Sunday, December 8, 2019

On Division; Goldie Goldbloom

TITLE: On Division
AUTHOR:  Goldie Goldbloom
PUBLISHER: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING: Brooklyn, NY
FORMAT: audio/library
RATING - 4.5/5

Suri Eckstein, the protagonist of this insightful novel, is a Chasidic Jew who finds herself pregnant with twins at age 57.  She and her husband, Yidel, who is 62, have 10 children between the ages of 13 and 39. Her fears about what her husband will say and what their tight-knit community will think prevent her from talking about the pregnancy.  The couple lost a son who was gay to the AIDs epidemic, a few years earlier, so she feels as if she will be forever disgraced. Ashamed of her situation, the only ones who knows Suri is expecting is the staff at the community clinic where she also volunteers and checks in for her health checks.

I thought the author did a great job exploring the internal dilemma Suri is dealing with. The story was both serious and funny. I loved the sweet, loving relationship Suri and Yidel had, yet she still felt unable to confide in him. The story is rich in detail and Chasidic tradition. The language, early on , felt very foreign to me but, it didn't take long for me to just read and enjoy. The ending felt somewhat like a convenient wrap up, but, I liked it. Even though this was a work of fiction, I feel like I learned a lot about Chasidic culture and taboos. 

Friday, December 6, 2019

The Testaments; Margaret Atwood; A Better Man; Louise Penny

The Testaments; Margaret Atwood
Random House Audio - 2019

Although I'm not generally a fan of dystopian fiction, I really liked reading The Handmaid's Tale (1985) so I decided to listen to Atwood's new sequel as well. The sequel begins about 15 years after Offred had disappeared.  The story is narrated in the first person by (3) characters. There's Aunt Lydia, the older, slyer, evil villain  who, honestly IMO, saved this story from being a total bomb for me. She's both miserable and memorable. The other narrators were younger women who both seemed so immature and irked me overall. The return to Gilead seemed different this time around with definitely more of a contemporary feel. 

 (I actually finished this audio a few months ago so my thoughts are somewhat fuzzy as I tried to jot my overall impressions. I'm glad I listened to this one but, it didn't stick with me the way A Handmaid's Tale seemed to.)

3.5/5 stars

A Better Man; Louise Penny
Macmillan Audio - 2019

Book # 15 in the Three Pines series, of which, I've read about 7 or 8 of the books.  For me, it's Penny's earlier books that really shine. Her latest books have been just okay for me.  The characters and charming, close-knit feel of Three Pines that fans grew to love seemed absent and the overall story rushed.

Rather than rehashing the plot, of A Better Man, I'll just say that the story took a long time to get moving and there was so much repetition.  The ending, after all my effort, felt unfinished. It made me feel like I missed something  along the way-- like what happened to the art critic? 

Overall, I was disappointed and felt like I would have been better off abandoning this book. Instead of reading future releases by Penny, I'll probably go back and read her earlier, charming efforts that I have missed along the way.  

Have you read these? If so what did you think?

2/5 stars

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - What Happens in Paradise; Elin Hilderbrand

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

What Happens in Paradise; Elin Hilderbrand
Little Brown & Company - 2019
Part One
A Rooster and Two Hens


She wakes up facedown on a beach. Someone is calling her name.


She lifts her head and feels her cheek and lips dusted with sand so white and fine, it might be powdered sugar.  Irene can sense impending clouds.  As the sun disappears, it gains a white-hot intensity; it's like a laser cutting through her.  The next instant she feels the highest sprinkling of rain.


She sits up. The beach is unfamiliar, but it's tropical---there's turquoise water before her, lush vegetation behind, a rooster and two hens strutting around. She must be back in St. John.

How did she get here?

This is book # 2 of a 3 book series. The first book is Winter in Paradise, which I enjoyed. 

Monday, December 2, 2019

3 new Christmas Books for Kids

illustrated by Chris Judge
Walker Books - 2019

A buck-toothed sheep named Hillary dreams about a life beyond Farmer Jimmy's land.  Her multi-colored fleece makes her stand out from the flock so when Santa comes looking for some special wool for "the first Christmas sweater ever" it's Hillary who stand out.

A cute story with silly illustrations peppered throughout; there will be lot's to chuckle about as you read this little gem.

(Activity Book)
Candlewick Press-2019

This Christmas Activity Book has so much to offer and keep young children amused. There are 100 stickers with pages to be decorated. The book also features projects such as making a cake for the birds to enjoy, making leaf wreaths, outdoor animal tracking projects, make yourself a dog-faced mask, how about time for some snowflake paper chains or your own personal Christmas cards?  There are also fun word puzzles, jokes and several other activities to keep children busy and engaged.

Candlewick Press-2019

In this sweet Christmas story with a very happy ending, a brave little doe longs for a better life.  He and his family are part on a traveling circus which means long days under a hot tent and little time to rest.  Mama would tell stories of a cooler, magical place far away under the North Star. Dasher longed to go there.  

One windy night Dasher found an escape and found his way to this magical place. He joined Silver Bell who was in need of some help in preparing for Christmas.  Dasher loves his new home but, he misses his family but, Santa comes through, finding a way for Dasher and his family to be together again.

Fabulous illustrations, a sweet happy ending story and a must-buy for ages 3-8.

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm wishing all of my US friends a wonderful Thanksgiving.
(I'm hosting - 7 adults and 3 kiddos)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Inside Out: a Memoir; Demi Moore

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

Harper - 2019


The same question kept going through my head:  How did I get here?

In the empty house where we married, where we'd added on because I had more kids than I had bedrooms, I was now completely alone.  I was almost fifty. The husband who I thought was the love of my life had cheated on me and then decided he didn't want to work on our marriage. My children weren't speaking to me: no happy birthday calls, no Merr Christmas texts.  Nothing. Their father--a friend I'd counted on for years --was gone from my life.  The career I scrambled to create since I moved out of my mother's apartment when I was sixteen years old was stalled, or maybe it was over for good.  Everything I was attached to--even my health--had abandoned me. I was getting blinding headaches and losing weight scarily fast. I looked like I felt: destroyed.

Any interest in this one?