101 Following

Gale Martin

Award-winning writer. Binge watcher. #Opera wonkette. My newest novel, a murder mystery called WHO KILLED 'TOM JONES'? is now available. @Booktrope novels at http://amzn.to/12Ti0NU Lancaster County, Pennsylvania · galemartin.me

Midnight at Marble Arch - Anne Perry Reading Anne Perry is like meeting an old friend. So it is always comfortable reengaging with characters that we know so well. I missed the twist in this story that I've come to expect in my favorite of her novels. If you like Anne Perry you will like this. If you've never read her before, you might wonder what all the fuss is about if this is your first.
The Button Legacy - Ginger Marcinkowski Ginger Marcinkowski’s novella THE BUTTON LEGACY is a moving collection of glimpses into the life and times of generations of one blue-collar family struggling to make ends meet in the Canadian Maritimes. In this book, we are introduced to a Polk Family tin box that’s filled with buttons, not just because saving buttons was a practical thing to do when times were hard but because each button had a family story or a secret connected to it capable of entertaining or illuminating life lessons for the next generation. Like her debut novel RUN RIVER CURRENTS, Marcinkowski’s rich description transports you to another world, one of wooden farmhouses filled with the rich smells of home cooking, cornfields glittering with magic growing dust, and winter escapades such as sledding across New Brunswick’s treacherous Tobique River. THE BUTTON LEGACY is filled with spiritual lessons for those with hearts willing and ears to hear stories testifying to God’s steadfast love and forgiveness. Those who enjoyed RUN RIVER CURRENTS will adore this new work from one of America’s most talented Christian storytellers.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams What an extraordinary read. I laughed until it hurt. I will remember some of those lines for the rest of my life, and my memory isn't that good. I am in awe of you, Mr. Adams. You are my literati ideal. I worship at your altar.
Ricochet - Sandra Brown Started off stronger than it finished. The counter twist wasn't enough to make it a four-star read. I guess I expect a lot from Sandra Brown. Definitely enjoyable. Just not one of her best. Her male pro was shallow. It makes you wonder whether men are really that shallow at heart or whether it's just Sandra Brown's interpretation of them.
Summer Melody - Toddie Downs I couldn't put this book down. It is a sensitive and authentic portrait of three small-town women who are related and who encounter enough heart-wrenching challenges during one summer to last a decade. The trio of women in this novel are characters you come to care about--that you root for, that you want good things for. Each one faces different challenges. Each one makes mistakes. It is beautifully and thoughtfully written novel that fits like your favorite cotton sweater. Toddie Downs' attention to detail and lush prose soar as does her storytelling. Shards of themes reappear throughout--honesty matters, goodness matters, intentions matter. Paced to perfection, it has mysterious elements, too, that keep the pages turning. Affirming without being saccharin, SUMMER MELODY was of my favorite novels this year.
Creole Belle - James Lee Burke Not my favorite in the Dave Robicheaux series, but I did love that Clete was nearly the star of this book.
Next Year I'll Be Perfect - Laura Kilmartin Nevermind becoming perfect. Laura Kilmartin’s "Next Year I’ll Be Perfect" is perfect in every way, from stem to stern. It’s the story of one talented young professional woman with a sympathetic past who embarks on a journey of self-exploration and self-actualization between her 29th and 30th birthdays after she finds a years' old bucket list. Kilmartin’s own hometown of Portland, Maine makes a scenic and refreshingly different backdrop for this coming of thirty-something tale. Her viewpoint character Sarah Bennett, who’s a little bit blue collar and a little bit white collar, is surrounded by a colorful cast of characters—adopted “siblings,” philandering ex’es, starchy bosses, and true blue friends. Even the small-town diner Sarah co-owns with her late father’s best friend becomes a principal character by the end of the book, a place you wish you had in your hometown. Kilmartin is a masterful writer as well as storyteller. Her novel takes some unexpected turns—just when you think Kilmartin is going to zig, she zags, and she does all this with literary ease and grace, as if she was born to write fiction. I just hope there’s going to be a sequel (are you listening, Ms. Kilmartin?) or maybe a picturesque TV series featuring Portland’s favorite lady lawyer Sarah Bennett.
Puppet - Joy Fielding Didn't like the viewpoint character very much. Very annoying. She behaved like a self-centered brat most of the time and no one anyone would want to be friends with.
When Will There Be Good News? - Kate Atkinson Really cleverly plotted and organized. I loved how all the disparate threads gradually came together. While the pacing was skillful, I gave it 4 stars because the ending was disappointing--anti-climactic. Not even the little juicy disclosure at the end could salvage the ending.
The Same Sweet Girls - Cassandra    King I would give this book 4.5 stars. I loved several of the characters--Corinne, Julia, Lanier. Although I think six girls was too ambitious--Rosanelle, Aster, and Bird were really underdeveloped by comparison--the others were richly drawn. At one point, I couldn't breathe because I felt Julia's emotion so deeply as King painted her heart on the page. Lanier was a pistol. Stunning ending. Very fine women's fiction. I'll read more of Cassandra King--for sure.
A State of Jane - Meredith Schorr Meredith Schorr's entertaining, hand-wringing, nail-biting, rollicking new novel was a terrific story that most young single women can relate to but could not be so forthright telling. That's part of what made A STATE OF JANE engrossing--Jane Frank bares all. It's as if the reader is perched right over her shoulder, going on every date or more accurately at times hookup. Jane's life becomes particularly compelling once she secedes from her only serious relationship to brave being single for the first time since becoming an adult. And you're rooting for her secession--stripped from family expectations (pun intended), even from cubicle norms, because though Jane may not realize it, she's on a journey to find herself, a journey that's sometimes painful, sometimes sleezy, but ultimate revelatory. Any of us who has ever been stood up or put down or blown off can relate to this read. And if you can't relate, you can certainly empathize with flawed and funny Jane. Brava, Meredith Schorr, for making Jane such an authentic character. And for opening the door for a sequel. From which state will Jane secede next? Personally, I'm dying to find out.

