Monthly Archives: October 2013

Quick, intense read

golden   This is the latest from Kristina Riggle called The Whole Golden World: A Novel.  It follows the story of 17-year old Morgan who considers herself an old soul.  She is studious, serious and responsible.  Part of this stems from growing up as the big sister to twin brothers who were born prematurely and endured many health issues, so Morgan is forced to take care of herself early on.  Her father is also the assistant principal of her school which can create a ton of stress for a teenage girl.  Some young girls would crumble under all the pressure, but not Morgan.  She knows she is different…different from her peers and her brothers.  She is looking to assert her independence and “grow up”.  Unfortunately, Mr. Hill, her calculus teacher, is more than willing to help her with this.  The two of them start a friendship which turns into more than they could have imagined.  It ends with a “confrontation” in a parked car where the police discover the two of them.  Mr. Hill is arrested and Morgan is now shunned by the students and labeled a “slut”.  Both her parents careers are on the line and through it all Morgan supports Mr. Hill.

The book reminded me of an after school special (and I am aware that this expression dates me….I am quite comfortable with that.  But if you are unsure what the term “after school special” means….google it.)  Now I loved after school specials, I loved that I never knew when they would be on or what they would be about, and yet every day after school, I would race into the house and turn the knob on the TV and wait to see if there would be one on.  I loved to get lost in the lives of these angst-ridden teenagers who made poor decisions…drinking and driving, doing LSD, teen pregnancy, etc.  It was drama and it wasn’t mine, so I allowed myself to get sucked into it.  The same goes for this book.


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Hollywood in the 1930’s

ticket    I received an email from new author Steven M. Painter about reviewing his book Take Her for a Ride: A Hollywood Story, and as you know or may not know, I receive book review requests on a daily basis from new authors.  It is impossible for me to accept them all, so I am kind of particular.  I read Mr. Painter’s description about Hollywood in the 1930’s and was intrigued.  I love old Hollywood… Hollywood is filled with far too many whistles and bells for my liking.  Old Hollywood seems more mysterious and alluring….romantic.  This could be because I was not alive and have just imaged it that way, but I am just fine with that.

This story takes place after the stock market has crashed and the Great Depression.  Life as they all know it takes a turn for the worse and life in Hollywood is headed for disaster.  Paul Russell is a producer who desperately tries to save his movie studio from collapse.  He is dating an actress who does not want any “help” from Paul.  Her name is Lillian Nelson and she wants to make it in Hollywood on her own merit.  Though being a woman in 1930’s in not as easy and she has hurdles to jump before she can stand on her own.  Everyone in Hollywood is struggling…..can they turn things around?

There are appearances from many real people from this era like: James Cagney, Bela Lugosi, Boris Karloff, and etc.   Mr. Painter has a master’s degree in film studies, so he knows what he is writing about.

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Two books for a rainy afternoon

pair    Here are two very different books that would be great to read on a rainy afternoon.  The first one is called Aunty Lee’s Delights: A Singaporean Mystery  by Ovidia Yu. his one reminded me of Diane Mott Davidson’s Goldy mysteries.  This one takes place in Singapore where Aunty Lee has opened a restaurant where she serves some yummy sounding and spicy meals…that I would love to try!  Sadly, there are no recipes.  However, there is a mystery that involved her stepson, his wife, a few girls that work at the restaurant and a few unusual customers.  It all begins with a missing person which leads to the discovery of a dead body and then another missing person….you catch the pattern.  Aunty Lee provides comic relief and some mad sleuthing skills.


The other book is historical fiction and is called  Swimming in the Moon by Pamela Schoenealdt.  Historical Fiction is one of my favorites.  This one starts in Naples, Italy in 1905 with a 14-year-old girl named Lucia who lives in a villa with her mother where the two are servants to the Contessa Elisabetta Monforte. Lucia is happy in the villa and with her life.  She was born in the villa to her mother who was just 14 years old, and has grown up with the Contessa.  Lucia’s mother Teresa is another story….she is not happy.   Teresa has the gift of song…she sings like an angel, but she is tormented by her past.  This torment leads to a confrontation that forces the mother and daughter to flee the country in order to save their lives.  With the help of the Contessa, they find passage to America and move to Cleveland where they hope to find happiness.  Unfortunately, America proves to be unkind to immigrants and being alone with her tormented mother, Lucia quickly grow up and takes care of them both.  She has dreams of college, a better life, but her circumstances create obstacles.  The working conditions, the wages and her mother’s deteriorating mental health make it difficult for a young immigrant girl to make her way in the early 1900’s.  Quite a compelling read.


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