Friday, May 6, 2016

What I Read In April

April was a good month for REAL books.  Vacation. Air Travel. Hospitals.  All made a little better by a good book.

What's better than a sunny afternoon, some sunscreen, a hat and a good book by the water in Mexico?  All that was missing in this picture was the margarita!
 My first book of April was the one I talked about in the post "A Gift To Myself."  This was my first selection from The Book of the Month Club.  I opened it on the flight to Mexico (two short hours for us) and spent every spare moment of the next few days ensconced in the mystery.  While I have read a lot of criticism on this book over at The Book of the Month website, I thought it was an overall good read.  It picked up quickly enough to have me hooked on the story by the time we reached Mexico but wasn't so technical that I lost interest due to my limited spurts of reading time.  After all I was on vacation with My Hero and my best friends, so I couldn't spend all of my time curled up with a book.  There were red herrings that I wish had been a bit more of the story, at least one character that I wanted to choke, a plot twist that was a little too unbelievable and an ending that either left you angry or made you think that there is more to this story to come.  I'm more inclined toward the latter. (An unopened package and a storm brewing outside the window...sounds delicious!)  Overall I would give No One Knows a solid 4 out of 5.

Finding a book you've wanted to read discounted ever further at Target.  SCORE!
 My second read of April I began on the flight home from Mexico.  I needed a few days to let the characters from No One Knows die down in my head.  But once I got to reading, I couldn't stop.  It took all of the next day to finish it, but I did.  What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty is the story of Alice Love, a 39 year old mother of three who is on the verge of a divorce.  However, as the story opens we don't know that because Alice has fallen at the gym, hit her head and thinks she is 29, pregnant with her first child and crazy in love with her husband, Nick. While there are a few "what were they thinking" moments (like leaving a woman with amnesia alone with her three children or even discharging her from the hospital without a psychiatrist), if you can get past those complications the story gives you a lot to think about in your own life.  Imagine if you woke up today thinking things were as they were ten years ago.  Things have happened, people have entered and left our lives, we have changed so much in that amount of time -- for better and for worse.  My goodness, I can't even imagine looking in the mirror expecting to see the same face I had ten years ago!  Alice makes it her goal to reconcile her marriage because she just cannot imagine why she and Nick who were so much in love could be getting a divorce.  That was a great reminder to me of the changes and seasons that all marriages go through.  Some seasons are hard and you really have to work at keeping things together, others are easier and sweet to the soul.  I would hope that if we ever found ourselves at such a crossroads that Jim and I would make the decision to give it all we had toward true reconciliation. I would give What Alice Forgot a 3 1/2 out of 5. 

Heard about this one in a What Should I Read Next? Podcast.  Had to give it a try.
My final read of April was one I had heard about on the podcast, What Should I Read Next?  I picked it up to take to Mexico as an easy read, but when I found What Alice Forgot, I threw it in my bag instead.  Little did I know at the time that I would be spending nearly a week in Arkansas with my mom at a hospital and a rehab center.  The perfect setting for an easy, breezy, fun read.  The Coincidence of Coconut Cake by Amy E. Reichert is set in Milwaukee.  It's probably the first book I've ever read that was set in Milwaukee.  The heroine is a struggling chef, Lou, who is working hard to make her dream a success.  But when fate gives her the worst day in her life AND the food critic who loves to write scathing reviews of the restaurants in town...well, the death of a dream is inevitable.  The only bright light for Lou during this time is the relationship she is building with a handsome freelance writer who thinks little of her beloved city, and who has accepted her challenge to show him the real side of Milwaukee.  I'm sure you have already figured out that he is the pseudonymous food critic who panned her restaurant and that the truth will eventually come out -- but it was still a pretty fun read.  While this story was a pleasant distraction and easy to pick up and put down, the minor characters of Otto and Gertrude were the ones that stole my heart.  Oh, to have a love like that!!!  There is also a yummy looking coconut cake recipe at the end of the book that I just might give a try this weekend.  I would give The Coincidence of Coconut Cake a 2 3/4 out of 5.

So, what have you been reading lately?  Anything I should keep my eyes open for?

Edited 5/9/16 to note: The coconut cake recipe I mentioned above?  Well, it is worth the price of the book!  I have never made a coconut cake from scratch before but this one with cream of coconut and coconut milk was TO DIE FOR!  Yummy!  I'm adding it to my collection.

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