war of the wivesA phone call wakes you up in the middle of the night: “This is Detective Inspector Bowles from the Metropolitan police, Mrs. Busfield. We’re outside your house. Can you please let us in?” You scramble out of bed in shock, your first thoughts running to your two grown children and the one sleeping down the hall. Are they okay? You open the front door to find two policemen telling you your husband of twenty-eight years has been found dead, floating in a river. Not possible. He’s supposed to be in Dubai on business. You are in denial.

Fast forward to the funeral. As you walk to the crematorium flanked by your children, everyone stares. Standing outside, you hear wailing coming from the parking lot and see a grown woman on her knees keening. As she staggers to the door, you’re infuriated that she dare intrude on your grief. She reaches the vicar standing on the steps, grips his arms, and demands to know what happened to your husband and wants to know who organized the funeral without telling her. He politely tries to disengage, while asking who the woman is. She grips his arm and says, “I’m his wife.” You are shocked. She can’t be.

Two women. One husband. Deception, betrayal, and death. If this description has caught your interest, check out Tamar Cohen’s War of the Wives for more information about Selina, Lottie, their families, and the dead patriarch of the family, Simon Busfield. Just remember: Not everything is as it seems.

if you find this letterIn today’s world, it’s not uncommon to see many people concentrating more and more on their screens and less and less on the people in front of them. This sad fact hit Hannah Brencher when she moved to New York right after she graduated from college. As she was exploring her new home, she discovered that instead of the warm and welcoming place she expected it to be, she was surrounded by people who knew exactly what they wanted to do, who knew exactly where they needed to be, and who were not the least bit concerned about a young girl who was just trying to figure things out and looking for help.

Feeling somewhat defeated one day at the subway station, she saw an old woman who seemed to be in a similar lonely situation. Brencher was drawn to the woman and could not look away. Staring at her, she remembered how her mother used to write her love letters and how that simple piece of paper always made her feel better because that meant someone else understood and cared about you. She decided then and there to write the woman a love letter. Sitting curled up on the train, Brencher hurriedly scrawled a note to this woman, wrote “If you find this letter, it’s for you…” on the front, and dropped it. Feeling better, she began leaving love notes all over the city and eventually created the blog The World Needs More Love Letters.

Seeking help when her inbox reached over 400 requests for love letters, she created a campaign that you can subscribe to join to write love letters to perfect strangers. If You Find this Letter: My Journey to Find Purpose Through Hundreds of Letters to Strangers is a memoir Brencher wrote describing her love-letter writing journey in her new home, how she began to feel more connected to the people around her, and how this simple letter writing campaign has helped her restore her belief in the goodness of people.

love, of a kindLove, of a Kind is the seventh book of poetry put together by Felix Dennis. Dennis was diagnosed with throat cancer in January 2012. As a result of that diagnosis, he began bringing together and revising poems for what he believed to be his last book. The poems here run along the themes of pain, life, death, and love.

The author lived a fairly loud and extravagant life after a humble beginning. Dennis was born and lived a life of poverty in a south London suburb where he dealt with his father moving to Australia, his mother choosing not to follow, and their subsequent divorce in a time where divorces just did not happen. As a consequence of their divorce, Dennis’ mother chose to not let her previous failed marriage be a reason for her or her children to not succeed in life. Dennis’ career spanned from publisher to poet to spoken word performer to philanthropist. Never one to stray from the limelight, various interviews with Dennis can be found online.

After his diagnosis in 2012, Dennis created Love, of a Kind as a way to cope. Dennis pairs his poems with woodcut engravings that help pull readers more completely into his world. Read along and feel Dennis as he pours his feelings about love into the words that he chose to be his memory after his death in 2014.

food a love storyI, for one, love to eat and my friends know it. Our discussions usually go: “What are you eating?” “Where did you get that? I want one…” “You went WHERE to eat without me?!” The typical food-fest. Imagine my joy when I stumbled upon Food: A Love Story by comedian Jim Gaffigan. I had listened to Gaffigan’s standup before and discovered that he LOVES to eat, comes from a very large family, and was raised in the Midwest. I knew I must read it and was not disappointed.

