lessons in chemistry by bonnie garmus

It’s been a long time since I read a book that was so fresh and different from many of the other books hanging around on my Kindle. Lessons in Chemistry is that book.

Elizabeth Zott is a chemist and a woman. In the 1950’s and 1960’s women were only housewives and occasionally a schoolteacher or secretary, but never a chemist. Chemical reactions drove her approach to everything in life. When the men at the chemistry lab where she worked wanted her to get their coffee instead of reading her lab reports, she quit.

By a fluke, she meets a man working at the local television station who had a time slot to fill and thought she’d be perfect for a cooking show. Elizabeth is quite beautiful, another reason no man takes her seriously. Thus Supper at Six was born. She taught the housewives of America how to be better cooks using chemistry. She also taught them that they had the power to drive their own lives and do what they dreamed their life could be.

There is much more to Elizabeth’s story, her daughter, Mad and neighbor Harriet included. What a reader needs to know is that as unusual as these characters are, the social issues they are all forced to deal with are those that all of us can relate to on some personal level. They have ups and down just like all of us. While Elizabeth may initially seem stiff and unapproachable, by the time the book is finished you will be cheering for her. Girl power rules!

Their eyes were watching god by Nora zeale hurston

Their Eyes Were Watching God is my November book club pick. I read it many years ago and didn’t really get it at that time. I find that if enough time has passed and I give a book a second chance, my opinion is very different.

When Ms. Hurston wrote this book in the 1930’s, the world was a very different place. While many things have changed since then, many things have not, in the world of a strong, independent black woman. She received much criticism when the book was published for pandering to white people by the way she described the lives of the black in rural Florida. The dialogue is written in dialect which for me was slow to read and comprehend, but added such rich flavor to the story overall.

Today I look at this book as a learning experience. It gives an inside view into the culture, oppression and often the joy of the lives of people I wouldn’t know if I didn’t explore the pages of a variety of books. Their Eyes Were Watching God is a classic for good reason. It deserves a second look.

erotic stories for punjabi widows by balli kaur jaswal

Based on the title of this book, a reader may think it’s going to be a fun filled adventure full of tintillating laughter. A lot of it is older, religious women making up stories of what they had hoped their sex lives would be. Most of the women had arranged marriages, some happy, some tolerable and others abusive. They were raised to believe that’s how it should be. They spent years dreaming of what their sex lives might be and relish the opportunity to express themselves.

Enter a younger, more modern woman who believes she has choices. When the two worlds collide both sides have much to learn from the other. When the “Brothers” from the temple find out what is happening in an English class, none of the women are safe. Word spreads quickly and the classroom has more and more students each week. While they may not be learning how to read and write English, they are learning how to stand up for themselves and each other.

Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows does have a funny side. The true message of the book however, is the treatment of women in society and the racism they experience for being who they are. This is a story that will bring a smile to your face and pain to your heart and hopefully, your mind will be opened.

The clover girls by viola Shipman

This book was waiting to be read on my Kindle, along with another hundred plus books I keep on the ready just incase I run out. I thought I had queued up a different title and was 25% of the way into The Clover Girls before I thought something was amiss. All you Kindle readers will know that the Kindle doesn’t show the book title at the top of the page like in a print book. This is certainly not the first time I had to go back and check on a title. But it was the first time I was so totally confused by the story I was reading.

The Clover Girls is the story of four women who spent their summers together at a camp in Northern Michigan. Camp made them fast friends and a four leaf clover made them the Clover Girls Forever. As they become adults however, their lives go in different directions and they lose touch.

The camp closed and has fallen into disrepair. One of the Clover Girls, Emily, purchases the camp shortly before she dies. She stipulates a condition that the remaining Clover Girls must spend a week together at the camp before making a decision on what should happen to the property.

This is a story of the love and pain that goes with being friends at any age. It is also the struggle of women to find themselves and their purpose in life. And as The Clover Girls show us, that is not easy at any age.

The Clover Girls is funny and sad and uplifting even though a bit mushy gushy at times. Women at any stage of their lives may read this story and see parts of themselves and their relationships with friends and family. We can never take each other for granted or lose sight of the power of kindness.

Reminders of Him by colleen hoover

All the reading and book sites on my Facebook feed lately have shown something about the author Colleen Hoover. Mostly they are taking about her latest Verity. Since I am 254 on the library waiting list, I thought I give a different title a try. I could get Reminders of Him immediately so that’s where I started.

This story is told in the voices of Kenna and Ledger. Kenna has been released from prison for her involvement in an accident that caused the death of her boyfriend, Scotty. She comes back to the town where his family lives to see her daughter, who she gave birth to in prison. The conflict begins when her eyes meet Ledger and sparks fly. Ledger turns out to be Scotty’s best friend.

The story started out fine but after awhile the back and forth between the voices of the two main characters became kind of boring. Their conversations seemed very much the same chapter to chapter. I wasn’t sure I wanted to finish or even find out what happened.

