Maybe in Another Life. Finished 3-16-17, rating 4/5, fiction, pub. 2015
Unabridged audio read by Julia Whelan. 9 hours 10 minutes.
At the age of twenty-nine, Hannah Martin still has no idea what she wants to do with her life. She has lived in six different cities and held countless meaningless jobs since graduating college. On the heels of leaving yet another city, Hannah moves back to her hometown of Los Angeles and takes up residence in her best friend Gabby’s guestroom. Shortly after getting back to town, Hannah goes out to a bar one night with Gabby and meets up with her high school boyfriend, Ethan.
Just after midnight, Gabby asks Hannah if she’s ready to go. A moment later, Ethan offers to give her a ride later if she wants to stay. Hannah hesitates. What happens if she leaves with Gabby? What happens if she leaves with Ethan?
In concurrent storylines, Hannah lives out the effects of each decision. Quickly, these parallel universes develop into radically different stories with large-scale consequences for Hannah, as well as the people around her. As the two alternate realities run their course, Maybe in Another Life raises questions about fate and true love: Is anything meant to be? How much in our life is determined by chance? And perhaps, most compellingly: Is there such a thing as a soul mate? from Goodereads
I’ve been listening to this book in the car for over a week and this morning I finally caved and bought a cinnamon roll and ate the whole glorious thing. Hannah loves cinnamon rolls and cinnamon rolls were mentioned a lot by pretty much every character throughout the book even til the very last pages. This is not a complaint but a warning. If you listen to someone talk about cinnamon rolls enough you will find one to devour. Just sayin’.
We meet Hannah at the beginning of the book as she moves back to Los Angeles. She’s a bit of a mess, but through her best friend Gabby’s eyes we see Hannah for the loved and loving woman she is. When she meets up with an old boyfriend on her first night back Hannah must choose to stay with him or leave with Gabby. The stories then go from there.
In the next chapter she goes home with Gabby and disaster strikes. The chapter after that she goes home with Ethan and a love is rekindled. The storylines alternate by chapter so that you are never too long in one that you’ve lost interest in the other. Knowing this is how it was set up I thought for sure I’d hate it. I didn’t.
There were many ways this could have ended and Reid teased them all. I probably would have preferred a different ending, BUT I liked it. Are our lives decided by fate or do we make our own decisions? If we make a choice will fate keep bringing us back to a preordained life? This book was fun and though provoking. I’m looking forward to going back and reading her earlier books.
This made lots of best of lists when it came out a few years ago and I can see why.
I love Loganberry Books in Cleveland Heights. They are eclectic, cozy, huge and they have a cat! For Women’s History Month they created a unique display that showed the disparity between the number of women and men authors in fiction.
On their fiction walls they turned the books written by men backwards so that only those written by women are showing. As a former bookseller and librarian I appreciate all the work that went into this. Check out the 2 minute video of the walkthrough. So cool. Here are a few of my pics.
I was excited to see the bookstore tackle something like this. This was only the two long fiction walls and the poetry section (didn’t get a picture) and didn’t include genres or any of the rest of the store. I loved it. The story got picked up by a few online sites and I was so disappointed by the comment sections. We have so much more to accomplish as women, not the least of which is respect. I was surprised by the number of women bashing the women who came up with this idea. We should be supporting each other. I honestly get so discouraged by reading almost all online comment sections.
I also loved this idea that you could contribute to local charities and a few national ones that are fighting hard battles right now.
I went yesterday and spread my $5 worth around 🙂 They also had this display in the middle of the store.
This store is a local treasure and the haters only made me spend more money when I stopped by yesterday 🙂
This display is up through today.
The Possessions. Finished 3-1-17, rating 3.5/5, fiction, 368 pages, pub. 2017
In an unnamed city, Eurydice works for the Elysian Society, a private service that allows grieving clients to reconnect with lost loved ones. She and her fellow workers, known as “bodies“, wear the discarded belongings of the dead and swallow pills called lotuses to summon their spirits—numbing their own minds and losing themselves in the process. Edie has been a body at the Elysian Society for five years, an unusual record. Her success is the result of careful detachment: she seeks refuge in the lotuses’ anesthetic effects and distances herself from making personal connections with her clients.
