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A MOTHER LIKE MINE: A novel ~Kate Hewitt

Monday, September 4th, 2017

A MOTHER LIKE MINE just surrounds the reader with a comfortable story about a mother – daughter relationship that has been sorely damaged over time and yet it has been primed and opened up for a new beginning.  The story is situated in a small coastal village in the UK and both women have a command of their feelings and the ability to have complete and honest conversation.   It is a refreshing story. There is hope.

Abby Rhodes has lost her ability to stay in university to become a Vet because she now has a very young son and she has lost her fiancé to an accident.  She returns home to assist her grandmother in keeping a small café open to the tourists, hikers, and beach visitors.  They are just holding on and doing okay when her grandmother has a first heart attack.    Abby’s mother, Laura, left Abby with grandmother when she was two and so the struggle continues now with her delightful son, Noah.  The future feels like more struggles ahead.

Surprise!  Laura has returned home to stay after working her way to the US and recently has been let go of her position as a Night Club assistant manager and hostess.  She feels that she is ready to face a good future and she wants to be reunited with her mother and child.  Her focus is totally on the future and she does not want to revisit the past and all of her mistakes and troubles.  The duo is off to a hard start and then Gran has another huge heart attack.  They are forced to have the hard conversations and seek out a future.

The community is very fun that surrounds this family and there are quirky and delightful characters coming into the café for coffee and toasties, a number of friendships are developing.  I liked the language and the poignant and satisfying conversations as feelings were revealed and explored.   Quite a delightful read and it arrived just in time for a rainy weekend and a time to curl up and read.

Booklist says:

“At turns introspective and exhilarating, this novel proves that it’s never too late to start over.”

Kate Hewitt is the USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty books, including the Hartley-by-the-Sea novels Rainy Day Sisters and Now and Then Friends, and more recently, the Willoughby Close series. A former New Yorker, she now lives in Wales with her husband five children. She also writes as Katharine Swartz.

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FAMILY TREE: A Relationship Story ~Susan Wiggs

Monday, August 15th, 2016

“Susan Wiggs is the #1 NEW YORK TIMES bestselling author of more than fifty novels, with her books in print in thirty countries.  A native of a small town in upstate New York, she now lives with her husband at the water’s edge on an island in Puget Sound, and in good weather can commute to her writers’ group in a twenty-one-foot motorboat.  A former teacher and graduate of the University of Texas and Harvard, Susan is also an avid hiker, an amateur photographer, a good skier, and cautious mountain biker – yet her favorite form of exercise is curling up with a good book. (From the book jacket)

FAMILY TREE is just a lovely read and it was such a pleasure to curl up and enjoy each page on a rainy summers day.  The story unfolds in a small rural community in Vermont, on a farm dedicated to Maple Syrup and healthy lifestyles.  Annie is the girl who drives herself to do everything well and is determined to follow her passion into a big career in the media.  She has learned under the careful tutelage of her Grandmother the ‘Art of Baking’ and she has an innate skill for the craft.

FAMILY TREE is a generational story, which includes the art of creating Maple Syrup to the art of building family relationships that grow and do not consume.  There is considerable wisdom shared in the gentle writing style through the school years, college years and into career building.  Will family patterns repeat and continue into future problems?   What will be success for the family, each character and for the community?

I learned a great deal about the small family farmer, the maple sugar industry, distilling and cooking.  The book came complete with recipe cards for some of the amazing meals served up between the pages.  The book is also about persevering and adapting to change happening to and around each of the characters. A very nice study and I am sure many readers will want this story to come true for them selves.

When I leave the movies it takes a minute or two to come back into the present tense.  It is the same with FAMILY TREE.  The story suspends time and relaxes the reader; taking them away from their own life and problems delightfully.  I am sure it is another bestseller in the making and I can recommend it.  I have not made any of the recipes but I did enjoy FAMILY TREE with several cozy cups of tea.

TLC Book Tours sent me a print copy of this book for review.

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A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD: A Novel ~Anne Tyler

Monday, November 30th, 2015

Anne Tyler won the Pulitzer Prize a few years ago and I have been a fan of her work since I read SAINT MAYBE .  When I heard that A SPOOL OF BLUE THREAD was nominated for a Man Booker Prize I could not wait, I had to purchase a copy and read it right away.

I was not disappointed, it was just a wonderful family story and I cozied into a comfortable chair with a blanket and a big glass of water.   Two whole days of reading, and I hardly moved it was just that good.  Now as I am writing my thoughts about the book, I see that several books of summary and analysis are already on the market to accompany this good read.

