Beth's Book-Nook Blog

Reviews of What I've Been Reading….

THE STORY OF ARTHUR TRULUV by Elizabeth Berg

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I think I’ve read everything that Elizabeth Berg has written and I’ve loved it all. Thus, I was excited to see that she had a new novel out and I could get it via Net Galley.

The Story of Arthur Truluv was a sweet and touching story that had me both laughing and crying. It reminded me a bit of “A Man Called Ove”, and I loved that novel as well.

Here’s the overview:

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I loved these characters so much, but especially Arthur. Elizabeth Berg has done it again, writing a beautiful novel with memorable characters and a resounding message.
Thank you for my review e-copy!
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For My Ears: ELEANOR OLIPHANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by Gail Honeyman

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So I had heard about this book as folks chatted about it in the blogisphere. Everyone seemed to love it, so I was immediately suspicious. I find that if everyone loooooves a book, I can’t stand it. Then I end up feeling rather clumsy and socially awkward, like something is wrong with me. However, I got this one with my audible credit and listened to it during my commute. At first I was wondering where it was going, but then I was drawn in and grew to love Eleanor and Raymond and Eleanor’s story. I ended up laughing and cheering and crying and generally being a possible road hazard. It was also delightfully read by Cathleen McCarron and I loved her accent.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

No one’s ever told Eleanor that life should be better than fine.

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.

But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

Smart, warm, uplifting, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine is the story of an out-of-the-ordinary heroine whose deadpan weirdness and unconscious wit make for an irresistible journey as she realizes…

The only way to survive is to open your heart.

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For My Ears: ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE by Elizabeth Strout

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I really loved OLIVE KITTERIDGE and I enjoyed MY NAME IS LUCY BARTON, so I knew I would like ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE. Elizabeth Strout is a master storyteller. She makes the ordinary extraordinary with her subtle emphasis on details. She creates and fleshes out characters like no other author; and she does it through simple prose. She is amazing.

Like her earlier books, it’s hard to describe her novels and make them sound amazing (or even interesting). This one tells the stories of people who touched the life of Lucy Barton. Sounds like a snooze fest, but it wasn’t. I laughed. I cried. I listened to it while commuting and I didn’t mind the drive! (It was superbly read by Kimberly Farr). I got mine through Audible. It will be one of my top books of 2018.

Here’s the overview:

An unforgettable cast of small-town characters copes with love and loss in this new work of fiction by number one best-selling author and Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout.

Recalling Olive Kitteridge in its richness, structure, and complexity, Anything Is Possible explores the whole range of human emotion through the intimate dramas of people struggling to understand themselves and others.

Here are two sisters: One trades self-respect for a wealthy husband while the other finds in the pages of a book a kindred spirit who changes her life. The janitor at the local school has his faith tested in an encounter with an isolated man he has come to help; a grown daughter longs for mother love even as she comes to accept her mother’s happiness in a foreign country; and the adult Lucy Barton (the heroine of My Name Is Lucy Barton, the author’s celebrated New York Times best seller) returns to visit her siblings after 17 years of absence.

Reverberating with the deep bonds of family and the hope that comes with reconciliation, Anything Is Possible again underscores Elizabeth Strout’s place as one of America’s most respected and cherished authors.

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Christmas on the Coast by Rebecca Boxall

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This was one of my many holiday reading picks from Net Galley this year. I really enjoyed this story that jumped between current day and WWII, as a woman reads her great-aunt diary.

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MERRY AND BRIGHT by Debbie Macomber

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It may be Thanksgiving, but if you know me, you know I love holiday stories. Bring on the happy endings! Debbie Macomber is an author you might already know, as she has several popular series of books. I follow Debbie online and she seems like not only a talented writer, but a genuinely nice person. Her stories are realistic but gentle and are the perfect choice when I feel stressed.

This story centers on a young woman who is hard-working and single – until her mother and brother set up an online dating account for her. Here’s the overview:

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This was such a fun story and so sweet. Yes, I knew where it was heading, but I wanted it to go there. People – believe me – we need as many happy endings as we can get these days!!
I received this book from Net Galley – thank you for my copy, Penguin Random House!
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LITTLE FIRES EVERYWHERE by Celeste Ng (Read by Jennifer Lim)

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From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture-perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town–and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster.

(from Amazon)

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Wow! I loved Celeste Ng’s first book, EVERYTHING I NEVER TOLD YOU, and I loved this one as well. What a great story. Ng has a way with words, and her prose paints such a vivid depiction of daily life. It’s all in the details.

This was a captivating story, which I listened to on my commute. You could see where things were headed and that disaster was looming on the horizons, but I just couldn’t stop listening. Devastating yet memorable, this was one of my fave books of 2017.

I got mine from Audible, and you can, too — or get it an your local favorite indie bookshop, online, or at the library!

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For My Ears: BEFORE WE WERE YOURS by Lisa Wingate – Read by Emily Rankin

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Wow! This story was recommended online in the blogisphere, and I thought I might enjoy it, but I was blown away by this story of a family torn apart and the young girl who tries to keep her siblings together against all odds.

