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.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - No Good Asking; Fran Kimmel

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.

No Good Asking; Fran Kimmel
ECW Press - 2018


They All Come From Somewhere
Friday, December 20

"From a distance, it looked like a small smear of blood on a white blanket.  Perhaps a wounded coyote, staggering along the road in the relentless wind.  Eric drove on, a flurry of white surrounding his car, keeping to the faint tracks he'd made the day before.  As he drew nearer, the speck transformed into a withered old man, startling him with legs, arms, torso bent into a gale.  But it was worse yet.  He finally recognized the shape as a young girl.  People didn't walk along his road, not out here in the middle of nowhere.  Not a girl, certainly not in this weather."

Does this one appeal to you?  I'm looking forward to beginning this one soon.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

New Books

I've been a bit lax about updating new book received for review.  Here are the latest books that arrived by mail for review. Have you read any of these?

Saturday, October 6, 2018

After Anna; Lisa Scottoline

TITLE: After Anna
AUTHOR: Lisa Scotoline
PUBLISHER: Macmillan
PUB. YEAR: 2018
FORMAT:  - audio
RATING: 3/5 stars

Dr. Noah Alderman was a widower with a young son, Caleb. Now remarried to Maggie, life is good for the threesome. Caleb, 10, a boy with a communication disorder is really beginning to open up to Maggie.  Maggie was previously married, she has not seen her daughter, Anna, since she was an infant.  Maggie suffered from post-partum psychosis and her infant daughter was raised by her ex and his second wife.

When Maggie's ex and his new family is killed in a plane crash, Maggie receives an unexpected call from Anna, now 17, who had been at an elite boarding school in NH.  When mother and daughter meet, the two soon decide that Anna will come home to live with Maggie, Noah and Caleb.  It isn't long before trouble brews at the Alderman household and when tragedy strikes and Anna ends up dead, Noah is accused of her murder.

The story is told from the Before Anna and After Anna POV,  the After Anna, is a courtroom trial setting.  This is a story that started out strong even though the characters were not likable and one-dimensional.  The story then takes a strange twist and, although the twist deals with a very serious issue, it felt so rushed leaving me disappointed.  It's too bad as I've enjoyed this author in the past.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

The Trauma Cleaner; Sarah Krasnostein

AUTHOR: Sarah Krasnostein
PUBLISHER: St. Martin's Press
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Australia
FORMAT:  - print - library
RATING: 2.5/5 stars

When I first learned about this book, I thought it was a book of stories about a woman whose business, Specialized Trauma Cleaning Services (STC), did the specialized work, few people would ever want to do: cleaning up crime scenes, places where unattended deaths and suicides occurred, drug shooting galleries, hoarders houses etc. Those were the stories I was hoping to read about. The book is written by Sarah Krasnostein who followed Sandra P to at least 20 job sites around Melbourne, Australia over a period of about 4 years. The title, however, is very misleading.

The book is more of a memoir/biography. Yes, it does elaborate on the various jobs that Sandra Pankhurst has performed. She seemed to have a way of making her clients accept her, allowing her to do the work that needed to be done.   

In alternating chapters we read about some of her trauma cases, as well, as information about her horrible childhood, early marriage and fathering two sons (and abandoning them) all prior to her transgender surgery in the 1980s. We also read about her life as a prostitute and drag queen, life of abuse and violence and descent into drugs and alcohol.

Sandra Pankhurst is an unreliable narrator, now in her early 60s, who is losing her memory due to years of drug abuse and alcoholism. She is also is in need of a lung transplant and needs an oxygen tank to breath. Because of these serious health issues,  I really wasn't sure how much I was reading was accurate or what was embellished. I thought that the writing style was at times off putting - things that happened in the past were written in the 3rd person present, and, the author seemed to over do the praise, respect and compliments about Sandra.  For me this was more than a little disappointing.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Unsheltered; Barbara Kingsolver

TITLE: Unsheltered
AUTHOR: Barbara Kingsolver
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Vineland, New Jersey
FORMAT:  - eGalley & ARC
RATING: 3.5/5 stars

Unsheltered is a story about the loss of the American Dream. The novel tells two stories in two different time periods, both stories take place in the community of Vineland, New Jersey and even the same, somewhat run down house.  

