I haven’t been reading in a while, so I did what I always do to get back into the habit – start by reading a short story collection. This collection was released in 2009, so there quite a few references to 9/11, as for sure these stories are on his mind while we were dealing with that world. For me, these stories are varied – I liked ‘Invisible Fences,’ where a couple every Friday dumps their children at their grandparent and spends the evening searching for a ‘third,’ and realize on one particular night that maybe what each one. I also liked the title story wherein on the eve on a womanizer’s wedding, he calls up his ex-girlfriend to spend an evening with her. The stories here show the psyche of people at a particular time: i.e. the end of the first decade of the aughts.
‘Honestly Ben’ by Bill Konigsberg is the sequel to ‘Openly Straight’ and I kind of wish I had brushed up on that book before starting this because the novel starts just right after where that book ended. But I remember enough about the characters that I quickly got into their story. The narration also changes to Ben’s point of view and I like his voice better – more mature, and in a lot of ways he know more about himself. But there’s some irony to that, though, cause in here he finds himself in conflicting emotions about who he has fallen for, for he meets Hannah, and he finds that he is attracted to her as well. He decides that he is straight, but in love with one boy – Rafe.
I found the book enjoyable, and Ben is irresistible, though there are times when I wanted to shout at him for always doing the right thing. Seriously, his honesty is to blame for a lot of the conflicts here. And I don’t know why, but I found myself rooting for Hannah too. But the end is a good payoff, and we know a lot more about these characters – and ourselves – by the end of the book.
‘Payback’ by John Inman is a very engrossing story, and touches up[on some very important issues: homophobia, gun violence, even immigration. But I foudn it very hard to get past some of the stupid choices the main character makes. The story revolves mostly around grief, and how it affects us in different ways. But I guess it is my own prejudice that hinders me from accepting what Tyler, the main character, does to deal with grief, and in particular how he deals with thought of revenge. But Inman’s book is never boring, I gotta give him that – you will be riveted from the first page to the last. Some things don’t really make sense, but I charge it to good storytelling.
Heather Bentley’s ‘Beautiful Lies’ reads quick and fast, one of those ‘suspenseful romance’ movies that probably would be good for a lifetime movie starring Tiffany Amber Thiesen. That’s not an insult, by the way. I got into the story way more than I care to admit, and finished it quickly because I just wanted to know what would happen to Christina and CJ, the star-crossed lovers of this novel. I don’t want to say that this is mindless fun, but it kind of is. This novel will not make you think about love and life – it’s really about rich people’s problems – but I don’t think it is pretending to be anything else but that.
I am always wary when I see a book with two authors, and I did not realize that ‘The Perfect Manhattan’ was written by two people – Leanne Shear and Tracey Toomey – until after I finished reading the book. This book was an enjoyable read, and I found myself invested in Cassie, the lead character/narrator. She is a Columbia graduate who did not know what to do in life, and throws herself into bartending so she could pay her student loan. She starts at a downtown Irish bar and moves to a club in the Hamptons. This is a combination fish out of the water novel and a coming-of-age of sorts. Cassie is given a life lesson in the course of a summer. It’s also written a bit messily – she describes herself as working class, but knows all brands and designer labels so there’s a bit of character conflict there. But the words fly and you will get caught in all the scenes. It’s fun, frothy, and a little bit intoxicating. You will have a little hangover in the morning, but there’s always aspirin to take that edge off.
When it comes to “mediums,” I always say you either believe in them or not. And I am firmly placed on the “believe” side. As a matter of fact, I finally saw one recently, and it was such a good experience that it made me believe more. I finally had a chance to read Tyler Henry’s ‘memoir,’ ‘Between Two Worlds.” Henry is called the Hollywood Medium because he is based in Los Angeles and has a clientele of showbiz folks. That is also the title of his reality show on E!, which has had two successful seasons. At first, I was skeptical – of the book. Henry is only twenty years old – does someone that age warrant a memoir? Will he have anything to say?
He has a lot to say, and most of the book is informational – about how he connects to spirits, how he goes about formulating a reading, and mostly your basic ‘why I am a medium and what I do’ stuff. That isn’t what I was looking for, but it was informative to read. I liked more the parts where he talked about his life – how he first discovered his ‘gift,’ how he came about being the Hollywood Medium. And nary a mention of his sexual orientation? But he is young enough, and I suspect there will be more to come.
I have been so behind on reading. Even with my yearly goal lessened by 25%, I am still right now eleven books behind on it, and I am making a new vow to set aside an hour or more each night to just decompress and read. It’s something I always loved to do, but nowadays the internet and social media usurps some of the time I used to allot on it.
But I finally did get to finish ‘I Liked My Life,’ by Abby Fabiaschi, and it took me a while. It started for me a little slow, and I had even asked my friend Melissa, who loved the book, if the story picked up. It did, and it even had a very satisfying and unexpected ending. The story is told from three points of view – Maddy, a mother who committed suicide, Eve, her teen aged daughter, and Brady, her husband. They all deal and process her lose, with Maddy ‘watching’ over them. I think perhaps there may be a little too much going on at times, but they were all wrapped up neatly at the end. I couldn’t help but feel for these characters, as I am also a member of that club where a parent passes away when one is still young. I thought this book was ultimately very satisfying, and you will be able to connect with all of these characters.