Monday, February 20, 2017

"Trespassing Across America: One Man's Epic, Never-Done-Before (and Sort of Illegal) Hike Across the Heartland" by Ken Ilgunas. ****

  • Audiobook 
  • Non-Fiction 
  • US author
  • Originally published in 2017
  • Review:  A long, long walk? A political statement?  A rite of passage?  A spiritual awakening?  A sociopolitical education?  Yep.  A very engaging tale of a walk along the Keystone Pipeline.  The author waxed poetic at times with lovely prose.   He shares the trials and tribulations of his journey, the wonders of it, the generositues and hostilities he encountered along the way.  Enlightening for the author and the reader.  Excellent read!

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

"The Mortifications" by Derek Palacio. *****

  • Early Review edition for
  • Cuban-American author
  • Originally published in 2016
  • Debut novel
  • Review:  Merriam Webster dictionary defines mortification as " the subjection and denial of bodily passions and appetites by abstinence or self-inflicted pain or discomfort."  Palacios debut novel is absolutely lovely.  It captures the immigration experience and the mortifications which ensue in a manner purely Cuban and, yet, also American.   The stark and the mysterious try desperately to co-exist until one side wins out and, of course, I will not say which!  The themes of love, yearning, spirituality, fear, life and death all run fluidly with the plot.  I am definitely looking forward to Palacio's next novel!

Monday, February 13, 2017

"Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and A Culture in Crisis" by J. D. Vance ****

  • Audiobook 
  • US Author 
  • Non-Fiction,  Memoir
  • Originally published in 2016
  • Review:  This was a fascinating memoir of growing up a hillbilly and becoming a Yale Law School graduate.   I guess to sum this book up, I would draw on the author's own statement that the white working class has lost optimism.  This is Vance's story about the optimism nurtured within him by his beloved grandmother, Mamaw. Fascinating story accompanied by the author's and others' policy lessons regarding key issues needing to be addressed to bring about change.  I think this book is timely and relevant to our recent election results. Gotta love Mamaw! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

"Chronicle of A Last Summer" by Yasmine El Rashidi ****

  • Debut novel 
  • Egyptian author
  • Originally published in 2016
  • Review:  
  • Three glimpses into a young woman's life, in Cairo, Egypt:  1984, 1998, 2014. Three different leaders of her country:  Sadat, Mubarak,  and Morsi.   This novella takes glimpses of a culture which seems in perpetual revolution and filters them through the experience of a 10 year old girl whose father disappears for 30 years, a young college film student who wants to capture the life quotidian with her camera rather than revolt, and a mature woman who is still finding her political voice....all one and the same character.  The structure and plot of this piece of historical fiction are interesting.  The writing is not quite as I would hope in terms of richness and emotionality.  The theme of the degree to which one can committ to change was interesting.  It was most heartrending to imagine the decay and increasing distance which the family experienced from within one home over time.  As rivers often symbolize life, and fences, overgrown & neglected shrubbery,  increasingly block the family's sense of connection with the Nile, so does their sense of cultural identity seem to flow away from them.
  • Very interesting novel.  

"The Children's Home" by Charles Lambert *

  • Audiobook
  • Originally published in 2016
  • Review:  Ugh!