Category: Contemporary Fiction

Review: Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner

I had mixed feelings about this book, which was on this year’s Women’s Prize longlist. I’m interested in stories about struggling relationships, so the idea of this book that tells the story of a divorcing couple from both perspectives was an interesting one. But… Continue Reading “Review: Fleishman is in Trouble by Taffy Brodesser-Akner”

Review: Writers and Lovers by Lily King

I didn’t expect to like this book. In fact, I started it as an audiobook and found it meandering and a little pretentious. I don’t love the idea of a novel about writers, especially when our narrator, Casey, describes how all of her once-writer… Continue Reading “Review: Writers and Lovers by Lily King”

My Year of Reading Romance

Romance novels are my comfort reads. Typically, I don’t read many of them. While fun to read, they rarely stick with me.  A lot of romances follow predictable patterns and rarely surprise – although I could argue that’s exactly why they are comforting. But… Continue Reading “My Year of Reading Romance”

Review: Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

This is a debut novel that’s received quite a bit of praise, but it was not quite as good as I hoped it would be.  Author Phillips is an American who decided to write about a very remote area in Siberia called Kamchatka.  Phillips… Continue Reading “Review: Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips”

Review: Saint X by Alexis Schaitken

I had mixed feelings about this book, but I found the story and its characters really compelling.  Saint X is a fictional island in the Caribbean, a place where affluent white families go to soak up the sun and drink all day long.  The… Continue Reading “Review: Saint X by Alexis Schaitken”

Mini-reviews: The Night Watchman, The Glass Hotel, and The Lost Man

You may know I’m not a huge fan of mini-reviews. All three of these books deserve a full review. But given limited time, all three were really great reads so I wanted to share my thoughts. The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich I loved… Continue Reading “Mini-reviews: The Night Watchman, The Glass Hotel, and The Lost Man”

Review: My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

I didn’t know if I’d like this book, but I found myself listening to it at every opportunity and I couldn’t stop thinking about it.  It’s the story of Vanessa, a fourteen year old in a boarding school in Maine who has a sexual relationship with her English teacher .  Years later, when other victims come forward and they look to her for support, she doesn’t know how to respond. This is her story, told over 17 years.

I’m finding it much harder to describe this book than I thought I would, because the words we use for sexual abuse (like rape, and victim, and power) are so important, and that’s what makes this book so interesting and so challenging.  Vanessa loves Strane and refuses to see herself as a victim — yet Strane is clearly manipulating her, and the effects on Vanessa as both a teen and an adult are absolutely devastating.  As are the many ways school authorities and even Vanessa’s parents fail her.

Review: The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah

This book about a Palestinian family in Chicago, Illinois begins with a school shooting.  Afaf, the principal of a school for Muslim girls, is praying when the gunman opens fire.  Then the book goes back to Afaf’s childhood.  Afaf is raised in Chicago in… Continue Reading “Review: The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah”

Review: The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo

I enjoyed and appreciated this character-driven family drama by Claire Lombardo.  I read it for my book club, which didn’t end up happening last month, and that was actually good because I never would have finished in time.  It’s a long one — but… Continue Reading “Review: The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo”

Review: The Herd by Andrea Bartz

As mystery/thrillers go, The Herd has an interesting premise.  Eleanor is a beautiful and successful woman who created The Herd, which is a woman-only workspace and social clique.  It’s basically a boy’s club without the boys.  Her three closest friends, Hana, Katie and Mikki,… Continue Reading “Review: The Herd by Andrea Bartz”

Review: Amnesty by Aravind Adiga

I found this a really interesting read about what it’s like to be an undocumented immigrant in Australia. Adiga tells the story through the eyes of Danny, who has fled his native Sri Lanka after torture. He comes to Australia through a school program,… Continue Reading “Review: Amnesty by Aravind Adiga”

Review: Pride by Ibi Zoboi

I have a list of recent Austen adaptations I want to read, like Ayesha at Last, Unmarriageable, and Pride, Prejudice and Other Flavors.  I’d seen great reviews of Pride by Idi Zoboi and was happy to find the audiobook narrated by Elizabeth Acevedo.  I thought her… Continue Reading “Review: Pride by Ibi Zoboi”

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