Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Fall Guy by James Lasdun

Matthew joins his cousin, Charlie and Charlie's wife for the summer in their mountain house. Charlie's family is wealthy, and Matthew is just barely making it. As the summer goes on, Matthew learns a secret about Charlie's family and struggles with knowing what to do with it.

Suspenseful and creepy, but just a so-so read for me.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett


My favorite Ann Patchett book is her nonfiction, Truth and Beauty.

Commonwealth is fiction and about a blended family. One of the daughters marries a famous author who then uses her family as the topic of his next book.

Readable, but only a so-so read for me.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

QB: My Life Behind the Spiral by Steve Young

Ah, my beloved 49ers, will it ever be fun to watch you guys play again? How long will this miserable, painful playing go on? The only upside to how you're playing this season is that in my football pool, I've been picking whatever team you're up against and so I've been doing fairly well (ranked #7 out of 25!).

I grew up with the 49ers of the 80s and 90s. So I seriously believed that the 49ers were supposed to be in the Super Bowl almost every year and just the team they played against changed. In my eight-year-old mind, I really didn't understand that not every team makes it to the post-season because the 49ers always made it to the play-offs. And that's just how the world worked, right?

How we've fallen since then! (Although congrats to my favorite player, kicker Phil Dawson on his 400th field goal!)

Okay, onto the book. This is written by Steve Young, one of the 49ers greatest quarterbacks! I heard Steve Young being interviewed on NPR and he sounded like a smart, thoughtful guy. (You can listen to the NPR interview here.) I had no idea that he struggled with intense anxiety during his playing years. I immediately requested his book from the library.

This book was super personal, thoughtful, and candid. He talks about some of his regrets, his struggles, his Mormon faith, and what life is like for him after football. Young was an excellent quarterback, but he is also a man of integrity and he sounds pretty self-aware. I also appreciate that he de-stigmatizes anxiety and discusses various ways that anxiety can be treated and managed.

If you're not really a fan of football, you probably won't like this book because there's a lot of descriptions of the games (explained in very concise ways though) and so a basic understanding of football would be helpful. But if you love football, and even better, if you love the 49ers (as hard as that is right now!), this book might be right up your alley.

Monday, November 21, 2016

People Who Knew Me by Kim Hooper


A question I am sometimes asked is, "How do you decide what to read?" I mostly find book recommendations via blogs (Modern Mrs. Darcy), fellow bookworms (Grace, Rebecca), and bestseller lists. However, sometimes I just browse the New Book section at the library and pick up anything that catches my eye. This is how I found People Who Knew Me.

Emily married young, and finds herself pregnant while her marriage is in crisis. Then, September 11th happens and she takes the opportunity to start a brand new life for herself.

Very readable and original. However, there were some details that were left unanswered that made the story less plausible (how did she change her name? attain the proper documents to work again? social security number? etc.) so that detracted from the book.

Overall, interesting but with some holes.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Jennifer, Hecate, MacBeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth by E.L. Konigsburg

There's been lots going on in our home, in our hearts, and in our nation, and so I have found myself rejecting all books that deal with intense subject matter (i.e. slavery, sexual abuse, discrimination, death - might I add a big thank you to Grace who so graciously warned me not to read a book in which a dog dies!).

Instead, I am seeking out what I am calling "gentle reading."

One of my favorite childhood books is E.L. Konigsburg's From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, but I haven't really read any of her other books. I found this one in our neighborhood Little Library and it definitely falls under the category of "gentle reading."

Elizabeth decides to become an apprentice witch to Jennifer. The back cover reads, "It was all great, until the day they started to make flying ointment."

This is the story of elementary school friendship, witches and apprentices. A fun easy reading book, gentle on the heart, and whimsical.

Monday, November 14, 2016

The Smart One by Jennifer Close

I really enjoyed Jennifer Close's Girls in White Dresses (I reviewed it last week). It was super clever.

Unfortunately, I can't say the same about The Smart One. Sorry, I can't even bring myself to expend the energy to even come up with a concise summary for you because that was the problem of this book - there were enough characters and plots for about four different novels. So, I recommend trying out Girls in White Dresses if you want, but feel free to skip this one. :(

Monday, November 7, 2016

Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close

Remember your 20s when all of your friends were dating and getting engaged? And you were invited to five weddings during the summer? And crazy dates? Once, I was set up on a blind coffee date. The guy cancelled at the last minute because he said he was hooked up to an IV drip. I didn't hear from him again. I hope he's okay.

Girls in White Dresses will take you right back to your 20s with all the details of that season of life. It follows three main characters, Isabella, Mary and Lauren. The book is cohesive, yet told in what seems like a series of short stories.

Super smart, spot-on, wry, and hilarious because its very accurate descriptions ring so true.