Six Degrees of Separation: Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

How the meme works

On the first Saturday of every month, a book is chosen as a starting point and linked to six other books to form a chain. Readers and bloggers are invited to join in by creating their own ‘chain’ leading from the selected book. Books can be linked in obvious ways – for example, books by the same authors, from the same era or genre, or books with similar themes or settings. Or, you may choose to link them in more personal ways: books you read on the same holiday, books given to you by a particular friend, books that remind you of a particular time in your life, or books you read for an online challenge. A book doesn’t need to be connected to all the other books on the list, only to the ones next to them in the chain.  You can read more at the host blog, Books Are My Favourite and Best

I’m an American of a certain age so it’s almost (“almost”) guaranteed that I love The Boss! After all, I was Born in the USA! In spite of knowing so many of his songs, I haven’t read the book.

My Chain



While Shotgun Lovesongs is more John Mellencamp than the boss, it was the first book that occurred to me. So a book that includes a singer (like Springsteen or Mellencamp) and a town that’s way of life is over. Typical Springsteen type stuff. Shotgun Lovesongs by Nicklas Butler. (My review is linked)



On two a second book set in Wisconsin–The All Girls Filling Station’s Last Reunion by Fanny Flagg (My review was lost on my old blog, so the link is to Amazon)



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From girls having fun and doing their “bit” in WWII in Wisconsin to girls in the Blitz in London. Dear Mrs. Byrd by AJ Pearce. (Book 2 is Yours Cheerfully and book 3 in this series, Mrs Porter Calling is coming in the USA in August, but can already be pre-orderd. The book 3 link is to Amazon)



Another story of a plucky young woman in the Blitz (this time a memoir)  is Frances Faviell’s Chelsea Concerto.




A small statue or figurine features in Chelsea Concerto. Such items feature in Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle as well. (Ok, this was a stretch!) (Scroll down to my review in the linked post)




Tortilla Curtain shows the lives of an imaginary couple who have entered the US without bothering to check in with US Immigation (it is politically incorrect to use the word “illegal aliens” today). This book shows the other side of the story, albeit told by a young man who would cut himself before he’d use that term. The Line Becomes A River

This was the hardest chain in years!

Why not join us next month when we will start with a book on the Stella Prize 2023 shortlist – Hydra by Adriane Howell.

The 1940 Book Club



Thank you to Simon at Stuck in a Book and Karen at Kaggsy’s Bookish Ramblings for hosting these fun “Clubs” in which we chose a book published in the club’s “year,” read and review it.

My research into books published in 1940 lead to fairly sparse pickings, but I found a few that looked both interesting enough and short enough for the timeline and for my attention span these days.



Since I messed up #DeanStreetDecember, I hope to read this 1940 gem: Nothing to Report by Carola Oman. republished by Dean Street Press in the Furrowed Middlebrow series. Link for Amazon Kindle version.


Pigeon Pie by Nancy Mitford–honestly, I can’t recall if I’ve read this one. It is not in any of my lists. The years of my reading lists include my Mitford Sisters years so it is likely I haven’t.


I hated this book in high school. I didn’t read it, flunked the exam and my immature little self was proud of this fact! As an adult I’ve enjoyed his books, so I may try this. It’s the most likely to be on audio, too, which makes it a good bet.


Books I’ve already read that were published in 1940

Note: Publishing dates may vary between the USA, where I am, and the UK.

My favorite of the Little House books, The Long Winter and a book I always loved at my Grandmother’s, Caps for Sale, were both published in 1940.

According to this list from UC Berkeley:

  1. Mrs. Miniver  I read this, and loved it, pre-blogging. Way better than the movie.
  2. How Green Was My Valley  (My review is linked)
  3. The Grapes of Wrath Read this in high school

Are you participating in the 1940 Club read? Do you have a post with a book or books published in 1940? Please feel free to leave me a comment or a link to your post.

Review: Foster by Claire Keegan

My Interest

Thanks to Cathy at 746 Books for hosting Reading Ireland Month aka #begorrathon23 each year.

