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Still Alice

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10. Still Alice by Lisa Genova 5 starsThis is a re read as I have had to read this book again to refresh my memory for a book group. It is such a good book telling of a woman in her 50s - Alice - who is an academic and develops Alzheimers disease at a young age. Parts of it are very sad and parts are so moving - for example when she talks to the Alzheimers foundation and asks people to remember what she can do, and not just think of her as a person with Alzheimers. She wants people to look at her when they talk to her, and not to talk about her in front of her - and how often does that happen! She wants poeple to try and find ways to help her in her struggle not to limit her. I liked the ending when her actress daughter Lydia asks her to listen to the words of a play she is performing in, not to understand them, but to be able to tell her the essence of what the play was about and this she could still do. Her relationship with Lydia was much better at this point as she no longer judged Lydia as she had before. She was content to let Lydia live her own life. This book has been given the stamp of approval by the Alzheimers association and I think it is great to have a book written from the point of view of the person with the disease.
The End of Your Life Book Club

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This a moving tribute by Will Schwalbe to his mother, who must have been a remarkable woman. As she faced death through pancreatic cancer the two of them formed a book club to discuss together the books that they read. I thought that it might have been a depressing book but Maryanne Schwalbe faced death the way she lived her life. She lived each day to the full, in the very best way that she could, showing great courage. Their combined insights into the books they read were full of great wisdom, wisdom for each of us to take with us into our own lives, and put in practise each day. An extra benefit of this book was to introduce me to other books that I had not read that I could now put on my list to read myself.
Bay of Fires: A Novel

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This book was not what I expected - not your typical murder mystery. As the title shows it is set in the Bay of fires area of Tasmania. Not a lot of energy was devoted to the actual murder I felt but the descriptions of the locals who lived in this area and the visitors who come to this area to holiday over the summer were well done. It gave you a real feel for the community
In Falling Snow

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Royamount Abbey north of Paris became a field hospital in World War 1 and was run by woman nurses and doctors from Scotland. In this fictional story Iris Crane goes there ostensibly to bring back her brother Tom who at fifteen is too young to have enlisted. She finds her brother ( not at the front line) who does not want to return home and also finds a vocation, working at Royaumount Abbey, that suits her strengths and capabilities. She develops dreams for her future after the war ends. But the book tells what happens when tragedy strikes and shatters those dreams.The story is told by Iris, now an older woman not in good health, who on receiving an invitation to attend a Royaumount reunion is remembering her time there and her grand daughter Grace who is a doctor stuggling to do it all. She is trying to cope with sexism at work while at the same time dealing with concerns about her son Henry's health. I thought the two stories worked very well together as the connections between them were revealed. It was very interesting to read about a part of workd war 1 I knew nothing about - the development of this hospital in the abbey that was run completely by women. It was great to read a book with strong woman characters and to see the part they played in the war. This was a very enjoyable read.
The Ruins of Us: A Novel

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This was a book I found to be well written and engrossing and one that I was not able to put down. I enjoy reading books that take me to another part of the world that I will never experience and the author made it so real to me.Rosalie meets wealthy Abdullah Baylani while at college in America. He is from Saudi Arabia and she while American grew up in Saudi Arabia as her father worked in the oil industry. She had always had a hankering to go back so when they married, much to the disapproval of his family, they returned and as the book opens they have been married for twenty years and have two children a boy and a girl. It is at this point that Rosalie is devastated to find out that Abdullah has a second wife, who is much younger and that they have been married for two years. This is something she never thought her 'modern' husband would do. Rosalie had worked at becoming the typical Saudi wife and it is this fact that Abdullah bemoans. He has lost the spirited American wife that he fell in love with, Their son Faisal on the other hand is caught between two cultures and feels accepted in neither. He through a friend comes under the influence of radical extremists, and with this friend takes a decision without really thinking it through and realising what the consequences could be. As a result the book builds to a gripping climax and both Rosalie and Abdullah have to rethink what is important to them.From reading this book it becomes easier to understand how lost and confused teenagers living in such a world today can lose their way, as Faisal did, become part of terrorist organisations, and commit terrorist acts especially if they are from poor families with few prospects for the future.This is a book that is definately worth reading. The author, like the character Rosalie, was born and spent many years living in Saudi Arabia but now lives in America.
The Rosie Project: A Novel

