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!

Sunday, May 20, 2018

A few quick reviews - A Noise Downstairs; Linwood Barclay - The Death of Mrs Westaway; Ruth Ware and Eight Hundred Grapes; Laura Dave

I can't believe it's been almost 3 weeks since I last posted here, just where do the days go? Hope everyone has been doing well.  I've still been reading quite a bit, a few really great reads and a few just okay ones.    Here's a recap:

A Noise Downstairs; Linwood Barclay
William Morrow - 2018

The set up for this psychological thriller is pretty simple, Paul Davis thinks his colleague, Ken, just might be a murderer.

Paul is a college professor who is driving home one night and notices that his colleague, Ken is driving erratically and a tail light is out, when Paul follows him,  he discovers he has two dead bodies in his car. Ken beats Paul up and nearly kills him but Paul recovers, suffering from PTSD as a result of the attack. He feels like he is losing his mind and when his therapist suggests he write about the incident that has caused him so much anguish, his wife and son buy him an antique typewriter to chronicle his thoughts.  Unfortunately, the typewriter seems to have a life of its own at night, typing sounds that only Paul seems to hear. Has Paul lost it or, is something or someone more sinister at play here?

The story is told primarily from the POV of Paul, his wife Charlotte and his therapist, Anna.  An addictive read that reels you in and keeps you guessing.  I loved how the story played out and, I felt the author did an awesome job. This is a must read for psychological fiction fans.

Rating - 5/5 stars

Gallery/Scout Press - 2018

Hal (Harriet Westaway) is a young woman who is struggling to make ends meet.  Her mother died three months earlier, a victim or a hit and run accident. Hal has followed in her footsteps as a boardwalk, physic reading tarot cards for tourists.  She's flat broke and has even borrowed money from a loan shark who is now threatening her.  

One day she receives a letter in the mail stating that a relative has died and that she's in line for an inheritance.  Although she is pretty certain that the letter was sent to her in error and mean for someone else, she's desperate and decides to travel to Cornwall for the funeral of the deceased, a woman who is supposedly her grandmother.  A reading of the will is to follow the services.

An atmospheric, creepy, Gothic type mystery with cranky, suspicious characters. The setting, Trepassen House, a creepy old mansion was ideal for the story to play out. I enjoyed the characters and the way that the story unraveled.

Rating - 4.5/5 stars

Simon & Schuster - 2015

I wanted a lighter story to listen to on my walks and this story was delightful.  Set in Sonoma Valley's wine country, 30 year old, Georgia Ford has learned quite a bit about making wine, her family owns a vineyard there.  Now, living away from home in LA, Georgia's wedding is just one week away when she learns that her husband to be has been hiding a secret.  Unsure what she should do, she returns home to her family for comfort and to sort things out, only to find that her family has been hiding something from her as well. Will Georgia sort things out, marry and move to London as she had planned or will her life take a new path?

This was a nice story about family, dreams and bumps in the road of life. Likable characters and s beautiful setting as well. This audio book was would be a nice summer reading choice.

Rating - 4/5 stars

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Death of Mrs Westaway; Ruth Ware

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 (I'm about 1/3 into it and enjoying it). Tell me how you like the intro.

Gallery - Simon & Schuster - 2018

29th November, 1994

"The magpies are back. It's strange to think how much I used to hate them, when I first came to the house.  I remember coming up the drive in the taxi from the station, seeing them lined up along the garden wall like that, preening their feathers.

Today there was one perched on the frost-rimed branch of yew right outside my window, and I remembered what my mother used to say when I was little and whispered Hello, Mr. Magpie under my breath, to turn away the bad luck."