I listened to her previous book, Small Things Like These, which was also more of a short story than an actual novel. I’m not sure I like this idea of a sort of “micro” novel. Publishers pressure writers to stay under 300 pages now–will they make it under 200 soon?   


The Story

“She puts her arm around me. ‘You’re just too young to understand.’ As soon as she says this, I realise she is just like everyone else, and wish I was back at home so that all the things I do not understand could be the same as they always are.” 

“It’s a hard feeling but as we walk along I begin to settle and let the difference between my life at home and the one I have here be.”

A poor Irish family in the early 1970s sends an older child to stay with foster parents–hence the name, “Foster,” until the mother has given birth to the newest child. The overwhelmed mother and shiftless father do little more than house their children. While she has a few good memories, the girl knows she is just another mouth to feed and not only because her parents say so.

In her foster home she discovers what is to feel loved and valued. But when a gossiping neighbor goes too far, the truth about an “loose lips” and what damage they can do is revealed.

My Thoughts

The story showed both what foster care was meant to be–a temporary “home” in the real, loving sense of the word, and what no access to birth control does to poor families (it was still illegal in Ireland at the time). [The extreme right wing in the USA should take note of the fact that no birth control does not make poverty go away, nor does it stop children being born. Let’s recall Romania under Ceausescu please.] The girl’s feeling of “get it over with” on going home is so heart-breaking. The love and care she’s enjoyed is over and she must go back to a grim family on the edge. Heart-breakingly simple, this story shows loss both homes and most of all in the mind of one child. Fostering and adoption begin with loss. This child, though returned to her rightful home, lost even more.

My Verdict


Foster by Claire Keegan

I listened to the audio version.


Review: The Lindbergh Nanny: A Novel by Mariah Fredericks


I learned of this book from bloggers Carla Loves to Read and  Book Club Mom  Won’t you take time to read their reviews and leave them each a nice comment? We bloggers live off comments.

My Interest

It would be hard to have read so much about World War II and not have stumbled across the other side of “Lucky Lindy”–the side the found much to admire in Nazi Germany and the Lindy who was the darling of the America Firsters So, too, would it be hard not to have heard of the famous Kidnapping of the “Lindbergh baby” and the search to find him that was led by General “Stormin'” Norman Schwarzkopf’s father as head of the New Jersey State Police. Add to that having read several of Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s books, as well as other Lindbergh fiction and well, you could say I just had to read this one.

The Story

Betty Gow immigrated from Scotland and ends up caring for the most famous baby of the day–Charles Lindbergh, jr. She is left in sole charge of “Charlie” (albeit at a home belonging to his maternal grandparents) while the baby’s parents go off on a long flying trip. On their first day a photographer sneaks a photo.

The Lindberghs, when not off flying, have been living at her parents’ estates in New Jersey and Maine–her father was Ambassador to Mexico and a Senator and they are very well off. Their new house, in Hopewell, New Jersey, is just being finished. It is constructed to be fireproof, for Colonel Lindbergh is terrified of fire. Once finished, Betty and Charlie moved into the nursery.

It was from that room that Charlie was kidnapped. A warped shutter in the new window was hard to latch and so Betty left it. Charlie was in bed with wire thumb guards on as ordered by Colonel Lindbergh, his covers were pinned to the mattress to keep him warm. Colonel Lindbergh’s rule was that no one–not even he or Mrs. Lindbergh could go in and check on Charlie or comfort him if he cried for a period of several hours. This was designed to teach the infant independence. The criminals seemed to have a perfect set-up. But, had Betty helped them? Had she said something? Shown something? Was it the caretaker couple’s plot? Did another servant have a role?

We all know the outcome for poor Charlie, but what about for Betty? This is Betty’s story–Betty’s story of living with the Lindberghs and taking care of Charlie. And Betty’s life after the kidnapping.

My Thoughts

This book is fiction based on fact. Words are put into characters created by the author. We do not really know what Charles and Anne Lindbergh may have said to each other outside of what was recorded on film or in a diary. This story imagines what might have happened in their house.

