April was an extremely mediocre reading month, nothing fantastic to report, but here is my take on what I actually finished.
The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan ★★★
Summary: This epic saga covers forty years of mother daughter drama and takes place mostly in Shanghai, China in the early 1900’s. Violet is the daughter of an American madam of a popular courtesan house. Her mother is tricked when she is trying to leave Shanghai and Violet, a half caucasian, half chinese teenager, is left behind to become a courtesan herself.
This book has stayed with me through all of these other April books. I read it almost a month ago, and the scenes are still in my head as if I watched them in a movie. The story is interesting and there is enough suspense to keep the pages turning, but it wasn’t quite a four star book.
Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel ★★★
Summary: The world is hit with a pandemic flu and wipes out civilization. Station Eleven follows the lives of a handful of serendipitously connected survivors, jumping back and forth between the few days leading up to the pandemic and 20 years post-apocalypse.
Interesting, but could have dug in a little deeper. I don’t want to spoil things, but there is a huge coincidence of serendipity going on in this book, but the author never gives you that Aha! discovery moment between those involved…and that was a bummer for me.
The Japanese Lover by Isabelle Allende ★★★
Summary: A young Polish immigrant niece of a prominent San Francisco family falls in love with a Japanese boy who is the gardener’s son. They loose touch while his family is interred in the camps during WWII, but their hidden and taboo affair spans decades. The story encompasses both families and their difficulties over the years, including interracial relationships, AIDS and secrets.
Isabelle Allende wrote one of my favorite books of all time (House of Spirits) and I appreciate most of her writing, but this one didn’t impress me much. It is good, worth reading, but the magic wasn’t there. I gave it three stars because it wasn’t a terrible read, just a little flat compared to her other works.
M Train by Patti Smith ★★
Summary: M Train is a nostalgic journey through Patti Smith’s memories that gives readers some insight into her eclectic mind, travels, side jobs, dreams and preferences including her obsession with black coffee, brown bread and olive oil.
I gave this two stars out of respect for Patti Smith, who I like, but I didn’t like this book at all. Random drivel framed to sound intelligent or interesting, which it wasn’t. The best thing I got out of this book was being introduced to the show The Killing, which Patti had a bit part in. I ended up binge watching all four seasons on Netflix. 🙂
At The Edge of the Orchard by Tracy Chevalier ★★
Summary: The story of the dysfunctional Goodenough family, starts out in their Ohio orchard and moves west, when the son Robert abandons the family after the bizarre death of his parents. Robert falls into a job collecting seeds and saplings of giant redwoods and sequoias in the mid 1800’s.
Mildly entertaining from historic standpoint; my curiosity and a love of trees, kept me reading.