I’m not quite through, but reading One Crazy Summer, a Newberry Honor Book, winner of the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, the Corretta Scott King Award, and a National Book Award Finalist, has been such a positive experience that I’ve ordered the other two books in the “Gaither Sisters Series” by Rita Williams-Garcia.

The Gaither Sisters, travel to Oakland, California, on their first airplane trip, by themselves, to meet the mother who abandoned them to be raised by their father and “Big Ma.” It is a tumultuous time for Oakland, and the girls find their very sophisticated mother involved with the Black Panthers and all the riots and terror in Oakland that summer.

I am only on page eighty, but I have come to empathize with and care about all three girls, from Delphine, the oldest, to Vonetta and Fern, her younger siblings. Cecile, their mother, is “something else,” they discover, who has no motherly instincts and seems put upon to have to host the three girls for the summer. For some reason their father, against Big Ma’s protests, feels it’s time for the girls to get to know their mother, and so, sends them to Oakland, a far cry from their home in New York.

I can hardly wait to read about the girls’ adventures, or maybe misadventures, and whether they get to know their mother or are hastily shuffled back to New York.

This novel promises to be a darned good read.



This brand new (published 2022) novel about bookish people doing bookish things is the best novel I’ve read in a good while. It comes in third or fourth of the best book I’ve read overall in 2022.

Olivia, “Liv” Green, cleaner, aspiring writer, avid reader of Essie Starling’s books, takes a job for Essie herself, cleaning her apartment. Essie’s books feature Georgia Ray, whom Liv would love to model herself after, but she doesn’t have the guts. As Liv develops as an author, she also develops as a person, growing more like Georgia Ray with each daring move.

Caught up in an impossible plot, Liv finds herself lying to her preoccupied husband, her two grown sons, and pulls it all off nicely. Frequent references to Essie’s books about Georgia’s life occur, as do references to Liv’s reading life of real, current authors, many of whom I’ve read and admired. Before being employed full time by Essie, Liv’s cleaning clients were the employers from hell. Released from her other jobs, Liv finds herself writing with and for Essie, for who knows Georgia Ray better than her strongest fan?

Many twists and turns and close calls frame this novel into a delightful read, one that will keep you turning pages to determine how Liv will “get out of this one.” It was a darned good read.


Thanks, Carla, at Carla Loves to Read for finding this cool image.

TODAY’S choice for Saturday, November 5th, 2022 is…

What a “very proper young man” is Elliot. If you don’t believe me, just read his. book.

When Elliot’s dad noticed Elliott sitting with all his stuffed animals, thinking “Kids, masses of noisy kids” in response to Dad’s proposal of going to “Family Fun Day at the aquarium,” he never dreamed he would soon be sitting at the aquarium reading his National Geographic

while Elliott discovered P-E-N-G-U-I-N-S !!

While his father was distracted, Elliot asked, “May I please have a penguin?” “Sure,” replied Elliot’s dad, handing him a twenty dollar bill. Elliot selects the smallest penguin and puts him in his backpack.

What follows next when Elliot arrives home and lets the penguin out is hilarious, disastrous, boisterous FUN!

Third graders can read this book themselves. Others might ask parents or grandparents to read it to them.

It is a darned good, funny book.

p.s. Two copies of this book are available at Rae’s Reads in Alvin. Call Rae first, since shop hours have not yet been set.

Challenge Update and a Review

Because I messed up, I have done the 2021 What’s in a Name challenge this year. Oh well….

I have one book left to complete the short, but interesting What’s In a Name Challenge. It needs to have some reference to speed in the title, like the quick_____ or the slow _______ or something like Racing in the Rain, which I’ve already read. Can you think of a good suggestion and help me out? Comment in the reply below.

Historical/Imaginary Fiction

In the meantime, I have completed a “book with a color in the title, The Pink Suit. Nicole Mary Kelby has written a beautiful, engrossing story which is sort of a historical novel and sort of an alternative history novel. In it, JFK orders this suit from Chez Ninon, a NY boutique. Kelby imagines the Irish immigrant seamstress who created the pink suit. It is a knock-off from a Chanel design, which was something Chez Ninon did often for Jackie Kennedy, whom they refer to as “The Wife.” Tidbits of historical fact permeate this novel from the fire in the neighborhood of Patrick’s (love interest) neighborhood to the fabrics and every stitch of the suit Jackie Kennedy wore on several occasions, finally on the day of his assassination.

