based on an actual boy who was auctioned off during the 1909 AYP Expo. Author Ford uses this real life event as a jumping off point to develop the fictional story of what life was like in Seattle from 1909 to 1962 when Seattle next hosted the World’s Fair.

    Though a fictional story, the book includes a great deal of factual information about immigrants, indentured servants, government corruption, prostitution, women’s votes (or lack of) as well as great detail about both the AYP and the ’62 World’s Fair. All woven believably into a tale of love, loss, and life as an Asian immigrant in the Pacific Northwest.

    ****Easy to read with a lovely plot and history lesson too. Four stars for Love and Other Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford

    Read last week’s review of The Glass Hotel.

    My current read Nobody Will Tell You This But Me

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    I’ve been waiting for this book to come out, I absolutely couldn’t contain my excitement to read St. John Mandel’s next novel, given how much I loved Station Eleven (a pandemic story by the way which you should read if you haven’t).

    But…unfortunately my expectations were too high. I liked The Glass Hotel but I didn’t love The Glass Hotel. I think I just set my heart on something that wasn’t realistic…a novel as good or better than Station Eleven.

    The Glass Hotel takes the reader through a series of events (a few too many coincidences in my opinion) that bring together small town girl Vincent (a bar tender in rural Canada) with millionaire Jonathan (a New York financier) in an unlikely relationship. Their lives and those of the people who swirl around them will all be devastated when the Ponzi scheme Jonathan is running collapses.

    The web that Jonathan has created through his years of lies and deceit will not only take him down, but all those he has touched and lied to for decades…including his own family and Vincent.

    In the end Jonathan begins to lose hold of reality, Vincent faces an icy fate and lives are torn apart and ruined by greed.

    ****Four stars for The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandle

    Read last week’s review of The Splendid and the Vile

    My current read Middlemarch by George Eliot

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

    Erik Larson's The Splendid and the Vile

    Spectacular. I love Erik Larson’s writing and although my favorite is still Devil in the White City, The Splendid and the Vile was remarkable.

    I listened to this book on Audible and I recommend it for that….it is a very detail oriented story of Winston Churchill’s life and leadership during WWII and for me, the perfect kind of story to be performed on Audible.

    This book could easily have been called Churchill Myth and Legend. I learned so much about this remarkable man; his idiosyncrasies, brilliant mind, clever strategies, courageous leadership and remarkable oratory abilities – all strengths that helped him keep England out of the German’s hands. The entire world owes much to Winston Churchill still today.

    Listening to this book during the Covid-19 outbreak I found so many parallels to the current world crisis. Two different kinds of war. I kept coming back to the fact that wars can often be won by sheer will…but only if a true leader can keep the spirits of the nation high through courageous oratory and patriotism…none of which I see from the leader of the USA.

    The Splendid and the Vile is astonishing in its scope, extraordinary in its historic detail and noteworthy in its ability to bring Churchill right into your living room.

    *****Five stars for The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

    Read last week’s review of Motherless Brooklyn

    My current read American Dirt

    Erik Larson's The Splendid and the Vile
    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem

    I really loved this book. What a great story told with such expression. I read the book on my Kindle but can imagine it would be excellent on Audible too…and now I hope to see the movie…if I ever get off this crazy island I’m trapped on.

    Reading is such a blessing during this lockdown, and a book like Motherless Brooklyn for me is the perfect distraction; a compelling story about believable characters in real world situations with modern day afflictions. It was a page turner.

    Lethem brilliantly creates a character living with full-on Tourette’s syndrome by using a combination of creative story-telling and ingenious tactile components in the story. His writing gives the reader a first hand experience of living with Tourette’s, while bringing together other elements of the character’s unique and obsessive mind. You will fall in love with the character of Lionel Essrog.

    Motherless Brooklyn follows Lionel’s life from childhood to mobster hood in Brooklyn and Harlem, as Lionel emerges as a talented detective, unafraid, detail obsessed and out to solve the murder of his mentor and only friend.

    High praise for all the characters in this story, the remarkable and unique plot, and the beautiful writing of Lethem.

    *****Five Stars for Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem.

    Read last week’s review of The Giver of Stars

    My current read American Dirt