Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Dog Year by Ann Wertz Garvin

The Dog YearThe Dog Year by Ann Wertz Garvin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Step inside The Dog Year and meet Dr. Lucy Peterman, a plastic surgeon struggling to navigate her life after losing her husband and unborn child. She copes by stealing hospital supplies and stockpiling them in her bedroom. Until she gets caught, and discovers she can't continue through life without help from friends.

Peopled with realistic human characters, The Dog Year contains many life lessons and a generous dose of humor, tempered with just the right amount of sadness.

Ann Garvin just might become your new favorite author. I'm lucky enough to possess a copy of The Dog Year signed by Ann herself--if you have a chance to hear her speak, do it!

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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. FikryThe Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a charming little sandwich book. AJ Fikry is a widower who lives above his bookstore and is slowly drinking himself to death when he meets a pretty young bookseller from one of his favorite publishers, suffers another loss, and then discovers a toddler left in his store with a note asking him to care for her. He ends up raising Maya in the bookstore, and strikes up a close friendship with a local police chief.

AJ is a lovable character after you get past his initial gruffness. He loves reading as much as a bookstore owner should, and each chapter begins with a brief note from him about a book he read. It's a story I'll remember for a long time.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

One Plus OneOne Plus One by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another great tome by Jojo Moyes!

What do you get when you throw a math genius, her gothic brother, their desperately optimistic mother, and their slobbering behemoth dog into a plush luxury car owned and driven by an arrogant executive recently charged with insider trading? One heck of a story! The math genius, Tanzie (short for Costanza, which, up until now, I thought was a piece of office furniture), is desperate to win the Maths Olympiad in Scotland so she can afford to attend the school of her choice. Jess,  her mother, has no car, no money and no prospects, but somehow remains fueled by hope. Tanzie's brother Nicky is Jess's estranged husband's son, but she raises him as her own. The owner of the luxury car, Ed, is one of Jess's clients--she cleans his house.

It's a study of humanity: our capacity for forgiveness, our belief in ourselves and our ability to make do with what we have.

I'll let you discover the rest of it as you go along. It's a great ride.

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

The Financial Lives of the Poets

The Financial Lives of the PoetsThe Financial Lives of the Poets by Jess Walter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jump in with both feet and read this witty, darkly comic tale of financial, moral and marital ruin. Matt Prior is a former newspaper reporter with a mortgage in forbearance (six days until eviction), two boys at a private school,  and a wife contemplating an affair, when he encounters a couple of potheads at the 7-11 store and gets sucked into their world. Oh, and his father is senile and has to live with them. The story is interspersed with poetry, which Matt aspired to write when he quit his reporting job and started a financial poetry business, inspired as he is by stock averages and the promise of high returns. My favorite line: This meeting is as predictable as coffin shopping.

Things go from bad to worse before the end of the book, but I won't wreck the ending for you here.

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