Book Review: The Goddesses by Swan Huntley

Book Cover - The Goddesses by Swan HuntleyLet’s talk about marriage, cancer, karma, and the sins of the past. All themes of Swan Huntley’s sophomore novel, The Goddesses.

Nancy Murphy and her family have moved to Kona, Hawaii from San Diego for a fresh start. Following her husband’s affair with a blonde named Shelly, they’ve seized the opportunity to move them and their twin sons Cam and Jed to the island.

Soon after they arrive, Nancy feels herself beginning to feel like she’s just settled into her same routine in a different place. So she decides to start doing yoga, and that’s where she meets Ana, a free-spirited yoga instructor.

The two form a bond as they get to know each other. When Ana asked Nancy to help her try to build good karma by doing some good deeds. Ana’s natural charisma resonates with Nancy and she knows that she would do anything that Ana asks of her.

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Audiobook Review: Need by Joelle Charbonneau

needLet’s think about what happens when a social network puts out the ultimate question to high school students: “What do you need?”

Now, think back to what you thought you “needed” in high school, and imagine what you would have done to obtain it.

Need by Joelle Charbonneau follows a group of students at Nottawa High School when a new social network emerges call, “Need.” The website’s design is simple, asking the students only one question: “What do you need?”

After submitting their requests the students put in their classmate’s email addresses, and soon the network spirals into a tit for tat, where needs will only be fulfilled if the student can complete a task.

Kaylee Dunham has a very specific need, a kidney for her younger brother. Kaylee doesn’t believe that the social networking site can help, but it wouldn’t hurt to try.

Book Review: Rabbit Cake by Annie Harnett

Rabbit Cake by Annie HartnettRabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett, is the kind of book that I had to devour in marathon sessions, and then put down and say: “Wow, what did I just read?”

Elvis Babbit is an eleven-year-old girl with a head for facts and a particular interest in zoology. She knows that most people think owls mean wisdom, but that Romans were evil and would drink the blood of babies. She also knows that she should plan to grieve for her mother, who died tragically during an episode of sleep swimming, for eighteen months.

But that eighteen-month period is also full of other life lessons for Elvis Babbit. Her father and sister each mourn in their own way, with her sister exhibiting her own sleepwalking episodes, and her father taking to wear their mother’s bathrobe. Elvis, well, she’s developed her own theory about the strange cause of her mother’s death, and as she investigates she finds comfort in the people, and animals, of Freedom, Alabama.

Audiobook Review: The Hypnotist’s Love Story by Liane Moriarty

237518501So imagine that you’ve met the perfect guy. He’s considerate, he’s charming, he has a kid, he’s generally the whole package. There’s just one problem: he has a stalker, but you don’t actually mind that he has a stalker, because it makes your life more interesting.

That’s the kind of thinking that frames Liane Moriarty’s The Hypnotist’s Love Story. Ellen O’Farrell is a hypnotherapist with a thriving practice that she runs out of her home, and she’s just met a great man on the internet. The only thing that might stand in the way of their happily ever after, is the fact that his ex-girlfriend has been stalking him for the last four years.

None of this bother’s Ellen, in fact it intrigues her. She’s dating someone that’s worth stalking, and Ellen might even be interested in meeting her, but the thing is, Ellen already has.

Book Review: The Vegetarian by Han Kang

The Vegetarian by Han Kang Book CoverEvery once in a while I read a book, and I think to myself, “Oh my god, what did I just read?”

Sometimes it’s a good reaction, and sometimes it’s because I just spent a few hours trying to figure out when the plot turned left and I turned right! Sometimes, it’s simply a case of a discomforting, quietly beautiful story that morphs into something much more than what I originally thought.

In the case of The Vegetarian by Han Kang it’s definitely the last one.

Yeong-hye is a perfectly normal, average woman, and that’s what her husband loves about her. Sure, she has some eccentricities, like refusing to wear a bra, but overall, she’s exceptionally ordinary. Then one night Yeong-hye has a dream and decides to stop eating meat. This upsets her family and her husband, as they try to grasp her choice. But, there may be more at work than a simple dietary change.

Book Review: The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

51a9oxki-al-_sy346_Sometimes I swear that the 1950s are my happy place. Then I wake up and realize how 21st-Century-me would have probably been labeled insane.

