Archive | July, 2016

Livin’ that Reservation Life

31 Jul

larose

For some reason I am always a little hesitant to read Louise Erdrich. Maybe it’s because of the National Book Award, maybe something in her name sounds a little intimidating…I’m not sure. BUT. I always end up loving her. I loved loved her newest, LaRose. Typical to her others, there is a lot of Native American folklore and old tribal stories woven throughout the main plot line. In the opening chapter, a man known to have conquered an addiction problem is out hunting and somehow shoots and kills his neighbor’s 4 year old son. After praying and spending time with his wife in their sweatlodge, he decides to make things right he must give his neighbors his OWN 4 yr old son, to replace the one that he took from them. I know this sounds awful, but reading it wasn’t bad. The story unfolds from this initial bleakness, following both families, the son (LaRose) that they share and also life on the reservation in present day. I thought it was amazing! I wish I had sisters like Josette and Snow, they were a constant source of humor and pure adolescent wisdom. I loved the old ladies, who sat around bickering and swapping scary old tales. All in all, this was a terrific read. 5 stars!

Another Week, Another Duet

27 Jul

I feel like I am tearing through books – something I haven’t felt in a while! Here are the last two:

heat and lightRemember Jennifer Haigh? She wrote one of my Top Ten Litpicks of 2011, Faith. Initially I didn’t know why this one slipped past my radar – but after reading it, I think the reason it slipped past is that it was just okay. It’s about fracking. Fracking. If Jennifer Haigh didn’t hold such a place in my heart, I probably would have skipped it. But I’m glad I didn’t. Think Erin Brockovich and that movie with Matt Damon about drilling on farms. A small farm town is approached by some fast talking slicksters about signing leases that would let a big gas company drill on their lands. Under their lands. Heat and Light is the story of some of those landowners – not so much about the drilling/big-gas-company. There is the hypochondriac of a woman who thinks that the water smells funny and is making her daughter sick (even though the daughter was sick BEFORE the drilling started), the female paster who gets involved with one of the men on the drill crew, the organic dairy farmers who decide to rally when they start losing customers. Overall, I liked it. It was a little long and lacked the big ending that I look for in her novels. 3 stars.

siracusaPerfect summer popcorn. Fast and tense and drowning in dread. Siracusa is the story of two couples, each with their own problems, whose vacation causes everything to unravel. If you are looking for an easy beach read, full of suspense and that great feeling that comes with knowing that SOMETHING BAD is about to happen, this is it! 3.5 stars (would be more stars if I hadn’t guessed the ending!).

 

This Must be the Post.

17 Jul

I had a great reading week! I love it when that happens. Here are the THREE books I read this week, from “liked less” to “loved” to “loved the most.”

dinner

Dinner with Edward was a little bit outside of my ordinary read (it is NON-fiction) and it was fine. An easy afternoon read written by a woman who is a reporter for a tabloid in NYC whose life/marriage is falling apart. She befriends her friend’s father, recently widowed, and the two have dinner together every week or so. I thought it was kind of a bizarre relationship (at one point the old man buys her a dress, picks out her lipstick and tells her how to style her hair) but overall very sweet. Each chapter begins with the menu of what he cooks her for dinner. 2.5 stars

ninewomen

PERFECT beach read for people who like to be swept away and like dramatics. I literally FLEW through this and was sad when it was over. The novel begins with a straight-from-the-country-girl walking in her first NYC fashion show. She is wearing a little black dress designed by Max Hammer. Immediately as she steps on the catwalk, flashbulbs start going off – it is THE dress of the season. From there, we see the Bloomingdale’s sales girl borrow it for a date with the hunkiest movie star, a business man attempt to buy it for his girlfriend, etc etc. The lovely thing was that all of the story lines are charming and they all intersect. If you just want to escape for a minute, not think too hard and enjoy the journey, you should try this. Not every book has to change the world, right? 4.5 stars

this must be

Love. Oh my how I loved it. Let me start by telling you that this cover is VERY misleading. I can only think that it made sense to the publisher because it’s set in Ireland (generic green grass) and one of the characters is briefly nicknamed “Cloud.” Disregard this cover. This Must Be The Place is the wonderful, complex story of a couple living on an isolated farm in Ireland. They live what I considered a charmed life with their two children – romping through hillsides, planting flowers. The mother, Claudette, immediately comes across as the most endearing loon you’ve ever met on the page. Daniel – her husband – charming, handsome and American. And they are perfectly in love, so much fun to read. HOWEVER. They both have some weird things, some dark things, in their pasts and slowly over the course of the novel those things are unearthed. I loved the way this story unfolded, I loved that I was drawn in so entirely and that there were so many characters that won me over (there are so many characters). I loved the way it ended, literally five minutes ago, and that I will go to bed still thinking about them and hoping they’re happy. 5 stars!

