Alpha Bette by Jennifer Manocherian is a contemporary fiction told from the viewpoint of several characters who revolve around the matriarch Bette Gartner. At ninety-five, Bette has lost her husband, most of her friends, and even her granddaughter. She has to rely on help from her housekeeper and night nurse after a fall that left her reliant on her wheelchair.
One morning, after what she is sure is a sign from her dead husband, Bette orchestrates a dinner party. The entire story takes place in one day giving readers a glimpse into the past and present of Bette and those around her: housekeeper, aide, two neighbors, daughter and son-in-law, great-granddaughter, and what Bette hopes to be her eventual great-grandson-in-law. Throw in a cremated parrot, political prisoners, a spoiled puppy, a cancer scare, and a medium who Bette believes can speak to her husband, George, and you have a dinner party you'll never forget.
This book reminds me a bit of My Grandmother Told Me To Tell You She's Sorry by Fredrik Backman and The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. I think it is because we get into the heads of so many characters and see how they touch one another's lives.
Manocherian states that people either love or hate the ending. I'm in the love category, but that may be because I saw it coming! This is another must-read.
It's Okay Not To Be Fabulous Every Day by Ally Dalsimer is an inspirational read reminding us that although we should have goals and strive to reach them, we don't have to be at the top of our game every single day. In fact, it isn't possible to do so. When that is our aim, we are sure to become disappointed in ourselves.
Dalsimer began this book as a book of 'lessons learned' for her children as they began to move away from home and start their adult lives. In the end, Dalsimer realized that everyone needs these bits of wisdom.
Each chapter has quotes from sources you will recognize, such as Martin Luther King, Jr, but she also throws in Yoda. In fact, she is willing to share truth wherever she finds it to help each of us live a more fulfilled life.
I think this book would be a perfect source of daily inspiration and could easily be used for prompts for daily journal writing. It is not a 'one and done' book. Instead, it will stay on your bedside table for easy access whenever life seems just a little bit too hard.
The Worth of a Ruby by Lya Badgley is her second novel. I thoroughly enjoyed her first (The Foreigner's Confession) and was super excited to get my hands on this one - also set in Burma.
Badgley writes edgy international crime/suspense and gets the reader into the mind of her characters. Mallory Jones, a chef, like the author, wanted to open a restaurant in Burma but not because she was in love with the area. Instead, she was running from her past.
However, as is wont when folks try to escape their past by running from it, the past found a way to erupt. As plans for a restaurant fall through, we see a side of Mallory that isn't evident in the beginning.
The Worth of a Ruby has it all: great characters, amazing backdrop, kidnapping, blackmail, murder, and a bit of Burmese magic. Plus, in the words of the author, " I like ambiguous endings." Don't miss this book!
Teri M Brown, author of An Enemy Like Me and Sunflowers Beneath the Snow connects readers with characters they'd love to invite to lunch.
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