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Category — BOOK CLUB

MOAM BOOK CLUB

Howdy reading readers.

It’s been a long, hot, fabulous summer. A summer of love, parties, and revelling in being 50.

It’s also been a summer of reading!

I’ve been writing to lots of you with mini-lists, but here, at long last, is The Big One.  I’ve tried to add a link so you can purchase the books directly from this site, thereby earning me about $.03/book (CAD!!) but between wordpress updates and Amazon affiliate codes, I cannot for the life of me figure it out.

So here is the official Summer 2018 MOAM Book Club. Do feel free to send me comments, questions and reccos. And don’t be share to spread the book club love.

Remember, friends,  reading is for life, not just for summer…..

THE LONELY HEARTS HOTEL by Heather O’Neill

I absolutely loved this magical tale set in 1930’s Montreal (with a side of NYC). Two babies left in an orphanage grow up together and fall in love. One is a musical genius, the other the consummate song’n dance gal. Together they dream up the most extravagant and fabulous circus act ever to be seen. Of course things don’t go quite as they imagined. Separated as teens, each is forced to use their talents to survive, until they can be reunited. Stunning writing. Gorgeous characters. Whimsical yet dark. Total page turner.

SALVAGE THE BONES by Jesmyn Ward

A pregnant teenager and her brothers are essentially raising themselves as their drunken father prepares for the upcoming hurricane. This is a visceral and beautifully written award-winning  book set in an impoverished rural town. Dog fighting, sick puppies, motherless children, and young people looking for love as devastation in the form of Hurricane Katrina looms made this a real graphic and incredible page turner.

SING, UNBURIED, SING by Jesmyn Ward

After I finished Salvage the Bones I needed another fix of Ward’s writing. I found it in this, her next novel. Another award-winner, another story of familial desolation. This time ghosts haunt the present and the past in this poetic and stunning story of a drug-addicted woman striving to be a better parent, and her young biracial son trying to come to terms with who he is, where he comes from and where he is going. Southern Gothic greatness.

THE IMMORTALISTS by Chloe Benjamin

What would you do if you knew the exact date of your own death? In the late 1960’s in New York’s Lower East Side, four young siblings visit a psychic who claims to be able to predict just that. Hearing their prophecies, each sibling sets out on their own path. A tale of destiny and choices, paths dreamed of and routes taken, I was this novel to be intriguing, compelling and amazing.

AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Tayari Jones

Celestial and Roy, a young married couple finds their newly wedded bliss destroyed when Roy is arrested and convicted for a crime Celestial knows he couldn’t possibly have committed. Through letters and straight up page-turning prose, this story of about being Black in America, trying to hold to love when you’re forced apart, and trying to keep it together, separately. So timely. So brilliant.

THE RULES DO NOT APPLY: A MEMOIR by Ariel Levy

I read several memoirs this past year, most of which fell flat. Ariel Levy’s, however, was searing, honest, funny and brutal. I’m lifting the quote straight from the back cover for this one. “When thirty-eight-year-old New Yorker writer Ariel Levy left for a reporting trip to Mongolia in 2012, she was pregnant, married, financially secure, and successful on her own terms. A month later, none of that was true.” Extraordinary.

THE NIGHTINGALE by Kristin Hannah

This book had been repeatedly recommended to me. Set in WW2 France, it is the story of two sisters and how they survive the war. I never really had any interest in reading it, but it kept getting mentioned, and it kind of reminded me of All the Light We cannot See (which I read in one sitting). So I picked it up The Nightingale….and put it down only after devouring it in one long sleepless night. What a story! What a read! This in an author who really knows who to spin a tale.

THE GREAT ALONE by Kristin Hannah

See: above. Another Kristin Hannah novel, another total page turner… A Vietnam vet uproots his young family to go live off the grid in the wilds of Alaska. This is the story of the teenage daughter, coming of age and coming to terms with her parents’ unconventional and passionate choices. An extraordinary portrait of life, resilience and growing up in Alaska’s wildly beautiful and dangerous frontier. This author has written 30 novels. What to read of hers next??

GIRLS BURN BRIGHTER by Shoba Rao

In an extremely poor Indian village, two young girls form an unlikely friendship. Despite the hideous life they are born into, they find solace, light and love in the bond they share. One which threatens the power structure and the others in their lives. A statement about feminism, the caste system, and the power of love, this book is magnificent and horrifying as the girls find themselves living separate and brutal lives, always holding on to the belief that they will be reunited. Tragic, hopeful, gripping.

THE GUNNERS by Rebecca Kauffman

Six kids from very different families become best friends – complete with ghost stories, sleepovers, adventures and a clubhouse. They were destined, like so many childhood pals, to be bffs forever. And like many childhood bffs, when they hit high school, things changed. As they grew up, moved on, and skipped town, only Mikey stayed behind, living a lonely life as his vision fails. When one of the gang kills herself, the rest return to town and they reconnect and reminisce. Very Big Chill-esque….

WE ALL LOVE THE BEAUTIFUL GIRLS by Joanne Proulx

I loved this book! A family’s life is ripped apart on one fateful night: the parents discover they’ve been cheated out of all their savings by their friend and business partner, and their son passes out in a snowbank with terrible consequences. Yes, in one night. After hitting the reader with all that, this is the story of what happens next.  Relationships are tested, as everyone tries to find ways to deal with the fallout. Some crumble and fail, some grow into something new. All are changed….

THERE THERE by Tommy Orange

There’s a big powwow happening in Oakland. For some, it’s a reunion. For others, an opportunity. As a diverse group of people share their interconnecting stories, one thing is certain: they will all converge at the powwow and shit will go down. This is a poetic, surprising, gripping and incredible read. Voices we don’t hear often enough come through loud and clear in this bright and beautiful book about indigenous urban identity. Powerful storytelling at its finest, this amazing book hits all the right notes from beginning to end.

LESS by Andrew Sean Greer

This Pulitzer-winning book centres on a failing novelist on the eve of his 50th birthday. In an effort to avoid the wedding of a past lover, he hits the road and travels around the world, trying to hide from himself. This is very much a character study with some great moments and even greater truths. It is very “writerly” and character-driven rather than plot-heavy. I absolutely loved this voice. So many lines in this book spoke to me…and stuck with me. And not just because I recently turned 50. Well, maybe a little….

STANDARD DEVIATION by Katherine Heiny

Graham lives with his second wife, the zany and kinda crazy Audra, and their autistic son. When his first wife re-enters the picture, he is forced to re-evaluate the choices he’s made in life and love. I laughed out loud while reading this. The character of Audra jumps straight off the page. This book is far from perfect, but it’s tender, awkward, and touching. It’s not a total laugh-riot, but when it’s funny, it’s it’s reeeeeally funny.

