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  • Writer's pictureTerrie

March Mini Reviews

As I reduce the number of full blown reviews to regain some spare time, I'm going to share mini reviews of books I read each month. Here are five mini reviews for this month - two are ARCs. Do any of them interest you?

All That is Mine I Carry With Me by William Landay

Genre: Mystery, Domestic Thriller

Published March 2023; 336 pages

Thanks to #NetGalley and #RandomBallantine for the complimentary copy of this book. Completed 3/17/23.

A mystery and a family drama, this book had lots of good "hooks" but as I go to write this review a few weeks later, I honestly couldn't remember anything about the story. Even after reading my notes, I only recall the bare bones of the story. To me that is a telling reaction. A mom suddenly disappears from the family and we don't know if it's an accident, foul play, or did she run away? Her husband, a defense attorney, is a suspect of course, but nothing is proven - the family struggles with the not-knowing. Although it's a slow-burn, definitely a character driven story, the plot sounds intriguing, and the book kept me engaged most of the time, yet somehow it wasn't memorable enough to remember enough to recommend it.

Challenges tagged:

Cloak & Dagger: 12/36

Literary Escape: Massachusetts 6/51 and 10 bonus (international)

COYER 1st semester: 26 books read

LaRose by Louise Erdrich

Genre: General Fiction

Published 2016; 372 pages

I listened to this book read beautifully by the author. Her lilting, soft accent and storytelling made the story even more engrossing. This is the story of two native American, Ojibwe families. One man accidentally shoots the son of the other and, as is their tribal way, 'gives' his own son to live with the grieving family. The rest of the story is how that death and giving of the son affects everyone involved. As you might imagine, it's very painful for both sets of parents, but also confusing to the 4-5 year old who suddenly is living with the family of his now dead best friend.

The book backtracks and fills in the history of various relationships, delves into the psyche of all the siblings and the boy LaRose, and gives plenty of emotional punch. I loved the Native cultural aspects that were included in the story. It ties in nicely with another series I'm reading and loving: the William Kent Krueger Cork O'Connor mystery series that is also set in MN and among the Ojibwe people. It's just so interesting. I'll definitely be reading more from Erdrich!

Challenges tagged:

Mt. TBR - virtual (library): 7/24

Literary Escape: N Dakota 7/51 and 10 bonus (international)

Popsugar: 7/40 prompts

Library Love: 15/65

Coyer 1st semester: 27 books read

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict

Genre: Historical Fiction

Published 2021; 341 pages

A Buddy Read for March, my sister and I had varying opinions on this. I thought it was just okay and she liked it quite a bit more. I've also read The Other Einstein by Benedict and had basically the same reaction. The story is ..... okay. I was trying to describe to my sister what I didn't like about the writing style and as most of you know, that's usually really hard to quantify. I think it was too "light", or maybe simplistic? While facts and research were evident, somehow the telling left me a little cold.

This is the story of a young black woman passing as white who becomes employed by JP Morgan as his personal librarian and tasked with growing his library and making it the best in the world. I enjoyed the peek into the life of JP Morgan, his friendship with Belle, and his extremely wealthy family. The era is well depicted, and her efforts to find and obtain rare books and papers is truly amazing. And yet, something was lacking in the telling of the story. It's an interesting book about rare books type of story with some interesting characters that gives a good feel for the setting and time, so probably will make for an enjoyable weekend of historical reading.

Challenges tagged:

Bookish Reading (books about books): 2/10

Historical Fiction: 6/15

Mt. TBR virtual (library): 8/24

Library Love: 16/65

Coyer 1st semester: 28 books read

Feed Them Silence by Lee Mandelo

Genre: General Fiction / Sci Fi4

Published March 2023; 112 pages

Thanks to #NetGalley and #Macmillan-Tor/Forge for the complimentary copy. Completed 3/27/23.

Now this is an unusual, interesting premise for a book. And, unlike my first mini, I remember this one well. This novella is about a young woman who grows up fascinated with wolves and their lives. The story starts when she has been granted a research grant to study wolves using a borrow specialty piece of equipment that allows her to join minds with a wolf (think brain implants). It's interesting speculation about the emotions of a wolf during pack time of cleaning, playing, sleeping, and hunting.

The secondary storyline is about the disintegration of her marriage to her wife and how her immersion into the wolf relationship becomes more important than saving her marriage. Some brief f/f sex doesn't distract. A short, quick read that pulled me into the life of this woman and "her" wolf. I found this little novella unexpected, different, and kind of an absorbing exploration of what it might be like to have a mind-meld (a little Star Trek reference) with another animal. Fascinating.

Challenges tagged:

Coyer 1st semester: 30 books read

Killers of a Certain Age by Deanna Raybourn

Genre: Mystery , Thriller

Published September 2022; 348 pages

This book is kind of what I expected and yet a little less than expected. It's a full on action movie of a story with these four 60-something women ready to retire from being assassins only to find they are being targeted for termination. And on their company sponsored retirement cruise no less! The plot moves at a rapid pace with threats popping up all over the place. The women pool their various skills to overcome all the obstacles. I think I was expecting a more lighthearted approach. The cover somehow implies maybe a touch of humor to me - but, no.

I've read a few of Raybourn's Veronica Speedwell stories set in the 1800s and they are similar in creating a strong heroine that brooks no nonsense from any man. Though Killers of a Certain Age has a more current setting and older heroines, they are all still the epitome of a strong heroine. Definitely a book for a good weekend escape read.

Challenges tagged:

Cloak & Dagger: 14/36

Storygraph Mystery/Thrillers: 7/26

Mt TBR virtual - library: 9/24

Library Love: 19/65

COYER 1st semester: 31 books read

What do you think of any of these books? Have you read them and have a different opinion from me? Please, share, and let me know what you think!

Welcome to Bookshelf Journeys.

It's my goal to provide real reviews of the books I read without totally rehashing every plot. I'll never spoil a story by giving away a plot twist! Hopefully you'll find one or two of interest and will discover a new book or author to add to YOUR TBR list.  Take a moment to explore, read a couple reviews, and let me know what you think.


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The review ratings are based on a 5 star  (1/2 stars sometimes) system with a 3 being an average read for me. I hope you find that helpful. Knowing, of course, that all opinions are just that - my opinion!  Let me know if you agree or disagree - I'd love to hear from you.

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