Lone Wolf | by Jodi Picoult

 Lone Wolf:  by Jodi Picoult
(Emily Bestler Books, 2012, 448 pages)

Cara’s family spilt apart and went their separate ways years ago. Her parents divorced after her older brother, Edward, ran away in the middle of the night years ago. Since then her mom has remarried and has twins to take care of and her father is still devoted to his wolves. So when Cara and her father get into a serious car accident, it’s strange to see her family together again and trying to work through their differences. While Cara escaped the car accident with a shoulder injury but their father has a serious head injury and unable to make his own medical decisions. With a looming decision ahead, Cara and Edward both believe they know what their father’s wishes would be and both are willing to do anything to fulfill them.

 

I always enjoy Jodi Picoult’s books. If I’m ever looking for something that I know will be easy to read but will quickly grab my attention, then I find one of Picoult’s books that I haven’t read before. I’ve recently enjoyed her style change up of moving away from court cases that usually center the last half of her novels so it was strange to move back to her old styling. I could tell she wasn’t fully invested in the court case though as she was focusing more on the emotion and relationships between the characters and glazed over the proceedings of the case. As always, the research she does to make the content authentic is impeccable as this book she covered the behavior of wolves.

Us | By David Nicholls

Us

Us By: David Nicholls
(Hodder & Stoughton, 2014, 400 pages)

Douglas and Connie’s son is about to leave home to go to college. Douglas was looking forward to this time that him and Connie would have together until his wife wakes him up in the middle of the night to announce she’s leaving him. Desperate to make her stay, he agrees to continue their “Grand Tour” of England with their son, Albie, so Douglas has a chance to win her back and make amends with Albie after years of a strained relationship between the two. While touring with his family, Douglas reflects back on his years with Connie and how they’ve gotten to this point in their relationship.

This was just an OK read for me. David is a peculiar character as he is very set in his ways and doesn’t seem to understand his family at all. And it’s sweet how he tries to win his family back during their vacation. But it’s obvious early on that he is just a very different person from his wife and son and maybe that’s why the read felt so drawn out. That or maybe all the descriptions of the different museums and art galleries that they visited which seemed to only slow down the story.

An Untamed State | By Roxane Gay

Untamed

An Untamed State By: Roxane Gay
(Grove Press, Black Cat, 2014, 370 pages)

Mireille Duval Jameson has a loving husband, a brand new baby son, and a family that she respects. Her parents live in Haiti where her father is extremely successful and warns his family that if they are captured, he will not pay their ransom. So when Mireille is taken in front of her father’s estate by a gang and held captive, she knows her father will not pay the ransom to return Mierille to her family. Her husband battles with her father to get her released while Mierille tries to forget everything that was good about her life in order to survive the violence of The Commander and his men. After thirteen days Mierille is returned to her family a completely different woman who is unsure if she can survive the memories of her days with The Commander.

What an excruciating read. Roxane Gay is quickly becoming one of my favorite present day writers. Between her eye opening essays in Bad Feminist to this raw piece of fiction that captivated me from the very beginning, she is a strong voice that needs to be heard. Mireille is portrayed as a strong-willed woman even before she is captured and it’s heartbreaking to see what these men bring her too while she is captive and beyond when she returns to the United States in pieces. The reader is also exposed to the dangers, beauty, and devastation that is Haiti. I will be eagerly awaiting whatever Gay publishes next.

Winter Street | By Elin Hilderbrand

Winter

Winter Street By: Elin Hilderbrand
(Little, Brown and Company, 2014, 256 pages)

Christmas is fast approaching and everyone at the Winter Street Inn is ready until drama descends on every member of the Quinn family. Kelley, the patriarch, walks in on his second wife, Mitzi, having an affair with their Santa Claus, George. While Kelley’s three children from his first marriage are all having troubles in their personal lives. Patrick had to confess to his wife that he might be in some serious legal trouble. Kevin has started seeing the inn’s housekeeper, Isabelle, and soon they will longer be able to keep it a secret. And Ava was hoping for a Christmas proposal from her boyfriend, Nathaniel, but instead he left Nantucket without even saying goodbye. On top of everything, everyone is worried about Bart, the only child between Kelley and Mitzi, who is in Afghanistan for Christmas and when Margaret, Kelly’s first wife, receives troubling news, she throws herself into the drama at Nantucket.

