Left Neglected

Put your phone away while driving….

January 19, 2018

Left Neglected
by Lisa Genova

left neglected 2

Genre/categories: fiction, women’s fiction, traumatic brain injury, family life

Summary:

In this compelling story, thirty something Sarah is a career driven, over achieving, competitive type A, and perfectionist mom of three. She and her husband live near Boston and manage a frantic and fast paced life as they each pursue careers and tend to the family’s schedule for soccer practice, piano lessons, parent/teacher conferences, and day care. As they are striving to have it all, a car crash leaves Sarah with a traumatic brain injury called “left neglect.” As the story unfolds, readers journey alongside Sarah as she fights to regain her independence and seeks to answer questions about an uncertain future. While Sarah experiences relinquishing all the control she thought she had to her once absent mother and her physical therapists, she begins to envision a life apart from the world of conference calls and spreadsheets and wonders if a happiness and peace greater than the success she has known is within her grasp.

Amazon Rating (January): 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Readers may recognize Lisa Genova as the author of the best-selling book Still Alice or may have seen the movie based on the book. Genova’s degrees are in biopsychology and neuroscience and her fiction work is focused on writing characters who live with neurological diseases and disorders such as Alzheimer’s, autism, Huntington’s disease, ALS, and traumatic brain injury.

In addition to an unforgettable lesson in NO TEXTING OR PHONE WHILE DRIVING, readers will find an inspiring story of courage and determination in the face of a tragic and devastating traumatic brain injury.

Sarah is left with the disability of “left neglect” which means that she’s unaware of anything on her left. She even has difficulty finding her left hand (In a humorous and light-hearted moment she hints to her husband that a big brilliant diamond for her left hand might better help her to notice and find her hand!).

“The first step in my recovery is to become aware of my unawareness, to constantly and repeatedly remind myself that my brain thinks it’s paying attention to all of everything but in fact, it’s only paying attention to the right half of everything and nothing on the left.”      ~Sarah

As Sarah is able to come home, she begins to reflect about the way they had been living which up until now had meant not even taking advantages of paid vacations so that they could work more to get ahead. In a conversation with her husband, Sarah thinks:

“Pre-accident me nods, understanding the life-and-death stakes [of his job] completely. He’s doing exactly what I would’ve done. But I’m worried more about him than his job right now and can see what pre-accident me is blind to–that he and his job are, in fact, two separate things.”     ~Sarah

Given the high achieving and perfectionist competitor that Sarah’s always been in life, part of her struggle in therapy is the temptation to equate accommodations with failure. This tension is especially painful as she contemplates the dilemma of giving up skiing or skiing with accommodations.

handicap snowboarding

*photo from the NEHSA website

 

 

 

 

 

NEHSA. I appreciate information shared in the book about the New England Handicapped Sports Association (NEHSA) and the thoughts Sarah has about her experience as it relates to her disability and her therapy.

Themes: If you’ve been reading my reviews you know that the presence of substantial themes is a huge component in my final rating of a book. Important themes in this book include reconciliation, determination, courage, humor, forgiveness, finding peace, and building your best life with a visible or an invisible disability. In addition to interpreting the title on a  literal level (the disability), I began to think of the title in terms of all that had been neglected in Sarah’s life as she chases her vision of success. Perhaps there is  happiness and peace that is greater than the success one can find in competitive cooperate America.

4 or 5 stars? While I like that the author drops readers right into the action of Sarah’s busy life and readers are engaged from the beginning, I think the conclusion could have been more fully developed so that readers could experience it unfolding instead of writing it like a summary.  Perhaps the inciting incident could have been moved ahead in the story (readers understand right away how crazy her life is and some of these details were a bit tedious and could have been edited out) and more time could have been allotted to developing the conclusion. This is a minor concern and falls into the category of personal preference. The overall experience of reading the book is a solid 4 for me, and I appreciate the positive, hopeful, and uplifting closure that the author brings to Sarah’s situation. In addition, I think that reading and understanding more about disabilities is a beneficial pursuit in my reading life.

Recommended? I highly recommend this book for readers who have become acquainted with this author through reading Still Alice, who might be challenged by a thoughtful journey into living with a disability, and who enjoy stories of resiliency, bravery, courage, hope, forgiveness, and determination.

My Rating: 4 Stars
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Left Neglected

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Lisa Genova

Lisa Genova

(from Amazon)
Lisa Genova
graduated from Bates College with a degree in Biopsychology and has a Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Harvard University. Acclaimed as the Oliver Sacks of fiction and the Michael Crichton of brain science, she is the author of the New York Times bestselling novels STILL ALICE, LEFT NEGLECTED, LOVE ANTHONY, and INSIDE THE O’BRIENS.

Lisa’s writing focuses on people living with neurological diseases and disorders who tend to be ignored, feared, or misunderstood, portrayed within a narrative that is accessible to the general public. Through fiction, she is dedicated to describing with passion and accuracy the journeys of those affected by neurological diseases, thereby educating, demystifying, and inspiring support for care and scientific research. She has written about Alzheimer’s disease, traumatic brain injury, autism, Huntington’s disease, and ALS.

STILL ALICE was adapted into a film starring Julianne Moore, Alec Baldwin, Kristen Stewart, Kate Bosworth, and Hunter Parrish. Julianne Moore won the 2015 Best Actress Oscar for her role as Alice Howland.

In 2015, Lisa was named one of the U.S. Top 50 Influencers in Aging. She received The Pell Center Prize for Story in the Public Square in recognition of “a contemporary storyteller whose work has had a significant impact on the public dialogue,” The Sargent and Eunice Shriver Profiles in Dignity Award, The Global Genes RARE Champions of Hope Award, and The American College of Neuropsychopharmacology Media Award for Informing the Public about Treatment and Ongoing Research in Medical Illness.

In 2016, she received an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Bates College, The Alzheimer’s Association’s Rita Hayworth Award, and The Huntington’s Disease Society of America Community Awareness Award.

Her 2017 TED talk, “What You Can Do To Prevent Alzheimer’s,” was seen by over 2.5 million viewers in its first few months.

Her fifth novel, EVERY NOTE PLAYED, is about ALS and will be published March 20, 2018.



Dont-Text-and-Drive-21



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society



Extra:

A book that I’d recommend for our protagonist, Sarah, to read next in her journey is Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic For a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living by Shauna Niequist.

present over perfect



Looking Ahead:

This week I’m reading The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy (but it’s a slow read for me), so next week look for a review of Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda (and possibly Library at the Edge of the World if I finish it).

(Amazon information in links above)

What are you reading this week?



Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Let’s Discuss!

Have you read Still Alice or Left Neglected?

Do you think it’s beneficial to read books that feature disability topics?

What do you think about Sarah’s concern that “accommodations equal failure”?

Have you read any of Lisa Genova’s other titles?

What are you reading this week?

