Book Review | Right After the Weather by Carol Anshaw

right after the weather book cover.jpgProtagonist Cate is in her early 40’s. With her ex-husband living in her spare bedroom working on conspiracy theories, she designs play sets in Chicago and New York while seeking the woman of her dreams. After she stumbles upon her best friend being threatened by intruders, she takes surprisingly violent action from which she feels there is no going back.

Right after the Weather is framed in two stages. The “before the incident” is the first half of the book, separate from the “after the incident” part that follows. This piece of women’s fiction focuses on female characters and how they evolve through the text, specifically Cate. While the writing flows alright, I had trouble understanding why an entire half of the book needed to be devoted to what I felt was back-story. Anshaw is understandably trying to foster dynamic characters, but it just seems overdone. The characters are not particularly likable. This novel could have been told as a novella or short story. Readers who may find it most appealing would be those who have gone through an unexpected, violent encounter or those dealing with a transition from hetero to bi/homosexual in mid-life. Publication is scheduled for October of 2019.

*Fans of Right After the Weather, may enjoy After the Winter by Guadalupe Nettel (2018).

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


Book Review | Cygnet by Season Butler

cygnet book cover.jpgA seventeen year old girl has been abandoned by her parents. They’ve left her on an island in the Atlantic with her grandmother. It was supposed to be maybe only a week, but the seasons have changed over and they aren’t coming back. Grandma has died and the bluff that makes up the back yard to her island house is eroding into the ocean. The girl is living alone, on an island composed solely of the elderly, trying to pay rent by editing photos for $5 an hour as she waits to be collected by addict parents who will surely come every tomorrow.

Cygnet is a delight. Butler’s writing is fabulous. Certain passages are so intricately composed as to just cause the reader to marvel a bit. The story is original enough and with interesting reflective themes incorporated, providing for a good read. The plot is slightly loose, but followable. Butler would be a solid choice to watch for upcoming works. Cygnet could be considered a coming of age or YA text, but adults may appreciate it more. It could also be used in a teen book group to generate discussion. Check it out from a library near you!

Publication is scheduled for June of 2019. I received an uncorrected proof of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating.

Book Review | Gingerbread by Helen Oyeyemi

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Three generations of Lee women occupy Oyeyemi’s latest novel. Perdita is a high school girl in London. Her single mother Harriet teaches classes at a night school to support them. Grandma Margot is a strong willed interior designer of sorts. Gingerbread focuses on a brief retelling of Harriet’s childhood. Growing up in a sort of fantasy land, she is “rescued” from her poor crop farming family and whisked away to the big city where she becomes a “Gingerbread Girl” in a tourist attraction. From there she again needs rescuing and is brought with her mother Margot to London by their benefactors.

This is the straight forward part of the story. Talking dolls, semi-imaginary friends, and powders that allow travel between the real/non-real world are some of the aspects of fantasy Oyeyemi employs. There are also family quarrels, mysterious characters and a few loose ends. The text is well written, and the plot can be followed, but it may leave the reader wondering what the point really was. Probably best to judge for yourself, check it out from a library near you.

Book Review | Kids These Days : Human Capital and the Making of Millennials by Malcom Harris

kids these days book cover.jpgHarris has written a well researched piece about the woes of the economical and political environments in which millennials exist. The book gives an explanation for how and why millennials have turned out the way they have. Harris provides sound, well-backed arguments in a thought-provoking text. There are many footnotes and an extensive notes section at the end with source details. This said, a reader must be open to hearing new ideas and appreciate a non-fiction, research piece in order for this book to be a worth-while read.

The subtitle of Kids These Days was changed at some point from “The Making of Millennials” to “Human Capital and the Making of Millennials”. The description also changed slightly to emphasize the socio-economic focus of the text. Without this information originally, this book was not what I had been expecting, but I was able to appreciate it for what it was. There are similarities in reading this book for leisure and reading a research paper in grad school. Check it out from a library near you.

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

Book Review | Family Trust by Kathy Wang

family trust book cover.jpgPerhaps rather than Family Trust this novel should be called Family Drama. Wang’s book centers on the Huang family in the Bay Area. Patriarch Stanley has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and his time is drawing near. His two children, Fred and Kate, from his first wife Linda are very interested in finding out about their inheritance as they have their own problems with which to deal. Mary, Stanley’s second wife and caretaker, has been told that she’ll be well taken care of. As chapters alternate focus among these central characters, their issues are revealed in detail.

This story could have been told in possibly half as many pages. There are many superfluous details included and few of the characters’ sub-plots are of much interest. This type of book may be appropriate for fans of soap operas who appreciate melodrama and self-absorbed characters. Maybe it would be a good book for women to read at the beach if they are trying to pass lots of time… You can see if it’s available from a library near you!

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

Book Review | The Address by Fiona Davis

address book cover.jpgWith the opening of The Dakota building next to Central Park in the 1880’s, Sara Smythe is brought over from England to work as the manageress by architect and resident Theo Camden. Their relationship blossoms and despite his family, she finds herself pregnant. In the alternating chapters, Camden’s heirs of the 1980’s are still involved in The Dakota and preparing for trust money to arrive. Bailey is an interior designer fresh out of rehab for alcoholism, seeking to establish her clouded family tree background. Sara and Bailey’s tales intertwine and unwind with unexpected consequences.

For fans of historical fiction looking for an involved piece with twists and turns, The Address will be a winner. Chapters vary in length and combined with clear writing make the book easy to pick up and put down. References to the time period are frequent enough to educate readers who are unfamiliar with the 1880’s. This book may hold particular appeal for those interested in reading about affairs or lifestyles of different classes in New York City during the 1880’s. Check it out from a library near you!

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

*If you’ve enjoyed reading The Address, you may be interested in The Good Guy by Susan Beale (2017).

Book Review | The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

italian teacher book cover.jpgBeginning in the 1950’s in Rome, Italy when protagonist Pinch is just a boy, The Italian Teacher follows his life growing up and through adulthood. His father, Bear Bavinsky, an American painter has taken his third wife in Pinch’s mother Natalie and won’t be staying too long before moving on to begin his next family in New York. Pinch, as everyone, is exceedingly charmed by his father and wishes nothing more than to the be the apple of his eye. After Pinch tries his hand at painting and is discouraged by his father, he heads to study in Toronto where he meets his first girlfriend. They visit his father in the south of France. The story traces Bear’s aging through Pinch’s eyes while sharing Pinch’s own journey.

Rachman’s novel is a bit of a ramble that cannot easily be summarized in a few sentences. Pinch is not a very likable character, but his life journey is described in a believable manner. The book is art fiction in that it deals with an artist and touches on parts of the artistic process, incorporates galleries and exhibitions, and includes art criticism. Though art is a main pillar of the book, it is also has a strong focus on the theme of a broken family and consequences that may result. Check it out from a library near you!

*Fans of The Italian Teacher, may enjoy The Woman on the Stairs by Bernhard Schlink (2017).