Redhead book nerd

Curiosity might have killed the cat but it is one of the main driving forces in my life. My never ending desire to learn and geographic restlessness had me moving around for a while but now, for the second time, I call Toronto home (though Barcelona will forever have my heart :). Human behavior fascinates me. I'm drawn to puzzles. So it's probably no surprise that murder mysteries and psychological thrillers rank high in terms of my favorite genres. Or that I chose psychotherapy as a profession. I am a proud tech nerd, music lover/collector, eternal student, cinema junkie, passionate list maker and a "professional reader" in (life long) training... My life just wouldn't be the same without sarcasm, Chuck Norris jokes, shrimp, my iGadgets (i.e. iPhone, iPad, iPod...not always in that order), BBC Sherlock and on certain days - cheesecake :) Oh, and my family and friends are kind of a big deal too ;)

Lucy Clarke's The Blue

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to get away from your everyday life for a while? Just pick up your bags and sail away into the arms of unexpected adventures? I would think that this would be a daydream familiar to most people. Lucy Clarke’s latest book The Blue follows one such journey. After an unexpected and shocking discovery on the home front, The Blue’s main protagonist and narrator Lana flees her problems and her life in England with her best friend Kitty in tow.  While enjoying the exotic beauty of the far away Philippines the girls encounter and befriend a group of young people sailing on a boat called The Blue. Days spent exploring hidden beaches, basking in the sun and swimming in the ocean soon lead Lana and Kitty to become infatuated both with the boat and its crew.  The Blue’s “sailors” hail from different countries and continents but they all have one thing in common: each one of them had a significant reason to leave their old life behind. When the girls are offered the opportunity to become a part of the crew they both jump at the chance.

What starts off as an ideal, almost dream-like arrangement that makes them blissfully happy soon starts turning into something bordering on sinister as it becomes quite obvious that someone is willing to go to extreme lengths to protect the secret they keep.

If you are one of those lucky ones, getting to enjoy some quality beach time this summer, I recommend you add this book to your beach bag. Beach and vacation are not a requirement but I believe they would definitely heighten the enjoyment of the subject matter. Even if you won’t be experiencing a conventional vacation this summer, this book will offer a convenient and pleasurable mind escape, especially if you are already a fan of this genre.

Lucy Clarke dives deep into the darkest corners of human psyche. The story moves along at a moderate pace (which I quite enjoyed) allowing the reader to get emotionally invested into the characters and the outcome of the story. Much more than just another light, enjoyable read, this book made me think deeper about what decisions I would’ve made if faced with similar situations. I have already added Swimming at Night and A Single Night (also written by Lucy Clarke) to my reading collection.

I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this book from the publishers. And though getting awesome reads as freebies makes me infinitely happy, it in no way influences my impressions of the book itself.

 

Source: http://redheadbooknerd.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/my-summer-reads-lucy-clarkes-the-blue

Girls, Food, Body Image and The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses

 

 

 

 

When I first picked up The Appetites of Girls by Pamela Moses, I was expecting something along the lines of chick lit. Basically I thought I would be mindlessly entertained for a few hours of reading and that would be it. (just so we’re clear I love chick lit, especially in between reading a two “heavier” books) Instead this book made me think of the complicated body image issues most girls have, the prevalence of eating disorders, as well as the fact that we women tend to be the harshest judges of other women.

 

The Appetites of Girls is a story of four very different women from very different backgrounds thrown together as freshmen flatmates at Brown University. Despite their significant differences, the girls form an unexpected bond sharing their college experience. Thought this friendship plays an important part in each of the girls’ lives, they still manage to keep certain secrets from each other, secrets and aspects of their past that shaped who they are to a large degree. The story starts with the women having a reunion as adults and then looks back at their individual stories both throughout their childhood and university years. These pieces of their individuals puzzles read almost as independent short stories. Taken together they offer a beautifully detailed, and complex portrait of each girl. Ruth, Opal, Setsu and Francesca offer glimpses into their stories, the ordinary and extraordinary moments of their lives that shaped their attitudes towards food, their bodies, their sexuality, relationships and the world in general.

 

A simultaneously loving yet controlling and meddling mother who offers comfort through food. A competitive, manipulative brother whose desire to take everything includes the food off of his sister’s plate. An adventurous, restless, exotic mother whose constant hunger for male attention “teaches” her daughter an unexpected lesson. An invisible daughter of wealthy parents who seeks “visibility” through food. Paloma Moses explores these topics throughout the book bringing to the surface the complexities of these issues and their relevance to the lives of these girls. These are not the stories of magical catharsis and transformations but rather thorny and gradual paths of self-discovery and self-acceptance.

