Tag Archives: San Francisco

Passing Strange, by Emily Klages

19 Apr
passing strange ellen klages

Four of Five Stars

This book was not my favorite, but there were several things I really enjoyed and I think others might like it even more than I did.

THE PLUSES: Let’s be honest – THAT COVER. I rarely actually purchase books, but I saw this cover and had to get it. Even before I got to reading it I had pulled the book out several times just to look at its cover. Who wouldn’t want this framed in their own home? When I finally started the book – Surprise! – it turns out the picture is actually a chalk drawing that plays an important roleĀ in the book.
The characters. There is a group of women who are friends who help each other out in any way needed. Each of them were very interesting and I could have read a book about any specific character’s life.
The End. I was only going to give 3 stars (which, to be fair, is “I like it”) until the end. And the end had just enough excitement and drama and love to pull my little heartstrings and add another star.

THE MINUSES: All the characters. These women were so interesting, but the book rarely focuses on any one character long enough to get to know them, and there was confusion on my part as to who the story was about. I wouldn’t mind more books about these characters with maybe a more concentrated focus on one character. I mean, Helen??? That woman led a fascinating life and we only saw a bit of it!
The Magic. This is a fairly realistic story about lesbian life in San Francisco 80 years or so ago. That should have been enough of a story. But then suddenly magic is thrown in, in sort of a major way, and then it’s just dropped. Like “Oh here’s a serious story, here we go, oh and by the way this woman can do major magic but ANYWAY….”
The End. And then of course magic comes along and saves the day…

Now some readers may love that there is magic involved, and if it had figured more into the story as a whole perhaps I would have bought into it as well. But it seemed just sort of tossed in the middle of the story as an unimportant detail, only to be dragged out at the end to save the day. That is what bothered me.

But all in all, should you read it? I say Yes. They are fascinating characters and I hope I can eventually read more about them, and if anything, you need this cover in your life.

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Three-Martini Lunch, by Suzanne Rindell

5 Apr
three martini lunch suzanne rindell

FIVE of Five stars

Fantastic book, guaranteed one of the best of 2016.
Edited and expanded, because I stayed up all night to finish and review it.

We follow three young New Yorkers in the late 1950s, along with their groups of friends, and see how their paths diverge and cross and connect again.
Eden, the ambitious girl from the midwest, whose Achilles heel is her heritage as well as her gender.
Cliff, the privileged white man who is 60% plans and dreams and 40% excuses with nothing left for talent or ambition.
Miles, the intelligent young man with two minority strikes against him.

I was engaged with this book from page one. The three narrators are strikingly individual with singularly interesting stories. We follow Cliff and Eden in New York as they both attempt to move through different paths of the publishing world, then we follow Miles cross country as he searches for his father’s story and his own history. Their lives flow so far apart from each other I wasn’t sure how they would ever be reconnected, but reconnect they do, with disastrous results.

500 pages of the New York publishing world and cross-country soul-searching. Gut punch after gut punch throughout the final 100 pages, with one last, unexpected punch at the very end.

Unlikable characters who are given everything but can achieve nothing. Heroic characters who have the entire world of the 1950s against them. So much has changed since that time, entirely too much has remained the same.

I finished all 500 pages in two days because I just couldn’t step away from it.

I received an advance copy from Penguin’s First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.