Guest Resident Blogger’s Book #47 of 2016

About a Girl by Lindsey Kelkabout-a-girl
Pageturner’s Book Club Selection November

I’ll admit I groaned when this one was announced. I thought I was above reading chick lit—British chick lit, at that—in my ripe old age. But obviously, I have forgotten how much fun it is!  It’s pretty much the story of any up-and-coming girl in the city. Girl has entry-level advertising job, where she is desperate to advance. Girl is secretly in love with her best guy friend for going on ten years. Girl works her fingers to the bone with ad agency only to be made “redundant” & let go. Girl is now without purpose & is sitting on a park bench in London, all ‘woe-is-me’ when a Nazi sympathizer tries to rob her, only to learn she has nothing to rob. Not even a phone. Nazi sympathizer converts to Tess sympathizer & gives her the latest phone he’s ripped off somebody. At least now she has a phone. Girl goes home to the apartment she shares with Satan’s mistress, Vanessa, to drown more sorrows with her girl BFF, Amy, & biscuits (read: cookies. We’re in England, you knockers). The trio of besties go to Tess’s parents for a family function, girl gets blind drunk & snogs boy best friend…and more…& boy best friend morphs into a wanker afterwards. Girl’s mother is mortified that she lost her job, slept with Charlie, & got plastered in public. Girl is now rejected thrice.  But we’re only getting warmed up. Fortunately, we don’t have to endure dreary London long. We soon jet-set to Hawaii & are off to drink tropical frozen concoctions with a sex god. I’m telling you, it doesn’t get better than this. The girl is laugh-out-loud funny and completely relatable. You will not regret indulging in this. It is wholly enjoyable to any female who needs an escape. Best part? It’s a trilogy! Oh, happy days.

Amy Johnson, Guest Blogger in Residence 2016
Book #47 of 52

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Guest Resident Blogger’s Book #46 of 2016

The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
anne-rice-the-witching-hour-1 A Book That’s More Than 600 Pages

Well, I reckon. Coming in at 965 pages in my hardbound 1990 version, with smallish print, I do believe this is the longest novel I’ve ever read.

Of course I’m proud of myself. This is like the New York Marathon for book dragons like me! Up till this point, my greatest literary accomplishment was Gone with the Wind, or maybe The Goldfinch. The heft of this book set it apart from either of those. I’ve heard wonderful things about Anne Rice’s works, & this seemed like the perfect spooky October read.

Unfortunately, it took much longer than the two weeks I allocated. More like four. But it was so worthwhile. As lengthy books are wont to do, it sucked me right into the history of these Mayfairs. Upon learning this is a trilogy, I kinda wanted to poke my eye out because I knew there would be many mysteries left unsolved. And when you read a book of this caliber, you want to know ALL THE THINGS.

Don’t let the size intimidate you. It’s sweeping in an unpretentious language. It provides a beautiful description of New Orleans. The middle third of the book takes place overseas, hundreds of years ago, so you don’t get stagnant waiting on things to happen. Mrs. Rice provides an entire rich history of these generations of women, who traded healing powers for demon worship & enormous wealth. But they all learned, one by one, you can’t outsmart the devil. And he only wants one thing: to grow stronger.

So there’s all these characters, all with these lives spanning several centuries, & it is advisable to make an intricate family tree as you read because you will find yourself referring to it repeatedly (you can thank me later). Some of the Mayfairs you’ll love, & some you’ll want to destroy yourself. None are what they seem. You’ll have favorites (if it’s not Stella, we can’t be friends). It doesn’t get too wicked & gruesome until almost the end, & by then it’s too late—you have no hopes of putting it away now. Look how far you’ve come!

This book is a representation of true talent & creativity and the snaring capability of a magnificent novel. Bravo, Anne Rice. Bravo.

Amy Johnson, Guest Blogger in Residence 2016
Book #46 of 52

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Guest Resident Blogger’s Book #45 of 52 for 2016

The Ringmaster’s Wife by Kristy Cambronthe-ringmasters-wife-by-kristy-cambron

A Book Guaranteed to Bring You Joy

Yeah….about that…

I was on Instagram one day, idly scrolling when this book post caught my attention. Someone has had the charming idea of choosing a novel, packaging it in a box with small gifts to be opened as you reach certain pages, & then having online discussions about it. I mean, how cool is THAT?!?

Turns out, extremely cool.

If only…..if only the book had been half as enjoyable! What a disappointment. Maybe it’s written for young adults but the publishers forgot to mention that. That would explain a lot. Maybe it’s my own fault for wanting presents as I read…surely no grown woman needs trinkets to keep her content & in the story…But the writing is juvenile, the language is contrived (who knew so many conversations were whispered in life?), & the plot predictable. Add to that the confusion of two different narratives in two different eras, & for much of the book, on two different continents…I was constantly having to wrinkle my brow & flip back to see what year I was in.

If you want to read about a poor little rich girl’s break from a noble family to run away & star in a circus where everyone adores her (because she is without fault & beautiful in every way), here’s the perfect novel for you. Personally, I was much more interested in Mable’s story, which, unfortunately, isn’t elaborated on much after she meets John Ringling. Save yourself & read instead a nonfiction account…sounds like an interesting life, to say the least.

Amy Johnson, Guest Blogger in Residence 2016
Book #45 of 52

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Guest Resident Blogger’s Book # 44 of 2016

The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom

Pageturner’s Book Club Selection17888952

Well, you’re in the right place if you wanna read this, because I don’t recommend buying it. Sure, it has all the earmarks of being a feel good/ curl up & cry novel, but it falls disappointingly short. First of all, there are too many characters introduced way too quickly. I kept having to pause & think who was who & with whom they were communicating. There was virtually no character development to help differentiate between any of them, especially the women. Secondly, I believe politics are best left out of fictional books. Authors who attempt to sneak their personal opinions into a fictional novel have misplaced notions of what sells. I’ll say it again & again, I think it costs them readers. It has cost Mitch Albom one.