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This Must Be the Place

January 12, 2017

Complex, complicated, and multi layered…

This Must Be the Place
by Maggie O’Farrell

This Must Be the Place 2

Genre: Literary Fiction

Summary:

This Must Be the Place is a story of a collapsing and reawakening marriage.  Daniel, a young American professor, travels to Ireland on holiday and family business and to stabilize his life after a failed marriage and a difficult custody battle. By chance, he meets Claudette, a world-famous actress who dramatically left the public eye for a reclusive life in a rural Irish village. Daniel and Claudette fall in love and create an idyllic life in the country and have two children of their own. A secret from Daniel’s past threatens to destroy their carefully constructed and quiet, happy life. As Daniel leaves to make peace with his past and himself, he also reunites with the American son and daughter he has not seen for several years. His story is told from his own voice and other multiple voices as he wrestles with the complexities of loyalty and devotion, family, and an extraordinary love. Amazon Rating (January): 4.2 Stars

My Thoughts:

At first I was less than enthusiastic about the book and set it aside on multiple occasions. Although the writing was beautiful, the structure was complicated and jarring as the story jumped perspectives and time periods. If I wanted to continue with the book, I knew I had to focus and invest some hard reading work. Somewhere around 50%, the persistence paid off and I started enjoying my reading experience. After that switch in my attitude, I grew to admire this complex and multi layered literary fiction work.

If you’re looking for a challenging and complex read and appreciate literary fiction, you might consider this book. I think what I enjoyed the most was the fully developed character study of a complex and flawed human being who really is trying to get things right in his life. If you’re in the mood for something light and easy reading, you might want to skip this one.

As always in well-written literature, I appreciate the meaningful themes presented. In this read, you will find substantial themes that include family relationships, choices, love, regret, and courage to make changes. Daniel is certainly a flawed character; however, I appreciate his determination to do the hard work in his life of becoming sober to work toward regaining that which is most important to him.

I read this book as part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club and this is how she applied one concept in the book to her personal life.

My rating: 4 stars (based on my analysis after the half way point)
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This Must be the Place

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Maggie O’Farrell

Maggie OFarrell

MAGGIE O’FARRELL is the author of four previous novels, including the acclaimed The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox, which was a B&N Recommends Pick, and After You’d Gone. Born in Northern Ireland in 1972, O’Farrell grew up in Wales and Scotland. She has two children.

 

 

 



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society



Extras: Links I Love

Are you interested in Christian Fiction? Check out The Caffeinated Bibliophile: If You Loved This, Read This book recommendations.

Are you an educator or work in an environment that promotes children’s literacy? Check out The Loud Library: Best Faculty Meeting Ever post. She is a literacy leader and I know you’ll be inspired!

For all things children’s books, check out Miss MaGee’s Reads: A Literacy Blog. She’s a third grade teacher who provides reviews for all the newest and greatest in children’s literature.



Looking Ahead:

This week I’m reading Left Neglected (an inspiring story of a woman living with a traumatic brain injury) by Lisa Genova (author of Still Alice). 

Left Neglected

Amazon Information Here

What are you reading this week?



Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Let’s Discuss!

What are you reading this week?

Last Christmas in Paris

January 5, 2017

War changes everything….

Last Christmas in Paris: A Novel of WW 1
by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Last Christmas in Paris 2

Genre/categories: historical fiction (WW 1), epistolary, war, romantic

*Linking up with Modern Mrs Darcy: Quick Lit January 

Summary:

At the beginning of WW 1 as Evie watches her brother, Will, and his best friend, Thomas, leave for the front, she (and nearly everyone) naively believes the war will be over by Christmas. To keep their spirits up, the three make plans for celebrating Christmas in Paris. The Great War, as we know from history, turned out much differently. While Thomas and Will struggle with the horrific realities of war, Evie does her part by writing to each of them. Through letters, Evie and Thomas grow fond of each other and find it easy to share their deepest hopes and fears through letters. Evie is a high-spirited, determined, and independent young woman who wants to more fully participate in the war effort. Through her interests in writing, she writes columns for a newspaper on the topic of war from a woman’s point of view. These columns become more controversial as she finds it difficult to write anything but the truth. Eventually, she travels to France to be closer to the front as she wants to contribute to the war effort in a more significant way. Will Evie and Thomas and their love survive the war? Will they ever make it to Paris to celebrate Christmas?
Amazon Rating (January):  4.6 Stars

My Thoughts:

The title is a bit misleading as the story doesn’t take place at Christmas….Christmas in Paris is mostly a symbol for hope and happier times. In addition, I think it symbolizes the tremendous loss of innocence and lost years.

Despite the heavy subject matter of WW 1, The Last Christmas in Paris is a mostly light, easy,  endearing, and romantic read. I loved it and there is a high likelihood it will end up on my favorites of 2018 list at year’s end. It reminded me a great deal of my other favorites Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and Chilbury Ladies’ Choir. If you’ve read either one and loved it, then The Last Christmas in Paris must be added to your TBR immediately!

Themes play an important part in my enjoyment of literature. In Last Christmas in Paris there were several themes to ponder including themes of hope, tragedy, humor, friendship, and love. First, we must recognize and honor the service of the heroic young men who served in WW 1.  Through the bravery, endurance, loyalty, and determination of Lieutenant Thomas Harding, readers can imagine the sacrifice and horrors of war.  My mom said that this story reminded her of what her dad (my grandfather) told her about WW1 (he received a Purple Heart). Next, we can be inspired by independent, determined, and free-spirited Evie, an aspiring writer, and her chagrin at having been left behind. Evie represents the role of many women in WW1.

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me:
I am a free human being with an independent will.” 
“One must always have an adventure in life, or the promise of it, at least.”       ~Evie

In addition to some great insights into WW1, the story includes a bit of romance as the letter writing process unfolds. Through reading their letters, I can imagine thousands of similar relationships that bloomed over the years of the Great War.

“I will reserve my shoulder for the curve of your cheek anytime. I hope I am lucky enough to feel it again.”
“Letters make one uncommonly honest, don’t you think? I’ve told you things in words that I would have been far too shy or distracted to tell you in person.”

I was also struck by the angst, tediousness, and patience of communicating solely by snail mail! From our modern perspective of instant communication, it’s amazing to be transported back to the realities of life in the early 1900s when beautiful letter writing on elegant stationery defined the times.

I loved the gentleness of this book, and I felt as close to the characters as if I had stumbled upon the letters of my great grandparents in their attic. Trust me, you need this book in your life!

Highly recommended for readers who enjoy historical fiction, epistolary format, and are looking for an easy, enjoyable, engaging, charming, clean, and uplifting read. Also recommended for book clubs for its interesting themes. In fact, as Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day approaches, this would make a thoughtful gift for your wife, mom or grandmother. You’re welcome.

My Rating: 5 romantic Paris Stars twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

last christmas in paris

Buy Here

Meet the Authors, Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Hazel GaynorHazel Gaynor is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A MEMORY OF VIOLETS and THE GIRL WHO CAME HOME, for which she received the 2015 RNA Historical Novel of the Year award. Her third novel THE GIRL FROM THE SAVOY was an Irish Times and Globe & Mail Canada bestseller, and was shortlisted for the BGE Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year.

In 2017, Hazel will release two historical novels: THE COTTINGLEY SECRET (August, William Morrow/HarperCollins) and LAST CHRISTMAS IN PARIS (October, William Morrow/HarperCollins).

Hazel was selected by the US Library Journal as one of ‘Ten Big Breakout Authors’ for 2015 and was a WHSmith Fresh Talent selection in spring 2015. Her work has been translated into several languages and she is represented by Michelle Brower of Aevitas Creative Management, New York.

For more information, visit http://www.hazelgaynor.com

Heather Webb

Heather Webb is the international bestselling author of historical fiction, including Becoming Josephine, Rodin’s Lover, and Last Christmas in Paris, which have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Cosmopolitan, Elle, France Magazine, and more, as well as received national starred reviews. Rodin’s Lover was a Goodreads Top Pick in 2015. To date, Heather’s novels have sold in multiple countries worldwide. She is also a professional freelance editor, foodie, and travel fiend. She lives in New England with her family and one feisty rabbit.

Heather is a member of the Historical Novel Society, the Women’s Fiction Writers Association, and Romance Writers of America.



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society



Looking Ahead:

Next week I’ll review This Must be the Place
by Maggie O’Farrell

This Must be the Place

Amazon Information Here

What are you reading this week?



Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Let’s Discuss!

What are your favorite WW1 or WW2 historical fiction reads?

Top Ten Tuesday: New to Me Authors in 2017

January 2, 2018

Do you have a few favorite authors?

I’m linking up today with The Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday: New to Me Authors in 2017.

Top Ten Tuesday

Throughout 2017, I discovered a handful of authors who are new to me and whose work I would read automatically without checking out the reviews first. While a couple of these authors are well published (but new on my radar), the majority are new authors as well as being new to me. I’m adding these authors to recently discovered new authors such as Fredrik Backman whose work I trust and admire.

I would happily accept an ARC from any of these authors and promote their work. (*shameless hint)

In alphabetical order:

Jane Harper

The DryEven though detective/mystery is not my usual genre, I thoroughly enjoyed The Dry. I’m eager to read the sequel that releases in February, and I anticipate that it will be equally well written and highly engaging.

The Dry Review and Amazon Information

 

 



Nadia Hashimi

Pearl That Broke its ShellEven though I read this at the beginning of 2017, The Pearl That Broke its Shell is a story that I have continued to think about all year. The author gives the reader thoughtful insight into Afghan culture for women and challenges us to think about women’s rights. I always want to support women writing about strong, independent, and courageous women, and I hope she continues to write about her culture.

The Pearl That Broke its Shell Review and Amazon Information

 



Gail Honeyman

Eleanor OliphantIn her amazing debut novel Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, this author is definitely on my watch list! I’m certainly curious about her next work and I’m hoping for a sequel!

Eleanor Oliphant Review and Amazon Information 

 

 



Elise Hooper

The Other Alcott 2

Author of The Other Alcott, her extensive research and well written debut work depicting the lives of the Alcott sisters earned this new author a lot of credibility with me. I hope she’s working on something new for readers!

The Other Alcott Review and Amazon Information

 



Dane Hucklebridge

castle of water 2

 

Author of Castle of Water, I enjoy his beautiful, engaging, and creative writing and eagerly await his next release!

Castle of Water Review and Amazon Information

 

 



Paulette Jiles

News of the World

My husband and I both enjoyed this beautifully written western historical fiction novel. Even though she has other published works, this is the first I’ve read. I’d love to choose one of her other works to read this year. If you’ve read this author, do you have a recommendation for me?

News of the World Review and Amazon Information

 



Thanhha Lai

Inside Out and Back AgainInside Out and Back Again is a beautiful story told in free verse and an “authentic voice.” This author has my heart and I would enthusiastically check out her new releases. (By the way, this story is perfect for older elementary readers but thoroughly appreciated by adults).

Inside Out and Back Again review in this post as well as Amazon Information

 



Jennifer Latham

dreamland burningDreamland Burning is one of my most memorable reads and most recommended historical fiction selections of the year. This author’s engaging and thoughtful writing would definitely cause me to check out her next work.

Dreamland Burning Review and Amazon Information

 

 



Ruta Sepetys

Salt to the Sea

Between Shades of Gray

Author of a couple of my favorite hisfic selections, Salt to the Sea and Between Shades of Gray, I admire her careful research and beautiful writing.

Salt to the Sea Review and Amazon Information

Between Shades of Gray Amazon Information

 

 

 



 

 

Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give

I appreciated reading about Starr and her experiences in The Hate U Give from an “authentic voice.” I’ll look forward to more from this author because I feel it’s so important to listen well.

The Hate U Give Review and Amazon Information

 



 

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society



Looking Ahead:

I read a wonderful book between Christmas and New Years
and I can’t wait to review it on Friday!

last christmas in paris

Amazon Information Here

What are you reading this week?



Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Let’s Discuss!

Did you discover any new authors in 2017?

Who are your favorite authors?

What are you reading this week?

 

 

2017’s Most Memorable, Inspiring, & Unforgettable Characters

December 28, 2017

Who are the memorable, inspiring, and unforgettable characters that you still think about days, weeks, months, or years later?

Most Memorable Characters 2017

For me, one joy of reading is experiencing life through someone else’s perspective and at the same time building compassion and understanding. Similar to choosing favorite books, choosing favorite characters from the year’s reading is a daunting task! My initial list was very long, and I’ve condensed it to the most memorable of the memorable characters from my 2017 reading (in no particular order).

Eleanor Oliphant

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Eleanor OliphantI still think of brave, traumatized, quirky, and lonely Eleanor (and wait patiently for a sequel).

Her bravery is a beacon of hope for others. In the midst of deep personal pain, she carves out a life for herself and dares to hope for more. When confronted with the scariest prospects of all…friendship and love… she faces the fear with her same trademark courage.

In time, I think she really will be fine.

Brief Review and Amazon Information Found in This Post.



August Pullman

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

WonderAlso exemplifying the character trait of bravery is Auggie Pullman. Unlike Eleanor’s hidden internal pain, Auggie battles the discomfort of public appearances because of his facial abnormality.

Auggie’s bravery enables all children (and adults) who look different from others to face their physical challenges and live full, meaningful, and productive lives. Furthermore, his bravery teaches all of us to be accepting and KIND.

Full Review and Amazon Information Here.



Chief Inspector Armand Gamache

Glass Houses by Louise Penny
(#13 in the popular Three Pines Inspector Gamache series)

Glass HousesWhen I think of Inspector Gamache in this character driven series, I think of integrity and compassion. I’m continually impressed that in his difficult career, assignments, and pressures, he treats others with respect.

