April 27, 2012

The Red Book

The Red Book
by Deborah Copaken Kogan
publisher:  Voice, Hyperion
published:  April 2012
source:  publisher

Have you ever filled out a questionnaire before a reunion at your high school or college?   You are asked your new address,  occupation,  spouse,  children, and possibly a paragraph or two more about your life.

Of course you wouldn't air your dirty laundry in what you write.  Or would you?

The Red Book is printed every five years after graduation from Harvard.   This novel has pages from the twentieth anniversary report of the class of 1989.    After a few of these pages, we meet the four main characters,  some spouses, and kids.   Then more alumni pages pop up throughout the book to give us an opportunity to meet other characters.

There's so much between the lines in the alumni pages, and even more behind the scenes.   I felt like a voyeur reading the book.  So much sex!  So many secrets!   This is a perfect beach book.  

I'm so glad I didn't read the reviews before picking up this book --- other reviewers complained about the heartless characters, complained about not being able to remember all the many names.  It wasn't that hard to remember everyone.  Sometimes when I read other books, I have to make a list of character's names ... but not this one.  All I had to do was turn back a few pages to find the alumnus' report.

Humor while watching children in a bounce house:
"Wouldn't it be great if there were a moon bounce for grown-ups?"
Clover laughs.  "Its called sex, Jane."
Two pages include an IM conversation.   There's a letter from someone's mom.    Oh there's so much more, more, more.   It all ties together.    These characters are people-types I don't know down here in the South.  They're elite, rich, jet setters, brilliant.

After I finished the book, I checked for more information about the author.  Deborah Copaken Kogan herself  went to Harvard,  was a photojournalist in France and Afghanistan, and juggled work and kids.   She knows wherfore what she writes. 

April 26, 2012

The Sausage Maker's Daughters

The Sausage Maker's Daughters
by AGS Johnson
published February 2012
source NetGalley

A murder.   Inability to remember.  A jail cell.  Flashbacks.  Court.  What a novel!

Kip (born Knavere Priestley Czermanski -- no wonder she changed it legally) finds herself in a jail cell.  A man has been murdered, naked, in her bed of all places.  She is found standing next to the bed.  This dead man used to be her college professor-and-lover, and now (gasp) her brother-in-law.   Kip is accused and soon to stand trial.

It is 1972.  Kip is the youngest of four daughters of a prominent business man.   She is the rebellious sister who was often in trouble while growing up.    A  lawyer says to her in her jail cell:  "You clearly represent dissidence, rebellion, the general undermining of all authority -- both the church and state -- of piety.  And let's not forget your feminism--"

Another lawyer comes from California to Wausaukeesha, Wisconsin, to defend Kip. 

This is more than a mystery, more than a courtroom drama,  more than a story of a young woman's life, more than historical fiction of the turbulent years of 1966-72.    All these add up to a great book.

April 15, 2012

It's So Easy


Title:  It's So Easy (and other lies)
Author:  Duff McKagan
Publisher:  Touchstone, Simon and Schuster
Source:  publisher

Guns N'Roses was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame yesterday.  To celebrate the occasion, I read Duff McKagan's It's So Easy (and Other Lies).

 McKagan is an intelligent man who was caught up in the rock and roll cyclic scene of drugs, rehab,  alcohol, drugs, rehab again.   Add music and more music giving him fame and fortune.

My favorite parts  were when McKagan talks about his family --- his childhood family and his family today.   He almost died in an accident as a child.  It amazed me that he went to college years after Guns N'Roses.   It was a struggle to be admitted to college.    McKagan talks about his writing experiences.   This man CAN write!

The ending makes one laugh ...  Duff had just played in a stadium out of the country, been given a police escort, and fans were chanting his name in the streets.  He phoned a professor to ask about an assignment.   The professor responds "Duff who?"    That's how I was before I read the book, "Duff who?"    Now I'm glad to know who he is.

I hope to read more by McKagan.

April 12, 2012

Comeback Love - review and tour

 Crazy Book Tours Blog Tour of

Comeback Love

author:  Peter Golden
publisher: Washington Square Press/Atria Books
source:  Simon and Schuster and Netgalley

one line summary:  A debut novel about a man and his romantic quest to find the woman he loved and lost years before.

Comeback Love is a sweet story, without being syrupy sweet.   The time frame alternates between 1968-69 and today, with a few years in between.

I especially enjoyed reading about the 1968 year ... this is the year the United States politcal and social made a huge shift.   That is the same year when the characters Glenna and Gordon meet each other, fall in love and move in together.   They come of age.  Eventually, though, Gordon leaves.

Decades later,  Gordon surprises Glenna in her office.  After dinner, she asks him why he came.  He evades answering,  this causes us to wonder too.  Why?  What happened in the years in between?

That was why I kept on reading ...  the ending was quite satisfying.

Author biography:  Peter Golden is an award-winning journalist, biographer, and historian. The author of several works of nonfiction, including Quiet Diplomat, about U.S. diplomacy with Israel, Comeback Love is his first novel. He lives outside Albany, New York.

Other blogs in the Comeback Love tour are listed here.