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Memories From Books
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Memories From Books
Memories From Books

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Sometimes, I just need a feel good book that reminds me of the priorities in life and the bonds of family. The Recipe Box by Viola Shipman is one of those books. Since I love to cook, an added bonus is the fact that it is also a foodie book centered around a recipe box passed down from generation to generation. There are hints of seriousness, but the heart of the book is a feel good story perfect for a summer beach read.

Reviewed for NetGalley.
The Recipe Box
The Recipe Box
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The Melody by Jim Crace is about Alfred Busi, an old man, a widower still living in the villa he shared with his wife. This books leaves me confused as several threads carry along with no conclusion that I can surmise, and the narrator switches close to the end of the book. I am still looking for the connections and the main idea. The only thing I am sure of is that I clearly missed something in this book.

Reviewed for NetGalley.
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The"small country" referenced in the title is Burundi in the 1990s. The book is a novel but reads very much like a memoir. This story, to some extent, is like reading two different books. Most of the book sets up Gabriel's childhood; the story reads like a coming of age story of a young boy. Then arrives the brutal story of war, genocide, and its innocent victims. The ending surprised me, and I am left with the question if that too parallels Gaël Faye's own life.

Reviewed for Penguin First to Read.
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The Mirage Factory: Illusion, Imagination, and the Invention of Los Angeles by Gary Krist presents the history of Los Angeles from 1900 to 1930 and the history of the three individuals instrumental in the growth of the city. Because of the colorful facts of this history and the storytelling style of the writing, this book makes a quick read. Don't get me wrong. The research and the factual details are all meticulously presented. They are simply packaged in an easy to read, entertaining narrative.

Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.
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Michael. Ellis. Annie.  A pair. A trio. A couple. A triangle. There is a permeating love in all the variations of these relationships, and there is an overwhelming sense of sadness and melancholy about Tin Man by Sarah Winman The writing style is more poetic than narrative. It should be intense and emotional, but for me, it just always seems at a far distance. This book feels more like reading a conceptual tale about relationships than a story that comes to life.

Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.
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Patriot Number One is Zhuang Liehong, a Chinese activist who has sought asylum and made the United States his home. Any immigrant story has two parts - the life they create in their adopted home and the life they leave behind. Going back and forth in time and place, the book captures both. On both sides of the story, the book depicts a struggle. One is the activism and fight against corruption. The other is the attempt to navigate the US immigration and justice system in a legal application for asylum.

Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.
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Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde is a story of family and relationships that many people will identify with – a spouse who lives with secrets, a woman who sets aside her dreams for her husband's career, and adult siblings who try to understand their past. In real time, the story covers a few days. Through conversations and memories, it is the story of a lifetime, perfect for a summer beach read.

Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.
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Based on actual events, Sugar Money by Jane Harris introduces me to a history I did not know and brings to life yet another aspect of the brutality of slavery. The narrator's language scattered between French, English, and Caribbean Creole makes the book a challenge to read at time. The voice of an adolescent narrator also superimposes on the horror of slavery a certain innocence. It is an odd contrast at times but accentuates the brutality when the descriptions do come.

Reviewed for NetGalley
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Anatomy of a Miracle by Jonathan Miles is unique in that it presents fiction as a researched nonfictional piece of writing. In the day and age of "fake news" claims being bandied around, this book is in essence exactly that. It is fiction presented as news. Creative or dangerous in today's environment? I leave you to decide. The journalistic approach does mean that the story gets bogged a little down in these details. This book is a slow read but leaves me with a lot to think about.

Reviewed for NetGalley
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Feast Days by Ian MacKenzie is the story of Emma, a young wife who follows her husband as his career takes him to São Paulo, Brazil. Unfortunately, I am not the reader for this book. For me, it seems to try a little too hard to be literary, poetic, etc. I am neither captured by the character of Emma nor immersed in the sights and sounds of São Paulo.

Reviewed for NetGalley
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