THE DIRTY BOOK CLUB by Lisi Harrison

When MJ ups and leaves her amazing job in NYC for a perfect life in California, things don’t quite turn out as planned. She is soon mysteriously conscripted into the DBC: the dirty book club, where the scandalous and erotic fiction inspires four very different women to open up about what’s happening in their real lives. Set both forty years ago and today, the author reminds us that the power of friendship is never dated.  If you’re looking for a fun read about female relationships and empowerment, look no further than this hilarious romp.

CIRCE by Madeline Miller

I am a sucker for Greek mythology and absolutely loved the Song of Achilles. When I read that this same author had a new book, I had to read it. I liked the tale better than the retelling, but I felt compelled to continue reading it to remind myself of Circe’s story and because I loved being lost in that world. A must read for mythology lovers. And a might-read for everyone else.

OTHER PEOPLE’S HOUSES by Abbi Waxman

A carpool mom stops to grab something from one of her neighbours – and finds her naked on the floor with a man who isn’t her husband. This is an easy, beach read about the goings-on in a neighbourhood and the affect the affair has on the families in the carpool. I quickly got sucked in to the daily drama and gossip.  Liane Moriarty-lite.

THE WIFE BETWEEN US  by Greer Hendricks

It’s hard to write about this suspenseful, twisty thriller without giving too much away, or sending the reader on a quest to forge it all out before the book’s end. Suffice to say this is a real page turner about a marriage gone very wring and the lengths a wronged party will go to fix it. I’ll leave it at that, or else it’s spoiler-alert central! Clever and yes, it’s being made into a flick…..

THAT KIND OF MOTHER by Rumaan Alam

I wanted to love this book, I really did. It’s really well-written and depicts the early days of motherhood when your life is turned totally upside down. It’s the story of a young white women who bonds with her black nursing coach. It takes a pretty crazy turn and explores some sensitive and timely topics. Overall, however, something about it left me cold. That said, people adore this book, so I’m putting it on the list.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 13, 2018   No Comments

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MOAM BOOK CLUB

Winter is coming so bundle up and break out the books!

Your texts and emails and posts and hints have not gone unnoticed. The list has been brewing for months but getting it out there has taken a little longer than I’d hoped. Being distracted by the news and by life doesn’t help much either. But as the days get darker and we snuggle in to prep for the long cold days ahead, there really is no better time to whip out your book/e-reader and get lost.

Despite the many books I have adored, there were others that left me lukewarm, and even cold. Pre-ordering a bunch of eagerly anticipated titles and then finding them beyond dull was a lesson in ditching. Life really IS too short to waste on a book that doesn’t grab you (unless you’re at school. Sorry suckers…I mean…students). Arundhati Roy, Michael Chabon, Madeleine Thien, Jonathan Safran Foer, Nicole Krauss and even my beloved Ian McEwan totally disappointed me. Anyone else feel that way? I managed to finish Forest Dark and Nutshell but not the others. Should I? Do let me know…

In the meantime, check these out:

 

THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD by Colson Whitehead

Pulitzer Prize Winner. National Book Award Winner. Oprah Book Club. MOAM. Clearly this is one fine book. After being abandoned by her mother, Cora is an outcast among her fellow slaves on a Georgia plantation. Determined to make a better life for herself, she plots her escape via the Underground Railroad – a literal subway system that heads north. With each stop on the line she encounters a different life, and a new struggle. Cora’s unbelievable odyssey will leave you breathless, feeling both elated and disgusted with each passing chapter. An important, beautiful piece of art.  Also – coming soon to a screen near you, adapted by Barry Jenkins, of Moonlight fame.

 

13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT A FAT GIRL by Mona Awad

Another award-winner (and shortlisted for the Giller), this fabulous first novel tells the story of a suburban girl who can’t see herself as anything other then the Fat Girl. Sharp and funny, heart-breaking and sad, and oft-times downright uncomfortable, this reflection on body image and what it means to be thin and gorgeous – or not – in an looks-obssessed world is one for everybody. And every body.

 

THE MOTHERS by Brit Bennett

Another debut, another fantastic voice. Haunted by the recent suicide of her mother, high school senior Nadia is forced to make a life-changing decision. Friendship, teen romance, an unwanted pregnancy and what could have been all come in to play as Nadia looks back on that eventful final year of high school and the reckoning that comes with the passing of time.  A powerful look at motherhood in all its guises – being a mother, wanting a mother, having a mother.

 

A LITTLE LIFE – Hanya Yanagihara

Warning: this is not so much of a book as it is a masterpiece. And it is massive. Seriously – 737 pages that admittedly took me a couple of tries. The first time, I didn’t think the plot was grabby enough, though the writing was. The second time, I had a hard time focusing on who was who, yet was intrigued by the characters. The third time I couldn’t put it down.  Four friends from college try to make their way in NYC. Sounds simple, and is anything but. An operatic, gorgeous and devastating read. Challenge yourselves. It’s unforgettable and well-worth it.

 

EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU – Celeste Ng

When a 16-year old dies tragically, her family, the only mixed-race family in their small town, tries to figure out what happened.  Celeste Ng is a brilliant and totally accessible writer as she explores the effects the tragedy has on the family and their relationships with the town – and each other. I had heard about Little Fires Everywhere (see below) and started this book while waiting for the next one’s release. I was totally transported – and transfixed. Racial issues, trying to belong, the fragility of happiness – it’s all here and it’s all amazing.

LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE – Celeste Ng

Family dynamics meet small town politics in another gorgeously written novel by Celeste Ng. Lives intersect as two totally different families are thrown together in unexpected ways. A white family tries to adopt a Chinese baby and relationships are tested as the characters are forced to take sides. In this book and the one above, seemingly simple prose that is deeply sharp leaves you thinking about the characters long after the last page has been turned. Celeste Ng could be one of my new favourites.

 

THE HATE U GIVE – Angie Thomas

There was a shitload of hype surrounding this novel – it debuted at the top of the NYT YA best seller list. But make no mistake, this is not just another young adult novel.  A poignant and ridiculously relevant story about what it’s like to be a person of colour in today’s USA. When narrator Starr witnesses the murder of her unarmed BFF by the police, everyone wants to know what really happened. So many reviews use the word “necessary” and that’s exactly what this is: a must-read that is timely without being preachy, channeling all the love, laughter and anger that we all can’t help but feel so often these days. Totally necessary reading.

 

EXIT WEST – Mohsin Hamid

Two young people meet and fall in love against the backdrop of a city under siege in a brutal civil war. He is a restrained prodigal son, she is an independent fiery spirit. Leaving their families and lives behind, they join the flood of refugees popping up in other countries through mystical and magical doorways. They may make it out alive, but will their relationship survive? Another timely read for an uncertain time.

 

MARLENA – Julie Buntin

“The Story of two girls and the wild year that will cost one her life, and define the other’s for decades”. That’s the official log line. The unofficial one should read “a year in the life of two 15-year old girls and how it can go spectacularly wrong spectacularly fast”. At 15 every little thing means everything. A lot of firsts. A couple of lasts. And a whole lot of shit that sticks with you forever. Great read from a great voice.

