THE BOOK CHARMER by Karen Hawkins: A Review

This 2019 publication is an “unforgettable story about a sleepy southern town, two fiercely independent women, and a truly magical friendship.” When I saw this “teaser,” I definitely wanted to read the book. Anything that is about the magic of books is right up my alley.

Sarah Dove is the librarian of Dove Pond, North Carolina’s public library, a member of the town’s founding family, The Doves, and the “charmer” mentioned in the title. Dove Pond “has seen better days,” in fact, is dying, and Sarah is looking for someone to save it. The books, who have “spoken” to her since childhood, tell her that savior has arrived.

Enter Grace Wheeler, a “displaced city girl.” Is she the savior that Dove Pond so desperately needs? Can Grace rescue Dove Pond? Does she even want to? Known to some as “The Dragon Lady,” Grace moves into town with her foster mother, “Mama G” and her niece, Daisy in tow, on the same block as Sarah, and right next door to Trav, an unlikely love interest. With this mix and the town’s resentment of Grace as city manager, fireworks are bound to happen!

TUESDAY TEASER

2nd in series

My Tuesday Teaser is from the second book in The Dali Lama’s Cat series, The Art of Purring.

“And me dear reader?…Chogyal’s death (one of the monks) has been an urgent reminder: Life is finite: every day is precious. And simply to wake up in good health truly is a blessing, because sickness and death can strike at a moment’s notice.”

Profound thoughts (from a cat ) are throughout the entire book, which explains Buddha’s teachings from HHC, His Holiness’s Cat.

TUESDAY TEASER

Have I got a Tuesday Teaser for you! It is from the series of road trips Otto takes with his guru-priest friend, the world-renowned Rinpoche, translated “The Precious One.” In Breakfast with Buddha, we meet Otto and his family, his sister, Cecelia, who has always been a hippie-flower child, and her boyfriend, Rinpoche, who discusses for mile after mile Buddhist teachings as Otto tries to show him the “real America.” In Lunch with Buddha, Rinpoche and Ceilia are married and have a daughter. Finally, Dinner with Buddha , the book I am currently reading

Third book in the series.

brings in Rinpoche and Celia’s six-year-old-daughter, Otto’s niece ,with whom he feels he shares a destiny. My Teaser takes place somewhere in the Dakotas just before Ceciluia and Shelsha leave Otto and Rinpoche, returning home while the men travel towards enlightenment and what their mission in life is. Otto thinks about the America he is about to show Rinpoche:

“I worried that with our demonizing, our knee-jerk anger, we were moving too close to 1920s Germany, too many of us marching under a righteous banner, too much hatred for each other, too much divisiveness, a craziness loosed upon our world. I looked at Shelsa. I remembed what Seese (his nickname for his sister) said about her (that she was a special child with a destiny to save mankind from itself). I wondered what it would take to save us.”

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT by Kristan Higgins: A Review

One of my reading goals for 2020 is to read 20 books recommended by fellow bloggers. Carla at Carla Loves to Read wrote a review of what sounded like the perfect summer beach read. Thanks to COVID 19, I did not feel safe going to the beach, but this novel turned out to be the perfect escape from all the stress and worry going on right now.

Publisher’s Weekly calls Good Luck9780451489395 “…a powerful story that feels completely real,” and indeed, the characters seemed like old friends telling their stories by the end of the book. Not to be taken totally lightly, this 2018 publication deals with the “emotionally charged issues of body acceptance and health.” It begins with three friends on their last day of “fat camp,” a place where they’d been sent each summer to try to lose weight since they were thirteen.  At eighteen, this is the last summer of their eligibility, and they made a list of what they would do when they were thin. Emerson, the “dreamy one,” and the heaviest, truly obese, spirals into a sad life as a “fat girl” and becomes a morbidly obese woman who dies from complications of her obesity and leaves everything to her friends, Georgia and Marley with the instructions to do everything on the list they made at 18–NOW! What ensues changes the women’s lives forever.