Monday, April 30, 2018

Rainbirds; Clarissa Goenawan

Rainbirds;  Clarissa Goenawan
Ecco - 2018

Japan, 1994, Ren Ishida is finishing up his graduate studies in Tokyo when he learns that his older sister, Keiko has been murdered and that there are no suspects.  Since Keiko was estranged from their parents, Ren heads to the fictional town of Akakawa to claim his sister's remains and personal effects.  He soon finds himself, desperate to find out more information about his sister's personal life in the years since she left home.  Ren takes a room, the very room, where his sister had stayed and even gets a teaching job, her vacated teaching job, at the university where she worked.

A thought provoking, compulsively readable, debut novel with style reminiscent of Haruki Murakami. The writing is beautiful, part mystery with bits of magical realism, but never too far over the top for my taste.  The imagery created by this talented new author was an unexpected treat.

Rating - 5/5 - loved it

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Week in Review and a mini book review - Let Me Lie; Clare Mackintosh

I'm always a bit hesitant to say this but, I think spring might just be here. The birds are nesting and singing and although there aren't any flowers blooming this week, they will be, very soon. I'm also out there walking more and more as well. Our cat is enjoying having the windows open for a few hours each day as well.  Last week was 3 days of yoga, book group meeting, lunches out and time with my daughter. We also took a ride to the casino (something we do about twice a year) and, I won $387.00, so I picked out some spring clothes which was fun. I also managed to find some reading time and some min review catch up time, and finally...

It's been a while since I posted my new book acquisitions, sent to me thanks to various publishers. So many sound good that I haven't yet decided where I shall begin.

Let Me Lie; Clare Mackintosh
Penguin Audio and Berkley - 2018

I finished Let Me Lie this week, a combination of audio download and eGalley and thought it was fairly well done. Here's a mini review:

Annie is a young woman and mother who has struggled to get on with her life after both of her parents committed suicide seven months apart.  Both deaths occurred in a similar manner, falling to their deaths off a cliff into the waters deep.  When a suspicious note arrives on the anniversary of her mother's death, Anna has reason to question whether murder versus suicide might have been the cause of death.  Murray, a semi-retired police officer agrees to help Anna piece together the mystery behind her parents deaths.

This is a twisty, psychological thriller, told from several POVs that held my interest both in audio and in print.  The story wasn't perfect, but enjoyable all the same.

Rating - 4/5 stars

Hope everyone has a beautiful Sunday!

Saturday, April 28, 2018

2 reviews - The Ninth Hour; Alice McDermott and The Nest; Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

The Ninth Hour; Alice McDermott
Macmillan Audio - 2017

After reading a book by this author for my book group last year and enjoying it, I wanted to try another one of her novels.  The Ninth Hour is her most recent release (2017) and, although it was a beautifully told story, it was also quite depressing.

After Tim, a young Irish immigrant is fired from his job in Brooklyn, it's more than he can endure. Already unhappy with his marriage, he recently learned that his young wife is expecting their first child.  On a bleak, February day, he sends his wife to the store, opens the gas valve on the stove and takes his own life.

To comfort and asset his grieving wife, Sister St. Savior, of a local Catholic order of the sick and poor, enters the picture to help the widow, Annie. The Sister gives Annie a job in the convent laundry where her young daughter Sally is born and will grow up.

Set in the 20th century, I enjoyed reading about the roles these nuns played within a needy community at this time.  If you don't mind a sometimes downer of a story, try this one as it is beautifully rendered.  This would make a good discussion book.

Rating - 4.5/5

The Nest; Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney
Ecco - 2016

I actually read this book when it was first released and thought it was okay. So when my book group read it in the month of April, I just skimmed my notes and decided to reposted my review. (below)
The majority of my group, all senior aged women, really enjoyed this story and the in flawed characters behaving badly.

(may - 2016 review)

Grown siblings behaving badly is the central theme upon which, The Nest, has been built.

The four Plumb siblings, Leo, Jack, Bea and Melody have long thought about "the nest" they would inherit when Melody, the youngest, turned 40 and, that day is just months away. The watched the stock market soar and made plenty of plans for the money. They'd pay off mortgages, fund college tuitions and enjoy life more. However, as the saying goes, "don't count your chickens before they hatch."

