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February 27, 2021

Humorous Reads




Earlier this week, some of my friends blogged about books that made them laugh out loud. Since 2021 is proving to be just as difficult as 2020, I decided to put together my own list and came up with the following: 


Dear Fahrenheit 451 by Annie Spence (nonfiction) - Great on audio!

The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus by Sonya Sones (fiction)

The Exact Same Moon: Fifty Acres and a Family by Jeanne Marie Laskas (nonfiction)

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson (fiction) - Great on audio!

Bachelor Brothers' Bed & Breakfast by Bill Richardson (fiction)

Fifty Acres and a Poodle by Jeanne Marie Laskas (nonfiction)

I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections by Nora Ephron (nonfiction)

Lottery by Patricia Wood (fiction)

I Feel Bad About My Neck by Nora Ephron (nonfiction)

Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson (fiction) - Great on audio!

Wife in the North by Judith O'Reilly (nonfiction)

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin (fiction)


Click on the titles to read my reviews.




February 26, 2021

Looking Back - Sullivan's Island

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.

Fiction
1999 JOVE Berkley Publishing Group
Read in March 2000
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Set in the steamy, stormy landscape of South Carolina, Sullivan's Island tells the unforgettable story of one woman's courageous journey toward truth.

Born and raised on idyllic Sullivan's Island, Susan Hayes navigated through her turbulent childhood with humor, spunk, and characteristic Southern sass. But years later, she is a conflicted woman with an unfaithful husband, a sometimes resentful teenage daughter, and a heart that aches with painful, poignant memories. And as Susan faces her uncertain future, she realizes that she must go back to her past. To the beachfront house where her sister welcomes her with open arms. To the only place she can truly call home.

My Original Thoughts (2000):

Not as good as Pat Conroy's Beach Music, but entertaining. The relationships between mother & daughter and husband & wife rang true. The transition between past & present flowed well. It kept my interest. The Gullah dialogue between the two grown sisters didn't seem realistic. Not as good as The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, but I'll look for Frank's next book.

My Current Thoughts:

I don't think I went on to read anything else by this author. I am, however, inspired to reread Beach Music. I've been saying that for years!

February 25, 2021

If I Stay

 


YA Fiction
2010 Speak (first published in 2009)
Finished on February 22, 2021
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

On a day that started like any other… 

Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the one decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make. 

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, and dying.

I'm currently listening to a pretty heavy book (The Underground Railroad) for next month's book club discussion, so after I finished my recent print book (All Shall Be Well), I wandered over to my bookcase and grabbed the first thing that caught my eye. With infrequent trips to my library (for curbside pickup), I've been enjoying the backlist titles on my own shelves and finding a few gems in the mix. I don't read a lot of YA, but I remember hearing good things about If I Stay so I thought I'd give it a try. This was the first time I'd read anything by Gayle Foreman, but it won't be the last! I was sucked in from the opening pages. The first-person narrative planted me right in the middle of the action and I found myself thinking about Mia and her family throughout the day, eager to return to the book every chance I got. The story spans the course of a single 24-hour time frame and that's about the time it took me to read it. 

It's been several years since I read Eleanor & Park and The Fault in Our Stars, but If I Stay reminded me of those wonderful books. They're full of all the feelings of first love, without the annoying teenage angst that made me give up on the sequels to the Twilight and Hunger Games series. The characters are likeable and dialogue believable and yes, I'm a sucker for a good romance. And yet, while this is about young love, it's also about the love of family and friends. Foreman intersperses flashbacks in her narrative to shed light on Mia's relationships with her parents, brother, extended family and school friends, which keeps the story from focusing only on Mia's current situation.

Fans of Eleanor & Park or The Fault in Our Stars won't want to miss this book. If you haven't read those two, you're missing out! I've already placed an online request with my library for Where She Went, the sequel to this poignant novel, and may read more by Foreman later in the year. 

February 22, 2021

All Shall Be Well

 



Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James Series #2
Mystery
1994 Scribner Book Company
Finished on February 20, 2021
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Perhaps it is a blessing when Jasmine Dent dies in her sleep. At last an end has come to the suffering of a body horribly ravaged by disease. It may well have been suicide; she had certainly expressed her willingness to speed the inevitable. But small inconsistencies lead her neighbor, Superintendent Duncan Kincaid, to a startling conclusion: Dent was murdered. But if not for mercy, why would someone destroy a life already doomed? As Kincaid and his appealing assistant Sergeant Gemma James sift through the dead woman's strange history, a troubling puzzle emerges: a bizarre amalgam of charity and crime--and of the blinding passions that can drive the human animal to perform cruel and inhuman acts.

