Book Review | Bright, Precious Days by Jay McInerney

brightpreciousdays.jpegProtagonists Russell and Corrine have been married for years and are parents to school-aged twins. In New York City, he runs a publishing house and she works in the non-profit sector dealing with food redistribution. Both have, at times, strayed from their marriage, but they pride themselves in having weathered storms together. When a publishing faux pas lands Russell’s business upside down, and Corrine can’t keep her bloomers on, it’s a question of whether the storm will be too much for this couple to bear.

I was not aware until after reading this book that it was the third installment by the author about the protagonist couple. Bright, Precious Days works well as a standalone novel. Enough information about the couple’s history is woven into the text that they can be understood without further background. Mostly, I found this book to be an enjoyable read, though in some places I felt details or descriptions were overdone. The text would certainly be of interest to those wanting to read about the lifestyle of New York’s rich. Ultimately, the story made me contemplate people’s values and worth, leaving me with a somewhat hollow feeling. Check it out from a library near you.

I received this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Film Review | The Daughter starring Sam Neill & Geoffrey Rush

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After many years away from his birth town and father, middle-aged Christian returns home to attend his father’s second wedding. The relationship between father and son is tense, owing to something other than the fact that the upcoming wedding involves the 31 year old housekeeper his father had previously employed. As Christian reunites with his old friend Oliver, he pieces a few old secrets together that threaten to break apart Oliver’s family.

This Australian drama based on Henrik Ibsen’s play provided much more than I’d bargained for. The story line was intriguing and the characters were easy to relate to. The acting was very realistic without anything being overdone. Music set to the film worked quite well and served to enhance the movie overall. While the budget for this film couldn’t have been too much with it’s rural setting, I’m actually surprised it hadn’t drummed up more attention in the film world. Though it may bring on a few tears, The Daughter is certainly worth checking out from your local library!

Book Review | Brussels Noir edited by Michel Dufranne

What a fun, quick read this book turned out to be!

Brussels Noir is comprised of 13 short stories divided into three categories. Stories range in length from about 15-30 pages each with varying themes and styles. While reading them, I found myself laughing and crying as the authors really have done a great job here.

As for the noir title, I’d say it’s best not to go in with too many expectations. More than typically noir, I found the stories to simply focus on some of the darker aspects of life. The surreal section of stories was especially impressive and would certainly appeal to fans of magical realism.

I’d definitely recommend this book to those who enjoy short stories with a slightly macabre leaning, fans of Haruki Murakami and readers looking for a travel-themed read. Check it out from your local library.

I received an advance reading copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Many thanks to the authors/editor/publisher for participating.

Book Review | White Fur by Jardine Libaire

white fur arcWhite Fur takes place on the East Coast in the early 1980’s. Born-rich Jamey drops out of Yale after falling for Elise who grew up in the projects. For these two it’s like a spark at first sight and then, the more time they spend together, the deeper they fall. Jamey wants nothing more than to get away from his controlling 1% family who use their money for manipulation, while Elise cares only about being with the man she loves. As the two become one, they attempt to cocoon themselves away from their previous lives.

My plot description doesn’t do the novel justice. This book was better than I’d expected. It kept me engaged and wanting to read more. Libaire’s writing is clear and easy to follow, but maintains an artistic edge. Descriptions allow the reader to visualize certain passages, and some sections are graphic, but this is done in a gritty manner that is inoffensive to sensitive readers. White Fur would appeal to those interested in reading a magnetic love story or a story of boy-meets-girl from different social classes. This title is planned for release in May 2017 by Hogarth Press. I received an advance reader’s edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | The Fortunate Ones by Ellen Umansky

umansky.jpegUmansky has crafted an intriguing novel in The Fortunate OnesChapters alternate between present day and World War II times to tell the interconnected story of a Jewish girl escaped from Austria and the New York lawyer who befriends her while going through a sort of mid-life crisis. The bond between the two women is forged over a Soutine painting that has been stolen from each of them, and holds a significant sentimental attachment for both.

“This was a really good book,” I found myself saying after finishing. Though the disagreeable protagonists are not particularly likable, their stories are fascinating. Umansky’s rich details paint their own picture. It’s clear that a good deal of thought and research went into the writing. The book kept my interest throughout, though I often would have preferred shorter chapters. This novel could be considered historical, women’s, literary, and art fiction and would appeal to readers of any of those genres. Check it out from a library near you, keeping in mind that it is a new release. I received an advance uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway.

Book Review | The Book of Moon by George Crowder

book-of-moonThe Book of Moon follows high schooler Moon Landing through his parents divorce and their custody issues. Dealing with the divorce may be major, but Moon feels he has a host of other problems on his plate in this coming of age tale. Topics discussed include cute girls, Mom on the dating market, religion, skateboarding and others.

Many reviewers have noted the wry tone of this book. The writing style is very casual with Crowder often opting for the conversational tone instead of a grammatically correct sentence; a choice he has made to give more life to the young narrator’s voice. This coming-of-age narrator is meant to mature through the work, and Crowder is mostly successful here, except for a few spots where the progression of voice seems nonlinear. Overall an enjoyable read, I found the first half of the book kept my attention better than the second half. Chapter breaks are frequent making this book easy to pick up and put down, great for reading on public transit. Normally I’d give you a link to check the book out at your local library, but it’s not yet (11 Feb 17) listed in WorldCat. You can find a preview on GoodreadsI received a copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. My thanks to the author for participating in the giveaway.

Mosi-oa-Tunya, Thunder Smoke, Victoria Falls, Zambia

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Explorer David Livingstone is said to have first seen the splendor of Victoria Falls, a massive waterfall at the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe in southern Africa from a tree. This tree has since been outfitted with steps and a platform where visitors can climb up for their own view of the falls. Different seasons yield different views, often only the “smoke” (mist) of the falls can be seen.

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The local name for the falls, Mosi-oa-Tunya literally translates to Thunder Smoke. The roar of the falls sounds as loud as thunder and the Zambezi River water that ricochets back looks like a giant smoke cloud. Crossing the Knife Edge bridge at the falls, it can be hard to see from one end to the other with all of the water raining and re-raining back down when water is in high season, February-June.

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The drive from Zambia’s capital Lusaka to Livingstone is about 6-7 hours. This takes you nearly 500km along the T1 two lane highway, which is paved. Speed bumps and potholes are the biggest dangers as you pass through multiple small roadside towns and villages. There are also a few larger cities on the way, Kafue, Mazabuka, Choma, and several random police checkpoints with radar to make sure drivers aren’t flying at twice the posted limit.

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Whether you’re hunting for rainbows or monkeys, you’re likely to find them at Mosi-oa-Tunya. A short hike down to the boiling pot yields a picturesque view of the bridge to Zimbabwe, wildlife and jungle-like green plants thriving in from the mist of the falls. If you forget to bring your raincoat, you can rent a poncho or crocs before exploring because with high waters, you’re sure to get wet.