Book Reviews: Albatross, The Whisper Network, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and The Need

albatross

Albatross by Terry Fallis (2019)

Delightful is the word that comes to mind. Terry Fallis books are funny – they always have a strong comedic premise – but they also have depth. They have a clear moral without being cheesy. And this book is my favourite of them all.

Adam is a teenager who wants to be the next great Canadian novelist. But when his gym teacher measures him and finds out he has the proportions of the ideal golf player – closer to perfect than has ever been discovered – he takes a different path. Golf comes so easily to him that his first ever swing rivals the skill of the top professionals. So begins the most apathetic professional athletic career in the history of sports.

Oh, and there is a lovely romance, a deep platonic friendship, and lots of obscure references to writing implements. And a couple key moments featuring libraries.

I enjoyed learning about golf (surprisingly), and getting a behind the scenes look at the glamour of professional sports. Early in the book Adam becomes richer than he ever dreamed possible, and I love love loved what he chose to spend his money on. It’s fun to imagine a responsible, literary-minded Canadian having millions of dollars to spend.

This is a rare book that will appeal to almost anyone. Including people who don’t generally think of themselves as “readers.”

the seven husbands of evelyn hugo cover

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid (2018)

I blew through this book in two days on my camping trip. Its salacious and gossipy, but with considerable depth.

This is definitely a book for readers who love character development. The Evelyn Hugo, the most famous actor on the planet who rose to fame in the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, is at the end of her life in 2017. She reaches out to a young journalist to record her life story for an authorized biography.

The majority of the book is Evelyn telling her life story. It is written with emotion, humor, and drama. There are at least 5 major twists, some of which made me gasp dramatically because I was so into the story.

Like Reid’s other books, the characters are all fictional, but the book reads as if they really existed. Even though it was fiction, I learned a lot about Old and New Hollywood.

The book dives into LGBTQ+ perspectives, and touches racial identity.

I found myself thinking about this book in between readings, which to me, is the sign of a 5 star read.

whisper network cover

The Whisper Network by Chandler Baker (2019)

A corporate sportswear office in Dallas is thrown for a loop when the long time CEO dies, and his job is up for grabs. Ames, a man with a history of sexually aggressive behaviour, is rumored to be next in line. But an anonymous crowdsourced list of “bad men” circulates the office and gets women talking.

Told from the perspective of 4 women from the office, and through transcripts of legal testimony, this story is packed with character development and secrets. Not quite a thriller, but definitely not a light read either. It is easily compared to Big Little Lies – there is a murder investigation, but the reader doesn’t know who died until later in the story. There are women keeping secrets. There is abuse. There are complex female friendships.

It is fairly slow paced, and if you are looking for a traditional thriller, this will disappoint you. But if you like female-driven mysteries with a dash of legal drama, give it a try.

The Need by Helen Phillips (2019)

I forced myself to read this book in three days instead of one. As soon as I read the first page I was desperate to finish. The writing is strange, dark, and beautiful. The premise is unlike anything else. It’s a domestic thriller with a speculative, science fiction spin.

This book is best read without knowing much about the plot, so I won’t spoil anything. I will say that I found myself feeling similarly to when I read Giller winner Bellevue Square by Micheal Redhill. I’ll read anything and everything by this author.

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