Recent book reviews

I reviewed a couple of books on Goodreads / Amazon lately and figured I’d share them here.

First off is a review of a fellow Twin Cities Sisters in Crime (TCSinC) member’s book:

Strength to Stand by Sheyna Galyan

strengthtostandWhen Sheyna Galyan writes her novels she tries to answer “big questions.” When I’m reading fiction, my basic quest is to be entertained – but if I end up learning something because of what I’ve read or if it spins my mind in different directions where I want to research something that the author mentions or if I come away having learned something different about culture or religion … that’s time well spent.
Ms. Galyan’s books do not disappoint.  “Strength to Stand” is the second book in her Rabbi David Cohen series and starts six months after the conclusion of “Destined to Choose.”  In Ms. Galyan’s words: “When Rabbi Batya Zahav first suspects she’s the victim of an anti-Jewish stalker, she enlists the help of her colleague, Rabbi David Cohen. Soon her husband Arik, an Israeli-born Minneapolis cop, is also on the case. As the stalker’s anonymous persecution increases in violent intensity, it falls to David to identify the stalker before someone gets hurt, and before the stalker carries out the latest chilling threat.”
“Strength” follows characters that were featured and introduced in Ms. Galyan’s first book.  For a reader, this is like settling in for a conversation with an old friend.  In this case, catching up on this conversation is full of tension and suspense.  Again, time well spent.
Galyan writes strong characters and offers insight on Jewish culture. As a reader and writer, it was interesting to see how Galyan’s skills as an author strengthened from her debut novel to Rabbi Cohen’s second outing.  I am happy to hear that she’s penning a third that will prominently feature Arik.
My review is based on an ARC.  “Strength to Stand” was released on September 1st.


The other book that I just finished was Angelica Huston’s second autobiography “Watch Me.”  It only got three stars because there were moments where I was asking myself “why am I interested in this?” and then the other lingering question – if anyone but Angelica Huston wrote this, would it really have been published and would Graydon Carter/Vanity Fair really have fawned over it?  But I really couldn’t put the book down.  (Because I really like Angelica Huston as an actress … if you tell me she’s going to be in a movie, I know that she has a presence that I cannot look away from … and her father voiced Gandalf in Rankin and Bass’s version of “The Hobbit.”  I effing love that movie.)

Watch Me: A Memoir by Angelica Huston

21412240So, the reason I picked up this book was that Mindy Kaling mentioned it when the New York Times profiled her for their “By the Book” column. Specifically, Ms. Kaling noted that she loved Angelica Huston’s autobiography, but she couldn’t believe that Jack Nicholson let Ms. Huston publish what she did about their tumultuous relationship. Ms. Huston’s autobiography that covered this relationship and spanned the majority of her movie career, along with beautiful chapters that talked about the death of her father, John Huston, and her subsequent relationship and marriage with sculptor Bob Graham.

Ms. Huston’s book would be a perfect beach read. It’s gossipy without being cruel (although, her reaction to Jack Nicholson’s eventual relationship with Rebecca Broussard borders on being a little bitchy), it encapsulates living experiences that most people will not have in their lives, and it’s an interesting behind the scenes look at her perspective on some incredible movies made in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. (Although I wish she would have wrote more about her experience on ‘Mists of Avalon’ beyond citing that she saved her wardrobe from that.)

If you’re a fan of Angelica Huston’s work, this is a good read.

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