Eager to get heavily immersed in Deborah Crombie's Kincaid/James series, I decided to reread All Shall Be Well shortly after finishing A Share in Death (the first in the series). In this second installment, Crombie teases out more details about the personal lives of Duncan Kincaid and Gemma James, while keeping me guessing as to the identity of Jasmine's possible killer. This wasn't as suspenseful as the previous mystery and I was a little impatient for more action, but overall I think it's a good read. Next up, Leave the Grave Green

Click here to read my original review for this book. My rating this time around is a little bit lower than when I read it in 2013.

February 21, 2021

Young Jane Young

 


Fiction
2017 Algonquin Books
Finished on February 14, 2021
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

This is the story of five women . . . 

Meet Rachel Grossman. She’ll stop at nothing to protect her daughter, Aviva, even if it ends up costing her everything. 

Meet Jane Young. She’s disrupting a quiet life with her daughter, Ruby, to seek political office for the first time.

Meet Ruby Young. She thinks her mom has a secret. She’s right. 

Meet Embeth Levin. She’s made a career of cleaning up her congressman husband’s messes. 

Meet Aviva Grossman. The Internet won’t let her or anyone else forget her past transgressions. 

This is the story of five women . . . . . . and the sex sexist scandal that binds them together.

From Gabrielle Zevin, the bestselling author of The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry, comes another story with unforgettable characters that is particularly suited to the times we live in now . . .

I loved this book! The first few chapters had me laughing out loud and I considered switching over to the audio, thinking that would be an even more enjoyable experience, but after listening to the audio sample, I quickly decided against it. I found Karen White's narration annoying and not suited for this particular book, so I continued with the ebook, which I had downloaded when the book was first published. 

Young Jane Young is a fast, smart and engaging read and I enjoyed each narrative perspective, but most especially that of Ruby's. Her storyline really brings out the humor, reminding me of the hilarious lines in Be Frank With Me (Julia Claiborne Johnson) and Nothing to See Here (Kevin Wilson). Ruby is one of those young characters who is wise beyond her years and I would have loved another chapter with her. 

The book is peopled with flawed but sympathetic characters and the snappy dialogue kept me reading late into the night.  I loved Zevin's popular novel, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry and had high hopes for this book. Not only did it live up to my expectations, but it exceeded them, so much so that I'm tempted to read it again. I might even have to buy a print copy for my keeper shelf. I'm looking forward to reading more by this author and Elsewhere has been on my TBR list for years, so I'll bump it up and hopefully get to it this year. 

Highly recommend!

February 19, 2021

Looking Back - The Pleasing Hour

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals. 



Fiction
1999 Atlantic Monthly Press
Read in March 2000
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)

Publisher's Blurb:

The first novel from a new literary voice brimming with sensitivity and lyricism, The Pleasing Hour is the story of an American in Europe whose coming-of-age defies all our usual conceptions of naivete and experience. Fleeing a devastating loss, Rosie takes a job as an au pair with a Parisian family and soon finds the comfort and intimacy she longs for with their children and the father, Marc. Only Nicole, the children's distant, impeccably polished mother, is unwilling to embrace the young American. But when Rosie realizes that her attachments have become transgressions, she leaves for the south of France. There she learns about Nicole's own haunted past and the losses that link the two women more closely than either could have imagined.

My Original Thoughts (2000):

Held my interest, but not great. Read it in one day. Bland. Abrupt shifts in tense. 

My Current Thoughts:

I vaguely remember this book and am surprised I read it in a single day, since it sounds rather ho-hum. I have King's latest two novels (Writers & Lovers and Euphoria) on my shelf and plan to read both later this year. 

February 18, 2021

Stars of Alabama

 



Fiction
2019 Thomas Nelson Audio
Read by Sean Dietrich
Finished on February 11, 2021
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

With a voice both humorous and heartfelt, Sean Dietrich—also known as Sean of the South—weaves together a tale about the dignity of humanity and the value of enduring hope. 

One child preacher traveling across the plains.

One young woman with a mysterious touch.

Two old friends, their baby, and their bloodhound.

