Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Alafair Burke's Latest Novel...

If You Were Here
by Alafair Burke

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Review: In Burke's second stand-alone thriller book, readers follow former public prosecutor turned reporter McKenna Jordan. The opening scene occurs on the subway as a boy steals an iPod, and is chased by a woman who later lifts him off the subway tracks. McKenna is hot on the trail when this video footage goes missing; however, she tracks the video because the woman in the photo reminds her of long-lost best friend Susan. Is Susan really alive? Is it safer for McKenna not to find out the truth about Susan.

Sorry, but my short review doesn't do the book justice; let's just say that after reading I rushed to the library to check out two more of Burke's novels, Long Gone and an Ellie Hatcher series novel, Never Tell.

**Burke says this is her most autobiographical novel with a character like her husband, a graduate of West Point. The novel uses Susan's character to delve into elite military culture.

Author website: Her website is pretty cool, with frequently updated blogs, tweets, and videos of her TV appearances. She also posts works in progress and asks fans for advice on scenes and character names, etc. which I think is cool.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Family Pictures

Family Pictures
by Jane Green

Genre: Popular chick lit

Review: Sylvie is a creative soon-to-be empty-nester. She is coming to terms with her daughter Eve's departure for college and potential eating disorder while caring for an aging, imperious mother and wishing her husband were home more. Sylvie starts wondering how Mark spends his time during the two weeks of the month he works on the East Coast. Her daughter Eve wants to attend college in NYC, but her stepdad is dead-set against it. The book alternates between Eve and Sylvie's perspectives in Part I, then moves among two other characters, Grace, another college-bound girl, and her mother, the reigning queen of the New Salem, CT social set. The second part of the book has a lot of "real housewives of Connecticut" type of drama if you like that kind of thing. 

Word of advice: Don't rush out and buy this book or anything, but it will entertain you if you pick it up at the library or bookstore. 

Funny. Quirky. Sad. Real

My American Unhappiness
by Dean Bakopoulos

Genre: Literary Fiction

As I noted in the subject line, I could write this review in four words: Funny, Quirky, Sad, Real. But I won't.

Review: We meet our protagonist at Starbucks, where he goes often to entertain his crush, an adorable barista girl. He has the uncanny ability to guess which drink people will order. Call it an insight into human nature.  At first glance, the main character is skating smoothly across the surface his life. Then his dying mother gives him an ultimatum--get married before she dies or he will lose custody of the nieces he loves. The dry wit, quirky characters, and dead-on descriptions of the Midwest kept me savoring this novel on each page.

The Best of Us

The Best of Us
by Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Women's Fiction

Review: A birthday party on a fabulous tropical island goes awry when emotional storms and even a hurricane threaten the tranquility of the poolside paradise. Each female character is believable with a compelling backstory. The descriptions of the island are lush and vivid; perfect for a summer getaway, even if you are only sitting on your front porch. Ultimately though, this novel was a tad generic, and not my favorite of this author's work.

I recommend her other novels as well--you can read my reviews of These Girls and Skipping a Beat. This book was not quite as good as These Girls, so I would recommend reading that one first. 

Author website: