Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Very Valentine by Adriana Trigiani

I love Adriana Trigiani's books.  When I finish a book, I am always ready to book my flight for a summer in Italy.  (It would take me that long to see everything I wanted to see!) 

Besides writing about Italy and the Italian culture of wine, pasta, shoes, and clothes, Trigiani always writes about women who are vulnerable and yet strong.  They don't need a man who doesn't need them.  Frequently, she ends a book with the heroine leaving the relationship to concentrate on what she loves and what makes her happy. There is a happily ever after, but it isn't necessarily of the "couple" variety.  Smart lady.

Very Valentine was about a family business in New York City where they had made bridal shoes for the past 70 years or so.  Valentine is figuring out how to move the business into financial solvency and maintain the high standards established by her grandfather.  There is love, crazy family, wine, NYC skylines, and a month-long trip to Italy.  Yes, I pretty much fell in love.   

Adriana Trigiani will not be remembered as a classic author, but when I read for pleasure--there is no one I would rather read.  She loves a lot of the things I love and admire.  When I close her books, I always feel inspired to pursue the things I love.  After all, those are the only things that matter in the end!  Obviously, Trigiani knows this.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Good American by Alex George

I don't remember who in blog land suggested this book, but I am so glad that they did.  It is quite a tale.

The novel begins in Germany and ends in Beatrice, Missouri.  Two young lovers can't get their parents to accept the idea of marriage, so they get on a ship for America.  The ship captain marries them and the family history begins. 

Three generations of family stories are told.  There is heartbreak, happiness, poverty, success, and the mundane existence of middle America, all woven into the fabric of American History from 1905 to present day. 

If we were willing to research our family histories, listening closely to the stories of our grandparents and having access to private letters and journals, what a story we could probably tell. 

And that is exactly what George does.  For the most part, he makes it seem like this fictional work really could be the stories of one family. 

A Good American made for interesting reading.  Sometimes it is easy to forget the struggles of our ancestors, but this book reminds us of the sacrifices made for the next generation to succeed. Some links of family are broken forever, and others stand the test of time.

Heartwarming story.  One of the best books that I have read in awhile. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Summers At Blue Lake by Jill Althouse-Wood

You can tell it is summer.  Everything I read has a lake or beach in the title.  Crazy. 

I'm not sure why I bought this one on Nook.  Probably the cheapskate in me again.  I also figured it was one book the girls might like. 

Summers At Blue Lake was an interesting summer read.  Barbara Jean is the narrator, so this is her story.  Recently separated from her husband who has a new pregnant girlfriend, she escapes to the house on Blue Lake where she had spent summers as a child.  The first part of the story jumps between her childhood at the lake and her life today.

As a child, she went to the lake to spend time with her lesbian grandmothers. (It was their house.)  As an adult, she is working her way through her broken marriage and the broken marriages of her past.  Her parents divorced and her grandmothers had broken relationships also.  She is incorporating the diamonds from the engagement rings of those broken relationships into her art.  (She makes her living as an artist.)  Those broken relationships are tightly wrapped up in her own.

The 2nd half of the story is her discovery of her grandmothers as girls and the experiences that brought them together. She learns a lot she never knew, and it explains some of the mystery of her childhood.

Usually, I can figure out the ending of the book.  This one caught me off guard.  It was an enjoyable, interesting read, though I will admit to being a bit disappointed with the ending.  I can't say anything more without spoiling it.  When you finish the book, we'll talk. 

Need a summer read?  This would be a good one.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Time To Love by Barbara Cameron

This was the Free Friday book for Nook at Barnes and Noble.  It is also part of the Lancaster Quilt Series. 

A Time To Love is a quick summer read about the Amish community.  A former librarian used to love any books about the Amish and frequently passed them on to me.  Some of them were really good, and some of them were quite forgettable.  It got to the point where if I read one or two, they became a formula and there weren't many surprises.

Barbara Cameron's A Time To Love falls into this category.  By the end of the 2nd or 3rd chapter, I knew exactly where it was headed.  It took me less than two hours to read and was a pleasant diversion.  It didn't require much thinking, and I doubt that I will remember it.  I am awfully glad it was free. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Stieg Larsson- The Millenium Series

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.  These books are known as The Millenium Trilogy.

I had heard about these books long before I read them.  I'm not much of a mystery reader, and so many people told me they started the books but couldn't get past the first 100 pages. Last summer, Cousin M sent me the first one. 

Contrary to many others, I was sucked in from the start.  A journalist is in jail for not giving up his sources.  I couldn't put it down. 

All three of these books were excellent.  I didn't want to put any of them down.  My only complaint was that I needed a list to keep track of the characters and who was who.  There were many names that were similar.  I would frequently find myself turning back to previous chapters to figure out who someone was.  That, however, is my only complaint. 

Lisabeth Salander is an unforgettable character.  Her appearance, her intelligence, the limited knowledge we're given of her past, and her inability to trust anyone add intrigue to the novels.  Thankfully, there is a satisfying conclusion to the series with the answers I needed.

I say thankfully; Stieg Larsson died, so there will be no more books.   I hope he lived long enough to see his books succeed.  He told a good story; one I will never forget.

I have yet to see the movie, but that is next on my list.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Sandra Boynton Books for Little Ones

Lately, I've been reading a few more books for babies.  I had never read the Sandra Boynton books until a cousin sent several to the Lady Bug.  What a great author of books for tiny ones.  They rhyme.  They move. AND...(the biggest plus) they are as much fun for the reader to read, as they are for the child.

Need a gift for a newborn?  I highly recommend any of Sandra Boynton's books.  Let's Dance, Little Pookie has inspired one of the Bug's nicknames.  Though I'm not sure if Daddy called her that before or after the book.  I also love Barnyard Dance! and The Going To Bed Book.

You can't go wrong with Boynton.