Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast

  • can't we talk about something more pleasant?Title:  Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?:  A Memoir
  • Author:  Roz Chast
  • Genre:  Memoir; Graphic
  • Published:  May 2014 – Bloomsbury USA
  • Source:  Library

Synopsis:  #1 New York Times Bestseller; 2014 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD LONGLIST FOR NONFICTION

In her first memoir, Roz Chast brings her signature wit to the topic of aging parents. Spanning the last several years of their lives and told through four-color cartoons, family photos, and documents, and a narrative as rife with laughs as it is with tears, Chast’s memoir is both comfort and comic relief for anyone experiencing the life-altering loss of elderly parents.

When it came to her elderly mother and father, Roz held to the practices of denial, avoidance, and distraction. But when Elizabeth Chast climbed a ladder to locate an old souvenir from the “crazy closet”—with predictable results—the tools that had served Roz well through her parents’ seventies, eighties, and into their early nineties could no longer be deployed.

While the particulars are Chast-ian in their idiosyncrasies—an anxious father who had relied heavily on his wife for stability as he slipped into dementia and a former assistant principal mother whose overbearing personality had sidelined Roz for decades—the themes are universal: adult children accepting a parental role; aging and unstable parents leaving a family home for an institution; dealing with uncomfortable physical intimacies; managing logistics; and hiring strangers to provide the most personal care.

An amazing portrait of two lives at their end and an only child coping as best she can, Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant will show the full range of Roz Chast’s talent as cartoonist and storyteller.  (publisher)

My take:  Roz Chast’s memoir is a candid look into her life, her relationship with her parents, and their final days. An only child, the enormous lifelong responsibility was all hers. You may be familiar with Chast’s New Yorker cartoons which I’ve always found notable for portraying the human condition. Her illustrations in this memoir are equally remarkable.

At times uncomfortable, at times relatable I found Can’t We talk about Something More Pleasant? a compelling read and recommend it to fans of graphic memoirs, the author, and anyone who finds themselves in the position of caretaker of an elderly parent.

Rescue by Anita Shreve

Title:  Rescue

Author: Anita Shreve

Narrator:  Dennis Holland

Genre:  Fiction

Peter Webster rescues people for a living. One night he helps to save a woman involved in a car crash. Later he can’t stop thinking about her so,despite all obvious signs that she is trouble, he pursues a relationship with her. When Sheila tells him she’s pregnant with his baby he marries her. For a while it seems he really has saved her but then Sheila starts to fall back to old habits and becomes a danger to herself and their child. Flash forward several years: Rowan is seventeen and acting out. History seems to be repeating itself. Webster is afraid his daughter is becoming just like her mother. Will he be able to rescue Rowan?

Rescue would make a good book club selection because of  the discussion possibilities: Can people who don’t ask for help be saved when it seems they desperately need it? What might the ramifications be? Shreve works through those questions with her characters. While it’s not my favorite by the author I found it thought-provoking. I listened to the audiobook ably narrated by Dennis Holland.

Source:  My local library

The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

Title: The Last Time I Saw You

Author: Elizabeth Berg

Genre: Fiction

About: (from the book flap):  From the beloved bestselling author of Home Safe and The Year of Pleasures, comes a wonderful new novel about women and men reconnecting with one another—and themselves—at their fortieth high school reunion.

My thoughts: Imagine getting ready for your 40th and final class reunion.  That’s what the characters in Elizabeth Berg’s latest novel are doing.  Everyone is a little nervous but since it’s the last one they make the effort to attend.  We meet the popular jock, the beautiful cheerleader, the nerds, and a host of others.  It was easy to fill in with my own high school classmate version of each character.  The event finally arrives and it was interesting to watch it unfold.  Berg made me laugh out loud one minute and feel the ache of sadness the next.

Since there are several characters some of them are not as developed as I’m used to finding in Berg’s novels – probably due to the fact that the book is only 244 pages. There are comic moments as well as bittersweet but, as with most Berg novels, the end is hopeful – not wrapped up with a pretty bow – but hopeful nonetheless. I liked that.

Recommend? Yes, for Elizabeth Berg fans and anyone who has contemplated going to a high school class reunion.