But when Edie channels Sylvia, the dead wife of recent widower Patrick Braddock, she becomes obsessed with the glamorous couple. Despite the murky circumstances surrounding Sylvia’s drowning, Edie breaks her own rules and pursues Patrick, moving deeper into his life and summoning Sylvia outside the Elysian Society’s walls. from Goodreads
What started slow, but interesting, gained strength as we neared the midway point and finished with and acceptable end. Because there was no place or even time frame given to the novel it had a dystopian feel, even though society was operating just as it does today. The story without context and the protagonist who kept us at arm’s length left the story in some parallel universe where the only thing different is that ‘bodies’ like Edie could open themselves up to spirits beyond the grave so that loved ones could continue to have a relationship with the deceased.
Creepy. The whole book was creepy, but not in a bad way. The idea of renting a body to talk to a lost loved one (think séance without the candles or theatrics) was new and the Elysian Society seemed like a well run operation. Edie, one of the longer serving bodies was a blank slate for the bereaved and the reader. Until the end you really had no idea who she was, where she came from or what she was capable of and by then it was almost too late to care much.
I liked it because it was different and the concept was a fun one to ponder. There were enough subplots to keep the story moving and at least one character I ended up caring about more than Edie. But there were some issues too, the slow start being one.
I thought this was a solid debut and very different. Kudos to Murphy for bringing something new to the table.
Thank you to TLC Tours for the allowing me to be a part of this tour and sending the book to me. Here are the other stops if you’re interested in checking them out.
Lots of cards this week!
The train postcard is from Jessica in Great Britain and had a gorgeous train stamp with Union Jack that you can only get at the National Railway Museum in York. Very cool.
The van postcard is from Matthias in Germany who loves to goes to the movies. The Lord of the Rings trilogy is his favorite. Can’t disagree with him there.
The koala postcard comes from Pamela in Australia who sys she will send a train postcard later if she finds one 🙂
The cute kitten came from Doris in Germany and this is what she wrote, “This postcard says ‘The biggest power in the world is the Pianissimo!’ Hopefully some presidents in the world will realize that! Well, at least this postcard is still allowed to come into your country without being asked for passwords… Hope for peaceful times for all countries, best wishes.” Doris and I continued to exchange a few political private messages online. She encouraged me to stand up, protest any way I can, because the rest of the world is watching. Powerful stuff coming from a stranger.
The one with the woman in a field is from Taiwan. Jewel told me about the special teas thy make there, oolong being one of my favorites.
The pretty mountain view with water came from Joey in Western Norway. A favorite book of hers is I Heard the Owl Call My Name by Margaret Craven.
I added the van to my window that started out as a miscellaneous collection of cards that I liked. It turned out the right side is now the graphic side since I had so many.
I’m not putting up every card I receive. Of those six from last week I only added the van and the train and cat went to Gage’s collection. The rest of the cards are in the box on top of the trunk.
I’ve written about my love affair with Postcrossing before (you can do a search if you want to see my old posts) but now I may have gone a step too far. In October we painted four rooms that had previously been covered with wallpaper. All rooms look great, BUT our front room remained bare because I had not decided what to do with it. The color is okay, but I decided to get rid of the blinds and curtains so it’s been plain Jane ever since. I came up with an idea for Gage to display his train postcards in his bedroom and made the mistake of checking out Pinterest. Well, I decided to use my favorite postcards to accent our front room. It’s been fun.
This is the corner where I’ve grouped food and books and movies. I’ll reveal other spots later. So, now that I’m obsessed with getting more postcards I’m writing as many as I can (17) in hopes of getting more creative on my walls 🙂 I received three this week, only one for me but it will be added to this display.
Both cats wanted to be involved. That’s big boy Razzi up top and little Sammi looking right at you.
