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Monday, December 5, 2016

#80 - A Redbird Christmas - Fannie Flagg

Title:  A Redbird Christmas
Author:   Fannie Flagg
Genre:  Fiction
Rating:  B+
Published: 2004
Dates:  11/27/16 – 12/4/16
Pages:  229

What a delightful Christmas story.  Oswald T. Campbell leaves Chicago behind for the warmer climes of Alabama, Lost River, in particular.  His doctor has highly recommended Oswald do this or risk an early death.  The mild mannered Oswald ties up loose ends and heads south, convinced it’ll be his last Christmas.  Drinking and smoking are his demise.  Yet – the warmer weather, good food cooked by his new landlady and a host of caring neighbors bring him around.  At the heart of this tale is a red bird named Jack, a young girl named Patsy and some big-hearted friends, intent on helping each other survive.  As the book cover declares and I agree – “Once you experience the wonder, you too will never forget A Redbird Christmas.”

Friday, December 2, 2016

#79 - The Summer Before the War - Helen Simonson

Title:  The Summer Before the War
Author:   Helen Simonson
Read by:  Fiona Hardingham
Genre:  Historical
Category:  Fiction
Rating:  A
Published:  2016
Dates:  11/19/16 – 12/2/16

I kept thinking this book was about WWII and it took me until the Epilogue to realize it occurred in WWI.  Doh!  I guess if I’d read the back cover I’d have learned the setting was East Sussex, 1914.  And yet the theme is one that could be set in today’s world.
It’s a love story, a war story, a story of human emotions and heartache, about people trying to be politically correct.  The hard-headedness and stone-heartedness of people distressed me immensely and, yet, is the very nature of the human beast. 
Hugh Grange is down from his medical studies to visit his Aunt Agatha Kent whose husband works for the Foreign Office.  They live in the coastal British town of Rye.  Everyone is hoping the eminence of war can be kept at bay.  About the same time Beatrice Nash arrives with one trunk and many big boxes of books.  She is to replace the Latin Master.  In her corner is Agatha who has been pushing for a woman to take the teacher’s place.  Beatrice is a free-thinker, attractive and mourning the loss of her beloved father.  Penniless Beatrice wants only to be left alone to pursue her teaching and writing.
We meet all sorts of characters – Agatha and John’s other nephew, a poet; Snout, a student at the school where Beatrice will teach; a refugee from Belgium whom the Kents provide lodging.  The mayor and his wife have their opinions about people.  And other people too seem to have never heard of being kind.  Such is life leading up to the war and in the War, itself. 
Simonson takes us to the battlefields in France, the trenches and we see how men and boys who knew each other in Rye are pulled in opposing directions at the decisions their commanding officers bring down upon them.
All in all, the story is thoroughly satisfying and I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#78 - Why Not Me? - Mindy Kaling

Title:  Why Not Me?
Author:   Mindy Kaling
Read by:  Mindy Kaling
Genre:  Memoir
Category:  Non-Fiction 791.4502
Rating:  B-
Published:  2015
Dates:  11/17/16 – 11/28/16
Cds/Hrs:  4/5

In Ms. Kaling’s second memoir she goes into her time as a student at Dartmouth, her perceived inability to talk about her sex life and then her sex life, her admonishment of herself for not properly answering a teenage girl about how to find confidence and then her chapter on how to achieve confidence.  She describes the times she’s met President Obama and how cool it was to learn that his daughter Malia was reading her first book – Is Everyone Hanging out without me?  Funny lady Kaling tells it like it is – her inner most fears that keep her awake at night, her desire to marry and have a family and most of all who she is – her sincerity in all the hard work she’s put into her eleven years in Hollywood, making a name for herself.