Source: Library

Goodnight Tweetheart by Teresa Medeiros

Title: Goodnight Tweetheart

Author: Teresa Medeiros

Genre: Fiction

About: (Back of the book) Abigail Donovan has a lot of stuff she should be doing. Namely writing her next novel. A bestselling author who is still recovering from a near Pulitzer Prize win and the heady success that follows Oprah’s stamp of approval, she is stuck at Chapter Five and losing confidence daily. But when her publicist signs her up for a Twitter account, she’s intrigued. What’s all the f…more

My thoughts: At first glance, Goodnight Tweetheart is a light-hearted novel.  The tweets are witty and clever and filled with of-the-moment social references (songs, movies, tv shows, etc). Little by little Medeiros revealed details about Abby and Mark that drew me in and made me care about them.  I went into the book thinking this could never happen in real life. Though I’m still a skeptic, what surprised me was how much I wanted to see a happily-ever-after for the two characters.  I enjoyed their story.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Recommend? Yes.  Perfect for the beach, a cross-country flight or a cold winter night.

Source: Library

Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor by Lisa Kleypas

Title: Christmas Eve at Friday Harbor

Author: Lisa Kleypas

Genre: Fiction

My thoughts: I listened to this holiday romance. It’s a sweet and enjoyable novel about Mark Nolan who seems quite willing to settle for a relationship with the wrong woman and Maggie Conroy, a young widow, who thinks she’s had her one chance at love so she’s not interested in anything more than friendship.

Mark became his young niece Holly’s guardian after the tragic death of his sister. The woman he’s been dating seems to think Holly shouldn’t be considered Mark’s child because he’s not her father. Mark starts to feel not so willing to settle with that woman. He’s becoming more attracted to Maggie anyway but she isn’t interested in dating – ever.

Surprisingly this is the first Lisa Kleypas novel I’ve ever read. I like her easy style as she takes the reader through a not-so-unusual plot but makes it seem fresh, just the same. This is a light, feel-good read that is perfect for the season. It combines Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Why I chose: I read it for the Holiday Reading Challenge.

Recommend? Yes, to fans of holiday romance fiction and Lisa Kleypas.  I listened to the unabridged audiobook performed by Tanya Eby.  I enjoyed her presentation.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Source: Library

Stay by Allie Larkin

Author: Allie Larkin

Genre: Fiction

About: It’s the funny yet poignant story of Savannah (Van) who has experienced some great loss in her life.  She grew up without a father, her mother died a few years ago, and her best friend just married the guy Van loved. Distraught after the wedding she has a pity party for one that involves Kool-Aid and vodka, a Rin Tin Tin marathon and her computer – resulting in a purchase she barely remembers.

Thoughts: I liked most of the characters in Allie Larkin’s charming debut novel but especially Joe, the pity party purchase (and star of the book cover).  Because of Joe, Van meets Alex, a veterinarian who is also a nice guy with a great smile.  Van starts to see new possibilities in her life (thanks in part to Joe and Alex).  She begins to more clearly understand some of the events in her past.  The end result is a satisfying story that had me smiling as I turned the last page.

Source: Library

Why I Chose: Bloggers I trust gave it good reviews.

Recommend? Yes, especially if you’re in the mood for some entertaining chick lit.

Rating: 4/5 stars

The Perfect Love Song: A Holiday Story by Patti Callahan Henry

Title: The Perfect Love Song

Author: Patti Callahan Henry

Genre: Fiction

About: (book blurb) Jimmy Sullivan has been living on the road with his brother, Jack, and his band The Unknown Souls. Without a place to call home, Jimmy and Jack lead a nomadic life filled with music and anonymous cities. When they return to a place Jimmy never wants to see again —their old hometown of Seaboro, South Carolina —he falls in love with Charlotte Carrington. With his soul now filled with hope, Jimmy writes his first love song. When he performs it at a holiday concert to a standing ovation, the lyrics are dubbed the ““Perfect Love Song,” so much so that Jimmy finds himself going on tour with famous country music stars, catapulted into a world where the trappings of fame and fortune reign supreme. All too soon, the hope that had once inspired Jimmy to write such beautiful, genuine lyrics is overshadowed by what the song can do for him and his career. In his thirst for recognition, he agrees to miss Jack’s wedding in Ireland to sing at a Christmas Eve concert. And his ties to Charlotte seem to be ever so quickly slipping away. Alone in New York City on Christmas Eve, Jimmy finally sees —with the help of a Christmas miracle or two —that his material gains are nothing compared to love, that he is losing all that really matters in his life. Is it too late to find his way to Ireland, to his brother, and to love?

