Category Archives: Fiction

The Keeper of Lost Things (mini-review)

Finished The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. I received a copy for review. 

Anthony has been collecting lost objects in the hope of eventually reuniting them with their owners. It’s a compulsion after he lost something precious: his fiancee’s St. Theresa medal–which he lost on the day she died. It becomes his way to atone. 

This novel is definitely more character-driven than plot-driven. As a result, it took me some time to really get into the story. Once I did, though, I was completely in love. 

These characters are all delightful. Be patient, but if you are, you will adore this story. 

On Turpentine Lane

Finished On Turpentine Lane by Elinor Lipman. I received a copy for review. 

Faith’s life is going along fine. She has an easy job that she likes, even if it’s not intellectually stimulating. She has a fiance, even if he’s walking across the country–with enough time to pose for pictures with pretty women but not enough time to call her back. And she has a new house that she loves, even if it may have been the site of a murder. Or two. Certainly no more than three. It’s all murky. 

I adore this book. It’s so clever and fun and Faith is my new imaginary best friend. She’s sort of like an American Bridget Jones, if Bridget had more self-confidence and much less insecurity. 

I think this is my first Elinor Lipman and now I need to find her backlist. 

Recommended. 

Sister, Sister

Finished Sister, Sister by Sue Fortin. 

Clare and her mom have missed her little sister Alice ever since her dad kidnapped her and took her to America. It was supposed to be a quick visit; they never came home. They tried to find Alice, but to no avail. Now, decades later, Alice contacts them. Their dad is dead but he had changed their last name. It’s a great reunion at first…but then Clare has doubts. Alice seems a little–off, we’ll say. But Alice just accuses Clare of being jealous at sharing their mom’s attention. So who’s telling the truth?

This book is INSANE in the best way. I couldn’t stop reading and I kept trying to call the twists (I got most of them, but not all of them). 

That’s actually my one complaint: there are four major, MAJOR twists and that’s at least two too many. Even so, this book is super fun and if you need an escape, check it out. 

A Separation

Finished A Separation by Katie Kitamura. I received a copy for review. 

A young woman and her older husband have separated. No one else knows (well, except for the man she is now seeing). When her mother-in-law calls to see why Christopher hasn’t returned her calls and why is he in Greece anyway, she decides to go and tell him she wants a divorce. And then he turns up missing there, too. 

This was compared to Gone Girl, and that is incredibly inaccurate. (Yes, there’s a missing person but there’s also a level of suspense. I was not at all captivated by this as I was Gone Girl. On the plus side, the characters are all much nicer, so if you need that, definitely opt for this. Unless you also need resolution. There are a lot of unanswered questions here (which I like; it seemed very realistic). 

A Separation is very well-written but it left me cold. 

The Lost Woman

Finished The Lost Woman by Sara Blaedel. I received a copy for review. 

This mystery has a ton going on but the non-spoiler version is that people are turning up dead and one of the victims was already sort of presumed dead (she was reported as a missing person years before). There isn’t a connection (until, of course, there is) and that connection is shocking and also perfectly feasible. 

Most mysteries may not be good for book club choices (what can you discuss, really? Motives? And I am not slamming mysteries; I think they’re wonderful) but this one would be. There are a lot of things to talk about with this one, though. 

Of course though, any long-term series hinges on its leads. That is probably the real secret to Sara Blaedel’s success. I’m not sure there are many better leads than Louise Rick.

Highly recommended. 

The Mothers

Finished The Mothers by Brit Bennett. I received a copy for review. 

This is a really hard book to describe and still do it justice. Luke (a pastor’s son) and Nadia (a really smart girl who is grieving and uses sex as an escape) accidentally get pregnant. Nadia has goals for her life and motherhood is not one of them. She decides to get an abortion and that decision reverberates for years. 

My favorite thing about this is the fact that the narrators are the older women from the church and that is just as fabulous as you’d expect. 