The present story features Willa Knox, her husband Iano, a college professor,  and adult children Zeke and daughter Tig.  Nick, the cranky, racist, FIL is also in the picture.  He has a difficult personality and is also dying of cancer. Son Zeke, with an Ivy League education and $100,000 of debt, has been dealt yet another bad blow.  When his bread winner girlfriend commits suicide, Zeke is forced to return home to his parents with his infant son in tow. Added to their other challenges is daughter Tig,  free-spirited, argumentative and just plain exasperating at times.

So just when Willa and her husband should be at a point in their lives when they should be able to kick back a bit and begin to enjoy the fruits of their labors, they must deal with a house that is falling apart, job losses, additional mouths to feed and an uncertain financial future. 

The second story, set around 1871 involves Thatcher Greenwood, a new science teacher and Mary Treat, a lover and believer of science and plants. Thatcher is met with obstacles when he tries to promote the theories of Charles Darwin.

I really loved the present day story, but, found myself less than thrilled with the 150 year old storyline. The writing was good but, it felt like the author tried too hard to cover too many controversial, political issues: the living wage, healthcare rights, Obamacare, student loans etc., Even though I agree with many of these issues, it just seemed preachy and out of place at times.  I've enjoyed almost everything that Kingsolver has written, and although I'm glad I read this one, it just wasn't my favorite.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race; Debby Irving

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.

Elephant Room Press - 2014

What Wasn't Said
"Lessons my mother couldn't teach me."

"WHATEVER HAPPENED TO ALL THE INDIANS?" I asked my mother on a Friday morning ride home from the library. I was five years old.

The library's main draw for me had always been a large, colorful mural located high on the lobby wall.  It featured three feathered and fringed Indians standing with four colonial men on a lush, green lakeshore.  The colonists didn't hold much interest, perhaps because these were images familiar to me, a white New England girl with colonial ancestors.  The dark-skinned Indians and their "exotic" dress, on the other hand took my breath away.  The highlight of my library excursions was sitting in a chair and gazing up at the Indians on the wall while my mother chatted with the librarians checking out our family's weekly reading supply."

When I first read about this book on JoAnn's blog, I knew it was one I wanted to read. 

What do you think about the intro?

Monday, October 1, 2018

Severance, Ling Ma

TITLE: Severance
PUBLISHER: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
PUB. YEAR: 2018
FORMAT:  - eGalley
RATING: 4/5 stars

Candace Chen is a millennial daughter of Chinese immigrant parents who are recently deceased.  She spends her days in a NY office tower doing routine work at a publishing company that is producing the Gemstone Bibles which are manufactured in China to cut costs. She doesn't mind going to work, it fills her days since her parents have died and she looks forward to spending evenings with her boyfriend watching movies.

When Shen Fever, a plague of biblical proportions, hits NY from China, at first Candace barely notices. She soon becomes one of the last few employees as victims soon become zombie-like creatures as a result of their mundane jobs.  While survivors like Candace know they won't be able to make it on their own forever, she and others must decide whether "The Facility", a place to escape to and begin anew is the right thing for them.

First off, this book is not the kind of book I would normally be drawn to, but, I liked the premise and wanted to try it. The writing is excellent. The author does an amazing job of weaving the story of Candace's parents immigrant experience, their life and beliefs with what she is experiencing in the present.  The writing is so funny at times as well, from office satire to apocalyptic tale, it's a quirky look at alternatives to rote office jobs.  I thought the first person narrative worked well and fell in love with Candace and the social and political aspects of this story.  If you are up for something a bit different, be sure to try this one.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

September in Review

September was a month of slightly cooler temps,  It felt great adding a light a comforter to the bed and using the crock pot for the first time in several months, making beef stew and corn chowder which were nice changes.  Tomorrow we will go apple picking and apple crisp or apple pie will be sure to follow.  September was also a good month for books, I read (11) books and completed my RIP 13 goal of 4 books.

