Tag Archives: book club suggestions

Augustus Family Trilogy by Tamara Merrill

Reading and Writing

It isn’t that I haven’t been reading but it is that I’ve – surprise – actually spent more time writing Family Myths – the third book of the Augustus Family Trilogy than I have spent reading the last couple of weeks.  That, of course, doesn’t mean I  haven’t been reading at all it just means I haven’t read a book a day. So sad!

Besides working on the new book I’ve been “enjoying” a construction project at my home.  This has resulted in massive amounts of dust and dirt and the need to pour a glass of wine for myself the moment the workers leave for the day and then binge watch Six Feet Under.  Hmmm. That might not be exactly what I meant because some times the workers get here at 11 AM and are gone by 1PM.  I always wait for the wine until I’m done fretting about the day’s progress.

Enough about nothing…here’s the new list of what I’ve read recently. Hope you find something you like.

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova – by the author of Still Alice – Genova takes a look a another devastating disease. Huntington’s Disease is a genetic mutation and if you are unfortunate enough to inherit the mutated gene it is 100% certain you will die from the disease. This a warm, wonderful, loving look at a family and their responses to the terrible news that the father has been diagnosed. It will make you laugh and cry and examine your reactions both to those who are “different” and to how you handle the difficult. *****

Saving Grace by Jane Green – a quick read.  I’d call this one “chick lit”.  The plot is one we’ve all read and/or seen the movie but the cooking angle is nice and I actually tried one of the recipes – Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle – and it was wonderful!  ***

In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume – I’m a fan of Bloom so I read this as soon as I noticed it at the library.  It is based on true events – a series of airplane crashes – that took place in her home town during her teenage years.  She does a good job of showing the fear kids felt and how it affected them for the rest of their lives.  It’s not her best book and it took me awhile to get into it.  It was difficult to keep the characters straight – but by the end I was thinking – not bad. **1/2

You’re Never Weird On The Internet by Felicia Day – A quirky, weird ,memoir by Day who is popular young actress and an admitted math nerd.  I was surprised how much I enjoyed this – probably because I’m a bit of a nerd myself. I usually stay away from memoirs written by anyone under 50, unless they have a devastating illness, but Day is a talented, enterprising, obviously smart and successful woman and she has a story to tell. She tells it well.  ***

The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell by Nadia Hashimi – This was a book club choice and I slogged my way through it.  The story is a familiar one about the terrible oppression and abuse of women in Afghanistan. Hashimi uses two stories set against the history of the country – one takes place in the early 1900’s and other in a more modern-day setting.  The writing is awkward and difficult to follow but the discussion reading this book provokes makes it worth while. ***

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan – A light-hearted, funny beach or fireplace (depending on your weather) read. A modern marriage.  A warm female friendship. Big ugly internet seller vs the local bookstore. A peak into publishing. A few tears. a few giggles.  Just a super fun book to breeze through. ****

Fun in Tacoma

Review The Splendid Things We Planned

I’ve just returned from a wonderful vacation with family in Seattle, WA area.  Despite the fun I found plenty of time to read and review  – but – I didn’t write a single word of book three of the Augustus Family Trilogy. So…. I’m posting this and then I’m not even going to glance at Facebook until I’ve accomplished at least a 1000 new words.   FYI – FAMILY LIES is on promotion only a few more days if you want a free Kindle download. (Over 1000 people have downloaded books 1 and 2 during this BookDaily promotion and I’m hoping for some reviews!)

The Splendid Things We Planned by Blake Bailey – A autobiography – the often sad story of a family that struggles with everything. Told by the younger brother, this is a tough look at a dysfunctional family. *****

In The Mirror by Kaira Rouda – A women’s heartfelt, first person story of the devastation of her life as she struggles with breast cancer. I was surprised at how much I liked this book, the narrator (Jennifer for most chapters) is tough and funny and loving and awful.  She faces things head on and then allows herself to slide away from the truth as we often do. *****

Me  Before You by JoJo Moyes – I think I read this when it first came out but if I did I loved it this time (and maybe last time, too). Exploring the ‘death with  dignity issue is a tough subject.  Moyes manages to make it warm and loving.  Lou (the narrator) is smart and funny and a bit quirky – my favorite kind of person. *****

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom – this story takes place in the southern states in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. It is, of course, about the evils of slavery and indentured servitude but it is more about the evils of damaged individuals and the wide ripples they create by their actions, about the love people feel for the families they create no matter the color of their skin and about the dangers of miscommunication and secret keeping. ****

15 Minutes by Jill Cooper – A young adult time travel book.  The beginning of a series.  New the near future we are able to travel into the past – but not to touch it. While each stay is limited to 15 minutes it is astounding what a difference changing any 15 minutes in the past will make in your life.  The editing could use a little polish but I enjoyed this book.  **** This book is currently free as a Kindle download.

We Never Asked For WIngs  by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – I liked the thought-provoking nature of this book. Immigration is a difficult subject and Diffenbaugh treats it with grace. The youngest child, Luna, is not believable but the teenagers Alex and Yesenia are well written. Single mom, Letty and her male interests, Wes and Rick, often made me impatient but – overall – it’s a simple read that will remind you of how hard it can be to “make it” in the USA. ****

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Subtle Differences

June 27, 2015

Seems I’ve been on a reading binge about Nazis and death and dying.  No surprise that I’m suffering a bit from a case of depression and inability to get moving.  I hate it when I get in this kind of rut.

Did you know that I’ve listed a short story on my Amazon page?  Just search for Subtle Differences by Tamara Merrill.  Enjoy.

Before I go – Colleen Oakley – a very formula book about a dying wife and her search for a replacement wife for her husband.  Oakley writes great dialogue and her heroine Daisy is  lovable, funny and understandably angry.  It’s just that this is a story that has been done too often in the recent past.  ***

The Plum Tree – Ellen Marie Wisemen – Written from the viewpoint of a young German girl this book about WWII is slightly different but not different enough.  It does show a different perspective on the American occupation.  If you like novels about love in wartime you’ll most likely enjoy this book.  **

The Fragile World – Paula Treick DeBoard – Living in Sacramento, CA the Kaufman’s are a “normal” family.  As normal as they can be when the oldest child is a child prodigy and the father comes from a very dysfunctional family and the mother is outgoing, talented and full of fun.  With that kind of foreshadowing you know that things are bound to go wrong and they do from the first pages on when you learn that the favorite child – the prodigy – has been killed in a senseless accident and only the mother is moving forward.  I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for the father and daughter and I hated the ending – but – it was well written and will provoke some great discussions!  ****

Secrets of a Charmed Life – Susan Mieser – I liked it this book.  It used the familiar “elderly woman telling her story” method to reveal the truth about sisters separated in London when the Biltz begins.  Miesner’s books are always enjoyable and this one tells a deeper tale than some of the others do.  I enjoyed it and think it would be a good book club read. ***

The World Without You – Joshua Henkin – The death of child must be a terrible thing.  This story unfolds over the July 4th, 2005 weekend as the family prepares for and endures the one year memorial unveiling service for their son/brother/husband. It takes a look at family dynamics, love, loss, anger.  The affects of money on love and while I don’t agree with the simplified political statements portrayed it is sad profound story. ***