Interestingly, in a Louise Penny interview, she indicates that when she created the character of Gamache, she created a man whom she could have married. The rationale for this being she would spend years with him as a main character in the series and she wanted to create someone she would like and not tire of.  This is likely part of the cause of the series’ success is the memorable, kind, honest, thoughtful, trustworthy character of Armand Gamache.

Throughout the series, readers appreciate the exemplary character traits of a tough-minded policeman and gentleman.

Full Review and Amazon Information Here.



Emma

The Baker’s Secret by Stephen P. Kiernan

The Baker's SecretThe bravery, courage, and resiliency of ordinary people doing extraordinary things in the most difficult, challenging circumstances always inspires readers like myself. A likable 22-year-old heroine, Emma stealthily and quietly fights back against the Germans who’ve invaded her small Normandy village during WW 11, and she courageously provides the villagers with a bit of sustenance and a taste of hope.

Amazon Information Here.

 



Count Alexander Rostov

Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in MoscowA true gentleman, the Count is sentenced to house arrest for the rest of his life in a Moscow hotel in Russia for a crime he allegedly committed against the government. Through the elegant and exquisite telling of this story, we see an example of living with grace, purpose, meaning, and a bit of wit when life hands you lemons. When life doesn’t go according to plan, how then will you live?

Amazon Information Here.

 



Rahima and Shekiba

The Pearl that Broke its Shell by Nadia Hashimi

Pearl That Broke its ShellTwo Afghan women (a century apart) fight for similar women’s rights as they battle powerlessness and customs that suppress women, and fight for some freedom to control their own fates. Their stories remind me of the importance of supporting women (such as Malala in her fight for education) around the world as they fight for basic human rights.

Brief Review Found in This Post and Amazon Information Here.

 



Noa and Astrid

The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff

Orphan's TaleNoa and Astrid are two extraordinary women in a traveling circus whose friendship drives this harrowing tale of sacrifice and survival during WW 11.

I’ll always remember them and their courage that symbolizes women throughout history who have made similar decisions and risked their lives for others.

Brief Review Found in This Post and Amazon Information Here.



(teenage memorable, inspirational, and unforgettable characters)

Lina and Joana

Between Shades of Gray (Lina) and Salt to the Sea (Joana) (by Ruta Sepetys

In these WW 11 stories that will break your heart, two teenagers face a fight for survival and are placed in positions that are difficult and/or impossible for adults to handle. Between Shades of Gray and Salt to the Sea are both YA (high school and older) reads that are compelling for adults.

I admire the resiliency, strength, bravery, courage, and determination of these characters as they fight for survival. Stories like these always cause me to ponder what I would do in similar circumstances and to admire the human spirit.

Between Shades of Gray Amazon Information Here.

Salt to the Sea Brief Review in This Post and Amazon Information Here.



Eve

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn

Alice NetworkIn this page turner, Eve Gardiner joins the fight against the Germans in WW 1 when she unexpectedly is recruited to become a spy and work in the Alice Network.

Her sheer courage is breathtaking and her sacrifice is memorable.

I also enjoyed learning about the female spy system.

Full Review and Amazon Information Here.

 

 



(12-year-old memorable characters)

Rill Foss, Josef, Isabel, and Mahmoud

Before We Were Yours (Rill) by Lisa Wingate and Refugee (Josef, Isabel, Mahmoud) by Alan Gratz

Several children became memorable and unforgettable characters for me this year. They each are inspirational in their fights for survival and safety and how often they are required to make adult decisions and take on adult responsibilities. Before We Were Yours is adult fiction and Refugee is Middle Grade fiction  (compelling as an adult read).

Before We Were Yours Full Review and Amazon Information Here.

Refugee Full Review and Amazon Information Here.



Honorable Mention:

There were so many memorable characters throughout 2017 that I can’t resist mentioning others (I’ve included links to my reviews and Amazon information):

Ginny in Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig

Starr in The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Ladies of The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan

Li-yan in The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd in News of the World by Paulette Jiles

Nurse Ruth in Small Great Things by Jodi Piccoult



Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society



Looking Ahead:

Because of Christmas activities and a touch of the flu, I have not yet read the book I committed to last week: Woman in Cabin 10 (which is a MUST read for me this week to meet the deadline for my IRL book club). In addition, I really, really want to review a special book that I did read while I was recovering from the flu (I needed an easy reading book), and I can’t wait to tell you about it next week! What are you reading this week?



Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Let’s Discuss!

Who were your memorable, unforgettable, and inspirational characters of 2017?

Far From the Tree

December 22, 2017

Has your life been touched by adoption?

Some readers notice that this story feels similar to the NBC T.V. series This is Us …. and it is similar in its multi layered sibling sagas (from a teenage perspective) and especially a similar adoption theme. If you watch This is Us, you might remember in Season 1 how Randall describes his feelings growing up as an adopted child in a white family. These are the types of feelings (as well as others) expressed by Joaquin, Grace, and Maya as this story unfolds.

Far From the Tree
by Robin Benway

Far From the Tree

Genre/categories: YA Fiction, Social & Family Issues, Adoption, Siblings

Summary:

Far From the Tree is a contemporary YA fiction novel in which three biological siblings (placed for adoption or foster care as babies in separate families) find their way to each other as teenagers and discover a deeper meaning of family. The story is complicated because Grace, one of the three siblings, has just placed her own baby up for adoption. In addition, Joaquin, another of the siblings has experienced trauma growing up in the foster care system. The author tenderly explores each of their stories including the mistrust, feelings of aloneness, and individual hurts and disappointments. Far From the Tree won the 2017 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Amazon Rating (December): Early Reviews: 4.6 Stars

My Thoughts: 

If adoption is part of your history or adoption touches your family, this gripping and emotional story will captivate and wreck you in the best way! Tissues may be required! My personal connections to adoption with close friends and family cause me to connect with this story in a special way. Most notably, my husband is adopted and has experienced deep feelings of “aloneness” all his life. In addition, later in our adult lives, both my husband and I have established relationships with relatives (my husband’s sister and my cousin) whom we’ve been separated from all our lives as a result of adoption. In each case, the reunion was special and we’ve established close adult relationships with each other. #itsnevertoolatetoexpandourfamily  #drawawidercircle

My background with establishing our own relationships with family members who had been separated through the adoption process greatly impacted me as I read this story and I was able to recognize and identify with certain feelings and fears from each of the three siblings.

