My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite was recommended to me by a Grade 8 student! If the title doesn’t grab you, I don’t know what will. And, what a delightful romp it was. Amazon says: “Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her. Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s deliciously deadly debut is as fun as it is frightening.” It was a quick read and fun, though I didn’t feel that the ending was entirely resolved for me. However, I would recommend it.
Sea Wife by Amity Gaige is an absolute delight. I kept thinking it was a memoir, because it felt so real, but it was a wonderful novel. On the surface, it is about a family who abandons their suburban life to spent a year at sea. But, it’s so much more than that. Jennifer Egan writes, “Sea Wife is a gripping tale of survival at sea—but that’s just the beginning. Amity Gaige also manages, before she’s done, to probe the underpinnings of romantic love, marriage, literary ambition, political inclinations in the Trump age, parenthood, and finally, the nature of survival itself in our broken world. Gaige is thrillingly talented, and her novel enchants.” I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed this story and I highly recommend it.
The Last Flight by Julie Clark was a recommendation of Gayle Weiswasser (Everyday I Write the Book). It’s a thriller about two women who need to find new lives. They switch places right before they are supposed to board planes to different destinations. In alternating chapters we learn about both the present experience and the days leading up to the plane trips. It was a heart-pounding ride. Nothing deep here, but a good read.
I loved The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson and was eager to read her summer release, Caste. She ropes you in during the introduction by talking about that famous Nazi shot where one guy (August Landmesser – I never knew his name) stands alone, not saluting Hitler. She urges us all to be that guy. While the topic is challenging, and the reading difficult, Wilkerson weaves stories together to tell the history of race in this country in a way that is fascinating, heartbreaking, and ultimately, like reading a novel. She has a true gift. The thoughtful and guided way she compares castes in India, the Nazi regime, and race/class issues in America made so much sense. Even so, I didn’t love this as much as I loved The Warmth of Other Suns (which would have been hard to top), but it is well worth a read. The back half picked up steam and was more interesting to me than the first.
Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle was beautifully written, but not for me. The story didn’t move along at a good enough clip and I found myself wishing for it to end from pretty early on. It’s told in four voices and is ultimately mostly about Lil.
Amazon: “Lil and Frank married young, launched into courtship when they bonded over how they both—suddenly, tragically— lost a parent when they were children. Over time, their marriage grew and strengthened, with each still wishing for so much more understanding of the parents they’d lost prematurely. Now, after many years in Boston, they’ve retired to North Carolina. There, Lil, determined to leave a history for their children, sifts through letters and notes and diary entries—perhaps revealing more secrets than Frank wants their children to know. Meanwhile, Frank has become obsessed with what might have been left behind at the house he lived in as a boy on the outskirts of town, where a young single mother, Shelley, is just trying to raise her son with some sense of normalcy. Frank’s repeated visits to Shelley’s house begin to trigger memories of her own family, memories that she’d hoped to keep buried. Because, after all, not all parents are ones you wish to remember.”
While I recently posted about the power of giving up on a book, I really did enjoy the way McCorkle wrote, but I was too bored with this one to recommend it.
I picked up The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary on the recommendation of Gayle from Everyday I Write the Book. It’s a light and fun read, not much of a surprise, but a cheerful read overall – just what one needs in the crazy world we are living in. Tiffy and Leon share an apartment – he sleeps there all day because he works the nightshift and she sleeps there at night. They live this way, never meeting, for months. You can guess the trajectory of the story, but it was a good distraction and a creative story.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri has gotten a lot of praise. And, I am sure it is a good book. However, I abandoned it about 2/3 in. I just wasn’t into the story and life is too short to keep reading a book you aren’t into unless you REALLY need to know what happens at the end. Too bad for this one.
The Guest List by Lucy Foley has been on my TBR list for a while. It’s the story of an isolated Irish island wedding told back and forth from multiple viewpoints and in present and past time. While I didn’t like the characters much and might have given up, the mystery/thriller angle kept me reading and it was a quick enough read. And, while I enjoyed it and the ending surprised me, I didn’t love it.
Shiner by Amy Jo Burns was OK, but not great. It’s the story of a family in WV who live in an isolated community on a mountain where moonshine and evangelical snake charming are the norm. It’s short and depressing, so it didn’t take too long to get through. While I wanted to know the outcome, I can’t say I would recommend it. Thank goodness for the library!
Party of Two is the fifth in Jasmine Guillory’s Wedding Date series. I have also read The Wedding Date (reviewed here), but none of her others. I would describe this one as saccharin at best. It’s just SO filled with cliche, so predictable, and the story is so sweet that it’s just too much. “Dating is the last thing on Olivia Monroe’s mind when she moves to LA to start her own law firm. But when she meets a gorgeous man at a hotel bar and they spend the entire night flirting, she discovers too late that he is none other than hotshot junior senator Max Powell. Olivia has zero interest in dating a politician, but when a cake arrives at her office with the cutest message, she can’t resist—it is chocolate cake, after all.”