Next Year in Havana

Book 59 in 2018.

“Next Year in Havana” by, Chanel Cleeton.


I follow Reese Witherspoon’s book club on Instagram, @reesesbookclubxhellosunshine.  I have liked maybe two of the books she has suggested.  Yet, I continue to try.  Why?  Because I thought she was cute in the movie “Sweet Home Alabama”?  I don’t know her personally?  She will not be offended if I quit following her.  Side note: I also hate all of Opera Winfrey’s book suggestions.  Don’t try and understand me.  Anyway, all that to say that this was on Reese’s book club list.

I did not like it.  I did not even want to finish it.  But I felt like I should because it was on the dang list of books to read.  It took me a solid nine days to slog my way through it.  I had to muster up the energy to read. Ha.  I am sounding very dramatic.  Normally, I do not finish a book, if I don’t like it, because there is so much out there to read!  I think it was too political for me.  It was about Cuba in 1958, then present day Cuba, through the eyes of two different women in the Perez family.  There was a love story intertwined in both generations, just enough for me to want to know what happens. The majority of the book though was historical political information.  Overall afterthought, Reese…..  no.


The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

Book 58 in 2018.

“The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto”, by Mitch Albom.

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I absolutely loved this book.  It is my first Mitch Albom book.  My girlfriend was kind of shocked when she found out I had not read any of his other stuff. We give each other book suggestions all the time, she always knows exactly what I should try and read.   Sigh… nothing like a gal pal to talk books with.   I will for sure,  read some more of his books.

Frankie Presto is an orphaned boy from Spain who through a series of sad events, became the student of a blind, master guitarist in the 1940’s.  You learn all about the ups and downs, twists and turns of his life, through the narrator, the talent; Music.  Music’s “most beloved disciple” Frankie is the greatest guitar player who has ever lived.  During the 50’s and 60’s he was everywhere.  He has played with almost all genre’s of music and a wide spectrum of the best talent that has ever graced the stage.  On top of that he also has magical guitar strings.  His journey through this life was not easy, but Music was always with him.

Such a creative, complex, captivating story.  So different from so much of what I read.  It was very clean, and kept moving.  I intermittently switched from the audio book, to reading, just so I could keep going, when I could not sit down.   The audio book had its own kind of special, since it was read by Mitch Albom himself.  Overall afterthought,  stinking great super story.



The Pearl That Broke Its Shell

Book 57 in 2018.

“The Pearl That Broke Its Shell”,  by Nadia Hashimi.


I sometimes like to read about different cultures.  You know, get out of my own world.  Which is so small compared to the vastness surrounding us.  This is a fictional story, but it has some characters in it based off of actual people.  And according to Nadia Hasimi, she “has no doubt that more of it is factual than we would hope.”

There are two Afghani women’s stories that we follow.  Present day Rahima, who has been sold by her parents as a bride to a war lord, as a thirteen year old.  She must find her way and meaning in her caged, abused, and difficult life.  The other woman we follow is Rahima’s great, great grandmother, Shekiba, her story is told to Rahima by her Aunt.  Shekiba was scarred as a young girl, and lost her family to cholera, and also had to find her way in a man’s world, that is cruel to woman, especially a disfigured woman.

This was a hard read to get through.  Only because as you’re reading it, you know that both women, even though they lived over a century apart, the struggles they had are still going on today.  Today, in modern times.   It was such a compelling story that I wanted to finish, I wanted to see them make it.  Overall afterthought,  challenging.



Country Plot

Book 56 in 2018.

“Country Plot”, by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles

Let’s get straight to it:

Jenna loses her job, boyfriend and apartment all in the same day.

She leaves London and starts over in the country helping her Mom’s cousin with her country estate.

She meets a cranky fella, his evil fiancé, and a funny attractive fella, who happens to be the evil fiancé’s step brother.

She finds she actually loves country estate living, and may give up her city life for it.

She also must decide if she loves funny attractive fella, or cranky fella.

