Wednesday, July 21, 2021

111- 2021 - That Summer; Jennifer Weiner


TITLE/AUTHOR: That Summer; Jennifer Weiner

PUBLISHER:   Simon & Schuster  Audio


GENRE: Fiction / Contemporary / Women / Family

FORMAT: audio download LENGTH: 13 hours 21 min.

SOURCE:  Publisher / audio download

SETTING(s):  Cape Cod, MA and PA

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A story of two women who seem to have little in common except for a secret from the past.

BRIEF REVIEW:  When I began listening to this book, the prologue introduces us to 15 year old Diana, a young girl with her first job as a nanny and spending the summer on Cape Cod with the family she would be helping out.  It seems like the perfect summer for a young girl, away from home, meeting other teens her age and a first boyfriend named Poe.

The story soon after shifts to the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA to a woman named Daisy, wife to Hal a corporate lawyer and stay at home mother to teen Beatrice and a cooking business and volunteer work which also keeps her busy.  Daisy, however,  is clearly unsatisfied with her life and over-dependent on her husband.  When she starts receiving misdirected emails for a woman named Diana (their emails are different by one character) she's intrigued by what seems to be the glamorous life and corporate job of the mysterious Diana Starling.  Eventually an apology for the mixup leads to a meet up of the two women leading to a friendship.  The whole setup is not accidental.  What is Dianas real motive in getting close to Daisy?  

This story was not at all what I was expecting to be -  a light summer read. I actually thought the overview was a bit misleading for readers looking for something light. Readers need to know that there was a rape that took place and there is some explicit sex as well in case readers would prefer to avoid this in their fiction. That being said, this book left me disappointed. It wasn't the idyllic summer to remember story I was looking for; there was too much of the #metoo aspect to this novel. The story felt overly long and needed a bit of editing IMO. The saving grace in this one for me was daughter Beatrice who was difficult at times but, she provided a nice diversion from Diana and Daisy who were both a bit annoying in different ways.  Initially my review rating was a bit higher but, the more time passed and I thought about the story the more disappointed I was.

RATING:  2.5/5

The audiobook was a free download provided by Simon & Schuster Audio in exchange for my unbiased review. I did think the audio narration that was read by Sutton Foster was good.

Tuesday, July 20, 2021

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Dead By Dawn; Paul Doiron


Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book Reviews
Each week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book we are reading or plan to read.  This week I selected a mystery that was just released last month.

                                                                Dead By Dawn; Paul Doiron
                                                                   Minotaur Books - 2021


The hill is steep here, and there is no guardrail above the river. I think I am being careful, keeping a light touch on the wheel, feathering the brakes. But then I come around the curve and see the spiked objects scattered across the asphalt in my headlights.  They look like barbaric versions of children's jacks. Or medieval caltrops laid on battlefields to maim horses--that these hunks of metal have been welded from box nails and placed here for the malign purpose of blowing out automobile tires.

The front wheels of the Jeep run over the first of them before I can react, and the sound is like two muskets being fired in tandem. The wolf dog in his enormous crate in the rear lets loose a strangled yelp. And now the back tires are bursting, too, and the steering wheel tugs one way, then the other, and when I pump the brake pedal nothing happens because I'm going too fast. I am over the edge before I can exhale.

What do you think, read more or pass?   This is book #12 of the mystery series featuring Mike Bowditch, a Maine Game Warden.  I've read only a few of the books in this series and enjoyed them a lot. What I liked was you really don't need to read the series in order to enjoy the stories.

Monday, July 19, 2021

110 - 2021 - Hairpin Bridge; Taylor Adams


TITLE/AUTHOR: Hairpin Bridge; Taylor Adams

PUBLISHER:   Harper Audio


GENRE: Fiction / Crime Thriller

FORMAT: audio download LENGTH: 9 hours 51 min.

SOURCE:  Library / audio download

SETTING(s):  Montana

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A suspicious death, ruled as a suicide has her identical twin sister wanting to know more about her final day.

BRIEF REVIEW:  Cambry and Lena Nguyen were identical twin sisters. Although the sisters were estranged, when Lena learns that her 24 year old twin committed suicide, 60-miles outside of Missoula, Montana, three months earlier while driving cross country, Lena finds it hard to believe. Determined to find out more Lena travels from Seattle to Montana to ask questions. She learns that her dead sister attempted to make 16 calls to 911 and also tried to send a mysterious text about the cop who found her body below the now closed "Hairpin Bridge."  Lena believes the cop, Raymond Raycavic, is somehow involved and has something to hide as it appears he stopped Cambry on the very day she supposedly committed suicide by jumping from the bridge.  As Lena begins to ask questions while speaking to Raycevic, she finds that he initially seems willing to help yet something definitely seems off as well.  Was it suicide or was something more sinister at play here?

