Left Neglected [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 16, 2020

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Left Neglected by Lisa Genova….courageously living with a traumatic brain injury.

Left Neglected by Lisa Genova (cover) Image: a partially ripe pear

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Family Issues, Traumatic Brain Injury

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Do you think “accommodations equal failure”?

My Summary:

Left Neglected is the compelling story of thirty something Sarah, 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.

Continue here for my full review of Left Neglected

QOTD: Have you read Left Neglected or is it on your TBR?

What You Wish For [Book Review]

July 14, 2020

What You Wish For by Katherine Center

What You Wish For by Katherine Center (cover) ImageL white title on a blue backbround with flowers and a yellow ferris wheel edging the border

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

Samantha is a happy elementary school librarian in Galveston, Texas. One day, the school loses its beloved principal and his replacement is Duncan Carpenter, someone that Sam knows from her past. She’s a bit concerned about how this will play out because she used to have a crush on Duncan. She keeps this a secret while assuring everyone that the new principal is a great person and they are lucky to have him. However, Duncan shows up as a stiff and humorless person who is preoccupied with school safety. Everything that Sam loves about her school is suddenly being systematically destroyed. How will she stand up to him and fight his policies, and how will this affect their relationship?

My Thoughts:

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#TopTenTuesday: 10 Books That Make Me Smile

July 14, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: 10 Books That Make Me Smile

Top Ten Tuesday celebrating 10 years (image: a birthday cake with 10 candles)

*I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Books That Make Me Smile.

If you’ve clicked over from That Artsy Reader Girl, Welcome! Please look around and enjoy your stay.

Today’s prompt is “Books That Make Me Smile” and I hope that I’ve chosen books that will make you smile, also. I interpret “make me smile” to mean that they make me “happy I read that,” not funny books that make me laugh out loud.

Because I read a great deal of histfic, I do not have an overabundance of “uplit” books that fall into this category. I hope you enjoy the titles I’ve picked out for this week’s prompt. Let me know if we share any favorites or if you have an “uplit” title I can add to my list.

 *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


No.1 Ladies Detective Series by Alexander McCall Smith

Kind, gracious, and wise Mma Precious Ramotswe and a cast of quirky supporting characters and the culture of Botswana bring many smiles to my face. A recent favorite is The House of Unexpected Sisters and I look forward to a new installment this fall, How to Raise an Elephant. Each installment is like visiting with old friends. If you are looking for easy-reading, gentle, comfort reads with likable characters and uplifting themes, this might be a good option.


The Bookish Life of Nina Hill

The Bookish Life of Nina Hill by Abi Waxman

Smart, snappy, and humorous writing with a likable and quirky character will bring a smile to your face. (skip Ch 5 if you are would rather not read crude humor)


Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman (cover)

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman

If you have children in your life, Backman’s essays on parenthood will bring a smile to your face.


The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy (cover) Image: pen and ink sketch of a horse, a boy, a mole, and a fox

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

Delightful illustrations and poignant, thoughtful reflections on life (reminiscent of Winnie the Pooh) will bring a smile to your face.


This Won't End Well (cover) ....a young woman peeking through some bushes

This Won’t End Well by Camille Pagán

Some snappy writing, a quirky character, and an enemies to lovers trope will bring a smile to your face.

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6 in 6 [2020]

July 11, 2020

6 in 6 [2020]

6 best in 6 months (image: a collage of 6 book covers)

The Six in Six is a meme created by Jo at The Book Jotter At the end of June (or in my case, mid-July!) we are halfway through the year,  so the idea is to share the books we have read in those first 6 months.

In the true spirit of the meme, we are asked to share 6 books in 6 categories. Because of the time factor, we can create a post with whatever combination works for us as long as it involves 6 books. Nicki @ The Secret Library Book Blog inspired me to participate in this meme.

For this 6 in 6 post, I will begin by listing the 6 best books I’ve read so far this year. Then I will add 6 additional categories but each category will have only one selection (not 6).

a cartoonish number 6

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The Mountains Sing [Book Review]

July 10, 2020

The Mountains Sing by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Family Life, Vietnamese

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Mountains Sing is a multi-generational story of the Tran family told in dual timelines and points of view. We learn about the 20th Century history of Viet Nam as events are integrated into the personal family story. Present-day events are told by the granddaughter and the family’s backstory is told by the grandmother. The story is filled with rich historical details, vivid descriptions, and lyrical writing. We experience the history of Viet Nam from the viewpoint of the Vietnamese people and specifically from the viewpoint of the Tran family. A compelling story of ordinary, beautiful people and a country torn apart by war.

