The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

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This is the fourth novel by Lisa Jewell I have read and obviously I am now a true fan.  I love the way she weaves a story and makes you care about characters.  They come to life and I found myself invested in the outcomes, good or bad.  Didn’t matter if there were a few unlikable characters, I needed to see what would happen.  Let’s face it, you have to have a few villainous  characters or there wouldn’t be tension.

The house in question here is a lovely place in the Cotswolds, home of the Bird family.  Colin and Lorelei Bird have four children.  Megan, Bethann, Rory and Rhys.  We journey through their lives and the drama unfolds over the years.  We meet the children when they are small and by the end of the book they are middle aged.

This book addresses the mental illness of a hoarder and what it does to a family.  It was distressing to watch Lorelei at times; I felt such empathy for Megan and Bethann and developed a dislike of Megan’s partner Bill after a bit.  Rory was a product of his environment and Rhys….I won’t spoil that part because it’s integral to the way everyone’s lives play out.

Sharing with Joy for British Isles Friday

 

Non Fiction November

This year I planned to participate in Non Fiction November. Leave it to me to very late to the party! Well, I joined up at Goodreads, even though it’s this late in November.

This November I read and reviewed the following and I’ll finish it up with a book about astronomy.

Ghost Signs by Frank Mastropolo

The Year of the Dog by Vincent Musi

If You Lived Here You’d Be Home by Christopher Ingraham

Dark Skies is a Lonely Planet publication and creates a guide to astrotourism.  It is divided into categories such as stargazing, meteor showers, eclipses, launches. space flight and best of all (to me) dark places.  If you live in or near a city you probably have light pollution that keeps you from seeing some of the night sky.  In a truly dark place you will be gobsmacked by the stars and celestial sights.

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It’s very unlikely my husband and I will get to many of these places but it certainly gives a proverbial bucket list for places in the USA to travel and stargaze.

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This would be a lovely book to gift for your astronomy minded friend or family member this Christmas. The photos are great and it has very detailed resources.

That’s my roundup for Nonfiction November!

If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now by Christopher Ingraham.

 

If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now by Christopher Ingraham.

Ingraham is a data reporter for the Washington Post.  Upon writing an article about the worst place to live in the United States, he unwittingly changed the path of his family’s life.  You’ve seen those charts and list where places in the US are ranked as great places for living, retiring or vacationing.  Obviously the natural beauty of a place and availability to amenities help to rank a city or county very high.

Apparently the cold weather and small population figured highly in the ranking for Red Lake Falls, Minnesota.  After stating it’s the worst, Mr. Ingraham received an email from a resident in Red Lake Falls, inviting him to tour the county and see how numbers don’t always give an accurate portrayal.  He was impressed by the “Minnesota Nice” as he calls it and the beauty of the county and it’s residents.

Coming home to Baltimore and facing the cramped living quarters, the 3+ hour commute to D.C. and the fast paced lifestyle…..he began to think more of the rural living and their own special amenities.  Spending time with his family, having a larger home without the million dollar price tag, the quiet and the chance for his sons to have a Norman Rockwell kinda childhood.  ( I feel like mine was that way in spite of being so close to Philadelphia.  Different era).

At one point I pulled my car over to the side of the road to take pictures and ended up standing there a few minutes, luxuriating in the silence.

Eventually he convinces his boss at the Washington Post to let him live in Red Lake Falls for one year, reporting from the field as data reporting isn’t the same as being a reporter on Capital Hill.  He can fly back for meetings as needed but can accomplish his job by telecommuting.  He can get an accurate assessment of like in a rural community by living it rather than a two week visit.  Three years later and the Ingraham family is still there.

This is a good memoir with humor, statistics, great stories and a slice of life from very cold northern Minnesota.  Loved this book.

This is my third book for Non-Fiction November.

Disaster’s Children by Emma Sloley

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The draw of this book was the apocalyptic theme, doomsday preppers and how a society could function outside the traditional norm.  You are drawn into the small society and gradually realize they just aren’t likable.

The group is made up of professionals such as doctors, journalists and architects – also those with farming knowledge and apparently many of those from a wealthy station in life.  The isolated life these people lead could be described as a gated community (think very large scale) where you must apply for membership.  They drink wine and eat Brie as they meet on various subjects.

There is a journalist who reports news to them as he goes on the Internet; all others aren’t restricted from web surfing but they just don’t indulge. Marlo is a central character – a 25 year-old who has been sheltered from life.  You just can’t warm to anyone in the story and honestly, I almost bailed on the book.  Once a new character was brought in (he applied, was turned down and then showed up) it gets a tad more interesting.  Overall, this didn’t engage me enough to seek out more of the author’s work.

