Archive | August, 2018

and the pile grows ever larger!

15 Aug

Partly for you, partly for me. I thought I’d post a glimpse of my TBR for the rest of this year. A lot of these aren’t out yet but some of them are. I currently have How to Love a Jamaican and The Family Tabor out from the library. Let me know if I’m missing anything or if anything needs to be bumped up!

If You Were Thinking of Taking a Cruise – Don’t.

10 Aug

I have a list seven miles long of all that I’m excited to read – either just out or coming out this fall. Here’s what made the cut this past month.

Two of these were for book club: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and Kitchens of the Great Midwest. They were both great for book club – lots to talk about, lots of differing opinions. I was the odd-woman-out in my mother/daughter/granddaughter book club when it came to Eleanor Oliphant. Everyone LOVED, loved loved this book so much so that we spent half of our book club tonight talking about it (it was last month’s pick). I didn’t like it. I made a bad guess as to where it was going and it colored my entire opinion of Eleanor. Where everyone else found her quirky, odd but sympathetic and maybe even charming, I read her as being totally creepy. It DIDN’T end up going where I was thinking it would and I think if I had read it without any presumptions I would have liked it more. Kitchens of the Great Midwest I listened to while I was doing dishes and cleaning up in the evenings. My house has never been so tidy! I loved the audio as well as the story. In the same vein as Olive Kitteridge (only not so superbly written), it’s the story of Eva Thorvald told through a variety of different people whose lives cross hers.

My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottesa Moshfegh is such a weird one. I’m not sure why I gobbled it up, I have no idea who to recommend it to but I really enjoyed it. It struck me as being for the same crown who loved Sweetbitter. It’s the story of a twenty-something woman, well-off financially and in terms of beauty, who gets fired from her art gallery job and decides she needs a year of “rest and relaxation.” She finds a terrible therapist who prescribes her an unending amount of various sleeping pills and basically spends most of her time passed out in her apartment. When she’s awake, she watches movies and eats take out food from the bodega on the corner. There is a lot of poor decision making (usually while blacked out), a lot of foul language and a lot of vulgarity – this is kind of what Ottesa Moshfegh is known for – so readers beware. 3 stars

I haven’t read Curtis Sittenfeld before but have been seeing this You Think It, I’ll Say It collection everywhere. And oh wow it started off so strong! I loved the first maybe 60% of the stories so much I was sure this would end up on my favorites list. But the last 3 or 4 just fell flat for me. There is a story about a woman honeymooning who runs into a former high school classmate who had tormented her in high school, another one about a homemaker who is obsessed with a lifestyle-celeb (reminded me of Ree Drummond the Pioneer Woman) that she had known in college and whose career *she thinks* is build on lies. So many good ones! 4 stars

The Last Cruise has been sort of a slow burn for me. It follows three characters as they board the celebrated last voyage of a specific cruise ship. Mick, a chef, has been called in last-minute as a replacement. Christine is accompanying her friend Valerie who is working on an article about the working conditions on board and Miriam, a violinist in a stringed quartet books as the ship’s entertainment. Once things start going wrong, they start going reallllllly wrong and even though I was not totally invested in all of the people I HAD to know what happened. 4 stars

Everyone and their mother probably knows how much I loved Madeline Miller’s Song of Achilles. A lot. So I was very excited to have been gifted an advance of Pat Barker’s The Silence of the Girls (out Sept 4) which is the same story of Achilles and Patroclus but from the point of view of Briseis – Achilles’ battle prize/concubine. She had been queen of a neighboring kingdom and when her kingdom was sacked she was handed over to Achilles as a trophy. I feel like Pat Barker did a great job of driving home what I’m sure was her main focus – women have been treated horribly throughout history. This novel is filled with stories of rape and the passing of woman from victor to victor, women dying and being left behind, mothers killing their daughters so they are not taken by conquering soldiers etc etc. It’s an important story, to be sure, but it was a little overwhelming. I might have quit it if I wasn’t so interested in seeing what happened to Achilles AFTER Patroclus’s death (where Madeline Miller’s story leaves off). 4 stars

 

The Fish are the First to Go

1 Aug

ourhomesicksongs

Does anyone remember Emma Hooper’s Etta and Otto and Russell and James? Oh, I loved it. I was so thrilled to see her new novel – out mid August – that I moved it clear to the top of my stack. Our Homesick Songs kind of reminded me of The Rathbones and also a little bit of The Light Between Oceans. It’s set in a small fishing village called Big Running that once was flooded with fish but has now run dry. The fish shortage has sent all of the town’s inhabitants away to find work, slowly slowly the town has dwindled down to only 6 occupied houses among the dozens of deserted ones. In one home lives the Conner family – Martha and Aidan and their children Cora and Finn. In alternating chapters we get the story of Martha and Aidan’s courtship and the story of their present. What I love about Emma Hooper are the little details that make her stories magic – Cora, sneaking into abandoned houses and redecorating them according to different nationalities (an Italian house, a Mexican house, etc). Finn, trying his best to lure the fish back according to any old folklore he comes across. Martha with her finely knotted nets. This is a slow novel, but beautiful. 4 stars