Category Archives: Literary Fiction

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? #IMWAYR #BoneClocks2017

Meme badgeReading and Bloggiesta-ing at the same time today, adding one more day to the weekend, thanks to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday!

Mini Bloggiesta January 13 to 15 badge
This week I’m reading Bone Clocks by David Mitchell for a readalong (#BoneClocks2017) hosted by Care at Care’s Books and Pie and Melissa of Avid Reader’s Musing. I also just downloaded Slade House by David Mitchell for audiobook listening this week, because I heard through the readalong crowd that there is some connection between the two. I hope I won’t get the two confused!

What is Bone Clocks all about? I have no idea, really…It appears so far to be a quest story with elements of fantasy and literary fiction, tucked inside a coming of age story. (Or the other way round.) Set in England. In other words, one of my favorite kinds of book! I knew nothing about Bone Clocks going into the readalong (and I wasn’t planning to sign up for challenges, etc. this year) but the other books by David Mitchell that I’ve read (Black Swan Green and Cloud Atlas) were so good that I couldn’t resist this chance to read Bone Clocks and talk about it at the same time.

The first part of Bone Clocks is narrated by a fifteen-year-old girl who is starting to assert her independence from her parents, especially her mother. Holly Sykes is a handful, but loves her younger brother, Jacko. (Holly reminded me a little of Meg from A Wrinkle in Time, who also had an unusual younger brother, but I don’t know if there were any deliberate references, as I haven’t read A Wrinkle in Time in ages.)

The narration in Bone Clocks has just switched to Hugo Lamb, a horny undergraduate at Cambridge, who seems callow and obnoxious at first, but if he turns out to be on the side of good (vs. evil) I expect he will redeem himself. He’s older than Holly – who is callow and obnoxious at age 15 – but boys mature later than girls?

If you want to jump in for the rest of the #BoneClocks17 Readalong, it’s not too late! It’s scheduled to go through February.

Bone Clocks Readalong button
The Bone Clocks Readalong Kickoff (Melissa)

The Bone Clocks Readalong Kickoff (Care)


It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (#IMWAYR) is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week.  It’s a great post to organize yourself. It’s an opportunity to visit and comment, and er… add to that ever-growing TBR pile! So welcome in, everyone. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at Book Date.

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Male Family Dysfunction in Maine (Even the Narrator is a Boy): The Miracle on Monhegan Island by Elizabeth Kelly

cover imageThe publisher of The Miracle on Monhegan Island calls it “another rollicking, summertime family saga” from author Elizabeth Kelly, but I think “rollicking” is a slightly misleading description, unless you’d also call the stories of the dark dysfunctional family summers in We Were Liars by E. Lockhart or Maine by Courtney Sullivan “rollicking.”

Although The Miracle on Monhegan Island overflows with humor and is narrated in its entirety by Ned, a purebred Shih Tzu who is wise beyond his years on the subjects of both human nature and dog breeds, the humor is mostly dark. The Monahan family is still recovering from events related to mental illness that broke up the family in the past.

I am a big fan of author Elizabeth Kelly, although you might not know it from my blog. I was so impressed with her two previous novels – Apologize, Apologize! and The Last Summer of the Camperdowns –  that I was afraid my reviews wouldn’t do them justice. But after reading an advance copy of The Miracle on Monhegan Island, which is coming out on May 10th and is written in the same understanding, unsentimental tone – a blend of light and dark, heavy on the dark– as her earlier books, I want to make sure my blog readers don’t miss hearing from me any longer about author Elizabeth Kelly (not to be confused with Canadian romance author Elizabeth Kelly, or Catholic inspirational author Elizabeth Kelly.)

Monhegan Island is a real island in Maine with cliffs overlooking the ocean, miles of walking trails, unspoiled natural vistas, and no cars.

photo of Monhegan Island
Photo from Monhegan.com http://monhegan.com

Before Spark, the prodigal adult son, returns after an absence of many years to the family home, he steals a dog as a gift for his young teenaged son Hally on impulse from the backseat of a car, thus changing Ned’s life completely, as Spark’s return to Monhegan Island also changes the life of his son Hally, who has lived alone with his artist uncle and stern preacher grandfather since the death of his mother when he was little. Pastor Ragnar is either a crackpot or inspired by God, but his faithful following grows exponentially when Hally reports seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary, igniting a firestorm of media attention and obsessed visitors to the isolated island.

Ned muses frequently on how different and more meaningful his life turned out to be from the petted and pampered life he had believed was his lot; his witty observations of the behavior of the members of the human family he now belongs to and the other humans (and dogs) on the island are equally keen and thoughtful.

You don’t have to be either a dog person or a God person to appreciate the dark humor of this story of the fine line between religious fervor and psychosis and the strength of blood lines and family ties. Add this one to your summer reading list, if you don’t mind a few loose ends and unanswered questions to ponder over after you close the book!

The Miracle on Monhegan Island
Kelly, Elizabeth (@ElizabethKelly8)
Norton, May 10, 2016
9781631491795 (hard.)
$25.95

Disclosure: I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

 

Social (Media) Climbing: Everybody Rise by Stephanie Clifford (Audio) @MacmillanAudio

Image of audiobook on CD Everybody RiseEverybody Rise, a first novel by Brooklyn journalist Stephanie Clifford, was the hot book this summer — seen on bestseller and Best Beach Reads lists – then quickly incurring the inevitable backlash to the hype — because no book is liked by everyone, no matter how popular it gets.

Set in New York City before the 2008 economic crash, 26-year-old Evelyn — desperately resisting her class-conscious, nouveau riche mother’s urging to marry up and do it quickly – leverages her prep school alumna status to dump her mediocre post-college textbook marketing job to shill for an exclusive social media start-up — People Like Us — aimed at the beautiful people who appear in the Times‘ society pages, e.g. debutantes, former debutantes, family scions, eligible bachelors, etc.

Narrated wonderfully by Katherine Kellgren, the audiobook hooked me immediately, and should probably have gone on my 2015 list of favorite literary fiction on audio. Katherine Kellgren does all of the characters’ voices so well, but especially:

  • Evelyn’s mother (social snob with an undercurrent of neediness);
  • Evelyn’s prep school friend, Preston (drawling son of old money, with a strong whiff of despair);
  • Evelyn’s best prep school friend, Charlotte (brisk and practical, but sympathetic to friends who aren’t as well-adjusted);
  • Evelyn herself (smart enough to recognize her envy of upper-class privilege but not strong enough to resist it).

Listen to a spoiler-free AudioFile review and a clip from the audiobook on SoundCloud.

Will you love or hate this tragicomic story ? Try this infographic to help you decide!

send email to lauriec@baystatera.com for complete text of infographic

Well? Should you skip it or try it? Everybody tell!

Everybody Rise
Clifford, Stephanie (auth.)
Kellgren, Katherine (narr.)
Macmillan Audio
August 2015
9781427265272
12.5 hrs/11 CDs

Disclosure: I received a free advance review copy of this audiobook at a library conference last May, or possibly won it as a prize through Armchair BEA last spring.

Other opinions on the audiobook:
AudioFile (“splendid”)
Literate Housewife (“pleasantly surprised”)
Publishers Weekly (“marvelous narration”)