Book Recommended By A Friend

Father and Son by Larry Brown

I hate realism. Truly. It’s my least favorite genre. But, the list is unforgiving, and I must follow the call.  I wanted a recommendation from a friend who reads completely different works than I do, and did I ever hit paydirt with this one.

Father and Son is the hard as nails story of Virgil Davis and Glen Davis, father and son. It’s also the story of other fathers and sons in the book, but I don’t want to give any spoilers. Set in 1968 Mississippi, the characters are harsh and prospects for what most of us would consider a happy life are bleak. Glen Davis has just been released from prison and most people aren’t throwing anything close to a welcome party. Glen has always been bad news and those who know him are just waiting to see what trouble of his own making will befall him next. They don’t even have time to pop the popcorn…

Bad things happen when Glen is around. Bloody, dreadful, life-altering tragedies. Glen is so mired in his own misery and hatred, he can’t stop his behavior. In fact, he doesn’t want to stop his behavior. He is a psychopathic juggernaut launching into this small town, smack in the middle of secrets and lies, bringing death and destruction as his two best friends. There isn’t much to like about Glen. Nothing, in fact, that I can find. Even as his past is disclosed, Glen is so awful that I really just didn’t care why he is the way he is. Over the he five days that the novel takes place, I just hated him more and more.  There is murder, rape, the senseless killing of animals… Truthfully, I skimmed a lot of the book because I just couldn’t read the details and I wanted the whole thing to be over. However, a lot of people love this type of story (Oprah, that’s why I’m not in your book club), so please try this one if that type is story speaks to you.

Despite my not liking the story it has to tell, Father and Son is well written and has great reviews. This link to a NoveList review goes into much more detail regarding the plot, but there are spoilers! Author Larry Brown is compared to the “Other” author from Mississippi, Mr. Stark Realism King himself, William Faulkner. I’m also not a Faulkner fan, so there you go. Not to say I don’t appreciate the bare bones writing and the grit in the storytelling, but it just doesn’t appeal to me. I like my murder and mayhem dressed up in fantasy. However, I did try something new and that’s what reading lists are all about!


Book You Can Read In A Day

Life and work soooo interfere with reading!  Even vacations this year haven’t lent themselves to reading like I thought they would.  I mean, I was vacationing on my vacation so why should I be complaining, right?  I have a deeply delicious stack of books just waiting for me to discover their depths and yet…no time to do it. You know what has been a bonus though? Discovering a handful of books which can be read in a day that I’ve managed to sneak in. One more category checked off of my list!

Today’s selection is a book that is definitely one of the most (fill in the blank with intriguing? eclectic? infamous? provocative?) reads I’ve picked up in a long time.   Auletris: Erotica by Anais Nin is my first foray into Nin’s work although I have certainly heard of her and her penchant for titillating stories. Auletris is composed of two separate collections of stories, “Life in Provincetown” (previously unknown until this 2016 publication) and “Marcel” (a portion of which was published in Nin’s Delta of Venus). I’m no stranger to my share of racy books with highly descriptive paragraphs of what happens when the birds and bees meet. However, Anais Nin’s prose is nothing short of magic.  She elevates the genre to heights beyond the reach of mere mortals.  Here’s an example:

“…one assumed she had a beautiful body, but somehow one only looked at the mouth.  Somehow or other one imagined the other mouth to be equally luxuriant, equally prominent.  Just as one felt that the thin-lipped mouths of Puritan women must be the exact replicas of their thin-lipped sexuality.”

Nin doesn’t just go straight for the action verbs.  She’s langourous in her descriptions, evoking the imagination and placing the voyeuristic reader right there in the room.  Her allusions are smart and shocking.  Whether or not you’re a fan of the subject matter, Nin’s literary muscle cannot be denied.

