Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Book Review Club (August 2010)

Welcome one and all to the twentieth meeting of The Book Review Club. The TWENTIETH! Twenty is such a big number.

Here we are at the beginning of August. Which means there's a whole month left of summer and, hopefully, bunches of leisurely reading time. We've got some great book reviews this month. So have a seat and start scrolling. You're sure to find something that grabs you.



THE FAMILY MAN by Elinor Lipman

I read every novel by Elinor Lipman that I can get my hands on. Why? Her books make me feel good. Why else? I'm a people person. Her books are character driven. Also, Ms. Lipman's books have unexpected twists and turns. And they end happily (which really means a lot to me during these days of raising teens).

From the Amherst Bulletin:

THE FAMILY MAN is the story of Henry Archer, a divorced gay man who reconnects with his long-lost stepdaughter, Thalia. The book opens with Henry's phone call to Denise, his ex-wife and Thalia's mother; Thalia's father had been Denise's first husband. Then there was Henry, who had still been in the closet at the time. Now, Denise Krouch - the grasping, grating Denise - has just lost the husband she'd dumped Henry for years earlier.

Henry and Thalia's story of forging a new, loving bond is the backdrop for other goings-on. Thalia, an aspiring actress, is hired by a public relations firm to pretend to be the girlfriend of a horror movie actor whose career badly needs a boost from the tabloids. Henry, meanwhile, falls in love with Todd, who sells table settings at a Manhattan store. And Denise, after adopting a greyhound, is on the prowl for a new husband.

This is a good summing up of the plot, but doesn't give you a sense of how very special Elinor Lipman's writing is. Her stories are humorous, have perfect dialogue and offer just the right amount of detail so that you can imagine yourself in the scene.

For example, when Henry first goes to his ex-wife's house, he sees a recent photo of Thalia, the long-lost stepdaughter, and realizes that he has seen her recently but didn't recognize her. From pages 7-8: She is the unfailingly friendly girl behind the half door who hangs up his jacket and offers the coral smock before Giovanni cuts his hair. She is the coat-check girl with the big brandy sifter at her elbow in which he places oen dollar as he collects his outerwear and she tell him that this is a very good cut for him.

See what I mean about Elinor Lipman? Don't you just want to while away a summer afternoon stretched out on a lawn chair, a frosty drink in one hand and a few hundred pages of prose like that in the other?

Here's a delightful interview with Elinor Lipman, where she shares some details regarding the writing of THE FAMILY MAN.


Now, without further ado, let's have a drumroll for the following amazing reviews from amazing reviewers!! Please, please visit. You won't be sorry.

MIDDLE GRADE/YOUNG ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Sarah Laurence: TOUCH BLUE by Cynthia Lord (middle grade)

Stacy Nyikos: A STEP FROM HEAVEN by An Na (middle grade)

Kaye of the Book Review Forum: A CURSE DARK AS GOLD by Elizabeth C. Bunce (Young Adult)

Keri Mikulski: FIRST KISS (THEN TELL) and THE YEAR WE WE DISAPPEARED by Cylin Busby (both books are young adult)

Thao of serene hours: THE PIPER'S SON by Melina Marchetta (young adult)


ADULT BOOK REVIEWS

Patti Abbott: THE IMPERFECTIONISTS by Tom Rachman

Jenn Jilks of My Muskoka: THE DEATH DEALER by Heather Graham (romantic thriller)

Lucy Sartain of Ranting and Raving: THE GRAND SOPHY by Georgette Heyer (romance)

Kathy Holmes: MY FAKE FIANCEE by Nancy Warren (romance)

Linda McLaughlin: LESSONS IN FRENCH by Laura Kinsale (historical romance)

Staci of Life in the Thumb: STILL MISSING by Chevy Stevens (suspense)

Beth Yarnall: HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER by Kate Carlisle (mystery)

Stacy of the Cat's Meow: ANGELOLOGY by Danielle Trussoni

NONFICTION REVIEWS

Scott Parker: MEDIUM RAW: A BLOOD VALENTINE TO THE WORLD OF FOOD AND THE PEOPLE WHO COOK by Anthony Bourdain (adult)


**Exceptional previous reviews are only a click away.**

Note to Reviewers: You know the drill.:) If I missed you, leave me a comment and I'll rectify the situation pronto. And award myself one less chocolate today!

ENJOY!


18 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

I always love her books.

Stacy said...

I just thought I'd say I reviewed a book too. I didn't e-mail you since I had a 50/50 chance of being unable to finish it in time. :)

http://meowofthecat.blogspot.com/2010/08/august-book-review-club-angelology-by.html

Keri Mikulski said...

Thanks for the recommendation! ;) I love character driven, feel good novels too.. :) xoxo

Stacy said...

I remember I looked at that book at the library a couple weeks ago. Perhaps I should have checked it out instead of Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies. ;)

Linda McLaughlin said...

This sounds like a really interesting book. Thanks for the review.

Barrie said...

Patti: In 2003, a local librarian recommended Elinor Lipman's THE PURSUIT OF ALICE THRIFT. I've been hooked since.

Stacy @ Meow of the Cat: Thanks. I'll add your link toute suite!!

Keri: I think you'd love an Elinor Lipman.

Barrie said...

Stacy again: I haven't read PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES (altho it's been on my list), but I do think you'd like an Elinor LIpman novel. Actually, I think you'd love AND THEN SHE FOUND ME. I'm basing that on our short (but sweet!) meeting at Aunt Agatha's. It's a great movie too. (the book, not our meeting :) )

Linda: You're very welcome. I'm looking forward to hopping over to your review this month!

Staci said...

I have never read a book by her but I truly need to change that...sounds like a winner!

kaye said...

I love a book that makes me feel good--I'll have to read this one.

Sarah Laurence said...

Your review does make the book sound more appealing than the plot summary. I get what you mean about happy endings too. Thanks for hosting another book review club!

Lucy said...

Sounds like a good book and I love the cover. :o)

Kathy Holmes said...

Ooooo... this sounds really good! It's all about the characters for me (and setting is a character, which I also love.) I did enjoy the excerpt - do like the writing - must take a closer look.

Beth Yarnall said...

This book sounds great Barrie. Thanks for adding one more to my TBR pile!

Cheryl said...

Thanks so much for doing this. Love reading these and I'll be visiting the book store very soon. Always love a great read, after reading a great review.

Enjoy the rest of your week.
xxxxxxx

Eileen said...

I love her books too. Yet another thing in addition to jammie wearing that we have in common

dining room tables said...

This review really makes the book more interesting. Is it true that it is a going to have a very happy ending? I can’t wait to read this book. I am so curious in this story.

Gabriele Goldstone said...

I like the connection between raising teenagers and happy endings.

On another note: no town monday post from me this week - I'm going to have to scale back to once a month.

Barrie said...

Hi Gabe: We're both raising teens, right? Re MTM, not problem. Just jump in when it works in your life. ;)