Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Mini Reviews: Hello, Sunsine; The End of Men; Audubon: On the Wings of the World; Pepys in Love

The cover alone was enough to bring a smile when it arrived on a rainy day. The next morning I woke up dreaming I had painted the bedroom yellow, the same yellow used for this book.

I read Hello, Sunshine in 24 hours.

In the first chapter, Sunshine Mackenizie is on top of the world. It's her birthday. She married the love of her life. Her YouTube cooking show has led to a contract with a Food Network series and a cookbook. But her entire public persona is a fabrication, her career runs her life, and the truth is that she can't really cook.

By the end of the day, she's been hacked and revealed as a fraud. Worse, she is revealed as having cheated--once--on her husband. In short course, the Food Network and book contracts are withdrawn, her staff leaves her, her husband leaves her, and she finds herself homeless and broke.

With no place else to go, she returns to her hometown of Montauk to crash with the sister she long ago left behind to deal alone with their obsessive father.

Sunshine must figure out how to move forward with her life by returning to her past and coming to terms with her estranged sister. The sister's daughter Sammy is a delightful character who helps to bring the sisters together. There are colorful locals, including a fishy hunk (literally, a man who catches sustainable fish) and the eccentric chef Z.

This was an enjoyable and quick read, especially after I'd tackled several heavy--and much longer books. The odd thing is how upbeat and light it all was, considering Sunshine's entire life had crashed. She seemed more befuddled than depressed about losing her husband and career. I never 'felt her pain.' So if you want to wallow in someone's agony, find another book.

Without being too didactic Dave injects a bit of insight about "what it means to live an authentic life in an inauthentic age." In this age of social media, is everyone creating a public persona of what they want others to see? Do we expect our culture heroes, icons, and leaders and even friends to hide the truth about themselves? And when they are revealed as frauds, do we forgive, or forget, or even care?

At the end, Sunshine starts over again, but this time without the fake backstory and unearned accomplishments. And we believe that she will make it. The novel is pure wish fulfillment fantasy.

I received a free book through a Goodreads giveaway.

Audubon: On the Wings of the World by Fabien Grolleau and Jeremie Royer is a graphic novel of 174 pages on the life of John James Audubon. I won this book on a giveaway from David Abram's blog The Quivering Pen.

A few years ago I read a historical fiction book on Audubon, Creation by Katherine Gouvier. Read my review here.

This book is a 'romanticized', loose interpretation of Audubon's life, concentrating on his single-minded obsession of studying and painting American birds. The abundance of wildlife and birds of those early years in America is portrayed, with intimations of the mass destruction that is to come.

"These birds must be painted now, while they still flourish in this pristine setting, unchanged since to dawn of time--for soon, I fear, it will be too late!"

from the publisher's website
Included is a biography and painting of the artist and reproductions of some of his wonderful paintings. It is an attractive book and would make a good introduction.

John James Audubon from
Green Heroes Quilt by Nancy A. Bekofske

Four women, successful in their careers, make stupid decisions in their personal lives, putting blame on their men, while wondering why they even want men in their lives.

It was hard to relate to these women, except for their relationship to their children. The issues felt dated. I did appreciate how they came to embrace healthier understandings and relationships.

The whole book can be summed up in the later interchange between two of the women. One character complains about equal opportunity meaning doing it all without men taking up their equal share of work at home and she is countered, "Do you think that doesn't come at some cost? " and "you've created the life that you wanted." She admits, "Sometimes I just think I can't handle what I want."

I received a free book as a LibraryThing win.
I have read Samuel's Pepys diary. Twice. First I read Wheatley's three volume edition. Then I was gifted and read the ten volume complete edition from the University of California. I spent years ending my day with the words, "And so to bed." Yes, I am that crazy.

Pepys in Love by Patrick Delaforce was first published in 1986. I had hoped for traditional historical fiction, novelized, something with a plot line that followed history. I always imagined that Elizabeth Pepy's story would be very interesting. 

Delaforce instead offers chapters addressing various aspects of the Pepys family life, told by Elizabeth, but also chapters narrated by Samuel, Lord Sandwich, and Will Hewer. Information from the Diary was collected together so we read about Elizabeth's clothing purchases in a chapter, and about the portraits they sat for in another.

The book is illustrated with portraits and includes a chronological summary and bibliography. 

Having read the diary I was not very excited about this book. I imagine it would be perfect for someone who wanted to know about the political, cultural, and social world of Pepys time without spending several years reading the diary. In other words, someone who isn't crazy.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

Pepys in Love: Elizabeth’s Story
by Patrick Delaforce
Thistle Publishing
Paperback $14.99
ISBN: 9781786080035