Review of Hot Milk by Deborah Levy


About Hot Milk

Sofia, a young anthropologist, has spent much of her life trying to solve the mystery of her mother’s unexplainable illness. She is frustrated with Rose and her constant complaints, but utterly relieved to be called to abandon her own disappointing fledgling adult life. She and her mother travel to the searing, arid coast of southern Spain to see a famous consultant–their very last chance–in the hope that he might cure her unpredictable limb paralysis.

But Dr. Gomez has strange methods that seem to have little to do with physical medicine, and as the treatment progresses, Sofia’s mother’s illness becomes increasingly baffling. Sofia’s role as detective–tracking her mother’s symptoms in an attempt to find the secret motivation for her pain–deepens as she discovers her own desires in this transient desert community.

Hot Milk is a profound exploration of the sting of sexuality, of unspoken female rage, of myth and modernity, the lure of hypochondria and big pharma, and, above all, the value of experimenting with life; of being curious, bewildered, and vitally alive to the world.

My Thoughts

Well written. Explores mother daughter relationship, identity. Enjoyed Levy’s writing style but that was about it, just wasn’t up my alley.

Sophie was too opaque, aloof, can’t really figure her out. Highly intelligent, she is a detailed observer. I felt she uses her mother’s illness as an excuse, scapegoat of sorts as a way to skirt the actual reason(s) for her uncertainty in both private and professional aspirations. Could be wrong since she is so vague bordering on discombobulated. Both women come across as enablers, resentful of each other, a silent hostility lingering.

My interest strayed early on due to unlikable protagonists and a boring plot going nowhere. The pieces set before me failed to fall into place, I have no idea what was to be constructed with the nonsensical fragments given. Frustrating at best. I’m sure there is deep meaning woven within the narrative, however it was elusive to my grasp although Sophie and Rose are memorable, their fractured dynamic surprisingly forceful.

I’m sure my aversion will be the minority, no doubt most will sing praises. Well written yet it failed to convince me of more, I require more than outstanding writing.

About Deborah Levy147246

Deborah Levy trained at Dartington College of Arts leaving in 1981 to write a number of plays, highly acclaimed for their “intellectual rigour, poetic fantasy and visual imagination”, including PAX, HERESIES for the Royal Shakespeare Company, CLAM, CALL BLUE JANE, SHINY NYLON, HONEY BABY MIDDLE ENGLAND, PUSHING THE PRINCE INTO DENMARK and MACBETH-FALSE MEMORIES, some of which are published in LEVY: PLAYS 1 (Methuen)

Deborah wrote and published her first novel BEAUTIFUL MUTANTS (Vintage), when she was 27 years old. The experience of not having to give her words to a director, actors and designer to interpret, was so exhilarating, she wrote a few more. These include, SWALLOWING GEOGRAPHY, THE UNLOVED (Vintage) and BILLY and GIRL (Bloomsbury). She has always written across a number of art forms (see Bookworks and Collaborations with visual artists) and was Fellow in Creative Arts at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1989-1991.

Expected publication: July 12th 2016 by Bloomsbury USA

Review of It’s Okay to Laugh: (Crying Is Cool Too) by Nora McInerny Purmort


About It’s Okay to Laugh

Twenty-seven-year-old Nora McInerny Purmort bounced from boyfriend to dopey “boyfriend” until she met Aaron—a charismatic art director and comic-book nerd who once made Nora laugh so hard she pulled a muscle. When Aaron was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer, they refused to let it limit their love. They got engaged on Aaron’s hospital bed and had a baby boy while he was on chemo. In the period that followed, Nora and Aaron packed fifty years of marriage into the three they got, spending their time on what really matters: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, each other, and Beyoncé. A few months later, Aaron died in Nora’s arms. The obituary they wrote during Aaron’s hospice care revealing his true identity as Spider-Man touched the nation. With It’s Okay to Laugh, Nora puts a young, fresh twist on the subjects of mortality and resilience. What does it actually mean to live your “one wild and precious life” to the fullest? How can a joyful marriage contain more sickness than health? How do you keep going when life kicks you in the junk? In this deeply felt and deeply funny memoir, Nora gives her readers a true gift—permission to struggle, permission to laugh, permission to tell the truth and know that everything will be okay. It’s Okay to Laugh is a love letter to life, in all its messy glory; it reads like a conversation with a close friend, and leaves a trail of glitter in its wake.

