Book Review: Maybelle in Stitches (Quilts of Love Series) by Joyce Magnin

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Great quote:  "It's a crazy quilt. Made from scraps gleaned from so many things." She picked up his hand and set it on his army stripes. This is a square with your private's stripes." (Page 229)

Book summary:  "Maybelle can’t sew. But when she finds an unfinished quilt in the attic of her mother’s house, she gets the crazy idea to complete it." (Amazon) 

My thoughts:  Maybelle in Stitches has a lot to love. For example, Maybelle becomes a sort of Rosie the Riveter during the war. She and her gal pals are welders down at the shipyard, doing heavy lifting and dangerous welding. Likewise, the way the ladies band together to support each other while the men are far away fighting is a great storyline. I also enjoyed the popular culture references of the time, such as listening to stories on the radio and enjoying the crooner Frank Sinatra.

Where the book falls short is in the way it is actually written. A vast majority of this book is written in dialogue, which becomes boring and wooden. The parts of the book that could have been exciting or suspenseful (mother's death, spouse MIA in the war, Army telegrams with bad news) are glossed over in favor of pages and pages of bland girl chats. 

Maybelle in Stitches is the sixth book in the Quilts of Love Series that I have read and reviewed. Some of the books have stood out more than others. Honestly, this book is not my favorite in the series, but not the worst. The idea of the series, however, is still really appealing to me. Quilts are special because of the history behind them. The fabric might be important (as in this book) or the design might be crucial (as in "Aloha Rose"). Currently, I have two more Quilts of Love books ready for reading! I can't wait to see how those books fit into the series' theme of quilts being a great way to unify people.

Rating: 3 of 5 stars


Book Facts:



  • You might want to know About the Quilts of Love Series: Quilts tell stories of love and loss, hope and faith, tradition and new beginnings. The Quilts of Love series focuses on the women who quilted all of these things into their family histories. A new book releases each month and features contemporary and historical romances as well as women's fiction and the occasional light mystery. You will be drawn into the endearing characters of this series and be touched by their stories.


Quilts of Love Series 
reviewed on Lavish Bookshelf:





















Learn more about this series at the Quilts of Love website.



 
FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary from the publisher on behalf of LitFuse in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Book Review: Home Sweet Anywhere by Lynne Martin

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Great quote:  "It felt like a miracle that we were united in this notion of fulfilling our dreams of being home free, experiencing the world." (Quote by Lynne Martin)

Book summary:   "An enchanting account of how one couple sold everything to fulfill a dream of living abroad-one country at a time." (NetGalley)

My thoughts:  With a new-found relationship with each other and a motto of "postpone nothing," Lynne Martin and her husband Tim chose to make a radical change in their life. Both in their 60s, they each desired to see more of the world, but travel funds were definitely a factor. This led the Martins to the brave decision to sell their home, and just about everything else they owned, in order to hit the road full-time. 

The book, Home Sweet Anywhere, is the memoir of time they spent downsizing their life as well as their first two years spent traveling the world. Further adventures are also chronicled on the blog, Home Free Adventures.

From Mexico to Turkey, Paris to Portugal, the Martins seem to have adapted to the nomadic life quite well. Sometimes plans are scrapped, such as their time spent in Argentina. In other locales, the Martins seem to thrive on the day-to-day world of living like the locals. Martin admits to missing her family very much, but is able to keep in touch regularly thanks to Skype and free wi-fi.

Lynne Martin is an entertaining writer who conveys the sights and smells of each location with authority. She's also a self-professed foodie who enjoys describing delectable meals, cooking classes in Paris and many bottles of wine. The book is mostly a travelogue of their travels, however Martin has included hints and travel tips for each location they have visited. 

In my mind, Lynne and Tim Martin are living a dream! Yes, for some folks it would be a complete nightmare. For many others, though, their lifestyle is a dream. Whether you have traveler-dreams or not, Home Sweet Anywhere is still an inspiring read simply because of the couple's gutsy move to live life on their own terms and to "postpone nothing."


Rating: 5 of 5 stars


Book Facts:
  • Pages:   320
  • Year originally published:  2014

 
FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Book Read-Along: Madame Bovary - Part 1

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During the month of April, I am participating in a read-along of Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert. If you have been meaning to read this classic book, it is not too late to join in. More information can be found on my Madame Bovary Read-Along Introduction page. This group of readers is quite friendly and some interesting insights have been shared, so don't be shy if you want to join.

Throughout the month, the group stops to discuss the book. Madame Bovary happens to be divided into three parts, which makes the read-along breaks quite easy. Today (April 10, 2014) is the day for discussing Part One. These discussions will then be followed by postings for Part 2 (April 20, 2014) and Part 3 (April 30, 2014). 


The main landing page for the Part One discussion is at Cedar Station. You will find links and discussion questions, in addition to a lively conversation in the comments section.