 

While I was rooting for Ruth, Opal, Setsu and Francesca to find ways to learn to love and accept themselves, I couldn’t stop thinking of all the ways we make these paths harder for each other, for other women around us. Not to say that men don’t have body image issues or that they don’t deal with eating disorders but these still affect women/girls more frequently than men. And I find that we as a society but also as as women are a huge part of the problem. As a society not only do we keep imposing these impossible to attain, photoshoped images of ideal beauty but we also love to judge. We love “judging” celebrities for the clothes they choose to wear, their haircuts (but especially for) the weight they gain/lose. The OC’s Mischa Barton’s weight gain was a frequent topic in the tabloids for a while a few years back. Who cares? Just because she chose to be an actress and became a celebrity does not mean she signed over her soul to the Gods of Dieting for the rest of her life. On the other hand, Calista Flockhart’s slim figure gave way for constant speculation that she (must be) is anorexic. As you can see, there is no satisfying the masses.

 

We take this “judging” mentality to our daily lives and we feel comfortable to do this same thing to the women we cross paths we, often even making comments out loud – somewhere in the process forgetting or not caring that behind that outfit/weight we don’t approve of, their is an actual person….with feelings. We do the same thing to our friends, siblings, children, partners. In the process aiding and abetting the numerous industries just waiting to cash in on our ever growing list of insecurities. Diet programs, supplements, books…workout programs….miraculous cosmetics products….plastic surgeries and procedures…brand name clothes. Constantly chasing that permanently elusive ideal version of ourselves.

 

Working in the cosmetics industry I used to have the same conversion over and over again – with an endless number of women. Almost always about things they disliked about themselves. If only they could lose the weight. If only their lashes were longer. If only their breasts were bigger. If only they could look the way they did ten years ago. It broke my heart over and over again but I did not see the same thing they saw. Where they saw imperfection I kept seeing beauty. And for most women that’s the hardest road of all – the Mount Everest of self-esteem – reaching that point at which looking in the mirror reveals self-love and beauty, not yet another opportunity to self-criticize.

This expectation we place on ourselves and on other women plays a huge part in the complex relationship most women have with food as well. Food as a way to exert control over one’s life. Food as a source of comfort. Food as a way to fill an emotional void. And then the amount of time women spend talking about  calories, pounds to be gained and lost, the tortures of whatever latest diet they are on. At the end of the day variety is the spice of life. Imagine how boring our lives would be if we all looked like models, clones of each other. And yet there would always be those who are not attracted to that look. And even then there would be a person out there somewhere wanting to look different, better in order to satisfy some imagined (different) ideal. And yes, most of us know all of this….in theory….Yet in practice when that moment comes to say that hurtful, judgmental thing out loud regarding someone’s looks or weight, we usually do not pause and think about all of this.

 

Just for the record, I am not writing all of this from the “holier than thou” position – this is a learning process for me as well. Something I have to keep reminding myself of constantly. Though I may not be able to change the world of unreasonable body ideals and constant criticism, what I (or any other woman out there) can do is love myself in all of my imperfect glory. I can also speak up each time I see or hear something negative being spoken about a woman based on the way she looks. I can be positive and supportive towards women and girls I encounter, reminding them in whatever way I can that they are beautiful just the way they are. So that maybe one day they will be able to do the same thing for someone else.

 

Quotes I enjoyed:

“So each evening before supper, while my mother worked in the kitchen and my father flipped through newspapers in the living room armchair, I closed my bedroom door to avoid disturbing them and played the new pieces I had learned. The notes vibrated through my fingers as I held them to the strings, making my hand tingle. Some nights I imagined my whole body humming the melodies, a swaying and swelling in my chest and in my throat that moved out and out along my limbs until I reached the final measure of a piece. The concluding notes that seemed so sad, fading until no music remained. I almost hated to play them, and sometimes few the bow in slow, slow strokes to make them last. Other times, I rushed through as quickly as my fingers would fly, hoping I had time to start once more at the piece’s happy beginning before dinner.”

 

NOTE: I would like to thank Penguin Random House Canada for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

 

This post was originally published on my main blog

 

REDHEADBOOKNERD

 

Laura McHugh's The Weight of Blood

I am absolutely and positively in love with this book....with its story, its setting, its characters...and despite the fact that the "I'm so high on this book let me rave about it right away" version of my review got carried into oblivion by the magical forces of my Firefox, my initial literary infatuation has not diminished one bit in the meantime...

