Nutshell by Ian McEwan

When my book club pals suggested we read Nutshell, the selling point was “you won’t believe the point of view.” Our club has read books that tell stories from the point of view of a dog, a dead girl, a drunk, and a madman, so sure, I was game to read this book. The other selling point was the author was Ian McEwan. I have a deep readers’ passion for his elegant, breathtakingly beautiful story Atonement. We were all in for the ride.

I suspect the point of view for Nutshell was decided on a dare from other writers, over drinks. Something along the line of, “Bet ya can’t find a new point of view no one has ever done before.”

And McEwan, being the talented award-winning author he is, probably said, “Hold my beer.”

He tells a story of marital discord from the point of view of a fetus. Yes, a fetus.

McEwan has done far more with this story than readers might expect simply because he is a masterful storyteller. There are a few cheats, places in the story in which the main character knows things he could not. And this fetus has McEwan’s vocabulary. I had to look up the meaning of lambent (glowing), cludgie (bathroom), and exequy (funeral rites). Thanks for that.

As a book lover, I had to suspend my disbelief with both hands, high overhead, page by page to the bitter end.

This is my least favorite McEwan book. The literary critics will no doubt hail it as brilliant, groundbreaking, mind-expanding prose. Which will inevitably lead to imitators, heaven protect us. Just as Anne Rice revived interest in vampire stories, should we expect more stories told from in utero? Or will the millennial authors go one step further with stories told from the perspective of inanimate objects, possibly a murder weapon or a pen? Please, no more explorations of life from a womb. Let’s all agree it’s been done and move on.

I admire McEwan’s talent so much I will read his next book, and try to forget about this one for reminding me with every page that the writer was at work.

Fatal Recall by Carol J. Post

view of mountains in North CarolinaFatal Recall by award-winning author Carol J. Post accelerates quickly. It roars through tense action as killers track a woman who knows too much. The killers, unaware she has amnesia, intend to kill her before she regains her memory. The story is set in the Appalachian mountains and includes white-water rafting, hiking, and some of my favorite small towns in North Carolina. In true romantic-suspense style, the chapters alternate between the heroine’s point of view and the off-duty police officer hero’s point of view. The alternating scenes allow the reader to see deep inside the characters, their reasoning, their emotions, and their expectations.

This is Post’s twelfth book. Having read her previous novels, I believe she’s developed a smooth, distinctive narrative voice. Most of her stories have been published through Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense imprint, which means the reader will not be subjected to vulgar language. The faith element of the story rings true as both hero and heroine grapple with their understanding of the value of faith in a dangerous, ungodly world. The struggle with faith is subtle and genuine, never preachy. This is one of the many reasons I adore Post’s writing.

I was especially impressed by how the author crafted backstories of the hero and heroine that conflict and overlap. Under less dangerous circumstances, these two people would be unlikely to meet and yet their chemistry ignites the pages. The killers were crafted as genuine people, more like the odd neighbors down the street than caricature bad guys sometimes pasted into romance novels.

A great book, Fatal Recall arrives just in time for that first summer trip to the beach. Publication release date is June 1, 2018.

I reviewed other books by Post that you can read by clicking on the titles below. Trust My Heart was Post’s first indie title and it runs longer than the Love-Inspired books. Trust My Heart earned Post a RITA nomination.

Reunited by Danger

Trust My Heart

 

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Before We Were YoursBefore We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Part history, part horror, part inspiration, the story Before We Were Yours explores the true-life crimes of the Memphis Tennesse Children’s Home Society whose unregulated adoption practices tore families apart. The story is told from two points of view, one from the past, and one from the present. Wingate’s elegant prose drives the story deep into the reader’s heart. An excellent choice for book clubs who enjoy historical fiction, women’s fiction, and literary fiction.

A tribute to the power of the human spirit and the love of family, this story reveals its depth in layers at an easy pace.

