Sunday, December 28, 2014

The House We Grew Up In

This is the Bird family. They live in a small idyllic village in England.
There are two loving parents, 4 gorgeous children, perhaps some small pets running around this beautiful warm cozy house. They attend a cartoonishly cute school and their mother chases rainbows and flowers. It is so perfect - until it is not. A horrible tragic Easter changes their lives forever or maybe perfection could have never lasted and it was just the straw that broke the proverbial camel's back. As secrets are uncovered Lorelei, their mum, buries them further and further away in her dizzying home. What begins innocently as hanging every scrap of paper the children draw on (how artsy she seems!) grows into full blow hoarding, which is quite mesmerizing and unstoppable, in a train wreck sort of way, and frankly, I have never read about such an illness. Colin, the dad, barely says a peep, a fine polite soul just wants everyone to be happy. And the children, well ... we all grow up in homes with secrets and its not until you know they exist that they are a problem. This novel is filled with the most amazing characters. Their relationships and circumstances may seem bizarre at times but when you take a good long look at your own family, everyone has their skeletons in the closet and they do not go away. They patiently wait to be discovered. The family dynamics are complicated and the writing is excellent. I truly could not put this book down. Highly recommend and cannot wait to pursue other books by this newly (for me!) discovered author.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dear Daughter

One time LA "IT" girl Janie Jenkins is released from prison on a technicality. After serving ten years for killing her socialite mother she is finally free. Janie never believed she killed her mother. She has a foggy memory of that horrible night. Janie overheard unfamiliar voices while hiding in her mothers closet stealing boots and as a 16 year old, at the time, she was focused on not getting caught with the boots. Little did she know that moments later she would be standing over her mothers dead body with Janie written in blood next to her. After some bizarre technicality her beloved lawyer, Noah, perhaps her only ally in the entire world, gets her out. After she is released there are a lot of angry stalkers, crazed reporters and a mystery that Janie is determined to solve. She has transfixed herself on that short overheard conversation, a few key phrases, and has spent ten long years researching, reading and driving herself crazy with the possibility that she did not commit this murder and she is going to find out who did. She quickly adorns a disguise and takes a train to a small town, rather two identical book end towns, where she believes the answers lie. Janie meets a cast of crazy characters that slowly feed her the information she needs to solve this puzzle. Dear Daughter kept me on the edge with twists and turns but I WAS able to put it down. Day after day ... I put it down. Mostly I was just confused. I did not like, nor was I intrigued by a single character. The time line was completely boggled and unrealistic. Nothing and no one held my interest. Was I looking for another Gone Girl? Maybe. But I didn't find it here.

How to Build a Girl

Johanna Morrigan is 14, she lives in a small town outside London
in what is considered the needy part of of town. She fights endlessly with her 16 year old brother who is also struggling to find his identity, a little brother who clings to her in desperate need, her brand new baby twin siblings and her parents. Her mother is an angry - I cannot believe I have 5 children, no money and live in this shit hole (pardon my language) and her drunken father lives in a dreamland of drugs and alcohol but still believes he can make it BIG in the music business. Somehow, crazily enough, they are a lovable crew who continue on under the worst of circumstances. Nothing good happens to this bunch. Johanna is hysterical, and I mean FUNNY. Really funny. I see this part played by Rebel Wilson funny. She is desperate for love, and mostly sex. Busily experimenting with herself and being the lonely miserable teenager that she is, Johanna writes a lot. She loves music and is painstakingly honest with her words. After a world's most embarrassing moment on a televised poetry reading contest, Johanna transforms herself. Johanna decides she will be a new persona called Dolly, dresses in goth black and starts reviewing bands playing locally. One insane crazy thing after another spirals Dolly into another life filled with a little cash in her pocket (finally!) and even a bit of fame. But most importantly Dolly/Johanna learns what she is really made of. This is a funny crazy book that I could not put down. Pre-requisites for liking this read is an open mind, a bit of free time, a need to laugh and you must enjoy Caitlin Moran satire and humor. Check her column out at