Far From the Tree is definitely one of my favorite reads of the year. It is an engaging and heartwarming read for the YA audience and for all adult readers as the author explores with insight the powerful emotions of adoption from all sides. Because this is a YA genre, there are some F bombs and some teenagery angst. Also, I felt like the author included too many themes and at times it felt all over the place. I wished the author had remained more focused on the exploration of adoption, foster care, and family themes. Overall, though, readers will appreciate the excellent character development and relevant themes of adoption, fostering with the intention of adopting, reconciliation, healing, sibling bonds, family relationships, learning to trust, and family loyalty. Trust me! Put this on your “must read” shelf!

bike with training wheels

Shared with Joaquin as he learns to trust his foster parents:
“I know you don’t believe it now, I know you might not ever believe it, but Mark and Linda are like those training wheels, too. What you described? That’s what parents do. They catch you before you fall. That’s what family is.”

My Rating: 4 Stars

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

Far From the Tree

Buy Here



Meet the Author, Robin Benway

Robin Benway

Robin Benway is a National Book Award winner and New York Times bestselling author of six novels for young adults, including Audrey, Wait!, the AKA series, and Emmy & Oliver. Her books have received numerous awards and recognition, including a 2008 Blue Ribbon Award from the Bulletin for the Center of Children’s Books, 2009’s ALA Best Books for Young Adults, and 2014’s ALA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults. In addition, her novels have received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publishers Weekly, and have been published in more than twenty countries. Her most recent title, Emmy & Oliver, was published in 2015 by Harper Teen, and was named one of the best books of summer by the Los Angeles Times, the Houston Chronicle, and Publishers Weekly. Her newest book, Far From the Tree, won the 2017 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature and was published by Harper Teen on October 3, 2017.

Robin grew up in Orange County, California, attended NYU, where she was the 1997 recipient of the Seth Barkas Prize for Creative Writing, and is a graduate of UCLA. She currently lives in Los Angeles, where she spends her time hanging out with her dog, Hudson, making coffee, and procrastinating on writing.



Happy Reading Bookworms!



“Ah, how great it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I love the world of words, where literature and life connect.”
~Denise J Hughes



Extras:

Do you need a children’s book? Check out Bibbidi Bobbidi Bookworm: Ten Great Children’s Books to Give This Holiday Season.

What was your favorite read of 2017? Check out Novels & Nonfiction: My Top Ten Favorite Books I Read in 2017.

Here is another great review post featuring a wide selection of fiction and nonfiction:  Kendra Nicole: My World in Reviews: An End-of-Year Wrap-up and My Favorite Books of 2017.


Looking Ahead!

I have so many books I’m looking forward to reading in 2018. See this post. However, I think I’ll read Woman in Cabin 10 next week for my IRL book club January meeting. This isn’t my usual or preferred genre….so we’ll see how it goes!

Woman in Cabin 10

More Information Here.



Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear about your favorite reads of 2017 (mine are here).
What’s at the top of your TBR list for 2018? (my list of priority reads for 2018 is here) ….I’m adding Last Christmas in Paris to my TBR because of recent buzz!
Tell me if you have an adoption story in your family.



For those celebrating Christmas,
Merry Christmas from Reading Ladies!

Merry Christmas

2017 Really Recommendable Reads

gift stack of books

December 15, 2017

10 Categories of Really Recommendable Reads for 2017

Choosing the year’s best books is my most difficult reading task! I think that separating the books into categories might help me share with you which were the best reading experiences for me. I hope you had a great reading year, and that we share an appreciation for some of these selections. or that they will be ideas for your TBR. Most of the selections are fairly new releases (all except four were published in 2017).

*In no particular order

gift stack of books

Most Unforgettable Character

Eleanor Oliphant

 

I’m still thinking about brave, traumatized, quirky, and lonely Eleanor … and hoping for a sequel!

Brief review found here in this post.

Short listed for the COSTA Award (new authors)

Read it before seeing the movie!

More Information Here

 

 

 

 



gift stack of booksMost Poignant

 

Both of Backman’s novellas rank among my favorite reads of the year. And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer deals with Alzheimer’s and a grandfather’s relationship with his young grandson. The deal of a Lifetime provides a reflection of a successful man as he faces the end of his life.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer review found here and more information found here.

The Deal of a Lifetime review found here and more information found here.



gift stack of booksMost Escapist

castle of water 2

 

Literary Fiction + Adventure!

I read this page turner in one day! Beautiful prose and a great selection for a vacation or travel read.

Full review here

More Information here

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



gift stack of booksMost Controversial and Relevant Social Issues

 

I learned a great deal from both of these books and I consider them worthwhile and important reads, and both would be great for book club discussions. In addition to many important themes, they both involve the theme of racism. While Small Great Things is written for adult readers, The Hate U Give (often referred to as THUG) is appropriate for mature older high school and YA and all adults. (please note: both books contain possibly offensive language or situations.)

Small Great Things review included in this post here and more information here.

The Hate U Give review here and more information here.
The Hate U Give movie information here.
Do you think THUG should be banned in schools? See article involving a Texas school district here.



gift stack of booksMost Apt to Build Compassion and Understanding

 

Wonder has become a must read in many classrooms across America as it builds compassion for others who look different, and it is a great read and lesson in kindness for all ages. Full review here. Have you seen the well done movie adaptation? More information here.

Ginny Moon explores autism from a 14-year-old girl’s perspective. My full review here. More information here.



gift stack of booksMost Dramatic Themes

 

Beartown: themes of family, parenting, competition, loyalty, courage, community, belonging, friendship, small town struggles and values, hope, a girl’s “no,” etc.

Little Fires Everywhere: most interesting mix of characters and themes of mothers/children, secrets, privilege, teenage love, perfection, racism, friendship, suburban dysfunction, adoption vs. parental rights, etc.

Beartown: brief review included in this post here and more information here.

Little Fires Everywhere: full review here and more information here.

 



gift stack of booksMost Overlooked Genre (for me!)

News of the World

 

 

I highly recommend this beautifully written western! I don’t usually seek out westerns but the historical fiction aspect appealed to me. I highly recommend this for its beautifully written prose and sweet theme. My hubs also enjoyed this one.

There’s talk of a movie with Tom Hanks!

A brief review included in this post.

More information here. 

Movie information here.

 

 



gift stack of booksMost Personal Connection

Far From the Tree

 

If you remember last week’s post, Far From the Tree was on my TBR for 2018, but I was tempted to pick this up right away because of the themes of adoption/foster care and the meaning of family. In the past few years my hubs and I have established contact with his bio sister (he’s adopted) and they arranged to talk and meet for the first time; in addition, I searched out my bio cousin who had been placed for adoption as a baby. Both relationships have provided immeasurable joy and have enriched our family. #drawawidercircle  is how I would tag this in Instagram. Although this is a YA selection, it can be enjoyed by adults as well. If adoption has touched your life, this will wreck you in the best possible way!

My reservations are (1) the author’s use of quite a few f-bombs (I don’t understand why this language is so prevalent and almost mandatory in YA books….but I’m probably showing my age or highly sensitive nature here) and (2) the author throws too many themes in here in my opinion (divorce, alcoholism, sexual identity, racism, etc), and these themes (although important) are somewhat distracting from the adoption/unplanned pregnancy/foster care/meaning of family themes which are the focus of the book. Nevertheless, I highly enjoyed the overall read and found it exceptionally meaningful on a personal level and highly recommendable ….. Here’s a link to my full review. 

