Tuesday 21 March 2017

Ugly Book Review

First sentence: Imagine you're in art class. The teacher drops a lump of wet, sticky clay on the bench in front of you. "You've got thirty minutes to sculpt a newborn baby's face," she says.

Premise/plot: Ugly is a memoir by Robert Hoge. This very personal story is about growing up 'ugly' or 'different' in Australia in the 1970s and 80s. Readers learn about his life at home and at school. The focus is on his family, his friends, his classmates and teachers. Not everyone was nice....or accepting. But. He made a way, found a way, to be comfortable in his own skin. His journey included some surgeries, but, not as many as you might expect. (I loved, loved, LOVED the ending.) His journey also included sports.

Perhaps readers have heard the phrase, "He has a face only a mother could love..." Well, in Hoge's case, his mother had a hard time accepting him--and his face--at first. For the first month of his life, she refused to take him home from the hospital and didn't want anything to do with him. She later became loving and accepting--a true supporter--but at first she struggled.

More at: http://blbooks.blogspot.in/2017/03/ugly.html
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Monday 13 March 2017

Angelica Urbas - Gritty but Ultimately Good-Hearted

Box of Rain is the third in a series of “Street Stories” suspense novels focusing on the gritty side of Chicago. In this briskly paced story, Debra Borys weaves together two narratives: one about a young black man falsely suspected of murder and on the run from police, the other about a reporter on the case as she grapples with her father’s dubious past.

Borys draws on years of experience volunteering to help vulnerable youths and adults in Chicago. Apparently, nothing is ever quite what it seems to be in this hard luck world. Serious issues regarding race and law enforcement lend some weight to this otherwise lively whodunit.

More at: https://chicagoreviewofbooks.wordpress.com/2016/01/08/gritty-but-ultimately-good-hearted/
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Saturday 11 March 2017

Angelica Urbas : Beautiful and Painful ‘Sex and Death’

Award-winning author Ben Tanzer has packed Sex and Death, his small, powerful collection of short stories, with some insightful, evocative lines like this, lines that gently peel open and then tear at your heart.

sex&death.coverThis little gem of a book, measuring just 4½” x 6” and coming in at just over 70 pages, packs an outsized punch as Tanzer delves gently though unflinchingly at some of our sharpest emotions: love, lust, longing, ecstasy, anxiety. These short stories are populated with memorable characters who often go unnamed but whose feelings are so deeply felt that they practically vibrate with every page.

More at: https://chicagoreviewofbooks.wordpress.com/2016/01/13/beautiful-and-painful-sex-and-death/
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Thursday 9 March 2017

Angelica Urbas - Getting to the Bottom of Things

Michelle Hoover’s Bottomland explores the life of a German farm family in Iowa after World War I, struggling to fit in with a society recently taught to despise Germans. The Hess family—four girls, two boys, a recently deceased mother, and a depressed father—try to get by on the land with few friends and many enemies. It becomes hard for the family members even to trust each other, as the Hess children grow up surrounded by deception, love, shame, and jealousy, while they are constantly reminded of their heritage. Most of the children don’t speak any German, yet they feel like foreigners in the fields of the Midwest.Bottomland

More at: https://chicagoreviewofbooks.wordpress.com/2016/03/24/getting-to-the-bottom-of-things/
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Monday 6 March 2017

Angelica Urbas - New Tricks for an ‘Old Heart’

Peter Ferry’s Old Heart tells the story of an elderly man who escapes from his overly solicitous family and embarks on a journey across the globe. The intensity of his hope, desire, curiosity, and wanderlust appears undiminished as he reflects on loves lost and found. Even at the age of 85, it seems, all is not written in stone for this World War II veteran.

old heart ferryThe first part of the novel covers what Tom has lived for up to the moment of his escape, which on the surface is nothing much to cheer about: a bad marriage, a lifelong commitment to a son with Down Syndrome, another son with serious financial troubles. He has been comfortable in his lakeside home in the far northern Chicago suburbs with his family and friends and pink Adirondack chairs, but now even this peace and quiet is under threat.

More at: https://chicagoreviewofbooks.wordpress.com/2016/03/29/new-tricks-for-an-old-heart/
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Friday 3 March 2017

Angelica Urbas - A Week in a Life Forever Changed

The summer of 1919 was a dramatic one, even by Chicago standards: a dirigible, the Wingfoot Express, crashed in the Loop; riots broke out after a racial incident at the 29th Street beach; six-year-old Janet Wilkinson went missing; strikes and lockouts broke out across the city; and the Spanish Influenza continued to claim victims here, across the country, and around the world.

burns reason for timeGary Krist told the tale of these “12 days of disaster” in his highly acclaimed 2011 book, City of Scoundrels. Author Mary Burns tackles this remarkable stretch in her latest novel, The Reason for Time.

More at: https://chicagoreviewofbooks.wordpress.com/category/fiction/
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Wednesday 1 March 2017

Angelica Urbas - Chasing Love Through the Decades

Laura Quinn’s novel Punk Charming follows the lives of Kate and James as they traverse the globe in hopes of one day meeting again and cementing the love they found on a train in 1986. Quinn’s passion for the fashion, lingo, music, and culture of the 1980s is clear, as Kate and James, as well the secondary characters, embody the lifestyle of the decade. Unlike most romance tales, Punk Charming highlights the growth of the characters and the journey they embark on rather than lustful scenes and corny declarations of love. Though the writing at times seems rushed and the details provided feel a bit overkill, it is clear that Quinn believes love will conquer all.

More at: https://chicagoreviewofbooks.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/chasing-love-through-the-decades/
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