And all the stars that shine above them.

When fifteen-year-old Marigold becomes pregnant amid the Great Depression, she is rejected by her family and forced to fend for herself. And when she loses her baby in the forest, her whole world turns upside down. She’s even more distraught upon discovering she has an inexplicable power that makes her both beautiful and terrifying—and something of a local legend.

Meanwhile, migrant workers Vern and Paul discover a violet-eyed baby and take it upon themselves to care for her. The men soon pair up with a widow and her two children, and the misfit family finds its way in fits and starts toward taking care of each other.

As survival brings one family together, a young boy finds himself with nary a friend to his name as the dust storms rage across Kansas. Fourteen-year-old Coot, a child preacher with a prodigy’s memory, is on the run with thousands of stolen dollars—and the only thing he’s sure of is that Mobile, Alabama, is his destination.

As the years pass and a world war looms, these stories intertwine in surprising ways, reminding us that when the dust clears, we can still see the stars.

I wish I could remember where I first heard about Stars of Alabama and why I added it to my queue on Audible.com. I don't have any record of using one of my credits, so it must have been listed in Audible's new Plus catalogue, which allows subscribers to try new authors and genres without using any credits. As I began to listen, I noticed that the opening credits mentioned Thomas Nelson as the publisher. My first reaction was surprise, since I don't read Christian fiction and Thomas Nelson is one of the better-known publishers of that genre. I was somewhat hesitant to continue, but once I heard Sean Dietrich's voice, which is deep and smooth, I decided to give the book a chance. I laughed out loud and felt my heartstrings tugged as I listened to this heartwarming novel. More than a week later, I'm still thinking about Vern, Coot and Marigold and the other characters I came to care about. Fans of Jenny Wingfield, Fannie Flagg and Wiley Cash are sure to enjoy this endearing Southern story.

About the Author:

Prior to reading Stars of Alabama, I had never heard of Sean Dietrich, who is also known as Sean of the South.
Sean Dietrich is a columnist, and novelist, known for his commentary on life in the American South. His work has appeared in Southern Living, The Tallahassee Democrat, Good Grit, South Magazine, Alabama Living, the Birmingham News, Thom Magazine, The Mobile Press Register, and he has authored seven books.

A mediocre sailor and fisherman, a biscuit connoisseur, and a barbecue competition judge when he’s not writing, he spends much of his time aboard his fourteen-foot fishing boat (the SS Squirrel) along with his coonhound, Thelma Lou.

I have since subscribed to his blog and his writing brings to mind that of Rick Bragg's. Dietrich also has a podcast, which I may have to start listening to, as well. Am I the only one who has never heard of this gifted writer?

February 17, 2021

The World We Found

 



Fiction
2012 HarperCollins
Finished on February 9, 2021
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

As university students in late 1970s Bombay, Armaiti, Laleh, Kavita, and Nishta were inseparable. Spirited and unconventional, they challenged authority and fought for a better world. But over the past thirty years, the quartet has drifted apart, the day-to-day demands of work and family tempering the revolutionary fervor they once shared.

Then comes devastating news: Armaiti, who moved to America, is gravely ill and wants to see the old friends she left behind. For Laleh, reunion is a bittersweet reminder of unfulfilled dreams and unspoken guilt. For Kavita, it is an admission of forbidden passion. For Nishta, it is the promise of freedom from a bitter, fundamentalist husband. And for Armaiti, it is an act of acceptance, of letting go on her own terms.

The World We Found is a dazzling masterwork from Thrity Umrigar, offering an unforgettable portrait of modern India while it explores the enduring bonds of friendship and the power of love to change lives.

I first came across the works of Thrity Umrigar almost exactly five years ago when I read The Space Between Us. That book was outstanding, bringing to mind another favorite, Rohinton Mistry's brilliant novel, A Fine Balance. I was in awe of Umrigar's writing and well-drawn characters and looked forward to reading more of her books. As it would happen, it took half a decade before I would finally pull my ARC of The World We Found from my shelf. I enjoyed the book well enough to finish, but sadly not nearly as much as The Space Between Us. The plot lacks depth and felt cliched with all the boxes neatly checked and accounted for: Cancer patient? Check. Religious extremist? Check. Submissive wife? Check? This was not the literary read I'd been looking forward to and I doubt I'll remember much about it in the coming months. However, I still intend to read The Secret Between Us, Umrigar's sequel to The Space Between Us.

