Tag Archives: Pittsburgh Post Gazette

my review of modern lovers, in today’s post-gazette

Sometimes — maybe especially so, in these trying times — one needs to escape into the kind of novel where you don’t need to think very much.

Modern LoversModern Lovers by Emma Straub is that kind of book. A summer novel, a beach read, categorize it however you wish, but one where the main character discovers what so many of us have known for years now.

“Timing was everything — that was more and more obvious the older you got, when you finally understood that the universe wasn’t held together in any way that made sense. There was no order, there was no plan….There was no fate. Life was just happenstance and luck, bound together by the desire for order.”

My review of Modern Lovers  appears today in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, an opportunity for which I am always appreciative.  You can read my full review here.


99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #49 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project.


Thanks for sharing this post!

spies like us


The English Spy

As readers, sometimes we get too comfortable in our genres of choice, as I write in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, in my review of Daniel Silva’s The English Spy I’m definitely not the only reader who tends to stay in her literary comfort zone, which is why I was a bit unsure of this one when my editor sent it to me.  Still, I’m always grateful that the PG is interested in anything I have to say about any particular book so I gave it a try.

I liked The English Spy more than I expected. Although it’s doubtful that I’ll become a convert to this genre – and it’s just as unlikely that I’ll read the 14 preceding Gabriel Allon books in this series –  this is one was sufficiently suspenseful to keep my interest.

Read “The English Spy”: Daniel Silva’s 15th in the Gabriel Allon series still thrills” here.

Thanks for sharing this post!

Me and Chris Bohjalian in today’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, with Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

Chris Bohjalian returns to Vermont as the setting for his 17th novel, Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, and I return to the Book section of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today with my review

When 11th-grader Emily Shepard says her world is ending, she’s not simply being a dramatic teenager. She’s alone, living in the shadowy aftermath of the fictional Cape Abenaki nuclear power plant meltdown, located in Vermont’s picturesque Northeast Kingdom.

By Chris Bohjalian

Doubleday ($25.95)

Emily’s father, an alcoholic who was reportedly drunk on the job, is responsible for the deadly disaster. Both of Emily’s parents are presumed to be among the fatalities. With her dead father the target of the community’s vitriol, Emily runs away to reinvent herself as Abby Bliss, a new identity inspired by her favorite poet, Emily Dickinson.   Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/ae/books/2014/07/13/Book-review-CLOSE-YOUR-EYES-HOLD-HANDS-By-Chris-Bohjalian/stories/201407130036#ixzz37Mt4OVVh

As always, my thanks to both the Post-Gazette for this opportunity and to Chris Bohjalian for sharing the review so widely on social media.






Thanks for sharing this post!

Book Review: Dirty Love, by Andre Dubus III

Dirty Love

You can find me in the Book pages of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette today, which features my review of “Dirty Love” by Andre Dubus III. 

“Dirty” is one of those great multipurpose words giving you the most bang for your buck. It’s a verb, adjective and adverb all wrapped into one five-letter package. Depending on one’s standard of cleanliness, homes can be dirty. Places, too.

Then, of course, there are people with smudges on their souls and those who leave their psychic pollution behind for their loved ones to dispose of properly. Both are equal opportunity offenders in best-selling author Andre Dubus III’s four interconnected novellas making up his most appropriately named book, “Dirty Love.” As one of his characters says, “People don’t like to pick up where other people left off. People like to buy new.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/ae/book-reviews/dirty-love-by-andre-dubus-iii-the-house-of-messy-relationships-707427/#ixzz2hctiVyos

Thanks for sharing this post!

chris bohjalian’s the light in the ruins (and the pendulum of the internet)

One of the benefits of last night’s insomnia:

When you’re not sure if your book review of Chris Bohjalian’s The Light in the Ruins is being published in the next day’s edition of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, you can reach for your phone at 2:30 a.m. and see if your byline is on your driveway.

(We still like to get the actual newspaper. And read it while holding it. That makes The Husband and me fossils at 44, I know.)

