Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Several Short Book Reviews

Soul to TakeSoul to Take by Helen  Bateman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have often read in my flakey New Age readings that Souls between lives sort of "hang out" with the prospective new parents immediately before and during a pregnancy.  Well here is an excellent short novel that speculates on the Soul observing and possibly choosing parents.

Bateman has wonderful character development and she has provided an interesting contrast between the lives of the prospective couples and the Soul's last few incarnations.  Bateman wisely avoids getting caught up in any kind of technical details about how all this works.  With her excellent writing skills, Bateman packs a lot of story in a compact and concise package.

Being a New Age flake, this story nicely coincides with my particular beliefs, but I don't believe that you need to be a flake to enjoy this well written novel.  Excellent debut novel!   I will be looking forward to reading more from this author.

View all my reviews

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Actually not a bad story.  She just took way too long to tell it and the book ends in a bit of a cliff hanger, thus ensuring the reader will read the rest of the series.   I get cranky when authors do that, so my 3.5 stars rounded down to 3 stars.  I knew it was a series before I started reading it and I also knew that I probably would not read any additional books in the series.  The book was one of our book club selections and I read it to see what the big whoop was about.  As I predicted before starting the book, I have no interest in reading the rest of the series.  

My rating: 3 of 5 stars
 I am not sure what to make of this book.  I think it would have been more convincing if it had been either written in third person or the author had been a woman.  Coelho writing in a woman’s first person voice just came off less than true to me.

I tried to be sympathetic to the protagonist but she resisted my best efforts.  She has a wonderful life and is seemingly willing to throw it away because she is bored.  Perhaps we should feel sorry for her because she does not have one negative thing in her enchanted life to occupy her and life, marriage, career, success, extreme wealth, security, and happy healthy normal children are, well boring--although she loves her husband, her life, and her children.  OK this happens.  To alleviate her boredom she finds herself unwittingly drawn into an affair with an old high school lover, gently at first.

Caution Spoiler:

He treats her like an appliance, which she seems to alternately hate and like. Then she gets into a snark fest with her lover’s wife and decides that she has to destroy this woman for being haughty and having the audacity to be concerned about her husband. The protagonist spends 5000 francs on cocaine to plant in the woman’s desk. My sympathy for her goes out the window.

She then has a sort of confession to her husband who makes it easy for her and indicates that he loves her and if there is anything to forgive, she is forgiven. OK all should be well, if her husband can forgive her, I can too. But then a week after this confession of sorts, she has one last wild and wooly tumble in the hay with her lover because she needs closure. Goodbye to all sympathy. 

The book closes with a loving discussion of the love of love that will survive in the universe for all time after all the humans are long gone. It should have restored my sympathy to the protagonist but instead, sort of reminded me of Nicholson Baker’s mystical orgasmic spheres that float through all eternity in his book Vox.

It was not a bad book but it could have been a lot better.  


  1. Very nice short reviews. I've read many of your long ones and I'm amazed you were actually able to keep these short and concise!

    The Souls books sounds interesting. You've enticed me to want to read it.

    As to the 2nd one...I hate series. The only series I've read are the Twilight Series and The Left Behind Series. The remaining books are seldom as good as the first.

    I don't think I could handle reading the Adultery book. I see way too many women with perfect lives, husbands, kids, money, security throw it away with an affair cause they're bored.

    You're bored?? How about charity work? Adopt homeless animals, get a hobby, visit the elderly in a nursing home, pick up trash along the road...anything, anything! But no...instead they used boredom as an excuse to commit adultery.'s raising my ire already, I definitely could not read this...hahaha!

    Thanks for the book info!

    1. Alicia,

      Are you implying that I am a bull shitter. Well, fair analysis, I am full of crap.

      I actually don't know how people can stand reading series. If the following books are not yet published I forget everything I have read previously by the time the new one comes out. If the books are published then you have a constant diet of the same stuff. I agree on series. I really get hacked when the author does not properly end a book. You turn the page (well flick the screen in my case) and voila the book is over in what might be considered the end of a chapter. That pretty much kills that author for me.

      Yes, is it not a shame that some people have such boring lives! There is nothing like a sick child, lost job, death in the family to kick things up a notch. Failing in that, sure have an affair.

    2. Hahaha! Implying? No, not a bull shitter, I admire very much how detailed and well thought out your book reviews are. I just read a book, I'm in the the moment, but once I'm done and close that cover one final time it's gone from my head. It makes it tough for me to do my book review posts for my online book club because I can never think of anything to write about.

      As to series, The Twilight Series were good all the way through, as I've heard of the Harry Potter books which I would love to read, but The Left Behind Series? Only the first couple of books were good and the last book, they way it ended? BORING! Such a build up for that!

      It looks to be a pretty boring day here at work, I guess I'll have an affair :)

    3. Well if you are going to have an affair, make sure he has chiseled abs, a steely presence that puts molten heat running through your veins, and has at least 8 figures on the AGI line of last year's 1040 form. He should also have a helicopter so he can run you up to Lake Tahoe for lunch and back. Anything less and you are selling yourself short.

  2. I am on a book reading dry spell--due to lots of handling of books at my volunteer library job. I get home, i don't even want to pick up a book. I am heading into the land of e-readers because of it.

    1. Olga, familiarity breeds contempt, not to mention weight and dust. Many people like the feel, smell, and heft of a book. So do I, just not while I am reading it. There is something to be said for having hundreds of your favorite books in your purse.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  3. Hi Sextant. I think I'm finally able to post. Just wanted to say I really like your reviews but, because I'm totally obsessed with Outlander, I have to put in a good word for my all-time favorite novel. For me, it's the ultimate blend of history and romance, even though it's probably a stretch to call it historical fiction because of the time-travel element. I'm totally in awe of Diana Gabaldon, who writes steamy scenes better than anyone, in my opinion. And she doesn't shy away from controversy. I've read the whole series of eight novels and liked them all. But for me, the first has a special place in my heart.

    1. Donna,

      Well I can understand people liking this is a good story and done well...just too long for me, and I heard the other books in the series are even longer.

      Its great to hear from you again. I apologize for my security settings blocking your access to the comments.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting.