Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck – Book Review

Hemingway’s Girl by Erika Robuck
Published by NAL, an imprint of Penguin

Mariella’s family is going through hard times with her father’s death and her mother’s intense grief. They aren’t the only ones, though, it is the 1930s and jobs are hard to come by. Even the fishermen of her family’s acquaintance in Key West are having a hard time selling their wares as nobody is eating in restaurants anymore. Mariella is feeding her family one odd job at a time when she meets Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway knew and liked Mariella’s father, and he understands the pain of losing a father, so he decides to offer Mariella a job as a maid in his house. It doesn’t help that something about Mariella appeals to him, as well, and the attraction is mutual. At the same time, however, Mariella meets handsome WWI veteran Gavin Murray, one of the men employed building the Overseas Highway. Both men intrigue Mariella and both represent very different things to her life. What, exactly, does she want for her future?

Mariella is a strong and compelling character. Although she must choose between attraction to two different men, Hemingway’s Girl is not really a love triangle. Mariella knows right from wrong, however she might be intrigued by her married employer. In Hemingway’s Girl, Robuck not only gives readers a peek into Hemingway’s personality and psyche, but also brings to life the realities of Depression-era Florida. The story of the WWI veterans hired to build the Overseas Highway and the poor treatment given them by their superiors is one many readers may not be aware of and is a very important piece of American history.

Hemingway’s Girl is well-written and complex with a great story. Highly reocmmended.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Harry Lipkin, Private Eye by Barry Fantoni – Book Review

Harry LipkinPrivate Eye by Barry Fantoni
Published by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House

Only in Florida does one find an 87 year old Jewish private detective. Harry Lipkin is no Sherlock Holmes, but he generally gets the job done – at least the investigating job, he can’t quite get around to fixing the tiles that keep falling off his roof. His latest client, Norma Weinberg, is having valuable items disappear out of her house, and it must be someone from her staff. Now Barry must discover which servant is stealing from Norma before the stress of the situation becomes too much for her.

Harry Lipkin, Private Eye is a fun and quirky novel, full of shady characters. Every one of Norma’s staff has a good motive to steal her nearly belongings. Less convincing are the reasons that Harry crosses him off his list of suspects – he seems to jump to conclusions much too quickly, and not consider full implications of other possible motives. I did find this frustrating, from the mystery angle, but luckily Harry is an engaging  main character, and you want to root for him despite his sub-par detective skills.

Harry Lipkin, Private Eye isn’t going to stick with you long-term, but it is a fun, light summer read.

Buy this book from:
Powells | Indiebound*

Source: Publisher.
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.

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Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber – Audiobook Review

Birds of Paradise by Diana Abu-Jaber, narrated by Tamara Marston
Published in audio by Highbridge Audio, published in print by WW Norton & co

Synopsis:

Avis and Brian Muir have what seems like it should be a happy life. They live in a big house in a wealthy community in Miami. Avis has a job that she loves. Brian has a job he at least likes, and one that more than pays the bills. They have two lovely and intelligent children. When their daughter Felice runs away at thirteen, though, the entire family falls apart. Now, five years later, they have fallen even farther, even as they continue to hope that they may someday because a “real” family again, whatever that might mean.

Thoughts on the story:

Abu-Jaber is extremely skilled at getting inside her characters heads, going so far as showing the reader the neurosis of which the characters themselves may not even be aware. In Birds of Paradise, she manages the often difficult task of fully fleshing out all four members of the family, making each of them seem real, bringing to life their hopes and their foibles. Felice’s storyline is particularly interesting. Although the secret that drove her to running away is relatively easy to guess, it is believable, even logical by the standards of her young teenage self.

Thoughts on the audio production:

This is where Birds of Paradise fell apart for me. Marston seemed more like she was reading Abu-Jaber’s text than like she was narrating or performing it. She had a great command of accents – a necessity for the multicultural world in which the Muirs live – but there was little to no passion in her voice, which is somewhat of a problem in a book with such deep emotions from its characters. Also, she had an incorrect and obnoxious pronunciation of the state Oregon that just pulled me right out of the book and annoyed me every time she said it. Marston’s narration really detracted from the potential power of Abu-Jaber’s story.

Overall:

Be prepared to become emotionally involved in the lives of the Muirs if you pick up Birds of Paradise, but for full effect choose print.

Buy this book from:
Powells: Audio/Print*
Indiebound: Audio/Print*

I’m launching a brand-new meme every Friday! I encourage you to review any audiobooks you review on Fridays and include the link here. If you have reviewed an audiobook earlier in the week, please feel free to link that review as well. Thanks to Pam for creating the button.

Source: .
* These links are all affiliate links. If you buy your book here I’ll make a very small amount of money that goes towards hosting, giveaways, etc.
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