Sunday, November 24, 2013

Help for the Haunted

by John Searles
October 28-Nov19, 2013

What a waste of three precious weeks of reading time. I can't remember now what made me want to read this book, but it had to be something significant because this genre is never chosen by me. I'm just not a fan of mystery or suspense. And while I think a book can accomplish way more than a movie can, I found myself thinking that this book will be way scarier if (when) it gets made into a movie.

Since I'm not going to recommend Help for the Haunted to any of my book friends, spoilers will abound in this review. Please keep reading though because I'm telling you it's not worth your time anyway.

The whole time I was reading, I felt as though I stepped into the middle of the conversation. It's not like when chapters leave you hanging in suspense, but more like I wasn't in on the secret, which was incredibly frustrating. I just never found my stride. The gist of this book is that Sylvie and her sister Rose are left orphaned after their parents are murdered. Sylvester and Rose Mason have the unusual, but highly publicized career of helping those who have been haunted in one way or another. Sylvie has been coerced by her evil, cruel sister to give the police a story which leads them away from Rose being the prime suspect, but Sylvie can't help but think that there is another side to the story. From here the book drags and drags, weaving from present to past and throwing in a handful of stories meant to throw the reader off. I found myself bored, but not really giving up because I had to find out who the murderer was. And if I'm being honest, Searles writing style is easy to read. But the creepy stuff and learning more about the Mason's "healing" work didn't seem to accomplish its task ... to scare me, the reader. There's a doll at the crux of the story that had ill-effects on its owner until the Masons came and removed it. The doll then proceeded to bring chaos and sickness to Sylvie's mom, until they locked it away in a rabbit cage in the basement. This is where I think visuals would be more successful.

I could continue to ramble on, but I made my point about the scattered story line. Still, I pressed on, sure that the payoff would be worth it. And then, AND THEN, it turns out the Masons were fakes!!!! No one or nothing was haunted and they healed no one!! Seriously?! The father just drugged people making them believe they were being possessed. All in the name of publicity!! There's even an undercurrent of homophobia and intolerance connected to Rose. What a giant waste of time!!!! If I'm going to pick up a book that promises suspense, mystery and the supernatural, WHY do I want it to turn out to be a hoax after all?? Waste. There's three weeks I will never get back. Lesson learned.

* * * * *

Sunday, November 17, 2013


by Liz Moore
August-October 2013

The genius of audiobooks are their use of multiple readers for main characters. You really feel like the story comes alive with each different voice. In this case, it was practically imperative.

The other bonus of audiobooks is that I'm essentially reading two books at once: one on "paper" (literally or virtually), one in my ears. As a slow reader, this allows me to stay somewhat current on my never-ending book list.

Imagine a man; smart, sensitive, but not-so-good-looking, with a bit of a damaged family history. As a college professor, Arthur Opp falls for a student. They are instantly compatible, but between the age difference and his emotional issues, a real relationship never comes to pass. They do, however, write letters for many years. Charlene's life takes another direction, but she continues to write to Arthur. Until she suddenly stops. Meanwhile, Arthur, over the years, "feeds" his feelings with food. So much food that he weighs over 550 pounds and has not left his house in years. The letters were all he had. Then out of the blue Arthur receives word from Charlene and everything changes. Enter the other side of the story, told by Kel, Charlene's son.

I can't even begin to express how much I enjoyed this book. Chapters woven between Arthur's and Kel's narratives, stories from present day and past; each one more interesting than the next. I never once guessed where Heft was going and was eager to find out. I was left thinking about what really constitutes a family, and how important it is to have loved ones who care.

I googled "awards for Heft by Liz Moore" and was surprised to find very little. Such a great book deserved more praise (although I admit, I'm not the best googler, and may have missed something). Even on Moore's own site, awards are scarce. I'm so surprised. The only one I found was the Beverly Hills Literary Escape's Medici Book Club Prize ... aka, Totally New to Me. A book like this certainly deserves more praise. You should read it and get the word out.

* * * * *

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Husband's Secret

by Liane Moriarty
October 13-27, 2013

I allowed myself a rare treat with this one. A fall and winter favorite of mine is waking up on a Sunday morning, early, only to make coffee and hop right back into bed and read. Delightful. I hadn't allowed myself this simple pleasure since last year, but what better book to snuggle up with than The Husband's Secret. I read over half of it in this one sitting ... just don't tell anyone I stayed in bed until one o'clock in the afternoon!

