Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Thanksgiving COVID edition and 2 Disappointing new releases

 


I'm trying to stay positive this Thanksgiving, it's always been my favorite holiday. I love that it's all about being with loved ones and not about gifts. I am thinking about all the things and people I am grateful to have in my life.  I've hosted Thanksgiving almost every year since my first marriage back in 1972.  There were a few years when the kids were young (the years right after my parents died) that they spent the holiday with their dad and their step-mother but, for the most part I've always cooked and enjoyed doing so. This year it will just be the 2 of us, and I'm okay with that. What I'm honestly going to miss the most is celebrating my son's birthday with the family (#43) as we've done every year. He was born on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, so his day has always been close enough to be cause to celebrate at Thanksgiving.  I'm still cooking a traditional turkey with all the sides but, this year just (2) purchased desserts instead of homemade.  On a positive note, I can relax more, stress less and just have it all ready when I'm ready and not at a particular time coordinated by what works for everyone.  I don't mind the cooking or the clean up and we love having the leftovers.  I look forward to a 2021 family celebration when it is safer for everyone to gather.

What does your day look like for Thanksgiving?  Will it be different?


RECENT READS  - I read (2) recent releases that I was very disappointed in (1) fiction and (1) NF/Memoir - Have you read these?

Troubles in Paradise; Elin Hilderbrand
Little Brown - 2020

This was book, #3, the conclusion of the Winter in Paradise series was quite disappointing. It begins with an overview of the highlights of the earlier 2 installments which I really enjoyed. 

Irene Steele's husband Russell had been living a double life in St. Johns in the Virgin Island.  While Iowa City Irene thought he was traveling for business he was living a separate life in a 15 million dollar villa along with his mistress Rosie and their daughter.  It is only when Russell, Rosie and the helicopter pilot are killed in a crash that the years of deceit are revealed.  Irene and the couple's grown sons head to St. John to deal with the aftermath.

In this final installment, it seems Russell may have also been involved in some illegal activity and perhaps his death wasn't an accident at all. The FBI arrive to seize the villa and all property while more details are obtained and everything is sorted out.  Meanwhile, hurricane Irma  prepares to wreck havoc with the island.

I thought this final installment lacked substance and was nothing more than fillers, it's not a short novel either and felt rushed. There are a lot of characters in this novel, many of which I wasn't interested in. Irene is also involved with a man named Huck, who was married to Rosie, the woman killed along with Russell.  Many of the minor characters, Irenes sons and a few others, are shallow or immature and unmemorable as well.  Had this been book #1 of the series, I would have never continued. I admit to flipping pages after the first half to see how the story played out.

Rating - 2/5 stars

                                               Greenlights: a memoir; Matthew McConaughey

Random House Audio - 2020

I was so looking forward to this memoir, I think McConaughey is a great actor, with over 30 movies in just over 20 years.  Married with 3 children, he only married his Brazilian American wife after she became pregnant with their third child.  McConaughey grew up in a dysfunctional family, the youngest of 3 sons.  His parents married each other 3x and divorced twice.  There were often vicious battles between the couple yet McConaughey seemed to love both parents and, he seemed to seek his father's approval - at least it was evident when he told him he wanted to give up law school for film school. 

McConaughey kept journals from an early age, his memoir is reflective of some of those events.  The flow of this memoir was off-putting for me, it was read by McConaughey and honestly, it felt more like an acting gig.  He uses lots of vulgarities and his thoughts seem to ramble at times.  I also found it hard to believe some of the escapes he writes about. His Foundation: "Just Keep Livin" benefits at risk high school students.  

Rating - 2/5 stars







40 comments:

  1. It's going to be a quiet Thanksgiving here, too, with just us and one grandson in attendance. My daughter wants the three of us to "Zoom" over to their house so she can hold up her iPad view of us for the annual family portrait that my other daughter always takes right after we eat. That will be interesting.

    I listened to a sample of the McConaughey memoir and got the same impression. He was so overly dramatic in his reading that I almost laughed out loud at the wrong moments. I don't think I could get through the audiobook at all, and I've been wondering about a printed version...not so much now, though.

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    1. Sam, Hope you have a nice day; the Zoom option is a nice touch.

      I think I would have preferred the print version of Greenlights but, my rating would still have only been slightly higher.

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  2. Do you see any of your kids/grandkids in person? Has it been a long time or only recently are you staying apart? RI seems to be very hard hit during this damn virus.
    I liked hearing about your previous Thanksgivings. I wish you a happy, though different one!

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    1. Now that it's gotten cooler I only see the kids briefly now and then outdoor. My son, DIL and granddaughter were in quarantine for 14 days as a girl in E's class tested positive for virus. Their tests were negative thankfully.

      I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving as well.

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    2. Glad all okay, but so scary.

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  3. Yes, our Thanksgiving will sure be different too. Those books sure have a huge disappointment factor!

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    1. Have a Happy Day - don't eat too much turkey or cat food LOL

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  4. Hey Diane -- hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving -- even though it's just the two of you -- we can all look forward to family get-togethers next year. In Canada we already had Thanksgiving in October but we might cook a turkey for the wknd. Thx for the reviews. Does McConaughy talk about his film roles? And which was his favorite?

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    1. I forgot you were in Canada, turkey is good anytime LOL

      McConaughey hated that he was type-cast for romantic comedies and turned down all offers for a while until they could tell he was serious. His first drama was Lincoln Lawyer, He had to lose 50lbs for Dallas Buyer Club as his character had AIDs. I don't recall whether he mentioned his favorite.

