The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert

I am one of those people who reads only one book at a time. I find that if I switch off that one book will get lost somewhere along the line. I am currently reading four books. This is not good. I think that it indicates that I am not sold on any of them but that I might keep trying. They may be destined to the “never to be read” pile.

Into this book fiasco, enters Memorial Day weekend. There is more time to read but what to read? The answer is to pick up yet another book. No, that should not be the correct answer but it is the route that I took. BUT I did finish the book that I picked up. And before I forget, I was given an advanced reader copy of the book with the hopes that I would read and review the book. I hate to admit it but it is a bit of a crapshoot hoping that I will read and review (especially in a timely fashion) a book. I am like the preverbal kid in the candy shop with books.

The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go did catch and keep my attention. The story centers on three generations of women. The grandmother, Lorraine Price, is the model society woman. She has strict standards and expects her daughters to meet those standards. When her daughter, Gina, often falls short, Lorraine does not hesitate to let her know. And Lorraine is picky. She still remembers that Gina brought the wrong flowers to her once. Tisk Tisk.

Most of the story is told by Gina Zoberski. Gina is a young widow. Her beloved husband, Drew died two years before the story begins and Gina is floundering. She compulsively makes lists to try and keep her head above water. She is the owner of Grilled G’s a gourmet grilled cheese food truck.

Gina has a daughter, May. Gina has no idea what she is doing with May. May and Drew were very close and Gina frequently feels that May has turned into a different person since Drew’s death. Gina doesn’t know how to reach her. From May’s perspective, Gina doesn’t seem to care. Gina doesn’t talk about Drew to May and therefore May thinks Gina wants to forget about him. Both are suffering but don’t know how to reach each other.

After sending out an email to her daughters telling them why their Chrismas gifts to her fell short of the mark, Lorraine suffers a massive stroke. The stroke causes Lorraine to re-think her decision to not tell her daughters (Gina and her sister Vicky) a secret that she has kept from them. This is not a “where I hid my ring” secret but a secret that truly affects their lives. In going through her mother’s paperwork, Gina stumbles upon her birth certificate and has questions. Since Lorraine cannot speak because of the stroke, Gina turns to Roza, her old nanny and her mother’s closest friend. Roza claims no knowledge of the birth certificate discrepancy but Gina doesn’t believe her.

While I would categorize this as a family saga, it isn’t heavy as many in that classification tend to be. This is a story that leaves some questions but resolves the most important issues. It was a pleasant read and the story moved along quickly. The biggest surprise to me is that the story takes place in Milwaukee. I don’t know if I have read another book that takes place in Milwaukee. Since I live in that area, it was fun.

If you are looking for a light summer read, I think you might enjoy this story. There is enough suspense and story to keep you reading.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Posted in Talking Books | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe

Dear Fellow Reader,

You would never know it from the weather around here but it must be time for summer. The telltale sign? A new Mary Alice Monroe book! The Beach House series continues with this novel. The Rutledge family returns with some new characters and many old favorites.

In Beach House Reunion, Cara has returned to her beach house from working in Tennessee. She loved her time in Tennessee but since she has adopted a baby, she feels the need to come home to her beach house to take care of her new love and share her with the people she feels are the most important to her. Her niece Linnea joins her for the summer to help take care of the baby. Linnea needs some time to find out what she wants to do with her life post-college.

Can both women find love and happiness on the Isle of Palms? It is once again the restful and replenishing home that both need to make their life decisions. And when crisis hits the Rutledge family, can they bond and believe in their love to hold them through the crisis? Can they hold firm through life altering changes?

The plot may sound trite but it is handled well in the story. It is a beach read and beach reads hold a place in my heart. I need to read these kinds of stories from time to time (or more often…) just to remember why I love to read. With these types of books, you can get lost reading for a period of time. You may be able to figure out what will happen but that doesn’t matter. You get the feeling of the house, the Isle of Palms, the characters and even sometimes the humidity. I like Mary Alice Monroe along with Ann Rivers Siddons, Mariah Steward, Dorothea Benton Frank, Debbie Macomber and the grandmother of this type of book, Rosamunde Pilcher. They all write stories about strong, good women finding love and solving problems.

Are they any new summer books that you are looking forward to? I was just looking through the list of books coming out soon and was surprised to see that Bill Clinton (yes, that Bill Clinton) has teamed up with James Patterson for a book entitled The President is Missing. I must have missed the hype for this book. It might be very interesting.

Ruth Ware, author of The Woman in Cabin 10, has a new book coming out. The Death of Mrs. Westaway will be out May 29. While I was not a fan of The Woman in Cabin 10, it was very popular.

I am still buried under the books that I picked at the end of last year. I am trying to work my way through but I seem to get easily distracted by other books. My book club books for the month are The Circle by Dave Eggers and Turtles all the Way Down by John Green. I have read the John Green book (reviewed here https://cecooney.com/2018/01/24/turtles-all-the-way-down-by-john-green/) In the meantime, I will try and sneak in a few other books.

What are you reading? Do you read more in the summer?

Thanks for reading!

 

Posted in Talking Books | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Miscellaneous Thoughts, Talking Books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

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!

 

 

Posted in Talking Books | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

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!

 

Posted in Talking Books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment