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text 2020-03-25 03:08
10 New Books to Read Now
Paris, 7 A.M. - Liza Wieland
Mrs. Everything - Jennifer Weiner
Inland - Téa Obreht
The Last Book Party - Karen Dukess
Scars Like Wings - Erin Schwier Stewart
Olive, Again (Oprah's Book Club) - Elizabeth Strout
Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover, and Me - Adrienne Brodeur
Mobituaries: Great Lives Worth Reliving - Mo Rocca
A Good Neighborhood - Therese Anne Fowler
Naked Mole Rat Saves the World - Karen Rivers

I am trying to use the extra time I have now to catch up on some long-overdue posts. Hopefully you will be encouraged by these suggestions to contact your local bookseller and order some books! Curbside delivery or mailed to your home – we need to support our local businesses in this time of crisis.

 

I am going to review several books in one post, so that you don’t have to look through the feed for them. If you haven’t seen my posts before, you will notice that I don’t give bad reviews, I simply don’t post about books I didn’t like. By now, I am a pretty good judge of what I like, so it is extremely rare that I don’t finish a book, or find something to like about it. 

 

Paris, 7 a.m.  by Liza Wieland

I chose this book because I thought the premise was terrific — poet Elizabeth Bishop, who painstakingly chronicled her life in journals, omitted three weeks she spent in Paris after graduating from Vassar. But why the gap? With Paris on the brink of war, Wieland—a poet herself—offers her own theory in this evocative book. Though the book is well-researched, the writing drew me in with its ethereal quality, setting it apart from most historical fiction I’ve read. Recommended for anyone interested in interesting viewpoints on World War II, or Elizabeth Bishop, before she became one of the most influential poets of the twentieth century.

 

Mrs. Everything  by Jennifer Wiener

I am pretty sure you can’t go wrong with a Jennifer Weiner book, but maybe I’m biased, having read several others. I also have a sweet spot for stories about sisters, especially two seeming opposites like these, who share so much more than they realize. Weiner spares no feelings with the trauma and tragedies they face, but she crafts her story with care and grace. While I will admit that I noticed some timeline inaccuracies here (like many others on Goodreads), I tried not to let that distract me from enjoying what was otherwise a compelling story.

 

Inland  by Téa Obreht

Inland is one of those books where I say, who knew this topic could be so compelling to me? I understand that plenty of people would find it compelling, but I am not always as open-minded as the rest of you when it comes to certain historical fiction topics. Obreht’s mythic narrative captures the vast, lawless Arizona territory in stunning detail. Despite the little-known history of the time, her characters come to life in a world that is moving and deeply intimate. There is suspense and drama—it’s the wild west, after all—in this gem of a book.

 

The Last Book Party  by Karen Dukess

This is a perfect, be-careful-what-you-wish-for kind of story, a light read for the weeks ahead. A peek into the publishing world set in a lovingly described Cape Cod community, the story seems even more nostalgic than its 1987 setting would seem. Or is that just me dating myself? The protagonist is a 20-something would-be writer, who hasn’t yet found her footing, and gets distracted along the way. If it sounds familiar, yes, this is the story of many would-be writers, but this one has prettier people fumbling about in more elegant settings, and Dukess’ sharp writing will make you care how it all works out.

 

Scars Like Wings  by Erin Stewart

I am a fan of middle grade books (and yes, I’m too old for that), so I had no problem reading and loving, Wonder. For those who want something that skews a bit older, Scars Like Wings, while technically still a YA book, offers a more grown-up story in this vein. This felt to me like a much more difficult and personal story, given that teenagers can already be so swift and ruthless in their assessments. The emotions run heavy, but, I think, equal to the circumstances; and these fraught relationships remind you that everyone has their own battles they fight every day.

 

Olive, Again  by Elizabeth Strout

I am a fan of Elizabeth Strout, and I think I’ve read most, if not all, of her books. I don’t know if I’m in the minority here, but I liked this one even more than Olive Kitteridge. Maybe it’s because I was already introduced to Olive, so, with the exception of seeing her older, and perhaps a bit more empathetic, it was like stepping back into a familiar place. Olive is not a perfectly sweet old lady—she can be ornery, funny, rude, crafty, wise, and occasionally kind. Just like all of us. Personally, I would like her to meet Ove, but maybe that’s for the next book.

 

Wild Game  by Adrienne Brodeur

I’m not going to lie, this was a crazy book. I had to remind myself throughout that this was a memoir, not some farfetched fiction. There were so many moments while reading this that I stopped to say to my husband, you’re never going to believe this! It was shocking and bizarre, and yes, of course, a gripping story. Brodeur’s got baggage beyond comprehension, all completely justifiable, but she manages to cobble together a life in spite of that. I am amazed at her resilience, and appreciate her lowering the bar for motherhood so that we can all sleep a little easier about the job we are doing.

 

Mobituaries  by Mo Rocca

This book was based on Rocca’s podcast, which I had not heard, but I am an obituary reader, and the fact that there are several books like this makes me understand that I am not the only one. These are not necessarily the lives celebrated in the NY Times pages, though many are familiar. Rocca celebrates people famous for unusual reasons, and also honors the demise of some unusual things: the station wagon, sports teams, and dragons. This is a perfect choice for these times, I think, not because it’s about people dying—it’s not, it’s celebrating lives—but because I seem to have a social-media-induced attention span, and these individual stories offer some respite from all of that.

