5 Books I Read on my Maui Vacation
We just got back from a week in Maui. A lazy, relaxing week. But I was prepared with a well stocked Kindle and a goal of reading some of the books that have been languishing there for years!
When you travel, do you pack a book for the plane, download a movie, or read on an e-reader (or do you sleep)? Do you tend to pack a longer book than you usually tackle because you know you'll have plenty of time or do you stick to a favorite author? Do you try to finish a series? What's your go-to reading mode for a plane? For a car (can you even read in a car or do you get car sick)? Luckily I can read anywhere!
For me, the best thing about flying is a chance to read uninterrupted. If there are noisy people around, I put in my headphones with music just loud enough to cancel out the annoyance, but mostly, I just focus on the book. Back before e-readers, I swear half my luggage was filled with books to read and sometimes I still had to buy one in an airport. Thank goodness that isn't a problem anymore - I have one little 'book' that fits in my purse and I can read for weeks if I want to!
I started a new book on the flight over (Seattle to Maui with a ridiculous layover in San Jose!) and continued to read pretty steadily throughout the trip. We did have beach time, shopping in Lahaina, went to a very cool dinner and magic show, etc. But my condo balcony was right on the beach and I spent hours listening to the waves lap the (rocky) beach while I read.
We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg
On my Kindle since 2015, 226 pages
According the author's end note, this story is VERY loosely based on true. Three female characters populate this story: Paige, a single mom paralyzed by polio; her daughter, 14yo Diana who just wants a "normal" life; Peacie, the tough, back-talking black caregiver. Set in 1960s Mississippi, there's poverty, hurtful racism, broken relationships, secrets revealed, understandings reached, and good character growth.
“We're all trapped in a body with limitations, even the most able-bodied among us! And we're all guided by minds with limitations of their own. You want to know my philosophy? It's this: Our job, regardless of our bodily circumstances is to rise above what holds us down, and to help others do the same.”
It's a quick read and a great coming-of-age story in seemingly impossible circumstances and Berg handles all the emotions so very well. A tidy resolution but I found the Elvis connection a bit much of a stretch.
A Dark Lure #1 by Loreth Anne White
On my Kindle since 2017, 418 pages
I liked the premise of this book but found the book just okay. The main character, Olivia, was abducted, abused, but escaped, and is an interesting mix of strong capability and puddles of insecurity (which stem from PTSD over the abduction). She's worked hard to avoid/ignore the PTSD and to create a life for herself after the breakup of her marriage and loss of job after the abduction, which her crappy husband apparently blames her for. Olivia has retreated from the world to a remote ranch where she ends up getting caught up in family drama and a bit of a mystery as her past begins to catch up to her.
The depiction of her PTSD reactions were done well. BUT, I felt like there was too much repetition of the trauma and her circular thoughts about it - said and described in different ways, but still repetitive - and I didn't love the overwrought love story which just seemed TOO unbelievable. It started to feel too much like a bad romance book rather than a thriller. I always want to shake the book and yell at the characters to JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER, but then, of course, there'd be no conflict. And romances need all that imaginary conflict. Sigh. The story had a decent resolution, but I won't be reading any more in the series.
The Storyteller's Secret by Sejal Badani
On my Kindle since 2018, 412 pages
I enjoyed this book for several reasons: I found it very evocative of India, the sights, smells, food, and culture of the country. I liked that the story is told in two timelines: present day where Jaya is visiting her grandmother's home in India, and the timeline of her grandmother and mother as a child.
I enjoyed the story of the past more than the present day because I found it hard to relate to Jaya in the present day - her story of miscarriages and the effect on her and her marriage, while sad, was hard for me to get attached to. However, the story of her grandmother, Amisha, was engrossing. Reading about her arranged marriage, how the caste system works, the efforts Amisha made to be more than the limits of her marriage, were all so well done. There was substantial character growth on the part of Jaya as she learned about her heritage and how it widened her world view. Recommended if you like multigenerational family stories.
“For hundreds of years, people have categorized others as less so they could feel like more. Color, gender, class, religion, physical handicaps, sexual orientation, and pedigree are just a few ways in which one group is divided from another. For every person who stands superior, another must be inferior. But what does it say of us as a human race when we push others down for our own needs?”
Bull Mountain #1 by Brian Panowich
On my Kindle since 2020, 290 pages
A debut novel that was nominated for many awards, it's set in the mountains of Georgia. A gritty, quick read of a story about a family that has run moonshine for generations, but they change with the times and become pot growers, then become meth providers - except for one brother, Clayton, who breaks from the family business and becomes a local cop.
He's the typical small town cop dealing with small town, rural, issues. Till the ATF decides they want to shut down the criminal enterprises on the mountain. Clayton then has to get involved with his brother once again.....and all hell breaks loose. There are a couple twists (one I guessed and one I didn't see coming). It's not really a mystery because we always know who kills who, but more of a thriller filled with criminals and violence, and tense family interactions. Though I didn't have particularly high expectations, the book exceeded them - it's well written and moves right along and though some of the characters are stereotypes, they don't feel like it because of the strength of the writing.
Jade City #1 by Fonda Lee
On my Kindle since 2019, 560 pages
This is a super brief review because I'm reading the whole trilogy and almost done. When I finish the last book I'll do a more comprehensive look at each book and the series as a whole.
My first impression of this oft nominated fantasy is that it started VERY slowly for me because of all the truly weird names and figuring out the clan titles, etc., and which is a person name and which is a place name. But I finally settled into the story and am glad I stuck with it. It's an epic family/clan story of rivalries, powerful people, world politics, love and loss and so much more. Watch for the full reviews soon.
I also started listening to an audio book but didn't finish till I got home, so I'll put it in another review. When we got home to Seattle, we were welcomed with rain. That sunny respite was such a nice break from our wet Seattle springs!