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Showing posts from August, 2016

book review: All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

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The backstory: I saw Wendy Walker speak at ALA in June. I started All Is Not Forgotten the morning I heard her speak, as I figured it would be a good book to read during a conference--something that would keep my attention, but that I could put down while I was busy attending programs and events. I was right on one of those.

The basics:  "It begins in the small, affluent town of Fairview, Connecticut, where everything seems picture perfect. Until one night when young Jenny Kramer is attacked at a local party. In the hours immediately after, she is given a controversial drug to medically erase her memory of the violent assault. But, in the weeks and months that follow, as she heals from her physical wounds, and with no factual recall of the attack, Jenny struggles with her raging emotional memory. Her father, Tom, becomes obsessed with his inability to find her attacker and seek justice while her mother, Charlotte, struggles to pretend this horrific event did not touch her carefull…

book review: Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

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The basics:  "Twenty-two, and knowing no one, Tess leaves home to begin her adult life in New York City. Thus begins a year that is both enchanting and punishing, in a low-level job at “the best restaurant in New York City.” Grueling hours and a steep culinary learning curve awaken her to the beauty of oysters, the finest Champagnes, the appellations of Burgundy. At the same time, she opens herself to friendships—and love—set against the backdrop of dive bars and late nights."--publisher

My thoughts: I am not often a reader who makes much of first lines. I don't know if that's a trait unique to me, or a result that the first lines of books I read aren't remarkably good or bad. But when I started Sweetbitter, I read the first paragraph, put the book down, added it to my favorite passages, and texted it to Mr. Nomadreader:
"You will develop a palate.  A palate is a spot on your tongue where you remember. Where you assign words to the textures of taste. Eating …

book review: Another Brooklyn by Jacqueline Woodson

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The backstory: I've adored Jacqueline Woodson's books for kids and young adults for many years, and when I heard she had a novel for adults coming out this summer, I squealed.

Seeing Jacqueline Woodson speak at ALA in June was one of the highlights of the conference for me (picture below.) She spoke at the same time as John Lewis, and I debated which one to go see. I chose Woodson because I haven't seen her speak before. I was lucky enough to have John Lewis as my Congressional Representative for many years, and I (not foolishly I hope) expect I'll have other chances to hear him speak again.

The basics: Another Brooklyn is the story of August and her memories of growing up in Brooklyn in the 1970's and 1980's.

My thoughts: Another Brooklyn captivated me from the first page. There is a sparseness to Woodson's prose in this novel that is poetic. I savored this book and hung on every single word. It's easy to do, as much of the novel is told in vignettes, wh…

book review: Killer Look by Linda Fairstein

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The backstory: Killer Look is the eighteenth mystery in Linda Fairstein's Alexandra Cooper series. I've read them all and reviewed a lot them.

The basics: Each Alexandra Cooper novel offers some piece of New York to serve as a backdrop. In Killer Look, it's New York Fashion Week. The hook is the apparent suicide (and possible murder) of a very high profile fashion designer.

My thoughts: Fairstein has been ending the most recent novels with wonderful (or terrible, given we have to wait a year for the next installment!) cliffhangers, andas with novels past, Killer Look opens very soon after the events of the last novel, Devil's Bridge. Alex is not yet back at work, which is a big difference from the rest of the series. Naturally, she still finds a way to help Mike and Mercer with this case.

I won't say I necessarily missed the courtroom element of this case, but I did miss seeing Alex in her element. Given the events of the last book (vague spoilers), she has a lot to …

audiobook review: Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson

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narrated by Tavia Gilbert

The backstory: Girl Through Glass is on the 2016 First Novel Prize longlist.

The basics: Told in alternating chapters, Girl Through Glass is the story of a young girl's coming of age at the highest levels of New York City ballet in the late 1970's, and where she is now, a dance history professor somewhere in Ohio. While it appears to be a simple narrative at first, it soon becomes clear there are many mysteries between the 1970's and today for the reader to discover.

My thoughts: Over the years I find myself less drawn to traditional coming of age stories, so I was excited to see this one offered two timelines, a narrative technique I enjoy. As is often the case with such a structure, I find myself trying to fit the pieces together as I read. The biggest challenge of dual narratives are what to revela when, and while I took issue with a few of Wilson's choices as I read, I admit I can't come up with a better way to tell this story.

As I read,…

book review; The Sellout by Paul Beatty

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The backstory: The Sellout won the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award and has been longlisted for the 2016  Booker Prize. It was also a 2015 New York Times Notable Book (including being honored as one of the five best fiction titles of the year) and a contestant in the 2016 Tournament of Books.

The basics:  "A biting satire about a young man's isolated upbringing and the race trial that sends him to the Supreme Court, Paul Beatty's The Sellout showcases a comic genius at the top of his game. It challenges the sacred tenets of the United States Constitution, urban life, the civil rights movement, the father-son relationship, and the holy grail of racial equality—the black Chinese restaurant."--publisher

My thoughts: The first ten percent or so of this book had me thinking, "this may be the most provocative and brilliant thing I've ever read." I should remind myself when I get that excited about a book that early, it's nearly impossible to sustain.…