Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty

A woman travels alone from Florida to Casablanca, Morocco. Immediately on the plane she is paranoid, sad and lonely.You read on. You know something is wrong. You really want to find out why this nameless character is fleeing from her life, her friends, her family, everything she knows. And it reads like this because this novel is written in second person, of which I have personally only comfortably enjoyed once before (A Prayer for the Dying by Stewart O'Nan). This woman is so deeply shaken by the turn of events her life has taken she just wants to run far away and disappear. She stumbles from one ridiculous, but totally possible, situation to another. It is comical in the darkest sense. She literally loses herself. Her backpack is stolen and she is completely stripped of her identity, which is frightening but in the most unique set of circumstances gives her the opportunity to overcome her misery and start over with a clean slate. The background for this novel is exotic and intoxicating and the writing is pure poetry. This is a surprisingly easy and quick read and any hesitation to read a novel in second person quickly disseminated. If you want to read something truly unique, I highly recommend The Diver's Clothes Lie Empty.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Royal We

Reading The Royal We was like a eating a bag of candy
in the movies, no calories in the dark. Rebecca Porter is an American who has left Cornell to spend a year abroad studying at Oxford. (Okay, you had me at hello!) Unbeknownst to Bex, she is to take a room down the hall from Prince Nicholas (Nick), heir to the throne. The other rooms are filled with a quirky adorable bunch of characters that while most incredibly loyal to the protection and privacy of Nick, surely know how to make certain he has fun too! They immediately bring Bex into their little clan. And so begins a sweet friendship and delicious romance between two "kids" that just want to be themselves - not their siblings, and not what their parents necessarily want them to be. Their romance moves through years of turmoil, good and bad, secrets and outrageous events until decisions are made and tears are shed. Through it all Bex and Nick learn a lot about themselves and the world around them. They learn about family and loyalty and hope and love. Along the lines but not exactly - Prince William and Kate (I truly did not follow their personal story) - the reader is immersed in a farfetched world that is not so farfetched. This novel is light, easy, funny, well written and a complete joy to immerse yourself in on a hot summers day. Just delicious!  Well done girls! Cheerio!

Friday, June 19, 2015


Anna is a good wife, mostly. Hausfrau, German for housewife
is the perfect title for this intriguing, thoughtful, well written novel. The reviews were so diverse and incredibly harsh that I was on the fence as to whether to begin at all. I am glad I did. Hausfrau is the story of Anna and Bruno and their three young children. They have lived in Switzerland for the last 9 years after relocating from the states back to Bruno's homeland. He is a banker, described as beautiful but is cold and distant and very much keeps to himself. He loves his family, respects his mother Ursula and works hard at the bank. Anna is miserable. She is lonely but misses no one and nothing from her past life. She has escaped to a new life in Europe with expectations of happiness and fulfillment yet to be discovered. Finally, Anna succumbs to psychotherapy, Bruno wants her to get help, he knows she is sad almost all of the time. She looks into her past, she analyzes her future, she loves her children but yearns and craves to fill a void that is so empty it seems beyond repair. Anna has spent the last few years filling some of this void with affairs. Some meaningless, some not. Her lies have become twisted and harder to maintain. She has children to look after and a home to keep up. The tiniest bit of hope keeps Anna motivated to keep trying but it is hard and when tragedy faces the family, she crumbles. Other reviews mentioned the ludicrous idea that this was "Fifty Shades," I wonder if we actually read the same book. Other reviews could only say it was a depressing story but here is mine: I thought this was an excellent novel. The writing is beautiful and heartfelt and not typical. You can imagine Anna and her family and you can feel her pain. I do not believe this story is farfetched and although yes, it is sad, it is a real story of love and family. It is a glimpse at another culture and how they are similar and different from Americans. It is a woman who tries and tries but most likely had no chance at ever finding peace.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

The Mapmaker's Children

Historical fiction at it's best, The Mapmaker's Children has all
the ingredients that are sure to capture your heart. Sarah Brown, daughter of infamous abolitionist John Brown, is an intelligent, feisty young woman who accidentally overhears her father's conversation with his fellow Underground Railroad conspirators. From that moment on Sarah wants to help the cause; she wants her life to have purpose and meaning, and unlike most women of the time she passionately wants to be involved in this very dangerous task of fighting slavery. Sarah begins to paint maps to help the slaves find their way north using pictures instead of words. Her talent and bravery take her to Harper's Ferry where her father is imprisoned and put to death as America's north and south battle for freedom. It is in New Charlestown, Virginia that Sarah meets Freddy, the preachers son, the love of her life. Over 150 years later, we meet Eden. Eden and Jack are new to this quaint town. They purchase a restored home that holds secrets they could have never imagined. As Eden and Jack struggle through their own personal marriage issues they begin to love this town, their neighbors and slowly find their way back to their true hearts. Each chapter switches back and forth between two brave strong women who are both searching for meaning in their lives, battling demons from the past and forging better tomorrows. I absolutely devoured this easy to read, unputdownable saga. Thoroughly enjoyed the authors brief accounting of her journey and discovery of this story that was told with a lot of love and a lot of research! Highly recommend this fabulous summer read to take you away on a short journey through time. Enjoy!

Saturday, June 6, 2015


George Hodgman grew up in Paris, Missouri. Missouri is a
funny thing, he tells us, naming cities and towns after other cities and towns. An only child, son of a simple loving couple named Betty and George (Big George). This memoirist is back home, after many, many years away in college and later working in NYC as a writer. Betty is 91, Big George long gone, and she is ailing. Betty needs help and perhaps a nursing home. She is feisty and funny and does not, I repeat DOES NOT under any circumstances want to leave her home. And really, George does everything in his power to help make the situation smoother and easier. But he has run out of options and now that he is out of a job, George has the time to stay with Betty and help her figure out how she can comfortably live what is most likely the last decade of her life. With humor (think Modern Family) and wit, and a ton of love, George does the best he can. At the same time, as when most people return to their childhood home, the memories are both haunting and daunting. George had never "come out" to his parents. They never discussed his lifestyle - so painful secrets and memories remained twisted and hidden. Of course now that the faucet has been turned on, George's life, whether he likes it or not - is pouring out as well. Going through his own catharsis along with Betty's is touching and thought provoking on many levels. This is both an easy read (George is very funny!) and sad. I am a lover of memoirs and the end is a tad long but a lot of lessons to be learned about being kind and how quickly the tables turn when our parents age. And the fact that it is completely unavoidable. I really like George and Betty and think you will too.

Jack of Spades

Andrew Rush is famous. He is a bestselling author living with
his beloved wife in a magnificent, historic home in a quaint New Jersey town. Children grown and semi-independent, Andrew has more money than he ever dreamed possible. As far as fame goes, there is that fellow named Stephen King. Andrew remains a bit elusive, even to his wife, who works at a local school to keep busy and give him the privacy he demands. One day Andrew receives a court summons. It seems someone local (how dare they! - he is Andrew Rush!) has filed a civil complaint against him for theft and plagiarism. He is aghast. He is flummoxed, embarrassed that such a thing could exist and dare to even mention his name. And he cannot let it go. When the publishers city savvy NY attorney says to "stay away" and let him handle it, Andrew cannot. And so begins the intricate theme of this suspenseful and provoking mystery. It is not about liking the characters at all but in the true essence of a thriller - simply trying to figure them out. This is a quick, easy read. Joyce Carol Oates is a flawless creator of stories which flow and twist and turn and won't let you off until the ride ends. LOVED this complex novel that gripped me until the very last page. It was truly unputdownable! Perfect #summerread