Friday, May 24, 2019

My Summer Reading Picks for 2019

Every May I can't resist making a list of books that I envision myself reading outdoors: deck, beach, park etc.  Between Memorial Day Weekend and Labor Day (May 24th and September 2nd) these are (10) books that caught my eye - (a few are ARCS that I want to catch up on) I hope I can stick to this list and read them all.  Have you read any of these? Have you decided on any summer books you know you must read?

  1. Restoration Heights; Wil Medearis - A debut novel about a young artist, a missing woman, and the tendrils of wealth and power that link the art scene in Brooklyn to Manhattan’s elite, for fans of Jonathan Lethem and Richard Price
  2. Drawing Home; Jamie Brenner - An unexpected inheritance, a promise broken, and four lives changed forever: discover "the gold standard of summertime escapism" from USA Today bestselling author Jamie Brenner (Elin Hilderbrand).
  3. The Last Resort; Marissa Stapley - The Harmony Resort promises hope for struggling marriages. Run by celebrity power couple Drs. Miles and Grace Markell, the “last resort” offers a chance for partners to repair their relationships in a luxurious setting on the gorgeous Mayan Riviera.
  4. The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted; Robert Hillman - A tender and wise novel about love, family, and forgiveness in 1960s Australia, in which a lonely farmer finds his world turned upside down by a vibrant woman determined to open the first bookstore his town has ever seen--and to leave her haunting memories of the Holocaust far behind.
  5. The Secretary; Renee Knight - A novel of psychological suspense about the intricate power struggle between a prominent female executive and her faithful personal assistant—and its explosive consequences.
  6. If She Wakes; Michael Koryta - "an edgy suspense story...that brilliantly plays on the primal fear of being buried alive."―Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review
  7. Man of the Year; Caroline Louise Walker - Beware the Man of the Year. You may praise him, resent him, even want to be him: but beneath the elegant trappings that define him, danger looms. Caroline Louise Walker’s stunning debut novel, for fans of Herman Koch’s The Dinnerand Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door, delves into the increasingly paranoid mind of a man whose life as the most upstanding of citizens hides a relentlessly dark heart.
  8. The Ditch; Herman Koch - The bracing and inventive new novel of suspicions and secrecy from Herman Koch, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dinner
  9. Summer of 69; Elin Hilderbrand - Four siblings experience the drama, intrigue, and upheaval of a summer when everything changedin New York Timesbestselling author Elin Hilderbrand's first historical novel 
  10. The Turn of the Key; Ruth Ware -“Truly terrifying! Ware perfects her ability to craft atmosphere and sustain tension with each novel.” Kirkus Reviews

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Women in Sunlight; Frances Mayes and Maid; Stephanie Land

AUTHOR:  Frances Mayes
PUB. YEAR: 2018
FORMAT:  - eBook
RATING - 3.5/5

Our book group selection for May, Women in Sunlightis a story about (3) older American women who rent a villa in the Tuscan village of San Rocco for one year. Each woman is trying to figure out the next phase of their life: Camille, 69, gave up her art career for marriage and children; she's now a widow. Susan, 64, adventurous, successful realtor, now a widow as well and Julia, 59, with a cheating spouse and daughter suffering from addiction issues.

Kit Raine is a young American writer, trying to write a biography about her mentor and friend, Margaret Merrill. The arrival of the (3) American women, whose large villa is near hers, finds Kit easily distracted from her writing task as she begins to help the women navigate life in Tuscany.

There was plenty to discuss with this book: female friendships, later life self-realization, plenty of talk of food, wine, art, history, books and tourist attractions.  Several of us, including myself, were not fans of the writing style, it just didn't flow well and was tough to follow at times.  A few of us did not like the Margaret story line and thought it was unnecessary and that the (448 pp) book could have benefited from a good editor.  All of us thought it would be fun to try living like these women did.  Of course, none of the women had money issues and were free to travel and spend money freely however they chose.  It was amazing, almost too perfect, how well things worked out for these women spending a year together even though they really didn't have a long friendship previously. Of course, each of the women ends up pretty much  happier than ever in the end.  If you like armchair travel and want to feel a bit envious in the end, try this book.

AUTHOR:  Stephanie Land
PUBLISHER:  Hachette Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  Pacific Northwest and Montana mostly
FORMAT:  - audio/library
RATING - terrible - 1/5

This memoir and audio book, read by the author, was a huge disappointment to me. The description felt like a big misrepresentation to me:


Evicted meets Nickel and Dimed in Stephanie Land's memoir about working as a maid, a beautiful and gritty exploration of poverty in America. Includes a foreword by Barbara Ehrenreich. 

At 28, Stephanie Land's plans of breaking free from the roots of her hometown in the Pacific Northwest to chase her dreams of attending a university and becoming a writer, were cut short when a summer fling turned into an unexpected pregnancy. She turned to housekeeping to make ends meet, and with a tenacious grip on her dream to provide her daughter the very best life possible, Stephanie worked days and took classes online to earn a college degree, and began to write relentlessly. 

She wrote the true stories that weren't being told: the stories of overworked and underpaid Americans. Of living on food stamps and WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) coupons to eat. Of the government programs that provided her housing, but that doubled as halfway houses. The aloof government employees who called her lucky for receiving assistance while she didn't feel lucky at all. She wrote to remember the fight, to eventually cut through the deep-rooted stigmas of the working poor. 

Maid explores the underbelly of upper-middle class America and the reality of what it's like to be in service to them. "I'd become a nameless ghost," Stephanie writes about her relationship with her clients, many of whom do not know her from any other cleaner, but who she learns plenty about. As she begins to discover more about her clients' lives-their sadness and love, too-she begins to find hope in her own path. 

Her compassionate, unflinching writing as a journalist gives voice to the "servant" worker, and those pursuing the American Dream from below the poverty line. Maid is Stephanie's story, but it's not her alone. It is an inspiring testament to the strength, determination, and ultimate triumph of the human spirit.

The book is nothing like Evicted or Nickeled and Dimed! The author, IMO, the author failed to take responsibility for her life choices. She came across as irresponsible, whiny, and, unappreciative and entitled at times.  When she fell on hard times, she was able to navigate her way around all the services available to her: temporary housing, housing subsidies, food assistance, childcare services and more but still complained about not being able to get organic milk and organic food with her allotments. She uses Go Fund Me for her own benefit, yet when she receives a tax refund instead of trying to plan for the future she buys herself a diamond ring and later finds a way to travel to Europe.  In addition, at times it didn't seem like she had her young daughter's best interest at heart. She takes vacations without her sick daughter, sometimes ended up in abusive situations. When she talks about her jobs as a "maid" she seemed to give cleaning people a bad name. She admits to looking in drawers, medicine cabinets and disparages her clients along the way.

Can't recommend this one!

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

The Girl He Used to Know; Tracey Garvis Graves

AUTHOR:  Tracey Garvis Graves
PUBLISHER:  St. Martin's Press
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  Illinois
FORMAT:  - library print (291pp)
RATING - 4.5/5

Second chance romance stories are not the kind of story that normally appeals to me but, this one was a winner. I sat down, it pulled me in and, I read it in one sitting.

Annika Rose is a quirky young woman who has always struggle to fit in.  It's evident that she is somewhere on the autism spectrum: loud noises, strong smells, uncomfortable clothes, debilitating shyness and social situations are things she finds hard to deal with.  

Annika - "simply preferred the company of animals over most humans, the soulful look in their eyes as they learned to trust me sustained me more than any social situation ever would."

In 1991 Annika attended the University of Illinois and with encouragement from her friend Janice, she decided to join the chess club, something she was good at.  Her father taught her to play at age 7 to help her build confidence and deal with her shyness.  It's there, playing chess, where she meets Jonathan, a kind-hearted guy who patient enough to bring Annika out of her shell.  After college they go their separate ways, he off to NYC with a job on Wall Street and she in her dream job as a librarian at the Harold Washington Library.

Annika - "If there was one thing I loved almost as much as animals, it was books.  Reading transported me to exotic locales, fascinating periods in history and worlds that were vastly different from my own."

Now in 2001 (where the story begins) the two run into each other at a grocery store. She's living the safe, comfortable life as a librarian she wanted and Jonathan is back in Illinois. He was injured in the 9/11 attacks in NYC, now newly divorced and looking for a fresh start.

