book review


Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Barbara Kingsolver is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. The first one I read was the Poisonwood Bible. It is still my favorite that I have read but this one runs a close second.

This story follows two families- different times but the same place. The current family has done everything right but are not succeeding in life. There is a husband and wife, their grown children, the dad (father in law), and the new baby. It is, unfortunately, so real how things sometimes just are out of our control in our lives and the way things are set up, it is hard to recover.

The past family is a gentleman and his wife and her family and their neighbor. He is a science teacher and the neighbor is a scientist. Turns out, she is a real person and her character is based on real correspondence she had with Darwin and other scientists of the time. The community was fighting the new thing being learned called evolution so it was not an easy teaching job for this man who was very intelligent and wanting to expand the minds of the local children.

There were a couple of characters that just stood out to me. One was Mary Treat, the neighbor. I need to learn more about her. The other was the daughter of the first couple, Tig. I just absolutely loved her pure heart.

I highly recommend this book but just know ahead of time that the reality of some things may be difficult. I am one of those people that keeps having things go wrong and I am struggling because of it..

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The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, this book is so relevant to now. I listened to it on audible and I believe that it may be the best way to “read” this book. I think that people that read this book may understand others a bit better. It is not anti-cop but it is about a police officer that unjustly kills a young black man and the community wants justice. Just like in real life, the media tears the young man apart when he did nothing wrong when he was shot. The main character in the book was his best childhood friend and was with him when he was killed. The story is from her point of view. Her fear of coming forward, her fear of not coming forward. Her grieving the loss of her second friend in her arms. Her trying to stay together. He now fear of police officers though her beloved uncle is one.

I had no idea that a movie is about to be released until this week so my timing on reading this was perfect. I plan on seeing the movie this weekend while the book is still so fresh in my mind. I recommend this book to everyone. As a white woman, it hit me very hard. I could relate to the mom but, I am lucky with my white privilege, that I have never had to deal with the types of things the characters in this story do. Read this book. I hope the movie does it justice as I know many wont read books but may watch the movie. I think it is important for this dialogue to take place.

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NOS4A2NOS4A2 by Joe Hill

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, I had a friend recommend Joe Hill to me a couple of years ago, I finally got around to getting one, on Audible. I was very impressed by this book. I hate to compare him to his father but there are some definite similarities. This story is a horror but it also has humor and romance. The bad guys are very bad but even they have qualities that make them human. You can say the same thing about the good characters. Everyone is multi-faceted. There are little things throughout the book that reference other books and films. I loved all the little nerd references throughout the book, too.

The protagonist, Vic, is a young lady with a multitude of problems but also a special talent. She can ride her bike across a bridge and come out where she needs to be to find what she is looking for. As a teen, she has an argument with her mother and goes looking for trouble. She finds Manx. He is a villain that takes kids with him to a place where is it always Christmas. He is a type of vampire. The kids enable him to live forever. Vic gets away from Manx and years later he comes back to get her and she has to fight him for her son.

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Auschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque LandAuschwitz: True Tales from a Grotesque Land by Sara Nomberg-Przytyk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow, This was not an easy book to read but are any holocaust books? I think this one was even more so. These are memories from a survivor of Auschwitz. She shares details of individuals that are with her there from guards to other prisoners, There are stories about how people did awful things to save themselves and others of people that sacrificed themselves or put themselves at risk to help other prisoners. She goes through the hierarchy in the prison. Some people were able to go up in status for different reasons, sometimes, just because of who they knew. I guess I had never realized how different it was for various people in there. Some prisoners lived much better than others. They learned to find happiness at times but they also learned to just step over dead bodies without thinking about it. There was debating on whether or not it was kinder or more cruel to tell fellow prisoners what their fate was when they were heading to the showers or what would happen to them if they were sick or had children. There are people that you wonder what happened to them as we never find out. The chapter on the lovers hit hard.

What I always find interesting is how there seemed to be so much a fight to survive. To me, I don’t know if I would have that or if I would be one to just give up. She states that there were very few suicides. How do people find the strength to go on in times like this? I am sure there are things that are not 100% accurate in this book as these were memories recalled years later but I am glad that I read this. It is a very haunting book on how people can treat others and the will to survive.

