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BEST LAID PLANS AND OTHER DISASTERS: A Novel ~Amy Rivers

Friday, March 3rd, 2017

BEST LAID PLANS AND OTHER DISASTERS is a companion story to WALLFLOWER BLOOMING, although both can be standalone stories also.  These are witty, warm and very fun reads about cousins who reside in Cambria, Colorado.  Wallflower is about Val a PR company owner and Best Laid Plans is about Gwen the new mayor of Cambria who also does public service work.

The young woman each find an opportunity to connect with their futures and for Gwen she is plagued with trying to figure out every angle by herself, before she will ask for assistance with her personal problems.   As mayor she is capable and enthusiastic and working full speed ahead with the council and the Governor.  At city hall one major problem reveals itself.   The female city manager has decided she does not care for Gwen and works to make her work difficult and not on course.  It is not surprising to see how woman can change their colors and become enemies very quickly.  One of the easiest strategies against resolution is getting two women competing with each other and manipulating their own truth.  Gwen does figure out how to overcome this particular problem while remaining true to herself and her values.

Jason, Gwen’s fellow, works in accounting for the city and this has become a problem to several people at city hall.  He takes a new job, which requires a great deal of travelling and a co-worker decides “to hitch onto his wagon”, another problem to resolve.   At the same time Gwen discovers she is pregnant and worries about rumors and how to tell Jason.

The story takes some nice dips into explaining emotions and the surrounding events and so we get some good backstory into family history and how to set oneself free from a family heritage that was not very supportive.  The childish emotions were being brought into contemporary living and finding new coping skills – maturing more into the authentic self.

Neither Gwen nor Val are simple characters, they have definition and smarts knowing how to use these tools.   They are intelligent and do not compromise what they know to be true.  These young women are sorting out complex issues and challenges and it is good to be privy to their thinking and resolving these solutions.  These are very enjoyable characters tucked into a good reading adventure.

There are even more unexpected problems, some are just plain fun and others are problems we all face in our lives.  Once again I will say this is a very good read, I think you will enjoy BEST LAID PLANS & OTHER DISASTERS.

“Amy Rivers was born and raised in southern New Mexico and currently resides in Colorado with her husband and kids.  She has a Master’s degree with concentrations in Psychology and Politics, two topics she loves to incorporate into her personal essays and novels.  Amy has been published in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL, INSPIRATION FOR NURSES, NOVELTY BRIDE MAGAZINE, ESME.com, and SPLICE TODAY.  Her first novel WALLFLOWER BLOOMING was published in August 2016.”(Cover)

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TLC Book Tours  sent me a copy for review of BEST LAID PLANS &OTHER DISASTERS

Related:
Wallflower Blooming
Becalmed
Wrong Highway

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW: Another Wonderful Novel ~Catherine Ryan Hyde

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Catherine Ryan Hyde is a master storyteller- SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW is proof that her stories get better and better, all 30 of them.  She has over 50 short stories in major publications and awards upon awards for her artful writing.    I have had the good fortune of reading and reviewing three of her most recent novels within the past year.   Most people would recognize Catherine Ryan Hyde by her magnificently successful story PAY IT FORWARD, which was made into a very successful movie staring Helen Hunt and Kevin Spacey.  Her writing is often cast as Young Adult, but I cannot think of a single adult I know who would not enjoy these coming of age stories and the look at adults though youthful experience and questions.

Most of Hyde’s stories seem to include horses, dogs and adventures that problem-solve and add meaning.  The adults in her stories make a number of discoveries that are life changing for them also.  The main characters often have high levels of responsibility and are cast in a lonely position, which clarifies their situation and allows the characters to get what they need to recover or grow.

Pete does not know that his father is psychologically and physically abusive because it seems to him that all the fathers that are in his community are so inclined.  His father is just going way beyond in his abuse and making Pete’s life impossible for success or sitting down after the whippings.   Pete is trying so hard to do the right thing and find favor and love from his only remaining parent.  He feels responsible for helping a dog that has been hit by a car which costs him a friend and delivers him a new friend and several adults that he can trust.

The story begins in 1959 when Pete is 12-years-old and beginning summer vacation from school.  His father has been injured on the job and is home on Workman’s Compensation and maybe abusing the pain medications and certainly alcohol.

Dr. Lucy is a physician who lost her son to pneumonia during a painful divorce. Dr. Lucy now rescues racehorses, which are not fast enough and dogs that no one wants any more.  She lives alone in the countryside in a house given to her by her father.  She has closed herself off from the community as this Texas community has made being a practicing female doctor an impossibility in 1959.  The community is extremely closed minded.   Here is where the story adds being against “Negros” and the hostile environment that is created.  The Doctor and Justin, Pete’s new friend, have very different value programing than what Pete has experienced in his life, and yet there is an attraction and the resonation of the new values within Pete.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW has many levels of discovery and very well written dialogue. The adults must explain many things from the meaning of words to telling the truth in a protective manner.

I would read this book again.  It made me think about current hatred and racism being expressed in our culture at this time.  I made me think about how one brings about new thinking and acceptance of others; it maybe only through one person at a time.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW is an excellent read, and I have purchased a copy for the son of my new neighbor.

