Tag Archives: Book reviews

New Adventures Start Next Week

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I am finishing up my last week with my current employer and preparing to start my new job next week. I was told that I will be learning to drive the book mobile the end of the week. Normally I would be terrified by this kind of news but I am a bit excited, truth be told. No one is more stunned than I, at this revelation. I guess staring down one fear after another in the past year prepares you for adventures that you actually want. That hasn’t happened to me in a while. Bonus material.

We had a day of summer weather, warm and breezy. I was disturbed to hear a fire has started (already) in our foothills. It’s way too early for that, and the prelude to water rationing that is surely on it’s way. I wonder what the golf courses will do? I also wonder what drought ridden countries would think about the amount of water it takes to keep golf courses green, or swimming pools for that matter. The word drought changes how you look at water consumption, to be sure.

I have been catching up on some reading, I had five books come in this past week. I just finished The Orchardist and was sweetly surprised at how it pulled me in. Some of the chapters are only a paragraph or two, and I liked it. The story revolves around quiet and contained Talmadge.  He spends his life caring for his Pacific Northwest, isolated orchards of apples and apricots at the turn of the century. This book sneaks up on you. The author, Amanda Coplin, makes a stunning debut, with her layers of complex relationships, in this story of loss and redemption. Talmadge never really resolves the mysterious disappearance of his only sibling, off the mountain where they were raised. His need to care for two wild-child women, who seek shelter on his property, change the course of his quiet life forever. This story is disturbing, compelling, and one that I couldn’t turn away from, even though I wanted to at times. It has a meandering quality that makes you want to see what is around the next bend.

I have just started The Imposter Bride by Nancy Richler that is very promising, about a woman in the aftermath of WWII who steals someone’s identity and then, next, a wonderful book by Robert Gottlieb called Great Expectations, The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens. Mr. Dickens fathered ten children, but wasn’t the most ideal dad. His own childhood and notoriety (remember Norman Rockwell?) got in the way.  None the less, he left a priceless legacy of literature, full of unforgettable young characters. I couldn’t resist this one because of my thing for Mr. Dickens and his brilliance. His passionate, sexual nature make things more interesting. I’m enjoying it so far. It does however, take away some of the mystique and romance from the man, kind of like when I read the biography of Charles Schultz. Seriously. Do I really need to know that depression inspired Schulz’s altar ego Charlie Brown? Being the arm chair psychologist I am? Most definitely, and I think a bibliophile does too. We want to know everything!

It will be interesting to see how I keep up with blogging with my new job. Of course, I don’t have to spend hours changing resumes and applying for jobs. At my last library job, books inspired me to write regularly, but this will be a little more demanding. We shall see won’t we? Thanks for coming along anyway.

Contentment

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This is the first day I’ve had for doing absolutely nothing…if I choose.  I realized that I have been super stressed because I’ve had no time to do nothing, or even string together blocks of time for thinking of doing nothing. My soul took a big breath today and I feel relaxed for the first time in weeks. Went and saw the epic Lincoln, with my besty, and am feeling content.  By the way?  Sallie Field is brilliant, and David Spade more than held his own with over the top performances by Daniel Day Lewis and cast.

Sallie Field as Mrs. Lincoln

My daughter will be returning here to live, two weeks hence, and I can’t help but be happy to have my kids nearby again. I know due to the vagaries of life, that this is temporary, and I plan to enjoy every minute of it…whether they like it or not.  I deserve the contentment, it’s been hard earned.

I’ve read three books this week, always a barometer for how in sync I am with myself. Reading isn’t just a hobby for me. It’s necessary for my well being. Oxygen for my contentment. My poor copy of The Elegance of the Hedgehog has been lying neglected while I read the four books that came in for me last week. The wonderful character of Flavia de Luce didn’t let me down in her latest mystery. She is acerbic, brilliant and precocious as ever, and more than holds her own with all the adult characters parading through her English village. She is someone I’d be delighted to meet, because she is so very interesting, along with her trusty side-kick Gladys. Not easy to do with an eleven year old. She was seven (going on 70) in her debut in The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, but is standing the test of time brilliantly. Do yourself a favor and read this wonderful series by Alan Bradley.

My next read was Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife, the powerful and amazing story of a doctor who has a near death experience (NDE) and is forever changed. For those of you who find the fundamental Christian movement as terrifying as I do, you will find hope in this story. It is a simple reminder of what the afterlife is, and should be, (based on the unlimited love we are constantly told that exists in God’s heart for us) and what unconditional love must  feel like. I love the message he heard when first arriving. Paraphrasing, you can’t do anything wrong here. Wow, what a concept! I get overwhelmed with the do’s and don’ts and expectations felt here on earth. There are surprises in this book I don’t want to reveal, but for all those people out there spiritually confused or doubting, this book will give you lots of  food for thought. I love how he reconciles science and the afterlife. We are taught they are separate but he discovers otherwise, and shares the message. This won’t be the last we hear from Dr. Eben Alexander, and I’m glad. This is fascinating.