September Reads:
  1. Baby Teeth; Zoje Stage (library) - 4/5 - September/2018
  2. The Perfect Couple; Erin Hildebrand (audio) 4.5/5 - September/2018
  3. The Cabin at the End of the World; Paul Tremblay (library) - 3.5/5 - September/2018
  4. I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections; Nora Ephron - (my shelves) 4.5/5 - Sept./2018
  5. The Wife Between Us; G. Hendricks and Sarah Pekkenan (audio and eGalley) - 4/5 - Sept/2018
  6. Something in the Water; Catherine Steadman - (eGalley) - 4.5/5 - Sept/2018
  7. Us Against You; Fredrik Backman - (print & audio) 3.5/5 - 3.5/5 - Sept/2018
  8. Bring Me Back; B.A. Paris - (audio & eGalley) - 3.5/5 - Sept/2018
  9. Ana of California; Andi Teran (my shelves) - 4/5 - Sept/2018
  10. The Lonely Witness; John Boyle (library) - 4/5 - Sept/2018
  11. Severance; Ma Ling (eGalley) - 4/5 - Sept/2018 (no review yet)
YTD Reading Total - 82

RIP 13 Challenge - For the RIP 13 Challenge, I picked 5 books I thought I might like. One was DNF,   The Perfect Mother, Aimee Molloy, it just wasn't a story that I was enjoying. If interested you can see the books I completed HERE.

Book Club Read - Our book club read for September was, My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante, I read it in 2012 so just looked at my review notes for discussion purposes.  Out of 10 people who showed up for the meeting, most thought that this was just an okay read and did not like it enough to complete the series but, were curious how it might turn out.  Did you know this one going to be a HBO series beginning in mid November. It will be in Italian with subtitles.

Here's what I have in progress right now - all are pretty good.
  1. Family Trust; Kathy Wang (eGalley)
  2. After Anna; Lisa Scottoline (audio)
  3. Unsheltered; Barbara Kingsolver (ARC)

Buddy Update -  a few weeks ago I mentioned how our 16 year old cat had lost quite a bit of weight so we had the vet do blood work. We learned it was a thyroid problem, so he's been on a transdermal cream, twice a day for a few weeks now and we'll have his blood work repeated in a few more weeks.   
He's become a constant sleep companion, right between our two pillows every night lately and even stares at me each evening so that I'll get ready to read in bed.  I sure will miss this snuggle bug someday.  As for food, he is fussier than ever and I feel like I am wasting so much food - one week he likes something and the next week refuses it.  He is absolutely nuts over oatmeal, scrambled eggs and shrimp though. We indulge him from time to time.

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Ana of California; Andi Teran

AUTHOR: Andi Teran
PUB. YEAR: 2015
SETTING:  California
FORMAT:  - print (my shelves)
RATING: 4/5 stars

Fifteen year old Ana Cortez has spent much of her young life in foster homes, ever since her parents and then her grandmother were murdered.  After another incident with a foster family she is told by her social worker that her next option will be a group home unless she agrees to leave east LA for a farm aide position in Northern California with sibling farm owners Emmett and Abbie Garber.

This is a story that has been compared to be "In the grand tradition of Anne of Green GablesBridget Jones’s Diary, and The Three Weissmanns of Westport, Andi Teran’s captivating debut novel offers a contemporary twist on a beloved classic."