A TLC Book Tours review book.

Related:
Leaving Blythe River
The Language of Hoofbeats

ANOTHER BROOKLYN: A Young Adult Novel ~Jacqueline Woodson

Monday, August 29th, 2016

August is a young adult now with a PhD. in Anthropology who encounters a friend from the 1970s and it brings back memories of the friendships she had growing up in Brooklyn and how important Sylvia, Gigi, and Angela were to her life and the streets of their neighborhood.   It is here that we enter an almost dream sequence of events, which enable strength and survival though all the times of growing; creating a very special read.

“Jacqueline Woodson is the bestselling author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle graders, and children, including the NEW YORK TIMES bestselling memoir BROWN GIRL DRAMING, which won the 2014 National Book Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor Award, an NAACP Image Award, and the Sibert Honor Award.  Woodson was recently named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.  She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.” (Cover)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and could not put it down.  It just seemed to present so many discussion questions that I wanted to share with others.  I mentioned that TLC Book Tours http://tlcbooktours.com/2016/07/jacqueline-woodson-author-of-another-brooklyn-on-tour-august-2016/  had sent me a copy for review to my Children’s Librarian daughter and she said she knew the author well and has used Woodson’s books quite often with her middle school classes and “Yes! All her books include a trauma and are open to great discussions.”   I will share my uncorrected proof copy with her library.

August’s story travels from her beginnings in Tennessee to the adjustment of moving to New York.  From rural tranquil to noisy, dangerous city streets, she finally joined her brave and adventurous girl friends in feeling bold and happy when they were together,to coping with the advances of males.  August did not know for years that her mother back in Tennessee had died and she kept telling her younger brother that their mother was coming soon.  Father and brother got religion and the whole family always had enough food, there was that?

One of the reviews on the cover was by Ann Patchett, another best selling author and I had just finished reading her marvelous STATE OF WONDER, and I thought her description was so fabulous I needed to share:

“Another Brooklyn is a sort of fever dream, containing both the hard truths of life and the gentle beauty of memory.  The story of a young girl trying to find herself in the midst of so many conflicting influences and desires swallowed me whole.  Jacqueline Woodson has such an original vision, such a singular voice.  I loved this book.”

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Related:
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Dancing In the Shadows
My Mothers Funeral

PRIVATE CITIZENS: A Novel ~Tony Tulathimutte

Thursday, February 25th, 2016

  • An Amazon “Best Book” of Month
  • A Buzzfeed “Most Exciting” Book of 2016
  • A Flavorwire “Most Anticipated” Book 2016

I was so lucky to be sent PRIVATE CITIZENS for review for TLC BOOK TOURS.  We started off by getting the tour dates mixed up and this book arrived before May.  This was okay and we rallied around to find a new spot for it.

Here’s what it said on the book cover:
“ From a brilliant new literary talent comes a sweeping comic portrait of privilege, ambition, and friendship in millennial San Francisco.  With the Social Acuity of Adelle Waldman and the murderous wit of Martin Amis, Tony Tulathimutte’s PRIVATE CITIZENS is a brainy, irreverent debut “ – This Side of Paradise for a new era.

“Private Citizens is a freak of literature – a novel so authentic, hilarious, elegantly plotted, and heartbreaking that I’d follow it anywhere.  Tony Tulathimutte is a singular intellect with an uncanny 40/20 vision on the world.”  – Jennifer duBois, author of Cartwheel and A Partial History of Lost Causes

Tony Tulathimutte is a very smart fellow
“Tulathimutte has contributed to AGNI, The Three Penny Review, The American reader, Salon, The New Yorker on line, and other publications.  A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and Stanford University, he has received an O. Henry prize, a MacDowell Colony fellowship, and the Michener- Copernicus Society of America Award.  He lives in New York.”

Hilarious, authentic, intelligent were the words that truly captivated me and to learn about the privileged young people who graduated from Stanford University, I was totally ready to read this book.  Four friends reconnecting, yes!  This sounds very good indeed.  I set aside a whole afternoon to start the read.   After 4 hours at it, I realized I had slept 90 minutes of my time away instead of reading.  I am too old to find bowel track humor very funny any more, I could not find humor at all instead I found the style very distracting and the 4 friends pathetic.

On the second session of reading, I engaged a bit with Cory the social activist as she connected with a cultish self-help seminar,  I could identify as my wishes and hopes were not being met early after graduation either and I fell pray to something like this situation.  When I had 75 pages left to read, I jumped to the last chapter and finished PRIVATE CITIZEN’s. I have no idea why one character needed eye surgery.  I did not care.  I felt rather hopeless about recent graduates and a kind of despair sticks with me as I begin reading the next book on the list.

I did not like this book and thought the drug usage, sex, and alcohol consumption were too big a focus for these whiney characters.  Wow not funny, not smart, and I find it sad that PRIVATE CITIZENS is so anticipated and folks are so excited about it – worrisome to me. All that privilege and such weak outcomes.  I am concerned for our future.

Tony Tulathimutte Website
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Related:
A Visit From the Goon Squad
How To Be Alive
Liar
Memory Card Full