Next Year Havana by Chanel Cleeton

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Dear Fellow Reader,

You know how some subjects just grab your attention more than others? I will admit I am a bit of a sucker for books of quotes. Yes, I know that sounds a bit sappy but I can live with that. I find quotes interesting – sometimes for who said them more than the quote itself.

I also have a fascination with Cuba. I bet you didn’t expect that. Well, I have a friend who escaped from Cuba back in the early ’60s. I find her family story interesting and amazing. She and her family went back to visit last summer and I loved hearing about her trip. She and her husband and adult children made a pilgrimage to the places that held special interest to her family. Her parents are gone now but she knew their stories and wanted to see where her family history happened.

NextYearinHavanna_FCO_RW[2]+copyFor that reason, I picked up the book Next Year Havana by Chanel Cleeton. The story is told from two perspectives. Elisa grew up in Havana as the daughter of “the sugar king”. Her family is in the upper reaches of society in Cuba. She and her sisters attend balls and have clothes from all the best stores. In the other part of the story, we follow Marisol who goes to visit Cuba in 2017 to scatter her grandmother’s ashes. Marisol has grown up in Miami but feels she is as Cuban as she is American. While she is told to be careful in Cuba she had no idea of the type of life she will find there. While being drawn to the natural beauty, she underestimated the political climate.

In other books where perspectives switch, there can be those moments where you aren’t sure at the beginning of a chapter which character is in the chapter. I did not have that problem with this book. The two characters and times are very different.

I found the story very interesting and it moved along well. I liked the historical perspective of 1958 Havana and what was happening. It was also interesting to see that when the book was written that there was hope that there would be a further opening of Cuba to Americans. It has not gone that way. But it could change, right?

And it was nice to read a historical fiction book that was not set in World War II or the time surrounding it. It seems that has taken over and I was ready for a change.

Thanks for reading!

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The McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets by Molly Fader

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Dear Fellow Reader,

Could summer be flying by any faster? It seems like it has barely gotten warm and all the back to school ads are up. Granted, it was a late spring and summer didn’t seem like it was ever going to come but still, I am not ready to move into fall quite yet. And I love fall If I hear anything about pumpkins, I might just scream.

So, let’s talk about another beach read. Do you have sisters? Do you have disagreements? Well, that is the heart of the next book.

The MacAvoy sistersThe McAvoy Sisters Book of Secrets by Molly Fader examines the relationship between two sisters. These sisters chose very different paths and have not been close. Lindy comes home after 17 years to find that in some ways time has stood still and not necessary in a good way. She finds that her mother is not doing well and that her sister, Delia, needs help that she doesn’t want from Lindy.

Delia feels that Lindy abandoned her and her mother and she just wants her to leave again. Even though Delia is drowning in her responsibilities. She could never depend on Lindy. After all, Lindy left once and she will do it again. Delia has a teenage daughter who has gone from a wonderful child to a secretive teen who wants nothing to do with her mother. She also has a newborn. And her mother is not well, and the family business is a lot to run by herself.

Lindy comes back and Delia’s daughter thinks Lindy is great. And Lindy reveals some family secrets, which makes her irresistible. When all the secrets come out, will the sisters bond grow or splinter even more.

I think that the suspense in the book builds well and that you never have one of those moments where you wonder why a character did something and feel that it was not explained. I liked the book. It is a good family story.

I was given a copy of this book in return for my review.

Just don’t talk to me about pumpkins yet.

Thanks for reading!

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The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins

Dear Fellow Reader,

Have you ever read a book that you think might be mis-titled and that the description seems, well, off? That is the way I feel about the following book. I am not talking about books that claim to be like other books. By the way, I hate that. It never fails that I don’t think the books that are compared are anything like each other. I am usually disappointed in the second book that is just like (fill in the blank). Or, for fans of _________, you’ll love __________.

Anyway, The Book Charmer by Karen Hawkins is an interesting read. I would just not call it The Book Charmer. Yes, there is a character in the book that feels that books talk to her. And I have no problem with that. It is a very interesting talent for a character to have.  But the book is not mostly about that person. The book is about Grace Wheeler and her life and her move with her Foster mother and niece to the small town of Dove Pond.

Grace is in a transitory place in her life and she ends up in this small southern town. Her whole intent is to leave the town in a year. She has a lot on her plate and she is making it from day to day. She doesn’t need what she considers to be a nosy neighbor telling her that she has to stay and help the town. She isn’t interested in that. She doesn’t need or want friends. She just wants to keep her head above water.

But Grace learns that help doesn’t come at a cost.

I enjoyed the story very much. As I said, I was irritated but don’t let my irritation with this influence your enjoyment of the book. I do have an affinity to books with crazy southern women. I find the characters have charm and they are so interesting. For some reason, southern women seem to have a craziness all their own.