More information here.



gift stack of booksMost Courageous and Determined Fight for Women’s Rights

Pearl That Broke its Shell

 

Inspiring, with against-the-odds, bravery, and women’s rights themes, this historical fiction is a fast-paced page turner that provides great insight into the lives in which some women are born. Memorable and unforgettable. A must read on your TBR.

Brief review found in this post here.

More information here.

 

 

 

 

 

 



gift stack of booksMost Delightful Historical Fiction

I read extensively in the historical fiction genre and have many great recommendations for you (see note below) ! However, most of them are extremely heavy reading. Therefore, for this category, I’d like to focus on the lightest histfic I’ve read this year. (and then I’ll list the others as runners up).

Chilbury

 

Enjoyable read about a remarkable group of women working to serve their community during WW 11.

Full review here.

More information here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Runners Up in Historical fiction:

The following is a list of the other equally great historical fiction selections I’ve read this year:

Salt to the Sea; Between Shades of Gray; (not reviewed on the blog but it’s as well written as Salt to the Sea and its main character is connected with a character in Salt to the Sea); The Orphan’s Tale; The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane; Dreamland Burning (YA); The Alice Network; Before We Were Yours; America’s First Daughter; Refugee (YA); Gentleman in Moscow (not reviewed…and not a book I loved at first, but I grew to love and appreciate the beautiful prose and its intriguing premise! It’s been well reviewed on Amazon and Goodreads)



*Linking up with The Broke and the Bookish for Top Ten Tuesday: Our favorite books of 2017 ,  Modern Mrs Darcy: Quick Lit: 9 Excellent Books for Gifting This Season and Traveling With T: #AMonthofFaves: Top Ten Books That Blew Your Mind This Year



Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how great it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I love the world of words, where literature and life connect.”
~Denise J Hughes



Extras:

Check out these other popular and favorite bloggers and their “best of” the year lists:

Modern Mrs. Darcy: Favorite Books 2017

Loud Library Lady: Most Memorable Reads of 2017

Loud Library Lady: My Friends’ Most Memorable 2017 Reads

Broke and the Bookish: Top Ten Tuesday:
(bloggers link up to share their top ten reads of the year posts…my post this week is linked there…check out the others)

The Caffeinated Bibliophile: Christmas Book Guide: Christian Fiction Books

Making Here Home: Brilliant books for kids…recommended by kids

Top Shelf Text: A Very Bookish Holiday (follow the link in the post for bookish gift ideas)

Modern Mrs Darcy: Quick Lit: 9 Excellent Books for Gifting This Season

…and, last, something to consider as you set your own reading goals for 2018…

Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2018 Reading Challenge

 



Looking Ahead!

Far From the Tree

Far From the Tree full review next week.



Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.



Let’s Discuss!

Which books did you read that were best of the year for you? Do your best reads overlap at all with mine?
Are there any that you’ve read that you would highly recommend to me?



 

journey of a lifetime reading meme

2018: Here’s Looking at You!

December 8, 2017

How many books are on your TBR (to be read) list? Currently, I have 76 on my Goodreads “to read” shelf. It’s a bit unwieldy, and in this post I prioritize a few selections to read as I anticipate setting reading goals for the new year (I looked for the books on my list with the highest Goodreads ratings). Hopefully, some of these will be good candidates to review for future posts. Maybe Santa will bring me a few of these books! Linking up with The Broke and the Bookish: Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books I Hope Santa Brings and also The Broke and the Bookish: Top Ten Tuesday: Top Ten Books We’re Looking Forward to in 2018.

I’m always intrigued by new books and inspired by reviews, so this list is subject to change (depending on reviews, library availability, or kindle sales)! However, at this moment in time, this list represents my reading priorities for winter (*listed in no particular order).



Believe it or not, I actually ADDED books to my TBR while writing this post! It’s hopeless!



Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
by David Grann

(runner up for the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards in the history & biography category and New York Times bestseller; Amazon rating: 4.6 Stars;
Genre: Native American History, biographies/memoirs)

Killers of the Flower Moon

Information Here


Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder
by Caroline Fraser 

(rated one of the top ten books of the year by the New York Times;
Amazon rating: 4.1 Stars; genre: biographies/memoirs)

Prairie Fires

Information Here


Force of Nature
by Jane Harper

(sequel to The Dry; early Amazon rating: 4.4 Stars; release date: 2/6/18;
genre: mystery/detective)

Force of Nature

Information Here


84, Charing Cross Road
by Helene Hanff

(an older, highly recommended best selling title that’s been on my TBR for years;
Amazon rating: 4.5 Stars;
genre: correspondence/letters)

84 Charing Cross Road

Information Here


Our Souls at Night
by Kent Haruf

(an older, highly recommended best selling title that’s been on my TBR for years;
Amazon rating: 4.3 Stars;
genre:  mystery/thriller/suspense, family life, literary fiction; movie trailer)

Our Souls at Night

Information Here


As Bright as Heaven
by Susan Meissner

(Philadelphia 1918; release date: 2/6/18; genre: historical fiction, mothers/children, Spanish flu epidemic)

As Bright as Heaven

Information Here


Far From the Tree
by Robin Benway

(YA fiction, National book award finalist; Early Amazon Rating: 4.7 Stars;
genre:  social & family issues, siblings, adoption)

Far From the Tree

Information Here


The Library at the Edge of the World
by Felicity Hayes-McCoy

(A book about books is my favorite! Set in Ireland; early Amazon Rating: 4.1;
genre: women’s fiction,  small town & rural living, mothers/children)

Library at the Edge of the World

Information Here


Eden
by  Jeanne McWilliams Blasberg

(Amazon Rating: 4.7 Stars; genre: fiction, multi generational family saga)Eden

Information Here


 The Kommandant’s Girl
by Pam Jenoff

(since reading The Orphan’s Tale by Pam Jenoff, I’ve wanted to read this earlier work; Amazon rating: 4.5 Stars; genre: historical fiction, Jewish)

Kommandant's Girl

Information Here


Beartown Sequel: Us Against You
by Fredrik Backman

Last but not least! I have to wait 6 months for the sequel to Beartown!
(sequel release date: 6/5/18)

Beartown

(no image for sequel available)

Us Against You
by Fredrik Backman

(release date: 6/5/18; genre:  contemporary fiction, sports)

 

Beartown Information Here

Us Against You Information Here


Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes


Updates:

Last week I mentioned I was deciding between Lincoln in the Bardo and The Bear and the Nightingale. Unfortunately, neither one worked out. I had wanted to buddy read Lincoln in the Bardo with my hubs but he was the first to download the audio version and wasn’t interested in the read, also my bookish friend indicated that it was “more depressing than memorable.” So I decided to go with the fairy tale/folk tale The Bear and the Nightingale, and I read 59% before abandoning it to the DNF (did not finish) stack. Both books have received rave reviews, so it’s not the books, it’s me. The Bear and the Nightingale is not one of my typical go to genres and this is the main reason that it was abandoned. Even though, it’s a well written Russian folk tale/fairy tale, it includes an abundance of fantasy and magical realism which are usually not elements I seek out in my reading. If it were a short story, I think it would’ve been an ok read for me, but it goes on and on and on, and after a while it became tedious. It’s also part of a trilogy which I knew I wouldn’t be continuing. However, if a Russian fairy tale/folk tale, fantasy, and magical realism appeal to you and you love skillful word building and exquisite imagery….this may be a great choice for you.


