Monthly Archives: March 2013

yup, i’ve been reading…

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I’ve been reading (and not blogging) and now it’s time to play catch-up and recommend some books!

I will start with the best books I’ve read recently and work my way downward:

wife

A Reliable Wife by Robert Goolrick was a great book.  I was surprised by the twists and turns and completely enjoyed every moment reading this book.  I would have never guessed the beginning, middle, or end — glad to have read this one!

Goodreads describes the book:

Rural Wisconsin, 1909. In the bitter cold, Ralph Truitt, a successful businessman, stands alone on a train platform waiting for the woman who answered his newspaper advertisement for “a reliable wife.” But when Catherine Land steps off the train from Chicago, she’s not the “simple, honest woman” that Ralph is expecting. She is both complex and devious, haunted by a terrible past and motivated by greed. Her plan is simple: she will win this man’s devotion, and then, ever so slowly, she will poison him and leave Wisconsin a wealthy widow. What she has not counted on, though, is that Truitt a passionate man with his own dark secrets has plans of his own for his new wife. Isolated on a remote estate and imprisoned by relentless snow, the story of Ralph and Catherine unfolds in unimaginable ways.
With echoes of “Wuthering Heights” and “Rebecca,” Robert Goolrick’s intoxicating debut novel delivers a classic tale of suspenseful seduction, set in a world that seems to have gone temporarily off its axis.

charms

Charms for the Easy Life by Kaye Gibbons was a great book, as well.  I’ve read other books by Kaye Gibbons and loved them (Ellen Foster and A Virtuous Woman) and I was not disappointed with this one either.  I loved hearing the story of three generations of amazing and interesting women and how they lived their eccentric lives in rural North Carolina during WWII.

Goodreads describes the book:

A family without men, the Birches live gloriously offbeat lives in the lush, green backwoods of North Carolina. Radiant, headstrong Sophia and her shy, brilliant daughter, Margaret, possess powerful charms to ward off loneliness, despair, and the human misery that often beats a path to their door. And they are protected by the eccentric wisdom and muscular love of the remarkable matriarch Charlie Kate, a solid, uncompromising, self-taught healer who treats everything from boils to broken bones to broken hearts.

Sophia, Margaret, and Charlie Kate find strength in a time when women almost always depended on men, and their bond deepens as each one experiences love and loss during World War II. Charms for the Easy Life is a passionate, luminous, and exhilarating story about embracing what life has to offer … even if it means finding it in unconventional ways.

crooked

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin was a really good book.  It was available for “immediate download” on my Kindle from our public library, so I decided to borrow it.  It was interesting and detailed and I’m glad I read it — enjoyed it thoroughly!   I thought it was a horror book because of the name — nope, I’m just slow — the book is based in Mississippi.

Goodreads describes the book:

Tom Franklin’s narrative power and flair for characterization have been compared to the likes of Harper Lee, Flannery O’Connor, Elmore Leonard, and Cormac McCarthy.

Now the Edgar Award-winning author returns with his most accomplished and resonant novel so far; an atmospheric drama set in rural Mississippi. In the late 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas “32” Jones were boyhood pals. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry, the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, single black mother. Yet for a few months the boys stepped outside of their circumstances and shared a special bond. But then tragedy struck: Larry took a girl on a date to a drive-in movie, and she was never heard from again. She was never found and Larry never confessed, but all eyes rested on him as the culprit. The incident shook the county—and perhaps Silas most of all. His friendship with Larry was broken, and then Silas left town.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry, a mechanic, lives a solitary existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has returned as a constable. He and Larry have no reason to cross paths until another girl disappears and Larry is blamed again. And now the two men who once called each other friend are forced to confront the past they’ve buried and ignored for decades.

expats

The Expats by Chris Pavone was a good book.  This is not a genre I normally read, but it was a nice change.  We are reading this for my neighborhood bookclub.  It was  a quick and fun read.  There is nothing to re-read as you go or think too hard about.  It was a bit predictable, but I still enjoyed it.

Goodreads describes the book:

Kate Moore is a working mother, struggling to make ends meet, to raise children, to keep a spark in her marriage . . . and to maintain an increasingly unbearable life-defining secret. So when her husband is offered a lucrative job in Luxembourg, she jumps at the chance to leave behind her double-life, to start anew.

She begins to reinvent herself as an expat, finding her way in a language she doesn’t speak, doing the housewifely things she’s never before done—play-dates and coffee mornings, daily cooking and unending laundry. Meanwhile, her husband works incessantly, doing a job Kate has never understood, for a banking client she’s not allowed to know. He’s becoming distant and evasive; she’s getting lonely and bored.

