Saturday, June 23, 2018

Catching Up - Maine Getaway and a few Book Reviews

Happy Weekend Everyone!  This weekend is a stay at home, catch up weekend after spending Father's Day weekend in Maine.  We had a wonderful time staying at the Cliff House in Cape Neddick, a resort that recently underwent a 40 million dollar renovation, what an awesome place. The hub says it was his best father's day ever. We hope to go back again after Labor Day.

Our oldest granddaughter graduated from Kindergarten on Friday (hard to believe) and our youngest granddaughter will be celebrating her 4th birthday next weekend.

On the book front I've been busy reading  and there are so many more books I'd like to read this summer. I finished several books this month.

The Female Persuasion; Meg Wolitzer
Penguin Audio - 2018

Greer Kadetsky is a shy college freshman, disappointed by her stoner parents for messing up her financial aid paperwork which caused her to miss the opportunity for an Ivy League education. Instead she ends up at Ryland College where she meets a feminist, Faith Frank who inspires her and challenges her to be all that she can be.

The topic was timely: feminism, sexual identity, workplace harassment and first loves.  Although the story held my interest, it never wowed me.  Most of the (4) central characters were flawed in some way, which I generally love, but I wish that these chapters, especially Faith Frank had been explored in more depth. The stories of each of these characters sometimes felt a bit disjointed, so to me the pacing felt off.

I'm happy I listened to this one but after reading several rave reviews, I expected to like it more.

Rating 3.5/5

The Great Alone; Kristin Hannah
Macmillan Audio - 2018

See in mid 1970s, Alaska, an unpredictable, often volatile former POW, Ernt Albright abruptly moves his wife and 13 year old daughter to Alaska after losing yet another job.  Hoping for a calmer life, he plans for the three of them to live off the grid.

Although the local people are welcoming and helpful, as winter approaches it soon becomes apparent how ill prepared the family really is to survive this new life.  As Ernt's mental health issues intensify, mother and daughter bond even more to try and figure out what must happen in order to survive.

My heart went out to 13 year old Leni, a girl at a fragile age who needed stability.  I was angry with the mother for going a long with such a crazy plan without preparation.  The audio book was very good and really held my interest.

Rating - 4.5/5 stars

The Little Clan; Iris Martin Cohen
Park Row - 2018

Set in NYC, The Little Clan, embraces the friendship of opposites.

Ava Gallanter, is a shy 20-something librarian and lover of 18th century literature, she also hopes to be a successful writer. She works at a rather eccentric place called The Lazarus Club, a place where eccentric geriatrics residents gather. Ava's college friend Stephanie, is her polar opposite: outgoing, energetic with a lust for life. She vows to do what she can to help Ava fulfill her dreams of becoming an author and, she convinces Ava to open a hip literary salon at the Lazarus Club. Needless to say, things don't necessarily go as planned.

Readers who love stories with quirky, flawed characters and literature should give this debut novel a try. Overall, I liked this book but, I was hoping for some resolution to a few of sidebars and that never occurred.

 Right now I have (3) books going. The Outsider, Stephen King (in print) -- this is really good.  The Waiting Room, Emily Bleeker (on Kindle) and The Chalk Man;  C.J. Tudor  (on audio)

Rating - 3.5/5

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Outsider; Stephen King

On Tuesdays First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vickie/ I’d Rather Be at the Beach Readers are asked to share the first paragraph of a book they are reading or plans to read soon.  

The Outsider; Stephen King
Scribbler - 2018

The Arrest
July 14th

"It was an unmarked car, just some nondescript American sedan a few years old, but the blackwall tires and the three men inside gave it away for what it was.  The two in front were wearing blue uniforms. The one in back was wearing a suit, and he was as big as a house.  A pair of black boys standing on the sidewalk, one with a foot on a scuffed orange skateboard, the other with a lime-colored board under his arm, watched it turn into the parking lot of the Estelle Barga Recreational Park, then looked at each other.

One said, "That's Five-O."

Does this sound like a book you might consider reading?