The beautiful bookshelves came from Annika in Stockholm, Sweden, She takes the pictures herself and has them printed as postcards. Love it!
The white postcard with the train on it came from an 4th grade class in Taiwan. Each of the kids take turns writing postcards. Ours came from Danny and he had excellent handwriting.
The other train postcard came from Alan, a retired teacher in France.
Come back next week to see another wall and postcards I’ve been lucky enough to receive.
The Dinner. Finished 2-14-17, rating 4/5, pub. 2013
Unabridged audio read by Clive Mantle. 9 hours.
A summer’s evening in Amsterdam and two couples meet at a fashionable restaurant. Between mouthfuls of food and over the delicate scraping of cutlery, the conversation remains a gentle hum of politeness – the banality of work, the triviality of holidays. But the empty words hide a terrible conflict and, with every forced smile and every new course, the knives are being sharpened… Each couple has a fifteen-year-old son. As the dinner reaches its culinary climax, the conversation finally touches on their children and, as civility and friendship disintegrate, each couple shows just how far they are prepared to go to protect those they love. from Goodreads
This is one of those books that the less you know the better so I’m not going to spoil any more than the description from Goodreads, and even that I deleted a few sentences. Amsterdam at an expensive restaurant, brothers and their wives, testy relationships put to the test. It was…different. Thought provoking, yes. Enjoyable, sorta. Recommended, if unlikeable characters are your thing.
I’m so glad that I listened to the audio. Mantle really sold Paul and elevated the story with his performance.
The movie featuring Richard Gere and Laura Linney is coming out in May!
I have been a little out of the loop movie-wise but I can always count on the Oscars to help steer me toward wonderful films. Let’s take a look at the nominees in the big categories.
Arrival (loved it)
Hell or High Water
La La Land (liked it, but had some problem spots)
Manchester by the Sea (tore me apart but what a great movie)
Opinion – the three I’ve seen are all worthy.
Isabelle Huppert (Elle)
Ruth Negga (Loving)
Natalie Portman (Jackie)
Emma Stone ( La La Land) (she really carried the movie)
Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins)
Opinion – I’ve only seen one performance and she was fantastic
Casey Affleck (Manchester by the Sea) (incredible performance)
Andrew Garfield (Hacksaw Ridge)
Ryan Gosling (La La Land) (good lead)
Viggo Mortensen (Captain Fantastic) (he kills it every time and this was no different)
Denzel Washington (Fences)
Opinion – Personally I’d choose Casey or Viggo but I know La La is getting all the love)
So, tell me what you think about the ones that you’ve seen and maybe I can get to them before the Oscars!
Almost Famous Women. Finished 2-8-17, rating 4.5/5, short stories, 236 pages, pub. 2015
The fascinating lives of the characters in Almost Famous Women have mostly been forgotten, but their stories are burning to be told. Now Megan Mayhew Bergman, author of Birds of a Lesser Paradise, resurrects these women, lets them live in the reader’s imagination, so we can explore their difficult choices. Nearly every story in this dazzling collection is based on a woman who attained some celebrity—she raced speed boats or was a conjoined twin in show business; a reclusive painter of renown; a member of the first all-female, integrated swing band. We see Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter, Allegra; Oscar Wilde’s troubled niece, Dolly; West With the Night author Beryl Markham; Edna St. Vincent Millay’s sister, Norma. These extraordinary stories travel the world, explore the past (and delve into the future), and portray fiercely independent women defined by their acts of bravery, creative impulses, and sometimes reckless decisions. from Goodreads
I don’t read short stories. I like big books where I can really get to know a character and spend time with a story that has the time to develop and take a few twists and turns. But for book group this month we read Almost Famous Women and I was pleasantly surprised. As it turns out, I was the only one since the other seven ladies didn’t care for it as a whole.
Each story started with a picture of the woman so that you could have a visual when you were reading and that was important for the first story.
