Monthly Archives: June 2019


No photo description available.I decided to physically inventory my books. What, you may ask, in the world would make me want to do that? Simple. All my books (I think) are out of boxes and shelved. So now I can see them. So naturally, I had to count them and make a list.

The handwritten list is 53 full pages and another half page. But that’s isn’t enough. I decided to computerize it. So my husband taught me to use Access. This program is so cool. It’s going to take me a couple of weeks to type the list as I can only do it after work and on down time.

I thought it was important to count my books so I knew what I had. Also, if I can confess to you, I have bought duplicate books more times than I care to admit and I’m hoping that by doing this inventory I will have a better idea of what I won and will be able to avoid duplicates in the future. I doubt it will work, but it’s worth a shot. By rough count, I have about 2,000 books. The number was bigger than I thought, but not big enough. Well, it’s big enough for this house. It’s not big enough for me, though. One day, I will own a house with a dedicated library that has enough room for all my books. Until then, I will keep track of them.

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The Friends We Keep

The Friends We Keep by Jane GreenMaggie, Evvie, and Topher meet at the beginning of college in England. Maggie and Evvie are roommates and they all end up living together in a house. When they graduate, Evvie goes on to become a supermodel, Topher becomes a soap opera star, and Maggie works in PR until she runs into Evil Ben-the bartender at a bar Evvie worked at and the man of Maggie’s dreams. As it turns out none of their lives are idyllic. They the drift apart only to drift together again. One finds out about the betrayal of another, and things go south.

This is the basic plot of The Friends We Keep by Jane Green. This was my first Jane Green book and it won’t be my last. While the story was somewhat slow moving in places, I found it be to be a good story about friendship, aging, and love. The characters are fully developed and well-written. The story starts in 1992 and end up in the present day. One thing I truly loved about this book is the time jump was straight forward. There’s no fooling with the timeline like so many books. It’s not a gimmick. I appreciated that. The characters are all about my age so I identified with the trials they have – live aging parents, mid-life weight-gain, losing someone close.

I’m not sure how to classify this book, but I think it falls into contemporary fiction. It would be a good pick for a book club because I think there are several things that would make a good discussion. I recommend this book.

I won this book from Goodreads and received no compensation in exchange for this review. The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.

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The Things You Save In A Fire

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine CenterCassie Hanwell is one of the best firefighters in Austin, Texas. Despite being a woman. She is about to receive the highest award from the city. The mayor is to present the award, but instead, city council member Heath shows up. As he is posing for a picture with Cassie, he grabs her ass. Her response? She beats the crap out him with her plaque, sending him to the hospital and her to an unknown future with the Austin Fire Department. There is history between Cassie and Heath that she refuses to talk about and for most of the book, all you know is that it happened on her 16th birthday – the day her mother left her and her father.

After she beats Heath up, Cassie also is contacted by her estranged mother, asking her to move to Massachusetts to help her after she loses eyesight in one of her eyes. Cassie does not want to go. But her fire captain tells her it’s the best way to escape the mess she’s made of her career in Austin with her job still in tact. She moves to a fire department that is old. She’s the only woman. She is paired with the “rookie,” who is the son of a legendary Boston Firefighter, Owen. Cassie and Owen are pranked many times, including being duct taped to the flag pole outside the station. As Cassie proves herself to the firefighters and starts getting closer to Owen, the captain informs them that there is a budgetary shortfall and one of them will have to go. Owen doesn’t want to stay, but has to. Cassie doesn’t want to stay, but has to. Oh, and Cassie is being harassed by someone in the squad. As the harassment escalates, Cassie and Owen grow closer.

Enough plot. I liked, no I loved this book so, so much. I read How To Walk Away and I liked it. But this book, I loved. I love Cassie. She’s tough. Yet vulnerable. She’s hard and unforgiving at the beginning of the book. But she has a conversation with her mother about forgiveness that seems to open her up and shift her life. I liked that fact that the characters were relatable. And very real.

