The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim

The Enchanted April is a charming novel, light and breezy and sweet. It's about love and life and being oneself. It's funny and perceptive. The writing is descriptive and witty. Four women, more or less strangers, are escaping dreary London and their dreary lives to spend April in a castle in Italy. They are each unhappy and lonely in their own way, dissatisfied with their lives. Lottie and Rose are in unhappy marriages. Lady Caroline is tired of being fawned over and surrounded by people clamoring for her attention. Mrs. Fisher is a grumpy older woman, a widow who relies on a cane. She, by the way, has some of the funniest moments in the book. Then San Salvatore works its magic on them, first one then more slowly the others. They come out of their shells and relax. They begin to realize what is actually important. They enjoy the beauty around them and in general become more happy, more loving...
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Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Toshikazu Kawaguchi

Before the Coffee Gets Cold is simple, lovely, and quirky. There's a cafe in Japan where you can travel in time if you sit in a certain chair. Of course, there are restrictions, as you can read in the blurb above. All of the book happens in the cafe, so we get to know the people who work there and the regulars. I don't know if we really get to know them or just get a peek into their lives. We see who they are at the cafe, how they interact with the others there, but not what they do, who they are otherwise, aside from what we're told. It's interesting that, unless someone is there specifically to go back in time, time travel is rarely talked about. It's just part of the cafe, unremarkable to those who are most familiar with it. In this book, we see four trips in time. Each individual knows that the present can't be...
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Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland

Family drama is not usually my cup of tea, but Last Summer at the Golden Hotel was a perfect summer read. In the 1960s, two Jewish families bought a hotel in the Catskills. Back in those early days, the hotel was the place to be seen and the Catskills was the place to vacation. Sixty years later, the hotel is run-down and the clientele is definitely slipping. The two families' children are grown and have families of their own. They decide to meet at, "The Golden" for one last summer vacation to reminisce and discuss whether it's time to sell and leave the business. I loved the mix of tension and love between and within the families. I loved the touch of nostalgia and wish I could visit The Golden in its heyday. We've got secrets and scandals, money issues and memories. And honestly I liked all the characters, well except the one who was just clearly a bad guy. And...
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High Rising by Angela Thirkell

High Rising by Angela Thirkell

I loved High Rising. Laura Morland is a fabulous character. I appreciate how she looks at the world. She's an author of popular novels set in the fashion world, which she chose because she knew women would enjoy reading about it. She has a pretty clear understanding of the people in her life, both their strengths and weaknesses. Other characters include train-obsessed children, loyal but opinionated servants, devoted secretaries with their own agendas, an unflappable schoolmaster's wife, the village doctor, and several potential couples. We get to see the ins and outs of the characters' relationships, the scheming (in a good way), and the helping each other out. It's just charming and witty. The dialogue is wonderful. The characters have fun talking to each other, if you know what I mean. They enjoy the conversations, they don't just have them. High Rising is a slice of life in this fictional corner of the world. People are ridiculous and silly and...
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Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Interior Chinatown by Charles Yu

Interior Chinatown merges the storyline of a TV crime procedural, Black and White, with the life Willis Wu. He and his parents live a fairly unremarkable existence in small one-room apartments in Chinatown. Their building is above the Golden Palace restaurant where the show is in constant production. Wu and his parents and most of their community drift in and out of the series, playing interchangeable parts and hoping their big break might someday come. And I think sometimes they work in the restaurant which seems to actually be a business, not just a set. Wu is often cast as as the "Generic Asian Man," and sees himself holding that role in real life too. It's a clever book, with parts written as a screenplay, parts as Wu's inner monologue, and using snippets of true historical documents. But maybe it's too clever. I appreciated the blurred lines between fiction and reality. I understand that America has been harming Asian...
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The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

The Christmas Train by David Baldacci

The Christmas Train has just about everything: romance, adventure, mystery and holiday cheer. I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a great seasonal read, maybe a little cheesy in parts, but that's okay for a Christmas read. Our main character is Tom Langdon. Tom used to be a war correspondent but he had had enough of war. He now was doing fluff pieces but is still always on the move, going her and there to research stories. Tom has been dating a Hollywood voice over actress for about 3 years off and on in a long distance sort of relationship. So, it was almost Christmas and he needed to get from Washington D.C. to Los Angeles to spend the Holiday with his girlfriend. He wasn’t allowed to fly due to a slight “misunderstanding” with airport security. Tom was distantly related to Mark Twain and it was Tom’s father’s dying wish for Tom to write a piece about train travel, something Mark Twain had attempted...
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