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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Interestings

I am going to be gone the rest of the week and was looking around trying to find something of interest for a quick post. While reading the New York Times Book Review, I came across the review for Meg Wolitzer's The Interestings written by Liesl Schillinger. Perhaps because I can identify somewhat with the subject matter, this book which is already on the shelf fascinates me. Read some parts of the review below and see if you want to pick it up.

‘The Interestings,’ by Meg Wolitzer

That misanthropic wag H. L. Mencken once wrote that his definition of happiness included “a comfortable feeling of superiority to the masses of one’s fellow men” — something he suggested was more easily achieved in this country than elsewhere. And yet his quest to be exceptional (in which he inarguably succeeded) didn’t appear to make him all that happy, judging from his prodigious, grumbling output. But does the compulsion to excel make anybody happy? Or is it, rather, a prescription for disappointment in oneself and in the “circumscribed world”?
That’s the question that comes to preoccupy Jules Jacobson, the ambitious protagonist of Meg Wolitzer’s remarkable ninth novel, “The Interestings,” whose inclusive vision and generous sweep place it among the ranks of books like Jonathan Franzen’s “Freedom” and Jeffrey Eugenides’s “Marriage Plot.” “The Interestings” is warm, all-American and acutely perceptive about the feelings and motivations of its characters, male and female, young and old, gay and straight; but it’s also stealthily, unassumingly and undeniably a novel of ideas. Wolitzer has been writing excellent fiction for 30 years, and it has always been this astute. From the start, her subject has been the practical, emotional and sexual fallout of women’s liberation, particularly as it affects mothers and children. But here she has written a novel that speaks as directly to men as to women. With this book, she has surpassed herself. Just don’t call her exceptional.
Wolitzer’s heroines are typically daughters of the American sexual revolution who, like the author, were conceived around the same time as the birth control pill and who approached adolescence at a cultural moment that forced them to reckon not only with their own growing pains but with those of their mothers, who returned flush-cheeked from consciousness-raising groups to exhort their daughters: “You girls will be able to do just about anything you want.” Watching their mothers set about fulfilling their long-deferred dreams, these daughters didn’t necessarily rejoice in such parental empowerment, as Wolitzer observed in her 1988 novel, “This Is Your Life.” There the daughters sulked when their mother’s success kept her far from the home front. “My girls,” she implores them, “have I really hurt you so much? Don’t you know that I only try to do what I can?”
In “The Interestings,” Jules Jacobson poses a broader question, asking herself what the boys (now men) and girls (now women) she has lionized since her teens, and emulated throughout her adult life, have lost through their persistent, rarely rewarded efforts to opt in. She wonders, in short, if all of them, male and female, have inaccurately defined success, believing they would only fit in once they stood out, would only matter if they were extraordinary. It’s Jules’s husband, Dennis, a man unafraid to call himself ordinary, who brings her to this realization. “Specialness — everyone wants it,” he tells her in frustration, fed up with her invidious comparisons to her childhood pals. “Most people aren’t talented. So what are they supposed to do — kill themselves?” Dennis’s heartfelt, exasperated cry snaps Jules out of the millstone mind-set she’s clung to for so long. Belatedly, she understands that she badly needs a new attitude........

Wolitzer's work describes how Jules developed this need to strive for more and how she convinces herself that happiness is not getting what you want, it is wanting what you get.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