By the time I got to the end of the book however, I was bawling my eyes out. What I realized about the writing style is that as a reader, those two people who couldn’t keep their clothes on anytime they were together, had become fully formed and I knew them well. What I initially thought was repetitive, served to ingrain these people as living breathing human beings in my mind. I felt their struggle, their pain, their conflict. When they worked that all out, I was happy for them, really happy.

A story that can make me cry stays with me for a long time. I’ll have to hold onto the memory of Reminders of Him as I crawl my way up the waiting list for Ms. Hoover’s more recent release. No wonder she’s all social media is talking about.

This place of wonder by barbara o’neal

After hearing so many good things about this author, I took a chance on This Place of Wonder through my Kindle Unlimited account. This story is told through the eyes of three women all connected to one man, Augustus Beauvais, who has died. He is a well known chef and restauranteur.

Meadow is his ex wife. Their love connection by all accounts was spectacular. Maya is his daughter, who is left with plenty of baggage caused by her father. Norah is his most recent lover who is desperate to uncover Meadow’s secrets.

Secrets galore! They all have them. Meadow keeps her childhood close and is adamant that it is her story to tell, not anyone else’s. Maya came out of rehab when her father dies and every day is a struggle to stay sober. Norah is circling around, trying to stay undetectable, unable to relinquish Augustus’ charms.

I enjoyed this book about women all enraptured by one man. It is full of surprises to keep a reader guessing about the outcome. The one thing I’m not sure about is why the book is titled, This Place of Wonder. Some reviewers thought it meant life in general. While in the end, they all found a better place in life, their struggles were monumental and couldn’t be overcome in a day. To think they all were able to discard the baggage caused by their relationships and come to a place of wonder, is a stretch.

In any event, this is a story about women. It is a good story about the hands we are dealt through no fault of our own. It’s well worth the time to read it.

The Summer Cottage by Viola Shipman

In case you haven’t heard, here in Florida we had an unwelcome visitor. His name was Ian. Thankfully where I live, we had plenty of wind and rain but escaped devastating damage like on the west coast of the state.

While waiting for the storm to pass, with nothing to do, I read books. The Summer Cottage is a light, romantic story about a family and their devotion to a summer cottage on Lake Michigan. I have a thing about summers spent in cottages on lakes in the Midwest. Thanks to a wonderful family who took me in, summers spent with them at their lake cottage will always be close to my heart. It’s that experience that drew me to read a book titled The Summer Cottage.

Adie Lou is on a mission to reinvent herself after a painful divorce. Her family cottage needs a make over and she struggles to turn it into a bed and breakfast. Her grandparents had posted a set of rules for having fun by the front door, like wake up every day with a smile and go jump in the lake. When Adie Lou starts her transformation, she often found the rules difficult to follow. Her journey is filled with progress and set backs. And since this is a romance, she finds new friends and new love along the way.

The Summer Cottage was the perfect read to take my mind off the approaching storm. It’s light and fun and full of love. It took me back to my childhood, swimming, riding in boats and eating potato salad on the beach. If you’re missing summer fun, The Summer Cottage will have you longing for summer to come around once again.

Cuyahoga by Pete beatty

Cuyahoga is the most creative book I’ve read in a long time. It is myth, fable and legend about the marriage of two cities on opposite banks of the Cuyahoga River. Being from that area in Ohio, I loved all the tongue in cheek humor about Ohio and Cleveland. And of course, the Cuyahoga River catches on fire even though the story is set in the 1890’s.

The characters are rich and vibrant, their actions unpredictable. But be aware the writing style is unusual to say the least and will take some getting used to. If you are from Cleveland or Ohio you will be sure to enjoy this crazy tale set in a familiar place.

Time for a List!

It’s December so I’m starting to see all kinds of lists for best of this or worst of that. I’m going to add my two cents for all the books I’ve read this year. Goodreads tracks them for me and they say I’m ahead of schedule for 2021. That means I read a lot!

I became addicted to World War II stories surrounding the Holocaust. Those aren’t for everyone but I learned so much about things that happened in different parts of the world that I never learned in school. I found these stories fascinating.

When We Meet Again by Kristen Harmel – German POW’s were sent to Florida to work the sugar cane fields. Wrapped up with a love story and I couldn’t put it down.

The Alice Network by Kate Quinn – The power of women when the world said they were worthless is uplifting.

The Paris Library by Janet Skeslien Charles – A young woman in Paris defends her love of her dream job in the American library in Paris during German occupation.

I love to read books on a variety of topics so these are some others that need to be on your to read list.

The Secrets Between Us by Thrity Umrigar

West With Giraffes by Lynda Rockledge

Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Sprea

Firefly Lane by Kristen Hannah

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I Thought You Said This Would Work by Anne Garvin

That’s my list for 2021. I’m hoping 2022 turns out to be even better. Happy reading in the New Year!