Unfortunately, I haven't read any of the referenced books but, this was certainly a heartwarming, coming of age story about a young girl who had faced some very sad challenges in life.  I admired Ana's determination to do a good job on the farm and, to not be viewed as a "screw up" as some of her foster parents labeled her. The other characters like Cole, the young boy and special friend, Ana found came across as genuine and caring.  Emmett, was curt and not receptive to having Ana on the farm. He did not believe Ana would be of help, but Abbie, on the other hand, was sweet and supportive. I do wish that the ending was not as rushed as it was but, overall, I thought this was a very good story, and, I think reader who enjoy YA fiction will really like this story.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Lonely Witness; William Boyle

AUTHOR: William Boyle
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Brooklyn, NY
FORMAT:  - Library
RATING: 4/5 stars

Amy is a young, lonely woman just out of a relationship.  Once a party girl, she now spends her time visiting the housebound and administering communion.  One day, one of her clients, Mrs. E, an elderly woman with dementia, mentions something which disturbs Amy and makes her concerned for Mrs. E's safety.  Mrs. E. reports that a young thug named Vincent has been using his mother's key to enter her apartment unannounced. Amy's curiosity gets the best of her and when she decides to follow Vincent, she witnesses something she wishes she hadn't and her life slowly spirals out of control.

This story totally took me by surprise and it wasn't at all what I was expecting after reading the first chapter.  The protagonist, Amy, does some incredibly dumb things along the way yet, I kept hoping she would find her purpose in life and come to terms with her dysfunctional childhood.

This author is new to me and he certainly knows how to write a character driven mystery. He also created a great sense of place and made me feel like I was right there watching the story unfold.  Although parts were a bit slow but, this was still a very enjoyable read.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros; The Family Trust; Kathy Wang

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.

Family Trust; Kathy Wang
William Morrow - 2018

Chapter 1

"Stanley Huang sat, naked but for a thin cotton dressing gown crumpled against the sterile white paper in the hospital room, and listened to the young doctor describe how he would die."

What do you think?  (When I first read about this book a few months ago, I knew it sounded perfect for me, I'm hoping I'm right.)

Saturday, September 22, 2018

At the Movies - September 2018

Operation Finale was my husband's pick this month and, although I didn't think I would care for it, I thought it was very well done. Based on true story in 1960, a group of Israeli Mossad spies travel to Argentina and capture Nazi officer, Adolph Eichmann (played by Ben Kingsley) , who was responsible for carrying out some of the most terrible crimes of the Holocaust.  There isn't a lot of action in this movie but, for me, it was a refresher of yet another painful time in history.

We loved Fahrenheit 11/9Michael Moore connects the dots and makes sense about our last presidential election. This film is not a total Trump bashing as some might expect. The documentary interviews some had and forgotten Americans and hits the democratic party, including President Obama pretty hard at times as well. There is also time spent of the Flint, MI water poisoning fiasco and coverups, the Parkland shootings and the building momentum of the new grassroots movements in politics today.

In case anyone is interested in knowing more about this film, here is a very good recap by CBS.

Have you seen any movies lately?

Bring Me Back; B.A. Paris

AUTHOR: B.A. Paris
PUBLISHER: St. Martins & Macmillan Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  United Kingdom
FORMAT:  - eGalley and audio
RATING: 3.5/5 stars

I'm a sucker for psychological thrillers and since I enjoyed this author's two previous books, I looked forward to her newest book. As this story opens, Finn and Layla, a young British couple on vacation in France, are on the road when Finn needs to use the restroom. He stops at a remote service area while Layla waits in the car. When he returns, Layla is no where to be found. Although Finn is suspected in her disappearance he is never charged.

Fast forward twelve years and Finn is now engaged to Ellen, Layla's sister. There has been a reported sighting of Layla, but she hasn't turned up nor, has her body been found.  Emails from unknown individuals who seem to know things that have been kept secret start arriving, shortly after Russian dolls begin appearing. The dolls have a significant link to both Layla and Ellen.  Is Layla alive or is someone playing cruel trucks, and why?

Told from the before and after POVs, I must say part 1 really kept me riveted, but, by parts 2 and 3 the story seemed to slow and get very repetitive.  It seemed like every chapter began to mention "Russian dolls" and "Peggy the Dog". The ending left me somewhat disappointed and, overall, for me this story just lacked the suspense and surprises found in the author's earlier books. 

