Tuesday, May 7, 2013

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What are you reading? is hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. For this meme, bloggers post what they finished last week, what they're currently reading, and what they plan to start this week.
My comments are not meant to be recaps of the story lines as I include a link to Goodreads for their synopsis of the book. I am merely stating how I felt about the book without giving any spoilers.

The Past: A Novel

I tried, I really did but like most reviews at Goodreads I just couldn't finish this book. It just bored me to death.

The Tin Horse

For fans of the beloved classic A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, a sweeping, multi-generational story about twin sisters, one of whom disappears without a trace in 1939, set in the historically Jewish neighborhood of Boyle Heights, California, and modern-day Los Angeles.

After years of resistance to the idea, feisty octogenarian Elaine Greenstein finally decides to move from the home in which she raised her family to a retirement community. While she's packing her possessions, she finds a clue to the whereabouts of her twin sister, who disappeared from the little-known Jewish mecca of Boyle Heights on the eve of WWII when the girls were eighteen. Plunging back into memories of her childhood and the momentous historical facts that impacted her family, Elaine recalls her family's stories-those from the Old Country, and tales of immigration travails, and the heartache of being the "smart" one of the twins instead of the "popular" one.

In an utterly unforgettable, salty voice, Elaine revives the memories of growing up with her twin sister Barbara, her parents, her Zayde, her aunts and her younger sisters as the Greensteins bear the disappointments, heartbreaks, and fallout from the immigrant baggage that they have been unable to shed despite settling in southern California-the land of sunshine and opportunity, fig trees and equality.

I'm a sucker for immigration stories and stories of families and sisters. The line that stuck with me (stated several times) is that we each have our old version of our family history.
 The book wanders along telling a tale of Jewish LA and the start of WWII  but I didn't really engage with either sister. Suddenly you are near the end and you feel that Barbara's story is rushed when you would have liked to linger and discover all the details behind her disappearance. 

Sweet Tooth

Cambridge student Serena Frome’s beauty and intelligence make her the ideal recruit for MI5. The year is 1972. The Cold War is far from over. England’s legendary intelligence agency is determined to manipulate the cultural conversation by funding writers whose politics align with those of the government. The operation is code named “Sweet Tooth.”

Serena, a compulsive reader of novels, is the perfect candidate to infiltrate the literary circle of a promising young writer named Tom Haley. At first, she loves his stories. Then she begins to love the man. How long can she conceal her undercover life? To answer that question, Serena must abandon the first rule of espionage: trust no one.

Once again, Ian McEwan’s mastery dazzles us in this superbly deft and witty story of betrayal and intrigue, love and the invented self.

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