Betty T. (BettySunshine) - , - Reviews

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Airport
Airport
Author: Arthur Hailey
Book Type: Mass Market Paperback
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 2/5/2010


Suspenseful classic tale.


Ammie, Come Home
Ammie, Come Home
Author: Barbara Michaels
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 48
Review Date: 10/23/2011


This was one of my favorite mysteries ever! I read it three times. It has ghosts from the Civil War time period. I absolutely loved it!


An Enduring Love : My Life with the Shah - A Memoir
An Enduring Love : My Life with the Shah - A Memoir
Author: Farah Pahlavi
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 11/14/2010


Very well written. I recommend it to anyone interested in what happened during the time of the Islamic Revolution. It also gives an inkling of how powerful the Ayatollah is. Pretty scary.


The Apple Orchard (Bella Vista Chronicles, Bk 1)
The Apple Orchard (Bella Vista Chronicles, Bk 1)
Author: Susan Wiggs
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.4/5 Stars.
 26
Review Date: 5/9/2014


This was the first book by Susan Wiggs that I have read. I received this book through GoodReads First Reads program. Many thanks to the publisher for the opportunity to become familiar with Susan Wiggs writing. This wont be the last of her books that I will read.
Ms. Wiggs writing is absolutely delightful. Her descriptions took me right back to Sonoma (where I have spent quite a bit of time). I could almost smell and taste the delicious food she described Isabella cooking. For those who like book-related recipes, you will love these. They all sound yummy. The characters were well-developed Tess, Isabella, Magnus, Dominic, Trini, Antonio. They became like friends or family. (Although Dominic was a bit too perfect.) The descriptions of Tess career really had me intrigued. She recovers treasures and restores them to their lawful owners. This was fascinating to me. Sometimes I have difficulty with the books that switch from present to past then back to present. Not with this one. I always knew exactly where/when I was throughout the story. Her transitions were very smooth. I was pleasantly surprised by the intricacies of the story taking me back to Magnus involvement with the Resistance Fighters in Denmark in WWII. While this was a romance there was much more to the story.
If you have trouble saying good-bye to this loving family, this is the first book in a series.


Before I Fall
Before I Fall
Author: Lauren Oliver
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 108
Review Date: 10/21/2011


I loved it! Sam (Samantha) is a popular teen who often is not so likable. At the end of the first day she is in a car wreck with her best friends and Sam is killed. Now she has to re-live that day over and over until she gets things right. She is just your typical teen who now is made to mature quickly so she can move on. It is really touching to lie that day over and over with her while she comes to understand her short life better and accept her death.


Before I Met You: A Novel
Before I Met You: A Novel
Author: Lisa Jewell
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.6/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 1/5/2014


This was the first book by Lisa Jewell that I have read, but now not the last.

Before I Met You alternates between the story of Betty (1983-1995) and that of Arlette (1919-1921). Arlette is the grandmother of Bettys mothers boyfriend. (Got that?) Arlette lived in London (Soho) in a fascinating period of time the Jazz Age when formerly forbidden behavior was more acceptable. But she left all that and went back to her home on the island of Guernsey. Betty lives on Guernsey and dreams of living in Soho. Perhaps this is why Arlette is so fond of Betty at the beginning of the novel. Arlette dies and lives an inheritance to her son and to Arlette. But she also leaves one to an unknown person, one Clara Pickle or Jones. With the inheritance Betty received she moves to Soho and takes it upon herself to find this Clara Pickle. This is when we learn the fascinating history of Arlette.

Betty strives to do well in the big city, just as Arlette did years before. Betty finds an apartment in Soho and eventually becomes a nanny to the children of a rock star. Arlette had also found a dwelling in Soho and fell in love with a jazz musician. Both women went through similar exciting times and heart-breaking times.

I really didnt know what to expect when I first started reading the book. As I mentioned already, I had never read a Lisa Jewell book. It was long though until I was hooked. I came to really care about the characters of Arlette, Betty, and the objects of their love. Two other characters I was rooting against as they were not worthy of these women. When the novel ended I had to sit a spell and reflect upon their journeys. What a delightful, yet at times, heart-breaking story. Thank you, Lisa Jewell, for this delightful tale.