Truth is Leo, the oldest and perhaps most irresponsible of the Plumb clan has chipped away at their inheritance, with the permission of their mother, Leo loves women, booze and drugs perhaps a bit too much. As the story begins he crashes his Porshe causing his young nineteen year old companion to lose a foot. This accident costs him plenty including money from "the nest" that the others were expecting. Now they expect Leo, the irresponsible, golden boy to pay up.

The characters are both quirky and unique and come alive on the pages as we learn about their drama and baggage. Their issues: parenting, relationships, finances, substance abuse etc. make some of them more likable than others. Some of their situations were funny, others seemed unrealistic. Perhaps I just don't have a clue about rich people who live beyond their means and then expect to be handed a golden spoon really behave.

I thought the set up for this story was great but, I found most of the characters either shallow or annoying. Family dysfunction is a topic I generally love to read about and I was enjoying the Plumb clan but, I felt a huge disappointment by the way this novel wrapped up. 

Rating - 3.5/5 stars

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Rainbirds; Clarissa Goenawan

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 (I'm on Chapter 4). Tell me how you like the intro.

Rainbirds;  Clarissa Goenawan
ECCO - 2018


"At first, nothing was unusual.

I was on the phone with my sister. She sat by her desk by the window in her rented room in Akakawa. The sun shone through the curtain, casting brown highlights on her long dark hair.  She asked me question after question, but I just mumbled one-word answers, impatient for the conversation to be over.  But then, before my eyes, she crumbled and turned to ashes."

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Recent Movies and Books - Tangerine; Christine Mangan and Girl in Snow; Danya Kukafka

Our birthday sisters turned 4 and 6 this week. It's been such a joy to watch them grow. Our kindergartener even lost 2 teeth recently.


  • (2017) Thoroughbreds (odd movie)
  • (2017) Chappaquiddick - (very good)
  • (1996) Fargo (loved it)
  • (1981) Mommie Dearest (another one I loved)

  • Books

    Tangerine; Christine Mangan
    Ecco and Harper Audio - 2018

    Alice Shipley and Lucy Mason were once college roommates in Bennington, Vermont, but after an incident there, the two parted ways. Now Alice is married and living in Morocco, her marriage and life in general is anything but, blissful. She is uncomfortable in her new surroundings.  One day Lucy Mason, the fearless, gutsy friend from her past, arrives in Tangiers unannounced.  However, the visit, unbeknownst to Alice, is anything but altruistic.  

    Set in 1956, this tension filled psychological thriller reminded me in some ways of the movie, The Talented Mr. Ripley.  The character development and setting was excellent and I enjoyed how the story played out even though certain aspects seemed a bit contrived.

    Rating - 4.5/5 (audio and eGalley)

    Girl in Snow; Danya Kukafka
    Simon & Schuster - 2018

    Set in a small Colorado town where nothing much happens, a high school girl named Lucinda Hayes, who seemed to have everything going for her is found murdered.  As the investigation unfolds, so does a snapshot of three individuals connected to her in some way.  There's Cameron, a socially awkward voyeur who had a crush on Lucinda and had become somewhat of a secret stalker.  Then Jade, a classmate who both envied and despised Lucinda and finally,  Detective Russ Fletcher, the shady character who happens to be investigating the murder.

    This was a decent debut novel but, I do think it had a YA audience feel to it.  I liked the way that my opinion as to who the murder might be had changed as I read.  I do wish that the story was a bit more plot driven but, overall, the author did a good job.

    Rating - 3.5/5 stars

    Tuesday, April 17, 2018

    First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - A Noise Downstairs; Linwood Barclay

    Every Tuesday Vicki @ I'd Rather Be at the Beach now hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where readers share the first paragraph, maybe two, of a book that they are reading or plan to read soon.  (Started this yesterday, very addictive story.)