Descriptive Words: A sweet and magical tale of love and forgiveness.

Thoughts: Grab a cup of tea and curl up with this love story.  If you read the author’s novel When Light Breaks you’ll be pleased to know that characters from that book are in The Perfect Love Song. Brothers Jimmy and Jack Sullivan are musicians on the rise to fame.  They also happen to love Charlotte and Kara who are best friends.  One Christmas Jimmy’s gift to Charlotte is a song that he wrote.  That song eventually attracts attention from a concert producer which changes things for the brothers, their band, and most importantly, Jimmy and Charlotte.

This is a light tale of love and forgiveness and the chance that is taken by being open to both.  I enjoyed the magical, almost mythical, tone of the novel. I wasn’t sure who the narrator was until the end but it made sense and made me smile.  I wish the main characters had been a bit more developed.  I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t read When Light Breaks, the fact that it’s a short book (224 pages), or if it’s just me,  but I didn’t connect with them.  That said, if you’re looking for a bit of an escape during the busy holidays, this could be the book for you.

Source: Library

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Why I Chose: I’ve enjoyed other books by the author;  it’s on the Okra Picks challenge list.

Recommend? Maybe, to fans of Patti Callahan Henry and a sweet love story.


Show Me 5 Saturday – Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner


[SHOWME5.jpg]
now hosted by Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here


1. Book title:
Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner

2. Words that describe the book:
Western, suspense/romance

3. Settings or characters:
* Jessica Thornton – a long way from her home in England, she’s seeking a new life and hoping to find her brother.
* Brady Wilkins – a cattle rancher who runs the RosaRojo ranch.
* The New Mexico desert location

4. Things I liked/disliked about the book:
* liked the author’s descriptive writing. I could imagine the gorgeous sunsets and the odors and aromas of the ranch.
* Jessica and Brady are opposites so it was fun to watch the attraction grow. The pace of the story was great.
* I liked that the minor characters (passengers on the stagecoach, for example) didn’t distract from the story. They were a bit over the top but they served a purpose.
* I’ve never read a historical western novel so I wasn’t sure how I’d like it. I really enjoyed it and look forward to the second in the Blood Rose Trilogy.

5. Stars or less: 4.5 stars

Library copy

Pieces of Sky

Goodreads synopsis (not my review):
On a stagecoach traveling through New Mexico Territory, Jessica Thornton is a long way from the cool mists and lush gardens of her native England. An authoress and milliner, she carries the weight of a scandalous secret-a horrible shame that has brought her to the West on a desperate search for the only family she can trust: her brother.


No one prepared Jessica for the heat and the hardships. And no one prepared her for a man like Brady Wilkins. For, despite the rancher’s rough-hewn appearance and her own misgivings, Jessica must put her life in his hands after their stagecoach crashes. And she begins to see the man behind the callused hands and caustic wit. A man strong enough to carve out a home in the wilderness, brave enough to fight for his own, and passionate enough to restore her faith in herself-and in her heart.

Show Me 5 Saturday – On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

[SHOWME5.jpg]
now hosted by Jenners at Find Your Next Book Here


1. Book title:
On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan

2. Words that describe the book:
Life-changing misunderstandings

3. Settings or characters:
* Edward
* Florence
* England

4. Things I liked/disliked about the book:
* I love McEwan’s spare writing.
* I like the way the characters’ back stories are revealed and the similarities they unknowingly share.
* I’m intrigued by a novel about two people whose lives are forever changed by one misunderstanding.
* I liked the audiobook.