I find it a bit amusing that most debut books in this genre get compared to Gillian Flynn - I am assuming in the attempt to stir the readers of Gone Girl in the direction of this book but I find that this comparison is a bit unfair towards the talent that Laura McHugh brings to the table all on her own. I am not expert on small town America but Henbane of McHugh's literary world is going to stay with me for quite a while. I am drawn to writers who know how to create the worlds I end up inhibiting with (reading) ease. And though Henbane of this story is murky and ominous, filled with darkness and secrets, I've enjoyed every second of "visiting" it.

Lucy Dane is sixteen, and though she was born and raised in Henbane, she is constantly dancing on the outer edges of actual acceptance by the other locals. Probably because her mother was an exotic and alluring outsider whose sudden departure soon after Lucy's birth still haunts the little town and especially Lucy herself. Lucy's friends are few and far between and when one of them (Cheri) is found dead, Lucy's need for answers ends up leading her down the path of (self)discovery that will change her world in more ways than she expected.

The story moves seamlessly between the past and the present, switching narration between various characters, allowing the reader greater insight into numerous points of view and I loved that shifting point of view. Getting to know Lucy, her mom Lila, brothers Crete and Carl, Lucy's neighbor Birdie - their stories and journeys end up being just as seductive as the main story itself. I wouldn't be surprised to see this book turned into a movie, it seems to have all the elements Hollywood is drawn to these days.

I know I'll be grabbing a copy of whatever books comes out of Laura McHugh's keyboard next. In the meantime I just wanted to share a few of the beautiful quotes that simply "forced" their way into my collection:

"She'd make a game of it where she'd relax all the little bits of her body, starting with her fingers and toes and working in toward the center. She had to make herself limp and draw the hurt and want into a tight core inside, each time adding another layer to that core, so that if somebody came along and cut her open, they'd find inside a shining, perfect pearl, hard as any Willy Wonka jawbreaker."

"I took in the thick night air, the sweet smell of honeysuckle, the chirping of frogs, to impress the moment in the folds of my memory, preserve it like a flower between pages of a book. To remember: This is how it feels to be happy."

"It occurred to her then that there was a reason age drained the pleasure out of life, slowly stripping away all the things you enjoyed or took for granted. It was so you wouldn't need convincing when the time came. You'd be ready, because everything good in life was gone."

Have you been good this year? Merry Christmas & Who Wants A Book Package?

Reblogged from BookLikes:

 

Christmas is the most magical time of year. You can also feel the magic on BookLikes and switch on the winter mode on your Dashboard with the Snowman icon - click it to make it snow :-)

 

Due to Christmas time we're postponing Thursday release until the first day of January. But don't go far -- we do have a special holiday treat for you :-)

 

We've prepared two surprise packages filled up with books and gadgets: one is called Nice Books, and the other Naught Books -- this is a blind Christmas book date so you have to trust us and rely on our literary taste :-)

 

So, who wants them? 

 

If you're nodding your head and saying loud "Yes!" you're in! 

 

This is what you have to do: post a photo of you with your book/e-reader in a holiday spirit on your BookLikes blog - make sure to add the BookLikes Christmas tag so we could find your photo set. 

 

And remember to write a note which book package would you like to get: Nice books or Naughty books. Be creative: dress up, climb the tree, build a cozy reading room igloo, make a ski reading slide... go crazy!

 

Can't wait to see your Christmas book inspired photos! We'll pick 2 winners and the deadline is January 10, 2015. 

 

And this is a cozy one took by one of BookLikes' teammates :-) 

 

 

Best wishes!

  

May this holiday season sparkle and shine. Let’s share the magic with each other this entire season and in the new year. May all your wishes and dreams come true and may you feel this happiness all year round. Best wishes to all of you!

 

Reblogged from SnoopyDoo's Book Reviews :

Story of my life :)

Giveaway of The Sham

Reblogged from Ellen Allen Writes:
The Sham - Ellen Allen

100 copies of The Sham are now available:

 

http://booklikes.com/giveaways/show/1138/the-sham-ellen-allen

 

Monica McInerney's Hello from the Gillespies

 

You can read my full review at

http://redheadbooknerd.wordpress.com/2014/11/20/book-corner-monica-mcinerneys-hello-from-the-gillespies/

It seems my subconscious mind has been in Christmas mode for weeks now because I keep choosing books that are Christmas related. My last such treat was Monica McInerney’s Hello from the Gillespies. I have to thank the publisher for providing me with a copy of it, in exchange for (what else but) an honest review.

