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Original Essays | September 17, 2014

Merritt Tierce: IMG Has My Husband Read It?

My first novel, Love Me Back, was published on September 16. Writing the book took seven years, and along the way three chapters were published in... Continue »


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booksintheburbs has commented on (7) products.

Orphan Train: Novel by Christina Baker Kline
Orphan Train: Novel

booksintheburbs, May 22, 2013

It was hard to get into the book, at the beginning. However, after a couple of chapters, I was hooked. I loved the relationship between Vivian and Molly, the similarities they shared, and the way they both adjusted as foster children. Vivian’s story is incredible and it made me quite sad to hear the way these children were basically seen as servants (when presented to families), and the abuse they endured.

It’s quite a comparison between Vivian and Molly’s home life. Molly is in foster care, living in a foster home, where her foster mother doesn’t care about her. We hear of stories, like those today: adults being foster parents because of the money (although it’s not enough to make you rich). We also hear of sweet stories like those of Vivian’s parents, who adopted her. While she had been in a couple of horrible foster homes, ultimately she ends up with a family that loves her. However, it’s a relationship that evolves slowly and it allows Vivian to garner trust and feel safe, considering everything she went through.

This is a great story, and there were lots of great moments. While the story focused mainly on Vivian, the reader will also see the slow transformation that happens with Molly and hope that her story ends sweetly, like Vivian’s.
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Being Esther by Miriam Karmel
Being Esther

booksintheburbs, May 22, 2013

I’ve read books like, “Still Alice”, where an adult woman experiences the onset of alzheimer’s and how her mind slowly betrays her. However, this is a new twist. This is a story about Esther, an elderly Jewish woman, who is quite coherent and present. After losing her husband and friends, she and her dear friend call each other every day to make sure they never die without someone knowing. The way it works, is they each take turns calling each other everyday. They both agree that if one doesn’t answer one day, then to make sure their family knows and to fulfill their wishes.

What truly is sad and heartwarming at the same time, is how time does fly by and how quickly one ages. What happens when you are alone, have a poor relationship with your child, have a life filled with special moments and some regrets? Through Esther’s journey, you will see how the simple acts of doing something each day and normal routine are still remarkable moments in life. Most importantly, that everyone has a story, deserves a listening ear, and a little bit of your time.
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For the Love of Ireland by Judy Leslie
For the Love of Ireland

booksintheburbs, May 22, 2013

I read this book in about 2 days. I’m a fan of historical fiction, so couple that with a little romance, and I’m in! There were quite a few scenes that happened on a boat, taking Margaret back and forth form the States to Ireland, which was a bit reminiscent of the Titanic. While Margaret is no Rose and Michael is not Jack, I found them to be endearing together. The one HUGE issues was that Margaret was married and it truthfully bothered me that she wasn’t focusing on her marriage or ending it. I really have strong opinions about affairs, but Judy Leslie balances this with some grace and shows the darker side to Margaret’s husband…which we need to be a little okay with an emotional affair, right?!? Margaret and Michael don’t have any sexual contact, but the author is able to show how much their hearts ached for each other and how they both showed their love for one another through their mutual support of liberating Ireland from England.

I was absolutely intrigued with Margaret and her reporting style. I can’t imagine the secrecy and great effort it took for her to investigate the happenings in Ireland and its people, as well as writing about it under a pseudonym. Working as a reporter for the newspaper, she traveled extensively and met many people who were in support of freeing Ireland. She also had to balance that with her role as a wife and supporter of her husband, who was a public figure and also head of a liberation party in the United States.

There is so much contained in this book with lots of characters, storylines, and some twists and turns. I loved the style of writing, the way everyone in someway was connected to one another, and the history of what Ireland’s people endured during a difficult and tumultuous period. I was even more amazed to learn that this story was loosely based on real people and their work. I highly suggest this book to anyone that loves a great historical fiction book! This book has all the ingredients for a great story: a little romance, some mystery, and some real life characters!!
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The House at the End of Hope Street by Menna Van Praag
The House at the End of Hope Street

booksintheburbs, May 22, 2013

I was drawn to read this book based on some real life people, who make cameos in the book. Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, Dorothy Parker…just to name a few. When I first opened the book and started to read the first few pages, I didn’t think I would enjoy the book. It seemed a little hokey, and I don’t read paranormal, sci-fi, or fantasy kind of books. Okay, with the exception of Twilight…

So, I put the book away and read a few other books before going back to it. Then, I allowed myself to slip into the whimsical and magic world, where women go to find themselves and uncover past issues that are preventing the person from moving forward. Once, I let go, I loved it!

The house is quite magical. Built in 1811, it is managed only by Abbot women, who have a sixth sense. Peggy welcomes Alba to the home that has mysteriously appears out of nowhere. Alba is quite surprised to see that someone is up so late at night and is expecting her, without having known herself where she would end up. You see, the house will only appear to those who are in need of shelter. It is on that particular evening, Peggy announces she is having a birthday the following day. At the ripe age of 82, Peggy has seen many women come through that home. As Alba walks through the home, she sees the faces of many of those: Virginia Woolf, Daphne du Maurier, and Agatha Christie, among others. Alba has a bit of a sixth sense, which comes in the forms of seeing colors that represent different emotions : anger, hope, sorrow, deception, love, etc. As Peggy leads her to the guest room, Alba swears she sees the faces move and acknowledge her, almost as if they are also greeting her.

