Sunday, January 1, 2023

DM Rowell's accolades

D.S. Rowell's book, Never Name the Dead, has gotten a whole bunch of acclaim.  Here are links to the different recognition that the book has garnered:

And if you are interested in seeing her on my podcast, Lit with Lloyd, you can go on and click on the picture of D.M. Rowell.

And local author, Ruchira Khanna, has a new book.  Here is the link:


Saturday, December 31, 2022

My Maril: Marilyn Monroe, Ronald Reagan, Hollywood, and me - Terry Karger

All I can say is WOW! This book about Marilyn Monroe will be different from anything you've ever read about her. The book is written by Terry Karger, who is the daughter of the voice coach, Fred Karger, that got Marilyn started in Hollywood. Terry met Marilyn, whose real name was Maril, in March of 1948, when she was only 6, and Maril was taking voice lessons from Fred. Maril became a valued member of the Karger family. Terry has resisted telling the story of Maril all these years. But she finally decided it was time to do it. And, boy, are we glad she did. This story is so illuminating of a Marilyn Monroe that none of us have ever seen before. 

I won't give away everything, but I do want to tell you to pay special attention late in the book as to how Marilyn died on August 5, 1962. And how the Kennedys were VERY MUCH involved. You will enjoy reading about how Marilyn became an integral part of the Karger family. And how Terry spent so much time with the Hollywood elite. You will be interested in Marilyn's close relationship with Terry's father, Fred. And you will certainly enjoy reading about Fred's 2 marriages to Jane Wyman, and how that led Terry to become a big part of Ronald Reagan's life.

I especially liked learning more about Joe DiMaggio's relationship with Marilyn. We've all heard how Joe loved Marilyn, even for the nearly 37 years that he lived after Marilyn died. But there are a lot of other details we didn't know...until now! Finally, the pictures that we see throughout the book are amazing. They show a side of Marilyn that we just didn't ever get to see. And it's fun to see pictures of so many big-time celebrities back in their heyday.

But through it all, Maril was someone that we just didn't know. She was kind, generous, funny, warm, very intelligent, and loving. You have to read this book so you can also learn who the real Marilyn Monroe was. Thank you to Terry Karger, for finally giving us a picture of someone who has historically been portrayed incorrectly. You will learn who she was and why Terry and her family loved her so much. People, the book is available at Amazon, Goodreads, and Barnes and Noble. Get your copy...quick! You will thank me.

Monday, December 26, 2022

The Physician's Daughter, by Martha Conway

The Physician's Daughter, by Martha Conway, is a book that had me crying...a lot.  I don't mean just tearing up either.  They were real tears, but I'll get to that a little bit later.  First, here's what the inside flap tells us it's about:

It is 1865, the American Civil War has just ended, and Vita Tenney is determined to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a country doctor like her father.  But when he tells her she must get married, Vita explores every means of escape - and finds one in war veteran Jacob Culhane.  Damaged by what he's seen in battle and with all his family gone, Jacob is seeking a new start.  Then he meets Vita - and together they hatch a plan.

Months later, Vita seemingly has everything she desired.  But alone in a big city and haunted by the mistakes of her past, she wonders if the life she always thought she wanted was too good to be true.  When love starts to compete with ambition, what will come out on top?

This was a fascinating book on several levels.  First, there was the fact that Jacob was in a Southern prison for much of the Civil War.  Martha has done some amazing research to show us what went on behind the scenes while Jacob and his fellow prisoners tried to survive.  

Another very interesting aspect of the book is how women became doctors around the middle of the 19th century.  Martha's research on this fledgling practice was also a stand-out.  We are all so used to having both female and male doctors, that we don't stop to think about how that started.  It was very illuminating to see that it was shortly before the time the story takes place that it all began.

I also want to point out that the quotes at the beginning of each chapter are very instructive by themselves.  They are quotes from the late 1700s to the late 1800s about the woman's place in this world.  Here are just two mid-19th century examples:

"Ladies are all very well in their place, and that is looking after the latest Paris fashions and making tea at home."  (The Medical Press and Circular, 1870)

"Study as she likes, and labour as she likes, (the female doctor) will never equal the first-class London surgeon, but she can nevertheless make the village happier, teach hygienic laws which prevent disease, or remove by a little skilled advice the suffering (of a patient)."  (The Spectator, 1862)

That brings us back to the crying.  It's not unusual for me to cry. However, in this book, I cried back-to-back-to-back at 3 different times toward the end of the book.  That IS unusual.  But that's how much I was affected.  

Do you want to learn something AND care about the characters?  Go ahead and grab a copy of The Physician's Daughter by Martha Conway.  

