Up and Coming Book Reviews

The Pasha of India – Fiction about a royal child who escapes the murder of his family and is raised by the cooks in the palace. He himself has special talents as a chef, which allow him to get back to his true love, after a circuitous route. Not great, but some wonderful cooking explanations.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins- I thought this was one of the most ingenious books I have read. A young woman romanticizes the life of a couple she passes every day on her way to work, only to face the reality of who they are and how her own life is intertwined with theirs.

The Song of the Jade Lilly by Kirsty Manning- I have read so many books whose setting is World War II and did not think I could face another. But this one takes place mainly in Shanghai, and though it references some of the most common aspects of Hitler’s take over, the story is really one of love and dedication to friendship. It’s not great writing, but it is interesting and acquainted me with pieces of history I did not know.

The Book of Lost Names by Kristen Harmel- This takes place during the French resistance to the Nazi’s during World War II, and a young lady’s determination to remember the people who have been lost.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchet – I have read three novels by Ann Patchet without realizing she was the author. They all have a familiar theme of dysfunctional families and the consequences, but in them all, there is hope, redemption, and the unfolding of a person’s better self.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett- Same as above, but her words flow and her sentences silky with metaphors that evoke clear images. This story about a family torn apart by divorce seems to jump from one time to another, or one person to another which initially made me think some pages were missing. It explains itself though and becomes clear. It’s good, but not a favorite.

The Amazing life of Eudora Honeysett by Annie Lyon – A really, really sweet story of an older, unmarried woman. At first, it reminded me of a Man Called Ove- the disgruntled elderly person who just wanted to die. Like Ove too, Eudora finds a reason to live. The book deals with the dignity often missing from dying.

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante- This we read for my book club. A couple of the women liked it- usually citing Ferrante’s unlikable characters and the way they are portrayed with all their flaws. They appreciated the message. I could grasp the message without liking the book, and this is one I would not recommend.

King Kong by James Mc Bride – Take a African American neighborhood, centered around their church, and a white detective. Add all the color of the dialect, the personalities so rich you feel you could identify them if you met them in real life, a mystery or two, and a quick pace and that’s the novel. A good read.

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead- Though Colson Whitehead has received Pulitzer Prizes for his work, I think it is because of the stories themselves, not for his literary style. He writes directly, simply reminding me more of a journalist than an author. I liked the novel, following Cora on her journey as Whitehead made every stop on this real underground railroad a different place, each one highlighting a truthful horrible injustice or shameful event in American history. It’s maybe a little magical realism, but worth a read.

The Nickel Boys- Colson Whitehead Another story that needed to be told about a Black boy who is mistakenly taken to a teen “jail”. It exposes a place thought to be good, but that hid horrible deaths and injustices.

On my night table:

Stamped from the Beginning by Ibrim X. Kendi – Oh man. I can only read a few pages of this at a time, not because it is not interesting but because it contains so much, too much to absorb all of it. I need a note pad and pen as I read, feeling I am back in a history class, furiously taking notes. To me, this is one to read with someone else- to keep you going and to share your thoughts.

Liberte’ by Kaitlyn Greenridge- for my book club

The Maid by Nita Prose – for my book club

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell (featured in Writer’s Digest)

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