shynds's blog

The Butchers' Blessing by Ruth Gilligan - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781947793781
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Published: Tin House Books - November 10th, 2020

A vividly imagined tale of late 20th century Ireland at the center of which a group of butchers carry on an eerie tradition of slaughtering cattle for farmers who still believe in warding off an ancient curse. It is the subplots that take center stage in this literary page-turner though. The wife and daughter of one of the butchers try to make sense of their lives while he is away for eleven months of the year. A young photographer shows up in the area seeking that one career-defining picture. Other characters take part in cattle smuggling as Mad Cow Disease creates panic in England. And if you like twists, just keep reading this wholly original, beautifully written artistic achievement. ~ Reviewed by Stan Hynds

Migrations: A Novel by Charlotte McConaghy - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781250204028
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Published: Flatiron Books - August 4th, 2020

Franny Stone, the main character in Charlotte McConaghy's sensational first novel, is on a journey. She is following what may be the last migration of the world's last arctic terns aboard one of the world's last commercial fishing vessels. Much more than a novel about environmental catastrophe, Migrations is about a woman trying to understand where she came from, who she is, and why she has always relentlessly wandered. A perfect literary page-turner. ~ Reviewed by Stan Hynds

Group: How One Therapist and a Circle of Strangers Saved My Life by Christie Tate - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781982154615
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Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - October 27th, 2020

Sure, I'll TALK TO SOMEONE (Lori Gottlieb's bestseller is a great comp), but I will never do GROUP. But I ravenously read about it. Christie Tate did it, does it, and tells us everything. Brilliant and successful professionally, Tate desired what, for her, seemed as unattainable as the holy grail. Taking us into the room where it happened, Tate introduces us to the group that accompanied her on her quest. An amazing memoir that is as entertaining as it is heartbreaking. ~ Reviewed by Stan Hynds

Sea Wife: A novel by Amity Gaige - Book Review

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ISBN: 9780525656494
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Published: Knopf - April 28th, 2020

I was taken completely by surprise by this deeply intelligent, page-turning novel about a family at sea. Underlying the joy of island hopping is a sense of dread the reader perceives from the first page. The well-paced story and the need to find out "what the hell happened out there" is somehow outshone by Gaige's prose. Her perfectly selected words in the service of impossibly perfect sentences was a marvel throughout. ~ Reviewed by Stan Hynds

Hollywood Park: A Memoir by Mikel Jollett - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781250621566
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Published: Celadon Books - May 26th, 2020

California and Oregon in the last quarter of the 20th century. A notorious cult. Drug abuse. Aside from a turbulent upbringing, Mikel Jollett's amazing memoir has almost nothing in common with Angela's Ashes. And yet. Reading Hollywood Park reminded me of my experience reading Frank McCourt's stunning first memoir. Which is to say, I very highly recommend it. ~ Reviewed by Stan Hynds

Rust: A Memoir of Steel and Grit by Eliese Colette Goldbach - Book Review

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ISBN: 9781250239402
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Published: Flatiron Books - March 3rd, 2020

"What comes out of Cleveland?" Goldbach gives an honest and nuanced answer to that question in her heartfelt memoir. She vividly describes the inner workings of the steel mill where she works while grappling with her feelings about her upbringing and her hometown. A confident, fascinating memoir from a strong writer. ~ Reviewed by Stan Hynds


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