This book is for people who have been through some shit.

This is for people who aren’t sure if they’re saying or doing the right thing (you’re not, but nobody is). This is for people who had their life turned upside down and just learned to live that way. For people who have laughed at a funeral or cried in a grocery store. This is for everyone who wondered what exactly they’re supposed to be doing with their one wild and precious life. I don’t actually have the answer, but if you find out, will you text me?

My Review

One strong woman’s journey through loss and life. Purmort shares her life openly along with views, lessons, relationships, parenting, leaving you chuckling and teary eyed.

Purmort isn’t afraid to expose her vulnerability, she’s raw and brutally honest. I admire her candor and ability to express emotions with ease. Nothing was sugar coated, Purmort struggled and stumbled yet she found her way. Questioning her decisions and choices while trying her best, other times applauding her decisions. Life isn’t easy, no handbook given as Purmort emphasizes in her book, no doubt you will find yourself identifying with her many times throughout her story.

My only gripe, to many F-bombs and GD’s. So tired of constantly hearing and reading the imfamous four letter word, whip out a thersaurs people.

Inspiring story of life and survival when blindsided. Honest, funny, most of all shared from the heart.

About Nora McInerny PurmortNora-McInerny-Purmort-AP

Nora McInerny Purmort was voted Most Humorous by the Annunciation Catholic School Class of 1998. It was mostly downhill after that, but she did get to spend three glorious years married to Aaron Joseph Purmort (aka Spider-Man). Her work has appeared on,, and the Huffington Post, and in the Star Tribune. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her son, Ralph. They really like it there.

Find out more about Nora at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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Publisher: Dey Street Books (May 24, 2016)

Review of The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey


About The Girl With All the Gifts

Melanie is a very special girl. Dr. Caldwell calls her “our little genius.”

Every morning, Melanie waits in her cell to be collected for class. When they come for her, Sergeant Parks keeps his gun pointing at her while two of his people strap her into the wheelchair. She thinks they don’t like her. She jokes that she won’t bite, but they don’t laugh.

Melanie loves school. She loves learning about spelling and sums and the world outside the classroom and the children’s cells. She tells her favorite teacher all the things she’ll do when she grows up. Melanie doesn’t know why this makes Miss Justineau look sad.

My Review

No doubt Melanie is special, I discovered this as the story unraveled. This was an incredibly addicting read in so many ways. Melanie captures your heart, she is extremely well written. All the characters worm their way into your sphere leaving you in a state of limbo where you are backed into a corner to either protect or overrun them despite your attachment, no other plausible choice given.

Somewhat intricate plot exploring love, loss, identity, blended with fantasy, science fiction, yet it’s almost a sub-genre of its own, more than a few major notable moments I will never forget. Lots leaving you bristling, uncomfortable, maybe even a tad but traumatized.

This read pulls you in, definitely not in my normal reading spectrum. An out of the box reading experience leaving me enthralled, providing escapism to another world I never thought I would venture into, despite the insanity I enjoyed my time immensely.

An incredibly well crafted read, a sub-genre I am unfamiliar with but this tomb will never be forgotten, forever etched in my mind. Quite a reading experience.

About M.R. Carey7177350

Mike Carey is the acclaimed writer of Lucifer and Hellblazer (now filmed as Constantine). He has recently completed a comics adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, and is the current writer on Marvel’s X-Men and Ultimate Fantastic Four. He has also written the screenplay for a movie, Frost Flowers, which is soon to be produced by Hadaly Films and Bluestar Pictures.

Also writes as Mike Carey

Published June 19th 2014 by Orbit (first published January 14th 2014)

Review of The Girls by Emma Cline


About The Girls

Northern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence.

My Review

Very well written and researched. We are granted psychological access to Evie as we understand her fascination towards the girls leaving you questioning why and how given her relative ‘normal’ upbringing. I was surprised her interest didn’t wane as her story unfolds, yet I’m not surprised she kept their company and deepened involvement. Cline’s attention geared around the girls as opposed to Russell was smart, great psychological angle, adding interest.

