Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
A man named Marion tells about growing up in Ethiopia with his twin brother Shiva and their adoptive Indian parents. There is a bit of a mystery surrounding the twins birth and then the story follows their lives as they grow up, grow apart, and learn what is important.
I did not like this book. It's getting a lot of critical acclaim, but I ended it kind of frustrated. Some of the reasons I didn't like it: (1) It was really long and a slow read. The action didn't progress and it felt like it just dragged on and on. (2) It started with a story that I got interested in, and then just threw that story aside. It built a mystery about the twins birth and then dropped that story so that when it is explained at the end, it's just a letdown. (3) There was a lot of time that was just skipped over. And while I'm not really advocating for more information and details, I felt like explanations and reasons for the characters' actions were mission. (4) The adoptive parents are both doctors and so they actually live at the hospital compound. There is a lot of focus on cases at the hospital and the boys' medical training, which means a lot of detailed medical description. Which just didn't thrill me.
So to sum up, I don't recommend this one.
The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
Brown tells the story of three sisters. Their father is a Shakespearean scholar so they are named after Shakespearean characters, quote the plays and sonnets extensively, etc, etc. Their mother is diagnosed with breast cancer just as each sister's life is falling apart. So all three move home and work on putting things back together.
There were aspects of this book that were interesting and unique and had a lot of potential. The family is unique and interesting. For example, the father sends letters where he just copies pages out of the Riverside Shakespeare and highlights particular words. It was a very quick read. And there was a unique arrangement to the narrator's voice. The narrator always spoke in "we" so it was like the sisters were all talking at once. Which got a little weird because the sisters didn't like each other and didn't talk in real life. And despite all the potential, the book just wound up being a lot of whining. The sisters all come home for different homes and have different problems. But they really just spend all their time whining about what is wrong.
So the final word, I don't recommend this one.
Same Kind of Different as Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore with Lynn Vincent
This is the true story of a homeless man in Fort Worth, TX, and a rich art dealer and his wife. Ron and his wife Debbie are rich and prosperous and experience a spiritual conversion so they start working at a homeless shelter. Debbie is the one who is really gung-ho about their service, but always takes Ron. While they are working at the homeless shelter they meet Denver who is described as a modern-day slave. Ron and Denver become friends and learn from each other.
This is an amazing story of how people overcome their differences. Ron admits his prejudices toward the homeless, but as he gets to know Denver he learns to set those aside. The story emphasizes the importance of love because the reason Denver lets them in is because Debbie loves them unconditionally. But the book doesn't really work as a story. It flashes between Ron and Denver's perspectives which in this case wound up being kind of jarring. And the writing was not very good. It was hard to get in to the book. And at the end I started feeling manipulated. It spent a lot of time trying to get me to feel some huge emotion, and mostly I didn't.
To sum up, it was ok, but not great.
The Witches of East End by Melissa de la Cruz
Three immortal witches live in the Hamptons. They have been forced to not use their magic in this modern world, but are growing increasingly frustrated with the restriction. So they start using small magic. Then bad stuff is happening and they need to figure out why and how to fix it.
I read this because Liz asked me to review it a while ago. So the quick review is I didn't like it. The novel started out as one story and it was interesting to see the characters of the witches develop and see how they were trying to live within the constraints of no magic. They start using magic to help the people around them that they have gotten to know and the use of magic and manifestations of their powers are interesting. But after 80% of the book (Can you tell I read it on my Kindle?) the story completely changed. Instead of being focused on these characters, it was suddenly a story about ancient mythology. It just wound up being uneven and scattered.
And with all the books in my lit classes, I give a parental guidelines warning, so I feel like I should with this as well. There is a lot of sex in this book, and it's fairly graphic.