February 16, 2021

The Tao of Pooh

 


Inspired by the original works by A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard
Nonfiction
2019 Egmont Books (first published in 1992)
Finished on February 9, 2021
Rating: 1/5 (Poor)

Publisher's Blurb:

Is there such thing as a Western Taoist? Benjamin Hoff says there is, and this Taoist's favorite food is honey. Through brilliant and witty dialogue with the beloved Pooh-bear and his companions, the author of this smash bestseller explains with ease and aplomb that rather than being a distant and mysterious concept, Taoism is as near and practical to us as our morning breakfast bowl. Romp through the enchanting world of Winnie-the-Pooh while soaking up invaluable lessons on simplicity and natural living.

Philosophical works are generally not my cuppa tea, but my book group chose The Tao of Pooh for our February selection and I thought it might be a good chance to learn a little bit about this Chinese philosophy. I wound up having to buy a volume that includes not only The Tao of Pooh, but also The Te of Piglet. While I managed to finish the first book, I really struggled with boredom and don't think I gained much in the way of understanding Taoism, in spite of Hoff's attempt to explain it to his readers through the interactions among Pooh, Piglet and the rest of the gang in the Hundred Acre Wood. As others have said, the best part of this book is the selections from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories (including illustrations) and I'll also add that I'm glad it wasn't any longer than its 170 pages. The entire book sounded like one big riddle! I'm looking forward to my book group discussion and wonder how many members enjoyed the book.

February 13, 2021

15 Years of Blogging!

 


Little did I know back in 2006 that I would still be blogging 15 years later. What began as strictly a book blog has grown into one in which I write about food, music, TV & movies, puzzles, travel, and life on the Oregon Coast. Many of you have been with me from the very beginning, while others have recently landed on this page after mentions or links from fellow bloggers. I miss those who began this journey with me back in the early days of blogging, but have found many new friends along the way, and that's what keeps me here: the community of folks who share my enthusiasm for the things that bring me joy. These friendships have been especially important to me during this past year of the pandemic and I hope you all know that I appreciate each and every one of you who continues to read my posts and take the time to have a conversation with me through your comments. 

Since I love lists and stats, how about a few to mark this day?

Posts Published: 2063

Posts in Draft Mode: 24

Total Comments: 20,522

All Time Views: 622,400

Most Viewed Post: Cowboy Lasagna (Trisha Yearwood) continues to be the post with the most views at 22.3K views! Amazing.

Evolution of the Name: I began with Lesley's Book Nook, but after a few years, switched to Prairie Horizons. When we moved to Oregon, it became Coastal Horizons.

For previous Blogiversary posts (with more stats and shout-outs to fellow blogmates) click here.

February 12, 2021

Looking Back - Gap Creek

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals. 




Fiction
2000 Touchstone (originally published in 1999)
Read in March 2000
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)

Publisher's Blurb:

Young Julie Harmon works "hard as a man," they say, so hard that at times she's not sure she can stop. People depend on her to slaughter the hogs and nurse the dying. People are weak, and there is so much to do. At just seventeen she marries and moves down into the valley of Gap Creek, where perhaps life will be better.

But Julie and Hank's new life in the valley, in the last years of the nineteenth century, is more complicated than the couple ever imagined. Sometimes it's hard to tell what to fear most—the fires and floods or the flesh-and-blood grifters, drunks, and busybodies who insinuate themselves into their new life. To survive, they must find out whether love can keep chaos and madness at bay. Their struggles with nature, with work, with the changing century, and with the disappointments and triumphs of their union make Gap Creek a timeless story of a marriage.

A native of the North Carolina mountains, Robert Morgan was raised on land settled by his Welsh ancestors. An accomplished novelist and poet, he has won the James B. Hanes Poetry Prize, the North Carolina Award in Literature, and the Jacaranda Review Fiction Prize. His short stories have appeared in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards and New Stories from the South, and his novel The Truest Pleasure was a finalist for the Southern Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction.

My Original Thoughts (2000):

Reminds me a little bit of A Sweetness to the Soul by Jane Kirkpatrick. Too much detail. States the obvious too often. Not boring, but flat. Repetitious sentences. Disappointing.

My Current Thoughts:

Another novel that was probably recommended by one of my online book groups. I'm surprised I didn't liken it to Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, which I also found tedious and disappointing. 