Miss Dreamsville and the Collier County Women’s Literary Society is the perfect book of imperfect characters, to offset the seriousness of life. Take a middle-aged wife and mother from Boston who’s moved to a small Florida town in 1962, (who is about to emancipate herself via Betty Friedan) and throw her in a convertible with a young gay man, and a black woman yearning for college: mix and stir with a paroled wife who murdered her husband, the town librarian and a divorcee, among others, in the conservative segregated south, and you have a molotov cocktail of drama and hilarity. I adore this book just half way through. It is bursting at the seams with everything but the kitchen sink.

Last but not least, calling to me in the wings is Kate Morton’s newest book The Secret Keeper. I fell in love with this storyteller in The Forgotten Garden, a book I couldn’t put down. It was also a huge hit in our book club. So there you have it. The reasons I never have to worry about what to do, when I want to do nothing.

Back to Books

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I am settling in to my routine. Job search, eat, change resume, job search, change cover letter, eat, computer class, homework so I can ultimately reward myself with eating and reading, but before I start the stories on my girls, I want to update you on some books. Remember those?

I liked “Beach Colors” by Shelley Noble. This author is a former dancer and choreographer but chose to write about the fashion industry, hence the title. Although I would have rather read about dancers, she did a good job of creating a start over for Margaux, the star of this story. She loses everything to a loser husband and returns home to her small Connecticut home near the sea.

I can’t get enough of these books. If it has sea, ocean, beach or even cottage in the title, I’m hooked. Oh yeah, and Maine. (Although my friend that goes to college inland there, assured me that the coast is the only mesmerizing part of Maine). Anyway, Margaux licks her wounds, reconnects with her mom and friends and discovers that the brooding local police chief  (I know…) gives her the shivers. Add a traumatized six year old boy (the chief’s nephew) who only whispers and you have more than a decent read. Well written with good characterizations. Shelley is not just good at dancing.

I got a new library card and will baptize it (sorry) with Philip Gully’s newest pew rocker, “The Evolution of Faith: How God is Creating a New Christianity”, “The Color of Tea” by Hannah Tunnicliffe, “The Shoemaker’s Wife” by Adriana Trigiani and yes, you guessed it…”The Cottage at Glass Beach” by Barbieri.

Some (first time authors) new books to be released in August, which sound fabulous, are “City of Women”, a historical thriller about the city of Berlin emptied of men during WWll, with movie rights already sold! I look forward to M. L. Stedman’s book “The Light Between Oceans” about a couple in Australia who decided to raise a child found on the island where they are lighthouse keepers during WWl, and a fictional memoir called “In the Shadow of the Banyan” about the 1970’s Khmer Rouge Cambodian genocide by Vaddey Ratner, who was minor royalty at the time.

Yum, lots to look forward to between living.

Books…For A Change?

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A long time friend gave me a copy of her first published book. “Wings of Love” is a spiritual allegory of the soul and is rendered by the mesmerizing illustrations of Eris Klein. Like the possibilities in any book, this will speak powerfully to those who are open to it. I love that Pamela Sachs illustrates her spiritual journey by sharing such a deeply personal part of her life with the world. Like most of us she has faced many a mountain climb. She had two young girls to raise as she lost her young husband.  She told me that this is more of a “gift” book, it’s a short, soft cover and I have to agree with her. It’s a gift.

My next read was a fluffy-beach-towel read by Holly Chamberlin that  has three very different women, (who are strangers) sharing a run down beach house on Martha’s Vineyard.

One is a very structured with a controlled plan. Another is escaping a stifling fiance and the other is a shoot-from-the-hip, free spirit, who doesn’t like commitment. I thought some of their personal conversations tedious until they got to know each other better. Not a bad read and it had some funny moments. The women grow more introspective together  and that’s what made this book interesting to me. I love that they jump in with both feet despite their natures.

I saved the best book for last. “The Gilly Salt Sisters”by Tiffany Baker is wonderful. It has all the elements I love in a book. Quirky, eccentric, thrilling. This  story is chock full of  believable characters you can’t help but like. The savagery of high passions mixed with tenderness, mystery, and intrigue. This book has everything.

Claire and Jo are two sisters who are a contrast of night and day. They live on a salt pond in an isolated village in Cape Cod. The salt is there livelihood and the crystals hold mysterious properties. They become estranged tragically but at the story’s conclusion an odd trio of women decide the fate of a man, insanely driven to own the salt pond. Couldn’t put this down. You’ll never look at the spice of life the same again.