retro reading




We’ve been neglecting our reviews. Oh, we’ve written them, just haven’t shared, and that is just sad. So, the girls are returning to reviews with a retro read of Margaret Atwood. Here’s the tease:

To read The Edible Woman is to be transported back in time. Fourty-plus years ago “girls” had entered the workforce to stay. They wore binding girdles, deferred to the men in the company, and were expected to resign when they became engaged and left maindenhood behind. Still, they were there, earning their way.

read more here

feet first

A good book is a thing of beauty. A good book that makes you laugh at a sweet, goofy, human’s folly, and you have a party wrapped in a book jacket.

Peter Mehlman’s debut novel, It Won’t Always Be This Great, is quite possibly the sweetest, funniest novel orbiting the planet of mid-life crisis well, ever.  Though Mehlman is no writing novice, he wrote for the Jerry Seinfeld show and rose to executive producer at one point; this is his first work of full-length fiction.

In It Won’t Always Be This Great, we meet a 50 year-old Long Island podiatrist who throughout the book remains nameless, just as he is about to hit stride in messy patch of mid-life angst.  Dr. X is father to two amazing kids, lovely, precocious,  14 year old Esme, and son Charlie, who while hovering at the cusp of  tweenhood, makes adorably naïve pronouncements about how the world appears to work, and according to him, how it should work. CLICK HERE TO READ MORE 


sit. stay. read.

girl with pugIn his infinite wisdom, Chinese philosopher Lau Tzu coined the phrase “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step,” and it is a hard one with which to argue. However never being content to leave a great sage alone, I would add: “all the pages of a genius novel begin with a single compelling sentence.”  The usual list of literary greats contains the (mostly) names dead white guys, but this is one for the girls. Herewith, a list of 15 brilliant first sentences and the novels from which they arise. By women. 

get the list here

everybody’s got a story

bird by birdthere’s nothing a writer loves more than reading. about writing.  we got your readin’ and writin’ right here.

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sassy b*tches

high-priestessDon’t you just hate it when you spend the time looking for a yummy read, a book to fire your imagination and sooth your sense of adventure, only to find the heroine completely unlikeable in the end? We all know the pain of flirting with a book we think we will love only to break up with it half way between the covers because it’s a big fat dud.  What if the story is good, but the writing itself is dull or just one bald cliché after another?  Fear not, gentle reader. We have tools and search engines, and even clever strategies to make good book choices.

So how do you judge a book by its, er, cover? As in any endeavor, it’s important to know what you like. Just now, I pulled a Google search for “debut novels, 2013.” Many selections popped up. I clicked on the one entitled, “10 Dazzling Debut Novels to Pick Up Now” because I love to be dazzled, and it sounds like a promise. How do I choose? I know my limits. I know what I love and know what I won’t go near with a red hot poker.

Here is a small sampler of the “dazzlers,” a brief description of the storyline, and my reasons to adopt or reject them.   

  1. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena:   “A neighbor saves an 8-year-old Chechen girl from the Russian soldiers who have taken her father, and together they seek shelter in an abandoned hospital.” Reject: too sad.
  2. Crazy Rich Asians:   “Opulence and zaniness reign when one of Singapore’s richest bachelors invites his American-born girlfriend to travel from New York to vacation in his native country.” Reject: Zaniness aside, I’m not terribly interested in fictional adventures of rich bachelors.
  3. The Golem and the Jinni:  “Two supernatural creatures accidentally unleashed in 19th-century Manhattan forge an unlikely alliance in this fantastical work of historical fiction.”  Adopt: Magic + historical fiction. Yay!
  4. American Spirit:In this first novel from the outrageously funny host of The Moth podcast, a 40-something media exec goes rogue after losing his job in the recession, taking up drunken residence in his car before embarking on a vision quest to Bali by way of Los Angeles and Yellowstone.” Adopt: Vision quest + Yellowstone + Bali. Oh, yes!
  5. The Execution of Noa P. Singleton: “In this grippingly off-kilter thriller, a young woman sits on death row after being convicted of murder until a high-powered attorney—the victim’s mother—intervenes, leaving everyone to wonder why.”  Adopt: a young murderess saved at the 11th hour? Hells yes.
  6.  Golden Boy: “A good-looking, athletic British teenager’s seemingly idyllic life gets turned upside down when his oldest friend betrays him, revealing a closely held family secret just as the boy’s father is about to run for political office.” Reject: Politics + betrayal. Zzzz.

And there you have it. Are my selections biased? Yes, without a doubt. I know what I like and life is too short for bad fiction. 

Cynthia Gregory