Friday, April 26, 2019

The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris

The Tattooist of Auschwitz (The Tattooist of Auschwitz #1)The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I don't watch dramas. I just don't enjoy the extreme tugging of emotions back and forth. I prefer emotions in the background, subtle and meaningful. Given this opinion, you can guess that I don't enjoy World War II stories. Whether tragic, heroic, or despicable, the stories produced from those sad days and years were not subtle. Violent external conflict on the national, local, and personal levels does not equal enjoyment for me. Yet, here I am having read the story of an Auschwitz survivor. It was an interesting story. It was well written. For the most part it was tastefully done, given the circumstances, but not my cup of tea.

Having said all that, I am firmly in the "never forget" camp. I've been to several concentration camps, and spent hours in the Holocaust museum in DC on multiple occasions. The Holocaust was a horrific event in the history of the world, and unfortunately does not stand alone as the only event of despotism in history. I have strong feelings about it, but that does mean that I want to read book after book about it. That feels like wallowing in misery to me. I prefer to move on to other uplifting or educational topics and overcome darkness with light.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley

The Golden Tresses of the Dead (Flavia de Luce #10)The Golden Tresses of the Dead by Alan Bradley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really want to like this series more than I do. I like mysteries, I like period British stories, I like Flavia's character. Yet these stories just haven't ended satisfactorily to me. And this doesn't end the series well at all. Where is Flavia headed, as she rides off into the sunset? Is Collin a future love interest? Is her future really based on a partnership with Dogger, a man old enough to be her father, if not grandfather? If nothing else, Undine is a loose end. Are they really going to coexist? I thought for a while that maybe Flavia would accept her as some sort of partner, yet in the end she obviously still thinks of her as a child. If this is really it for the series, I want all of these questions answered. Instead we embarked on another stand alone mystery, which was ok for what it was, but lackluster given the expectation to wrap up the series as a whole. Disappointing.

Of course, if he continues to write these, maybe there is a chance of a better wrap up in the future, but even in that case, this book didn't move her character forward at all. Waste of space.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley

The Grave's a Fine and Private Place (Flavia de Luce, #9)The Grave's a Fine and Private Place by Alan Bradley
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm returning to the Flavia series to finish it up now that the final books are out. Flavia is a great character because she is incorrigible, but the start of this book was a little heavy handed with her precociousness, even for her. This story introduced another new, albeit temporary, setting, but the downside is that there were none of her hallmark chemistry experiments, since she didn't have her lab at her disposal. I did like the increased part played by Dogger, and look forward to his further character development, even though the series is wrapping up.

Finally, if there was anything that made this book ho-hum for me, it was the ending. I felt like it was missing the complete wrap up scene, where all of the evidence was explained and dots connected. Yes, there was an effort, but it didn't feel complete. Also, the plot didn't contribute to a bigger picture such as her mother's disappearance, or her father's death, or the fate of her home, so this also falls flat because it doesn't move the greater "Flavia" story arc forward. I'm looking forward to the wrap up, and better execution of a classic mystery, and hopefully a good wrap on Flavia's story arc.

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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Ms. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson

Ms. Bixby's Last DayMs. Bixby's Last Day by John David Anderson
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

3 star.

My wife recommended this one, comparing it to Wednesday Wars, a book we both read in the past. It is definitely compelling as a story, and has deep conversation points about life, growing up, and dealing with death. The serious topic is paired nicely with the comedic viewpoints of three boys, making it enjoyable as well as thought provoking, keeping the reader from wallowing in the sad plot line throughout the book. I don't remember Wednesday Wars all that well, but to me this book is better compared to To Kill a Mockingbird. The whimsical viewpoint of Scout describing serious events matches the approach of Topher and his friends dictating their viewpoints as narrators.

So why not give it more stars? I don't recommend you read this book. I don't wish to get into the reasons why, so the best thing to do is hope this book gets lost in the sea of thousands of equally well written books. I recommend you read To Kill A Mockingbird and Wednesday Wars and call it good.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Clariel by Garth Nix

Clariel (Abhorsen, #4)Clariel by Garth Nix
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I made a mistake I rarely make with this book. I read a few comments about the plot on Goodreads, and had the ending of the book spoiled. It was an innocent mistake, as I was just trying to figure out when in the Abhorsen series I should read it, but there it was. A sentence or two spoiled it for me, and once read, they couldn't be unread. With that background I finally got around to reading it, and I spent most of the book dreading the ending that was coming. You see, this was supposed to be a dark tragedy of sorts, and even worse, it was set in a world I already knew and loved. So I wasn't looking forward to the ending.

I don't want to spoil it for you, so I won't go into much more detail, but I will say that I appreciated this book in the end. First, the ending was not as awful and soul-crushing as it could have been. Second, the background and explanation this book gives about free magic and free magic sorcerers was very enlightening to the rest of the series, and answered questions I had always had. I also chose to read Goldenhand and then go back and read this prequel, but I think that reading the prequel first would have worked as well. As with many other prequels, I don't think this is the same quality of story that you get in the original introduction to the world, so if you aren't committing to the whole series, maybe you better start with Sabriel. All in all, a good story.