 

RABBIT CAKE -Annie Hartnett

Another story of family dysfunction and loss, another amazing voice with a gift for story telling. Our narrator, Elvis, is a young girl trying to figure it all out after her mom’s death. She can’t and she won’t but at least she can try to keep some kind of normalcy in her eccentric and suffering family. A great coming-of-age novel that is smart, engaging, funny and sad. Kind of absurd without being too crazy, this book had me from page one.

 

HOW TO BEHAVE IN A CROWD – Camille Bordas

Izidore aka Dory is the youngest in a family of six super smart and trippy kids. Only he’s kind of normal, which means he doesn’t quite fit in with the rest of the fam. So while they’re busy prepping PhD theses and creating symphonies, he is the one who is actually noticing things, feeling feelings, and trying to live a real life. And when tragedy strikes, Dory tries to make sense of it all. This is an incredibly charming and quirky coming of age story.

 

YOU’LL GROW OUT OF IT  – Jessi Klein

If you like Amy Shumer, you’ll LOVE Jessi Klein, one of Shumer’s writers. And if you don’t like Amy Shumer, you’ll still like Jessi Klein. Her memoir is like the smarter, deeper and, dare I say, funnier version of Shumer’s The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo. I laughed out loud – a lot. And was moved too. She’s got all the (written) humour of Shumer but with a lot more sensitivity and intelligence.

 

THE FUTURES – Anna Pitoniak

I kept hearing about this book, and it never really appealed. Until I picked it up and couldn’t put it down. It’s a New York story of two college students who fall in love and move to the big city to pursue their hopes and dreams. When the financial crisis hits, they find themselves at the very center of it. Alternating between their points of view, the book explores those trying times in our early twenties when we’re trying to figure out our world, our place in it and who we really are.

 

THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE – Zoe Whitall

When a beloved husband, father and teacher is arrested and charged with sexual assault, his family must deal with the fall out. Apropos, no? This exploration of loyalty, trust and truth is a gripping read as the author explores the toll one person’s actions can take on those around him. I found this to be a real page turner BUT the ending did fall a little flat. Still, when I enjoyed reading it, I really enjoyed reading it….

 

WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR – by Paul Kalinithi

Proceed with caution and get your kleenex ready, because this is one devastating read. This memoir is written by a brilliant young neurosurgeon who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Really. And yes, he dies while writing this book and his wife finishes it (no spoilers – it’s apparent from the first page). Examining what makes life worth living, this  superb book is an examination of life, love and how we live when we know we’re going to die. A wonderful, life-affirming tear-jerker that is no way shmaltzy.

 

ANOTHER BROOKLYN – Jacqueline Woodson

This sparely written novel is an exploration of 1970’s Brooklyn as seen through the eyes of a young black girl and her friends as they set out to navigate the mean streets of the city – and of adolescence. Powerful, evocative and emotional, you’ll be transported between now and then just like the narrator. This is a short book, but don’t let its size diminish its stature. Pure poetry.

 

GOODBYE VITAMIN – by Rachel Khong

This book started off quirky and funny and soon had me in tears. When Ruth’s engagement is called off, she returns to her hometown where is she is soon put “in charge” of her father who has been grappling with dementia. As she reconnects with her friends, family and former life, Ruth tries to figure out what she’s been running from all these years – and where she is actually going. Her journey through the best and worst of times is something we can all relate to, especially those who wonder if you can ever really go home again – wherever that may be.

 

CRAZY RICH ASIANS / CHINA RICH GIRLFRIEND / RICH PEOPLE PROBLEMS -Kevin Kwan

Oh, yes I did! After hearing about Crazy Rich Asians for ages and wondering if it was funny, racist or just plain cheesy, I decided to have a look. And I’m so glad I did. The sgtory revolves around the scandal unleashed in the rarified world of Chinese billionaires when the heir to one of the biggest fortunes in Asia brings home -gasp! – an American-born Chinese girl. Soon the backbiting and infighting begins – and doesn’t stop. I finished the first book in 3 days, becoming completely lost in a very different world – and I loved it! So much so, I picked up the other two books and downed them in quick succession. Is it a brilliant series? Hell no. Is it fabulous fun? F&ck yeah! Enjoy – because why not?!

 

To purchase any of these books, click on the links below!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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October 30, 2017   1 Comment

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MOAM BOOK CLUB. SUMMER 2016

I really don’t know where the time goes. But I know it’s been a year since my last Book Club post. What the?!?!?! I’ve read a tonne, and these are my faves over the last little while.

 

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Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

This is an absolutely stunning novel spanning generations and continents. It starts in 18th century Ghana, with two half-sisters whose lives and descendants will forever be unknowingly connected. One sister is stolen and sent to America as a slave. The other is married off to a white British soldier and remains in Africa. The rest, as they say, is history. Like Roots before it, this is brilliant historical fiction – especially when you consider that this is a first novel!!  And what a debut it is – a  multi-generational family saga that is authentic, devastating and incredible.

 

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Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offil

I absolutely loved this poetic portrait of a woman coming to terms with her life as a mother, a wife and an artist. So much has been written about how to maintain artistic integrity – or even find the time to pursue your art/passion once you’ve become a parent. Especially for women. In this spare and eloquent book, Man meets Woman. They get married. Have a baby. Shit goes down. They need to work out their shit and she needs to work out her shit. The whole thing feels intensely personal and private, exhilarating and heartbreaking. It’s super short – literally and stylistically – and feels slight, but with the turning of each page, you become ever more immersed. Written in short vignettes, it’s nearly impossible to put down.

 

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The Nest By Cynthia Sweeney

This novel hooked me from the very first page.  If you think your family has problems…. This is a study of what money can – and can’t do. The time is drawing near for the four adult Plumb siblings to finally “redeem” their inheritance – only to find out it is gone.  A story about a bunch of entitled adult babies may not be a draw but once you’re in, if the dysfunctional characters don’t intrigue you, the sense of schadenfreude certainly will. There has been a lot of talk about this book. Some call it praise, others call it hype. Ignore it all – and enjoy this compelling read right to the last page!

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Fates & Furies by Lauren Groff

This was one of the most talked about books of 2015. Maybe because Obama named it the book of the year. It is a very dark book about a marriage, told from the points of view of the husband and the wife. Needless to say, it’s two books in one, with phenomenal twists and turns. Just when you think you know these characters…..BAM! It’s quite a ride. If you liked Gone Girl, you’ll love this! Genius.

 

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A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

A mom writes a letter to her son, trying to explain her “small indiscretion”. Flashing back to her reckless youth in London, and back again to the seemingly idyll life as a married mom of three, this is a captivating story of a woman trying to come to terms with her past in order to save her future. Forgiveness, perfection and expectations all wrapped up in a spellbinding and sensitive novel… Loved, loved, loved.