More on the author Emma Sloley Here.

This book is my sixth book for the Aussie Author Challenge.

This book was published November 5, 2019.
Much thanks to Netgalley for the complimentary copy of this book.

Sliding Doors by Peter Howitt

4D1DC633-AD62-4BC4-9DD4-183DE41205E3 The premise of this book intrigued me with the “what if” scenarios.    One little thing can change the path and outcome of your day….. maybe your life as well.

Helen is a PR executive living and working in London. On her way home from work she is rushing for the subway when a child steps in her path, causing her to slow down enough where she misses the train. The sliding door closes before she can board. 

She hails a taxi and eventually makes it home much later. It should be noted Helen has left work early.  This is important. Unbeknownst to Helen, her boyfriend has a woman in their apartment while she is working and so, by delaying her arrival she doesn’t catch Gerry and Lydia together.

Now, same scenario with Helen rushing for the train but she makes it and gets on board. A handsome man named James, who works at her building and spoke to her earlier, sits by Helen and engages her in conversation. 

As she made it on the train she does arrive at home early and catches Gerry with his girlfriend in their bedroom. This sets Helen on a different path as she leaves Gerry and goes to stay with her/friend Anna.

What I didn’t know when I purchased this book was the format.  It’s written as a play with the set and locale information so you may  visualize the scenes as they unfold.  When the two stories of Helen change it`s noted by the author using a different and bolder font for one story line. It sounds confusing but once I started reading it I could keep track.

This was made into a movie and stars Gwyneth Paltrow and John Hannah.  Having read the book I’m glad I did not watch the movie first as I wouldn’t have read the book.  I will also state that the end of one of Helen’s  stories had me about to toss the book across the room. 

I think about things like this on the way to work.  If you decide to take a later flight or a different way to work the outcomes may be identical ……but those different variables may place you in an accident or late or who knows what.  

The scenes were vividly described and you get a little tour of London while reading. Evidently the movie has you fully immersed in the London scenery.  But I doubt I’d watch it now.

Sharing with Joy for her British Isles Friday event.

Ghost Signs by Frank Mastropolo

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If you ever wondered about some old faded murals on buildings and the history behind them, this is a book that will interest you.

Ghost Signs is a  heaping helping of gorgeous old building signs and a history lesson about New York’s fledgling businesses.  It was interesting to read about Wall  Dog painters from the 1920 era when safety precautions took a backseat. I placed a link in for current painters called Wall Dogs.

There is a triangular marker embedded in the sidewalk to mark it as part of the Hess property estate.  In 1910 there was a five story building called the Voorhis, owned by David Hess. It was seized by the city as eminent domain to place a subway through the area.  During a review of surveys it was determined there was one triangular portion hat still belonged to the Hess Estate. This ,marker was placed to show it was never intended to for public purposes.

Did you know Gold Medal Flour was originally named Washburn Crosby’s Superlative Flour? In 1880 their first entry into an international millers’ competition won a gold medal.

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There are more stories to share but it’s fun reading, educational too, learning how immigrants started small businesses, some of which became international.

Publication date is November 28, 2019. non-Fiction and Travel genre.

Much thanks to NetGalley for the advanced copy.

The Legacy of Mr. Jarvis by Jude Hayland

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It’s been rehashed in the book descriptor but I have to outline the plot.  A young girl named Mary Foster is unexpectantly uprooted from her childhood home in London and moved to to a seaside home far away.  She comes home one day and the movers are packing things up.  Her parents didn’t give her any warning.  Imagine that….I would be extremely upset to lose my friends and suburban life without warning, that is from the point of view of a twelve year old.

The perspective jumps to Mary as an adult, taking care of her aging father and her mother who now has Alzheimer’s. Things her mother remembers sparks Mary to research her past a bit.  It’s funny how some things we don’t understand as a child make perfect sense when you are an adult.

It’s a point of reference from the grown up experiences and how we remember something that suddenly fits like a puzzle.  The “Oh, that’s what that meant!” kinda thing.

Without spoilers I can say the end leaves you to make up your own mind how life proceeds for Mary. Two clear and distinct choices are presented by Mary, taking her life in the direction she chooses.  Which one did she pick?  Hmmmm….The author depicts a normal group of characters with everyday flaws and problems.  

Much thanks to NetGalley for the complimentary copy of this book. I was not compensated for the review.  Would I read more by Jude Hayland?  Absolutely.

This book was published October 8, 2019.

Sharing with Joy for her British Isles Friday event.