Jeanne Blasberg is a novelist, travel writer, and adventurer. She is a voracious reader and regularly reviews books on her blog, Goodreads, BookBub, LibraryThing, and Amazon.

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My Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

jeanne-blasberg-book-review-my-dark-vanessa-kate-elizabeth-russellMy Dark Vanessa by Kate Elizabeth Russell

I am a sucker for anything to do with boarding school life, first of all. Second, this book kept showing up places which I took that as a sign it was meant to be my next read. From page one I was addicted and couldn’t stop reading My Dark Vanessa. I am fascinated with Vannessa’s incessant denial of victimhood and instead deeming herself special and just more damned interesting than everybody else. I was so drawn to the psychology behind protecting one’s abuser, not only to keep him out of prison but in order to hold their relationship on a pedestal. What’s more the damaging effects of emotional abuse toward a child are so brilliantly captured in this novel. When Jacob Strane tells Vannessa “I will ruin you,” he wasn’t kidding.

Find more reviews here.

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Queenie by Candice Carty-Williams

jeanne-blasberg-book-reviews-queenie-candice-carty-williamsQueenie by Candice Carty-Williams

It was refreshing to read the arc of a strong female protagonist who has to deal with baggage, both family baggage and societal baggage. I also loved that the happily ever after trope is turned on its head and redefined by Queenie, a character I found myself enthusiastically rooting for. This book provided interesting insight into a young woman’s challenges and I can see it serving as a source of inspiration for readers of Queenie’s age bracket.

 

Read more reviews here.

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Tinkers by Paul Harding

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Tinkers by Paul Harding

A beautiful exploration of paternal love. The writing and language is so moving as is the ethereal dreamlike quality of what it must feel like as a life comes to its end. This book is beautiful in its imagery, in its description of the mechanical workings of timepieces, in the exploration of time itself. It is set in cold, bleak, backwood New England and it rings of female bitterness around raising children and maintaining a home in such impoverished, difficult conditions. I loved this concise book in its artful rendering of male love that is, in so many ways, simply concise.

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Biased by Jennifer L Eberhardt

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Biased by Jennifer L Eberhardt

This was a profound book that hit me in the gut. I listened to the audiobook and found myself rewinding several times. Jennifer Eberhardt leads the reader (or listener) through the neurological reasons many people have that “first reaction” before laying out the problematic consequences of the brain’s wiring. So as the old adage goes, being aware is the first step toward recovery. I certainly hope so. BIASED makes the case for immersing ourselves as much as possible in diverse and multicultural environments, to mitigate against a fear of what is foreign, to train our brain to be more accepting. Our hearts may want to be open, and that may be our intention, but the default system we operate on can be lazy, always gearing us toward what is familiar. This is a very important read.

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Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman

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Call Me by Your Name by André Aciman

Even though the opening lines disclose a love affair is on the horizon, Aciman’s slow build to its consummation is both suspenseful and titillating in the best sense of the words. The first person interior monologue of the protagonist renders true yet illuminating. When a book allows you to revisit the sensation of one’s earliest attraction, encounter, life-changing love – that is great art. I loved this book’s premise almost as much as I loved the setting as to me there is nothing sexier than Italy and when a novel includes some dialogue in that beautiful language, well, let’s just say I could taste the perfect apricots. Loved from beginning to end. So intelligent and beautiful.

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Untamed by Glennon Doyle

untamed-glennon-doyle-jeanne-blasberg-book-reviewUntamed by Glennon Doyle

This book is a series of short, first-person essays documenting Doyle’s transformation from being “caged” to untamed. Her articulation of society’s cages was clear and simple and in sometimes obvious, but nonetheless, revelatory. Possibly a case of this memoir finding me at the right time, but it struck a very poignant chord. I listened to the audiobook narrated by the author which I found extra special. I think the book makes a great partner to Brene Brown who writes about vulnerability and shame from a social scientist’s point of view. In Untamed, Doyle portrays her personal struggle out of shame toward self-acceptance and self-love and a place where she eschews labels and categorization.

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All Adults Here by Emma Straub

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All Adults Here by Emma Straub

I really enjoyed this book. Astrid, one of the main characters was nostalgically reminiscent of Olive Kitteridge. I also really enjoyed the dynamic portrayed between her three adult children – their squabbles and loyalties. I am an only child and have three adult children sheltering in place with me and I found the book very comforting – maybe we/they will all still love each other when the pandemic is over 🙂 this was an uplifting, happy read, great observations and turns of phrase.

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The Antidote For Everything by Kimmery Martin

jeanne-blasberg-book-review-antidote-for-everything-kimmery-martinKimmery Martin has done it again in “The Antidote For Everything.” Her use of language and turns of phrase were plenty to keep me reading, but then there were the characters she developed in Georgia and Jonah. Their friendship is the type we all strive for. As a doctor, Martin knows about what she writes and raises timely medical issues with insight and expertise. I often found myself wondering “could that really happen?” And the sad answer is yes. When fiction entertains yet also raises awareness, what better combination is there? A great book club pick for those yearning for a fiery, smart female protagonist whose chief concern isn’t her love life!

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The Darlings by Cristina Alger

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The Darlings by Cristina Alger

I enjoyed the audio version of this book very much. I was drawn to its portrait of a privileged family with its descriptions of the Manhattan elite and all their trappings. I am a fan of family drama and any book that is set in an environment of which the author obviously has so much knowledge. Alger’s experience on Wall Street shines through with her precise descriptions of the financial debacle, the temptations, and the loopholes. Reading this during the pandemic and the associated economic tragedies, it was oddly comforting to remember the aftermath of the 2007-2009 post crash world and how resilient the world can be. Anyway, I admired the ending – really great. Besides having the requisite mystery and great plot threads, Alger also has a gift for language and turns of phrase which made this book an all-around delight.

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Small Fry: A Memoir by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

jeanne-blasberg-book-review-small-fry-memoir-lisa-brennan-jobsSmall Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

Loved this memoir. If you’ve read Steve Jobs’ biography… it adds the perspective of a girl with such incredible emotional intelligence. Lisa Brennan-Jobs has the ability to honestly reflect on her adolescent and young adult self without being bitter or vindictive. If you haven’t read the man’s biography, it is still the heartbreaking picture of a childhood with two incredibly flawed parents and a young woman’s survival. So beautifully written, Lisa writes about her life with such clarity and understanding. I read this book as an adult who admires memoirs and found the author taking my inner child by the hand in so many instances.