fiction tagged posts

The Year of Loving – by Traci L. Slatton

Sarah Paige’s life is stressful. She has two daughters, and has very strained relationships with both of them. Her youngest, Alex is a high schooler who is constantly in trouble. Her oldest, Dani, is in college and seems to want absolutely nothing to do with her mother.

Sarah believes that her cantankerous, narcissistic, ex-husband, George Calhoun, is intentionally trying to turn their daughters against her. His attitude probably has something to do with Sarah’s second ex-husband, Clifton Perini, whom Sarah left George for. It feels like he wants to “make her pay” for that humiliation.

Clifton, on the other hand, gets along with Sarah. His beautiful, realist, paintings are the centerpiece of her art gallery. Her love of art makes her very selective about what she will display. The modern stuff other galleries sell simply will not do. As such, her gallery is on the edge of grave financial difficulties.

Out of the blue, Sarah accidentally meets a handsome man – in the goofiest “meet cute” I’ve ever read. There is an instant, smoldering, attraction between them. This impromptu moment turns out to be the start of Sarah’s “year of loving”.

The Year of Loving is what I would describe as a romance novel wi...

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Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

Camille Preaker works for a daily paper in Chicago that can be described as “second-rate”.  Her editor, Frank Curry (who is also a friend in a parental kind of way) sends Camille on her very first assignment.

A murder happened in Wind Gap, Camille’s hometown.  This wasn’t news, as the murder happened long enough ago to have already passed through the news cycle.  A pre-teen girl was found dead in a creek with a rope around her neck and all of her teeth missing.  Now, another pre-teen girl has disappeared.

Editor Frank Curry sends Camille back to Wind Gap, where she is expected to stay with her mother, as she investigates what happened.  Just the thought of returning home puts Camille’s mind back into unhealthy places.  She is freshly out of a stay in a psychological hospital, and it is clear from the start that returning to Wind Gap is going to do bad things to Camille’s mental health.

Sharp Objects is the perfect name fo...

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The Screwtape Letters – by C.S. Lewis

Years ago, a friend suggested that I read The Screwtape Letters. The only thing I knew about C.S. Lewis at the time was that he was the author of The Chronicles of Narnia series. I had a vague memory of the main points from the first book in that series, which I read when I was in elementary school. I remembered that it was a fantasy/adventure kind of story for kids.

It wasn’t until after I’d finished reading The Screwtape Letters that I did some research and learned that one of the most well known books by C.S. Lewis is called Mere Christianity and that the author converted to Christianity in 1931. Perhaps my friend, who is a pastor, had an ulterior motive when he suggested that I read The Screwtape Letters.

Years ago, ...

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Prep – by Curtis Sittenfeld

Lee Fiora was very much looking forward to attending Ault School in Massachusetts. Both a boarding school and a prep school, Ault was a place that Lee had been fantasizing about attending. Her attraction to this particular school started when she first picked up a brochure.

Photos of carefully manicured green lawns, old brick buildings, and nicely dressed students gave Lee the impression that the school would be everything she had hoped for. Certainly, it would be world’s better than the public schools in South Bend, Indiana, that she had been attending so far. Lee was an overachiever, and as such, was ahead of her classmates and completely bored.

The entire story is told to the reader through the viewpoint of Lee Fiora. Most of it is in the present, as Lee experiences it. Every so often, the vantage point changes from the present to the future, where a future Lee explains more details than present Lee was aware of. Prep is a coming of age story that takes place back when it was normal for an entire dorm to be sharing one land-line phone (located in a public area).

Every...

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Far Shore – by Traci L. Slatton

Far Shore is the third book in the After series. I highly recommend that you read Fallen (the first book in the series) and Cold Light (the second book in the series) before diving into Far Shore.

This book picks up not too long after the second book left off. I get the feeling it might be only a few months later. The post-apocolyptic world is still plagued with deadly mists that dissolve almost everything in their path.

At first, it appears that Emma has found some stability, but this changes quickly. She has to make some tough decisions, yet again. This time, however, her choices require her to give up everything she loves (but not at the same time).

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Cold Light – by Traci L. Slatton – book review

Cold Light is the second book in the After Series by Traci L. Slatton. The first book is called Fallen, and I fell in love with it immediately.