We are once again in Baltimore, Maryland and studying the dynamics of an interesting family.  Four children, a mom and dad all within the HOUSE designed and built by paternal grandfather.  Once again it is a story where the house is a focal character and it’s location is important.   It is son Denny who is the original focal point and he is quite a character and concerns his parents mightily.  I have to admit at the start of the story he is worrisome to try and figure out; he is pivotal to the story and reveals the title of the story at the far end.  The back – stories are near the end of the book too and this makes for a grand amount of thinking about each character, how they got into the story and what is the theme that is truly being exposed and expounded upon.   The book group questions included in the book are mostly about this strange order and why it made the reader work harder to figure the family and motivations.  The characters just seemed nicely odd and interesting.

Abby is a retired social worker and the mother of the four children.  She invites lots of needy folks to the family home and feeds them especially for Thanksgiving.  Red is her contractor husband who is patient, kind and gruff who brought them all to live in his father’s incredible house.  The two older girls work at doing the right thing and keeping the family solidly together and try to help Denny remain a part of the family.   Stem is the youngest and he works with Red and will take over the construction business when Dad retires.  Parents are starting to have health scares as they age and support systems make for mirthful occasions and interesting interplay.

I think folks will enjoy this book very much and I think it will make a great holiday gift or a good read to start off a new year.  I give it and Ms. Tyler high marks for this novel novel.

From the book:

Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina.  This is her 17th novel.  Her 11th, BREATHING LESSONS, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. A member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, she live in Baltimore, Maryland.

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PAINTING JULIANA: A Novel ~Martha Louise Hunter

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

“Husbands have refinanced the family home and moved the equity into their business; quite often, they will set up separate bank accounts with separate mailing addresses.  It is called insurance.” He pauses soberly. “You would think more women would do it, instead of being stupid, trusting imbeciles.” Chapter 6


PAINTING JULIANA is definitely about a Texas housewife which reflects the Texas attitude and spirit about women, and then it is not.  It is a story about dreams, careers, lawyers, light and dark, wind and tornados, canvas and brushes, mental health and psychological abuse. The story is Juliana’s experience of her lawyer husband throwing her out of the house and telling her they are getting a divorce.  She has only what she can grab in 20 minutes and put in her car and by the time she gets to the gas station her credit cards are cancelled and she has only the funds in her wallet.  She is court ordered to leave her 14 year old twins with their father.  He invents lies to tell the daughter and the son.  It takes the whole length of the book and Juliana figures it out and gets a very classy revenge.

Our first introduction to Juliana she is a seven year old and about to start second grade and a dream sequence/ nightmare begins to frighten her awake each night.  The dreams begin when her mother hangs up black – out curtains to keep the outside – outside.  Her mother has experienced so much racism that she has become an agoraphobic and she never goes outside.  Juliana’s parents are both CPA’s and she is not aware that her father is a painter, whose parents insisted he get a safe career and not paint.  He has lost his dream and his beautiful wife insists that he release his painting activity even more.

The writing is fairly fast paced and I think that helps the story move forward and not drag; the reader truly wants to know what happens next and is left guessing the outcome often.  There is a great deal of adultery in the story and subtle but stealth nasty maneuvers using the law.   Partners appear to be working with the other, yet we find that maybe these actions are part of their destruction.  This is Hunter’s first novel.   I think her writing will get better and I am looking forward to her second book.   My copy of the book is an uncorrected proof and had several unfinished sentences and abrupt transitions, which I am sure the editors will correct before the sale copies are sent to stores.

How can a woman endure so many problems at once and remain emotionally open and parent her children in stolen moments and car pool?  Alzheimer’s, no money, parent’s house in disrepair, only an old Indian motorcycle to drive, bills piling up, brother angry and not helpful and then this reoccurring dream; Juliana holds on – barely.  The divorce papers fly out the window, Texas sized problems and no true friends.

tlc logo TLC Online Booktours and Martha Louise Hunter,  sent me a copy of PAINTING JULIANA  for review and it was quite the exciting read and a warning to lots of women who are ignoring what is happening to them or are living someone else’s dream.   A woman finding her true self, the extremely hard way – PAINTING JULIANA

Martha Louise Hunter Online
Martha Louise Hunter on Facebook 
Martha Louise Hunter’s Blog

PAINTING JULIANA was a finalist in the Writers League of Texas Mainstream Fiction Contest.

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