The Giver of Stars

Jojo Moyes wrote an amazing story about a group of Kentuckian librarians bringing books to the masses in The Giver of Stars. When English Alice Wright marries a Kentuckian Coalmine Owners, she was looking for an escape from her boring life. When she first arrives in Kentucky, she finds herself living a life too similar to what she was running from. When the town of Baileyville searches for women to become librarians who will deliver books to those high in the mountain by horseback, Alice signs on to escape once again. That decision changes her life and brings her closer to the residents of Baileyville than her husband would have hoped.

This story is a fictional story about the WPA’s Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky, but it tells real life struggles that these woman would have experienced. It also tells of love, marriage, and small town politics in coal country.

Great read, highly recommended!

Read July 2020

Summer of ’69

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand was such a great summer read. The story is told from several perspectives of the summer of 1969. The world is changing at a rapid pace in the world and just as quickly in the Levin family. The Vietnam War is hanging over everyone since their brother/son/grandson has been called up. Meanwhile, the family seperates between the family home in Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and Boston. So many changes in this small family in the midst of giant changes in the world.

This was a really good beach read that handles some heady topics.

Read July 2020

The Suffering of Strangers

Caro Ramsay’s The Suffering of Strangers tells of DI Costello’s investigation into a child abduction. A 6-week old baby is stolen from their sleep deprived mother and exchanged for a different baby. DI Costello works with Colin Anderson in Cold Cases when their cases seem to follow a similar path.

There’s lots to digest in this novel. A mother’s hardship. A rape victims options.

Interesting read showing an underground world.

Read July 2020

All the Missing Girls

I read All The Missing Girls by Megan Miranda within the last month. After reading the back cover, I honestly could not remember what this book was about and kept getting it confused with another book. The gist is that Nicolette left her small hometown after her best friend went missing. Ten years later, she returns to care for her sick dad, another girl is missing. Are they connected? What happened to her friend 10 years ago?

The novel is also told in reverse, which seemed difficult to follow at times. I had to reread several chapters to follow what was happening and after a couple of weeks, the story wasn’t strong enough to distinguish it from the many other mystery novels I’ve read.

Ok story, not memorable.

Read July 2020

The Olive Harvest

I read The Olive Harvest, by Carol Drinkwater, many years ago. I decided to reread to escape to southern France and enjoy a virtual vacation. While I did enjoy all the voyeuristic pleasure of seeing Carol’s life on an olive farm, there were emotional relationship difficulties that made this less of a travel novel and more of an introspection into her relationship with her husband. She did travel around the country and see some fun things (sheep hearding, Saints Maries festival, flamenco dancers) and meet interesting fun characters, the overriding concern was always her beloved Michel.

Still a good read.

Read June 2020

the secret to southern charm

Kristy Woodson Harvey’s the secret to souther charm, tells the story of Sloane and her mother Ansley, as well as that of the other 2 sisters and grandmother. Sloane’s husband is MIA and she moves back with her 2 small boys to be with her mother. Ansley, the mother, is dealing with a secret that she’s been keeping the entirety of her children’s lives. In addition to their own worries, Caroline and Emerson, who help when Sloane is bedridden due to grief/anxiety, have worries of their own. So many secrets, big and small, are amongst the group of souther women living in idyllic Peachtree Bluff.

While the sentiments can pull on your heartstring, there was too much in this novel that bothered me. Every single woman has a different but amazing artistic talent that they all under valued at one point, but also makes them lots of money. Its a little saccharine at moments and dripping with sentimentality at others.

Its an ok lighthearted read but don’t look too closely at the cracks of sweetness.

Read June 2020

The Summer List

The Summer List by Amy Mason Doan is an easy reader mystery about 2 childhood friends. Laura and Casey were best friends throughout high school until a falling out that neither of them want to talk about. When Casey’s mom tricks them into meeting again and playing one last scavenger hunt together. Laura’s ex-boyfriend, whom she also ran away from 17 years ago, convinces her the prize at the end of the hunt it worth it. Laura and Casey work together to unravel the clues that leads them around their lake-side town in California to visit their high-school haunts.

While the girls are doing the scavenger hunt in the present, they’re dealing with emotions and things that happened years ago. The past and present intermingle with the mystery growing about the secret that will be revealed at the end of the hunt.

This was a pretty good read about growing up and the things that drive us apart. Can the old wounds be healed? Do they even want them healed?

Read June 2020

Where the Crawdads Sing

Delia Owens Where the Crawdads Sing tells the story of the Marsh Girl, Kya Clark. A girl abandoned by her mother at a very young age. Then by each of her siblings in succession until she’s left alone with an alcoholic, violent father. Her childhood is one of isolation and discovery. She doesn’t know how to fit in with the towns people but can call to the birds. A friend of her brothers takes an interest in her and helps her navigate her world a little until he feels the pull of the academic world.

When left alone, she befriends on of the most popular boys from town, but they are always alone. Never seen together. Years later, after she published her nature paintings and has had some success, the boy is murdered and Kya is suspected. Throughout whole trial, her lawyer defends her against the crime and the bigotry perpetrated by everyone around her.

Owens tells the story so beautifully and the marshes come alive. Kya’s resilience against the world and her ability to understand the natural world around her allows her to become an amazing woman, against all odds.

Great novel!

Read May 2020

Today Will Be Different

Maria Semple’s Today Will Be Different is a great follow up to Where’d You Go, Bernadette?Eleanor Flood is a middle-aged woman who’s running away from her past as much as she’s avoiding her future. She wakes up the morning of our story determined to be different than her anxiety ridden self. But of course, the day doesn’t work out that way. She learns her husband has been lying to her about going to work all week and her son’s stomachache means he can’t stay at school.

I read this a month ago and until I read a recap online, I couldn’t remember much about this book. It was really enjoyable to read and very funny, but its not one to stick with me. It could be these pandemic times, or it could be the book. Either way, I remember enjoying it while reading it, but a month later I couldn’t even remember what it was about.

Read May 2020

The Paris Orphan

Natasha Lester’s The Paris Orphan tells two separate storylines over 60 years apart. Jessica May, a former model turned photojournalist, trying to break a story by imbedding  with American troops in Italy and France during WWII. She’s constantly fighting against sexism and misogyny to be allowed the same rights and existence as all the men reporters. Jessica teams up with Martha Gellhorn, wife/exwife of Hemingway, to be allowed to be close to whats happening in the field. She befriends a rising star Captain Dan Hallworth, who recognizes the crappy treatment she’s received and helps her when he can.

60 years later, we meet D’Arcy Hallworth, an art mover, who travels to France to pack up a photographic collection of a reclusive and unnamed photographer. While there, she uncovers a personal connection to Jessica May.

There’s so much hardship and love within this book. The atrocities of WWII are not ignored, but the main part of the book is how women were excluded from so many aspects of journalism, but not the harshness that is unique to woman in war. This is also a tragic love story where people who should be together are kept apart by terrible people and circumstances.

Quick, easy, great read.

Read May 2020