Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on Where’d You Go, Bernadette – by Maria Semple

Where’d You Go, Bernadette – by Maria Semple

Bernadette is a quirky, unbalanced, architect who hasn’t worked in a while. Her husband, Elgin, works for Microsoft. They live in Seattle with their wonderful daughter, Bee.

Bee comes home from school with a stellar report card and asks her parents for a trip to Antarctica (a promised reward for good grades). Bernadette disappears shortly before the trip. This leaves her family wondering: “Where’d you go, Bernadette?”

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Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on Familiar – by J. Robert Lennon

Familiar – by J. Robert Lennon

Elisa Brown is driving home after visiting the grave of her eldest son. Her car is old, and there is a crack in the windshield that she never got fixed.

Suddenly, the crack disappears. Elisa finds herself driving a much newer car, wearing clothing she never would have chosen for herself, in a body that is hers… but different.

These are not the only things that have changed. She has absolutely no idea what happened or how to fix it.

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Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on Gone Girl – by Gillian Flynn

Gone Girl – by Gillian Flynn

Nick and Amy Dunne have what appears (from the outside) to be a perfect marriage. Both of them make their living as writers – for different publications. Both are good looking and visually appear to be a good match. Gone Girl is the story of what happens when a marriage ends – and the wife suddenly disappears.

Gillian Flynn is the author of Sharp Objects, which became a New York Times Bestseller. Gone Girl is not a sequel to Sharp Objects. Both stories have plenty of twists and turns, which leave the reader guessing about what is really going on.

This is definitely one of those books that is difficult to review because of the chance of unintentionally revealing spoilers.

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Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on Beautiful Ruins: a Novel – by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins: a Novel – by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins is a work of fiction that includes a few characters who are based on real people. Specifically, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton who starred in the movie Cleopatra (which was released in 1963). The more prominent characters, however, are ones created by Jess Walter.

Pasquali Tursi is the first character that readers encounter, and he is extremely likable. He finds himself smitten with Dee Moray, an actress who was supposed to be in the Cleopatra movie, but who cannot now because she is dying. Dee comes to visit Pasquali’s small village on accident.

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Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on Things That Never Were – by Matthew Rossi

Things That Never Were – by Matthew Rossi

One of the things I love about books is that they are an excellent place to escape to when the real world seems dark and dire.  In Things That Never Were, Matthew Rossi gives the reader plenty of interesting, incredibly detailed, glimpses into what the world might have been like if you take what we know of history, twist it around, and see where it goes from there.

The full title of the book is: Things That Never Were: Fantasies – Lunacies –  & Entertaining Lies.  I like to think of it as a series of essays that could be described as “intelligent conspiracy theory”.  That being said, Rossi is not really trying to convince you that the essays in this book are factual (and this is where he differs greatly from actual conspiracy theorists).  These are “things that never were”, after all.   ….Right?

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Book Reviews, fiction 1 comment on Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Camille Preaker works for a daily paper in Chicago that can be described as “second-rate”.  Her editor, Frank Curry (who is also a friend in a parental kind of way) sends Camille on her very first assignment.

A murder happened in Wind Gap, Camille’s hometown.  This wasn’t news, as the murder happened long enough ago to have already passed through the news cycle.  A pre-teen girl was found dead in a creek with a rope around her neck and all of her teeth missing.  Now, another pre-teen girl has disappeared.

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Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on The Screwtape Letters – by C.S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters – by C.S. Lewis

Years ago, a friend suggested that I read The Screwtape Letters. The only thing I knew about C.S. Lewis at the time was that he was the author of The Chronicles of Narnia series. I had a vague memory of the main points from the first book in that series, which I read when I was in elementary school. I remembered that it was a fantasy/adventure kind of story for kids.

It wasn’t until after I’d finished reading The Screwtape Letters that I did some research and learned that one of the most well known books by C.S. Lewis is called Mere Christianity and that the author converted to Christianity in 1931. Perhaps my friend, who is a pastor, had an ulterior motive when he suggested that I read The Screwtape Letters.

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Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on Prep – by Curtis Sittenfeld

Prep – by Curtis Sittenfeld

Lee Fiora was very much looking forward to attending Ault School in Massachusetts. Both a boarding school and a prep school, Ault was a place that Lee had been fantasizing about attending. Her attraction to this particular school started when she first picked up a brochure.

Photos of carefully manicured green lawns, old brick buildings, and nicely dressed students gave Lee the impression that the school would be everything she had hoped for. Certainly, it would be world’s better than the public schools in South Bend, Indiana, that she had been attending so far. Lee was an overachiever, and as such, was ahead of her classmates and completely bored.

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Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on Pretty – by Jillian Lauren

Pretty – by Jillian Lauren

Bebe Baker has always been pretty, right up until the car accident.  She survived, but came away from it with scars all over her legs and hands.  In addition, she was left with some extremely deep emotional scars.  Her boyfriend, Aaron, who she was madly in love with, did not survive the accident.

Even worse, the accident happened after the two of them had been drinking and smoking dope, and shortly after they had gotten into a big argument. Everything about Bebe’s life changed in the blink of an eye, including her personal appearance.  What can you do when your whole world has crumbled around you?  Where do you get the strength to move on, to grow, and to find redemption?

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Book Reviews, fiction 0 comments on The Condition – by Jennifer Haigh

The Condition – by Jennifer Haigh

I’ve always found it interesting how siblings who grew up in the same home, with the same parents, can experience completely different childhoods. Parents, despite their best intentions, cannot possibly treat all of their wonderful, unique, frustrating, children in exactly the same way. The result is that everyone in a family ends up with memories of events that don’t quite match up. I think this concept is a good place to start from when you read The Condition.

Paulette and Frank got married, and had children, in the 1970’s. The book stars with Paulette and her sister Martine who are driving to to Cape Cod to spend some time in a cottage by the beach. It is the traditional vacation for this extended family. Paulette’s children, Billy (age 14), Gwen (age 12), are in the backseat. The youngest sibling, Scotty (age 9), has been relegated to the rear of the vehicle because he is so energetic and excited that he is impossible to sit next to.

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