OLIVE AGAIN by Elizabeth Strout: A review

This time, I took a page from my friend Carla’s book and listened to the audiobook on Hoopla.

I was unaware of this 2020 publication until my blogging friend Carla reviewed in on Carla Loves to Read. I had read Olive Kitteridge, Strout’s introduction to this character as a Third-Tuesday book club selection some time ago and thoroughly enjoyed it. In that novel, Olive was a middle-aged junior high math teacher, who reminded me of many math teachers during my time teaching in junior high. She is one of my favorite literary characters.

“Prickly, witty, resistant to change, yet ruthlessly honest and deeply empathetic”, in the sequel, Olive Kitteridge struggles to understand others and herself. If nothing else, she is resilient. Themes of aging, loss, loneliness, and love are what Olive is dealing with now that she is an old woman.Olive’s story is set in Cosby, Maine, and as often is the case with Strout, she deals with “ordinary moments in the lives of ordinary people.” I found the New England setting interesting, coming from Virginia and now living on the Texas Gulf Coast, and agree with one critic who says of Strout, She “startle[s] us, move[s], and inspire[s] us [with] moments of transcendent grace.” It is a well-written novel and a darned good read/listen.



Just as Saturday morning TV programming was reserved for kid’s cartoons back in the 50s and 60s, PWR reserves Saturday mornings for recommendations of kid’s books.

Anything Chip and Joanna Gaines are involved in is of interest to me. I did not watch their home makeover shows on TV, but as soon as they started The Magnolia Journal magazine, I was on board. I followed with interest when they began “The Silos” tourist/shopping experience in Waco, Texas, and am waiting to see how their new TV Network works out.

When I came across a children’s book, written by Joanna, I quickly read/listened to it, ordering both the audiobook and the eBook from the e-section of my local library.

The message of this little book is for kids and grownups alike.

The eBook is wonderfully illustrated, and the audiobook is read by Joanna and her daughter, Emma. It has a strong, inspiring message without being “preachy,” which makes it the perfect read-out-loud for the child in your life.

Thanks to Carla for the sign off.


After hearing Neil Gaiman interviewed via Zoom live at this year’s ComiCon sponsored by our Brazoria County Library System, I decided to renew my acquaintance with the author I often use in class with his video address, “Make Good Art.”

One of the things I did was listen to Gaiman’s The Graveyard on Hoopla, which is also provided by my county library system.

A scary, often thrilling read

A child who survived the brutal murder of his parents and sister, escapes the sadistic killer by tottering into a nearby graveyard. The toddler is protected and adopted by the dead who inhabit the abandoned graveyard. He is named, “Nobody”. The murderer known as “Jack” searches ruthlessly for the child, but is put off and led astray by the ghost-like graveyard’s tenants.

What happens to the child, and to Jack fleshes out the story, which is narrated by the author himself. Gaiman’s tone and voice are pleasing and do a lot towards creating the supernatural “feel” of this strange tale.

I was introduced to Gaiman’s work through the novel, Everywheres, which My Better Half and I both read one summer. I then read all the Gaiman graphic novels our local library owned, enjoying The Sandman the most. After Gaiman won an Oscar for his animated film, Coroline, I took a look at it, and surprisingly enough found a tale teens often identify with, failing to, then appreciating their parents in much the way young Coroline came to do. It is a strange tale from a strange and highly creative mind.

I will probably follow Gaiman to an extent as a very creative individual and an outstanding author for a long time.

F I WERE YOU, An Audiobook by Lynn Austin

This is a new audiobook by Lynn Austin, read by Sarah Zimmerman. It is labeled a “Christian Romance,” but it does not preach or chide; it just teaches by exampled. One critic calls it “a novel of sisterhood and self-discovery.”

Set in WWII and in 1950, just after, the novel compares the stories of Audrey Clarkson, “born to the manor,” and her servant, Eve Dawson. Opening at the impressive Wellingford Hall, the novel has an “Upstairs/Downstairs” quality about it as it traces the lives and activities of the two women. Then comes the war.

Although they have lost track of each other, the two women make contact once again in 1950 under the strangest of circumstances. I don’t want to give the plot away, but it involves an act on the part of one which normally would be unforgivable to the other.

This is a splendid “read” and makes for easy listening.