Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Book Club Meeting, Book Review: Before We Were Yours

Before We Were Yours 
By Lisa Wingate

Lisa Wingate has written a novel Before We Were Yours. historically, adoption in the state of Tennessee. Which is outrageous, and heartbreaking. I had to use so many tissues and had to stop myself from screaming, it was shocking!

Before mainstream adoption was considered good practice. Before Georgia Tann, most adoptions were unheard of.  Adoptions before the '30s were usually hidden. Most families didn't tell anyone. It was considered a scandal in upper-class families.  For regular folks, once they adopted a child the family moved away. Children were considered a throwout, a reject. 

A woman named Georgia Tann, a respected woman of Memphis society. People around town didn't think anything of it. She was in charge of Tenn. Children's Society. She was recognized by Elenor Roosevelt.

She helped thousands of children. In reality, it was the opposite. Children were stolen right in open daylight, stolen from the women given birth, taken from women in mental hospitals. Families would show up at family services asking for assistance. Instead, they would sign papers not realizing what they were signing. Ms. Tann had hired spotters to others to help find children that would be acceptable for adoption. 

Children were neglected, molested, starved, diseased, and died in her care. They were transported, out of state to families that would pay the high price of Ms. Tann's fees of thousands and thousands of dollars. Ms. Tann adopted out to many political, actors,  politicians, important people as long as they could pay the high price.  Many people worked for Ms. Tann. Many people were on the take, including the judge

Ms. Wingate weaves the story with facts and fiction. The book transports you in contemporary time to the 1930s. With two main characters, Avery, and Rill. Avery is a lawyer in a powerful family. Who's father happens to be running for a seat in the government. 

Rill lives on a riverboat with her family, of 5 brothers and sisters. Her mother just went into labor. Her mother and father were expecting a normal delivery. Instead, her parents had to leave, and go to the hospital. While her parents were gone. The authorities came to pick up Rill, and her brothers and sisters. eventually, the children find themselves in the custody of Tenn. Children's Society. 

Avery's grandmother, Judy was recently taken out of her home and placed into a nursing facility. In the facility, Avery by coincidence meets May. That is where the connections begin.  I  enjoyed reading about these elderly ladies. Their connections, and the love they had for each other. This part of the story was so poetic.  

  It was the best part of the book. Don't get me wrong, I loved every part of the book. But, the part when the secret is no longer hidden from the family was very potent.  Especially when the family learns the truth about a certain aspect of Judy, the grandmother. 
Alternating chapters were confusing at times, and the many different characters as well.  But toward the end, it jelled together.  I thought it was a good read, and emotional. But, you had to have patience. Also, Don't expect the novel to have depth, the novel is women's fiction. It is still a good read, and worth reading. 

The book also brings up social values. Ms. Tann's argument was the families were poor, and couldn't raise the children properly. Well, if we take these children and have them adopted to a "better family". Who's right is it? Just because they come from a poor family. Doesn't mean they will not come from a happy family. Going to an upper-class family isn't going to mean they are raised better. 

Ms. Tann didn't do backgrounds on families going to be adopted. She didn't check out the families and find out if they are reputable. There are many children adopted by wealthy families and were abused. So her argument doesn't stand up for her rationale.

Book Rating:



Monday, October 12, 2020

The Summer I Met Jack- Book Review

The Summer I Met Jack
By Michelle Gable
Galley from St. Martin

** spoiler alert ** At first, I was not thrilled to read the novel. Yes, novel. It is fiction just remember that while reading. Our book club read the novel for September. Most of us wondered what was true, and what was false. After reading, I realized why people hate politics. It's not a political novel. It just gave me more insight into why people feel the way they do.

Going on to the story. Unfortunately, I didn't finish the novel until after the book club. I had high regard for the Kennedy family. The author doesn't paint them like that at all. Instead, she has a different take. If you are a Kennedy follower. You will be disappointed. I didn't know too much because I was a toddler during this time. What I know is what I heard from gossip from family and friends in life. I never did any outside reading and research on my own.

It took me quite a while to get into the novel. I would say it is a beach read. I am glad I read it. But, I will say, after reading. I didn't care for the characters of the Kennedy family. None of them would I want to know. Remember, this is fiction. I don't know if the author got first-hand knowledge about the family's character. Or was it made up? I would love to know.

The story is partially true. JFK met a Polish, Jewish young woman named, Alicia Darr in the summer of 1950. They started a relationship that turned into a love affair. This part is true. What is uncertain is, did she and Jack conceive a child. We will never know. Apparently, the FBI and Hoover were following the escapades. They wanted to know if Alicia was pregnant. It was never proven. Just proves what length Hoover went to dig up dirt on Jack.

She painted the family as obnoxious, and no civility. Their mother, Rose was cold as ice. and so much more hidden tidbits. Supposedly, they were engaged until Joe Kennedy stopped it. He wanted Jack to marry someone else. Not someone Jewish. They both went on with their life. Alicia went out to Hollywood to venture into movies. She had several boyfriends including, Kirk Douglas, Gary Cooper. Jack continued his political life without her. It was rumored Jack had several women, including Marilyn Monroe. He still popped into Alicia's life and continued to tease the thought. He married Jackie. Who he didn't want to marry. The novel paints the marriage was not a happy one.

