Sunday, November 29, 2015

A few days of calm after the Thanksgiving rush and some short reviews

Unlike many Americans, I am not a Black Friday person.  After Thanksgiving Day's full house and full stomach, I always savor the calmer, quieter weekend that follows.  When I was still working, hubby and I would try to escape to the cabin early Friday morning and enjoy a long weekend there.  Maybe I would venture into a quilt store or craft fair, but mostly I curled up near the wood burner and read.  Since hubby is experiencing a different kind of adventure this week, I've settled into a very quiet weekend at home.

Friday evening and Saturday morning I visited with three nieces.  Recently they reconnected with L., their Egyptian exchange student from 32 years ago.  L. now works in New York City, splitting her time between Egypt and America.  She and her two college age daughters made a trip to Wisconsin over this long weekend to see her "second family."  My nieces's father died 9 years ago; they miss him deeply, but this visit with L. allowed them to share memories and also catch up.  Russ and I were just in our thirties when L. was here and our lives really centered around our own three kids.  L. was very outgoing, even as a 16 year old, and she settled into our small community amazingly well.  By the winter months, she would even babysit for us. I was touched to learn that she has kept all these years a fabric jewelry case I made for her.  As I prepared to join the group for Saturday morning coffee, I searched through photo albums hoping to find some holiday pictures from the year L. was here.  No luck, but I was able to find a group of great photos to share with the nieces.  It was great remembering, but today, that's got me thinking about the present.  I don't like having my photo taken anymore, being extremely self-conscious.  Plus I am very, very, very (is that enough emphasis) busy on holidays being the hostess.  And it appears we have a whole brood of people who share my camera aversion.  The result -- we have very few posed photos with everyone in them, and the candids are not that plentiful or good. Thirty two years from now, how will the grand kids gather and laugh over outdated hair styles and clothes, but then move on to deeper reminiscencing?  I guess I will need to work harder on getting those photos taken (without me appearing, of course!)

Before I plunge into the necessary Christmas shopping and some sewing projects, I plan to savor decorating the house and also my end of the year reading.  Last night I finished THE VINTAGE TEACUP CLUB by Vanessa Greene and last weekend read SUMMER SECRETS BY Jane Green.  Both of these books are popular contemporary fiction which feature English characters.  SUMMER SECRETS's main character Cat is a recovering alcoholic whose drinking has totally messed up her life.  Now a single mother, focused on sobriety and being a good parent to a teenage daughter, Cat undertakes a trip to Nantucket to make amends for a terrible mistake she made almost twenty years earlier.  Although the cover blurb says this novel has characters you will "fall madly in love with," I did not love anyone in this book, except perhaps Cat's ex-husband.  Jane Green's writing is good; this just was a story that did not appeal to me.

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It was the premise of THE VINTAGE TEACUP CLUB that caught my attention.  Three women discover they want the same set of gold-rimmed forget me not teacups at a flea market.  Rather than fight over them, thus driving the price up, the women sit down over a cuppa and learn that they want the cups for different reasons and at different times.  With a little planning, they can all have their needs satisfied. They join together and buy the set, hoping to add more vintage cups over the summer weeks.  Like other books with a "sharing" premise, the three women are very different (different ages,even) and the shared teacups bring not only them, but their significant others close together.  Weddings, unexpected romance, family finances, problems with children, and betrayals are part of this book as the lives of the trio unfold.  I enjoyed the women's stories, but I found the teacups a bit of a weak connector.  Perhaps because I enjoy tea, old tea pots and china, I felt their presence in the story would be stronger.  This is the type of book that could have a sequel and I've just discovered that there is a digital short story that shows the three women a year later.  Think I will need to locate that. As I said earlier, both of these books are popular contemporary fiction.  Normally, I blog about Christian fiction and nonfiction, but I do read other genres and like to also review them.  I am never quite sure what readers of this blog think about that, so I simply try to clearly label what type of book I'm reviewing.   I obtained both of these books from our library system.  Goodreads gives a ranking of 3.55 to Vanessa Greene's THE VINTAGE TEACUP CLUB while Jane Green's SUMMER SECRETS earned a 3.59.  Personally I would rank SUMMER SECRETS a low 3 and THE VINTAGE TEACUP CLUB a 3.5.

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