Having said that, this book won’t be for everyone.  From an Anais Nin blog, “Auletris breaks many taboos—there are tales of incest, sex with children, rape, voyeurism, cutting, sadomasochism, homoeroticism (both male and female), autoerotic asphyxiation, to name a few…”

If Fifty Shades of Grey is your only exposure to erotic works, you are truly allowing yourself to be duped!  Here’s an article from The Guardian that will guide you through some other choices. Plus, for lighter but still super hot fare, check out Bertrice Small’s classic Skye O’Malley series, works by author Zaneor anything by Ellora’s Cave publishers, for example. There is also the period erotica from the Victorian era, The Pearl, which also breaks taboos like those in Auletris; not so nicely written, but certainly a staple of the genre.  There are plenty of “traditional” erotica choices, and then there are the kinkier niche areas like dinosaurs or Bigfoot – stories that seem straight from the tabloids or a weird reality show on cable TV.  I kid you not. Here’s a few choices from this article in The Daily Dot.  There is literally something in this genre for everyone. I’m not sure they can all be read in a day, but they will keep you turning pages until late in the night. Laters, baby!

Book Into Movie

The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer

I came across this book from a news blurb stating that it was being made into a movie series. Big deal, right? What good book isn’t made into a crappy movie? (I’m not bitter, though!) Anywho, this particular title intrigued me for a couple of reasons. First, the movie series will star Millie Bobby Brown from “Stranger Things” fame (she plays Eleven). If you’re not familiar with “Stranger Things,” you need to drop everything and get right on that. I mean now. Stop reading and go. Second, the series is about Enola Holmes, the younger sister of Sherlock and Mycroft. Now, I love me some Sherlock Holmes! I immediately put the book on hold through my library and waited.

When the book arrived, I was a little dismayed that I hadn’t paid more attention to the catalog listing. Turns out, this is a juvenile book. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I just had in mind an adult book with a young protagonist – something like “The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.” Juvenile books have some great story-telling and are often more succinct in the plot than rambling adult authors I won’t name here. You’re doing yourself a disservice if you aren’t reading all levels of books – just saying. I’m guilty of not doing that nearly enough. I took my library hoard home and plunged right in.

This book was delightful! Turns out, Enola is not just the younger sister, but the MUCH younger of the Holmes siblings. Embarrassingly younger in the sense that it was scandalous that a long-married couple would engage in the activities that would produce a daughter so late in life. Grab the smelling salts! Enola is turning 14 years old at the beginning of the book. She lives with her mother and a few servants at the family home, Ferndell Hall. Her father passed away some years before and Enola’s upbringing is eccentric. She wakes up on the morning of her birthday to find that her mother has gone out for the day, but left her presents and a puzzle book. It also turns out that her mother hasn’t just gone out for the day. She has just gone. Flown the proverbial coop for unknown reasons. Mycroft and Sherlock are sent for from London and the mystery solving begins.

As odd as Enola’s life has been, she knows her mother loves her and would never leave her behind. Mycroft and Sherlock dismiss Enola from the outset as being unkempt and utterly useless in the investigation, but Enola knows she is the only one who can track down her mother. She also has a connection with her mother that her older brothers don’t notice – Enola’s mother has a love for puzzles and word games. Enola’s very name is the word alone spelled backwards – a fact she knows to be true about her lonely upbringing. As the reason behind the Holmes matriarch’s disappearance unfolds, Enola takes off on an adventure worthy of the tales Mr. Watson tells of Sherlock. She is determined to find her mother and prove her worth to the family. Enola digs deep and shows plenty of gumption and grit in solving a few side mysteries as she winds her way to the truth about her mother.

I liked this book a lot and will be getting the rest of the books in the series. The word puzzles throughout were easily figured out for the most part, since I’m adult and I also like word puzzles, but the ultimate fate of Enola’s mother came as a surprise. The book is funny and intriguing and the reader easily feels empathetic to Enola’s plight in life, especially standing in the shadows of the famous Holmes brothers. While this may not be one of those stories that you think about long after the book is finished, it is certainly an enjoyable and quick read and a nice addition to the Holmes universe!

