Posts tagged ‘Curtis Sittenfeld’

Sometimes a Good Book just falls in your Lap

I know it has been 9 months since my last book review and I am sure you have frequently, if not daily, thought “how can I know what to read? How can I go on?” So never fear. I am back.

I have still been reading, I just seem to not have gotten around to blogging about it.  But let’s ease back into it with a list – phew, I don’t want to dig too deep this time around.  I have read some good things and some not so good but here are some fun reads I fell into:

  1. 26192646.jpg“Sweetbitter” by Stephanie Danler: This book is getting a lot of press and for good reason. This lady can write.  It is beautifully done.  The story of Tess leaving behind small-town Ohio, landing in New York City, and getting a job at a high-end restaurant is all consuming for both her and the reader.  The description of tastes, the world of dining behind the scenes, hot kitchens, and copious amounts of drug-use are all spot on.  I didn’t as much find the over-arching story as interesting as everything else, but that really is not the most important thing about this book. It is that good.
  2. “Eligible” by Curtis Sittenfeld: Let me say I hate reimagined books. This retelling of “Pride and Prejudice” made me cringe but it was Sittenfeld so I had to try.  And honestly, it was really fun.  The Bennetts are living in Cincinnati, Ohio (Ohio is so popular). They are overextended and double mortgaged.  There are Bingley and Darcy, rich surgeons, who have just relocated from LA to work in the Cincinnati region.  Lydia and Kitty are cross-fit fanatics.  All of the Austen characters fall right into our current culture and it is a great fit.
  3. “The Little Paris Bookshop” by Nina George: The story of Monsieur Perdu w23278537ho is the apothecary of books to heal is so wonderful and made me smile (and tear up) often.  I have also decided that surely it is reasonable to believe that someday I too will own a barge of books that I can travel with from Paris to Provence.  This will happen…probably.
  4. “Triptych” by Karin Slaughter: I have no idea how I am just stumbling onto this author but her suspense writing is so, so good. She is coming to speak at my local library next week so I started reading her books and all of them are fun.  Her writing is very, very graphic so it is not for the faint of heart but for suspense novels these are some of my favorites I have read.  “Triptych” has been my favorite so far out of all of them. I also loved “All the Pretty Girls” and “Cowtown.”

Someday  I will get up the courage to post about “Hillbilly Elegy” which made me yell at the author when I finished.  Although the author was not in the room, and likely could not care less about my opinion, I wished he had been in the room hearing my strongly worded opinions because great gravy, that book was so frustrating.   As an aside, feel free to use “great gravy “as you see fit. An aside to the aside, if you are under the age of 70 you probably should never see fit to use that phrase.

Okay, keep on reading.  And most importantly, happy autumn!!!!!

 

 

 

September 23, 2016 at 2:19 pm Leave a comment

All kinds of spooky tales – “Sisterland,” “This House is Haunted,” “Doctor Sleep”

Apparently the fall has resulted in a quite a list of spooky reads.  I was not really amazed by any of them but two of three were fun in their own way.

1. “Sisterland” by Curtis Sittenfeld (Published in 2013) –  I really liked Sittenfeld’s “Prep” so I was excited to read this book. I quickly learned that not all of Sittenfeld’s writing is created equal. This book took a fairly interesting concept and made it, amazingly, boring.   Kate is a thirty-something stay at home mom living the picturesque suburban American life in St. Louis.  Kate has spent her life trying to hide that she and her twin sister, Violet, both have “the sight” and can sometimes read the future. Kate’s appearance of a normal life quickly changes when, after a small earthquake, Violet is interviewed by the local news. She predicts that another more dangerous earthquake will be hitting the city on October 16th. And book then becomes a countdown to October 16th – will the earthquake happen? And if so, how bad will it be? But the book also jumps back to Kate’s childhood and her dating history.  The writing gets confusing and I had a lot of trouble following the flow or lack thereof.  But my main gripe was that Kate was just boring and predictably flawed. The ending crisis is exactly what you expect from almost the first page and that is just…well…lazy writing.  Twins with mysterious foresight is in and of itself intriguing. The fact that Sittenfeld is able to make it dull is impressive in its own rite. And just unfortunate.

2. “This House is Haunted” by John Boyne (Published in 2013) – This book got creamed in the New York Times.  But I enjoyed it.  Set in Victorian England, Eliza finds herself lost and aimless after the death of her father.  She is young but not beautiful and certainly not rich.  On a whim and in a haze of grief, she decides to take post as a governess in a country home, Gaudlin Hall.  When she arrives by train she is greeted at the door of the large home by the two children themselves.  No one else is present in the home and Eliza quickly learns that she follows a long line of governesses (none lasted very long).  Of course, it is a given that the house is haunted but the book is fun and as Eliza finds out why the house is haunted it is a nice mix of “Jane Eyre” and “Turn of the Screw.”  Not written as well but still a good time for cold night reading.

