Category Archives: February

Review: The Beautiful Possible by Amy Gottlieb

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About The Beautiful Possible

Spanning seventy years and several continents, this enthralling novel tells the braided love story of three unforgettable characters. In 1946, Walter Westhaus, a German-Jewish refugee who spent the war years at Tagore’s ashram in India, arrives at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York City, where he meets Sol Kerem, a promising rabbinical student. A brilliant nonbeliever, Walter is the perfect foil for Sol’s spiritual questions . . . and an alluring paramour for Sol’s free-spirited fiancée, Rosalie. Months later they shatter their impossible bond, retreating to opposite sides of the country—Walter to pursue an academic career in Berkeley, and Sol and Rosalie to lead a congregation in suburban New York. A chance meeting years later reconnects them—catching three hearts and minds in a complex web of desire, heartbreak, and redemption. With extraordinary empathy and virtuosic skill, The Beautiful Possible considers the hidden boundaries of marriage and faith, and the mysterious ways we negotiate our desires.

My Review

I was challenged by this book, a few elements were appreciated, however, the overall feel didn’t agree with me eclipsing the areas I enjoyed.

The deep friendship the trio shared, their individual struggles regarding faith, belief/disbelief, loss, choices, expectations and self acceptance were palpable and raw. Religion played such a vital and passionate part, the Jewish faith references were enlightening and lovely. The ending was well crafted.

What I had trouble with was the overly melodramatic feel, it was just too thick for my taste distracting from the entire narrative making the characters appear as actors rather than protagonists in a story with great potential. I understand the trios connection but I never grasped what the magnetic pull Walter possessed causing Rosalie to cling to almost obsessively, it was never fully explored, instead it was assumed to be understood by the reader. The presentation felt clunky, the timeline was linear but the protagonists appearances where scattered, you must pay attention or you’ll be lost in erratic transitions.

A triangular love story of lifelong friends with a weighty dramatic feel, ambiguous pockets allowing the reader to reach a conclusion. Unique in its delivery. Gottlieb’s style stands out, certainly interested in reading more from her in the future.

About Amy Gottlieb14108036

Amy Gottlieb’s fiction and poetry have been published in many literary journals and anthologies, and she is the recipient of fellowships from the Bronx Council on the Arts and the Drisha Institute for Jewish Education. She lives in New York City.

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Published by Harper Perennial (February 16, 2016)

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Review: The Ramblers by Aidan Donnelley Rowley

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About The Ramblers

Set in the most magical parts of Manhattan—the Upper West Side, Central Park, Greenwich Village—The Ramblers explores the lives of three lost souls, bound together by friendship and family. During the course of one fateful Thanksgiving week, a time when emotions run high and being with family can be a mixed blessing, Rowley’s sharply defined characters explore the moments when decisions are deliberately made, choices accepted, and pasts reconciled.

Clio Marsh, whose bird-watching walks through Central Park are mentioned in New York Magazine, is taking her first tentative steps towards a relationship while also looking back to the secrets of her broken childhood. Her best friend, Smith Anderson, the seemingly-perfect daughter of one of New York’s wealthiest families, organizes the lives of others as her own has fallen apart. And Tate Pennington has returned to the city, heartbroken but determined to move ahead with his artistic dreams.

Rambling through the emotional chaos of their lives, this trio learns to let go of the past, to make room for the future and the uncertainty and promise that it holds. The Ramblers is a love letter to New York City—an accomplished, sumptuous novel about fate, loss, hope, birds, friendship, love, the wonders of the natural world and the mysteries of the human spirit.

My Review

A few standouts I want to acknowledge during my reading journey, the fantastic writing, solid framework of narrative, gently detailed characterization, ornithology elements, Rowley deserves a nod for her arduous effort.

Clio’s story was compelling, a lot was explored but I felt more could have been expanded upon. Her struggles felt real, her anguish heartbreaking. Peeling her numerous layers away was well done, tossing gamophibia in the mix was brilliant. When all was said and done I felt Clio was rushed along, sure she was on the road to healing but it sure felt like a well paved road to a tidy miraculous recovery in a small span of time. Smith and Tate felt weak, vapid, privileged, so opposite Clio. The protagonists felt immature and entitled, I shudder to think of when life really delivers uppercuts how will Smith and Tate react or cope.