I thought Betty was fairly believable as a character. The Lindberghs were cardboard cut-outs though. I thought the author worked hard to relate the story to today’s readers. There was the “immigrant” who “just wanted to work” but had never bothered to go through the immigration process. There was the cruel U.S. Government who deported people who “just wanted to work.” Betty and her mother back in Scotland had “heard things” about the police in America. Those things got old, but were a small part of the story.

I thought Lindbergh was foolish in saying his servants were above reproach. No background checks were done before hiring them. As was typical of the day, letters of reference were all that were used–even if faked. They did not even hire through a professional agency specializing in providing well-vetted servants. But, as we would learn after his death, he was foolish in so many ways.

Interestingly, the person who most came to mind as I read of Betty’s post-kidnapping life was Monica Lewinsky. The way she was all but destroyed by the press while the man who made her famous got little censure except from his opposing political party (who, let us not forget, shoved the STAR Report down our throats with enough prurient detail to be considered only for over age 18 had it not been a government document). Betty was hounded, given death threats in the mail, and rendered unemployable.

I liked the way misinformation and bad research technique figured into the press accounts too–saying Betty had been a dancer or worse when that was a different person with that name. And, then, there was the other “modern” element–Betty’s secret (it had nothing to do with liking women or wanting to be a man). Something women in this state are hard pressed to do, but all women were unable to do in Betty’s time–except illegally.

This was a very compelling read. Give it a go!

My Verdict


The Lindbergh Nanny by Maria Fredricks

Review: Künstlers in Paradise by Cathleen Schine


Thank you to Netgalley for a copy of the audio version of this book in exchange for an honest review.

My Interest

I admit it–the cover grabbed my attention! Of course the story grabbed me, too. Escaping Nazi Vienna to Venice, California and do ordinary jobs in places like Hollywood? Why not? And, having recently read Maame, why not read a story of a “Mamie”?

The Story

“One’s trauma becomes banal when trotted out too many times.”

The Künstlers family were helped by a committee of Hollywood moguls and employees to escape Vienna. Mamie, the daughter, was a child and so did not always notice the threats to their safety. Julian, her grandson, was a “failure to launch”–an upper-middle class young man with an education and parents with a secure life near the park in NYC who can’t seem to motivate himself to get a real, adult life with a job. Just before COVID hits, Julian is sent by the family to check on his grandmother out in California. Covid hits and Julian is stuck with his Grandmother, Mamie, her platonic companion Agatha, and an aging Saint Bernard. During their isolation, Mamie tells Julian a lot of stories about her childhood and family. Julian, a wanna be writer, takes notes and shares the stories with a young woman, Sophie, whom he meets out walking the St. Bernard .They walk their dogs “together” masked and on opposite sides of the street, talking all the time. As Mamie enlightens Julian, she not only fills gaps in his formal education, but also in his knowledge of his family and of the society they have inhabited. Julian finds confidence and begins to act more like an adult.

My Thoughts

Marked as “Humorous Literary Fiction” by Amazon, I imagine the review saying “nearly hurt myself laughing” was a plant from a friend or the publisher. There is humor in here–mostly provided by Agatha. (In the audio, Agatha was voiced like the announcer in the old Wendy’s “Where’s the beef” commercial with the Soviet woman modeling “fashions”). This is a novel in which politics belongs, but even then it got old–and I’m a liberal. I also thought Mamie got boring in certain points of the story–like filling a space with reading the encyclopedia. A little more pruning would have helped. Overall, I enjoyed this book. I got tired of the audio book narrator who tried too hard to make the children’s voices precious. I hate precious.

I thought of Julian Fellowes saying he didn’t want Downton Abbey being one of those shows where ‘oh, look! here comes Lloyd George.’ For that is what kept happening. Instead of politicians, it was a famous actress, various writers, composers and musicians. Was it believable–YES! That was the community that sponsored the family. But, one scene, with the “Great One” made me roll my eyes and debate dnf-ing the book. It was a dilemma for me–knowing it was believable but still finding parts of it to be tedious. A little can go a long way. A lot can steamroller a story and the “Great One” did that for me. I didn’t find it all poignant.

I did LOVE, love, love the “jingling tray!” That was what Mamie and Agatha had to look forward to each day–the cocktail hour–“HOURS”as Julian was corrected to say Adult Mamie, Julian, and Agatha were real to me. I loved Julian’s romance, too.