Us Against You; Fredrik Backman

TITLE: Us Against You - (Sequel to Beartown)
AUTHOR: Fredrik Backman
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Small Swedish town
FORMAT:  - eGalley
RATING: 3.5/5 stars

In this sequel to Beartown, returning readers will find the first 50+ pages recap what transpired in Book 1. I thought the sequel started out slow and seemed less about hockey and more about the people who live in the small town of Beartown, a town that was struck with tragedy and scandal.

There are some new characters including a new hockey coach, this time a female, which creates controversy. The story covers many weighty issues like homophobia, suicide and violence and, while I don't have a problem with meaty issues, this book came across as a little too preachy at times. I also wasn't a fan that the author overdid the foreshadowing in this one as well.

Don't get me wrong, this author knows how to write about people and small town life, there are many beautiful passages that will make you think. Readers who love stories about close knit, small town life and, those who love character driven novels, this series is for you. Bachman has the unique ability of creating characters who are able to feel empathy when individuals suffer.

Some readers have described this series was an emotional roller coaster, I didn't see it as such but, it certainly was darker, sadder and even a bit gritty at times.  If you plan on reading this series, I'd recommended reading the books in order.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

10 Fall and End of Year Releases that I Can't Wait to Read

I felt like I did pretty well with my summer must-read list so, I decided to try a fall list as well.

Are any of these on your list?

  1. The Family Trust; Kathy Wang (“A globe-trotting, whirlwind, tragi-comic family saga that wrings tears from absurdity and laughter from loss.  A joy to read from start to finish.” (Andrew Sean Greer, author of Less, winner of the 2018 Pulitzer Prize)
  2. A Spark of Light; Jodi Picoult (“Page-turning . . . a novel that puts its finger on the very pulse of the nation that we live in today.”—San Francisco Book Review)
  3. Unsheltered; Barbara Kingsolver (Unsheltered is the compulsively readable story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey, navigating what seems to be the end of the world as they know it. With history as their tantalizing canvas, these characters paint a startlingly relevant portrait of life in precarious times when the foundations of the past have failed to prepare us for the future.)
  4. Severance; Ling Ma (Ling Ma’s Severance is a moving family story, a quirky coming-of-adulthood tale, and a hilarious, deadpan satire. Most important, it’s a heartfelt tribute to the connections that drive us to do more than survive.)
  5. How to Be a Good Creature;  a Memoir in Thirteen Animals; Sy Montgomery (How to Be a Good Creature should be required reading. A superbly crafted memoir, this book brims with wonder, empathy, and emotion. It stands as a vivid reminder of the deep and necessary connection we share with all living things.”—Nick Jans, author of A Wolf Called Romeo)
  6. Winter in Paradise; Elin Hildebrand (This exciting first book in the Paradisebseries will transport readers to a new beach locale-another world that Elin knows as well as her beloved Nantucket-and have them longing for winter)
  7. How to Be Alone: If You Want To and Even If You Don't Want To; Lane Moore (How to Be Alone is a must-read for anyone whose childhood still feels unresolved, who spends more time pretending to have friends online than feeling close to anyone in real life, who tries to have genuine, deep conversations in a roomful of people who would rather you not. Above all, it’s a book for anyone who desperately wants to feel less alone, and a little more connected just by reading her words.)
  8. Christmas on Cape Cod; Nan Rossiter (A gripping story of three sisters, of love lost and found and a family’s journey from grief to triumph. A sure winner.)
  9. Night of Miracles; Elizabeth Berg (Night of Miracles, a heartwarming novel that reminds us that the people we come to love are often the ones we don’t expect.)
  10. The Shadows We Hide; Allen Eskens "The Shadows We Hide is a riveting novel about one man's search for his father becomes a perilous journey into a labyrinth of deceit and lies. Eskens vividly renders how small towns try to keep their secrets, and how sometimes they cannot."―--Ron Rash, author of Serena)

