Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Books Lately

This month was a great reading month. With TV on a go-show, a lockdown, stay at home order and my new love, The Libby app, I got to read some really wonderful books.

The unforgettable, inspiring story of a teenage girl growing up in a rural Nigerian village who longs to get an education so that she can find her “louding voice” and speak up for herself, The Girl with the Louding Voice is a simultaneously heartbreaking and triumphant tale about the power of fighting for your dreams.  Despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in her path, Adunni never loses sight of her goal of escaping the life of poverty she was born into so that she can build the future she chooses for herself – and help other girls like her do the same.  

The best books are the ones that have you haunted for many moons after you've read it and this book certainly did that for me. Written in a beautiful broken African dialect that improved after the protagonist got more educated, this book was raw, powerful and thought provoking. I had to take many breaks while reading to really digest the story. It was beautiful, davastating and haunting.

Rating 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Reese Witherspoon- Whiskey in a Teacup

Reese’s southern heritage informs her whole life, and she loves sharing the joys of southern living with practically everyone she meets. She takes the South wherever she goes with bluegrass, big holiday parties, and plenty of Dorothea’s fried chicken. It’s reflected in how she entertains, decorates her home, and makes holidays special for her kids—not to mention how she talks, dances, and does her hair . Reese loves sharing Dorothea’s most delicious recipes as well as her favorite southern traditions, from midnight barn parties to backyard bridal showers, magical Christmas mornings to rollicking honky-tonks.

I listened to this one and loved the short, well written, light read. It was fun, fluffy, cute and I'm an island girl from Trinidad and Tobago who clearly identifies with Southerners. I can imagine this would be a beautiful coffee table book. I love Reese and her book club and now I do even more so. 

Rating- 4 out of 5 stars

The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

As light as this book was, it was also powerful. If you love the Olympics and gymnastics like I do,  you'd appreciate this one. I understood more about Olympic athletes, the pressures, the strains and the stress both while they are athletes and after. A simple book, some plot twists and good character developments. I enjoyed it. 

Rating: 3.5 out of 5. 

Escaping from an abusive marriage, seventeen-year-old Lakshmi makes her way alone to the vibrant 1950s pink city of Jaipur. There she becomes the most highly requested henna artist—and confidante—to the wealthy women of the upper class. But trusted with the secrets of the wealthy, she can never reveal her own…Known for her original designs and sage advice, Lakshmi must tread carefully to avoid the jealous gossips who could ruin her reputation and her livelihood. As she pursues her dream of an independent life, she is startled one day when she is confronted by her husband, who has tracked her down these many years later with a high-spirited young girl in tow—a sister Lakshmi never knew she had. Suddenly the caution that she has carefully cultivated as protection is threatened. Still she perseveres, applying her talents and lifting up those that surround her as she does.

Reese's book club recommended this one and it captivated me from beginning to end. It was beautifully written and captured the vibrancy, colours and textures of India very well. Central to Lakshmi's story are many f issues that have impacted many the world over for centuries- abortion, socio-economic inequalities and women's lack of rights. It was heartbreaking, some parts were crushing and all of it beautiful. 
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars.

One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose of­fice she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but. As Gottlieb explores the inner chambers of her patients’ lives — a self-absorbed Hollywood producer, a young newlywed diagnosed with a terminal illness, a senior citizen threatening to end her life on her birthday if nothing gets better, and a twenty-something who can’t stop hooking up with the wrong guys — she finds that the questions they are struggling with are the very ones she is now bringing to Wendell.
With startling wisdom and humor, Gottlieb invites us into her world as both clinician and patient, examining the truths and fictions we tell ourselves and others as we teeter on the tightrope between love and desire, meaning and mortality, guilt and redemption, terror and courage, hope and change.

This book is not a genre that I would normally read but I really enjoyed it. I thought Lori to be relatable, likeable and immensely human in her approach. I enjoyed reading about her clients and their journey. I also think it did a great job destigmatizing therapy. We spend all this time and money on our physical health and appearance when your mental health is equally or even more important. It was real, entertaining and very well written.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

Florence Adler Swims Forever

Atlantic City, 1934. Every summer, Esther and Joseph Adler rent their house out to vacationers escaping to “America’s Playground” and move into the small apartment above their bakery. Despite the cramped quarters, this is the apartment where they raised their two daughters, Fannie and Florence, and it always feels like home. Now Florence has returned from college, determined to spend the summer training to swim the English Channel, and Fannie, pregnant again after recently losing a baby, is on bedrest for the duration of her pregnancy. After Joseph insists they take in a mysterious young woman whom he recently helped emigrate from Nazi Germany, the apartment is bursting at the seams.

When tragedy strikes, Esther makes the shocking decision to hide the truth—at least until Fannie’s baby is born—and pulls the family into an elaborate web of secret-keeping and lies, bringing long-buried tensions to the surface that reveal how quickly the act of protecting those we love can turn into betrayal.

A wonderful first novel with beautiful writing, it reminded me a bit of Judy Blume. My heart was broken for the family and I felt their pain, frustration and angst. There were many characters but they were very well developed. I couldn't imagine going through what the family went through without the support of the larger community. It poses the question: how much would we sacrifice for the ones we love? I also was very interested in the Jewish traditions and customs so well described in this novel.

Rating: 4 out of 5. 

New York florist Flora Donovan is living the dream, but her bubbly optimism hides a secret. She’s lonely. Orphaned as a child, she’s never felt like she’s belonged anywhere…until she meets Jack Parker. He’s the first man to ever really see her, and it’s life changing.
Teenager Izzy Parker is holding it together by her fingertips. Since her mother passed away a year ago, looking after her dad and little sister is the only thing that makes Izzy feel safe. Discovering her father has a new girlfriend is her worst nightmare—she is not in the market for a replacement mom. Then her father invites Flora on their summer vacation…
Flora’s heart aches for Izzy, but she badly wants her relationship with Jack to work. As the summer unfolds, Flora must push her own boundaries to discover parts of herself she never knew existed—and to find the family she’s always wanted.

A lovely light book with great character development. A good story line with some surprising twists and turns along the way. The characters were mostly likeable and the plot a nice one. The characters contributing their personal perspectives helped the story to move forward as well.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars.

What have you been reading lately?

                                                       Linking up with Steph for Show Us Your Books.

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  1. I read Family for Beginners this past month too and enjoyed it. I just added The Henna Artist to my to read list. The Girl with the Louding Voice is already on my list.

  2. Nice reading month! I want to read Whiskey in a Teacup. I just love Reese. I own Maybe You Should Talk to Someone and hope to read it soon.


  3. I loved The Girl With the Louding Voice and Head Over Heels. I've heard only good things about The Henna Artist!

  4. I loved The Henna Artist and The Girl with the Louding Voice!!!

  5. thanks for suggestions to add to my list.

  6. The Girl With The Louding Voice has been on my list for ages, need to get to it asap!

  7. I did not expect Florence Adler to go down like that. Heartbreaking early LOL

    I have The Girl with the Louding Voice on my list to read.

  8. I really enjoyed Maybe You Should Talk to Someone & I almost started The Girl With the Louding Voice but ended up picking something else instead and then my library loan expired but I might need to request it again.

  9. I also enjoyed Maybe You Should Talk and I am so impressed with how Reese Witherspoon has diversified her career!

  10. I don't read much celebrity or non-fiction, but you make Whiskey in a Teacup sound like such a fun read! Thanks for sharing and enjoy your month :)


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