Books, Books and More Books...Winter 2019


Oh my gosh…sometimes the months just fly by and that is exactly what happened this year. To many projects in the house cutting into my blogging time. I know I could have said “forget it for this time” but I read some really good books and I love sharing them with all of you.

Spring is almost over and I’m working on that pile now but I’m hoping you might find a few in here to add to your summer reading list. If you’ve read a really good book recently please share it in the comment box. You would not believe how many books I have waiting for me in my shopping cart on Amazon. Sometimes I just love reading about a book as much as reading the book itself. So let’s dive into this pile of wonderful books. Enjoy..

I started my winter reading right after Christmas and my very first pick was Night of Miracles by Elizabeth Berg…you all know by now that she is one of my favorite authors. Her books never disappoint. This was another small town story about people helping people…A delightful novel about surprising friendships, community, and the way small acts of kindness can change a life, from the best-selling author of Arthur Truluv.

Lucille Howard is getting on in years, but she stays busy. Thanks to the inspiration of her dearly departed friend Arthur Truluv, she has begun to teach baking classes, sharing the secrets to her delicious classic Southern yellow cake, the perfect pinwheel cookies, and other sweet essentials. Her classes have become so popular that she's hired Iris, a new resident of Mason, Missouri, as an assistant. Iris doesn't know how to bake, but she needs to keep her mind off a big decision she sorely regrets. When a new family moves in next door and tragedy strikes, Lucille begins to look out for Lincoln, their son. Lincoln's parents aren't the only ones in town facing hard choices and uncertain futures. In these difficult times, the residents of Mason come together and find the true power of community - just when they need it the most. A heartwarming novel that reminds us that the people we come to love are often the ones we don't expect.

This is the second book in the Arthur Truluv series and I hear there will be a third. They go together nicely but can be stand alone books also. Of course I gave this book 5 cups of Tea. A real winner in these troubled times.

My second book was The Letter by Kathryn Hughes. This was a Christmas gift from Jim this year and the perfect story for a Christmas vacation winter read. It was about a woman, Tina Craig who works all the hours she can and also volunteers in a charity shop to avoid her unhappy home. One day she was going through the pockets of a second hand coat and found an old letter that was never opened. Tina opens the letter and reads it and well the rest of the story is hidden in the pages of this wonderful book. I was intrigued by it because my friend Dina also works in a charity shop (we call them consignment shops here) and we are forever checking pockets and pocketbooks. Once we found a 20.00 dollar bill so we went out to lunch with that. It’s a great mystery and a love story and in some parts, sad. You know it was a great winter read but it would also make a great beach book . Enjoy…I’m giving this one 5 glasses of chardonnay.

The third book of my winter read would really have made a great summer read. Set in the great State of Maine, We Shall Not All Sleep by Estep Nagy was a real page turner. This story takes place on an Island off the coast of Maine. One family shared the Island but then the two brothers married sisters. That’s when the trouble started. “ Many twist and turns. Lots of great writing. It’s an engrossing, multi-layered story of loss, betrayal and privilege, played out against an unforgiving setting.” Daily Mail. Give it a try this summer, Maine has a habit of always taking you away on unexpected adventures. Another 5 star book. The signed copy of this book was given to me by Chris as a Christmas gift this year.

A Tale For The Time Being by Ruth Ozeki…this is your book if you love time-travel and a bit of a mystery. I got this book because it came highly recommended by Oprah and The New York Times. It also received Man Booker Prize Finalist. I love time travel books and I hadn’t read one in many years so this seemed liked a good time to try one again.. From the back cover, “On a remote island in the Pacific Northwest, a Hello Kitty lunchbox washes up on the beach. Tucked inside is the diary of a sixteen-year-old Japanese girl named Nao Yasutani. Ruth, a writer who finds the lunchbox-suspects that it is debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami. Once she begins to read the diary, Ruth quickly finds herself drawn into the mystery of Nao’s fate.” Meanwhile in Tokyo Nao is dealing with her own problems of be bullied at school and also watching her parents spiral deeper into disaster. She has a plan…but it’s not a very good one. This was a wonderful and easy book to read. I gave it 4 ginger snaps to go along with my tea.

Loved, loved, North of Crazy by Neltje. “A very personal memoir of a riches to rags to spiritual and artistic triumph. Neltje’s story is profoundly moving and instructive. A classic, honest and beautifully written memoir” Neltje was the daughter of the famous publishing magnate Nelson Doubleday. You would think she had it all and she did but so much of what the public knew was just a facade. Underneath it all was an alcoholic father and a mother incapable of love. Her story is both heartbreaking and redeeming. The story of how she went from the society of the super rich to living in Wyoming, where she became a artist, cattle rancher and entrepreneur. I love her fiesty spirit and how she managed to move through all the pain to get to where she finally wanted to be and was at peace. I would give this book as a gift and it’s also a keeper. Definitely 5 stars.

