Posts

#AmReading: Who is Maud Dixon

By KJ / Wednesday, July 21, 2021

Go ye into the world and grab this booky writery thriller. If you loved The Plot, this is a great place to go next (and vice versa)–everyone in this book is fascinating and disturbing and behaving badly, much to the delight of the reader. To sum up: Maud Dixon is the pseudonym for anonymous author of a Crawdads-like success, blocked for her next book. She hires an assistant, a wanna-be writer herself, who then wakes up in the hospital after […]

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If You Liked: A Touch of Magic

By KJ / Monday, July 19, 2021

If you’re a fan of magical realism, small towns, families struggling to accept one another and happy endings, Karen Hawkins’ Dove Pond series is for you. I was lucky enough to get an advance of this one, so I was able to sink in for another visit to this little town where there’s a touch of magic, sure–but the real magic lies in the ability to foster forgiveness and help newcomers to open up to the prospect of love and […]

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#AmReading: Embassy Wife

By KJ / Saturday, July 17, 2021

Really, really enjoyed this kinda uncategorizable novel. The trailing spouse (and family) is a fascinating fixture of diplomacy, and I was absolutely in for the story of the Auntie Mame-like genius that is the experienced wife taking the newbie under her wing. And when things started to get thriller-esque, I was very happy to be along for the ride. There are so many stories in here, and I mean that in the best way–a critique of diplomacy and the Peace […]

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If You Liked: Hollywood stories

By KJ / Thursday, July 15, 2021

Ok, confession: haven’t read Daisy Jones yet. (#TBR). But I loved, loved, loved Malibu Rising, a complicated, mulit-POV family saga that takes place in one day in ’80s Hollywood but moves around in time to show how everyone got there. So much happens, and yet in a sense the whole thing could easily be summed up in two words, one of which is a spoiler–but that’s the best kind of book. Sprawling narrative, tight core. A go-to beach read.  

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#AmReading: No One is Talking About This

By KJ / Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Yes yes yes. The first half of this is stream of consciousness combined with social media interaction of the loopiest kind, the sort of thing you follow people for, random musings, clever asides, deeper-than-they-seem one-liners. And then, life forces itself in, as it will, and the rest is sort of fictionalized memoir of a terrible tunnel of tragedy that the author and her people couldn’t side-step with the clever half-present tricks of online life. The contrast is a jolt, and […]

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If You Liked: Books About Bookish Things

By KJ / Sunday, July 11, 2021

Oh writers and editors. You know us so well. It’s true: put book, read or bookstore in the title and if nothing else, I’ll pick it up to read the cover copy. Sound fun? Have good blurbs (even though I know how the sausage is made I still like a good blurb). I’m in. I was in for this story of a blocked romance writer using the sparks that still fly between her and her ex to spur her to […]

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#AmReading: Where the Grass Is Green and the Girls Are Pretty

By KJ / Thursday, July 1, 2021

Lauren Weisberger’s take on the college admissions scandal? Yes please. Three POVs–the kid whose too-helpful parents pulled the scam, the wildly successful morning show anchor mother and the mother’s very judgemental not-so-successful sister are part of what makes this fun–we see the antics from all sides. There’s a touch of white savior that’s mildly problematic, so be warned (it’s not super germane to the plot but it’s there) but the book is overall extremely fun and the ending satisfying. Another […]

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If You Liked: Smart at Books But Not at Life

By KJ / Wednesday, June 30, 2021

“Smart at books and work, not at life?” Any protagonist who meets that description is a protagonist for me–even if they books and work aren’t at the level of the MC from Transcendent Kingdom, I love a book about someone who thinks they have it all together–because they can feel and clothe and support themselves–but has to learn that that isn’t really living. The Butterfly Effect is also a sibling story (brother/sister–that’s kind of unusual) and a midwestern story, a […]

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#AmReading: Interior Chinatown

By KJ / Sunday, February 14, 2021

Full disclosure: I’m very, very leery of books that an English teacher might force me to read in some imaginary English class that I haven’t been in in decades. As a general rule, you say “literary” and I say “leaving now.” I’m afraid, and I’ve been burned, by protagonists who won’t learn, entire books peopled with characters I wouldn’t even get a sip of beer with and writers who seem to have entered a competition to see who can create […]

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If You Liked: Books That Satisfy

By KJ / Thursday, February 11, 2021

A love story in the past, a main character who’s never really had a love story in the present and a curse–the “second born sisters” in this family never, ever find happiness. The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany made me happy, it made my mom happy, it crossed all its i’s and dotted its t’s and nailed the landing. Basically, this book satisfies–everything it promises in the description it delivers. A January @BOTM pick, which means you can grab it next […]

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If You Liked: What Happens Next?!