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I very rarely give such a high ratng but I loved this book. From the very first page it was one that I could not put down. Even though I knew how it was going to end out I did not know how the author would get there. Don Tillman seems to be a high funcionting autistic person even if he does not realise it himself, and when he gives a lecture on Aspergers syndrome he describes it as an advantage to a person - they have great organisational skills, innovational skills, and rational detachment - all positive. He himself lives a highly organised life even down to planning 94 minutes to cleaning his bathroom, and having a weekly meal routine that does not vary week to week. Bur Don wants a wife and so far has not been able to get past the first date. He formulates a multiple choice questionnaire to find the perfect wife. But along the way he meets "Rosie who does not fit his criteria at all. She has a problem of her own. She does not know who her father is and as a result Don and Rosie together become involved in a 'find Rosie's father project' While engaged in this Don discovers that he is spending time with someone who does not fit his profile and actually enjoying it. How does he deal with this. This was a well written funny book. I loved the characters of Don and Rosie. Because it was told in the first person I could really get inside Don's head and follow his thoughts and see how he worked so to speak and how he changed. This is the author's first book, and a really great one.
Love the One You're With

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What would happen if a short time after you were married - happily - you ran into an old lover - a relationship that ended unsatisfactorily. You never really understood why things changed. And then he offers you phootgraphic work that you really want and you take it. Then the questions start. Do you tell you husband? Nothing has happened - yet. And to complicate things your best friend is your husband's sister. And as if that was not enough your husband has moved you from New York where you loved it to his home state and you are not fitting in there. These are the dilhemmas the main character in this book has to face and work through. A light read with to me predictable ending
This is Where We Live: A Novel

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A modern day story about a young couple Claudia, an aspiring musician, and Jeremy a musician trying to put together a single with his band. But what happens when the first movie is not a commercial success, and commitments of work. marriage and family force the band to break up. The mortgage on the house cannot be paid and Claudia must take a teaching job to make ends meet.. To what levels with Claudia succumb when she discovers that a famous fim director has a daughter in her class. She wants this fim career so much. And for Jeremy the issue is an old flame who appears on the scene again, and tempts him with a much more exciting life. Not a bad read. Bored me in parts and didn't quite hang together for me but it dealt with relevant issues. Worth a read.
The Secret Keeper: A Novel

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I have read other of Kate Morton's books but this is the one I like the best. As with the others it is written in more that one time period - the present day and London during the Second World War - a time period I like to read books about. The book starts though with a dramatic incident that happened in 1961 that is the focus of the story and the secret to be discovered. Teenager Laurel is in her tree house on a beautiful summers day dreaming of a life as an actress and thinking she should go and help the rest of the family celebrate her young brothers birthday. But before she can do so she witnesses a crime that will haunt her years to come. Move to the present, and her mother is in hospital and not expected to recover. Laurel, now a succesful actress is determined before her mother dies to unlock the story of that day - a story that concerns her mother, and two others Vivein, and Jimmy who were brought together in wartaime London. Kate Morton is just the best story teller, and she evoked the atmosphere of war time London really well for me. This was one of those books that I could not put down. There were so many twists and turns in the story as the secret was gradually revealed, like the peeling of layers of onion skin. The climax when it came was not what I expected - but what an ending. This was a really great book for me.
If I Should Lose You

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I find because I read a lot of books I am looking for something a bit different, that stands out either because it takes me into a different world that I know nothing about, or to a different period in history where I can learn a little of what life was like at that time. Ths book does the former. We become immersed in the world of organ donation from all perspectives - the staff working in that area, and the patients and families of the seriously ill waiting for an organ to be donated, and having to confront the wish that someone else would die so that their family member could receive the organ, and that they were sick enough at the time to receive it. And even then they may not necessarily be out of the woods as rejection can happen.The main character in this story is Camille, a transplant coordinator, who is waiting for a liver transplant for her seriously ill daughter Addie while at the same time trying to care for her younger daughter, and deal with the strain that all of this puts on her marriage. This book is told on two levels for Camile is also at this time trying to oversee an exhibition of her fathe'rs sculptures. As she read her mother's diaries in preparation for this she comes to learn a lot more about her mother and the two men in her life, her father and another man Jack who is still alive. Both of her parents, who were also artists, died when she was very young and in reading these diaries Camille must come to grips with the tragedy in her mother's life. Ths book deals with difficult questions and moral dilemmas and was well written and a good read. I shall now search out her earlier book.
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