Tuesday, August 21, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Calypso; David Sedaris


Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book that they are reading or plan to read.  David Sedaris, is one of my "go to" authors for when I need some comic relief. Looking forward to beginning his latest book.

Calypso; David Sedaris
Little Brown - 2018

Company Man

"Though there's an industry built telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age.  The only perk I can see is that, with luck, you'll acquire a guest room.  Some people get one by default when their kids leave home, and others, like me, eventually trade up and land a bigger house.  "Follow me." I now say.  The room I lead our visitors to has not been hastily rearranged to accommodate them.  It does not double as an office or weaving nook but, exists for only one purpose.  I have furnished it with a bed rather than a fold-out sofa, and against one wall, just like in the hotel, I've placed a luggage rack.  The best feature, though, is its private bathroom.

"If you prefer a shower to a tub, I can put you upstairs in the second guest room," I say.  "There's a luggage rack up there as well." I hear these words coming from my puppet-lined mouth and shiver with middle-aged satisfaction..  Yes, my hair is gray and thinning.  Yes, the washer on my penis has worn out, leaving me to dribble urine long after I've zipped my trousers back up.  But I have two guest rooms."

Have you ever tried this author? Pass or Read more?

Monday, August 20, 2018

he Other Mother; Carol Goodman

The Other Mother; Carol Goodman
William Morrow - 2018

Daphne Marist is a struggling new mother with a fussy, 6 month old daughter -- Chloe. Daphne is dealing with postpartum depression which is affecting her marriage.  At her controlling husband Peter's insistence, she agrees to join a support group for new mothers.

At this group Daphne becomes fast friends with Laurel, another young mom who also has an infant daughter named -- Chloe.  Laurel is everything that Daphne is not - sophisticated and strong. Before long the two women even start dressing alike (initially, I'm thinking about the movie, Single White Female). It isn't long before the lives of these women become entwined.  Enough said!

I don't want to give away any of those twisty spoilers and there are a few.  The Other Mother is one of those psychological thrillers that will make you quickly turn the pages, maybe sometimes scratching your head, trying to figure out what is going on.  Although I thought some of this was so far-fetched, it was fun, twisty read overall.

One thing I do love about this author's books is that they are always atmospheric -- this one has a remote stone mansion in the Catskills with a mental hospital close by.

Rating - 3/5/5 stars 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The House Swap; Rebecca Fleet

The House Swap; Rebecca Fleet
Pamela Dorman Books - 2018

Personally, as a private person, I think the whole idea of a "house swap" is rather creepy. I'd never consider it, but, that is the set up for this novel.

Can a  one week "house swap" fix a crumbling marriage and a steamy affair?"  Caroline and Francis, who have been having some marriage difficulties, are willing to give this a try. In 2013, Francis was a therapist with some sort of a pill addiction. His wife, Caroline was the breadwinner, with primary responsibility for parenting are in need of an escape.  She begins an affair which a much younger man as a way to cope with the stresses at home. 

Now in 2015, they decide to swap their flat for a week with the owner of a house in an upscale London suburb, leaving their young son with Caroline's mother.  

When the couple arrives at their Chiswick, London house swap they finds the place oddly sterile with only the bare necessities. It almost looks like the house was staged. It isn't long before things begin to happen that seem to indicate that whoever owns the place knows too much about Caroline and about her past. There's also an attractive woman next door who seems to be a bit too friendly that adds to the creep factor.

This is a psychological thriller complete with flawed, unlikable character and some sex as well.  I found the first half of the book easy to put down and harder to pick up as it seemed to take forever for the story to get going, taking me 2 weeks to finish this one.  The story is told mostly from Caroline's POV both prior to the house swap and the present.  I actually felt sorry for their young son Eddie, even though he was a very minor character, as this couple were not good parents. 

Rating - 3.5/5 stars

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Other Mother; Carol Goodman



Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book that they are reading or plan to read.


The Other Mother; Carol Goodman
William Morrow - 2018

Part 1

Chapter One

"She's crying again.

I don't know why I say again.  Sometimes it seems as if she's done nothing but cry since she was born.  As if she'd come into this world with a grudge."

 I read a few favorable reviews on this one, what do you think?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Go Ask Fannie; Elisabeth Hyde

Go Ask Fannie; Elisabeth Hyde
G.P. Putnam -2018

Murray Blaire is 81 and has been a widower for over 30 years. A tragic car accident took the life of his wife Lillian as well as their son Daniel who was 15 at the time.

At Murray's request, over the course of a weekend, his grown children gather at their father's rural New Hampshire farm home. The three very different siblings - Ruth, controlling, Lizzie, a free spirit with a much older boyfriend and, George, the overly sentimental son.  Each sibling has their own issues which are revealed as the weekend progresses.

The "Fannie" at the center of the story is a reference to an old-time cookbook called, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook", a beloved item, complete with the cryptic margin jottings by the late mother.  The cookbook, like Lillian, has met with an unfortunate ending.

Although this story wasn't perfect, it was engaging. I like stories about dysfunctional families and this one had well-crafted characters and plenty of drama to hold my interest.

Rating - 4/5 stars

Sunday, August 12, 2018

I Love Candlewick Press - New Books for Fall-2018

Lovely books that 3 to 7 year olds will just love. The illustrations and the stories are so well done.