Even though it's easy to see where this story was headed, it was such an endearing read and I couldn't wait to see it play out. I liked the back and forth backstory from their college days to 2001 when they reconnected.  The first person POV worked well, making it easy feel for Annika, her social struggles and encounters with being teased and bullied. If you are in the mood for a feel-good read, be sure to try this one.

The (2) quotes I shared  reminded me of why I love animals and books so much.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls; Anissa Gray

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 they are reading or that they plan to read. 

Penguin Random House (Berkley) - 2019


"You do a lot of thinking in jail.  Especially when you're locked in the box that's your cell.  Mine is about as big as the walk-in closet I had back at home, but in place of clothes, I've got bunk beds, a stainless-steel sink-and-toilet combo, and a compact, padlocked cabinet.  The cabinet's where you keep you valuables, like family pictures, commissary, and letters, including the one from your daughter that's not addressed to you.  The letter that, truth be told, you just can't bring yourself to read, so you've got it tucked inside the bible that belonged to your dead mother."

Would you pass or keep reading?

Monday, May 20, 2019

Mailbox Monday - New Books

I haven't participated in MM in a long while but I did have new books to share so thought I'd join it. Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.  Here's what arrived over the last (2) weeks by mail.

Are any of these ones that you plan to read?

and a gratuitous Lucy in the Cat bag photo

(she and Ricky turned "1" last week)


Sunday, May 19, 2019

Daisy Jones and the Six; Taylor Jenkins Reid

AUTHOR:  Taylor Jenkins Reid
PUBLISHER:  Random House Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  mostly CA
FORMAT:  - audio (9 hrs)
RATING - 4/5

I'm pleased that I decided on the audio version of this book with its (4) different narrators, which made for some very distinct and enjoyable story telling. This is an interview style driven story and although at times the voices sounded depressed or drugged, it worked well considering the book was about sex, drugs and rock n roll.

Set in the 1970's, a booming time for the music industry, Daisy Jones is just a pretty young teen of 14 who happens to have a voice like Janis Joplin.  Her parents are hippies and not into parenting, as a result, she stays out all night and hooks up with LA's Sunset Strip jet set.  Her dream is to write songs but, with her dynamic voice it isn't long before she is a natural for to Billy and Graham Dunne's band, The Six.  The group is an overnight sensation.  Billy and Daisy marry and have a love/hate relationship fueled by drugs and alcohol.  Their story, much like a train wreck, is hard to turn away from.

Initially, I was playing on passing on this book, but when I read the analogy to: Fleetwood Mac, a group I just loved, I had to try it for myself.  I loved hearing the stories of various group members, so passionate about their music and very much into living for the moment.  The story was a very fun trip to an earlier time when music was everything it seemed.  The music scene is beautifully captured by this author and while some of the characters seemed to recall important events a bit differently, the overall story worked well.  The band split for good in 1979. 

Normal People; Sally Rooney

AUTHOR:  Sally Rooney
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  Ireland
FORMAT:  - eGalley (268pp)
RATING - 4/5

Normal People is a quiet coming of age story which drew me in immediately as it's a story about early relationships and missed opportunities.

Marianne and Connell are both very bright but couldn't be more different, Yet when they meet, something clicks. Marianne's a cold, emotionless teen who comes from a wealthy but dysfunctional family. She's awkward and others her age think she's just plain odd. Connell is handsome and popular, his family is poor and his mother is a cleaning lady for Marianne's family.  One day when he goes to pick his mother up at Marianne's house, they begin to chat and soon become friends and eventually sexual partners.  Fearing he will be teased by his peers if their relationship is found out, he wants them to keep things secret and just between them. She goes along with this, probably because she's used to be mistreated, at least emotionally, by her own family.

The following year both Marianne and Connell end up at Trinity College in Dublin but here their roles seem reversed. Marianne becomes the popular one, a social butterfly and it's Connell who's feeling insecure, shy, depressed and like he doesn't fit it. Although they come in and out of togetherness, they always seem drawn back to each other.

The story is told from both of their POVs and although well written, at times I felt a bit frustrated by the story and the failure by both to communicate what they were feeling.  It reminded me about just how very much we are a product of our upbringing.  I also wish that the author delved more into Marianne's family and why she was treated the way she was growing up.

