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ANOTHER BROOKLYN: A Young Adult Novel ~Jacqueline Woodson

Monday, August 29th, 2016

August is a young adult now with a PhD. in Anthropology who encounters a friend from the 1970s and it brings back memories of the friendships she had growing up in Brooklyn and how important Sylvia, Gigi, and Angela were to her life and the streets of their neighborhood.   It is here that we enter an almost dream sequence of events, which enable strength and survival though all the times of growing; creating a very special read.

“Jacqueline Woodson is the bestselling author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle graders, and children, including the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling memoir BROWN GIRL DRAMING, which won the 2014 National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor Award, an NAACP Image Award, and the Sibert Honor Award.  Woodson was recently named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.  She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.” (Cover)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and could not put it down.  It just seemed to present so many discussion questions that I wanted to share with others.  I mentioned that TLC Book Tours http://tlcbooktours.com/2016/07/jacqueline-woodson-author-of-another-brooklyn-on-tour-august-2016/  had sent me a copy for review to my Children’s Librarian daughter and she said she knew the author well and has used Woodson’s books quite often with her middle school classes and “Yes! All her books include a trauma and are open to great discussions.”   I will share my uncorrected proof copy with her library.

August’s story travels from her beginnings in Tennessee to the adjustment of moving to New York.  From rural tranquil to noisy, dangerous city streets, she finally joined her brave and adventurous girl friends in feeling bold and happy when they were together,to coping with the advances of males.  August did not know for years that her mother back in Tennessee had died and she kept telling her younger brother that their mother was coming soon.  Father and brother got religion and the whole family always had enough food, there was that?

One of the reviews on the cover was by Ann Patchett, another best selling author and I had just finished reading her marvelous STATE OF WONDER, and I thought her description was so fabulous I needed to share:

“Another Brooklyn is a sort of fever dream, containing both the hard truths of life and the gentle beauty of memory.  The story of a young girl trying to find herself in the midst of so many conflicting influences and desires swallowed me whole.  Jacqueline Woodson has such an original vision, such a singular voice.  I loved this book.”

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PRIVATE CITIZENS: A Novel ~Tony Tulathimutte

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

  • An Amazon “Best Book” of Month
  • A Buzzfeed “Most Exciting” Book of 2016
  • A Flavorwire “Most Anticipated” Book 2016

I was so lucky to be sent PRIVATE CITIZENS for review for TLC BOOK TOURS.  We started off by getting the tour dates mixed up and this book arrived before May.  This was okay and we rallied around to find a new spot for it.

Here’s what it said on the book cover:
“ From a brilliant new literary talent comes a sweeping comic portrait of privilege, ambition, and friendship in millennial San Francisco.  With the Social Acuity of Adelle Waldman and the murderous wit of Martin Amis, Tony Tulathimutte’s PRIVATE CITIZENS is a brainy, irreverent debut “ – This Side of Paradise for a new era.

“Private Citizens is a freak of literature – a novel so authentic, hilarious, elegantly plotted, and heartbreaking that I’d follow it anywhere.  Tony Tulathimutte is a singular intellect with an uncanny 40/20 vision on the world.”  – Jennifer duBois, author of Cartwheel and A Partial History of Lost Causes

Tony Tulathimutte is a very smart fellow
“Tulathimutte has contributed to AGNI, The Three Penny Review, The American reader, Salon, The New Yorker on line, and other publications.  A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and Stanford University, he has received an O. Henry prize, a MacDowell Colony fellowship, and the Michener- Copernicus Society of America Award.  He lives in New York.”

Hilarious, authentic, intelligent were the words that truly captivated me and to learn about the privileged young people who graduated from Stanford University, I was totally ready to read this book.  Four friends reconnecting, yes!  This sounds very good indeed.  I set aside a whole afternoon to start the read.   After 4 hours at it, I realized I had slept 90 minutes of my time away instead of reading.  I am too old to find bowel track humor very funny any more, I could not find humor at all instead I found the style very distracting and the 4 friends pathetic.

On the second session of reading, I engaged a bit with Cory the social activist as she connected with a cultish self-help seminar,  I could identify as my wishes and hopes were not being met early after graduation either and I fell pray to something like this situation.  When I had 75 pages left to read, I jumped to the last chapter and finished PRIVATE CITIZEN’s. I have no idea why one character needed eye surgery.  I did not care.  I felt rather hopeless about recent graduates and a kind of despair sticks with me as I begin reading the next book on the list.

I did not like this book and thought the drug usage, sex, and alcohol consumption were too big a focus for these whiney characters.  Wow not funny, not smart, and I find it sad that PRIVATE CITIZENS is so anticipated and folks are so excited about it – worrisome to me. All that privilege and such weak outcomes.  I am concerned for our future.

