The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney

•December 8, 2019 • Leave a Comment

This was released in hardcover in September. I have read and thoroughly enjoyed the first two books by JP Delaney. I also enjoyed this, but certain things from it spurred to post the following review on Goodreads: OMG. What the hell did I just read??

JP Delaney is great at stretching the boundaries of normal to include perversity, psychological mind melds, the dregs of human identity, and throw in a good measure of stunned and welcome disbelief for the reader at the end of the book. All of those same were present here, except add in some sci-fi elements, which was new for this author.

Abbie wakes up, having no memory of what happened to her or why she is in the hospital and feels like a whole new woman. She is…except she is. The man at her side says he is her husband, and she has an adorable little boy, too. But Abbie feels like something is terribly awry. She’s a miracle of modern science, but she is bristling with indecision, fear, anger, jealousy at the nanny who seems super close to her husband and son….human emotions but it seems Abbie may be an android….or is she? You really have no idea until the end, but when you get there, you’re no doubt going “Holy shit” at the reveal. It’s one of those books, but it superceded even what Delaney has managed with their previous books. If you want something that makes you shake your head and try to figure it out, this is the author for you.

Being Elvis: A Lonely Life by Ray Connolly (3 out of 5)

•December 8, 2019 • Leave a Comment

Another Elvis book? ANOTHER ELVIS BOOK??? That’s what I said when Courtney recommended it to me. Courtney works, is a wife and mom to a newborn, she really has valid reasons for not getting reading done! So when she recommended this to me, I bought it. In May. And then my Dad got sick, passed, I moved from one bookstore to a bigger bookstore, life got crazy, etc. I uncovered it in October and read it. It profoundly disturbed me. Elvis’ end disturbed all of his fans, his family, his friends, everyone. He was an icon who was widely adored, but whose last few years had been marred by weight gain, lethargic shows, rambling and incoherent speeches between songs, and the manner in which he passed did not inspire fond memories of the King. If anyone ever needed a reminder of how lonely Elvis Presley’s life was, this is another reminder.

Overall, as a book, it was decent. Although there was a lot of focus on his movie career and not as much on the music. Given the book’s overall vibe, this makes sense because he was greatly depressed because the quality of those movies was nonexistent, and brought him a great deal of grief as a result. But the thing that really sticks with the reader is the hopelessness of the last 5 years of his life, after his marriage ended and he started popping all the pills that shady Dr. Nick prescribed. He just went through the motions. And Connolly reiterates the empty echoes rolling through Graceland toward the end. It is a very dark book. Anyone who has read about the King before may find it darker than most, because Connolly does unearth a lot of psychology in this one. This is currently out and available in paperback.

Ladies Who Punch: The Explosive Inside Story of The View by Ramin Setoodeh (3 out of 5)

•December 7, 2019 • Leave a Comment

This was a damaged copy sitting on the back bookcase at work. I had just read a bunch of depressing shit and was seeking world peace, enlightenment, unlimited chocolate chip cookies, or tabloid journalism. This fit the last bill, but a bit more dignified. A bit. It’s not the sort of book that will broker change. Except-maybe-the channel you watch for your morning cup of politics, current events, and the occasional celebrity.

Setoodeh writes this as an insider who is somewhat a fan who is grappling with his conscience for watching the show, enjoying it, and then having to spill the beans to earn that check from the publishing house. While reading it, there were entire times where I said this very thing aloud. But eventually, you get over that sense once the fur starts being flung. In this case, anyone from Elisabeth Hasselback to Joy Behar to Meghan McCain, back to those who auditioned and didn’t get the gig. Except Whoopi. Ironically, when I started this one in October, I had just finished a terrible book where Whoopi Goldberg and her films had a prominent role. It was quite eerie; those books back to back. I will say this about this book; I liked to make fun of Barbara Walters; I blame Saturday Night Live at a young age.

This book actually made me respect her more; not only her business savvy, but her work ethic. Not to mention her reasons for wanting to create a forum like The View, unheard of in television at that point. The fact that it is still trucking along at this date just proves that she has staying power, retirement or not. The book was a lot of dish, not as much dash. Very enjoyable as a quick read for those who like some dish, but it’s not a book that will change the world.

Once Upon A Book Club: The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner (3 out of 5)

•December 5, 2019 • Leave a Comment

This was my last pick for The Literature Bandits in July. By this time, I was pretty sure that I was on my way up to the new gig. BR was so good to me for many years, but all good things have to come to an end. This was about a month after losing my dad, and half of the Bandits were on vacation. I do keep in touch with most of them… Saying goodbye to that little book club was as hard as saying goodbye to BR was. It figures that I finally have a dedicated group of ladies coming out every month and then I’m off to the wild blue yonder of VH.

Anyway, I had this friendly argument with people in the last month about “The Mars Room” vs “The Flamethrowers”. Personally, I loved The Flamethrowers more. More passion, more intellect, less disappointment. The Mars Room didn’t pick up until halfway through, and the end completely pissed me off. Care about the characters and that end? Fucking ridiculous. Kushner is one talented lady, but this book was torturous to get through. At least the first half.

