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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Patty Pick for 1/30/14 - "The All-Girl Filling Station's Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg

I loved all of the Fannie Flagg's books that I have read over the years. 
This book is really good. I loved the way the chapters jumped around between Sookie and Fritzi. What an interesting and surprising book! I had never heard of the WASP corp (Women Airforce Service Pilots) but this book opened my eyes. As usual, there is a lot packed into a Fannie Flagg book. I look forward to exploring that interesting part of history.
Sookie is a 60-year-old mother who just married off one of her four children
and is looking to find something to fill her time. She loves feeding her birds, planning her children's weddings and her wonderful husband, Earl. She doesn't like keeping her strong-willed mother, Lenore, out of trouble. This is getting harder and harder every year with Lenore's memory problems and age. Lenore has always told Sookie how to live her life but Sookie  is ready to figure out what she wants to do until a envelope arrives in the mail for her mother. When Sookie opens it up and finds out that she is adopted, she is floored and kind of has a mini meltdown. What happens next, is hilarious and touching at the same time. 
We are also following the life and family of Fritzi. As her family struggles to keep their "filling" station open during the World War II, we watch them grow up and marry. This Polish family is close and hardworking. They find a way to keep the station going and contribute to the war effort as much as possible. When the Army decides to start the WASP corp to train pilots and ferry aircraft around the country from factory to base, Fritzi is in. Eventually her other sisters join her and they become part of a storied history that was disbanded eventually by the Army. The sisters and their fellow female pilots were pushed back to their former lives with no benefits from the Army for their efforts, but Fritzi lands on her feet as usual.
As Sookie and Fritzi head toward a meeting, we learn about them and their families and we like them both. They are total opposites but have the same steel in their backbones. 
We are shown that bravery and love come in all shapes and sizes. One of my favorite quotes from the book comes close to the end. Sookie realized her worth. As she thought, "And no, she wasn't a leader in society, or a rich and famous ballerina, but her husband and her children loved her. And, really, what more could a person ask for?" Don't miss the chance to laugh at loud and cry from the poignant words that Fannie Flagg put into this book!  

Thursday, January 23, 2014

PATTY PICK for 1/24/14 is "A Lovely, Indecent Departure" by Steven Lee Gilbert

It is a rare treat to hear an auther discuss their own books, so our 
book club was very lucky to have Steven Lee Gilbert come to our 
book club meeting! He was a very interesting speaker and hearing 
the ends and outs of how he developed the story line were an extra 
reward. We were able to hear his background and the influence his 
family has on his writing, along with the process he uses. We are 
all looking forward to many future novels by him. 

"A Lovely, Indecent Departure" is a wonderfully, thrilling book that 
will keep you guessing until the end. Some people will notice that 
he does not use quote marks to denote conversation. I was so 
into the characters and their stories, that I did not even notice.

Anna is an abused wife whose sick husband, Evan, has been able to 
keep his true self hidden from most of the world. After she leaves him,
Evan holds their child's custody hostage to torture her more. 
Anna can not bear to lose custody of their child, Oliver, to Evan 
and so she abducts him. Anna runs off to Italy to hid them from 
the world with the help of her family. Evan and Sheriff Rossi try to 
find them and the novel twists and turns to a very exciting ending. 
It does leave a lot for you to figure out - as the author intended. 
I did want to know more of what happened after the last big event 
but you (and I) will have to use our imagination. 

The book will satisfy your longing for an interesting ending
with smart dialogue and characters along the way. I really liked Anna
and Oliver and wanted them to succeed even after some questionable 
choices. We don't really know the choices we would make if faced with 
these hard choices of losing our child to a crazy, psychotic spouse 
or any other real danger. I know that Anna and Oliver made the right choices. 

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Book Talk not to Miss! Dr. Tom Eamon - "The Making of a Southern Democracy"

Recently my husband and I were excited to see that Dr. Tom Eamon had written a new book about North Carolina politics. My husband and our daughter had both taken classes from Dr. Eamon in Political Science at East Carolina University. I had met Professor Eamon a few years ago when my husband and I were on campus with our daughter. They both loved his class and my husband raves about it to this day. 
Dr. Eamon was coming to Quail Ridge Book Store to give a book talk about his new book, "The Making of a Southern Democracy", so we were definitely not going to miss it! The staff at Quail Ridge had to bring out extra chairs and it was still standing-room only for his talk. Obviously many people knew of Dr. Eamon's amazing knowledge of Southern politics and North Carolina politics. The audience included a lot of former students, coworkers and acquaintances. 
Dr. Eamon was amazing! He had us laughing one minute, thoughtful the next and completely captivated with his unique speaking style and limitless knowledge. I can understand why he is one of the few professors my husband remembers to this day and I am sorry I missed him. 
The book sold out that night at Quail Ridge and we were lucky to get a copy. This is a book not to miss if you like North Carolina politics and if you are lucky enough to get to one of Professor Eamon's talks, do not miss it!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Patty Pick for 1/16/14 is "The Husband's Secret" by Liane Moriarty