The Longing for Home by Frederick Buechner. Frederick Buechner is a favorite author of mine. His books are always nostalgic in some way that I can’t really describe. This one is recollections and reflections on the meaning of home, both as our place of origin and our ultimate destination. Maybe you have to be of a certain age to get it and appreciate it. I’m thinking more of my roots these days than ever before. His writing is gentle and easy. A great end of the day book allowing for time to reflect. Another thing that I like is it is written in both prose and poems. I’m not a poem expert but there are some writers of poems that I can understand and appreciate and Buechner is one of them. In my sons book bag this past Christmas he gave me such a wide variety of books and so far each one has been perfect for me. 4 stars for this lovely book.

The Piano Shop on the Left Bank by Thad Carhart. Another one from Chris that I totally loved and so different from anything that I read. The only connection that he pulled from was that I love Paris and the Left Bank is one of my favorite places to be when there. It’s where all the action happens and it artsy even walking the streets. I learned a lot from this book. I learned about the where and how and with what different kinds of wood piano’s are made of. I learned of how far someone will go to if they have a love for music and the piano in particular. I learned more about the Left Bank which was wonderful and although the book was a memoir, it read like a novel. It was also a study in how some businesses go and maintain themselves when being so specific. Honestly, it was a joy to read. I have since passed on a copy to the organ player at my church, who had not heard of it and was thrilled to have it. It’s was an out of the box book that I probably might not have bought for myself but it sure was a treat to receive this as a gift. This quote on the book sums it up for me, “The writings fluid and lovely enough to lure the rustiest plunker back to the piano bench and the most jaded traveler back to Paris” I know the next time I return to Paris I will be looking for this shop. 5 Big Stars

This next one was a bit of a challenge for me in the beginning but I’m so glad I stuck with it. My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante. This one was a gift also, given to my by my sons fiancée. It is the first book in a four book series of the Neapolitan Novels. The author is one of Italy’s most acclaimed authors and she has written a wonderful book about a friendship that lasts a lifetime. This is the first novel in the series. I do have the complete set and now that I know how to be patient with the names and members of the families I am fine. I know that any of you who have true blooded Italian friends will get this. My friend Dina has a million relatives and she is always rattling off who belongs to who and what cousins goes with what aunt. That is how the book is but fortunately the author has listed out the families very nicely at the front of the book. Very helpful. The story is set on the outskirts of Naples. Growing up on the tough streets the two girls, Elena and Lila, learn to rely on each other ahead of anyone or anything else. Ther’re friendship keeps them protected from the hardships of family and neighbors. The story is about a neighborhood, and a country undergoing momentous change. This is the beginning. I will read the other three books because now I need to know “the rest of the story”. I will also be giving this book to my friend Dina for her birthday next week. 4 Stars.

Last but not least, A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. It has been awhile since I read a book by John Irving but I always liked his writing. This book, A Prayer for Owen Meany, has come up so many times in my reading travels. Finally, when someone at church was talking about it again, I said o.k. I am going to read that. So glad I did. I forgot how beautiful John Irving writes. It was a wonderful story of spirit and friendship and best friends who were 11 years old. The story takes place in 1953 in New Hampshire. At a little league baseball game Owen hits a ball that then hits his best friends mother and sadly she dies. Owen doesn’t believe in accidents so he believes that he is an instrument of God. From that point on what happens to Owen because of that foul ball is extraordinary. This story has so many moving pieces but it is truly a brilliant novel of that time. It forces each of us to confront our own feeling and skepticism of faith and answers to some deep questions. The other miracle of the book is it is laugh out funny at times. It’s a fine balance between tragedy and humor. I highly recommend this book. A million stars…

So there you have it for my winter reading. I was fortunate in this pile that all fo the books were really good. That doesn’t always happen. So now it will soon be time for the spring book review. Summer is right around the corner. I hope that you will find a few books here that you might like to read at the beach or around the pool or just sitting on your cozy porch with a nice cup of tea and perhaps a sparkling glass of wine…Cheers, to reading.

Stories are like heavy machinery, made up of different but equally critical parts that all have to work and work together in order to perform the task they are meant to achieve. A two cent washer or a wing-nut is no less important to the job than a multi-thousand dollar hydraulic system. Xhenet Aliv Bras

I hope you all are getting into summer mode. Please stop by if you have a minute and visit. I love when that happens. Let me know what your most recent great read was. I promise to answer all comments left here for me. I am grateful for you all.