Enmeshing Smith and Tate into the plot plunged it south rapidly, never quite regaining control. Their two storylines detracted from the depth of Clio’s tale. Rowley should have focused on Clio with Smith and Tate’s challenges as very distant threads IF included at all. For me the plot was unbalanced given the seriousness of Clio’s issues and family ordeal while sharing the narrative with Smith and Tate.

The messages of loyalty, friendship, support, love, hope and healing all very lovely, clearly present despite the messiness of the triple storylines.

I understand what Rowley was ultimately conveying, for me it was too foggy and misplaced with the end result jagged. I will read more from this talented authoress, her writing is too well-formed to deny further probing. Rowley possesses a slice of originality, very invigorating.

About Aidan Donnelley RowleyAidanDonnelleyRowley_AuthorPhoto2_creditElenaSeibert

Born and raised in New York City, Aidan Donnelley Rowley graduated from Yale University and received her law degree from Columbia University.  She is the author of a previous novel, Life After Yes, and the creator of the Happier Hour Literary Salon.  She lives in Manhattan with her husband and three daughters.

Expected publication: February 9th 2016 by William Morrow

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Review: Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte

Private Citizens cover

About Private Citizens

Capturing the anxious, self-aware mood of young college grads in the aughts, Private Citizens embraces the contradictions of our new century—call it a loving satire, a gleefully rude comedy of manners, Middlemarch for millennials. The novel’s four whip-smart narrators—idealistic Cory, Internet-lurking Will, awkward Henrik, and vicious Linda—are torn between fixing the world and cannibalizing it. In boisterous prose that ricochets between humor and pain, Private Citizens follows the four estranged friends as they stagger through the Bay Area’s maze of tech startups, protestors, gentrifiers, karaoke bars, house parties, and cultish self-help seminars, washing up in each other’s lives once again.

A wise and searching depiction of a generation grappling with privilege and finding grace in failure, Private Citizens is as expansively intelligent as it is full of heart.

My Review

I’m not remotely close to being a millennial thus causing a disconnect with Tulathimutte’s stellar achievement.

Tulathimutte’s writing is energetic and feral. He nails satire perfectly as well as delving into his fully developed characters with what appears to be effortless. Hailing from San Francisco, a Stanford alum I enjoyed the vivid descriptions and references, ambiance is felt. If you’ve never visited San Francisco you will be more than familiar from the comfort of your preferred reading nook. The ending made up for the wide berth I felt with the book.

I had no connection with the protagonists or plot. I was a different breed in a different more prosperous time. The struggles of the millennials was plausible, their troubled pasts commonplace, their history haunting their present, their future in bondage. Sex was prevalent and a bit too bawdy for my taste, I’m from the school less is best in sexual descriptions.

Curious to explore future writings from Tulathimutte his writing is appealing worthy of at least another go, hopefully I won’t feel like an outcast.

Tony Tulathimutte APAbout Tony Tulathimutte

Tony Tulathimutte has written for VICE, AGNI, The Threepenny Review, Salon, The New Yorker online, and other publications. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Stanford University, he has received an O. Henry Award and a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. He lives in New York.

Find out more about Tony at his website, and connect with him on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Published by William Morrow Paperbacks (February 9, 2016)

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Review: The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore

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About The Big Rewind

Listening to someone else’s mix tapes is a huge breach of trust. But KitKat was dead . . . and curiosity got the better of me.

When a mix tape destined for her friend KitKat accidentally arrives in Jett Bennett’s mailbox, Jett doesn’t think twice about it—even in the age of iTunes and Spotify, the hipster residents of the Barter Street district of Brooklyn are in a constant competition to see who can be the most retro.

But when Jett finds KitKat dead on her own kitchen floor, she suspects the tape might be more than just a quirky collection of lovelorn ballads. And when KitKat’s boyfriend, Bronco, is arrested for her murder, Jett and her best friend, Sid, set out on an epic urban quest through strip joints and record stores, vegan bakeries and basement nightclubs, to discover who the real killer is. However, the further Jett digs into KitKat’s past, the more she discovers about her own left-behind love life—and the mysterious man whose song she still clings to. . . .

My Review

After reading this book it’s fair to say I’m not part of its intended audience, at least this was the aftertaste I felt upon completion. I’m a mature hipster, a fan of 80’s music, mildly nostalgic yet I felt misplaced with the plot.

Cudmore’s writing is springy, she’s creative, great premise. Incredibly fast read but I felt it was a tad misleading from the summary.