February 7, 2021

A Share in Death


 
Duncan Kincaid/Gemma James Series #1
Mystery
1993 Scribner
Finished on February 2, 2021
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

A week's holiday in a luxurious Yorkshire time-share is just what Scotland Yard's Superintendent Duncan Kincaid needs. But the discovery of a body floating in the whirlpool bath ends Kincaid's vacation before it's begun. One of his new acquaintances at Followdale House is dead; another is a killer. Despite a distinct lack of cooperation from the local constabulary, Kincaid's keen sense of duty won't allow him to ignore the heinous crime, impelling him to send for his enthusiastic young assistant, Sergeant Gemma James. But the stakes are raised dramatically when a second murder occurs, and Kincaid and James find themselves in a determined hunt for a fiendish felon who enjoys homicide a bit too much.

Having recently finished all of the books in Louise Penny's Three Pines series, I decided it was time to pick up another series to read throughout the year. I read A Share in Death almost a decade ago (reviewed here), so I wanted to give it a reread in order to reacquaint myself with the main characters before moving ahead with the series (of which there are 18 books!). While I had a vague recollection of the set up, the specific details of the murders were all forgotten. The book was just as enjoyable as the first time and I'm eager to start All Shall Be Well. 

February 5, 2021

Looking Back - Host Family

Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals. 



Fiction
2000 Grand Central Publishing
Read in March 2000
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Daisy and Henry have been married for 20 years, and for all that time they have served as host families for international students coming to study at Harvard. So Daisy should have seen it coming when Henry dumps her for the extremely French Giselle.

My Original Thoughts (2000):

A good book, but nothing special. It kept my interest, but was very predictable.

My Current Thoughts:

I have no recollection of this novel or of the author. It's not the sort of book I'd pick up now.

February 4, 2021

A Month in Summary - January 2021

Depoe Bay, Oregon
January 2021


In some ways it feels likes January flew past, but it also feels like New Year's Day was a long time ago. There was the Insurrection in Washington, DC on the 6th (which was horrifying) and the Inauguration on the 20th (which was uplifting and, thankfully, peaceful) and now we patiently wait for the green light to get our vaccines. My mom and my husband will get theirs in the next few weeks, but I'll have to wait a bit longer since I'm still in my 50s.

I finished three books before the end of the first week (which I started in December) and was on a roll for the rest of the month.  Not surprisingly, Louise Penny's latest mystery was my favorite, although my reread of Pigs in Heaven wasn't far behind.



Books Read (click on the title for my review):

The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms (2/5)

Kindred by Octavia Butler (3/5)

The Fireman by Joe Hill (3/5)

All the Devils Are Here by Louise Penny (5/5)

The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner (3/5)

Pigs in Heaven by Barbara Kingsolver (4/5)

The Daughters of Erietown by Connie Schultz (4/5)

First Lines:

Dear Mom, So here's the thing. And I know you're going to make some weird big deal out of it because you're a mom and a nerd and you can't help yourself. You're going to make it, like, into a Facebook meme and then needlepoint it onto a pillow because you're crazy. But whatever, here it is: you were right. (The Overdue Life of Amy Byler)

The trouble began long before June 9, 1976, when I became aware of it, but June 9 is the day I remember. It was my twenty-sixth birthday. It was also the day I met Rufus--the day he called me to him for the first time. (Kindred)

Harper Grayson had seen lots of people burn on TV, everyone had, but the first person she saw burn for real was in the playground behind the school. (The Fireman)

"Hell is empty, Armand," said Stephen Horowitz. 

"You've mentioned that. And all the devils are here?" asked Armand Gamache. (All the Devils Are Here)

A brooding heat permeates the tight space of the barn loft, no larger than three strides by four. The boards are rough-hewn and splintery and the rafters run at sharp slants, making the pitch too low for Roza to stand anywhere but in the center. Silken webs wad the corners and thin shards of sunlight bleed through cracks. Otherwise it is dark. (The Yellow Bird Sings)

Women on their own run in Alice's family. This dawns on her with the unkindness of a heart attack and she sits up in bed to get a closer look at her thoughts, which have collected above her in the dark. (Pigs in Heaven)

Samantha McGinty pressed her cheek against the cold window and exhaled slowly to cloud the glass. She glanced at the back of her father's head in the front seat before lifting her finger to write in big block letters: LUCKY.  (The Daughters of Erietown)

Movies & TV Series:
 

My Octopus Teacher - This is the perfect documentary to pair with The Soul of an Octopus. Fascinating creatures! Highly recommend.


