Love Signs by Linda Goodman

Throwing you all a curve ball this week with this book. If you’re the kind of person that meets someone new and immediately ask what their sign is- this book is for you. Personally, I’m not one to immediately ask, but I find the study of astrology and horoscopes fascinating and I’m always eager to compare reality with theory. This book is all about compatibility between signs and their relationships, and it was fascinating.

I didn’t bother to read about other signs’ compatibility unless it was with a Libra (which I happen to be), because it’s A) a long read and B) non-applicable to me, in that I can’t tell you personally if an Aries/ Cancer relationship (for example) is as the author describes, because I’m neither sign. So for the purpose of this review, I’m going to keep using myself and my sign as the example. I read through the introductions (which has a lot of Peter Pan references that continue throughout the book, just FYI) and jumped into reading about my Libran compatibles, starting off with Aries and working my way through the Zodiac (which is also how the book is laid out), all the way to Pisces.

Beforehand, I had written a list of the zodiac and the corresponding family and friends that I have surrounded myself with. Here are the mind-blowing revelations that I found out:

Aries. My dad is an Aries, my mom is a Libra. This is significant because these signs are complete opposites, but like they say, opposites attract. They’re a great example for these signs, true to their descriptions, and they’ve been happily married for 27 years. But what I found even more interesting is when these two signs can’t find the harmony in their opposition- enter my “other brother”. He’s a classic Aries too, and I really am a classic Libra. But where my parents mesh, he and I clash- not in a bad way, because we both love and appreciate each other, being like siblings. But when we fight, each of us knows exactly what to say to get under each others skin. I never really thought about it, until I read this book. And because of it, I’m aiming to try harder about working with his Aries characteristics, and not against them.

Cancer. My best friend happens to be a Cancer. What this book pointed out to me is how AMAZING this relationship is, because it’s not a very common harmonious combination. “Theirs (Cancer and Libra) is the most interesting and challenging association of all. It’s also the most difficult kind to bring into harmony. Once (they) have learned to genuinely appreciate one another, great magic can result.” My bestie and I have been friends for almost 10 years. She’s one of the only people besides my family that I’ve said “I love you” to, and meant it. She understands me, and I understand her. And apparently that’s a rare thing, that makes it even more special to us (because of course I told her all about it!).

Scorpio. I happen to have 2 close Scorps in my circle of friends, both older than me. I found out that the Scorpio tends to be the instructor to student Libra, and I’ve always felt like I could learn a lot from them. One of them in particular deals with me on a regular basis (Shout out to Janine, who also let me borrow this book!). And because she sees me so often, she’s seen me on my good AND bad days. So when this quote popped up, I had to share with her: “Scorpios can rather smoothly handle Librans who are temporarily behaving like cranky crocodiles.” Janine IS very good at helping me get over my cranky crocodiles- usually by pouring margaritas or taking me thrift shopping! And then she gives me a good “learn from what’s making you cranky” pep talk, and I feel better. She’s like my Yoda.

And finally, I have one more tidbit that equally shocked and amused me. After reading about Libra/Sagittarius relationships, the Sag in my life is my sister and because the reading was so accurate of our relationship, I was curious to see what the book said about her relationship with longtime Taurus boyfriend. Now, as I said before, I’m not one to judge the accuracy of their zodiac pair description, but I sure got a surprise and giggle out of the this when I opened ‘their’ chapter: “On the other hand (there’s always a Libran trying to get into each chapter of this book to start an argument)…” Caught red handed, by a book!

So maybe these are all just coincidences (to you naysayers), but I think this book is scary-accurate. Try as my Libra-self might to argue its inaccuracies, I’ve made the firm decision to get my own copy of “Love Signs” because it’s too good to doubt. For now, it’s a great reference for the non-romantic relationships in my life- but who knows, it may come in handy in the future for when Mr. Right comes along! 😉

Also, feel free to comment- what’s your sign?