The protagonist, Kate, is torn between the “excess and artistry” of Chez Ninon and the “traditional values of her insular neighborhood.” She loves Patrick, the butcher, but also loves her job, her opportunity to express her creativity and her skill. Critics has called this, “a novel about hope and heartbreak, and what became of the American Dream.”

At times I became impatient with Kate because Patrick was a really great guy, and he definitely loved her very much. However, I could understand her desire for a career in a creative industry as well. How Kate comes to make her choice and the compromise both young lovers make leads to a very satisfactory ending.

It is a darned good read.


I wish I had read these books in order, but they were written out of order. I just finished the prequel to The Lilac Girls, Lost Roses.
An excellent, warm and sometimes harrowing tale.

This is an excellent book for book clubs, and if I hadn’t already earned a reputation of recommending only novels to mine, I would do so. Kelly published Lost Roses as a prequel to The Lilac Girls, set in WWII (reviewed earlier on PWR). This 2019 publication is set just as WWI threatens in 1914. It is a historical novel which features the Russian Revolution and deals with women’s friendships.

Eliza Ferriday, an American, is a friend of Sofya Streshnayva, a cousin of the Ramanovs in Russia. The novel deals with the rise and fall of that dynasty . As Austria declares war on Serbia, Eliza returns to America, never dreaming her dear friend Sofya and her family will soon be trapped on their country estate. As the Russian Revolution breaks out, and the peasants take things into their own hands, Sofya hires Varinka, a fortune-teller’s daughter to be a nanny to her toddler son, Max. The intersecting of the lives of these three women is what propels the plot forward, creating memorable characters as the author spins her remarkable tale. Each chapter is headed by one of the three characters’ names and by the year, which keeps things orderly and at the same time presents what is going on simultaneously in those women’s lives.

This is definitely a “find” and a darned good read.

THE AWAKENING OF MISS PRIM by Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera : A Review

This debut novel was published in 2014, but I did not hear of it until this year on a friend’s blog. The cover suggests, “[It]…will leave you undone, open to the beauty of the little things in life.” Those are strong claims for such a calm, comforting little read, but the novel itself is as “prim and proper” as the protagonist herself. It is a gentle story, sometimes sparked by the tiny rebellions and pop-up anger in our protagonist, Miss Prim, a librarian by occupation, and a thinker/philosopher by her own definition.

Prim cover, prim character, prim read

Prudencia Prim is intelligent, has a true knowledge of literature, and is hired as the private librarian of The Man in the Wing Chair. She arrives at the tiny, quaint village of San Ireneo de Arnois where she meets the village’s eccentric, quirky, well-drawn characters, whom you can’t help falling in love with. It is a village /colony set in the past, hidden from such horrors as progress and modernism. Its “exiles seek a simple, rural life” as they strive to protect themselves from the outside world. Poets, artists, philosophers, philanthropists, etc. make up the post persons, teachers, priests and a monk, the inhabitants of the village.

The plot/action of the novel is full of “steaming cups of tea, baked cakes, and lovely company.” Hospitality is the name of the game in San Ireneo de Arnois. Reading this novel, returning to it after stressful, busy days was a comfort to me during the bleak month of January. I found myself rationing out the chapters I covered each time I opened the book to make it last longer. I especially enjoyed the feelings of peace and serenity it left me with. It made my heart sing and left me with a peace that comes from a book that feels like a conversation with an old friend. This was definitely a “darned good read.”


I try to read a classic every two months.

This classic is in addition to the Classics Club challenge I gave myself in 2021. I am hoping in 2022 to finish a classic every other month, giving me two months to read what is sometimes a more difficult book.

For January and February, I have begun Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh. I have always been interested in this male author with a female name because Evelyn is my middle name. I have read at least two other books by him, Winds of War and another novel which was a satire of he funeral industry (If my beleaguered memory serves me right). After a lengthy introduction and information on the author, the Prologue begins as follows:

“When I reached ‘C’ company lines, which were at the top of the hill, I paused and looked back at the camp, just coming into full view below me through the grey mist of early morning. We were leaving that day.”

