Currently Reading

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Fortune Smiles: Stories by Adam Johnson - This is a collection of short stories written by the author of The Orphan Master's Son (which I loved).  I didn't find the stories to be as strong as his novel.  It may be time for me to give up the short story collections for a bit - I'm almost always disappointed.  That said, there were some intriguing stories, but I was left wanting more.  I really enjoyed the story of a former prison warden in East Germany whose life is crumbling around him.  His wife has left him, his daughter won't speak to him, and someone is sending him packages with items from the now-closed prison, which has been turned into a museum.  So there's some good here and some bad.  If you like short stories, check it out.  If you're more of a novel reader and you haven't tried The Orphan Master's Son, do that.

Party of One: A Memoir in 21 Songs by Dave Holmes - I've had a weird obsession with Dave Holmes since MTV's first Wanna Be a VJ competition, which he totally unfairly lost.  Anyway, he wrote a book!  I bought it for my mom and then read it myself the next time I was home.  It's perfect - funny, smart, sad, insightful, and self-reflecting.  From his childhood in a midwest home, his coming out at a diversity conference (one of my favorite stories), to his big move to New York City and his eventual job working at MTV, Holmes shows humility and humor.  There's also some really good behind the scenes MTV gossip.  It feels like a book your best friend wrote for you.  Loved it.

The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante - This is Book #2 in the Neapolitan Series, continuing the story and the friendship of Lila and Elena.  Lila is newly married and finds herself essentially a prisoner of her husband.  He doesn't like her going out or working or interacting with any men.  Elena remains in school, furthering her education.  The girls vacation together on the coast for the summer, where Lila falls into a relationship with Elena's crush, cheating on her husband.  Elena herself loses her virginity that summer, in an unlikely way.  As in the first novel, we see the strength of female friendship, the blatant misogyny that all the women in the story must suffer, and the hope that education gives them.  Excited for Book #3!

The Hand That Feeds You by A.J. Rich - Morgan is living in New York, completing her these on the psychology of victims, when she comes home one day to find her fiance dead in her apartment, seemingly eaten by her dogs.  Yuck.  Still with me?  When she attempts to contact his family to let them know what happened to him, she discovers that he had given her a fake name, a fake hometown, and a fake backstory.  Who was her fiance, really?  She tries to find out, discovering other women along the way who believe they were engaged to the same man.  This was a fun, but unsettling thriller.  There's lots more stuff involving the dogs, which I found generally unpleasant, but overall, I enjoyed this as a beach read.


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