I read the author's previous book "No Exit" and enjoyed the fast pace and hair-raising moments, even though parts of that one were a little far-fetched, so I was pretty sure this would be a thrilling read for me.  This one definitely seemed darker, grittier and even gory in parts compared to "No Exit" but, I enjoyed the cat and mouse feel to the story.  Told from the third person POV, as well as from blog entries by Lena as well as excerpts from a book she is writing, we learn of Lena's time in Montana and also what happened on the final day of her twin sister's life.  This is one of those stories that isn't perfect but it certainly was one that is hard to put down once you begin.

RATING:  4/5

The audiobook was a free download from my library. It was read by LuluLam and Sophie Amoss who did a good job.

Sunday, July 18, 2021

109 - 2021 - Such a Quiet Place; Megan Miranda


TITLE/AUTHORSuch a Quiet Place; Megan Miranda

PUBLISHER:   Simon & Schuster Audio


GENRE: Fiction / Thriller

FORMAT: audio download LENGTH: 9 hours 33 min.

SOURCE:  Publisher / audio download

SETTING(s):  Hollows Edge (a lakeside college community)

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A puzzling neighborhood murder and the release of the convicted individual puts a once peaceful neighborhood on edge.

BRIEF REVIEW:  Hollows Edge was once a peaceful, lakeside college community of just 10 homes, a homeowner's association with community pool. It was a place where neighbors were once civil toward others. Then Brandon and Fiona Truett were found dead and Ruby Fletcher, the 25 year old tenant of resident Harper Nash was convicted of their murders based on security clips and testimony of residents.  Now Ruby's conviction has been overturned after serving just 14 months and she's wrangled her way back into Harper's home, determined to find out who really killed the Truetts.

Naturally Harper, a quiet, non confrontational type, is not happy having Ruby in her home and, the neighbors, especially Charlotte, who heads the HOA is up in arms. She pressures Harper to get Ruby to move out but, Ruby's strength in is manipulating people and she's determined to find the killer.  Of course there are quite a few unlikeable characters and several residents who worked at the local college who knew the decreased resulting in several suspects to these crimes.

The story takes place over eleven days in the summer around the 4th of July.  It is a time when residents gathered and generally celebrated but that is not the case this year as people are pitted against each other and everyone seems to be pointing fingers. I loved the setting and although the story had a slow start, I found myself engaged and suspicious of a few characters - anxious to find out more. Ruby and Charlotte were easy to dislike and I wanted to shake Harper at times as well. I felt that the story lacked the thriller aspect I had hoped for and the twist at the end felt like a bit of a let-down to me.  Overall, it's a bit of a slow burn and it left me wanting more.

RATING:  3.5/5

Thanks go to Simon & Schuster for allowing me access to this audiobook in exchange for my unbiased review. The audiobook was read by Rebekkah Ross who did an okay job.

Saturday, July 17, 2021

The Week in Review and a few new book additions


I've been pretty inconsistent with these weekly posts but had a little more free time today so I thought I'd write up a post. It's been another hot and humid week with lots of brief thunderstorms and more rain. We've had 6-8" over the last 2 weeks and are very grateful for our dry basement.  The ground is saturated and like a sponge when you step on it.  I feel terrible for people who booked beach cottages in New England this week and paid 3x what they went for pre-COVID. It certainly hasn't been relaxing on the beach weather.

Monday I saw an orthopedic doctor for knee pain (right knee had been pretty good for over a year after last year's cortisone shot) but, this year it was the other knee. X-rays show pretty much bone on bone on right knee and just slightly better on the left knee that's been swelling and painful lately. I got another injection and leg strengthening exercises to do daily.  He said I'm not ready for surgery but at some point it might be necessary.

Do you have painful arthritis? My friend's brother who is a retired cardiologist recommends this recipe for arthritis pain relief.  She tried it and said she felt a little weird in the morning but was pain free after the first week????  I'm planning on buying the gin and the golden raisins today. 

Article and origins of the remedy

Gin-Soaked Raisins

Follow these steps:

  1. Place a box of golden raisins into a shallow container.
  2. Cover the raisins with gin.
  3. Let the raisins soak in the gin for a few weeks until the gin evaporates. The raisins will not dry out but will stay moist just like normal raisins.
  4. Eat nine of these "drunken raisins" a day to help your arthritis.