Every guest that stays at the home is granted only 99 days to get their life back on track. What the guests don’t realize is that the house will be doing some little magic to help create movement, help the guest face some truths, and ultimately help change the path the person is on. All guests are women, all are lured to the home, and all uncover hidden truths in their own time.

While there are 2 other women living in the home, Alba is the primary character. Of course, Peggy has her own sort of issues and she has to face some major decisions the house has made on her behalf. Peggy is an 82 year old woman, but don’t let that age fool you! She has lots of sass, has a lover, and is quite confident about what she wants. Question is…can she have it?

Alba has her own family secrets that she is not even privy to. It is through this time that she is at the hope house, where Alba learns about her family history, comes to terms with her own sexuality, and begins a relationship with her father. In the meantime, the other two guests (Carmen and Greer), also experience some life changes, too.

There is so much that happens in the little story and lots of incidents happen at the house on Hope Street, too. Pull off your reality hat, kick up your feet, and let yourself go down the rabbit hole to Hope Street. You won’t be disappointed and you’ll enjoy some of the whimsical things that happen, too!
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Chocolates for Breakfast (P.S.) by Pamela Moore
Chocolates for Breakfast (P.S.)

booksintheburbs, May 22, 2013

There are books that have stayed with me for years, causing a shift in my thinking, making me see things a little differently, and taking me into a world that I want to leave, but I’m somehow drawn to stay and linger for a while. This book is reminiscent of , The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann, and Go Ask Alice by Beatrice Sparks. It’s such a great book, and deserves to be republished again!

What I love about Pamela Moore‘s writing is how easy her writing flows. She was only 18, when she wrote this brave and harrowing tale of a young teen that is on the brink of finding her own identity and independence, while also exploring her sexuality and living quite alone in Hollywood and later in New York. Back in 1956, women, much less teens, weren’t talking about cutting, uninhibited sex, and drinking. Certainly not opening the curtains into their own daily lives and giving a front row seat to the emotionally and sexually charged youthfulness that girls, like Courtney experienced. This book, being written by a teen, for teens, has crossed over generations to show that it still holds relevance to today-for all genders and ages.

Based on a semi-autobiographical history of Pamela’s youth, I couldn’t help but wonder if somehow Pamela was trying to regain some normalcy by writing and stowing away those dark reminders of her past. Much like the analogy Anthony gives of losing his shadow, I wonder if Pamela was trying to lose hers, too. Unlike books of today, Pamela’s book writes about her cutting, her curiosity about being “queer”, and the drinking parties, which are not told in such graphic and minute detail, but does lend itself to further interpretation by the reader. Pamela Moore’s writing is done with ease and a blazay attitude, that actually causes the reader to want to know more.

As I read this book, I couldn’t help but picture certain actors/artists in different roles being these characters. I kept seeing the young Drew Barrymore as Courtney and think that Drew could relate to Courtney’s character as they did have similarities. I also kept picturing a young pretty boy as Barry Cabot, like Jennifer Lopez’s young boyfriend (Casper Smart). I couldn’t help but see some similarities with Anthony as a young Andy Warhol, and Courtney being a bit Edie-esque in their last scene together. I could picture Cat Marnell playing Janet, as they both have issues with their respective fathers and unstable mothers. I also could see a bit of the neurotic and narcisstic personality in Courtney’s mom as actress Joan Crawford, without the wire hangers! So, that is a very rough draft of the characters I pictured in my mind, as I read this book.

One quote that seemed to be the central point of Courtney’s being was:

“they just want to bleed me white, and leave me battered by the roadside”. (p.88)

Courtney really did feel used, felt she could never love and didn’t want to be loved back. However, there were moments she felt “safe”. It was interesting how she wouldn’t allow herself to be loved, yet it was the one thing she truly did crave. Perhaps it was because she didn’t openly receive that from her parents and by denying others that opportunity, she could then validate that the reason her parents didn’t love her was because they weren’t allowed to…not because they in fact were incapable of giving it. It was her way of having some control over her destiny.

What was rather interesting, and disturbing, was that Courtney slept with 2 men who had bedded her two most important people in her life: her mom and her best friend. Al, her mother’s publicist, and Charles, a young man she meets, were her voices of reason throughout the book. They gave her that realistic side of what was happening, although she never fully opens herself up to them, either. It’s not until her best friend kills herself that Courtney feels she has a purpose in her life-to do what Janet couldn’t, which was to have a normal life and be married. While the story ends before finding out exactly what Courtney decides to do, her conversation with Anthony is rather poignant. Anthony tells her:

” ‘It isn’t a tragedy, angel. People like you, and me, and Janet-we’re not capable of tragedy. This was no epic play, with heroic characters and vast emotions. This was not a tragedy. It was a child’s game that came to an end. You haven’t any choice, darling. You’ve outgrown this. I can’t, you see. I can’t go on, anymore than Janet could. But you can.” (p.184,185).

There is so much more I can go on about in this book, such as the dead leaves that haunt Courtney, the lack of chocolate in the book, and the little boy who loses his shadow and his enchantment. However, it will lose its magic for you. While this book has been on many book lists for Lesbian fiction, this is a book that would make for a great book club pick, a book to be studied in Psychology or Sociology, and perhaps be that little book hiding under a stack of bills, that you secretly are reading. It’s a great book, one that will stay with you, and afterwards, please do have Chocolates for Breakfast, along with something fun in the sun! Otherwise, you are likely to spiral further down the rabbit hole!
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