Hope everyone who celebrated Christmas had a wonderful day. We had an inch of the snow of Christmas Eve which looked so pretty and then freezing rain came on Christmas to crust over the snow. Fortunately, the kids, spouses and granddaughters were able to come for dinner and presents. It was a beautiful day for us and it felt much more relaxed for me in the meal preparation department compared to all the side dishes and prep involved at Thanksgiving. I kept it simple: fruit plate, chicken parmesan, pasta, salad, rolls, pistachio cake and (4) different kinds of Christmas cookies (we are a dessert family.) Note to self: make fewer cookies next year. Yes, I overcooked and all went home with a care package. Everyone loved their gifts - all is good.
We all seemed healthy - time will tell - everyone was fully vaccinated, including the girls and all adults boosted as well.
Reading - I finished what will be my last (3) books of 2021 (quick reviews below). I started Winter Solstice, Rosamunde Pilcher but, I am not enjoying the audio version so I stopped listening and ordered a print copy to arrive during the week. This week I hope to work on 2021 stats and favorite reads of 2021....stay tuned.
Do you have in New Years Eve plans? We had early dinner plans at a nice restaurant but, we most likely will cancel with the raging virus once again.
Matrix; Lauren Groff
Penguin Audio - 2021
8 hours 51 min. - Adjoa Andoh - narrator _excellent
(audio download provided at no charge by the published)
The setting for this historical fiction story is a 12th century rundown abbey in England. It's a feminist novel that is all about women, sisterhood and the power of friendship and community and there's a bit of sex among women as well.
Marie is the illegitimate daughter of the royal court. At 17, she is tall skinny and unattractive and, she is deemed "not marriage material" by Queen Eleanor, who Marie deeply loves. She is sent away to an impoverished abbey and, the work that needs to be done there is almost insurmountable. Marie, although not all that religious is devoted, smart, strong and industrious but, don't cross her as she can be mean as well.
Initially, I thought this book might not be for me but, because I've had good luck with the author in the past, I decided to give it a try. I was very happy I did. If you are into audio books, I highly recommend the audio read by: Adjoa Andoh, a new narrator to me. She made this book feel like a theatrical performance at times by giving each character a distinct voice.
I loved the way the women banded together to get things done whether it be farming, baking, building, weaving and even writing. A group of engaged, committed women shut off from the outside world building a life and making things better. This feminist historical book is worth reading is you like historical fiction at its finest and a character driven story. Rating - 4.5/5 stars
My One Square Inch of Alaska; Sharon Short
Plume Books - 2013
(print edition - my shelves)
Donna Lane has a lot on her plate; she's about to graduate high school but, she's also a mother figure to her younger brother Will. Their mother took off when they were young and their father drinks a bit too much. Donna has dreams of her own but, it's her brother she is most concerned with.
Brother Will is obsessed with collecting enough cereal box tops for a chance to win a contest - "one square inch of Alaska." Will is also obsessed with protecting and giving a better life to a neglected, mute, Siberian Husky that lives nearby. When Will is diagnosed with childhood leukemia - (it's the 1950's-60s) and recovery is not looking very good for Will, Donna is determined to make her brother's dream come true.
This book sat on my shelves far too long and I'm so happy that I finally got to read it. It's a story that started slightly slow and at times seemed geared more to the YA genre but, oh my did it ever stir up many emotions as I read - such a good story - worth reading. Rating - 4/5 stars
Reckless Girls; Rachel Hawkins
Macmillan Audio - January - 2022
7 hours - 43 min - Barrie Kreinik - Narrator - very good
(Audio download provided at no charge by publisher and NetGalley)
Lux and Nico are a young couple in need of a change after an unfulfilling job and personal tragedy. The two find what seems like the perfect opportunity to get away and change things up. The couple is hired to sail two friends Brittney and Amma to the remote island of Meroe in the South Pacific. Expecting to be there alone they are surprised to find another boat there as well. Soon (4) becomes (6) as Jake and Eliza, who appear to be not only wealthy but quite interesting and welcoming as well. Before long the reality of their isolation sets in as does a feeling of desperation. Soon (6) become (4) and the reader is left wondering who to trust and whether there is someone else lurking in the remote jungle?
This was one of those thrillers that started out slow and I began to think this might not be for me. Barrie Kreinik is a great narrator though so I persisted. Soon as we begin to get insight into each character's secrets and past the story became more interesting. I began to get the feeling that one or more of the players could not be trusted. I loved the remote island setting. The story of told from the POV of Lux in the present and flashbacks to the past of all of the characters as well. The short chapters and the way the story was told held my interest once it got going. My suspicions proved correct yet I still wondered a bit about motivation when all was said and done. Rating - 3.5/5 stars