5. Stars or less: 4 stars.


On Chesil Beach
From Goodreads:
It is 1962 when Edward and Florence, 23 and 22 respectively, marry and repair to a hotel on the Dorset coast for their honeymoon. They are both virgins, both apprehensive about what’s next and in Florence’s case, utterly and blindly terrified and repelled by the little she knows.

McEwan is the master of the defining moment, that place and time when, once it has taken place, nothing will ever be the same after it. It does not go well and Florence flees the room. “As she understood it, there were no words to name what had happened, there existed no shared language in which two sane adults could describe such events to each other.” Edward eventually follows her and they have a poignant and painful conversation where accusations are made, ugly things are said and roads are taken from which, in the case of these two, the way back cannot be found. Late in Edward’s life he realizes: “Love and patience–if only he had them both at once–would surely have seen them both through.” This beautifully told sad story could have been conceived and written only by Ian McEwan. –Valerie Ryan

Library copy – audiobook

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman


Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: A Novel


Goodreads synopsis:
Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille-the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town-a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.


In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah’s perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie’s all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

* * * * * * *

CeeCee Honeycutt has been taking care of her mentally ill mother for most of her twelve years. Her father is absent much of the time so it’s been up to CeeCee to tend to her mother. After Camille’s death, CeeCee’s great aunt Tootie arrives to take her home to Savannah. That’s the start of a new chapter in CeeCee’s Life Book.

All I knew for sure was this: I had been plunked into a strange, perfumed world that, as far as I could tell, seemed to be run entirely by women. 

 

CeeCee’s new life is filled with caring and eccentric women. Each one seems to have a special lesson to impart. Little by little, like the fragile orchid, CeeCee begins to bloom in their warm and gentle care.

If there’s one thing I’d like most for you, it’s that you’ll find your calling in life. That’s where true happiness and purpose lies. Whether it’s taking care of abandoned animals, saving old houses from the wreckin’ ball, or reading to the blind, you’ve got to find your fire, sugar. You’ll never be fulfilled if you don’t.

 

Beth Hoffman’s charming debut novel is filled with wit, wisdom, and love. The characters will stay with me for a long time. I recommend Saving CeeCee Honeycutt, it’s a wonderful book.


 

 

 

Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs

Cover Image


Maureen Davenport lives for Christmas—and there’s nothing more magical than Christmas on Willow Lake.

The prim librarian is finally getting her chance to direct Avalon’s annual holiday pageant, and she’s determined to make it truly spectacular. But it might just require one of those Christmas miracles she’s always read about.

Because her codirector is recovering former child star Eddie Haven, a long-haired, tattooed lump of coal in Maureen’s pageant stocking. Eddie can’t stand Christmas, but a court order from a judge has landed him right in the middle of the merrymaking.

Maureen and Eddie spar over every detail of the pageant, from casting troubled kids to Eddie’s original—and distinctly untraditional—music. Is he trying to sabotage the performance to spite her? Or is she trying too hard to fit the show into her storybook-perfect notion of Christmas?

And how is it possible that they’re falling in love?


* * * * * * *


The library in the small town of Avalon, NY is on the brink of closing – forever. Can it be saved? Susan Wiggs takes a few new characters, adds a dash of some familiar, stirs in the emotions that tend to appear at this time of year, sprinkles a Christmas pageant over it all and the result is a sweet story – especially for fans of The Lakeshore Chronicles.


Library copy

This Is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper

Cover Image


Synopsis

The death of Judd Foxman’s father marks the first time that the entire Foxman family-including Judd’s mother, brothers, and sister-have been together in years. Conspicuously absent: Judd’s wife, Jen, whose fourteen-month affair with Judd’s radio-shock-jock boss has recently become painfully public.

Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the demise of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request: to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family.

As the week quickly spins out of control, longstanding grudges resurface, secrets are revealed, and old passions reawakened. For Judd, it’s a weeklong attempt to make sense of the mess his life has become while trying in vain not to get sucked into the regressive battles of his madly dysfunctional family. All of which would be hard enough without the bomb Jen dropped the day Judd’s father died: She’s pregnant.

This Is Where I Leave You is Jonathan Tropper’s most accomplished work to date, a riotously funny, emotionally raw novel about love, marriage, divorce, family, and the ties that bind-whether we like it or not.


