The Catcher in the Rye by J. D. Salinger
(Little, Brown & Company, 1945, 214 pages)
I’m still not sure what the main point of the book was about! It was so different and it seemed like it was a running commentary by the main character. I need to read some reviews. Maybe after I do that I will appreciate it more! I’m am glad I read it, though. I always wondered what it was like.
The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn
(William Morrow, 2018, 448 pages)
I was lucky enough to snag an Advanced Reader Copy of this book (pub. date: January 2018) which I kept hearing about… It lived up to the hype 😉
Here’s the review I posted on Goodreads:
“I can’t believe how much I enjoyed this book. I was sucked in almost immediately. Even though I was tense almost the whole time I was reading it (suspense!) I hated to put it down. This is a quick read recommended to anyone. If you’re a fan of classic suspense films you’ll appreciate The Woman in the Window that much more for all the film references throughout.
There have been comparisons to Girl on the Train but this is of a much higher caliber. I was already recommending it to people before I’d even finished. Even if thrillers/suspense aren’t what you regularly read I think you’ll enjoy this as a good gateway into the genre.”
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
(Berkley, 2018, 352 pages)
This forthcoming novel (Feb. 2018) will make you think of Grey’s Anatomy almost the whole time you’re reading it. I was a little wary at the beginning because it felt like the author was trying too hard to show off her literary chops but then the story hooked me and I couldn’t wait to see where Martin was going to go with the book.
Zadie and Emma have been friends since college. They made it through med school and now they’re both living with their families in Charlotte, NC. But when someone from their past turns up in town the women find themselves struggling with how to reconcile a traumatic past with their present lives.
Fans of Liane Moriarty will enjoy this book.
Cardboard Gods: An All-American Tale Told Through Baseball Cards
by Josh Wilker
(Seven Footer Press, 2010, 208 pages)
Josh Wilker tells the story of his life growing up in the late 1970s in New England as a diehard Red Sox (and Carl Yastrzemski) fan. As many young baseball fans did in the 1970s, Wilker would often take $1 to the corner store to buy four packs of Topps baseball cards. He describes the feelings associated with opening a new pack and the taste of the hard, sugar-filled gum. Wilker begins each chapter with the year, card number, and player of a certain card from a year between 1975 and 1981. Not all the players he highlights were stars, but each had an interesting story to tell—sometimes a statistic or a life tragedy, and sometimes a story Wilker had made up himself as a child of what he thought that player’s story might be based on the photo on the card. He tells these stories as he tells his own story, making parallels between them. I imagine a small audience would pick up this book, but that audience would enjoy it. Recommended to baseball fans, especially those who grew up in the late 1970s collecting baseball cards.
Things We Lost in the Fire by Mariana Enríquez; translated by Megan McDowell
(Hogarth Press, 2017, 208 pages)
This was one of our Between the Covers book club titles and it was dark. This isn’t my typical read and it was hard for me to get through. Whenever I picked it up I wanted to keep reading but since my most of my reading time happens right before bed I had to keep setting this aside so I wouldn’t go to bed with too many dark thoughts floating around.
Even though the stories are disturbing this was a beautifully written book. In spite of the subject matter I still wanted to keep reading to see where Enríquez was going to take me. The story that freaked me out the most was “The Neighbor’s Courtyard.” I had a hard time going to sleep after that. I don’t really know what else to say, this was a great collection of short stories from an author I’m glad I got to experience. Whether or not short stories are your thing, if you appreciate dark and haunting tales this hits those notes repeatedly. Now I need a good romance novel… 😉
We Are Okay by Nina LaCour
(Dutton Books, 2017, 234 pages)
This is a book one of our ESL classes is reading and I get to help out with classroom discussions. I was familiar with this title but didn’t know anything about it until I actually started reading. The novel revolves around a college freshman named Marin. She was born and raised on the west coast but she’s living an isolated life at a college in New York. We know something traumatic has happened but we don’t have much insight into what. Only that whatever it was has left her essentially stripped of her identity.
The novel is told in flashbacks between the end of her senior year and the present (December). We learn about Marin’s unique relationship with her grandfather who she has been living with since her mother died when Marin was just a toddler. We learn about Marin’s best friend, Mabel, and how their friendship flourished… But we also learn that Marin and Mabel are no longer talking and it’s because Marin has effectively cut ties with her former life.
