Wild by Cheryl Strayed

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Visiting the Pacific north coast of America is on my bucket-list. Not exactly sure why… it might have started when I had to do an in-depth investigation on the Douglas fir at uni  (I did a couple of forestry subjects as part of my hydrology studies). Anyway, it’s this bucket-list item that prompted me to read Cheryl Strayed’s Wild.

Actually, to be perfectly frank, I’d avoided Wild because I thought it was going to be all look-at-me-Eat-Pray-Love-Oprah-is-raving-about-it but when it popped up on an audio list I figured I could just listen to the Oregon bits and abandon the rest if Strayed was giving me the pip.

I was wrong. Continue reading

The Futures by Anna Pitoniak

The Futures by Anna Pitoniak starts as a campus novel and then moves to New York. It had my name written all over it…

Julia’s dating guy #1. She cheats on him with guy #2. Meanwhile, she meets guy #3, and they start a relationship. Julia and #3 move to New York, where #3 starts working long hours and becomes involved in some dubious hedge fund deals. Julia, annoyed, hooks up with #2 again (but doesn’t break it off with #3). Julia heads home for Thanksgiving, disgruntled with both #2 and #3. Guess who she meets in her hometown? #1! Continue reading

Innocents and Others by Dana Spiotta

The story of two best friends growing up in the eighties… Well, obviously I was going to read Dana Spiotta’s Innocents and Others.

Meadow and Carrie meet in high school and although their opinions differ on many things, they bond over movies and become best friends. Both pursue a career in movie-making (it’s LA in the 80s so everyone’s in the business, right?) although take different paths. Meadow makes gritty documentaries while Carrie finds success through lighter films with broader appeal. Continue reading

In Between Days by Andrew Porter

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Yates, Shriver, Tropper, Dee and Franzen – these are my go-to authors for books about family relationships. And I really love books about family relationships. And I really love adding a new author to the contemporary-lit-books-about-family-relationships stable.  So does Andrew Porter make the cut? Not quite. Continue reading

The Animators by Kayla Rae Whitaker

I was thrilled to spot Kayla Rae Whitaker’s debut, The Animators. By all indications, it was exactly my kind of book – a contemporary story about two women, Sharon and Mel, who meet in a university art class. Both outsiders, the women become friends, bonding over their mutual love of underground cartoons. Ten years later, they are still working together, as animators. Their first feature film, based on Mel’s dysfunctional childhood, is a hit but in the middle of celebrating their success, tragedy strikes, testing their working relationship and friendship.

“I scowl at Mel, irritated. Maybe I should just be honest and tell everyone that me cleaning up from the night before has become our truest form of collaboration.” Continue reading

Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt

I won’t pretend otherwise, I was lured by the cover of Caroline Leavitt’s Cruel Beautiful World. It was something about the  muted retro colours, the curl of smoke, the lazy dreaminess it conveyed. But I postponed reading it, purely because of all the hype surrounding Emma Cline’s The Girls – based on the blurbs alone, there seemed to be many similarities between the books – set in the late 60s/early 70s; mentions of the Manson murders; teenage girls losing their way; peace, love and communes; hitch-hiking and breaking rules… In fact, the books are very different. Continue reading