I have been wanting to read Swing Time by Zadie Smith for a long time. I am sorry to report I struggled to read only half of the novel and threw in the towel.

Having read other books by Smith, I admire her work and especially, her style. This book however, seemed too choppy and disconnected. I just couldn’t make sense of it and felt lost.

The story is about two girlfriends in London. It is also about race, parenting styles, feminism, and friendships. Maybe it was too jam-packed with themes for me personally.  There were things I liked — musical references and dance. The writing is impressive; I just couldn’t follow the story.

If any of my followers made it to the end of this novel, please let me know how it turned-out!

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Sing Your Worries Away

The Chilbury’s Ladies Choir by Jennifer Ryan turned-out to be an appropriate book to read in honor of International Woman’s Day. It is a fictional novel about a small town in England and the people who, over the course of approximately six months in 1940, learn to cope with changes brought about by World War Two.

When Chilbury’s men go off to war, the ladies left behind find hidden strengths. The all female choir they form and their combined voices become a path through difficulties. Told in the form of diaries and letters, the author captures innermost thoughts and feelings of the townsfolk. I enjoyed reading the varying viewpoints and perspectives. It made the story very personal.

I think this is a wonderful novel. I read it in two days for the pure pleasure of it and was sorry to see it end!

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Where’s Papa?

51kvu1h931l._sy400_.jpgThe Other Daughter by Lauren Willig is a fictional novel about a girl named Rachel Woodley who, as the story begins, is a governess in France. When she receives a telegram informing her that her mother in England is very ill, she rushes home only she is too late and her mother is dead.  From there, the story takes a number of unexpected twists and turns which lead Rachel on a quest to confront the father she knew up until the age of four. She had been told he died only to discover upon her mother’s death, that he is alive and well.

What I liked about this book is the fact that, much like the character Rachel, it surprised me all the way till the very end. I enjoyed the unexpected outcome. Perhaps you will as well!

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Cards We Are Dealt

51ugryl5c6l._sy400_.jpgUs by David Nicholls is a 2014 novel about the Petersen family. Doug and Connie of Great Britain are about to embark on a grand tour of Europe with their 17-year-old son Alvie when Connie informs her husband that her future plans don’t include him.  What follows is a narrative in George’s voice which flips between past and present as he desperately tries to save his marriage.

This is an incredibly well-written story which is very true to life. Not only does it focus on marriage, but also on parenting. I laughed and cried and nodded my head throughout the novel finding much I could relate to. I highly recommend it.

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L.A. Makeover

51ehioopcel._sy400_.jpgThe New Old Me by Meredith Maran was in some ways, a story I was able to identify with. Unfortunately, in many ways it was not.

This memoir chronicles the author’s break-up and divorce from another woman and her subsequent return to the 9-5 working world at the age of 60 plus. After moving from a home in the Bay area, the author finds herself camping on friend’s couches and living out of suitcases while learning to navigate a new life among the “beautiful people” in Los Angeles.

Finding herself in despair and consumed with loneliness, she makes a number of interesting choices in order to find friends. Her choices which seemed based more on bending to be accepted for someone she is not rather than her authentic self, left me thinking this is one very insecure woman with a drinking problem.

I came away from the memoir disappointed, but also feeling better about my life because I recently embarked on a new life in a new town as well. My life and experiences have been monumentally different and I am grateful for it. The author’s portrayal of people in L.A. turned my stomach on several occasions. Reading about bikini waxes is about as far from interesting and as disgusting as you can get in my mind; way too much information!

As far as I am concerned, this tell-all memoir may have had merit for the author, but most certainly not for me. Some secrets are best left just that — secret.

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image001.pngWith thanks to Penguin Publishing we are pleased to announce the upcoming giveaway to Bookwinked followers in the U.S.!

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST: Classic Tales About Animal Brides and Grooms from Around the World edited by Maria Tatar.

To enter, please email your name and address to us at bookwinked at by March 1st.  Good luck and thank you for following Bookwinked!

CONGRATULATIONS to our contest winner LAURA G

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Breaking Records

51q3z3emk2l._sy400_.jpgThe One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood is a novel I’m recommending to everyone. Am I ever grateful I brought it home from the library because I had no previous knowledge of it and it turned-out to be simply wonderful.

The story is about an eleven-year-old boy who befriends an 104 year-old woman who was born in Lithuania and raised in the U.S.  The boy, unlike others his age, encourages the elderly woman to try to get her name in the Guinness book of world records.

What follows is an incredibly touching, beautiful story.  I will say no more in order not to divulge the plot and conclusion of the novel. It is one not to be missed!

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