Monday, October 10, 2016


my take: The story of two families, six kids total, and how their lives intersect through divorce and remarriage.

I'd read a blip of a review before reading - which I generally avoid -  that said this was her most autobiographical novel to date. Because I read This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, I knew a little of her life story and that added to my enjoyment of the book. It was fun to think about what she fabricated and what she pulled from her own life.

It seems to me each of her books is different - locations, development of the plot, cultures, eras ... so after our discussion of Commonwealth (see below) I found an NPR interview where she says all her books are about the same thing: plucking characters out of their natural habitat and plopping them into a new situation. Yes! AND her works still seem different enough to enjoy each one.

my source: For a trip to Italy & France with BFF and her SIL we decided a book club-ish read would be fun ... including our hubbies, who have been shut out of book club for the last 20+ years ...except for my hubby's desserts ...had a lovely discussion in a VW minivan zooming along the Autostrada on the French/Italian coast packed in like sardines.

my verdict: Good read...not my favorite of hers, but worth a read. See also State of Wonder, The Magician's Assistant, Bel Canto

Monday, October 3, 2016

"The Ramblers"

my take: As I was sorting through book piles, I came across this HARDCOVER book and asked hubby where & when he'd bought it and if I should read it. Neither. Which meant it was my purchase? I maybe had a book buying binge and blacked-out? You know you have a problem when ....

So! Grabbed it before bed on a particularly insomniac-al night and read till 2 ... and because I was so tired the next day I finished it instead of cleaning the garage. Hard to say if it's THAT good or I was in a particularly needy state.

Three main characters - Clio and Smith, roommates at Yale, and Tate, a classmate - each get their own sections, each beginning with a document of some sort about them - college entry exam, intake form for life coaching, application for graduate school, etc. The action of the plot takes place over the course of Thanksgiving week, with throwbacks to the life traumas that each of them is attempting to overcome. Set in modern day New York City, in particular the Rambles of Central Park.

my source: I. really. can. not. remember.

my verdict: good read

Thursday, September 8, 2016


my take: This took a bit to get into and was well worth the wading at the outset. A combination of a who-done-it and Western chronicling the life of John Holliday (Doc) leading up to the shoot out at the OK Corral.

And this is much more than a Western. Philosophical, introspective characters populate Dodge. A thoughtful story which includes gambling, prostitution, moonshine, politics, religion, literature, education, war, race, wealth, health, calling, and a mother-son bond. Chock-a-block full of ideas.

Even with booze (red sangria and white wine spritzers) and a beautiful view, we stayed on topic for Book Chicks with most enthusiastically engaged (and a few who didn't finish - it's longish with small print).

my source: Book Chicks July 2016 pick

my verdict: Great read - highly recommend - even a summer standout

Monday, September 5, 2016

"The Little Paris Bookshop"

my take: This book is a bit of an enigma. I really wanted to love this. Bookstore, Paris. What more could you want?! A believable story?

Which I get: it's fiction. There are times when I'm willing to suspend reason and logic and just go where the author wants to take me. And there are times when I bump my nose against the mirrors in the smoke-filled illusion.

I didn't love the idea that someone could prescribe a novel to cure you - that the main character could diagnose what ails you and treat it with fiction. Also, I found the love triangle a bit hard to swallow.

What I did love is the description of the French country-side as the bookstore travels downriver from Paris. It made me want to travel to France. Again. Now.

my source: Daughter Anne received to review; hers won't be a glowing report, either.

my verdict: Semi-good feel good.

Friday, September 2, 2016

"At The Water's Edge"

my take: From the inexhuastible source of World War II comes a tale from the edge of Loch Ness. A bit of a love triangle, bit of magical realism, the Scottish countryside, and the famous monster fill the pages.

The story begins in the US during the war with the main characters sailing to Scotland in the midst of German Uboats. The rest of the story takes place in a small country inn where we get the stories of the inn-keepers and how the War has affected life there.

I read this quickly and eagerly. Just the thing for my beach-filled vacation days.

my source: Daughter Anne handed to me, and she rarely has a hard copy of anything.

my verdict: Page turner - great read

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"Night at the Fiestas"

my take: I don't always love/like short stories. They're so ... brief? Just as I get emotionally attached to characters ... poof! They're gone. It's a bit of work to start over and over with new situations and characters. Hmmm. The lazy reader.

AND these short stories were just about right - a great blend of character development, plot, and twist. Most are set in the American Southwest and feature females in somewhat precarious situations.

I heard the author speak at a session at The Festival of Faith and Writing and came to realize several of the stories have autobiographical tidbits.

my source: Festival of Faith and Writing 2016 reading

my verdict: Great short stories - well worth a read.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

"Every Exquisite Thing"

my take: "Behind every exquisite thing that existed, there was something tragic."*

Nanette and Alex meet through their encounter with an out-of-publication novel, The Bubblegum Reaper. Each is a loner in their own way. They try to discover what happens to the hero of the book after the final chapter - much like The Fault in Our Stars.

Exquisite celebrates the different, the wall-flower, the marginalized, the odd-bird, the lonely as seen through the eyes of a high schooler.

Helping teenagers see we're not all the same ... and yet we are all the same. Feeling apartness - other-ness is part of the human condition. As Nanette discovers her own apartness, she looks to the 'herd' of high schoolers as being the same - wanting to conform to what success and 'happiness' look like: popularity, sports achievements, drinking, sex, being considered 'normal'.

Ultimately, Nanette's choice can not be everybody's choice - going to find a different group of people. Some of us need to stay in the pool we're in ... and realize that though we may not fit in, we're still valuable. I heartily applaud Mr. Quick's philosophical allusion that the unexamined life is not worth living. I would add that there are layers of examination ... after all, what we learn so much after those brutal teenage years.

my source: popped up after I ordered The Memory of Light from Amazon

my verdict: Great YA read. I also loved his The Good Luck of Right Now

*Quoted in Every Exquisite Thing from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray.

If you are read the hardcover edition, check under the dust cover when you're done.