* * * * * * *


This Is Where I Leave You is the third book by Jonathan Tropper that I’ve read. It’s funny, sad, uncomfortable, poignant, and a really good read. I laughed out loud so many times that my husband came into the room and asked what I was watching on tv. It is an entertaining book and I’m glad I read it. If it was a movie it would be rated R for language and graphic scenes.

Viola In Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani

Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani: Book Cover

Synopsis

I’m marooned.
Abandoned.
Left to rot in boarding school . . .
Viola doesn’t want to go to boarding school, but somehow she ends up at an all-girls school in South Bend, Indiana, far, far away from her home in Brooklyn, New York. Now Viola is stuck for a whole year in the sherbet-colored sweater capital of the world.
Ick.
There’s no way Viola’s going to survive the year—especially since she has to replace her best friend Andrew with three new roommates who, disturbingly, actually seem to like it there. She resorts to viewing the world (and hiding) behind the lens of her video camera.
Boarding school, though, and her roommates and even the Midwest are nothing like she thought they would be, and soon Viola realizes she may be in for the most incredible year of her life.
But first she has to put the camera down and let the world in.

* * * * * * *

Viola In Reel Life is the story of Viola Chesterton, age fourteen. Viola’s parents are documentary film-makers who are going to film in Afghanistan. They’ll be gone a year and Prefect Academy is the perfect place for Viola to spend that year. She hates leaving her BFFs back in Brooklyn – how will she ever get along without them?
At first, I thought Viola was a spoiled, self-centered girl. But I reminded myself of her age and the fact that her life was changing virtually overnight. I thought she seemed a bit too glib, too precocious in the opening chapters but I warmed up to the character and enjoyed seeing how she coped with her new life, new friends, new school, etc.
I’ll be recommending this book to my niece who is fifteen and rarely seen without a book. I think she’ll enjoy reading about Viola. I know I did!


Bird in Hand by Christina Baker Kline

Bird in Hand

From the book flap: Four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship: everything is about to change


It was an accident. It was dark, it was raining, Alison had only had two drinks. And the other car ran the stop sign. But Alison finds herself trapped under the crushing weight of grief and guilt, feeling increasingly estranged from her husband…


Charlie, who has his own burdens. He’s in a job he doesn’t love so that Alison can stay at home with the kids (and why isn’t she more grateful for that?); he has a house in the suburbs and a long commute to and from the city. And the only thing he can focus on these days is his secret, sudden affair with…

Claire, Alison’s best friend. Bold where Alison is reserved, vibrant where Alison is cautious, Claire has just had her first novel published, a thinly veiled retelling of her childhood in North Carolina. But even in the whirlwind of publication, Claire can’t stop wondering if she should leave her husband…

Ben, an ambitious architect who is brilliant, kind, and meticulous. And who wants nothing more than a baby, or two—exactly the kind of life that Charlie and Alison seem to have…

* * * * * * *

When I read the synopsis I thought it sounded like a daytime drama. I’m happy to say my first impression was wrong. It’s the story of two couples – Alison and Charlie, Claire and Ben – and what happens when a tragic accident sets in motion unavoidable changes in their lives.

When something terrible happens, a lifetime of small events and unremarkable decisions, of unresolved anger and unexplored fears, begins to play itself out in ways you least expect. You’ve been going along from one day to the next, not realizing that all those disparate words and gestures were adding up to something, a conclusion you didn’t anticipate. And later, when you begin to retrace your steps, you see that you will need to reach back further than you could have imagined, beyond words and thoughts and even dreams, perhaps, to make sense of what happened. (p. 245)


Christina Baker Kline’s clean, crisp writing drew me into the novel and I kept reading until my eyes refused to stay open. The story is told from all four characters’ perspectives, present day and flashback, of how they met, fell in love and got to the point where things started to fall apart. Interesting to me was that there didn’t seem to be an inordinate amount of blame issued to one character, when it would’ve been very easy to do.

