March Books

Wife for Hire (Evanovich)
Then We Came to the End (Ferris)
The Pornographer (McGahern)
74 Seaside Avenue (Macomber)
The Barracks (McGahern)
Bet Your Bottom Dollar (Gillespie)
The Hill Road (O’Keeffe)

The Hill Road by Patrick O’Keeffe

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I’ve concluded the month of March with another book about Ireland. The Hill Road consists of four short stories that are set in the rural southwest of Ireland. Here I go again describing a book as mostly bleak. That said, O’Keeffe’s writing is very good. He had me drawing parallels to my own life – especially the car ride to Sunday Mass in the story “The Hill Road”.

Bet Your Bottom Dollar by Karin Gillespie

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Booklist: “A first novel that is guaranteed to please Fannie Flagg and Bailey White fans…Bet Your Bottom Dollar [is a] charming Cinderella story about a feisty “princess” who fights dragons (big business) and wins hearts. Brace for a wild ride chock-full of southern wit and down-home advice from a clutch of quirky characters you will hope to see again soon.”

A big Thank You to Lynne ( ) for bringing this book to my attention! It’s a light, heart-warming and funny story. I laughed out loud throughout the book.

I agree with the Booklist review: if you enjoy Fannie Flagg, Bet Your Bottom Dollar is sure to please!

Jon Hassler

Jon Hassler died last week. He had progressive supranuclear palsy which is similar to Parkinson’s disease. He was 74 years old. Hassler grew up in a small town in north-central Minnesota. After college, he taught high school and college English before starting his writing career.

Though very ill, he finished the book Jay O’Malley a few weeks before his death. Jon Hassler

In the LA Times obituary it was noted “He didn’t publish his first novel, Staggerford, a semi-autobiographical story about a high school teacher in a small town, until his early 40s.” His other books include: Simon’s Night; The Love Hunter; A Green Journey; North of Hope; Dear James.

Angela Landsbury starred in the television version of A Green Journey. I’ve read most of his novels and am saddened to think there will be no more. Jon Hassler will be missed.

The Barracks by John McGahern

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Back of the Book: Elizabeth Reegan, after years of freedom – and loneliness – marries into the enclosed Irish village of her upbringing. The children are not her own; her husband is straining to break free from the servile security of the police force; and her own life, threatened by illness, seems to be losing the last vestiges of its purpose. Moving between tragedy and savage comedy, desperation and joy, John McGahern’s first novel is one of haunting power.

My Thoughts:
I can best describe The Barracks with one word: bleak. That said, I couldn’t stop reading. I’m amazed at how McGahern got inside a middle-aged woman’s mind. I felt like I was living her life – that’s how real he wrote her thoughts. I felt depressed, desperate, frustrated, angry, ill. His ability to convey real emotion is genius – it’s what keeps me coming back. There’s no mistaking his intent. His books are not easy reads for me but I’m reminded that good things are rarely easy.

Then We Came To The End

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I decided to forego cleaning the house this morning and instead finished the book. Even as late as yesterday I wasn’t sure I liked this book. I can say now that I did. At times I was wincing and other times I was laughing out loud – that got me stares at the Phoenix airport last week (and I didn’t care). Do I recommend this? Yes, to anyone who has experienced working with several people at a time and not necessarily at an office. I was a teacher many years ago and there were people I could plug into the office coworker spots of TWCTTE. Ferris wrote a book that is unlike my normal read. So, if you’re ready to switch things up a bit, go for it.

I liked the pages at the end of the book that include a short author interview and then a list of his fav books.

Wife For Hire

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No, not me, LOL. I bought this at the airport yesterday and read it on the flight home. It’s VERY light and obviously a quick read if I was able to read it all on the flight! There certainly could be a sequel and I’d probably read it. The airport shop is part of the Read & Return program that is available at many US airports. I can get 50% back on the cost if I return it within 6 months of purchase. Not a bad deal if you fly a few times per year. They sell the returned books at a bargain price.