As I said, politics belonged in this book. I am not a Trump fan at all, but even I get sick of it. No matter, the author did come up with one image that made me stop and think. I’m sharing this knowing some reading this will be angry–outraged even. Remember, it is just one person’s opinion in one novel that you do not have to read, ok? It is not my opinion–merely a thought from a book that intrigued me. Do not flame me.

“Trump is more like Stalin or perhaps Mao…the affect is like Hitler, …effect is quite different…..Genocide by virus…”

I took this quote down quickly on the side of the road so the punctuation may be off. I had to turn off the book and think about it. I have studied every major modern dictator before 1984 in extreme detail, yet, like most, I ignore Mao too often. Pol Pot–yes, Mao? Was he too big? It was such a fascinating idea that I toyed with it through my errands. This quote will stay with me as Trump continues to evade the legal consequences of his actions. I will think of this now when he is mentioned.

That quote and more are why I’m positive this will be one of NPR’s books of 2023. For me, it was a decent read. Great? No. Terrible? Of course not. A perfectly fine book.

My Verdict


Künstlers in Paradise by Cathleen Schine

I listened to the audio version

Review: The Forbidden Notebook by Alba de Céspedes, translated by Ann Goldstein


Thank you to The Book Jotter for introducing me to this book.

WordPress is still not working the way it is supposed to. I have reached out but nothing has helped. I’m sorry if this isn’t as well formatted as usual.


Thank you to The Book Jotter for introducing me to this book.

WordPress is still not working the way it is supposed to. I have reached out but nothing has helped. I’m sorry if this isn’t as well formatted as usual.

My Interest

The idea of a woman with college-age children keeping a notebook–well, I must say, it grabbed my attention! I love epistolary books–stories told through diaries, letters, e-mails or whatever. That was a bonus.

The Story

“I can’t find peace anywhere. When I am at home, I always have a desire to hurry to the office. And when I’m in the office the happy excitement that animates my every gesture seems duplicitous, so I yearn to go home and feel safe.”

“…his sweet persuasive words reached me if through glass. Glass separated me from everything now….”

Valeria is a woman in Rome circa 1950, whose husband works in a routine job in a bank. He now calls his wife “Mama.” A portrait of his mother is in their bedroom. Valeria works, too, for “the Director” in a company he started as a clerical/secretary/admin. At home she has a daughter and son–both in college, both starting out on adult life. Her daughter is “modern” and is working for a law firm while attending college. She is direct and knows what she wants–and her parents be damned. The son is weak. He has a goal but not really. Valeria’s husband is bored by his job at the bank and amuses himself writing movie scripts when the office is quiet. One weekend, Valeria buys a notebook. She starts writing in it and her life is not the same. Not her marriage, nor how she views her job, nor how she relates to her family–all are changed by her thing things she writes in this new notebooks.

My Thoughts

Post-war Rome must have had many women like Valeria–many were war widows, but some must have been married with children like she was. Working to help support her family gave her a feeling of fulfillment, or power. When she finds herself drawn back to the office on Saturday–the office, where she is seen as “Valeria” and not as “Mama’ as even her husband now calls her, is intoxicating. She is valued and makes real contributions. At home, the mending basket is always full, the spaghetti and eggs she makes after work for the family’s dinner is ho-hum and she knows it. Her visits to her elderly parents on weekends are rushed. Her children get on her nerves in new ways. Her husband no longer seeks her “at night,” but she is “young” in her own mind. Her work life [no spoilers] provides stimulation in countless ways.

I have felt nearly everything Valeria feels! I may be older, but life expectancy is longer than in 1950’s Rome! I wanted to tell her to grab that brass ring! Let the family sort it out their own way. She has too much spirit to be the family’s drudge. The son ….no words. The daughter….at least she’s a survivor and goes after what she wants. The husband….hmmmm……

I LOVED this book. It hit me at exactly the right time in life.

