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!

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.