I was expecting a mystery, and a mystery was there although it felt like a forgotten second fiddle to a narrative centered more around music, romance and a huge chunk of nostalgia, in fact it was all over the place, too scattered for my liking.

I enjoyed the music references but soon they became monotonous and annoying, overdone. Jett and her ‘boyfriend box’ was a bit much along with her ‘love’ reunions with past boyfriends, far-fetched and saccharine. The fact she continually dwelled on her ex was trying, she just couldn’t move on. Wasn’t a fan of Sid’s quasi indecisiveness towards Jett until his mistake was realized and outed, it screamed predictablity.

The narrative couldn’t make up its mind what it wanted to grow up to be. What parts were thrown in regarding KitKat’s murder were darn good, if only the book stuck with this angle as I was led to believe, as is the entire KitKat fiasco felt like afterthought or filler, it certainly digressed to other avenues.

If you’re looking for a hipster murder mystery you might want to change your taste to align more with women’s fiction, certainly the sub-genre this plot conveys.

I would give Cudmore another shot with the hopes of better execution where I didn’t feel like non-millennial diaspora.

About Libby CudmoreLibby-Cudmore-AP

Libby Cudmore worked at video stores, bookstores, and temp agencies before settling down in upstate New York to write. Her short stories have appeared in PANK, The Stoneslide Corrective, The Big Click, and Big Lucks. The Big Rewind is her first novel.

Follow Libby on her blog and connect with her on Twitter.

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The Big Rewind by Libby Cudmore, published by William Morrow Paperbacks (February 2, 2016) is available at AmazonIndieBound and Barnes & Noble.

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Review: The Renegade Queen (Rebellious Times Book 1) by Eva Flynn

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About The Renegade Queen

Two Renegades So Controversial, They Were Erased From History

Discarded by society, she led a social revolution. Disgusted by war, he sought a new world.

She was the first women to run for President, campaigning before women could vote.

He was the Hero of Vicksburg, disillusioned with the government after witnessing the devastating carnage of the Civil War.

Their social revolution attracted the unwanted who were left out of the new wealth: the freed slaves, the new immigrants, and women.

Who were they?

This is the true story of Victoria Woodhull and the love of her life, James Blood.

Adored by the poor, hated by the powerful, forced into hiding during their lifetimes and erased from history after death, the legend of their love lives on.

It’s 1869 and Victoria has a choice to make. She can stay in an abusive marriage and continue to work as a psychic, or she can take the offer of support from handsome Civil War general James Blood and set about to turn society upside down. Victoria chooses revolution.

But revolutions are expensive, and Victoria needs money. James introduces Victoria to one of the wealthiest man in America—Commodore Vanderbilt. Along with her loose and scandalous sister, Tennessee, Victoria manipulates Vanderbilt and together they conspire to crash the stock market—and profit from it. Victoria then parlays her fortune into the first female-owned brokerage firm.

When her idol Susan B. Anthony publishes scandalous rumors about Victoria’s past, Victoria enters into a fierce rivalry with Susan to control the women’s movement. James supports Victoria’s efforts despite his deep fears that she may lose more than the battle. She might lose part of herself.

Victoria starts her own newspaper, testifies to Congress, and even announces her candidacy for President. But when Victoria adopts James’s radical ideas and free love beliefs, she ignites new, bruising, battles with Susan B. Anthony and the powerful Reverend Henry Beecher. These skirmishes turn into an all-out war, with Victoria facing prejudice, prosecution, and imprisonment. Ultimately, Victoria and James face the hardest choice of all: the choice between their country and their love.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo

My Review

Victoria Woodhull is a woman known to few, I find this astonishing but not completely surprised since poignant women in history are rarely introduced in classroom environments.

Flynn does a wonderful job of introducing and reintroducing this amazing woman. Woodhull was a product of a controversial and horrifically dysfuntional family. Constantly battling obstacles she carved a path for herself and became a ‘first’ in many positions unheard of for women. Her passion and commitment along with numerous sacrifices led to championing for the right for women to vote. Her relentless efforts cost her dearly, despite what written history states Woodhull was a major player in gaining voting rights for women, truly an unsung hero against the backdrop of more familiar and known names – Stanton, Anthony, Hooker.

With an election looming, you can’t help but pause and give a sigh of gratitude for this woman and for the other pioneering women fighting for the female right to vote.