In this book, Gaffigan draws upon his family history, his deep love of ALMOST anything food, and how sometimes you just have to hide your food from others to completely enjoy it and that there is nothing wrong with doing so. Pictures of Gaffigan, his family, and HIS food break up discussions about vegetarians, how he mistakenly overanalyzed and did not realize the worthiness of steak growing up, “adult” junk food, how he decided to eat healthy, and his description of the perceived differences between hot dogs and sausages(and how you must know the correct way to order them in different cities). Make sure to have food nearby as you devour this book and discover the importance difference between many cheeses and it’s okay not to like seafood or fruit.

If you are looking for more Gaffigan, you’re in luck! Food: A Love Story is a follow-up to Gaffigan’s other book, Dad is Fat, which is also available through the Davenport Public Library.

lost catsNancy Davidson uncovers the inspiring, funny and sometimes bizarre stories behind lost cat posters, revealing how our relationships with cats compel us to both love and live with courage.  The Secrets of Lost Cats traces the evolution of Nancy Davidson’s passion for lost cat posters.

When her orange tabby, Zak, disappeared, Nancy Davidson did what countless people before her had done. She made a lost cat poster. And after days of frantic searching, she found him. Nancy was ecstatic. Zak seemed happy, too – although being a cat, it was hard to tell. Zak may have remained his old self, but Nancy had changed. From that moment on, she became acutely aware of lost cat posters. She studied their language, composition, and design. She was drawn to their folk art. Mostly, however, she was intrigued by the messages themselves – the stories behind the posters. It wasn’t long before Nancy reached out to the owners calling them to offer empathy and support. And it wasn’t long before they confided in her and sought her advice. What they told her – and what she learns – forms the basis of this engaging and insightful book. From the astonishing, almost implausible posters she encounters across the country – and indeed, the world – to the daring, dedication, and emotional complexity of the lost cat owners themselves, The Secrets of Lost Cats provides readers with an absorbing read that illuminates love, loss, and learning to love again, even more deeply. (description from publisher)

This is How you Lose HerPulitzer Prize winning author, Junot Díaz writes with a kind of swagger and cool that makes it pretty hard to believe that he’s a creative writing professor at MIT.  Having recently finished reading his third published book, a collection of short stories called This is How You Lose Her, I am convinced that he knows every dirty word in English and Spanish.  Particularly if the words are referencing female anatomy.  So be warned, this is not the novel for anyone offended by salty and sexual language.

But if you can get beyond that, I can’t recommend this book enough. Díaz, himself a Dominican immigrant, tells stories about immigrants that help create a full picture of why someone is who they are. He shows that machismo is often a projection due to a lack of respect, and poor behavior isn’t something to be excused, but it can sometimes be explained. This is never more true than in his semi-autobiographical character, Yunior, the protagonist of most of this collection.

Readers may have met Yunior in Díaz’s The Brief Life of Oscar Wao (winner of the aforementioned Pulitzer) or in his first published collection of short stories, Drown, but I met Yunior for the first time after he cheated on Magda in This is How You Lose Her.  As he cheats his way through many of these short stories — and continues to imprison himself in grief and regret following the discovery of his transgressions — Yunior’s story becomes less about each individual relationship and more about how Yunior’s relationships reflect his own self-image and cultural identity.  The most powerful passages in the novel occur in his home, when we meet his family and see the effects of his father and brother’s infidelity on the family. Equally funny and frustrating, Díaz has written a complicated novel that feels both universal and unique.

lost catAt turns hilarious and poignant, Lost Cat by Caroline Paul is a treasure – a simple story that reveals multiple truths and makes you laugh out loud.

Caroline Paul was home recovering from a serious accident when her beloved cat Tibby disappeared. Already weepy and depressed from the prolonged recovery, she was devastated. She and her partner Wendy (who provides charming and very funny illustrations) canvassed the neighborhood, posted flyers and finally mourned him as lost when, five weeks later, in strolls Tibby, fat and happy. Caroline was overjoyed – and suspicious. Where had he been all this time? How had her shy, timid cat survived the wilds of the outdoors? Why wasn’t he eating his food, yet remaining fit and healthy? Most of all, did he love someone else more?

