Category Archives: Realistic Fiction

Mañanaland by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Mañanaland is a gentle story with an almost dreamlike quality to it. The imagery as well as the division into yesterday, today, and tomorrow are quite lovely and effective. I read it to my 11 and 13 year old boys and the 11-year-old, especially, loved it. I highly recommend it as a family read aloud!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2020: 4
Pages Read in 2020: 1734
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***This book will be released March 3, 2020***

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The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The author of The Color Purple is a genius at writing in dialect. There is a very obvious difference between the main character’s writing and the letters from her sister, who is described as more intelligent and better educated. The story is told completely through letters, some written by the sister to the main character and the majority written by the main character basically as diary entries. There are no quotation marks, but it works for this book due to the way it is written. Conversations are clear even with the lack of quotation marks. Sometimes the story is tough, but reflects the life of poor blacks in the early 1900s. I can see why it won the Pulitzer Prize.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 120
Pages Read in 2019: 30,979
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The Appointment by Herta Muller

The Appointment is pretty much just stream of consciousness random drivel. It jumps from one memory to the next with no real unifying theme. I suppose it is realistic in that that’s often how we think about our memories, but reading it in a book it’s just awful. There are no quotation marks. There are a lot of colons setting off what people said, but no quotation marks. It’s really a pointless and rather dumb book. I had to force myself to keep reading, thinking for sure it would get better. Nope. The end was just as bad as the rest. I do not recommend reading this book to anyone.

1 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 119
Pages Read in 2019: 30,677
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Gangsterland by Tod Goldberg

With a gangster assassin main character who you can’t help but like, Gangsterland follows Sal Cupertine as he is shipped out of Chicago after making a huge mistake and becomes Rabbi David Cohen of Las Vegas. It’s a little bit slow to get started, but once I got into the story, I really started caring about many of the characters and what happened to them (side note: don’t get too attached because a whole lot of the characters die before the end). There is a fair bit of bad language, but no more than I expected from the author having listened to a bunch of episodes of his podcast, Literary Disco. If you like crime/mafia novels, you’ll love this one!

4 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 118
Pages Read in 2019: 30,449
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Bruno’s Dream by Iris Murdoch

If you like books about tangled family relationships and lots of cheating, Bruno’s Dream is the book for you. I did not enjoy it very much. The characters were all unlikable and utterly depressing. I just didn’t care about nearly all of them and when one started swimming in the Thames during a storm that cause it to flood, I kind of hoped he’d drown. The storylines for most of them were ridiculous. I don’t particularly recommend this book.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 103
Pages Read in 2019: 26,301
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Good Man, Dalton by Karen McQuestion

Good Man, Dalton begins with two very different stories that eventually converge in a fantastic way. It’s very much a story of “things are not always as they seem,” particularly on the internet. The author is able to hit you right in the feels like John Green, but without the heart in a blender pain typical of John Green. Once I got about 2/3 of the way through, I could not put it down. The ending is predictable, but it’s predictable in all the best ways, ending exactly how I hoped it would. I highly recommend this book!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 95
Pages Read in 2019: 24,159
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The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel

The Recipe Club is mostly told through letters which is an interesting way to write a book. It begins in 2000, jumps back to the 60s, moves through several years, and then jumps forward to 2002. The major plot is interesting enough that I wanted to find out what the thing that happened was. But the characters. Wow. If the authors tried to create the most unlikable, obnoxious, self-absorbed, whiny, irritating, and dysfunctional characters they possibly could, they succeeded very well in that goal. There was just so much whining, so much “please don’t be mad at me,” so much angst. On the bright side, many of the letters included actual recipes and quite a few of them sounded pretty good. I don’t particularly recommend spending the time it takes to read this book.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 92
Pages Read in 2019: 23,475
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