Why did these people decide on marriage? Why marry one person when you’re attracted to another? Should vows be honored or should we grasp for whatever happiness might come our way – after all, we only have one life. Will happiness and love be found with another person? Obvious answers? Maybe. This is one of those times I wish I belonged to a book club. The discussion would be lively, I’m sure. Bird in Hand is the second novel I’ve read by Christina Baker Kline and I look forward to reading another soon.

Bird in Hand Intl

The Way Life Should Be by Christina Baker Kline

The Way Life Should Be: A Novel

From the back cover: Angela Russo finds herself in Maine thanks to a sailing instructor, an impulse, and an idea that in Maine, people live “the way life should be.” But reality on Mount Desert Island is not what she expected. Far from everything familiar, Angela begins to rebuild her life from the ground up. Relying on the flair for Italian cooking she inherited from her grandmother, she begins to discover the pleasures and secrets of her new small community – and to connect her heritage to a future she is only beginning to envision.

* * * * * * *

This book is one of those unexpected finds – a book I happened upon while looking for something else. The title grabbed me right away. For years my family vacationed in Maine. Each summer we’d fly to Boston, rent a car, and drive north to Maine for an all-too-short time.

I was a bit envious of Angela with a chance to set her life in a different direction. I admired how brave she was after her reason for going to Maine turned out to be a disappointment. And I liked that she started to look inward for answers to what she really wanted in life. Angela had help from several supporting characters. The most enjoyable for me was Flynn, the owner of a coffee shop. He gave Angela a job, his friendship, and encouragement. Christina Baker Kline made me laugh as I read the banter between Flynn and Angela.

I enjoyed Kline’s writing. When Angela was at the beach letting her dog run she thought about her surroundings:

“Though the air is frigid, the sun makes a valiant effort to warm these rocks, this place, my face. The coast is not cold in the way that people think, or even in the way I imagined before I came. The coldness is threaded with warmth, tempered by moments of grace.”

That describes the way I felt about Angela’s story. Her life did seem cold at times but she shared moments with family members and new friends that were, well, graceful. At least, that’s how I saw it. The Way Life Should Be turned out to be one of those books that was just too short. It was a fast read and it left me wanting to know “what happened next”. I look forward to reading more books by Christina Baker Kline.



The Widow’s Season by Laura Brodie

The Widow's Season


Sarah McConnell’s husband had been dead for three months when she saw him in the grocery store.


What does a woman do when she’s thirty-nine, childless, and completely alone for the first time in her life? Does it mean she’s crazy to think she sees her late husband beside a display of pumpkins? Or is it just what people do, a natural response to grief that will fade in time? That’s what Sarah McConnell’s friends told her, that it was natural, would last a season, and then fade away.

But what if there was another answer? What if he was really there? They never found the body, after all. What if he is still here somehow, and about to walk back into her life?
* * * * * * *
The Widow’s Season is an intriguing novel. The premise caught my attention immediately and I read the book in a few hours. I figured out how it would play out early on in the book but it was interesting to read how it happened. That said, I found it difficult to warm up to any of the characters. They seemed cold and distant. That was kind of the vibe I felt throughout the novel. Maybe that’s the point?
The aspect of the book that I enjoyed the most was Brodie’s writing – when Sarah’s senses seemed to awaken. I loved the descriptions of food, scents, and music. Simply beautiful. If you’re looking for something a little different give The Widow’s Season a try.

Driftwood Summer by Patti Callahan Henry

Driftwood Summer by Patti Callahan Henry: Book Cover

Three sisters— responsible Riley, vivacious Maisy, and fun-loving Adalee—reunite to save the family’s beach-community bookstore. But summer also marks the return of Mack Logan, whose choice of Maisy over Riley years ago destroyed the special closeness between the sisters…


Now Riley, a single mom, is hiding a shattering secret about their mother. Maisy, a California designer, still blames Riley for ruining her one true love. And Adalee resents the family’s intrusion into her summer plans. All three will be forced to confront the conflicts that tore them apart and the bounds of love and loyalty that still draw them together…

* * * * * * *

Funny how I’ve gravitated to vacation books lately. No actual beach getaway for us this year so I’m reading books about people who live at the shore! Having six sisters, I think Patti Callahan Henry did a great job portraying the Sheffield sisters’ relationships with each other. It may have gotten a little dramatic and intense at times but that was believable as well.
Another aspect of the novel that I enjoyed was the interaction between the ‘summer people’ and the town people. Not in a negative way – just that both groups seem to idealize each other and the location’s effect on their lives. I have wonderful memories of family vacations at the shore and the people who lived there year-round.
If you’re looking for a story about family dynamics and other relationships (both realistic and idealized), Driftwood Summer may be just the book for you.