My Thoughts:

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This Must Be the Place [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 9, 2020

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell….a complicated and multilayered family drama.

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell (cover) Image: a home with a person walking toward it fills a circle surrounded by a blue cloud filled sky

Genre/Categories: Literary Fiction, Complicated Families

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Are you a fan of literary fiction?

My 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 extraordinary love.

Continue here for my full review of This Must Be the Place

QOTD: Have you read This Must Be the Place or is it on your TBR?

#TopTenTuesday: Most Read Authors

July 7, 2020

Top Ten Tuesday: Most-Read Authors

Top Ten Tuesday celebrating 10 years (image: a birthday cake with 10 candles)

*I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Most-Read Authors.

If you’ve clicked over from That Artsy Reader Girl, Welcome! Please look around and enjoy your stay.

Who is your most read author? It was interesting to crunch the numbers to see which authors made the top of my list. This list reflects reading from recent years and does not reflect my childhood reading. Also, this list is not representative of my favorite authors. Some of my newly discovered favorite authors have only written one or two books.

 *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Listed in order of the number of books read (not in order of favorite author). I have more than ten authors in this post because #bookproblems



 

Alexander McCall Smith: 22 Books Read

I love Smith’s No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency (series of 20). I adore the kind and gracious Mma Precious Ramotswe and the cast of quirky supporting characters, and I appreciate the setting and culture of Botswana. A recent favorite is The House of Unexpected Sisters and I look forward to a new installment this fall, How to Raise an Elephant. I’ve tried his Scotland series and I read My Italian Bulldozer, but I prefer the No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency series to anything else. Each installment is like visiting with old friends. If you are looking for easy-reading, gentle, comfort reads with likable characters and uplifting themes, this might be a good option. They definitely fall in the category of “uplit.”



 

Louise Penny: 15 Books Read

The best part of this gentle mystery series for me is the character of Chief Inspector Armond Gamache. The setting of Three Pines is an additional draw. One of my favorites of the series is Glass Houses and I’m looking forward to a new installment in September, All the Devils Are Here.



 

Fredrik Backman: 8 Books Read

If Backman had written 100 books, I would have read them all! They are all different so it’s difficult to choose a favorite. Thus I’m listing all eight! At the moment, he is my favorite author (and will be at the top of this list when he writes more books). I devoted an entire post to Backman here.

Beartown, Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, Deal of a Lifetime, Things My Son Needs to Know About the World, and Us Against You have been reviewed on the blog. I’m eagerly waiting for number nine due out in September, Anxious People.



A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Neissner (cover) White test on a blue background vordered on three corners with marigolds

Susan Meissner: 5 Books

Susan Meissner writes engaging historical fiction, and my favorite is A Fall of Marigolds.



 

Mitch Albom: 5 Books Read

Do you love Mitch Albom, too? I regret that I’m not yet a Mitch Albom completist. Are you? My favorites are Tuesdays With Morrie, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, and Finding Chika.

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#6Degrees of Separation: From What I Loved to Learning to See

July 4, 2020

Happy Birthday U.S.A.!

giphy

 #6Degrees of Separation: From What I Loved by Siri Hustved to Learning to See by Elise Hooper

#6Degrees of Separation (a collage of covers in this post)

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

ART!

#6Degrees of Separation: from What I Loved by Siri Hustved to Learning to See by Elise Hooper.

#6Degrees is a monthly link-up hosted by Kate at Books Are My Favourite and Best. I’ve seen this meme around for a while and Davida’s posts at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog inspired me to give it a try this year! Making connections between books is challenging, creative, and fun!

Each month a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the one next to it in the chain. The rules are:

  • Link the books together in any way you like.
  • Provide a link in your post to the meme at Books Are My Favourite and Best.
  • Share these rules in your post.
  • Paste the link to your post in the comments on Kate’s post and/or the Linky Tool on that post.
  • Invite your blog readers to join in and paste their links in the comments and/or the Linky Tool.
  • Share your post on Twitter using the #6Degrees hash tag.
  • Be nice! Visit and comment on other posts and/or retweet other #6Degrees posts.