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Life's Illusions, by Michael Kenny

Michael Kenny's Life's Illusions is an in-depth look at what happens when you place career over personal.  It's a story that makes you think about how you are living your life.  That's not always comfortable, but it sure can be important.  Here is the blurb:

All Jonathan Kent wanted from life was to escape his humble origins and live life on his own terms.  For this ambitious young man, becoming a superstar trial lawyer would be his pathway to success.  Emotionally bruised from a jilted love in college, he pursued his goal with singular focus, excelling in law school, clerking for a federal judge, and landing a job in "Big Law" at an elite Washington, DC firm.  Mentored by a brilliant, charismatic alcoholic with an acute sense of fairness and economic and racial justice, Jonathan became a mesmerizing trial lawyer.  For most of his career, he epitomized the amoral zeitgeist of Big Law success, but he was changing.  Now, poised to try the biggest case of the twenty-first century, Jonathan is forced to reconnect with his past and, ultimately, choose between selfless love and a self-indulgent career.

Here are a few things about the book that impressed me:

1.  His early explanation about Alzheimers was very educational.  I learned a lot.                                          
2.  His writing reminds me of Amor Towles.  It's very well written but still readable.
3.  I had some tearing up, which means I made an emotional connection to one or more characters.
4.  At one point he describes the personal excesses of the wealthy.  I can't relate to his lists(!), but I was just impressed by the size and magnitude of the lists themselves.
5.  His supporting characters fit right in, and the reader is made to feel a connection with them as well.

Mr. Kenny can flat-out write.  Life's Illusions is a story that will grab you and make you want to know what happens to the protagonist up to the last page.  I highly recommend it.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

Alessandra Harris' latest book - Last Place Seen

Last Place Seen is Alessandra Harris' 3rd novel.  I really enjoyed her 1st one, Blaming the Wind, which I read back in 2016.  Somehow I missed her 2nd, Everything She lost, in 2018 (I WILL get to it!).  But I was able to get the 3rd one, thanks to Alessandra.  And I enjoyed this one too.  She combines mystery and drama with family dynamics with social justice issues with tightly woven stories.  Here is the storyline:

In the aftermath of her husband's life-altering mistake, Tiana Williams grapples with lingering resentment while working full-time and raising their toddler. But when Jay becomes a person of interest in the kidnapping of ten-year-old Zoe Miller, Tiana is torn between trusting her husband and believing the growing pile of evidence.  After she gets dragged further into the mystery and discovers her connection to the missing girl, the shaky ground beneath her crumbles.

With the odds stacked against him, Jay does everything in his power to prove his innocence.  Racing against the clock, he must uncover the truth about Zoe's kidnapping before he loses everything he loves - including his freedom.

During a sweltering heat wave and a raging California wildfire, Tiana and Jay will stop at nothing to find Zoe, even if it means tearing apart their marriage and risking their own lives in the process.

If this sounds like a book you will have trouble putting down, then you are correct.  Plus, it happens to take place in the San Francisco Bay Area, which, for many of you (including myself), will feel right at home.

Get your hands (or ears) around Last Place Seen.

Saturday, October 22, 2022

The Sweet Spot, by Amy Poeppel

Well, I have good news, bad news, and good news.  First the good news - The Sweet Spot by Amy Poeppel is terrific.  Now the bad news - it's not available until February 14, 2023.  And, finally, the good news again - you can preorder it now!  Bottom line?  Get your copy on Valentine's Day next year and put it at the top of your TBR pile.  

Lots of books have a few protagonists and a bunch of secondary supporters.  The Sweet Spot has a whole variety of central characters, and she makes us care about each and every one.  They range from a young baby all the way up to a grandmother, with lots in between.  I think it's an extraordinary feat to be able to focus on multiple people and have the reading audience connect with each and every one.  Well done, Amy!

Friday, September 23, 2022

Jim Ciardella's The Dealer

Jim Ciardella's The Dealer is a fascinating book.  Now I admit that I am particularly interested in the subject matter because it's about the Ferrari of Los Gatos car dealership, which was in operation for nearly 20 years in the mid-70s to the mid-90s.  Why am I so interested?  Because I know the owner of that dealership, Brian Burnett, as well as his ex-wife, Tina.  And his kids went to the same school as my kids, in similar grades. But besides all that, Brian's dealership was the biggest in North America! And Jim tells us why.  He tells us about the celebrities that bought cars there.  He tells us about trips to Italy, with other dealers, to meet with, and get wined and dined by, Enzo Ferrari himself.  He tells us all about the ups and downs of owning a Ferrari dealership.  You don't have to be from Los Gatos to appreciate and enjoy this book.  Believe me.  It's just flat-out interesting reading.