Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries by Angie Fox

Woman_reading_at_the_beach

Dear Fellow Readers,

Yes, I have plenty of books to read that are best sellers or classics or perhaps just have bigger words in them.

BUT…

I occasionally need a palette cleanser.  I have no problem admitting it.  I do like cozy mysteries and will sometimes read a cozy that might have a theme that is totally unrealistic.  That is fine. I know that I am just resting my brain with these books.  And I like them for that reason.  Sometimes there is a pandemic and you get tired of reading that pile of books that you should read, and you need to read and let the story slide over you. These books are not to be mistaken for high literature. They will not be taught in school.  But they fulfill that break that you may be needing from your normal fare.

5186UWh9VoLOne of my series of choice currently is The Southern Ghost Hunter Mysteries by Angie Fox.  As of right now, there are 13 books in the series.  They tell the story of Verity Long who lives in Sugarland, TN. Verity lives in the house that her Grandmother owned. The house is fairly empty because when she canceled her wedding (The groom tried to kiss her sister.) the groom’s mother sued her for every penny she had, which meant selling almost all her possessions.  The groom’s mother was also high society in Sugarland, and she made sure that Verity’s graphic design business was sunk before it got started.  Verity lives in the house with her pet skunk.  (yes, you read that right.) In going through the mostly empty house. She finds what she thinks is a dirty vase.  She cleans out all the debris in the bottom of the vase and dumps it in the rose bush outside her back door.

Of course, it wasn’t a dirty vase. It was a container of cremains for a gangster, Frankie.  It seems that since she dumped his ashes in the rose bush that he is now stuck at her house unless she takes his “vase” with her.  She also learns that he can transfer some power to her so that she can see things on the ghostly plane.

Okay, okay, it isn’t the latest Ann Patchett.  But the books are light and easy to read.  They give you a break from heavier reading and more than that, they give you a break from the monotony and depression surrounding the pandemic.  They are popcorn.  A good snack between meals.

Much to my surprise, you may be able to find some of them at your local library.  If you are looking for a break, I would suggest you try these stories.

Thanks for reading.

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

Paris Never Leaves You by Ellen Feldman

Here I am with another historical fiction book.  I’m not exactly sure how this happens.  I requested an advance reader copy of this book after reading the description.  I should keep the descriptions so I can tell what caught my eye.  I was given a copy of this book for my unbiased opinion.

For those of you who might be like me and a bit burned out on historical fiction books from the World War I or II eras, I hear you.  I would say this book has a bit of a twist on the other books. 

Paris Never Leaves You is written from Charlotte’s perspective. Charlotte is caught in Paris during World War II.  As the book opens, Charlotte is watching a group of people denigrating women who had relationships with German soldiers who had invaded Paris.  The townsfolk verbally assault the women and physically abuse them.  While it is not completely clear, you get the feeling that Charlotte is afraid that she will be next.

Next we move to 1950’s New York. Charlotte is working in the publishing industry.  The book moves between the war years and the 1950’s.  We see Charlotte’s current life with her daughter. We learn what happened to them during the war. And we come to understand Charlotte’s regrets and fears.  

While one does feel sorry for Charlotte and all she went through during the war, there is also a feeling that Charlotte takes the route through life that will get her through.  I wouldn’t say that she takes the high road most of the time. She is a survivor and I feel a bit bad casting aspersions on her methods, but overall when you finish the book and think back on Charlotte, I think she comes up a bit lacking in moral fiber. She knows that she has done wrong but rather than admitting what she has done, she has tried to keep hiding it. 

It is an interesting story, but if you are looking for a heroine  that you can think “wow, she made it through that”, I am not sure you will be satisfied with this story. The thing is that she doesn’t change. Even at the end of the book, her decisions are questionable. 

I will say that the time switches through the book are done well.  It was easy to tell where you were in the story.  It was and easy read and the story is presented well. 

Thanks for reading!

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

The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne

Dear Fellow Reader,

Wow! What a year. I don’t know about you but I am overwhelmed by the news. I stopped reading and watching for several weeks. It was a relief but at some point I stuck my head back out to see what was going on. I haven’t immediately withdrawn again but there are times I wish I had.

I find that all the turbulence affects my reading. Yes, I have been reading but I have read many lighter fare mysteries that I can get lost in. At the start of the quarantine, I was behind on my Goodreads goal for the year. I am now 9 books ahead and I will easily admit that it certainly is not due to reading only great pieces of literature. But at the same time, I am thankful to those authors for their writing. They provide entertainment and present different points of view.

The book I want to introduce you to this week is NOT one of my lighter reads. As fair warning, it is a long book.

The Hearts Invisible Furies is the story of Cyril Avery. Cyril Avery is born in Ireland in 1945. Cyril is born to a single mother who was declared indecent by her local Catholic priest during Mass and thrown out of her home. His mother left for Dublin where she gave birth and gave him to a hunchbacked Redemptorist nun. Cyril is adopted by a wealthy couple who insist that he refer to them as his adoptive parents and is constantly told that he is not a real Avery.

Cyril is gay. Gay is not allowed in Ireland during the time he was growing up. It was punishable by jail and the Garda loved to beat up and imprison gay people. The Catholic Church had a firm hold on the country and there was no room for someone to be gay in Ireland. So, Cyril had to hide his true nature and spent 25 years feeling bad about himself and trying to hide his nature. When he leaves Ireland, he begins to find acceptance in the world but also heartbreak. Finally, as times change, he returns to Ireland to live out the end of his life.

