Books To Binge Read

When a book is so compelling, I need to finish it – fast – just to find out how all the pieces come together.  I find myself binge reading to the end – most of the time finishing in a day.  Here a few books I couldn’t put down:

The Book of Esse

medium  I did not expect to be captured by Meghan MacLean Weir’s story of the seventeen year old daughter of an on-air evangelical reality show in The Book of Esse, but the story was compelling and I finished it in a sitting.

Esse is pregnant, and her solution to her problem is to marry a handsome, poor, gay star of the baseball team at her high school.  Reluctantly, Roarke accepts the bribe to save his family’s business and get a free ride to Columbia University. Another victim of child abuse,  Liberty Hall, a journalist following the family, has her own skeletons from her past, but she is now helping Esse and possibly ghost-writing her story.   The father of the baby seems a mystery, but it’s easy to figure out it’s someone in Esse’s family, and eventually his identity is revealed.

Weir addresses the obsession with reality television, its effect on the participants as well as the viewers, and raises issue with those “perfect” evangelical role models, while capturing a connection between two self-possessed teenagers.

415mOnyEFsL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_  Give Me Your Hand

Megan Abbot’s new thriller – Give Me Your Hand – involves two brainy women competing for prestigious scientific accolades, with ambition and murder driving the plot.

Kit Owens and Diane Fleming meet as teenagers in Advanced Placement chemistry class. Both are brilliant and become close friends – until Diane shares a lethal secret with Kit which drives them apart.  Years later they meet again as researchers, competing to work for a prestigious scientist in a grant funded study of premenstrual dysphoric disorder.  The men scientists never have a chance as Abbott juggles green-eyed monsters with poisonous cravings.  Alternating between high school days (then) and post-doctoral research days (now), Abbott creates a suspenseful plot with a surprising twist on motivation at the end.

The Perfect Couple

9780316375269_p0_v3_s600x595  In her twenty-first novel set in the summer on Nantucket, Elin Hildebrand once again offers her signature view of love and life on the island, with descriptions of the opulent homes and glimpses into the lives of the wealthy. Of course, Hilderbrand adds romance and lots of fooling around, but for the first time in one of her Nantucket stories she adds a murder.

A wedding on Nantucket in July is the setting, with the maid of honor found dead on the morning of the wedding.  Clever red herrings keep the reader guessing whodunit until the very end.  Another book read in a sitting – just had to find out how the investigation would be resolved, and which couples would survive all the infidelity. A fun “beach” read, set at a New England beach – you can almost smell the salt air.

Grief and Recovery

I haven’t been looking for death themes, but I seem surrounded by books and movies this summer with messages for those left behind.

Unfinished Song: a five hanky movie with Vanessa Redgrave regally managing her 887654692320_p0_v1_s260x420last stages of a fatal illness, with Terence Stamp as the despairing husband.

9780307597946_p0_v1_s260x420Have You Seen Marie: Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street, creates a picture book for adults, as her heroine searches for her lost cat – a touching simile for her mother’s death.

Beautiful Day:  Although the focus is a wedding in Nantucket,9780316099783_p0_v1_s260x420 Elin Hilderbrand’s summer romance novel uses the catalyst of the bride’s dead mother orchestrating the big day through a posthumous instruction book.

Books Not Reviewed

Books read – but decided not to review…

Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead:  a weekend on a beautiful New England island off Nantucket, preparing for the wedding that ends the book, includes disappointments, anxieties, mid-life crisis, wit and humor, insights and frustrations.

The Twelfth Enchantment by David Liss: 19th century England, enchanted pages from a book engraved by the poet William Blake, Lord Byron (of the famous Romantic poets) as a handsome womanizer and political manipulator, Lucy Derrick comes into her supernatural powers and changes her destiny and the industrial revolution, other-worldly and fun.

If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad…Lord Byron