October Mini Reviews - SIX short book reviews
This month we have six mini book reviews including The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida, Driving Miss Norma by Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle, Most Dangerous Place by James Grippando, A Big Little Life by Dean Koontz, Since We Fell by Dennis Lehane, and The Other Wife by Michael Robotham.
The Reason I Jump, Naoki Higashida
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Published 2005, 135 pages
I read this short book to satisfy a category in the #BookRiot #ReadHarder annual challenge. I participate in this challenge most years but rarely complete all the categories. The category for this book is: written by a person who identifies as neurodiverse. I admit I had to look that up!
Written by a 13 year old boy with autism that inhibits his speech and affects his behavior, it's his effort to describe what's going on in his head. It's written as a question and answer (FAQ) format in which he does his best to explain why he reacts the way he does in various situations. It was interesting to read about some of the mental challenges he routinely deals with, e.g. a consistent lack of focus - always responding to the 'shiny thing', not being able to respond to multiple questions because he can't concentrate on multiple things, his feeling of constantly disappointing and frustrating other people.
It's a quick read, simply written, and an interesting look into one autistic person's mind and would likely be of help and comfort to parents or friends who know and are trying to help someone with autism.
Driving Miss Norma, Tim Bauerschmidt and Ramie Liddle
Published 2017, 256 pages
This is the true story of a recently widowed 90-year-old woman who goes on an RV trip across the U.S. with her son and daughter-in-law and becomes a worldwide inspiration.
Instead of undergoing her doctor's recommended treatment, Norma sets out across the U.S. with her son, daughter-in-law, and poodle in an RV. She has all kinds of first-time adventures like horseback riding and a hot air balloon ride. Her daughter-in-law Ramie creates a blog about their journey and it blows up world-wide. Thousands of people follow Norma's story. Now, everywhere Norma goes she is known and greeted with keys to the city, meets celebrities, and is embraced by people who open their homes to her. It's definitely an inspiring story about what you can do and not necessarily doing what you “should” do. She lived out her life on her own terms.
Most Dangerous Place (#13 Swyteck), James Grippando
Published 2017, 480 pages
I always enjoy the Swyteck books - some mystery and some excellent legal maneuverings. This one didn't disappoint. The unreliable narrator, main character, victim or killer, was excellent. I went from rooting for her to rooting against her to trying to figure out if she really was the victim she professed or was the mastermind behind everything. So very well done to keep me guessing through most of the book! And of course, Jack's legal talents and investigating are the core of the story.
One of the things Grippando does well is write 'almost' stand alone books. You don't have to read these in order.....he summarizes previous notable events very succinctly so that new readers get the gist of the history without a long-time reader getting bored by rereading info they already know. Or if, like me, you have a long break between books and are a little fuzzy on some of the old events, with just a couple sentences he's brought you right up to speed. It's a definite talent!
Recommended for a twisty, thoroughly satisfying story.
A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog, Dean Koontz
Genre: Memoir, Humor
2009, 288 pages
True story of Koontz’s beloved golden retriever, Trixie.
Dog lovers don’t miss this one! What a great read. Koontz shares little details of his daily life with Trixie which all dog people can relate to. If you read Koontz books, you know that dogs often play a role in them, and they’re never harmed.
In this book I learned that Koontz is a Christian with a deep faith and he discusses how Trixie ties in with that. He doesn’t overdo the religious points so don’t be put off by that. It’s a book about joy and love and, yes, the pain of losing something you love. Highly recommend.
PS - I read this on Donna's recommendation and though I don't share her passion for all things dogs, I did love this book. So even non-dog people can thoroughly relate to a man's love for his pet! - Terrie
Since We Fell, Dennis Lehane
Published 2017, 419 pages
A journalist has an on-air meltdown, her marriage fails, she finds love again. But is her husband really who she thinks he is?
I have mixed emotions about this book. In general, I love Lehane’s novels. However, this one fell short. It’s a bit slow with a lot of background about Rachel, a journalist who has a meltdown, and her relationship with her mother who is a best-selling author. Theirs is not a healthy relationship.
Then the book jumps to Rachel’s two marriages; after the first one fails, she finds a wonderful guy who loves her for who she is. But then she discovers something about her husband that makes her question who he is. From there it turns strange as he reveals his true self to her, leaving her feeling betrayed. And yet, in no time at all, she just can’t resist him and follows him on a dangerous and crazy journey. The book was sort of all over the place with its varying stories. Not a horrible book but not up to Lehane’s standards.
The Other Wife (O'Loughlin #9), Michael Robotham
Published 2018, 384 pages
I don't know this author and had no idea this was #9 in a series. Even after reading it, I had no idea, which to me is a plus....old plots weren't rehashed ad nauseum. The basic story is that psychologist O'Loughlin's dad is in the hospital in a coma as the result of an attack. When visiting, he sees a woman stranger and discovers she's his father's second 'wife' of 20 years. This shock, paired with the attack on his estranged father, prompts him to investigate on his own. There are lots of red herring suspects (too many?) and lots of back story history of his broken relationship with his dad. His psychologist skills help him evaluate people's behavior here and there but a big flaw to me is that he didn't apply all that skill to helping his youngest teenage daughter deal with her mother's recent death. His own grief and obsession with his father blinded him to what should have been a higher priority - his daughter. I also didn't care for the portrayal of his long-suffering mom that stayed with his father even knowing about the other woman and was waiting patiently by his bedside for him to get better. Huh. Too wimpy and incomplete. The mystery resolves satisfactorily; a decent mystery with some interesting twists.