The book shows us how ignorance can inflict pain and suffering on people – just for being who they are. Showing Cyril’s perspective from 1945 to about 2015 is enlightening for all the changes that have taken place in Ireland and the world.

Also, if you are unfamiliar with the control that the Catholic Church held in Ireland then it will be an eye opener for you.

The description of the book says that it will make you laugh and cry. I have to say that I didn’t laugh. While Cyril’s parents are different and probably the most humorous of all the characters, they are not laugh out loud characters. Cyril’s insecurities color most scenes. I felt so bad for Cyril and all he went through. But in case you are thinking that this book sounds like a downer that you wouldn’t want to read, it isn’t. Cyril goes through a lot, but he grows and finds a place of happiness and acceptance. He learns to believe in himself.

Yes, it is long. Yes, it is sad at times. But it is a worthwhile read. The other thing about the book is that the author ties all the characters together in remarkable ways. You might think someone is a minor character, but they won’t be by the end. Also, you wonder how long it will take two of the characters to figure out their relationship.

This is one of the best books I have read this year.

Thank you for reading!

Posted in Miscellaneous Thoughts | Leave a comment

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler

portrait-redhead-reading-coffee

Dear Fellow Readers,

Another message from Coronaville. It is possible to get used to this uncertainty. No, I guess it isn’t. If you, like me have some days that are harder than others. The problem is not when we can go out again but will be go out again. To be perfectly honest, I spent a lot of time home before working so while this is different, it might be easier for me. On the other hand, Silent Sam (husband) it torn between how much he misses the office and worries about going back and getting sick. Which makes me wonder about the fallout from all of this. Political and economic. But this book review is not the place for my thoughts on that so let’s move on.

5e0ddef014dcdfa91e1681df2aaf05b6

Because I want to support my local bookstore (which is fantastic), I have purchased more books than usual. In some ways not heartbreaking for me but I had put the brakes on buying books. (I just have a tendency to buy too many and my TBR pile gets really high and Silent Sam starts giving me side-eye) But there is a pandemic and I want Boswell Books to stay in business. As a result, my reading of new releases is way up.

download (6)

Redhead by the Side of the Road is the new book by Anne Tyler. Here is my thought about Anne Tyler. She writes characters. She does a fantastic job of writing characters. I find her books to be character studies and they are excellent character studies. I don’t find them to be long on plot. And that is fine but if you want to read an epic story, she might not be your author of choice.

In Redhead by the Side of the Road, we meet Micah Mortimer. He is a bit of a loner and doesn’t understand people very well. He could be seen as not being ambitious but as you get to know him, it may be more that he doesn’t like authority very much. Not that he is a rebel, he just will go his own way. He works as the super in a building and has a computer repair business. He also wrote a computer handbook that is very popular. In the story, we learn about his habits, family, and we see a period in his life that turns his thoughts upside down.

The book was very enjoyable, and I wish it was longer. Not that I needed more of that story, I just didn’t want it to end. Oh, and while I know this is just my quirk, I loved that you know where the title comes from. (Yea, I do get irritated when I don’t understand what the title has to do with the book and I can’t remember the title then.)

Take care and be healthy.

Thanks for reading!

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

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

Dear Fellow Readers,

It is a cold summer day in the Midwest. Or it is cold because I left windows open Friday night (outside temperature about 44 degrees) and the house hasn’t warmed up yet. I certainly couldn’t turn on the heat. It is June; there isn’t heat in June.

It is June 15 and I am sitting here in a sweater.

Head Over Heels | Book by Hannah Orenstein | Official Publisher ...

Head Over Heels is Chick Lit. I would sugar coat this more but why? There is nothing wrong with Chick Lit. As long you are reading, then I have no problem with what you are reading. Yes, I have my own tastes but I want to foster reading, so I try not to bash different genres. We all have our own tastes.

Head Over Heels is a story about Avery Abrams. Avery spent her youth pursuing the Olympic dream in gymnastics. At the Nationals, the step before she would head off to the Olympics, she suffers a career ending injury. While it repaired, Avery’s change from being a celebrated gymnast to being a young woman without focus has been a hard transition. She has spent 7 years not really knowing what she wants to do. She has a long-term relationship with a professional football player that has ended as the book starts. She has moved home not knowing what to do next.

And then she receives a call that she doesn’t know that she wants to answer. Ryan Nicholson calls her. She knew who he was from her gymnastic days. He is training an Olympic hopeful who is really good but needs some help that he thinks Avery can give her. Avery is far from convinced that she is the one to help anyone. She isn’t sure she wants to see Ryan. She had a crush on him back in the day and he has gone on to compete at the Olympics and beyond. How can she possibly help?

After seeing her ex on TMZ and seeing that he has moved on, she decides that she needs to also. She has a disastrous date and then in a moment of panic, she calls Ryan and decides to meet with him.

Does she think that she can help the aspiring gymnast? Is there some chemistry with Ryan after all these years? And by getting back into the world of gymnastics, will she run into her old friend who somehow married her old coach?

The book had the requisite tension around the characters and their decisions. The only problem I had with the book is that I thought that Avery forgave one of the characters too easily. I think there should have been more thought before the forgiveness was granted.

This book is a pleasant book to read. I can imagine sitting out in the sun reading it. Partly probably because I am so cold right now that reading out in the sun sounds so great. Warmth! But seriously, I would add this to your summer reading pile. And before I forget… I was given a copy of this book for my unbiased review. The publication date for the book is June 23, 2020.

Thanks for reading!

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