 

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Fifteen dogs by Andre Alexis

Two Greek gods walk into a downtown Toronto bar…Sounds like the start of a (lame) joke. But the premise of this book is a bet: would animals die happier if they possessed human consciousness? Endowing a pack of 15 dogs with human intelligence and language, the gods watch as the pack navigates life – and death. Heart-breaking, philosophical, and more than a little Animal Farm-ish, this Giller-winner is a quick and gripping read. And one that ensures you’ll never look at your dog – or anyone else’s – in quite the same way again….

 

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The Expatriates: A novel by Janice Y.K. Lee

This is the compelling story of a group of Americans in Hong Kong. By turns juicy and heartbreaking, moving and cringey, this novel explores relationships and privilege among the expats.  Three different women, their stories as interconnected as the community itself. One is devastated by loss, one is afraid of losing what she has, and one IS lost and trying to figure it all out. Total page-turner. A great read for summer – or any time!

 

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Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi

Young lovers in Nigeria. One stays. One leaves. This is (mostly) the story of an African woman in America. And it is awesome. A fabulous study of race and culture, leaving home and coming home, romance and love. And hair. This multi-prize winner is a truly exquisite book, soon to be made into a flick starring and produced by Lupita Nyong’o.

 

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This is Happy by Camilla Gibb

This is impressive. Gibb’s memoir explores how we become who we are and what, if anything, can make us “happy”. In fact, there is a lot of misery… Childhood, adolescence, adulthood, relationships, parenthood – Camilla Gibb covers it all. This is one of those books that you want to copy and quote and remember. Poignant, sometimes brutal, always beautifully-written. Just gorgeous.

 

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The Japanese Lover by Isabel Allende

I’m a sucker for anything written by Isabel Allende. Always have been. So I felt like I had no choice but to read and enjoy The Japanese Lover. Was it my favourite of her books? No. But she is such a magnificent storyteller and this book is no exception. What begins as a story of an elderly woman and her caregiver soon takes us through the woman’s life: from escaping Nazis in Europe,  and re-settling into a well-off San Fran family. From her secret relationship with her Japanese gardener to being torn apart, and reunited throughout their lives. This is  a sweeping epic, tackling the juicy themes of loss, love and fate.

 

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Modern Lovers by Emma Straub

This one’s a total summer read. Former bandmates and BFF’s in college grow up, buy homes and become married neighbours in Brooklyn. When their kids get together they need to reflect on what their lives have become, what’s changed and what hasn’t. Hipsters having mid-life crises. A lot of people LOVED this book.  Which is intriguing to watch but eventually becomes annoying. And yet….

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Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

I wanted to adore this book. A woman in her early-20’s moves to the Big Apple and lands a crappy job at a fabulous 5-star restaurant.  The restaurant becomes her new home, its workers her new friends and family. As a fan of food and fiction I figured this would be the perfect marriage of both. But it wasn’t. The gossipy tone, and examination of the hierarchies within the restaurant world was compelling at first, but ultimately I found Tess, the protagonist, way too provincial. I kept waiting for her to grow up and become someone I cared about. But I’m still waiting….

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The Girls by Emma Cline

I was scared to read this book. I thought it would be too Helter Skelter. And it might just be. I only started it the other day but I’m seduced. So far, it’s a coming of age story. Teen girls, suburbia, summer boredom. I’m riveted. But I know what’s coming so I’m hanging on and plowing right through!!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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July 7, 2016   1 Comment

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MOAM BOOK CLUB!!!

Remember the MOAM Book Club? It’s back! Get out your must-read lists, ‘cuz these books really should be on ’em….

 

ALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE by Anthony Doerr

I read this Pulitzer-prize winning book pre-prize last summer. In one sitting. I couldn’t put it down, and neither will you. Set in the years leading up to WWII, it’s two stories which ultimately converge into one. A young blind girl who has learned to find her way via intricately carved cityscapes created by her father, ends up with one of France’s national treasures. A German orphan obsessed with building radios is forced to join the Hitler Youth where he reluctantly rises through the ranks. This is storytelling at its finest.

THE ORENDA by Joseph Boyden

And speaking of finest, this book is truly one of the greatest books I’ve read in years. Don’t let the subject matter (Iroquois vs Hurons, Jesuits, Canadiana) or size (512 pages) scare you off. Even if you’re not a historical fiction fan – and especially if you are – you will love love love this deep and haunting and devastating book…

MY BRILLIANT FRIEND / THE STORY OF A NEW NAME / THOSE WHO LEAVE AND THOSE WHO STAY – by Elana Ferrante

Collectively known as The Neopolitan Novels, this trilogy has been gripping Italy for the past few years. Written under a pseudonymn, they tell the story of 2 friends growing up in the Sicily of the 1950’s. Through times turbulent and peaceful, rich and poor, what appear to be “women’s novels” are so much more than that. Capturing the periods in which the stories are set beautifully, Ferrante, whoever she – or he – may be, draws fantastic characters who you won’t soon forget. Best of all? The fourth (and final) book is being released in September. If you start now, you can pre-order it (I already did)

IN THE UNLIKELY EVENT – by Judy Blume

Growing up devouring the writing of Judy Blume was de rigeur for any of us growing up in the 70’s. Sure, we figured we outgrew her – but did we ever, really? With this latest novel, written for adults, she demonstrates that you can’t actually outgrow great writing. The woman really knows how to spin a yarn. Set in the New Jersey of the 50’s, 3 plane crashes proufoundly affect the lives of those living under the flight path. First loves, growing up, moving on….Judy Blume covers it all – and so damn well. She’s still got it. Always has, always will.

THE CHILDREN ACT – Ian McEwan

I adore Ian McEwan. Just love him. So it goes without saying that if you’re a fan of his, you’ll read this book!A judge must determine what is best for a child suffering from Leukemia – who also happens to be a Jehovah’s Witness. As she debates what is “right”, her own personal life is falling apart. Stunning. Gripping. Thought-provoking. Ian McEwan at his best.

ALL MY PUNY SORROWS by Miriam Toews

Heartbreaking, yet funny, and gorgeously written, the story of two sisters: one a brilliant but suicidal pianist, the other a hot mess trying to take care of those around her. Life and death, families and lovers, Toews gets into all of it. Loosely based on the author’s own experiences, the writing delves straight into the darkness yet somehow finds the light. A brave and beautiful award-winner.

WE ARE NOT OURSELVES by Matthew Thomas

This sprawling, ambitious saga marks the author’s debut. And what a grand entrance to the literary scene it is! Clocking it at 641 pages, it’s a big and meaty story of a family. Eileen is the daughter of Irish immigrants, and we follow her life as she grows up, gets married and has a family of her own. Mirroring life in America in the second half of the 20th century this is a poignant and stunningly observed piece of writing. There exists in the middle of this book a letter from a father to his son that had me bawling. If I read it on paper it would have been earmarked, underlined, highlighted or, possibly ripped out.  Epic.

WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES by Karen Joy Fowler

I mention this book for those who confuse it with the one above. It’s another great read – though not on the same level as the Thomas novel. The family in this book is what some would call unconventional: Mother, father and three children. Except the youngest is a baby chimpanzee. Yes, you read that right. This is an intriguing and interesting take on a typical family that is anything but normal. Domestic terrorism, animal rights, family dynamics – this has it all. Super smart and very different. Well worth picking up.

BIG LITTLE LIES – Liane Moriarty

Set in the ‘burbs of Sydney, Australia, this is another domestic page-turner by the author of The Husband’s Secret. Characters and their stories are interwoven as the new single mom in town finds herself both ostracized and exalted after her son is accused of being a bully. This is the perfect summer read for those who enjoyed The Slap. Addictive!

DIRTY LOVE by Andre Dubus III

What does happily ever after mean? Does it exist? Or, like an elusive brass ring is it always moving a little further away, slightly out of reach? In this group of interlocking novellas, Dubus explores it all from the points of view of a cuckholded husband, a philandering bartender/poet, a young girl trying to escape a social media mistake, and a lonely overweight woman who wonders whether she’s failed to launch. Simple, smart and raw.


I DON’T HAVE A HAPPY PLACE by Kim Korson

I couldn’t leave this memoir/book of essays off my list. It’s biting and smart, filled with fab 70’s and 80’s references and I happen to enjoy anything evocative of my own childhood/adolescence/coming of age/adulthood.  The fact that it was written by an old friend whose observations and crankiness always cracked me up? Well that’s just a bonus.

July 23, 2015   No Comments

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MOAM BOOK CLUB!

Summer! At last!

It feels like ages: since it’s been glorious, since I’ve written here, and since I’ve put up a Book Club post. I’ve been reading a lot. Have you? Anything I should add to my list? I’m always looking for a good read. And apparently, you are too. So,without further ado, I present the 2014 MOAM Summer Book Club. Enjoy!

THE GOOD LORD BIRD by James McBride

This award-winning novel tells the story of abolitionist John Brown through the eyes of a rescued slave. A rescued boy who, after being mistaken for a girl, maintains the charade.  There’s a bit of a Twain-esque feeling to this book and if you like that sort of thing, you’ll love this. Even if you don’t, it’s a great read. Beautifully written, sometimes horrific and always engaging, this historical novel is no frothy beach read, but it’s well worth a look.
 

THE PARIS WIFE – Paula McCain

And speaking of Gatsby….F. Scott Fitzgerald makes an appearance in this book, one of many about Ernest Hemingway’s handful of wives. This novel is based on the life of wife #1, Hadley. She was the one in it at the very beginning of Hem’s literary life. The first wife. The romantic. The one who thought she could make it work with the hard-drinking, fast-living writer. She was wrong, of course. A bit of a train-wreck of a relationship, but of course you can’t look away…

AN INDISCRETION by Charles Dubow

A golden couple. NYC. The Hamptons. A young woman who infiltrates the family and their circle in every way. Gatsby-ish vibe, I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a film in the works. One bad – really, really bad – choice sends the family reeling. And sent me reeling too. Talk about fall-out! This is a morality tail that both frustrated and saddened me, and stayed with me long after I finished it.

 

TRAINS & LOVERS by Alexander McCall Smith

I love a good traveler tale. This one’s set on a train, on the journey from Edinburgh to London. Four strangers get to chatting and next thing you know, they’re telling their life – and love – stories. Always easiest to do with strangers, right? Like four little novels in one, this is short and sweet and perfect for summer. Check your cynicism at the door and enjoy.

 

THE GROUP by Mary McCarthy

Set in the ’30’s, it follows a group of women – The Group – after they graduate from Vassar. It explores their lives, families, and jobs. Their marriages, affairs, and divorces. It’s sex, love and analysis – which would be de rigueur except for the fact that it was published in ’63 and was considered pretty rad at the time. And – escandalo! – it was even banned. Kind of like a smarty pants version of Rona Jaffe’s 70’s classic “Class Reunion”!

 

A FEW SECONDS OF RADIANT FILMSTRIP: A MEMOIR OF 7TH GRADE by Kevin Brockmeier

I couldn’t not read a book with this title. This first year of middle school aka Junior High is huge. Coming of age, evolution of friendships, I love this stuff! Great references, funny and sweet, anyone who has ever been 12 will relate, even in some very small way. Charming and lovely.

 

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME by Jancee Dunn

The subtitle to this is “A Jersey Girl’s Unlikely Adventures Among the Absurdly Famous”. And that’s exactly what this is! Dunn is an unlikely candidate but somehow lands a dream job at Rolling Stone. With stints as a VJ, celebrity profiler and writer, she never thought she’d be rubbing shoulders with rock stars and film gods. But she does, and tells us all about it in a self-deprecating and hilarious memoir. I want more of her. And I want to be her friend!

 

THE HUSBAND’S SECRET – by Liane Moriarty

What if you found a letter addressed to you but only to be opened upon the death of your partner (who is very much alive)? And what if you opened it and found a terrible, horrible, very bad confession? Then what? That’s the premise of this seemingly cheesy yet riveting book. Perfect for summer, it’s a domestic drama set in Australia. Another possible movie-in-the-making I couldn’t put it down. And neither will you.

 

THE GOLDFINCH – by Donna Tartt

If you’re one of the 27 people who haven’t read this enormous Pulitzer Prize winner yet, what are you waiting for? Yes, it’s massive. But it’s infinitely readable. It’s also sparked a major debate amongst the literati of whether or not it is “Great Literature” or a glorified Young Adult fiction. Check it out and judge for yourself. I’m a fan.

July 11, 2014   No Comments

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MOAM BOOK CLUB

music

“Sleighbells ring, are you listening….On the shelves, books are glistening.

Beaches or ski, Paper or “e”,

Reading in a Winter Wonderland……”

 

Road Ends – Mary Lawson

The third (unrelated) book by this author set in Ontario’s North, this one revolves around the supreme dysfunction of the Cartwright family. Set in the ’60’s, each chapter alternates between the eldest son, whose ambition and potential  were thwarted after a local tragedy; the only daughter who “quits” being the caretaker of her ever-growing brood of siblings and heads to London; and their father, a victim of his own history who holes himself up in his office rather than dealing with his wife and children. Bleak and harsh like the landscape in which it’s set, it’s a perfect winter read.

The Rosie Project – Graeme Stinson

Socially awkward and statistically-inclined Professor Don Tillman has decided he is going to find a wife. And so, using a complicated list of criteria, he sets out to find the perfect woman. In the course of his project, he meets Rosie who is, of course, everything he is not looking for. This is a happy, feel-good and hilarious story. A movie in the making, if the rights haven’t been snapped up yet, it’s only a matter of time before they will be.