Wasn’t a fan of any of the characters by any means.

Cline left me uncomfortable and disturbed, certainly feeling immersed in the mind of teenage Evie, accompanying her as she mixes with the wrong crowd, making wrong decisions, choices, hallmark of a talented author. The big ‘what if’ question floats around in my mind weeks after finishing the book. Chilling.

About Emma Cline2926065

Emma Cline is from California. Her fiction has appeared in Tin House and The Paris Review, and she was the winner of the 2014 Paris Review Plimpton Prize.

Expected publication Random House (June 14, 2016)

Review of A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles by Mary Elizabeth Williams

A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles cover

About A Series of Catastrophes and Miracles

A wry, witty account of what it is like to face death—and be restored to life.

After being diagnosed in her early 40s with metastatic melanoma—a “rapidly fatal” form of cancer—journalist and mother of two Mary Elizabeth Williams finds herself in a race against the clock. She takes a once-in-a-lifetime chance and joins a clinical trial for immunotherapy, a revolutionary drug regimen that trains the body to vanquish malignant cells. Astonishingly, her cancer disappears entirely in just a few weeks. But at the same time, her best friend embarks on a cancer journey of her own—with very different results. Williams’s experiences as a patient and a medical test subject reveal with stark honesty what it takes to weather disease, the extraordinary new developments that are rewriting the rules of science—and the healing power of human connection.

My Review

Williams gives great detail in telling her own story of cancer along with opening the door wide in regards to her very intimate thoughts and emotions, love, family, caregiver, friend, medical and science. Whether you have been touched by cancer directly or indirectly you’ll find Williams’ journey, experience and insight a wealth of information, educational. Her journalistic gift allows her to delve into clinical trials and cancer research without the explanation being complex or boring, she breaks it down for civilians to easily grasp. Williams participates in a clinical trial drilling the importance of breakthroughs and all the challenges associated with trials. Her positive attitude, humor, and determination helped her along the way with her survival and the profound losses she personally experienced along the way while fighting for her life. I appreciated her candor and openness. Bittersweet story with a wonderful uplifting ending for Williams.

Mary Elizabeth Williams APAbout Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior staff writer for award-winning whose columns are regularly among the top viewed, commented on, shared, and cited as the best of the week. The “Lab Rat” series on her clinical trial was nominated for the 2012 Online Journalism Award for Commentary, and her essay on receiving a melanoma diagnosis is in the Harper anthology The Moment, an Entertainment Weekly “Must List” pick—alongside essays by Elizabeth Gilbert, Jennifer Egan, and Dave Eggers. She is the author of Gimme Shelter: Ugly Houses, Cruddy Neighborhoods, Fast Talking Brokers, and Toxic Mortgages: My Three Years Searching for the American Dream. A starred Booklist selection,Gimme Shelter was called “poignant and funny” (Kirkus), “a must-read” (New York Daily News), “hilariously evocative” (Time Out Kids) and “compelling” (Publisher’s Weekly). She lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.

Find out more about her at her website.

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Publisher: National Geographic; 1 edition (April 26, 2016)

Review of The Art of Calm by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh


About The Art of Calm

Let’s face it: the more we rush around, the shorter the days can seem. Packed with page after page of inspirational ideas to help you bring your life back to center, this is the perfect antidote to reducing the chaos of everyday life. Filled with exquisite photographs and insightful quotations, this elegant book offers an opportunity to enjoy guilt-free “me” time, as well as easy suggestions for a more peaceful existence—from keeping a bud vase on your desk to tucking yourself into bed an hour early with a book you love. The brilliant images are a reminder to savor the world’s natural beauty—and ease the mind in an instant. This enriching, beautifully illustrated book is an inspiring guide to relaxation and harmony. Simple tips for how to unwind, ideas for spending quality time with loved ones, and illuminating quotes offer ideas on how to slow down and savor life’s simple moments.

My Review

Let me start by saying this is an absolutely exquisite book. The stunning images, the simple yet inspiring and encouraging words indeed create a calming balm.