I did not grow up in North America. I don’t have a sentimental attachment to Christmas linked closely to deeply rooted childhood memories. I don’t easily identify with numerous Christmas related traditions. Yet I did form a sentimental attachment to this holiday in my adult years. Not the consumerist aspect of it. Anything that gives me an excuse to be surrounded by my loved ones is my kind of holiday.

Family photos, Christmas cards, Christmas letters. Though I don’t participate in any of those, I still find them endearing. And that’s how the story in the book starts. Angela, Gillespies matriarch, has been writing the family Christmas letter for over 30 years. Except this year she experiences an overwhelming urge to be brutally honest and vent about everything happening in her life. I’m sure many of us have at some point felt the same. (I know I have…plus writing out your feelings can be quite therapeutic) She does not intend for her words to be read by anyone but when the letter ends up being sent to all their family and friends, it initiate a dramatic and humorous chain of events.

Gillespies live in South Australia on an outback station that’s been in the family for generations. One big, for the most part happy and imperfect family. Angela’s husband Nick, the “strong, silent type” has been really in touch with his silent side in the wake of all the economic difficulties hitting their region. These days he is more interested in tracing back the roots of his family, than pretty much anything else. There oldest daughters, twins Genevieve and Victoria, have managed to turn their own lives upside down, each in her own “dramatic” way. Lindy, their younger sister, is not very business savvy (and kind of likes to complain a lot). The baby of the family, 10-year-old Ig, is an adorable oddball with an imaginary friend Robbie. And of course there’s aunt Celia, that one meddling, overly critical and difficult relative whose visits everyone dreads. Colorful family whose (mis)adventures will have you turning the pages of this book faster and faster. I was so engrossed in reading that I even skipped breakfast in order to read the last few chapters. Now that’s what "not being able to put a book down" is all about.

Monica McInerney’s writing was definitely my cup of tea. She created a group of characters that you start wishing you could meet in person. I kept thinking what a fun movie/TV show this story would make. I’d highly recommend this book to all the fans of Liane Moriarty, Jojo Moyes and Emily Giffin.

Marriage is a one-way street, love. Imagine you are two cars in a narrow alley, bonnet to bonnet. One can’t move any further without the other moving too. If neither of you move, you’re both stuck there forever. But if one you does move – and it doesn’t matter which one does – voila, the road is cleared and you can get back to business. Just don’t keep count of who said sorry first. Don’t get into the habit of saying, “But he never does this” or “He never does that”. As long as one of you is making a movie, that’s all you need to get started.

We Are the Goldens by Dana Reinhardt

Sisterhood is complex. And complicated. That much I know even without having a sister. Although I've frequently wondered what it would be like to have one. Especially one really close in age. (when we were kids my little brother and I used to pester my mom - of course always Mom - to "give" us a sister...she vehemently refused...hmmm wonder if we were really that "bad")

Nell and Layla have always been very close. So much so that Nell used to consider them "one entity" when she was a kid. (and hence referred to both of them by one name - Nellayla) Layla is 17 months older. The levelheaded, reliable one. The popular and beautiful one. The star soccer player. But Nell doesn't mind. Because it's Layla and Nell against the world. Until Nell starts her freshman year at the same high school as Layla. And starts noticing all the little ways in which Layla is starting to change. Withdrawing. Keeping secrets.

We Are The Goldens reads like a letter Nell wrote to Layla. About what that distance between them feels like for her. About boys. And navigating the tricky world of teenagehood and high school. About Duncan and Parker, teen sons of family friends. About their parents. About falling in love. About missing her sister.

"But I guess I was imposing a Hollywood version of falling in love onto a high school where there really isn't much use for love, or even dating. There's hookups and people who hang out and all sorts of variations, but the actual boyfriend/girlfriend is a rare breed at City Day."

It was a quick and fairly engaging read for me. I tend to enjoy YA literature of this kind. And while I was reading We Are The Goldens I really did enjoy it. All the characters came to life and it made me care about both girls. However the entire time it felt like the story is building towards something significant and emotionally impactful, there was a sense of anticipation that kept moving the story forward. And then the ending fell short for me. I was left looking at the last sentence thinking "Really? That's it?" I feel that with a different ending I would've given this story a higher rating.

