Thursday, January 27, 2011

4. The Man of My Dreams by Curtis Sittenfeld

I saw The Man of My Dreams while browsing at the library. I had previously read books by Curtis Sittenfeld and enjoyed them, and this one looked like something that I would enjoy. It was a short read and one that I liked and I give it a B.

From Amazon:
Hannah Gavener is fourteen in the summer of 1991. In the magazines she reads, celebrities plan elaborate weddings; in Hannah’s own life, her parents’ marriage is crumbling. And somewhere in between these two extremes–just maybe–lie the answers to love’s most bewildering questions. But over the next decade and a half, as she moves from Philadelphia to Boston to Albuquerque, Hannah finds that the questions become more rather than less complicated: At what point can you no longer blame your adult failures on your messed-up childhood? Is settling for someone who’s not your soul mate an act of maturity or an admission of defeat? And if you move to another state for a guy who might not love you back, are you being plucky–or just pathetic?None of the relationships in Hannah’s life are without complications. There’s her father, whose stubbornness Hannah realizes she’s unfortunately inherited; her gorgeous cousin, Fig, whose misbehavior alternately intrigues and irritates Hannah; Henry, whom Hannah first falls for in college, while he’s dating Fig; and the boyfriends who love her more or less than she deserves, who adore her or break her heart. By the time she’s in her late twenties, Hannah has finally figured out what she wants most–but she doesn’t yet know whether she’ll find the courage to go after it.

I think that each woman who reads this story can find a bit of herself in it. While Hannah isn't the most likeable person, she is an honest character and one you can relate to. I have to admit that there were times that I really didn't like her, but there were also times that I felt so bad for her. The story was a bit "clunky" at times, where there was just a big info drop, but I kept reading. The ending was also a bit of an info dump, written in letter form, so while it wasn't the best written book in the world, it was an enjoyable one to escape with for awhile. While some might say this was chick lit, I would classify it more as women's fiction

3. Eye Contact by Cammie McGovern

I enjoyed another book by Ms. McGovern and the subject of this book really grabbed at me. I enjoyed it, and while it took me longer than I like because of how busy I've been, it was great. I give it an A-.

From Amazon:
Like The Lovely Bones and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Cammie McGovern’s breakout novel is at once a hypnotic thriller and an affecting portrait of people as real as our next-door neighbors. In Eye Contact, two children vanish in the woods behind their elementary school. Hours later, nine-year-old Adam is found alive, the sole witness to his playmate’s murder. But because Adam has autism, he is a silent witness. Only his mother, Cara, can help decode his behavior for the police. As the suspense ratchets, Eye Contact becomes a heart-stopping exploration of the bond between a mother and a very special child.

I loved the characters in this book and how Adam is autistic. Since subbing, I have had a lot of experience and one on one contact with autistic children, I have to admit that I am enthralled by seeing what great strides they can make. Seeing how something as traumatic as losing your friend to murder and seeing it happen, but then throwing in the mix that he is autistic makes for a great suspense read. I look forward to reading more of Ms. McGovern in the future.

Monday, January 10, 2011

2. The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas

I found The Slap by browsing my library's new release shelves. The cover and the title drew my attention, but after discovering that it takes place in Australia, I have to admit to almost putting it back. I am glad I didn't because I really came to enjoy it. I give it an A-.

From Amazon:
Winner of the 2009 Commonwealth Writers' Prize, Christos Tsiolkas's The Slap is a riveting page-turner and a powerful, haunting rumination on contemporary middle-class family life. When a man slaps a child who is not his own at a neighborhood barbecue, the act triggers a series of repercussions in the lives of the people who witness the event-causing them to reassess their values, expectations, and desires. For readers of Jonathan Franzen and Tom Perrotta, this is a compelling account of modern society and the way we live today.

I thought the book addressed a lot of questions like what are people to do when a child isn't being disciplined by they parents when there is clearly a need and who do we stand by between an argument between family and friends. I loved the way the story was told through 8 different people who were at the barbecue and getting to see how they feel about all of the events. I was somewhat shocked at some of the descriptions of drug use and felt that they probably could have been left out of the story, but all in all it was very engaging. For a dirty, raw look at the suburbs (or at least those in Australia) I would check out The Slap. I am glad I broke my kinda rule about not reading foreign books!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

1. The Grift by Debra Ginsberg

I really enjoyed other books by Ms. Ginsberg, so even though this subject was different from what I usually read, I decided to give it a chance. I am so glad I did! I really enjoyed The Grift and give it an A-.

From Amazon:
What happens when a pseudo psychic suddenly gets the real gift?Marina Marks has been on the grift as a psychic since she was a child, forced into the business by a junkie mother who was always desperate for her next fix—and willing to use her solemn dark-haired daughter to peddle an extra buck. As an adult, Marina has earned a handsome living preying on the dreams and fears of her clients. She doesn’t believe there is such a thing as psychic ability, but she does believe in intuition. Her gift is the ability to gain the trust of her clients and subtly raise her fees as they become more attached to her and her readings.But when Marina moves her “intuitive counseling” business out of muggy, cloying Florida to the milder environs of southern California, her past follows her. As she takes on new clients—a trophy wife desperate to bear a child, a gay man involved with a closeted psychiatrist, and a philandering businessman who’s smitten with her—a former client resurfaces in an eerie way. Suddenly, Marina is in love for the first time, but it is a romance whose roots lie deep in her past and threaten her efforts to reinvent herself.As Marina’s life gets more and more entangled with those of her clients, she makes a startling discovery: she suddenly has the actual ability to see the future. After predicting a murder exactly as it happens, she becomes the sole suspect. Now she’s the desperate one—desperate to clear her name and to discover the meaning behind her visions.

While I normally shy away from paranormal books, I loved the aspect of a psychic who knows she is a fraud but then becomes a real psychic. There was a good mystery included in the story and a lot of red herrings. I was able to figure out who the bad guy was, but not before I made some incorrect guesses. I really hope Ms. Ginsberg continues to write books.