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Banker's Wife; Christina Alger

On Tuesdays First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vickie/ I’d Rather Be at the Beach Readers are asked to share the first paragraph of a book they are reading or plans to read soon.  

The Banker's Wife; Christina Alger
G.P Putnam - 2018


"At London RAF Northolt Airport, very few planes were cleared for takeoff.  The crosswinds were strong; the downpour of sleet reduced visibility to nil. There was only one runway at Northolt, and a congestion of private jets looking to use it. It was six a.m. The crowd of passengers in the waiting area was small but impatient.  Most were businessmen who had morning meetings in Paris, Luxembourg, Berlin.  Some were booked on flights chartered by their corporations; a few owned their jets outright.  These were not men who liked to wait.  A Russian named Popov was making a scene. He yelled alternately at the woman behind the front desk and someone on the other end of his phone.  Neither person was giving him the answer that he was looking for, so he toggled between them, the volume of his voice rising until he could be heard clear across the terminal.  His female companion, a bored, willowy blonde in a fox-fur coat and sneakers,stared at her phone. She seemed accustomed to his rages. Everyone else was looking at Popov. Papers were lowered; passengers turned to stare.  At six foot four and at least 280 pounds, Alexei Popov was hard to miss, particularly the he was angry."

What do you think?  I just started this one last night and like it so far.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Month in review and a few reviews - Sometimes I Lie; Alice Feeney and The Sinner; Petra Hammesfahr

The 5th month of 2018 bites the dust and once again in retirement I'm reading fewer books than when I worked.  So far in 2018 I've read (40) books (7 in May). 

Favorite Book for May

Books Read in 2018

  1. The Flight Attendant; Chris Bohjalian - 3/5 (eGalley) Jan/2018
  2. Small Great Things; Jodi Picoult (reread book group) - 4.5/5 (audio) Jan/2018
  3. My Absolute Darling; GabrielTallent - 4/5 (eGalley) Jan/2018
  4. Sisters; Lily Tuck - 5/5 (library) Jan/2018
  5. An American Marriage; Tayari Jones - 4/5 (eGalley) Jan/2018
  6. Why I Read: The Serious Pleasure of Books (NF); Wendy Lesser - 3.5/5 (library) Jan/2018
  7. Alternate Side; Anna Quindlen - 3.5/5 (eGalley) Jan/2018
  8. I Married You for Happiness; Lily Tuck - 4/5 (library) Jan/2018
  9. The Woman in the Window; A.J. Finn - 4/5 (eGalley) Feb/2018
  10. Nomadland; Jessica Bruder - 4.5/5 NF/library Feb/2018
  11. Saints for All Occasions; J. Courtney Sullivan - (my shelves) 4.5/5 - Feb/2018
  12. Girl on the Train; Paula Hawkins (reread/book group) - 4/5 - Feb/2018
  13. Census; Jesse Ball - (eGalley) 4/5 - Feb/2018 
  14. I'm a Duck; Eve Bunting - (my shelves) 4.5/5 - March/2018
  15. Windows; Julia Denos - (my shelves) 4.5/5 - March/2018
  16. The Tip Toeing Tiger; Philippa Leathers - (my shelves) 4.5/5 - March/2018
  17. The Perfect Neighbors; Sarah Pekkanen - (eGalley) 3.5/5 - March/2018
  18. White Houses; Amy Bloom - (eGalley) 3.5/5 - March/2018
  19. Best Day Ever; Kaira Rouda - (library) 4.5/5 - March/2018
  20. Lucky Us; Amy Bloom (library/ book group read) 4/5 - March/2018
  21. Mercury; Margot Livesey (eGalley) 3.5/5 - March/2018
  22. The Other Girl; Erica Spindler (audio) 3/5 - March/2018
  23. Trick; Domenico Starnone - (library) 4.5/5 - March/2018
  24. Sunburn; Laura Lippman - eGalley 5/5 - April/2018
  25. Everything Here is Beautiful; Miranda Lee - library - 4.5/5 - April/2018
  26. Tangerine; Christine Mangan - eGalley/eAudio - 4.5/5 - April/2018
  27. I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death; Maggie O'Farrell - library 4/5 - April/2018
  28. Girl in Snow; Danya Kukafka - eGalley - 3.5/5 - April/2018
  29. The Ninth Hour; Alice McDermott - library/audio - 4.5/5 - April/2018
  30. The Nest; Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney (reread/bookgroup-April) - 3.5/5 - April/2018
  31. Let Me Lie; Clare Mackintosh (audio) - 4/5 - April/2018
  32. Rainbirds; Clarissa Goenawan (library) - 5/5 - April/2018
  33. A Noise Downstairs; Linwood Barclay (eGalley) - 5/5 - April/2018
  34. Eight Hundred Grapes; Laura Dave (audio/library) - 4/5 May/2018
  35. The Death of Mrs Westaway; Ruth Ware - (eGalley) - 4.5/5  May/2018
  36. All the Beautiful Lies; Peter Swanson (eGalley/library audio) - 3.5/5 - May/2018
  37. The Cuban Affair; Nelson DeMille (library audio) - 2.5/5 - May/2018
  38. Sometimes I Lie; Alice Feeney (library) - 4/5 May/2018
  39. The Sinner; Petra Hammesfahr (audio & print) - 4/5 - May/2018
  40. The Female Persuasion; Meg Wolitzer (audio) - 4/5 - May/2018

