Literary


The Language of Flowers

The Language of Flowers

At the beginning of The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, we learn learn that moss is an emblem of maternal love, a bouquet of marigolds represents grief, and a bucket of thistle, misanthropy. This is amidst the protagonist Victoria Jones detailing her dreams of fire (which she’s had for eight years), only to wake […]

What Came Before

What Came Before

What Came Before by Gay Degani was written by a woman who, admittedly, got “lost in living.” Like so many people, and I suppose I mean particularly women, Degani felt writing took up too much of her time, time that “should” be spent—and would be better spent—raising a family, i.e. taking care of others and […]

Heartbreak Cake

Heartbreak Cake

“What are you daydreaming about?” “I’m thinking about cake. Big, multilayered cakes that are squeezed in between more layers of buttercream or chocolate ganache.” “How can you still be thinking about cake? I’ve had enough cake today to last me the week, if not more.” “How dare you,” I tease…   When Cindy Arora, author […]

Patricia Schultz & Her 1,000 Places at Distant Lands

Patricia Schultz & Her 1,000 Places at Distant Lands

The world is a book, and those who do not travel, read only one page. —St. Augustine of Hippo Patricia Schults, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die first heard “the siren call” of travel and discovery at the age of four. After college, she made a beeline for the first outgoing flight, […]

Plus One by Christopher Noxon

Plus One by Christopher Noxon

Here are a sprinkling of the many enthusiastic comments about Plus One, a novel by Christopher Noxon, published by Pasadena’s Prospect Park Books: “A page-turning peek into the world of TV and families and money, this is Hollywood L.A. as seen from a newcomer’s ambivalent perspective. I found it both fun and fascinating and unsettling to delve into […]

The Stargazey

The Stargazey

I was looking for comfort. Easy but smart entertainment. So I turned to what I know. I returned to Martha Grimes. I was taking a walk and stopped at one of the several Little Free Libraries in the neighborhood and came upon Grimes’ The Stargazey, the fifteenth Richard Jury novel. Now, I’ve read 22 of […]

Americanah by Adichie

Americanah by Adichie

Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie begins with Ifemulu’s journey to get her hair braided, navigating the African Diaspora in New Jersey. It’s an extended metaphor for finding one’s way in the world. Ifemulu and Obinze are lovers in Lagos, members of the lower middle class who meet in college and take very different paths. Ifemulu […]

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Anthony Marra explores the extraordinary circumstances of war that bring both tragedy and humor, often in equal doses, in this complex tale of the Chechen wars (yes, there were two) that captures the fragmentation of war. This riveting novel follows three main characters (Akhmed, Havana and Sonja) whose lives intertwine via compassion, coincidence and violence. […]

The Grand Duchess of Nowhere

The Grand Duchess of Nowhere

When a novel opens with a two-page diagram showing generations of the Romanov family tree, I admit to being daunted. Yet The Grand Duchess of Nowhere by Laurie Graham is not daunting at all. Told in the chatty, first-person voice of the Grand Duchess Victoria (Melita) Feodorovna, it’s brisk and lively. I quickly came to […]

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas

Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas

“Being a Jane Austen Mystery,” I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy this derivative work by Stephanie Barron. Baron’s Jane, a character based on her historical counterpart, solves murder mysteries. (No zombies.) Barron has captured Austen’s tone, if not Austen herself, with early 19th century humor and gentile snark. The story takes place in an English country […]

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