Saturday, March 11, 2017

Books Read - Week in Review - W/E - 3/11/2017


This past week I felt restless and in a bit of a funk.  I think the loss of our sweet Lily (3) weeks ago has caught up with me.  I also feel bad because the death of our cat has seemed to have generated all sorts of questions about death and getting old for our oldest granddaughter who not yet 5. (I hate that this little one is being troubled by the concept of death at such an early age).

The weather has been very cold and extremely windy so that hasn't helped with and on Tuesday they are anticipating an almost spring snowstorm...ugh

I did have a good reading week and managed to finish (3) books and began (2) others as well.

Finished Reading


Among the Lesser Gods; Margot Catts 
(Arcade Publishing - 2017) 

(My Thoughts) - A lovely debut novel about family, secrets, hope, healing and redemption.

Elena Alvarez should be happy that her college days in LA are over but, she's a young woman who  seems stuck and can't get past her troubled younger years and the guilt that lingers.  As a child Elena was indirectly responsible for a fire that took the lives of (3) people. Soon after the tragedy her mother left, never to return and there has been a disconnect with her father as well.  With no job prospects yet and an unplanned pregnancy as well, she decides to pursue an offer for a summer job posed to her by her grandmother back in Leadville, CO.  The job is to care for (2) young children ages 12 and 5. The children's mother has just died and the father's job requires frequent travel.  Little does Elena realize but summer proves to be one of healing for not only herself but, those she is surrounded by as well. Descriptive writing; very enjoyable. (4.5/5 stars)


First Women: Kate Anderson Brower 
(Harper Audio) (2016) (Karen White-narrator)



(My Thoughts) - An entertaining, sometimes gossipy and occasionally eye opening look at the First Ladies of the White House from Mamie Eisenhower to Michelle Obama. I enjoyed this audio book but felt it was poorly structured, jumping from past to present and back again which led to some repetitiveness.  I listened to this book and The Residence (by the same author) back to back and, so some of the information seemed like I had heard it before in the other book. 

Some interesting tidbits - Mamie Eisenhower was not happy about having to relinquish her residence to the Kennedy family.  In fact when Jackie visited the White House after JFK's win, she had just given birth to John John by C-section and, although a wheel chair was available, Mrs. Eisenhower didn't offer it to her, making Jackie walk the massive residence. Jackie later spent several weeks on bedrest as a result. Jackie's story was sad by circumstance: newborn son Patrick's death, assassination of JFK and widowhood in her early 30s.  I thought Jackie, Betty Ford and Ladybird Johnson seemed to be shown as the most respected First Ladies, followed by the Bush women and Mrs. Clinton. Nancy Reagan seemed like the most difficult of the women. I thought the author's commentary on Michelle Obama was lacking. She basically stated that Michelle never wanted to be a First Lady and that Michelle found her experience to be "too confining."  She did state that Michelle O along with Jackie seemed to be the most protective of their children. Overall, I was happy I listened to the book but as you can tell, I had a few issues with it as well. 
(3.5/5 stars)


The Residence; Kate Anderson Brower 
(Harper Audio) (2015) (Karen White-narrator)

(My Thoughts) - Another entertaining, informative, gossipy look at the private lives of the First Families, from Kennedy to Obama as seen through the eyes of the service staff through their everyday interactions.  The maids, butlers, chefs, painters and more, many of which had over 30 years of employment serving our First Families share their candid observations. This book also could have benefited from a more chronological structure.

A few interesting tidbits - The senior Mr & Mrs Bush were the most liked by the White House staff. They always interacted with staff and made them feel appreciated. The Clinton's and Obamas came across as more private and at times standoffish. Bill Clinton's need for head stitches during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Bill claimed he hit his head on a door during the night, while the staff were confident that Hillary hit him with one of the many heavy books from her nightstand.  President Johnson was a tyrant and treated the staff terribly. He demanded an elaborate shower that required all new plumbing to get it just the way he wanted it. His wife Ladybird was kind and well respected. Nancy Reagan was so quirky and annoying  and known for her outbursts when things didn't go a certain way. Young Jackie Kennedy's story was just so sad because of circumstance yet she always treated the staff kindly. 

Many significant and even tragic events such as the JFK assassination and 9/11 attack and its aftermath are covered in this book.  Enjoyable read overall (4/5 stars)



Current Reads


















                               
Ill Will; Dan Chaon                                                                  
Ballentine Books - 2017  

 Books for the Living; Will Schwalbe
Random House Audio - 2016

Enjoy Your Weekend Everyone!

30 comments:

  1. I can understand your funk and hope it doesn't last too long.

    They're saying we might get snow tomorrow which is just crazy. Of course, they don't expect any of it to stick. Monday is supposed to be our coldest day so far this winter. It's crazy!

    It looks like you got in some good reading.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Kathy. Yes, at least I can still enjoy some good books.

      Delete
  2. Oooh - the 2 White House books sound right up my audio alley! And I love a little gossip thrown in.

