Faint praise
The Book Adept » Realistic Fiction
by bookadept
6d ago
The phrase “damning with faint praise” (from a poem by Alexander Pope) keeps coming to mind as I think about the book The 100 Years of Lenni and Margot, by Marianne Cronin. But I think what my reaction to this book really suffers from is damning from excessive praise! It’s just another lesson to me to go my own way when I pick things to read instead of following the popularity contest of a narrow number of books that “everyone” on Facebook is reading and about which they are raving. I did love the opening lines, in which Lenni hears the word “Terminal” (in reference to her condition, from her ..read more
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Binchy’s best?
The Book Adept » Realistic Fiction
by bookadept
3M ago
The winning title for that is endlessly debated in Facebook reading groups, but having just completed my third (fourth?) reread, I can say that this is the one for me. It’s hard to synopsize Scarlet Feather, because there’s so much going on all at once in different arenas, but I’ll give it a shot. Cathy Scarlet and Tom Feather met and became fast and eternal friends in catering school; both of them have had the unwavering aspiration to start a catering company together. Not a restaurant, but rather a company that cooks for large functions and intimate dinner parties alike and delivers (and so ..read more
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The test of a good book
The Book Adept » Realistic Fiction
by bookadept
5M ago
When I first read The Gravity of Birds, by Tracy Guzeman, in 2013, I said, “This is one of those books that I wanted to turn around and read again as soon as I finished it.” After having read it for the second time 10 years later, I experienced the exact same impulse as soon as I turned the last page. There can be a few reasons for doing that: 1. You liked it so much that you don’t want to be done; 2. It was so complex that when you got to the end you said, Hey, wait a minute…and went back to see if you completely understood how to get to where you “got”; 3. You wanted to wallow more in the w ..read more
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Quiet transformation
The Book Adept » Realistic Fiction
by bookadept
5M ago
Still Life with Bread Crumbs, by Anna Quindlen, is a book that doesn’t have an initially heavy impact, but it sticks with you. It’s about a woman in a situation to which many of us in our 60s can relate: We were “somebody” once (or if we weren’t exactly prominent, we were at least identified as a certain kind of person who does a specific kind of thing, whose identity is wrapped up with that activity), and now we’re beginning a downsizing of that role; and this narrowing could be an end, or it could be an avenue for change, depending on how we react to it, how we see it through, what we are w ..read more
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Metaphor
The Book Adept » Realistic Fiction
by bookadept
7M ago
If I had to define the central theme of the book Black Cake, by Charmaine Wilkerson, it would probably be summed up by this quote: “But the fact was, when you lived a life, under any name, that life became entwined with others. You left a trail of potential consequences. You were never just you, and you owed it to the people you cared about to remember that.” ELEANOR BENNETT The cake in the title, made with blended fruits soaked in liquor and with burnt sugar added to produce its distinctive black color, is a symbol of family, tradition, a thread of familiarity that stretches back to connect ..read more
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A classic based on a classic
The Book Adept » Realistic Fiction
by bookadept
7M ago
I feel like I need some kind of reward for having finished, just as the author deserves an award for having written! I enthusiastically and optimistically started Demon Copperhead, by Barbara Kingsolver, two days after Christmas, thinking it would be my first read of 2023, but my count is now up to 11 books, and I just finished it. I took two breaks, one motivated by wanting to be able to read on my Kindle in the dark of night in my bed (I bought the hardcover of Demon Copperhead, knowing that I’d want to keep it on my shelf), and the other by realizing that the depressing nature of the story ..read more
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Departure?
The Book Adept » Realistic Fiction
by bookadept
7M ago
I have read many (most?) of Alice Hoffman’s books, and although there are major shifts in the tone of her writing at certain points in her career, she is consistently someone who is attentive both to detail and to character. Her book Faithful is no exception to that, but what is missing (despite erroneous labeling by Goodreads) is the element of magical realism that pops up in many of her books. There is one part of the story that I suppose, at a stretch, could qualify, but it’s such a low-level background piece of information that I don’t really count it, especially because the magic is cite ..read more
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Verisimilitude
The Book Adept » Realistic Fiction
by bookadept
7M ago
I love that word, and it’s not one that you often get the chance to use. But it perfectly describes the book Holding Smoke, by Elle Cosimano, which I reread this week after a six-year hiatus and discovered that I liked it every bit as well the second time as I did on first perusal (another good word). I originally picked up the book back in 2016 because of its setting—juvenile hall. While I was in library school, I took a class that required racking up service hours as part of the grade, and a dozen of us started book-talking groups (like a book club, but each person reads their own choice of ..read more
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Moxie
The Book Adept » Realistic Fiction
by bookadept
7M ago
The setting of this realistic young adult novel by Jennifer Mathieu seemed so appropriate when I began reading it a couple of weeks ago, and even more relevant at this present moment. It takes place at a high school in a small East Texas town, and the atmosphere there reverts back to the 1950s with its misogynistic focus on football players who can do no wrong and girls who are expected, for the sake of “school spirit,” to put up with their endless immature sexist bullshit as well as their overbearing sense of entitlement. One junior girl, previously something of a nonentity at the school, st ..read more
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Mary Jane
The Book Adept » Realistic Fiction
by bookadept
7M ago
For those of you who grew up, as I did, in the ’60s and ’70s, no, this isn’t a book about marijuana. But that recreational herb does figure into this book, in more ways than as a code name it shares with the protagonist. Mary Jane, by Jessica Anya Blau, is one of the most charming coming-of-age stories I have read in decades. It’s not a book with a driving plot, it’s more a slice-of-life story about a particular kind of girl from a specific era and community; but the trans-formation she experiences over the course of one summer of baby-sitting is such a pleasure to witness. Mary Jane is 14 ye ..read more
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