Both Right and Left Handed: Arab Women Talk About Their Lives
Review Date: 12/13/2009


Shaaban interviews women in Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, and Algeria. The chapter on Algeria is especially interesting as she goes to visit the people of Al Tawariqu. This society of Muslims is totally different from other societies. Here the men wear veils and women have a unique type of emancipation.


The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank
The Boy Who Loved Anne Frank
Author: Ellen Feldman
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 3.8/5 Stars.
 16
Review Date: 8/15/2009


Didn't care much for it. Peter is ashamed of being Jewish. Marries a Jewish woman but does not admit to being Jewish. Did not rate high for me at all.


The Cavendon Women
The Cavendon Women
Author: Barbara Taylor Bradford
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 2.8/5 Stars.
 2
Review Date: 7/18/2015


I used to really enjoy Barbara Taylor Bradfords books. I love family sagas and she used to be one of the best at writing them. But not anymore. Like Danielle Steel, her books seem to now be written following some formula. The last two of her books that I read (this being the second one) were predictable and had little real story to them. In this one, the four Cavedon sisters are the most beautiful women in the world. Then they meet their soul mate and they are instantly madly in love. This book lacked emotion and frequently did a quick wrap-up so they could move on to the next episode. I was ready for an easy read and it did fulfill that. But it was just too light for true enjoyment. I want to care about the characters and in this story I did not.

I received an ARC of this book from GoodReads First Reads program in exchange for an honest review.


Crashers (Crashers, Bk 1)
Crashers (Crashers, Bk 1)
Author: Dana Haynes
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.3/5 Stars.
 9
Review Date: 10/21/2011


Suspectful. Easy reading. Kept me glued to the story.
An NTSB team is brought in to investigate the downing of an aircraft. Only days away another aircraft will be brought down in the same manner -- but how?? The FBI joins the investigation.


Hotel Moscow: A Novel
Hotel Moscow: A Novel
Author: Talia Carner
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 7/18/2015


This is one of those rare books that I wanted to rush through because it had me so totally engrossed in the story. I felt the fear and intensity as unbelievable incidents were described. But once I reached the last few pages I found myself slowing down. On one hand I wanted to quickly read those pages to find out what would happen. But on the other hand I did not want the story to end.

Brooke Fielding, an ambitious young investment manager, accepts an invitation to travel to Moscow as part of a team to teach entrepreneurial skills to the Russian women. While eager to share of herself with the women she is also apprehensive. Her parents were born in Russia and escaped from the pogroms against the Jews. Her mother was the only survivor from her family as the others died in a concentration camp. Her fathers first wife and three children were killed. Thus, Brooke has grown up hearing of the anti-Semitism in Russia.

The story begins in 1993 just weeks after the fall of Communism. Left as a country with no laws, the Duma is busy making up laws as they go. However Yeltsin is frustrated and impatient with them and fires them. As the members of their Duma are democratically elected, Yeltsin did not have the authority to fire them. Thus, a stand-off develops between the members of the Duma and Yeltsin as he calls in the Army to remove the Duma.

The entire team encounters MAJOR culture shock. As Communist control ended, theft and gangs quickly filled the void. Connections and bribes were required for the simplest of services. Corruption has taken over. Time after time, the Russians are impressed by how white the Americans teeth are. Many of them have rotted teeth but proudly support one gold tooth as it shows they can afford it. People stand in line for hours, sometimes days, for food, gasoline, money from the banks. The descriptions of the living conditions of most Russians were shocking. The photos of communal apartments in the back of the book were definitely eye-opening.

Svetlana is assigned as the groups translator. She knows several languages and would have been translator for the Foreign Minister. However, she was labeled as having loose morals after being gang-raped. Dr. Olga Rozanova, a sociologist from the Institute for Social Research, is ashamed that the Americans are so poorly treated in her homeland. Brooke forms friendships with these women, but can the friendships survive the anti-Semitism of the culture? And how can she teach Western capitalism to a people who are afraid to even trust their neighbors?