Wings by Aprilynne Pike

Wings


From the book flap: Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things. They were terrifyingly beautiful – too beautiful for words.

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

* * * * * * *

My thoughts: I don’t want to explain the plot but I will say if you like a magical story that is set in today’s world, you will probably like Wings. I rarely read Teen or YA fiction but decided to give Wings a try after reading a few good reviews. I liked it! It’s a sweet and entertaining tale that fans of this genre will surely embrace.

This book completes the Support Your Local Library Challenge – 2009

The Last Chance Cafe by Linda Lael Miller

Cover Image


  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star (May 1, 2003)

When a blinding Nevada snowstorm and a broken-down truck force Hallie O’Rourke and her two young daughters into the warmth of the Last Chance Café, Hallie could not know she would find a new beginning at the roadside diner. Or that the handsome stranger she meets there would change everything she believes about home and family. Chance Qualtrough is a rancher with deep roots in Primrose Creek, and he’s never met a woman as alluring — or downright stubborn — as Hallie. An undeniable passion is pulling them together, but Hallie is fleeing a danger so threatening she dares not let Chance into her heart. Will all that Hallie fears come back with full force, destroying her last chance for the life she’s always dreamed of?

* * * * * * *

I’m not sure if I would categorize this book as romantic suspense or suspenseful romance. It was a pretty good book. There was too much sensual romance for my tastes (or maybe just too much, too soon?) but Linda Lael Miller brings to life some good and colorful characters. 3/5 stars.

Support Your Local Library Challenge
Completes the Goodreads 75 Books 2009 Challenge

Shelter Me by Juliette Fay

Shelter Me by Juliette Fay: Book Cover

From the back of the book: Four months after her husband’s death, Janie LaMarche remains undone by grief and anger. Her mourning is disrupted, however, by the unexpected arrival of a builder with a contract to add a porch onto her house. Stunned, Janie realizes the porch was meant to be a surprise from her husband—now his last gift to her.

As she reluctantly allows construction to begin, Janie clings to the familiar outposts of her sorrow—mothering her two small children with fierce protectiveness, avoiding friends and family, and stewing in a rage she can’t release. Yet Janie’s self-imposed isolation is breached by a cast of unlikely interventionists: her chattering, ipecac-toting aunt; her bossy, over-manicured neighbor; her muffin-bearing cousin; and even Tug, the contractor with a private grief all his own.
As the porch takes shape, Janie discovers that the unknowable terrain of the future is best navigated with the help of others—even those we least expect to call on, much less learn to love.

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Shelter Me by Juliette Fay is about grief. Not just the grief of a young widow but also grief caused by other loss – trust, innocence, hope, to name a few.

Janie LaMarche is barely coping after the tragic death of her husband when construction begins on a porch he’d contracted without her knowledge. Her never-married aunt is trying to convince her to take a self-defense course because she needs to be able to protect herself and her children. And while she’s at it, Janie may as well help her aunt at the soup kitchen. These are just a few of the ways Janie is forced to move forward with and through her grief.

Fay’s writing is so natural and her portrayal of the emotions of loss, true. I enjoyed the secondary characters. The bits of information I learned about them drew my own comparisons to people in my life. At first glance it may seem that the book bites off more than it can chew – so many people with their own issues (Janie’s brother, her mother, her parish priest, her son’s best friend’s mom, I could go on) but I think it all distills down to this: everyone deals with their own grief, in their own way and yet most try to move forward and most have people who love them, depend on them and need them to not give up – people who will also help to give shelter on the journey.

I recommend Shelter Me to everyone. I borrowed it from the library but will be buying a copy for my “keeper” shelf.