Thursday, October 29, 2020

Channel Kindness: Stories of Kindness & Community; Born This Way Foundation Reporters with Lady Gaga


Born This Way Foundation Reporters with Lady Gaga
Feiwel & Friends - 2020

Let's face it, the last year has not been a good one for any of us has it? After all the terrible stories out there in the news, I knew I could use a few stories about unexpected kind deeds done for people who needed a sign of hope, a sign that someone cared about them.

The Born This Way Foundation was founded by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta in an effort to support those who are struggling in this world. The hope is to spread more kindness in a world  that needs this more than ever before. 

This is not a book about Lady Gaga but, I did find her particular story eye opening. I did not know that she was bullied and humiliated during her school years beginning at age 11. She has dealt with depression, anorexia, bulimia, anxiety and even cutting issues as a way to deal with stressful situations she encountered continuing into her 30s.

There are over 50 very short stories of individuals who have faced life changing challenges and have found their voice and the courage to tell their story about how an unexpected random act of kindness made such a big difference in their lives. Some individuals have faced bullying, mental health issues, sexual assault, LBGTQ discrimination and other life altering adverse situations. This book is considered a YA genre and although some of the stories are sad, they are important and also uplifting as well. This is a book to be read in small doses, absorbed and not binge read.  The message, help change someone's life, improve your community, help change the world by one small unexpected kind deed at a time. I'm so happy I came across this one.

Rating - 5/5 stars

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

His Truth is Marching On: John Lewis & the Power of Hope; Jon Meacham

Random House - 2020

His Truth is Marching On, is a beautiful tribute to recently departed Congressman John Lewis.  

John Lewis was a man who at just 25 years of age was nearly beaten to death on "Bloody Sunday" as he marched with others on the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama in the name of justice and equality. Lewis, the great grandson of a slave grew up in Troy, AL. He was the son of a cotton farmer and from an early age his strong Christian faith and non violent principals guided him as a way of life. While attending seminary school in Nashville, TN, in the hopes of becoming a preacher, he was encouraged to join the Civil Rights Movement by John Lawson. Lewis struggled with his own insecurities at times but, he always pushed forward by getting others to organize and fight for what was right, something he called "good trouble."

This book is not a full biography but rather focuses mostly on the turbulent years 1957-1968 leading up to the Civil Rights Movement. His 30+ year career in Congress plays a minor role here.  I though Jon Meacham did a fabulous job showing us what inspired and drove Lewis to become a man of action, a man who deeply believe in equality and justice for all. Even weeks before his death from pancreatic cancer, Lewis  made it a point to attend the Black Lives Matter March in June at Lafayette Park in Washington, DC.

It seems clear that Meacham looks up to Lewis as an American Hero, and, I'm pretty sure that most readers, like me, who read this book will agree. I enjoyed the photos peppered throughout, as well as the afterward which was written by John Lewis. So happy I read this book.

Rating - 5/5 stars

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Nursing Homes Are Murder; Mike Befeler

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read soon.

The week, before our presidential election, I find myself in need of an easy, fun read. My pick is a  book I got at a library sale in 2015 or so.

Five Star Publishing - 2015


"Deep in contemplation over how much longer my eighty-five year old body and soggy mind would last, I sat on the balcony of our Hibiscus Hotel room overlooking The Honolulu Ala Wai Yatch Harbor.  I felt a surge of gratitude that my limbs moved and my organs did what they were supposed to, but I did have this one little problem--overnight my short-term memory disappeared like a mosquito being zapped in one of those electric traps.  Getting old was a pisser, but I counted my blessings to be here in this tropical paradise with my family."

I chuckled at the intro, and thought this just might be my stress-free reading pick of the week. It is actually part of a series, but I'll try it anyways.

Would you read more or pass?

Friday, October 23, 2020

COVID and Libraries - Is your library working for you?

Are you a reader who loves using the library or one who just buys and reads their own books?  Recently Jade, posed a question about libraries in COVID times and, I was curious how this was affecting my blogging friends. If you use your local library, is it open or curbside only and how is this affecting what you've been reading?

Our library belongs to a system along with 148 other libraries in a 60 mile radius. We can select books within that system. This works well especially when our library might not own the particular book I want or, perhaps my library has the print but, I may want the audio version etc. The books then go to a central sorting area from each library and are sorted by the library that requested the books. There is then a delivery van which comes to our library 3x a week delivers those books and picks up books that need to go back to other libraries. With the virus, it takes time to get the books as they quarantine the books for a week when they arrive as well as when books are returned but, I use it all the time. We can put holds on up to 20 books that we want.