Romy is serving two consecutive life sentences, while life in San Francisco goes on outside the prison walls. Kushner invokes the heartstrings of the reader by bringing Romy’s young son Jackson into the story. Romy is desperate to try to connect with her son, especially when she hears that things are not going according to plan. Tie that in with the life behind prison walls, from relationships to death to friendships, humor, and the absurdities of life behind bars. Kushner nails it, no doubt, but just as the reader is really behind Romy’s third eye, she rips the rug out from under the reader, and leaves you yelling at the book. I threw the damn thing out- I remain pissed at that ending. So…if you want a controversial book club pick that will invoke some discussions, this is a good pick.

Shamed (Kate Burkholder #11) by Linda Castillo (5 out of 5)

•October 28, 2019 • Leave a Comment

I am a big fan of Linda Castillo. Barbara’s is totally to blame for this. I had not heard of the Kate Burkholder series until I started there. After Michael Cox’s books, Linda Castillo was the next author I picked up. I never looked back. Maybe it was a subconscious nod to my almost Amish lifestyle (see bozo ex #1) or because Amish anything is mocked, misunderstood, or misrepresented. Amish romances, for example. What. The. Hell. Are. They. Why. Do. They. Exist. I mean, sure-the Amish deserve loving as much as the rest of us. But it is a phrase that causes people to look confused when it is said out loud. “Amish romance?”. I wonder-not enough to read one of these barn burners, mind you- how cheesy they are. I wasn’t sure what to think of Linda Castillo’s setting and premise. I would tell anyone who asked that she writes her series and characters like Jodi Picoult. Meaning realistically. No mamby pamby nonsense here. That’s why I enjoy the series so much. Realistic crime and realistic characters who don’t try to cover their scars up with K-Pop bandages.

Kate Burkholder’s latest finds her investigating the murder of an elderly grandmother on an abandoned farm, and the victim’s 7-year old granddaughter has also gone missing. Burkholder heads to an Old Amish settlement where they all seem willing to help at first, before withdrawing and a scary attempt is made on Kate’s life. Can Burkholder, her law enforcement team, and her prosecutor boyfriend Tomasetti find the girl and figure out what happened to the grandmother? All of Castillo’s novels are imbued with realistic shades of modern day life, even among the Amish. This novel scared me with the ferocity of the crimes; for the first time in a long time, I had to stick to reading this one during the day. Castillo’s novels only seem to be getting better as she moves along in the series. And at the end? A little bit of hope to tide us over until the next one. Highly recommended!

The Whisper Network by Chandler Baker (5 out of 5)

•October 19, 2019 • Leave a Comment

This was a delight. I finished it back in July, a testament of how far behind on this blog I have fallen. I have to say, on the record, that almost every Reese Witherspoon book club pick I have picked up (or in this case, won in a giveaway) was an enjoyable read. This one isn’t only relevant with the #MeToo movement, but with the long term culture in many workplaces if women not being paid/recognized the same as men. Chandler Baker nailed it.

Book clubs will have a field day if they choose this title. When I was running the book club in Burr Ridge, I picked a few books that were not great and there were not a lot of discussion points. This is not the case here! I can see this being a title, if chosen for book clubs, that will instigate a lot of discussion. Or passionate debate.

Ames, the head of Truviv, is possibly up for a huge promotion following the death of Truviv’s owner. The central women figures of The Whisper Network (Sloane, Ardie, Rosalita, and Grace) are horrified at the thoughts of what may happen at Truviv if Ames gets that head honcho job. They set into motion a series of events that will change things for all of them forever. This book I can best describe as 9 to 5 (the movie) meets the #MeToo movement. Throw in a smidge of the women’s solidarity from Big Little Lies and voila…instant hit! I enjoyed this on many levels, and not just because of the current events peppering the morning papers. The characters felt real and none of the things happening in the story felt forced or cliched. It felt like a reckoning was taking place. A long overdue reckoning! The writing itself was crisp and whispering of conspiracies behind other office doors. I liked the balance of current things going on and balanced with humor throughout. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Inside Out by Demi Moore (5 out of 5)

•October 3, 2019 • Leave a Comment

This turned out to be a better memoir than I thought. I just had to read it. Not only do I think they were too tough on her for “shaming” her ex husband for his infidelities, but I find it highly ironic that a lot of the outlets reporting that outrage are the very same tabloids that made her life hell back when she was married to Bruce Willis. Despite all this, there are two sides to every story. There is the ex, and then there is Demi’s side.

The book is out now and no doubt will be hitting the bestseller list in the next few weeks. It didn’t take long to get into it and read it. It’s equally hard to pinpoint why I found it so refreshing. I think her candor, ability to laugh at herself, and yet remain realistic about all the sadness that she has gone through was unexpected and added a layer of tough vulnerability which added to the appeal of her story. I enjoyed reading about her rough childhood from her, and not from the trashy tabloids. You can tell she has worked hard to maintain some equilibrium in her life, and it shows. Definitely worth a read.