It's Never Too Early for Beach Books

As the weather gets hotter, we all need some ‘beach read’ titles to take with us on vacation. I am going to prepare you for those days on the beach by mentioning some of this summer’s ‘hot’ titles.
Let’s face it, everyone is going to be reading Dan Brown’s new book, Inferno. It comes out in May – just in time to take to the beach with you. Talk about ‘hot’ books – one of the things I’ve read about it says that it’s sale date – 5/14/13 was chosen because it is the reverse of ‘pi’ 3.1415.   Wonder what else he has hidden in there?
Another book that seems to be meant for beach reading is Island Girls by Nancy Thayer. This comes out on June 18th. On the death of their father three stepsisters learn they must spend the summer at the family beach home on Nantucket before they can sell the home and split the money. This novel is more about family in all it's forms and relationships between the family members but it begs for a beach on which to read it.
Mary Kay Andrews comes out with Ladies Night on June 4th. This one takes place ultimately in a fictional place near Bradenton Florida. After a particularly spectacular outburst when she finds her husband has been cheating, Grace is forced to move in with her mother and help her to run a small beach bar called The Sand Pit. Can't you picture yourself on the beach with this one? Sink your feet in the sand and get ready to be entertained.
Barbara Delinsky gives us Sweet Salt Air which comes out on June 18th. Two friends have been estranged for 10 years but come back together on a small island off the coast of Maine for a summer to work on a cookbook project. If you like Delinsky, you kind of know what to expect. There are secrets in their past and basically, one of them has to decide what is more important - friendship or truth. Another warm, vacation story.
OK folks - how many of you know that Janet Evanovich is starting a new series???? She actually is writing it with Lee Goldberg, the script writer who came up with the idea for Monk. The idea behind it is interesting and you can kind of see why it might have appeal for Evanovich. The Heist comes out on June 18th. It features a disciplined female FBI agent who always gets her mane and a handsome con artist who maneuvers the FBI into offering him a job. Ought to be a quick read and just what you need on vacation.
Lastly, James Patterson is coming out with the 2nd in his Honeymoon series, Second Honeymoon, on June 24th. Someone is picking off honeymoon couples. No one knows who is next. FBI Agent John O'Hara and Special Agent Sarah Brubaker are on the case. Patterson's titles are always quick beach reads.
I hope you can envision yourself spending some times with one of these. Get your name on the lists!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

July Titles That Are Interesting For Different Reasons

There are lots of books coming out in July. Sometimes, there is something in the title or brief summary that catches the eye and makes you pick it up. These are all which attracted my attention for various reasons. See if any of them attract your's.

On July 2nd, Matt Haig comes out with The Humans. Haig is a British author who has also dabbled in screen writing; journalism and children's works. He has been nominated for many awards and won quite a fiew for his efforts. This title is really a blending of genres and sounds like it will be funny and warm. A Cambridge professor and mathematician solves the world's greatest mathmatical riddle and an alien from a wiser planet takes over his body to remove all evidence of the world changing result. The alien is disgusted by the world and humans in general until wine, Emily Dickinson and family life start to win him over and he finds his mission difficult to complete. I'm excited about this one. It sound like my type of book.

Here is one that should appeal to those who loved Gone Girl. High suspense!!! Sophie McKenzie is another British author who up to this point, has written for teens. Close My Eyes, out on July 9th, is her first adult psychological suspense novel. Gen had never gotten over the loss of her baby from 8 years ago. It would have been a stillborn, Dr. Rodriguez had informed her. Even after many attempts at invitro, she had failed to conceive again. Her husband was engrossed with his work; her depression was worsening, and a therapist had not been of any help. Then a strange woman appeared at her door one day, telling her her baby was ALIVE. Dr. Rodriguez had taken the live baby - and her husband KNEW! Now Rodriguez is nowhere to be found. Of course her husband denies the whole thing.....and people start turning up dead. Sounds like it would be hard to put down, doesn't it?

Finally, here is one by Stephanie Evanovich, a former actress/comedienne. Big Girl Panties comes out on July 9th. This really is a chick lit book in the way of Bridget Jone's Diary. Holly Brennan has been putting on some weight after the illness and death of her husband when she finds herself on a plane, sitted next to Logan, the personal trainer to the stars. Logan finds her intriguing and offers to help her get back into shape. She takes him up on his offer and they develop a 'relationship'. But really, after this ....what come's next? If you like this type of humorous women's story, give it a try.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Other July Titles