After some time, Alicia crosses the ocean to start a new life in Italy. She sleeps with many men. She becomes, Alicia Corning-Clark. She was only married to him for 10 days. She inherited his millions.
After years of hiding the truth. She died a lonely very wealthy, woman. She, unfortunately, as well as Jack were both unhappy people. Him with his health issues of Addison. She never found love. She had to give up her child( remember fiction). Always known, as Auntie. The novel just reminded me of those books filled with ambition, glamour, sex, and dirt. If you like those kinds of books you will like The Summer I Met Jack. I received it as a galley, thank you St. Martin. 

I give the book a rating:

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Happy 125th B-day, and Review of The Lions of Fifth Ave.

The Lions of Fifth Avenue
By Fiona Davis

Net Galley

What a great timing for the book release of Lions of Fifth Ave by Fiona Davis. Besides the release. It is also the 125th anniversary of the opening of the NYPL. 📚📚📚📚

Are you a history buff?  bibliophile? Do you love adventures in bookstores? libraries? Are you obsessed when you go on vacation to visit independent book stores, and libraries to see what people are reading?  Investigating new author discoveries. No one has heard of but you( at least in your mind). Smelling the ink on paper, and old books. When I visit bookstore and libraries. It's like a candy store for me. That's a middle-age nerd for you!, LOl.🤓🤓.

I had the connection from the start as I have lived in NYC, and visited the NYPL several times. If you have never visited the famous main branch library which hosts two famous lions, Patience, and Fortitude. The library is well known for its book collections. You should visit sometime. I would say the NYPL is like visiting a museum as well. To me, the novel was a love song for NYPL, and NYC itself.

 I am giving a shout out to all readers everywhere, Lions of Fifth Avenue is the best novel I have read this year. I don't think it is going to change. This is the second novel I read about books this year. I dare say, I have received, Fiona Davis's previous novels. But, unfortunately, I have not picked up one. Well, that is changing. 

Fiona Davis's previous novels are a famous landmark in NYC. I learned so much about the goings-on in the library behind the scenes. I wasn't aware of. 
 Ms. Davis learned when the library first opened. A superintendent, John Fedeler,  and his family did reside in an apartment in the library( Wow! that was an eye-opener). She ran with that idea and the premise of the novel. What a great idea. 

There is so much to talk about. I don't know where to begin...

Laura and her husband, Josh, the superintendent at the library,  and their two kids live inside the NYPL, in an apartment. OMG! How I wish I could be that person. She is the typical "housewife". But, she wants more. She jumps at the chance to go to Columbia School of Journalism, her dream. 

 Laura Lyons, and Sadie, are in different time periods, 1913, and 1993. The mystery of a book, Tamerlane, and several other books, and the family tree of Sadie, and Laura Lyons, the feminist essayist is the interconnection of both(not a real person). Which gives a satisfying read.  

After she starts attending classes. She becomes hooked, and the world seems to be changing radically. She wants to be able to be in the thick of it, and become a journalist.  She learns that life is not always what it seems to be for women, and the world is not always fair, and not just for women, for many other causes.  

Her professor assigns her to assignments she doesn't particularly like. 
Instead, she makes up her own assignments. She attends women's meetings and learns how the world really works. She is ready to tackle the world, but something happens. Her professor fails her work. Because it is controversial, and because she is a woman.  

Her Professor steals her work and publishes it without her knowledge. She is kicked out of the meetings, and the people that she thought were behind her, weren't. He son gets in with a bad crowd while she is going to journalism school. She feels she has neglected her son, and her family. She is to blame for this, as well as her marriage is in jeopardy. 

No, I am not going to tell you anymore....

At the same time, we learn about Sadie, the curator in the Berg Collection at the NYPL in 1993. She has some troubles of her own. Besides, Sadie doesn't tell her colleagues, the connection with Laura Lyons, the famous feminist essayist, and herself. In different time periods, Sadie and Laura are threatened by book thefts that appear suspicious in both time periods and are parallel. I just loved the imagination of the author that wove these two stories into historical fiction, and a mystery wrapped together tightly into one great novel for 2020! Thank you Netgalley, and Dutton Publishing. Now, I will buy my own copy. I loved it that much. Thank you, Fiona Davis. 


                                           Rose Reading Room. 

                                                                 The Stacks in the 1920's


                                                                My Rating:

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Friday, August 21, 2020

The Lost and Found Book Club- Its A Keeper

                                                               The Lost and Found Bookshop

                                                                           By Susan Wiggs

                                                                      Purchased copy

 If you are anything like me, you like books. The book was like going into your favorite candy store, but books. That is always how I feel about books. The authors are the same way, rock stars It is a love story, and tribute to the book, and booksellers( independent). It is a dream for book lovers like me.  I would recommend the novel by, Susan Wiggs. The Lost and Found Book Shop.  My reading experience has been different since the lockdown in March. Broadening my change of genre has me enjoy reading again. I would never have read before. Which include women fiction, romance, Rom-Com, etc. You see I am a literary snob! I never dreamed my tastes would evolve. But, a surprise to me, they did. I never understood how many women my age would start reading women's fiction.

