The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy by Rachel Joyce

queenie hennessy_

Rachel Joyce wrote a companion book to her best-selling book, ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.’ Her hit book in which the main character Harold Fry walks across England to see his old friend Queenie Hennessey before she dies.  In her newest novel, ‘The Love Song of Queenie Hennessey’ we meet Queenie and hear her story.  Joyce is a beautiful writer and creates very strong characterization, but I would have preferred to not know Queenie’s story. It was a very sad tale, and I was left feeling devastated at the end of this new installment.  I loved the story of Harold Fry because it was quirky and heartfelt.  There were sad times, yet covered over with healing, and sprinkled with dusting of hope that the rainbow was just up around the bend. This book was much darker and tragic.  If you liked Harold Fry I would recommend stopping with his journey.

However, you really should read the first installment.  Here is the review and link for her first book.

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce 

The Unlikely Pilgramage of harold fryFrom start to finish I enjoyed the tale of Harold Fry and his Unlikely Pilgrimage.  Harold and his wife exist, but do not live; they function, but do not thrive.  It is as if a large gray cloud cover their lives with gray and shadows and they have accepted their drab life.  Unexpectedly Harold receives a letter from an old friend.   Queenie, is terminally ill in a town across the country.   He gets the letter, and begins to walk to see his old friend.  Without a  plan, and a lousy pair of shoes upon his feet, he just walks.   The strange pilgrimage shocks and frustrates his wife, but Harold begins to collect a small following to cheer him on.  Pretty soon the whole country of England begins to rally for Harold to make it to see his old friend Queenie.  Harold sets out searching to find closure with an old friend, but the journey leads him to a vastly different destination.  This is a sweet story, honest, and well written.

To Order this book on Amazon, click here:    The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel

5 Love Stories Better Than 50 Shades

Today a sweeping best seller turned into a movie will be released.  It has become a phenonmenon that sadly twists an abusive relationship into love. There are better books and more talented authors.

Let’s get back to good books, to well written stories, to authors who have honed their craft, and gifted storytellers.  Please give rise to these authors and their works of fiction that are well written, tender, moving stories.  As long as consumers keep devouring books like 50 shades, they will keep getting published.  Jane Austin would swoon over these stories, give them a go.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowellattachments

If you have not yet discovered the delightful Rainbow Rowell, you are in for a treat.  This is a  novel told primarily through company emails.  Rowell is a master at quick, smart dialogue.  The lives of a night computer security worker, and daytime employees connect through secret email reading without meeting face to face.  Lincoln, the main character is hired at night to ensure the employees are following standard procedures. He reads through emails and checks on employees computer activity.  Situations get  awkward when Lincoln starts to fall for a woman through her email prose.   The voices in the novel are witty, crass, and unbelievably awesome.  You will adore the banter between the characters and the odd love story that unfolds.  I wish there were more books like hers.  Wonderful, wonderful read.

To Purchase this book on Amazon, click here:

Attachments: A Novel

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

The storied life of A.J. Fikry

Gabrielle Zevin writes a story of true and sacrificial love.  She shows us that blood is not always thicker than water, and love can shake you free from a painful stupor gone on too long.  The main character A.J. is suffocating under grief and hardship.  He runs a bookstore on an island (yes, it is as charming as it seems) and is struggling in modern day book selling in the midst of e-readers and online shopping.  He drowns his sorrows in wine in the evening, and his world turns upside down when his prize possession, a rare Edgar Allen Poe original, is stolen from his home.  As quickly as the book is taken from him, a mysterious baby is left in his care with a note explaining her parents are not up for raising a child.  The rest I will leave to you to read for yourself.  The characters are all quirky and lovable, flawed,and oh so  human. I truly believe there should be a special genre of  books only written about people that adore books.  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry would shine in such a genre.  Many more events unravel in this story, I felt like I had moved onto the Island and gotten to know all the characters.  When the book was over, I was sure I would miss all of them.  It is not all happy, but it is sweet, and real, and worth your time.