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis is a book that makes this revelation abundantly clear while still telling a compelling narrative.

The novel tells two stories linked by one central point: the Barbizon Hotel for Women. The Hotel used to house women who were in New York City for secretarial school, but it has now been converted into a condo, where several long-time residents have been given a floor to live on. Through this landmark, we meet two young women: one from 1952 and one from 2016.

In the 1950s, a young woman who comes to New York City for a secretarial course ends up befriending the maid where she’s whisked off into a world of jazz and intrigue.

More than half a century later, Rose Lewin is mourning the end of an affair, and working in a digital media job she hates after being fired from a broadcast news station. She’s intrigued by the rumors, particularly those involving a particular resident in a rent-controlled apartment.

As Rose’s interest deepens, the ethics of her investigation become murky, and the results can potentially change the lives of both women once it’s revealed.

Book Review: Yesterday by Felicia Yap

Book Cover - Yesterday by Felicia YapMemory is one of those themes that has always intrigued me. How does it shape who we are and construct who we become?  What happens when you can’t remember? Or when memory starts to work differently?

That’s what brought me to Yesterday by Felicia Yap, which can quickly be described as a less-extreme The Giver by Lois Lowry meets ABC’s Revenge!

This sci-fi mystery presents a world where people are divided not by race or sex, but by the amount of short term memory they have.

In Yap’s world, Monos retain one day of clear short-term memory after the age of eighteen, and Duos retain two days of short-term memory after the age of twenty-three. Each night, citizens of this world need to catalog the day’s experiences in their iDiarys, where they store carefully curated facts about themselves that they dedicate time to learning each morning.

But, the heart of this book is the murder of Sophia Alyssa Ayling, who claims to remember everything. We follow her vindictive journey to right a wrong that was done to her while also following Mark and Claire married, a married couple that gives the term mixed marriage a new meaning. What follows is a mix of political intrigue, and the science of memory as DC Hans Richardson races against the clock to solve this mystery.

Book Review: Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker

Book Cover - Emma in the Night by Wendy WalkerLet me introduce you to a new badass character you’re going to love! Cass Tanner from Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker is a deliciously complicated eighteen-year-old girl, who may be working her own angle. 

Three years ago, Emma and Cassandra “Cass” Tanner went missing from a beach in the middle of the night. Three years later,  Cass is back with the tale of a mysterious island and two strangers who have helped them escape their warped life in Connecticut.

The case is headed by FBI Agent Leo Strauss and Dr. Abigail Winter, a forensic psychologist who specialized in narcissistic personality disorder. As Dr. Winter listened to Cassandra’s story she begins to see details that quite add up. Slowly Dr. Winter unravels the details of the Tanners home life where lines were crossed and the children were in competition with their elders. But it also makes her realize, that one sister’s return may just be the beginning of a crime.

Book Review: We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley

27190202We Could Be Beautiful by Swan Huntley is the kind of book you read when you really want to argue with someone, but you don’t want to damage all of your personal relationships.

Catherine West is forty-four years old,  and leads a pretty charmed life. She’s a member of the one percent with a $80,000 payout from a trust deposited to her every single month. She owns a greeting card shop called leaf that sells nothing but blank cards featuring the work of independent artists. She’s recently met a man named William Stockton, and their budding romance promises to be the relationship that Catherine has always dreamed of.

But then things fall apart.  Catherine finds out that the trust that’s been supporting her lifestyle since her father’s death is gone. The monthly payouts have stopped coming, and with that comes the end to her way of life. But the end of the trust brings new revelations and secrets that come to the surface.

Book Review: The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky

28789723When I first saw The Red Car by Marcy Dermansky I immediately got a line from Shania Twain’s “That Don’t Impress Me Much” stuck in my head.

“I can’t believe you kiss your car goodnight. Come on baby, tell me, you must be joking right?”

The thing about Marcy Dermansky’s The Red Car, is that this isn’t a “guy who is obsessed with his car” story. No, this book turns that on its head, and shows two women commiserating in friendship. But one of them loves her red sports car.

Leah is living in Queens with her possessive husband Hans, who she doesn’t love, and a long list of unfulfilled ambitions. Then Leah is jolted out of the haze by a call from her pass. Her former boss, and best friend, Judy has died, and has left Leah with her most prized possession: her red sports  car. But, the red sports car is also the instrument of Judy’s death.