Tag Archives: genre: literary fiction

June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore


June by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

Published by: Broadway Books on February 14, 2017 (originally published May 31, 2016)
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

Cassie Danvers has isolated herself in her family’s estate, needing the time to herself to mourn the loss of her grandmother, June. And she really would like to be left alone. Which is why she’s none too happy to be disturbed by a man she’s never met before. And she has no idea what to think when he informs her that she’s been named as the sole heir to the fortune of Jack Montgomery, a famous movie star. Jack has two daughters who have their own interest in the inheritance, and they would like Cassie to submit to a DNA test to prove she has no claim to the money. But, again, Cassie just wants to be left alone.

Contrary to Cassie’s wishes, Jack’s daughters soon show up on Cassie’s doorstep, not willing to let their father’s fortune get away from them. And in between flashbacks to June’s childhood, they begin to understand what it means to be family, famous, and fortunate.

There are some interesting twists in this one that I will admit I did not see coming. It proved to be just enough to keep me interested and turning the pages to see what would happen next. The flashbacks to June’s story were helpful in understanding how things got to their current state, but they didn’t always have a strong connection to an overall thread in moving the plot forward. That said, it all builds to an unexpected ending.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via BloggingForBooks.]

Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson

Shylock is my name

Shylock Is My Name by Howard Jacobson

Published by: Hogarth on February 9, 2016
Rating: 3 stars (★★★☆☆)

As the name suggests, this is a modern author’s take on retelling <i>The Merchant of Venice</i> for a contemporary audience. I often enjoy Shakespeare adaptations that are done well, so of course I figured I’d check this one out. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as impressed with this one as I’d hoped. Jacobson’s take on the story is confusing, incredibly complex, and difficult to wade through. I’m not sure if he intended it as more of an intellectual take than a literary one, but it came across to me as highly inaccessible in the writing style and overall storytelling.

That said, it is a creative take in comparing the original tale to how a similar situation might play out in the modern world. For the concept alone, I do have to give the author some credit. And that’s why this pulls three stars from me when I probably would have been inclined to rate it lower based on my overall enjoyment and reading of the book.

[Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via BloggingForBooks in exchange for an honest review.]

Title: Amity & Sorrow
Author: Peggy Riley
Publication Date: April 16, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Amaranth and her daughters, Amity & Sorrow, have fled their family and their life in a polygamist religious compound with nowhere to go and Amaranth’s only thought being to get them as far away as possible. But when the car crashes in rural Oklahoma and she is forced to rely on a farmer for help (one of many things that challenges the strict rules they’ve all been taught to follow), she is also forced to confront the past, the present, and the future for both herself and her daughters.

A gripping tale of the aftermath of being indoctrinated into what I can only describe as a cult, Amity & Sorrow contains some difficult content but is one of those books that really hits you emotionally. The layers of Amaranth, Amity, and Sorrow’s experiences that are slowly revealed over the course of the book through narrative and flashbacks are complex and provide the reader with a dark and vivid picture of their lives before the book begins.

Overall, I enjoyed the book, though I know it’s not one everyone is likely to enjoy. It’s gritty and certainly isn’t a shiny happy tale, and I know some people don’t like books like that. But I’d still encourage people to give it a chance.

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Content warnings: [mentions of child abuse, sexual abuse, and incest; religious fundamentalism]

Title: In the Land of the Living
Author: Austin Ratner
Publication Date: March 12, 2013

Rating: ★ ★ ★  ☆
Sometimes you read a book and it’s not particularly great, but it’s not terrible, and you reach the end going ‘What was the point, exactly?’ And In the Land of the Living is definitely one such book. A story covering the life of Isidore Auberon and his two sons (though one far more directly than the other), this was one that was difficult to connect to or relate with on any level for me – not because the characters didn’t go through things that I can personally identify with, but because there just wasn’t a depth to them that really allowed the reader to get beyond the surface.

The narrative has some interesting moments, but has just as many that weren’t all that engaging. And the characters themselves were posited in such a way that they seemed like they were meant to be larger-than-life, but their actions weren’t congruent or consistent with that and it made the whole story seem even more distant.

That said, I didn’t really dislike the book, which is why I’ve given it 3 stars. It’s possible someone else might read it and find it easier to relate to, but otherwise it’s just a quick, somewhat mindless read, to me…

(eGalley provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)