The Path Not Taken

6 Jul

July 26th, 2016

It’s hard to talk much about Dark Matter without dropping at least a dozen spoilers. Here’s what I can say: Meet Jason, an up and coming scientist. In his late 20s, he meets stunning up and coming artist, Daniella. Shortly after that, she gets pregnant. They decide to marry, give up their careers and raise the babe. But what if they hadn’t? Would they have found fame? Been happy? Dark Matter is a thriller, full of high action and rapid page-turning. It’s also a love story with a twist of sci-fi. Super easy, fun read. 4 stars.

Mishmash Catch-up

5 Jul

I am embarrassed to only have posted ONE entry each of the last two months. I promise, I’m reading! It’s hard to get everything written down. So, here is what I’ve read (not included book club books, see book club tab for those) most recently.

sweetbitter

Sweetbitter has been getting quite the buzz lately – a fast-paced novel of food and NYC and waiter-ing. I liked it – thought it was an easy/compelling read but mostly found myself thinking “oh, to be young and carefree with no toddlers to chase or babies to nurse.” The story of a young girl who moves to NYC with no real plan other than to “live” who ends up getting a job at THE restaurant. She starts as a back-waiter and attempts to learn the ins and outs of the business and also her co-workers. Pretty steamy! lots of sleeping around and doing likes of cocaine in dirty bar bathrooms. 4 stars.

inventory

WARNING: this is only available as a .99cent e-book. Remember Joan Wickersham? She wrote one of my all-time most favorite short story collections called The News from Spain. AND she has a new (ish) story called An Inventory in which “you” reminisce on your crushes, starting with Boy #1 in kindergarten and ending with Boy #23, your husband. I thought this was brilliant and SO true to life and pretty much could have been ME, really, ME. Like this: “Boy 6 was the one you loved, the one who kept asking you to be his partner for science and social-studies project…the boy who liked you but didn’t like you. (Which brings up the concurrent but barely noticed Boy 6b, who liked and liked you, and whom you liked but didn’t like.)” Doesn’t that just sound like everybody’s entire middle school experience?? 5 stars and worth every one of the 99 pennies.

dinosaurs

I had babies and now I’m a short story reader. Maybe that’s not a true cause/effect statement, but if not it’s an appropriately timed coincidence. Dinosaurs on Other Planets is a pretty good collection – all set in Ireland and all sort of dark/twisty/sad relationship stories. There are no real/prehistoric dinosaurs. One story that kind of sticks out like burr in my shoe is about a woman with a small daughter living on an isolated farm with her husband. The story is from the husband’s perspective, and one day at work his wife’s sister calls and is all worried about the wife because she is not answering the phone. There are all sorts of weird, dread inspiring thoughts that run through the husbands head – times when he’s caught her out wandering without a coat, forgetting to turn off the stove or some such thing so you think something bad might actually have happened. He leaves work and an important meeting to race home – only to find his wife and babe playing in the fields. Tense, dark, but good. 4 stars.

Fall is for Blockbusters

1 Jul

My “Coming Soon” list is going out of control, so as we head into a holiday weekend I thought I’d just throw up a list of everything I’m waiting on. There are some BIG things. Also some things that are already generating a lot of early buzz. Happy 4th of July! Start saving and/or reserve your library copies now!

Are you drooling? So many exciting things! I’ve already gotten my hands on a copy of The Nix courtesy of my favorite sales rep. Let me tell you – it’s amazing. And an Amor Towles? Jonathan Safran Foer? ZADIE SMITH! ah. I’ve started to sleep-train my household to go to bed at 5pm so I can have every evening to read.