Recent Reads and Recs: December 2012 Edition

Brief thoughts on books you may or may not want to explore on your own. 

Care to chat with me more about these books or others? Leave a comment or find me on Twitter – @ProfeJMarie.



Gone Girl cover Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn

I would describe this book as crazy-ass insane. And creepy. And your head might like it better if you didn’t read it straight through like I pretty much did. The story tracks the disappearance of Nick’s wife, and all signs point to murder. What I really liked about this book was that it really kept me turning over ideas in my head about what was up and what was down. Probably only one guess of mine was correct, and what I loved was that Flynn nailed the whole concept of “unreliable narrator”. This was an excellently written psychological thriller that lives up to the hype.

Telegraph Avenue, by Michael Chabon Telegraph Avenue cover

This novel received a lot of attention when it first came out and continued to do so, enticing me to add it to my list. I’ve never read any of Chabon’s novels, and if his others are like this one, I might enjoy giving them a try. This story plots two couples in which the husbands are business partners in a vintage record (as in the original vinyls) store and the wives are business partners in midwifery. The key characters, though, are one half of these two teams – Archy and his wife, Gwen, are at a crossroads with each other and individually. Archy is being wooed by a potential megastore that will ultimately put his and his partner’s store out of business, confronting his past with a father who caused problems in his childhood, and inadequately dealing with the fact that a son from another relationship has entered his life – presumably to stay. Gwen is about to give birth to her first child, but Archy has been unfaithful and Gwen is meeting with lawsuits that may result in her and her partner being banned from their clients’ primary hospital.

The passage of time in this novel is slow, but the overall narrative is kind of funkily interesting. There was a lot of jargon that I didn’t understand, but impressively, it didn’t matter. It didn’t interfere with me understanding what was going on – or at least with my interest in the plot. Chabon’s biggest strength lies in the narrative’s ability to match the primary character it is tracking at any given time.

Grace Grows cover Grace Grows, by Shelle Sumners

This debut novel that tells the story of Grace and her development that eventually helps her accept a relationship with a famous singer successfully falls just shy of cliché, which is what keeps the story afloat. Grace is in a relationship already when she meets Tyler, the singer, and I like that she honors that relationship and that the whole situation doesn’t get dragged out. I liked the authenticity behind Grace’s apprehension about her potential relationship with Tyler. Grace spends time questioning her own life choices and I appreciate some of her process in making changes. There are parts of the novel where events are inserted that feel more like filler rather than character or plot development, so I struggled with that. The novel is in first person point of view and given that, it was difficult sometimes to determine if I really wanted to trust her thoughts and decisions, which is good, but in the end, I also struggled with how I was to know that Tyler deserved her. There’s a line that Tyler’s sister says to Grace that goes something like, “You really haven’t ever known him, have you?” and I wanted to answer for her. “No, we haven’t” because while in some ways Sumners’ use of first-person is extremely accurate, it also means that Tyler has not used enough words or actions to give us a full picture.

The best part of this novel, from a writer standpoint, is that I found a really good comp title for my as yet to be published first novel. 😀 If you want an inkling as to my novel, Sumners’ might be a good one to read. 


Stealing Parker, by Miranda Kenneally Stealing Parker cover

This is Kenneally’s second novel in her “Hundred Oaks” series – the first being Catching Jordan. In this novel, Parker, a high school senior (just a couple of months shy of 18), is dealing with her parents’ divorce and the subsequent reactions that she perceives from the community. She gets involved with the baseball team’s new assistant coach (in his early 20s), but of course, complications arise. I didn’t feel this second novel was as strong as Kenneally’s first, as the issues that arose with the inappropriate relationship, homosexuality, and Christianity missed their mark in the broader sense, although the high school interpersonal relationships and interactions were pretty authentic, for the most part. I’ll still read her future books – she has a snappy, easy style that I enjoy.


And that is my month.

Currently I am reading A Casual Vacancy, by J.K. Rowling.

More importantly: what are YOU reading? What should I be reading next? Have you read any of these books? What did you think? Leave a comment or send me a shout out on Twitter – let’s chat!

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5 Responses to Recent Reads and Recs: December 2012 Edition

  1. Mary says:

    Put my name on the library list for Gone Girl. I am number 146. Maybe I’ll be able to chat about it next December!


    • ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) says:

      Ha! When I put The Casual Vacancy on reserve when it came out this summer, I was number 200+, so I was surprised when it was my turn already last week! Gone Girl is a fast read, so maybe you’ll get it sooner than you think. Save it for the weekend. 😀


  2. Oh how I love that you enjoyed Gone Girl. I still chuckle when I think about that novel. Crazy-ass insane is right. I’m now going to consider buying the Chabon novel for my husband- he doesn’t really read fiction, but I might be able to lure him with a novel about someone who shares his obsession (vinyl).

    Let’s see, as for what I’m reading, I just finished Ann Patchett’s “Run” and Tana French’s “Broken Harbor”. I’m listening to a novel called “Cemetery Girl”. I think I’d recommend them all. I look forward to your next installment!


    • ProfeJMarie (Janet Rundquist) says:

      Funny thing: I *almost* bought the hardcover copy of this to send to you both as a present because I was totally thinking of him with all the label references, but I wasn’t sure if he was a reader or not – and now I just wish I had. I do have it on my Kindle, although I’m not sure it’s a lendable one – or however that works.

      I’ve not yet read a Patchett and have never heard of French. I’ll add to the list.


  3. missjuly729 says:

    I just started Gone Girl! So far I love it.


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