Book Reviews: Manhattan Beach & Surprise Me

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

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Good Reads blurb: The daring and magnificent novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad.
Anna Kerrigan, nearly twelve years old, accompanies her father to visit Dexter Styles, a man who, she gleans, is crucial to the survival of her father and her family. She is mesmerized by the sea beyond the house and by some charged mystery between the two men.
‎Years later, her father has disappeared and the country is at war. Anna works at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, where women are allowed to hold jobs that once belonged to men, now soldiers abroad. She becomes the first female diver, the most dangerous and exclusive of occupations, repairing the ships that will help America win the war. One evening at a nightclub, she meets Dexter Styles again, and begins to understand the complexity of her father’s life, the reasons he might have vanished.
With the atmosphere of a noir thriller, Egan’s first historical novel follows Anna and Styles into a world populated by gangsters, sailors, divers, bankers, and union men. Manhattan Beach is a deft, dazzling, propulsive exploration of a transformative moment in the lives and identities of women and men, of America and the world. It is a magnificent novel by the author of A Visit from the Goon Squad, one of the great writers of our time.

My Take: 4 out of 5. It is a very solidly written novel and the storytelling is superb. My only qualm, the ending, it just stopped a little bit before I wanted it to. However it paints a really enthralling picture of the WWII New York scene and how the legal and not so legal organizations intertwined. It has a really strong female character, and her story keeps you into the book. It’s not an easy read but its worthwhile and it has a perfect balance of substance and emotion..

Surprise Me by Sophie Kinsella 

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Good Reads Blurb:  After being together for ten years, Sylvie and Dan have all the trimmings of a happy life and marriage; they have a comfortable home, fulfilling jobs, beautiful twin girls, and communicate so seamlessly, they finish each other’s sentences. However, a trip to the doctor projects they will live another 68 years together and panic sets in. They never expected “until death do us part” to mean seven decades.
In the name of marriage survival, they quickly concoct a plan to keep their relationship fresh and exciting: they will create little surprises for each other so that their (extended) years together will never become boring. But in their pursuit to execute Project Surprise Me, mishaps arise and secrets are uncovered that start to threaten the very foundation of their unshakable bond. When a scandal from the past is revealed that question some important untold truths, they begin to wonder if they ever really knew each other after all

My take:  3.5 out of 5. This is definitely a book in the right direction for Sophie Kinsella. Some of her latest were just not up to the level you expect from her, but this one hit the mark. There were enough twists and turns that it keeps you engaged and even to the last page it is not obvious. The characters are well developed, relatable and their story is beautifully told. A total chick lit book that might be perfect for that beach vacation you might take.

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