Category Archives: Realistic Fiction

Bruno’s Dream by Iris Murdoch

If you like books about tangled family relationships and lots of cheating, Bruno’s Dream is the book for you. I did not enjoy it very much. The characters were all unlikable and utterly depressing. I just didn’t care about nearly all of them and when one started swimming in the Thames during a storm that cause it to flood, I kind of hoped he’d drown. The storylines for most of them were ridiculous. I don’t particularly recommend this book.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 103
Pages Read in 2019: 26,301
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Filed under Annual Wrap-Up, Realistic Fiction, Reason: LitHub Bingo

Good Man, Dalton by Karen McQuestion

Good Man, Dalton begins with two very different stories that eventually converge in a fantastic way. It’s very much a story of “things are not always as they seem,” particularly on the internet. The author is able to hit you right in the feels like John Green, but without the heart in a blender pain typical of John Green. Once I got about 2/3 of the way through, I could not put it down. The ending is predictable, but it’s predictable in all the best ways, ending exactly how I hoped it would. I highly recommend this book!

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 95
Pages Read in 2019: 24,159
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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: I Like the Author, Reason: LitHub Bingo

The Recipe Club by Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel

The Recipe Club is mostly told through letters which is an interesting way to write a book. It begins in 2000, jumps back to the 60s, moves through several years, and then jumps forward to 2002. The major plot is interesting enough that I wanted to find out what the thing that happened was. But the characters. Wow. If the authors tried to create the most unlikable, obnoxious, self-absorbed, whiny, irritating, and dysfunctional characters they possibly could, they succeeded very well in that goal. There was just so much whining, so much “please don’t be mad at me,” so much angst. On the bright side, many of the letters included actual recipes and quite a few of them sounded pretty good. I don’t particularly recommend spending the time it takes to read this book.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 92
Pages Read in 2019: 23,475
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I Survived the Attacks of September 11, 2001 by Lauren Tarshis

I Survived the Attacks of September 11th, 2001 is a fictionalized account of the son of a FDNY firefighter and what happened to him and his dad on September 11th. It portrays the feeling and emotions of the morning without being too graphic since it is aimed at children. I highly recommend it to kids learning about 9/11.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 89
Pages Read in 2019: 22,822
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Filed under Middle Grades, Realistic Fiction, Reason: Pre-Reading for Adrian

Healed by Miranda H. Lotz

There is so much wrong with this book.

First, the characters are almost universally dreadful, unlikable people (this includes the ones you are supposed to like). The notable exception is Carson and his story suddenly goes into left field when he has a car accident and seizure right at the end of the book (absolutely no way someone with the brain injury he had would remember the details of an accident immediately upon waking up). And then… what? His story just kind of ends there like the author got bored of writing and decided to suddenly wrap it up without tying up any loose ends for the side characters’ stories she had started and only wanted to finish out the main story (that was weird).

Second, the characters are pretty much all stereotypes. What do you think of when you hear lobbyist? That would be Nick. What do you think of when you hear multi-term Senator? That would be Senator Steele. And so on.

Third, it needs an editor. There are many errors where words are missing, spelled wrong, or the wrong word is written (Dottie’s instead of Dorothy’s when referring to the slippers from Wizard of Oz at the Smithsonian for example).

Fourth, the author used way too many similes. About three-fourths of the way through the book she suddenly stopped using so many. I guess she had gotten enough practice writing that she wasn’t so dependent on them anymore.

Fifth, it was just weird when the lobbyist was given open-ended tickets to the Bahamas for his whole family by his pharmaceutical company owner boss just for literally doing his job. The author in the end notes said she was a little concerned about a pharmaceutical company reading her book and thinking she was talking about them and suing her. Clearly she has not read a plethora of medical thrillers where pharmaceutical companies are portrayed far worse (and far more realistically).

Sixth, it was really bizarre that she had the mom deliver the baby at a children’s hospital, particularly since it was set in the DC area where there are plenty of hospitals to choose from. Generally delivery at a children’s hospital is reserved for people who know ahead of time that their babies will have medical needs at birth. It also seemed odd that as an active duty military member’s wife she was not giving birth at a military hospital, nor were military hospitals even mentioned (she was about to deliver in the car so I could see going to the closest hospital – but I’d think they’d at least be attempting to go to a military hospital in the first place).