My Verdict


Read what the New York Times had to say about this book

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for People Who Liked Author X aka “If you liked X, you’ll likely enjoy Y”


I’m really HATING blogging right now because of all the problems I am having with Word Press. I’ve finally had time to make a video and am trying to discover where to send it so someone can SEE the problems. I’m sorry that, again this week, there are no links to my reviews or to Amazon for the books (I do not make any money off this blog–the links to Amazon are for your convenience only)

There’s an obvious copy-cat cover in the top selection. The last two selections–I tried, I REALLY tried to use some different books! Dick Francis wrote in the current day, while Derby Day is set in the late 19th century. In fact, it could be a pair with the next “second” book–Goodnight, Sweet Prince which is set a little later than Anne Perry’s Monk books.

Why not join in with us next week. Top Ten Tuesday is a lot of fun!


Check out the rules at That Artsy Reader Girl and join in next week!

Review: A Writer’s House in Wales by Jan Morris


My Interest

Thank you to The Book Jotter, for again hosting the wonderful Reading Wales month–aka Dewithon 2023

I saw this in her book list and decided it would be my read. A Welsh author and a transgender author, “what was vulgarly know as a change of sex,” all in one go.


The Story and My Thoughts

“I live, though, in a Wales of my own, a Wales in the mind, grand with high memories, poignant with melancholy. It is in that Wales, that imperishable Wales, that my house prospers.”

Author Jan Morris, born James Morris, had a wonderful life in her house in Wales with her wife [from back when she was James–a man] Elizabeth. The house is quirky and the neighbors are nice. The Postman [mail man] just come in and puts the mail on the kitchen table! Nice service! The house suits Jan and Elizabeth.

More than the house though are the mini-essays Jan includes on what it is to be Welsh and what sets Wales apart.

“Wales is threatened more than ever by the leveling powers of internationalism, distributed even here through every possible channel of communication. The world’s corrosion is inevitably settling in–beside the welcome new comforts and excitement, the dross of television and advertising, drugs, crime, general dumbing-down and sheer ordinariness. Even the Welshest parts of Wales are less Welsh than they used to be…..”

This quote resonated with me so much! It reminds me of how “homogenized” the world has become. A McDonald’s, then a Starbucks, then a Home Depot, and so on and so on all over the world. I don’t eat out because why? I like unique. Chain restaurants are not “unique.” I think Jan was feeling a similar malaise when she wrote this quote.

But, OH!! How I loved Jan’s library!! Oh, what a song of joy to read her words on that!

“This is not a collector’s library, but a writer’s working resource. I care not for first editions or rare printings. It is the text that counts and [her library] offers its owner a most satisfying range of reading and reference matter. The Internet is no substitute.” [AMEN!!!]

She takes us through her library in a wonderful tour. I was THERE. Yes, indeed, I was THERE!

And, oh that discussion of “grangerized copies”–books with the owners own memorabilia re-bound in. I love just finding things stuck into a book when I buy it second hand. It sounds like I am not alone in this and that is wonderful.

I’m not sure what I was expecting from this little book, but I loved those parts. Some passages bored me, but on the whole it was a very interesting account of life in a very little known and little understood country (at least to this American).

My Verdict


A Writer’s House in Wales by Jan Morris

Top Ten Tuesday: Books on My Spring 2023 To-Read List


I’m sorry these don’t show properly. I’m getting to grips with the new blog template. On top of that, WordPress is doing really strange stuff.

Two non-fiction books–one on the history of the Klan in the era most people know little about, Fever in the Heartland. The era that mirrors today. The Klan and Christian Nationalist–the Klan that ran the state of Indiana, among other places. I am a Christian and I am a patriotic American but I will never espouse Trump and De Santis and the like and their version of that. Never. It is not what my Grandfather and others fought to defend.

And, in the very same era (again like today), Young Bloomsbury, about sexual identity and expression among a group of writers and artists in London. Some say history goes in 100 year cycles. In college, years ago when Regan was President, I studied Paris and Berlin in the 1920s. The parallels to today are uncanny.

The fiction choices are all from authors I’ve enjoyed before. You can search for previous reviews at the top of the screen if you are on a laptop or pc. I’m redoing my blog at the moment so it’s a mess! If you can’t find a review you’d like to read, please leave me a comment and I’ll reply with the link.