An end, indeed to an encampment during wartime, but the beginning of a narrative one is not likely to forget for the reader. I look forward to this novel and suspect it will be a “darned good read.”

Thank you Evin.
Two novels this weekend plus several Cybils nominees

I had the opportunity to read quite a bit this weekend, as I was not feeling up to par and didn’t want to go anywhere or do anything much. When not sleeping the extra hours from feeling bad or the additional hours gained from going to bed extra early Saturday night, and then another hour from the end of Daylight Savings Time, I did nothing but read. Here are the results:

This novel, The Art of Hearing Heartbeats, by Jan-Philipp Sandker is interesting. It presents protagonist, Julia Winn, whose father disappears without explanation. She travels to Burma and learns of his early life before he was her father and of his return to Burma shortly before his death in search of his one true love. Julia learns what real, pure love is as she learns of her dad’s love for Mimi. The book is filled with family mysteries and is a “magical and uplifting tale of hardship and resilience and the unyielding power of love.” It is a darned good read.

Cleverly written, this one is for older high schoolers.

Described as a “frank tale of teenage girlhood,” this novel tells the story of Jemimina, a complex character who is fighting the male patriarchy with all she’s got. In her school, she is chosen as part of the Triumvirate who “rules” the school, and with Jemima’s strong desire to “make things different,” changes the ways things are done at this posh private school. It is also a story of first love, “the first time,” and first impressions. It is frank, relevant, and challenging to YA readers.

Appealing to the questions of teenagers about the usual things of teenage-hood like sex and “first times,” The Feminist Agenda of Jemima Kinkaid listens to the needs of its YA readers.

I finished four Cybils nominees this weekend, one of which made my shortlist. I understand that a panelist for the first round in poetry (mostly novels in verse) should list 5-7 candidates for the award. I believe the one I added makes 5. I still have many to read, so I will have to do some “adjusting” to my list.



THE NINTH HOUR by Alice McDermott: A Review

A calming, soothing story full of character development and compassion.

At first I thought I was not going to like this 2017 publication because it began with a suicide. However, when the Little Nursing Sisters of the Sick Poor arrive and try to cover up the suicide, so the surviving widow can bury her husband in concentrated ground, my interest perked to attention. Set in Catholic Brooklyn in the early 20th century, this novel presents Annie, the pregnant widow and then her daughter, Sally who are taken under the wing of the caring nuns, and follows them through their lives until Sally is old enough to consider taking a vocation. What she decides and why she decided it was a surprise to me, as were many other twists and turns the novel took, right down to the end, where the ending itself was a surprise.

The Ninth Hour has “quiet power,” one of the characteristics of literary fiction. The novel’s basic themes are “love, sacrifice, and forgiveness.” Sister St.Savior and Sister Jeanne are unforgettable characters who will remain with one long after they have turned the last page. It is definitely a “darned good read.”

Books can bring comfort as well as diversion from life’s troubles.
Thanks to my young blogging friend, Evin for the special sign off.

THINK AGAIN by Adam Grant: A Review

One of the best non-fiction reads so far this year

The subtitle, “Knowing What You Don’t Know,” let’s us know this is a book about the value of rethinking. Taking tests as a student, I was always told “Go with your first instinct and never change answers; don’t overthink.” Grant says just the opposite. He complains that when we get an idea, we freeze it and seize it, and hold on to it too many times. Because we are human, we enjoy living in our “comfort of conviction” over the “discomfort of doubt.”

There is something for everyone in this book: for teachers in the chapter “Rethinking the Textbook, which has excellent ideas to teach ‘rethinking;’ for young people who are in a quandary over making a career decision or life plan; for mid-lifer crazies who are in a career crisis; and parents, who want their children to be able to solve problems that don’t even exist yet. It is especially applicable to business bosses and leaders who wish their companies/organizations to be effective and efficient.

Timely answers for NOW, for Covid questions, NASA examples and experiences from his own kids and family fill the book with readable and relatable anecdotes that keep the reader turning pages.

It is a “darned good read’ and very helpful in dealing with life.