Then another American couple arrives. Kate soon becomes suspicious that these people are not who they claim to be, and terrified that her own past is catching up to her. So Kate begins to dig, to peel back the layers of deception that surround her. She discovers fake offices and shell corporations and a hidden gun; a mysterious farmhouse and numbered accounts with bewildering sums of money; a complex web of intrigue where no one is who they claim to be, and the most profound deceptions lurk beneath the most normal-looking of relationships; and a mind-boggling long-play con threatens her family, her marriage, and her life.

daughter

Not My Daughter by Barbara Delinsky was another book that was available for “immediate download” from the library, so I borrowed it.   It was a quick read.  The premise of book is a pregnancy pact between 17 year old daughters.  I have three daughters of my own, so it was a bit traumatizing to think about.  This may be a good book to discuss at bookclub and get other people’s thoughts about how to prevent something like this from happening, were the mother’s (and father’s) at fault, why did the teens think this was a good idea, etc…

Goodreads describes the book:

When Susan Tate’s seventeen-year-old daughter, Lily, announces she is pregnant, Susan is stunned. A single mother, she has struggled to do everything right. She sees the pregnancy as an unimaginable tragedy for both Lily and herself.

Then comes word of two more pregnancies among high school juniors who happen to be Lily’s best friends-and the town turns to talk of a pact. As fingers start pointing, the most ardent criticism is directed at Susan. As principal of the high school, she has always been held up as a role model of hard work and core values. Now her detractors accuse her of being a lax mother, perhaps not worthy of the job of shepherding impressionable students. As Susan struggles with the implications of her daughter’s pregnancy, her job, financial independence, and long-fought-for dreams are all at risk.

The emotional ties between mothers and daughters are stretched to breaking in this emotionally wrenching story of love and forgiveness. Once again, Barbara Delinsky has given us a powerful novel, one that asks a central question: What does it take to be a good mother?

riversong

Riversong by Tess Thompson was a book I got for free from http://www.bookbub.com.  It sounded interesting, so I downloaded it.  It was a bit predictable, but it still has some good merits.  It is a quick read and I don’t feel like I wasted time by reading it.  Unfortunately, I have read a few books that I was happy to be finished and I was disappointed I read it — this was not one of those books.

Goodreads describes the book:

Author Tess Thompson assembles a colorful cast of endearing small-town characters and takes you on a journey that will make you believe in the possibilities of life – even in the face of overwhelming adversity and unimaginable grief.

Lee Tucker is the kind of woman you find yourself rooting for long after the last page is read. When her husband commits suicide, he leaves her pregnant and one million dollars in debt to a loan shark. Out of options, she escapes to her deceased mother’s dilapidated house located in a small Oregon town that, like her, is financially ruined, heartbroken and in desperate need of a fresh start. Lee’s resilience leads to a plan for a destination restaurant named Riversong, to new chances for passion and love, and to danger from her dead husband’s debt as her business blooms.

A surprising mix of romance, humor, friendship, intrigue and gourmet food, Riversong entertains while reminding you of life’s greatest gifts.

good grief

Good Grief by Lolly Winston is a New York Times Bestseller.  It makes me doubt every book on that list.  It is about a woman who looses her husband and it is supposed to be a comedy…?  The things that happen to the main character and the situations the author tries to portray as funny — were absolutely not funny to me.  When your spouse dies and you can’t regroup… there is nothing funny about that.  The book takes a turn and I was able to appreciate it more, so I ended up being okay with the book and actually enjoying it towards the end, but I didn’t love it.

Goodreads describes the book:

Thirty-six-year-old Sophie Stanton desperately wants to be a good widow-a graceful, composed, Jackie Kennedy kind of widow. Alas, she is more of the Jack Daniels kind. Self-medicating with ice cream for breakfast, breaking down at the supermarket, and showing up to work in her bathrobe and bunny slippers-soon she’s not only lost her husband, but her job, house…and waistline. With humor and chutzpah Sophie leaves town, determined to reinvent her life. But starting over has its hurdles; soon she’s involved with a thirteen-year-old who has a fascination with fire, and a handsome actor who inspires a range of feelings she can’t cope with-yet.

Please view “reading now” for current and past book postings.

to kill a mockingbird…

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mockingbirdHarper Lee’s book, To Kill a Mockingbird, was honestly one of the best books I have ever read.

It was truly amazing to read about racial inequalities and social justice (and injustice) from a child’s point of view.  The innocence of their thought process, not swayed yet by bigotry and community pressure, was incredible to read.  These children judged the people around them by their actions and asked questions if they were confused.  They wept when people were wronged simply because of the color of their skin.  If we all could only take lessons from this book.

I was also amazed that an author could capture a child’s voice and thoughts so vividly.

I applaud this book… I simply loved it.

Goodreads describes the book:

The unforgettable novel of a childhood in a sleepy Southern town and the crisis of conscience that rocked it. To Kill A Mockingbird became both an instant bestseller and a critical success when it was first published in 1960. It went on to win the Pulitzer Prize in 1961 and was later made into an Academy Award-winning film, also a classic.

Compassionate, dramatic, and deeply moving, To Kill A Mockingbird takes readers to the roots of human behavior—to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos. Now with over 18 million copies in print and translated into forty languages, this regional story, by a young Alabama woman, claims universal appeal. Harper Lee always considered her book to be a simple love story. Today it is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Please view “reading now” for current and past book postings.