Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

The Half Wives...#BookReview

About the book:
Over the course of one momentous day, two women who have built their lives around the same man find themselves moving toward an inevitable reckoning.

Former Lutheran minister Henry Plageman is a master secret keeper and a man wracked by grief. He and his wife, Marilyn, tragically lost their young son, Jack, many years ago. But he now has another child—a daughter, eight-year-old Blue—with Lucy, the woman he fell in love with after his marriage collapsed.

The Half Wives follows these interconnected characters on May 22, 1897, the anniversary of Jack’s birth. Marilyn distracts herself with charity work at an orphanage. Henry needs to wrangle his way out of the police station, where he has spent the night for disorderly conduct. Lucy must rescue and rein in the intrepid Blue, who has fallen in a saltwater well. But before long, these four will all be drawn on this day to the same destination: to the city cemetery on the outskirts of San Francisco, to the grave that means so much to all of them. The collision of lives and secrets that follows will leave no one unaltered.

Henry and Marilyn tragically lost their 2-year old son and their marriage never recovered. They live together but distantly. Marilyn has never been able to move forward in her grief and loses herself in charity work. Henry has had a long-term affair with Lucy and they have a daughter. 

The one day that Henry and Marilyn come together as a couple is the anniversary of Jack's death. They meet at his graveside at a set time in the afternoon. But, Henry has also been going to the grave site on that same day with Lucy, but earlier in the day. And on this day, with extenuating circumstances and unexpected delays, they all come together.

So, a slice of life story is clever and a great way to keep the reader's attention. The characters were well developed and we really get a sense of their feelings.

The second person narrative with questionable punctuation and different perspectives? While, I can see why the author may have chosen to narrate second person, but it's just not a narrative I enjoy. However, the details and inner thoughts did add to the story.

The historical aspects and the dark history of San Francisco cemeteries was absolutely new to me and fascinating. 

The story is just that. A story. There isn't a grand reveal or am exciting turn of events. It's not particularly uplifting and there is little hope for a happy ending. There were some loose ends that were not resolved and I was disappointed in that.

Read 9/20

* * * 
3/5 Stars

Monday, September 28, 2020

Prospects of a Woman...#BookReview

About the book
Elisabeth Parker comes to California from Massachusetts in 1849 with her new husband, Nate, to reunite with her father, who’s struck gold on the American River. But she soon realizes her husband is not the man she thought—and neither is her father, who abandons them shortly after they arrive. As Nate struggles with his sexuality, Elisabeth is forced to confront her preconceived notions of family, love, and opportunity. She finds comfort in corresponding with her childhood friend back home, writer Louisa May Alcott, and spending time in the company of a mysterious Californio. 

Armed with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance, she sets out to determine her role in building the West, even as she comes to terms with the sacrifices she must make to achieve independence and happiness. A gripping and illuminating window into life in the Old West, Prospects of a Woman is the story of one woman’s passionate quest to carve out a place for herself in the liberal and bewildering society that emerged during the California gold rush frenzy.

The Gold Rush was one of my favorite parts of learning California history in the 4th grade. I've spent time in gold rush country and I love the Northern California area. So a book about a woman, set in that time period? Sign me up!

Elisabeth marries Nate, a man she barely knows to escape a life of poverty and despair in Massachusetts. Arriving in California, she discovers that life isn't any easier there. Her marriage isn't a happy one, because her husband, Nate, is a closeted gay man and she turns to another for affection. Working the claim they inherited from her father, the two struggle to make a living as well as a life. 

What I enjoyed most about Prospects of a Woman was California's progressive views about the roles of women and Elisabeth's understanding of the options she had there. She could own her own business. She could divorce her husband. She could make her own decisions. 

Elisabeth isn't an inherently likeable woman. But, her tenacity is to be admired. She writes letters to her friend, Louisa May Alcott, but while the letters give more insight into Elisabeth, we never see Louisa's responses, which would have given the story an added depth. 

Thanks to Netgalley and She Writes Press for the opportunity to read this book. You can learn more about Wendy Voorsanger on her website and follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Read 9/20

* * *
3/5 Stars

Thursday, September 24, 2020

What's Not Said...#BookReview

About the book:
Kassie O’Callaghan’s meticulous plans to divorce her emotionally abusive husband, Mike, and move in with Chris, a younger man she met five years ago on a solo vacation in Venice, are disrupted when she finds out Mike has chronic kidney disease—something he’s concealed from her for years. Once again, she postpones her path to freedom—at least, until she pokes around his pajama drawer and discovers his illness is the least of his deceits.

But Kassie is no angel, either. As she struggles to justify her own indiscretions, the secret lives she and Mike have led collide head-on, revealing a tangled web of sex, lies, and DNA. Still, mindful of her vows, Kassie commits to helping her husband find an organ donor. In the process, she uncovers a life-changing secret. Problem is, if she reveals it, her own immorality will be exposed, which means she has an impossible decision to make: Whose life will she save—her husband’s or her own?

In a nutshell, Kassie wants to divorce her husband and just as she plans to tell him, she discovers he has a chronic disease he has concealed for years. 

I find myself with very mixed feelings about What's Not Said. I am so appreciative of the fact that the main characters are in their 50s. That was refreshing to read. 

Marriage isn't an easy ride. It requires communication and cooperation and sharing. Kassie is a woman who has always put her husband's needs above her own and Mike is a selfish man who just expects it. None of these characters is particularly likeable, but we're not meant to love every character we read about. The story isn't a polished romance either. Instead it is a stark reminder that life is happy and sad; painful and challenging; brutal and beautiful. 

What's Not Said, is a slower paced novel, but with enough drama that you just keep turning the pages. It is the first in a series and I am curious as to what happens next.

Thanks to Netgalley and She Writes Press for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Valerie Taylor on her website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Read 9/20

* * *
3/5 Stars



Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Rules of Love & Grammar...#BookReview

About the book:
A woman finds love and closure when she returns to her roots in the newest novel from the author of The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe.

Newly jobless, former technical writer Grace Hammond is unmoored. Desperate to escape the city and her problems, Grace hits 'pause' and returns to her Connecticut hometown, where she discovers that the answers to what her future holds might be found by making peace with-and embracing-the past.

As Grace sets out to correct her mistakes and come to terms, finally, with her sister's death, she rekindles a romance with her high school sweetheart, Peter, now a famous movie director, and finds herself sparring with Mitch, who works at the bike shop.

Torn between the promise of a glamorous life and the allure of the familiar, Grace must decide what truly matters, and how to move on without forgetting where she came from.

I had enjoyed The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe and how could I resist a book with this premise and title? It sat on my TBR for awhile though and last week I wanted something that I thought might be light and easy to read. This fit the bill.

After having lost her job and her boyfriend at the same time, Grace's ceiling falls in and needs repair. So she leaves New York and returns home to Connecticut to lick her wounds and celebrate her father's birthday. 

I liked Grace, but I found her attitudes and behaviors more suited for a teenager, rather than a thirty-year-old. That she reverted back to high school level jealousy over her former boyfriend and classmate was annoying. I kept wanting to tell her to just grow up. However, the story flowed well and the secondary characters are what made it enjoyable. I laughed out loud at times. 

I think the story had more potential than it reached, but this is light reading with a few heartwarming moments. 

I purchased my own copy.

Read 9/20

* * *
3/5 Stars