Whimsical Reading – Family Relationships

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As I mentioned when I was talking about my aims and intentions for 2014, this year I’ll be continuing with my whimsical reading challenge, if you need a refresher of the rules, check out this page.  Today I thought I’d share some suggestions for the ‘Family Relationship’ category; there are tons you could pick, but here are a few I would recommend:

Mama Rose’s Turn by Carolyn Quinn

This fabulously written biography tells the story of Rose Thompson, the infamous stage mother of burlesque star Gypsy Rose Lee and actress June Havoc. Rather than mulling over the already well publicized lives of her daughters, Quinn looks into the wild and controversial life of the woman who shaped their destiny.

Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens

Most people say their favourite Dickens novel is Great Expectations, but this is mine. I’d never been that interested in reading his work before I was given this as a set text, but I have definitely been converted! Check out my review (link above) for more ramblings.

Council of Dads by Bruce Feiler

Feiler’s memoir documents his battle with an aggressive form of cancer, and the way he chooses to deal with it – by putting together a group of men to help raise his twin daughters after his death. I know I’m making it sound quite morbid, but it’s more of a celebration of all the men that have influenced his life.

The Sea Sisters by Lucy Clarke

This was one of my favourite books read in 2013. I first decided to read it when I start the Richard and Judy Summer Book Club challenge, and I’m so glad I did – I absolutely loved it. The story starts as Katie finds out that her sister has died while travelling of what appears to be a suicide. Overtaken by grief, she uproots her life and follows in Mia’s footsteps, with only her journal as a companion. It’s indescribably well written, hugely emotive so unbelievably worth reading.

Granny is my Wingman by Kayli Stollak

Granny is my Wingman is based on the blog of the same name, and tells the story of Kayli and her Grandmother’s experimentations with online dating. It’s a fun light-hearted read.

Mother’s Curse by Thaddeus Nowak

This is the first instalment in a fantasy series by Thaddeus Nowak, which follows the quest of Stephenie, a princess with a curse, attempting to flee her evil mother and find her brother. Throw in a lost city, a ghostly love story and a few big betrayals and you have a recipe for fantastical excellence. Enjoy!

There really are soo many you could pick for this category… what would you go for?

D x

 

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The Sweetest Hallelujah

In 1950’s Mississippi a dying black woman places an advert in the local paper, trying to find someone to take care of her ten year old daughter, not realising the life-changing chain of events she has just put in motion for a wealthy white woman from the other side of the tracks.

I requested this book from NetGalley a while ago, as I feel very drawn to anything set in the deep south, particularly if set in a politically tumultuous time. So I’d definitely like to say a big thank you to Harlequin for allowing me to indulge myself!

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Absolutely everything.

The narrative tone was so magnetic that I could barely put it down. In fact, I walked home while reading. In the rain. The plot was profound and surprising and satisfying and heartbreaking all at once. It dealt with timeless issues that affect the human condition, no matter the day and age, and showcased grief from so many angles in a way that was just so raw and true. I was really impressed.

The characters were quirky, and vivid and surely couldn’t have been purely figments of Elaine Hussey’s imagination! She managed to write very convincingly from a variety of perspectives, which I know from experience is no easy task. I believed that she was a ten year old girl, and a cancer stricken jazz singer. I believed she was a grieving father and a god-fearing grandmother. I sincerely cannot remember the last time I empathized with a bunch of characters to this extent…

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NOTHING!

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You enjoyed The Help or, like me, just have a morbid fascination with the racial interaction of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

D x

In Short

If you’re familiar with my reading habits, you’ll have noticed I’m a fan of the epic. I like long novels, and drawn out series… things I can really get invested in. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with novellas and short stories… I find it much harder to ‘bond’ with the characters. Even so, I’ve read quite a few recently:

The Biscuit Witch

This sweet little novella by Deborah Smith tells the story of Tallulah, an amazing baker and single mother on the run from a diabolical ex (and TV chef). She ends up driving across the country to the sleepy Appalachian home town she hasn’t seen for years, into the arms of eccentrics Stars Hollow would be proud of.

Now this little book lasted me one bus journey, I didn’t pause for a second. My only negative is that I wanted it to be longer! Good news though, I’ve heard this is the first in a series… so I have The Pickle Queen to look forward too sometime this month! I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone who wants a lighthearted, fun, refreshing read.

Bones in her Pocket

I’ve definitely made no secret that I love a good crime novel, and Kathy Reichs is one of my absolute faves. This ‘straight to ebook’ novella is a mini Temperance Brennan adventure, so I already knew I’d love the characters. I actually enjoyed the story more than the last full-sized Tempe novel I read (despite the thing with the puppies). It didn’t actually feel too short, even though it was only 71 pages long – there was enough room for proper plot development (including the quintessential red herrings and a smidge of personal backstory). All in all a great, lunch-break-sized read.

Cosmo

You would think that a book of short stories would be a quick one. Oh no. Not Cosmo. This is a long book. And each short story is so completely different they could easily have been written by different people.

The first was probably my favourite, and in my opinion could have been developed into a great full-length novel (about a hugely neurotic beauty pageant contestant). The others were either a bit grim (a teacher with lung cancer committing suicide by locking himself in a small room and chainsmoking) or a bit trippy (Michael McConaughey driving round the desert, naked, and coming across multiple clones of himself).

Although very well written and imaginative, this book didn’t really change my mind about the genre… definitely worth a read if that’s your thing though!

So what do you guys think, do you like short stories?

D x

P.S. A big thank you to NetGalley for providing me with advance reader copies of these books, in exchange for my honest review.

{Love Triangles 101} The Formula

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I have not had a good week for IT stuff. Today I planned on sharing a hand drawn mathematical formula for creating the perfect love triangle surrounded by annotations explaining each point but, alas, it was not meant to be. This keep freezing, or cropping, or getting blurry, or just generally thwarting me at every turn… so instead I’m going to opt for a list. Lists are good, right?

So here is my little list of things that love triangles NEED if they want me to enjoy them:

  • Characters must all be strong in their own right. Their sole function in the book should not be to add an obstacle the main guy and gal getting together
  • Stereotypes are quite frankly banned. Is anyone else interested in a shy and previously unloved supreme beauty being fought over by two Greek gods (one blonde and friendly, one dark and broody) Give us some imperfection. Let us dream that these things can happen to someone as average as us.
  • The love triangle should be a sub-plot, not the entire focus of the novel.
  • The protagonist’s choice should be a slowly revealed journey – we don’t want to know from page 1 who ends up together.
  • Throw in a few red herrings for good measure – we like it if things aren’t so obvious (and I promise we can handle it…)
  • Know that if you try to weave in any cringeworthy self-analysis that at best belongs on daytime TV, you will lose the respect of readers everywhere.
  • Metaphors are good, and it’s good for love interests to represent something more, but can we try something a bit more original than ‘he represents her secure, domesticated self and he represents her wild child side’?
  • Give the love interests a bond, independent from the protagonist. Nothing makes a love triangle more harrowing, or more complex. Look at Elena, Stefan and Damon from The Vampire Diaries… the fact that the Salvatore brothers love each other more than anything makes that whole storyline more compelling, and more fraught with emotion.

These are just a few ideas off the top of my head, but what do you think makes a love triangle particularly enjoyable?

D x

P.S. Don’t forget to check out LT101’s hosts over at A Novel Idea.