Extras:

A Wrinkle in Time

 

Will you be rereading (or first time reading) Wrinkle in Time before the movie comes out in March?!
Wrinkle in Time Trailer

 

 

 

Have you seen the 2017 Goodreads Choice Awards list? How many titles have you read?

Also, my Bookstagram (Instagram for bookish posts) buddy, The Loud Library Lady  (@theloudlibrarylady) released her list of most memorable books of 2017 …. check out her blog! https://theloudlibrarylady.com/

Did you read that The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was banned by a Texas school district. What do you think? Have you read it? Here’s my review.
It will soon be a movie.


Looking Ahead

Next week, I’ll attempt to gather a list of my best and most memorable reads for 2017. This is a daunting task for me! I have so many favorites!


Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.


Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear in comments what’s on your TBR or what you’re currently reading. Have you already read a book on my TBR list? Do you have any must read suggestions for me?

 

 

 

 

 

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency: The House of Unexpected Sisters

December 1, 2017

Before Louise Penny’s popular Inspector Gamache series set in Three Pines, there was Mma Precious Ramotswe of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series set in Botswana, Africa.

No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency: The House of Unexpected Sisters
by Alexander McCall Smith

House of Unexpected Sisters 2

Genre/categories: women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, detective/mystery, African culture (Botswana)

Summary:

The House of Unexpected Sisters is the eighteenth installment of this charming, easy reading series. All the usual characters are present, reflecting on life, drinking tea, embracing tradition, and investigating human nature in sunny Botswana. In this newest story, Mma Ramotswe is challenged with four problems to solve: she is asked to investigate the unfair firing of a female employee, she is faced with an unwelcome visit from someone in her past, she learns about a potential risk to her assistant’s husband’s business, and she bravely meets an unexpected family member that causes her to question the integrity of her beloved father who is “late.” Loyal readers will be rewarded with a delightful read. Amazon Rating (December): 4.6 Stars

My Thoughts: 

In the most soothing of ways, the story is predictable to the other stories in the series: readers grow to appreciate the beauty of Africa (Botswana is almost a character in the story); there’s always time for a cup of tea at work or a visit with your dearest friend and confidant (Mma Potokwani); and the characters are likable, quirky, and seem real. Mma Romotswe founder and owner of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, is a “traditionally built woman,” gentle, honest, inclusive, compassionate, full of common sense, thoughtful, gracious, and wise. In fact, she always chooses kindness and forgiveness as her response and never revenge. Idealistically, she believes that people are good and kind and want to enjoy themselves and take care of each other. She is a proponent of the old Botswana morality and the traditional ways (especially the old way of greeting others). The focus of her work at the Ladies’ Detective Agency is on righting small injustices.

“Both of these matters had been resolved satisfactorily, which meant in Mma Ramotswe’s view that all those concerned had been persuaded to see reason. That, she felt, was the key to the solution of any problem: you did not look for a winner who would take everything; you found a way of allowing people to save face; you found a way of healing rather than imposing.”

It seems as if Alexander McCall Smith enjoys these characters as they are consistently and warmly drawn from story to story. From the way the story is told, readers might infer that the author greatly admires and respects his main character and her philosophy of life.

Family is an important theme in this heartwarming story (and in the others). She takes care of everyone who comes into her life as family.

“Families come in different ways, she thought: sometimes they are given to you, but sometimes you find them yourself, unexpectedly, as you go through life. That is perhaps not all that well-known, but it is still true.”

Even though this is an eighteen book series, readers could easily read The House of Unexpected Sisters as a stand alone. It might be a little tedious or repetitive for readers who’ve read all the stories, but Alexander McCall Smith does an excellent job of providing all the background information a reader needs to understand the story and characters.

I’ve read all the books in the series and I think this one stands out as one of the best. If it’s been a while since you’ve read one, I’d encourage you to pick this up.

I admit that my rating of 4 stars is subjective because reading these books is like coming home to old friends. If I had read this as a stand alone and didn’t have an emotional attachment to the series or characters, I think my objective rating would be 3.5.

I recommend The House of Unexpected Sisters to those readers who are familiar with the series, for readers who love Africa, for readers who desire a quick, easy, escapist read, for readers who need a comforting read at the moment (perhaps to relieve stress or to take on vacation or to recover from a surgery), and for readers who want a “clean” read with a touch of humor for themselves or as a gift for a lady (no graphic violence, language, or sex).

I caution readers against binge reading or speed reading the series. They are best read as stand alone stories…perhaps one every few months. Even though it’s comforting to return to the homes of old friends, I think life might be boring if every evening were spent with them. The books in this series need to be read when you’re in the mood for a slow-paced, character driven story with an abundance of reflection and description. It could be classified as the coziest of the cozy mysteries genre and a true comfort read. It seems that we always feel like we can be better people after spending time with Precious Ramotswe

cup of tea

Make yourself a cup of tea, and read this for yourself and meet Mma Precious Ramotswe!

My rating: 4 Stars

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-star

House of Unexpected Sisters

Buy Here

Meet the Author, Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith was born in what is now Zimbabwe and taught law at the University of Botswana. He is now Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh. He has written more than fifty books, including a number of specialist titles, but is best known for The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series, which has achieved bestseller status on four continents. In 2004 he was awarded British Book Awards Author of the Year and Booksellers Association Author of the Year. He lives in Scotland, where in his spare time he is a bassoonist in the RTO (Really Terrible Orchestra). More information at http://www.alexandermccallsmith.com/

 


Extra:

A Wrinkle in Time

Do you reread classics or have you read one for the first time as an adult reader?

Do you plan to reread (or read) Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle before the movie releases in March 2018?

More Information Here

Official Trailer Here


Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


Looking Ahead!

Help me decide between Lincoln in the Bardo and The Bear and the Nightingale
for my next read.

Let me know in the comments if you’ve read either one.

Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo Information Here

The Bear and the Nightingale

The Bear and the Nightingale Information Here

***12/2, edited to add that I’ve chosen The Bear and the Nightingale as my next read. (I suggested to hubs that we could buddy read Lincoln in the Bardo and after he listened a bit to the audio version, he decided that it wasn’t a good read for him.)


Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.


Let’s Discuss!

I’d love to hear if you’ve read any of the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series or if you have an opinion on what I should read next.

The Deal of a Lifetime

November 24, 2017

What would you be prepared to sacrifice in order to save a life?

What footprints are you leaving in your life? For what or how will you be remembered?

The Deal of a Lifetime
by Frederik Backman

The Deal of a Lifetime 2

Genre/categories: literary fiction, contemporary fiction, adult fairy tale, ambition, self reflection, end of life

Summary:

In true Backman style, this is an intricately woven story of an unlovable, complex, and flawed character whom we begin to understand and care about as he faces the end of his life. Written as a last message from father to son and told like a fairy tale for adults, it’s a story of a legacy, ambition and success at all costs, fear of failure, the meaning of life, the commodity of time, an accounting of one’s life, and a father/son relationship. I hesitate to give details of the plot in this summary because I don’t want to spoil your read. Briefly, it’s the story of a successful and famous man in the mid years of his life counting the personal cost of his achievements and striking a last deal to make things right.

Although it’s sold as a novella, I consider it a short story. In reading Amazon reviews, I found that several readers that gave a 3 Star or lower rating cited their disappointment at the shortness of the work when they were expecting something longer for the price. I think this definitely affected the overall Amazon rating.

Amazon Rating (November): 3.8 Stars

My Thoughts:

This is a poignant, sad, thought-provoking, and compelling fairy tale for all adults who are contemplating the meaning and purpose of their lives. It’s a captivating and endearing last message from father to son.

In my opinion, this brilliant short story requires at least two reads. The first time through, I was preoccupied with the story line; and the second time, I focused on its deeper meaning and gained a greater appreciation for this beautifully crafted story. (I also raised my star rating!)

Be sure to read Backman’s forward as he explains his purposes for writing the story. This is an excerpt:

“Maybe all people have that feeling deep down, that your hometown is something you can never really escape, but can never really go home to, either. Because it’s not home anymore. We’re not trying to make peace with it. Not with the streets and bricks of it. Just with the person we were back then. And maybe forgive ourselves for everything we thought we would become and didn’t.”  ~Backman

In the story, the man (self-described as ambitious, famous, rich, powerful, and an egoist) and a five-year-old girl are both in the hospital and battling cancer.  Every night, “a woman in a thick, grey, knitted jumper walks the hospital’s corridors. She carries a folder. She has all [their] names written inside.” Here begins the story of a man making the final deal of his lifetime.

“…I’ve killed a person. That’s not how fairy tales usually begin, I know. But I took a life. Does it make a difference if you know whose it was…..Does it make a difference if I killed a good person? A loved person? A valuable life?”
 ~Backman’s opening lines

If we were in an IRL book club together, these are some discussion questions I might ask:

  • Did the deal the man make release him from accountability for his life’s choices?
  • Did the deal the man make continue to demonstrate his selfishness and need for power or does it reveal his selflessness?
  • Now that you’ve read the story, does the title have more meaning for you?
  • In the story, Backman says that the man’s wife has already given her life for her family. What do you think this means and can you relate to this sentiment? Is this an old-fashioned or out dated idea?
  • Do you concur with Backman that time is our only commodity?
  • How do you evaluate the point of view from which the story is told? Is it a concern that we don’t hear the son’s perspective? Do you think the man has an accurate perception of the son’s feelings toward his dad?
  • Discuss the validity of this quote (part of the justification for how he’s chosen to live) : “Happy people don’t create anything, their world is one without art and music and skyscrapers, without discoveries and innovations.
    All leaders, all of your heroes, they’ve been obsessed. Happy people don’t get obsessed, they don’t devote their lives to curing illnesses or making planes take off. The happy leave nothing.”

Recommendation:

I love this book! I’m highly recommending it for fans of Backman, for those who appreciate the beauty of short stories, and for readers who might enjoy a thoughtful adult fairy tale about the purpose and meaning of life.

My Rating: 4.5  Stars
(if it had been a bit longer, I would’ve rated it 5 stars, but at the same time I acknowledge that it takes tremendous skill to write a profound short story)

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The Deal of a Lifetime

Buy Here

 

Meet the Author, Fredrik Backman

Frederick Backman

 

Fredrik Backman, a blogger and columnist, is the New York Times bestselling author of A MAN CALLED OVE and MY GRANDMOTHER ASKED ME TO TELL YOU SHE’S SORRY. Both were number one bestsellers in his native Sweden and around the world, and are being published in more than thirty-five territories. His other novels are AND EVERY MORNING THE WAY HOME GETS LONGER AND LONGER, BEARTOWN, and BRITT-MARIE WAS HERE. He lives in Stockholm with his wife and two children. Visit him online at his blog: FredrikBackman.com, on twitter @baLoockmanland, or on instagram @backmansk.

 

 

***Linking up with Puppies and Pretties for Reading Lately/November 2017


Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society


Extras:

Emily of New MoonAs part of the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club, I read Emily of New Moon  (November selection) over the past two weeks. Somehow I missed reading this classic when I was a younger reader. Great literature can be enjoyed by all ages, and I enjoyed the read! If you haven’t read this, I’d encourage you to pick it up. In general, I encourage readers to occasionally read or reread a classic. It’s always amazing to me to read these older stories and appreciate  the freedom , choices, and power women have today compared to the past, and to gain understanding of how restrictive ideas for women’s behaviors were portrayed and how that came to affect our lives as women in my generation grew up. It always makes me more cognizant of the words I use today when talking with young women. I want to be part of empowering women to be all they are created to be.

A Wrinkle in Time

 

Do you plan to reread Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle before the movie release in March 2018? Or if you don’t know Meg as a literary hero, I urge you to pick up this science fiction story soon! The movie trailer will release this weekend (Sunday November 26), but there is a teaser trailer available now (see link). More Information Here
Movie Information Here

 

Wonder

 

 

 


Looking Ahead!

I’m giving myself a break from heavier reading this next week as the season gets busier and returning to the lovely, delightful, and relaxing No 1 Ladies’ Detective series by Alexander McCall Smith for the recent installment (#18): The House of Unexpected Sisters

Do you follow and read the series?

House of Unexpected Sisters

 

 

 

 

Summary and Purchase Information Here

 

 


Sharing is Caring!

I’d be honored and thrilled if you choose to enjoy and follow along, promote, and/or share my blog. Every share helps us grow.


Let’s Discuss!

Have you discovered Fredrik Backman’s work? Which of his books have you read? Do you have favorites? They are all very different!, thus ranking is a difficult task. However, this is  an attempt to rank my favorites: A Man Called Ove, Beartown, And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, The Deal of a Lifetime, Brit-Marie Was Here, and My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry Which were your favorites? Gift yourself with some Backman while you’re shopping this year!