If there was a book telling the story from Layla's point of view I would definitely pick it up. I'd recommend this one to YA lovers who are looking for a fast read and are drawn to the subject matter.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Emotionally Sensitive Person: Finding Peace When Your Emotions Overwhelm You by Karyn Hall

 

Hypersensitivity has been gaining considerably more coverage over the last couple of years. There are more resources available both to professionals, as well as general public. This is one of those books that will be a useful tool for both therapists and laymen. If you keep hearing "you're just too sensitive" over and over again, if it sometimes feels to you that you feel and experience things more intensely than those around you, if you find yourself overwhelmed by your emotions, if you have a love one who might be emotionally sensitive and are not sure whether that's even a "thing" - this book is definitely for you.

This book is an extremely useful tool in both helping you establish whether you might be an emotionally sensitive person, as well as aid you in the process of learning how to manage your emotions better. Each chapter focuses on one aspect of hypersensitivity and then offers an exercise or exercises that will help the reader address and modify that particular aspect. The e-book provides online tools for printing the exercise forms which I found handy.

Both the language and the instruction Karyn Hall offers are easy to understand and to follow. Her approach draws on the principles/therapies I professionally believe are the most effective - cognitive behavioral therapy and mindfulness practices. Regardless of where you might be on the emotional sensitivity spectrum, these exercises are easily applied to our daily lives to help reduce stress, aid in analyzing what lies below emotions we are experiencing, help us communicate better, and in general improve the quality of our life and our relationships. (and who does not want that)

In terms of professional application, I've already started integrating some of these tasks to help the clients I work with understand their . emotions better (especially through in combination with journal writing). I find that a lot of these chapters can be adapted (by the therapist) to become useful tools when working with any client who is going through an intensely emotional period. This is a book that has found a permanent place on my "professional bookshelf."

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me, and Nearly Broke My Heart by William Alexander

 

Learning a new language can be tricky (and funny), especially so if you attempt to do so as an adult. Granted it is easier for some people than for others but different personalities approach the task from their own unique perspectives. William Alexander is very much an adult. One who is in love with all things French and who is determined to conquer both the language, as well as the art of "being" French. His approach to the task at hand is methodical, analytical. So where does he start? With the Association for Applied Linguistics "naturally." His initial findings seem to confirm what many hold to be true: that our ability to learn a new language decreases with age. And William Alexander is 57 years young.

Though passionate about his goal, our author seems to get easily distracted by his curiosity about all elements of studying a new language. So while he struggles with conjugation and adult memory not being what it once was he samples different forms of language study. Short trips to the country itself, the "Bible" of language learning that is Rosetta Stone, conversation groups, immersion courses, french pen pals, you name it William Alexander tries to try them all. In an adorably self-deprecating way he shares with the reader not only his linguistic misadventures but also his insights into French culture, history of the language (French, as well as English at times) and its vocabulary.

I expected to be entertained and amused but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of learning I experienced while reading this book. Not only is my French vocabulary richer but I learned a lot about linguistics, neural and memory processes involved in learning a language, as well as what it is exactly that the Académie Française does. William (and his French alter ego Guy) present a story of one man's journey into depths of a foreign language but this book ends up being about so much more than just learning French. Is there such a thing as "too late" when it comes to learning a new language? You'll just have to read the book to find out.

I received a copy of this book from <i>LIbraryThing Early Reviwers</i>. As those who've read my reviews in the past know, that in no way influences my opinion of the book.

And just so you know what you're in for if you decided to pick up this book (and I hope you do), here's a little passage from it:

"Even at twenty-two I knew better than to ask a Frenchman - especially a French waiter - if he spoke English, which is considered rude and insulting. You should attempt to speak in French, no matter how bad your French might be, and hope you get a reply in English, but in this fancy restaurant, with the stakes high, the prices higher, and the mustachioed waiters straight out of central casting, my nerves got the better of me, and to Judy's alarm and mine alike, I blurted out, "Do you speak English?" The only explanation I have for the reaction that followed was that the poor non-English-speaking fellow must have thought I said, "Do you sodomize your mother?"

The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic

I was so sure that I would love this book. And I can't say that I exactly disliked it, I actually enjoyed quite a few elements of the story. Yet I kept feeling like something was missing, I kept getting disconnected from the story and from Nora's character as I was reading. I also noticed that a lot of the readers that loved this book are not great fans of Discovery of Witches (and vice versa), whereas I absolutely loved Discovery of Witches and its characters.