I read Cynthia Harrod-Eagles book “Kate’ Progress”, not that long ago. I was almost laughing out loud during “Country Plot” because of the similarities. Different places, different faces, almost the exact same story. Fortunately I thought they were both cute. I also had the bonus of knowing how it was going to end. Barely any language, very clean, a little mystery, a little love. I was at the library yesterday and am going to try one of Harrod-Eagles’ Historical fiction. If it has the same story line, I may pee my pants with the giggles. Overall afterthought, simply sweet.

King and Maxwell

Book 55 in 2018.

“King and Maxwell”, by David Baldacci.


Well, I did say I was going to read this very soon.  I got four other books in there since the last King and Maxwell book I read.  That’s a big enough gap right?  Now my only problem is David Baldacci’s website, says there should be more to come from this amazing duo, but no dates were listed. I would much rather not read a series that isn’t finished yet, that way I : 1) actually remember what happen in the series, 2) don’t have to wait two plus years in between.  But, I guess I don’t have a choice now.

In Book #6, Sean King and Michelle Maxwell find themselves once again uncovering deep hidden government conspiracies.  This time, they are trying to help a sixteen year old boy Tyler, who’s military father has been labeled KIA,  but after he hears the devastating news of his death, he receives a cryptic email from his father.   King and Maxwell are in the middle of military secrets they should not be privy to.  But they won’t  rest until the truth comes out.

I really just want Sean and Michelle to get married and live happily ever after, which is not the main focus of any of these books.  I think there is a little love story in everything though… ( think it through, you know it’s true)  If you have ever read any of my other Baldacci blog posts, you know I am just a fan.  He is the only “political, crime fiction” author I like.  So, I could keep repeating myself or end this post.  Overall afterthought,  more please.

The Late Bloomers’ Club

Book 54 in 2018.

“The Late Bloomers’ Club”, by Louise Miller.

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I read Louise Miller’s “The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living” last year, and so enjoyed it.  I put myself on the waiting list for this at the library before it was even released.  Side note: I personally feel responsible to keep public libraries open, it is one of my favorite places to browse. Don’t you just think books from the library smell the best? I do. Nerd alert.  Probably pretty unsanitary if you really think about it…  Just don’t think that hard about it.a152ee91c21ffe771351aba81fc05c1d--seinfeld-quotes-larry-david

Unfortunately, I could not get into this book as much as I wanted to.  It was about a woman named Nora, who ran her family’s small town diner, and was alone. Her elderly neighbor passed away, and left her house and property to Nora and her sister Kit.  The neighbors dog Freckles is also on the loose, and she was very concerned about him for almost the entire book.  It turns out her neighbor was going to sell her 200 acres to some giant super store.  But no one in the small town wants that.  But Nora’s sister Kit wants that money.  Enter handsome giant super store property buyer guy. Drama ensues.  Sadness occurs.  Tears are shed.  Dilemmas are mulled over.   Poor Nora.

Oh my.  I think maybe I set my expectations too high.  You know how when you think something was going to be amazing, and then it was a let down.  I usually expect things to be a let down, then I am pleasantly surprised when it’s semi decent.  (ha!  talk about a glass half empty philosophy)  Set your expectations so low,  you are never disappointed!  Yay!  Overall afterthought, if Louise Miller writes another book, I will still read it.

The Wolves of Winter

Book 53 in 2018.

“The Wolves of Winter”, by Tyrell Johnson.


I really liked the beginning of this book.  I couldn’t put it down, was super intrigued.  However, the more I read, the more I was disappointed.  It had such potential.  It was almost like there should of been so much more story to tell.  I felt like things were being rushed.  Pieces of the puzzle were given, than taken away.  And then, when it ended, I wanted to know more about what happens next. Such conflicting thoughts!

Lynn lives in a post apocalyptic world where winter has taken over most of the seasons.  Her family has moved to the harsh Yukon to try and survive against the elements and other survivors.  She is a hunter,  and not afraid of anyone or anything.  Her father has taught her how to be strong and brave.  One day a stranger passes through her family’s property.  They soon discover he has many secrets, that puts them all in danger.

I think I just wanted more info.  Maybe I am too nerdy for my own good.  Overall afterthought, ok but could of been really good.