“The Starter Wife” is about Gracie, a woman in a situation where she really doesn’t belong, fit in, or want to be. She tries with somewhat sincere effort to be a part of the Hollywood “Wife of” scene, and we readers get a peek with clarity, caring and pretty consistent humor! After a shocking text message, her life begins a journey to…she doesn’t know where! I liked Gracie and the narrative, which shared an interesting time in her life. This book is well written and moves with ease from page to page, and I really liked getting a look at the challenges and strife of a Hollywood wife’s life — it looks pretty, but it’s not. Continue reading “Reader Review: The Starter Wife”
I really enjoy Augusten Burroughs, and I like hearing him read his own books. He manages a compelling mix of vulnerability and strength. Even when he screws up his life or makes choices he regrets later, he is able to examine the inner monologue and present it for the world to view.
“Lust & Wonder” seems a good reflection on what I’d call regular adulting. He had a grown-up and mature relationship that wasn’t horrible, but it also wasn’t good, and he describes it in some detail. His reflections should have a universal tune to them for anyone reflecting on one’s own relationships. He describes his wild love for his dogs and the sadness of dividing custody as a relationship fails. He focuses on how his past continues to affect his present and highlights the moments when he tries to sort out whether feelings he’s having are appropriate to the situation or are really about a response to something that happened in his past. While I don’t have anything like the serious abuse and deep level addiction issues that Burroughs has, the analysis of whether a response is right for a situation applies even to someone without as much history. Continue reading “Reader Review: Lust & Wonder”
More a “Jane Eyre” tribute than an adaptation, “Jane Steele” tells the story of a Victorian woman, Jane Steele, who is inspired by her own reading of “Jane Eyre” to write a memoir. Like Eyre, Steele is orphaned at a young age, sent by a cruel aunt to a bleak boarding school led by a tyrant, and then becomes governess to the impish ward of a brooding and mysterious man. Jane Steele, however, handles things in a much different way than her literary counterpoint, accumulating a body count along the way. Continue reading “Reader Review: Jane Steele”
Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2015 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share some of these reviews throughout the year.
The son of John Steinbeck delivers a captivating novel similarly set in Montgomery, California (same as “Cannery Row“). “In the Shadow of the Cypress” explores the roles and culture of the Chinese throughout the history of the American West Coast. A potentially mind blowing archeological discovery is found pertaining to Chinese American history in the 1900’s. Narrators change in the story as the setting shifts from early 20th century to present day while the facts continue to unfold. Thomas Steinbeck’s voice has traces of his father but maintains a distinct difference. Almost a mystery novel, but not quite, it walks an interesting line of suspense, being gripping without any threat of mortal peril to any characters. It can be read and enjoyed without any prior knowledge of the former Steinbeck’s work. Continue reading “Reader Review: In the Shadow of the Cypress”
A fun, sprawling sci-fi comic book series about a forbidden love between children of two warring factions. The story is told using the humorous voice of the two lovers’ (not yet born) daughter. A heavy dose of humor, fantasy, violence and a little more nudity than necessary makes up this series. The universe in which the story is set contains some very imaginative characters, alien races, technologies and socio-political structure. It is probably the most entertaining fictional universe I have encountered since Star Wars. The story itself is ok, but the characters that fit into the story are the best part. My favorite pair of characters is a bounty hunter and his pet that looks like a lion, hired to track down these forbidden lovers. The cat has a special power where it is compelled to purr the word “lyyyyying” whenever someone is not telling the truth. This, among other quirks, keeps the reader on their toes while the story takes tremendous twists and turns. Note, the story is not finished yet, but at least the first four volumes are available from the DBRL. Continue reading “Reader Review: Saga”
“The Little Paris Bookshop” is about the book seller, Jean Perdu, who sells only the correct books to his customers at his literary pharmacy. (This is a book shop on a barge on the Seine River in Paris.) Monsieur Perdu is able to “transperceive” each of his customers (and others) to prescribe the correct book to fix what ails them. He generously gives books away, but he is equally stern in refusing to sell the wrong book to a particular client. Success in his work life is juxtaposed against the anguish, loneliness and pain in his private life resulting from a severely unmendable broken heart. The mood is magical, the characters profound, the sensual presentation of the story causes one’s heart to move along the story line as if it were on a roller coaster. To accompany Jean Perdu on his life journey is a sublime experience. Continue reading “Reader Review: The Little Paris Bookshop”
In 2014, Reese Witherspoon starred in the movie adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s “Wild,” her memoir of self-discovery and survival as she hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. This September, another movie about a long walk – this time along the Appalachian Trail – hits the big screen. “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson is a laugh-out-loud misadventure but also manages to share the trail’s history and argue eloquently for the preservation of our undeveloped forests, trails and parks. Read this funny travelogue before seeing the film this fall.
Want more books about long walks? Read on. Continue reading “Take a Hike: Books About Long Walks”
“2 A.M. at the Cat’s Pajamas” follows several characters over the course of 24 hours. As the night ends they all end up at a local Jazz club called The Cats Pajamas! This is one of those books that I might have to go back and read closer to pick up things I have missed. It followed several characters in the course of a day/night and how all their lives connect. A quick read and interesting story. I am still not sure about one part of the ending, but I liked the book overall.
Three words that describe this book: charming, hope, loss
You might want to pick this book up if: If you enjoy the movie, “Love Actually,” you will like this book. If you like characters that are flawed and believable, you will like this book.
“Still Life” by Louise Penny introduces Chief Inspector Gamache. There is a death in the small rural village of Three Pines near Montreal in Canada. Chief Inspector Gamache is called in to investigate what was originally thought to be a hunting accident resulting in the death of an elderly school teacher who was loved by all of the villagers. The plot unfolds to actually be a murder investigation with many twists and turns. The key appears to be in the painting done by the victim, and Inspector Gamache has to figure it out.
Three words that describe this book: Intriguing, captivating, interesting.
You might want to pick this book up if: You enjoy mysteries and like to try to figure it out as you read!
“Maine” is a story about three women, all related, who find themselves in different situations in their life but sharing their family vacation home in Maine. The women look back at events in their lives, how they’ve reacted to situations and built or destroyed relationships and what shaped them into the people they have become (or could have become if it weren’t for the structure and history of their family). This is a great summer read; the chapters are all built around the three main characters and move along at a quick pace. It’s a bit bittersweet, though, and not just because of the characters’ lives unraveling. It makes you realize that summer vacations come to an end, and we have to return to our lives. Continue reading “Reader Review: Maine”