This was a light, holiday story that I listened to in the car. There was a lot of family drama going on that you knew would be resolved by Christmas night, except for one story line that was left severely unfinished. I’m guessing we’ll be hearing from the Quinn family in another installment because it is unusual for Hilderbrand to leave her characters with such unfinished stories. Overall this story was nothing too serious but a good filler to listen to over the holidays.

Friendship | By Emily Gould

Friendship

Friendship By: Emily Gould
(Farrar, Straus, and Giroux 2014 258 pages)

Bev and Amy have been best friends since they started working at the same publishing house. Since then, they’re lives have gone in different directions but they’ve always seemed to stay close. Bev is currently temping after moving to Madison with her boyfriend was a bust so now she’s struggling to get by in New York. Amy was on the verge of social media success before her former boss black balled her so she now works at a small known blog and spending the same amount of money as when she had her last job. Nothing seemed to rattle their friendship until Bev gets pregnant.

This was not my favorite read. I thought I would like the aspect of how major life changes can sometimes affect friendships but I was too distracted by the story as a whole. Gould included a lot of great details that could have led to deeper stories to really show off these characters but instead she just lightly touched on them before letting them go. Amy was clearly a selfish and self-centered person and I wish Gould had really went for it and played up the dynamic of the parent-child relationship Bev and Amy seemed to have. Also the dialogue bugged me with way too many “ha’s” and style changings for my liking.

The Bone Clocks | by David Mitchell

The Bone Clocks

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
(Random House, 2014, 624 pages)

When Holly was younger, she used to have visits from what she called “the radio people.” After one scary incident with “the radio people” her mom took her to a doctor who magically banished them from Holly’s life. Years later though, they mysteriously return when Holly runs away from home after a fight with her mother. The further away from home Holly goes, stranger events start happening. Through the years after her running away, the people she loves most start to be affected by these “radio people” that cause her life to turn in unexpected ways.

I admit that wasn’t a very good description of this book but it was weirdly wonderful. Each chapter (and the chapters are long) makes a significant jump in time and focuses on someone different in Holly’s life that is affected by these “radio people.” The fantasy element was well done but even without those parts the book would have been interesting and worth the read. I loved how slyly Mitchell connected characters and elements from Holly’s life together. This book is definitely on the top of the best books I’ve read this year.

The Andy Cohen Diaries | by Andy Cohen

The Andy Cohen Diaries

The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year by Andy Cohen
(Henry Holt and Co., 2014, 352 pages)

Inspired by Andy Worhol’s book of diaries, Andy Cohen published his own diary of a year in his own life. Cohen does not hold anything back between name dropping celebrities to his secret wishes to buy the apartment above him after the elderly tenant passes away. Andy seemed to filter himself a bit when dealing with Housewives drama but also seemed to drop enough hints that readers could figure out who was causing the latest behind the scenes drama. Cohen had a busy year between announcing his new deal with Bravo and his production company and hosting multiple big name guests on his show Watch What Happens Live but the biggest addition to his life was his rescue dog, Wacha.

I really enjoyed Andy’s last book, Most Talkative, so I was happy to hear he was coming out with his own diary over the past year. He started out a tad grumpy but that quickly changes once he hires a trainer and adds Wacha to his life. Andy doesn’t try to make the book more than it’s supposed to be and is honest about all his encounters with friends and random celebrities (good or bad). One of my favorite parts of the book was seeing that he asked his doorman to provide a blurb for the back cover of his book, which just adds to the fact that this is a fun, lighthearted read.