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.

jeanne-blasberg-book-review-antidote-for-everything-kimmery-martin

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.

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Severance by Ling Ma

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Severance by Ling Ma

Not sure it was a good idea to read Severance while on lockdown during the COVID-19 Pandemic, but boy did it make it prescient and a bit surreal. I would wake up in the morning, having read before falling asleep, not sure which apocalyptic situation I was dealing with. I loved Ma’s descriptions of an empty, decaying New York and the way the Shen fever took over in a very gradual way. Information was not believable or trustworthy and before residents knew what to fear, it was almost too late. The flippant way in which revelers in the bars and restaurants ignored the mayor’s warning about a major hurricane was foreshadowing of what was to come. I loved Candace’s determination to fulfill her parents’ immigrant capitalist dreams and how their death gave her a certain freedom during the Shen fever situation. I highly recommend!

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Writers & Lovers by Lily King

writers-and-lovers-lily-king-book-reviewWriters & Lovers by Lily King

Maybe it’s because I’m a Bostonian and could relate so strongly to the setting, and being a writer myself, to that certain brand of neurosis, but King imparts so much in Writers and Lovers about being a creative soul and the insecurities and idealism that come with it. Casey is a wonderful protagonist, universally relatable, mourning the loss of her mother and trying so valiantly to make a go of a life as an artist. I was cheering for her from beginning to end and so proud that she made the love choice she did in the end. I think I would have made the other and had a very interesting conversation with myself about that!

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Fairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott

fairyland-memoir-alysia-abbott-book-reviewFairyland: A Memoir of My Father by Alysia Abbott

I loved this memoir. This was an illuminating Father / Daughter story, unique in its setting, and the fact that Alysia was raised by her single, gay father in San Francisco in the ’70’s and ’80’s. Maybe it’s my current orientation, but what I really took away from this book was the sense of motherless-ness (if that is even a word). This memoir was written with so much self-awareness. Abbott took twenty years to distill what was going on during her upbringing and her father’s death. Her willingness to admit the conflict of emotions she experienced as a young woman was honest and brilliant. Her father comes across as brilliant, caring, loving, and human. When I picked this book up, I couldn’t imagine the family dynamic described on the back cover, but after finishing it I felt connected and so appreciative this memoir was written.

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These Women by Ivy Pochoda

these-women-ivy-pochoda-book-reviewIn THESE WOMEN, Ivy Pochoda paints a gritty portrait of South Central LA. A serial killer is on the loose but ‘these women’ aren’t heard, aren’t listened to, are dismissed as not mattering. I loved this novel for its voices. Pochoda is a master at elevating what is base and primal, and in some lights ugly, to hollowed ground. She gives true humanity to all her characters. Employing the points of view of various women: prostitutes, dancers, artists, mothers and law enforcement, Pochoda weaves a mystery that not only had me turning the page, but dwelling on lines of prose. Precise, tough, and unyielding, the language illuminated an under-represented and misunderstood sector of the female experience, and in so doing, likened ‘these women’s’ struggles to those of us all.

These Women by Ivy Pochoda

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Devotion: A Memoir by Dani Shapiro

devotion-memoir-dani-shapiro-book-reviewDevotion: A Memoir by Dani Shapiro

This is a very honest and poignant memoir about Dani Shapiro’s search for a spiritual anchor. It combines so many facets of life, however, weaving a tapestry of experience and rumination that I found extremely relatable. I devoured this book and highly recommend.

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Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

trust-exercise-susan-choic-book-reviewTrust Exercise by Susan Choi

Wow. This was really an interesting book. It is intellectually rigorous as well as original, thoughtful, observant and timely. The points of view (3 I believe) tell stories that overlap, repeat and advance and retreat in time.
The story of Sarah and David in the beginning is a cutting description of high school – for kids highly talented in the arts. The conflict isn’t immediately set up, but by the second section this work of art becomes one that really engages the reader in thought. I highly recommend.

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The Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

the-middlesteins-jami-attenberg-book-reviewThe Middlesteins by Jami Attenberg

This was a great look into a troubled family, told from the point of view of multiple characters and across a broad spectrum of time. I was drawn to reading it as it was Attenberg’s break-out novel and I just recently discovered her work when I recently picked up “All This Could be Yours.” She is really obsessed by the theme of sharply divided family and how the vitriol that grows inside the eldest generation infects the younger. Attenberg’s language and observations are cutting and at the same time humorous. I also enjoy her inspecting the Jewish family under a microscope, since as a people, they self-identify as being shaped by memory and tradition. In the Middlesteins the rupture in relationships is heartbreaking to watch, but there is redemption in allegiances that are unexpected.