The Art of Adapting by Cassandra Dunn

I picked this up on impulse at the library last night and once I started it I couldn’t put it down.  The story ostensibly revolves around Lana, a woman whose husband has left her with two teenage children, but the real star is Matt, Lana’s brother who has Asperger’s.  It is through his observations and interactions that the story really comes to life and evolves. Matt, through his own “too fast moving mind”, is able to piece together clues and avert disasters and forge stronger family bonds.

The whole story is charming, but still believable and the characters are well drawn and interesting.  I really enjoyed “meeting” the whole family and watching them overcome their hurdles.  This novel comes across as much more polished and complex than the average debut women’s fiction.  I very much enjoyed it.

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Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

 

Just finished this by Liane Moriarty.  Similar to her other books, this one also explores complex relationships made more complex by secrets, lies and hidden agendas.  The cast of characters include Madeline, her husband, her ex-husband and his new wife Bonnie and all the attendant children, a mousy single mother Jane and her quirky son, Ziggy, Celeste  and Perry, the outwardly perfect socialite power couple and many others.

The book begins with an incident between two of the children that spirals out of control as it escalates through the book, much in the manner that these things do in parent and school groups.  Meanwhile, other families are simultaneously having their own issues and imploding messily.  Issues across the span of the book include child sex trafficking, teenage rebellion, domestic violence, and bullying.  All these elements weave together for a surprising conclusion, the murder of one of the characters at a school event.

The writing was well done and I liked the flash forward in the beginning.  It created tension as you waited for the murder to occur and to find out who the victim would be.  I felt the resolution of the bullying storyline was a little too “easy” and pat but still okay.  Very satisfying women’s fiction.

3 More Reads

 

Glazed Murder was a total impulse by for me.  I have a confession, I have always avoided this series because I have a pretty big aversion to donuts.  I worked for a nation wide donut chain that will not be named in college, back in…1984, and I think that I can count the number of donuts I have eaten since then on one hand.

Anyway I picked it up and read it last night and was really surprised, I will admit i flipped quickly past the donut recipes, which were plentiful, so anyone who does want to make them will have lots to try here.  The main character, runs a independent donut shop and has a dead body of a local banker dumped in her parking lot one night.  Suzanne Hart is an interesting character and I like the push-pull relationship with her mother, who she has had to move back in with since her divorce and purchase of the donut shop.  A couple of the secondary characters need more development, but I am sure that because this is the first in a series that will come later.  Anyway, this is a fun light cozy mystery that has potential to become quite a good series.

Murder in Volume was this month’s read for the Cozy Mystery Corner Mystery Group on Goodreads. There is a plethora of book/library/bookstore themed cozies and many of them are among my favorite cozy series.  This is an book one of a 5 book series.  The protagonist is Megan Clark, a librarian and frustrated paleopathologist.  She has a sidekick history professor, Ryan, who is much older than her, and in fact is the father of her childhood friends.  She drags Ryan along on all of her adventures.  It is on one of these new activities, a book club, that Megan and Ryan stumble on a body and are embroiled in the mystery.

The point of view switches back and forth throughout the book.  It is in this switching that we learn that Ryan is having romantic feelings towards Megan, seemingly unrequited as Megan is dating someone else.  The mystery includes references to other mystery series, similar to Carolyn Hart’s Death on Demand series.  Part of these are understandable as discussion in the mystery book club meetings.

I did not connect with Megan Clark as a protagonist, she seemed arrogant and takes herself and her paleopathology degree far too seriously, even though it seems like it is not an employable degree. I also didn’t like the developing romance with Ryan at all, not being able to stop wondering what his kids would think of it.

I don’t think this is a series I will continue with, especially when there are so many other very good book themed cozies.

Perfect Love by Elizabeth Buchan is a women’s fiction novel, about Prue  a woman, wife, mother, and stepmother in her forties, who begins to be lured into infidelity.  This is a classic midlife crisis family drama novel, with complex family relationships and situations.   Added into this book is a running Joan of Arc metaphor that really doesn’t seem to work.  It actually could be eliminated from the book altogether.

I have read several of Elizabeth Buchan’s books and I have a strange relationship with them, I always find them very well written, with fully developed characters with all their flaws, and interesting plots. On the other hand, I would not say that I like them, if that makes sense.  Her stories are too realistic, there are never satisfying conclusions, no neat endings, no  punishment for the wicked or rewards for the good.  It always seems like things just trudge along and end with the characters still having numerous issues to work through, much like real life.

As someone who reads women’s fiction, for an escape from reality I am always frustrated, but I still keep reading them for some reason.

Good Enough to Eat by Stacey Ballis

 

Picked up this one from the library and really enjoyed it.  If I had to classify it, I would call it more women’s fiction, however there is some romance in it.  Melanie, the protagonist, has lost a lot of weight, basically a whole other person.  On top of that she has changed careers, giving up the law for a healthy eating food business and just as she is feeling the success of these positive changes her husband leaves her.  The fact that he left her for a heavier woman and a woman who was her friend just added salt to the wound.

This could have been a very typical “fat girl gets thin, finds love, lives happily ever after”, however it is not.  The author does a great job showing that the weight is not the defining feature of Melanie, there is so much more to her, and any person than his or her body size.  The supporting characters, Kai, Phil, Nadia and Nate all have interesting lives and are well fleshed out.  The intersection of this particular group of people is believable and works with the plot of the story.

The treatment of food addiction/comfort eating/unhealthy relationship with food is well done.  Food is a really difficult addiction to live with and conquer, mainly because you can’t just go cold turkey on it 🙂 and it is not a very sympathy inducing addiction.  This struggle is really brought to life well through Melanie, her actions and reactions and her relationship and conversations with her nutritionist, Carey.  As someone who struggles with my own weight, I could so relate to Melanie’s feelings and experiences and they rang very true to me.

I loved the ending…I won’t give it away but definitely not typical.  Highly recommended read!