There is a good sampling of the male characters. There are primarily four Russian male characters and they are very different from each other.

Brookes early family history is revealed slowly, like layers of an onion being peeled away, layer by layer. Being in Russia makes her face parts of her past that she had been running from her entire life. There is a possible love interest for her but she is very distrustful of men. Her past relationships are also slowly revealed making it understandable why she is so distrustful of men. Brooke carries secrets that she is afraid of revealing. One of the secrets could cost her her job. She also struggles with the question of What does it mean to be Jewish? Should she hide her Jewish identity in this land that is rampantly anti-Semitic?

Ms. Carner visited Russia in 1993 and experienced some of the events told in the book. Her descriptions made me think of several social issues. Is this the way all oppressed societies behave once they get that first taste of freedom? I was amazed at the pride the Russian people still exhibited toward their country, no matter how corrupt it had become. Yet underneath it all, people are people, proving that compassion and trust still exist in the most lawless of societies. I also looked at my own Jewishness, just as Brooke was forced to look at hers. In spite of the corruptness, this was a beautiful story. I look forward to reading her other three books.


The House of Hawthorne: A Novel
The House of Hawthorne: A Novel
Author: Erika Robuck
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.3/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 7/18/2015
Helpful Score: 1


This is the story of Sophia Amelia Peabodys courtship and married life with husband Nathaniel Hawthorne. Nathaniel was charmed with Sophias paintings and she with his writings. He considered her a gift from God to bring light to him. She is nearly dizzy from his beauty.

The novel is written from Sophias perspective and begins when Nathaniel, although ill, leaves on a short trip that Sophia is totally against. She has a premonition that this will be the last time she sees him. She tells Nathaniel that she cannot bear this earth long without my companion. Then the story goes back in time to shortly before she first meets him.

As you can imagine, the life of two artists is not easy. Their temperaments were different; Nathaniel yearned for solitude while Sophia often invited friends to dinner. Finances were always a concern for them especially after having three children. Yet they remained passionately in love.
I enjoyed reading of their interactions with some of the other writers of that time Henry Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, etc.

Sophia was a very intelligent woman but often had to hide her intelligence in order to be accepted by the society women of the time. Sophia really was not that different from other women of her time. While she was highly educated and an independent thinker, like most women around her, she put her talents aside to fulfill the role of wife and mother. According to Ms. Robuck, she was advised to continue her painting. For you do not want to end up the little marker at the side of the grand headstone, where future writers and readers will lay their offerings, honoring only the man published and not the women who supported and even made his work possible.

I enjoyed the historical portions of the story, and the writing itself was beautifully descriptive. But I did not find myself warming up to either Sophia or Nathaniel. I found the constant over-the-top endearments to be too much. There were several places in the book where it really just dragged on saying nothing of interest. Bottom line I just did not find them to be a very interesting couple.


Inside the O'Briens
Inside the O'Briens
Author: Lisa Genova
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 25
Review Date: 7/18/2015
Helpful Score: 2


I have not yet read Lisa Genovas two previous books, but I certainly will now. The OBrien family is one that most people can relate to. The father Joe is a policemen. Oldest son JJ is a fireman, and he and his wife have just gotten pregnant with their first child. Daughter Meghan is a ballet dancer. Katie teaches yoga. Patrick, the youngest, is basically a goof-off. Typical family, until Joe starts dropping things, begins having violent outbursts and involuntary muscular movements. He finally is diagnosed with Huntingtons Disease.

According to an Internet site, Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited disorder that affects the brain. Each person whose parent has HD has a 50% chance of inheriting the disorder. Onset of symptoms range from 35-50 years old. Juvenile cases occur in people less than 20 years of age. Symptoms are mild at first and are often barely noticeable but usually worsen over 15-20 years. Physical symptoms may include: abnormal body movements that worsen over time, including sudden jerks or uncontrolled movements of the limbs or trunk, facial grimacing, walking that is unsteady or dance-like; difficulty with eating, dressing, sitting, and caring for oneself; difficulty swallowing, grunting or poor articulation of speech, weight loss.