There are many themes running through this novel: social class differences, relationship dynamics, mental health issues, bullying, young love and more. A deeply drawn story with an overall darker tone. I'm glad I read it and, the more I've thought about this one, the more my opinion changed a bit overall to a slightly more favorable rating.

Friday, May 17, 2019

A Stone for Danny Fisher; Harold Robbins

AUTHOR:  Harold Robbins
PUBLISHER:  Blackstone Audio 
PUB. YEAR: (1952 - original pub) (2007-audio)
FORMAT:  - Audible - almost 16 hours
RATING - 5/5

Set around the Depression era, we meet the central character, Danny Fisher, as a young Jewish boy growing up in Brooklyn.  His father, a pharmacist, has just purchased their first home, which he tells Danny is for him even though Danny has a sister. Danny loves his new house, but he quickly learns that he must learn to be tough. 

Because it's the depression, his family falls on hard times and are forced to leave Danny's beloved home and move to the lower east side to become renters once again.  Danny hates seeing what is happening to his family and must also contend with bullies, racists and violence on the streets of NY.  He learns to box so that he can be tough and, he finds that he is quite good at it as well.  All the while as Danny is trying to find his place in the world, his actions cause problems between him and his family, when in reality he is only trying to make things easier for his mother and father. 

Beautifully written, detailed, and emotional at times, A Stone for Danny Fisher, is a wonderful story about a lost childhood and the consequences of poor life choices. Harold Robbins knew how to write with a eye for detail. The intricate details are never boring, instead they drew me into the story even deeper, making me feel what Danny was feeling at times.  

There are some heavy subjects detailed here: anti semitism, bullies, prostitution, sex, violence and corruption. Not since Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, have I been so moved by a story.  Charles Leggett who narrated this audio book was absolutely outstanding. This is one of the best audio book stories I've ever listen more to and, although the audio is almost 15 hours, we couldn't wait to get back to this story every chance we got. Try it sometime, I'm betting you will enjoy it as well.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

The Wartime Sisters; Lynda Cohen Loigman

AUTHOR:  Lynda Cohen Loigman
PUBLISHER:  St. Martin's Press
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  Brooklyn, NY and Springfield, MA
FORMAT:  - ARC - 290 pp
RATING - 5/5

Normally, I'm not drawn to books that take place around WWII but, I liked this author's debut novel, Two-Family House, so I decided to try this one as well. I'm so happy I did!

Mille and Ruth are Jewish sisters who grew up in Brooklyn, NY, born 3 years apart.  Ruth, the oldest is down to earth, serious and smart, but, Millie, is the attractive one and favored one. As a result the sisters are never very close.  

Millie dreams of greatness, but she's not encouraged and ends up marrying, Lenny, a real bum, and has a son with him.  Ruth, has married a West Point graduate and military officer. They now live a nice life in Springfield, MA.  One day Millie, arrives in Springfield with her young son, claiming to be a war widow, the sisters are reunited their strained relationship and buried secrets keep things tense.

Millie takes a job at the Springfield Armory campus as a "Sister of Production", supporting the war efforts with the production of weapons. While Millie works the production line with some amazing women, each come alive in the story, Ruth works in a clerical position.  

Having grown up in a neighboring town to Springfield, MA, I was fascinated by the historical aspects of the Springfield Armory and how great a job the author did with her research. The details are incredible. It made me feel like I was part of the story.  The references to real places that I frequented growing up like, Johnson's Bookstore, Steiger's tea room and Forbes and Wallace department store, brought back fond memories.  I recalled how my mother and her sisters told stories of their friends who had worked at the Armory, along with some 10,000+ others while the men were off to war.

Although the stores of my childhood are now long gone from the downtown area, replaced by tall office buildings, hotels, a civic center and even a casino, the Springfield Armory Museum, remains a fixture in Springfield as a testament to the importance of this time in history.  

A historic trip down memory lane and a wonderful story of sisters, I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Girl He Used to Know; Tracey Garvis Graves

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 they are reading or that they plan to read. 

The Girl He Used to Know; Tracey Garvis Graves
St. Martin's Press - 2019

August 2001

"I run into him at Dominck's of all places. I'm poking around in the freezer case, searching for the strawberries I put in my morning smoothie, when a man's voice somewhere off to my right says, Annika? He sounds unsure.