My second favorite: the abortion is dealt with seriously and it is both absolutely the right decision and a hard one that they still grapple with. (My third favorite: Nadia doesn’t kill herself because of it or hate herself forever.)

This is such a clever book and it’s so hard to imagine it’s a debut. I am so excited to see what her future books will be like and my expectations are high. 

Recommended. 

All Our Wrong Todays

Finished All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai. I received a copy for review. 

Tom is from an alternate reality. We were supposed to have a great world by now: time travel, flying cars, better everything. And then he ruined it and we got the present we DO have. (Thanks, Tom.)

There’s a lot going on in this novel, but most of it centers around love. Not just LOVE-love, but familial love and lowercase-l love and…well, all the kinds of love. And there’s the eternal question: do a handful of people matter more than billions? The global good is fine and all, but what if it meant you’d lose your whole family for an ideal future that maybe isn’t looking as great without them? (Hypothetically speaking, of course.)

This novel is fun and sweet but it’s also clever. It’ll probably be one of the best choices you make this year. Recommended. 

The Impossible Fortress

Finished The Impossible Fortress by Jason Rekulak. I received a copy for review. 

All Will wants to do is create computer games. It’s 1987 and no one thinks he can do it. But he’s made a really good game (The Impossible Fortress) except that there’s a major lag in one part. He has no idea how to fix it…and then he meets Mary. She’s the only person he’s ever met who loves computers the way he does (and she’s also awesome in general). There’s a lot more going on (centering around Vanna White’s issue of Playboy) but that’s the highlight. 

The easiest way to describe this is Stand By Me meets Ready Player One. And if you love either of those, The Impossible Fortress will delight you like nobody’s business. I love Will and Mary so much, but I loved all the characters. This is the kind of book that I really want to see made into a movie (primarily because I want to spend more time with the characters–a sequel would be great, too).

I love things set in the 1980s and this is no exception. Highly recommended. 

Graphic Novel Roundup #1

For the 24 in 48 readathon, I read a bunch of graphic novels (including the Alison Bechdel ones I recently reviewed). I’m a really recent convert to this genre, and I’m glad I had help picking these. :)

I read Marbles by Ellen Forney, Stitches by David Small, Becoming Unbecoming by Una and Ghost World by David Clowes. 

The first three are all nonfiction. I think so far this aspect (nonfiction graphic novels) are working for me the best because the illustrations add a lot. (I’m not describing it well, I know, but I have read seven books in 24 hours so my brain is mush.)

Of these four, my favorite is Becoming Unbecoming, which juxtaposes a serial killer who murders prostitutes (The Yorkshire Ripper) with the author’s sexual abuse. If you’re not sure what rape culture is, that’s a great place to start. 

Marbles is about the link between artists and mental illness. Ellen Forney was diagnosed bipolar and she has an incredibly hard time initially because she’s an artist and what if medication ruins that? This graphic novel really worked because I think it’s easier to understane mania if you can see it. 

Stitches is another messed-up childhood story. That sounds dismissive but I don’t mean it to. David Small’s family seems absolutely horrible and abusive but by the end, I found some sympathy for them. (A testament to him, because I didn’t want to at all.)

Ghost World was probably my least favorite but I still enjoyed it. It’s also the most famous (maybe) especially to non-fans because of the movie. 
My next batch is the inverse: three works of fiction and one of nonfiction, in that order. I didn’t plan that. 

The Young Widower’s Handbook

Finished The Young Widower’s Handbook by Tom McAllister. I received a copy for review. 

Hunter and Kait were only married a few years when she died. He feels incredibly guilty (she died because of an ectopic pregnancy, so he feels responsible) and so he takes her ashes on a road trip. (They’d always planned to travel when they had more money.)

This is such a funny and fantastic story, but it also pretty accurately portrays the grief (especially the weird nature of time when you’re grieving). I laughed out loud plenty of times but I also started to really love Hunter (and Kait who, though absent, is all over this book). 

Highly recommended.