A Thriller

The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware

Girl, shut your mouth!  That’s what I kept thinking to myself the whole time I read this book.  You know, like when you tell characters not to go upstairs and check on that eerie noise?  Or tell them not to marry that jerk?  They always seem to do it anyway, despite the best advice from me, the reader.  Mama tried, remember that…

The Woman in Cabin 10 is a quick read and certainly has its moments in the thriller genre.  The protagonist is Lo Blacklock, a low-level writer for a travel magazine.  She’s been toiling away for 10 years at the same job, waiting for an opportunity to prove to her boss she’s capable of more.  Finally, she’s been given a golden ticket to cover an event that might just advance her career.  Lo’s boss can’t make it to a gig to travel on the maiden voyage of super luxury cruising yacht, the Aurora, and Lo is asked to go instead and report on the experience.  The Aurora only holds 20 passengers and a cadre of staff ready to indulge one’s every need.  Doesn’t that sound lovely?  The passengers are all potential investors or travel industry people – everyone is serving a purpose to the owner of the boat and cattily size each other up, as well.  Nice and cozy!

To back up, our girl, Lo, wakes up at the beginning of the novel to the sound of someone rummaging through her apartment.  She’s a little hungover and not thinking straight (get used to this from her) and the burglar ends up locking her in her bedroom while he ransacks the apartment.  Lo isn’t physically harmed, but she is understandably shaken.  After the cops show up and take what information they can, she walks to her boyfriend’s apartment to sleep.  He is out of town for work and comes back early, waking up our heroine who clobbers him in the head.  They argue and makeup and argue again – he wants her to move in with him (an ongoing plea we surmise) and she is still refusing to make that commitment, causing them to fight and breakup before she leaves to get on the cruise.

On the boat, one of the other travel professionals is (ta-da!) an ex-boyfriend with whom she had a nasty break-up.  Did I mention Lo suffers from major mood disorders for which she takes medication?  Add to that she’s sleep deprived, hasn’t eaten much, and is still shaken up from the break-in at her apartment and the break-up with her boyfriend.  What would you do?  Why, have one complimentary drink after another among people who will report back to your boss about your level of professionalism!  So, after the introductory dinner (and too many drinks), Lo toddles back off to her cabin and, in her stupor, thinks she sees a body being thrown from the boat.  She proceeds to tell the head of security who, understandably, is skeptical when he sees several empty mini-bar bottles and knows she was drinking at the party the night before.  He reluctantly agrees to check the ship and, (surprise!) everyone is accounted for among the staff and passengers except…that one girl in the cabin next door from whom Lo borrowed a mascara.  Nobody else remembers her of course – or do they?  Lo goes down a rabbit hole after that, telling literally anybody who will listen that she saw a murder.  Again, shut your mouth, girl!  Lo’s ex-boyfriend and fellow passenger spills the beans on the apartment break-in and her mental health history and more and more doubt is placed on her credibility at witnessing anything but the bottom of a drinking glass.  On top of that, the internet and ship communications go out while cruising the North Sea.  Technology is never there when you need it.

What happens after that?  You’ll have to read it for yourself.  I don’t like spoilers and try not to be one!  I was intrigued enough to finish it, but ultimately didn’t like it as much as Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train.  Even those two didn’t quite live up to expectations, but I’m not sure many thrillers can.  Sleep No More by Greg Iles was another thriller that had me enthralled right up until the end; the WTF ending completely lost my faith and I haven’t read anything by him since.  Authors write one gripping scene after another and then…what do you do to top all of that?  It’s hard.  I can’t remember the last time I read something where I didn’t see the end coming or was totally satisfied by how the author wrapped it up.  It seems that, more often than not, endurance is tested and the authors fall short of the finish line.  The Woman in Cabin 10 is worth a look, but be duly warned that you’ll want to slap that girl’s mouth shut while you’re reading!

That Elusive Good Read

Everyone probably thinks that I’m a raving nymphomaniac, that I have an insatiable sexual appetite, when the truth is I’d rather read a book. – Madonna

Welcome! I’m here to help you find those amazing, tantalizing tales that will keep you up way past your bedtime!

This is a revamped creation, updating the old Bookish Brunette blog into this new site. A few of the more popular posts from the old site will pop up here and there, along with all of the new stuff! The subject titles for each selection are from a variety reading lists. You can sort through the titles as you tick off items for your own reading challenges, use them to find something new for your book club, or find a new title for your own personal pleasure! I’ve included a few of my favorite reading lists here, but it’s by no means a comprehensive list. Follow one closely, mix and match, or just sit back and enjoy the experience!