I recommend reading Fallen before reading Cold Light, in order to get the full story. That being said, I think Cold Light might stand up on its own. Some of what happened in the first book is mentioned, or at least eluded to, in the second book.

Cold Light picks up not long after Fallen ends, in a post-apocalyptic world that is in constant danger. Mists that eat metal, turn buildings to dust, and dissolve people, are still roaming the world. In addition, there is the danger that happens when desperate people, struggling to survive, see others as their enemy.

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Pretty by Jillian Lauren – book review

Bebe Baker has always been pretty, right up until the car accident.  She survived, but came away from it with scars all over her legs and hands.  In addition, she was left with some extremely deep emotional scars.  Her boyfriend, Aaron, who she was madly in love with, did not survive the accident.

Even worse, the accident happened after the two of them had been drinking and smoking dope, and shortly after they had gotten into a big argument. Everything about Bebe’s life changed in the blink of an eye, including her personal appearance.  What can you do when your whole world has crumbled around you?  Where do you get the strength to move on, to grow, and to find redemption?

Bebe ...

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The Condition by Jennifer Haigh – book review

I’ve always found it interesting how siblings who grew up in the same home, with the same parents, can experience completely different childhoods. Parents, despite their best intentions, cannot possibly treat all of their wonderful, unique, frustrating, children in exactly the same way. The result is that everyone in a family ends up with memories of events that don’t quite match up. I think this concept is a good place to start from when you read The Condition.

Paulette and Frank got married, and had children, in the 1970’s. The book stars with Paulette and her sister Martine who are driving to to Cape Cod to spend some time in a cottage by the beach. It is the traditional vacation for this extended family. Paulette’s children, Billy (age 14), Gwen (age 12), are in the backseat. The youngest sibling, Scotty (age 9), has been relegated to the rear of the vehicle because he is so energetic and excited that he is impossible to sit next to.

In addition to Paulette and Martine, there is their brother, Roy, his wife and their children. Later, Frank joins them. What was supposed to be another idyllic vacation turns serious after Frank voices concern about Gwen’s health. He notices that her cousin, who is just a few months other than her, is starting to hit puberty. Gwen, however, still looks like a very little girl. This observation eventually leads to the diagnosis of Gwen’s condition, a situation that affects the entire family.

Paulette and Frank fight about whet...

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The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne – book review

The first time I read The Scarlet Letter, I was unimpressed. I was fifteen years old, and sitting in a stuffy classroom, dreaming of being anyplace but in my English class. Nothing can kill a great work of literature quicker than being forced to listen to the droning voice of an exhausted high school teacher as she dissects each word and phrase, laying out all the little pieces of meaning for us to observe. It was almost physically painful to sit through.  Decades years later, I came across a copy of The Scarlet Letter, lying on a “free” table in the laundry room where I live, and decided to give the book another try.

Most of us are familiar with the basic story. It’s the 1840s. The setting is Boston, which then was a very conservative small town. Hester Prynne was pregnant, but was not married, and this was absolutely scandalous. It was against the law to be an unmarried mother, so Hester spends time in prison. The book starts the day Hester is let out of prison, carrying her infant daughter in her arms, to a raised scaffold. Part of her punishment includes allowing the entire town to stare at her, the bright red letter A that is affixed to her dress, and her infant.

While standing on...

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Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss – book review

Do you like green eggs and ham? This is the question “Sam I Am” asks, over and over again, as he strives to convince his friend to try the funny looking, but tasty, dish of green eggs and ham. Green Eggs and Ham is a favorite of many children (and adults love it, too!)

The words rhyme, and the language flows in its own rhythm. There are repetitive passages that help beginning readers figure out the words that are new to them. Preschoolers enjoy the repetition too, because of the way it sounds, and also because it allows them to “read along” with the adult who is sharing the story and reading out loud. There are crazy, cartoon-like illustrations (in the style for which Dr. Seuss is famous) on every page, and they go along perfectly with the action that is taking place.

Things get more and more outlandish as Sam I Am tries to discover the way that his friend might like to eat green eggs and ham. “Do you like them in a box? Do you like them with a fox?” It’s a fun read!

Most children go through a stage where th...

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