Connie A Thompson

Tag Archives: She Reads

Review of The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

9781616203214_p0_v2_s260x420Sometimes you find a book that remains with you long after you’ve read the last page. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin is one of those books. You’ll want to tell your friends about it. I think you’ll find it is one of those books that beckons to be read more than once.

I have to admit when I first saw the cover and title, I wasn’t intrigued. And yet, once I read that first page, I tumbled into the world of A.J. Fikry and the characters that frequent the bookstore of Alice Island.

A.J. is a grieving widower. Sales in his bookstore are suffering from the lack of his late wife’s enigmatic personality and the rising popularity of e-readers. A.J. has one treasure possession, one that will save him, offer him an alternative life, free him of the bookstore. He owns a rare and precious original copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s poetry. One night he feels sorry for himself, drinks too much, and takes his treasured copy from its safe. The next morning, it is gone.

Changes are coming for A.J. He finds a toddler left alone in his store. She is brilliant. He can’t bear to turn her over to social services. Can a self-absorbed widower adopt? He begins to connect with the people in the town. He reads a memoir suggested by a literary rep, and is surprised to find himself absorbed in the story. They begin to talk. It doesn’t hurt that she’s easy on the eyes. A.J. He invites the author to speak at his bookstore. He hasn’t had an author visit since his wife died.

Each chapter opens with A.J.’s thoughts on a book. How better to understand someone than by knowing what they read.

The cover and title may not grab you, but the story will. I encourage you to pick up a copy today. Join us over at www.shereads.org where we will be blogging about the book. There will also be giveaways.

Review of Ariel Lawhon’s The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress

wifemaidmistress1The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon is the story of three women bound together through one man, Justice Joseph Crater. Stella is his wife, Ritzi the mistress, and Maria the maid. The story is revealed through each woman’s point of view.

One sultry night Joe Crater doesn’t return home. His wife knows of his infidelity and so does the maid. The mistress has her own secrets. The police are searching for the missing judge, who was known to frequent Club Abbey, a gathering spot for mobsters, showgirls, and corrupt politicians. Joe Crater had a taste for liquor, women, and prestige. Rumor has it his appointment as a judge came with a price rather than diligence and hard work.

Most of the narrative takes place in 1930 thru 1931. It begins and ends in Club Abbey in 1969 where all the secrets are revealed including just what happened to the honorable Joseph Crater, his wife, his mistress, and the maid.

Stella, the wife just wants a husband, who loves her and forsakes all others.

Ritzi wants to be a star on Broadway. The only way to get there is through Owney Madden, owner of Club Abbey and the man who can make things happen, although his assistance comes with a hefty price.

Maria is happily married to Jude Simon, a New York Police Detective. Maria has defied her Catholic father and married an agnostic. She works as a maid in the morning for the Crater’s and as a seamstress in the evening. More than anything Maria wants a baby, but at 32 she remains barren.

The novel begins with a little bit of intrigue, a hint of mystery and scandal that this simple meeting between acquaintances that once would have made the front page of the newspaper. Lawhon gives you a little taste and then plunges you back in time to before the mystery began, when Joe was just a husband coming home to his unhappy wife.

I couldn’t help but like these three women. I cheered them on. I cringed at their mistakes. I reveled in their bravery. I couldn’t put the book down.

I actually spent Saturday night reading a book while my sweet husband enjoyed one of those shows he loves. I woke up at four in the morning thinking about poor Ritzi. I couldn’t wait for the Sunday afternoon football pre-game so that I could return to the world of Stella, Ritzi, and Maria. I’m a reader not a sports fan, although I do love the Super Bowl commercials.

About the cover. I love the color, a beautiful coral color with gold stripes and thin black lettering. The black and white image is alluring. I’m drawn to the cover. I wanted to pick it up and see what the book is about. After reading, I wish the image on the cover was of three women rather than a single woman.

The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress is the She Reads selection for February. Join us there all month where there will be interviews with the authors, reviews by bloggers, a twitter chat, and some great giveaways. If you’re new to She Reads be sure to sign up for their newsletter.

I gave the novel 5 stars on Good Reads.

 

 

 

 

 

Review of Jennie Shortridge’s Love Water Memory

love-water-memory-pb-225Imagine finding yourself knee-deep in the chilly water of the San Francisco Bay. You don’t know your name, where you’re from, or why you’re there. There are no visible signs of injury, no identification, only a strange small scar. You are taken to a hospital.

A handsome man appears to say he is your fiancé. He has come to take you home. The hospital staff believe him, and he takes you home.

You keep searching for clues. You know things about decorating, designs, multitudes of facts, and yet you can’t remember your name.

