Sunday, March 11, 2018

Not Perfect: My Review

Not Perfect: A Novel by [LaBan, Elizabeth]

About the Book:

Tabitha Brewer wakes up one morning to find her husband gone, leaving her no way to support herself and their two children, never mind their upscale Philadelphia lifestyle. She’d confess her situation to her friends—if it wasn’t for those dreadful words of warning in his goodbye note: “I’ll tell them what you did.”

Instead, she does her best to keep up appearances, even as months pass and she can barely put food on the table—much less replace a light bulb. While she looks for a job, she lives in fear that someone will see her stuffing toilet paper into her handbag or pinching basil from a neighbor’s window box.

Soon, blindsided by catastrophe, surprised by romance, and stunned by the kindness of a stranger, Tabitha realizes she can’t keep her secrets forever. Sooner or later, someone is bound to figure out that her life is far from perfect.

My Comments:

I guess it is easy to say that "I'd never do that" when you've never been in someone else's shoes, and I'll never be in Tabitha's shoes--if my husband ever left me, I have a job that will pay the basic bills around here and keep food on the table--but I can't imagine every doing what Tabitha did, and maybe that's why I never quite liked this book.  Here is this woman with a degree from a fancy school who has been a stay at home mom and wife to a well-paid lawyer.  They have all the trappings of their upper-middle class lifestyle, including private school for the kids, and a love for gourmet food.

After months she realizes that her husband isn't coming back and that she has no money and so she looks for a job, and is given one, albeit one she didn't apply for and is probably not well-paid.  Does she keep it, and keep looking, figuring some money is better than none?  No, she just continues in her angst-filled self-pitying world and avoids anyone who might be able to help her.  She steals basil from the neighbor's window boxes and toilet paper from friends but instead of selling her husband (presumeably expensive) cuff links she gives them away.  

Then there are the other characters.  One is an old woman who offers Tabitha pot-laced candy and who makes it easy for Tabitha to "borrow" money she needs by leaving it laying about the house.  The other is a man Tabitha meets at Stuart's alumni function who realizes she is an imposter (not an alumna) who becomes the new love interest in her life--and don't get me started on Stuart.  They all just seemed strange, not realistic at all.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.  I read the second half of the book at a pace between face and skimming so maybe I missed something, but I'm giving this one a "C", and hope that others enjoy it more than I did.  

Friday, February 02, 2018

Things to Do When It Is Raining: My Review

About the Book:

Mae Summers and Gabe Broadbent grew up together in the idyllic Summers’ Inn, perched at the edge of the St. Lawrence River. Mae was orphaned at the age of six and Gabe needed protection from his alcoholic father, so both were raised under one roof by Mae’s grandparents, Lilly and George. Their childhood friendship quickly developed into a first love—a love that was suddenly broken by Gabe’s unexpected departure. Mae grew up, got over her heartbreak and started a life for herself in New York City.

After more than a decade, Mae and Gabe find themselves pulled back to Alexandria Bay. Hoping to find solace within the Summers’ Inn, Mae instead finds her grandparents in the midst of decline with their past unraveling around her. A lifetime of secrets stands in the way of this unconventional family’s happiness. Will they be able to reclaim the past and come together, or will they remain separate islands?

From the bestselling author of Mating for Life comes a powerful story about guilt, forgiveness and the truth about families: that we can choose them, just as we choose to love.

My Comments:

This is one of those books that I can see other people enjoying a lot more than I did.  It is the story of four couples--Lilly and George, Lilly and Everett, Virginia (Lilly's daughter) and Chase and Mae (Virginia's daughter) and Gabe.  In some ways it may have been the story of Jonah (Gabe's father) and Virgina as well.  It is a story of love, of secrets and of pain.  It is the story of the end of life and the story of new life.  It takes place in different timelines and at first it is hard to follow how it all fits together.

Unfortunately, I never connected with the characters or felt real empathy for them.  While I finished the book, I was glad to be done. 

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade;  B-

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Review: Sisters Like Us

Sisters Like Us (Mischief Bay) by [Mallery, Susan]

About the Book:

Divorce left Harper Szymanski with a name no one can spell, a house she can't afford and a teenage daughter who's pulling away. With her fledgling virtual-assistant business, she's scrambling to maintain her overbearing mother’s ridiculous Susie Homemaker standards and still pay the bills, thanks to clients like Lucas, the annoying playboy cop who claims he hangs around for Harper's fresh-baked cookies.