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Lonely Witness; William Boyle

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 Lonely WitnessWilliam Boyle
Pegasus Books - 2018

"When Mrs. Epifanio opens the door, Amy can tell right away that something's wrong.  Monsignor Ricciardo had told her a few months ago, when she started doing this, that Mrs. Epifanio was prone to fits of dementia, that some days she'd probably seem very confused about where she was and what year it was and who was dead or alive.  But Amy's only seen that side of Mrs. Epifanio once or twice.  She's usually cheery and bright-eyed in the morning, so lively for a ninety-year-old, standing with her shoulders hunched, her bobby-pinned, rose colored hair wild, her taped on-the-bridge-of-the-nose glasses hanging restlessly around her neck."

What do you think about this first paragraph?  (I just started this one and, am really enjoying the writing so far.)

Monday, September 17, 2018

The Wife Between Us; Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

AUTHOR: G. Hendricks & S. Pekkanen
PUBLISHER: Macmillan Audio and St. Martin's Press
PUB. YEAR: 2018
FORMAT:  - audio and eGalley
RATING: 4.5/5 stars

When you first meet Vanessa, it seems plain as day that she is a disgruntled ex-wife, who will do whatever it takes to prevent her replacement to be, Nellie,  from marrying her former husband, Richard.  Richard is a polished, handsome and controlling hedge fund manager in NYC.  Now Vanessa has been tossed aside, where she once had a Mercedes, she now lives with her aged aunt and works at Saks while Nellie, a beautiful, young nursery school teacher has been planning a future with Richard.

As Vanessa begins to stalk Nellie and get to her a bit, Nellie begins to rethink her relationship and whether marriage over her fun single life in Manhattan is what she really wants, and so the plot thickens.

As I listened to this, addictive, yet sometimes confusing, psych thriller, it took a while but soon became clear that in this story, nothing is as it seems. We never know who is telling the truth and who might be a little whacked.  It's a story that has plenty of twists and I never had it figured out until I listened to the epilogue twice.  Fun read for sure.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Something in the Water; Catherine Steadman

AUTHOR: Catherine Steadman
PUBLISHER: William Morrow
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  London and Bora Bora
FORMAT:  - eGalley
RATING: 4.5/5 stars

From the very first paragraph of this thriller, Erin, the narrator asks -- 

"Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave? Wonder no longer. It takes an age.  However long you think it takes, double that."

So right from the start you wonder whose grave our narrator has dug?

Erin is a documentary filmmaker who is planning to marry Mark, a handsome investment banker. They plan a spare no expense, 3-week honeymoon to Bora Bora.  Just as all this is about to happen, Mark loses his job but, the couple is madly in love and they decide go ahead with their special honeymoon plans, knowing they'll have to cut expenses when they return until Mark finds another job.

In Bora Bora while scuba diving the couple discovers a private jet on the bottom of the ocean floor along with several bodies on board. They also find a locked duffle bag belonging to someone on the downed plane.  Dragging the bag out of the water, the couple must make a decision, tell no one or report what they discovered.  The decision they make sets off a dangerous chain of events.

This was a past paced, psych thriller that had me hooked from that very first paragraph.  The story was far from perfect, but I loved that it never lost its momentum. Yes, the couple makes some stupid mistakes along the way, but, I just really enjoyed wondering what would happen next. It made me wonder what I would have done when I was young and feeling invincible, had I faced this same temptation. Psych thriller fans should try this one.

I Remember Nothing and Other Reflections; Nora Ephron

AUTHOR: Nora Ephron
PUB. YEAR: 2010
SETTING: unsure
FORMAT:  - my shelves
RATING: 4/5 stars

In this collection of some (23) essays, the late Nora Ephron (2012) writes on a variety of subjects; past, present and future. One story,  "My Aruba", is an essay that Ephron names after her cowlick, a bald spot on the back of her head. In "My Life as an Heiress", she talks about family and how she was not from a close-knit family. She resented that her brother Hal got to attend Columbia while she had to go to a public college. Then in another short reflection simply titled, "Teflon" she made me smile once again. Her reflections are often funny, sometimes downright quirky, and other times insightful and though provoking.