Moriarty has some similarities to Maeve Binchy, and this I loved. The ability to weave so many characters into a story and still make it completely believable. Humor and tears in just the right doses. I thoroughly enjoyed this book from beginning to end. And the secret? Well, I never would have guessed. I feel like I should have though, but even then, I wasn't any less intrigued. The twists and outcomes were perfect, and the "what-ifs" left me thinking long after I finished the last page.

It's crazy, but I can't think of much more to say about this book. Mainly because I don't want to give away a thing. It's that good. That surprising. That compelling. That good. One of the best books I've read in a while.

* * * * *

Sunday, October 27, 2013


by Allisa Nutting
Sept 26-Oct 13, 2013

This book should have come with a warning: Rated M for mature audiences. Seriously. But it also should have come with a lesser-known warning: this book will absolutely make you squirm. While reading I felt both criminal and twisted for continuing to turn the pages. My conscience told me to put it down. But I just couldn't. I needed to know that Celeste Price wasn't going to get away with it.

And by "it" I mean preying her on 14-year old male students. To fulfill her sexual needs. Nutting does not gloss over details; she embellishes to the point of jaw-dropping disbelief. What was going through the author's head as she penned each chapter?? Controversial subject matter is sure to sell more books, is my opinion. When I was ready to give up on Tampa, I decided to check out a few reviews on Goodreads to see if I was the one who was off-base. It seems the general consensus was that her writing was great and that was what kept readers interested to the end. I'm not sure I agree with that. Not that it was horrible, but it just "was." I suppose it if was really awful I would have been more inclined to quit. But I just had to make sure justice was served.

The official synopsis goes as far as calling Tampa "seriocomic;" yet I never once cracked a smile. And while I'm quite sure the controversy over this book will simply be because the so-called gender roles are reversed, I can't necessarily say that this was a tale that needed to be told. Getting into Celeste's mind is no place I'd ever want to be. When she described her target as an "adolescent morsel," I gagged. First because GROSS and second because I hate the word morsel. This is the point where I can chuckle. The bottom line is that reactions like mine wouldn't even occur if the teacher was a male and obsessed with young girls. We'd condemn him, yes, but it wouldn't have the same shock value.

The last few chapters were the most intriguing for me because I felt they did the best at really getting into a pedophile's mind. To explain that no amount of punishment would cure this sickness. To show that there is no remorse in the merciless. And as to whether or not justice was served... well... you'll have to find out for yourself.

It's interesting to note that Allisa Nutting is an assistant professor at John Carroll University, which many of my friends attended. I wonder if any of them ever crossed her path?! I'd love to know what is on her creative writing class syllabus.

* * * * *

Monday, October 14, 2013

Everything Changes

by Jonathan Tropper
Sept 10-25, 2013

I have a friend and coworker who I consider to be extremely smart and well-read, plus he's also a writer. But for some crazy reason, he comes to me when he needs a book recommendation. I'm glad to say that I've pulled through every time. My latest recommendations for him were "anything" by Jonathan Tropper. My first suggestions were the two titles I'd already read, but from there he took it and ran. He came to me after returning from a flight and said he'd read One Last Thing... in one sitting. It made him laugh, cry and totally relate to the story. He jumped into another Tropper right away and came back to me singing its praises. That's how I came upon my third Tropper novel, Everything Changes.

Zack seemingly has everything. A rent-free house, loyal friends and a hot fiancée. When his absentee father reappears (with a perma-boner), everything ahem changes. Under it all though is a great story about friendships and the family bond. Tropper has the ability to make the reader laugh out loud in one sentence and get misty-eyed in the next. He can even make an inanimate object an important character in the story. Zack's brother Matt is a talented musician with a shaved head and an attitude. But, knowing how much his mother is disturbed by his bald pate, he wears a wig in her presence. It was amazing to me that this wig was at once both a hilarious little antidote and a poignant reminder of a son's devotion to his mother.

Truly a great storyteller, I highly recommend Jonathan Tropper.

* * * * *

Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Last Summer of the Camperdowns

by Elizabeth Kelly
Aug 20-Sept 9, 2013

Alas, my last book of the summer was appropriately titled. I hate the end of summer. I'm probably the only person on the planet who loathes the fall. Darker, quieter mornings sans chirping birds; cooler, earlier nights when socks are required. Awful. Not for me. Time to start hibernating.

When I finished this book a few weeks ago, I had so many thoughts and a lot to say for this post. But I quickly dismissed this book and apparently my opinions along with it. What I do remember is feeling that Kelly tried to cram too many side stories into the book instead of focusing on the one or two that could have really been better developed. But I also have nothing but praise for her crisp, smart dialog and her ability to transport the reader to a better place with her metaphors:

"His voice sounded like a graham cracker tastes."

