Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

QUICKIE REVIEW: Coronado by Dennis Lehane

“Coronado” by Lehane is a collection of short stories. I was familiar with Lehane from his popular best sellers of “Mystic River”, “Shutter Island”, and “Gone Baby Gone”, but I hadn’t read any of his short stories. This book contains several short stories and one play.

I enjoyed these stories a lot. Lehane’s writing is stark and accurate. It depicts the tough side of Boston with a grittiness. The characters in these short stories stayed with me after I was done reading.

I have to say, I was most excited to read the play included, but was the most disappointed in it. It is an adaptation of his short story “Until Gwen”, which I did like. I didn’t care for the transfer to stage and for the way it was staged. However, to be fair, reading a play is far different from seeing it performed.

All in all, a fine collection of stories here by a popular writer! I got mine at the library.

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REVIEW: My Name Is Mary Sutter by Robin Oliveira

A while ago I entered a contest on my blogging friend’s website: www.sheistoofondofbooks.com and won a signed copy of Oliveira’s My Name Is Mary Sutter . I was so excited since I love historical fiction and had heard good things about this novel.

My Name Is Mary Sutter tells the story of an Albany midwife who seeks to become a surgeon during the Civil War. Female surgeons were unheard of at the time and she receives rejection after rejection. Eventually she answers Dorothea Dix’s call for nurses and goes to Washington, D.C. to nurse in the famed Union Hospital. The description of the conditions of that time are both riveting and repulsive. The conditions can only be described as barbaric – yet completely accurate for that time. Mary goes on to tend wounded soldiers both on the field and off — while seeking to quiet some demons from her own past.

I really enjoyed this book. The descriptions of nursing reminded me a lot of Louisa May Alcott’s “Hospital Sketches” – a serial account she published of her nursing experiences in the Civil War (where she served, like Mary Sutter, at the Union Hospital). Disturbing, yet fascinating, it makes a reader so very thankful for how very far medicine has come in the past 150 years!!

If I had one disappointment with this book, it was with Mary herself. I found her aloof and unapproachable. She is described as plain and conventionally unattractive, but yet with a quality about her that draws men. Apparently so, as every main male character was in love with her! She was described with words like “exquisite”. Yet, she was so untouchable that I found myself not really caring about her. I wish the story had stayed from her point of view the entire time so that I could get into her head, as I felt the story started that way. I “lost” Mary part way through, and by page 300 I am sorry to admit that I was tired of her unflagging strength, courage, morale, skill, intuition, talent, and fortitude.

That said, I did enjoy this book very much and would recommend it to fans of historical fiction, particularly of the Civil War period; but be aware that there are graphic scenes dealing with medical conditions and procedures of that time. I’d be curious what other readers thought as I know it was a popular read a few months back.

Again — many thanks to my buddy Dawn at “She Is too Fond of Books” for gifting me with this beautiful signed copy that I will treasure!! 🙂

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REVIEW: The Cradle by Patrick Somerville

I recently went to California on vacation and brought along several books including The Cradle by Patrick Somerville. I had won this book this summer from my friends at “The Friendly Book Nook” book blog. To be honest, I had no memory of signing up for this book (but I only sign for books I know I want to read!) but I am so happy to have won it as it was the perfect plane read – short (200 pages) but satisfying!

The Cradle tells two converging stories. In the main story, Matthew Bishop searches for an antique cradle that was part of his wife’s family legacy. His wife, Marissa, is pregnant with their first child, and she will not rest until the cradle – which was taken by her mother when her mother deserted her and her father – is found. Matthew is not even sure where to start, but, as he loyally fulfills his wife’s pregnancy cravings for foods, he seeks to fulfill this craving which has become a burning need for Marissa.

At the same time, the story of Renee Owen is unfolding, ten years in the future. Renee is a children’s book author and she and her husband are preparing to send their only son off to war. Renee is keeping a secret from her past, though, and the secret is revealed as the two stories converge and intertwine.

I really enjoyed reading this novel! I’d like to thank my friends at the Friendly Book Nook for gifting me with it! 🙂

I would give this book 4 Stars!

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