Noir by Christopher Moore

noirI’ll be upfront: I am a Christopher Moore fan. His book Lamb is one of the funniest and most inventive books I’ve ever read. When I saw that he had a new book out, I did a happy dance.

This is almost two books in one. One expects a bit of crazy and bizzaro from Mr. Moore’s books. The first half is (more or less) straight exposition. The story starts out with Sammy ‘Two Toes’ Tiffin tending bar at a run down gin joint in San Francisco. It’s just after the war. And as these stories tend to do, a dame walks in the bar, her name is Stilton (but Sammy calls her ‘the Cheese’).

The first part of the book is about the reader getting to know the main characters. I will say, there are many laugh out loud parts (at least for me). Just when you think this is going to be a (somewhat) traditional story…BAM. The Christopher Moore factor kicks in.

I don’t want to reveal too much – since the surprise is one of the factors of the story. I will say this, the second part of the book did not disappoint. Very funny.

The book definitely lives up to the title. It has a very noir feel to it – from the language to the scenery to the characters. You can almost smell the cigarette smoke and feel the clammy dampness of the fog rolling in.

I enjoyed this book a lot. If you are a Christopher Moore fan, or you like your fiction a bit on the absurd side, this is a book for you.

I gave it a 4/5 star rating on Goodreads.

Full disclosure: I received this eARC from Edelweiss for a fair and honest review. (Thanks Edelweiss!)

 

 

Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde

Go Ask FannieThis is a story about the Blaire family. Murray Blaire invites his three grown children – Lizzie, Ruth and George – home for a visit. Each one of them have a reason for wanting to be there, or not to be there.

The story flips back and forth between present day and the past. Sometimes I find this annoying, but in this context it totally works.

Initially I found the siblings extremely annoying to the point of irritation. However, as the story progresses and I learned about their past their actions and attitudes made total sense.

I don’t want to go too much into the story because it would all be spoilers.

This book is about family and about secrets. The question becomes – who do you save by keeping a family secret and who will get hurt.

The matriarch of the family dies when the children are young. Part of the book is about the story is about the siblings putting together their mother’s past. The catalyst is a Fannie Farmer cookbook that she used to write notes in (that gets destroyed).

Once I got over the initial annoyance of the siblings, I got very engaged in the story and the characters. I could feel their heartbreak and sadness.

This is a great story about family and why it is important. If you want an entertaining and engaging read, this is for you!

I gave it a 4/5 star rating on Goodreads.

Full disclosure: I received this eARC from First to Read for a fair and honest review. Thanks to First to Read and Penguin Random House!

Sophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen

sophiaTruthfully, I picked this one because of the cover. I know, I know. You shouldn’t do that. I mean, c’mon – Starbuck’s cup, teal background and Silicon Valley. And as usual, I didn’t really read the book summary.

The story is about Sophia (duh!) and her career in Silicon Valley. She ends up working at “Treehouse” for Scott Kraft as his right hand woman. (It is interesting to note that the author worked at Pixar and with Steve Jobs.)

Sophia struggles with her traditional Chinese upbringing, and more specifically her mother.

This feels like an insider look into how Silicon Valley works, and a view into the mind and behaviour of Scott Kraft. (See note, above.)

This also asks the questions about family, marriage vs. career and how a woman fits all of that in to her life.

I really enjoyed this book. There were laugh out loud moments. (Sophia is clumsy, I can relate.)

If you want a funny and fast-paced read, this is for you. If you are at all curious about how Silicon valley operates and what happens there, this is also for you.

I gave it a 4/5 star rating on Goodreads.

Full disclosure: I received this eARC from Edelweiss for a fair and honest review. (Thanks Edelweiss!)

 

Eventide by Therese Bohman

eventideThis story focuses on Karolina Andersson. She is a (recently) single woman in her forties. She is an art history professor at Stockholm University.

I got sucked into the story early on. It is almost like you are a voyeur on Karolina’s life. The author does a great job at keeping it on simmer in terms of the reader not being sure what exactly is going to happen next. There is a feeling of tension, in a good way, in the writing.

The book is about art and life. But mostly I think it’s about examining how a 40’s career woman with no children fits in to society. Karolina struggles with this in the book. There are a lot of should have/would have thoughts rolling around in her head. Would she have been happier as a housewife and mother living in her childhood town? What is going to fulfill her in a relationship? I think these are answered (“answered”) in a realistic way. I won’t spoil it and tell you how.

The other thing that the author does well is captures the mundane-ness of every day life. Go to work. Come home. Make dinner. Sleep. Repeat. That for me is what helps make Karolina’s existential crisis more real.

I want to say that if you like psychological drama then you will like this, but that’s not quite the right description of this book. If you are looking for something that is well written, asks interesting and important questions, then this is your read. Also, as a bonus you get to learn a lot about Stockholm.

