Archive | January, 2019

Starting with a Bang

21 Jan

Well this year has started off way better than I could have guessed. Six books this month with the chance to finish at least one more. By far my favorite so far this month is the Jeff Tweedy memoir, Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back). I can still remember the basement I was in when the cool-music-guy I went to high school with recommended that I listen to Wilco. It definitely changed my life for the next few years, I was a hardcore fan. I almost didn’t want to read this because I worried that the man behind the curtain would be revealed as the not-so-great-and-powerful but gosh was this just so so good. Retroactively going on my Best Litpicks of 2018. 5 stars!

The other one I found particularly engrossing was Looker by Laura Sims. Let me start by saying THIS IS NOT FOR EVERYONE. It is pretty twisted, a cat gets harmed…beware. It’s told from the point of view of a nameless female narrator on her descent into, well, pretty much madness. She lives down the block from a famous actress in LA and as she falls further and further into her psychosis she starts to do some pretty crazy things. I thought it was so good, but remember I like those twisted/bang-endings. 4 stars

Along those same lines, Golden Child is another one I enjoyed but would have a hard time recommending. This one will find a big audience without me – it’s the second title on Sarah Jessica Parker’s imprint (following A Place for Us). Set in Trinidad, it follows Clyde and his family – his wife Joy and twin boys Peter & Paul – as they deal with their challenging lives. It’s hard to talk too much plot because that would give it away, but I probably could say that Peter is brilliant and Paul is not and the story is about how they are treated differently. It is a HARD read. 4 stars

The Paragon Hotel has been growing on me more and more since I finished it. The story is SO good, but the entire thing is kind of a slog because of her excessive use of slang and jargon. Set in the 1920s in Oregon, Alice “Nobody” James finds herself seeking refuge at the Paragon Hotel, the only hotel in the city that African-Americans can reside in. She herself is white, running from a huge mess in NYC, but she befriends and comes to care for many of the hotel’s permanent residents. I might have quit this early on because it was difficult to read through the writing style/wording but a child went missing and I had HAD to find out what happened to him. Turns out I was surprised by the story and the further I get from it the more I like it. 3 stars rounded up to 4.

Valley of the Dolls was for my neighborhood book club and I am glad to have read it. I think high school me would have L-O-V-E-D this but mom-aged me is kind of unimpressed. I still enjoyed it! Celeb soap opera that it was. 3 stars

Weight of a Piano comes out tomorrow. I pretty much swallowed this one up this past weekend because I was desperate to know which guy Clara ends up with at the end. I typically love these types of novels – chapters alternating between current day and the not-so-distant past. Here we meet Katya, 1962, Russia as she is bequeathed an old Bluthner piano followed by present day Clara as she moves a Bluthner piano out of her now ex-boyfriends house and into a new apartment in Bakersfield CA. We work forward from Katya as we find out what happens to her, how the piano makes it to the States, etc and also forward from Clara as she decides to list the piano for sale and gets an unexpected response. Everyone in this novel is so sad. Not just sad but clinically depressed. I desperately wanted to know what happened but didn’t love anyone involved. 3 stars, even with the perfect ending.

Take Me to the River

8 Jan

Diane Setterfield’s new novel comes out towards the end of this month[EDIT: it came out last month!]. I LOVED The Thirteenth Tale all those years ago, didn’t love Bellman & Black and came into this one with an open mind. It starts off sooo good and creepy – in a small tavern next to part of the Thames. A man stumbles in late and night, bleeding and delirious, and drops the body of a seeming dead girl into the innkeeper’s lap. Examined by the local midwife/doctor, she is by all signs dead. And then she opens her eyes! Creepy. Three different members of the community come forward to claim the girl and the story takes off from there. It’s pretty wordy, and I got to a point about a quarter of the way in where I decided just to skim to the end to see who the child is and to whom she belongs…but then I just couldn’t because I wanted to follow the twists and some of the character’s backstories are so good and interesting. 4 stars

I’m not sure why The End of Loneliness popped up on my radar, but gosh I swallowed it up and found myself reading through a river of tears. Just the sort of character-driven novel that I really enjoy. I think this is a paperback original and probably won’t get too much press but I enjoyed it! It’s the story of a young boy, Jules, and his siblings (brother/sister) after they lose their parents in a car accident. They’re sent of to a boarding school and drift apart. Jules finds comfort in the friendship of another social outcast, a classmate named Alva. 4+ stars.