The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion

Devastating. Didion’s husband suffers a heart attack and dies as their daughter lies in a coma. It can’t get much worse than that, but Didion chronicles the days before and after in such a moving, tender and beautifully written way. Life changes in an instant. Reading this memoir and sharing someone else’s tragedy reinforces how lucky we are. We really are.

The Lowland – Jhumpa Lahiri

Two brothers. Best friends in childhood who grow apart as they grow up. One becomes a revolutionary, the other an academic. Eventually, ideology and geography separate them. Their futures could not be more different and yet, are ultimately intertwined forever. Sounds dramatic, because it is. No spoilers here. Just read it and weep….

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena – Anthony Marra

This overwhelming and beautiful page-turner is, quite frankly, one of the best books I’ve read in years. Set in a broken Chechnya town, unforgettable characters take the readers on a poignant journey through a dark and brutal moment in history. Once you figure out who’s who – and please, stick with it until you do – you will be awed by this epic, magnificent novel. You may even want to read it again. I know I do.

The Woman Upstairs – Claire Messud

At 42 and single, third-grade teacher and amateur artist Nora feels like an invisible woman. I’m not single (or 42) but I could relate. At first. But when Nora meets a sophisticated, completely out-of-her world family, she becomes entrenched in their lives to an unhealthy extent. Obsession, betrayal, love, art: it all swirls together in this infinitely readable novel about an angry young woman and the choices she makes. Or doesn’t.

The Happiness Project – Gretchen Rubin

This one is completely out of character for me. I had to read it as part of a work assignment, but found myself turning back to it, quoting it and generally being unable to get it out of my head. Author Gretchen Rubin seemingly has it all. So why isn’t she happy….enough? Is anyone? So much about this book resonated with me – and still does, long after I’ve put it away. Part self-help guide, part pop-culture philosophy, I found it intriguing and have already pre-ordered the next book, “Happiness at Home”. If happiness is a choice that we’ve got to work for, I’m willing to give it a whirl!

Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon – Sheila Weller

The title says it all. (Almost all. Could be subtitled: Plus James Taylor). This one’s love-or-loath. I read bits of this as an excerpt in Vanity fair years ago and was intrigued. With a movie version looming, I figured I’d better get to it before Taylor Swift (as Joni Mitchell!!) wrecks it for me. These 3 ladies had a profound effect on me throughout my adolescence (and beyond… but don’t tell anyone). I’m still mid-way though the book and, while it may not be the best-written of the lot, it’s compelling for this used-to-be-guitar-strumming, has-been-piano-playing campfire singer.

December 11, 2013   No Comments

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MOAM Book Club

Summer is almost over….But before you pack in your flipflops and break out your boots, here are some good reads to get you through to Labor/Labour Day and beyond….

THE MIDDLESTEINS by Jami Attenberg

A Jewish family living in the burbs outside Chicago never mention the one thing no one can stop thinking about: Edie Middlestein’s obsession with food and eating. She’s massive. And will die if she doesn’t do something about it. So she emotional eats. When Edie’s husband of over thirty years ups and leaves her, the rest of the family must band together to save itself. This smart, funny, and quick-paced novel is told from each of the Middlestein’s points of view as they try to figure out how to save Edie – or who to blame.

THE INTERESTINGS by Meg Wolitzer

This author is very zeitgeisty for me. I over-identify with so many of her characters and/or the premises of her books that I have to read them all. I don’t always adore them, but I always find them, well, interesting! This one centers around a group of creative people who met at sleepover camp. Who will end up where? Doing what? It follows them as they live out their lives in shockingly unexpected, totally interesting and even decidedly boring ways…

THE OCEAN AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil Gaiman

Cue the s-s-s-s-s-cary music, ‘cuz this one is creepy and magical and beautiful all at the same time. A man revisits the house he grew up in, and memories of childhood come flooding back. From mysterious deaths of neighbours young and old (and feline) to the terrifying nanny who is not at all what she appears to be. Only the house of women at the end of the lane can save him. A fantastical tale of childhood innocence lost and found. It’s billed as being for kids and adults but, while beautiful, it’s also nightmarish. Ssssspppoooooky!!!

ELEANOR & PARK by Rainbow Rowell

I love a good love story. Especially a first-love love story. And a doomed one? Even better!!! This one, set in the late 80’s – in high school – doesn’t disappoint. Two misfits from two staggeringly different worlds are all alone in their lives – they think – until stars cross and they find each other. This book felt like a cross-cultural John Hughes movie. Read it. Enjoy it. Don’t wait for the flick. No doubt it’s on its way.

DEFENDING JACOB – William Landay
RECONSTRUCTING AMELIA: A NOVEL – Kimberley McCreight

I lumped these two together because both are legal thrillers. Both have young protagonists. And both are about lawyer parents trying to get to the bottom of a death in which their child may or may not be involved.

Amelia’s mother, Kate, gets a call that her daughter had been caught cheating at her exclusive Brooklyn school. By the time she reaches the gates, her daughter is dead. An apparent suicide. Then Kate receives an anonymous text: “She didn’t jump” Flashbacks, texts, and facebook postings tell alternating stories of Amelia, her friends, and her “friends”. Only her mother’s sheer determination can figure out exactly what happened to her beloved daughter.

And then there’s Jacob. Jacob’s Dad, Andy, is an assistant DA called in when a local kid is found dead. It’s the end of the innocence for this bucolic New England town, and Andy vows to find the boy’s killer. Until his own 14-year old son is charged with the crime. The more Andy uncovers, the more he wonders how well he really knows his own son – and himself. Suspense, betrayal, loyalty…I smell a potboiler!!!

THE NEWLYWEDS by Nell Freudenberger

What would’ve been called a mail-order bride is now an e-mail order bride when a young Bangladeshi woman moves across the planet to marry a man in Rochester NY. Their newlywedded bliss is soon interrupted as secrets from both sides come pouring out. Will they keep it together, together? Should they? A quiet, moving, extremely well-written book that captures the experience of strangers in a strange land. Even in their homelands….

THE DINNER by Herman Koch

Theatre alert! This one reads like a play. A dramatic, sibling-rivalry-ridden, angsty, dramatic play. A morality play. Two families get together over dinner to discuss a spot of trouble their sons have got in together. And shit happens. Lots of it. Parenting values, politics, and family “values” are examined – and skewered. Great bait for dinner party conversation…

Z: A NOVEL OF ZELDA FITZGERALD by Therese Anne Fowler
This is exactly what it says it is! It’s the Jazz Age. Rebellious debutante and southern belle Zelda is plucked from her small Alabama life by dashing army captain F Scott Fitzgerald and the rest, is history. Crazy, bittersweet, legendary history. The depiction of the “Jazz Age”, the international literary world and the passionate and destructive personalities within it makes it tragic and gripping even though we know the ending right from the start.