 I have been having a difficult time concentrating, and being distracted. Lately, I was thinking of reading a beach read, or women's fiction. Then low, and behold I decided to read the novel, The Lost and Found Bookshop. Which I am glad I did. I absolutely loved it. It is better than I had anticipated. It has depth, and it is multi-layered with characters. Besides the draw of the story set in the bookshop, that got the hook in immediately. If this tells you something. The book is a keeper. I don't usually keep my books. I give away to people. 

 Natalie is not happy with her job. She has a boyfriend she is not too sure about either. Her mother was to arrive for a function for Natalie. She never shows up. She later learns her boyfriend who is a pilot was to fly her Mom. She never showed up. Natalie of course was disappointed.

 She later learns later a tragedy occurred. Her mother and boyfriend were in a plane crash and didn't survive.  There is a hitch to the story of course.  Her mother owns a bookshop, and her grandfather lives with her. He is not in good health.   She leaves her job to take care of her mother's bookshop, try to straighten out her mother's estate, and care for her grandfather. The complication is her grandfather doesn't want to sell, he is the owner. I don't want to spoil anything else.

The book is wonderful. I definitely will read other books by the author, and try different genres. I also think there are books in women's fiction that are light, and some have a bite, and give meat to the book. The book is so interesting, the metaphors, and symbols, and parallels in the book make for interesting reading. For example, the carpenter finds antiques in the book shop that have been lost in the book for years. The book also tells the history of the Lost and Found Bookshop in San Francisco. Of course, there is a family connection to the earthquake and the Bookshop. It is amazing, how the author weaved the story with the history of San Francisco and the characters. How she was able to write the story with the lost antiques, was so amazing. It didn't feel contrived. The book also has names of books the author loved and weaved into the book as well.  I plan to discuss this book for a book pick for our book club next year. The author also has a website with book discussion, and guide already up. 

On a technical note. I would like to apologize. Blogger has changed their blogging site. I was having a difficult time writing this post. I hope to get the bugs out soon. Thanks for reading, and hope you will continue reading my posts. 






Saturday, August 8, 2020

Finding Dorothy: Book Review

Finding Dorothy

Finding Dorothy

Complimentary copy from Random House

Finding Dorothy is amazing. I absolutely loved it. The story is not what you think. You would think it's about the character, Dorothy. Sorry, to disappoint you. it is about the real people who were responsible for the making of the book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. And of course the real person, Judy Garland. The main character is Maud Gage Baum. Who was she? you ask. She was the wife of L. Frank Baum. You will find out more about her amazing life as you read the book. 

The setting takes you to the backlots of Hollywood. Then we sweep back to the young life of Maude Gage. Maude's mother, Matilda Joslyn Gage was a force to not reckon with.  She was in the forefront of Women's rights. She kept company with Susan B. Antony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Her ideas were more radical than most people. 

You could just imagine what life was like for Maude, and her sisters, and the family. Maude knew from a young life she was expected to go to college, graduate, become a doctor, or lawyer. Unfortunately or fortunately, she went to college but didn't finish Cornell.  It didn't happen the way her mother wanted. Instead, she met, Frank Baum.

Frank was a dreamer, imaginative, jack of all trades, passionate in any endeavor he put his mind to, he loved the arts( writer, playwright, actor). He loved children and was very kind. Where Maud was the opposite.  She was responsible, balanced the books for the house, the disciplinarian( she had to because Frank was away most of the time).

The other part of the story was the making of the Wizard of Oz on the backlots of MGM. I loved this part of the story. Maude was Frank's protector. She knew Wizard of Oz was about their life together. She knew she had an obligation to Frank, and he's book. She made sure the movie followed Frank's vision from the book. She never took, "no" as the final word. She had many confrontations with the studio. She felt obligated as well to protect Dorothy. There were many times she stepped in to protect her.
Dorothy and Maud Baum

 For example, the movie studios thought they owned you. They told you what to eat when to eat, take uppers to wake you up, and downers to sleep. Many times Maude felt responsible for her. She did everything she could to protect her.

I remember each year anticipating watching Wizard of Oz each year( around Feb.).  So, you know I had to read the book. I didn't expect to love it as much as I did. I could see the story to me felt so vivid. I could see it come to life. I hope someone buys the rights to the book. 

 I enjoyed the writing style of the author. The descriptive style from Maude's married life, living in the midwest on the farm. and the time period, and Hollywood. The sweeping back and forth in time to Maud's earlier life to 1939 Hollywood. 

  I loved the sprinkling tidbits about the characters, the actors, and the movie into the book. The book was perfect for the time we live in during the pandemic.  It was MAGICAL, just like the movie. Thank you Random House for allowing me to review. After reading the book. I did my own research to find out more about Maude, Matilda, and Frank, and the Wizard of Oz.