Reviews

The Guineveres by Sarah Domet

GuinSarah Domet’s debut novel takes its name from the four protagonists, all named Guinevere and all abandoned at the Sisters of the Supreme Adoration convent.

Vere, Win, Ginny, and Gwen are desperate to escape their circumstances and hatch a plan to do so during a parade in a float. When that fails, the girls are sentenced to work in the convent’s sick ward, where they hatch yet another plan, this one involving comatose soldiers. They are nothing if not determined.

Each Guinevere has her own voice, though we hear most from Vere. Woven into the girls’ tales are the stories of the lives of various female saints. The nuns generally remain in the background, but are well drawn and not stereotypically Catholic, which I greatly appreciated. The nuns, though strict, genuinely care for the girls.

Rather than a novel about faith, Domet’s debut is instead a wonderful coming-of-age tale. It’s a subtle, complex novel depicting the inner lives of teenage girls, and their search for home and family—a winning combination with lovely writing. Don’t miss it (like I did)!

Miscellanea

Fever Pitch // Six Degrees of Separation

fever pitchBetter late than never should be my new life motto. The idea behind this exercise is to connect books in any way that’s meaningful to you, from the profound to the inane. Although Kevin Bacon is typically behind the six degrees game, books are just a bit more fun.

Fever Pitch is Nick Hornsby’s ode to soccer (or football, depending where you live). Oddly enough, when it was adapted for a film in the US, it was about a fan’s love of the Red Sox. How you get from one to the other, I’m not quite sure, but the love of the Red Sox* inspired the next link.

In Stephen King’s The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon, Trisha, a Red Sox fan, is (nearly) hopelessly lost in the woods. She survives relatively unscathed, but the same can’t be said of the pseudo-outdoorsmen in James Dickey’s Deliverance.

Initially planning on taking a two day canoe trip, the men have a run in with the locals that derails their course. The canoe provides the next link with Love Is a Canoe by Ben Schrank, a lovely novel about the destruction of a marriage. Schrank detailed his play list on Largehearted Boy. One of the characters was said to enjoy Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Everyone knows that CCR’s hit Bad Moon Rising is the official werewolf anthem, but I specifically assigned it to The Last Werewolf by Glen Duncan. The novel is a literary take on the werewolf genre, so to speak, just as Colson Whitehead’s Zone One is a literary zombie apocalypse novel.

I once called Zone One “fresh, interesting fiction” and recommended The Sisters Brothers for a similar reading experience. I’m standing by that recommendation now and making it my final link. From a love of soccer to a blood soaked western, all in six easy steps. Care to join in?

*Of note, one of the items on my bucket list was the see the Red Sox play in the world series and I did. I watched them absolutely slaughter the Colorado Rockies in the 2007 World Series (though I only attended one game).

Reviews

Lately

Summer Adirondacks

Making: Tortellini soup, it’s surprisingly good, and kid friendly.
Drinking: Water. It’s one of my goals for the year.
Reading: Ill Will by Dan Chaon
Organizing: This year’s travel plans (which may include some time in the Adirondacks).
Coveting: A brand new house with no issues.
Listening: Stone Walls // Three Tall Pines
Watching: Black Sails. It’s the only show on television that I’m caught up on.
Smelling: Books. I’m on a break at work.
Wishing: That I wasn’t back at work already.
Loving: This quiz. I love riddles like that.
Adoring: Deadpool. What a fun movie.
Accomplishing: We’re continuing our effort to visit national parks. The most recent ones we’ve crossed of our list: Grand Canyon and Death Valley. Last year we visited three: Rocky Mountain, Big Bend, and Crater Lake. I’m hoping to fit one more in this year to match that.
Needing: Something good to happen. The latest in a string of unfortunate events include our boiler going out. It’s a cold, costly fix.
Feeling: Exhausted, but satisfied personally, annoyed financially. Why do home repairs cost so much?! And how am I going to achieve my travel dreams shelling out thousands of dollars in plumbing cost?! (In addition to the boiler, we had a pipe spring a leak in the basement (the same one we just had fixed) and another one in the kitchen. Anyone who has ever dealt with these kind of issues knows why I want to cry right now.)
Wearing: It’s nearly spring and I can’t fit into any of my clothes. I had to wear my husband’s shirt to work.
Wanting: To fit into my pants. Is there any magical way to just rid myself of the baby weight
Wondering: About this country and the president. Don’t Trump supporters get upset about the lies? And alternative facts? Since the answer is no, why not?
Thinking: How costly being a homeowner is.
Celebrating: Birthdays! My two sons birthdays are close together. Why yes, I am absolutely excited for that much cake.

