Tuesday, October 23, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - In Pieces; Sally Field

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.

In Pieces: a memoir; Sally Field
Grand Central Publishing - 2018

My Grandmother's Daughter

"I WAIT FOR my mother to haunt me as she promised she would; long to wake in the night with the familiar sight of her sitting at the end of my bed, to talk to her one more time, to feel that all the pieces have been put into place, the puzzle is solved, and I can rest.

Sometimes I think I've seen something out of the corner of my eye and I stop still in the middle of my Pacific Palisades kitchen, looking for the flutter of a sign; or I'm walking in the West Village, headed to my New York apartment, loaded down with groceries, when I hear her laugh ring out.  I turn in circles looking for her. Where are you mom? Why won't you come?"

What do you think, Any interest in this one? 

I love a good memoir and this one has been getting great reviews. Thanks to Grand Central Publishing for sending me this boo.

Monday, October 22, 2018

JoJo Moyes - After You and Still Me - 2 quick reviews

I read Me Before You, the first book in this 3 book trilogy in 2012, and, despite loving that book, books 2 and 3 of the trilogy sat on my shelves unread until this month. Here are a couple of brief reviews.

After You; Jojo Moyes
Penguin - 2015

TITLE: After You
AUTHOR: Jojo Moyes
PUB. YEAR: 2015
FORMAT:  - print
RATING: 4/5 stars

Book #2 takes place 18 months after the death of quadriplegic, Will Traynor. Louisa Clark was Will's caregiver and the two were in love.  Louisa is trying to get over Will's death, and with some money Will left her in his will,  she moves from her parents home in a small English village to a small flat in London. She's attending a support group with others who are grieving and still works as a barmaid at an airport bar.  However, we an accident leaves her unable to care for herself, she moves back to her parents until she recovers.

An unexpected visit from a 16 y/old girl named Lily who needs a place to stay takes Louisa by surprise, reminding her once again about the young man she lost and the fact that life does go on after a loved one dies.

I liked this one, perhaps not as much as book #1, but a good story all the same. This story winds down with Louisa receiving a job offer in the US, leaving a nice change of scene opportunity for Louisa in book #3.  I think most fans of Jojo Moyes should be pleased with this story.

Still Me; Jojo Moyes
Pamela Dorman Books - 2018

TITLE: Still Me
AUTHOR: Jojo Moyes
PUBLISHER: Pamela Dorman Books
PUB. YEAR: 2018
FORMAT:  - print
RATING: 3.5/5 stars

In Still Me, book #3, of the Me Before You trilogy, Louisa (Lou) has accepted a one year assignment as a social secretary to the wealthy Gopnik family in New York City.  Leonard Gopnik's new, younger wife Agnes, his formerly his masseuse, is feeling like a fish out of water.  As wife #2, this Polish immigrant is insecure about her new role and higher social class. The Gopniks occupy a 7,000 square foot 5th Avenue apartment overlooking Central Park. Louisa has a calming effect for Agnes yet, Lou must keep a delicate balance to ensure she doesn't overstep her role and lose her paycheck in the process.  Meanwhile, Louisa has met Joshua, a handsome young man, who reminds her of the love she lost, but, is she capable of keeping her emotions in check and her new life separate from the one she left behind?

This wasn't perfect but, I did enjoy watching Louisa navigate big city life in a new country.  A fun follow up novel overall.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

An Unwanted Guest; Shari Lapena

AUTHOR: Shari Lapena
PUBLISHER: Pamela Dorman Books
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Upstate NY
FORMAT:  - print (library)
RATING: 4.5/5 stars

Mitchell's Inn, a remote getaway nestled in the Catskill Mountains of NY is the perfect place for recharging oneself or for a romantic getaway. There's a wood burning fireplace, a wine cellar, a library full of books and games and more.  The snow is falling and soon a major blizzard and ice storm is in full play. The guests: an attractive wealthy young engaged couple, a middle aged couple whose marriage is on the rocks, two female friends, a female author working on a novel, a NYC lawyer acquitted of his wife's murder and the inn keeper and his son.

