I have not been reading as much lately as I normally do. I got sucked in to a Netflix black hole of Criminal Minds…all ten seasons! I don’t know what it is about that show, watching it makes me afraid to go out of my house, but I’m always up for another episode. I have still managed a few books and here are my reviews of the best reads from May and June.
The Passenger ~ out of 5
Summary: A woman’s husband falls down the stairs and dies. Instead of calling the police, she takes off on the run and becomes a whole new person. We soon find out this is not her first time creating a new identity and we follow her fugitive escape, and multiple identity changes across the country in a page turning whirlwind.
Someone wrote on Goodreads: “a three star book, but I had a four star time reading it” and that is exactly how I felt about this psychological thriller. I was immediately drawn in to this woman’s unfolding drama and found myself even listening to the audio in my car (which I never do) because I was hooked. If you are looking for a page turning, quick summer read, you should definitely pick this one up.
Room Full of Mirrors: A Biography of Jimi Hendrix ~
Summary: Charles Cross begins with Jimi’s biological roots and an impoverished young life in Seattle that was unbelievably difficult for all involved. The bio continues through his brief period in the military, his years as a struggling artist, time on the road with the Chitlin’ Circuit and finally his days of acclaim and eventual demise.
This is probably one of the best biographies I have ever read. I like Jimi Hendrix, but would not consider myself a fan by any means. I had no knowledge of his life beyond an album or two and a little gossip. Well researched and written by someone who had a lot of respect and admiration for the artist, I felt myself having a new appreciation for Jimi’s music and artistic performance. Another page turner, well written and worth the read if you have any interest in Jimi Hendrix or music history.
The Headmaster’s Wager ~
Summary: This epic saga begins in Shanghai, 1937, where we find a young Percival Chen, escaping the Japanese, into Hong Kong. A few years later, he is fleeing war once again and ends up at his father’s rice farm in Vietnam. Eventually, Percival Chen turns the rice farm into an English school which becomes a financial success, making him, now the Headmaster, a bigger target to the Japanese, Viet Mingh and later the Viet Cong. Money, greed, power, pride, war and a fathers love, the story reflects the chaos of the time and place in history.
I originally gave this novel three stars, but in retrospect, I think it deserves four. There are parts of the book that drag a little and by the end, I was just relieved it was over. But a month has passed and I still find the images of the house, the landscape, the smells and the characters clothing, flashing through my head unexpectedly. Vincent Lam did a remarkable job creating a sensory experience that was never spelled out in the writing. It wasn’t obvious that it was happening, the imprints were subliminally inserted into my understanding as I read along. There is much more I could say about this novel, the twists and turns, the historic weight and interconnectedness of it all, but I would not be able to capture even a fraction of it. If you are seeking something to invest in and have an interest in historical fiction, I’d say this is a good choice.
The Story Sisters ~
Summary: This is a story of three sisters whose lives start to unravel shortly after the divorce of their parents. The oldest sister rescues her youngest sister from an abductor and offers up herself in exchange. The rape that she keeps a secret and subsequent PTSD triggers a series of terrible events that entangles the whole family and ultimately destroys them…but of course, the power of a sister’s love redeems.
This is one of those books that I almost added to my ‘abandoned’ shelf, but out of boredom, kept reading and by the end, I was moved. At some point, the trauma and drama became engrossing and I found myself loving and hating the characters whole heartedly. I even shed a few tears at the end. Alice Hoffman is hit or miss for me, I loved The Dove Keepers and I am drawn to her way of writing about female relationships. This one was not amazing, but not terrible either. The writing flows at the perfect pace and she has a way of getting you emotionally invested in her characters.
What have you been reading this summer?