Review: Maine

Maine, by J. Courtney Sullivan, is the perfect summer read. But don’t be fooled by the cover of the book, this is not your typical light beach read. It’s about family, secrets, relationships and the complications that occur in every day life.

The story of three generations of women from one Irish-Catholic family, the Kellehers, Maine weaves together events from the past and present to illustrate how the characters came to be. We meet Alice, the matriarch; who is struggling against a profound sense of guilt over the death of her sister. Kathleen, the oldest daughter, is divorced and a recovering alcoholic who fled to California where she owns a successful worm farm with her hippy boyfriend. Her family doesn’t understand her and is embarrassed by her chosen profession.  Ann Marie, the daughter-in-law, has the perfect life. She lives in a huge house, belongs to the right clubs, and her husband is very successful. But she can’t escape that fact that she was born on the wrong side of town, one of her perfect children is a mess and she is attracted to her neighbor. Maggie, the granddaughter, lives in New York City. Her boyfriend is a bit of a loser and and she’s about to have a huge change in her life.

During the course of one summer events occur which bring the four generations of women to live together. Secrets are revealed. There is so much which could be said about this book. The character of Ann Marie alone could keep me busy for days.

As someone from a dysfunctional Irish-Catholic family I found it easy to relate to the story. While my grandmother passed away when I was young, we still have tales of people who were put “in the book” and never spoken about again. What I liked about this book is that it reminds us that while our family can be highly flawed, they are family. We must accept them for who they are. And sometimes, they might just surprise us.

If you are looking for a good summer read, I’d recommend Maine.

4 stars

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Review: My One and Only

Kristan Higgin’s latest book, My One and Only,  made for the perfect escape reading this weekend. The story, about a divorced couple forced to spend time together offered some laughs,  a couple of tears (I’m a sap) and my favorite kind of ending to a book… happy ever after.

Harper is in her 30s with a successful career as a divorce attorney on Martha’s Vineyard and a  (hot) firefighter boyfriend of 2 1/2 years. She’s wants to settle down and have kids and decides now is the time. So she proposes to her boyfriend who isn’t exactly jumping for joy at the idea. Complicating matters she finds out (in the middle of her proposal) that her younger, irresponsible sister is engaged to a man she’s know for only a short period of time. They are getting married in Montana in 2 weeks. And worse yet, the fiance, is Harper’s ex-husband’s brother. (AWKWARD.) Harper is less than thrilled and concerned about her sister. This is her 3rd wedding, they haven’t know it each other for long and Harper has a pretty jaded view of marriage because of her career.  But she loves her sister so off to Montana she goes. Continue reading

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Waiting On Wednesday: The Violets of March

“Waiting On” Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

I have DevourerofBooks to thank for this one.Tonight on twitter she gushing about this book. Based on the description I’m just going to go ahead and preorder this one because it looks like a gem.

The Violets of March by Sarah Jio is out on April 26th.

A heartbroken woman stumbled upon a diary and steps into the life of its anonymous author.

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily’s good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be healed by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.

A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and intriguing dual story line, The Violets of March announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch.

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Teaser Tuesdays: A Moveable Feast

teasertuesdays31 Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

From Ernest Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast, The Restored Edition, page 163.

“Forget what Zelda said,” I told him. “Zelda is crazy. There’s nothing wrong with you. Just have the confidence and do what the girl wants. Zelda just wants to destroy you.”

I swear I honestly just came to this part in the book! I didn’t go looking for a part including Fitzgerald and certainly not this section of the book.

I am LOVING this book and really wish that someone had encouraged me to read it before now. I had no idea that Hemingway could write like this.

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It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading This Week? This is a weekly event to list the books completed last week, the books currently being reading, and the books to be finish this week. It is hosted by Sheila from One Person’s Journey Through a World of  Books so stop by and join in!

Last week week was a fairly good reading week for me. Especially considering I worked late a couple of days and spent Saturday at a friend’s for a James Franco fest. (The things we do for our friends…) I finished  The Weird Sisters (LOVED it), Road Signs by MJ Frederick and  Oldest Chicago by David Anthony Witter.

I am nearly finished with Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. I’m so glad that my friend recommended this book to me by telling it me it was nothing like his novels. I hated his novels when I was forced to read them in high school and college. But this is so much different.  I have enjoyed reading about his adventures in Paris and find myself laughing at some of it. (Who knew Hemingway could be funny?)

This week, I am going to make time for the new book by Kristan Higgins, My One and Only, which is due out later this month. Higgins is one of my favorite romance authors and I’m looking forward to reading her latest effort.

Divorce attorney Harper James can’t catch a break. Bad enough that she runs into her ex-hubby, Nick, at her sister’s destination wedding, but now, by a cruel twist of fate, she’s being forced to make a cross-country road trip with him. And her almost-fiance; back at home is not likely to be sympathetic. Harper can’t help that Nick has come blazing back into her life in all of his frustratingly appealing, gorgeous architect glory. But in Nick’s eyes, Harper’s always been the one. If they can only get it right this time, forever might be waiting; just around the bend.

 

 

I am also looking forward to reading 13, rue Thérèse: A Novel. Yes, another book with Paris as the setting. I wonder if this is my subconscious’ way of telling me I need to plan a trip to Paris?  Really it was the cover that called to me. The description sealed the deal. And you have to love a book that has QR Codes with links for more information.

American academic Trevor Stratton discovers a box full of artifacts from World War I as he settles into his new office in Paris. The pictures, letters, and objects in the box relate to the life of Louise Brunet, a feisty, charming Frenchwoman who lived through both World Wars. As Trevor examines and documents the relics the box offers up, he begins to imagine the story of Louise Brunet’s life: her love for a cousin who died in the war, her marriage to a man who works for her father, and her attraction to a neighbor in her building at 13 rue Thérèse. The more time he spends with the objects though, the truer his imaginings of Louise’s life become, and the more he notices another alluring Frenchwoman: Josianne, his clerk, who planted the box in his office in the first place, and with whom he finds he is falling in love.

So that’s what is on tap for me this week. What are you reading?

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Review: Oldest Chicago

I’ve been a fan of Lake Claremont Press for years. They publish a lot of fantastic books on Chicago history.

The latest book, Oldest Chicago, by David Anthony Witter is a great addition to their catalog. Part history, part guidebook, the book includes information on a wide range of institutions, businesses, restaurants, and theaters. The usual suspects are included (Wrigley Field, Water Tower, Palmer House) but it includes things like Oldest Statue (Standing Lincoln), Oldest Bowling Alley (Southport Lanes), and Oldest Funeral Home – Northside (Jaeger Funeral Home). The book makes references to the City’s tendency tear down it’s landmarks yet it celebrates how each of these institutions was able to survive the years through efforts from an individual family, a neighborhood, or a group of customers. It is an eclectic mix but it helps paint a picture to what makes Chicago so unique and why so many people are drawn to the city.

As a life-long Chicagoan, I was surprised by some of the entries and intrigued by the stories. The book makes me want to go exploring in my home town. I just wish I had this book before. It would have made it planning trips around the city with friends from out of town easier.

If you are from Chicago or planning a trip soon, I would recommend picking up a copy of this book and exploring the city.

4/5

Disclaimer: I received my copy as part of LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program.

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Review: The Weird Sisters

I cannot begin to tell you how much I adored Eleanor Brown’s book, The Weird Sisters.

The centers around the Andreas Sisters: Rose (Rosalind), Bean (Bianca), and Cody (Cordelia) named by their  father, a professor of Shakespeare, who communicates almost exclusively in verse. Their mother is an absent minded house wife. Books and reading played an enormous part in their lives.

All three find themselves back in their home town of Barnwell, Ohio at a crossroads. On the surface they claim to be home to help care for their mother as she battles breast cancer. But each of the sisters is battling their own struggle. Rose appears to be the successful sister. She is a Math Professor but she was just told that her position was being eliminated and her fiance Jonathan, also an academic, just earned a fellowship at Oxford. Jonathan wants Rose to move to England but Rose worries what that would mean. Who would take care of her family? Where would her next job come?

Bean was fired from her job in New York for stealing. She may appear to be glamorous but her life is anything but. Up to her eyes in debt, she flees New York for home. Feeling trapped in the small town and struggling to find herself, she begins an affair with a married man. Cordy, the baby, has traveled the United States for the last several years living in less than desirable places taking odd jobs just to get by. When she discovers she is pregnant she realizes that she needs to do something and moves home.

Over the next few months, we learn more about the sisters through flashbacks. We see how they took on their specific roles in the family. We see them struggle against their role. And finally we get a glimpse of how things are going to be in the future.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the narration. It was one of the things that I enjoyed most. The sisters (plural) serve as the narrator. It sounds strange, but it really works. It’s almost like you are getting insight into their world at the same time you are sitting back and watching everything unfold.

I highly recommend this book. I look forward to reading more from Eleanor Brown.

5/5

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