Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout

Dear Fellow Reader,

An hour ago, I was in the basement waiting for the National Weather Service to cancel the tornado warning that it issued for my area. And now I sit here, and the sun is shining. I can see a bit of blue sky between the white clouds. You just never know what the day will bring.

I read a book by Elizabeth Strout for a book club a couple of years ago. It was My Name is Lucy Barton and I don’t remember much about it but it was dark. I know there were scenes between a mother and daughter in a hospital that truly showed a terrible relationship.

So, now I have read Lucy by the Sea. I think that Elizabeth Strout’s writing style is very different. It is brief and to the point. The chapters contain many sections with each section running either from a couple of sentences to a few paragraphs. The breaks allow for a change in thought or movement of the plot. While at first, I wasn’t too wild about it, I think it is very effective. The breaks allow Lucy to allude that something is going to happen in the future and then she goes back to the present or the past. It is not confusing at all as to where you are in the story even with the breaks.

Lucy is living in New York as she always has. She is still in mourning for her husband, Dwight, who died about a year ago. She loved him with all her heart. She has an ex-husband that she is friendly with and since Dwight’s death, she will occasionally travel with him. Their relationship is platonic but they have a long history. Her ex-husband is a parasitologist. He sees that there is going to be a huge change coming and he tells Lucy and his daughters that they need to leave the city. One daughter and her husband take his advice and move into the husband’s parent’s home while the parents are wintering in Florida. William tells Lucy to get ready that he is going to pick her up and they are leaving the city. Lucy doesn’t really understand what William is talking about but he is so insistent that she packs a bag and leaves with him for Maine.

And then the pandemic hits and some of their friends die.

The story is about that time. They are in Maine and they are not welcomed in Maine. They live in relative isolation out on a cliff and spend time taking separate walks around the area. It is the story of what Lucy expects to be a few weeks in Maine then turns into a much longer time. We learn more about the relationship between Lucy and William (and what went wrong) and how their relationship with their daughters. Lucy’s relationship with her dead mother also plays a big part in the story.

The reader learns the story of Lucy with all its warts and beauty.

If you are ready to read about the pandemic and its effects, then this is an interesting read. Is it too soon after the pandemic? Depends on the person, I guess. I truly enjoyed the writing style and the very human characters. I think you should read it.

Thanks for reading!

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Six Feet Deep Dish by Mindy Quigley

Dear Fellow Reader,

  Isn’t there something appealing about reading a book that takes place in a locale that you are familiar with? I find that it perks my interest. I want to see if I have been in the exact location as the characters and if I can “see” all the places that they talk about.

In Six Feet Deep by Mindy Quigly, we are transported to Geneva Bay, WI. Which, I am sure is based in Lake Geneva, WI. Even the main character’s name, Delilah O’Leary makes me think of the Irish Woods area just east of Lake Geneva, where there was a conclave of Irish immigrants.

Instead of the day being one of the big days in Delilah’s life, it goes from frustrating to disastrous. It is the day of the soft opening of Delila’s new pizza restaurant. Delilah can open this dream of hers with the financial help of her rich fiancé. The sign for the new restaurant arrives and they all go out to watch it being put in place. Delia has reluctantly left the sign as the responsibility of her fiancé. She has a hard time letting go of responsibilities, but she is sure he will get this right. He understands how important it is, right? When the sign is wrong, Delilah loses it with her fiancé. He then walks out on her. She can’t stop to evaluate or work on her relationship right then as she has a restaurant full of people about to arrive. She needs to have her best foot forward. She thinks everything is set until she finds her beloved aunt holding a gun over a dead body. Needless to say, the opening was cut short. When the police detective arrives and the scene and closes her new and newly unfinancially sound restaurant, Delilah has more worries than she can count. But the biggest problem is with her aunt. She is sure that her aunt didn’t kill anyone but how to prove it? And will Detective Calvin Capone be offended by her portrait of his famous relative in the restaurant?

Delilah has to find a murderer, untangle her relationship with her fiancé, (and find him for the police to question), and figure out what is going to happen to her dream.

This was a pleasant read. I enjoyed it. I am sure partially because of the location but the story was well-developed and moved along well. I would recommend it.

Thanks for reading!

