Book Review: Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam

Book Review: Rich and Pretty by Rumaan AlamMy top recommendations for summer 2016 reading will include Rich and Pretty by Rumaan Alam. The story doesn’t seem to go anywhere, but neither does life when you are just getting traction as an independent new adult. In a book with few exciting plot occurrences, it’s Alam’s turn of phrase and believable characters that make this book so enjoyable. Additionally, the affirmation of friendship between people who dream of a relationship going one way and adapting when it doesn’t makes for the best message I’ve read in fiction lately.
Continue reading

The School Bus Driver Who Made a Difference

By upper elementary, I reached expert levels for ditching school. My parents had kids at a young age and were too busy figuring out their own lives to pay much attention to my whereabouts during the school day. They trusted the public school system to deal with me. Why else would we hire teachers, attendance clerks and truancy officers? It’s not that my parents didn’t value my education, they just had a lot going on and knew other people had their backs. I could slip them all. Only one obstacle stood between me and a day of freedom–Sid Griffin.

The School Bus Driver Who Made a Difference
Continue reading

If Donald Trump Inspired a Joseph Finder Novel

FinderFakeAt the 2016 Tucson Festival of Books, Joseph Finder discussed the high-profile sources he tapped into while doing research for his novels. A co-panelist asked, “Who?” “Billionaires,” Finder responded. “Trump?” “He’s not a billionaire.” But not all Finder’s characters are billionaires. Many of them face relative financial challenges. So… what if Trump was in a Joseph Finder novel?
Continue reading

Scaffolding Challenging Books As an Adult

Back in high school, teachers provided me with the skills that helped when a book challenged my ability to pay attention. Without that influence and as a slow reader, I fell into a pattern with comfort books (easy-to-read books read primarily for relaxation). Tackling a book like Wolf Hall, with its lack of antecedents, or The Good Death, with its dense factivism, diminishes my TBR consumption from slow plow to long slog. I’m not sure why I decided to read Wolf Hall and The Good Death concurrently, but I did. I’ve always had self-punitive reading tendencies. This post is for those of us who choose to go beyond comfort books and need a refresher on tips and tricks to tackle challenging books without returning to the demoralizing practice of gutting through it.

Scaffolding Challenging Books As an Adult: Wolf Hall
Continue reading

Book Review: The Good Death by Ann Neumann

The-Good-DeathIn her book The Good Death: An Exploration of Dying in America, Ann Neumann challenges the idea that we must extend human life at whatever cost–financial, physical, emotional or spiritual. I came into this book the same way Neumann did. We provided the intimate work of caring for our dying fathers, the in-home care that allows zero privacy and leaves zero pride. My father may have had a “good enough” death under my roof while Neumann’s father had a “good enough” death at a hospice facility, but our journeys meandered similarly along confused pathways. However, The Good Death is not the end-of-life care examination I preconceived; it covers a great deal more territory.
Continue reading

2016 TFOB Recap: The Rich Die Differently

Nothing uplifts this book lover’s spirits like starting my favorite festival of the year examining social justice in fictional murder mysteries! The 2016 Tucson Festival of Books panel, “The Rich Die Differently”, was stacked with intriguing authors and perhaps my favorite moderator this year, Julie Kramer. The journalist-turned-novelist asked smart questions without getting in the way of the panelists’ answers. That didn’t stop the panelists from disagreeing with the premise of the session right from the get-go.

2016 TFOB Recap: The Rich Die Differently

L to R: Terry Mort, G.M. Malliet, Julie Kramer, Joseph Finder.

Continue reading