Strong Story. Strong Storytelling. Don’t Understand The Hype. Let me be extremely clear on this: This was a very strong story of a family’s rise and fall across two generations, told in both past and “present” (with the “present” being nearly 40 years ago from the time of publication) and executed very well in both. The use of a full 24 hour timestamp as a narrative structure was great, as it really drove home that the story was counting down to some cataclysmic event. Truly, there is absolutely no doubt here – this is a great story superbly told.
But I would be remiss if I didn’t share my *other* overriding thought about this book, and that is simple: I truly don’t get the hype. I stand behind everything I said in the last paragraph 100%. But this was book 56 on the year for me and I’ve read over 250 since the COVID-related lockdowns began 53 weeks ago. And *many* of them were equally strong, and some quite similar in genre and tone. So I simply do not understand how this review will be number 990 on Goodreads – over two full months before this book publishers – while others languish in obscurity, seemingly struggling to get even double digit reviews even though they are at least as strong and good as this one. And again, I cannot emphasize this enough: This isn’t saying in any way that this book isn’t an excellent tale excellently told. My sole point is simply that there are *so many others* that could and arguably should receive the same amounts of attention and love, yet do not. And I truly don’t understand how this happens. I mean, I know *how* it happens- massive marketing campaigns. I just don’t understand the *why* of it and why *not* those others. Something that will likely always elude me.
Anyway, read this book. It deserves it. And maybe follow me wherever you find this review, and maybe you’ll find some equally deserving books you weren’t aware of. 😀 Very much recommended.
This review of Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid was originally written on March 23, 2021.
Nothing Technically Wrong, Readers May Hate It Anyway. This is one of those books by a master storyteller that is at once too cerebral *and* too cliche. It is overall a good story, but there is so much to *not* like here. From the hard core leftist politics that get pretty damn preachy (including several anti-Trump diatribes blaming him for all the ills that have been present in this country since its Founding) to … other events of a personal nature that get too close to spoilery territory to reveal. And yet there is nothing technically wrong here. The story is well edited, it flows well within its frame, it is reasonably researched (and then flung out to left field, X-Files style – though not to a scifi level), the characters are reasonable within the boundaries described in the book (though in real life many of their actions would leave an observer scratching their heads). Ultimately there is enough here to warrant reading the story – and enough here that no matter your politics, you’re probably going to want to throw it down in disgust. And yet there is no objective “this is bad” thing to hang removal of so much as a single star on. And thus, this book is recommended.
This review of Truly Like Lightning by David Duchovny was originally written on January 26, 2021.
Fun and Funny. This was a fun, funny read featuring a role I’d heard of but had never considered in depth – seat fillers at awards shows. This book gives some interesting looks at some things that people don’t often consider, but does it in ways such that a joke or some other hilarity is never far away. And for some reason I kept imagining Noah as Josh Brolin, even though that totally does NOT match the actual physical characterization of the character. But it was so prevalent in my mind that it had to get into the review. Truly an excellent book, and a world I wouldn’t mind coming back to. Very much recommended.
This review of The Seat Filler by Sariah Wilson was originally written on January 17, 2021.
Death… Is The Ultimate Road Trip. This is one hilarious book that will leave you in tears – even as it ends exactly the way it must. A trippy road trip through space and time at the edge of the Millenium, this is one of those random, stoner-esque comedies with soul that makes you laugh out loud so very often and yet makes you fall in love with the characters at the same time. Truly an excellent, feel-good work and a great short-ish (under 300 page) escape for the holiday season. Very much recommended.
This review of Journey Through A Land Of Minor Annoyances by Al Kline was originally written on December 12, 2020.
Finding Answers Both Expected And Not. This was a solid tale from multiple perspectives across dual timelines of some people searching for answers, others running from them, and everyone arriving at the unexpected. As a debut novel, it does a great job in making me want to see what other stories this author has to tell, as this one was excellent and very well written. In a sense, it uses the standard trope of trying to find one’s parents, but it also does a superb job of upending the trope a bit and putting an interesting spin on it in so many ways. Truly a great read, and very much recommended.
This review of A Summer To Remember by Erika Montgomery was originally written on December 6, 2020.
Standing Outside The Fire. Ok, so possibly *too* on point or perhaps even a little cliché with the title of the review there, since Talley explicitly brings that song in late in the book with one character explaining to another that this is exactly what has been happening. But I *love* that song, it is easily one of my all-time favorites. 🙂
Anyway, on the book itself: Very fun, but also very deep. The two main characters – Olivia and Chase – are dealing with similar events in their worlds, neither of them realizing at first just how similar they are even if their perspectives on the events in question are very different. Along the way, many, many hijinx are had, including one very scared and borderline feral kitty cat. It is hard to note a particular trigger warning that is relevant enough to probably mention (even though I am not a fan of the practice generally, it is that significant here – though off screen, discussed by the characters as past events). So I’ll note that it ties into #MeToo and leave it at that. Truly a very balanced book about taking control of your own life and being open to possibilities that don’t seem obvious at first, and a very fun read. Very much recommended.
This review of Adulting by Liz Talley was originally written on October 2, 2020.
Fast and Funny. In this memoir, Graham talks about her life in general and some of her more famous/ long-lasting projects: Gilmore Girls and Parenthood. And she does it in what seems to be her style on the shows – fast and hilarious. The chapters are short, and the book overall is a very quick read. If you’ve ever seen any of her projects at all, this is a very worthy read. And if you haven’t, you’re probably not interested in this book anyway – but if you haven’t seen any of her work and *are* interested, go ahead and pick this up. If nothing else, you will be entertained.
This review of Talking As Fast As I Can by Lauren Graham was originally published on October 9, 2018.