Bohjalian PG review

And then you can spend some time while the house is blissfully still asleep, curled up under the covers reading Colum McCann’s Songdogs which was due back to the library on Thursday but which you can’t part with just yet. Not while McCann is breaking your heart.

And then you doze off, for a little while anyway, while the Internet awaits and The Husband (bless him) makes the kids pancakes and dippy eggs. (What? You call them sunny side up? Dippy eggs, baby. You may hate the damn things, like me, but that’s their proper cringeworthy name.)

Still under the covers, you sneak a few minutes online, smiling at the likes on your review and clicking like and 🙂 at the comments back.

And then you decide to randomly check your kids’ email accounts, because that’s what vigilant parents do when they are supposedly sleeping, and you see some questionable things and you conference The Husband in the bedroom to strategize and give him a crash course in Pinterest.

And then – this is all before 11 a.m., mind you, and you’ve had very little sleep – you remind the cherubs of The Internet Rules and you make New Internet Rules On the Fly About Bad Words and Hating Justin Bieber and explain that while it is okay to dislike Justin Bieber (you can’t really argue with that much) it’s not always okay to be so vehement about this publicly because nothing is private on the Interwebs and that could cost you a much-needed scholarship someday and all your friends who are posting pictures on Facebook of their kids going off to college this week are making you sober with the thought that you have only 6 more years left of mandatory schooling before that.

And then, only then, you finally make your way to your laptop and open up your blog to write a post about The Light in the Ruins book review being published and how grateful you are to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for the opportunity, as always.

And you notice that your blog statistics for yesterday’s post about Kristin are off-the-charts crazytimes with numbers you have never, ever seen.

And you are stunned.

And you are stunned again when you realize that Chris Bohjalian has mentioned you (YOU!) to his 5,534 followers on Twitter.

And his Facebook page. 

Chris Bohjalian. You. Chris Bohjalian.


Author · 15,842 likes
Very big thanks to Melissa Firman and the @[184142654825:274:Pittsburgh Post-Gazette] for this insightful review of THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS: "By using the backdrop of a long-ago war, Bohjalian seems to be reassuring and reminding his reader that in tragedy and unspeakable circumstances such as the destruction of homeland, family, appearance and lives, there is always the ability to see even the smallest glimpse of light." (photo by Victoria Blewer)
Very big thanks to Melissa Firman and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for this insightful review of THE LIGHT IN THE RUINS: “By using the backdrop of a long-ago war, Bohjalian seems to be reassuring and reminding his reader that in tragedy and unspeakable circumstances such as the destruction of homeland, family, appearance and lives, there is always the ability to see even the smallest glimpse of light.” (photo by Victoria Blewer)
Thanks for sharing this post!

Today, We Have Apricots (and a daily newspaper that still cares about books)


Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots

On my most recent milestone-to-me birthday, a tweet led to another tweet – which led to my talking books with columnist/associate editor/books editor/wearer of many hats Tony Norman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

As I wrote in April, (“breaking news of the bookish kind,” 4/5/2013), the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette is unusual among metropolitan daily newspapers in its more than ample coverage to things literary. This is a newspaper that sent its book editor to Book Expo America (BEA), and published not one but two follow up articles on the event. As a writer, an editor, a book blogger, an avid reader, and a Pittsburgher, I like living in city that has that kind of commitment and passion for books. That’s impressive to me.

Tony’s books column regularly includes a round-up of recently published local (with Pittsburgh ties) books, including self-published and small press works. Book reviews appear on Sundays and Wednesdays. 

Today is Wednesday. And today, I’m grateful to be among the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s freelance book reviewers and thrilled to share with you my Post-Gazette review of Jessica Soffer’s debut novel, “Tomorrow There Will Be Apricots.” 

I hope you’ll take a look at it and let me know your thoughts – either here or on the P-G’s Facebook page link in the article.

Thanks for sharing this post!