3.  “Doctor Sleep” by Stephen King (Published in 2013)– One of my favorite reading memories is as a thirteen year old reading “The Shining” in the middle of the night and then being too scared to sleep.  I think this is almost everyone’s experience with this book.  I saw the movie a few years later and it was scary but nothing close to the book.  When I read that King had written a sequel following Danny as an adult I knew I would be one of the many suckers who had to read it.  Danny, like his father, has struggled with alcoholism.  It quiets the shining but is quickly ruining his life. He wonders aimless until he ends up in a small town in New Hampshire  working as a nurse’s aid at the local hospice center.  Dan’s ability to shine helps him assist the dying in their transition into the next world.  Since Dan’s first day in the town he has felt that he is where he is meant to be.  He begins receiving telepathic messages from a young girl, Abra.   Because of her abilities Abra’s life is in danger and Dan finds himself in the role of mentor for Abra.  Everything ties up very nicely in this book but it was not really scary.  There are vampire like people, eerie moments, etc. but there were really no moments that kept me up in the middle of the night.  But it was still worth the read and I enjoyed it for what it was.

6a00d8341cbf9a53ef016760842b30970bI am reading “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tart now so I think I am off the spooky theme.  Though I guess I don’t know how it ends so we will see.  Most importantly, Happy Thanksgiving fellow readers.  Enjoy the people you love and I hope you find time for yourself and a good book.

November 26, 2013 at 9:39 pm Leave a comment

Remembering the world is a big place- “Prep” by Curtis Sittenfeld

Cover of "Prep: A Novel"

Cover of Prep: A Novel

“Prep” by Curtis Sittenfeld, Published in 2005

This book was a pretty great find. Somehow, I have not discovered Ms. Sittenfeld sooner but coming across this book was a happy thing.  There is nothing like finding a new writer to love.

Lee is just an ordinary, intelligent 13-year-old girl growing up in the midwest.  On a bit of a whim, she applies to a prestigious boarding school, the Ault School, outside of Boston.  Like most middle class families, her parents have never really heard of anyone going to boarding school but don’t worry about it until Lee actually gets accepted and then receives a financial aid scholarship. Suddenly, Lee’s crazy dream of attending Ault becomes a reality.  So the fall of Lee’s freshman year in high school she finds herself on a strange campus watching her father drive away.

What follows is Sittenfeld’s amazing detailing of the next four years of Lee’s life at this private, elite boarding school.  Her freshman year, Lee has two roommates, one who barely speaks English and the other one who is solely focused on moving up the popularity ladder. She feels out of place, unpopular and very, very alone.  She is not the brightest, the prettiest, or the most talented.  Instead, Lee is average and awkward.  She feels everything that every kid feels when they are 14 years old.  Also like every teenager, Lee is in love or lust or at the very least enamored, with a new person each week.  Until she finally picks her permanent high school crush – who of course (as you can guess) will use and abuse her through-out her years at Ault.

And so it goes.  Each year at Ault, Lee starts to relax, finds where she belongs, but is never truly comfortable in her own skin.  There are lots of moments in this book where you cringe because Lee is just trying so hard.  She wants to be funny, she wants all of the rich, beautiful, popular kids to like her.  She goes to great lengths to appease.  Lee can also be cruel, foolish and self-absorbed. All of this can be painful to read. But she is also endearing. Lee is quirky and self-effacing, she is parts of every teenager – you see yourself in her.

Sittenfeld has captured everything that is high school.  High school is bizarre.  It is like a terrible, wonderful, confusing four year long guessing game.  Who is your friend? Who is your enemy? Did anyone see you embarrass yourself? Was that moment really embarrassing? Are you pretty enough, smart enough, cool enough? Did you laugh too hard or not enough or should you have not laughed at all?  Will she invite you to her party? Will he ask you to the dance (will anyone ask you to the dance)? No one asked you to the dance so you shouldn’t go, right? Everything is uncertain. You are awkward and uncomfortable and lonely.  For those four years high school is your world.  One very small, narrow world.

But as Lee learns – though not until the end, not until she is ready to learn it – the world is not defined by high school. It is just a part of growing up.  When you are in it your failures seem devastating and your successes feel like the best thing that will ever happen. You will go on and as you do these failures and successes will get smaller and smaller. Because it is just four years of what we can hope will be a long, beautiful life.

As you go with Lee through her experience, you want to hug her and tell her “this too shall pass” (or something equally cheesy).  And though you know she would just roll her eyes at you and think “whatever, weirdo” you also know that secretly, deep-down, she will think “oh thank God.”

Other reviews to check out: 

August 4, 2013 at 9:38 pm 3 comments


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There is some great literature out there, but there is a lot of bad literature as well. We shouldn't all have to read it. These are my recommendations and thoughts about the books I read.

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