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).

Book Review | Sometimes Sneezing Hurts: The Journal of a Divorced Bachelor by C. Sleek

sometimes sneezing hurts.jpgWritten in diary form, Sometimes Sneezing Hurts reveals Sleek’s dating life as he approaches his 40th birthday. As a divorced bachelor he shares custody of his 12 year old daughter, works a 9-5 job with side gigs, and still finds plenty of time to match with chicks on Tinder while banging a string of them. Readers who shuttered at that last sentence won’t be able to handle this book.

The story is interesting from the beginning, but after a while it drags a bit. It’s a little challenging to keep the seemingly endless string of females straight. Some readers will be captivated by hearing what goes on inside the mind of a male serial dater, while others may just be put off. Certain people may also be able to gain something from the author’s shared experiences. The edition I read would have benefited from an editor catching a couple of textual errors.

I received a Kindle ebook edition of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating in the giveaway. *Fans of Sometimes Sneezing Hurts may be interested in We’ll Sleep When We’re Old by Pino Corrias (2017). 

Book Review | Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

killing commendatore book cover.jpgAt over 680 pages, this tome may be daunting, but the story is well worth your time. More like Murakami’s earlier writings, specifically The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles and Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the WorldKilling Commendatore is a real winner. The basis of the story is a painter who has recently separated with his wife, goes to live in the mountains as caretaker for the remote residence of another famous painter. Once a diverse cast of characters is introduced, the plot takes a surreal dive into a literal pit the painter is drawn to unearth in his back yard.

Murakami’s signature writing style will have fans smiling from the beginning of this book. The novel includes ample twists and turns, and the author does a fabulous job of weaving together many themes and plot lines. Magical realism works so well as a binding agent for these various subjects. While not all long-time Murakami fans may have enjoyed his last few publications as much as the oldies, this serves as more of a return to his writing roots and is sure to entertain the critics. Check it out from a library near you!

*Fans of Killing Commendatore, may enjoy Taduno’s Song by Odafe Atogun (2017).

Book Review | If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi by Neel Patel

This is an interesting collection of 11 short stories involving Indian Americans. Recurring topics include interpersonal relationships, family business, sexual relations, and cultural perceptions, among others. Most characters seem to be in their 20’s to 40’s and dealing with issues present in everyday life. While the narrators could be from any background and experiencing their issues, the stories are injected with an Indian flavor that makes the book stand apart from other similar works.

Easily digestible, each tale has a specific focus and voice. While none of the stories is particularly uplifting, each one does hold the reader’s interest and create a curiosity for what is to come. Clearly, many of Patel’s cultural insights come from personal experience, which he is able to share in a way that makes the characters relatable. This book is recommended for fans of ethnic fiction, realistic short stories, or those looking for a quick read while in transit. Check it out from a library near you.

I received an advance reading copy of this book as a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thanks to the author/publisher for participating. *Fans of If you See me, Don’t Say Hi, may enjoy A Life of Adventure and Delight by Akhil Sharma (2017).