LIFE AFTER LIFE by Kate Atkinson

We all have those Sliding Doors/Groundhog Day moments: how would you live your life differently? Does each moment, each decision, and each chance encounter colour your future? Kate Atkinson deftly explores these themes in this best-selling novel. If you could live your life over and over again, how would it turn out? Good question. I liked, didn’t love, this one. But I may be alone in that consensus.

ME BEFORE YOU by Jojo Moyes

High-flying, great looking, successful banker has it all – until a fluke motorcycle accident shatters his life. And his spinal column. Needless to say, he is miserable. When a young local girl is hired as his caregiver, she finally breaks through and devises a plan to help him actually enjoy his life. Will it work? Will you care? Readers are obsessed with this book so I daren’t omit it from my list! But, truth be told, it left me kinda cold.

Happy rest-of-summer! Happy reading! And please – recommendations are always welcome!

August 19, 2013   No Comments

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MOAM BOOK CLUB

Readers, I apologize. It’s been many months since my last Book Club. But don’t fret. We’ve had a long Canadian winter, and I’ve read a shitload of books. Herewith, quite a few of the faves.

(and yes, Virginia, you can buy them directly from this site, right here, right now. Simply click on the image of book!)

BRING UP THE BODIES
WOLF HALL
by Hilary Mantel
These are two massive historical novels. These are two Booker winners. These are two beyond brilliant stories about Thomas Cromwell before and during the reign of King Henry VII – and Anne Boleyn. They’ll have you puzzled: everyone’s named Thomas. They’ll have you intimidated – page count is way past what’s comfortable. They’ll have you googling up a storm – unless you know your Tudors from your Stuarts. They’ll leave you breathless.

CANADA by Richard Ford
The year is 1960. When his parents are arrested after a bank robbery gone wrong, a 15-year old boy goes on the lam…to Canada. Fans of Richard Ford will love this epic sweeper of a story. And those who aren’t fans yet, will be when they finish this lyrical novel about a family falling apart.

THE ART OF FIELDING by Chad Harbach
A baseball novel about a surprising college star. Twists, turns, and so much more than bats, balls and gloves.And boys. It was a riveting read and I couldn’t put it down. (And yes, I’m surprised I loved it too!)

THE SONG OF ACHILLES by Madeline Miller
Who doesn’t love a good Greek Myth? To know and love the Greek Gods is to know and love all their infighting and sexual escapades. This is a new twist on the story of Achilles and the Trojan War. Modern tone, classic tale. Fabulous.

WHERE’D YOU GO, BERNADETTE? by Maria Semple
15-year-old Bee’s mom is a freak: an artist, a genius, a Seattle-loather. When she disappears on the eve of a trip to Antarctica to celebrate Bee’s straight-A average, Bee is determined to track her down. Hilarious. Original. Quirky. Unconventional. Don’t wait for the film (yes, it’s being adapted).

SWEET TOOTH by Ian McEwan
It’s the ’70’s. A love-torn Cambridge student drops out to join British Intelligence. Espionage. Cold War. Romance. Seduction. Cultural warfare?? It’s a page-turner. And it’s Ian McEwan. It can’t get much better than this.

ONE LAST THING BEFORE I GO -Jonathan Tropper
Jonathan Tropper kills me. And while this isn’t his best, he has such a way with words. And his characters? Too much. This time it’s a rock star. Or, rather, a has-been drummer, who is now broke, down on his luck and require life-saving surgery. The man who can save his life is his ex-wife’s fiancee and his somewhat estranged Princeton-bound daughter is pregnant. He’s got a lot to deal with. If he makes it.

THE SUBMISSION by Amy Waldman
An anonymous submission process for a memorial to victims of a terrorist attack results in the selection of a mysterious Muslim-American architect. A timely post-9/11 novel for a divided country. It divided readers too, though I thought it was fantastic, moving and super sharp.

THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB by Will Schwalbe
When journalist Will Schwalbe’s extraordinary and dynamic mother is diagnosed with cancer, they bond over books during during her chemo treatments. Sounds hokey, but this is a truly inspiring and lovely memoir about a mother, her son, and the power of reading.

THE TWELVE TRIBES OF HATTIE by Ayana Mathis
Hattie escapes Georgia for a better life up north. This book starts in the 1920’s with the birth of her first children. It’s a devastating start to a devastating life. Each chapter is told from the point of view of subsequent children. Bleak, dark, and beautifully written, Oprah claimed it for her book club, and I’m claiming it for mine.

TIGERS IN RED WEATHER by Liza Klaussmann
Two cousins, so close they’re like sisters. Or are they? One follows her WW2 vet husband to steamy Florida. The other heads off to Hollywood. Over the course of 12 years we follow them as their dreams unfold and disappear, until they eventually reunite, children in tow, at the family beach house where there’s been a murder. Melodrama at its finest.

THE WORLD WITHOUT YOU by Joshua Henkin
A clan gathers to remember a fallen son, a journalist killed in action in Iraq. Identity crises abound and secrets spill as the parents try to deal with the future of their marriage, the sisters try to understand who they’ve become and the widow tries to contemplate her future. Classic American family drama…at the cottage.

And, for those looking for some simple beach reads, these are a sliver above the usual cheese. Fluffy, yes, but a little over-identification goes a long way when it comes to quick ‘n easy reads!

BEAUTIFUL RUINS by Jess Walter
Starts in Italy in the ’60’s, where a young Italian fisherman meets falls a glamorous American actress. Meanwhile, 50 years later, the story, and several others, continue in Hollywood…

PROSPECT PARK WEST by Amy Sohn
Cheating parents. Klepto Oscar winners. Sexually confused mothers. Real estate obsessives. Just another day in the life in Prospect Park. White people’s problems? You betcha. And if you’re really into it, there’s even a sequel: Motherland….

Meanwhile, over in Tribeca….

TRIBURBIA by Karl Greenfield.
Mommy fiction. For dads. These are hipster Daddies, sorting out their shit. Rich people’s problems? Absolutely. So?

May 1, 2013   No Comments

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MOAM BOOK CLUB

4th of July. Somehow, summer has arrived. (my) Kids are busy at camp, a hazy heat has descended on this fair city, and I keep getting asked what I’m reading.

Buckle up! Here’s the MOAM summer reading list for 2012. No 50 Shades Trilogy here. Most of you have either read it, or read enough about it that you can’t be bothered. But here are some other books I’ve enjoyed and think you will, too.

Room – Emma Donoghue.
I resisted reading this for a long time. Award-winning, oft-discussed story of a young boy who has never been outside of the room he’s been locked in by the man who abducted his mother. Sounds horrific, but, as I was told over and over and over again – it’s not what you think. And it’s not. A tender, brilliantly crafted story of resilience and hope, if you’re one of the very few who’ve let this one go, now’s the time to try it.

