I’d like to share some selections from my bookshelf—books I’ve greatly enjoyed.

Queenie's Place

I’ll admit—I’m a sucker for books about strong women! In Queenie’s Place I found more than expected, with dual main characters from vastly different backgrounds and life opportunities, who are alike in their strength. Author Toni Morgan’s expertly-crafted, descriptive, sensory passages brought me right into the setting—I could feel the oppressive humidity, hear the rollicking piano, and taste the barbeque. We meet our first strong woman, Doreen in 1971 at an anti-war demonstration in California, where her sign gets maximum attention: “Marine Corps Wife for Peace.” Likely as a result of her vocal public opinions, her husband Tom is moved from the West Coast to Camp Puller, North Carolina, where Doreen is not a fit with the woman on the base, nor the people in the local town. That changes when she unexpectantly meets Queenie, the second strong woman who headlines the story. This book is about the strength of female relationships, the importance of teaching our children about equality, and the value of doing what’s right—no matter how unpopular. Throughout, Morgan uses humor to lighten the storyline, while never shying away from the harsh truths of life.

Someday Everything Will All Make Sense

Carol LaHines has created a unique and realistic character, and I hope this book becomes a film so I can see Luther van der Loon on screen! Luther is a lovably neurotic medieval music professor whose mother dies eating takeout from their favorite Chinese restaurant when a rubbery won-ton becomes trapped in her throat. There were many surprises, and I found myself suddenly laughing loudly along the way as I turned the pages, wondering what would become of Luther without his dear mother. Luther is not unlike those of us who have lost loved ones, but he is unlike anyone I know in his obsessive observations as he moves through his grief–very slowly. If you love quirky characters and humor, this book will not disappoint. In addition to Luther, there are sub-characters who contribute to the dark humor. Piccolo Fabrizzi, a visiting music professor, deserves his own book–plenty of rich character for another novel!

Telling Sonny

Quite simply—this was a beautifully-written, engaging story. I finished Telling Sonny in record time, trying (and failing) to slow down so the story would last. This novel transported me to the whimsical world of the vaudeville show circuit. During this journey of the young Faby Gauthier and her new husband Louis, author Elizabeth Gauffreau artfully unveils the personality of each, and the relationship between the two. Gauffreau takes the readers on a well-paced journey, delivering emotive language to revel towns small and large, which Faby captures with her Brownie camera; and the acts of the “small time”, which Faby reviews in her journal with the care and thoughtfulness of a professional. I found myself caring deeply for Faby, constantly craving more than reality provided. Equally, I started each chapter hoping Louis would give his young, naive wife the love she craved. The last chapter left me surprised and more emotional than I expected. Gauffreau’s first novel shows a deep level of story and character development, and I look forward to her next book.