Title: Women in Bed: Nine Stories
Author: Jessica Keener. She is also the author of the novel Night Swim.
Genre: Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction
Readers: Lawyer Rochelle, nonprofit director Kimberly, at-home parents Marina, Dana and Megan V.
Summary: This collection of nine stories thematically addresses variations of love – love of self, family, and sexual relationships – from loneliness and isolation, desperation and rejection – to need and passion, forgiveness and, finally, to love found.
Our Take: We like Keener’s style, even if we don’t always like the open endings of her stories.
Title: Beautiful Player
Author: Christina Lauren. This is the third book in her Beautiful Bastard series.
Readers: Day care teacher EMarie, retiree Nancy, teacher Ninian, attorney Rochelle and at-home parent Colleen B.
Summary: When Hanna Bergstrom receives a lecture from her overprotective brother about neglecting her social life and burying herself in grad school, she’s determined to tackle his implied assignment: get out, make friends, start dating. And who better to turn her into the sultry siren every man wants than her brother’s gorgeous best friend, Will Sumner, venture capitalist and unapologetic playboy?
Will takes risks for a living, but he’s skeptical about this challenge of Hanna’s…until the wild night his innocently seductive pupil tempts him into bed- and teaches him a thing or two about being with a woman he can’t forget. Now that Hanna’s discovered the power of her own sex appeal, it’s up to Will to prove he’s the only man she’ll ever need.
Our Take: It’s a split. Romance readers EMarie gives it a big thumbs up as does newbie Rochelle. But Fifty Shades lover Nancy thought it was derivative, as did Ninian, also new to romance novels. But everyone seems to agree that the male/female double narration is a great device.
Title: They Used to Call Me Snow White… But I Drifted: Women’s Strategic Use of Humor
Author: Gina Barreca. She is the author of several works of non-fiction focusing on women.
Readers: Stay-at-home mom Marina, prosecutor Rochelle, retiree Sulyn, teacher Ninian and publishing professional Gigi.
Summary: Snow White became an instant classic for both academic and general audiences interested in how women use humor and what others (men) think about funny women. Barreca, who draws on the work of scholars, writers, and comedians to illuminate a sharp critique of the gender-specific aspects of humor, provides laughs and provokes arguments as she shows how humor helps women break rules and occupy center stage. Barreca’s new introduction provides a funny and fierce, up-to-the-minute account of the fate of women’s humor over the past twenty years, mapping what has changed in our culture and questioning what hasn’t.
Our Take: This re-release is definitely more of an academic feminist tome than a light romp. Our readers were intrigued but wish the new edition had more current examples in it.
Title: Approaching the Speed of Light
Author: Victoria Lustbader. She is the author of two previous novels, including Stone Creek. Before becoming a writer she was an editor of science-fiction novels.
Genre: Commercial Fiction
Readers: Professor Michal, prosecutor Rochelle, project manager Andrea and stay-at-home moms Dana and Megan V.
Summary: Jody is a likable young man getting by in New York City at the turn of the millennium. On the surface, he seems to have it together, with friends, family, a decent job, and a steady string of girlfriends. But a secret history has left Jody scarred and broken inside, lacking faith in the future or himself. Like the ceaseless pull of a black hole, his buried secrets hold him back, defining him, until his trajectory crosses the path of three very different women, who, in their own ways, hold out the tantalizing possibility of healing, connection . . . or self-destruction.
Our Take: A strong and resonant novel with complex characters that explores real emotional depth. Not a terribly light or happy read, but most of our readers found it worth their while.
Title: Dangerous Girls
Author: Abigail Haas. This is a pen name for Abby MacDonald, the author of several YA novels, including Getting Over Garrett Delaney.
Genre: Young Adult, Thriller
Readers: Teacher Ninian, prosecutor Rochelle, project manager Andrea, higher ed professional Renee and stay-at-home mom Colleen B.
Summary: It’s Spring Break of senior year. Anna, her boyfriend Tate, her best friend Elise, and a few other close friends are off to a debaucherous trip to Aruba that promises to be the time of their lives.
But when Elise is found brutally murdered, Anna finds herself trapped in a country not her own, fighting against vile and contemptuous accusations. As Anna sets out to find her friend’s killer, she discovers harsh revelations about her friendships, the slippery nature of truth, and the ache of young love.
Our Take: A serious thrill ride of a book, a dark and fast read that will take you for a ride. Mature material may not make it ideal for younger teens. Great for grown-ups. Read if you liked Gone Girl, Pretty Little Liars and other stories about girls gone bad.