Now on to a few of the discussion questions:
*For those of you who are re-reading Madame Bovary, how does your experience reading the book this time compare with your first reading? Is everything as you remembered it?
This is definitely a discussion question for me! I have written about how I read Madame Bovary in college many years ago. The book represented a literary rebellion for me, I suppose. I knew it was scandalous, for its time. I went through a phase when I read all of those "banned books," so to speak. Sadly, I didn't remember much about the actual book, though.

So now I return to Madame Bovary many years later. Now I'm a married woman with teenage kids. This is a VERY different book to me now! The wisdom of age has provided me with many insights into the various characters in Madame Bovary. I know moms who are like Madame Bovary, the mother. I've seen husbands like Charles who love the idea of their wife, but not really the actual soul of their spouse. And I've definitely known women like Emma Bovary who live a fantasy of their own imagination, with romantic notions and longings that seem to doom their existence.

I am honestly loving this book right now. Sometimes I do find the incessant descriptions to be tedious. For example, the LONG passage that described the wedding feast nearly put me to sleep. Later, however, I realized an interesting contrast in the book. When planning the wedding, Emma stated that she would have "preferred to have a midnight wedding with torches." (Doesn't that sound cool?!) Instead she and Charles had a very long country-bumpkin affair with way too many people and far too much attention on inane details. What fascinating insight into Emma's mindset and, perhaps, foreshadowing of the woman she will become later in the book.


* At the start of the novel, it sounds as if one of Charles Bovary’s classmates is acting as narrator, but his voice gradually seems to disappear. Who do you think is telling the story of Charles and Emma Bovary? Why do you think Flaubert chose to write the narration in this way?
I've actually been fascinated with how the entire novel seems to shift from a specific narrator to an omniscient narrator and then back again. At one point in the book, I truly had the thought that no modern day editor would allow a book to be published like this today because of the inconsistencies in the point of view. The shifting viewpoints in Madame Bovary give the book an unsettling feeling, with startling glimpses into a characters' motivation or history. One particularly good example of this was when Emma's father says goodbye to the married couple, then he turns and remembers a son that passed away who would have been 30 years old. WHAT? No indication of where that came from, no more mention of it and yet it is key to exposing why Emma's father treats her like he does.


My favorite Part One quote:
"Before marriage she thought herself in love; but the happiness that should have followed this love not having come, she must, she thought have been mistaken. And Emma tried to find out what one meant exactly in life by the words felicity, passion, rapture, that had seemed to her so beautiful in books."


It really is not too late to join this read-along! 
I'm reading a free copy of Madame Bovary which is available on Amazon Kindle.



FTC Disclosure: Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.

Book Review: China Dolls by Lisa See








Great quote:   "I've never had friends like you," I said after we regained our composure.
"I've never had friends, period!" Helen softly slapped the table for emphasis.
"The three of us are like the Three Musketeers," I said." We get strength from each other, and we have adventures together. We're all-for-one and one-for-all." (Page 49)

Book summary:   "Three young women from varied backgrounds meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. The girls become fast friends, relying on one another through shifting fortunes." (Back Cover)

My thoughts:  China Dolls is the ninth book penned by the amazing author, Lisa See. Chronicling the lives of three very different women at the dawn of World War II, this book is a history lesson in Mid-20th Century American life. 

Helen is from China and hides secrets from her time there. Grace is from Ohio, but her past is something she never wants to discuss. Ruby is from Hawaii and her secrets just might be the most threatening of them all. All three ladies are "Oriental" entertainers, dancing on the stages of America in increasing smaller costumes.

The friendship between the three ladies is constantly twisting and turning, secrets are continually being shoved into silence. As the narrative progresses, the past can no longer stay in hidden. After a terrible betrayal, Ruby's secret is found out first. Her revelation leads to some of the more fascinating sections of the book, all centering around a part of America's history that is not all that well known. On the flip-side, when Helen and Grace finally come to terms with their hidden pasts, the girl drama of China Dolls starts to get a bit thick. 

China Dolls was not my most favorite of Lisa See's books, but maybe that is because it's difficult to compare this book to the amazing "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan" or "Dreams of Joy." Even so, this book is quintessential Lisa See with the clash of cultures, the hardships of immigrants, the misunderstandings and betrayals. 

As an FYI, China Dolls does have some harsh language, graphic violence, sex and a lot of uncomfortable racist phrases. It's a story about life in Chinese nightclubs at the beginning of the Second World War, so naturally the topic is gritty and seedy at times.

A book club discussion of China Dolls would be quite lively. In fact, this book would be FABULOUS for a book club! With the ever-changing friendships of the three leading female characters, this book has something for everyone. Women, especially, would be able to relate to the evolving friendships and loyalties of Helen, Grace and Ruby. 

Rating: 4 of 5 stars


Book Facts:
  • Pages:   400 
  • Year originally published:   2014
 
FTC Disclosure: Lavish Bookshelf received this product complimentary from Random House via the Random House Reader's Circle in exchange for an honest review. The opinions in this review are solely the opinion of the author. Lavish Bookshelf was not required to provide a positive review and did not receive any further compensation. Links in this post may be an affiliate link to another website. When you purchase item through an affiliate link, Lavish Bookshelf may receive monetary compensation for the referral of the sale.
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