Fueled by painkillers and jealousy, Caroline set out to find where Tibby went on his wanderings, seeking answers through GPS, cat cams, animal communication, pet psychics and pet detectives. With self-deprecating humor – and surprisingly moving insights – Caroline tells the story of their quest and what they found along the way – that technology is great but people are better, that bonkers is in the eye of the beholder. That you can never know your cat (or anyone for that matter), but that’s ok, love is better.

Highly recommended to anyone who has loved a cat, or a pet or anyone.

From a private collection of nearly 800 courtship letters, the daughter of two remarkable physicians has crafted a timeless valentine to long-lasting love and the healing profession.

Senior medical students from New Orleans and Omaha meet in 1937 and begin a two-year correspondence across 1,100 miles. They set their sights on a return to Mayo Clinic, the medical mecca where they found each other and danced to the haunting Harbor Lights. Grave illness and career setbacks shake their confidence, but the two decide to face an uncertain future together, trusting in each other and the relationship they built letter by letter.

The Courtship of Two Doctors recreates the medical era before antibiotics, when health workers were at risk of serious infection, and vividly illustrates the 1930s social barriers challenging two-career marriages. It is also an inspirational and charming love story. (description from publisher)

 

guest post by Georgeann

I love magicians and I love Frank Peretti, so I figured this book would be a winner and it was! It was incredible! Astounding!  Oh no, wait, that was from the magician’s poster.

Seriously, Illusion is a great book. I was completely hooked and totally puzzled by page 8. The story begins with the death of a beloved wife and moves into the perplexing story of a young girl waking up with no memory of how she arrived from a trip to the county fair in 1971 to the same spot, dressed now in a hospital gown, in 2011.

How she copes with her new life, how her story intertwines with the widower’s, and how together they figure out what happened is the rest of the story.

Mandy is a delightful character, full of life, joy and determination in spite of her baffling circumstances. The widower, Dane, is strong, faithful and true. This is a beautiful love story, a story of love that refuses to be defeated and will not give up. At once a story of mystery and love, is also a story of time travel, science gone too far, and bad guys who will stop at nothing to achieve their ends. Lest that sound too pat, remember, it’s a story of magic and surprises. I was intrigued from beginning to end, and thoroughly enjoyed this story!

I checked out this kindle book via WILBOR after a friend described reading it as “entering a bliss-coma.” Perfect for a vacation book, I expected. And if you want an unapologetically romantic, milquetoast, white bread – er, white cake – wish fulfillment fantasy with little and less conflict, Savor the Moment is perfect for you! Laurel McBane is the co-founder and executive pastry chef at Vows, an all-inclusive wedding planning service. Her best friends Mac (photographer), Parker (wedding coordinator), and Emma (florist and decorator) are her co-founders, and the four of them live together in the country mansion where they also host (and cook for) dozens of weddings every summer. Also living and working in their enclave are the soon-to-be husbands of Mac and Emma (see books one and two for their Happily Ever Afters) and Parker’s brother Delaney – the suitably handsome, rich, and dashing hero that Laurel has been in love with half her life.

Among a blur of other people’s weddings, and entirely too closely surrounded by friends and a woman called Mrs. G. who acts as nanny and short-order cook for reasons not made totally clear (is she an employee? a relative? a servant? does she owe them a debt!?), Laurel and Del begin dating. You know the rest. Since they’re already friends, there’s no getting-to-know-you phase. Their whole journey is about negotiating the way their friends and relatives will see them once they’ve transitioned from buddies to bedfellows. This thin love story isn’t a very sturdy backbone for the novel, but it doesn’t really need to be, surrounded as it is by love stories big and small, glorious descriptions of gowns and cakes and desserts and wedding ceremonies, and a lot of meaningful female friendships.

The business side of Vows is pretty interesting; I like reading about women who are smart and talented, and making this business run smoothly – coordinating dozens of vendors and hundreds of guests for almost daily events – requires the characters to be brainy and focused. It’s a tough job, and Roberts’ characters are good at it. It’s great to see an author really understand and illustrate the way weddings work instead of glossing over the details, but reading about those details – the stressed out brides, the last-minute changes, the groomsmen who show up late – can walk the line between boring (if you’re not interested in weddings) and stressful (if you remember these things too clearly from your own wedding). If you adore weddings, brides, cakes, and comforting, easy love stories, this series is the right choice for you.