The Secret Papers of Madame Olivetti

The Secret Papers of Madame Olivetti - Annie Vanderbilt I shouldn't have to work this hard to get into a novel...Can you spell pretentious? Not sure I can. But if I can, I'd use it to describe this book. Oy! Why do New York editors always go for the pretentious stuff!
Love Comes Later - Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar What an unusual setting for a romance, especially for Westerners who want to experience a slice of love and marriage in the Arab or South Asian culture. If you've ever wanted to be a fly on the wall in a Qatari compound, or hang around a London flat shared by two women from exotic lands whose native cultures subordinate women to men in their societies, then this is the novel for you.

Though it was hardly the novel's central purpose, Love Comes Later does illustrate that respectable women's professional choices are marginalized in Muslim culture, and, to a lesser extent, within the Hindu culture. As long as the reader can accept that fact that educated Muslim women are consigned to shallow and often hollow existences compared to their Western counterparts, which I think the author herself emphasizes in between the lines, you can detach enough to settle into this book.

In terms of craft, the author head hops a lot within single chapters, which I found sometimes jarring. Also, for a romance, when it comes to passion and intimacy, the characters are very, very restrained--though they are quite adept at nastiness and name calling. And yet, the novel was a fast read, mostly because it offers something akin to a mini-immersion in living and thriving in modern-day arranged marriages amidst an intrepid culture replete with cell phones, iPods, Twitter posts, and international mega-pop stars.
Stay - Allie Larkin I'm enjoying this novel. Larkin is a good storyteller thus far. I'm a little too old for it, I think, but someone twentyish or early thirties might love it. I am admiring her craft. Unpretentious.
Pictures of You - Caroline Leavitt Am enjoying this book thus far--love the pacing, the way she is teasing out only enough information that the reader wants to stay with the story. A lot of backstory though--but if you can't reveal certain information about the accident--what else do you have to write about. Backstory police might have issued a ticket.
Memoirs Aren't Fairytales: A Story of Addiction - Marni Mann Stunning debut novel. This is a brave and talented author who has humanized addiction when most of us would rather regard it as a demon.