Monday, April 2, 2018

Can't Help Myself, Lessons and Confessions from a Modern Advice Columnist 
by Meredith Goldstein Grand Central Publishing April 2018

I loved this book and read it in about 48 hours. Through most of it I had laugh out loud moments but finished the last chapter in tears. Meredith Goldstein, the advice columnist for the Boston Globe has written a searingly honest book that shares her personal story intertwined with her professional work as the author of the Love Letters column. Each chapter takes on a modern day subject (divorce, exes, breakups, illness, etc) where MG shares her personal experience  and then follows up with letters from the column. The second author(s) are the daily commentators who chime in on each letter/issue. It's a technique that works suprisingly well.

The backstory to much of the book is the cancer diagnosis that MG's mother receives.  Dealing with the fear and trepidation a cancer diagnosis brings is, unfortunately, a life event most of us can relate to. I was particularly struck with her ability to honestly present her feelings warts and all.  She doesn't make excuses for shortcomings in behavior, analyzes them and tries to grow. Her love for her mom is evident throughout the story even as she deals with challenging situations.

The whole book, even the saddest parts are written with a humorous style. Did I mention MG is the queen of the pop culture simile, always dead on and very funny.  In the end you're left with a life affirming feeling that if we'd just all pull together things could be so much better for everyone.  Read it you'll love it

I read a prepublication copy provided by the publisher

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Edge of Eternity
by Ken Follett, Dutton Adult September 2014

This is the third and last installment of Ken Follett’s Century trilogy.  The first (IMHO the best) was Fall of Giants covering events up to and including WWI, the second Winter of the World went through WWI.  To write this saga Follett has five families, Russian, German, English, Welsh and American.  This last story sees the grandchildren and great grandchildren in the midst of historical events in the second half of the twentieth century.

It is all here, the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Civil Rights movement, the Kennedy administration, the development of glasnost in Russia, and the Solidarity movement in Poland, the assassinations of the Kennedys and Martin Luther King and the rise of rock and roll.  The history is personalized because in each of these events there is a key character right at hand to give a first person description.  To enjoy this story you must accept the oddity that these family members are so handily positioned to describe these events.  The story is a mile wide and an inch deep.  Characters are either good or evil, no in-betweens and no growth to these characters. Definitely a soap opera read.

I read a copy provided by the publisher

Thursday, September 11, 2014

One Plus One 
by Jojo Moyes Pamela Dorman Books, Juky 2014Another winner from JoJo Moyes. 

... a happy read!

This is a story set in England about a recently divorced software millionaire, Ed Nichols who has inadvertently run afoul of the law.  His high end life style is unraveling as he meets Jess Thomas, a woman working two job who is separated from her husband.  Jess is struggling financially to raise their daughter Taznie a math wiz and her husband’s son Nicky from an earlier coupling.  As Ed awaits trial for insider trading (he gave a stock tip to a pesky girlfriend) through some unusual circumstances he ends up taking Jess, Nicky, Tanzie and the family dog Norman to Scotland for the math competition.   Things happen on the road trip – I love road trip stories!

The story is told by four narrators (Ed, Jess, Tanzie and Nicky) but primarily Ed and Jess.  The character development is superb.  Jess grapples with her finances and tries to provide what Tanzie and Nicky need but falls short.  Her struggle seems very real.  Nicky her stepson is a Goth character with a kind heart subject to neighbor bullying, and protective of his sister.  Tanzie is a precocious pre-teen intent on a scholarship to an academy known for math.  The author has constructed a modern day family that feels authentic.  The love story between Ed and Jess is ever so slightly contrived but by that point in the story I was all in.

I highly recommend this book.  If you liked Me Before You by the same author you will like this book.  If you haven’t read Me Before You do so, it was one of the best books I read last year.  This story doesn’t have the ethical issues in Me Before You but it is a happy read.

I read a copy of this book provided by the publisher

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Getting Back to Blogging

I've taken nearly a year off from writing reviews (not from reading books).  When I stopped it felt like I really did not have anything original to say about the books I was reading.  I guess that says as much about me as the books I was reading.  The reason I started the blog was so I could keep track of what I'd read and when someone asked if I'd read anything good I had a ready reference.  I enjoyed writing the reviews and I really enjoyed reading all the new best sellers.  I learned a lot about the mechanics of blogging and being part of the active book blogging community. I reviewed every book I read, which was about 2/week.  Things got busy in my life and I got behind in reviewing and then kind of lot the whole thing go.
My intention now is just to get back to my original purpose - to write fairly simple reviews and keep track of what I'm reading and what I've liked.  So friends for the erudite, close reading of literature please avail yourself of some of the excellent blog choices available on line, I am going the plain vanilla route.  Happy reading!

Sunday, November 3, 2013


by Lisa Scottoline, St. Martin's Press, October 2013

...a cozy mystery with a great cast of characters

In Accused Lisa Scottoline returns to her roots with the familiar and likeable cast of Rosato and Associates. These women and their friends and family have been featured in Scottoline's most successful and enjoyable book. (Legal Tender, The Vendetta Defense).  In this mystery Mary DiNunzio a newly minted partner in the firm takes on an unusual client, a 13 year old.  This young girl, a now only child from a famously wealthy family, is convinced that the wrong man has been convicted and jailed for her sister's murder. DiNunzio leads the investigation and is often at odds with the girl's parents and members of her own law firm.   The story wanders around Philadelphia both downtown and other neighborhoods, with spot on descriptions that bring the city to life.  This cozy mystery is a light, fun read with a cast of characters that are entertaining.  Among my favorites are Mary's uncles, all named Tony -so South Philly! 

 Scottoline is back in great form with this mystery, here's hoping she sticks with the girls at the law firm and we see lots more of these stories.

I read and reviewed a copy of this book provided by the publisher.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Giveaway - Me Before You Giveaway Closed

The publisher has offered a copy of this JoJo Moyes novel for giveaway.  This was a great story, one of my favorites this year.  See my review here.  To enter the giveaway just follow the rules that are in the right column next to this post.  Giveaway ends September 3.
The winner of the giveaway is mheffernan245.  Thanks to all who entered.