Yes, I’ve been HORRIBLY remiss in writing and posting my book reviews here and on Insta lately – somehow life just keeps getting in the way! I promise I’ll return to ye olde blog soon, but in the meantime… how is it already JUNE in the publishing world? I have oodles of pre-pub books to read, so let’s see what I’ve been into lately…
Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau was a great read to sink into! Billed as “Almost Famous” meets “Daisy Jones and the Six”, I was here for this novel, set in the 1970s when 14-year-old Mary Jane is hired as a babysitter for the summer for very unconventional (to her!) couple Dr. and Mrs. Cone. What Mary Jane doesn’t know is that Dr. Cone will be spending the summer hosting a famous rock star/movie star couple that summer to help them with therapy. Mary Jane becomes the family’s anchor, creating family meals, helping daughter Izzy make memories, and keeping the home comfortable and clean, while also being pulled further and further into the family’s dynamic – for the better. I just loved reading this and the premise (picture spending a 1970s summer with a married couple like Cher and Mick Jagger living in the house where you work!) and the family dynamics and growth of Mary Jane through that summer. Recommended for sure!
Brat by Andrew McCarthy is the slim memoir of (though he hates the moniker!) Brat Packer Andrew McCarthy, 1980s sensitive soul of some of our seminal coming-of-age movies. McCarthy details how he rose to fame through a series of luck and talent, and the people who helped him along the way. There is just enough name dropping and elbow rubbing to be interesting, but it doesn’t feel self serving or braggy in McCarthy’s hands. If you are “of a certain age” and loved McCarthy, you’ll enjoy this memoir.
The Comfort Book by Matt Haig is a slender collection of stories, thoughts, ideas and lists culled from Haig’s life over the last several years as a sort of “message’ to his future self that, basically, everything will be okay. Very gentle reading that is easily picked up or put down.
Still Life by Louise Penny is the first in her Inspector Gamache series, a cozy mystery series set in the bucolic Quebecois village of Three Pines. In this introductory mystery, an elderly woman in the community is found dead in the woods, and Gamache must unspool who is at fault. This has a very Poirot vibe to it, but I love the setting of the cozy village and its diverse cast of characters. I’m still learning my way through “cozy mysteries” but this was a nice entry. 🙂
The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz has been getting lots of pre-pub buzz, and I can see why! Jacob Finch Bonner was a one-hit-wonder of an author, now relegated to teaching creative writing at a lower tier college. But when an obnoxious member of his class claims to have “the sure thing” of a plot, Bonner blows him off… until he hears it. Several years later, when he finds out the student died, Bonner decides, well… that story should be told, so if not him, then… and as you can imagine, things take quite the turn. This novel was clever, quick, cringey, and had a great twist or two and I really enjoyed it!
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry is just… the perfect vacation book, especially as we begin looking to travel plans again, and a great follow up to Henry’s fantastic Beach Read. Poppy and Alex were the perfect case of opposites attracting – becoming fast best friends and travel buddies… until something happened on one of those trip two years ago and they haven’t spoken since. When Poppy breaks the ice and invites Alex onto another trip with her, can they relationship survive… and maybe flourish? Warm, funny, sexy, travelust-y and a perfect summer read! Another winner for Henry!
Devotions by Mary Oliver has been on my list for a long time, and as someone who generally DESPISES poetry, so many of her lovely, nature-centric poems just speak to me. Lovely and contemplative…
The Girl Who Died by Ragnar Jonasson is my first Jonasson novel not featuring his Hulda character, but was still a solid mystery novel set in a very cold, very secluded part of northern Iceland. Una is a teacher who accepts a position in a very insular village to teach two young girls, but when tragedy strikes, Una must decide who – and what – to trust. Solid, but ultimately kinda forgettable in my rolodex of books from this year!
Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir is the HIGHLY anticipated novel from the author of The Martian, and I was… kinda skeptical after Artemis fell sort of flat for me, but this DELIVERED. Yes, it’s still relying on oodles of science and the ‘one man against the odds of space’ trope, but I could NOT STOP READING IT. I’m not even going to try and summarize it, except to say trust that it’s great. Weir makes the science, the isolation, the revelations, the suspense, all of it so propulsive and fascinating, and I just loved these main characters. Give it a whirl – you’ll be absolutely hooked!