Flynn’s research and display really create a riveting read, you understand the toughness and determination possessed by memorable Woodhull. Great read for those seeking to learn more of women in history and those familiar with this trailblazing fearless spitfire.

About the Author03_Eva Flynn

Eva was raised on bedtime stories of feminists (the tooth fairy even brought Susan B. Anthony dollars) and daytime lessons on American politics. On one fateful day years ago when knowledge was found on bound paper, she discovered two paragraphs about Victoria Woodhull in the WXYZ volume of the World Book Encyclopedia. When she realized that neither of her brilliant parents (a conservative political science professor and a liberal feminist) had never heard of her, it was the beginning of a lifelong fascination not only with Victoria Woodhull but in discovering the stories that the history books do not tell. Brave battles fought, new worlds sought, loves lost all in the name of some future glory have led her to spend years researching the period of Reconstruction. Her first book, The Renegade Queen , explores the forgotten trailblazer Victoria Woodhull and her rivalry with Susan B. Anthony.

Eva was born and raised in Tennessee, earned her B.A. in Political Science from DePauw in Greencastle, Indiana and still lives in Indiana. Eva enjoys reading, classic movies, and travelling. She loves to hear from readers, you may reach her at eva@rebellioustimes.com, and follow her on Goodreads and Twitter.

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 Publication Date: December 15, 2015 Omega Press

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Review: Girl Through Glass by Sari Wilson

Girl Through Glass cover

About Girl Through Glass

An enthralling literary debut that tells the story of a young girl’s coming-of-age in the cutthroat world of New York City ballet—a story of obsession and perfection, trust and betrayal, beauty and lost innocence.

In the roiling summer of 1977, eleven-year-old Mira is an aspiring ballerina in the romantic, highly competitive world of New York City ballet. Enduring the mess of her parents’ divorce, she finds escape in dance—the rigorous hours of practice, the exquisite beauty, the precision of movement, the obsessive perfectionism. Ballet offers her control, power, and the promise of glory. It also introduces her to forty-seven-year-old Maurice DuPont, a reclusive, charismatic balletomane who becomes her friend and mentor.

Over the course of three years, Mira is accepted into the prestigious School of American Ballet, run by the legendary George Balanchine, and eventually becomes one of “Mr. B’s girls”—a dancer of rare talent chosen for greatness. As she ascends in the ballet world, her relationship with Maurice intensifies, touching dark places within herself and sparking unexpected desires that will upend both their lives.

In the present day, Kate, a professor of dance at a midwestern college, embarks on a risky affair with a student that threatens to obliterate her career and capsize the new life she has painstakingly created for her reinvented self. When she receives a letter from a man she’s long thought dead, Kate is hurled back into the dramas of a past she thought she had left behind.

Moving between the past and the present, Girl Through Glass illuminates the costs of ambition, perfection, secrets, and the desire for beauty, and reveals how the sacrifices we make for an ideal can destroy—or save—us.

My Review

A disturbing story yet it feels completely realistic. We are fully aware the ballet world is demanding and functions by its own rules and decorum which makes the narrative even more eerie.

I couldn’t stand any of the characters and I feel guilty for saying I didn’t even care for Mira/Kate. A major factor for my dislike of Mira/Kate – not enough character development. I know a series of poor decisions were made on Mira/Kate’s part, her parents lack of parenting a contributing factor plus the ballet world was somewhat responsible as well. Mira was a young girl looking for love, attention and validation her parents failed to provide, so Mira’s ‘secret’ was painful and she gained all my empathy and sympathy. As for the parents, I was disgusted and frustrated with them from beginning to end, self-absorbed to the point of blindness, pathetic would be generous. The pedophile made my stomach turn – pure predator no matter the disguise worn. I’m sure he was one of many circulating the halls of ballet company’s under false pretense if not known for their true patronage.

The plot was predictable, no surprises whatsoever. As previously stated, as brutal as the narrative was it has an aura of plausibility.

A harsh glimpse into the world of ballet through the eyes and experiences of a young girl coming of age. A world only those directly involved seem to comprehend as laypeople are aghast at the intricate questionable machinations of such a powerful foreign world.

Sari Wilson AP Photo credit Elena Seibert

Photo credit Elena Seibert

About Sari Wilson

Sari Wilson trained as a dancer with the Harkness Ballet in New York and was on scholarship at Eliot Feld’s New Ballet School. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow of the Provincetown Fine Arts Center, and her fiction has appeared in Agni, the Oxford American, Slice, and Third Coast. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband, the cartoonist Josh Neufeld.