To purchase the book from Amazon, click here:

The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

The Rosie Project

A character driven novel is one in which the character would say and do the same things regardless of the time or circumstances the author places them in.  The Rosie Project is the most charming and heartwarming novel of this kind that I have stumbled across in recent months.    Don Tillman is successful in his job and many endeavors, however love and relationships is not one of them.  Don has autism and does not grasp human relationships or social interactions in the slightest.  He concludes that it is time to find a romantic relationship; but decides leaving to chance meeting someone compatible randomly is unlikely and inefficient.  He comes up with a compatibility measurement test to approach the quest from a logical and scientific angle.  Of course, we all know there is no science to love, so Don’s world gets turned upside down and back again.   The author captures the mind of an autistic person with precision, compassion, and humor.   This love story is quirky and wonderful; I am praying they do not turn it into a movie.

To purchase this book on Amazon, click here:

The Rosie Project: A Novel

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman 

A Maa man called oven called Ove is quietly brilliant and utterly charming.    Ove is a man of unchanged routine, from his home, to his Saub, to his job, he holds onto the familiar with clenched fists.  He is an angry, prickly old man, and has settled into a life of despising most people.  Ove is pushed out of his job of thirty years and he is left without purpose.  To add insult to injury, new neighbors arrive across the street, he is grumpier than ever.  He irritably helps the Iranian neighbors through a medical emergency and a tentavtive friendship is born.  This story unfolds like a tapestry, telling the reader the story of Ove’s life as it has merged with the residents in their neighborhood of row homes.  This book captures the joy and pain of true sacrificial love, friendship with roots as strong as family, and forgiving the past.  The best thing about this book is how it makes you feel as you read, compassion for sweet old Ove, and hope that good can reign over bad.  Rich storytelling and subtle humor make it a moving novel.  I loved every up and down, from the beginning to the end.

To Purchase this on Amazon, click here:

A Man Called Ove: A Novel

Longbourne by Jo Baker

LongbourneLongbourne is reminiscent of Jane Austin’s story telling.  You will like it If you are looking for a book will elements similar to Pride and Prejudice.  However, it is not a retelling of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy.  Let Longbourne speak for itself and tell its own story.  It is classic in its theme, tension, and hierarchy between servants and higher class.  It is romantic in its story of love hoped for, but unspoken and uncertain.   As a reader you need to attentively tune into the tension and longings of the characters.  The things that go unsaid are almost as important as what is said.  Longbourne takes you into old England, carriages, foggy mornings,  stone houses, and quiet romance.  I enjoyed this book, it is not a page turner, but a story that unfolds with quiet reserve.

To Order this book on Amazon, click here:


2014 Best Book Awards

Well, everyone has their top ten lists of 2014 out, so here are some best awards I created for some favorite books of 2014.  I gave awards to 10 books I found true delight in. If they have been reviewed here before, I gave a truncated version of the review. Put some on your list for next year, or just enjoy reading my bests.  What did you love reading this year?  Please tell me in the comments.

Best Book about a Long WalkThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce: The Unlikely Pilgramage of harold fryA man learns an old friend is dying on the other side of England.  He literally just starts walking to her without even changing his shoes or grabbing a sack lunch.  A good read all in all.

To Order click here: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry: A Novel

Best Non-Fiction Book:  Dad is Fat by Jim Gaffigan.

dad is fatA man loves his wife and children and makes their daily lives extremely hilarious in the written form.   When Jim Gaffigan was asked as a child why he was so white, he would reply, “My Dad was a Q-tip.”  That is funny people.

To Order, click here: Dad Is Fat

Best Book Where Bunnies Wear Platform Shoes:  Mr. and Mrs. Bunny, Detectives Extraordinaire by Polly Horvath  mr and mrs bunnyThis children’s mystery is delightful, odd, and very funny.  Adults should read it, and if you have children in your general vicinity you should read it to them, together.

To Order, click here: Mr. and Mrs. Bunny–Detectives Extraordinaire!

Best Book Written from an Animal’s Perspective: The One and Only Ivan  by Katherine Applegate.  

the one and only ivanThis is the true story of a gorilla kept in the Tacoma mall for most of his life.  Most Northwest natives know this history, but I missed out on this by growing up in the Rocky Mountains.  I only saw old abandoned gold mines when I was a kid.  However, most locals know the story of Ivan and his rescue from the mall to a zoo in Atlanta.  I loved it; it speaks of the dichotomy of human nature, and how we care for and sometimes miss-treat animals.