A good summer beach read.

I was given a copy of the book in return for my review of the book.

Thanks for reading!

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The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

reading at beach

 

Dear Fellow Reader,

I seem to have lost track of time again! I apologize. I have been reading but not writing about it. Although I will admit that while I was WAY ahead on my goodreads goal for the year, I am down to being just three books ahead. (Do you set a goal with http://www.goodreads.com for the year? I started a few years ago and am glad that I do. Now I keep track of the books I have read. Not always the number but mostly the titles. It is easy to forget that you read a book when you read frequently. I think it is a great way to push yourself to read AND to keep track of what you have read.)

This week’s book is a book that I received as an ARC (advanced review copy) and it was published on May 14th. I like to do the review on the day the book comes out to try and give the author a boost on that day but somehow getting this review out got lost. (This also means that I was given a copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. And once again I ask the question, “Can there be an unbiased review?”)

UnhoneymoonersThe Unhoneymooners is a good beach read. It has all the elements that make it a good beach read. The main character is a bit unsure of herself, she must face conflicts and has a man in her life that drives her crazy and makes her feel terrible about herself.

Olive Torres is a twin. Her twin, Ami, does everything right and, in Olive’s eyes, has all the luck. Her sister will work to win contests. As a matter of fact, her sister is about to get married and has financed most of the wedding through her winnings. She even has a fabulous honeymoon trip to Hawaii that she won. The only issue at the wedding for Olive is that the groom’s brother and best man, Ethan, seems to hate her. She isn’t sure what it is that has made him so set against her, but he doesn’t seem to hide it. On top of that, her dress for the wedding is just awful. She trusted her sister’s impeccable taste, but she underestimated the dress her sister would win for the wedding. It is just awful. She compares herself to a 7-up can. Except that a 7 up can doesn’t have boobs that are about to fall out of the dress. So, not exactly feeling her best, she proceeds with her maid of honor duties. One of which seems to be to make sure the best man (her nemesis) is going to get his special meal at the buffet. It seems that he won’t eat buffet food. He finds the concept repulsive. At the same time, it is a seafood buffet and Olive is terribly allergic to seafood, so she also has a special meal. (You guessed it; Ami won the buffet meal.)

Not long after dinner, the guests all start getting sick. The seafood was tainted, and people are terribly sick. Olive and Ethan are the only ones who aren’t sick. The bride and groom are so sick that they cannot possibly go on the honeymoon. Enter Olive and Ethan to take the trip. Olive has no desire to go with Ethan and he isn’t warm to the idea either. But off they go.

Now, since I have said this is a beach read, you might have an idea as to what happens next. But while I’m not going to say you are wrong, I will say that there are some twists that might not be expected in the rest of the book.

So, you can read the book to find out what happens on the trip and beyond.

Thanks for reading!

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The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde

Dear Fellow Reader,

One day after my library book club meeting, I was talking to the librarian. She was talking about several books and authors that she has read. Since she reads fantasy and I generally don’t, I had not heard of most of the books and authors she was talking about. But she mentioned one that caught my interest.

The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde is the first in the Thursday Next series. Thursday Next is the female detective in the series. The book takes place in an alternative universe in 1985 England. In the world of this book, there are police but there are also Special Operations agents. The Special Operations agents work in levels with each level having a different job. As the book opens, Thursday is a SO-27, which is a literary detection. The department investigates claims of discovered manuscripts, provides security systems for original manuscripts and prosecutes forgers. The story takes a turn when Thursday is recruited to help as a SO-8 because she knows who Acheron Hades is and what he looks like. He is a particularly slippery, dastardly bad guy. Acheron kidnaps Thursday’s uncle Mycroft and steals his invention. By using that invention, he goes into the world of the novel, Martin Chuzzlewit and removes a character and kills him. Because he has does this using the original manuscript, the character disappears from the story never to return. When Acheron does not get the ransom he demands, he announces that he is going to go a step further and kidnap and kill a major character.

Acheron has so many tricks up his sleeve that even though they are carefully guarding it,  he steals the original manuscript for Jane Eyre and kidnaps Jane Eyre. Thursday has to think fast in order to return Jane to the book. (Since Jane Eyre is written in first person, there is essentially no book if Jane is gone.)

I’ll admit that this sounds like a spoiler alert and in some ways it is but there is so much going on in the book that while telling you about what happens with these two books is a spoiler, it is nothing compared to everything else that goes on.

The book is so clever. It is so much fun to read. I kept laughing. If you are a fan of Jane Eyre and literature in general, you will enjoy this book. Thursday has her hands full with her family and Acheron Hades and even her pet dodo. (It was an early clone.)

I don’t usually read fantasy, but this book was well worth making an exception. I think you will find it to be an enjoyable read. This is also the first book in a six book series. Yes, they need to be read in order.

Thanks for reading!

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