Now for some July titles you might not know about. There are several authors that I have followed for awhile who are coming out with books this month and maybe, just maybe, this time it will be the one that sends one of them up the charts. There is also a debut author with a really interesting premise.
Jeff Abbott – Frequently mystery authors start by being published in a  mass market paperback format.  I don’t know how many of you know it, but that is how Harlan Coben started with his Myron Bolitar series. Well Jeff Abbott started that way too but his publisher convinced him to change his direction. In 1994, his debut mystery featured Jordan Poteet – a big city publisher who returns to his small Texas hometown to become the town’s librarian. I loved this series which was funny and really more of a cozy that anything. He wrote 4 books in the Poteet series. I loved them all but his publisher decided he needed to move out of the cozy field if he wanted a bigger audience. So, he did. Now he is published in hardcover and his current series features Sam Capra – a former CIA agent. The  third novel in this series, Downfall, comes out July 16, 2013. In Downfall, Ex-CIA agent Sam Capra is back. When a beautiful woman whispers “help me” to him in his San Francisco bar, Sam suddenly finds himself fighting to save both her life and his own. Pursued by both the police and by a secret network of phenomenally successful men and women who owe their wealth and power to a mysterious Faustian deal, Sam must bring down the most dangerous enemy of them all: a man who owns the people who run the world.
Sophie Hannah – Hannah is a British author who in 2008 published ‘Little Faces’ in the United States. She writes psychological suspense and the premise of this debut novel is – well, terrifying. Her series features Detective Simon Waterhouse and Sgt. Charlie Zailer. On August 6th, the seventh in the series, Kind of Cruel, arrives.  Amber Hewerdine suffers from chronic insomnia. As a last resort, she visits a hypnotherapist, doubtful that anything will really change. Under hypnosis, Amber hears herself saying, “Kind, cruel, kind of cruel.” The words awaken a vague memory, but she dismisses the whole episode as nonsense. Two hours later, however, Amber is arrested for the brutal murder of a woman she’s never heard of, and the only way she can clear her name is by remembering exactly where she’s seen those words.
Meg Gardiner – interesting biography. Meg was born and raised in California. She attended Stanford University for her undergraduate degree and also graduated from Stanford Law school. Yes, another lawyer who has turned to writing. She also, like Coben, started writing in paperback format. She now lives outside of London so you can see if you think her books have a British flavor. Meg also writes a blog – not often but occasionally – that has the wonderful title of ‘Lying for a Living’. Isn’t that a great title? Anyway, she writes 2 different series but her new title, The Shadow Tracer, is a stand alone and comes out June 27th. OK – it’s not a July book but by the time you pick it up at the library, it might be July. Sarah Keller is a single mother to five-year-old Zoe, living quietly in Oklahoma. She’s also a skip tracer, an expert in tracking people who’ve gone on the lam to avoid arrest, prosecution, or debt. When a school bus accident sends Zoe to the ER, their quiet life explodes. Zoe’s medical tests reveal what Sarah has been hiding: Zoe is not her daughter. Zoe’s biological mother—Sarah’s sister, Beth—was murdered shortly after the child’s birth. And Zoe’s father is missing and presumed dead. With no way to prove her innocence, Sarah must abandon her carefully constructed life and go on the run. Chased by cops, federal agents, and the group responsible for Beth’s murder, Sarah embarks on a desperate journey.
Now for the debut novelist – Stephen Kiernan is an award winning journalist. He has done many, many things but this is his first attempt at a novel. And in this case, before it is even published and in fact, before a publishing deal was even signed, 20th Century Fox purchased the film rights. Interesting, huh? His prior nonfiction titles are “Authentic Patriotism” which tells the story of 60 people in order to inspire volunteerism and getting involved; and “Last Rights: Rescuing the End of Life from the Medical System” which explores how to die with dignity. Sounds like a reach for a novelist, right? Well, on July 9th, Kiernan brings us The Curiosity. A team of scientists uncover a man frozen deep in the arctic ice. The head of the project orders Dr. Kate Philo to attempt to revive him. Needless to say, she is successful at least temporarily and her patient only remembers falling overboard in 1906. Meanwhile, the head of the project has plans for exploiting the event.