Waisted

By Randy Susan Meyers

 

Waisted: A Novel by [Meyers, Randy Susan]

4 out of 5 stars

This one really hit home for me. Being a larger woman, I could related to all the feelings of not being “perfect” in the eyes of society and frankly, of ourselves. Alice and Daphne struggle with their weight amidst a husband who wants the thin wife he married and a mother who has always pushed being thin. When they both enter a weight loss program called “Waisted”, they are into more than they bargained for. The harshness of words, the lack of food, the nine hours a day of workouts, is a cruel experiment gone bad. They are being filmed in the acts of humiliation but they do find themselves in ways that they never had before. It’s amazing what two or more together can accomplish.

It was hard to read some of the agonizing things these women went through. I cringed a lot. I loved how we saw weight through the eyes of different cultures and different expectations within those cultures. Some points were totally me. The author always has a great way with different perspectives. I can’t say it made me think differently about weight than I do but it was a good read.

Thanks to Netgalley and Atria for an advance copy of this book.

The Editor

By Steven Rowley

The Editor by [Rowley, Steven]

4 out of 5 stars

Imagine if you walk into your publisher’s office, unsure of what is going to happen, and they tell you they have an editor for your book! Now imagine that the editor is Jackie Kennedy Onassis! That is exactly what Steven Rowley does in this very charming book.

James Smale has written a thinly veiled story about his mother and their relationship. Ms. Onassis takes his hand and helps him to realize so much about life and love and family. Their working relationship develops into a friendship, as much as that can happen, and James begins to understand the mother-son relationship. I love how his relationship with his mother progresses through the story. We think we know everything there is to know about our parents in our lop-sided view but we really don’t.

Growing up Catholic, I have always been fascinated by the Kennedy family, and although this is a fictional account, it rang so true for me. From the descriptions of her attitude, to her home, to her dress, it was exactly as I picture Ms. Onassis, right down to the sweater thrown across her shoulders.

It is a funny, touching gem of a book.

Thanks to Netgalley and Putnam for a copy of this book.

 

 

In the Blink of An Eye

By Jesse Blackadder

 

In the Blink of an Eye: A Novel by [Blackadder, Jesse]

4 out of 5 stars

I am not going to lie, this was a very hard book to read. Losing a child has to be the hardest thing to ever happen to a family. After little Toby is found in their pool, this family has more than it’s share of guilt and blame. Like the title says in the blink of an eye, your whole life can change.

Finn, Bridget, Jarrah, and Toby have moved from New South Wales to Tasmania to begin afresh after a little indiscretion. I don’t honestly think they have found what they were looking for but they are living their lives and starting over. After the accident, the three remaining family members each fall into their own space of grief. Each one is different. Can their lives ever go on again?

This book really shows you the ache and pain of grief. No one’s grief is the same, even as you mourn over the same person. This book clearly shows us that. It is raw and at times hard to read but it is very honest. I loved the glimmer of hope that it did leave me with. Having grieved a few loved ones, I totally got every emotion.

Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for a copy of this book.

Me For You

By Lolly Winston

Me for You by [Winston, Lolly]

5 out of 5 stars

Lolly Winston definitely knows how to take a sad thing like grief and make it into a beautiful story. As she did in Good Grief (I highly recommend it), she has done again in this lovely book.

Rudy wakes up one morning at the age of 54 to his wife lying next to him. He goes about chattering about breakfast and things, as one does, and after a while, realizes she still isn’t stirring. His beloved wife Bethany has passed away in her sleep. Rudy is lost. The world as he knows it has crumbled. What do you do with such a loss? He still goes to his part time job as a piano player at Nordstrom’s. He has a wonderful friend there in Sasha, a woman who has seen her own share of loss, but he is losing his grip. His daughter arranges for him to enter the hospital for a while to work through his depression. The scenes in the hospital are just so touching. Everyone is so kind and everyone is working through their own pain. It shines a light on mental health.