Photo found here.

Lists

That Don’t Impress Me Much…

Please tell me you thought of Shania Twain, even if you aren’t a country fan. I’m probably dating myself here.

Shania Impress

“They” say never judge a book by it’s cover…

Yet I do it all the time. Rather than speaking of books that did not manage to impress me, I decided to cover (sorry, not sorry) books that left me underwhelmed, visually speaking. Occasionally good books get bad* covers.

The Bird Sisters // Rebecca Rasmussen. I really enjoyed this novel, but the cover never would’ve grabbed me. I read it on the recommendation of a fellow librarian.

Bag of Bones // Stephen King. See also: Any Stephen King novel.

Straight Man // Richard Russo. One of the best campus novels of all time simply has a duck on it. Truly, I understand why it was picked, it’s just so unappealing!

The Devil All the Time // Donald Ray Pollock. This is one of my favorite novels, but the cover is so lackluster – especially in comparison to Pollock’s new novel.

Euphoria // Lily King. I’m not sure of the general consensus, but I would’ve passed on the novel based on the cover alone.

The Marauders // Tom Cooper. Funnier than any post-Katrina novel should be, yet visually underwhelming.

Unholy Ghosts // Stacia Kane. I think it’s likely a genre thing, and I’m not fond of paranormal romance usually, but the book was solid, the cover art…less so.

Edge of Dark Water // Joe R. Lansdale. This is one of my favorite novels by Lansdale, along with Leather Maiden, and comparing the two covers reveals a stark contrast not in Edge of Dark Water’s favor.

The Night Sister // Jennifer McMahon. Just…meh.

Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage // Alice Munro. The short stories are amazing. The cover is not.

Have any great books with bad covers you’d like to share? For more lists, visit here.

*Don’t get me wrong, yeah I think they’re alright.

Miscellanea

Fates and Furies // Six Degrees of Separation

The idea behind this exercise is to connect books in any way that’s meaningful to you, from the profound to the inane. Although Kevin Bacon is typically behind the six degrees game, books are just a bit more fun. Like a few other chains I’ve visited, I too had a hard time figuring out where to start with this month’s prompt. I haven’t read Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff, though I want to, so I was stumped. In what was probably the world’s tiniest epiphany, I decided to simply link it by the idea of “want to read”.

Fate and Furies Six Degrees

For the purpose of this exercise, I chose the last book I added to my to be read list, which was Wigs on the Green by Nancy Mitford (based on Kate’s review). Using Mitford as my next link, I thought of John Sandford’s character Neil Mitford (from his long running Lucas Davenport series), who appeared most recently in Extreme Prey. One of the weird things about a Lucas Davenport novel is that it always makes me crave a really good cheeseburger.

If you were to dig through my archives (please don’t), you’d find that the book Nobody’s Fool by Richard Russo has the exact same odd effect. Nobody’s Fool was turned into a surprisingly decent movie starring Paul Newman (not as good as the book, of course).

Paul Newman also starred in the adaptation of Nicholas Sparks’ Message in a Bottle, and while I didn’t particularly care for the book or the movie, Paul Newman is never a bad thing. Message in a Bottle takes place on the North Carolina shore and while it’s certainly not exactly the same, it’s at least similar to Virginia’s coast, which is the setting of The Shore by Sara Taylor.

The Shore has a gritty, Southern Gothic vibe with a fair amount of family drama. In that respect, it is similar to The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock. And with that, I’ve reached the end of my chain!

From Fates and Furies to The Heavenly Table in seven easy steps. Where would you end up? Give it a try.

 

%d bloggers like this: