Tag Archive | coming-of-age

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 Wreck and Order by Hannah Tennant-Moore


About Wreck and Order

Decisively aimless, self-destructive, and impulsively in and out of love, Elsie is a young woman who feels stuck. She has a tumultuous relationship with an abusive boyfriend, a dead-end job at a newspaper, and a sharp intelligence that’s constantly at odds with her many bad decisions. When her initial attempts to improve her life go awry, Elsie decides that a dramatic change is the only solution.

An auto-didact who prefers the education of travel to college, Elsie uses an inheritance to support her as she travels to Paris and Sri Lanka, hoping to accumulate experiences, create connections, and discover a new way to live. Along the way, she meets men and women who challenge and provoke her towards the change she genuinely hopes to find. But in the end, she must still come face-to-face with herself.

Whole-hearted, fiercely honest and inexorably human, Wreck and Order is a stirring debut that, in mirroring one young woman’s dizzying quest for answers, illuminates the important questions that drive us all.

My Review

Lovely writing, my only compliment to the book. Elsie was boring, lazy and stupid. I wouldn’t want to befriend her or be in close proximity, nothing about her is appealing. She claims to seek her life’s purpose while in reality it’s a poor excuse to allow her to shrug responsibility and aimlessly flounder. She proclaims she wants to change yet she keeps reverting to her pathetic ways, whining, swearing to try again and repeating the pattern again and again without realizing (well maybe a little) her choices/decisions are terrible. Any person allowing abuse to occur should question why, not Elsie, and yet we are given a quick gloss over as to the root of her tolerating objectification and physical/sexual abuse. Frustrating for the reader with any intelligence to journey with this train wreck of a young adult. Her preoccupation with sex is annoying. Searching for meaning and purpose….not in my opinion. Disappointing and monotonous best describes my excruciating reading experience.

About Hannah Tennant-Moore1450541957702

Hannah Tennant-Moore’s work has appeared in the New York Times, The New Republic, n+1, Tin House, Salon, Bookforum, Dissent, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, The Los Angeles Review of Books, and has twice been included in Best Buddhist Writing. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her husband.

Published February 9th 2016 by Hogarth

Review: The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit by Graham Joyce


About The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit

David, a college student, takes a summer job at a run-down family resort in a dying English resort town. This is against the wishes of his family because it was at this resort that David’s biological father disappeared fifteen years earlier–but something undeniable has called David there.

Something different is happening in this town. David is haunted by eerie visions of a mysterious man carrying a rope, walking hand-in-hand with a small child, and the resort is under siege by a plague of ladybugs. When David gets embroiled in a fiercely torrid love triangle, the stakes turn more and more menacing, and through it all, David feels as though he is getting closer to the secrets of his own past.

My Review

I enjoyed the period depicted. I was also fond of David, he’s nondescript yet fascinating. He’s invisible but visible. His plainness is what I find appealing, apparently others in the narrative as well. His vulnerability and innocence endearing. Other characters were memorable in their motley way.

The narrative skims the 1970’s, Britain’s dying seaside resort business, the recession, the hottest summer, and the National Front which is grand, however, the minimal length prevents from delving into further, as is you are merely given a gloss over, nothing to dig your teeth into or make a substantial impression in the plot.

The paranormal aspects, the imaginative along with nightmares were well done, perfect amount without becoming a distraction or commanding. Loose ends coming together in the end.

The length is the handicap, more elaboration would have been welcomed in order to explain the neglected areas in a better fashion as it stands it feels rushed and untidy.

Offbeat coming of age story running the gamete of love, high and lows, fear, family secrets.

About Graham Joyce25027

Graham Joyce (22 October 1954 – 9 September 2014) was an English writer of speculative fiction and the recipient of numerous awards for both his novels and short stories.

After receiving a B.Ed. from Bishop Lonsdale College in 1977 and a M.A. from the University of Leicester in 1980. Joyce worked as a youth officer for the National Association of Youth Clubs until 1988. He subsequently quit his position and moved to the Greek islands of Lesbos and Crete to write his first novel, Dreamside. After selling Dreamside to Pan Books in 1991, Joyce moved back to England to pursue a career as a full-time writer.

Graham Joyce resided in Leicester with his wife, Suzanne Johnsen, and their two children, Joseph and Ella. He taught Creative Writing to graduate students at Nottingham Trent University from 1996 until his death, and was made a Reader in Creative Writing.

Joyce died on 9 September 2014. He had been diagnosed with lymphoma in 2013.

Published August 5th 2014 by Doubleday


Interview: Harry Patz Jr., author of The Naive Guys

NaiveGuysPaperback.inddThe Discerning Reader extends a warm welcome to Harry Patz Jr. Thank you for joining The Discerning Reader Harry.

To begin, can you tell us about yourself and your novel, The Naive Guys

Thanks so much for reaching out, Melinda!

I’ve been in the tech industry for over twenty-years with time at Microsoft and a mobile marketing firm, Velti. A part of me has always been a writer, going back to an editorial role on the literary magazine in high school and the thousands of emails, presentations and briefs I’ve written in corporate America.

I finally brought to life all these thoughts and observations that have been in my head for years and completed my novel, The Naive Guys. It’s part coming-of-age, part historical fiction seen through the eyes of Mark Amici, a recent college graduate. It’s set in New York in the early 1990s, as he meanders his way through life, love and work.

What is Mark Amici up to presently?

Well, in the alternative universe where he lives (likely a third sequel!), he’s probably middle-aged and celebrating the New York Mets playoff success by taking his wife and five children to Mass to thank God, or celebrating in a different manner on a three-day bender in Las Vegas with Pete and Sally (Kostas having disappeared again). Possibly he’s doing both!

If you could change ONE thing about your novel, what would it be? Why?

This is a good, but tough question:) I essentially wrote the first four or so chapters, then put it down for eighteen months, then picked it up again and created a new “first” chapter, due to some other career commitments. While there was growth for me as a writer during this period, I would have probably started the whole project sooner and then tried to do it without that long break.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

On the criticism side, some may not care for the occasional ribald actions of Mark and company. On the positive side, from both reviews and direct feedback, there is a huge outpouring of affection for Mark from female readers, who really identify with him, his family and friends, his challenges and his story. Honestly, I would not have predicted those reactions.

Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

It’s for everybody! Actually it’s not. I believe though that anyone who has gone through that transitional period of graduating college and then trying to find their way in the world will appreciate it and identify with it…the awkwardness, the frustration, the highs and lows of love and work, family and friends. Those who “came-of-age” in that period will be reminded of the signposts of that era, and the next generation or two after that will like to read it to see what Mom and Dad (maybe) were up to. If you’re a student or participant of corporate bureaucracy, or possibly spent some time in sales and the tech industry, you’ll be rewarded with some smiles. And anyone who likes to laugh, you’ll love this story!

Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?

I am actually a modest person by nature, so the racy scenes are challenging for me. But as the writer/creator, you have to make sure you are being true to the story and the characters, and relate it as you believe it would happen. I noted how Stephen King essentially said, “you have to write for yourself.” So even if I felt squeamish, if it was germane to the story, I worked my way through it.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?

At least this writer, like I would imagine others, write (some of) what they know. But I could not write in any depth about my wife and daughters. It’s too personal.

Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?

I absolutely read them, and always try to thank anyone who takes the time to provide written feedback, good or bad. I aspire, but do not always succeed, in trying not to get to high or low when consuming them. But writing can be a very personal craft, so it’s hard not to take it personally. My advice, which I am giving to myself, says the more one writes, the better one will be able to handle the criticism. It’s simply part of the deal.

If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?

Part of the challenge of this question is that the actors I would recommend keep getting too old to play these parts! Nevertheless, for the core “Naive Guys,” I have a , darker-haired and less built Matt Damon play Mark Amici; I always see him as a thinking man’s actor. For Sally, perhaps Robert Pattinson from “Twilight” and for Pete perhaps Emile Hirsch or Channing Tatum. Kostas is a tough one for me; perhaps a younger John Stamos (with long hair!)?

What literary character is most like you?

I don’t know if he is that much like me, but I strongly identify with Richard Ford’s Frank Bascombe from his four novels, including The Sportswriter. He’s a gebtleman who is always observing everything around him, and often lost in hos own thoughts.

What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

I get asked often about the title, how much is inspired from my own life, and why I named the company “Fishsoft,” but no one has asked about my favorite character, and why.

I love them all, but Uncle Frankie is absolutely my favorite. And the reason is: the arc of his storyline went in ways I could have never imagined when I first started writing the novel. From the writer’s perspective, he “grew” so much more than I ever thought possible.

What can we expect from you in the future?

These characters lived in my head for such a long-time; I am taking a needed break from them. Yet, they still communicate to me at different times and unexpected ways! At some point there will be at least one sequel, taking place some years after the story ends in 1994.

I continue to participate with my Writer’s Group in Nantucket monthly, and for those interested our anthology collection, The Moving Pen: A Nantucket Atheneum Writer’s Group Anthology is on Amazon.

Thanks again for hosting me, Melinda. I enjoyed the conversation!

About Harry Patz Jr.8509321

Harry has been a participant of the Nantucket Atheneum Writer’s Group since October, 2013. He contributed a short story, “Offseason” for the group’s published anthology collection, The Moving Pen: A Nantucket Atheneum Writer’s Group Anthology, published in June, 2014.

Harry is president of Gondolin Advisors LLC, providing strategic advisory services to Communications, Media and Technology firms. He is a 20-year veteran of the tech and media industries, with executive positions at Microsoft Corporation and Velti. Harry holds an MBA from The Johnson School at Cornell University and a BS in Management from Boston College. He resides in Westchester, NY.

Connect with Harry: Website | Facebook | Twitter


Review: The Naive Guys: A Memoir of Friendship, Love and Tech in the Early 1990s by Harry Patz Jr.


A hysterical yet poignant coming-of-age novel. Mark Amici embarks on a challenging journey through the postcollege world, where he struggles to emerge from his sheltered upbringing to a life of sex, love, friendship, and career success. Fighting through the bad economy of 1991, Mark takes an entry-level sales role at a growing tech company, Fishsoft, at the dawn of the Internet Age.

A nostalgic coming of age story of recent college graduate Mark Amici.

It was great reading a coming of age store of a male, I was hesitant at first thinking it would be an Animal House affair but it was far from it. Sure I was submerged into the depths of the male world, however it wasn’t hard to stomach.

Mark Amici is an all around great guy – ambitious employee, dutiful son, loyal friend and a great potential romantic partner. He’s surprisingly mature and grounded for his age. He’s classy, honest and willing to listen to others, he’s completely endearing.

His persistence in securing employment, and a girlfriend I found relatable and humorous. He has a great attitude and takes his licks and quickly moves on. The book has many tender moments along with humors instances.

I was well established in the early nineties, however I did bond with Mark in a few ways. Given his personality of over analyzing and holding on to the past somewhat limited his growth which is the polar opposite of myself. Nonetheless reading of Mark’s journey was enjoyable. No doubt this young man has a bright future ahead. As the story progresses Mark and his friends evolve and move on as life, career, choices pave the way for independence, opportunities and establishment.

Wasn’t thrilled with the heavy hand in sports, however, it’s what most men enjoy so I was a sport about it. I also felt it could have been shorter yet it was a satisfactory read.

Patz smartly writes of a young adult venturing out into the big bad world as he navigates his way in career, love, life and family. Revisiting the pre-tech days was a blast, NSM’s, Clinton presidency, brought many smiles to this reader.

About Harry Patz Jr.8509321

Harry has been a participant of the Nantucket Atheneum Writer’s Group since October, 2013. He contributed a short story, “Offseason” for the group’s published anthology collection, The Moving Pen: A Nantucket Atheneum Writer’s Group Anthology, published in June, 2014.

Harry is president of Gondolin Advisors LLC, providing strategic advisory services to Communications, Media and Technology firms. He is a 20-year veteran of the tech and media industries, with executive positions at Microsoft Corporation and Velti. Harry holds an MBA from The Johnson School at Cornell University and a BS in Management from Boston College. He resides in Westchester, NY.

Connect with Harry: Website | Facebook | Twitter


Paperback, First, 452 pages
Published August 29th 2014 by Alophie Press, imprint of Gondolin Advisors LLC
ISBN13: 9780990539315

Review: The Book of Colors: A Novel by Raymond Barfield


Yslea is an unforgettable character. A sage soul, observant to minute details with her simple yet profound thoughts along with observations. Her views are organic lacking over analyzing, seeing with both her heart and eyes. A challenging upbringing failing to hinder her growth and optimist outlook. A young woman full of hope, faith, love and happiness. The characters are three-dimensional and intricate. Yslea certainly brightened my world in an affecting manner, she taught me much as we shared our short memorable time together. Simply beautiful.


•Kindle Edition, 224 pages
•Published April 20th 2015 by Unbridled Books

The Grown Ups by Robin Antalek *Giveaway*

• Paperback: 384 pages
• Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (January 27, 2015)

| Goodreads |
Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes & Noble

A coming-of-age novel involving three friends that explores what it means to be happy, what it means to grow up, and how difficult it is to do both together.

Antalek nails the thoughts and emotions of each character. Dialog is well done. She unbolts her characters vulnerability, fears and inner thoughts. Her writing style tight and delineate.

The reader is intimately aquatinted with each character. They stumble, fall, rise, relish and regret their choices. They are whole with their share of flaws, honest in knowing themselves. Each character deals with their rocky childhood shaping them for adulthood, while trying not to mimic or allow unsettled feelings taint their life. Spanning from teen years to adulthood, their struggles realistic, their reactions authentic. Yes they make questionable choices adding to the affecting plausibility to the story. Character development, outstanding, Antalek allows you entry into their mind and heart.

A wonderful portrayal of lifelong bonds, navigating adulthood as childhood strains leave a lingering presence. A story readers will identify with in some manner either through issues and/or characters.

About Robin Antalekimage

Robin Antalek is the author of The Summer We Fell Apart. She lives in Saratoga Springs, New York.

Find out more about Robin at her website, and connect with her on Facebook.

To enter to win a copy of The Grown Ups please complete the giveaway form below. Open to US residents only. Ends 2/10/15

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– Ends 2/10/15

Excited to be participating in the tour for Robin Antalek’s The Grown Ups, be sure to check out the entire tour schedule here, it runs through 13 February. Thank you TLC!