On the first night the storm has caused the Inn to lose power, the generator is not working, no phone, no WIFI, and everyone's cell phones are losing their charge.  Sometime during the night a woman's body is found at the bottom of the staircase and it looks like an accident, but is it?  The ice and blizzard prevent the medical examiner from promptly removing the body which puts the other guests on edge.  However, when a second and eventually third person dies, everyone is a suspect.

It seems that almost every guest has a secret which are slowly revealed. This is a fast-paced whodunit, reminiscent of Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None". I must say, I liked the modern feel of this one, and, I didn't guess who the murderer was either. There were plenty of red-herrings to throw me off track.

I was happy to pick this one up from the library as I liked the author's 2 earlier books. The cover art really drew me and I thought it was just perfect based on how the story plays out.

Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race; Debby Irving

AUTHOR: Debby Irving
PUBLISHER: Elephant Room Press
PUB. YEAR: 2014
SETTING:  MA (mostly)
FORMAT:  - print (library)
RATING: 4/5 stars

The author, Debby Irving, is a white woman of privilege. She was born in 1960, one of 5 children who grew up in an exclusive Boston suburb. There was a family summer home in Maine, country club membership and for activities: swimming, tennis, sailing and golf.  She identified as 100% New England WASP with roots back to the Mayflower. Her family was a successful lot of bankers, lawyers and businessmen. As she grew up, she was well aware of racial tensions, and, often found herself worrying about offending people of color, the very people that deep down she was trying to befriend.  She sought to understand more.

There were some aspects of this book that was an eye-opener for me, a middle class white woman, who never considered myself racist. For example, I never knew that the GI Bill of 1944 was not accessible to black veterans when it was instituted nor, did I realize that less than 2% of new housing in 1962 went to people of color.  There were other examples of how people of color have been excluded from programs white people have taken for granted.

The author had an opportunity to attend some insightful classes and other coursework in racial and cultural identity issues.  At the end of each chapter of this book there are questions posed to the reader to make you think about how you might react to various situations. It makes you consider the way people of color have been, or continue to be, impacted by the fact that most white people, from childhood, have been conditioned to feel superior.  Well-written and informative.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Star is Born (2018) WOW

I've seen this gem, directed by Bradley Cooper, twice already and can't sing its praises enough.  I'm not an emotional person by nature nor, was I a Lady Gaga fan, but this movie stirred all sorts of emotions in me, in the best possible way.

Lady Gaga is a struggling service worker with a beautiful voice. Bradley Cooper, is a rock musician with addiction issues and a hearing disability, who by chance discovers Ally's musical talent and a quick mutual attraction draws them together.  The two are amazing, the acting, the singing -- just the perfect chemistry and the music is so moving. 

It's funny, I've never been a Barbra Streisand fan, so the 1970s version of this movie never really appealed to me, but, this modern version, IMO, is not to missed.

Have you seen it? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I had to purchase the soundtrack, so awesome.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Sea Prayer; Khaled Hosseini

TITLE: Sea Prayer
AUTHOR: Khaled Hosseini
PUBLISHER: Riverhead Books
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Syria/Turkey
FORMAT:  - print
RATING: 3.5/5 stars

"Inspired by the story of Alan Kurdi , a 3 year old Syrian refugee, who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach safety in Europe in 2015.  In the year after Alan's death 4,176 others died or went missing attempting the same journey."

This was a very short story but powerful story. It's a message from a father to his young son on the eve before the two will attempt to free Syria's war zone for the hope of a better life.

This book is targeted for ages 7 and up.  The vivid watercolor images, the message emphasizing the refugee crisis are well done but, I thought the story may be difficult for some younger children to fully understand. The proceeds from the sale of this book will go to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ten Horse Farm, a pop-up book by Robert Sabuda

AUTHOR: Robert Sabuda
PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press
PUB. YEAR: 2018
FORMAT:  - print
RATING: 5/5 stars

One of our granddaughters is crazy about horses and at age 4 has even begun riding lessons inside a local stable where she attended summer camp.  When I first learned Robert Sabuda, known for his outstanding pop-up books (we own several) had a new book about horses, I had to get. It's outstanding.

Just take a look at the 3-D, pop up illustrations (I've included pics of just a few) and how they come to life and pop off the pages. The quality of the book, the color combinations and the fine detail paid to every single page makes this book a winner and for sure a keeper.

If you have a horse lover in your family, be sure to buy a copy of this one.