Showing posts from February, 2017

Dodge City: Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, and the Wickedest Town in the American West by Tom Clavin: A Review

I enjoy reading history books but American history is not my favorite place to read about and the 1800s is not my favorite time period to read about.  When I read the synopsis for Dodge City, I was intrigued, despite my borderline apathy for 1800s American history because this is a subject that I know little about.  I had never heard of Dodge City or Bat Masterson and my only knowledge of Wyatt Earp was when Blake Shelton played him in Adam Sandler's "Ridiculous 6".  The movie is available on Netflix, it is hilarious (though not for the easily offended) and is completely inappropriate for teaching any history about the Wild West.  Suffice it to say, I don't know too much about this time period in American history.  Clavin's Dodge City changed all of that, though.  While I can't consider myself an expert, I can say that I know a bit more about the Wild West.

Dodge City is one of the most notorious cities in the Wild West.  Saloons and bordellos abound in the …

This Is How It Always Is by Laurie Frankel: A Review

I have a confession to make.  We have all been taught not to judge a book by its cover and I usually don't choose a book based on one but I actually picked up This Is How It Always Is without reading the synopsis.  I loved the orange background with the perfect, spiraled orange peel on the front.  It was beautiful and I wanted to open it up and see what beauty was inside.  When I saw that the book got great reviews from Liane Moriarty, Jamie Ford, Ruth Ozeki and Maria Semple, some of my favorite writers, I knew I had to read it.  Then I read the synopsis while walking out of the library with the book and thought, "I probably should have read the synopsis."  I didn't think that because of the book's potential "crunch" factor (the book may be a bit granola to some but it is not overpowering) but because I have seen how many authors and publishers have seemed to become obsessed with pumping out topic-of-the-day books without the accompanying substance.  I…

Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien: A Review

I originally wanted to read Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien because I found out that it was short-listed for the Man Booker Prize for 2016.  While Do Not Say We Have Nothing did not go on to win the award (that honor went to The Sellout by Paul Beatty), Thien's novel about communist China is definitely worth picking up.

I am a recent reader of Man Booker Prize winners and nominees.  I heard about the prize for novels written in English and published in the UK when I heard that A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James won the prize.  I had previously read and enjoyed James' The Book of Night Women and wanted to read more by the author.  After reading A Brief History of Seven Killings, I wanted more of the Man Booker Prize.  Prize nominees do not have to be from the UK and, in fact, Thien lives in Canada and Beatty lives in the US.  Do Not Say We Have Nothing was the second Man Booker Prize book I have read but it definitely will not be my last.  It has b…

The Wicked City by Beatriz Williams: A Review

Beatriz Williams' novel The Wicked City is historical fiction that also includes a bit of crime, a bit of romance and even a bit of the supernatural.  When forensic accountant Elle discovers that her husband has been cheating on her, she moves into an apartment building with a rich past.  Through the music that can be heard through the walls, we learn that the apartment used to house a speakeasy during the time of prohibition.  Ginger is the bar's best customer.  She is originally from the Appalachian mountains in Maryland where her abusive step-father is a wealthy moon-runnner.  While she is okay with drinking the gin (also Ginger's nickname) that may have been brought into Manhattan by her step-father and his associates, she agrees to help law enforcement catch him.

The voices of the characters are completely unique.  When I read the first-person account of Ginger, I was immediately reminded of the kind of choppy speaking style that is featured in movies set during the…

The Travelers by Chris Pavone: A Review


The Nearness of You by Amanda Eyre Ward: A Review

The Nearness of You is a novel that asks the question, "What makes one a mother?"  Suzette's marriage to Hyland is turned upside down when he springs it on her that he wants to have a child after they agreed for years that they would not have them.  Suzette is still healing from the memories of her mother's mental illness and does not want to pass the genes along to a child.  Suzette agrees to allow Hyland to have a child with a surrogate, Dorrie.  Once Dorrie becomes pregnant with Hyland and Suzette's child, she disappears.While Suzette was not completely on board with the idea in the first place, she searches desperately for the child.

When I read the synopsis for this book, I believed that it had great potential.Surrogacy, as a topic for a novel, is very current issue.The book read very quickly; maybe too quickly.The story felt rushed and did not leave enough time for the characters to develop and for any kind of suspense to build.This would have been one stor…

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough: A Review

Behind Her Eyes is a really hard book to review because it is difficult to say why I liked the book and compare it to other stories without including spoilers.  It is a thriller novel that has all of the twists and turns of a mystery novel with some creepiness thrown in, for good measure.  Louise is a bored single-mother to grade-school-aged Adam when she finds out that she has met her new boss previously when she kisses him in a bar.  Louise meets David's wife, Adele, and begins a friendship with the lonely housewife.  Soon, Louise is sharing David with Adele while acting as Adele's best friend.  When David and Adele's marriage does not seem to be all it's cracked up to be, Louise wonders about the couple's backstory and begins to investigate on her own. 

Behind Her Eyes is told from the perspective of a few different characters.  The characters were very interesting and were very complex but all of the characters seemed to speak in the same voice.  Perhaps I am b…

The Mother's Promise by Sally Hepworth: A Review

Alice is mother to Zoe, a teenager with severe social anxiety disorder.  Being Zoe's only source of support and comfort, Alice has spent much of her time with Zoe and her home health care clients.  In addition, Alice's parents are deceased, her brother is an alcoholic and Zoe's father is not in the picture.  This has left Alice with no support system and no prospects of caring for Zoe when Alice is diagnosed with stage three ovarian cancer.  Alice must form new friendships in order to find a suitable support system for Zoe in case she doesn't survive her illness.

Hepworth's writing is so fluid and easy to read.  It makes for a very fast reading book despite the uncomfortable topic.  I loved all of the characters but I especially loved Zoe.  Hepworth was able to describe the feelings of social anxiety disorder exactly without making the reader feel as if everyone with social anxiety disorder will have the same symptoms as Zoe.  The love between Alice and Zoe makes …

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah: A Review