Book Connections, Review

Five Books that Explore Family Complications

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Families most likely by their nature are complicated, I guess we can all point to our own complications. And so when books explore these various complications a) we nod our heads or b) we think “well thank goodness that didn’t happen to us”.

Book cover Lucy’s own mother is dead and she would really welcome a mother figure. However her mother-in-law Diana is not that friendly a figure. She is aloof, unemotional, stands by strict beliefs about money and spends her time on a very good cause. When Diana ends up dead – the question is who did it and why? I didn’t like Diana at the beginning but I warmed to her eventually, I listened to this one on audio and that version was well done.

A middle grade book that introduces to us two twelve year olds who discover their dads are in a relationship and they want their daughters to be “family”. Initially the daughters are horrified! Then a firm friendship is formed in spite of their quite different personalities. The dads have their issues because they aren’t alike either and they stop the relationship to the disappointment of the girls. I thoroughly enjoyed this middle grade book and was delighted by all the plot twists and turns.

book coverA family complication happens in this YA novel and so Aria and her mother move provinces in Canada. One of the complications is that on a night out on Halloween Aria spies her father in another house with a young child on his knee and  the woman who answers the door is pregnant. Well! And there is a second complication but I am not saying a word because I hope some of you read this novel.  It explores what it is to be different, to harbor a secret, and it takes a hard look at bullying. Loved the touch of romance and development of the characters. K. A. Tucker I am so a fan.

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This book fits only loosely into family complications, because really its about friendship complications.However what about when friends eventually work through all the relationship complications over a long number of years and recognise that actually they are family. That’s how this one works out, along the way exploring alcoholism, dieting, secrets and deceit. I enjoyed this book although I didn’t love it. I was so happy it was a library borrow!

Book Cover What happens when one sister steals or seems to steal the man you are to marry right from under your nose. Going to be complicated for sure and it is. It’s either fight or flight and Lena chooses flight and I sympathise with her on that. When she returns home ten years later its because her Dad has been diagnosed with Alzheimers and its all hands on deck. Herself, her sister and brother plus their Dad must deal. In the dealing there is much exploration of memories, of forgiveness and the difference between forgetting and not forgetting. Plus there is a twist that is well signalled and ties in well to the title. And a second twist that I wasn’t that happy with and meant I scored it 4 rather than 5 stars.

Review

Over the Teacups – Short Reviews

Short Reviews Over a Cuppa
I read a number of books I don’t fully review, so I have decided to start acknowledging them here in short reviews – which lets face it – are the best!
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Why?I chose this one for the Better World Reading Challenge – category: by a person of color.
 I have been meaning to try a Beverly Jenkins book and this gave me the incentive.
Plot
It introduces Bernadine a 50 something woman who buys up a town that is in trouble and helps it out. She has quite a few millions to spare after a successful divorce!  House renovations are fun so a whole town in Texas has to better – right!
As well because Bernadine has a degree in social work she brings into the community some children to foster, and various people do. They are a very interesting bunch.
What Appealed to Me?
The variety of characters – all who add to this story and Bernadine herself who while wealthy is so down to earth and open to helping others. It’s also a light book, with a funny turn of phrase every so often that had me chuckling. It has some very poignant moments too. And some serious issues that are touched with a light hand. Probably not overly realistic but I’m reading for enjoyment here.
 (4 stars)
And so… this is the first in a series set in this town. I own a copy of the paperback version of Bring on the Blessings. I’ve ordered the next book!

Why? Do you need to ask? It has bookshop in the title what other reason do I need! I have listened to at least one other by this author and liked it as well.

Plot.  Two summer friends end up back at the beach house they knew as children. Lainey lost her mother there when she was 13 yrs and has never got over it – lost as in went missing.  Bonnie is a doctor who had something go wrong in the emergency room and she is awaiting the outcome. And she has just left her husband. As well there is her daughter Piper who has a few issues.  Mimi runs the bookshop and she knows what her buyers need to read, not what they might want.

What Appealed to me? I loved this story of three women, lost somewhat, at turning points in their lives. It was thought provoking as well. It was about loss and love, making mistakes, finding out who you really are. I listened to the audio version of this book and the three narrators were excellent. I think this will be one of my favourite books of 2017.
5 stars.
And so… I will certainly read more  Patti Callahan Henry books at some point.

Why? I noticed on the bookshelves in the shop and as I was looking for a book set in Asia for the BetterWorld reading challenge, I decided to buy and read it.

Plot. Dragon Springs Road  is about a young Eurasian girl – Jialing. It is set in Shanghai in the first quarter of the twentieth century, when women in China of all kinds had a difficult time. However Eurasians were especially despised. Jialing is left one day by her mother and when discovered becomes a bond servant. She befriends one of the girls in the house and even receives some education through missionaries. However the family’s situation changes and Jialing is on her own as a young women having to find her way. One attribute Jialing has is resilience and the help of Fox – a Chinese Spirit who watches over her.

What Appealed to Me? The setting and learning about the way of living in China at that time. The fantasy aspect of the story where Fox was involved. There were some really touching moments  in the book and I liked the bravery on Jialing’s part.   Plus  things worked out and the way the book ended was very satisfactory for me. Well worth reading.
5 stars
And so… It was good for me to diversify my reading a little.