Tony Tulathimutte Website
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THE RESTAURANT CRITIC’S WIFE: Good Storytelling ~Elizabeth LaBan

Thursday, January 21st, 2016

“Compulsively readable and richly detailed, a guilt-free treat that will have you devouring every word.” (Cover) JENNIFER WEINER – #1 New York Times bestselling author.

As I started to read THE RESTAURANT CRITIC’S WIFE I thought several times that I was reading a Jennifer Weiner story and truly enjoying this cozy read of an e-book.  When I got to the final scene and moved to acknowledgements I was pleased to discover that Elizabeth LaBan knows Weiner and that they had discussed this book in progress and ideas were shared.  Then I saw the front cover of the book and there was Weiner’s quote, which I agree wholehearted with its assessment.  A delicious read with no weight gain.

Lila is a regular kind of gal, who got pregnant and decided to get married to her fellow – a journalist who loves to cook and enjoy food.  They start out life together in New Orleans and Lila is a travelling staff member of a large hotel chain who does crisis intervention.  Sam, the journalist gets a new job as the food critic for the newspaper in Philadelphia and because Lila is expecting child #2 they decide she will not work as they transition into a new community, job, and arrival of a new baby.  Lila loves her children but is feeling troubled being out of the workforce and by needing to stay invisible to keep her spouse’s identify a secret from restaurants he will be reviewing.  This is very hard because Lila’s friend from school lives nearby and has small children and her husband owns a new restaurant in town.  The neighbors cannot be befriended if they own a restaurant either.  Lila endures loneliness and restlessness until she starts doing some “on the phone” crisis intervention work for her old work situation.  The local gossip columnist gets ahold of her picture and reports on her activities and now the tension begins with full force as the couple works on their relationship, happiness seems elusive and Lila keeps being exposed and Sam’s work is jeopardized.   What is a young mother to do?  How does she find her place in a new city and with a new baby and nurture her children?

The food reviews are a fabulous part of the storytelling and oh my the descriptions of the restaurants and the food they are eating – well yummy, enticing and so funny without all the calories.  It was simply a wonderful read and I curled up with a cuppa and enjoyed page after page.  I was happy she found a babysitter who could help her and she found a true friend along the way.   Cozy enjoyable read.

TLC Book Tours sent me a copy of this book and they have a whole list of folks reviewing this book and sharing it with readers.  No spit up on my shoulder any more, been there – done that, and still a good read and remembering making those career choices; I did not have that much humor in those days!

“Elizabeth LaBan lives in Philadelphia with her restaurant critic husband and two children.  She is also the author of The Tragedy Paper, which has been translated into eleven languages, and The Grandparents Handbook, which has been translated into seven languages.”  (Cover)

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LIFE AND OTHER NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES: A Novel ~Camille Pagán

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

LIFE AND OTHER NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES starts with a double whammy of problems for Libby; we are right at the first paragraphs when the Doctor uses the word malignant and cancer right together and Libby retreats into the Kubler-Ross steps of death defying stages in her mind. If this were not enough Libby goes home to tell her husband, Tom, and he guesses she has “found out” his problem and blurts out that he is GAY never hearing her tough news.  Libby quietly packs a suitcase for her partner and sends him away, she curls up to think about her mother’s death, when she was 9 from cancer; then begins sorting what she will do next.

The story is a full gambit of emotions and we should not leave out humor at all.  Libby is very clever and sarcastic and decides not to treat her cancerous growth and begins planning for her death.  Right away she decides to quit her job and to tell her twin brother Paul and her father about Tom’s reveal not about the cancer.  Libby also wants to do something that will make a difference such as starting a foundation and leaving her money there; after all she has been supporting her husband and purchased their condo while he was in school, getting his degree and a job.  A month long vacation sounds like just the thing to give her space to find acceptance and determine how to proceed.  Puerto Rico becomes her destination, which adds another near death experience or two to her life.

The book is cleverly written and of course, full of communication glitches and bad thinking which actually turn out all right in the end.  There is a great deal of thinking about her mother’s death and how that affected her life and her future decisions.  Because she was deciding not to get treatment, she waited a long time to tell her family but then there are pesky folks on the island and beach, who are antagonistic to her decision.  Throw into the mix a little love story and self-awareness emerges, which opens up new possibilities and lets her know Tom truly is gay.

LIFE AND OTHER NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES was sent to me by TLC Book Tours http://tlcbooktours.com/2015/09/camille-pagan-author-of-life-and-other-near-death-experiences-on-tour-november-2015/ for review and I appreciated the interesting read.  I think you will also.

About the author (from TLC page)

Camille Pagán’s work has appeared in dozens of publications and on websites including Forbes, Glamour, Men’s Health, Parade, O: The Oprah Magazine, Real Simple, WebMD.com, and Women’s Health. She lives in the Midwest with her husband and two children.

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