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  5. I hope you enjoy your Thanksgiving though I have no idea what it celebrates. I can only presume from the word itself! but I must read up about it because it seems to be a very important festival. Sans family now sadly. The isolation is now biting hard here as well. With Christmas approaching I am beginning to feel slightly miserable.

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    1. Mystica, yes, Christmas will be another rather depressing event most likely. I'll especially miss having the family here once again. We must make the best of it and celebrate later when it's safe.

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  6. Oh dear, no one there for the holiday and two books that only rated a "2." I hope your day is a lovely one even though it's only the two of you. The 4 of us are home, but it won't be a typical Thanksgiving day really since 2 of us are vegetarian, one is recovering from surgery, and ... it just feels different.

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    1. Helen, I think today will be different for many of us. enjoy

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  7. Happy Thanksgiving! A quiet one here, but still so much for which to be grateful.

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  8. Happy Thanksgiving, Diane. I hope your upcoming reads are better!

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  9. I've been a fan of his for years so I bought the audio of Greenlight was veryy much enjoying learning about his childhood, family & life. Then...he started telling about "private" things he did and I let the first one go hoping there were no more TMI's like that. But there was another one, and I stopped listening. I don't understand why he would add that to his book! Did he think readers would like that. I know I didn't, and the women I know wouldn't. It was just unnecessary! Not so much of a fan of his anymore.

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    1. Vicki, I know what you mean and, writers should know that they should want to appeal to all kinds of readers/listeners and not turn off fans. It's happened to me on more than one occasion.

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  10. I think the holidays this year will be so different to what we are used (we don't celebrate Thanksgiving here in the UK, but there is lots of Christmas talk at the moment) and it definitely hurts a little, but it is important to remember that this is (fingers crossed) just for a brief time and to try and make the best of it... I hope you were able to enjoy your Thanksgiving just the two of you.

    Sorry to hear your recent reads were duds - I hope whatever you pick up next captivates you!

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    1. Jade, there are parts of this new normal I enjoy but, I miss my kids and grandchildren and dining out with friends. As a senior I think this has been one year of my life I'll never get back :(

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  11. Yes, our Thanksgiving was quite different. It took place on Zoom with most of us cooking and showing what we were making, lots of kids showing off as if they were on TV. It was fun actually. I too have a Thanksgiving kid, born the day before and he just turned 50! Even though we thought we had made a sensible meal for two I woke up this morning two pounds heavier!

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    1. I usually gain 5lbs between Halloween and New Years but this year has been so different that I haven't seen any change YET!!!

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  12. I haven't read either book, although I have read some of Hilderbrand's work and enjoyed what I've read. I probably won't read the memoir as I seldom do read memoirs. Our Thanksgiving was quieter this year but we were still thankful.

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  13. We usually have a big crowd, this year like you- it was just the two of us. While I missed spending the day with the big crowd, it was wonderful to spend the day in my jammies, watching the parade and just enjoying the food I made.

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    1. That's what I liked Elisabeth - not rushing and not primping. LOL

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  14. I hope you had a very nice Thanksgiving even if you weren't able to have all of your loved ones near you. These are definitely such strange times.

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    1. Sure has been a different kind of year - we will all be happy to say goodbye to 2020.

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  15. Ours was just us and the holiday is so different this year for so many. It's sad. I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful. We had the usual foods too and it was nice. It is nice to be able to just relax and of course the leftovers are always good too. :)

    Be well this week!

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    1. pluses and minuses of being just the 2 of us. Less prep work and relax a bit more too which is nice.

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  16. It was a different Thanksgiving this year, wasn't it? I probably would have done a turkey with all the fixings for my husband and my mom, but we didn't know when my hubby would be discharged from the hospital (or for that matter, if he would even feel like eating a regular meal). So, grilled pork tenderloin, risotto and zucchini was our planned meal and it tasted just as good as that huge traditional meal. Otherwise, we had a very quiet day, chatting with family on Zoom or the old-fashioned telephone. Still, we missed seeing friends and family, but there's always 2021. Now to decorate for Christmas!

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    1. That sounds like a nice meal Les. My daughter cooked a rib roast and made stuffing to have as one of the Thanksgiving-like sides LOL

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  17. Diane, we had a smaller Thanksgiving with family than usual, wore our masks when we weren't eating, and social distanced.

    Thank you for your honest reviews! I hope the next books you read or listen to will be more to your liking.

    Have a good week ahead!

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    1. I'm glad you had a nice Thanksgiving and managed to stay safe as well.

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  18. It was just three of us for Thanksgiving this year (the two of us, plus one daughter who lives with us) as opposed to the normal nearly 30! Very different, but I still made a traditional meal and connected via zoom with far away family. I put Hilderbrand's second book of the series aside at the 40% mark last week... guess I won't bother with the third either.

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  19. WOW a huge change for you JoAnn. Our day was fine, but, I did feel a little sad until we watched ELF :)

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  20. Thanksgiving was so weird for us even though we still managed to have the four of us together. My son never tells me when he is coming. He likes to surprise us. He did tell us he WAS coming but just not when. So on Wednesday night I was like, are you coming or not? He said he would arrive Thursday morning. I was irked. But then he walked through the door. Our pup gave it away because she immediately knew it was him. So that was nice. But then all Thanksgiving day we had horrible winds so Edison kept texting me telling me the power was about to go down. How does one cook a meal when the power goes off? It never did for us but the threat of it made me nuts. We watched movies and had a nice meal, one which did not appeal to me at all by the time I sat down and then my son loaded up his car with half of his bedroom furniture and went back! He has a new rental for next term and so he needed more furniture but now his room here is pretty sparse. He was like, well, I probably won't be living there again. Sigh. So the I was sad with that comment and my daughter telling me she won't be here next year either. Ack! Hold me.

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