    I also just finished listening to Books for Living, which I really liked. Of course had me adding at least 4 books to my TBR list.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sarah, I LOVED Books for Living and yes, my TBR list has grown.

      Delete
  3. I enjoyed The Residence but don't feel compelled to read more books like it. I hope spring arrives soon and lifts your spirits. We've been back in the 20s the past few days and they're predicting snow for Sunday night/Monday. We'll see. It's been a fairly mild winter overall.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I liked The Residence more for sure. More insight I thought.

      Delete
  4. I'm not surprised that the gloomy weather has not helped your mood, especially after losing your sweet kitty. Yes, it's tough to watch children come to an understanding about death. Wish they didn't have to.

    I listened to THE RESIDENCE a year or so ago and found it fun. Sort of like reading People magazine (which I used to do for years). I also have the FIRST WOMEN on audio, but had wondered if there was overlap between the two. Think I'll wait a while before listening to it. I've always been fascinated with the First Ladies. Love that exhibit in the Smithsonian of their inaugural ball gowns. And I love to know tidbits about them. Such a public time of their lives, always on display in a way. Like being in a department store window (do they even have those any more? LOL).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kay, there definitely is some overlap between the two books and because I read them back to back they blended for sure -- plus same reader.

      Delete
  5. We hope you're not funky much longer. We know sweet Lily wouldn't want that for you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, I just can't stop thinking of her and miss seeing her in certain stops around the house.

      Delete
  6. I'd like to get hold of both the Brower books. Sounds so entertaining.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I'm things feel a bit funky at the moment. Death of a pet isn't easy. I hope,you start to feel yourself again soon, I am interested in the goings on at the Whitehouse and the lives of the First Ladies but I often find books that try to cover large subjects tend to jump round because there are connections between people. Not sure these would be the books where I start.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, Emma, I hated that they jumped around so much. Still fun tidbits though.

      Delete
  8. Gloomy weather just makes me want to stay in bed, order out, read, play games and watch TV. Gray weather makes me drowsy and lazy. I don't know if anyone ever had a real conversation with me about life and death, and what death meant. My mother just assumed a lot. I hope you are able to bridge that conversation with her well. It is hard to understand at a young age, and it is scary to think about.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know what you mean Charlie. My first experience with death was at age 9, a close uncle died and I went to my first wake and funeral.

      Delete
  9. I have to admit one of my cats has been missing for almost 6 months and I still get in a funk about it. Bit different, but still been hard. Hope your funk passes soon!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not knowing what happened to our pets is terrible for sure. We lost a few of our cats when they were indoor/outdoor.

      Delete
  10. Have you seen the movie Jackie? I thought it was excellent. I am so excited about Dan Chaon's new novel, because I loved his last one. I await your review.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I haven't seen Jackie but, hope to catch it on television soon.

      Delete
  11. Grieving for a beloved pet can take such time! I've had two dogs over my lifetime that died of sudden, unexpected illnesses. Both times I had a slow recovery. It helped that Ken was grieving with me. But a pet loss leaves such an empty, gaping hole. But pets are so worth it.

    I'm sorry the coming storm delays the spring for you. (We worship winter here and welcome a brutal March snowstorm because all the businesses here will do so very well and we are into snow sports, but in Massachusetts, it's another thing entirely.) So I commiserate. Have you ever been to the courtyard gardens at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston? It's a gorgeous garden space all-year round and very healing.
    I wish you comfort!
    Judith

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judith, your sweet comments on our loss of precious Lily are appreciated. It's been 4 weeks now and I still tear up almost everyday at some point when I think of her.

      Delete
  12. The loss of a beloved pet can definitely keep us feeling down for a while.

    Your books look good...The Residence and First Women look very promising. Enjoy the upcoming week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you would enjoy The Residence and First Women - at least for the gossipy parts. LOL

      Delete
  13. Oh the Residence does sound full of juicy tidbits! I hope you feel better soon. I can imagine it must be so hard to go through the loss of dear pet. And, hope the snow storm wasn't too awful for you!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Iliana, the snow will be here for a while even though today it will be 50 degrees. There is still 12" or so on the ground.

      Delete
  14. Mean Mamie! I grew up in an E. hating family. :<)) I've been concerned about this happening with my grandkids if Raya the cat dies. She is 16 now, and healthy, but a real part of particularly Hazel's life. Our son was 5 when a cat died, but incredibly (to me) I don't remember any discussions about it. He came with us to the vet, and we told him that she had died in the office. Didn't say she was put down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for making me feel bad all over again Nan -- LOL

      Delete
  15. Hm, I was looking forward to First Women. I did like The Residence (didn't love it, but it was good), but if you aren't going to give Michelle her due then I can skip it :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. And I'm sorry about Lily :( It's never easy, especially when trying to explain to kids. Our 16 year old cat died when Gage was 3 and he still talks about her!

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thank again for visiting.

(I apologize for the word verification, spammers spoil it for all sadly.)