Tag Archives: book review

‘The Thirteenth Tale’ TWSM Book Review

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

 

As the fall air turns crisp and pumpkins abound, why not curl up with a spooky story? The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield will whisk you away into a world of mystery, mansions, and family secrets. 

The story is told by Margaret Lea, a book lover and biographer who is hired to interview one of the most celebrated writers of her time, Vida Winters, an elderly woman with emerald eyes, copper curls, and a past full of secrets. Miss Winters is still full of fire and needs to tell her story before time runs out. As the novel unfolds, we learn about the love and loss that has shaped and strengthened both women. 

Some of my favorite quotes from The Thirteenth Tale include: 

“My story is not only mine; it is the story of Angelfield. Angelfield the village, Angelfield the house. And the Angelfield family itself. George and Mathilde; their children, Charlie and Isabelle; Isabelle’s children, Emmeline and Adeline. Their house, their fortunes, their fears. And their ghost. One should always pay attention to ghosts, shouldn’t one, Miss Lea?” (Chapter entitled And so we Began…) 

“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.” (Chapter entitled The Letter) 

“My gripe is not with lovers of the truth but with truth herself. What succor, what consolation is there in truth, compared to a story? What good is truth, at midnight, in the dark, when the wind is roaring like a bear in the chimney? When the lightning strikes shadows on the bedroom wall and the rain taps at the window with its long fingernails?” (Chapter entitled The Letter) 

The Thirteenth Tale is a gripping story that will keep you reading long past the witching hour. Setterfield honors the ashes of the past while providing a glimpse of enduring happiness for the future. Light a few candles, brew a cup of tea, and give it a read!

Rating 4 ½ out of 5 stars

Copyright 2006 by Diane Setterfield 

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.

TWSM Book Review ‘Camino Winds’

Camino Winds by John Grisham

Camino Winds by John Grisham is a hot off the press summer thriller that is sure to entertain you. It is a sequel to Grisham’s book, Camino Island, but it can stand alone if you haven’t read the first book. In Camino Winds, Grisham takes the reader on a thrill ride that includes both a hurricane and murder.

Camino Winds picks up three years after Camino Island. For those of you who are Grisham fans, you’ll be happy to know that his characters have continued to grow in interesting ways. Grisham honors the first book while setting up satisfying new plot twists for the second.

Grisham’s Hurricane Leo also makes for an interesting parallel to our current global pandemic. As the characters navigate the murder mystery which will keep you guessing until the end, they also have to deal with reality with a capital “R” in the form of Leo’s aftermath and how it changes their daily lives.

A few of my favorite quotes from Camino Winds include:

“Under your theory, Nelson was likely murdered because of this novel I’m holding in my pocket, right?”    “… So someone has to read the novel to begin unraveling the crime. You? Me? The police?” (Chapter Four)

“Summer was over and the gang was scattering. The gang was also burdened by the aftermath and fearful that life might never be the same. Bay Books was practically deserted these days, and that was enough to worry all its writers.” (Chapter Five)

“The search for what?” “A contract killer. We know of several, but it’s a fairly nebulous group. They don’t convene annually for parties and they don’t have a registry.” (Chapter Six)

If I have one negative to share about Camino Winds, it is that this book is light reading. However, that is a little like saying, “This John Grisham book is a John Grisham book”. He is famous for his ability to create entertaining legal thrillers that keep the reader engrossed from start to finish, not novels that make you ask life’s deep questions.

I highly recommend this brand new summer thriller. Whether you are sheltering at home or life is beginning to get back to normal for you, Camino Winds won’t disappoint.

Rating 4 stars out of 5

Copyright 2020 by Belfry Holdings, Inc.

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.

TWSM Book Review ‘The Successful Single Mom’


The Successful Single Mom: Get Your Life Back and Your Game On by Honoree Corder is an
uplifting and practical book. Corder is a business coach and former single mom who has “been
there and done that”. This book (one of six in her Successful Single Mom Series) focuses on
self care, prosperity principles, and setting practical goals for success within a 100-Day Plan
framework. Corder is an authentic, caring, and upbeat coach as she guides her readers through
the process of setting up and implementing their own 100-Day Plan.

Here are some of my favorite quotes from The Successful Single Mom:

“If your ambitions are longer term, such as going back to school, losing weight, starting a
new relationship, or moving to a better neighborhood, it is crucial to have more
immediate, sanity-saving goals that involve such things as finding some much-needed
personal time, going out one night a month, listening to music, writing in a journal,
getting fresh air and exercise, or spending a few minutes a day in quiet reflection.”
(Chapter One)

“The truth is that you are wonderful, brilliant, beautiful, and fantastic … even if it’s been a
(long) while since that’s what you’ve heard about yourself. The truth is you are capable,
because you demonstrate it every single day by giving love to your children, keeping the
lights on and the fridge full, and basically getting it all done (or most of it anyway).”
(Chapter Two)

“Her positive attitude became apparent when she said, ‘You say to yourself, I can’t
change it. I’m going to roll up my sleeves and move on. This is about making the
decision that what has happened, what is happening, isn’t going to break you. You’re
going to survive, thrive, and flourish. Period.’ ” (Chapter Three)

If I have one negative comment about The Successful Single Mom, it is that Corder focuses
largely on women who are entrepreneurial instead of engaged in traditional nine to five jobs.
With that said, the book is a breath of fresh air if you are feeling stuck and can use a big dose of
positivity and some concrete action steps, regardless of your current employment status or
hopes for the future.

