Enchanted Islands by Allison Amend

Enchanted Islands by Allison AmendEnchanted Islands by Allison Amend has been on my TBR list for a couple of month, but it’s inclusion in the Tournament of Books longlist for 2017 pushed me into reading it now. (As an aside, I’ve only read 13 of the 120 books on the longlist this year. Eek! How about you?) Continue reading

The Most Dangerous Place on Earth by Lindsey Lee Johnson

Holy-doodle, if The Most Dangerous Place on Earth isn’t a wake up call, I don’t know what is. Set in an affluent community in sunny California, this novel explores the facades of teen life on social media and the truth that lies behind those facades, and that is what makes it so compelling and horrifying. Continue reading

Thirty Girls by Susan Minot

Thirty GirlsWe all know that 2016 has been one hell of a year, and  reading Thirty Girls by Susan Minot will do nothing to make you feel better about it. As the title suggests, Thirty Girls is about a group of girls abducted by the Lord’s Resistance Army from their boarding school in Uganda. Not happy or uplifting stuff. Continue reading

Nicotine by Nell Zink

Image result for nicotine nell zinkLast year Nell Zink blew my mind with Mislaid (review), and now she’s back with Nicotine. Just to be clear, I did prefer Mislaid, but Nicotine has that same Nell Zink WTF-ness that turns all your assumptions upside down. Continue reading

The Nix by Nathan Hill

Image result for the nix nathan hillYou are going to see The Nix by Nathan Hill on a lot of Best of 2016 lists, and I’m not surprised to find it there at all. The Nix, if nothing else, is prescient. It is the perfect novel for 2016 – politicians behaving badly, American in economic, political and, dare i say, psychological despair. You get my drift. It is the perfect novel for this moment, in spite of the fact that much of it takes place in the 60s. It is an important novel in the way it shows how history repeats itself, and more impressive because all of this was written before Trump swept the nation. Continue reading

Clearing the Backlog

I’m so far behind in reviewing that I’m almost paralysed by it. So there’s only one solution: a mass review of books I’ve read over the last 3 months. Here goes:

You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt. I really liked this one. Coming of age against the backdrop of Communist Russia. So many good things about it, if only I could remember it more clearly.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I was disappointed in this one as I am normally a fan of Ann Patchett. It gets off to a really slow start, in my opinion. It does, however, find its footing by about halfway through. If you’re an Ann Patchett fan, you’re going to read this regardless of what I say, but if you’ve not read Patchett before, I might not start here.

Peacekeeping by Mischa Berlinski. In the beginning I loved this book, but ultimately it was a little too long. Set in Haiti, it had a really interesting look at local politics and NGOs. The cover is great though, and i do plan to go back and read Feildwork, one of Berlinski’s earlier novels that I remember loving.

Dear Mr. M by Herman Koch. I really liked Koch’s two previous novels. They had a very Koch feel to them. That feel is lacking in Dear Mr M.  That doesn’t mean it’s a bad book, but if you’re looking for that distinctive Koch uncomfortableness, it isn’t so apparent here. The one thing i did like about it though, is that it’s about a writer. That always gets me.

The Book of Memory by Petina Gappah. If Orange is The New Black were set in a Zimbabwean prison, you might get this book. It is a great book and one that I highly recommend. Propulsive story, great characters, skilled writing.

So there, it’s done. Backlog cleared. Hopefully this means I can get back into the groove.