This is my first book by Ms. Gruenenfelder and after getting through the first (confusing) chapter I sunk in to an enjoyable if predictable book.I kno...moreThis is my first book by Ms. Gruenenfelder and after getting through the first (confusing) chapter I sunk in to an enjoyable if predictable book.I know what I'm signing up for when I open a book that has a cute title and an even cuter cover, but there were definitely times when the author transcended the genre and had some real moments. Oh, and is actually funny.
My issue was that we as readers are not given enough credit. We don't always want our endings wrapped up perfectly in a bow. Every chick-lit book does not have to showcase a gay friend and every male character does not have to be Esquire-model ready to the point as to be indistinguishable from one another. I find it moderately insulting when the main character, Mel, interchangeably finds two new instant girlfriends in a different location near the end so her witty banter can continue. I like the original friends, Seema and Nic as true friends and found it irritating when they were so easily replaced by two others. The hastily drawn new ones served the same comic foil purposes as the originals, albeit in a new state felt hollow and silly and undermined the nice relationships with Seema and Nic who I had grown to enjoy.
I did laugh out loud many times, but when I thought I had enough and was ready to put this down midway through I was rewarded with a truism that reflects the writer's depth and skill. I will search out other books by this author and look forward to more sophisticated story lines and characters.(less)
Emma Straub is a deft writer gifted with the necessary writer's skill of keen observation. I did enjoy The Vacationers, but in truth, I could have enj...moreEmma Straub is a deft writer gifted with the necessary writer's skill of keen observation. I did enjoy The Vacationers, but in truth, I could have enjoyed it more. The limiting scope of the two week trip even to somewhere as exotic as Mallorca was repetitive and the most irksome element for me was that each character spoke in the same tone. Characters switched POV even on the same page, a big No-No that would've been acceptable if done well, but I had a hard time keeping up with ping-ponging trains of thought. Of course a writer as accomplished and adroit as Ms. Straub is allowed to break the rules and have us head hop from one character's viewpoint to another even on the same page, but I found it confusing to follow because each character, although distinct in physical and aspirational description still had the same voice and tone.
Overall, this is enjoyable and there are some funny honest moments that will resonate with many readers. Although at times I found the characters a bit sitcom-like, they were still interesting enough to spend time with on a last summer weekend.(less)
I am a long time fan of Ms. Quindlen's and I enjoyed this book for what it was...a simple story told in a layered fashion that will resonate with each...moreI am a long time fan of Ms. Quindlen's and I enjoyed this book for what it was...a simple story told in a layered fashion that will resonate with each reader solely based on what they're up to in their life. It isn't compelling enough to reach everyone who picks it up in a profound sense, but if someone is wondering where their life is heading and questioning things they've previously taken as a given, this will resonate. Rebecca Winters is a wonderful character and the descriptions and insights she bestows on everyone in her life feels true.
It's a quiet book, but that is her style and I found it enjoyable. The only thing that felt hollow to me was the happy wrap-up at the end. Every single character sails off into the wild blue yonder and I felt either that was a pressurized response to today's society of happy,happy, happy or an editor weighing in (incorrectly) in my opinion. Life doesn't always get tied up neatly in a bow and I wish the author would have given her readers more credit that expecting that kind of perfect ending.(less)
So, yes, we all know J.K. Rowling can write, and yes there are some very good elements here, but J.K. Please learn to tighten up your storyline! The c...moreSo, yes, we all know J.K. Rowling can write, and yes there are some very good elements here, but J.K. Please learn to tighten up your storyline! The characters are more compelling than the mystery which is fairly typical and not overly involving and the tedious repetition of Cormoran Strike's exhaustive questioning of suspects is trying. So why did I stay with the book? I kept hoping it would get better but was entertained enough while reading to see it through. It would have been a whole lot better with an excellent edit that lopped 75 pages off the total. I'm not entirely sure I will pick up her next book, though. (less)
This was my first experience with Susanna Kearsley and based upon the reviews I've been reading it probably wasn't the best place to start. However, h...moreThis was my first experience with Susanna Kearsley and based upon the reviews I've been reading it probably wasn't the best place to start. However, having said that, I feel she draws in the reader with her quiet way of observing people and their interaction with one another is the strength of her writing. The group hobbled together as they were managed to be engaging and people I wanted to spend time with. Her descriptions are vivid enough to plant real imagery in the mind, if a bit over the top. I enjoyed this enough for a leisurely few days at the beach but felt she tied up the loose ends way too quickly, as if she might have realized she tested our patience long enough and then the pace switched to whiplash speed (for Ms. Kearsley) as she ran to the conclusion. I will definitely check the library for other books of hers, she is surely worth another try. (less)
Alexandra James, a plucky reporter for the The Chronicle has stumbled upon a story that is bigger than she had ever imagined, involving people at the...moreAlexandra James, a plucky reporter for the The Chronicle has stumbled upon a story that is bigger than she had ever imagined, involving people at the uppermost echelons of the U.S. government. This reporter's once in a lifetime 'get' sounds like a bit of a stretch, especially because the story begins with what looks like an attempted suicide of the White House counsel's son, but I suggest you hang on for the ride. Ms. Kelley tells her story well, even as she sometimes gets tangled up in her own improbably strewn red herrings, but Alexandra is a compelling character...a leggy, fiery haired Irish beauty who also happens to be super smart. And just when we're about to hate her and close the book, we are conveniently let in on the tragedy that informs her life.