The other books in her series delve further into specific topics including
going back to school, getting physically fit, managing your finances and building wealth, finding
new love, and cooking.

I highly recommend The Successful Single Mom. It will energize you, empower you, and make
you smile about the future.

Rating 4 ½ stars out of 5

The Successful Single Mom by Honoree Corder
Copyright 2009

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two
teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or
searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with
friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still
has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who
can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.

TWSM Book Review ‘Tara Road’

Tara Road is a great read. It is one of those novels that has you rooting for your favorite characters from start to finish. Although I am new to Binchy’s work, I am sure Tara Road will not be her last book that I read.

Binchy’s novel has a unique premise. Two women, Marilyn from America and Ria from Ireland, switch houses for a summer. A chance phone call leads them to consider this possibility. Both characters are primed for adventure by wanting to escape from personal pain and find peace and distraction.

As the story unfolds, the reader comes to know Ria from Dublin, along with her entire cast of family and friends, and Marilyn from California, a much more reserved woman. No spoiler alerts here, but there are secrets, twists, and turns that keep the reader turning the pages. Both women grow through the new experiences which they are thrust into by exchanging houses (and thereby cultures, and even family and friends) for the summer. By the end of the novel, they have become true friends.

Binchy nails the relationships of her characters in ways that can make you laugh out loud, gasp, or reach for the kleenex. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Tara Road:

When Ria and her teenage daughter went shopping for clothes in Chapter 3…

“I mean, it’s not even as if you were really old,” Annie said. “Lots of people your age haven’t given up.”

With great difficulty Ria forced herself not to take her daughter by the hair and drag her from the shop.

 

When Ria receives shocking news over dinner in Chapter 3…

“The noise in the restaurant changed. People’s cutlery started to clatter more and bang loudly off people’s plates. Glasses tinkled and seemed about to smash. Voices came and went in a roar. The sound of laughter from the tables was very raucous. She could hear his voice from far away.”

 

 

When Marilyn realizes how she has changed in Chapter 9…

“But Marilyn had been down that road before; she wasn’t going to travel it again. What had happened to Gertie’s husband was not her fault.”

 

Tara Road was part of Oprah’s Book Club in 1999. The fact that the characters use answering machines on their land line phones might make you smile, but with that exception it stands the test of time. The age of this novel also makes it easy to find at your local library or to buy used to save a few dollars. If you are looking for a novel that is full of warmth, empowerment, and hope, I highly recommend Tara Road.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Tara Road Copyright 1998 by Maeve Binchy

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.

TWSM Book Review ‘Almost Everything-Notes On Hope’

Almost Everything:  Notes on Hope is a nurturing read. In this collection of essays, Lamott continues her tradition of speaking to her readers in her optimistic voice which says “I’ve been there, I’ve survived that, and I am still here loving and laughing.”

If you are new to Lamott’s writing, her background includes having raised her son as a single mom, leaning on her faith in God and her church home, having been a recovering alcoholic for many years, being an opinionated woman who is politically liberal, and now being a best-selling author, a wife, and a grandmother.

The thirteen essays in this book are bite-sized bits of wisdom and humor which will make you laugh, cry, and want to read more of her work whether or not your own views resonate with hers. The essays are also short enough that they can be read with that coffee that gets you started in the morning, during nap time for your little one, at the end of a long day, or while you are waiting up for your teenager to get home safely.

Lamott addresses big issues about life, death, love, faith, science, and hope through her essays, balancing big questions with a delightful mix of awe and laugh out loud humor. She meets herself and her readers where they are with complete honesty.

 

Here are a few of my favorite quotes from Almost Everything:

 

“Scientists say we are made of stars, and I believe them, although my upper

arms look like hell.” (From Chapter One: Puzzles)

 

“Almost every facet of my meager maturation and spiritual understanding

has sprung from hurt, loss, and disaster.” (From Chapter One: Puzzles)

 

“Don’t let others make you feel unsophisticated if you reach middle age

preferring Hershey’s Kisses. So many of your better people do. Also,

always carry a handful of Kisses in your backpack or purse to give away.

People will like you more.”  (From Chapter Seven: Bitter Truth)

If there is one negative that I would share regarding this book, it is that as an avid Anne Lamott fan, I sometimes tire of her re-sharing stories across her books. In chapter six, she included the story about her brother’s homework project that inspired the title of her book, Bird by Bird. Although I find this story inspiring, I believe she has referred to it in two other books. This was a small distraction for me, and other readers might find it endearing.

I recommend brewing a cup of tea, putting your feet up, and reading “Almost Everything:  Notes on Hope”.  You will be glad that you did.

 

Rating:  4 ½ stars out of 5

 Almost Everything: Notes on Hope

Copyright 2018 by Anne Lamott

ISBN 9780525537441 (hardcover)

ISBN9780525537571 (ebook)

 

Liz is a technical writer by day and a humor writer by night. She lives in Minnesota with her two teenage daughters and their cats, Beau and Phoebe. When Liz is not reading, writing, or searching for new books to review, she can be found practicing yoga or enjoying time with friends and family — usually around a fireplace or a lake. She is savoring the time that she still has with her daughters under her roof, yet she secretly dreams of being an empty nester who can travel more and not have to worry about other people borrowing her socks.