Sally Hepworth’s The Mother-in-Law challenges the notion of who mûakes a good mother in law in her latest novel. Lucy never felt accepted by Diana, her husband’s mother. From their very first meeting, which was fraught with misunderstanding and unmet expectations, Lucy and Diana do not seem to see eye to eye or communicate well during Lucy’s entire marriage to her husband Ollie. After learning of Diana’s death, the family has to figure out how to move forward; while they do so, secrets and revelations emerge that change the trajectory of their lives. The story is told in their two voices, in both the past and present. This insight is valuable and lays the groundwork for the exciting conclusion.
(I received this book through Net Galley and have offered an objective review.)
Personal note: I have an outstanding MIL and count myself fortunate to do so!
Though the book starts out a bit confusing, with characters not clearly identified in a way that made sense to me, the story did still draw me in, going back and forth between 1941 and present day. Four women comprise The High Tide Club, a bunch of single friends ages 14-19, in 1941; three are white and one is black, which is significant both of the time period as well as later in the book. These women face adversity both in the past and in present day; the book does evolve and ultimately do a good job with character development, reeling in the reader with facts slowly doled out each chapter.
In summary, a lawyer named Brooke is hired by a 99 year old woman, Josephine, to save her property from developers and the state, after she passes. Along the way, we meet members of Brooke’s family, as well as the descendants of the High Tide Club, whom Josephine wants to bequest her property. In addition, Brooke begins to be wooed by a former mentor and a past relationship also turns up at the same time, which causes some confusion for all involved. What seems to initially be a straightforward story of legal drama and righting some wrongs, turns into a multifaceted, layered affair with twists and turnabouts few will see coming.
Though most likely considered general summer fiction, there is so much more in this story. Mystery, deceit, murder, rape, racism, and romance are all intertwined with so many details, you will want to savor each page, reading slowly to capture all of the nuances and anticipate what direction the story will take. Though some storylines are predictable, the majority are not and might surprise the reader a little, making the book even more captivating and thought provoking. I stayed up late finishing it, just couldn’t put it down. Definitely recommend for book clubs, and I already told my mom to read it, so we can talk about it.
Every Note Played is a heart wrenching story about a couple who lost their way but not their respect, for one another. Karina and Richard are both musicians who fell in love over the piano. Karina plays jazz and Richard is more of a classical purist, yet they are able to find commonalities even beyond their instruments. Over time though, secrets and insecurities creep into their marriage, ultimately contributing to its demise. This aspect of the story is not unique or new; the added dimension is that Richard acquired ALS about xx years after the divorce, and Karina becomes his caretaker. They each have to face their own internal demons as well as make peace with how they treated one another.
As Richard’s disease progresses, he begins to develop humility. Karina rediscovers long lost confidence. The two figure out a way to live together while also facing Richard’s certain death sentence. Their ability to find a way to communicate and even somewhat reconcile make for a compelling read. Side characters include their college age daughter, Richard’s caretaker and Karina’s best friend; each one offers insight into the character’s development and move the story along.
Overall, though not an upbeat book, it is honest and informative. It was hard to put down, as I wanted to find out what would happen next. The emotional complexities made the book compelling. I also have relatives with this disease and learning about what they go through was difficult to process, yet I appreciated learning more about the disease. Though fiction, the author did a tremendous amount of research and I think that what it is in the book is an accurate depiction of some one with ALS. She also shared information at the end about new trials, which offer hope to those afflicted. Strongly recommended.
(Received an early copy of the book from Net Galley and have provided an impartial review.)
My bookclub read The Hideaway by Lauren Denton and though the group was mixed on their opinions, I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Sara, a woman in her late 20’s/early 30’s inherits an old house that belonged to her late grandmother, Maggie. Throughout the novel, we learn about each of their lives, the hits and misses, romances and relationships. Sara thought she knew all about her grandmother but as an adult she was able to discover The Hideaway a side of her few knew had existed. It is a bittersweet novel, as Sara realized Maggie was so much more than just her grandmother. It is hard to describe what seems like an obvious observation, that a younger Maggie had a full and extensive life before Sara or even Sara’s mother, was born. This realization give Sara the courage to trust her herself to make risky decisions about her own life. She had been living in a sheltered existence, avoiding reality while pretending that she was happy and fulfilled.
The Hideaway will make you think about the people in your life, past and present, and wonder how well you know them. It made me wish I could go back and ask my grandparents more questions about their earlier lives. Written well, going back and forth between the two time periods, readers will find themselves drawn into both stories and I think, find the end satisfying.
I work in an office that teaches students about professionalism in the work place, as well as other career related topics. We have a range of staff from leadership to student employee, with about eight people supervising the full-time staff, to another six to eight who supervise graduate and undergraduate students. With so many supervisors and staffs, there are often conversations about managerial style and employee work and productivity.
Ask a Manager is direct and offers simple advice for a multitude of scenarios, from both the employer and employee perspectives. Some of the situations are extreme and others are common, almost mundane. Having both types demonstrates the idiosyncrasies within all industries and recognizes different personalities. Though ideal for someone new to the field, it is a good refresher for those who have worked for a while too. Definitely recommend and perhaps a good choice for someone who recently became a supervisor or manager.
(I received a free copy of this book from Amazon and have provided an objective review)
Jamie’s cat MacGyver is super intuitive to her moods and feelings, more than the typical cat. In addition, he is pretty smart, able to figure out how to escape his house to explore the neighborhood where they moved to. The book follows Jamie’s year without a man, while she figures out her life after deciding to have a career change. She came to realize that she was putting her needs and interests behind those of the men she dated and lost herself in the process. The story occurs over the course of a year, and we get to experience her ups and downs along the way. She makes new friends and discoveries, allowing her to find her path and contentment along the way. Definitely a good book for cat fans, as well as those who like books with a romantic plot line.
The Power of Moments, authored by brothers Chip and Dan Heath, outlines ways we can introduce defining moments in our lives. Whether at work or home, with individuals or groups, kids or adults, the ideas introduced in the book can be adapted and applied. Broken into four sections: Elevation, Insight, Pride, and Connections, the authors define their terms, give examples of when these work, and steps to implement them in our own lives.
As I read the book I kept imagining what I could do with co-workers, clients, and family members. How could I establish a tradition or create a memory so impactful, it would resonate for years? Some of the ideas are fairly simple and cost effective; others are more elaborate and could be cost prohibitive. Yet, I still felt like the advice is manageable and relevant for a wide array of people. After finishing the book, I discovered a link to a website for additional ideas, a newsletter, and once I signed up for the newsletter, an email address for the authors. I sent a note with a question and to my delight, Chip responded within hours. It is always appreciated when an author answers an email, and even more so, in such a short period of time. I look forward to trying out his personal suggestions based on a situation I described. Lastly, I am a fan of the Freakanomics series, as well as books by Malcolm Gladwell, like the Tipping Point, which resonate with me in similar ways. Based on other reviewer’s comments, it looks like I will now be reading other books by the Heaths. I already bought another one and look forward to using the information in that one too.
( I was provided a copy of the book by Net Galley in order to write an objective review.)