The Blondes by Emily Schultz

I’m going to cut to the chase with this one- what a waste of my time.  This novel is so chaotic and melodramatic. I read it’s 350 pages in 2 days, and the entire time I just kept hoping it would get better…

The main character, Hazel, finds out she is pregnant by her thesis advisor, Karl, a married man twice her age. The affair is messy, to say the least. The day she finds out she is pregnant, she also witnesses the first case of “the Blonde Fury” pandemic, later to become known as SHV (the acronym is explained in the novel if you decided it’s your thing and you want to read it). This happens in the first 20 pages or so. From there, the story shifts from past to present with very little transition notice to the reader (reading in the present, oh now in the past, oh, just kidding present again). As Hazel waffles about how to handle the pregnancy news, she has to figure out how to navigate the pandemic hair disease that they akin to rabies. It’s nuts guys.

I give credit to the author for creating an interesting fantasy outbreak (blondes contracting this disease basically attack people like rabid animals IS pretty good imagery) but to me, the plot is all over the place, the climax is anticlimactic, the character development is just really strange… I could go on. The cover jacket gives the novel high praise for it being satirical, unsettling, and intelligent, so maybe I’m just missing the point. But for those that actually take my recommendation, I’d say you could pass on this one.

Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel

Interested in a heart breaker? Susanna Daniel doesn’t disappoint. I read the 300 page “Stiltsville” in two days, and it reads like a journal. With every detail and plot twist, the reader experiences the reflection of the main character’s life as a grown woman, a wife, a mother, and a friend.

Almost as soon as we are introduced to Francis, we’re introduced to her future as well. On a trip to Miami for a friend’s wedding she meets Marse, a Florida native who befriends Francis. She invites Francis out to Stiltsville, a “floating town” comprised of beach houses on stilts in Biscayne Bay. She meets Dennis DuVal, falls in love, and decides to trade in her life in Atlanta for life with Dennis in Miami. Through ups and downs she makes friends, marries Dennis, and expands their family with Margo. Their marriage ebbs and flows like the waters they grew up in, and just like the ever-changing Miami, the DuVal’s do what they can to weather the storms and soak in the sunshine.

Daniel has created a heart wrenching story with tales of growing pains, love, and loss. The novel, narrated from 1969 to 2004, makes parallels with the current events from Miami, and though it’s the perfect read for the beach, it isn’t as “fluffy” as I thought it would be. The recollections from the main character’s memories were omissions that are believably personal and honest. Towards the end, coming into almost present time, I couldn’t believe how much affection I as a reader held for this couple. If you were into “The Notebook”, or other similar novels, this one is right up your alley.

Also, just on a personal note: As someone who is a very sentimental person, many parts of this story made me reflect on my personal relationships with friends and family. Where Stiltsville is this family’s home away from home, I too have a similar place in my family. Being just past Labor Day weekend, I couldn’t help but wish that I could have been up to (what we call) Camp, enjoying the unofficial end to the summer. Luckily, one of my best friends from home came down to bring me some pleasant weather and to keep my mind off this homesickness. It’s these people in my life that I am forever grateful for, and the memories I’ve made with them. I’m pretty sure Daniel would agree that her novel is a great example of these relationships, and I’d call it a sign that I just so happened to pick this novel up the day after my friend headed back home.

 

Elizabeth I by Margaret George

I think I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again- I have a soft spot for historical fiction. Even more so when it comes to royals. The world then (as portrayed by the author of course, with historical accuracy in mind) fascinates me, with the glamor and romance of court, the dramatic titles and arranged marriages, the drama of treason and penalty. It’s easy for my imagination to get carried away into the words, lost in time.

As you can tell by the title, this novel follows a portion of the life of Queen Elizabeth I. Known as the Virgin Queen, ruler and “married” to her country of England and Ireland, she was the last monarch of the Tudor dynasty. She was the daughter of Henry VIII and the ill fated Anne Boleyn, and determined to prove her devotion to doing what was best for her domain. The novel starts off with Elizabeth in her later years, just before the Spanish Armada is heading to attack England at the start of what becomes the Anglo-Spanish War over religious beliefs. From there, the reader follows Elizabeth through the late years of her life, as well as follows the subplot of her rival cousin, Lettice Knollys.

At over 650 pages, it’s not a quick read. As with historical fiction, there’s a lot of context to get through. However, it’s a fascinating read as the author offers a look into Elizabeth’s famously mysterious private life and inner thoughts. Post reign, she was depicted as indecisive with extraordinary luck, but George attempts to provide reasoning from the Queen’s point of view on how she ruled. There’s drama, humor, and action, and I thought it was well worth taking it off the bookshelf.