Sometimes I Lie; Alice Feeney
Flatiron Books - 2018

"My name is Amber Reynolds. There are three things you should know about me:

1. I'm in a coma
2. My husband doesn't love me
3. Sometimes I Lie

Amber Reynolds, a radio show presenter, wakes up in a London hospital. She's in a coma and can't move or speak but, she can hear every word that those around her speak in her hospital room.  She's not quite sure what happened to her but she's pretty sure that her husband Paul had something to do with her being in a coma.

This certainly was an impressive, twisty, psychological thriller debut novel. The story is told from three timelines: the present from the hospital bed, the week before the accident and from 25 year old childhood diaries.  There are a number of twists along the way, especially towards the end, some felt a bit unrealistic and oftentimes I wasn't sure what was true and what was a lie.  Even though this was at times a bit confusing, I quickly turned the pages and was happy I tried this one. I would definitely read another book by this promising new author.

Rating - 4.5/5

The Sinner; Petra Hammesfahr
Bitter Lemon Books - 2008

On a sunny afternoon at the lake with her husband and young child, Cora Bender stabs a stranger to death on the beach while the man's girlfriend and onlookers watch in shock.

So right off the reader knows who committed murder but, the mystery to unravel is why she did it.
As the investigator digs deep into Cora's childhood and family situation, the truth is slowly revealed but, before that happens one must sort out what is the truth and what is a lie.

This story pulled me in right away and I loved watching Cora's character develop. She's complicated and her dysfunctional childhood and marriage on the rocks were fascinating to delve into.  The Sinner is a very dark story with a good amount of shock value. The character development was well done and the story kept me guessing. Unfortunately, the translation, from the German, was a bit challenging at times, especially the names.  For whatever reason the story flowed better on audio than it did in print for me.

Rating - 4/5

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

All the Beautiful Lies; Peter Swanson and The Cuban Affair; Nelson DeMille

All the Beautiful Lies; Peter Swanson
2018 - Harper Audio (William Morrow)
Sarah Mollo Christiansen (reader)

In this stand alone psychological thriller, Harry Ackerson is getting ready to graduate from college when his stepmother, Alice calls to say that his father has fallen from a cliff and has died. Although the police suspect it was a suicide, there is a chance that he may have been murdered. Devastated, Harry returns home to Maine where his father ran a book store to grieve and to help settle his affairs..

Harry's stepmother Alice is only 35, she's attractive and was some 20 years younger than Bill, Harry's father.  As a teen Harry always fantasized about Alice while he was living at home.  When another young attractive young woman mysteriously shows up at the book store Bill had owned while Harry is sorting through his father's business affairs, the plot thickens. It appears as if she may have been romantically involved with Bill as well while he was working at another book store in New York.