From the corner of my eye, I catch a glimpse of his face.  It's been ten years since we've seen each other and though I often struggle to recognize people out of context, there's no need for me to question whether it's him. My body vibrates like the low rumble of a faraway train and I'm grateful for the freezer's cold air as my core temperature shoots up.  I want to bolt, to forget about the strawberries and find the nearest exit.  But Tina's words echo in my head, and I repeat them like a mantra:  Don't run, take responsibility, be yourself."

Read more or would you pass?  (I started this today, it's a page turner.)

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Miracle Creek; Angie Kim

AUTHOR:  Angie Kim
PUBLISHER:  Macmillan AUdio
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  Virginia
FORMAT:  - audio - library download ( 14 hours)
RATING - 4.5/5 

In this debut novel, Korean immigrants Young and Pak Yoo and daughter Mary run an experimental medical treatment device known as, Miracle Submarine. It's a therapeutic, hyperbaric, pressurized oxygen chamber where people with issues like autism and infertility go to seek a miracle cure.

A little lie, a big explosion and two people are dead as a result.  How did it happen? Who is to blame? It seems more than a few may have had some motive. A courtroom drama and ensuing trial unfolds over the course of four days.

Told from the third person POVs of some seven different characters, Miracle Creek is an incredibly gripping courtroom drama and somewhat complicated mystery. It seems everyone who takes the stand at the trial has a secret or is covering up a lie.  If you need likable characters, you won't find them here but, regardless, there is so much to like about book. The writing is so detailed and each character so well explored. Even the dead have a vivid story to be told here.  Definitely one of my better reads of 2019 making this author one for me to follow.

The audio book is read by Jennifer Lim who did a very good job.  I was concerned that the audio might be difficult to follow with so many characters but, each had such a unique story that it was pretty easy to keep them straight. I also wanted to mention how fascinating the author interview was at the end of this debut book.

Henry, Himself; Stewart O'Nan

AUTHOR:  Stewart O'Nan
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  Pittsburg, PA
FORMAT:  - print - library (384 pp)
RATING - 4.5/5

A prequel to Wish You were Here (2007) and Emily Alone (2010), Henry, Himself is a pictorial look at the life of an everyman: Henry Maxwell.

Set in 1998, Henry Maxwell is approaching 75 and 50 years of marriage, just who is Henry Maxwell?  Husband to Emily, father to Margaret and Kenny and a grandfather as well, once an alter boy, military man (WWII) and engineer for Westinghouse thanks to a college degree earned through the GI bill. Once his days were filled with busyness and now it's just Emily and his dog Rufus, but there is so much more to learn about Henry and his life which is slowly revealed in this lovely novel.

With it's short chapters and reflective style, this character driven novel about an ordinary man drew me in and had me eagerly turning the pages.  There isn't any action here to speak of but, trust me that's okay. If you can just relax and go along with the flow it's easy to fall into the flow of this story. I enjoyed the memories of Henry's childhood, his early love, marriage, career and family and summer vacations at a lake in NY.   By the end of this prequel, of what appears will be Henry's last vacation at the lake, I felt like I was part of his family.  Sweet story - read it, but be sure to read the other two books as well - it tells the whole story of the Maxwell family.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros; The Wartime Sisters; Lynda Cohen Loigman

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 they are reading or that they plan to read. 

This one is combo read for me (audio and print) and, although I don't read a lot of historical fiction, so far this story is wonderful.

The Wartime Sisters; Lynda Cohen Loigman
St. Martin's Press - 2019



Brooklyn, New York (1919-1932)

"Ruth was three years old when her sister was born.  Like most first-born children, Ruth assumed her younger sibling would be a miniature version of herself.  She would have straight hair, brown eyes, a soft, gentle voice.  She would love books and numbers, and the two of them would be inseparable.

It didn't take long for Ruth to realize her mistake."

What do you think? Read more or pass?

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Here's to Us; Elin Hilderbrand

AUTHOR:  Elin Hildebrand
PUBLISHER:  Hachette Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2016
SETTING:  Nantucket Island, MA
FORMAT:  - print - library
RATING - 3/5

When celebrity chef Deacon Thorpe dies unexpectedly at his summer cottage, American Paradise on Nantucket Island, his friends, family and former wives gather there to honor his wishes and say goodbye.  The cottage, American Paradise, a bit of a misnomer, as the rundown cottage that hasn't been maintained well over the years.  

