The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club by Duncan Whitehead

The look of amazement on my face while I read this book

 

Dear Fellow Readers!

Sorry, I have been out of touch.  It seems that having a knee replacement will put you a little behind.  It is coming along nicely but I am a bit hobbled right now.

I have had some reading time.  Not as good as vacation reading time but time to read.  The problem is that my attention span was affected so I will admit that my book choices were definitely lighter.

The first term I would use to describe this week’s book is “hot mess”.  I read The Gordonston Ladies Dog Walking Club and almost hurt my neck from shaking it so much.  The things that went on were so incredible and bazaar that I wondered how they could all be in one book.

But, I was curious as to how it could possibly end.  That’s right, it got me sucked in enough, despite the outlandishness, that I wanted to know how it ended.  Fortunately, it is a quick read.  If I had found that I had a thousand pages to go, I might not have made it to the end.

The book takes place in the Gordonston neighborhood of Savannah, GA.  As the book opens, there is a hitman waiting in the neighborhood park to kill someone.  Then we are introduced to the people who live in the neighborhood. There are tensions brewing in the neighborhood thanks to several factors – two friends fighting over a just-deceased friend’s husband, a wife who had a fling and could get caught, and (are you ready for this?) Hitler’s niece vowing to get back at a person she considers her enemy.  Yea, you just read that right, Hitler figures into this book.  Once you get past the Hitler connection, you then have to get past that all these people know how to hire a hit man and that they have no problem doing it.

While I can applaud the imagination that it took to come up with this plot, I am stunned by the twists and turns.  And not stunned in the best way.  By the end of the book, there are not one, not two, not three, but FOUR hit contracts out on people in the neighborhood.  Yes, the question at the end of the book is who is actually going to be killed.  I did finish the book to find out who and it was a surprise.  A weird surprise but a surprise. I will also give the author that he tied up all the loose ends. Every character counts and has a purpose.

There are two other books in the series.  Am I going to read them?  I don’t think so but part of me is fascinated by the stuff thrown in this story to see if the author continues this way or if perhaps his writing changes. To soften the blow, if you want to check this book out for yourself, it is free if you have an Amazon Prime membership.  So at least you won’t lose money if you don’t like it.  Just time, precious time.

I think if you go into reading this book knowing that it is strange, you could enjoy the odd plot twists.  I wouldn’t completely discourage you but I think it depends what you want out of a story.  If you read a lot, then this book would offer you something fresh and different.

Thanks for reading.

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Song of a Captive Bird by Jasmin Darznik

woman reading 50s

Dear Fellow Readers,

For fans of historical fiction, I have a book for you. If you asked me, I would tell you that I am not particularly a fan of historical fiction but that isn’t true. I seem to read a fair number of books that are classified as historical fiction. Part of the reason is the book clubs I belong to but then sometimes I get intrigued by the subject matter.

Song of a captive birdSong of a Captive Bird is different from other historical fiction books I have read. First of all, it takes place in Iran in the 1940s and 50s. I know nothing about this era in Iran. The book tells the story of Forugh Farrokhzad. She was a poet and was famous for inspiring feminism in Iran.

The story is told from her perspective and starts as she is growing up in a family where her father rules with an iron fist. She is different. She questions authority and tries to please her father with her poetry. She reads voraciously and tries to imitate the poetry that her father admires. Her spirit leads her not to want to do what a “good” daughter would do. As a result, she was seen by others as not a good candidate as a wife.

And then she falls in love at 16. She sees an older cousin and works to gain his attention. She strains the rules by meeting him in the alley and exchanging notes. Then she completely tears it by meeting him in a coffee shop. Her disobedience is discovered and there is a rather graphic scene where her virginity is validated but not without consequences. Before she knows it, she is married to him and he spurns her.

She continues to write poetry and dares to escape to the city to try and sell her poetry. This leads to an affair that ruins her marriage and she loses her son.

Her father rushed her into the marriage and then when her affair becomes notorious, has her committed. She is saved by a friend and goes to live with the friend in seclusion.

At the same time, there are winds of change Iran. The Shaw has opposition and there are those that think that there is too much Western influence in the country. The secret police watch overall and are swift with their form of justice.

The book is based on the author’s review of Forugh’s poems, letters, films, and interviews. It is an interesting look at Forugh’s rebel spirit and the times in Iran.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

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The Sugarhouse Blues by Mariah Stewart

woman reading ipad

Dear Fellow Reader,

Okay, I will confess one of my many mistakes to you. A few years ago, I was in a book store and got confused and bought a book by Mariah Steward. I thought (obviously not really thinking) that I was buying a book by Mary Stewart. OOOPS! But I read the book and liked it. It was part of her Chesapeake Diaries Series.

These books are fine stories. It might be that as you read on through the Chesapeake Diaries Series that they seem a bit formulaic, but I am looking to be entertained and that doesn’t matter for a couple of books. At the same time, I didn’t feel the need to read all of them. But the ones I read were good “popcorn” or “beach reads”.

I was given a copy of The Sugarhouse Blues to give an unbiased review. I was happy to read it. I had not read a book by Ms Stewart in a long time.