The author wrote this collection when she was dealing with leukemia which most of her followers were not even aware of at the time.  Her fans were naturally shocked to learn of her passing in 2012 at the age of 71.

I thought this was a nice collection after, I Feel Bad About My Neck and Other Thoughts on Being a Woman, a book that had really resonated with me when I read it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Cabin at the End of the World; Paul Tremblay

AUTHOR: Paul Tremblay
PUBLISHER: William Morrow
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING: New Hampshire
FORMAT:  - Library
RATING: 3.5/5 stars

Andrew, Eric and their 7 year old daughter Wen are vacationing at a remote New Hampshire cabin near the Canadian border.  Hoping for a peaceful vacation away from it all, there isn't even any cell service or internet.  As the two dads relax on the back deck, Wen, their curious, daughter, who the couple adopted from China, is busy collecting grasshoppers and naming them in the tall grasses in front of the house.  Suddenly, a big man, with a friendly face appears. He tells Wen his name is Leonard and begins helping her catch grasshoppers. Wen knows about stranger danger, but Leonard is so kind and helpful but, yes, he has another agenda. Soon Leonard tells Wen, 

"None of what’s going to happen is your fault". Three more strangers then arrive at the cabin carrying unidentifiable, menacing objects. As Wen sprints inside to warn her parents, Leonard calls out: "Your dads won’t want to let us in, Wen. But they have to. We need your help to save the world."

All the above happens within the first 20+pages of this gripping, at times heart-pounding, novel.  The remote setting, a home invasion, and what follows had me quickly turning pages, even though it became clear, early on this was a book that was making me uncomfortable and, yes,  there are aspects of the story that were quite disturbing, I had to see how the story played out.  Can't say I'm sorry I tried this one but overall, I did have my issues with this one.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Something in the Water; Catherine Steadman

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.

Something in the Water; Catherine Steadman
Ballantine Books - 2018

The Grave

"Have you ever wondered how long it takes to dig a grave? Wonder no longer. It takes an age.  However long you think it takes, double  that."

What do you think"?  (I just started this and read over 100 pages in a blink of an eye - very addictive story)

Monday, September 10, 2018

The Perfect Couple; Elin Hilderbrand

Erin Bennett (narrator)
very good

AUTHOR: Elin Hilderbrand
PUBLISHER: Hachette Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING: Nantucket, MA
FORMAT:  - Library
RATING: 4.5/5 stars

The Otis-Winbury wedding at a fabulous oceanfront estate on Nantucket Island was sure to be the wedding event of the year, until the unthinkable happens.  Just hours before the wedding was to take place, the body of Merritt, the maid of honor-to be, is pulled from the harbor.  Was her death an accident or was foul play involved?

I've read quite a few stories by this author, but this one, by far, was a favorite.  I loved the mystery element of this story. The characters were great and I loved the way the story unfolded with little flashbacks into each of the main characters.  The contrast between haves and the have-nots was well done and the island setting was so descriptive that you could imagine being there.

A very nice summer read, part mystery, part family drama, part love story. The Perefct Couple unfolds at just the right pace to keep you reading (listening in my case).  I really enjoyed this one.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Weekly Update and A few new Books

The week flew by quickly: yoga (x2), a doctor's visit, an ultrasound with "nothing serious" results, repeat in 4 months (thank goodness). There were also lunches out, a library book sale, a visit to new casino and blood work for our remaining cat who is now 16. He seems to be acting okay but has lost 1.5 lbs in 6 months (awaiting blood results). At one time he weighed 13-14 lbs but now just 9.6.

Many thanks for the  above (2) books arrive last week from publishers.

$2.50 for the above (5) books at a library book sale this weekend.
Finished this week 
Reading Right Now:
Plan on starting this week:
Have a nice week everyone!