Cannonball Read IV

A bunch of Pajibans reading and reviewing and honoring AlabamaPink.

Archive for the tag “hellokatieo”

HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #52: She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb

She’s Come Undone is one of my all time favorite novels. I’ve read it twice a year for as long as I can remember, and I can conjure up the distinctive artwork of my paperback copy in my mind without ever closing my eyes. Much like I Know This Much is True, I can’t figure out exactly what it is about this book that has brought me back over and over again.

There’s really only two possible answers. The first is Dolores Price, the main character of the book. We follow Dolores from childhood through a tumultuous adulthood. The book skips through time, highlighting the critical times of her life. Her fast friendship with her childhood waken. Her sexual awakening. Her violent rape by her mother’s illicit lover. Her rapid weight gain and she struggles to forget the rape. Her seven year stint in a mental institution. Her marriage, and its rapid dissolution over her forced abortion.

It’s almost like a series of short stories and each one will break your heart. Dolores just feels real. Even as she descends into mental illness and engages in behavior that seems terrifying, and self destructive – it’s not over the top. At all times, you have a 100% understanding of why she’s doing what she’s doing. When she stalks her former college roommate’s ex-boyfriend and then marries him, it just feels right. It’s what she would do.

And there’s more…

HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #51: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

So, I was fortunate enough to travel to Peru with my best friend this summer. And while I was there, I had an epic travel fail and ended up stuck in Lima for a few days. I was out of books, so I read every English language book left in my hostel’s library. All four of them. This is one of those novels. And this is really just a roundabout way of saying I disliked this book, and wouldn’t have ordinarily chosen it for myself.

Sophie Kinsella is the author of the Shopaholic series, one of my favorite guilty pleasures from my high school era. Twenties Girl features a protagonist not unlike Rebecca Bloomwood – she’s struggling to make ends meet at her job, her love life is a mess, and her best friend is a flighty disaster who’s constantly abandoning her in her time of need. Oh, and her parents are fussy and overbearing.

This book has a supernatural twist. At her great aunt’s funeral, Lara suddenly can see the ghost of her great aunt Sadie. Sadie requests Lara’s help in tracking down a lost necklace, and the adventure begins. Lara ends up uncovering the skeletons in her family’s closet as she searches for the lost necklace, and learning more about her family history than she bargained for.

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HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #50: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

If you love dogs, you will love this book. It’s hard not to. Enzo, Denny’s dog, tells us the tragic story of Denny’s life in such a loyal, compassionate and hopeful way that I was sobbing on the airplane. And yes, people were staring.

The story of Denny, a race car driver, and his wife and child, is not particularly original. Denny get’s married, his wife gets sick and he faces challenges both from his in-laws and from the temptations in his life. Despite the struggles, everything is wrapped up neatly in the end and you appreciate Denny for trying so hard in all aspects of his life – caring for Enzo, fighting for his daughter and racing cars. This is a feel good novel and even though it’s hardly realistic, it leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy and sometimes that’s just what you need.


HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #49: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Family dramas. My weakness. There’s nothing particularly unique or exciting about The Weird Sisters. But the generic plot lines felt like comfort food, and I got that warm, feel good feeling after reading the book.

The Weird Sisters are three sisters, each named for a tragic Shakespearean character by their professor father, who are struggling to shake their literary legacies. Rosalind, the staid,oldest sister struggles between staying home to care for their dying mother or moving abroad to live and work alongside the love of her life. Cordelia, the baby, gives up her nomadic, wild lifestyle when she finds out she’s pregnant, moving home and trying to set down roots for the first time her life. And Bianca, after losing her job due to some criminal behavior, finds herself moving back home to take shelter from her crimes and continue to destroy the things she loves with her reckless behavior.

And for more…

HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #48: In the Shadow of Gotham by Stefanie Pintoff

The Strand is one of my favorite places in NYC. I went there on a Friday night and bought three books at $5 a piece. I grabbed this historical murder mystery off the shelf because it took place in NYC and also was set during the development of criminal profiling.

Shadow of Gotham‘s lead detective is Simon Ziele, who is working in a small upstate New York town while getting over the tragic death of his fiance. When Sarah Wingate, a female doctorate student in mathematics, is found brutally murdered in her wealthy aunt’s home,Ziele is dragged back to New York to solve her murder.