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Book Banning

Dear Fellow Reader,

I have been reading articles for the last few months about the attempts in many locations to ban books. Not only ban books but also persecute librarians. ( (

Oh my. I am not sure where to start with this except to say that this is not Nazi Germany or a Communist country. I have no idea what rock these people have crawled out from under, but they need to wake up in the sunlight or crawl back under.

Book Banning and going after librarians is truly scary stuff. This is people wanting to control your thoughts and the information that you can obtain.

I find it truly horrifying. And if you don’t, then you need to pay more attention.

With that in mind, I have decided to educate myself about some of the books that people are talking and complaining about.

If you have never looked at the American Library Association’s list of books that people have tried to ban, you might be shocked. I am a volunteer book group coordinator for a group. I decided that in September (Banned Book Week is in September) that we would read a book that people have attempted to ban. I gave the ladies 5 choices of books. I was in a group that discussed the choices one day and there was general surprise that these titles were on the list. The following are the choices I gave them:

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

A Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Are you surprised by these titles? Then let this be your first wake up call as to what is going on in this country. Books that most consider classics and have won numerous literary awards are being objected to – in some cases for ONE PARAGRAPH in the book. (By the way, the voting is almost complete for my group, and it looks like the choice will be The Bluest Eye. (This book was brought up as part of the campaign for Governor of Virginia last year.)

But today, I would like to talk about a more contemporary book that is currently on top of the banned or attempted to be banned book list.

Gender Queer: A Memoir by Maia Kobabe.

Please note:  Maia uses alternate pronouns and I am going to respect that. I may not get it right because I am learning but she deserves this respect. Maia prefers ey, em, and eir for she, her, possessive her.

Part of me is not sure where to start. My first thought is that the people objecting to this book have not read it. I can’t believe that you could read this book and not have sympathy as your overriding feeling. I want to reach out and help em more than anything else, but I I want to stand by em side and support em.   

The book is Maia’s story of not feeling right in em body. It isn’t that ey is gay or ey is transgender. Ey doesn’t truly feel good about body. Ey just wants to be non-gender. Ey doesn’t want to be sexually active with anyone. Ey doesn’t like eir breasts, ey doesn’t like eir period, ey doesn’t like anything about eir sexuality. And she realizes that this is not the norm and is trying to find em way.

And I feel sorry for eir constant uncomfortable feelings. It is certainly not written in any titillating way. This stupid STUPID concept of “grooming” could not possibly be applied to this book. Ey doesn’t make it seem appealing. Ey feels bad about how ey is and ey wishes ey wasn’t that way. Ey is willing to be supportive of others who feel this way but ey is scared to volunteer to help because ey doesn’t know how people will react.

Why read this book? This book gives insight into how another person thinks. As with all fiction, it shows us that others think differently, and we can therefore grow because we know another viewpoint. It isn’t whether you agree or disagree with em, it is that you understand that there is this viewpoint.

I didn’t say at the beginning of this review that Gender Queer is a graphic novel. It is easy to read and well done. The graphics enhance eir telling of the story; they are not a distraction.

And no, it was not easy to write this review using Miai’s preferred pronouns. I am not sure I got it right all the time, but I respect em as a person, and it was what I can do to show that respect. As you may guess, my word processing editor has gone a bit mad with this. There are red marks all over the page.

I urge you to think for yourself and read the books on the Banned Book List. See if you think that they deserve this treatment.

Thanks for reading!

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The Lady Loves Danger by Anabelle Bryant

Dear Fellow Reader,

Why do people read romance novels? According to Book Riot (, one of the reasons is that romance novels are “the most optimistic, hopeful genre in the market”. In July of 2021, Esquire Magazine proclaimed in an article that “Better for You Than Porn: Why Men are Reading Romance Novels” and “They can revitalize your sex life, leading to some good, not-so-clean fun.” (

So, why aren’t you reading Romance? It is uplifting and feels good. It has what we all need these days, a happy ending.

