This meme, hosted by Reading is My Superpower, encourages the blogger to post the first line of a book he/she is currently reading. This first liner is from a book I finished today.

A Christian look at setting your home as a place of comfort and hospitality to your family and to others.

” The adventure started on a whim. With a suitcase in my hand, a laptop case and tote bag on my shoulder, and a luggage cart dragging behind me, I stumbled against the door of 209 and pushed it open with my shoulder.”

…And so the adventure of writing this book began for Sally and Sarah Clarkson, mother and daughter who always wanted to write a book together. Ms. Clarkson always believed home should be “a haven of rest and joy that will encourage everyone who enters it.” This 2016 publication contains anecdotes from a real family, a Christian family, the Clarksons. It contains wise advice on creating special memories for one’s children and establishing family traditions , as well as suggestions for seasonal celebrations (my favorites were for fall, possibly because it is my favorite season). Although the Clarkson family moved fairly frequently, they took their sense of “home” with them, relocating their anchor each time. I took notes, and even though my “home” consists of one person now, I plan to celebrate occasions and seasons to ensure happiness and gratitude for the blessings I have been given. The ideas in this book will help me do that.

HOME

Thanks for the image to Carla of “Carla Loves To Read”. Check out her great book reviews and her delightful sign offs on each post.

Thanks to the Purple Booker for this fun meme.

Today’s Tuesday Teaser is from a novel I finished last night . Anne Tyler is one of my favorite contemporary authors, and I have read most of what she’s written over the years.

Definitely one of Tyler’s best novels yet. She just keeps on getting better as the years go by.

The teaser is from the two main characters, Mercy and Robin recalling their sweet, innocent wedding night. Robin says…

” ‘…And then you came out of the bathroom in your slinky white satin nightie.’

‘And you looked away,’ Mercy said. ‘You looked off toward the bedroom window.’

‘I was trying to get control of myself, ‘ he said.’ “

Tyler is at her best doing what she does best here–describing the lives of ordinary middle-aged people. The book has been described as a “journey into one family’s foibles from the 1950s up to our pandemic present.” It deals with family complexities and the “kindnesses and cruelties of our daily life.” Even in the smallest details, Tyler captures the dailyness of our lives. Take for example when Mercy and Robin’s grown kids would come to visit, the first thing Robin would ask was, “How was the traffic on the beltway?” It reminded me that each time we would go to visit our folks in Virginia after marrying and relocating in Texas, the first thing everyone would ask was, “How long are you here for?”

Mercy and Robin Garret and their children Allie, Lily, and David are the well-developed characters in this 2022 novel. Their development and changes in character are demonstrative of Tyler’s forte, characterization. Of any contemporary author, Tyler does this best. Personally, I choose characterization over plot any day to peak and hold my interest, and perhaps this is the reason I enjoy Anne Tyler’s novels so much.

I highly recommend this “darned good read.”

SATURDAY MORNINGS FOR KIDS

Like Saturday mornings in the 50s and 60s when 6:30-10:00 a.m. TV programming was reserved for kids, this blog reserves Saturday mornings for kids and for those young-at-heart enough to enjoy kids and tweens’ books.

Today’s offering is one that was donated to my LFL (Little Free Library) in my yard.

Business is booming during the pandemic.

It is a delightful read which I enjoyed as an adult and will appeal to kids, especially girls who are advanced readers and enjoy such classics as Jane Eyre.

This 1980 book gives a peek into the complicated life of Franny Dillman who feels she lives a dull life and decides to add a little excitement. Her excitement comes from reading and rereading Jane Eyre. She decides to keep a journal, and in it, she records her imaginary thoughts about her older sister, Grace and her brother, Wilson. When she shares this journal with her teacher at school, rumors fly and Franny’s whole family becomes involved in miscommunications and misunderstandings within the family and within the community.

Described on the cover as a “funny, telling spoof” about Franny’s secret life and her coming of age, this one is a “must read.”

THE RESURRECTION OF JOAN ASHBY: A Review

This 2017 debut novel by Cherise Wolas is “a stunning debut–because there is nothing debut about it.” (A.M. Holmes, NY Times bestselling author).  I agree with this statement one hundred percent. This is one of the smoothest, most professionally-written, insightful novels I have ever read.  Every character is beautifully developed, every plot twist and turn is unexpected, and even shattering in one instance. The story explores, and maybe exploits, the thoughts and inner life of a writer in its main character, Joan Ashby.

The plot Wolas develops stems from “sacrifice” that is demanded with the onset of motherhood and the profound effect it can have on a gifted writer. Although originally unapologetic about her ambition, when the time comes Joan, our protagonist, makes the selfless choice, not once but twice with entirely different and even difficult outcomes. Excerpts from Ashby’s “dark and singular stories ” as one of her critics describes them are interspersed throughout the novel, and I must confess that I would love to read more than one of those imaginary short stories in its entirety.

Her struggles to set her two precocious sons on the road to success and happiness demand time and attention she must steal from her writing. Towards the end, with the plot developments that occur, Joan comes to question every decision she has made in her life, and as she travels to India to examine her accomplishments and failures, to evaluate her life and her life’s work, and there she makes the only decisions she CAN make to satisfy the intelligent reader.  The article from a fictional literary magazine, which serves as an epilogue adds to the reader’s sense of closure and satisfaction with “the way things work out at the end.”

I highly recommend this book and rank it “right up there” with A Gentleman in Moscow as the best book I’ve read this year.