Saturday, July 6, 2019

The Mother's Promise

Fiction by Sally Hepworth

Alice Stanhope is a single mother of Zoe, an emotionally fragile teenager. She has no other family, besides an alcoholic brother she can't possibly depend on. Zoe's father is "not in the picture," and Alice has very few friends. So when Alice is diagnosed with cancer, it falls to a kind nurse and a hospital social worker to "support" her, which they do with varying degrees of helpfulness. 

(For example, it was helpful to answer Alice's phone during chemo and try to straighten things out with Zoe's school. It was NOT helpful to have Zoe forced into foster care while Alice was having surgery.)

This was a really good book!

I also read recently by this author: The Secrets of Midwives

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The Readymade Thief

Fiction by Augustus Rose.

Lee is an eighteen-year-old girl all alone in the world, and she is indeed a thief. Only some of her many troubles are her own fault, and her story is quite absorbing.

I really liked this book most of the time, but some of it was hard to understand. It seemed to keep trying to be an intellectual story, or a puzzle story, when really it worked best as a character story, I thought.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Two Weeks

Fiction by Karen Kingsbury.

In this story we have a high-school girl who finds her college plans threatened by an unexpected pregnancy, a super-nice boy who falls for her, and a young couple who have been unsuccessfully trying to conceive a baby for years. Hmmm.. can we guess where this might go?

This was a pretty good story, but a little too predictable.

As a side note, this book features characters from the Baxter family, introduced many years ago in Karen Kingsbury's early books. I give the whole list of that series in the post about the book Coming Home. But you don't have to know all those stories to understand this one.

I also read recently by this author: Brush of Wings

Sunday, June 30, 2019

Sole Survivor

Fiction by Dean Koontz.

This story begins with Joe Carpenter, a broken man. Joe's wife and young daughters were killed in a terrible plane crash one year before, leaving him with nothing to do but wait to die and join them. He's alienated all his friends, stopped going to work, and lives in a dingy apartment furnished with only a mattress on the floor. But then Joe gets a tiny ray of hope: maybe somebody did survive the crash after all. And could that person be one of his loved ones?

This was an exciting thriller with an unexpected ending. You do have to keep an open mind about the weird turns the plot takes...

I also read recently by this author:  The Forbidden Door/ The Night Window

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Regulars

Fiction by Georgia Clark.

Evie, her best friend Willow, and her roommate Krista are single girls in the city, always on the lookout for good prospects in work and love. All three are not really succeeding in this: Evie has an job at a magazine that she hates but is afraid to lose, and manages to quickly wreck things with a great dating prospect in chapter one. Willow is tentatively trying to break into the art world, and has a quite nice boyfriend she seems to keep at arm's length. And Krista is the most self-sabotaging of the three; she's an aspiring actress who can't seem to make it to auditions on time and runs through unsuitable boyfriends at top speed.

All three young women think they have found the answer to their problems when they are given--wait for it!-- a magic potion called "pretty." Will it actually make them prettier? More successful? Happier? Read and find out!

This was a fun story with--ummm-- a little more graphic sex (some of it non-heterosexual) than I usually prefer. But still, it's an interesting read.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019


Nonfiction by Tara Westover.

Well, this must be memoir month for me! This is the fourth one I've read recently.

I borrowed this from my sister-in-law, who assured me it was really good, although the brief synopsis-- "a story of a woman's educational journey" --sounded terrible. Fortunately, it was not terrible.

This story, like The Sound of Gravel, was about a girl growing up in a crazy fringe-group-Mormon family. But Tara's father was not a polygamist; he was just a paranoid fundamentalist who wanted to live off the grid. Tara's family was afraid of being under the government's control, which meant avoiding many things, such as schools and doctors. Tara and her siblings were "homeschooled," which to her mom and dad meant, "taught to read and then put to work."

Just like the other pair of similar memoirs I just read (All at Sea and Happiness) I couldn't help comparing these two books as well. So this story was good, but not quite as good as the other one.

(By the way, I'm aware that normal Mormons are not like Tara's or Ruthie's family, any more than normal Christians are like the crazies who protest soldiers' funerals. All the real Mormons I've ever met are perfectly nice folks.)

Sunday, June 23, 2019

The Sound of Gravel

Nonfiction by Ruth Wariner.

This was a really good memoir! Ruthie was born in a polygamist colony in Mexico, the 39th of her father's 42 children. Her father was killed shortly after her birth over a religious dispute-- the murderer, her uncle, was dubbed the "Mormon Manson"-- but her mother married right back into another polygamist family in the group, making Ruthie the fourth (I think!) of her mother's eventual ten children.

This story is well-told and really makes you understand what went on in this rather crazy family.