“Romance novels reflect the world around us, and that world is a lot different than it was when your grandma was buying bodice-rippers. These novels aren’t paperback relics of the past; they’re more progressive and inclusive than ever before. “Whatever is going on in the world, and whatever is happening to women or marginalized people, is happening in the pages of romance novels,” said novelist Sarah MacLean. “But with the promise that everything will be okay. That no matter how bad it gets, happily ever after will come.” Romance is pure entertainment, designed to be enjoyed, that can expand your interior life along the way. What’s not to like?” Esquire Magazine

I have reviewed several sub-genres of romance novels in my posts. After all, there are historical romances, regency romances, fantasy romances, sports romances, erotic romances, LGBTQ+ romances, and paranormal romances to mention a few of the subcategories. You can take your pick. Look how popular the Bridgeton series has been on television: it is based on the regency romance book The Duke and I which came out in the year 2000.

This week, I have read The Lady Loves Danger by Anabelle Bryant. This book is the second in the Maidens of Mayhem book series. (See my review of the first book in the series.) As the book opens, we meet the handsome Sebastian St. Allen who is trying to catch a child trafficker at night in a bad part of town. He is thwarted because of a woman who calls out at the last moment. While he loses the bad guys, he chases after the woman to see who she is and why she is there. Lady Delilah Ashbrook runs from the man pursuing her but ends up trapped by a dirty vagrant with ill intentions. She is definitely in the wrong part of town, and it looks like she will pay for her mistake. But at the last second, she is saved by the handsome St. Allen. He takes her to his carriage where he asks her why she is there and why she ruined his chance to save the child.

Lady Ashbrook’s story comes out over two visits with St. Allen. She was out with Oliver, the son of her lady’s maid when he was stolen off the street. She feels responsible and is out looking to find the child.

This is the beginning of the irresistible draw that Lady Ashbrook and St. Allen have for each other. But Lady Ashbrook, who is new to the city, meets several new people in her quest to find Oliver. And alas, St. Allen is not of an equal class to Lady Ashbrook and should be forbidden fruit.

The book is a fun read. It is quick moving and while not surprising, it is satisfying.

Thanks for reading!

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The Gin Sisters’ Promise by Faith Hogan

Dear Fellow Reader,

Do you ever have those times when you drift away from reading? It doesn’t happen to me often but sometimes I get busy doing other things and neglect my reading. This is not good when I have two book groups to say nothing of the reading I do for reviews.

I decided that it is time to take some of the guilt for not reading that stack of TBR books that reside in the living room. That stack that I have promised to read for the last TWO YEARS. I have, in the past, gone through the stack and removed one or two books that I didn’t think I really wanted to read. Well, I went through the other day knowing that I can give the books to the local library. The library can use them either to raise funds in the used book sale or by replacing worn copies from the shelves. The library can benefit from the light feeling I get from not having to look at those books. With that thought, it was easier to be truthful about whether I was really going to read them. Besides, I can always take them out of the library if I change my mind.

Sometimes when a book sits around for a while, I feel it gets stale. My interest in reading a book seems to diminish the longer I put off reading it. Do you find that to be the case?

Today, we are going to talk about The Gin Sisters’ Promise by Faith Hogan. This book is a new release – it just came out last week. When I started this book, I knew I was behind and needed to really get in gear reading. The pressure was on. The book opens with the three sisters at the time of their mother’s funeral. Georgie, Iris, and Nora are lost but Nora was so young that the sisters promise to stay together and support each other. And then they grew up. They hurt each other and turned away from their home and each other. Georgie went to work in the advertising industry and became successful in some ways. Iris is the only sister who married but her marriage had caused her separation from the family. It seems that they did not see her husband as being as perfect as she did. And Nora was an actress.

But it seems that their real lives were not what the sisters saw in each other’s lives. Georgie was up for a big promotion that she knew she should get but didn’t. It went so badly that she was out of a job. Iris’s husband left her for another woman – a pregnant woman. And Nora’s agent quit the business and told her that she needed to move on. That there were no other acting jobs for her.

It is with each of the sisters at a crossroads that their father dies. They all go home for the funeral feeling bad that they had not treated their father as they should have. And they all dread facing each other.

With the reading of the will, a change in their lives will start.

I will admit that I was tempted not to read the book as I thought that I could guess what would happen. But once I started reading, I was sucked into the story. The pages flew by. It was not exactly what I would have guessed, and I am still partially surprised by the ending.

I think that this is a good summer read. You can enjoy the evolution of the girls and their life back in the small town of Ireland where they came from.

I just looked and Amazon has the Kindle version on sale right now. Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

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