Find out more about Sari at her website, and connect with her on Twitter.

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Publisher: Harper (January 26, 2016)

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Review & Guest Post: In Another Life by Julie Christine Johnson

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About In Another Life

It is January 1208 and in a village on the border between Provence and Languedoc, a monk whispers a benediction over the body of a slain papal emissary. The Cathars—followers of a heretical faith—are blamed for the assassination. The Pope declares a holy war and Languedoc is forever changed.

Eight hundred years later, historian Lia Carrer returns to southern France to rebuild her life after the death of her husband. Instead of finding solace in Languedoc’s quiet hills and medieval ruins, the woman trying to heal risks love, and loss, again.

Reincarnation is familiar ground for Lia—an expert in the mystical beliefs of the ancient Cathar faith—but to reconcile the truth of that long-ago assassination, the logical researcher must accept religious fantasy as historical fact. Three lost souls enter her life, each holding a key to the murder that launched a religious crusade in the heart of Europe.

In Another Life is set amidst the medieval intrigue of thirteenth century Languedoc and Paris, intertwined with Lia’s modern quest to uncover the truth of an ancient murder and free a man haunted by ghosts from his past.

AMAZON |  BARNES & NOBLE

My Review

Thank you Julie Christine Johnson for taking me on such an amazing reading journey. Exploring the Languedoc region of France and Catharism penned by your exquisite writing as you deftly threaded Science Fiction, Fantasy with love, religious persecution, loss, redemption.

Alternating between past and present with gripping characters searching for answers made for an enthralling read. The languid pace intensifies with the turn of every page as the story unrolls, I caught myself holding my breath as the adventure and excitement continues.

I felt such empathy for Lia. Lia is a woman stricken with sorrow and grief finding herself caught between the past and the present, sucked into the past through another’s life and thrust into the present with an answer to a question lingering in history. Incredibly three-dimensional you sense Lia’s turmoil and calm as she pieces everything together.

Memorable story leaving you lost in thought for quite a while. Impressive ambitious debut from a very talented authoress. Anxiously awaiting Johnson’s next undertaking. You’ll be left breathless and measured simultaneously, enigmatic.

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Raven Haired Girl extends a warm welcome to Julie Christine Johnson. Thank you for joining Raven Haired Girl, Julie 

Guest Post

The Soundtrack of a Novel: In Another Life

by Julie Christine Johnson

I write to music. A low murmur in my headphones to cancel out the chatter around me if I’m in a public place, or a soft swirl of sound at home to break the silence. Typically I write to mellow, dreamy tunes without words or too much of a beat: chillwave, ambient, the gentler side of classical—Albinoni, Chopin, Debussy.

That’s what I write to.

But each of my novels has a soundtrack, music that puts me inside the characters’ souls so that I feel their longing, confusion, joy, anger, passion, wonder. Certain songs wrap tendrils of emotion around my heart and squeeze, until I gasp a story onto the page, releasing the pressure of characters struggling to be heard.

Are you familiar with the Welsh word hiraeth? How about the Portuguese saudade? German’s Sehnsucht? Words that have no direct translation in English, but each expresses an essential longing of the soul, homesickness for a place never visited, a melancholy that sinks so deep, you gasp in pain while your mouth waters in pleasure; an unrequited longing for the ghost of a dream, castles built in clouds.

It is this sense of longing that I most wanted to convey through In Another Life, where a woman loses her beloved husband and wanders lost, without love or a sense of self. The sirens of hiraeth call her back to her spiritual home, the southern French region of Languedoc, but melancholy follows in her wake.

For In Another Life, the song that most evokes the novel’s emotional core, the song I think of as Lia’s song, came years before the novel. I heard it years before I would dare call myself a writer. But this song became the genesis of a character, a woman aching with longing that she can barely allow herself to express: Tori Amos’ “Sleeps with Butterflies”, from her 2005 album The Beekeeper.

I’m not like the girls that you’ve known
But I believe I’m worth coming home to

They are the words a woman offers tentatively to a new love, wondering, ‘Is it me you want?’

Are you having regrets about last night?

It is a subtle dance between confidence about who she is, what she wants, but uncertainty—in these early days of new and delicate love—if her lover reciprocates the same intensity of feeling.