To Order, click here:  The One and Only Ivan

Best Book with a Genius Female Character: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson the girl who saved the king of sweden  Girl lives in Africa and manages the latrines; it is gross job with grosser male co-workers.  She is a secret genius and ends up traveling across half the world, and out-smarting a ton of pompous men along the way.  She meets a very nice twin named Two, and helps save the King of Sweden.  It is quirky, indescribable, creative, and full of twists and turns.  I loved the quiet genius of it, a bit of an off-the-beaten path book.     To Order, click here: The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden: A Novel

Best Book About Women Having Cool Jobs During World War IIThe All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fannie Flagg.  the all girl filling stationListen to Ms. Flagg read this to you on Audiobook, I love her southern drawl and charm.  This was a sweet little read; it makes you want to eat some fried chicken and hug your lady friends.  Also, it is fun to hear about women taking over men’s jobs when they are away at war and rocking it hard core.

To Order, click here: The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion: A Novel

Best Historical Fiction:  All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doer  All the light we cannot seeAnthony Doer deserved all the praise and accolades he received for taking ten years to write this novel of World War II.  It was sweet, hard, engrossing, and a fantastic book.  If you liked The Book Thief you should read this.  Most likely my favorite read this year.

To Order, click here: All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel

Best Book with a Grumpy ProtagonistA Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backmana man called ove      Ove is old and angry, however, his heart is wide and caring in the most unexpected ways.   I loved this book; it has subtle humor and very rich characters.  It is hard to describe the beauty of it, except to say I missed it when it was over and it made me feel deeply as I read.  Some of it is sad, but I found it a superb read.

To Order click here: A Man Called Ove: A Novel

Best 80’s Love Story:  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell.    Eleanor and Park If Pretty in Pink morphed itself into a young adult novel, this would be it.  Girl feels awkward, boy feels awkward, and they meet on the bus.  It is awkward and then they listen to 80’s music and it is not as awkward.  Two people that feel unlovable fall in love with each other.  Swoon.

To Order on Amazon, click here: eleanor and park kindle edition

Best Book about a Book Store:  The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry byThe storied life of A.J. Fikry Gabrielle Zevin  Man runs a book store on an island.  Woman from a publishing company comes to sell him books, he is rude to her.  He gets a baby dropped at his front door and his whole life changes.  Loved it.

To Order, click here: The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry: A Novel

The Fortune Hunter by Daisy Goodwin

The History of the Fortune Hunter

When I read historical fiction I always like to know a little back story on the real events.  It helps connect me to the story and understand nuances when the author brings the era or person to life.  Elisabeth, the Empress of Austria is one of the main characters in The Fortune Hunter.  She became an empress at 16, did not care for life at court, and rebelled against her traditional duties.  She was known for her very long hair and rigorous beauty routines.   During her life time she had 2 daughters and finally a son, an heir to the throne.  Her mother in law was very controlling and did not allow her to care for her own children.  She spent a great deal of her life traveling apart from her husband and riding horses until her health did not permit it anymore.  The Fortune Hunter brings her to life beautifully.  Here is a picture of her with her very long hair, it is said it took 3 hours a day to care for it and caused her extreme headaches.


Bay Middleton was a handsome equestrian as well and was asked by the Empress to be her pilot on her hunting excursions.  Charlotte Baird was later his wife.  This book tells the story of their life before marriage.

To Order this book on Amazon, click here: The Fortune Hunter: A Novel

The Fortune Hunter

the fortune hunterOld England as a setting always wins me over, and it was no different with The Fortune Hunter.  When the book opens, it is hunting season and these high class English are up for a good fox hunt.  The main characters in this story are Charlotte Baird, an heiress and photographer, and The Empress of Austria.  Charlotte is heir to the Lennox fortune and naturally has to wade through conniving men wanting her money more than her.  She bucks tradition and follows her love of photography and horses more than society and social expectations.   Throw in a handsome equestrian named Bay Middleton, and you have quite a love story during hunting season.  I loved this book on audio, if you do audio books at all this is a perfect one to listen to.  There are 3 different accents that bring this story to life.  The beginning takes a bit of perseverance to get through, but it is a strong story.  It is an opulent portrayal of royalty and wealth, the search for true love and the longing to be known and cherished as a person, not an opportunity.