New York Times Bestselling Author

Book Review: Women’s Fiction

Posted by on May 28, 2017 | 0 comments

Hello Sunshine by Laura Dave

♥♥♥♥♥

Women’s Fiction

 I was excited to read HELLO, SUNSHINE after reading author Laura Dave’s book, EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES, and I was not disappointed.

 The protagonist of HELLO, SUNSHINE, Sunny Mackenzie, tells the reader right away that she’s not a good person, but I liked her from the start because of the intimate way she told her story about how she lost her husband, home, and job in the same day—her thirty-fifth birthday.

 Her job is the CEO of the number cooking show on YouTube—with a staff of 250 people, multiple cookbooks, and a soon-to-be show on the Food Network. Then, the social media that helped her become who she is abruptly conspires to destroy her burgeoning empire.

 What follows is a story about Sunshine discovering herself by coming to terms with a family past she ran away from. Though the story is about Sunshine in particular, it’s also about how all of us can get swept up in the versions of ourselves we present by only showing certain aspects of our lives on social media. For most of us, it’s just a few hundred/thousand “friends,” but for even minor celebrities, the reach can be much greater.

 I really enjoyed this book. Dave really knows her stuff when it comes to food and wine—and people—marriage, family, and our relationship to ourselves. Highly recommend.

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book.


 

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Book Review: Short Story Collection

Posted by on May 27, 2017 | 0 comments

The Graybar Hotel by Curtis Dawkins

♥♥♥♥♥

Short Stories > Prison > Drug Addiction > Alcoholism

If you like Orange is the New Black or are interested in the topics of addiction and our damaged prison system or if you just like well-written short stories, you will enjoy this collection authored by a man who is serving a life sentence for murdering a man during a home invasion.

 

As with any short story collection, I liked some stories more than others, but the writing is consistently good. The stories convey the boredom of incarceration, but what I felt most acutely was not being able to get away from the endless mindless chatter of other inmates (like one character who consistently bored his other inmates with explicit descriptions of his dreams). One of my favorites of the book was titled “Engulfed,” in which the narrator describes the liars in prison as well as the way those of us on the outside lie—to others and to ourselves.

I would have expected stories about the fear of being raped, but there wasn’t any of that. There are some stories about the fear of being beaten up over not being able to pay back debts to other prisoners.

Some stories are about what becoming an addict is like—what leads someone to begin to steal to support a habit. Others are about the first days of incarceration, others about what it’s like to be inside for many years, another about the challenge of getting out into the world.

I read this in two big chunks, which is not the way to read a short story collection. However, taken in smaller reads, these stories show the lives of damaged people inside and outside prison walls.

Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book.

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