If you don’t know the song, bring it up on iTunes or Spotify. Imagine this is Lia singing, the morning after her walk with Raoul in the frozen wonderland of vineyards buried under snow, remembering their first kiss, their shared longing and hesitation. Imagine this writer waiting for just the right story to bring that woman, in all her longing and hesitation, to life.

Other artists that form In Another Life’s soundtrack: French folksinger Francis Cabrel, who sings in both Spanish and French; Damien Rice, Sarah McLachlan, David Gray, M83, The Swell Season.

What about you—writers and readers—what are the songs that make your skin tingle with emotion, your solar plexus reverberate with feeling, fill you with inexplicable longing?

About Julie Christine Johnsonimage004

Julie Christine Johnson’s short stories and essays have appeared in several journals, including Mud Season Review; Cirque: A Literary Journal of the North Pacific Rim; Cobalt, and the anthologies Stories for Sendai; Up, Do: Flash Fiction by Women Writers; and Three Minus One: Stories of Love and Loss. She holds undergraduate degrees in French and Psychology and a Master’s in International Affairs.

Her second novel, The Crows Of Beara, a finalist in the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature, has sold to Ashland Creek Press for publication in fall 2017. In this work of women’s fiction, a struggling American PR executive and an enigmatic Irish artist face off over the development of a copper mine in rural Ireland, finding love and redemption amid the rugged, mystical land.

A runner, hiker, and wine geek, Julie makes her home on the Olympic Peninsula of northwest Washington State with her husband. In Another Life is her first novel.

Find out more about Julie at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter, Goodreads.

Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark – February 2, 2016

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Review: Hello From the Gillespies by Monica McInerney

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A sentimental story on the power of family, pulling together when they fall and rise. It’s about accepting the honest truth without placing blame on others, it’s about family – remaining united no matter the circumstances. Miscommunication, truth plays a large part as well. Great themes which made the story whimsically delightful.

A traditional family Christmas letter tells as the matriarch suffers a meltdown.

I liked the Gillespies but they didn’t wow me. They’re a sweet clan but McInerney didn’t expand on them individually, you were privy to a snippet of who they are lacking depth. Pleasant, possessing a contrived feeling, I did enjoy the fact they were ‘normal’ and not over the top ‘Jerry Springer-esque.’ I liked Angela, I’m sure the average woman can understand her feelings and of course her ‘stream of consciousness’ along with her ‘fantasy life.’

McInerney’s writing certainly snags the reader’s attention, the book is long but it moves quickly and feels shorter in pages. I applaud the manner in which McInerney presented the family along with numerous themes, a gentler method than the harsher dysfunctional family’s so commonly demonstrated. A sweet story, although a bit manufactured for my taste with wonderful themes. A story many will enjoy and relate to in many ways.


•Paperback, 624 pages
•Published November 4th 2014 by NAL Trade (first published September 1st 2014)
•ISBN13: 9780451466723

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Review: Night in Shanghai by Nicole Mones

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An African-American jazzman and his circle in prewar Shanghai.

The backdrop is affecting, riddled with tension as the future of China hangs in the balance as well as its people. A dual love story taking place in Shanghai 1936 during the Japanese invasion. Mones crafts a riveting story of forbidden love filled with passion, agony, sacrifice during pre/post war along with its carnage.

The characters are well developed, each offering a vital role in the narrative, their uniqueness along with their individual circumstances adds drama. A patchwork cast meshing.

The plot in intriguing and engaging. The pace is smooth and gains momentum slowly enabling the reader to absorb the narrative, feel the impending threat of war, the characters emotions, concerns, all palpable. Your senses fully engaged. The music, lyrics, the jazz aspect amplifies narrative with color and scope.

Mones cites factual events with the perfect blend of fiction. Well researched, her knowledge of China obvious. The strain between Communists and Nationalists, Green Gang, Jews relocating to Shanghai, Japanese recruitment of Chinese to defect, the devastation of war, the loss of life, delivered with such force as it is vividly detailed from the adroit hand of Mones.

The ending is memorable, guaranteed to resinate for quite some time.

A well written book encompassing much precursory to WWII, rich in historical events as well as the agony and ecstasy of love.


•Hardcover, 278 pages
•Published March 4th 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (first published January 1st 2014)
•ISBN13: 9780547516172

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