Seventh, the whole incident of the doctor being reprimanded for delivering the baby. It was an emergency. He was around while no other doctor was. ER nurses or doctors (as opposed to L&D nurses and obstetricians) sometimes deliver babies. It’s just the way it is when someone comes in very close to delivery and there is not time to locate the right doctor. This is not cause for being reprimanded.

Eighth, it didn’t make sense that the family always went to the children’s hospital where the baby was born for medical care even though the father was active duty military. They were never seen at a place like Bethesda, nor were any military hospitals mentioned. Now, it would be reasonable if there were no doctors who could deal with infantile spasms at a military location, for them to be referred to a non-military location and doctors. But they never saw a single military doctor at all.

Ninth, it was a big deal that they had to pay a fortune for vigabatrin and the insurance denied covering it initially. But, as an active duty military family, wouldn’t they have Tricare? I googled and Tricare covers vigabatrin for babies diagnosed with infantile spasms. So that whole part of the story makes no sense. (Also, as an aside, my googling found that vigabatrin can be prescribed for older kids with seizures that are not infantile spasms. A doctor in the book commented that the drug is only for infantile spasms and never prescribed for anything else and indicated that’s why it is so expensive, but clearly that is not the case.)

Tenth, the author clearly wanted to book to be Christian and by the end she was quite successful. For most of the book, however, the religious elements seemed very forced. Like she was going along and suddenly realized she hadn’t put a random prayer in or mentioned God in a while. It just didn’t happen organically for so much of the book.

Eleventh, The doctors were complete idiots about medical marijuana. In my experience, doctors actually know quite a bit and many are in favor of it even in states that do not allow it. I’m not sure if the author thinks CBD oil is addictive (kind of got that feeling) or what, but it seems that she doesn’t understand the drug schedules and what they mean and why beyond a google search and wikipedia article. She also does not understand what a clinical trial is, nor does one of her doctor characters (who would definitely understand what a clinical trial is in real life).

Twelfth, having grown up in the DC area it really bothered me how she referred to monuments by their full names. It sounded overly stuffy and formal and not at all how someone who lives in DC would refer to them (think the Abraham Lincoln Memorial instead of the Lincoln Memorial). It made the characters seem insincere and less believable.

Now, even with all negatives, it wasn’t all bad. The character of Carson was lovely and real. By the end, the writing had gotten tons better (perhaps this is why many published authors say to never publish your first book, or at least don’t publish it until you’ve written your second and have gone back and edited your first). She has the ability to be a good story teller and for the first half I was actually interested to know what happened to the baby (by the second half I kept reading mostly to just get it finished). Even with these few positives, due to the many issues I have with it, I don’t recommend taking the time to read Healed.

2 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 87
Pages Read in 2019: 22,612
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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: Asked by the Author

Clouds Tumble Down by Daniel Pericich

Clouds Tumble Down is the fictionalized true story of Sara, a friend of the author. Both her brother and new/potential boyfriend were killed in car accidents and then she moved from a city to a tiny town. The book is the story of a very difficult year or so. Parts were good, but most of the time I just didn’t like Sara. She had been dealt a rough hand, but even when good things happened, she acted like a spoiled brat. I didn’t find it to be that great of a portrayal of mental health issues, mainly because she was so unlikable. It also really needs an editor for the many grammar, usage, and mechanics issues. It’s worth reading if you really want to, mainly because it’s so short, but I’d skip it if given the chance again.

3 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 63
Pages Read in 2019: 16,906
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Filed under Realistic Fiction, Reason: Asked by the Author, Reason: LitHub Bingo

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

In a stream of consciousness from a teenage boy with special needs (sounds like autism), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time tells of being a detective to find out who killed Wellington (a dog), finding out way more than expected, and what happens after the answer is found. I really liked the narration style, though I was thrown off a bit when the first chapter was chapter 2 (chapter numbers are all prime numbers). I think the author really captured the voice of his narrator very well and believably. I highly recommend this book to mid-teens and up.

5 (out of 5) Stars

Books Read in 2019: 59
Pages Read in 2019: 15,855
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