Welcome to the Monday edition of the Cafe and Bookstore with reviews for authors on the shelves.
The first review today is for the novel Telling Sonny by Elizabeth Gauffreau.
About Telling Sonny
At nineteen, pretty, vivacious Faby Gagne is still waiting for her life to begin. The time is 1924, the place Enosburg Falls, Vermont. With school over, her time is now occupied with mundane chores and avoiding the crossfire of resentment between her mother and her grandmother.
As the time approaches for the annual vaudeville show to arrive in the village, Faby watches the posters go up with increasing excitement. She is the best kind of audience for the Small Time: she does not discriminate.
When the show comes to the Opera House at last, Faby catches the eye of charming hoofer Slim White, who sets a course for her life that she never could have imagined.
A recent review for the book
Telling Sonny, is an evocative and atmospheric tale featuring, Faby, a young, small town, girl from a conservative Catholic family just entering womanhood. The story’s beginning is not so unusual. Faby, allows herself to be seduced by a charismatic stranger who, surprisingly, “does the right thing” returns and marries her when she finds herself pregnant. But, as is often the case, doing the right thing, ends up being dead wrong.
We then follow the newlyweds on a series of mild adventures, as the increasingly pregnant Faby, moves from town to town, playdate to playdate with her new husband, America’s favorite hoofer, on the vaudeville circuit.
The author does an excellent job of describing the atmosphere of the small-town America of the 1920s. After a bit of a bumpy start, her prose stretches out and hits its stride in chapter two as the girl summarizes her situation: “Faby found herself confounded by their theme of commencement. It had been a year since her high school graduation and nothing had commenced for her, as far as she could tell.”
There are some wonderfully evocative passages: “They both laughed softly, the laughter hovering briefly between the two beds before drifting out the open windows.” And this pointed description of Faby’s first meeting with her new mother-in-law: “As Louis drove them back to the house in silence, his mother in the front seat beside him, Faby couldn’t recall ever having seen the back of someone’s head look so smug.”
If you are looking for a major theme and high adventure, Telling Sonny is not for you. However, if you can be satisfied with a intriguing tale of quotidian truth about real people, people, perhaps like your own grandparents, I’d highly recommend Telling Sonny.
The next author with a review for her latest release is Teagan Riordain Geneviene for Hullaba Lulu: a Dieselpunk Adventure
About the book
Hullaba Lulu, a Dieselpunk Adventure is a wild and wooly 1920s fantasy story. Lulu, the heroine is inspired by the song, “Don’t Bring Lulu,” from 1925 ― so are her pals, Pearl and Rose. My Lulu loves to dance, and freely indulges in giggle water. She snores and burps and says whatever she wants. Lulu is a snarky but good-hearted flapper. The song’s inspiration stops there, but the story is just beginning.Travel with Lulu and her friends on a magical, dieselpunk train that belongs to the smolderingly handsome and enigmatic man known only as Valentino. They get into all sorts of trouble, usually due to Lulu’s clumsiness. It’s an intense ride through a number of pos-i-lutely creepy settings, including “sideways” versions of Atlantic City and the Cotton Club. At every stop and in between, Lulu ends up creating chaos. There’s no telling where they’ll end up. No, Lulu! Don’t touch that!Lulu’s the kind of smarty, breaks up every party,Hullabaloo loo, don’t bring Lulu,I’ll bring her myself!;
One of the recent reviews for the book
Hullaba Lulu is a fun and imaginative story set during the prohibition in the USA. Lulu has been raised by her grandfather who runs a speakeasy from an abandoned underground railway station. The story starts with a train appearing at the station on the speakeasy side of a rockfall. The train is owned by the mysterious Valentino and his angelbot assistants which are nothing like Lulu and her two best friends, Rose and Pearl, have ever seen before.
Before long, Lulu, Rose, Pearl and Grandfather are aboard the train and on the adventure of their lives. They travel sideways in time and visit Atlantic City, the Cotton Club in New York City and various other amazing and interesting places all seen through the skewed lens of sideways travel which results in these places being almost the same as in ordinary life, but not quite.
The author has managed to weave all sorts of fascinating titbits of information about flappers and life in the 1920’s into the tale as well as songs from that time, famous people and all every other interesting and trademark USA items you can think of like Ouija boards, automobiles, tarot cards and fortune tellers. The way they come into the story is so natural that it just seems quite right that they should be there.
There is strong characterisation in this short book and the author has a talent for creating strong female characters who are excellent role models for girls and women. I am always delighted that her women characters have healthy appetites, speak their minds and generally do not adopt the coquettish and ‘fake’ behaviour so common to women, even today.
Despite this book being reasonably short, it manages to delve into certain social problems that still exist such as the superiority of the wealthy and their habit of looking down on people who have to earn a living or whose lives are not as cut and dried with regards to relationships and lifestyles as their own.
False friendships, devious and misleading behavior, resentment and anger, all of these unpleasant and difficult emotions that hamper human happiness are featured, but they are off set by great loyalty, heroic behaviour, obtaining pleasure from simple things in life like eating a cheeseburger, and romance.
It is quite unbelievable how Ms Geneviene has managed to cover so much ground in this single fantasy book. It is a fabulous and worthwhile read and not one to miss out on.
A selection of other books by Teagan
The final review today is for The Last Pilgrim by Noelle Granger, a book I can also highly recommend.
About the book
This book captures and celebrates the grit and struggle of the Pilgrim women who stepped off the Mayflower in the winter of 1620 to an unknown world – one filled with hardship, danger and death. The Plymouth Colony would not have survived without them.
Mary Allerton Cushman was the last surviving passenger of the Mayflower, dying at age 88 in 1699.
Mary’s life is set against the real background of that time. The Last Pilgrim begins from her father’s point of view – she was, after all, only four when she descended into the cramped and dank living space below deck on the Mayflower – but gradually assumes Mary’s voice, as the colony achieves a foothold in the New England’s rocky soil.
What was a woman’s life like in the Plymouth Colony? The Last Pilgrim will tell you.
A recent review for the book
I haven’t enjoyed history since boring childhood classes turned me off. But this “novel” (based on fact) was amazing! I learned so much about the 1620 voyage, the Pilgrims and their intense struggles, the religious and political growth of our young country, and even the real story with the Natives. What fun to see this epic life adventure through the eyes of a woman, Mary Allerton Cushman. This is one of those books you can’t wait to resume. I didn’t want an “education” but only a fun read. I got both!
Also by N.A. Granger
Thanks for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books…thanks Sally.