Happy stuff - a few weeks ago we celebrated my youngest granddaughter's 7th birthday. It was fun to all get together but since the weather didn't cooperated it was an indoors event. Where did all those years go?

a post birthday Build a Bear Unicorn visit

                                                               My other granddaughters
                                                                (sisters are now 7 and 9)

This week we checked out a gorgeous new public new 7 million dollar library in a tiny town of 5,000 people about 25 miles from here (their other library building was tiny and over 100 years old. ) This modern library is so gorgeous with so much technology perks, many separate meeting rooms, private glassed in rooms for teens, children and even a glassed in play room for younger kiddos.  Spent some time making a 100-piece puzzle then only to learn about 6 pieces were missing - why donate a puzzle with missing pieces?  Fortunately they removed it from collection to avoid future disappointment for someone. We had to whole library to ourselves for browsing except for one other mom and a small child.  Since we can borrow books from any library in the system, I came home with these books:

                                                             Unsettled Ground; Claire Fuller

                                                       Who is Maud Dixson? Alexandra Andrews

Have you read any of these?  I started The Guncle, Steven Rowley and it's been a very sweet story thus far.

This week I finished (3) books but have only reviewed one so far.


Currently Reading/Listing

New eGalley Acquisitions

                                                                 Stolen Hours; Allen Eskens

                                                                 (Mulholland Books - 9/2021)

                                                               Trust; Domenico Starnone
                                                                Europa - October - 2021

                                                  Velvet Was the Night; Silvia Moreno-Garcia

                                                                  Del Rey - August 2021

That's it for this week - hope it was a good one for all of you.

                                                                         a little cat humor

Friday, July 16, 2021

108 - 2021 - Malibu Rising; Taylor Jenkins Reid


TITLE/AUTHORMalibu Rising; Taylor Jenkins Reid

PUBLISHER:   Random House Audio


GENRE: Fiction / Family Saga

FORMAT: audio download LENGTH: 11 hours 5 min.

SOURCE:  Publisher / audio download

SETTING(s):  Malibu, CA

ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  An epic party to celebrate the end of summer changes the lives of many.

BRIEF REVIEW:  Malibu Rising tells the story of the four Riva siblings: Nina, Jay, Hud and Kit and their parents June and Mick.  Mick was a famous singer who fell in love with June, the daughter of The Costas who owned fish & chips joint in town in 1956.  Through flashbacks we learn much about their rocky relationship and life together how it affected the lives of their four children through the lead up of the big end-of-summer bash on August 27, 1983, that gets out of control and ends in disaster.

A love a good family saga and think this one has that feel. This is definitely a character driven story and the author does a great job letting the reader get to know each of the Riva siblings and to and lesser degree, parents June and Mick. I loved the strong sibling ties. By far, Nina was my favorite character, a gorgeous model, fabulous surfer but someone who with a sense of responsibility to others and someone who  put the needs of others above her own. I liked June and Riva's story and that invincible feeling when young and in love that sometimes makes one overlook the obvious. I liked the Malibu beach scene and the 1980s vibes: the sun, the surf, the music and the fancy free lifestyle. My least favorite aspects of this story was the details of the rich and entitled party attendees who seemed to do everything in excess. There was plenty of booze, drugs and sex in this novel as well. Overall I liked this story even though some parts were overdone.

This is my second novel by this author, Daisy Jones and the Six was my first and one I enjoyed.  I gather that Mick Riva was one of the husbands in The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo but I haven't read that one yet.

RATING:  4/5

Thanks go to Random House Audio for allowing me access to this book in exchange for my unbiased review. The audiobook was read by Julia Whelan who did a great job.

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Scenic Route; Binnie Kirshenbaum

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book Reviews
Each week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book we are reading or plan to read.  This week I selected another book from my Summer Reading ListThis book has sat on my shelf unread since 2009 when I just had to buy it. I still think it sounds pretty good.  

                                                      The Scenic Route; Binnie Kirshenbaum
                                                                Harper Perennial - 2009


Here is the story of Henry and me. I wish it had a different end.  It had a good beginning.

That's what I would say.  If Ruby would hear me out, I would say, "This is the story of Henry and me," and no matter that it's of the recent past, past is past, and to tell Ruby this story now would be to call one memory, to travel back, and, as it was, to be with Henry was never quite of our time but of another time better than all that.  A time before my time.  Like how it was in New York during the last days of the Automats, when there was still the Biltmore Hotel and that pink place for ice cream, the name of which escapes me, and Henry, he was not quite of our time either.  "I wish it had a different end," I would say to Ruby. "It had a good beginning."

What do you think read more of pass?

(Amazon Description)

Divorced, alone, and unexpectedly unemployed, Sylvia Landsman flees to Italy, where she meets Henry, a wistful, married, middle-aged expatriate. Taking off on a grand tour of Europe bankrolled with his wife's money, Henry and Sylvia follow a circuitous route around the continent—as Sylvia entertains Henry with stories of her peculiar family and her damaged friends, of dead ducks and Alma Mahler. Her narrative is a tapestry of remembrances and regrets...and her secret shame: a small, cowardly sin of omission. Yet when the opportunity arises for Sylvia and Henry to do something small but brave, the refrain "if only" returns to haunt her, leaving Sylvia with one more story of love lived and lost.