Heading Out to Wonderful

Liked A Reliable Wife? So did I. But I liked this better. Author Robert Goolrick’s sophomore effort, Heading Out to Wonderful, is worth your time on a long, rainy weekend. Or a road trip. Or the doctor’s office. It doesn’t take very many pages before you are completely engrossed in the tale of Charlie Beale, and his journey to Brownsburg, where his life intersects with that of Will and Alma Haislett, their son Sam, and the residents of this tiny town in Virgina in the late 1940s. Here’s what you need to know—it’s historical fiction, it’s a love story, and … Continue reading Heading Out to Wonderful

Caravan of Thieves

Is it a screenplay masquerading as a book, or a book masquerading as a screenplay? David Rich may be a debut author, but he’s no novice. His work prior to this book was heavy on the screenplay—and I’m not sure that was knowledge that helped or hurt the cause as I read. Lest you think I’m about to insult, I’m not—the book is a good read. I may not put it in the same category as a Clancy or Baldacci, but for the CIA-style thriller, it was enjoyable. The story’s main character, Rollie Waters, is drawn into a three-way war … Continue reading Caravan of Thieves

The Light Between Oceans

Grab the book, grab a Kleenex, say adios to the family for at least the day. M.L. Stedman’s debut effort (What IS it with debut books, lately?) is astoundingly good and well worth your time to read. The story of lightkeeper Tom Sherbourne and his wife Isabelle in early 1900s Australia, it will only take a few pages for you to become completely immersed in their lives on Janus Rock. Tom is a war hero, Izzy the only remaining Graysmark child after Vi and Bill’s two sons die at war. So before you go judging Izzy, put yourself in her … Continue reading The Light Between Oceans

The Casual Vacancy

So J.K. Rowling can write for adults, after all. “The Casual Vacancy,” the sordid tale of politics and personality in the small town of Pagford, is the author’s first true foray into adult literature—although, let’s be honest, she already had adults reading her work when she was the queen of all things Potter. The book is engrossing—unwieldy at first, but once you get in, it’s difficult to put it down. If you choose to take it on, here’s a quick primer on the characters: Barry and Mary Fairbrother: Barry dies at the outset, resulting in a “casual vacancy” on the … Continue reading The Casual Vacancy

Sharp Objects

Looking for a quick, can’t-put-it-down psychological thriller? Look no further than “Sharp Objects.” The book, author Gillian Flynn’s first, debuted to critical acclaim when it was published in 2007. It’s getting renewed, and well-deserved, attention thanks to Flynn’s success this summer with “Gone Girl.” Themes? Where do I start? Family dysfunction, serial killers, pain, loss, grief, rejection, batshit crazy people … it’s all packed nearly into 252 pages. Chicago crime reporter Camille Preaker is sent back to her southern Missouri hometown to cover the possibility a serial killer is stalking the sweet little girls of Wind Gap. Camille’s upbringing was … Continue reading Sharp Objects

The Age of Miracles

The hell? I’m not sure who or what told me to read “The Age of Miracles.” And let me be clear—I am not disappointed I did. But seriously …. what the hell? This debut novel from Karen Thompson Walker was as disturbing as it was entertaining. And by entertaining, I mean that it swallowed up my day whole. I didn’t want to put it down, mesmerized by the desperate plot line. Sixth-grader Julia narrates a year in her life, beginning with a cataclysmic event—the slowing of the Earth’s rotation. I drew an immediate connection from this book to Tom Perrotta’s … Continue reading The Age of Miracles

The Sandcastle Girls

You know the term “investment piece?” We hear it a lot in fashion and furniture. Sure, it’s not exactly trendy, and it costs more, but it lasts longer. You’ll use it forever. It’s well-worth the larger financial and/or emotional investment. That’s “The Sandcastle Girls.” This book isn’t going to blow up the summer reading charts in the same fashion as the “50 Shades” trilogy or Gillian Flynn’s “Gone Girl.” But it certainly isn’t any less worthy of accolades. It’s simply a really tough read. It is about a love affair, but it’s not traditionally romantic. Set in the early 1900s … Continue reading The Sandcastle Girls

Unholy Night

Full disclosure: I am not the most religious person in the world. Not even close. I’m not sure if that made “Unholy Night” more enjoyable or not. Even the most religiously-challenged have a vague idea of what went down on the night of Jesus’ birth. Three wise men appear thanks to a star in the sky and bestow the world’s first Christmas gifts on the wee Baby Jesus (insert Ricky Bobby prayer here). But, as author Seth Grahame-Smith notes, how much do we really know about these guys? For me, not knowing all the intricate details of King Herod, Judea … Continue reading Unholy Night

No Pulitzer for Fiction in 2012? Boo!

The Pulitzer Awards are the book industry’s Oscars—and it was with great anticipation that I waited for the release of the list of winners. Only to be followed with an audible “WTF?” when it became clear there was no winner in the fiction category for the first time since the late 70s. Book geek message boards began to light up with similar reactions—2011 was such a fantastic year for fiction, I thought, how could it be possible for there to be no winner? I knew Salon.com writer Laura Miller would have something to say—and her column has offered the most … Continue reading No Pulitzer for Fiction in 2012? Boo!