Lisa Genova did an amazing job of writing how Joe slowly descends into a life obsessed with HD. With great sensitivity, she explores how each member of the family deals with the news. Each of the children struggle with the decision of whether to be tested or not. The fear the entire family has that the unborn baby may have inherited the gene felt so real. Ms. Genova also has the family learning to depend upon friends in time of greatest need. Joe, once a very proud man, now has to deal with the horrified looks he gets from people due to loss of control of his own body. But his fellow police buddies have his back. Joe actually comes up with a humorous way of dealing with peoples stares. Loved it!

The courage of the family and how each member chooses to deal with the future was just so realistic. However I thought I would feel, some member of the family describes feeling the same way. These characters are so very real. They are not perfect; they reveal their fears, their anger, their confusion. They could be our neighbors, our friends, or they could be us.


Jam on the Vine: A Novel
Jam on the Vine: A Novel
Author: LaShonda Barnett
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
 1
Review Date: 7/18/2015


This is a very honest look at life for a black woman trying to be a journalist in the US in the early 20th century.

Even in her childhood Ivoe is fascinated with newspapers. She steals every one she can from her mothers white employer. The written word is her escape from the poverty she lives in. She becomes determined to fulfill her obsession with journalism. Her excellent writing and grades gain her a scholarship. She excels in journalism at the school. But when she applies for jobs she finds herself overqualified. Her potential employers cannot see beyond her skin color.

The writing in most of the book sets the scene so perfectly. Some of the sayings are delightful. When a woman asks Lemon, Ivoes mother, if she knows Annie Faye, Lemon replies with Weve howdyed but we aint never shook. And then there is Every time I stand up, my mind sits down. And when Roena, Lemons daughter-in-law, says she regrets marrying Timbo, Lemon tells Cant put the rain back in the sky. I love that!
The characters are down to earth and seem so real. Life is hard for them but they keep on battling the poverty and discrimination they encounter every day of their lives. They do whatever it takes to support their families. Lemon makes jam and prepares vegetables for the community; her husband, Ennis goes off with the plan to make money and have his join him later.

The author describes the minor transgressions that get mostly the black men (but some women too) thrown into jail. The conditions of those jails are deplorable. It nauseated me to even read about them.
When Ivoe continues to find herself unable to break into journalism, her lover and the community encourage her to start her own black newspaper. It was interesting to read how they went about doing it, and the resistance they encountered.

The last chapter was a real disappointment to me. It seemed as though Ms. Barnett had a vast amount of research she had not gotten into the book. So in the last chapter it is all thrown in there. The chapter is rushed, disconnected, and preachy. It was a truly disappointing end to an otherwise wonderfully written novel


The Linen Queen: A Novel
The Linen Queen: A Novel
Author: Patricia Falvey
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.1/5 Stars.
 17
Review Date: 10/21/2011


I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would. Sheila, the Linen Queen, seems to be in love with two men at the same time. Joel is an American military officer who offers her the "out" she has been looking for -- marriage and a ticket out of Northern Ireland. But then there is her childhood friend Gavin who captains a ship. How does she get what she wants without hurting those she loves? We read this for our book club and the author called to chat with us. She was delightful! She gave us a lot of the historical background. Lovely lady!


Lusitania: Triumph, Tragedy, and the End of the Edwardian Age
Review Date: 7/18/2015


The 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Lusitania has just passed. As a result of this anniversary, there are several new books on the topic. I chose to read this one by Greg King and Penny Wilson. Well, I think I made the wrong choice. This book was so tedious; it was a chore to read. I had to read through just over half of the book before the torpedo hit. So what was in that first half? There were a couple of interesting facts. First, there were warnings from the German embassy in Washington, DC. Travelers were reminded that a state of war existed between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies. They were informed that the waters adjacent to the British Isles were part of the zone of war. The embassy stated that vessels flying with the flag of Great Britain or any of her allies were susceptible to destruction in those waters. However, the warning was ignored and treated as just propaganda. The second interesting fact was that unlike the Titanic that took two hours and 40 minutes to sink, the Lusitania went down in only 18 minutes!