Are any of these books on your TBR? Have you read an advance copy and reviewed them? Leave me a comment and/or a link to your own post.

Review: I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez UPDATED


My Interest

I have seen this book mentioned all over the place. It sounded interesting–and good. Thank you to Liz at the blog Adventures in Reading, Running, and Working From Home for pushing this up my TBR. Won’t you click and read her review, too, and leave her a nice comment? We bloggers live on comments.  Since WORDPRESS won’t allow me to include URLs, here is here URLS:

The Story

“I want too much out of life”

“…the life I want seems impossible and it just gets so frustrating…”

When her older “perfect” sister, Olga, is killed in an accident, Julia’s life comes apart for various reasons. Predictably, her mother’s grief focuses on the daughter left–the not-so-perfect, college-aiming Julia. Julia discovers something in her sisters room that leads her to think over her sister’s life and investigate it. Was she the perfect daughter? Her mother uses badly needed inherited money to hold a quinceañera for Julia–but it is really for the late Olga. Their mother’s guilt that she could not pay for it for Olga makes her give it for Julia. [Yes, that is a tiny spoiler–sorry].

“I feel like I’m suffocating…I can’t stand living like this anymore…. why does everything have to be so impossible all the time?”

“I feel like no one in the world understands anything about me.”

Along the way Julia goes through her own crisis of grief all the while growing up, going through her days in high school with her nose in a book, aiming, always aiming, at a better future than the life her undocumented parents have been able to give her so far. As an American citizen by birth, Julia has visited Mexico to stay with her grandmother and to get to know her extended family. She is frustrated like most teens, when told “you’ll understand when you are older.” There is so much she does not understand about her family–especially her mother and father, but she can only see that they do not understand her.

My Thoughts

“…happiness is a dandelion wisp floating through the air that I can’t catch no matter how I try….”

Like Perks of Being a Wallflower, another YA book I read as an adult, I related to Julia so much and I don’t have a drop of Mexican blood in me. Fed up with the suffocatingly small life her parents can provide, she finds solace in books and in writing. She finds that crucial teacher who supports her. She has a plan for her life–she will escape the crappy Chicago neighborhood and avoid community college and get that scholarship to a “real” college in New York City. She is determined to make her dreams into reality. I was this girl.  [Note: Since WordPress is not working properly I will also put the link to my review of Perks of Being a Wallflower at the bottom of this post]

Unlike Julia I wasn’t much of a student, my parents did support me, and I was middle class, but I still felt total solidarity with her anger and her passion. I did escape the “community college” (not the real one, but the local state university) and went away to a big college with a huge array of amazing classes. Sadly, I was too immature and too plagued by what today is called social anxiety to do as much with it as I should have.

“I’d rather live in the streets than be a submissive Mexican wife who spends all day cooking and cleaning.”

Like Julia, I became a feminist (the ’70s sort–not the woke variety of today) watching my parents (to me) miserable marriage. I knew I couldn’t do that. Unlike Julia, I knew always that I wanted children and a husband–just not a marriage like my parents’.

And, what about secrets in a family? Who has an obligation to keep them? Julia debates this. My teenage life was in part derailed by some of those family secrets–not really secret but I was just finally “old enough” to know. Only I wasn’t. But none of us knew that then. I felt for Julia in these scenes so much. She had to know her family’s secrets–she needed them truly to grow up, just as I did. But what of the secrets she carried? Thankfully, I wasn’t burdened with such secrets.

Never mind the differences–me born in the JFK years, Julia in the years of contentious border debates, this Julia is a soul mate.

My Verdict

Although I had a few tiny issues with the story, the emotion of the story was so real to me that I won’t take off for a few tiny moments.


I’m Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sanchez

I will say that the editor should have changed the word “forceps” in the sentence about rare books. It was too odd a choice and stood out in a way that sentence wasn’t meant to. But this is a comment for the editor–not the author.

I listened to the audio version. All quotes are taken down by me from the audio and may not be completely accurate.

My review of Perks of Being a Wallflower:

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