 
Things I liked about this book:

- Magician Aruendiel was probably my favorite part of this book. I loved the veil of mystery surrounding his character and his past.
- I loved the numerous references to Pride and Prejudice
- I even enjoyed the beginning of the story, descriptions of Nora's lief up until the point she wanders into this alternate world
- Different "species" populating this magical world were fascinating and described well

Things I was not so crazy about:
- Despite containing a lot of magic and "magical creatures" this alternate universe did not feel magical to me. It felt like a travel back in history and somehow did not really grip me
- The pace of the story was very inconsistent. Things felt unnecessarily drawn out at times and I think those were the moments I would start feeling disconnected from the story
- I understand that it is extremely hard to come up with unexpected twists and turns in the story but I was a bit disappointed that I could see things coming miles away. It reduced the anticipation and excitement for me

If I end up reading the next book in the series, it will be primarily because of Aruendiel. Part of me hopes that there is more to the story of his past. I refuse to accept that the explanation revealed by the end of the book is all there is to it.

This is a well written book that simply failed to seduce ME fully. I am sure there are numerous readers out there who will simply love the world Emily Croy Barker created in this book. If this sounds like your cup of tea, I hope you do pick up this book, read it, and make a decision for yourself.

 

 

Chick Lit Corner: The Traveling Tea Shop

Deserts, travel and chick lit - obviously such an irresistible combination. I mean any of those three individually would be a source of pleasure to me but combined they made a real treat. This was a first book by Belinda Jones I got my hands on so I really did not know what to expect. The premise was enough to make me want to wade into these waters.

Laurie Davis, our heroine, moved from UK to the city of her dreams, New York. Together with her best friend she put her organizational skills to good use and started a company that organizes themed travel tours (is it just me or does that not sound like so much fun). Laurie also happens to love cake. (I feel you girl) Next thing she knows she is offered an opportunity to organize a "cake themed" trip for Pamela Lambert-Leigh, a TV star/food expert from her homeland. That's what Laurie is so good at, so easy peasy right? Of course not, what fun would that be. The trip turns into an unexpected adventure that will put Laurie's travel organizing skills to every possible test.

This is chick lit at its best - not focusing solely on romance (heads up, just to prevent any potential disappointment, romance is not the focus of this story). Not only did I enjoy the ups and downs our little traveling group encounters, I was also carefully taking notes - of places the book talks about that I would simply love to visit (sneaky sneaky Belinda Jones), as well as all these delicious sounding deserts that I would love to try (to make). This book will introduce you not only to tempting places and cakes but also to some memorable characters.

This is the kind of fun, light, entertaining book that will appeal to any chick lit/cake/travel lovers out there. Be prepared for constant cake/desert cravings coming your way.

The Biology of Luck

The Biology of Luck - Jacob M. Appel

Quirky and unusual love story with an interesting stylistic twist. The main protagonist of Jacob Appel's The Biology of Luck, Larry Bloom, is your average Joe, the kind of guy women usually friend-zone. Larry's existence is seemingly unremarkable. An aspiring writer trapped in a life of a tour guide for New York City's tourists, Larry dreams of (primarily) two things: getting published and Starshine Hart (an ugly duckling turned swan with some serious commitment issues not just with men and relationships but also with jobs). The Biology of Luck takes us on a (beautifully described) city tour with Larry on the day of his big "date" with Starshine. All of Larry's romantic and writing dreams ride on that dinner date. The story he wrote is an imaginary account of Starshine's day leading up to their date.

I loved the "novel within a novel" format of the book. The adventures of these two oddball characters merge into a coherent narrative, the one in which the reader easily forgets that Starshine they are getting to know is Larry's fictionalized version of her. Larry's New York comes alive in Jacob Appel's descriptions, and it's so easy to imagine yourself taking that tour with him (especially if you've ever been to NYC).

What helped me lose myself even more in this story were the characters that kept showing up in "supporting roles" - Starshine's roommate Eucalyptus, Larry's mentor Ziggy (perpetually on a quest for the perfect American sentence), the menacing omnipotent one-armed super Bone. Yes, it's an army of oddballs, weirdos and maybe even slightly crazy characters. They come together to create a literary space that you become eager to take a tour of.

This book will be pure joy for those readers who have true appreciation of that rare combination of literary talent and memorable (though definitely odd) characters. The Biology of Luck is also a great book club choice - it lends itself beautifully to a number of interesting discussions.

 

I won a copy of this book through booklikes giveaway -

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