    A Noise Downstairs; Linwood Barclay
    William Morrow - 2018


    "Driving along the Post Road late that early October night, Paul Davis was pretty sure the car driving erratically in front of him belonged to his colleague Kenneth Hoffman.  The ancient, dark blue Volvo station wagon was a fixture around West Haven College, a cliche on wheels of what a stereotypical professor drove."

    Would you read more?

    Sunday, April 15, 2018

    Everything Here is Beautiful; Mira Lee and I Am, I Am, I Am; Maggie O'Farrell

    Pamela Dorman Books/Viking - 2018

    Everything Here is Beautiful was an impressive debut novel about sisters and mental illness.

    Miranda and Lucia are sisters, Miranda is seven years old and has always been the cautious one, watching out for her ofter unpredictable younger sister Lucia.  After their mother dies of cancer, Lucia begins to hear voices and as her mental illness becomes more intense, she does some outlandish things including marrying someone she hardly knew and later even moving to a different continent.

    Can Lucia ever lead a normal life, often refusing to take her meds?  Can her sister or Lucia's husband influence her and keep her safe?

    Told in alternating POVs, this is a beautifully written, compelling story about mental illness and family. I will definitely be looking for future offerings from this promising new author.

    Rating - 4.5/5 stars

    Maggie O'Farrell
    Knopf - 2018

    This is a different kind of memoir in which the author describes in very short stories her, seventeen near death experiences.  The stories cover an array of experiences beginning when she was just a toddler through adulthood and follow no particular chronological order. It's not a memoir that feels like all doom and gloom and it never felt morbid or depressing. Instead, this was a book that helped me to reflect on my own life and the things that are most precious.

    A few of the stories were quite intense and even felt jarring at times while a few others seemed far from threatening to me.  Overall, this book was great reading experience, I loved the quality of the writing.

    Rating - 4/5 stars

    Friday, April 13, 2018

    2 short reviews - Trick; Domenico Starnone and Sunburn; Laura Lippman

    Trick; Domenico Starnone
    Europa Editions - 2018

    Since I absolutely loved, Ties, by D. Starnone, I couldn't wait to read his latest book, another terrific read.

    When seventy-five year old Daniele Mallarico is asked to babysit for his 4 year old grandson Mario, he is more than a little reluctant to do so. His daughter Betta and her husband need to attend a 3-day academic conference.  Not only is Daniele recovering from a recent hospital stay but, the babysitting commitment also means returning to his childhood home in Naples, the place of unhappy memories.  
    Daniele is a man who enjoys his solitude and his quiet life in Milan. A one time famous illustrator, he is now working on meeting a deadline to illustrate a ghost story by Henry James, however, not wanting to disappoint his daughter, he agrees to stay with little Mario.

    The 3-day visit proves to have both comical and touching moments. Mario finds ways to distract Daniele from his work, and sometimes these distractions are welcome taking the grandfather's mind off his childhood and other depressing thoughts.

    This was a sweet and moving story about life, ambition, choices made and later life regrets. 

    Rating - 4.5/5 stars

    Sunburn; Laura Lippman
    Harper Collins - William Morrow - 2018

    Polly Costello (not her real name, she has many), is an attractive, bright woman with a somewhat wild and dark past.  She's also a woman on the run.  She's just abandoned her loveless marriage and young daughter Jani, while the family was on a beach vacation in Delaware.  Believe it or not, this is not the worst thing that Polly has ever done.  So, who is Polly and why has she spent much of her adult life on the run?

    Much of the story is told through the POV of Adam Bosk, a stranger Polly hooks up with in a bar/diner in Bellevue, DE. (population, 2,000) while on the run. But, Adam, has his secrets as well, yet an intense relationship begins. Who is Adam and was his meeting Polly more than just coincidence?

    A stand alone novel, tense and dark, had me quickly turning the pages. I loved the strong, cunning, Polly character and, when bad things happened it was hard not to suspect anyone but Polly was involved.  Best categorized as dark noir, this was a very quick, satisfying read.

    Rating - 5/5 stars