Doesn't that sentence just make you sigh? I love it. Sentences like that are what kept me going through to the end, even when I felt the book had lost its way. I read a review someone wrote that said the momentum of the book couldn't hold up after the first few chapters, and I couldn't agree more.

Starting out in present day, Riddle Camperdown, runs into the elusive Harry Devlin at a party, having gone 20 years since last seeing him. He proceeds to walk past her and out the door without a word, and thus the tone is set. The reader is then whisked back to 1972, when Riddle is 13. For the most part we remain here, but then suddenly we're drawn into WWII while the author tries to make parallels with Riddle and her father, Camp. The whole time I wanted to rejoin present day and find out why Harry walked out the door. This gets wrapped up in the last 50 pages of the book, and that's what disappointed me. The relationship between Harry and Riddle never felt fully fleshed out to me. Or maybe I just wanted more? Or really what I don't like is trying to mix mystery, drama, romance and coming-of-age all in one book? And don't even get me started on how much I detested Riddle's mother, Greer. Kudos to Kelly for evoking such strong emotions.

No regrets on this one, just a wish for something more.

* * * * *

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Family Fang

by Kevin Wilson
June-August 2013

I'm not completely sure what to say about this book. It left me feeling very uncomfortable, I know that. But I was immediately drawn to the premise: Two performance artists will do anything to create a strange and memorable piece. Their desired results always include their two children, who have been part of the "act" their whole lives. Annie and Buster, better known as Child A and Child B, now grown, have realized that being these "characters" has f*cked up their lives. The Fang's final work is one that leaves the reader squirming and wondering at what cost do we sacrifice family for art?

I have to say the author did a great job building the story. I never could have guessed where it was going. My predictions made me worry the book would lose its way, or jump the shark, but luckily I was wrong (I am a really bad predictor). I was literally shaking my head and clicking my tongue at these two crazy artists/parents.

I struggled in the beginning to get into the story, but it eventually picked up speed. Maybe it would have been easier to read it as opposed to the audio version? While the flashback sequences to the younger years of Buster and Annie's involvement in the performances were quite interesting, their current lives and story lines had me zoning out if I wasn't careful. But maybe that was the author's intention; to really illustrate what life can become when you are your parent's pawn for so long.

Quirky and fun, but only mildly recommended.

* * * * *

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Orange is the New Black: My Year in a Women's Prison

by Piper Kerman
August 4-19, 2013

It all started with Arrested Development, Season 4. WHAT?! Well, the highly anticipated, Netflix-only fourth season is what convinced me to join Netflix in the first place (BTW, you need to watch it if ever you were an AD fan). And after I tore through all 15 episodes, my Netflix suggestions taunted me with OITNB. I ignored them. After all, I know I missed the boat on Mad Men, and I had every intention of binge-watching it next. Then, my favorite fashion gurus wrote this post. That was all I needed.

Wow. Quite possibly the best show (a Netflix original series) I've ever watched. I'm not really going to go into great detail about it though, since I'm here to talk about the book, but trust me, watch it. You'll thank me later. It's been a constant discussion between myself and other Orange fans, obsessing over online articles about the cast as well as the real-life Piper. By about episode eight, I had to have the book.

The book, a memoir, is the true story of what happened to Kerman as a result of some bad decisions made right after graduating from Smith and her need for a little adventure in life (the show is loosely based on the truth). There isn't too much to say about it because it is what it is. It's not great story-telling, nor is really meant to be. It's an account of the facts. What I enjoyed most was recognizing the parallels to the show as well as when the show embellished on the truth.

After serving 15 months in a minimum security women's prison, Kerman walked away having learned a great lesson, but she also became an advocate for women's rights within the prison walls. To an extent, I agree with her, but then again, isn't that what prison is about? It's punishment, not vacation, and I'm sorry if your government-supplied underwear is uncomfortable or if the food is bland (although I cannot condone feeding anyone moldy food). I'm generalizing, I know, but this is a bigger discussion, and my little ol' blog just isn't the forum.

So my recommendations is this: watch the show. Now. Then read the book. I promise it won't spoil anything that the first season may not have covered. And unfortunately season two is about a year away.

* * * * *

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Dinner

by Herman Koch
July 14 til I gave up

Yuck. Lost in translation? Maybe. Completely scattered and uninteresting? Totally. I tried, but was convinced to give it up when Orange is the New Black arrived from Amazon (completely obsessed. more on that later).

