Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus by Joyce Magnin

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus is a fun story about a 72 year old widow who loses a bet resulting in her moving across the country to live with her only son and his wife.

Harriet Beamer lived a quiet life in Philadelphia with her dog, Humphrey. She has a best friend, Martha, who she loves very much. Her son, Henry, and his wife, Prudence, live in California with their cat, Sandra Day.

When hanging Christmas decorations at home, Harriet falls and breaks her ankle. She didn’t think it was broken, so she felt confident when she made a bet with Prudence that if it was indeed broken, she would sell her home and move to California to live with them. She lost the best.

Harriet didn’t want to squelch on her bet, so she sold her home and most of her belongings, and moved to Henry and Prudence’s home in California. She made an astonishing decision to take a bus to California, vs. a quick plane ride. She wanted to live a little and experience life before settling in with her family in her new home.

She collected salt and pepper shakers and realized her collection was accumulated from other people’s travels. She wanted to obtain her own collection and planned her trip around this new quest.

Harriet Beamer Takes the Bus is full of unexpected adventures readers of every age will enjoy. It’s great fun to share Harriet’s journey across the country where she discovers a lot about herself. She thinks she has a future and that God has a plan mapped out just for her.

I felt Joyce Magnin enjoyed writing this book. It flowed beautifully and was a page turner till the end. I particularly enjoyed learning a bit about our country’s historical places where Harriet visited on her trip.

It’s an enjoyable quick and easy read with memorable characters.  I would love to see a sequel to this book to see how Harriet’s life turns out living in California with Henry, Prudence, Humphrey, and Sandra Day.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Need You Now by Beth Wiseman

A family coping with everyday struggles is the gist of Need You Now. A stay at home mom, a dad working his way to partnership, and three children who are not perfect describes this religious family.

The story begins with the family’s move from the city of Houston, TX to out in country in an effort to improve their life. Their son, Chad, was in trouble, and they thought leaving the city would be a fresh start.

Chad improves, but their daughter, Gracie, develops major life threatening problems, brought on by stress. Their youngest daughter has special needs, and the marriage is in trouble at one point. So all is not well and Beth Wiseman takes us through the journey of these struggles.

The book is a nice wholesome story where families may read together and discuss what they would do if they were in any of the situations. There are lessons to learn.

However, I thought it was a bit too perfect. For the situations Beth Wiseman introduces and includes in her story, I feel they should have been expounded on. I feel more realistic dialogue was needed.

I was disappointed with the ending. I felt the characters needed more closure for the readers. It left some characters and their struggles hanging.  This may be the author’s purpose, if she has a sequel in mind.

The best friend of Darlene, the mother, was a strong character in the story. Once again I would have liked her to have been given more depth.

I recommend Need You Now for families who read Christian based books. It certainly is a nice story, especially to those who pray to God and have a strong faith.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Willow Pond by Carol Tibaldi

A crime story set in the 1930’s complete with speakeasies and gangsters. A toddler, Todd, is kidnapped while playing at Willow Pond with his nanny. His mother, Laura, a suppressed housewife at the time, and his father, Phillip, a famous actor, try to find their missing boy.

Crimes in the 1930’s were solved by police and newspaper reporters. In this investigation, it took about a year and a half because of incompetence by both.

Laura lived with her Aunt Virginia for most of her life after her parents died in an accident. Virginia was the owner of a speakeasy and had questionable connections. She used them to help find Todd.

Most of the story’s tension comes from the relationship between Laura and Virginia. Laura wants to become her own woman after being stifled in her marriage, and Virginia is a very strong and powerful woman. They clash during their efforts to find Todd, each using different methods, and Laura has a hard time in the end when Virginia’s hidden tactics comes to light.

Willow Pond flows beautifully as Tibaldi masters introducing and building her characters. She integrates the history of the era when apropos.

Tibaldi sheds light on how a woman owner of a speakeasy spends her day, how cops and reporters try to solve crimes back in the day, and how women are perceived in and out of marriage.

Tibaldi includes romance to Willow Pond. What would a good story be without lovers and tough decisions? Laura has her share of ups and downs and readers will enjoy the ride.

I recommend Willow Pond for readers who enjoy romance and crime. It’s a quick and easy read.

I would have liked to see more history of the time period integrated throughout the story.

As far as Laura’s character is concerned, for me, I just didn’t like her. She drove me crazy! There was not enough effort being done to find her son and she went on with her life way too fast and cheerfully to suit me during the year and a half. I realize one must go on, but I thought Laura should have experienced more anguish during such a time. Instead she had it pretty easy and it seemed her character would have been more realistic if the scale was tipped more in hardship than good times.

I was born and raised on Long Island so I was very familiar with Suffolk County and all the towns in the story. With this in mind, it was quite the read for me.