You eat candy; your fiancé tells you that you don’t like candy. There’s a piano. Do you play? He’s never heard you play.

Your fiancé seems kind, but is there something he is hiding, something he isn’t telling, something you can’t remember. Why did you run away? You left to try on wedding dresses, and you never came home.

Love Water Memory is told through three viewpoints: Lucie, Grady, and Helen. Lucie suffers from amnesia. The doctors aren’t sure why. They suspect an incident triggered it, but since Lucie can’t remember and Grady isn’t talking—nobody knows. Helen is Lucie’s estranged aunt and Grady tries to protect Lucie from her. The old Lucie wouldn’t talk about her childhood, her parents, or her aunt. Her parents are dead and Helen may be the only one who has the key to why Lucie has chosen to forget.

Will Lucie ever remember who she was? She’s not sure she wants to. The old Lucie doesn’t have any friends. All the old Lucie did was to work ferociously as a headhunter and run.

This new Lucie makes friends, she likes who she is, and yet her past haunts her. She knows she’ll never find peace or be able to marry Grady until she remembers. And when she does remember, will she still want to marry Grady?

Love Water Memory is an engaging story that explores identity and how much our past impacts our present. It is a wonderful diversion for a cold January day.

Love Water Memory by Jennie Shortridge is the She Reads selection for January.

Review: The Perfume Collector

Le droit de choisir — every woman should have the right to choose.

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Grace Munroe is surprised when a Parisian attorney contacts her informing her that she is the sole heir to the estate of Madame Eva d’Orsey. At first Grace believes it is merely a case of mistaken identity.

Grace is married and childless. Children are not part of her future. Her husband travels for business frequently. Grace is not like other women. She doesn’t much care for fashion or hairstyles. She is intrigued with numbers and patterns. And yet her friend, Mallory persists on taking Grace out and to parties and events forcing her to engage with others. And it is at one of these parties that Grace learns her husband might be having an affair. Paris seems to be just the answer, a diversion from the reality of her life.

Grace boards an aeroplane for Paris, which is quite an adventure given that it is 1955 and her beloved England is still recovering from the war.

In Paris,  she expects to find answers. Who is Madame d’Orsey and why did she leave her fortune to Grace? The handsome lawyer takes her around town introducing her to French cuisine. She meets people who knew the late Madame, but all refuse to speak of her.

The story is told through two characters, Eva and Grace. We meet Eva as a fourteen-year-old orphan, who gains employment with a prestigious hotel in New York. Working with the alcoholic Rita, it does not take young Eva long to realize that this is not the life she wishes to lead. She takes chances. She’s exploited. She finds a way out of the dismal life she was destined to lead.

Grace is an aristocratic woman. Her father died when she was young. Her mother died in the bombings. She lived with an uncle and now she’s married. She seems to lead the perfect life, but something is missing.

Grace is on a quest to discover who Eva was and why she would leave her such a fortune. Grace is excited by the mystery, but as secrets are revealed, Grace isn’t sure she wants to know the truth.

The Perfume Collector is the kind of story that envelops you transporting you to other worlds and other lives. It is storytelling at its best.

The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro is the August selection of She Reads. Please join us at She Reads for blog posts, reviews, discussions, giveaways, recipes,  and a wine pairing.

Back for seconds with CALLING ME HOME by Julie Kibler

I’m an avid reader. I can devour a book easily in a weekend or less, and of course this happens either because I have free time that weekend and/or the book is just too good to put down. I will admit that I try to pace myself now. A really good book is like dessert, I try to savor it, enjoy it, and take my time. But if I didn’t, and it was that good and I devoured it, I’ll read it again.

It makes me think of a cruise I was on several years ago. The first night at dinner, they offered us Chocolate Lava Cake. It was delicious, a miniature cake filled with hot chocolate. The next night, they offered it again, and I ordered it again. I had it every night for four nights. When the final night of the cruise came, they had something special for us, Baked Alaska. I was disappointed, it was our last night, and I wanted the Chocolate Lava Cake. Well on a cruise, you can have just about anything you want and our waiter had the foresight to make sure that I also had Chocolate Lava Cake. It was delicious. I savored every morsel, taking the tiniest bites.

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That is how a great book is for me. I know the story, I know what to expect, and even though I’m prepared and I know how the story ends, I savor every word. My book club will be discussing Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler tonight. I’m so excited because Julie will be joining us via Skype.

Calling Me Home was the She Reads book of the month for February. It has also been optioned by Hollywood. We’re really interested to see whom Hollywood casts.

Are there any books that you’ve read more than once?