The whole premise is about a man, his wife and son, and his brother's family. The events are supposed to take place during a dinner, but the story jumps from dinner to past events and is all over the board. When I first started Dinner and learned it was translated from Dutch, I decided maybe it was hard to get into because of the differences in cultures. That maybe it would be worth hanging on for some great payoff at the end. But when I was literally finding other things to do before bed to avoid reading, I knew it was time to throw in the towel.

So many books, so little time. Don't bother.

* * * *

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

The Marriage Plot

by Jeffrey Eugenides
May 28-July 14, 2013

I bought this book on my kindle way back in March 2012 with every intention of reading it in Palm Desert. What do they say about those with the best intentions? Oh, right. And then it continued to get pushed aside for newer releases until I finally made time for it in May. Although The Marriage Plot made a bunch of "best of" lists for 2011, the fact that I finished this book a little over a week ago and have thought of it only in terms of writing this post, tells me that I disagree with said lists.

I started off like gangbusters. A rare Saturday afternoon with my chores complete and a few hours to sit on the porch with a new book. And I was instantly intrigued. Any book set in the 80s, focusing on college and those years right after, are always a warm fuzzy for me. It's just that I failed to understand the significance of this particular decade being so central to the novel.

But then I started to wonder what the whole point was. I never do that, so why was I questioning it now? I guess I felt like the story really wasn't going anywhere. Madeleine, a devotee to English literature, is in the midst of a love triangle with Larry and Mitchell. Larry challenges her intellectually, Mitchell spiritually. She chooses the latter, but questions this choice on more that one occasion. It's not until the last few paragraphs that the decision is more or less made for her, and I was still left wondering the author's intention. I honestly would have put this book down unfinished if I hadn't paid money for it. It makes me feel guilty when a book so praised as this one fails to impress me. And by guilty I mean stupid. Did I miss the message? I think so. But I can't feel guilty or stupid; I just need to remember to each her own, right?

Opinions for or against are welcome. Help me see the light if you think I missed out.

* * * * *

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

My Awesome Awful Popularity Plan

by Seth Rudetsky
June 2013

It's no secret that I love Broadway shows. LOVE. In my head I'm a triple threat. I only wish I was in real life. Dream job. And to quote Seth, "anyhooo..."

Who is Seth Rudetsky you may ask? Well if you listen to the Broadway channel on Sirius, you already know (come on, don't roll your eyes at me, it's a great channel!). He knows everything there is about Broadway musicals and has a highly entertaining interview show that I never miss. So when I heard about this book, and it was on sale on Audible, I just had to get it. Even though it was touted as young adult, I was still interested because it's narrated by a bunch of great actors, like Megan Hilty (oh Smash, I miss you already!!) and Jesse Tyler Ferguson, of Modern Family fame.

Justin is a 15-year old high school sophomore struggling with his sexuality and popularity (or lack thereof). When he develops a plan to get the cutest boy in high school to like him, meanwhile becoming super popular, he finds he is losing his best friend, Spencer, in the process. Popularity Plan is funny, poignant and the perfect book for audio.

* * * * *

Monday, June 17, 2013

May We Be Forgiven

by A.M. Homes
May 1-28, 2013

I've been stewing over this one for a few weeks now, wondering what the hell to say about it. I started out at an insanely fast reading pace, then considerably slowed down on the crazy. This one stalled my quick-reading streak a bit, but mainly because it was much longer than the last few books I read, and also because of the aforementioned crazy.

One of the reviews on the inside flap said something like, "starts out at 100 mph, then it really gets going." And that couldn't be more true. On Thanksgiving, Harry's sister-in-law kisses him while they are cleaning up after dinner. His brother, George, a tv executive, is fairly absent in his family's life and on the verge of a breakdown. One day, he cracks, and rams his car into another filled with a family, all of whom he kills, except for an 8-year old boy. While sitting in jail, George's wife and Harry's affair kicks into full gear. Asleep one night in George's bed with George's wife in George's pajamas, Harry is awakened by an intruder. It's George, who proceeds to bash the bedside lamp over his wife's head until she is unconscious and near death. A few days later, confirmed that she will be a vegetable, they pull the plug and she is gone. This all happens by page 37!!!

