Review: VOX

VOX by Christina Dalcher ReviewTitle: VOX
Author: Christina Dalcher
Publication Date: August 21, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Fiction | Women’s Fiction | Thriller & Suspense
Synopsis from Berkley
Free copy provided by publisher.

Review: Imagine a place where women are second rate citizens – limited to a mere 100 words per day, expected domestic bliss, and Pure Movement religion and presidential propaganda spewing from the television. Welcome to a near future, political dystopian United States.

Now imagine you are Dr. Jean McClellan, a highly educated linguist, top in her field presented with an opportunity to come out of forced retirement to find a cure for the president’s brother whose Wernicke’s area (the part of the brain that controls speech) has been damaged in a skiing accident.  In exchange Jean is offered a spot on the team inclusive of salary, an office and the word counter removed from her wrist, which delivers an electric jolt post 100 words.  But Jean wants more.  She wants verbal freedom for her daughter.

VOX is a hybridization of the far reaching effects of government control and the gift of linguistics.  If we can no longer speak we can no longer persist.  This story is pretty far outside of my genre comfort zone – I typically don’t read books of any near future / dystopian themes but I’m grateful the publisher surprised me with this one! Dalcher gives readers a birds-eye view into gender politics, culture change and oppression of women.

What a wake-up call that all women and men should read!

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Review: There Are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story

There Are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story - Pamela Druckerman - Book ReviewTitle: There Are No Grown-Ups: A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story
Author: Pamela Druckerman
Publisher: Penguin Press
Publication Date: May 29, 2018
Genre: Nonfiction | Biography | Memoir
Synopsis from Penguin Press

Review: Finally, a book written by a woman in her 40’s FOR women in midlife!  Bravo to Druckerman for hitting the mark with her recent memoir, THERE ARE NO GROWNUPS.  I was a big fan of her previous book, Bringing Up Bebe, so it was a no brainer I would pick up this one.  I listened to it on audio expertly narrated by Druckerman herself.

An American married to a Brit and living twelve years in Paris, Druckerman has grown into her new role as madame leaving behind her mademoiselle status.  Each chapter begins with, “How to…” where the author bestows upon readers her personal wisdom, many things I could relate to and appreciate.  I got a chuckle out of the ménage-a-trois she planned for her husbands 40th birthday – I cast no judgement!

I loved the take home message Druckerman imparts: embrace who you are and be comfortable in your own skin.  After all, that is what growing old gracefully is all about!

Review: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie

Mr. and Mrs. American Pie - Juliet McDaniel - ReviewTitle: Mr. and Mrs. American Pie
Author: Juliet McDaniel
Publisher: Inkshares
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Genre: Fiction | Historical Fiction
Synopsis from Inkshares
Free copy provided by publisher.

Review: 1969 Palm Springs… At her Thanksgiving celebration entertaining the creme de la creme of Palm Springs, an alcohol fuelled Mrs. Maxine Hortence Simmons is stunned by the news that Douglas is leaving her for his pregnant girlfriend.  And then Maxine snaps… the celebration goes into overdrive with candied yams and Brussels sprouts flying and Maxine at the bottom of the swimming pool clutching her beloved turkey.

Her divorce settlement banishes her to a condo Douglas owns in Scottsdale but not before taking off in his Jaguar.  Maxine converts the bachelor pad into her own Elba, takes the neighbour children Charles and Dawn under her wing and wins the support of her new bartender friend Robert Hogarth to return to Palm Springs as a ‘family’ to claim the Mr. and Mrs. American Pie pageant title.

Told from the points of view of Maxine, Robert and Charles, I was taken on a wild, high speed journey of life on the pageant circuit with tender moments sprinkled in.  There were stark reminders of issues from that period; women’s equality, gay rights and African-American rights.  The food fare was all too typical – a roasted Thanksgiving turkey perfectly ensconced with pineapple rings, ham and bananas hollandaise, and lest we forget Spam!

I laughed and then I laughed some more.  Maxine’s escapades to regain her social and pageantry status were delightful, bonafide and spirited.  At the heart of the story is Maxine’s journey to self discovery.  McDaniel has published a rosy debut!

Review: The Shortest Way Home

The Shortest Way Home - Miriam Parker - Book ReviewTitle: The Shortest Way Home
Author: Miriam Parker
Publisher: Dutton
Publication Date: July 31, 2018
Genre: Fiction | Women’s | Literary
Synopsis from Dutton
Free copy provided by Penguin Publishing Group

Review: Warm and charming and brimming with vivid imagery.  THE SHORTEST WAY HOME is set in beautiful Sonoma Valley conjuring up a vibe where family is close, the food is delicious and the wine flows freely.

Hannah is smart, sweet and impulsive. She’s been dating Ethan all thru grad school in Berkeley.  They have high profile jobs lined up back in New York and an apartment in Tribeca waiting for them.  But Ethan’s methodical outlook on their future isn’t what Hannah really wants.  She makes a spontaneous decision to leave everything she thought she wanted behind for a marketing position with a flailing winery.

This story is exactly what I want in a summertime book – a journey to self discovery, romance, second chances and the importance of friends and family.

Parker sectioned the book into three parts aptly named for each progression of a meal; appetizer, main course and dessert featuring a mouth watering dish and wine pairing – I loved this!

Review: The Ever After

The Ever After - Sarah Pekkanen - Book ReviewTitle: The Ever After
Author: Sarah Pekkanen
Publisher: Washington Square Press
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
Genre: Fiction | Contemporary Women
Synopsis from Washington Square Press

Review: THE EVER AFTER is a domestic fiction novel with candid insight to marital infidelity.  Charged and uneasy, Josie must decide if she can ever move past Frank’s betrayal.

There’s no glamour here this is an undisguised look at marriage – what everyday looks like after couples reach that point in their relationship where daily life has a pattern to it.

This was a thought-provoking read for me.  Josie gave lots of insight into the early years of she and Frank’s marriage, everything she gave up as a wife and mother and the crushing blow from his affair.  The aftermath was sharp and affecting – Josie wrestled with the ‘who, what, and why’s’ of Frank’s betrayal and I admired her resilience and incisiveness.

Pick this one up if you are looking for a devour-able, no frills look at marriage.