Wordless Wednesday: House on the Rock

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Wall of Vases in the House on the Rock in Wisconsin
More Wordless Wednesday here.
Photo by moi.

Mini Reviews: Gourmet Rhapsody, This Book Is Overdue, and The Racketeer

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

 

Gourmet Rhapsody
by Muriel Barbery
★★★
 
At least half of all of my reading is done through audio books, and this one is well done. Having multiple people to voice the characters helps keep conversations straight.
 
The book revolves around Pierre Arthens, a food critic, who is on his death bed and desperately trying to recall a specific meal. It's told mainly through memories and through various characters' points of view. It’s a small book and I was glad for that. Pierre’s narrow, selfish view of the world would have been hard to handle for much longer. I kept picturing him as the dour food critic from Ratatouille while I was reading. For someone who is so skilled at dissecting each individual element of the food he eats, Pierre is ridiculously self-centered and oblivious when it comes to his family.
 
BOTTOM LINE: The foodie aspects of the book were my favorite. The rest of it felt like it only skimmed the surface of the relationships.
 
 
This Book Is Overdue!
How Librarians and Cybrarians Can Save Us All
by Marilyn Johnson
★★
 
As someone who loves nonfiction and librarians, I thought this one would be a no-brainer for me. Unfortunately it’s such a disjointed mishmash of information it feels more like a Wikipedia page than a cohesive book. Johnson seems to have written anecdotes about things she found as she research librarians without having a real goal or overarching message for the book. At one point she discusses, at length, the way librarians use second life. It just never came together in any cohesive way for me.
 
BOTTOM LINE: Skip it, I can’t think of one substantive thing I learned from the book.
 
 
The Racketeer
by John Grisham
★★★
 
In high school and early college I blew through about 20 Grisham books. The plots tend to be pretty similar, so at times they blended together in my mind, indistinguishable from each other. It’s been almost a decade since I picked up one of his novels, so when I saw this one on the exchange shelf at our hotel in Fiji I decided to give it a shot.
 
It’s definitely a Grisham novel. One man up against a big company, or in this case, the government. Malcom Bannister is a lawyer who is sent to prison when he unknowingly gets caught up in a client’s money laundering business. He spends his time helping other prisoners fight their convictions and wishing for a day when he will be released. When a judge is murdered he sees his opportunity for freedom.
 
The predictability level is pretty high, but it’s an incredibly readable novel with some good twists and turns. Give me a day on the beach with a book like this and I’ll enjoy it. It was a good beach read and before I left I’d popped it back on the hotel’s shelf for the next vacationer to enjoy.
 
BOTTOM LINE: For me was a solid middle-of-the-pack book from Grisham. His bests include The Pelican Brief, The Firm and A Time to Kill and his worsts include The Summons and The King of Torts. If you’re craving a legal thriller, grab on of his early books and just enjoy.

Big Little Lies

Monday, October 27, 2014

 
Big Little Lies
by Liane Moriarty
★★★★★
 
I’m officially a huge fan of Moriarty. She has an incredible skill for introducing friendly, women who seem like people you know, building up their lives and then taking a sharp turn into the unexpected. Despite the sweet friendships that sit at the core of the story, the book deals with some very serious and real problems, yet it reads like a mystery you can’t put down.
 
From the first pages we know that the police are trying to solve a murder case. Then we skip back in time to months before the fateful night of the crime. Sprinkled throughout are interviews with witnesses and suspects, adding layers of depth to the plot. We touch on topics as diverse as bullying, financial status, blended families, domestic violence, and more. The book explores the social dynamics and pitfalls of elementary schools’ hierarchy and the personal lives of some of the mothers of students.
 
Madeline, Celeste, and Jane are all mothers of children in the same kindergarten class. Jane is new to town, a quiet single mother who is overwhelmed by it all. Madeline is the brash center-of-attention who, though well-meaning, tends to stir up trouble wherever she goes. Celeste is the gorgeous wife of a wealthy financier. Each woman has a much more complicated life than what first appears to be happening on the surface.
 
BOTTOM LINE: A big book, but a fast engaging read. The author makes the characters come alive. She can deal with dark subject matter without making the whole book feel dark. She manages to hit a delicate balance between gravity and readability. I couldn’t put it down and I will be reading whatever she writes next.
 
 
*Read as part of the R.I.P. Challenge hosted by Stainless Steel Droppings.