If you have heard so much about this writer & can’t contain your enthusiasm want to read one of his works, my suggestion is to try The Five People You Meet In Heaven.

Amy Johnson, Guest Blogger in Residence 2016
Book #44 of 52

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Guest Resident Blogger’s Book #43 of 2016

27833670Dark Matter by Blake Crouch

A Book Published in 2016

*Deep breath* Listen, people. Blake Crouch takes a lot out of you. I thought I was prepared after reading the entire Wayward Pines trilogy in less than a week, but turns out you can’t condition yourself for his novels. He is something else entirely. Just when you think “I’ve got this figured out. If Jason will just listen to me, we can get him out of this alive & back to his family & his life.” But you can’t. Because you don’t know the HALF of it.

So there’s this guy, Jason. He’s married to a beautiful artist, Daniela. They have a teenage son, Charlie. Jason & Daniela “gave up” the Big Time to raise their child. And they both wonder “What if?” nearly constantly. They may not appreciate what they’ve got…but who does, really?

So one night, returning from celebrating a colleague’s success, Jason is accosted by a masked man. When he wakes up, he’s in a laboratory where everyone is ecstatic to see him. Except he doesn’t know a single face.

And it only gets crazier from there.

So if you wanna sweat & hyperventilate & give your heart a good workout, this is a good choice. It’s brand new, & all over social media right now, & if you read it you can be a cool nerd with me. So do it. Or you’ll be wondering “what if” yourself….As for me, I’m not allowing that phrase to enter my mind ever again.

Amy Johnson, Guest Blogger in Residence 2016
Book #43 of 52

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Guest Resident Blogger’s Book #42 of 2016

cut-to-the-bone

Cut to the Bone by Jefferson Bass

A Book Recommended by a Family Member

I’ll admit it, I wasn’t looking forward to reading this. I’ve read most of the other Body Farm books, & while the series had a strong start, they’ve seemed to taper off. Especially the one set in France. But my momma has persisted & pestered me to the point I thought, “Why not? Usually they’re an easy two or three day undertaking, at the most.” This one took a day. One day.

Do I like this book better because it’s set at home? Do I give it special treatment because I remember the murders it’s based on?

Probably. However, there were several things that prevent me from persuading you to read this right away. I didn’t much care for the disparaging way locals were portrayed in the beginning (something else that evaporated midway through) but I tried just to suck it up. It’s true–the truth hurts. We DO sound like that. I, for one, just don’t like being reminded of it in print.

Another bothersome detail is the all nonessential writing…like, what happened to the girl at the strip mine? That plotline was completely abandoned, just like the mine. Why bring her up? Why not just start with the dismembered woman off the cliff? Or, you know, better yet, tie it up nice & tidy with a solved conclusion. And the personal life of Tyler…that could have been dropped, along with the story about the truck. It was a beautiful interlude, but made me kinda lose track & wonder what was going on in the murderer’s world. I’m all about some character development but it was a little distracting. This is crime fiction. Give it to us!

There is a strong presence of snakes in this novel. Consider yourself warned.

The only other downside was, as usual, Dr. Brockton. He is, in turn, a suck-up-goody-two-shoes, & an uppity trying-unsuccessfully-to-appear-humble professor. I did a lot of eye rolling during his chapters. I was thankful I didn’t have to endure his musings the entire time. I needed a break from his pompous attitude. (Although my momma assures me he isn’t like that in real life, I’m not so sure. I think it’s how Jon Jefferson gets even.)

Enough about the things I didn’t like, they were overshadowed by some seriously brutal & descriptive chapters about a psychopath. Not that I LIKED those, but they are what carries the novel. From the early chapter about the rabbit, I was spooked. Totally unnerving reading at night, alone at the house. But when one gets under your skin, that’s a good indication you’re reading a worthwhile book. It’s unbelievable how quickly I became attached to the prostitutes & how I harbored a hope that somehow they would prevail.

What a creepy ride this book was. You should probably read it if you like this type of thing. Just don’t read it on a full moon, alone in your house. I’m just warning you. After all, I’m here to help!

Amy Johnson, Guest Blogger in Residence 2016
Book #42 of 52

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Guest Resident Blogger’s Book # 41 of 2016

Turn South at the Next Magnolia by Nan GrahamBook Template

A Book with a Protagonist that has Your Occupation

Do you know how hard it is to find a book about a secretary? Is our profession so dull no one wants to write about it? (To be sure, it is.) So I read this one, as she is a self-proclaimed short story writer. Her interview with the radio station sounds like pretty much every conversation I have with people newly introduced to me by some well-meaning friend: “What kind of things do you write?”

“Well, Southern things.”

Pretty self-explanatory for anyone who lives around here.

Enough about me. Onward with the book review!

It’s very similar to All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten. Except Southern. So, needless to say, it was a hit with me. The author is older, & she dates herself by name dropping occasionally. Thank God for Google. But it’s an easy little read, full of anecdotes & southernisms (those are factual wisdoms learned through trial & error, often involving cousins & blood at a young age).

The title may make you feel languid, but the passages won’t. So check out this beautiful little gem & set a spell on the porch reading a page or two. You’ll find it engaging & have the whole thing read before you know it!

Amy Johnson, Guest Blogger in Residence 2016
Book #41 of 52

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