The Husband's Secret Cover - P 2013

"The Husband's Secret" by Liane Moriarty will turn you inside out with laughter, grief and suspense, all at the same time. Even though this book can be a little predictable in places, you will be glad, especially if you have a daughter.  No one wants to the read the ending that will be flying toward you. As you fall into their lives you want to know more, and so you follow the trails that the author quietly leads you down. The ending will surprise and bewilder you. It may even make you cry, it did me. 
The many people who grow up and return to this small town are all inter-related. They grew up together, their parents are friends or relatives, their children go to the same small school. Their lives touch each other and change the course of their futures. 
As we meet Rachel, she is still dealing with the loss of her daughter to murder when she was a teenager. Even though it has been many years, she has never fully recovered enough to deal with it. She thinks she finally has evidence to nail the killer. Felicity and Tess have a complicated friendship that plays out in the book and they suddenly realize they are using each other as a crutch. This is after quite an upheaval in their personal lives. 
And then there is Cecelia and her husband John-Paul and their perfect family. When Cecelia learns her husband's secret, by finding and reading a hidden letter, it can not be returned to its hiding place. Nothing will be the same again. Do you really know your spouse? What could you live with to protect your family? What events make your conscience take over and what will you do?  
This will probably be a quick read for most of you, but don't rush it. The ending comes soon enough. Just remember that you don't know what you would do in these situations. Hopefully you and I never will. Make sure you don't miss the pages at the end about what Jane's life may have been like. 

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Patty Pick for 1/9/14 is "The Good House" by Ann Leary

"The Good House" by Ann Leary was not what I expected, but in a good way. Ann Leary definitely knows her way around alcoholism but this is not a "preachy" book. 
This book is filled with people like those you know in your hometown. Every one has a life that is effected by their past and as this is revealed in the book you understand some of their actions. The people who populate Wendover, whether they have grown up there or one of the newbies, give this town life and this book richness. 
The narrator and main character, Hildy Good, is a descendent of one of the original founders of the town who happened to have been hanged as a witch during the Salem Witch Trials. Hildy, a successful realtor, has a drinking problem that she denies. Her life, her past,and the relationships she has with the current crop of townspeople make for good reading. You have to like her no matter the bad decisions she makes along the way. 
While her friendship with newcomer, wealthy Rebecca McAllister, begins to add suspense to Hildy's life, life is fighting back. She struggles to keep her small business going and her drinking under control while keeping way too many secrets of those she knows. Her daughters and their families, but mostly the people in her town fill this book with great interior stories as we follow Hildy around. 
Frank Getchell, the local garbage company owner, comes back into her life and more interesting events continue to happen. I thought this was going to be one of those light and amusing reads that did not leave a lasting impression but Hildy will be with me for a while, even if she is a Yankee! :)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Patty Pick - 1/2/2014 - "Nightwoods" by Charles Frazier


I must be one of the few Southerners that did not like "Cold Mountain" by Charles Frazier! However with "Nightwoods", Charles Frazier redeemed his writing skills to me. (I'm sure he is not worried!) I really liked this book and I wanted more of it and more of the characters. That's when you know it is a good book. 
The main character, Luce, definitely grows on you. You pull for her to overcome her circumstances and be happy. As her life unfolds in the book, you want her to find someone or something to fill her lonely existence, and then the children arrive. 
Delores and Frank do not sound like children names and they do not act like 
children at first. But thru the trouble they cause, Luce, can see the pain and anxiety they are suffering from due to the murder of the their mother, Lily, Luce's sister. As Luce works to break into the walls they have built around themselves, Stubblefield arrives to further add to the drama. He has changed from the boy she once knew.
Luce has been living and caring for an old hotel owned by Stubblefield's father. Stubblefield comes home to claim his inheritance. To further add to the mix, Bud slinks into town looking for the children. Even though Bud is thought to be Lily's killer, the police could not find enough evidence to hold him. Mix all these interesting people together and stir. Luce must use all her skills to work for a solution and protect the children. She has to learn to depend on other people for one of the first times in her life. 
I don't want to spoil this one for you because it is one you will want to read for yourself!