The story shifts from present to past with a fair amount of sexual tension along the way.  There were a few twists to make the reader wonder but, overall I thought the outcome was fairly easy to predict.  This was fun to listen to on my walks but, overall, I preferred the author's previous book, Her Every Fear, much more.

Rating - 3.5/5 stars

The Cuban Affair; Nelson DeMille
Simon & Schuster Audio - 2017

Daniel McCormick, is a 35 year old decorated, Afghanistan Veteran who now owns and operates, The Maine,  a charter fishing boat out of Key West.  Mac is offered $2,000,000 by a Cuban American lawyer named Carlos to take his boat to Havana to smuggle back a cache of cash, treasure and documents hidden from the Castro regime during the revolution. It's believed the loot is worth some $60,000,000.

Many of DeMille's earlier novels which featured John Corey, were a must read for me, Corey was a tough talking central character who was always full of wise cracks. He almost always had an attractive woman by his side that he met as part of his mission.  "The Cuban Affair's" Mac, possesses similar traits to Corey and he also had a sexy counterpart named Sara Ortega by his side, but I missed the old central character.  Unfortunately, a few wise cracks go a long way and after a while the humor seemed a bit forced and over the top. Although I loved how well DeMille researched information about Cuba and its history, overall, this story was far too long and dragged on and on.  We recently listened to this on a road trip and we found ourselves fast-forwarding at several intervals that seemed to be a bit too over the top for us.  Overall, this audio book, read by Scott Brick was fun to listen to but, it missed its mark. I do miss the earlier DeMille, John Corey books.

Rating - 2.5/5 stars

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday intros - The Sinner; Petra Hammesfahr

On Tuesdays First Chapter, First Paragraph/Intros is hosted by Vickie/ I’d Rather Be at the Beach Readers are asked to share the first paragraph of a book they are reading or plans to read soon.  This week's selection hooked me right away.

The Sinner; Petra Hammesfahr
Bitter Lemon Press - 2007


"It was a hot day at the beginning of July when Cora Bender decided to die.  Green had made love to her the night before.  He made love to her regularly every Friday and Saturday night.  She couldn't bring herself to refuse him, being only too well aware how much he needed it. And she loved Gereon.  It was more than love. It was gratitude and utter submission -- something absolute, and unconditional.

Green had enabled her to be a normal young woman like any other.  That was why she wanted him to be happy and contented.  She used to enjoy his lovemaking, but that had stopped six months ago."

I've been listening to the audio and reading a print copy of this one.  It was recommended years ago by Jackie@ Farm Lane Books Blog.

What do you think? Read more or pass?

Saturday, May 26, 2018

Memorial Day Thoughts and a question, " Where Have All Book Bloggers Gone"?

This weekend we take time to remember the brave men and women, both past and present, who served our country.   Thank you.

How do you plan to spend Memorial Day weekend; do you have any rituals?

We started off our weekend delivering flowers to (4) different cemeteries in the area.  My parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles are at one cemetery buried in a large family plot, while both of my brothers are buried in (2) different cemeteries in the area. My husband also had a friend who passed away last year so we also brought flowers to his grave at a 4th cemetery.

Monday my son is having a cookout and our whole family will be together so I'm looking forward to that as well.

As many of my remaining, loyal readers have witnessed, after nearly (10) years of blogging (mid June-2008) my posts have decreased dramatically as have my comments on your blogs (and for this I am sorry).  Life, grandchildren and priorities in general are the reasons for the most part. I still love books, reading and learning what others think about the books they've read but, posting and commenting sometimes feel like a job for which I'm not getting paid and as a result now take a lower priority. LOL

I was shocked when I went through the list of blogs that I've followed and read over the years, amazed to find that over 150 of the blogs I had read at one time or another are now defunct or haven't posted in several years.  Is this a new trend, the loss of book bloggers everywhere?  Have you noticed this as well?

Today I deleted all of the defunct blogs from my blog roll and posted links on my sidebar to the blogs I seem to read on a regular basis.  PLEASE let me know if I missed a link to your blog or deleted you, my regular commenters, in error -- I'll want to amend that.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this subject.

Enjoy Your Weekend!