 

A Good Neighborhood  by Therese Anne Fowler

This is one of those stories where you are waiting for the other shoe to drop from the very first chapter. Though Fowler takes us down a seemingly predictable path, she has more in store for these characters than a simple morality tale. I think Fowler’s writing, fresh and smart, saved this from becoming an “issue” book; though the amount of hot-button topics still seemed a little unrealistic. I like a book with multiple points of view, so this added to the story for me, though not every character felt authentic. Regardless, Fowler has given us a lot to chew on here; a perfect read for a neighborhood book club.

 

Naked Mole Rat Saves the World  by Karen Rivers

This is not your typical middle-grade book. Rivers has given us a cast of unconventional characters who somehow seem ordinary despite their extraordinary circumstances. This is a complex, unapologetic book, overflowing with powerful emotion, necessary magic and superhero naked mole rats—really, what more can I say?  

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review 2019-11-25 03:15
Mrs. Everything
Mrs. Everything - Jennifer Weiner
There were times that I found myself absorbed into the lives of these two sisters, that I took a break from my own life, sat down and became a part of theirs. This book covered a lot time and the issues were staggering. They led an exciting and eventful trail as they made their way through life.
 
I listened to this book on audio and as I tried to go about my day, I found myself stopping to listen to it. It was no longer, just something to listen to, but something I had to hear.
 
The novel began when these sisters were young, their future had endless possibilities. Unfortunately, their mother thought differently, and boy, did she irritate me. Each sister tells us their story and about how each day brought new challenges and adventures into their lives.
 
I liked how each sister’s life was different. Between the two of them, they addressed almost every important issue that women face. I thought that this made their lives interesting. I enjoyed how the girls cared for one another even though they were so different from one another. This book is rather long and I feel that it could’ve been shorter and still effectively deliver the same message. 3.5 stars

 

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review 2019-08-07 14:15
A Tale of Two Sisters
Mrs. Everything - Jennifer Weiner

Trigger warning: Rape

 

Wow. So this was good. I think that some parts were a bit too long, but I can't really complain about that when I think that Weiner did such a great job with character development along and weaving all of the plot elements together. Weiner also includes certain pop culture and historical incidents (the Kennedy assassination, student protests, war in Vietnam, the me too movement, and even Hillary Clinton running for President of the United States) that are not front and center to the story, but still intriguing to read about with these characters. I of course ended up liking one character more than the other (can't help it, this is the way it goes with dual POVs) but I still really enjoyed the other character too. I just wanted this story to go on for much longer after I got to the end which is a mark of a great book to me. 

 

In "Mrs. Everything" the book starts off in the 2000s with a woman named Jo getting news and wondering how to break it to her family. From there we jump backwards to Jo as a young girl and wondering why her family moved from where they lived to another neighborhood in Michigan. We quickly find out that Jo tries very hard to be good for her mother, but always seems to get things wrong. She loves her father and with him she feels as if it's okay if she's not the perfect little girl that her mother wants. Weiner then shows us Bethie (younger sister of Jo) who loves her mother and is very much a great helper to her mother and grandmother. She loves all of the things her sister seems to hate. She does love her sister though and especially the stories that she tells her. Weiner juggles both POVs throughout the book and we follow Jo and Bethie from the 1950s to 2022. 

 

I really liked Jo's storyline the best I think. We have a young girl realizing that she's not like other girls and struggling with that. When we have Jo realizing that her not being like others can mean that her family and life will be harder, we get to see her struggle with making choices that I don't know if I could have been able to do. Jo also is noticing the racial issues that are propping up in the country and how it's not fair that girls she plays sports with in high school can't even sit with her at lunch. Jo has a need to do what's right, but we see her start to lose herself again and again after she deals with romantic disappointments. 


Bethie had a more uneven story-line to me though it still works in the end. We get to see what incident in her youth ends up shaping her future. And we get to see her initial dreams change from when she was young (she was a great actor and singer) to her her floundering a lot when she's an adult with her chasing the overwhelming need to be safe. 

 

The secondary characters in this book shine too. We have Jo and Bethie's parents, Jo and Bethie's love interests, friends, and family. I don't want to spoil too much here, but I thought it was great to see the two women go from being close, to slightly estranged, and back again. We get to see the ups and downs of their relationship and how much they love each other. 

 

The book takes place in Detroit, Michigan mostly with some of the story moving to New York and Atlanta. The first parts of the story shows both characters dealing with growing up in Detroit and then later on attending the University of Michigan. From there though we have them moving around and landing on the east coast/south. I think a setting of a book is just as important as the characters and thought that Weiner did a great job of setting the mood so to speak with location changes and providing enough details to make you feel as if you are there too. 


The ending I thought was very bittersweet. We get to see another family go on and know that through ups and downs they will be there for each other. 

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text 2019-08-06 22:00
Reading progress update: I've read 26%.
Mrs. Everything - Jennifer Weiner

Wow. This is really good. Onto part 2 and 1962. Loved the story jumping back and forth between Jo and Bethie Kaufman. 

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review 2019-06-09 15:31
Swim by Jennifer Weiner
Swim - Jennifer Weiner

I really want to know more about Ruth.
This story is about her and introduces us into her life. It seems a little hectic, her life. She's trying to date, has family drama, and her friends add to the mix too.
I got pulled in, but felt like I needed more at the end.
That's the thing with short stories. They are too short sometimes and don't quite come together. I hate to be left hanging in any way.
Still, I would read the full length book. 

 

 

Source: www.fredasvoice.com/2019/06/swim-by-jennifer-weiner-24.html
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