Among those gathering are the (3) women who married or were once married to Deacon, an uncomfortable weekend to say the least. There's Laurel, his first wife and childhood love and, the most down to earth of the women.  Belinda, the Hollywood actress Deacon left Laurel for and, Scarlett, the southern belle and former nanny of Belinda and Deacon's adopted daughter. Also in attendance are his adult children who are grappling with their own issues and Buck, Deacon's best friend and executor. Buck's job is to break the news that Deacon died heavily in debt and instead of any inheritance some might have planned on, there's a mound of debt and multiple mortgages left to be dealt with. 

This wasn't a favorite Hilderbrand book. I thought it felt choppy at times and suffered from too many characters to keep straight as well. This was especially tough on audio as the chapters alternated with varying POV's from the primary characters and a few more ancillary ones as well.  I was surprised that at times I felt sad for Deacon, especially after learning about his childhood.  The best part of this novel, as is often the case with a Hilderbrand book, was the setting. Nantucket Island is a gorgeous place, that always seems to feel like such a welcome and important part of each story. The author always manages to capture the feel of the island so well in all of her books.  I can't recommend this audio but, it won't deter me from trying some others that I've missed.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

The River; Peter Heller

AUTHOR:  Peter Heller
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  Canada
FORMAT:  - print - library
RATING - 4.5/5

 Wynn, from Vermont and Jack, from Colorado are friends who met at Dartmouth. Both share a love of fishing, sleeping under the stars and books.  The two decided to canoe the Maskwa River in Canada, doing what they love.  However, instead of the relaxing time filled with peace and tranquility they imagined, the two face unexpected dangers and find themselves fighting for their own survival.

I'm not a lover of the great outdoors (except the beach) and I give a big "no thanks" to hiking and camping as well, but, I must say I really loved this story.  It definitely helped me to understand the appeal that draws some to this type of adventure.

The author is incredible - the story starts our very slow with all kinds of beautiful details about nature, it's sights and sounds. There is peace, serenity and beauty to be found all around; I felt a part of the landscape.  He then gradually builds the tension as the two friends put themselves in a bad situation and are faced with new danger and a fight to survive.  There is much to love about this book of friendship, the great outdoors and survival.  Outdoor lover or not, give this one a try.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Nanaville: Adventures in Grandparenting; Anna Quindlen

AUTHOR:  Anna Quindlen
PUBLISHER:  Random House
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  n/a - (NYC mentioned)
FORMAT:  - eGalley
RATING - 4.5/5

In Nanaville, Anna Quindlen perfectly hits the nail on the head when she relates her personal experiences of being a first-time grandparent in her early 60's, when her son and wife welcomed, their first child, little Arthur, into the world.  Here are some of the thought provoking passages which resonated with me. I'm not a "Nana" but, I have been a Grammy" for these last 7 years:


Nanaville is "a place I wound up inhabiting without ever knowing it was what I wanted, needed or was working toward." Your children, by having children, make you a grandparent: that fate is not in your hands. But the choice of what kind of grandparent to be is.

It's a complicated relationship, being a good grandparent, because it hinges on a series of other relationships. It's and odd combination of being very experienced and totally green.  I know how to raise a child, but I need to learn how to help my child raise his own.  Where I once commanded, now I need to ask permission.  Where I once led, I have to learn to follow.  For years I had strong opinions for a living. Now I need to wait until I'm asked for them, and modulate them most of the time

Most of us entered the parental enterprise with one of two impulses: to be much like our own mother or father as possible or to be unlike them in every conceivable way...

All I know is: The hand. The little hand that takes yours, small and soft as feathers. I'm happy our grandson does not yet have a sophisticated language or a working knowledge of personal finance, because if he took my hand and said, "Nana, could you sign your 401(k) over to me?" I can imagine myself thinking, well, I don't really need a retirement fund, do I?

Nana judgment must be employed judiciously, and exercised carefully.  Be warned:  those who make their opinions sound like the Ten Commandments see their grandchildren only on major holidays and in photographs.

