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Showing posts from April, 2011

book review: Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda

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The backstory: Swapna convinced me to read this one with her glowing review.

The basics: Secret Daughter is the story of Somer, a white California doctor; Somer's husband Krishnan, who grew up in India and is also a doctor; Kavita, a married woman in India whose husband believes they can only afford one child and it must be a boy; and Asha, the young Indian girl Kavita gives up for adoption and always wonders about and Somer and Krishnan adopt.

My thoughts: I began reading Secret Daughter with high expectations, and from the opening pages, I was mesmerized by the characters and stories. The novel moved through time and effortlessly shifted between narrators. I was simultaneously eager to catch up with each character and reluctant for the chapter to end. I loved following the stories of these characters who did not know their own connections to each other. I'm a huge fan of novels dealing that are stories of lives and how events shape us.

Secret Daughter is about family and cultur…

Waiting on Wednesday: The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine to highlight an upcoming release you cannot wait to read. My pick this week is the new novel by perhaps my favorite author, Tom Perrotta, The Leftovers.

Here's how the publisher describes it:
"What if the Rapture happened and you got left behind? Or what if it wasn't the Rapture at all, but something murkier, a burst of mysterious, apparently random disappearances that shattered the world in a single moment, dividing history into Before and After, leaving no one unscathed? This is the question confronting the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, a formerly comfortable suburban community that lost over a hundred people in the Sudden Departure. Kevin Garvey, the new mayor, wants to speed up the healing process, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized neighbors, even as his own family falls apart. His wife, Laurie, has left him to enlist in the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members tak…

unfinished: Sweet Valley Confidential

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I wasn't always a dedicated literary fiction reader who enjoyed exploring diversity and prize lists. As a child and teenager, I was a single-minded, contemporary teen fiction series reading fiend. I devoured all of the Sweet Valley Twins, Baby-Sitters Club, Sleepover Friends, Fabulous Five, and Sweet Valley Highbooks. I knew what day the shipment should come into the bookstore, and I often pulled the new ones straight from the shelving cart. I even spent hours playing the Sweet Valley High board game. By myself. I spent hours pondering if I was more like Jessica or Elizabeth (and then which one I really aspired to be.) I spent many years enthralled by the Wakefield twins (yes, I watched the tv show too.)

When I heard Francine Pascal was writing a book about Jessica and Elizabeth as twenty-somethings, I think I actually squealed. Reason soon took hold of me, and I reminded myself my reading tastes are a bit different than they used to be. I decided to patiently wait for a copy fro…

Waiting on Wednesday: The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston

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Waiting on Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine to highlight an upcoming release we can't wait to read.
My pick this week comes from an author whose diverse works I've thoroughly enjoyed over the years: Caroline Preston. I discovered her first novel, Jackie by Josie, about a woman doing academic research on Jackie Kennedy, at my local library when I was in high school and utterly adored it. Her second novel, Lucy Crocker 2.0, about a woman who designs video games despite having no knowledge of technology, lived on my shelves for years (and moved a few times) before I finally stayed up late to read it at my mother-in-law's house the week Mr. Nomadreader and I moved to New York. I read her third novel, Gatsby's Girl, a fictionalized account of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ginerva Kelly, who served as a muse for the character of Daisy Buchanan, as soon as it was published in 2006. 
When I heard Caroline Preston (finally!) had a new book coming out, I was downright j…

book review: The Uncoupling by Meg Wolitzer

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The backstory: Meg Wolitzer's last novel, The Ten-Year Napwas a five-star read for me, and I was eager to readThe Uncoupling since the moment I heard about it.

The basics: At a seemingly normal high school in New Jersey, the new drama teacher picks Lysistrata as the high school play. In the play, the women of ancient Greece stop having sex to protest the ongoing civil war. In Stellar Plains, women mysteriously lose the desire to have sex with the men in their lives.

My thoughts: I was laughing out loud from the very first pages of this novel. Wolitzer manages to make the reader laugh without actually making fun of her characters. In her description of the Langs, the happily married couple who both teach at Stellar Plains, she says "even their pop quizzes were humane." The Langs continued to delight, as Wolitzer revealed the two chose the last name Lang:
"They were casting off their old families, their old lives; why not cast off their names, too? 'Lang' was de…

2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

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Congratulations, Jennifer Egan!
I have been eagerly awaiting the announcement of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for months (and yes, rooting for Jennifer Egan's fantastic novel, A Visit From the Goon Squad, to win.) I'm thrilled it did! It was the odds on favorite in most circles, as the Pulitzer judges have awarded originality in form frequently over the past few years. In terms of personal satisfaction, it's a fantastic feeling to have read the Pulitzer winner already and named the winner to my Best of 2010 List. Plus, winning the Pulitzer makes up for Egan's omission from the Orange Prize shortlist (you can't win them all).

Winner: A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (Kindle version) Finalists:  The Privileges by Jonathan Dee (Kindle version) The Surrendered by Chang-rae Lee (Kindle version)
I'll be reading the finalists soon. As always, you can track my progress and find links to all of my Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner reviews on my Pulitzer p…

Sunday Salon: New books or old books?

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Happy Sunday, everyone! It's the wonderful time of year in upstate New York when it's sunny and spring-like during the day and still crisp and wintery at night. For me, it's the best of both worlds. I can spend time outside reading during the day and still snuggle in at night. I've had a hectic few months, but our new apartment is getting more put together each day, which gives me (thankfully) more time to read. Mr. Nomadreader and I are off to meet a friend for brunch on the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark's fantastic patio, which is even better now that we live close enough to walk. After brunch I'm looking forward to an afternoon and evening full of relaxation and reading. I'm currently devouring Sara Gran's quirky, dark, and beautifully written forthcoming mystery Claire DeWitt and the City of the Dead, which is set in post-Katrina New Orleans. I'm also hoping to start The Twisted Thread by Charlotte Bacon today.

New or Old?
My Waiting on Wednesda…