My local library (2 miles away) is open 6-days a week now but, you must make an appointment to go inside to browse (45min max). You can take out a max of 50 items: books, movies, audio, magazines etc. They also have curbside pickup - they brown-bag your items with your name and arrange them alphabetically, and you can pick them up during regular hours at the entrance without entering the main library. It has been working out very well. (2) large book drops outside to return items as well. I don't do inside browsing as the curbside has worked out really well.

Right now I have 16 items I'm waiting for (some are for popular new books so I have to wait my turn).
 I also have 4 borrowed books at home: Disloyal; Michael Cohen - The Pull of the Stars; Emma Donoghue and Channel Kindness; Lady Gaga and various authors. - His Truth is Marching On (John Lewis Bio); Jon Meacham

Hope you take a minute to share your library experience.

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Confessions on the 7:45; Lisa Unger

Blackstone Audio - 2020 

When I read that this book this might be similar to Strangers on a Train ,I really wanted to return to Lisa Unger, an author I enjoyed years earlier. For some reason I stopped reading her thrillers but decided it was time to remedy that.

The set up for this thriller one was good, Selena Murphy works in New York city and one day she misses her train home from work so she catches the 7:45 instead.  Sitting next to her is a woman who strikes up a conversation, the woman who says her name is Martha, tells Selena she has been having an affair with her boss. (LOL- who does this with a complete stranger? )  In turn, Selena feels comfortable enough to tell Martha that she suspects her husband Graham, is carrying on with the nanny, Geneva. (She's actually caught them on the nanny cam.) The two say goodbye and Martha tells Selena that perhaps the nanny will disappear.  A few days later Geneva is missing and her car is parked down the street from Selena and Graham's home. When Geneva's sister report's her missing, it isn't long before the police arrive at the Murphy residence with lots of questions.

This book starting out well and engages me but, it quickly became a struggle and did not work out well as an audio. There were far too many characters introduced into the mix, each have a separate story and some even have a story within a story. I struggled to keep it all straight.  To have made this audio book work, I  felt multiple narrators were needed to help distinguish all these individuals. To complicate matters even more, we learn that some characters have changed their names in order to keep up their cons.  I didn't care about any of the characters, even Selena after a while. Perhaps this might be easier in print? Vivienne Leheny narrated this one and she did a fine job but, additional narrators were needed.

Rating - 2.5/5

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

His & Hers; Alice Feeney


His & Hers; Alice Feeney
Flatiron Books/Macmillan Audio - 2020

There are two sides to every story HIS (Detective Jack Harper) and HERS (Anna Andrews, BBC News anchor).  

Anna, is newly single, estranged from her mother and someone who drinks too much. She's also someone with some dark secrets from her past when she was a teen, which are about to come back and haunt her. When Anna is sent to cover a murder story in the quiet village of Blackdown, the victim turns out to be a woman she knew in her past.

Jack is a police detective, also single and also covering the same case. He arrives at the scene and realizes that he knows the victim as well, but, he decides not tell anyone just what he knows. Jack also drinks a bit too much.

When more women with connections to Anna and Jack end up dead, with a signature item tied to each of their tongues, it looks as if a serial killer is out there. Who will the next victim be? Who is lying?

I loved almost everything about this psych thriller. The (2) unreliable narrators alternate the short chapters of this novel. I loved how only bits and pieces of info/clues are revealed throughout the book, allowing the read to speculate what may have happened along the way and in the past.  As the story progresses the web gets larger - who is the killer and what was the motive?  

What I hated SPOILER - cat lovers, like me, will be appalled at what they read on page 247. Why do authors have to spoil books for animal lovers by resorting to animal abuse? It's toward the last 50 or so pages of the book so, I felt I still had to see how this one ended since I was already so invested. However, what would have been a 5 star rating is no more. This was a fast paced page turning thriller that I was able to read in just 2-sittings. Well done except for what I cited previously. I started this book on audio and it is well-done but, the male voice was really creepy, too creepy to listen to before bedtime so I picked up the print edition as well.

a couple quotes that I liked....

"We rarely deserve the lives we lead. We pay for them however we can, be it with money, guilt or regret."

"Silence is my favorite sympathy, I can't think clearly when life gets too loud."

"Some people build invisible walls around themselves in the name of self-observation. Hers was tall, solid and impenetrable."