Anonymous Sources winds through a couple of exotic locations showing us how richer-born, better educated people live and die while our heroine tries to unravel the mystery and intrigue that seemingly fell in her lap. It's a quick read, worth a rainy afternoon by the fireplace. (less)
I started off rooting for Georgia, a widowed woman in her fifties, previously living a life of luxury who discovers upon her husband's death that he w...moreI started off rooting for Georgia, a widowed woman in her fifties, previously living a life of luxury who discovers upon her husband's death that he was a cheater and that all their money has disappeared. Thrown into the mix are two daughters, early twenties with their own issues, her gay, uptight brother and a mother, once a fierce dragon lady now reduced to drooling on her pillow at an old age home. I am unsure why she's a character in the book, if only to explain why Georgia is so inert and lacking in real emotional depth for fear of becoming like her mother.
Sounds like Georgia has a lot to deal with and here's the thing, she is the epitome of grace under pressure. We are privy to her internal thoughts, lots of them, and guess what? They're bland..there's no rage, despair, true angst. Ok, one daughter, a Stanford college dropout has taken to dog walking and selling the family silver on eBay to help pay the mortgages(of course there's a beach house at the Hamptons--stay tuned). Georgia has lots to say, but she wimps out when the time comes for any real emotion or action. The story jumps from first person to third indiscriminately and lends only confusion to the story.
Most of the book is trying to trace the missing money and when we find out what happened to it, it's an enormous snooze-fest with an ending that's so ridiculously Hallmark, that I think her editor must have confused this heroine with Nancy Drew. I hung on, but just barely, because Sally Koslow can really evoke the emotions of a woman who has lost her sense of identity and all the characters seem to undergo a similar fate.
The pity is this could have been really good with a dynamite editor, but as it stands, it's disappointing.(less)
Intriguing read...the author deftly weaves biblical mysticism authentically with everyday life of sixty years ago on the lower Eastside of Manhattan....moreIntriguing read...the author deftly weaves biblical mysticism authentically with everyday life of sixty years ago on the lower Eastside of Manhattan. This is a rich tapestry that will keep you interested in every detail that is brought so vividly to life. The friendships that springs up between Chava, the Golem and Ahmad, the Jinni is poignant and real as these two lost souls navigate the scary new world they have found themselves thrust into. I was sorry when it ended, having enjoyed spending much quality time with this rich cast of characters and the very real challenges that they faced. (less)
Ok, I will give it to you straight. Ms. Wolitzer is gifted in her nuanced ability to really develop a character, but it was frustrating to me that she...moreOk, I will give it to you straight. Ms. Wolitzer is gifted in her nuanced ability to really develop a character, but it was frustrating to me that she introduced a group of characters and then only concentrated on bringing three of them to full-actualization. The other characters sort of floated in and out and at some point I wondered, why bother with them? I don't really know them or their needs or motivations. The group meet at summer camp, a place specifically set for creativity and it is a life saver for Julie, now known as Jules, who is fresh from a depressingly, poor home where her father has just died.
She and Ethan are the ones to watch as we flit around at different times of their lives, told in no real sequential order, another source of frustration for me. I almost put this book down, midway through, but I'm glad I didn't. Near the end, a marginal character has a great speech that put the whole book in perspective and I wondered why I didn't have the opportunity to get to know him better. Ms. Wolitzer's writing is a sparkling example of quiet excellence. You can't skim because the sentences are heavy with meaning and grace. You will enjoy this book, but I think I could have enjoyed it much more with some bold editing.(less)
Here's the thing about Susan Isaacs, we all know she's sharp and insightful and with this latest book she has presented a fascinating character study...moreHere's the thing about Susan Isaacs, we all know she's sharp and insightful and with this latest book she has presented a fascinating character study of four very different people and has allowed us into the minds of all of them. Gloria Garrison, formerly Goldberg, is a wizened old bird, super independent, callous and in a predicament because she needs someone to run Glory, her cosmetics/makeover business when she passes on (which could be anytime now, in her opinion). The only problem with that is she has alienated anyone who could have been a viable candidate, so she summons her three grandchildren that she doesn't know (by her own design) to New Mexico, from New York, and offers them the opportunity of a lifetime.
They turn her down flat and she is shocked, annoyed and determined to send them packing at once. But they surprise her by not wanting to leave, and as a result we get a novel filled with adult conversation and humor and more than its share of genuine moments. The only misstep in my opinion is the ending. I felt that Gloria, who I had come to rely on for her unapologetic behavior, goes soft at the end.