The emotions and attitudes toward being overweight are wonderfully presented in this novel. For example, look at this passage, “True peace was rare when you were fat. When you were fat, you wore armor to protect and deflect…when you were fat, you worked hard to be invisible. You lived in fear of being noticed, singled out, of having someone point out what you already know, YOU’RE FAT,”

I expected Georgia and Marley to miraculously “mend their ways” and eating habits, become thin, and live happily ever after. That simply did not happen. What happened instead is that the women changed their eating habits to healthy ones and changed their attitudes towards themselves, towards their families, and toward food and eating in general as they lived the lives that Emerson wished for them. The novel had a realistic but very satisfactory ending.

THE GIRL WHO FELL FROM THE SKY by Heidi W. Durrow: A Review

This 2010 publication won the Bellwether Prize for fiction (an award featuring social justice) that year. It could be categorized as a YA novel, but it had great appeal to me as an adult reader. The heroine, Rachel, whose unusual blue eyes are often mentioned, is the daughter of a Danish mother and a black G.I.

After the family tragedy that happened in Chicago, which defines the rest of her life, she goes to live with her grandmother (on her father’s side) in Portland. The novel deals with the issue of whether Rachel is “black” or “white”–she doesn’t fit in with either. A parallel story finds Jamie, later known as “Bricks,” who lived in the apartment projects where Rachel’s family “ended,” leaving her the only survivor. Jamie is a witness to the tragic event.

The story unfolds, layer by layer, with anecdotes about each of the main characters alternately, until they meet serendipitously near the end, and Jamie helps Rachel find her identity–herself.  Rachel’s quest and ability to overcome great loss testify as to the strength of her character and her tenaciousness. Jamie is also an overcomer, and the adding of his strength to Rachel’s allows the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle, which is the plot, to fit together in a satisfying way.  Durrow writes a poignant story which makes the reader sigh as she reads the last words.

A SHOUT OUT TO JAMES J. CUDNEY, BLOGGER AND AUTHOR EXTRADONAIRE

I have just finished listening to a 2017 audio book, Beartown, by Fredrik Backman which was recommended to me by blogging friend, James J. Cudney of This Is My Truth Now, one of my favorite blogs that I follow. I recently reviewed his debut novel,Watching Glass Shatter, on both this site and my “accidental blog,” blogging807.wordpress.com. I gave his novel a 5 out of 5 points, and have been recommending it to all my discerning reader friends who want a “good read” to give to someone for Christmas (after reading it themselves first, of course). I have told people that they will love the characterization skills James demonstrates as he deals with the members of the Glass family, all flawed characters, but unforgettable, and ones we can relate to. Cudney weaves the braid of the  family’s dynamics and relationships from the individual complexities of each character, none of whom we fail to care about. He has mentioned in his blog that he will make an announcement on This Is My Truth Now early in 2018 as to whether there will be a sequel.  I, for one, am keeping my fingers crossed and will be first in line to purchase a copy!

Reading a Classic, Slaughter House Five: A Review

I was sure I had read this book back in 1969 when it was first published; in fact, I told someone I had.  This was not true.  I have read so many things about it, that I thought I’d read it.  Kurt Vonnegut’s semi-autobiographical, satirical novel deals with time travel and experiences during WWII.  It is strange, but strangely appealing.

Billy Pilgrim, the protagonist is not an appealing person.  In his PSTD and mental state, he thinks and recalls vividly that he had been abducted by the Tralfmadorians, beings from another planet. Pilgrim’s life journey, reflective of Pilgrim’s Progress, journeys through life and through time and recounts his experiences to the reader.  Some are quite believable, like living through the bombing of Dresden, others are not. Seeing a great many deaths of both friends and enemies and relatives, Billy Pilgrim accepts the philosophy of, “so it goes.”  He applies this to deaths of thousands as he does to those individuals ( like his wife) who are close to him . He is not actually pathetic, but neither is he charismatic…merely mundane .

One can not say he/she “enjoyed reading” the book, but it is a literary experience that I would recommend.