By: Pat Austin
SHREVEPORT – I’m an avid reader and am often reading at
least two, sometimes three, books at one time. We do independent choice reading
in my secondary ELA classroom, and so I am often reading along with my students;
that’s usually some kind of YA novel that I might be reading so I can discuss
it with my students, or recommend it to someone. At home I usually have two books
going: one on the Kindle which I read right before bed, and often another physical
book that I might read when sitting outside, or when I’m ignoring the Law and
Order reruns on television.
I recently joined NetGalley
which is one source of my reading fodder. In return for a fair and honest
review I can get advance reading copies of books. This is right up my alley! I
joined NetGalley because I discovered a new author that I enjoyed a great deal:
Kelly Harms. It’s “chick lit” primarily, but she’s always got some kind of
twist that I wasn’t expecting and her characters are usually engaging; I dislike
a lot of chick lit characters because they are often insipid and silly, but with
this author I don’t really see that. At any rate, I was so anxious of her next
novel that I joined NetGalley for the sole purpose of getting my hands on an
Harms is the author of The
Overdue Life of Amy Byler, which is a fun read. After I finished that
book I went back and read her previous novels, and thoroughly enjoyed them. The
new book, coming out in May, is called The
Bright Side of Going Dark and explores the world of social media
influencers from both in front of and behind the lens. It gets a little vapid
at times, I mean, we spend a lot of time focusing on a woman who makes her
living as an Influencer, staging perfect pictures of her perfect life, and of
course most of it is not real. But, overall, it was a fun, light read.
I’ve just finished reading Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown,
which came out in January. This book disturbs me a little bit, in part because
I see missed opportunities with the story. It was a good book and the initial
premise is engaging. Alice and Nate
leave New York and purchase a 1950s era home in the suburbs The house is sold “as
is” and includes the previous occupants belongings, old floral wallpaper, Formica
kitchen table, and overgrown garden.
Then we meet the previous owner in a dual storyline: Nellie and Richard lived
in the home in a stereotypical 1950s marriage with Nellie in pearls and June
Cleaver skirts preparing dinner before the successful Richard gets home from
work. Nellie spends her days gardening, baking, and attending Tupperware parties.
When Alice discovers a box in the basement containing Nellie’s
favorite cookbook, complete with annotated margins, and boxes of 1950s Ladies
Home Journal magazines, she begins to learn a great deal about the life Nellie
and Ricard led, which of course was not necessarily as perfect as it seemed.
I found myself much more engaged in the Nellie and Richard
storyline and wanted to throat-punch Alice most of the time. She made many self-destructive
and irrational decisions which often made no sense. The ending of the book left
me with the impression that it was rushed and just needed to end. Alice needed
one more chapter, for example.
I’m glad I read the book, and I ended up giving it four stars
in my review, only because I couldn’t give it 3.5
I’m enjoying my NetGalley
experience so far, as I think it will expose me to new authors and force me
into some genres I may not normally explore. And hey, I’m always open to
recommendations so if you’ve got one, drop it in the comments!
Pat Austin blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and
is the author of Cane River Bohemia:
Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation. Follow her on
Instagram @patbecker25 and