Next Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

Elisa is a young woman from a wealthy family, living in Cuba during Batista’s fall and Castro’s rise to power. She falls in love with a revolutionary and is dragged apart from him when her family is forced to leave for the United States.

Marisol is Elisa’s granddaughter who returns to Cuba to spread her grandmother’s ashes in the country she loved and never forgot. Next Year in Havana is told from from each woman’s point of view in each woman’s window of time. Is Marisol in a different Cuba or is it still the same Cuba that Elisa knew all those years ago?

I loved this book for the history of Cuba it contained. There were so many things I didn’t know about the Cuban struggle that the author explained. The story of love that was the central theme of the novel, however dragged on in many parts and seemed to me like the same story repeated only separated by a few decades.

This book is worth reading, everyone will get something out of it. And you will learn why so many Cubans living in the United States dream of Next Year in Havana.

There’s a Hurricane Brewing So It Must Be My Birthday!

I never knew until I moved to Florida in 1980 that my birthday fell smack dab in the peak of hurricane season. Many a birthday celebration has been postponed and even called off completely so storm preparations could be done in time.

That is until the numbers of birthdays I’ve been fortunate enough to celebrate started getting larger and larger and larger. That’s the thing that fascinates me about passing time. The numbers between events such as birthdays, anniversaries and high school graduations grow exponentially larger with time even though they remain as vivid in my mind as the day they first occured.

No! I say! I was only born yesterday! Being stuck inside the house with only a carton of ice cream to comfort me, (Ice cream has to be eaten before it melts once the electricity goes off. Cake will keep until the ice cream is gone) I have plenty of time to ponder the blessings of my life. The thought however, of being able to collect social security is totally freaking me out and that alone will occupy my mind until the storm blows over.

Once the hurricane passes and the cleanup begins, I’ll forget I even had a birthday or even how old I am. But I’ll never forget the joy I have found in life no matter how large those number get or how hard the wind blows.

Happy Hurricane Birthday to me!

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

I’ve been following Jenna Bush Hager and her book club picks. Evvie Drake Starts Over is one of her more recent ones. It’s so popular I had to wait a month or so to get it from the library.

Evvie lives in Maine and is able to escape an abusive marriage only because her husband was killed in a car accident. Her struggle to start over and find a new life is rough even after baseball player, Dean appears in the small town. He developed the yips so he’s also looking for a way to start over. Their romance takes over the story here.

Evvie Drake is a very fast read. Not much depth to the characters, the setting or anything else. I liked all the Maine parts and especially the lobsta but even that didn’t always ring true to me. If you want a quick light summer love story, this one will fill the bill. If you’re looking for something with more depth, look elsewhere. I give it a three star rating.

Philadelphia Freedom!

I just returned from a little vacation in Philadelphia. That’s me and the Liberty Bell. There is so much to see and learn in the city, we didn’t have enough time to do it all.

There is an entire museum dedicated to the Constitution. I could have spent three days there. Another is the The Museum of the American Revolution. They have the tent George Washington used as his headquarters during the war. Goose bumps! We didn’t have time to go into Independence Hall or see Betsy Ross’s house or many of the science, art and history museums Philly is famous for.

In the 1950’s the city passed a law saying all new buildings in the city had to designate 1% of their footprint to art. Art is everywhere! And it’s beautiful. We went into what is now Macy’s and once Wanamaker’s, to hear the worlds largest pipe organ being played. Amazing!

My point here is that there is so much about the birth of our nation that I don’t know. Our freedom has always been a struggle and will continue to be. In the end however, it’s a struggle worth fighting for. If you can’t get to Philadelphia, read a book about the founding of our country and how we got to where we are today. I’m all into the books because knowledge is power.

But here is the real reason for our trip and why understanding what is required of us as Americans is so important. That’s me and Richard and our great grandson, Carson.

Deedee Divine’s Totally Skewed Guide to Life by Diana Estill

I’m a fan of Erma Bombeck and every two years I enter the essay contest in her name. I always think I have the perfect entry but I never win. So when I came across Deedee Divine I thought I’d get some tips. Plus it turns out the author is married to a guy I went to high school with while growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland.

Deedee Divine is a woman I can relate to. She’s sixty something, in a long term marriage, facing retirement and above all, finds life flat out funny. Deedee’s husband goes out of town on business and she’s lost in a grocery store searching for her dinner. So many options, it’s overwhelming. What I wouldn’t give to be able to eat something gooey and fattening that I bought for myself with no one looking over my shoulder. If that ever happened, I’d find the grocery store overwhelming too.

Every married couple can understand the farting scene. Deedee’s was over the top hysterical. You’ll have to read it yourself, I’m not going to spill the beans. LOL!

But there’s one thing that Deedee needs to learn. She’s from Texas and may not be versed in the same winter sports as those of us from Cleveland. Your husband is correct when it comes to ice skating because all of us who grew up in Cleveland definitely know how to ice skate. We all had our very own pair of skates and learned to glide on a frozen pond, no fancy indoor rink. And as far as I can remember, no one fell through the ice. (You’ll have to read the book to understand this joke!)

Deedee is funny, in the style of Erma Bombeck but she’s hip and current. If Deedee has a skewed view of life then I do too. It’s a laugh a minute!