I keep reading much faster than I write these but here are a few more book reviews to share. Oh and heads up – these are Amazon affiliate links.
Maybe in Another Life: A Novel
Do you find the ill-fitting dress on the cover as distracting as I do? Cover issues aside (since the author doesn’t get much say in that anyway), I thought this book was enjoyable as it explores what happens with the road not taken. It felt a lot like the movie Siding Doors but hey – I loved Sliding Doors so it’s all good for me. I zipped through it quickly and while it was predictable it was still a pleasant read.
In a French Kitchen: Tales and Traditions of Everyday Home Cooking in France
I was hopeful that this book would be as completely delightful as the first book I read by Susan Hermann Loomis long ago (On Rue Tatin – which stands in my head as my favorite of all food/travel memoirs) but my hopes were dashed. This book is meant to give some practical cooking & kitchen advice based on Loomis’ firsthand experience with French culture. I liked some aspects of this book but I was turned off by Hermann Loomis’ snobby tone and smug attitude. From a practical standpoint, I didn’t glean any new insights about cooking/organizing kitchens. And finally, the recipes seemed so complex that none of them stood out as worthy of trying. I wonder if I were to re-read Loomis’ On Rue Tatin today if I would like it as much.
In the Unlikely Event
I will always read any new Judy Blume book because JUDY. Now if we were to compare this book to Judy’s adolescent books, I would say this one feels the most like Starring Sally J Freedman as Herself. It’s mix of historical fiction (3 planes crashed within months in NJ in the 1950s) plus interesting but flawed characters that you are always going to root for even if you are getting annoyed with them on occasion. Judy Blume is so skilled when it comes to her narrative – you often do feel right there and it sticks with you like a personal memory. Downsides – this book was so packed with characters that I was really confused for the first half and reading on my phone meant I couldn’t flip back easily to jog my memory. So for that reason I would say pick the paper version over the e-version if you read the book. The other gripe I have is that this book was a little boring at times and could have been edited down a bit. Oh, and there was a little moment at the end where I was VERY ANNOYED with our protagonist but I decided to forgive her for that moment. In the Unlikely Event is worth the read for any longtime Judy fan.
Heft: A Novel
Wow, a recommend for sure! Soulful characters and an interesting plot even though at first glance it doesn’t sound all that interesting (a morbidly obese man who is isolated at home and a teenage boy’s life become intertwined). Sad and gripping but ultimately hopeful.
The Sleeping Dictionary
This historical fiction book takes place in India around WWII time and was recommended to me by my in-laws (one of whom is from India and the other who lived in India for awhile). The plot is well-developed and follows a girl (who undergoes name changes out of necessity so I will just call her “girl” here) through a life that goes from a small fishing village to working at a school to being a prostitute to working for a wealthy man with an enormous library in his house. It’s a lot to take in and it’s topsy-turvy but you will feel compelled to find out where it’s all going. I think fans of The Kite-Runner (Khaled Hosseini), Cutting for Stone (Abraham Verghese) or the author Jhumpa Lahiri will also enjoy this book.
Crazy Little Thing (A Bell Harbor Novel)
Okay, so this is fluffy, fluffy, fluffy stuff. Cotton whispy poofs of air! But when you are looking for something very simple to help you sleep at night, I found this to be a pleasant beach-type read. It has some heart even though it’s light and you are not left feeling beyond irritated like you might be with other books of this ilk.
The Rosie Project: A Novel
An emotionally stilted but brilliant man (who likely has Aspberger’s or is on the spectrum) is trying to find love. This book just works. It works well. There are PLENTY of emotionally stilted but brilliant people in my life so I could relate to this book more than some but I think it will speak to many people. It’s sweet without being cloying. It rings true and is quirky good fun while still having depth. I am excited to read the sequel.
LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. I think this book wins as my favorite of 2014. It’s just so darn random and postapocalyptic but cultured. It’s dreamy and imaginative but also full of simplicity. Yes, the end may be nye but humans are still complex and can still appreciate music and life. If you also love quirky books you will love Station Eleven.
The Lola Quartet
Oh dear. This book is not so good at all and I was really excited to read another one by Emily St. John Mandel. The Lola Quartet feels like a very rough original draft of Station Eleven. So skip this one and go straight to Station Eleven.
Oooh, I liked this one a lot, too. Again with the quirky characters and plot but this one takes place at a tech giant where employees drink the koolaid, so to speak, and live in a happy utopia. This book explores the tipping point where a company like Google or Facebook go too far. All is great when you are participating and a believer in the company but what happens when you ask questions or start to disagree? And just how far will social media go? It’s a fun intellectual thriller. Maybe a little obvious and predictable but still gripping.
I really enjoy Liane Moriarty books but I have to say they blend in my head shortly after reading them. But a quick peek on Amazon and I remember this one. Once again Moriarty weaves a mystery into the book that is revealed oh-so-slowly but it’s never painful, it just keeps you turning the pages as fast as you can. In this particular book, you know someone who is associated with an elementary school in Australia is going to end up dead. Moriarty does very well with giving each of the primary characters a unique voice and I also think she does so well with hitting those small truths of life right on the nail. However, as someone with an elementary school-aged child this took on an especially creepy note. I am chomping at the bit for the release of Moriarty’s next book.