His doctor says something that sticks with me. He said that we have to think of grief as a chronic disease. You know it is always there and sometimes it rears it’s head. That is so very true! That made me cry because I have so many of those moments.

This is such a wonderful book. It is sad and emotional but it is also very uplifting and hopeful. I think, in fact, that hopeful is the word for this book. The characters are all wonderful, so well written. You will laugh and you will cry. You will feel everything and that is always the sign of a great book.

Thanks to Netgalley and Gallery Books for a copy of this lovely novel.

 

Good Riddance

By Elinor Lipman

Good Riddance by [Lipman, Elinor]

4 out of 5 stars

Daphne’s mom leaves her an old high school yearbook when she passes. It isn’t just any old yearbook, it is from the first year that her mom started teaching at the local high school. Her mom went back to the class of 69’s every single year and every year, she would add little connotations to the names of the students. Daphne, never understanding her mom’s need to do this, tosses the book into the recycling in her building. A neighbor picks it up and this begins a story filled with laughter, secrets, and a lot of fun.

This is really a delightfully fun read. I was laughing throughout the whole thing. It wasn’t heavy, even as the secrets were revealed, and I really enjoyed that. Daphne is a great character. For what she has gone through, even in her fanatical way of thinking, she really comes out on top. All the characters are great. I loved her interactions with all of them, including the yearbook thief Geneva. With all the heaviness in this crazy world right now, this was the perfect remedy.

Thanks to Netgalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for a copy of this book.

The Mother-In-Law

By Sally Hepworth

The Mother-in-Law: A Novel by [Hepworth, Sally]

4 out of 5 stars

The police come to the door of Lucy and Ollie’s house one evening to inform them that Ollie’s mom has been found dead, apparently of a suicide. Our story then takes us between the past and the present as we find out that it was not as apparent as it seemed. The book goes back and forth between Lucy and Diana, the mother-in-law. It takes us back to the beginning of their relationship until the present. It is told in both of their voices, which really enhanced the story. Diana was a hard one to warm up to. I can say that for the most part, I was glad she wasn’t my mother-in-law, but I loved the way their relationship evolved. I also loved how Ms. Hepworth was able to take a very rigid character and make me eventually grow to understand and like her.

It took me a while to really get into the book but once I did, I could not put it down.Another shining outing from Ms. Hepworth.

Thanks to St. Martins Press for a copy of this book.

The Dreamers

By Karen Thompson Walker

The Dreamers: A Novel by [Walker, Karen Thompson]

5 out of 5 stars

I know that I could bend the rules, since they are my rules ,  but  I will say that this wonderful book deserves more than 5 out of 5 stars. If you are not sucked in from the get-go by the concept, I don’t know what to say.

Something is happening in the little California town of Santa Lora. It begins at the college when a young girl named Rebecca falls into a deep sleep. They cannot wake her up. She is not the last though. It starts spreading through the school and then citywide. People are dropping into a sleep state like flies. They call in doctors and as it grows, the hospital overflows, doctors and nurses become ill. They move out into the college gym, library. There are sleepers upon sleepers. They try to keep them hydrated to keep them alive. They all seem to be in a REM mode of sleep. What are they dreaming about? We learn with a few of the characters that we follow throughout the story. How will it all end? Will it end?

This book brings forth so many questions. I love how the author peppers us throughout the book with them in each chapter. It is like she is reporting to us and asking in her voice and the voice of the characters.  I was so invested into seeing what became of them. I cried. I felt relief. I felt sadness and joy. I loved that the chapters were short and I think it brought a timeline and a realism to what you were reading. Each character viewed it differently. I loved that it made me think about life and dreams. Ironically, I could not sleep for a while after reading it.

I just really loved this book. It is one of the best books I have read this year so far (I know, we are not too far into January) and probably ever. It definitely lives up to all the hype and lists it is on.

Thanks to Netgalley and Random House for a copy of this fantastic book.