Showing posts from July, 2015

book review: Fear the Darkness by Becky Masterman

The backstory: Fear the Darkness is the second mystery featuring former FBI agent Brigid Quinn. I loved the first one, Rage Against the Dying.

The basics: When Brigid's sister-in-law dies, she agrees to let her seventeen-year-old daughter Gemma-Kate move from Florida and live with her (and her husband Carlo.) Around the same time, she agrees to investigate the somewhat suspicious drowning death of a fourteen-year-old boy. Also, things start seeming off with Brigid's own mind and body.

My thoughts: There are essentially three mysteries at the center of Fear the Darkness. First: what is wrong with Brigid? Second: was Joe's death in the pool an accident, a suicide or a homicide? Third: is Gemma-Kate a psychopath. All of these storylines are interesting at times, but none of them seem to move along particularly quickly. The only running theme is that things are perhaps not quite what they seem, but is anything actually happening?

It's clear to the reader that Brigid is being…

The 2015 Booker Dozen: A U.S. Reader's Guide

When last year's Booker Prize longlist was announced, I was very, very pregnant. As excited as I was for the first year the Prize was open globally, I was mostly thinking, "am I going to have a baby today?!" I did not have one for many more days. But this year, I found myself getting really excited. I didn't even pretend to predict which titles would make it, as the Prize is so wide open now, and the longlist relatively short at 12-13, it seemed fruitless. Instead, I found myself hoping for books I've loved to make it. I got one wish: The Green Road by Anne Enright. I adored this novel, and I'm thrilled to see that it's longlisted (and that Enright is the only former winner on this year's longlist.) Here it is (covers take you to Amazon, links to my reviews.)
The Ones I've Already Read
The Green Road by Anne Enright (4.5 stars) A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler (4 stars)
The Ones Available in the U.S. Now

A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon…

audiobook review: How to Start a Fire by Lisa Lutz

narrated by Tavia Gilbert

The basics: Told in a non-chronological narrative, How to Start a Fire is the story of friendship of Kate, Anna, and Georgiana. It stretches from their college days at UC-Santa Cruz in the early 1990's to 2015.

My thoughts: At first I feared a non-chronological (and largely non-linear) narrative would be a challenge to listen to on audio. A quick glance at the table of contents gave me pause, but I'm so glad I opted for this one on audio. Tavia Gilbert gave each character a distinctive voice. At times I forgot there was only one narrator, as she excelled at this cast of voices. As I often listen to audios in short spurts while driving, I didn't always remember exactly what year and city I left off, but I was able to immediately get back into the story. The longer I listened, the more I learned about the timelines and geographies of the three friends, and I was able to fix the larger stories of their life quite well.

How to Start a Fire excels in two …

book review: Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari

The basics: Modern Romance is a hilarious and informative book about modern romance. It's part comedy, part sociology and part memoir that discovers what and how we love, date, have sex, and marry today.

My thoughts: I did not watch The Office, so I did not discover my love for Aziz Ansari until his Netflix stand-up special, which I thought was hilarious, and I enjoy stand-up less than the average person. So when I heard the premise of this book was a take on one of the funnier bits from that stand-up routine, I jumped at the chance to read it.

Modern Romance isn't what I expected. It is not a typical celebrity comedian memoir, but there are still fascinating (and hilarious) insights into Ansari's life. He frankly discusses his own love life and pontificates on his happily married parents, who have an arranged marriage.

Mr. Nomadreader and I have been together almost ten years, so I have never dated in the age of Tinder. I didn't even have Facebook when we started dating…

book review: Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

The backstory: When the publication of Go Set a Watchman was announced, I finally read To Kill a Mockingbird, which I didn't love, but I still hoped to enjoy Go Set a Watchman more, and I did.

The basics: Jean Louise Finch returns to Maycomb from New York City for her annual two-week visit.

My thoughts: Going into Go Set a Watchman, I admit I was reading it in multiple ways. I was reading it as though it were a sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, which it sort of is. I was also reading it as a first draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, which it also sort of it. But both of these readings exist with To Kill a Mockingbird as a known book. Much as I tried to identify what it would be like to read this novel without having read that book, I couldn't. While I both enjoyed Go Set a Watchman more and think it's a better book, I'm not sure it would stand on its own as well as it stands next to To Kill a Mockingbird.

My issues with To Kill a Mockingbird were pretty straight-forward: Scou…

And then....

About six weeks ago I posted about my unintentional absence from blogging and reading. I blamed (in a not-angry-at-way) Hawthorne, who had just learned to crawl. Then I had one of those hilarious parent-brain moments when I took the time to actually say out loud to Mr. Nomadreader: "I wish there were a way to keep him in a rooms." Then we both laughed. Because we live in a 102-year-old house that has doors (often double doors) between every room. So they are now shut, and I have resumed reading while watching him explore and amuse himself. He crawls over (or walks along the couch) to say hello to me every 10-15 minutes, or to show me some awesome thing he's playing with, so I've been reading a lot of things that don't require intense concentration (I miss you, literary fiction!) But the second I open the computer to try to blog about one of those books...he is grabbing it out of my hands or typing with me, which turns my English into gobbledygook. Which is why I …

book review: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

translated from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano

The basics:  "Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles? Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again."--publisher

My thoughts: If you would have told me that a Japanese book on cleaning, written by a cleaning consultant, would be one of the books to have the biggest impact on my thinking, I would have laughed loudly for a long time. I am not saying The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is the best book I've read this year (it's not) or that it has necessarily changed my life (yet), but it did change the way I think, and it's rare for a book to make me rethink and reevaluate so many things in which I believe. Granted, I don't devote much time or energy to cleaning, so this thinking tha…