Violet and Daisy Hilton were joined at the hip, literally. This one was both disturbing and fascinating. People that you know showed up in the stories, Marlene Dietrich, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Lord Byron, Butterfly McQueen, Beryl Markham…but like the title says, most of the women in the book were almost famous. I liked some more than others but particularly liked the one about Joe Carstairs and her private island, Romaine Brooks and her very creepy nurse, and Lord Byron’s illegitimate daughter broke my heart. I liked the mix of known and unknown and it made me check out more information on a few of the women.
The book group as a whole found the stories needlessly depressing and I can’t really argue on that point. They were dark. There was a PTSD link in a few and more than one death. We all noticed a homosexuality thread throughout the stories. Most of us could pick out a favorite story or two and the book read really fast so that’s a plus.
So, I really liked it but I was the only one. Read at your own risk 🙂
This counted as one for Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge, story collection by a woman.
The Liar. Finished 2-7-17, 3/5, romantic suspense?, pub. 2015
Unabridged audio read by January LaVoy. 16 hours 41 minutes
Shelby Foxworth lost her husband. Then she lost her illusions …
The man who took her from Tennessee to an exclusive Philadelphia suburb left her in crippling debt. He was an adulterer and a liar, and when Shelby tracks down his safe-deposit box, she finds multiple IDs. The man she loved wasn’t just dead. He never really existed.
Shelby takes her three-year-old daughter and heads south to seek comfort in her hometown, where she meets someone new: Griff Lott, a successful contractor. But her husband had secrets she has yet to discover. Even in this small town, surrounded by loved ones, danger is closer than she knows—and threatens Griff, as well. And an attempted murder is only the beginning … from Goodreads
I thought about quitting this one a few discs in but it was such an easy listen that I continued to let it play when I was in the car or cleaning the kitchen. There isn’t a lot to recommend this one, really, except if you love Nora Roberts. I don’t love her but have had good luck with the last few I’ve tried by her.
There were a few problems including the heroine, Shelby, who was clueless. Then there was the fact that it was about 50% too long. So much repetition and too many mundane, useless conversations. And the end was something you could see coming from the first few chapters.
Did I forget to mention the good parts? Okay. Roberts does know how to write. I loved the relationship between Griff and Shelby’s little girl, Callie. The narrator, January LaVoy, did a great job so that probably helped the entertainment factor.
So, if you’re a fan of Roberts you’ll probably like it. But for newbies, I’ve read a few of hers that I’ve really liked that I’d recommend first.
Did you think I meant that Gage went to steamboat school? Nah, but he did read a book that was inspired by the true story of the Freedom Floating School in 1847 Missouri.
Steamboat School by Deborah Hopkinson. Illustrated by Ron Husband
“I always thought being brave
was for grown-up heroes doing big, daring deeds.
But Mama says that sometimes courage
is just an ordinary boy like me
doing a small thing, as small as picking up a pencil.”
These opening words let me know that this book would reinforce much of what I’m trying to instill in Gage’s mind. Be brave, do the little things that can make big changes. When Gage is older and can hear that mama voice in his head I always want it encouraging him to be the best person he can be and to look for ways to make a positive change in the world. Sometimes I think I push him too much, but tonight he told me I was the best loving mother, (I’ve never heard him use the word loving before, yay!) so I must be doing okay.
The book is the story of Reverend John (Berry Meachum) who worked hard to free himself and then his family from slavery. He taught African-American children in the basement of his church until the state of Missouri made it illegal for him to continue teaching them to read and write. He found a way around that by building a steamboat in the Mississippi River where he could continue to teach children. Missouri law had no say in federal waters. What an ingenious way around the law!
So, the discussion about race was harder to discuss in this book than in the Martin Luther King Jr. book a few weeks ago. It is essentially about kids, like Gage, being told they didn’t have a right to learn. How can you explain something so hateful and ridiculous to a six-year-old? By his questions I know that he doesn’t really ‘get’ it and why should he, I guess. I’m not even sure I understand how people can be so full of hate and fear.
I loved the story and the illustrations enough that I’d like to buy this one to have as a part of Gage’s library. Highly recommend it. Thanks for the recommendation Jill 🙂