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Bark If You Love MeBark If You Love Me by Louise Bernikow

I got this book at the free book exchange in town and was pretty excited about it. What happens when Mr Right turns out to have four legs and a tail. Sounds like me and my Puck but I was pretty disappointed. Sure, she learns a lot about dogs but she didn’t like dogs at all at the beginning, she really didn’t try to find his owner when he was found. She did learn to love him and he was good for her but I just kept thinking that someone was missing him. I do definitely understand the bond though and who needs a man when I have a dog. That love that a dog gives you is fantastic. It was a cute story. I guess there is another one. I may read t at some time but at this time, it is not on my TBR list. If it finds its way into my hands, I will probably read it but I won’t seek it out.

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The New Work of Dogs: Tending to Life, Love, and FamilyThe New Work of Dogs: Tending to Life, Love, and Family by Jon Katz
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book was in interesting look at why people have dogs and what the dogs do for that person. Every chapter was a different person and their dog. Most of them were emotional support of some kind. There was the divorced dog club, the gal with cancer, the lonely kid, the old man. Some of the stories were very sweet. The gal with her Corgi was adorable. Two of them were awful. These two the dogs were neglected or abused. I couldn’t have just written those stories. I would have had to call and report them. Luckily, one of them went on to a better life.
I didn’t agree with everything that this guys said. He said that dogs will completely forget their owners if needed to. I disagree with that for all dogs. You hear stories about dogs that travel long distances to find their homes again. We see stories about dogs that are devoted beyond comprehension and I personally saw a dog grieve herself to death when my ex moved out. She was never happy again and died six months later.
Overall, this book was very sweet about people and their canine companions. I know that my life is better with my dogs (and my kids dog). They are always happy to see me and they always seem to know when I am down and need extra love. I wouldn’t say this is a must read but it is good and enjoyable.

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See MeSee Me by Nicholas Sparks

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I actually loved this book. Yes, it was a love story and a bit of a thriller but it was also a story of second chances and that was my favorite part of the book.

A bit of synopsis without spoilers from Amazon:
See me just as I see you . . .

Colin Hancock is giving his second chance his best shot. With a history of violence and bad decisions behind him and the threat of prison dogging his every step, he’s determined to walk a straight line. To Colin, that means applying himself single-mindedly toward his teaching degree and avoiding everything that proved destructive in his earlier life. Reminding himself daily of his hard-earned lessons, the last thing he is looking for is a serious relationship.

Maria Sanchez, the hardworking daughter of Mexican immigrants, is the picture of conventional success. With a degree from Duke Law School and a job at a prestigious firm in Wilmington, she is a dark-haired beauty with a seemingly flawless professional track record. And yet Maria has a traumatic history of her own, one that compelled her to return to her hometown and left her questioning so much of what she once believed.

A chance encounter on a rain-swept road will alter the course of both Colin and Maria’s lives, challenging deeply held assumptions about each other and ultimately, themselves. As love unexpectedly takes hold between them, they dare to envision what a future together could possibly look like . . . until menacing reminders of events in Maria’s past begin to surface.

Rich in emotion and fueled with suspense, SEE ME reminds us that love is sometimes forged in the crises that threaten to shatter us . . . and that those who see us for who we truly are may not always be the ones easiest to recognize.

The thriller part was interesting and had twists and turns. Colin was so protective. He did everything he could to keep Maria safe, almost messing up his life. The love story was fabulous. It was about accepting someone for who they are. None of us are perfect but we all deserve love and you never know where or when you will find it. This book was unusual for a Sparks book in as I wasn’t sobbing at any part of the book.

My favorite part was the second chance of Colin. His story reminded me so much of my friend. I have a friend that is an ex-con. I met him when he was in the halfway house. We clicked immediately and if he hadn’t had to leave due to terms of his parole, we may have actually given our relationship a chance. I so enjoyed my time with him and saw him for much more than his mistake.  I was his first friend after prison. We talk occasionally and I miss him so.  I wish we had been able to give it a try and he feels the same way.

I loved that Sparks covered this in the story. So many people make poor choices but that is not necessarily who they are. If they really want to turn their lives around and are making the effort, they all deserve a second chance.

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