Play Along?

This month’s prompt starts with What I Loved by Siri Hustved and is a book I have not read. I notice in the summary that an extraordinary painting is discovered, so my chain will be built around an art theme.

What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt (cover) Image: a girl in a red spaghetti stap dress sits with her back to the camera and rests her left hand on the side of her dark short hairAmazon Summary: “What I Loved begins in New York in 1975, when art historian Leo Hertzberg discovers an extraordinary painting by an unknown artist in a SoHo gallery. He buys the work; tracks down the artist, Bill Wechsler; and the two men embark on a life-long friendship. Leo’s story, which spans twenty-five years, follows the growing involvement between his family and Bill’s–an intricate constellation of attachments that includes the two men, their wives, Erica and Violet, and their sons, Matthew and Mark.

The families live in the same New York apartment building, rent a house together in the summers and keep up a lively exchange of ideas about life and art, but the bonds between them are tested, first by sudden tragedy, and then by monstrous duplicity that slowly comes to the surface. A beautifully written novel that combines the intimacy of a family saga with the suspense of a thriller, What I Loved is a deeply moving story about art, love, loss, and betrayal.”

A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline (cover) Image a solitary house stands on a windswept prairieFirst Degree. From the summary of What I Loved, I notice that an extraordinary piece of art is discovered. This reminds me of A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting, Christina’s World..

Goodreads Summary: “A stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

Christina's World painting by Andrew Wyeth (Image:) a young woman drags herself across a prairie toward a solitary house on a hill

Christina’s World by Andrew Wyeth

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century. My Goodreads review of A Piece of the World.

Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain (cover)Second Degree: Another story involving art is Big Lies in a Small Town by Diane Chamberlain. Here, the story involves an imagined mural.

My Summary: “Secrets, prejudice, and making peace with the past …. Two young women living several decades apart are focused on the same mural….one is creating the mural in 1940 and the other is restoring the same mural in 2018. In alternate viewpoints and dual timelines, we hear both stories, the mystery of what happened to the original artist is uncovered, and connections between the two are revealed.” My review of Big Lies in a Small Town.

Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier (cover) Image: 17th cuntury portrait of a girl looking over her shoulder at the camera wearing a blue and gold head covering and a pearl earringThird Degree: The next book to involve art is is Girl With a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier. The subject of the painting (as depicted on the cover) by the Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer, is anonymous.

Amazon Summary: Tracy Chevalier transports readers to a bygone time and place in this richly-imagined portrait of the young woman who inspired one of Vermeer’s most celebrated paintings.

History and fiction merge seamlessly in this luminous novel about artistic vision and sensual awakening. Girl with a Pearl Earring tells the story of sixteen-year-old Griet, whose life is transformed by her brief encounter with genius . . . even as she herself is immortalized in canvas and oil.” (***I gave this one 3.5 stars but didn’t write a review except to note that is is “an enjoyable and interesting character-driven story”).

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The Vanishing Half: [Book Review]

June 3, 2020

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett (cover)

Genre/Categories: Historical Fiction, Sisters, Complicated Family Drama, Own Voices

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Summary:

The Vignes sisters are twins. They are light-skinned black girls, identical, and inseparable. They endure a childhood trauma, are forced to leave high school early and go to work, and eventually leave home (run away) together at sixteen. From that point, everything changes. The future finds them estranged. Desiree escapes an abusive marriage and returns to her small southern hometown to live with her mom and her dark child. This is difficult because the town celebrates light-skinned blacks and Desiree’s dark-skinned daughter, Jude, faces racism within the black community. Stella decides to pass as white which means that she completely cuts ties with her past and her family. The Vanishing Half begins in the 1950s and concludes in the 1990s with the next generation (Desiree’s and Stella’s daughters).

My Thoughts:

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Last Christmas in Paris [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 2, 2020

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
#throwbackthursday

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb….an endearing love story with a WW1 backdrop. I must note before starting that these Throw Back Thursday posts are like visiting old, dear friends and today’s story is on my lifetime favorites list…so, it’s a special joy to introduce you to this lovely story!

War changes everything…

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb cover (image: a packet of old letters tied with a red ribbon in the foreground and a partical view of the Eifel Tower in the background)

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

My 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?”

Continue here for my full review of Last Christmas in Paris

QOTD: Have you read Last Christmas in Paris or is it on your TBR?