By KJ / Monday, February 8, 2021

Could. Not. Stop. Reading. All the Birds in the Sky gets wild–witchcraft and tech, parents who want their children to be something they’re not, environmental disaster looming and an overarching question–is Earth our planet–as in humans–or is it our planet in a larger sense. But don’t worry, there’s a mad, fast, oh-gosh-what-happens next story in here too, and two fascinating protagonists who tell an alternating story that’s unpredictable and gripping. If anything I’ve said here sounds fun, trust me–you’ll like […]

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If You Liked: The Journey to Get There

By KJ / Friday, February 5, 2021

Sometimes you want a fun romp with a happy ending, and when you do, none of these authors will fail you–and they also won’t fail to keep you guessing and appreciating the smart characters and the powerful things that drive them both together and apart. Romance or no, I want more from a book than just “how will they get together” and these three books deliver with smart, fun stories about characters doing much more than just finding their way […]

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If You Loved: Gossip-y Vibes

By KJ / Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Two super-fun, juicy, all-the-people-behaving-badly multi-narrator treats that will absolutely keep you turning pages. They’re not a total read-alike match, but they’ve both got a chatty, filling-you-in-on-all-the-gossip vibe that I loved and I think you will too.  

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If You Liked: Fascinating Books Unlike Any Other

By KJ / Saturday, January 30, 2021

Outlawed is the Reese’s Book Club January pick–a driving, fast-paced story with a fascinating woman at its heart that’s–as Reese Witherspoon said–not really like any book I’ve read before. But there are echoes of The Giver of Stars, with some women protecting and empowering each other and others giving in to societal pressure to conform and betray, and some of the intensity and desperation of Scribe in its alternate history and in the way the circumstances and the rules of […]

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If You Liked: Grabby Premises

By KJ / Wednesday, January 27, 2021

The Big Door Prize has one of the grabbiest premises I’ve ever seen–a machine that promises to read your DNA and tell you “what you’re meant to be” appears in a quik-mart in a small town and upends everything and everyone–but underneath that flashy promise is a story with deep heart and lovable, fallible heroes trying to find their own places in a world that’s not been kind or easy. Multiple narrators tell an intricate story that still lands close […]

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If You Liked: Marriages Interrupted

By KJ / Sunday, January 24, 2021

Stay With Me is the unexpected story of a marriage invaded–by family, by expectations, by culture–and a second wife, intended to provide the offspring wife number one has failed to produce. But no one has the full story (do they ever?), and even the people who claim to be playing by the rules aren’t. This book surprised me in many ways–the plot kept me guessing, and the characters were uniquely themselves. Like Outlawed, it’s a consideration of what it means […]

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If You Liked: Settings That Made the Story

By KJ / Thursday, January 21, 2021

What do these three books have in common? A setting that really makes the story (I literally found myself missing WHERE I was going as I read the Shergill sisters as much as I missed the Shergills themselves). Complex characters that you have to be a little patient with as they grow on you, and people with some enviable opportunities making bad choices. The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters has all the disastrous family travel of The Jetsetters in […]

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If you liked: Zero Punches-Pulled Memoirs

By KJ / Monday, November 16, 2020

I’m going to diverge from the norm and NOT compare this to Maybe You Should Talk to Someone–although it’s a fair comparison. But The Group, while it absolutely is about therapy, has a raw, tell-it-all, scraped to the bone quality that I didn’t find in Gottlieb’s book (and that it didn’t need, that’s not a critique). If your kind of memoir is one that pulls zero punches and never lets up, this is for you. One note–I’d hesitate before I […]

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If you liked: Historical Fiction

By KJ / Friday, November 13, 2020

A round robin of a piece of historical fiction, from a moment before it was generally assumed that any literary person in pursuit of a proper English vacation would make a pilgrimage to the home of Jane Austen. This had a lot to love–village life, romance, Hollywood, people learning to take chances and stand up for themselves and to trust one another. I’d say you could safely give this to absolutely any book lover on your list.  

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If You Liked: Super-Satisfying HEAs

By KJ / Saturday, November 7, 2020

A true feel-good, multi-generation rom-com with serious emotional heft. An exhausted MBA consultant-type in London is sent on a forced sabbatical and trades places (literally, not Freaky Friday) with her grandmother, recently divorced from her no-good cheater husband and mainstay of an entire village. Our MBA will take over her grandma’s volunteer and village work while her grandmother tries out online dating from the MBA’s apartment in the city (with her roommates). There’s a lot going on and so many […]

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