The rest of the first twelve chapters was filled with the minutiae of the biographies of the First Class passengers. It went into detail of what they brought on board with them and the downright foolishness of the rich. For example, Alice Vanderbilt was so arrogant that she once spent hours being endlessly driven around New York City because she felt it beneath her dignity to give her chauffeur directions. Perhaps a better title would have been Lusitania: Lifestyles of the Rich and Arrogant. I was so bored with their stories that none of them really stuck in my mind. Therefore, I felt no connection once the ship was hit and started sinking.

There were a few people who were nervous about the voyage. Some wills were changed prior to embarkation due to the nervousness. One lady carried her jewel box with her when dining should disaster strike. There was definitely tension on board the nearer they came to the British Isles. Some of the passengers thought that an escort would be sent to safely guide them through the danger zone. In fact, the ships captain had pretty much said that. But there was no escort. The captain was strict about evacuation drills, but only with the crew. The passengers themselves were never included in a drill, and this was a serious error. The lifebelts were difficult to access, and the passengers were not assigned to lifeboats. This contributed to the chaos that ensued when the ship was indeed torpedoed.

Amongst all the panic, it seemed the crew was more interested in saving their own lives than those of the passengers. Also the crew did not know how to lower the lifeboats. Many of the collapsible lifeboats were unusable as they lacked plugs, oars missing, oarlocks rusted, etc. As the ship slid into the sea, Captain Turner continued to tell people that the boat could not sink.

If you can get through the first half of the book, the last half does pick up. Reading what the survivors endured was interesting. If you know almost nothing about the Lusitania, you may find this book interesting.

Thank you to GoodReads and St, Martins Press for an Advance Reading Copy in exchange for an honest review.


Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand
Author: Helen Simonson
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 92
Review Date: 10/21/2011


This was an absolutely delightful and charming book. I enjoyed the slow development of the book -- along with the slow courtship between the Major and Mrs. Ali. I loved the shyness of the Major and how their relationship blossomed. How he knew when not to let a good thing get away from him. Extra spice was added to the story with Sandy and Roger; Abdul Wahid, Amina, and George.


Open Doors
Open Doors
Author: Gloria Goldreich
Book Type: Paperback
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 6
Review Date: 6/12/2010


Loved it!!! Neil and Elaine are a Jewish couple with four grown children. While they loved their children, they always were like "a cult of two". Because of this, the children often felt excluded. Then suddenly Elaine's beloved Neil dies. Now Elaine has time to travel and spend time with her children and their families. She gets to know them as she never did before. There's Sandy who is now known as Sarah, married to Moshe and living with their children in an Orthodox area of Jerusalem. Then there is Sarah's twin Lisa who is adopting a child from Russia. Peter's marriage seems to be on the rocks. And Denis fights for acceptance of his gay partner Andrew. A wonderful story of sibling bonds and family struggles.


The Oracle of Stamboul: A Novel
The Oracle of Stamboul: A Novel
Author: Michael David Lukas
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 3.9/5 Stars.
 11
Review Date: 10/21/2011


I really enjoyed this book. Very well written. It took me back to Istanbul which is one of my favorite cities. Elenora was a remarkable little girl -- extremely intelligent, learned seven languages, able to break codes. Became an advisor to the Sultan. I was reading several other books when I first started this one but once I got into it I just couldn't stop.


The Rabbi of 84th Street : The Extraordinary Life of Haskel Besser
The Rabbi of 84th Street : The Extraordinary Life of Haskel Besser
Author: Warren Kozak
Book Type: Hardcover
  • Currently 4.2/5 Stars.
 3
Review Date: 1/17/2010


Wonderful reading. Rabbi Besser is a true mensch. He escaped from Poland in 1939. Much of his family was killed in concentration camps. However, his father and mother escaped to Palestine. Eventually Besser moved to New York City. Here he has led an amazing life helping others. He is also responsible for the miniature talmuds devout Jews carry with them. He has friends among the secular and among those one would think would be his enemies. His engaging personality befriends all.


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