The Missing (Season 2) - This nonlinear thriller requires your full attention! The first episode was very confusing, but we enjoyed the show.

The Art of Racing in the Rain - I loved this book, but the movie was a little too sappy. 


News of the World - Another book to movie, which fell short of my expectations. Hanks and his young costar were very good, though!


The Bay - We watched all of Season One and the first three available episodes of Season Two. Very good! Recommend.


The Dig - This quiet film was lovely. Highly recommend.


Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri - Frances McDormand is excellent in this dark comedy/drama. Highly recommend.

Puzzlemania:




Only one puzzle this month, but it was fun! I love Edward Gorey's artwork.

In the Kitchen:


My mom gave me a new kitchen gadget and I'm in love! I've used it for pork tenderloin and beef filets and the results were outstanding. I think the steak was the best I've ever had. The sous vide cooked them to a perfect medium rare pink and the meat was extremely tender and flavorful. Click here for more information about sous vide cooking. 



Lastly, I finally got my haircut! I hadn't been to the hair salon since February and my stylist took off about 6 inches. It feels wonderful. :)

Stay safe, wear your masks, and hang in there, my friends. Spring is just around the corner!

February 2, 2021

The Daughters of Erietown

 



Fiction
2020 Random House Audio
Read by Cassandra Campbell
Finished on January 30, 2021
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

1957, Clayton Valley, Ohio. Ellie has the best grades in her class. Her dream is to go to nursing school and marry Brick McGinty. A basketball star, Brick has the chance to escape his abusive father and become the first person in his blue-collar family to attend college. But when Ellie learns that she is pregnant, everything changes. Just as Brick and Ellie revise their plans and build a family, a knock on the front door threatens to destroy their lives.

The evolution of women’s lives spanning the second half of the 20th century is at the center of this beautiful novel that richly portrays how much people know - and pretend not to know - about the secrets at the heart of a town, and a family.

One of the best things about the blogging community is discovering books that have been recommended by my friends that I might not otherwise have known about. I believe it was JoAnn (Gulfside Musings) who first mentioned The Daughters of Erietown and after reading her review, I quickly added it to my Libro.fm queue. 

After listening to the first few chapters of Connie Schultz's debut novel, I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue, but I kept listening and I'm glad I didn't give up on the book. I came to care about Ellie and her daughter Sam and was eager to see what the future had in store for each of them. The book was somewhat predictable, but I really enjoyed it. Casandra Campbell is one of my favorite audiobook readers and her performance is well-done.

February 1, 2021

Pigs in Heaven

 



Fiction
1993 HarperCollins Publishers
Finished on January 28, 2021
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

When six-year-old Turtle Greer witnesses a freak accident at the Hoover Dam, her insistence on what she has seen and her mother's belief in her lead to a man's dramatic rescue. But Turtle's moment of celebrity draws her into a conflict of historic proportions. The crisis quickly envelops not only Turtle and her mother, Taylor, but everyone else who touches their lives in a complex web connecting their future with their past. A deeply felt novel of love despite the risks, of tearing apart and coming together, Pigs in Heaven travels the roads from rural Kentucky and the urban Southwest to Heaven, Oklahoma, and the Cherokee Nation. As this spellbinding novel unfolds, it draws the reader into a world of heartbreak and redeeming love, testing the boundaries of family and the many separate truths about the ties that bind. With Pigs in Heaven, Barbara Kingsolver has given us her wisest, most compelling work to date.

Last year I decided to reread Barbara Kingsolver's bestselling novel, The Bean Trees, which turned out to be one of my favorite reads of 2020. This month, I reread the sequel to that debut novel and am happy to report that Pigs in Heaven is as good as the first time I read it over 25 years ago. I loved returning to Taylor and Turtle's story and the addition of new supporting characters (particularly Jax, Taylor's mother Alice, and Cash) added to my enjoyment of the novel. There was one spot in the middle of the book that dragged on a bit too long, but overall, I loved the book. Kingsolver is such a great storyteller and I fell in love with her characters, laughing along with them and feeling a lump rise in my throat as they shed their tears. Both books are so richly satisfying and entertaining that I have returned them to my "keeper" shelf for another future reread.