Monday, June 29, 2009

The Likeness

This book is truly awesome. Not that I’m surprised. Tana French’s first book, In The Woods was also awesome. That said, I’m still impressed. Loved every bit of this book.

Description from the back of the book:

Six months after a particularly nasty case, Detective Cassie Maddox has transferred out of Dublin’s Murder squad and has no plans to go back. That is, until an urgent telephone call summons her to a grisly crime scene.

It’s only when she sees the body that Casssie understands the hurry. The victim, a young woman, is Cassie’s double and carries ID identifying herself as Alexandra Madison, an alias Cassie once used on an undercover job. Suddenly, Cassie must discover not only who killed this girl but, more importantly, who is this girl? And as reality and fantasy become desperately tangled, Cassie moves dangerously closer to losing herself forever.

There are great characters that suck you in, the mystery is creepy and fascinating and unlike In The Woods, she does not leave you hanging with unsolved crimes. I'd put it in my top 5 for 2009.

My friend Maggie loaned me this book and told me that it was excellent. Maggie – I hope my love for this book makes up for the fact that I also liked Water for Elephants.

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Friendship Test

Meh. Entertaining but not worthy of much praise. I think this author also wrote Alphabet Weekends, which I liked more. Like I said, this book was definitely entertaining, but the characters were a little one dimensional and the main character bugged me. The story is about 4 best friends who meet in college in the 80s. Then the story flashes forward 15 years to when the girls are in their mid-30s. One of the girls, Freddie is facing a bit of a life crisis and her friends rally to support her. This is a grossly oversimplified plot summary, but it’s really all you need to know. I’m sure it’s more to do with the quality (or lack) of my recent reading material, but I seem to be ramping back up to my old reading pace of 2-3 books per week.

I feel that you should know that when I Googled for the book title on Google Images to find the jacket cover picture, the window auto filled for me "The Friendship Turd". Um, what?

Next up: I had dinner with my friend Maggie tonight and she loaned me The Likeness by Tana French and I'm already hooked.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Three Wishes

Loved it. Don’t get me wrong, this is not the most awesome book you’ll ever read, but it was exactly what I was in the mood for. Three Wishes is by the same author as The Last Anniversary, which I read last month and reviewed here. I thought this book was actually better than The Last Anniversary.

Liane is an Australian author and this book is about Cat, Gemma and Lynn – triplets living in Sydney who are turning 34. The three are very different, and the book follows each of their stories through entertaining times as well as divorce, depression, dating and other issues that don’t start with D. It reminded me a lot of my other favorite Aussie author – Monica McInerney, who wrote Family Baggage, The Faraday Girls and The Alphabet Sisters. It’s definitely a book for women, but despite its semi-lame title and really bad jacket cover, it’s not total fluff so I hesitate to categorize it as plain old chick lit. I thought her descriptions of the emotions and self doubt that come with divorce were particularly poignant and articulate. I also thought she captured the tone of close female friendships pretty well. I don’t have sisters myself, but the loyalty and frustrations the triplets experienced with eachother didn’t seem too far from the way I've felt about my closest girlfriends. So if you’re in the mood for something easy and enjoyable, I recommend Three Wishes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer at Tiffany

Description from Amazon –

At the age of 82, Marjorie Hart, a professional cellist, recalls 1945, when she and her best friend, Marty, students at the University of Iowa, spent the summer in Manhattan, in this pleasant but slight memoir. Failing to obtain work at Lord & Taylor, the pair, self-described as long-limbed, blue-eyed blondes, were hired at Tiffany's—the first female floor sales pages, delivering packages to the repair and shipping department, for $20 a week.

I was mostly sucked in by the Tiffany blue book jacket and the mention on the back of celebrity encounters with the likes of Judy Garland. In the end the book was cute, but not stimulating. The celebrity sightings were just that, it wasn’t like she hung out with Judy Garland, she just saw her shopping for jewelry once. It was a bit like having your Grandma tell you an hour long story about her youth. Interesting, but maybe not as book-worthy as she’d like to hope.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The School of Essential Ingredients

The School of Essential Ingredients is about a cooking school in the Northwest. Lillian owns a small restaurant that once a month on Mondays hosts a cooking class. Each chapter simultaneously tells the story of one of the weekly classes and follows a different student in the class. I loved all the beautiful food descriptions and almost cried with envy while reading about the crab with butter sauce (note to self – must go crabbing this summer), but at the same time the whole book felt a little simplistic to me. It was a little corny and contrived. Or maybe I’m just a bitter Betty?

Here’s the deal – this book describes cooking classes exactly as I’ve always wanted them to be: You go to a quaint restaurant and are taught by a quirky, motherly character as you make fantastic food and new best friends with the other students. Last year Jeff did a great thing for my birthday and enrolled us in a Greek cooking lesson at a fancy local cooking school (in fact, the school is actually thanked in the notes of this book I might add). Greek food is my favorite and I was pumped. But the truth is, pretty much all the other attendees were with some corporate group doing a team building exercise and were obviously NOT pumped. A few of the younger ones even slipped out the back door a few minutes in. The people who stayed were annoying and weird and then we just sort of ate as we went instead of all sitting down to pig out and bond together. Don’t get me wrong, the food was really good and Jeff and I still had fun together, but my point is that this book seemed a little too perfect-perfect. Plus, every single person in the class is profoundly impacted by the cooking class and food and I don’t know, I guess I found it a little rashy. Like the woman that seems to be struggling with mild post-partum depression who is magically repaired by her first taste of crab? Not really buying it.

That said, it only took a day or two to read and if you like reading food blogs (which I do) you’ll probably still enjoy it (which I did) purely for all the beautiful descriptions of food.

PS: Blogger feels that “rashy” is not a real word. I disagree. When something is annoying (like a rash), it’s only right for that thing to be described as rashy.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Fall of Light

This book turned out (disappointingly) to be a little less trashy than I originally anticipated. It was more mystical and less saucy. Still, it’s good if you’re in the mood for an Irish tale full of famine, family and love. The book follows the Foley family in old timey Ireland after their mother disappears into the mist one morning. The father takes his 4 sons on a journey across the country to the ocean and in the process they’re all separated and spend the rest of the book finding and losing each other over the course of their lives. The book travels briefly to Africa, France, Nova Scotia and the US but always returns to Ireland. I keep trying to think of the best word to describe the writing style because I think it’s central to liking or not liking the book. Meandering? Romantic? Old fashioned? Fable-rific? I’m not sure these are right, but maybe close.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married

Well, I decided to stop talking about it and just do it. I reread Lucy Sullivan is Getting Married. I found it on the free bookshelf at work and it seemed that fate was speaking to me. It was definitely enjoyable – why am I such a sucker for romantic endings where men profess their love in a way that real men never do? I don’t know. But I am. The rest of the book sucked a little more than I remembered, but I still enjoyed my reunion with Marian Keyes.

Last night I started Fall of Light by Niall Williams. So far it appears to be an Irish-Pillars-of-the-Earth-meets-Diana-Gabaldon type of book. In other words, historical fiction meets trashy mythical romance. Also known as my cup of tea right now.