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).

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Book Review | After the Winter by Guadalupe Nettel

after the winter cover.jpgAlternating focus between a male and female protagonist, After the Winter is a story of the human conditions of obsession, love and loneliness. The Cuban man lives alone in New York City with his OCD and gets together once a week with an older girlfriend. The Mexican post grad lives in Paris and loves her apartment’s view of the cemetery as she falls for an ill Italian neighbor. Both the man’s and woman’s stories are compelling, forcing the reader to question if and how they will intersect.

Nettel’s writing style is immediately inviting. Though not overly simplistic, her sentences are clear, evoke imagery and create dynamic characters. The book flows smoothly while still being easy to pick up and put down with frequent chapter breaks. Recommended for introspective romantics or those who appreciate a well written, quick read. After reading this text, I would be interested in reading other works by Nettel. Check it out from a library near you!

*Fans of After the Winter holidays, may enjoy The Story of a Brief Marriage by Geir Gulliksen (2018).

Book Review | Funeral Platter by Greg Ames

funeral platter book cover.jpgThis well-written collection of twenty short stories will make you laugh at least once. An eclectic collection that contains black humor and the absurd, Funeral Platter is a quick read. Stories are of varying lengths and Ames maintains a clear and inviting voice, which makes them very readable. Themes vary across the board, including matters from art, addiction and aging to dating, destruction and death.

The breath of topics makes it likely for a reader to enjoy several of the stories. The book is good way to pass the time more than a thought provoking, memorable read. It would be great for readers wanting a quick laugh or distraction in short story form. Check it out at 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 in the giveaway.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading Funeral Platter, you may be interested in Come West and See by Maxim Lokustoff (2018).

Book Review | Death and Other Holidays by Marci Vogel

death and other holidays book cover.jpgVogel offers a straight-forward piece that dives directly in like a one night stand with no strings attached. Protagonist April is in her late 20’s, living in Los Angeles and working as a curatorial assistant. The novella includes her narration of a series of events that take place over the course of a year following the death of her step father. Chapters are very short with sections broken up by season. This book is a very quick read.

Vogel’s writing style is fabulously direct. Without overbearing and complicated sentences, she still evokes imagery and creates dynamic characters. Death and Other Holidays seems to shed new light on everyday occurrences and give meaning to the mundane. This would be a great read for an airplane ride because there aren’t pages and chapters of introduction, the story grabs from page one. Check it out from a library near you!

*Fans of Death and Other holidays, may enjoy The Story of a Brief Marriage by Geir Gulliksen (2018).

Book Review | The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

the girl he used to know book cover.jpgRead this book if you enjoy a well written love story. Annika is on the autism spectrum and doesn’t function like the other kids at University of Illinois. Once she joins the chess team, she meets Johnathon, who she eventually dates. Their story is romantic in how they relate to one another. Although they are eventually driven apart, they reconnect after 10 years, at different points in their lives and welcome the idea of starting anew.

The Girl He Used to Know is a very enjoyable read. It brings laughs and tears. The story alternates between the present in 2001 and their college years in 1991. This format works well to create a space for unexpected events to come out. Anyone who has been in a relationship with someone on the autism spectrum will especially enjoy this novel and be able to relate in many ways. General fans of love stories will appreciate how this one is heartfelt in it’s own way. Publication is slated for April 2019, but Worldcat says some libraries may already have it. Check a library near you!

*Fans of The Girl He Used to Know may enjoy Oola by Brittany Newell (2017), Shelter in Place by Alexander Maksik (2016), or The Only Story by Julian Barnes (2018).

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 | Dear Heartbreak: YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love

Dear Heartbreak- YA Authors and Teens on the Dark Side of Love book cover.jpgTo be released on Tuesday, Dear Heartbreak is a collection of letters written by teens concerning their heartbreak struggles and the corresponding responses from YA authors. The authors provide encouragement, life tips and personal anecdotes to address the teens’ issues. Topics dealt with include loneliness, self confidence, disability, assault, depression, termination of a relationship, lack of a relationship and self love, among others. Clearly some letters and responses will be more relatable to readers experiencing those specific issue. As each letter response comes from a different YA author, this book could also provide solid future reading suggestions based on the discovery of these new (to the reader) authors.

Though not quite yet published, check to see if a library near you has ordered this title, and if you can place a hold on a new copy.

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.

For further reading, young adults dealing with stress or troubling situations may appreciate the insights offered in Be Mindful and Stress Less: 50 Ways to Deal with Your (Crazy) Life by Gina Biegal (2018).

Book Review | The Museum of Modern Love by Heather Rose

museum of modern love cover.jpgInspired by an actual Marina Abramović exhibit that took place in 2010, The Museum of Modern Love explores the definition of art and speaks about love over the long haul, examining some of the complications that come with an aging relationship. After the protagonist’s wife slips into a coma, he spends his days visiting a rare exhibit at the MoMA entitled The Artist Is Present. He is a composer of musical scores for films and is in a slump as he finds himself separated from his wife. As he observes museum visitors silently experiencing Abramović, he begins a silent journey of his own.

For those who appreciate art fiction, this will be an enjoyable read. The story is entertaining and with chapters that shift focus among them, each of the characters receives the right amount of emphasis. Readers who’ve experienced difficulty in a loving relationship should be able to relate to the text on multiple levels. Check it out from a library near you!

*Fans of The Only Story, may enjoy The Anatomy Lesson by Nina Siegal (2014).