The Stuff of Stars, Marion Dane Bauer
September-2018

(description)

In an astonishing unfurling of our universe, Newbery Honor winner Marion Dane Bauer and Caldecott Honor winner Ekua Holmes celebrate the birth of every child.

Before the universe was formed, before time and space existed, there was . . . nothing. But then . . . BANG! Stars caught fire and burned so long that they exploded, flinging stardust everywhere. And the ash of those stars turned into planets. Into our Earth. And into us. In a poetic text, Marion Dane Bauer takes readers from the trillionth of a second when our universe was born to the singularities that became each one of us, while vivid illustrations by Ekua Holmes capture the void before the Big Bang and the ensuing life that burst across galaxies. A seamless blend of science and art, this picture book reveals the composition of our world and beyond — and how we are all the stuff of stars.


by: David Ezra Stein
September-2018

(description)

Surprise! The little red chicken is back — and as endearingly silly as ever — in David Ezra Stein’s follow-up to the Caldecott Honor–winning Interrupting Chicken.

It’s homework time for the little red chicken, who has just learned about something every good story should have: an elephant of surprise. Or could it be an element of surprise (as her amused papa explains)? As they dive in to story after story, looking for the part that makes a reader say “Whoa! I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Papa is sure he can convince Chicken he’s right. After all, there are definitely no elephants in “The Ugly Duckling,” “Rapunzel,” or “The Little Mermaid” — or are there? Elephant or element, something unexpected awaits Papa in every story, but a surprise may be in store for the little red chicken as well. Full of the same boisterous charm that made Interrupting Chicken so beloved by readers, this gleeful follow-up is sure to delight fans of stories, surprises, and elephants alike.


by: Bethany Deeney Murgula
September - 2018

(description)

Is believing in magic the key to seeing a unicorn? If you keep your eyes open to wonder, the possibilities are endless.

Is that a horse wearing a hat? It’s definitely not a unicorn in disguise — that would be ridiculous, right? It’s probably just a horse that’s having a bad hair day. Or trying to keep the sun out of its eyes. Or perhaps this horse just really likes hats! If you follow it long enough, maybe it will take off its hat and you’ll finally know for sure. Or will you? It’s all a matter of perspective in this cheerful, cheeky story about seeing magic in the everyday.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

2 books by Ellen Meeropol - House Arrest and Kinship of Clover

When I found out that the author resides in an area where I grew up, I decided to research her a bit. A former Nurse Practitioner, she began writing fiction in her 50's. Her fiction explores medical ethics, political activism and family life.  

A founding member of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, her husband, Robert Meeropol, was the youngest son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were executed in 1953, accused and convicted of running a spy ring to help the Soviet Union make an atomic bomb. I was more than a little shocked making this connection but, I do recall seeing this sad story on news a few years ago.


2011 - Red Hen Press

In House Arrest, Emily Klein is a home visit nurse who is given a new pregnant client, Pippa Glenning. Pippa is on home confinement until the trial resulting from her young daughter's death in a cult-like ritual.  If Pippa plays by the rules she may be allowed to keep this baby, and just be on parole for 3 years after the baby is born. Pippa, however, is torn and feels she must find a way to participate in an upcoming cult Solstice ceremony which means ignoring her "house arrest".

House Arrest was a short, debut novel which made me feel sad at times for Pippa and the circumstances that lead to her daughter's death and her subsequent home confinement.  Initially, I  was surprised by how quickly Emily and Pippa began to develop a concern for each other but, Emily's family circumstances do make this easier to understand. The novel had several other characters that were introduced but not in too much detail. I liked that the novel reflected the names of actual places that I am well familiar with in that the author is from the area where I grew up.  Note - A family cat ends up dead in this story which bothered me.

Rating - 4/5 stars

2017 - Red Hen Press


Kinship of Clover is a novel which reintroduces a few of the characters from House Arrest.  I actually read this book first without realizing it and it worked out just fine for me.

Jeremy and Tim are twins from an unconventional family. Their parents  were sentenced to prison for criminal negligence which resulted from the deaths of 2 young children who froze to death in a park in 2005.  When Jeremy was a 9 year old child he claimed to have felt plants wrap themselves around him and borrow into his skin during a greenhouse funeral ceremony. Now, a Botany major at the University of Massachusetts, Jeremy is upset about the variety of plants that are becoming extinct because of ecological changes.  When his passion for endangered species at college is perceived to be a little over the top, college officials, concerned for his well-being take action and place him on leave, reuniting him with his twin brother in Brooklyn. But, in Brooklyn Jeremey's passion for the environment is still front and center. He becomes involved with some eco-terrorists that just might not have his best interest in mind.

In this novel a few new family members are introduced which include,  Flo, grandmother and aging political activist who is dealing with dementia. Zoe, Flo's granddaughter, who has spina bifida, Tian, the cultish leader whose children froze to death in 2005.

This book addressed some tough issues, the environment, trauma, Alzheimer's and the importance of finding ones place in life.  Like House Arrest, I loved the references to familiar places as well as the political and social justice issues covered.  I felt this book was fairly well written, although a bit slow at times, but, ultimately what started out as somewhat sad story made me feel hopeful by the end.

I plan to read the author's other book, On Hurricane Island (2015), touted as a "fast-paced political thriller" soon.

Rating - 4/5 stars