Book Review | Family Trust by Kathy Wang

family trust book cover.jpgPerhaps rather than Family Trust this novel should be called Family Drama. Wang’s book centers on the Huang family in the Bay Area. Patriarch Stanley has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and his time is drawing near. His two children, Fred and Kate, from his first wife Linda are very interested in finding out about their inheritance as they have their own problems with which to deal. Mary, Stanley’s second wife and caretaker, has been told that she’ll be well taken care of. As chapters alternate focus among these central characters, their issues are revealed in detail.

This story could have been told in possibly half as many pages. There are many superfluous details included and few of the characters’ sub-plots are of much interest. This type of book may be appropriate for fans of soap operas who appreciate melodrama and self-absorbed characters. Maybe it would be a good book for women to read at the beach if they are trying to pass lots of time… You can see if it’s available from a library near you!

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating.

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Book Review | Death and Other Holidays by Marci Vogel

death and other holidays book cover.jpgVogel offers a straight-forward piece that dives directly in like a one night stand with no strings attached. Protagonist April is in her late 20’s, living in Los Angeles and working as a curatorial assistant. The novella includes her narration of a series of events that take place over the course of a year following the death of her step father. Chapters are very short with sections broken up by season. This book is a very quick read.

Vogel’s writing style is fabulously direct. Without overbearing and complicated sentences, she still evokes imagery and creates dynamic characters. Death and Other Holidays seems to shed new light on everyday occurrences and give meaning to the mundane. This would be a great read for an airplane ride because there aren’t pages and chapters of introduction, the story grabs from page one. Check it out from a library near you!

*Fans of Death and Other holidays, may enjoy The Story of a Brief Marriage by Geir Gulliksen (2018).

Book Review | The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson

death cleaning.jpgIt sounds a bit odd to read a book on the topic of death cleaning, but this little volume is a helpful and thought-provoking piece, which may serve as the welcoming introduction some older folks need. It makes a lot of sense when getting on in years to decrease some of the clutter that may have accumulated over a long life. By whittling away at this cleaning process, heirs may be saved the daunting task of having to rid the recently deceased’s house of years of stuff.

Magnusson provides basic direction for how to undertake such a cleaning by dividing it into more manageable parts. She explains how this project can create positive feelings in both the cleaner and the recipients of the aged person’s belongings as they are passed on. While dealing with a sometimes sensitive subject in death, Magnusson keeps a light and effective tone by incorporating brief personal anecdotes. At times the book even leads to a quick giggle. Some advice was so helpful I immediately passed it on to someone I thought would benefit. This book is certainly recommended for those later in years who may be downsizing or preparing for a more permanent end, but also to those who may be dealing with parents in such situations. Check out this quick and entertaining read from a library near you.

*Fans of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning, may be interested in the book Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by García & Miralles.

Book Review | Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar

29567845At the opening of Spaceman of Bohemia, protagonist Jakub is leaving Prague on a solo mission into space to collect cosmic dust. Leaving behind his wife Lenka is stressful for him and it’s not long before she runs away from being the “astronaut’s wife”. Jakub quickly grows weary of his alone time and makes friends with a giant spider-like creature he encounters aboard the ship. Coupled with alternating chapters from Jakub’s youth, the book is an existential voyage of an engaging nature.

For fans of the surreal and thought provoking, this debut novel would be a solid choice. A limited cast of characters and concise writing style make the text easily digestible. Some of the “flashback” chapters are a bit slower moving, but overall the book flows well. References to places in Prague will be appreciated by travelers. Spaceman of Bohemia is definitely literary fiction, not science fiction. Check it out from a library near you!

I received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading Spaceman of Bohemia, you may be interested in The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia (2005).

Book Review | Leopard at the Door by Jennifer McVeigh

leopard at the door.jpgTaking place in 1950’s Kenya, Leopard at the Door focuses on a young lady’s return to the farm where she grew up. After the death of her mother, Rachel was sent to boarding school in England, far away from her father and home. In the six years she has been away, there have been some changes in Kenya. In addition to having to deal with her father’s new live-in paramour, the formation and actions of a political activist group, Mau Mau, threaten the family’s safety. Rachel finds herself in difficult situations as she attempts to rebuild her Kenyan life.

Excellent for fans of historical African fiction or women’s fiction, this novel moves at a relaxed pace, while still keeping the reader’s attention. Characters are developed enough for the reader to have strong feelings about them. The writing is clear and easy to follow, with chapters of varying lengths. McVeigh’s solidly researched text provides insight into Kenya as a British Colony at the time. Check it out from a library near you!

I received this uncorrected proof as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading Leopard at the Door, you may be interested in October by Zoë Wicomb (2014).

Book Review | A French Wedding by Hannah Tunnicliffe

french wedding cover.jpegUsing chapters with alternating character focus, A French Wedding tells the story of a group of university friends from the UK who are reunited in France for one of their 40th birthday celebrations. Max, a musician, plans to propose to his friend Helen. They’ve always shared a close connection. Max’s chef and housekeeper Juliette is drawn into the group as events progress. Plans go awry as faults in the friends’ marriages and relationships are revealed and surprise events lead to a shift in the plot.

Well written and easy to follow, Tunnicliffe’s novel offers an entertaining read with enough depth to be thought-provoking. The story is more character driven than plot driven, and can be considered women’s fiction. Perhaps the cover image does not do justice in attracting all readers who may enjoy this book. Central themes include relationships, cooking and life challenges. Check it out from a library near youI received this bound galley as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading A French Wedding, you may be interested in Shotgun Lovesongs by Nickolas Butler (2014).

Film Review | The Daughter starring Sam Neill & Geoffrey Rush

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After many years away from his birth town and father, middle-aged Christian returns home to attend his father’s second wedding. The relationship between father and son is tense, owing to something other than the fact that the upcoming wedding involves the 31 year old housekeeper his father had previously employed. As Christian reunites with his old friend Oliver, he pieces a few old secrets together that threaten to break apart Oliver’s family.

This Australian drama based on Henrik Ibsen’s play provided much more than I’d bargained for. The story line was intriguing and the characters were easy to relate to. The acting was very realistic without anything being overdone. Music set to the film worked quite well and served to enhance the movie overall. While the budget for this film couldn’t have been too much with it’s rural setting, I’m actually surprised it hadn’t drummed up more attention in the film world. Though it may bring on a few tears, The Daughter is certainly worth checking out from your local library!