The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

I am fan of Amor Towles so I wanted to be first in line to read his latest novel. I absolutely loved A Gentleman in Moscow and read Rules of Civility twice I liked it so much. So I was anxious to dig into The Lincoln Highway.

When Emmett returns home from juvenile detention after the death of his father, the only thing left is his little brother, Billy. His father’s farm has been foreclosed. He and Billy decide to go in search of their long ago disappeared and absent mother. But two of his friends, Wooly and Duchess who hitched a ride in the trunk of the warden’s car, throw a wrench in those plans.

The story is set in the nineteen fifties and is centered around taking a trip on the Lincoln Highway that stretched from Times Square in New York City to San Francisco. I was ready for a nostalgic road trip. That was far from what I got. This book is full of uninteresting characters who decide to search for a different life. And very little time is spent driving on the Lincoln Highway.

I wanted to love this book so much. Some parts were cleverly written and others dragged on until I felt a little nauseous. When I start to skim, the story is in trouble. I’ve found this time and time again. Authors who have great success are pressured by their publishing houses to churn out new best sellers as quickly as they can. Usually by the third or fourth book, they have lost their way with the written word and their magical ability to tell a good story. They sell books to unsuspecting readers like me based solely on their good name.

I’m still searching for that book that will steal my heart. I had hoped it would be The Lincoln Highway but sadly it was not.

Hacked! again!

I’m seriously considering dropping out of social media. My Facebook Account has been hacked again! Arrgh! With every hack I get an onslaught of texts and messages from my friends to tell me they received a friend request from me. I’m so appreciative since I might not know about it otherwise. But why does this keep happening?

I’m an author and I’m trying to build a platform that every agent and publisher tells me I need to have. I’m not that social media savvy so every time I think I’m making some progress on my platform, the hack shuts me down. Social media may be the wave of the future but it’s only serving to frustrate me on multiple levels making me want to swear off it for good.

I have a Twitter account that I look at sometimes. But I can’t turn off the tweets I get from Alexandria Ocasio Cortez. I don’t really need to know what she has to say. And Savannah Guthrie. Now I like Savannah but after I watch her every morning on the Today show, I don’t need to talk to her any more for the day. All the rest of the people on my Twitter feed are not saying anything interesting either so that’s why I don’t check it very often. The Twitter followers aren’t reading my book.

On Instagram, I constantly get friend requests from men I don’t know. When I don’t respond, they usually send a nasty gram. Maybe they are the ones who out of spite hack into my FB account. I guess they think a 66 year old woman is hot. I doubt they are buying or reading my book either.

I have a lot of great friends from high school, college and workplaces on Facebook. I love keeping in touch with them. The aggravation of simply being on FB is driving me away. I don’t think a short sabbatical is going to improve my mindset when it comes to social media. I also don’t want to lose touch with all my dear friends that took so long to find again. I’m caught in a Catch -22. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Arggghhh.

Beneath a Scarlet sky by mark sullivan

For those of you who read my previous post, I’ve been struggling to find a decent book to read lately. This is next month’s book club pick because others I know have raved about it.

I’ve read many WWII historical fiction novels lately. I love this time period and genre. Every time I read a new book on this topic, I learn something about that time period that I didn’t know before. That’s the joy of reading, isn’t it? In Beneath a Scarlet Sky, I also learned some things. This story is set in Italy during the war and I’ve not found many books of this time set in that country. This is also a fictionalized account of a true story. Pino Lella, the main character is a real guy and this is his story.

While the story was interesting the story telling was not. I found this book to be a whole lot of telling the reader what is going on instead of showing us and letting the reader picture the true face of war in their imaginations. The poor writing left this story gasping for air. When I start skimming, I know I’m in trouble.

This book has so much hype and is being made into a movie. As a writer, again I’m dumbfounded as to how this book became a best seller. As an author who dreams of this kind of success, I might have set too high a standard for myself. Do I have to settle for a book, poorly written? Has the intelligence of the reader sunk to these kinds of lows?

I hope there are books out there that are interesting, engaging, funny, emotional, waiting for me to enjoy them. But right now I’m struggling to find one worth my time.

Surviving Savannah by Patti Callahan

I’m planning a little road trip up the east coast the Savannah and Charleston so I decided to immerse myself in some books about the region. Surviving Savannah has appeared in so many book lists lately, I figured I should read it to get some southern flavor. Although I live in Florida, it’s not really “southern” here. It’s rare to find a Florida native these days with so many northerners now living in the state.

I thought I was going to love this book at first, a mix of history with a present day story. But what ended up happening for me, was the historical parts dealing with the sinking of the ship, Pulaski, were interesting and engaging. The present day story of a woman curating an exhibit on the Pulaski turned out to be a whole lot of nothing. I started skimming those pages to get back to the good parts.

I admit that as a writer, I sometimes am very critical of a book that may be a perfectly good story, I just can’t overlook the errors in the craft of writing. My sister has the same issue and started taking notes in order to keep track of the characters as they enter and exit the story. I think taking notes while reading is distracting. We decided maybe we’re getting old and writing styles are changing for a new generation of readers. That may be very true but what’s going to be left for me to read and enjoy if no one cares about writing to engage me and my generation of voracious readers?