From there the insanity ensued, but again, I'm just not sure how I feel. Harry's wife divorces him, he is tasked with raising George's children, has ridiculous affairs, and the list goes on. I am the first to admit that I love a book to take me away from reality, but this was so far off the cliff I'm not sure I could hang on any further. Before page 37, I was recommending this book to everyone I knew. By the end, I was telling my fellow readers to proceed with caution. I welcome any other opinions. I'm also going to check out the consensus on Goodreads. Ed and Joanna, I'm glad we sort of agree on this one. It's not that I hated it; the plot is smart, funny and outrageous. But at some point I wanted to be reeled back to a normal, believable life. Apparently, Homes is known for her f-ed up style, but I'm not sure I want any more of it?

* * * * *

Sunday, June 2, 2013

A Week in Winter

by Maeve Binchy
April-May 2013

Waaaay back in the mid-90s, just as I was starting my "adult life" after college and working full time, I discovered Maeve. My friend Beth and I carpooled aaaall the way to the east side; we both still lived at home with parents who were shocked we would even accept a job so far from Lakewood and North Olmsted, respectively. But hey, we were young and had recently discovered books on tape. We would meet in the morning, exchange a brief greeting, and pop in a book (Yes, they were cassettes!). Circle of Friends was one of the first audiobooks we listened to, and from there, we were hooked. Since then, I've listened to or read all 18 of her novels, plus a few collections of short stories. I adore Maeve. Beth even named her daughter after our beloved Irish author!

About 10 years ago, I was surprised to hear the Maeve had retired from writing. What would I do without her recurring characters and unique charm? I was frantic. But since then, she released 3 or 4 more books. I must not have been the only one who wouldn't accept her retirement! And in July 2012, just by accident, I read that my endearing storyteller had died. I was surprised that this news received little to no press in the US. But lucky for us loyal readers, Maeve still had one more tale up her sleeve.

Released posthumously in February 2013, A Week in Winter is Maeve Binchy's swan song. And while I wasn't the biggest fan of Minding Frankie, Winter was exactly the voice of the Maeve I knew and loved all these years.

Chicky Starr has grand plans to open a bed and breakfast on the coast of Ireland, and her friends and family think she is crazy. As the plans come together and the guests start to arrive, the reader is treated to a wide variety of characters, all with great stories; as well as a few favorites from previous novels. 

Maeve's final words didn't fail to delight. I will certainly miss her storytelling.

Maeve Binchy

* * * * *

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Sunshine When She's Gone

by Thea Goodman
April 24-May 1, 2013

My speedy reading streak continues. I polished off this one in a week. Can't remember the last time I did that, but to be fair, Sunshine was only 225 pages. I also had that Bill Withers song stuck in my head for the past week. Only this book is the exact opposite ... there was Sunshine When She's Gone. Withers sings about how sad and lonely he is without his love, but in this case, Veronica finds herself more than happy when her husband and daughter leave her for the weekend.

Suffering from severe post-partum depression and loss over the emergency hysterectomy that followed the birth, Veronica is surprised to wake up refreshed after an unexpected good night's sleep. Her husband John wakes up early and decides to take six-month old Clara out in the cold January morning to a diner for breakfast. When he finds the diner closed, he hops in a cab for the airport and onto a flight to Barbados. He just wants to get warm. What follows is two days of phone tag, lies and Veronica's unexpected pleasure at having some alone time. For the reader, it's nothing but tension and worry that the baby will get home safely before getting any sicker than she already is.

I kept waiting for the plot to come to a point, but the storyline was so contrived, and the author appeared to give up at the end. I mean, really, who randomly decides to go to the Caribbean, and in what world would he have even gotten through customs with no luggage and a ticket purchased the same day?? I know that I read novels to escape reality, but they need to be somewhat believable too. The book was short, and in the end I'm grateful for that, but another 50 pages could have helped explain these unsympathetic characters a little more. Although maybe that was Goodman's intentions; to leave the reader feeling as shallow as this couple.

I really want to give this book two stars, but I have to give credit to the author for her beautiful prose. A reluctant three stars it is.

* * * * *

Sunday, April 28, 2013

The Light Between Oceans

by M.L. Stedman
April 13-23, 2013

Have I mentioned how happy I am that my book slump seems to be behind me? Well, hooray! I've been on a nice run of good words as of late, which is also encouraging me to read longer into the night, and losing some sleep. It's worth it though if the books remain as good as this one: The Light Between Oceans.

Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia after WWI an emotionally damaged man. He shoulders guilt for not being physically injured; having seen his fellow soldiers wounded beyond repair. He finds solace in a job on Janus Rock as the keeper of its lighthouse. On a rare shore leave, he meets and marries Isabel. She in content on the island and with the life they have built together. But after two miscarriages and a stillbirth, she is on the verge a breakdown; until the day when a boat washes ashore carrying a dead man and a two-month old baby girl, who is very much alive. Isabel does everything in her power to convince Tom that they should keep the baby. As a man who is comforted by rules and procedures, he is adamantly against this idea. But when faced with a distraught wife who truly deserves children, he reluctantly gives in. They live with their new daughter, Lucy, for nearly four years until the guilt is more than Tom can bear.

“You only have to forgive once. To resent, you have to do it all day, every day. You have to keep remembering all the bad things.”

I tore through this novel with great interest and fascination. At times I found it so heartbreaking to read, but I didn't stop. Although the idea of keeping the child may seem completely unbelievable, Stedman makes you believe. This being her debut novel, I look forward to much more from her.

* * * * *

Sunday, April 21, 2013

She's Come Undone

by Wally Lamb
February-April, 2013

No book has ever stayed with me the way this one has. Not for this long anyway. I was obsessed with The Road for a long time, but it has since fallen off my radar. And, as a late reader of the Harry Potter series, I already know that only a year later I want to read them all again. But this, this one; it finds its way into my life over and over.

Like everyone else, I read She's Come Undone when it was first published in 1997, thanks to the launch of Oprah's Book Club. I know that Wally Lamb is forever in her debt for choosing this book and starting a craze that lives on today. It wasn't long after I finished the last page that I recommended the book to everyone I knew. Then I had to read it again a few years later. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Shortly after that, I picked up the audiobook (on cassette!) and listened. And although 1997 doesn't seem like that long ago, alas, it was, and here I am finding myself "needing" to read the story of Dolores Price again. (I also read it again in 2009, as evidenced by this post ... I had almost forgotten about it!)

Once again, I was immediately drawn in. There were parts I had truly forgotten about, but the words came rushing back to spark my emotions. I honestly cannot say enough about how much I love this book. The accuracy in which Lamb writes as a female, through 35+ years of her life, is pure poetry. The themes that repeat over and over in my head remain the same, but also keep this book in the front of my mind: obesity, loss, rape, toll booth, jukebox, AIDS, whales, truth.

My favorite line in the book is also by my favorite character, Mr. Pucci, Dolores's high school guidance counselor. It comes very near the end, but it resonates louder than any other:

"Accept what people offer. Drink their milkshakes. Take their love."

Without a doubt, I predict I will read She's Come Undone again in a few year's time. For now I have the release of Lamb's newest book, We Are Water, to look forward to in October 2013.

* * * * *

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Tell the Wolves I'm Home

by Carol Rifka Brunt
March 21-April 10, 2013

I don't quite remember how I discovered this book, but I will always be thankful that I did. This one hit close to home. I lost my godfather in the height of the AIDS epidemic in 1989. At the time I'm not sure I fully understood the impact of the disease, but since then I find myself in instant tears the moment I hear of another person's struggle.

Tell the Wolves I'm Home is the author's debut novel. Kudos to Carol, because I was drawn in from the first page. June is a 14-year old girl whose world revolves around her uncle, a famous painter, Finn. It's tax season and her accountant parents have left June and her sister Greta "tax season orphans." But every Sunday, June, her mother and sister head to Finn's mysterious apartment and sit for a portrait he is trying to paint before he dies. Once the painting is finished, it's not long before Finn is gone too. June is empty without him and her sister is horribly mean and spiteful to her. Then she makes an unlikely friend, learns more of her uncle's past, and struggles with her grief.

Brunt writes a beautiful sentence. Her metaphors are like magic. I absorbed every single word with such emotion that they had me weeping for the last few chapters  Even though it was completely relatable to me, I don't think that's the only reason I enjoyed this book so much. I would find myself stopping in the middle of the day to read a quick chapter. The night I finished it, it was nearly 1am, but I couldn't put it down.

“But maybe I am. Maybe that’s exactly what I am. Maybe all I wanted was for Toby to hear the wolves that lived in the dark forest of my heart. And maybe that’s what it meant. Tell the Wolves I’m Home. Maybe Finn understood everything, as usual. You may as well tell them where you live, because they’ll find you anyway. They always do.”

People may contend that this fits in the Young Adult genre. But I need to argue that, just because the protagonist is teenager, does not make it YA. The themes are so adult in nature, and although June may be wise beyond her years, people of all ages will easily relate to the subject matter. This book will be in my heart for a long time.

* * * * *