Tuesday, September 19, 2023
Monday, September 18, 2023
Friday, September 8, 2023
Tuesday, September 5, 2023
"Everybody is connected. And any one of their connections could be the start of a network that branches in many directions. If you wait for the right time to make connections, it might never happen, but if you show your face around, talk to people and see enough to give you the confidence that things could work out, then 'one day' might turn into 'tomorrow'."
What You Are Looking For Is In the Library is a life-affirming, endearing story that restores your faith in humanity and will make you look for new connections in the people around you. It is perfect for fans of The Midnight Library (but I liked this one better). I adored this book and give it my highest recommendation.
Thanks to Harlequin or putting me on their Fall 2023 Blog Tours.
Monday, September 4, 2023
Tracey Lange’s debut novel, We Are The Brennans was a Book of the Month Club pick from 2021, and her second novel The Connellys of County Down was recently chosen too.
The Connellys of County Down opens as Tara Connelly is being released after eighteen months in prison for a drug conviction. When her brother doesn’t show up to pick her up, she is surprised by the cop who arrested her.
Tara’s arrest never sat right with Detective Brian Nolan. He never understood why she refused to give evidence against Roland Shea, the drug dealer he and his uncle and mentor were after. He didn’t believe that Tara was a drug runner, his gut told him something else was going on.
Brian gives a reluctant Tara a ride home, but where was her brother and sister? Tara moved back to the home she shared with her older sister Geraldine, an accountant for a local construction company. Geri raised Tara and her brother Eddie after their mother died and their father abandoned them.
Eddie is a single dad to Conor, who adores Tara. Eddie had a brain injury years ago and still suffers from the aftereffects, including debilitating migraines. Geri seems wary of Tara, and relegates her to the dusty attic bedroom when Tara returns.
Going back to her job teaching art in a Catholic school is impossible, and the only job Tara can get is working for two young gamers trying to go viral. It’s minimum wage, but Tara grows to like the young men.
Geri is clearly struggling with something, Eddie continues to deal with his injury, and Tara tries mightily to keep her family together and rebuild her life. The story of this family pulled me right in, the characters seem like people you would meet in real life. Lange does a good job as she keeps the reader guessing as to the real story behind Tara’s arrest. I highly recommend The Connellys of County Down for anyone who loves a good family story.
Ann Patchett has written many excellent books, and her latest, Tom Lake, might just be her best yet. As Lara, her husband, and three adult daughters- Emily, Nell and Maisie- head out into their orchard to pick cherries for the harvest, the girls ask Lara to recount the time she dated famous actor Peter Duke.
Lara tells her story, beginning with her playing Emily in her community’s production of “Our Town” when she was in high school. She was so good, it led to Lara going to Hollywood to act in a big-time movie.
After filming the movie, she went to a small town in Michigan called Tom Lake to act in summer stock. It was there she met Peter Duke, and they became lovers. Peter had great ambitions to be a famous actor and he had the talent. Their affair burned bright, and Patchett recounts Lara’s time in Tom Lake so vividly you feel like you are right inside the story.
Lara’s daughters parse every morsel of her story, questioning any small differences from previous retellings of the story. Every character is so precisely drawn, we get to know all of them- from Emily, the eldest who is destined to inherit the family farm and marry the boy next door, to Maisie, studying to be a veterinarian and helping the neighbors with their animals, to Nell, who wants to be an actress.
The setting of the story in the orchard during the pandemic hits all the right notes about how we felt during that time. We tend not to think about our parents' lives before we existed, and Tom Lake may make you wonder.
This passage by Lara really sings and I will end with it:
“There is no explaining this simple truth about life: you will forget much of it. The painful things you were certain you’d never be able to let go? Now you’re not entirely sure when they happened, and the thrilling parts, the heart-stopping joys, splintered and scattered and became something else. Memories are then replaced by different joys and larger sorrows, and unbelieveably those get knocked aside as well, until one morning you’re picking cherries with your three grown daughters and your husband goes by on the Gator and you are positive that this is all you’ve ever wanted in the world.”
The Connellys of County Down by Tracey Lange- A+
Published by Celadon Books
Hardcover, $28.99, 272 pages
Tom Lake by Ann Patchett- A+
Published by Harper
Hardcover, $30, 309 pages