Archive | May, 2017

Wolves, Zepplins & Clairvoyants

19 May

I have had a GREAT week or two of reading. Everything – whether it was good or bad – was easy to finish and I flew through a lot of stuff from my library queue. Here we go.

Court of Thorns and Roses – this was popping up like crazy in all my social media because the 3rd book in the series just came out on May 3rd. I read this one and the 600 page second one like my life depended on it. They were good. These are classified as Young Adult, but there are some pretty steamy sex scenes so they definitely can’t go to a younger audience. Two sentence premise: Feyre, a young peasant girl, kills a wolf when she’s out hunting to feed her family. Turns out the wolf is actually a High Fae faerie, which is bad news for Feyre because an even more terrifying faerie comes to take her captive. Think beauty and the beast but set in a magical landscape. The second one (The Court of Mist and Blood) was WAY better – the first one is kind of a slow build but then it gets really great too. 4 stars.

Flight of Dreams was our Mother/Daughter book club selection this month. Historical fiction about the Hindenburg. Maybe the most interesting part of this novel was learning about the flight and its demise. All I knew was that it went down – I had no idea that there were so many survivors or that the cause of the crash was unknown. Ariel Lawhorn did a tremendous amount of research and all of her characters were REALLY on the Hindenburg. They all suffered whatever fates they suffered in real life. My book guru Mary likened the novel to Murder on the Orient Express – where you have a bunch of people who could be responsible, a bunch of people with secrets and schemes, and the novel is more about those characters than the actual crime. 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 after our interesting book club discussion.

Weird that I read two books by women named Ariel, huh? I’m just noticing that. The Rules Do Not Apply is another one that seems to be a hot topic right now. I’ve been seeing it everywhere, people raving and recommending. This one was not for me. I really, really disliked this Ariel – a writer for the New Yorker. Her story is sad, and I felt sad for her, but I didn’t like her. In the end I didn’t really care that she was sad? Here is her tale: struggling to break into the journalism scene in New York City, Ariel meets and falls for an older woman named Lucy. Lucy wears a ring, committed to another woman back in San Fran. The two begin an affair, end up married and spend a lot of years drinking and partying like college students (or so it sounded). They decide to quit drinking to try for a baby. You learn right away, in the opening pages, that Ariel is now, presently, suffering from the loss of both baby and spouse. Such a downer, with an unsympathetic narrator. 3 stars.

Salt Houses was really so great. It’s the story of a Palestinian family forced to leave their home during the war. Salma, the matriarch, reads her daughter Alia’s future in the tea leaves and vows never to tell her what she’s seen. Such an intriguing start to what turned out to be a great family saga. The format is exactly what I love in a family tale – perspective shifting from chapter to chapter so that you get multiple views of everyone and everything and feel like you’re holding the secrets and the facts and the family together. It got a little tiny bit long towards the end, but I loved it. 4.5 stars

I have a hard time figuring out how to classify Spoonbenders. I’ll start by saying I really liked it, so the challenge to place it is a good one. It’s the story of a family of psychics. And maybe magician/cheats. Teddy Telemachus heads up this family of misfits and disgraced fortune tellers, himself the only one who doesn’t have the “gift.” His daughter Maureen has the ability to tell if a person is lying or speaking the truth, his son Frankie is able to move objects with his mind. The youngest son, Buddy, doesn’t speak much and is left to his own devices but it’s known that he can see the future. When Maureen’s son, Matty, starts developing his own strange powers, the family gets thrown into a mess of things ranging from mobsters to foreign spies to CIA operatives. Overall I liked this a lot – parts of it were weirdly amazing, parts sad, parts funny. It’s fairly long, but worth it! 4 stars.

Old Friends and New Ones

3 May

celine

Peter Heller is my favorite, and maybe my only, literary crush. He’s just so cool. Dog Stars and The Painter – holy cow – two of my most favorite books ever. Kinda hard to live up to “most favorite ever,” I know. This one, Celine, was pretty good. I think I’d even call it “great” if the other two hadn’t been just so great. Story: Celine, 68-year-old Chanel wearing Private Eye suffering from emphysema, takes on a hot new cold case. She’s on the trail of a man who was apparently the victim of a gruesome bear attack over twenty years ago. His now grown daughter has a few reasons to be suspicious – like the fact that the body was never recovered and that the animal tracker had an issue with the way the bear tracks looked. So Celine and her amazing husband Pete head out into the wilderness to investigate. Celine is maybe the most wonderful character ever, she’s smart and funny and passionate and just really cool. And Pete! swoon. Don’t even get me started. They have an enviable relationship that was entertaining but also felt real. 4 stars

ifoundyou

You know how I’m always saying “oh, I hate thrillers” and “I’m just not a thriller reader” and all of that? Well. I momentarily take it back because I Found You had me on the edge of my seat/couch/bed/kitchen chair and it was just so smart and satisfying and creepy but not in like a creepy-creepy way, just in the best way ever. Kinda dark, but weirdly didn’t FEEL that dark. Perfect summer read. I’m still thinking about the twists. Three story lines: 1) man shows up on beach with no memory (sounds cliché, but…) 2) newly married woman searches for her missing husband 3) 20 years earlier, family vacationing at the beach. 4.5 stars

Leavers, Leave Them Be.

1 May

leavers

The Bellwether Prize is a large monetary prize awarded to a debut novelist. Founded by Barbara Kingsolver, a rotating panel of well-known authors blindly read the entries and pick a winner. The only guideline, really, is that the novel be “socially engaging.” This year, award went to Lisa Ko and her novel, The Leavers (the first novel to receive this prize was Mudbound, remember that one?).

The Leavers is the story of a Chinese Immigrant, Polly, and her 11 yr old son Deming. One day, Polly doesn’t come home from work. And after 6 months, Deming is adopted by an older (white) couple and moves to the (whitest) suburbs. So the story is back and forth, Deming, renamed Daniel, and his mother Polly. Every now and then I thought the momentum kind of lagged, but the dialogue is SO good that it would draw me back in. I literally thought multiple times in my head “wow, that is a really well written conversation right there.” The part of the book that, I think, is supposed to be the peak of the plot, was weirdly not the most interesting plot point. Or at least it didn’t hit me as hard as maybe it could have. I don’t know. Overall I thought this was a really smart, pretty good read that I think will be a great book club pick. 4 stars.