Criminal profiling is a major part of this book. Ziele works with Alistair Sinclair, who has been conducting research on criminals, and criminal rehabilitation, to track down one of Sinclair’s former research subjects suspected of murdering Wingate. The validity of the research, the special favors Sinclair calls in to make his research possible, and Sinclair’s odd assortment of staffers are almost more interesting than the murder itself.

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HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #47: Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl ended up being one of the hot books of the summer. I couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the book cover, or reading a blog entry about it. After reading that Reese Witherspoon had signed on to star and produce in the adaptation, and seeing that Jezebel chose it as their inaugural book club selection, I decided to take the plunge.

The book starts out with a ripped-from-the-headlines plot: wife goes missing, world suspects husband. The book is sort of told in three pieces. His side of the story, her side of the story, and the ending as it unfolds. This isn’t quite a traditional mystery, it’s a psychological thriller.

And it’s creepy. Every 50 pages, I thought I’d figured out who did it. The husband. His mistress. She’s faking it. Her creepy best friend from high school. And then 50 pages later, I would be so thrown by the sheer force of both the husband and the wife’s masterful manipulation that I’d be lost again.


HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review 46: By Invitation Only by Jodi Della Femina and Sheri McInnis

When I grabbed this off the beach house shelf, I didn’t look close enough and I actually thought it was the book about the Guilt Group. It wasn’t, but it was a pleasant surprise. Plus perfect for the beach – a family drama and love story set in the Hamptons, written by two women with an insiders view on the Hamptons.

This  is standard rom-com material. Toni’s NYC restaurant fails and she moves home to the Hamptons, where she was raised as a local, to open a catering business and serve as the maid of honor in her glamorous best friend’s wedding. Toni slowly struggles to establish herself as a caterer, with a few social missteps, but ultimately her work ethic helps her business prevail. She predictably struggles with her seemingly shallow, beautiful best friend who ends up being less vapid than she appears. And she predictably meets a man, who she believes is a surfer, who’s relaxed attitude helps change her luck and helps her fall in love again.

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HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #45: Rogue by Danielle Steel

The theme of my summer reading list was “other people’s books.” I read books owned by the professor I sublet from. I read books left in the beach house we rented by past renters. I read books left in the hostel I stayed in in Lima. This particularly selection came from the beach house’s shelf of lost books, and it was perfect for hot, sunshiney, 90 degree days on the beach.

Rogue by Danielle Steel is about Maxine, a gorgeous psychiatrist who treats adolescent patients. The book is simple. Maxine leaves her ex-husband after they lead a life of adventure, and raises her children alone, struggling to find a new man. And just when she fines her match – stable, friendly, doctor – she finds herself choosing between her adventurous, handsome ex-husband or her new, reliable, steady gorgeous doctor boyfriend. You can probably guess who she chooses.


HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #44: The Book Borrower by Alice Mattison

This summer, I sublet an apartment in NYC from two professors. They had a wall to wall library filled with books on political science and education, with just one shelf of fiction. I had intended to tear through the shelf, but the only book I actually ended up reading from their small fiction selection was Alice Mattison’s The Book Borrower.

This book details the friendship between two women, from beginning to end. The book is told primarily in fragments of memory of the two women, Deborah and Toby. You see them meet, become fast friends, grow their families, attempt to grow their personal and professional lives, and slowly outgrow each other.  There’s intense jealousy in the friendship, as both women are teachers trying to make their way in a struggling market. There’s also jealousy over their marriages, their past times, and the new friends they make along the way.

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HelloKatieO’s #CBR4 Review #43: Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth

I don’t read very many self help books, because I’m not a touchy-feely kind of person. However, like many women my age, I’ve been fighting my own personal battles with food for many years now. There’s no magic bullet for compulsive eating, but Geneen Roth is one of the only experts who’s books really focus on binge eating, rather than anorexia or bulemia. This book is not a magic cure for your eating problems, or self esteem problems or anxiety, or loneliness, or whatever troubles you.

But it is the first book or essay I’ve read where I thought “she gets it.” She doesn’t make working through your issues sound easy like many other sources – because it’s not. She recognizes it’s exhausting and tricky and you have to be willing to spend a lot of time feeling uncomfortable things which you might not like.

And her descriptions of what it feels like to feel so powerless over your eating habits is scarily accurate. It’s a beautifully written book, and it really gets at the core of what it feels like to stress out about eating in public, or what it feels like to binge alone, or that rush when you finally break your latest ludicrous diet.

There’s more…

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