A simple yet elegant look at giving meaning to the little nuances of our lives. Jenkins has an easy going style and peppers his observations on ego, family, work, love and the end with personal experiences and anecdotes. He has not had an easy life coming from a conservative Christian family and struggling with faith and sexual identity. He is able to look at his strengths and flaws that make us understand without feeling bad about our own. His essays on how he is searching for ways to lead a more authentic life hopefully help us be more authentic as well. 4 stars
A horrible accident changes a family forever. Molly can't get over the fact that her youngest daughter is dead and that she was driving the car that killed her and neither can her two other kids or her husband. Maybe that is why they don't find it odd that one night on her way home from her son's school she runs out of gas in a storm and disappears leaving a note saying not to look for her. Nicole just can't let her mom's sudden disappearance go and is still searching for clues in the small town where she was last seen. Someone else is watching too and the more Nicole digs the more danger she is in. Her mom is being held and is just as desperate to have someone still looking for her. Perfectly paced and filled with clever misdirection, this speeding train will have you reading through the night. If you enjoy a lot of tension and want a clever whodunnit that will have you guessing wrong more often than not, this is for you.
3 1/2 stars
Antonia is surprised to meet and greet her brother's wife and young daughter on the doorstep of the family estate in Scotland. She has seen her brother only a few times in between botany expeditions and only knew they were living in India. Soon Antonia and Cicely find some common ground and it is nice to have a child living with them but there is still a lingering kernel of unease as to why they are there at all. Cicely is trying to balance her husband's quest for a new species with the very necessary costs of living and is doing whatever she can to acquire and sell new plants. Mainly it is a story of resourceful women who feel hindered by marriage. Botany and the fever to find and name new plants is a secondary story that strengthens and destroys relationships.
3 1/2 stars
Beginning in 1959 forward thinking people began to ask a key "what if" question. What if computers
could predict how people would act based on algorithms? Then they asked what if they could use that information to influence people to act a certain way? Simulatics Corp. did just that with Kennedy's presidential campaign and later to disseminate information released about the unpopular Vietnam War. This group laid the groundwork for all the social media platforms and advertising . It includes a second story about the women behind the scene who , like the space program, were instrumental in the success of this company. Anyone who is interested in very early computing and promotion will be riveted. The author has a very easy going style and adds a human element making it an easy and enjoyable non-fiction read.
I am a huge fan and this book just reinforced that ten-fold. At first, the stories and people feel disjointed but as the book progresses, those loose threads magically knit together. A near suicide, an unlikely bank robber who ends up an unlikely hostage taker, a father/son police team and a group of odd balls who came to view an apartment for rent and end up as hostages. What do these people all have in common? Each chapter dissects what is happening at that moment and gives you insight into the character. In true Fredrik Backman fashion, they are all unusual yet very ordinary and have a story with a twist and they are all very anxious. Funny, heartbreaking, insightful and extremely clever - the adjectives could go on forever. Once again, Fredrik Backman has made us appreciate what it means to be human and has allowed us to laugh at ourselves just a little. 5 stars
What if there was a machine that told you with a swab of your DNA, what you were meant to be doing in your life? Overnight, the little town of Deerfield Louisiana is taken over by people wielding tiny slips of blue paper, giving up their day jobs to pursue what should have been their life's purpose. But how many carpenters, astronauts, cowboys and magicians does the little town need? On a more serious side, two teens are trying to get past the drunk driving death of a boyfriend and brother one wanting closure and the other revenge. Clever, funny and heartwarming in the style of Fannie Flagg, Billie Letts, Fredrik Backman and Katarina Bivald - this is a feel good story about living up to your best potential and potentially just living your best life. 4 stars
Graham was the larger than life husband to Freida and now Annie and the father of Lucas and Sarah. He wasn't perfect but he was well loved and now suddenly, he is gone. Annie goes back to pick up her life before Graham which isn't easy. She begins to dissect their marriage and that love/hate relationship that can only be analyzed after the fact. Where you were two and now one is left. This is a touching and quiet book filled with such raw emotion that sinks into your core. Don't be surprised if you begin to look back at your own marriage and possibly wonder at what your life will be like alone and how well you knew each other. A perfect read for those readers of family dramas like those of Elizabeth Stroud, Kristin Hannah and Ann Patchett. 4 stars
Eudora is done. She has lived a full life and is sick of being old so she has decided to end things on her own terms. But when a vivacious 10 year old and her family moves in next door, Eudora's well ordered boring life gets shaken up. Rose is pure energy and love and easily able to wiggle her way into the hardest of hearts. Soon Rose, Eudora and another elderly neighbor are eating ice cream, attending social functions and good times. Eudora almost forgets how everyone in her life has let her down. She must now decide to go ahead with her plan or change her mind. Sweet, funny and a light-hearted look at a serious subject, it reminds us that sometimes it takes the wisdom and energy of the young to shake up the well played lives of the elderly. I promise you will be left with a full heart and a silly grin on your face. Full of wonderfully quirky characters that remind me of the best of Fredrik Backman and Fannie Flagg. 4 stars
Sanctuary is a small town with good schools, well manicured lawns, beautiful homes and one witch. Sarah has her group of friends who she keeps healthy and happy with her brews, spells and white magic. When her daughter's boyfriend dies at a party in front of everyone the town is shocked but when Sarah's daughter, Harper is accused of using magic to kill him the world begins to spin out of control.
Tragedy makes people look for blame and so begins the witch hunt. This is a clever spin of small town secrets, politics and bad behavior mixed with a classic case of witchcraft. The result is a tense whodunnit that mixes BIG LITTLE LIES with The Salem Witch Trials. 4 stars
3 1/2 stars
At this point in our present summer at home everyone can use a cozy mystery. Amory and her dashing husband Milo are expecting their first child and are staying at their country estate rather than London. It is not all tea parties and horse races when an unexpected half brother shows up , a jilted lover and more than one murder takes place in the village. Suspicion falls on many as Amory begins to sort things out. For the classic mystery lover this series provides interesting characters with just enough gossip, foul play and an escape to a more civilized time. Readers missing Downton Abbey will fall into this instantly.
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