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Search tags: read-other-books-by-this-author
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review 2017-03-28 03:27
You Know Me Well
You Know Me Well - Nina LaCour,David Levithan

I thought this book was well-written and the plot moved along at a brisk pace, but honestly, even considering the fact that I am not a YA reading this, I found it unrealistic. There is endless talking and pining for love in this story (I found all the over-analyzing more like college students than high school, but maybe that’s just me) and yay, it’s a story of so many under-represented gay teens, but aside from that, not a whole lot happens. Well, actually, a lot happens in the span of just a few days, but I didn’t find it very believable. Having said that, I will admit that I loved the banter between the friends — I found it smart and funny and the authors established a nice rapport among them; but it was all smart and funny, barely an awkward pause despite the fact that most of them had only just met. I mean I get the whole fast friends thing, but there was a lot of that here – not just one relationship.


LaCour and Levithan had their hearts in the right place, but I thought the story that unfolded had the potential to be so much more.

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review 2017-03-21 02:19
The Children
The Children: A Novel - Ann Leary

I chose this book from NetGalley because I loved Leary’s previous book, The Good House. While these books do not share a setting (though I think both could be Connecticut), they share a certain penchant for an oddball cast of characters, not always likable but always interesting. This is no easy task — for the most part these people are seriously flawed, or at the least, in serious denial about some of the realities of their lives.


The beauty of The Children is that Leary offers up a family that at first seems low-key and light on drama, only to reveal a dark edge, and deeply felt animosities among the “loving” members of this sprawling family. In a place where everyone seems to know everyone else’s business, there is remarkably little they really share. I think Leary has a gift for this type of character-driven story, where the plot is not nearly as compelling as the motley crew propelling it forward. They carry with them all manner of secrets – some more obvious than others – but regardless of this you will want to stick around to see how it all works out in the sometimes-bitter end.

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review 2017-03-01 04:22
The Fifth Petal
The Fifth Petal: A Novel - Brunonia Barry

You know what I like reading about almost as much as plagues? Witches. I loved Brunonia Barry’s first book, The Lace Reader, so much that when I saw another book was coming out, I jumped on it. I am not generally a series reader, though I will often read the first one in a series and nothing else (yes, I’m a quitter, I admit it.) But Barry sucked me in last time, so this time I was a willing victim. I completely believed her tales about the lace readers, and honestly, I was stunned that she made everything up (sorry, spoiler alert). I was completely convinced, and I am telling you that so when she tricks you with her voluminous knowledge of old Salem and throws in a bunch of hooky, you will not feel bad like I did. You’re welcome.


So anyway, here’s what you need to know. Read this book. There is high drama, grave danger, horrible childhoods that need to be redeemed and reclaimed and also, witches. Did I mention that? What could be better? Nothing. It takes place in Salem and surrounding areas, so of course there are witches. There are also regular people, unfortunately, with all kinds of unmanageable, overwhelming problems. There are bad characters I kind of liked, and good ones who do the wrong thing, so basically, it’s perfectly balanced. And don’t worry if you didn’t read the first one – this one stands alone just fine. (But I’d read The Lace Reader anyway, because really, aren’t you better than that?)

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review 2017-02-12 03:52
Fates and Furies
Fates and Furies: A Novel - Lauren Groff

Can't just add this to the read pile without a quick note: I am a fan of Lauren Groff, so this book was one in a string of her books for me - I listened to some of this but then I remembered the giant chunk of a book I already had on my shelf, hardcover, enormous, and I had to prop it on my lap and read the rest myself. Groff's writing, with its odd assortment of characters and warped perspectives reminds me of John Irving and everything I love about his writing. Messy and strange, but ultimately compelling and satisfying.

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review 2017-01-01 19:54
Miller's Valley
Miller's Valley - Anna Quindlen

I have been a fan of Anna Quindlen’s writing for a long time, back to her days as a New York Times’ columnist, once sitting outside in the hallway when she gave a talk at a nearby college, because despite standing in line for quite a while, I did not make it into the packed lecture hall. Despite her finesse and attention to telling details, I always have the feeling that her novels are closer to truth than fiction, and I felt that way reading this book in particular. I think it had more to do with the relationships between Mimi Miller and each of her parents, but of course this is me projecting my own impressions. In any case, I enjoyed reading about Miller’s Valley and it’s battle to tame the water surrounding it, especially since we spend our summers on a lake whose waters cover what was also once a town.  


I love Quindlen’s writing, but I honestly think I prefer her personal stories to any she imagines, and I’m not sure why. She brings the people in Miller’s Valley to life with clarity, depth and focus, but there is something distant about them, and I feel detached from their dramas. I would have liked to learn more about what went on between Mimi’s mother and her estranged sister, who lived on the property alongside them, but not with them. This storyline, hinted at and then startling in the end, seemed much more interesting to me than anything happening to the other characters.


There is no doubt Anna Quindlen can tell a compelling tale — and her worst attempt is just so much better than so many best efforts. So, no, this was not my favorite, but that bar is high, and reading this was still a pleasure.

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