Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Nevermore: Judy Collins, Gloria Steinem, Jose Andres, Rajia Hassib, Elizabeth Strout, Stephanie Ladd, Carol Shields, Clare Revell

 Reported by Laura

            The first book reviewed this week was Sweet Judy Blue Eyes by Judy Collins. Unfortunately, it was a disappointment to the reader. Though she acknowledged the many talents of Ms. Collins, she felt the book missed the mark. There was a lot of name-dropping of famous folk singers, but the stories were not well developed, and a lot of the book focused on the excessive drinking she did during her life. The reviewer would not recommend this one.

            The next book reviewed was very, very good. Doing Sixty and Seventy by Gloria Steinem is a beautiful book that really made sense to the reader. Ms. Steinem is an American feminist and social/political activist. In the book, she speaks to the way aging has changed her, “The older I get, the more intensely I feel the world around me…” The reviewer loved the book and would read it again. She felt it was something that all would enjoy.
            We Fed an Island by Jose Andres was an amazing Who’s Who of Chefs in the world. After Hurricane Marie decimated Puerto Rico, Andres got some of his chef friends together and proceeded to feed hundreds of thousands of people. The reader found Andres to be very caring, kind, and resourceful. He knew exactly where to go and what to do to get things done. Besides telling this wonderful true story, the book also offers suggestions for how to address a crisis like this in the future. A cool side note is that a portion of proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to the Chef Relief Network of World Central Kitchen!

            A Pure Heart by Rajia Hassib was a beautifully written book about two Muslim sisters: Gameela, who stays in Egypt, and Rose, who immigrates to America. It is a brilliant portrait of how the decisions these women make in work and love determine their destinies. The reviewer learned a lot about Muslim and Egyptian thinking and beliefs and loved the book! She felt it was picturesque and enlightening. While reading, she felt she was right there in the story and it helped her to remember to meet people where you meet them and take them as they are right now without regard to their past. Highly recommended!

            The next book was a down-to-earth parody of Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Written with tongue-in-cheek, Tidy the F*ck Up by Messie Condo was very funny and had some good ideas. The reviewer thoroughly enjoyed it.
            My Name is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout concentrates on a woman with three siblings who grew up in poverty. She manages to get away and attend college, but finds that you really can’t escape your past or family ties. The reviewer loves this writer, who also writes the Olive Kitteridge series.

            Maid by Stephanie Land is a memoir that chronicles the life of a single mother who works hard scrubbing the toilets of the rich to keep a roof over her daughter’s head. Our reviewer found nothing to admire in the heroine of this book. She felt her life was the result of a string of bad decisions and that the child was just dragged along at the mercy of those choices. She would not recommend it.

            The Stone Diaries by Carol Shields was the winner of the 1995 Pulitzer Prize. It is the story of Daisy Goodwill, an ordinary woman trying to figure out her place in the world. She was an orphan who came from a poor background, yet she lived a good life. This book spans nearly 90 years, from her birth on a kitchen floor in Canada to her death in a nursing home in Florida. The reviewer felt that it was a very good book.
            Dark Lake is a romantic suspense novel by Clare Revell. The reviewer felt there was a lot going on, but she enjoyed the book. Dr. Lou Fitzgerald, the central character, is an archeologist who is used to overcoming obstacles, having lost her leg at the age of 11. Unexpected happenings rarely faze her, but Dark Lake is more than she bargained for. Expecting to find an ordinary dig, what she encounters is beyond her wildest imagination with dark forces appearing to be at work.

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