"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Thursday, August 18, 2022

Short Reviews -- Catching up on past due reviews with quotes

Summer is a good time for reading, not such a good time for reviewing. Today I shall attempt to catch up on a few past due reviews, in short form.

Beach Reads
by Emily Henry
Berkley Books, 2020. Print book I purchased used. 361 pages.

A romance writer and a a literary writer end up living on the same lake in Michigan right next to each other. Both have a problem -- they are stuck in a rut and cannot make progress on their books. Both are consumed by their own personal issues. They hit upon an idea -- to swap genres and see who can get published first. Naturally love ensues.

It seemed to me that everyone on the Internet was raving about this book and/or this author so I just had to find out what all the fuss was about. As it turns out either I am a big grump or I've lost the desire to read Rom-coms because I found the characters weak, their problems not well developed, and I didn't care if the two writers fell in love or not. To be fair, my reading speed may have been the problem. It took me over a month to consume this book with lots of little nibbles along the way. Something tells me this type of novel is best if gulped down in one or two big bites.

“That was what I'd always loved about reading, what had driven me to write in the first place. That feeling that a new world was being spun like a spiderweb around you and you couldn't move until the whole thing had revealed itself to you.” 

Rating: 2.5 stars

The Cure for Sorrow: a Book of Blessings for Times of Grief by Jan Richardson
Wanton Gospeller Press, 2016. Print copy I own. 184 pages.

When Jan Richardson unexpectedly lost her husband she did what she had long known how to do: she wrote blessings. These were no sugar-coated blessings. They minimized none of the pain and bewilderment that came in the wake of a wrenching death. With these blessings, Jan entered, instead, into the depths of the shock, anger, and sorrow. From those depths, she has brought forth words that, with heartbreaking honesty, offer surprising comfort and stunning grace. (Publisher)
Grasping for emotional comfort after an unexpected and tragic death of a beloved relative, I found my way to this book after an excerpt from it was read by the widow at his service. To say that this book would help bring comfort to a grieving person is putting it mildly. Reading each blessing (poem) is like slathering salve on a deep wound, feeling the warmth of healing as it penetrates ever fiber of the psyche. 
This is the book you want to read if you are lost in a jungle of grief. It is also the book you will want to gift to others as they are lost to grief themselves.

So may we know
the hope
that is not just
for someday
but for this day --
here, now,
in this moment
that opens to us:

hope not made
of wishes
but of substance...
Rating: 5 stars

Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother's Will to Survive by Stephanie Land 
Hatchette Books, 2019. Print version from the library. 270 pages.

When Stephanie Land was 28, her dream of going to college and of a writing career seemed to evaporate into thin air when she discovered she was pregnant. In order to support herself and her child she took any job she could find but often resorted to cleaning houses for the flexibility it provided. As a maid, Stephanie found she had almost become a ghost, invisible to those whom she served. As a single woman with a small child she had to cope with so many insults and hassles just to get by. This is Stephanie's story, but she is not alone. It is a story of many, many people living in poverty today.
My husband and I watched the miniseries, "Maid". The book and the miniseries were equal parts similar and dissimilar. But I was tremendously moved by both. The book did generate a good discussion with my club but I don't think we plumbed the depths of what the book had to offer in terms of really understanding the lives of those living in poverty. This book/miniseries helped open my eyes. One word of caution -- read the book first, especially if you plan on using this as a discussion book. Several members of my club got the details mixed up which led to a confusing discussion.
“We were expected to live off minimum wage, to work several jobs at varying hours, to afford basic needs while fighting for safe places to leave our children. Somehow nobody saw the work; they saw only the results of living a life that constantly crushed you with its impossibility. It seemed like no matter how much I tried to prove otherwise, “poor” was always associated with dirty.” 
Rating: 4 stars
SOTH Gals Book Club, June 2022

The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake
Recorded Books, 2021. Audiobook from Overdrive through public library. 12 hours, 50 min.

When Nora Beady's parents both die of cholera, the doctor who attends them, Dr. Horace Croft, decides to make her his ward but the education he gives her isn't what most young ladies of the day receive. Nora is taught to be his medical assistant. Soon she becomes very good at dissections and anatomical diagramming. She reads medical texts and is very interested in scientific discovery. All of this training has been done on the hush-hush as it is illegal for women to practice medicine in the time period. But when Dr. Croft hires another physician to join the practice, Nora finds she can no longer conceal her skills from the world, even if it mean punishment.
Last month when I was visiting my library's Overdrive page I noticed an event called Big Library Read. The event, a first for Overdrive, involved making one adult book available to e-book and audiobook readers for immediate checkout for a limited time. No standing in line waiting for a turn with the book. The book, The Girl in His Shadow, sounded like something I'd enjoy -- a girl living in the 1800s who is smart and talented and finds she has to stand up to men to get the recognition she deserves -- so I checked out the audiobook and started listening right away. I was right, I did enjoy the story, as did my husband and daughter who joined me mid-story when we spent time together en route to a family vacation. I see that there is a sequel which I hope to get to in the near future. I wish we'd read this book for this month's book club rather than the book we did read, The Immortalists, which no one liked. I think it would make for an excellent discussion.

(BTW- I noticed that Overdrive is hosting a YA Big Library Read in November. The book hasn't been announced yet.)

“He had bits of some of them, floating in jars, and he wrote up their cases to print in his books. In a tattered edition of the Lancet, Nora discovered her own story with Dr. Croft’s prediction that having recovered from cholera, she’d gained immunity to the disease, and realized that she, too, was a specimen.”

Rating: 4.5 stars
Once again I am not following rules by sharing only quotes from page one and or page 56. I hope you get a sense of the writing from the quotes I did provide.

Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City ReaderShare the opening quote from current book.
e Friday56 is hosted at Freda's VoiceFind a quote from page 56 to share. 

Visit these two websites to participate. Click on links to read quotes from books other people are reading. It is a great way to make blog friends and to get suggestions for new reading material.  


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