March Book Reading Madness

A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler
The story of four generations of the Whitshanks, held together barely by the color blue. And I mean the book and the family. Tyler says this, her 20th novel, will be her final finished work. Well, for all things there is a season...and athough I admire her previous books, especially Breathing Lessons, this one is just so-so.

A Slight Change of Plan by Dee Ernst
Recently widowed, Kate Everett is healing and looking forward to a new house, a new job, and even dating. But a few of her kids move back home, and her job is zilch. On the bright side, her old college love re-appears and they take up where they left off. Of course life has a way of confusing the issue and Kate finds herself re-evaluating what she thought she wanted. A nice little easy-readin' book.

Do Not Forsake Me Andre Drapp by John W. Austin
This is Austin's first novel and I can't say much about it becasue I couldn't get past the first few chapters. Time is valuable -- it's actually all we really have, and if a book doesn't grab me and hold my interest -- well, I just move on to something that does.

On Life After Death by Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross
I wish I'd read this book before my Mother passed away, and I could have shared the stories with her during her final weeks. What joy that would have brought her. Ross draws on her research of more than 20,000 people who had near-death experiences, revealing the afterlife as a return to wholeness of spirit. Such comfort to the dying and such a compelling message of hope to the living to live life to the fullest.

Proof of Heaven by Eben Alexander, M.D.
Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but most scientists say that ND's are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those people, until that is, the day his brain was attacked by an extremely rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a deep coma and his doctors thought about stopping treatment. Alexander suddenly recovered which was a medical miracle -- but the experience he had while in a coma was even more so. Very good book.

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
France 1939. Don't you love it already!!? The story of  two sisters who fight their WWII battles in different ways. Older sister Vianne is in the quiet village of Carriveau, while her husband is at the front; and she must play hostess to Nazi officials. Isabelle, on the other hand is reckless and joins the Resistance and risks her life to save the airmen who are shot down over France. Well-written historical fiction that keeps you guessing until the very end.

February I Heart Books

An Absent Mind by Eric Rill
I can relate to the slow, heart-breaking realization that your parent is dying. Although my Mom didn't die from Alzheimer's, I was her care-giver and watched as COPD and congestive heart failure slowly took her life. An Absent Mind is about Saul, and his family as they navigate the progression of Alzheimer's, and explore what their relationships will look like during his final years. Rill's father had Alzheimer's and he felt the need to write about it. You will learn more about this horrible disease than you probably want to know, but it's true, honest, and touching. Excellent.

E-Squared by Pam Grout
My friend, Teena has wanted me to read this book for years, and I finally caved. I'm so glad I did!!
E-Squared is a easy to read, humorous take on visualization/quantum physics -- a sort of lab manual full of simple experiments to prove that you create your own reality and that you shape your life with your mind. The nine, 48-hour experiments are fun and at least for me, resulted in several ah-ha moments. Highly recommended.

Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
Set in Ohio in the 70's, when you thought the US was finally over the race thing, but nooo. Lydia is the daughter of Marilyn Walker, a white Virginian, and James Lee, a first-generation Chinese-American. Lydia, along with her brother and sister are stuggling to figure out just where they belong in society. Will a relationship with the 'bad boy' next door help? When Lydia, an over-acheiver and favorite child, is found dead in a nearby lake, the family begins to fall apart.The story is about expectations, death, secrets, race, un-realized dreams and what length you would go to finally realize them.  Excellent book.

See How Small by Scott Blackwood
The story is based on a similar and still unsolved 1991 case in Austin, Texas-- which is where See How Smal is set. Elizabeth, Zadie, and Meredith, are three teenage girls working the front counter at Sandra’s ice cream shop. Unknown killers assault and bind them, and set the building on fire. The story as told through the eyes of the girls themselves, the devastated mother Kate, town firefighter Jack, and the criminals themselves form the core of the story. Excellent book.


January 2015! New Year New Books...

A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
The story of a scarf, the women who wore it and the life it lived from September 1911 to September 2011. Solid historical fiction that brings to life Ellis Island in New York Harbor, the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire, the immigrant experience and life in the early 1900's. The corresponding contemporary story includes flash-backs of the collapse of the World Trade Towers. If you've ever wondered about the past life of objects we cherish and wonder what their story is, this one's for you. Recommended.

Maude by Donna Foley Mabry
In 1906, Maude was fourteen years old, and getting married. Her older sister, Helen, basically put the whole thing together to get Maude out of the house since she was pregnant again and needed the room. Despite the obvious, Maude and her new husband were very happy having known they would get married since the first tme they saw each other. Of course there's bound to be sadness and Maude's life unfortunatly has a few extra doses. Beautifully writen by Maude's, niece, Donna Foley Mabry. A wonderful, heart-breaking story about love and sacrifice.

Secrets of a Charmed Life by Susan Meissner
Set in contemporary Oxford, England, we are introduced to Isabel McFarland, an elderly woman giving a rare interview about what it was like to live thorugh the blitz. As Hitler threatens to bomb London, hundreds of thousands of children are evacuated to foster homes in the rural countryside -including fifteen-year-old Emmy Downtree and her younger sister Julia. A story of many twists and turns; camoflaged in wedding dresses, we fianlly discover who Isabel McFarland really is.

Some Luck by Jane Smiley
Since I couldn't even get through the first few chapters, I should not comment on this book -- however the chapters I did read were like wading hip-deep through cement that is starting to set up. Longlisted for the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction - so what do I know?

December and No Time to Read!

The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant
A beautiful story about a woamn growing up in 1900 as told to her grandaughter. Addie is the daughter of Russian immigrants, the only one born in the New World and as it happens, "a real American." The story includes her sister Betty who becomes a saleswoman at Filene's, and of course Addie embraces new freedoms women are claiming. It's not all roses --  the 1918 flu epidemic claims two nephews and, an a romance with a traumatized World War I veteran. Diamant is author of one of my favorite books, The Red Tent (1997) and I expected more from her.