hausfrau is Jill Alexander Essbaum’s novel and its pretty amazing. I don’t know if I actually like any character in this novel, especially the protagonist Anna Benz. And I should feel some kinship with Anna since we’re close in age with young children. But there’s nothing familiar about this American living in Switzerland.

Anna married a Swiss man and moved to outside of Zurich about ten years ago and is just now taking classes to learn the local language. She has completely disconnected herself from her environment and the people around her. From her perspective, the Swiss people are cold and isolated, but Anna seems to do much of that to herself. As a reaction to her cold, distant husband, Anna has flings like someone else might have happy hours. She’s so desperate to feel something and uses sex, usually not with her husband, to fill her.

This could have been a trite story about a woman looking for love in all the wrong places, but Essbaum creates a woman on edge, a train wreck about to happen, that I couldn’t stop reading. All of her affairs and lies were bound to catch up to Anna, but how would it happen?

I was spellbound by how beautiful this heartbreaking story is told. The end seemed inevitable when I got there, but it was painful none the less.

Great read!!

Read September 2015

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is a magical tale about two old magicians and a contest between their protégées. The two magicians have an ongoing battle about which of their two different methods of training new young magicians is best. In order to demonstrate who’s way is better, they pick two untrained children and set about teaching them everything they will need to out-magic the other.

Celia and Marco are the young magicians and their arena is a magical circus that travels the world. The circus grows with new tents filled with some mechanical and mostly magical tricks to lure the circus goers into an unbelievable world. While the circus has many followers that age, no one in the circus or involved behind the scenes appears to be aging at all. While this is fine for some, others are bothered by the never endingness creating a sense of madness in some.

While Celia and Marco join the circus as rivals, they soon find that they stop trying to outdo one another and instead try to bring pleasure to each other. This is not what the old magicians wanted and they try to stop the new lovebirds since the contest only ends on their terms.

This is a fun, creative read filled with wondrous circus tents meant to appease every human sense. I read this for book club and it was a friend’s favorite recent book. While I wouldn’t go that far, The Night Circus really transported me to another, much more magical, world.

Read September 2015


Beloved is so beautifully written, full of colors, and actual spoken language. Toni Morrison writes so that we can see everything. This can make it a little harder to read for some, but this was my second time reading it and the style and word choice became familiar and easier as I went through.

Beloved tells the story of the occupants of 124 Bluestone Road, a group of runaway and freed slaves connected by a man whose whereabouts couldn’t be confirmed. Within this home, Morrison shows the complexity of slaves’ lives and how it affects them well beyond the borders of the plantation. Sweet Home, the name of the plantation, was a ideal slaves home, but even with education and respect the slaves at Sweet Home realized how separate and poor their lives were and that this was neither their home, nor sweet. When a new overseer arrives, the slaves are treated worse than ever and a pregnant Selme escapes with her 3 children, but leaves her husband behind.

The story of Sweet Home is what connects Selme to her mother-in-law Baby Suggs, whose son, Halle, was able to work for her freedom. Selme and the other slaves at Sweet Home endured more that anyone should and Morrison doesn’t shy away from horrible acts of violence and the dehumanization of the men and women.

At 124 Bluestone Road, the occupants are haunted by the ghost of Selme’s little girl who died shortly after arriving at freedom. Her death and the relationship that Selme has with the surrounding free blacks is complicated and Morrison uses this to talk about the sin of pride and how easily joy can be construed as boastfulness. Its interesting that how the neighbors don’t warn Selme of the encroaching white men, and Baby Suggs believes that it was the punishment that comes from too much pride.

There’s so much in this book to enjoy and learn from. Theres a lot more to be horrified at and learn from. I read this book when I was younger, and again 20 years later. This is something that we need to remember. When you take away someone’s freedom, no matter what else you provide them with, they’ve lost too much.

Important and valuable novel.

Read August 2015

Restless in the Grave

I finished Dana Shugak’s Restless in the Grave over a month ago after starting and stopping the book for at least a month. This should have been an easy, fun mystery, but it just dragged on for me. I couldn’t pinpoint what my problem with the book was, so I have no helpful criticism. Just a bad review without rationale.

This is another book set in Alaska where a woman Private Investigator, Kate Shugak, helps the police find out what happened when an experienced pilot crashes his plane. But at this point, I can’t remember many details and I don’t really want to put more thought into this book.

Read August 2015.

Big Little Lies

Liane Moriarty’s Big Little Lies is a fantastic mystery. Not only do we not know who the murderer is, Moriarty keeps the victim a secret until the end. In this novel we meet a variety of parents when their kids go off to kindergarten, and just like when attending school, Moriarty shows the different cliques of the parents.

The style of this novel also contributed to the mystery. At first, we know something happens on the first day, but it isn’t until a few chapters in that we learn what happens. And there are teasers at the ends of chapters hinting about the murder, but again we don’t even know who the victim is.

The kindergarten drama is exasperated by the parents reaction. Instead of letting things go, the parents inevitably make everything worse. While this kid-drama happens, we slowly learn more about some of the characters, several of whom have gone through horrible experiences. This should show how trivial the kid-drama is, but of course, people being people, the minuscule problems carry more weight.

By the end of the novel, I couldn’t put the book down until I found out who did what and why. A great story told in a great style!

Read August 2015.

Lucia, Lucia

Kit, an aspiring playwright, befriends her upstairs neighbor in their Greenwich Village apartment. Aunt Lu invites Kit to her upstairs apartment filled with memorabilia and knickknacks from her life. Adriana Trigiani’s Lucia, Lucia is the story of how Aunt Lu, Lucia, ended up living alone in her family’s former home which was turned into an apartment building and owned by her brother’s family.

Lucia came of age in the 1950’s when young woman entered the work force en masse with the expectation that they would resign once married or at the latest when they became pregnant. Lucia worked for an up and coming designer and could put together his designs beautifully. Her first engagement ends when she learns that her mother-in-law and family expect her to resign her career immediately upon marriage, but that she would also be expected to take care of her in-laws home and would be completely under her mother-in-laws rule. Her second engagement doesn’t fare much better and as hard as she tries, Lucia cannot escape from her family obligations.

Adriana Trigiani’s characters are rich and deep, but overall this novel made me sad for Lucia. She has a full life, but the things that were the most important to her as a young woman are slowly taken away from her until she’s left alone on the top floor apartment with her gifts from a bygone era.

Enjoyable, light read.

Read August 2015.

Vanishing Girl

Lauren Oliver’s Vanishing Girl starts as a teen drama and finishes with a psychological mystery. Two sisters, very different from one another, are dealing with their parents separation in their own way. Nick, the perfect sister, of course, never causes the problems that Dara, the problem child causes. When Dara starts dating Nick’s childhood best friend, their sisterhood becomes troubled and its worsened when Nick crashes a car that both girls were in.

After the accident, the break in the sister’s relationship grows deeper. When Nick returns to her mother’s home a couple of months after the accident, she’s no longer the “good” sister. Returning to her old life without her sister by her side is hard at first, but she soon gets a job and things start to feel somewhat normal again, except that Dara refuses to talk to her.

Nick tries to investigate what Dara is up to and why they were on the specific stretch of road when she crashed, she ends up uncovering more than she bargained for in their little peaceful coastal town.

This was an enjoyable read. I’m not positive this was a Young Adult book even though I categorized it as such, and I think many age groups would enjoy it. It was a pretty quick, easy read too. Perfect for the summertime.

Read August 2015