Families are crucibles of so much that shapes and steers and, sometimes, damages us.  It's odd when you look at animals and realize that once puppies have been weaned and have grown, their mother doesn't seem to recognize any trace relationship with them.  That's not true of humans for good and for ill....

Beautifully written and not overly sentimental, this short 172 book is delightful.  Grab a copy for a Mother's Day gift for the special grandmother in your life.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros; ~ A Stone for Danny Fisher; Harold Robbins

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 they are reading or that they plan to read.  This one is a book my husband and I started listening to on a road trip last week. He had read the book 40+ years ago and loved it so we decided to try the audio. What do you think?

A Stone for Danny Fisher; Harold Robbins
(originally published in 1952 - Blackstone Audio 2009

"There are many ways to get to Mount Zion Cemetery. You can go by automobile, through the many beautiful parkways of Long Island, or by subway, bus or trolley. There are many ways to get to Mount Zion Cemetery, but during this week there is no way that is not crushed and crowded with people.

Why should this be so? you ask,  for in the full flush of life there is something frightening about about going to a cemetery -- except at certain times. But this week, the week before the High Holy Days, is one of those times. For this is the week that Lord God Jehovah calls His angels about Him and opens before them the Book of Life. And your name is inscribed on one of these pages. Written on that page will be your fate for the coming year.

For these six says the book will remain open and you will have the opportunity to prove that you are deserving of His kindness. During these six days you devote yourself to acts of charity and devotion. One of these acts is the annual visit to the dead.

And to make sure that your visit to the departed will be noted ad the proper credit given, you will pick up a small stone from the earth beneath your feet and place it on the monument so the Recording Angel will see it when he comes through the cemetery each night."

Curious? The audio is long (we are about 1/2 way through) but it's quite addictive.

Monday, April 29, 2019

April Books in Review

April was a very good reading month for me.  I read (15) books and posted short reviews for them as well. I was pretty happy that I got to a good number of newer books sent to me for review. (49 books YTD.

I did give up on, 3 books early on, chocking these up to my DNF list for 2019:

 - NOSA42; Joe Hill (April) - animal cruelty

 - The Hunting Game; Helene Tursten (April) animal cruelty
 - The Italian Wife; Ann Hood (April) just boring

 In April my armchair travels took me to some of the same countries it seemed: Germany, England, and a few new ones too: Amalfi Coast and Scottish Highlands. I also traveled to California, New York and Florida within the US.

I liked most of what I read but if I had to pick just (1) fiction and (1) NF it would be these:

What I Read

  1. A Bite in the Apple; Chrisann Brennan - 3.5/5 (print-library-April)
  2. Alias Grace; Margaret Atwood - 4/5 - (audio-library- April)
  3. My Life in a Cat House: True Tales of Love, Laughter & Living with Five Felines; Gwen Cooper - NF - 4.5/5 (my shelves-print-April)
  4. Mr. Posey's New Glasses; Ted Kooser and Daniel Duncan (4.5/5) (my shelves-April)
  5.  Hello, I'm Here; Helen Frost and Rick Lieder - 5/5) (my shelves-April)
  6.  A Green Place to Be: The Creation of Central Park; Ashley Benham Yazdani - 5/5) (my shelves-April)
  7.  Princess Cora and the Crocodile; Laura Amy Schiltz and Brian Floca - 4.5/5) (my shelves-April)
  8. I Want My Hat Back; Jon Klassen - 1/5) (my shelves-April)
  9. The Other Woman; Sandie Jones - 3.5/5 (audio - library April)
  10. Wingspan; Chris Bohjalian - 4/5 (eGalley-April)
  11. A Ladder to the Sky; John Boyne - 4.5/5 (ARC-April)
  12. The Club; Takis Wurger - 4/5 (ARC-April)
  13. The Hunting Party; Lucy Foley - 3/5 (audio-April)
  14. Inheritance: a memoir; Dani Shapiro - 4/5 (library-April)
  15. The Immortalist; Chloe Benjamin - 4/5 - book group (my shelves-April)

Fiction - 12 (5 were kids books) NF - 3 - DNF - 3

Audios -  3
eBooks  - 1
print     - 11
ARCS/Review Books - 8
audio/eBook Combos - 1
Borrowed from Library - 5
Off my physical Shelves - 9
May Plans
(so far)
Hope everyone had a great month!