We Are Okay is a novel about grief and about trying to find your way back to yourself when you’re not even sure who that is anymore. I definitely see the appeal of this quiet coming of age story.
We’re Going to Need More Wine by Gabrielle Union
(Dey Street Books, 2017, 272 pages)
I’m a Gabrielle Union fan and while I knew I would read this book I was wary about the quality of the writing. Celebrity memoirs typically go one of two ways, and I was scared to have this be a letdown. Union actually exceeded my expectations. The essays in this book range from humorous to serious. I laughed out loud a few times and I found myself raging alongside her when she talked about having to teach her black stepsons how to protect their lives in this world we live in.
This book reads the way Union would talk if she actually was one of your girlfriends dishing over wine. I definitely recommend it. She talks about everything from claiming your sexuality and partying with Prince to dealing with personal trauma and facing what it’s like toe be black in America. This was an entertaining and well-written book that lands firmly on the side of quality celebrity memoirs. That being said, while she does discuss her marriage to Duane Wade, there’s not a ton of dish there so don’t expect too much on that front 😉
Dangerous Minds (Knight and Moon #2)
by Janet Evanovich
(Bantam, 2017, 319 pages)
Dangerous Minds: A Knight and Moon Novel by Janet Evanovich is the second book in the series featuring Emerson Knight and Riley Moon. In this novel, Emerson’s Buddhist monk friend, Wayan Bagus, asks Emerson to help him find his missing island located near Samoa. The island has vanished into thin air. The only clue that Wayan has is that the men who removed him from his island had distinctive tattoos and uniforms. Emerson traces the uniforms back to the National Park Service and follows the clues from there.
The plots in this series are very improbable, but the quirky characters make the story fun to read. Besides Emerson and Riley, there is Emerson’s cousin, Vernon, who believes in Bigfoot and pretty women. There is the Buddhist monk who loves watching old movies even in the midst of life-threatening events. Then, there is the villain who uses a hatchet as one of his primary weapons. There is no mention of a third book in this series, but it is probably only a matter of time.
Spinning by Tillie Walden
(Roaring Book Press, 2017, 402 pages)
This autobiographical graphic novel follows Tillie Walden through her teen years starting when her family moves to another state, and she is forced to join a new skating rink and get used to a new group of girls. With an emotionally absent mother and parents who never attend her skating events, Tillie becomes the target of other girls’ mothers who continually stare her down and accuse her of not paying for lessons. Tillie also experiences bullying by other girls, sexual harassment by her SAT tutor, and loss of a first love. She finds solace in a few close friends and her cello teacher. Not too many good things happen to this poor girl except that she’s a good skater, but she doesn’t always succeed at that. There isn’t really anything intriguing about this story, but it was interesting enough that I continued to read it; maybe I was hoping it would get better for her. Recommended if you like graphic novels, but not if you’re looking for something really exciting to happen.
Jackie’s Girl: My Life with the Kennedy Family by Kathy McKeon
(Simon & Schuster, 2017, 321 pages)
As a teenager, author Kathy McKeon left Ireland for the U.S., and in 1964, landed a job as the personal assistant to Jacqueline Kennedy. Referred to as “Jackie’s Girl” by JFK’s mother Rose Kennedy—who couldn’t keep all of her children’s employee’s names straight—McKeon also often served as the caretaker of Mrs. Kennedy’s children, Caroline and John. This is an insightful and touching story of what it was like to be close to the most famous family in the world at the time. Mrs. Kennedy (called “Madam” by McKeon) expected loyalty of her employees—sometimes demanding overtime even if they had other plans, or requiring them to drop everything at the last minute to leave the country for 2 or 3 weeks—but she returned the loyalty “tenfold” with her generosity and otherwise caring nature. The stories of Caroline and John as children are also very endearing. McKeon takes the reader through all of the Kennedy main events—the untimely assassination of Robert Kennedy, the tragic death of a young woman in a car driven by Ted Kennedy, Jackie’s marriage to Aristotle Onassis, and, ultimately, the deaths of Jackie and John, Jr., to whom she had remained close over the years. The audio version of the book is read by Irish American actress Aedin Moloney, whose accent gives authenticity to McKeon’s words. She also does a great job with the sweet, high, sometimes breathy voice of Jacqueline Kennedy. The book made me chuckle and cry, and I would listen to it again. Highly recommended.