I gave it a 4/5 star rating on Goodreads.

Full disclosure: I received this eARC from NetGalley for a fair and honest review. (Thanks NetGalley!)

 

Happy birthday Maya Angelou!

unnamed-1I am trying to remember how I got interested in Maya Angelou – I am guessing that it was Oprah. I think Oprah was interviewing Ms Angelou and they were talking about her book ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. Being curious about literature and wanting to read new (as in new to me) things I got the book.

I remember being shook after reading it. It was hard for me to fathom that this was someone’s life since it was so far from my own. It opened my eyes to a lot of different issues: race, poverty, rape. And that’s what good books do, right? It’s also an uplifting story in a sense that the main character finds a way out through writing and love of literature.

And not for nothing, it’s one of the few books I’ve read multiple times.

Then there is ‘Phenomenal Woman’ – I mean, that poem blew me away. Poetry is something that felt foreign to me in terms of understanding it. This was one of the first poems that I read and went – wait, this is for me. I can see myself here:

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies,
I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s size
But when I start to tell them,
They think I’m telling lies.
I say,
It’s in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips,
The stride of my step,
The curl of my lips.
I’m a woman
Phenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,
That’s me.

I mean, seriously. For a young woman (me) who was trying to find her way in the world, and felt on the outside of being traditionally beautiful – this poem hit me at the right time and in the right place. I could be strong and powerful and not be a size 2. Who knew? Maya Angelou did. She was one wise lady.

That is my Maya Angelou story. I know that she had a huge impact on many, many others by telling her story – I think she was a very brave, and wise woman.

Also, if you have a spare moment, stop on the google doodle today – your soul will thank me.

 

 

April Book Preview!

I have a lot of books in the queue for April! It’s going to be a hopping month! (HA! Hopping…like the easter bunny…see what I did there.)

 

eventide

Eventide by Therese Bohman (April 10)

According to the summary about the book: “Eventide is a perceptive novel of ideas about love, art, and solitude in our time, and the distorted standards to which women are held in their relationships and careers.”

 

sophia

Sophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen (April 10)

First of all, the cover looks cool. And I am a nerd for anything tech. Thought this would be an interesting read. It’s a fictional insider look at Silicon Valley.

 

Go Ask Fannie

Go Ask Fannie by Elisabeth Hyde (April 10)

I liked the cover. What can I say.

 

noir

Noir by Christopher Moore (April 17)

I am SUPER pumped about this book. I am a huge Christopher Moore fan (his book Lamb is one of the funniest and most clever books I’ve read). I am also a bit scared – this is the first author that I am reviewing that I am a fan of. Stay tuned!

 

Sharp

Sharp: The Women Who Made an Art of Having an Opinion by Michelle Dean (April 20)

This looked like an interesting read. It is a collection of short (ish) bios on women who have had something to say. I figure if it’s got Nora Ephron and Dorothy Parker in it, you can’t go wrong.

 

Whew….I’ve got a lot of reading ahead of me!

The Little Perfume Shop Off The Champs-Élysées by Rebecca Raisin

perfume shopI have a bit of a love affair with anything Paris related. So when I saw this book I wanted to read it. I thought it would be a cute read. I wasn’t wrong. But it was more than that.

The story is about Del who travels to Paris from her home in Michigan to compete in a perfume competition (similar to Survivor, but with perfume). There is a mysterious man she bumps into on the first day in Paris – and I am like, yeah, I know where this is going. I was setting it up to be your typical romance-y type of book. There is not anything wrong with that.

As I got further into the book, there was more depth to the story than I had anticipated. Not to give the story away, (because you should be able to discover it when you read it), but it was about independence, and about Del finding herself and her self-confidence. I got swept up in the narrative and was rooting for Del the whole time. And, (in my head) I was yelling at her to stop making silly assumptions.

The descriptions of Paris, to me, were spot on. I felt like I was back there. My feet sympathy hurt with Del while she was walking all over the city. And I had a hankering for a chocolate croissant and a coffee. Then I started googling flights to Paris (I kid).

The characters seemed well rounded and believable. The romance part of the story (I won’t spill the beans on that!) for me, was well thought out and executed. It made sense to me (I wasn’t sitting there rolling my eyes at it).

The upside to the book is that I learned a lot about perfume and how it’s made. That was pretty cool.

This is the third book in the ‘Little Paris Collection’. I hadn’t read any other books by this author before, but I am definitely going to keep her in mind! And I totally want to read the other two books in the series.

Overall this was a delightful read, I highly recommend it.

I gave it a 4/5 star rating on Goodreads.

Full disclosure: I received this eARC from NetGalley for a fair and honest review. (Thanks NetGalley!)