The Adults – Alison Espach.
14-year-old teen thinks her life sucks. Who didn’t at 14 right? It’s another coming of age novel! I love them.Set in the 90’s, our heroine tries to figure out how to deal with the adults in her life – while becoming one herself. From shocker to suicide to school, first love, friends and freedom, it hits all the right notes in all the right ways….

The Rules of Civility – Amor Towles.
New Year’s Eve in NYC. It’s 1938 and an uncompromising first-gen woman is discovering herself. Yup, another one of those. This one kind of carries on where Edith Wharton and Henry James left off…Similar vibe – only reads as though it could be adapted for the screen. You know when you think back to one night, or one event, that set your life on a different path? That’s what this book does, with an immensely likeable main character and glamorous evocation of Manhattan in a very different, cinematically familiar time.

The Buddha in the Attic – Julie Otsuka.
This novel is pure poetry. Tracing a group of “picture brides” as they are brought from their native Japan to join their unseen Japanese husbands in San Franscisco it begins on the boat over. Through a group of anonymous women, we witness their ever-changing lives – from brides to mothers, Japanese to Americans. Written so sparingly, so brilliantly, this a quick and easy read that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

The Dovekeepers – Alice Hoffman.
Every once in a while, I need to get into a big ol’ biblical novel. Set about 2000 years ago this is a fictional retelling of the story of Massada. For those who haven’t seen the mini-series or done the hike, it’s a mountain palace built by King Herod where, for many months, a small community of Jews held the Roman army at bay until they chose death over submission. Hoffman tells the story as seen through the independent eyes of four women – all at different ages and stages: an unwanted daughter. A grieving widow. A secret soldier. A magical medicine woman. Pageturner!!!!

The Night Circus – Eric Morgenstern.
Duelling magicians trying to settle a lifelong bet. A group of contortionists, illusionists, lovers and outcasts. Mysterious tents popping up out of nowhere. Atmospheric, beautiful and creepy: it must be the circus! Thoughtful, dark and delicious, the Cirque des Reves is the magnificent backdrop for two brilliant magicians who’ve been trained to battle it out and be the last one standing – until falling in love gets in their way. Dreamy indeed…

Grace Williams Says it Loud – Emma Henderson.
This is sort of Cuckoo’s Nest but with kids. Sounds brutal right? It is – but in a good way. In mid-century England a child is born, severely challenged and is, of course, sent away to a “home”. This is her story, from her point of view. Compelling, heartbreaking and even uplifting, this follows our heroine from her first institutionalized days until the last days of the institution itself.

The Leftovers – Tom Perrotta.
What would happen if millions of people suddenly disappeared from the earth? That’s the premise behind the latest tale of suburban angst and depression by Tom Perrotta. With dark humour and subtle satire, we meet a bunch of ordinary folks living in a bizarrely abnormal world. How do they cope? How would you cope?

The Sense of an Ending – Julian Barnes.
A middle-aged man looks back on his life and the people in it. Sounds simple. Au contraire. While this novella can be read in a day or two, it’ll stick with you as you re-play it in your head. The subject of countless blogs/discussions/arguments, it’s a smarty-pants book (especially if you read it post 50 Shades. It made me feel like a real dolt.) This is a dinner-party book, begging you to answer: what do you think happened? And, really, I’d like to know…

Gone Girl – Gillian Flynn. The “it” book of the moment. Husband moves his New York born ‘n bred wife back to his dreary Missouri hometown. To outside eyes, they’re both fabulous, but they’re hardly perfect. On their 5th anniversary, the wife disappears. Did the husband do it? Who knows? I’m halfway through and loving it!

Finally, two good books by two great writers: Great House: A Novel by Nicole Krauss and
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Euginides.


I both enjoyed and was disappointed by each of these books. The predecessors of each (The History of Love and Middlesex) were so brilliant that I suppose I was bound to be disappointed. They were obviously “good books” but showstoppers? Not sure. Worth a look though – what’s “ish” for these writers is still genius…

Enjoy!!!! (and yes, you can click through on these purdy pictures to order…)

July 4, 2012   No Comments

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MOAM BOOK CLUB

It’s summertime. Break out the books.

Or not.

I’ve actually been compiling this list for ages. But then I received an iPad 2 and haven’t been able to put it down. Now that my MacFamily is complete I shan’t extol the virtues of the ipad – you got it, you get it, right? But I will tell you it’s been one helluva reading experience. And my list keeps on growing. And growing. And growing.

So, without further ado, some great reads – on screen or on paper:

This is Where I Leave You – Jonathan Tropper. Guy’s marriage ends. Then his dad dies. He goes home to be with the family…Rev up the laugh track because this is one seriously funny book. I would read passages out loud – to my man and myself because I couldn’t get over how hilarious it was. Tho’ I did shed a tear or two, too…

A Visit From the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan. A motley group of characters at the fringes of the music biz. What could be better? While some of the characters may leave you cold, their stories will not. Skipping in and out of lives, back and forth through years, this is a brilliant novel – no wonder it won the Pulitzer prize!

Father of the Rain – Lily King. A daughter’s relationship with her alcoholic father as it unfolds over 40 years. It’s a mesmerizing journey: from a seemingly idyllic coastal childhood in 1970’s New England to the fallout of her parents’ divorce in the 80’s of her adolescence to dealing with her demons as an adult. Perfect pitch, resonant writing, fabulous book.

Your Voice in My Head – Emma Forrest. The memoir of a brilliant, bipolar, transatlantic pop-culture journalist and screenwriter, this was one book I really wanted to love. It took me longer than I expected, but the searingly honest, brutally funny account of the author’s highest highs and lowest lows got me hooked.

The Imperfectionists – Tom Rachman. Set in Rome at an English-language newsroom, this incredible literary debut follows the newspaper from it’s start up to its demise through the eyes of its staff. With interconnecting characters and stories stories set both at their desks and in their lives, you won’t be able to put this one down.

Bloodroot – Amy Greene. Another group of interconnecting stories, this one admittedly gets off to a slow start, but once you’re in, you are in. At the heart of it is an Appalachian family in rural Tennessee. As much about the place as the people, this is a cinematic, beautifully written book.

The Year we Left Home – Jean Thompson. Changing perspectives with each chapter, this is an engaging portrait of an Iowa family over 30 years. Sometimes bleak, sometimes tragic, always engaging. Don’t let the locale fool you – this one goes way beyond the farm.

Cutting for stone – Abraham Varghese. A nun dies in childbirth delivering twin boys. Their father disappears. After literally being separated from birth, the boys grow up in an Ethiopian hospital, raised by the doctors who adore them and the rest of the staff. When war breaks out, they are forced to be separated once again. Their story, peppered with incredible characters will take you around the world, and back again.

Freedom -Jonathan Franzen. Yes it lives up to the hype. ‘Nuff said.

July 11, 2011   No Comments

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