There was so much hype for Surviving Savannah and this book didn’t deserve it. With so much meaningless yada, yada, yada, I learned very little about Savannah. I’m not old and I’m not being over critical. I truly tried to keep an open mind since I wanted to learn about this piece of history. This is not a book that was worth the time I invested in reading it. Now I’m back to the drawing board to find a book that can satisfy my yearning for Southern charm.

Shakespeare Saved my Life by Laura Bates

As hard as I try to read all the books on my Kindle, frankly I just don’t think that will ever happen. I’m too often tempted by books I see on Facebook or magazines and the ever popular celebrity book clubs. This time I logged into my local library website and this book popped up, Shakespeare Saved My Life. The description intrigued me.

I know very little about Shakespeare even though I consider myself fairly well read. Laura Bates taught Shakespeare in a solitary confinement unit in a prison. Prisons are something I know even less about so I saw the combination of the two as a learning opportunity.

Many Shakespeare plays are about murder, something many of these inmates could relate to. Dr. Bates taught the classes without seeing her students except through the small hole in the cell door where meals were passed through. One student in particular, embraced Shakespeare and because of his studies brought himself out of his darkness and began to set new goals for himself and his life behind bars.

The role of society as a whole played a large part in this story. But the most enlightening part was that of the prisoners. Not only has society failed them but they have failed themselves because they were not taught certain skills. And believe it or not Shakespeare and his plays to this day, held the power to help them change their lives even as they lived behind bars. Hats off to Dr. Bates for her work in the prison system and for sharing this story with the world.

# Spreadkindness

Last night, while in bed in that twilight between waking and sleeping, tucked between the cozy sheets with Pepper snuggled up against me, two words came into my mind and refused to leave. Spread kindness. I mulled them around trying to figure out what they were meant to tell me.

Next the image of bread heavily spread with peanut butter came to mind. Then thick pads of butter on a slice of golden brown toast. Next were the words, thank you. I read several books lately about the Holocaust and I’m having a difficult time wrapping my mind around how people became so evil. With all the hate that is swirling around in the world today, how do we stop from falling into the depths of toxic hate ever again?

Spread kindness.

I wipe the tears from my eyes as I watch the fallen service members from the Kabul attack return home.

Spread kindness.

Smile. Say thank you. Give a hug to someone who needs it. Wear a mask. Get a vaccine. Leave a tip to your server. Take a meal to an overworked health care worker. Do whatever is needed to help a friend, a family member and especially a stranger who may be lonely or in pain or simply struggling to make ends meet.

Like spreading that peanut butter on a slice of bread, slather it on thick. Do it daily, wherever you may find yourself. Turn it into your habit. One thing I know for certain is that kindness is contagious. Let’s spread kindness letting it embrace everyone we meet and everything we do. It’s a start.

#spreadkindness

Happy No Hurricane Birthday

It has become my tradition to post a hurricane warning on my birthday which happens to fall at the peak of hurricane season. This year however, miraculously, there are no hurricanes in danger of making a landfall anywhere in my area. Woo Hoo!

That got me to thinking about things I’m grateful for as I make my next trip around the sun.

I’m grateful for the sun, the moon and the stars.

I’m grateful for Richard and Pepper.

I’m grateful for the change of seasons.

I’m grateful for family and friends who for me, come in a variety of flavors and who live in a variety of far away places.

I’m grateful for good health and the doctors and nurses that help to keep me that way.

I’m grateful for books to read.

I’m grateful for words to write with.

I ‘m grateful for home.

I’m grateful for all the people, places and things that didn’t fit on this list.

I’m grateful for life.

Happy birthday to me.

Where Have I Been??

I blew caution to the wind and set out into the world once again. I drove around the state of Michigan before landing in Ohio to visit, friends, family and sorority sisters. I had a blast! It felt so good to be out in the open again. I will say however, things out there have changed. Some for the better, some not.

I prefer no one cleaning my hotel room. Being a little bit of a germaphobe, I always hid my toothbrush from the housekeeper. Now I don’t have to. Being on a road trip, I usually would stop when nature called at the nearest McDonalds and grab something to eat while I was at it. No more. Only the drive in is open in most fast food restaurants due to lack of workers, which caused a lot of wasted vacation time just to find a restroom. Amazingly enough, however, I never had to open the carefully packed bag of masks I put in the car just in case. That changed the minute I came back home when the Delta variant raised its ugly head.

What I had plenty of time for on my well needed rest and relaxation was time to read. Even though yesterday I downloaded five new books on my Kindle, I only have 6 pages of titles to choose from. I read a lot! And it was heaven!

I’ve been busy enjoying life once again. I hope you have been too!

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

I haven’t written a book review in quite some time, opting instead for slices of life in the time of a pandemic. Not sure which you like reading about more but in the case of this particular book, American Dirt, I simply couldn’t not write about it.

Our country is divided these days on many fronts, and American Dirt, focuses on immigration and the migrants coming across the border with Mexico. For me, this is the most important book I will read this year.

Lydia has witnessed the murder of her entire family at the hands of a cartel. Everything she lived for is gone. Except for her son, Luca. Her fierce protection of him drives her to keep them both alive at all costs. The journey they now face to safety is far more than simply dangerous. Their lives will be forever changed no matter how the story ends.

Their journey to the United States is one that will keep the reader on the edge of her seat and the blood pounding through her veins. The things that are revealed on these pages with forever alter the way you view our immigration crises. American Dirt is a beautifully crafted story and one you won’t be able to put down or soon forget.