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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The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

vanishing-half-brit-bennett-jeanne-blasberg-book-reviewThe Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

I was aware of the general premise of The Vanishing Half before I began it, however the structure was unexpected and delightful. I really loved the multi generational component of this novel, the idea that decisions travel forward and backwards, and that lying is a form of loving. Bennett writes with beautiful language and imagery, especially in the scenes set in Louisiana.

 

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Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel

musical-chairs-amy-poeppel-jeanne-blasberg-book-reviewMusical Chairs by Amy Poeppel

Amy Poeppel is my go to author for funny fresh read. Musical Chairs didn’t disappoint in its laugh-out-loud smartness, its keen observation of family relationships – especially parenting adult children. Love all the musical references and boy did this book hit home in light of my three adult children flocking home during COVID!

 

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We Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall

jeanne-blasberg-book-review-we-came-here-to-shineWe Came Here to Shine by Susie Orman Schnall

Love this novel’s well researched setting. The World’s Fair, New York, burgeoning science and synchronized swimming. Max and Vivi are great characters, bold and ambitious. The book highlights the importance of female friendship in a male dominated society. This is the first novel I have read by Susie Orman Schnall and can’t wait to go check out the Subway Girls.

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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.

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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.

 

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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

call-me-by-your-name-andre-aciman-jeanne-blasberg-book-review

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.