I identified with Cassie’s need to prove that she’s tough to the point that she becomes stone. She refuses to let any emotion in that may indicate weakness. It’s like toxic masculinity – woman style. If you have ever worked in a male-dominated environment, you know what I mean. Any display of care or concern, or – God forbid – tears, and you’re done. The pack will pounce. So you have to be tough. You have to suck it up and put it away to deal with at another time. Katherine Center writes that struggle so well in this book. You can feel Cassie’s fear and vulnerability and rage and frustration. It’s hard enough to be a woman. Try doing it in a man’s world.

I actually liked this book so much, I’m having trouble starting the next one. Do yourself a huge favor and buy this book when it comes out in August. It will be money well spent and you will not regret it.

I won this book and received no compensation in exchange for this review. The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone. Thank you St. Martin’s Press for the advanced reader’s copy.

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A Metaphorical And Physical Gulf

The Gulf by Belle BoggsMarianne is a poet. Her father is a professor. Her mother died when she was younger. Her younger sister is uber-religious and married to a man who is the same. Marianne’s ex-fianc√©, a writer, takes a joke she made in grad school about opening a Christian Writing school and makes it a reality thanks to his great-aunt and his brother Mark. Eric wants Marianne to run the school. An odd assortment of characters join the school – two teachers who are not religious and a bit eccentric, a former R&B superstar fallen on hard times who found a life coach and religion, a mother and school teacher who writes poems about Terri Schaivo, and a hotel owner down the beach. They all come together with a hurricane thrown into the mix to provide probably the most interesting book I’ve read all year.

When the school needs money, Mark, the venture capitalist, turns to God’s Word, God’s Word (or GWGW), an sketchy religious institution that has a string of private colleges. GWGW comes in and surprising things happen.

I really liked this book. Partly because I could so feel Marianne’s position – in a job she doesn’t necessarily want, in a place that’s unfamiliar, with no prospects. Who hasn’t been there? She’s honest about her trepidation with the school. But she becomes kind of friends with Jeannine, the poet who writes about Terry Schaivo. She thinks she may rekindle her romance with Eric. And she’s suspicious of GWGW and their intentions.

GWGW reminds me of CCI when I taught at Heald College. They came in with their uniforms and rah rah cheerleader get more students mentality. They seem creepy and nefarious and like conmen, but you can’t put your finger on the actual wrongdoing.¬† In my case CCI got Heald shut down. So I identified with Marianne’s suspicions of GWGW.

Most of all, I like how this book was written. Because in the end, it’s a meditation on how to get along with people you fundamentally disagree with and don’t understand. Marianne and her sister, Ruth are not close, mostly because Ruth married young, got into the church after her mother died, and is the polar opposite of Marianne. But like Marianne and Jeannine, Marianne and Ruth manage to find a way to mend their differences and respect each other as people. I think that kind of attitude is desperately needed right now. It’s entertaining and I really enjoyed it.

I won this book from Goodreads and received no compensation in exchange for this review. The opinions contained herein are mine and mine alone

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The Floating Feldmans

The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa FriedlandThe Feldman family – David; Annette, Elise, her husband Mitch; their kids, Darius and Rachel; and Elise’s brother Freddy and his girlfriend, Natasha – go on a Caribbean cruise. The family is somewhat estranged and they are all hiding things from each other. After a disastrous dinner on formal night, the family tries to patch things up and rediscover each other.

I loved this book. It was funny and touching. The characters were well-drawn and all of them were well-written. The story moved along and got different perspectives as it was written in the third person. What I enjoyed most about Elyssa Friedland’s book was the way she wrote Darius in particular. She captured so well the feelings and emotions of a teenage boy. She wrote Darius in a way that made me feel like I really, really knew him. I liked all her characters, but Darius was my favorite. Sensitive, insecure, nerdy, and all things teenage boy.

I particularly liked this books because it wrote the family dynamic between all of the Feldmans really well. You picked up on the angst Annette has over the whole family; the people-pleasing nature of Elise; the easy-going Mitch; the fuck-up Freddy. They are so richly drawn. It also makes a point of showing how looks and reputations can be deceiving, we are not the worst thing we do, and all families have some form for dysfunction and crazy.

No matter what kind of family you have or come from, you will identify with this book. It reminded me so much of my parents and grandparents and children and siblings. It’s a really good book that you can’t help but be sucked into and become a part of. I highly recommend this book.

I won this book and received no compensation in exchange for this review. The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.

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