I have been dealing with very challenging issues lately in which I find myself overwhelmed at times requiring a recharge of my battery but..with responsbililites and limited time along with my high stress level I have failed at renewing myself until this beautiful book came my way.

No such thing as accidents, so it seems in my situation. I have enjoyed perusing the pages, absorbing the images and taking a few minutes to calm myself despite the various serious issues on my plate. A few minutes is all it takes to lose yourself in the illustrations paired with the wise words gently nudging, granting permission for respite from life’s grueling demands. Sitting on my nightstand, I simply reach over to start and end my day with a moment of calm, believe me it works!

I enjoyed all the illustrations and words, I found this particular pearl of wisdom striking –

Gorgeous, amazing things come into our lives
when we are paying attention: mangos, grand nieces, Bach, ponds. This happens more often when we have as little expectations as possible…Astonishing material and revelation appear in our lives all the time.
Let it be. Unto us, so much is given.
We just have to be open for business.

This would make a fantastic gift for any woman encouraging her to find mere minutes in her life to feel a moment of calm, after all, WE can all use a dose in this chaotic, hectic world.

I love this book and I know you will too. I look forward to more from Rebecca Ascher-Walsh, no doubt she helped improve my life with her generous gift and art of calm. Simply lovely!

About Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

Rebecca Ascher-Walsh is a journalist who covers celebrities and lifestyle. She contributes to many newspapers and magazines, including Entertainment Weekly, The Wall Street Journaland The L.A. Times.

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Publisher: National Geographic (March 29, 2016)

Review of The Swede: A Novel by Robert Karjel, Nancy Pick (Translator)


About The Swede

A Swedish security agent is summoned to interrogate a terror suspect held by the FBI —but the prisoner isn’t the only one with something to hide.

At a remote military base in the Indian Ocean, the FBI is trying to get a prisoner to confess. But the detainee, a suspect in an Islamist-inspired terror attack in the United States, refuses to talk.

Ernst Grip, a Swedish security officer, has no idea why he’s been dispatched to New York City. The FBI agent he meets on arrival, Shauna Friedman, seems to know a little too much about him. And when he arrives at his real destination, the American authorities have just one question: Is their terror suspect a Swedish citizen?

In the process of uncovering the prisoner’s true identity, Grip discovers the man’s ties to a group of other suspects—a ruthless American arms dealer, a Czech hit man, a mysterious nurse from Kansas, and a heartbreakingly naive Pakistani. The closer Grip gets to the truth, the more complicated the deception becomes. Who is real and who is leading a double life?

My Review

The characters were full of intrigue and differences, enough to create interest for the reader.

The plot was involved, at first you are curious to see how it all fits together and believe me it falls into place wonderfully. Loads of suspense complete with knotty twists will continually grasp your attention.

Impressive work from Karjel. Everything pulls together nicely at the end. Identities are revealed at the tail end amplifying the suspenseful conclusion.

Exciting debut, anticipating more from the talented Robert Karjel.

About Robert KarjelRobert-desk-webres-500x500

I was born in 1965 in Gothenburg, Sweden. My mother is Swedish, and my father Estonian.

At the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, I majored in Applied Physics.

After graduation, I entered the military. At first I flew fighter jets, and then helicopters. I became a Lt. Colonel in the Swedish Air Force. I’m proud to have trained with the U.S. Marine Corps and flown its attack helicopters.

I’ve written four thrillers, and I’m finishing a new one now, sequel to The Swede/ My Name Is N. This next one, based on my experience with the Swedish Air Force, is about pirate-hunting in the seas near Somalia.

Researching my novels has taken me to the Libyan Desert, Amazonian drug dens and the secret archives of the Vatican.

In my downtime, I’ve taken my younger daughter scuba diving in Egypt and the Maldives. I’m also a runner, and I like sea-kayaking.

And then there’s the kitchen. For celebrations with friends and family, my official job is to make fancy desserts and chocolate pralines.

I have two daughters. The older is attending college in the US; the younger goes to high school in Stockholm, where I live myself.

My latest novel, The Swede (in the UK, My Name Is N), was published by HarperCollins in July. This is my first novel to be translated into in English.

Published July 7th 2015 by HarperCollins (first published 2010)