Here’s the overview from Amazon:

Two families, generations apart, are forever changed by a heartbreaking injustice in this poignant novel, inspired by a true story, for fans of Orphan Train and The Nightingale.

Memphis, 1939. Twelve-year-old Rill Foss and her four younger siblings live a magical life aboard their family’s Mississippi River shantyboat. But when their father must rush their mother to the hospital one stormy night, Rill is left in charge – until strangers arrive in force. Wrenched from all that is familiar and thrown into a Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage, the Foss children are assured that they will soon be returned to their parents – but they quickly realize the dark truth. At the mercy of the facility’s cruel director, Rill fights to keep her sisters and brother together in a world of danger and uncertainty.

Aiken, South Carolina, present day. Born into wealth and privilege, Avery Stafford seems to have it all: a successful career as a federal prosecutor, a handsome fiancé, and a lavish wedding on the horizon. But when Avery returns home to help her father weather a health crisis, a chance encounter leaves her with uncomfortable questions and compels her to take a journey through her family’s long-hidden history, on a path that will ultimately lead either to devastation or to redemption.

Based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals – in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country – Lisa Wingate’s riveting, wrenching, and ultimately uplifting tale reminds us how, even though the paths we take can lead to many places, the heart never forgets where we belong.

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While these children weren’t real, this is based on true events, and you will be forever haunted at the shocking and terrible things that happened to poor families in the Depression and post-Depression era South. Normally I don’t like disturbing books centered on children, but this story was so compelling, and I loved the character of Rill so much, along with the fact that the present day protagonist was unraveling the mystery of the family tree, I just could not stop listening!

Beautifully narrated, it’s a story you won’t soon forget.

I used my audible credit for this one.

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SUGAR PINE TRAIL by RaeAnne Thayne

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Bring On the Christmas Novels and Romances!!

Oh, it’s my favorite time of year and the time I love to enjoy a light and happy read of folks finding love at Christmas. I have to be honest == I used to scoff at these type of books. True Confession! However, I told myself that I should not turn them away until I actually READ one (easy to be critical of things you don’t actually now about). I started reading them about ten years ago and I can’t tell you how happy they make me. Some times, in the stress of life, you just want to read a sweet book where you know that everything is not going to end up like the evening news. You can trust that there is going to be a happy ending. They make me smile.

So – this was the first one I read this year. I read it way back at the end of summer and read it in a day. It’s a true feel good story and I completely related to the main character as she was like me when I was single. I even had a list like she did. And yes, I met my husband right before Christmas time — and we’ve been married 15 years — my own happy ending! 🙂

Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for my e-copy!

Here’s the overview:

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THE TRICK by Emanuel Bergmann

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I read this novel at the end of summer and it was a treat. This was a at times humorous at times touching story of a young boy who wants to find a (basically) old, washed up magician, because he wants him to teach him how to keep two people (his parents) in love. It is sweet yet funny (the magician is rather cranky and is happy to take advantage of people), yet there is a twist to the story, too.

Moving between two time periods, the writing flows easily, and I read it in two days. I didn’t want to stop reading! They liken it to All the Light… and The Nightingale. Well – no. I’ve read both and they are not like this novel at all, except that they both do include WWII and All the Light has the young girl in it. This novel is much lighter with much more humor (though there are certainly serious moments, esp. in the section on WWII), and has a true feel good ending.

Thank you to the publisher and Net Galley for my e-copy!

Here’s the overview:

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WAIT FOR THE RAIN by Maria Murnane

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The very lovely Maria Murnane sent me an e-copy of her novel, WAIT FOR THE RAIN, along with her novel BRIDGES (reviewed here earlier). I chose to end my summer with it.

This is a realistic but feel-good story about a young woman getting herself back on her feet after going through a divorce:

From the author of the bestselling Waverly Bryson series.

Daphne White is staring down the barrel of forty—and is distraught at what she sees. Her ex-husband is getting remarried, her teenage daughter hardly needs her anymore, and the career she once dreamed about has somehow slipped from her grasp. She’s almost lost sight of the spirited and optimistic young woman she used to be.

As she heads off to a Caribbean island to mark the new decade with her best friends from college, Daphne’s in anything but the mood to celebrate. But when she meets Clay Hanson, a much younger man, she ignores her inner voice warning her that she’s too old for a fling. In fact, this tropical getaway might be the perfect opportunity to picture her future in a new sun-drenched light.

With the help of her friends, Daphne rediscovers her enthusiasm for life, as well as her love for herself—and realizes that her best years are still ahead.

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I think just about anyone can find something in common with one of these characters, who are quite believable. I couldn’t help but root for Daphne, and believe me – I know what she was going through.

Easy to read with a realistic but fun plot and likable characters, both WAIT FOR THE RAIN and BRIDGES are winners for me.

Thank you, Maria, for sharing your novels with me!

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