View all my reviews

I Wanna Be Sedated: 30 Writers on Parenting Teenagers

An excellent gift for parents of teens and pre-teens, I Wanna Be Sedated: 30 Writers on Parenting Teenagers made me laugh and weep.

SOMETIMES YOU LAUGH

For a much-needed laugh, read W. Bruce Cameron’s “Teenagers Owner Manual.” His book 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter kept my husband sane during our daughter’s teen years. Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry also cuts loose the tethers between the teenager you want and the one you have. Because raising a teenager challenges a parent’s patience, body, mind, and soul, maintaining a sense of humor is vital. As my mother told me, “You have to pick your battles.” Now that I think about it, she didn’t laugh much when my brothers and I were in high school. However, she laughed almost every time I called when my daughter hit the hormone years. Payback, I suppose.

For perspective on parenting from those who have reached solid ground afterward, read Irene Hopkins’ “The Seven Circles of Hormone Hell.” She describes being in menopause while her daughters hit puberty.

SOMETIMES YOU CRY

Debra Gwartney’s “Runaway” offers an unflinching look into one serious situation. Other serious and poignant topics teenager face include sex education, lying, drugs, buying Kotex, tattoos, thongs, slacker report cards, the empty-nest feeling, parties without parents, racial profiling, and body-image issues.

I recommend this book to every parent facing this chaotic, exciting, and yes, rewarding family time. Parenting is not for the fainthearted and this book offers insight from survivors. I also offer insight as a survivor in “Thrill Ride of Parenting Teenagers.”

For those of you currently parenting teenagers, you have my prayers, my sympathy, and my encouragement. You can do this! I firmly believe that God designed it so that when my child reached the age to leave home, I wanted to help her pack. Since we have passed through that valley of the shadow of death, my daughter and I have become close friends. She even trusts me to occasionally watch her children. Go figure.

Do you suppose I have suddenly gained amazing parenting skills? Ha! Me neither. What I have gained from experience–patience and a sense of humor.

Martini Afternoons by Beverly Fortenberry

When widowed retirees Edi and Eli decide to fight boredom and loneliness in sleepy Bexley, Indiana, they turn to mischief, causing great changes to their community. It all begins because Edi misses her late husband Henry and their Martini Afternoons.

Martini Afternoons by Beverly FortenberryI suspect author Beverly Fortenberry, a widow who retired from teaching leadership and behavioral change during her globe-trotting career, wrote Martini Afternoons to keep herself out of mischief. Fortenberry’s deft humor and insight into human behavior illuminate this fun story. Her other books are Leadership Lessons Proven on the Front Line and The Bumble Gene.

This book is available in paperback and as an ebook.

 

 

Reunited by Danger by Carol J. Post

2017 RITA Nominee Author Carol J. Post crafts a story of romance, reunions, and revenge in her latest novel Reunited by Danger. Recognized in the Golden Heart Awards and the Royal Palm Literary Awards for her work, Post’s latest novel explores the lasting aftermath of teen behavior. As if high school reunions were not stressful enough, Amber Kingston faces hazardous relationships she wanted to leave in the past.

Reunited by DangerFive hard-partying friends, each carrying secret guilt, are invited to their 10th High School Reunion by one of their own who fails to appear. Ten years have passed since Amber parted ways with her friends, but long-held grudges rise again when the classmates are reunited. One by one, they are taunted by poetic threatening messages.

This story reminds me of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. The reader is drawn into the mystery of who the killer or killers could be as the characters meet someone’s idea of justice. A taut, faster-paced, romantic suspense version of Christie’s concept sweeps the reader into the story early as the suspense escalates to the shocking end. I enjoy my suspense with a heavy dose of romance, so this story fully entertained from cover to cover. Big kudos to the author for building tension and drama and surprising twists without stooping to cringe-worthy language. So refreshing!

Carol J. Post receives recognition at the Royal Palm Literary Awards in 2016.

Reunited by Danger comes out on September 1, 2017, just in time for late summer reading on the beach. Just in time for the next generation of teens to return to school. Beware.