March 30, 2013

The Girl Next Door - review

The Girl Next Door (Carter Ross, book 3)
author Brad Parks
publisher St. Martin's Press
source:  publisher

Sometimes I think I have newsprint in my blood.  Three of my uncles worked in the newspaper business;  one of them even owned a weekly-smalltown paper.  After my dad retired, he helped his brother get the paper out.   I have edited quite a few newsletters.  Therefore, when I discovered Brad Parks' Carter Ross, it was like homecoming for me.

Ross is a report for a New Jersey newspaper.  Even though only 32 years old, enjoys reading the obituaries because it brings a sense of joy to read about people in their 80's and 90's who have lived a full life of success (failures aren't mentioned in obituaries).

One day, Ross reads about a 42-year-old woman who died (oh so young!) suddenly.   He decides to write a human interest story about this woman.  It is not until he goes to the wake when he finds out her sudden death is due to a hit-and-run.

Parks writes with a wry sense of humor and describes his characters very well.  I could easily picture the woman's sister who came from California in bohemian dress and a tic.   This novel tells about people in this New Jersey town and the escapades Ross gets into before the mystery is solved.

March 29, 2013

The Hope Factory - review

The Hope Factory
by Lavanya Sankaran
to be published April 23, 2013
Publisher:  Random House
source:  publisher

India - a country with extreme wealth and extreme poverty.  Bangalore - occupations are outsourcing and manufacturing.

The author, Sankaran, lives in Bangalore.  She writes of what she knows and brings it close to us.   Her book focuses on two main characters and their vastly different lives.

 Anand K. Murthy owns Cauvery Auto, a factory that makes auto parts.  He is preparing for an important meeting with international buyers;  if his factory wins the order, everyone's lives will be transformed.

Kamala is a maid who is in Anand's family.  She has never been in a car but watches proudly when the owner drives by.   Kamala lived in a very dusty construction site with her young son, Narayan.  When Narayan was two-and-a-half, Kamala gave him his first full body bath, bathed herself, and got a job as a maid.    Her goal is for Narayan to have a good education, learn English, and have an office job with a computer.  Narayan, now age 12, has found a way to earn as much money as she does each month.   

The writing is lovely;  the characters are well described.  For a change, this is a book about India which does not focus on arranged marriages or Americans coming back home to India.   

I had to write down the names of the characters, however, beginning with  Anand K. Murthy and Mr. Ananthamurthy, the operations manager of his factory.  It did become confusing with other similar names.  I recommend you do the same.

I'm now going to my favorite Indian restaurant for some lunch, and will ponder on Anand and Kamala and their families. 


March 14, 2013

One Step Too Far - review

One Step Too Far
by Tina Seskis
to be released April 15, 2013
source:  NetGalley

Emily runs away from her husband Ben and Charlie.   Why?  We don't know.  She goes to London,  changes her name to Cat,  finds a place to live and a job.

Different points-of-view are given chapter by chapter.  We see the mother's difficult day of  birth and her shock that it is twins.  We follow the philandering father that same day.  We understand why Emily's identical twin sister Caroline becomes the "evil" twin.  We watch their upbringing.  We also learn a bit about other people Emily/Cat meets. We see what happens the day Emily and Ben marry.

This book has everything:  twists and turns, twins - good and evil, jealousy, pregnancies, adultery.  And above all, a delicious mystery goes throughout, we keep asking why?  Why?  Yes, we do find out why; I was surprised but I won't tell you here. 

While reading the book, I had a hard time remembering the title One Step Too Far.  When I finished, I had an a-ha moment, and the title makes perfect sense.

March 1, 2013

Relish - review

Relish:  My Life in the Kitchen
Lucy Knisley
publisher FirstSecond
This link:  MacMillan  has the first few pages for you to enjoy
available April 2013

Wonderful graphic memoir. Lucy Knisley describes growing up with parents who loved food and passed on that love to her. As a child she moved from New York City to the country, a cultural shock. Her discovery of Junk food was "my most parentally-abhorred rebellion." 

A recipe is drawn in easy-to-follow steps at the end of each chapter; there's a secret topping to make chocolate chip cookies even better. 

She uses the word "relish" three different ways, meanings, in three sentences including a quote from Ray Bradbury's Dandelion Wine. Marvelous book. I'm hungry!

This was my first Lucy Knisley book.  It won't be my last --- I immediately looked to see what else I could find by her.