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October 17, 2016

3 Great Books from @AlgonquinBooks #MondayBlogs

by Susan Roberts

I usually don't pay much attention to the publishers of the books that I enjoy but when I realized that three of the books that I read and enjoyed tremendously this month were all from the same publisher, I thought that it was time to write about the wonderful books that they are publishing.  Thanks to Algonquin Books for the wonderful books.

As Good as Gone by Larry Watson
June 2016; 978-1616205713 (hardcover, 352 pages); western thriller; provided by publisher

Calvin is an old cowboy who lives in a beaten down trailer in the plains of Montana in the 1960s. He avoids other people including the family that he abandoned years before after his wife died. As the story begins, his son Bill has come to ask him to stay with his two grandchildren while Bill takes his wife to another town for surgery. Surprisingly, Calvin agrees and he returns to the town that he grew up in to watch over his 17-year-old granddaughter and 11-year-old grandson. Calvin is a man of few words who appears to handle life in a straightforward way - he makes his point first and asks questions later. Yet the author allows us to see a softer side of Calvin in small ways when he thinks about his wife and the way he treats his grandchildren.

If you are looking for a book with a lot of action, this isn't the book for you. However, if you are looking for a book with a great lead character who stays true to his life, Calvin is a man that you won't soon forget. I plan to look into earlier books by Calvin Watson because of my enjoyment of the characters in this novel.

Buy As Good as Gone at Amazon

cover Cruel Beautiful World
Cruel Beautiful World by Caroline Leavitt
October 2016; 978-1616203634 (hardcover, 352 pages); women's fiction, provided by publisher

I started this book yesterday morning and didn't put it down until I finished it last evening way past my bedtime. It's my first book by this author and I plan to read her earlier books as soon as possible.

Cruel Beautiful World is a powerful book about family and love. Lucy and Charlotte are sisters who they went to live with Iris when their parents are killed in a fire when they are very young. The novel begins in 1969 when Lucy is about to run away with one of her high school teachers who is 30 to her 16 years old. Charlotte and Iris are devastated by her disappearance and the book is told from their viewpoints as life continues to go on and Lucy's viewpoint who finds that her plan for 'happily ever after' may not be reality. I am not going to say any more about the plot because I don't want to give anything away but I will say that these three characters are so well written that I felt like I knew them and I cried when they cried. One other main 'character' in this novel is the time period of the late 60s. It was a fearful time with the Manson murders and the anti-war protesters and this fear is felt in different ways by all of the characters.

This is a powerful fantastic book about family and how we often hurt the ones we love by trying to live our lives the way we want to. Lucy, Charlotte and Iris and their struggles will be long remembered by this reader.

Buy Cruel Beautiful World at Amazon

cover Leave Me
Leave Me by Gayle Forman
September 2016; 978-1616206178 (hardcover, 352 pages); women's fiction; provided by publisher

I think that every woman - at least once in her lifetime - has an urge to walk away from her current life. In Leave Me by Gayle Forman, Maribeth Klein does just that. She is a 42 year old mother of 4 year old twins, works a high pressure job as an editor for a NYC magazine, has a husband who is basically clueless to what it takes to keep their home running and spends all of her time taking care of a family who have come to expect all she does for them. As the novel begins, Maribeth is having a heart attack but she blames it on indigestion and continues working, finally going to the ER the next day (by herself of course) when the pain gets worse. A week after having bypass surgery and in a depression over worrying about her life, she returns home to a family who expects her to go back to being 'supermom' immediately. After several weeks as the family demands increase, she packs a bag, writes a note to her husband and leaves.

Maribeth could have been an easy character to dislike - how likable can a mother be who walks out on her 4 year old twins? I found her to be a very sympathetic character and enjoyed seeing the growth in her as the story progressed. She had been so involved in her work and her family that she had managed to lose sight of herself as a person.  I enjoyed this book and look forward to future books from this author.

Buy Leave Me at Amazon

Susan Roberts lives in NC when she isn't traveling.  She and her husband enjoy travelling, gardening and helping to take care of their grandson.  Susan reads almost anything (and the piles of books in her house prove that) but her favorite genres are Southern fiction, women's fiction and thrillers. Susan is a top 1% Goodreads Reviewer. You can connect with Susan on Facebook.

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  1. What a nice sharing - Now you have me interested to check out this publisher. Hope you have a good week and more good reading!