I’m trying to read more books that I choose for my own reading enjoyment. Not for review, but because I’ve been wanting to read them or they caught my attention. Most of them have been talked about ad nauseam or have been on my to-read list for a long time so they don’t really need a full review. But, I’d still like to give them some space here on the blog, so instead, I’m offering mini-reviews of the books that won’t get full-page space here.
I’m reading several books at the same time right now. It can be hard to concentrate so it is nice to have options with the type of book and also the way I am reading. I have an audiobook, ebook on my Kindle, and a physical book going right now. My currents reads are THE WATER DANCER, THE MOTHER-IN-LAW (on audio) and I’m still reading THE ADDRESS BOOK.
Lately, a lot of the books I’ve read have been for review and I’ve posted about them already. I also read a lot of children’s books in preparation for last week’s Children’s Book Week.
By: Jessica Simpson
Narrated by: Jessica Simpson
Published: February 4, 2020
Publisher: Dey Street Books
A fellow book blogger shared her Audible book with me after I had mentioned that I was on a long waitlist at the library. That was so sweet of her and I loved every minute of this listen.
I listened to this one on audio and it is even more authentic with Jessica Simpson reading it herself. Because she reads it, you can hear her emotions, both joyful and sad, as she reads about some of the happiest and saddest moments in her life.
I’m nearly a generation older than Simpson, but I remember watching her show, The Newlyweds, and her career as she went from a pop star to a business owner. I’ve always liked her and her story interested me. I had no idea the turmoil she went through related to body image, self-esteem, and alcoholism.
I respect the brutal honesty she shared in the many mistakes she made in life, the heartbreaks she endured, and her joy in finding true happiness. I have to admit, her relationship with John Mayer made me so angry while listening, I have no interest in ever listening to a song by him again.
If you like celebrity memoirs and ones read by the author themselves, then this one is a must-read. She even ends the audio version with a few songs that mean a lot to her at different points in her career.
RECIPE FOR A PERFECT WIFE
By: Karma Brown
Published: December 31, 2019
I saw a few people posting about this book on Goodreads and I was curious about it. Once I read the synopsis, I knew I had to read it.
One of my favorite eras is the 1950’s. I love the fashion and the homey/family feel of the 1950s. My mom was married in 1956, but she always worked outside the home and I feel like she defied the standard a bit. But, her prom dress and wedding dress are iconic from that era.
If you’ve ever heard the old Better Homes and Gardens magazine articles about how to be a wife or read old cookbooks, then you might be familiar with the type of suggestions and instructions given to women during the 1950s and earlier. Things like “every morning before breakfast, comb hair, apply makeup, a dash of cologne, and perhaps some simple earrings.” (Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book 1956) or “As for being ill, women should never be ill.” (Advice to Wives 1895). These instructions may make you laugh now, but they were actually what was expected of women. In reading Brown’s book, we get to experience both the nostalgia of the 1950s along with the negative expectations that we get angry about today. Every chapter began with a snippet from a cookbook or a newspaper or magazine article instructing women on how to be the perfect wife. The story is told from Nellie’s perspective starting in 1955 and alternating with Alice’s story in 2018.
Alice and her husband Nate have moved to the suburbs from Manhattan into the house Nellie lived in. Alice feels like she entered a time-warp when she stepped into their new home as everything was still like it was in the 1950s. She is frustrated with her life after losing her big-city job and feels like Nate is rushing her to be that “barefoot and pregnant” wife at home. Nellie and Richard Murdoch appeared to have the perfect marriage in the 1950s. Nellie was an excellent cook and gardener and was respected by all the women in the neighborhood for her delicious desserts and beautiful flowers. Unfortunately, what goes on behind closed doors of the Murdoch house isn’t so perfect.
I became wrapped up in the lives of Nellie and Alice right away and really loved Brown’s storytelling and buildup to the dramatic surprise revealed near the end of the novel. Readers who like dual narratives and glimpses of life in other eras in history will find this book enchanting. Recipes from Nellie’s cookbook are included which makes this a fun choice for book clubs. There are plenty of discussable topics including abuse, infertility, and secrets. Just discussing the quotes about how to be a wife would give you plenty to talk about. I read the last 130 pages all in one sitting because I just had to know what happened to Nellie and Alice.
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