Spending half her life in school hasn't prepared Dr. Stacey Bloom for her most daunting challenge—motherhood. She didn't inherit the nurturing gene like Harper and is in deep denial that a baby is coming. Worse, her mother will be horrified to learn that Stacey's husband plans to be a stay-at-home dad…assuming Stacey can first find the courage to tell Mom she's already six months pregnant.

Separately they may be a mess, but together Harper and Stacey can survive anything—their indomitable mother, overwhelming maternity stores and ex’s weddings. Sisters Like Us is a delightful look at sisters, mothers and daughters in today’s fast-paced world, told with Susan Mallery’s trademark warmth and humor.

My Comments:

If you can get over the fact that the main characters all come across as caricatures, this isn't a bad read.  Harper feels guilty for not making fresh pasta (you know the kind you make with flour and ...I don't know,,, I did it once, definitely didn't think it was worth the trouble and she always layers the table cloths and place mats on her table to create a coordinated look.  She's beyond Suzy Homemaker but now that she is trying to run a business, she just doesn't have time for all that anymore.  

Lucas is Harper's age but dates the twenty year old airhead of the week--but is becoming more and more a part of Harper's life every day.  Where do you think this is going?

Stacey is the stereotypical science nerd.  She just doesn't "get" so many social things, but she marries a kind nurturing man who wants a baby, so she obliges, and is then terrified that she won't love her baby.  Stacey and her husband take in his nephew, who is eighteen.  When Stacey learns he is dating her niece, she gives him the condom talk--and then tells him how he needs to stimulate a woman to orgasm, but the scene comes off not as erotic but as a sadly funny reflection of Stacey's lack of social skills. 

Clearly this book is far more about the characters than about the plot line, which is pretty is obvious from the beginning.  Still, it was an enjoyable and relaxing read, so I'll give it a B. 

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.

Monday, January 08, 2018

Review: A History of the Church in 100 Objects

A History of the Church in 100 Objects by [Aquilina, Mike, Aquilina, Grace]

About the Book:

The star of Bethlehem exemplifies the birth of Jesus, the Wittenberg Door is synonymous with the Protestant Reformation, and “the pill” symbolizes the sexual revolution. It’s “stuff” that helps tell the story of Christianity.

In this unique, rich, and eye-catching book, popular Catholic author and EWTN host Mike Aquilina tells the Christian story through the examination of 100 objects and places. Some, like Michelangelo's Pietà, are priceless works of art. Others, like a union membership pen, don’t hold much monetary value. But through each of them, Aquilina offers a memorable and rewarding look at the history of the Church.

When Catholics tell their story, they don’t just write it in books. They preserve it in memorials, monuments, artifacts, and museums. They build grand basilicas to house tiny relics.

In this stunning book, Aquilina, together with his writer-daughter Grace, show how the history of the Church didn’t take place shrouded in the mists of time. It actually happened and continues to happen through things that we can see and sometimes hold in our hand.

The Christian answer to Neil MacGregor's New York Times bestseller A History of the World in 100 Objects, Aquilina’s A History of the Church in 100 Objects introduces you to:
The Cave of the Nativity (the importance of history, memory, and all things tangible)
Catacomb niches (the importance of Rome, bones, and relics of the faith)
Ancient Map of the World (the undoing of myths about medieval science)
Stained Glass (representative of Gothic cathedrals)
The Holy Grail (Romance literature and the emergence of writing for the laity)
Loaves and fish (a link from Jesus to the sacrament of the Eucharist)
The Wittenberg Door (Martin Luther and the onset of the Reformation)
Each of these and the 93 other items and places in the book tell part of the Christian story. Each is an essential piece of the story of our salvation.

God makes himself known and accessible through material things, always accommodating himself to our condition. It is, after all, the condition he created for us—spiritual and material—and the form he assumed for our salvation.

My Comments:

We Catholics like our "stuff".  While the trend in church buildings in the 1960's and 1970's may have been minimalist and utilitarian, today's new churches tend to look like churches with stained glass, statues and a sanctuary with a tabernacle front and center. We are physical beings and our senses can bring us closer to God.

A History of the Church in 100 Objects uses pictures of our "stuff" as leadoffs for chapters on the history of our faith.  If you click the Amazon link above and page though the sample pages, you'll see that it is a beautiful book.  As a history buff and a Catholic I found it fascinating and learned some new stories (because what is history of not his (and her) story?  

Thanks to the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B+

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