Book Review | The Only Story by Julian Barnes

the only story cover.jpgAt home on summer leave from university, Paul joins the tennis club where he is paired with Susan for a mixed doubles tournament. Despite her being married and his mother’s age, the two hit it off and before long are involved in an affair. Recounted by Paul, the memories provided are pieces of their love story, which spans more than a few years. Of course, as many love relations do, this one has its thorns.

The Only Story is a great read. Paul’s tone is intimate and direct, drawing the reader in from the first page. The story flows quickly, delving into his relationship with Susan. Barnes’s choice to use the second person narrative style works well and serves to engage the reader mentally. Readers with a failed love story of their own should be able to relate to the text on multiple levels. This piece will be especially of interest to those whose partners have had addiction issues. Check it out from a library near you!

*Fans of The Only Story, may enjoy Shelter in Place by Alexander Maksik (2016).

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Book Review | Freedom’s Ring by Heidi Chiavaroli

freedom's ring cover.jpgTwo women in Boston, centuries apart, are connected by a piece of jewelry. Anaya was running the Boston marathon at the time of the bombing and in addition to being injured physically, has suffered a familial rift after being torn apart by guilt from her sister and niece. Liberty was sexually assaulted while working in the house of British officers just preceding the Boston Massacre of 1770. Freedom’s Ring tells the stories of these two women and traces their connection through the ring and their faith.

This book started out strong. Both women were in the midst of life-changing events that drew the reader’s attention. About a third or halfway into the book, the stories slowed down and the focus on God and faith became prevalent. Some sections were repetitive and I once wondered if the book weren’t actually meant for young adults. It is possible my unedited edition may not have undergone all editing and corrections that the final copy received. All ends tied up conveniently, perhaps unrealistically. This book is recommended to fans of Christian, historical fiction with an emphasis on women’s issues. Check it out from a library near you!

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

Book Review | You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld

you thinkn it i'll say it cover.jpgReleased in April, You Think It, I’ll Say It is a well-written collection of ten short stories. One piece describes the reunion of a divorced man and the woman he never knew had a crush on him during high school, while another follows a new mother and her antipathy toward another mother in various group session settings. These realistic stories contain diverse characters, various adult themes and several laughs.

As advertised, the stories in this book deal with day to day events. Most readers will be able to relate to some of the characters’ experiences. Sittenfeld has an appealing voice and tone, which make the stories very readable. I found this book to be more of a good way to pass the time than a thought provoking, memorable read. It would be great for readers wanting down to earth distraction in short story form. Check it out at a library near you!

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.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading You Think It, I’ll Say It, you may be interested in Come West and See by Maxim Lokustoff (2018).

Book Review | Our Kind of Cruelty by Araminta Hall

our kind of cruelty cover.jpgAfter dating for nearly a decade, Mike and Verity have broken up and Verity has moved on. Mike’s poor decisions while living abroad are no longer relevant as the date of her marriage to Angus approaches. Mike is still trying to win Verity back while working a high paying job to afford her the lifestyle to which she has become accustomed. Their communication, though, seems stilted and it’s not easy to decide the true meaning of things said and emotions felt.

Our Kind of Cruelty is a good read. Mike’s voice is inviting and catchy from the beginning. The story flows quite quickly and as small cracks appear in Mike’s character, the reader is invited to question his narrative. This choice works well and serves to involve the reader mentally. While the tension steadily builds in the first half of the novel, I found the second half to be less impressive. I felt as though I was waiting for a final twist that never came, which ultimately left me disappointed. Overall though, an entertaining piece. Check it out from a library near you!

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.

*Fans of Our Kind of Cruelty, may enjoy Watch Me by Jody Gehrman (2018).

Book Review | Come West and See : Stories by Maxim Loskutoff

come west and see cover.jpgReleased last month, Come West and See is a well-written collection of twelve short stories. They introduce the reader to the rebel territory of the Redoubt in the North West and various characters involved in trying situations there. One piece describes a man falling in love with a bear, while another follows a couple who have been impaled by long arrows. Sometimes outlandish, these stories are packed full of real emotion, raw tragedy and some good laughs.

Loskutoff’s voice and writing style are very appealing. Soon after I started reading, I attempted to find other works I could get my hands on by Loskutoff, but this is his first major publication. These stories are great. This is one of those books you can easily pick up to take your mind of whatever happens to be bothering you. Check it out at 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 in the giveaway.

*If you’ve enjoyed reading Come West and See, you may be interested in Taduno’s Song by Odafe Atogun (2016).

Book Review | Feast : True Love in and out of the Kitchen by Hannah Howard

feast cover.jpgIn this memoir, the reader joins Hannah for her voyage from the end of high school, through college and into the professional sphere. While Hannah deals with an eating disorder that governs many parts of her life, she also relates interesting food service industry experiences in New York City, Los Angeles and Philadelphia. Beyond a mere love of food, Hannah’s romantic entanglements are also included and provide for a well rounded and engaging account.

Feast is a very well written and easy to approach text. Howard is clearly very knowledgeable about food, and does a terrific job sharing some of that knowledge without coming off as snobby or condescending. This book draws the reader in from the start and between the food, relationships and Hannah’s struggle with body image, certainly keeps the reader engaged. While most readers will know about anorexia or bulimia, the compulsive or binge eating that Howard deals with may be new to many. Recommended for those who love food, those struggling with eating disorders, or just fans of a good read with a solid female protagonist. There are currently no library holdings listed for this book, but they may eventually appear here.

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

Book Review | The Coincidence Makers by Yoav Blum

coincidence makers cover.jpgSomewhat surreal, The Coincidence Makers is a fictional fantasy where what seems to be happening by chance is actually carefully planned. Protagonists Guy and Emily have gone through training together and work as coincidence makers who receive special projects that they must enact. Whether making a piano fall from a window unto a passerby or sparking the urge in an accountant to write poetry, the coincidences they create are often life altering. A romantic undercurrent helps drive the novel forward.

Blum has penned a quick and enjoyable read. His relatable characters and relaxed tone make the book easy to get into and maintain the reader’s interest. Some of the concepts he’s developed are a little complicated or convoluted, but the text flows well and the story comes out a winner. This book would be great for fans of surreal fiction or those interested in the inner workings of the universe. Check it out from a library near you.

I received an advance readers’ 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 The Coincidence Makers, may be interested in The Room by Jonas Karlsson.