The Sugarhouse Blues is the story of Desdemona Hudson and her sister (Allie) and half-sister (Cara). The sisters are brought together by their father’s will. According to “Fritz” Hudson’s will, in order to inherit their father’s estate, the three sisters had to live together in the family home in Hidden Falls, PA, until they finish the restoration of the family’s abandoned theater. Not only did they have to live in the house but they had to share it with Fritz’s sister Barney. The stipulation about restoring the theater was a surprise but not the only one. Des and Allie had no idea about Cara until their father died.

As with many families, the relationship between the sisters is strained and had been for years. Will the woman be able to get beyond their pasts and be able to work together? And will there be love interests for them?

I just figured out that this book is the second book in the Hudson Sisters Series. You would never know it was the second book in a series. In fact, I had to read the description of the first book to see how it could have started before this book. So, kudos to Ms Stewart for that. The title of the first book is Last Chance Matinee.

If you are looking for a good beach read, this works. It has some intrigue and it is a good story.

Thanks for reading!

 

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

 

Dear Fellow Reader,

Occasionally, I urge you to read a book because I think that it is THAT good. This is one of those books. This book is absorbing and is well paced. It is classified as a YA (young adult) book but I think that is too limiting for this book.

The Hate U Give is a story about Starr Carter. Starr is 16 years old and lives in the ghetto in an unnamed city. She attends a predominantly white private school and spends most of her time with her classmates. But during the spring break of her junior year, she reluctantly goes to a party in her neighborhood. While at the party she sees her old friend, Khalil and they start talking. While they are talking, shots ring out. Khalil tells her that they need to leave and that he has a car and will take her home.

On their way home, they are stopped by the police. Starr reviews in her mind the lessons drummed into her head by her parents about how to behave when stopped by the police. She hopes that Khalil has been told the same thing by his grandmother. She starts to worry when Khalil asks why they were stopped. The encounter escalates quickly with Khalil being dragged out of the car. When Khalil leans over to ask if Starr is okay, he is killed by the policeman.

Starr is then caught in events that cause her to rethink her life and friendships and how she should react to life events. Should she stay hidden or come out to seek justice?

I thought the book was incredible. It was 447 pages long and read faster than a book half the size. It drew you in from the very beginning. You could see the world from Starr’s perspective and feel for her conflicts.

I would love to drag out this review and tell you more of the story but I don’t know if my words can do it justice. I just think you need to read the book. I can’t believe that you won’t be affected by the story.

Thanks for reading!

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The Advice Column Murder by Leslie Nagle

 

Dear Fellow Reader,

Those of you who frequently read this blog know that I am a sucker for mystery series. I love to find a new one – especially one that has several books in the series before I find it. That gives me a lot to catch up on and that is a good thing. Authors that come to mind are Donna Leon, Louise Penny, Nancy Atherton, Rhys Bowen and Patricia Wentworth to name just a few.

So, when I was on Net Galley a few weeks ago, I was interested to see a new mystery by Leslie Nagle available. I was not familiar with the author but it looked interesting. The only cloud in the sky was that it is the third book in the series. I  like to start at the beginning of a series because I think it does make a difference. Despite the misgivings, I thought I would read this book. The most that could happen is that I would be sorry that I didn’t read the books in order. (I was given a copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review.)

Charlie Carpenter lives in Oakwood, OH. She lives with her father Bobby, who was the beloved football coach but is now confined to a wheelchair. Oakwood is a very friendly town where most residents know one another. When Charlie’s next door neighbor moves out, he decides to rent his house rather than sell it. The new tenants are not friendly and have resisted the overtures of friendship from Charlie and Charlie’s father’s caretaker, Lawrence. The husband is a doctor with the Air Force and seems to have a penchant for yelling at his family at volumes loud enough to be heard easily in Charlie’s house. It seems that the neighbors, Paxton and Judith Sharp and their 4-year-old twins have Paxton’s son from a previous marriage and Judith’s daughter from a previous relationship staying at the house also. One evening, Sarah Weller, Judith’s daughter, approaches Charlie and asks if she “only helps the police or if she helps other people”. The conversation is ended abruptly when Judith calls Sarah back into the house. Several days later, Charlie hears screaming coming from the house next door and finds Judith bending over Sarah’s dead body.

The inevitable questions of who killed Sarah and why haunt Charlie as she decides to do a little sleuthing. It is not the first time (since it is book three in the series) but this time, Charlie will not be working with her boyfriend, Detective Marcus Trenault. Seems the Detective is not getting along with his boss and the case is assigned to Sergeant George Drummond, who is with the Sheriff’s Department. He and Charlie’s beau have a long-standing feud and Drummond is antagonistic toward Charlie.

I think that perhaps it was an error not the read the books in order. Yes, this book does stand on its own but there are so many characters introduced that I finally gave up on some of them. Just could not remember how they fit into the story. While I was frustrated by this, it was still a good read.

I do not worry about trying to solve a mystery when I read it. Yes, probably in my mind I think about who might have done it but I don’t sit and try and figure it out. I just want to be entertained and I want it to make sense. The end of the book ties the plot up nicely but WOW what a convoluted motive. I understand who and why but it would take pages to explain the connections and why there were two murders. (Yes, not one but two…)

The Advice Column Murders is available in eBook format from eBook sellers for $4.99.

Thanks for reading!

 

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