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Sunday, April 30, 2017

***The Color of Our Sky: A Novel, by Amita Trasi

• Early Reviewer's Edition
•Indian author-debut novel

The Color of Our Sky is a fictionalized portrait of India’s devdasis servants of god. They are lower caste women who, from a prepubescent age, serve as prostitutes in the name of god.  Traditionally it was a revered position.  Today, these women are shunned by the culture that created them.  The plight of these women is fraught with abuse and murder, and is ripe with opportunities for child trafficking.

Trasi handles her subject matter with the care and passion it deserves and clearly has skill for her craft.  I liked her writing style, yet two things kept gnawing away at me as I read her novel.  First, she has the tendency to get carried away with her prose, rendering it overtly melodramatic.  Second, despite all thematic twists and turns, the ending was easy to predict.  How Trasi deals with this in her future work will ultimately define her writing as genre fiction or literary fiction, both valid forms of fiction.  A praiseworthy debut novel.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

****The Postman's Fiancé, by Denis Thériault

The Postman's Fiancé, by Denis Thériault, to be published 06/2017, translated from the French by John Cullen, French Canadian Literature. Early Reviewer's book

This was a delightful and original book; one you cannot put down until fully devoured. Theriault’s writing style is elegant, his characters opulent and his descriptions enticing. His work has depth and mystery with meaning and a little verve.  Reality is skillfully suspended as one follows the protagonists on their way to love. However, before you read The Postman’s Fiancé, reading its predecessor, The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman, is a must.  They are so beautifully intertwined; I cannot imagine reading one without the other.  The Postman’s Fiancée completes the first novella and together, they are extraordinary. I highly recommend this creative Canadian-French author!

Post-note: This book and the movie, While You Were Sleeping, have nothing in common except a very basic concept. They are two very different tales. Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

****The Patriots by Sana Krasikov

•Author was born in Ukraine and raised in the Soviet Republic of Georgia.  When she was eight years old, her family immigrated to the United States.

•ARC via

This story reveals a relatively unknown part of pre-WWII history, when thousands of Americans succumbed to the allure of the Soviet revolution and emigrated to Soviet Russia. By the time they understood the dangers they were facing, it was too late. Russia surreptitiously revoked their passports and made many automatic Soviet citizens, preventing them from leaving the country.  Surprisingly, Roosevelt knowingly turned a blind eye to their predicament and left thousands of US citizens without recourse.  They were forced to remain in Russia throughout WWII and beyond. Some never lived to return home, especially Jews.

In a story that spans almost eight decades, Krasikov weaves a painful saga illustrating how one decision can affect an entire lifetime. Themes of political idealism and naivete’, personal unrest and family relations fill the pages in this dark, but compelling novel.

Krasikov is a talented author. She writes seamlessly back and forth between decades. Her characters are well-developed and her story is interesting. I looked forward to reading each chapter and felt the ending was strong. I expect we will see more from this new author. Not only does she research her subject matter thoroughly, she is able to construct the elements in a creative and thoughtful manner. A powerful new novelist!

Friday, February 17, 2017

*****The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by DenisThéiault

The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman depicts how loneliness can affect a person and lead to a variety of displaced - peculiar - actions. It is a lovely novella sheathed in a quiet drama of deception, apprehension, love, lust, and pain. Ironically, it renders the reader uncannily on the side of deception, such are the pathos of its protagonist, Bilodo the Postman. Add to that Haikus, philosophy and humor, and you have a delightfully dark and quirky story. Be prepared to devour this lovely, all-consuming tale in one sitting as it is impossible to put down.

Incidentally, a sequel to this novella, The Postman’s Fiancee, is due for publication this year. Will it bring a close to Bilodo‘s besotted journey, or will it add another layer to this curious and comic tale? I eagerly anticipate it's arrival!

Monday, January 30, 2017

*****Rock, Paper, Scissors by Naja Marie Aidt

Rock, Paper, Scissors reads like Ravel’s, Bolero. It slowly and evenly builds in intensity. To what end, one does not know. But it will not - it cannot - be good. With great skill Aidt creates a powerful atmosphere of impending doom. The reader watches as her protagonist carelessly spins out of control while exacting revenge against his dead father, a criminal. Yet, revenge is not as sweet as he anticipates. It comes with its own complexities, difficulties and demons. If let loose, it can lead to a storm of dysfunction, deception and violence - and it does.  Set aside a few good hours to read this novel as it is impossible to put down.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

*****A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara

2015 Shortlisted for Man Booker Prize

A psychological immersion. Love, friendship and success cannot fix the trauma of a life overcome with intractable pain.  A Little Life illustrates the permanence of protracted child abuse. How that life, despite all its later gifts, is a matter of endurance and pain horribly redirected. I was profoundly moved by this remarkable work of literature. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

2016 Books Read From May 3, 2016 to December 31, 2016

***The Ploughmen,  by Kim Zupan, 2014, audiobook, American Literature 

**Last Night in Twisted River: A Novel, by John Irving, 2009, audiobook,  American Literature

****Little Bee: A Novel, by Chris Cleeve, 2008, audiobook,  American Literature

****Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman, 2016, audiobook, American Literature

*****Zafarani Files: An Egyptian Novel , by  Gamal al-Ghitani, 2015, translated from the Arabic by  Farouk Abdel Wahab, Modern Arabic Literature

****Who Will Catch Us As We Fall,  by Iman Vergee, 2016, ARC, African Literature 

***The Cauliflower,  by Nicola Barker, 2016, ARC, British Literature   

**Orchard by Larry Watson, 2003, audiobook,  American Literature (read 50% & discarded)

****Human Acts, by Han Kang, 2016, ARC, South Korean Literature 

***The Mortification, by Derek Palacio, 2016, ARC, American 

***Rogue Lawyer, by John Grisham,  audiobook,  American 

***The Secret Chord, by Geraldine Brooks, 2015, audiobook,  Australian Literature

**The Nest, by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, 2016, audiobook,  American 

***Clara and Mr. Tiffany, by Kimberly Farr, 2011, audiobook,  American  

***Library of Illuminaries, Frida Kahlo, An Illustrated Biography, by Zena Alkayat, 2016, American 

***The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, 2016, audiobook,  English

****Dance to the Music of Time,  1st Movement,  by Anthony Powell,  1962 (1962- 1st publication of 3 novels as one volume; 1st individual novel published in 1951, 2nd in 1952 & 3rd in 1955), English Literature 

****Bardo or Not Bardo, by Antoine Volo dine, 2016, translated from the French by J. T. Mahony, French Literature

****Reading Things We Lost in the Fire, by Mariana Enriquez,  2016, translated from the Spanish by Megan McDowell ,  Latin American Literature