Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Batherings and New Books

I'm in an official reading slump,  I have 3 reviews to write, I've started about 5 books and I when I sit down to read, I seem to grab my iPhone after reading a few pages and play Scrabble or surf  websites instead.   I'm going to try some non fiction next to see if that helps (it has in the past).

Of course, there may be a very good reason I'm a bit preoccupied ----

Yes, I gave my notice, it's official, I'm Retiring in July, and have just about 30 work days left. Can't wait. I've been dreaming about retirement since I was 35, and always new I would retire a bit early while I could still enjoy life.   I've had (2) exciting careers, human resource management (20 years) and libraries (13 years), however, I always enjoyed NOT working days most of all. The countdown is on.

Of course, the slump hasn't stopped me from accumulating a few more books (hey, some day I hope to feel like reading once again).  What is your remedy for getting your reading mojo back?

Here's the new books that arrived by mail recently.

Sunday Plans - Today we are off to my son and DIL's house for a cookout. All (3) little granddaughters will be together as well --fun day. Hoping everyone has a lovely day.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - The Wolf Border; Sarah Hall

Here's a soon to be released novel that has my attention.

The Wolf Border; Sarah Hall
Harper - June 2015
From the award-winning author of The Electric Michelangelo, one of the most decorated young British writers working today, comes a literary masterpiece: a breathtaking work that beautifully and provocatively surveys the frontiers of the human spirit and our animal drives.
For almost a decade, zoologist Rachel Caine has lived a solitary existence far from her estranged family in England, monitoring wolves in a remote section of Idaho as part of a wildlife recovery program. But a surprising phone call takes her back to the peat and wet light of the Lake District where she grew up. The eccentric Earl of Annerdale has a controversial scheme to reintroduce the Grey Wolf to the English countryside, and he wants Rachel to spearhead the project. Though she’s skeptical, the earl’s lands are close to the village where she grew up, and where her aging mother now lives.
While the earl’s plan harks back to an ancient idyll of untamed British wilderness, Rachel must contend with modern-day realities—health and safety issues, public anger and fear, cynical political interests. But the return of the Grey unexpectedly sparks her own regeneration.
Exploring the fundamental nature of wilderness and wildness, The Wolf Border illuminates both our animal nature and humanity: sex, love, conflict, and the desire to find answers to the question of our existence—the emotions, desires, and needs that rule our lives.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Liar's Bench; Kim Michelle Richardson

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon

Liar's Bench; Kim Michelle Richardson
Kensington - 2015

A Cornerstone

August 1860

"When a lie seeps into the very heartwood of a town, soaks the beams and posts that hold it up from the earth, the rot sets to its work. The ruin that cruelty brings is always just a matter of time.  And ruin had fully taken hold in August of 1860, when Mrs. Evelyn Anderson, mistress of Hark Hill Plantation of Peckinpaw, Kentucky, reported that she had been poisoned by her house slave, Frannie Crow."

What do you think, would you read more?
(feel free to post your own first paragraph and link below)

Saturday, May 23, 2015

SPAM and a Saturday Snapshot

Dear Readers,

If you are still reading my blog, I just discovered today that many for my regular commenters, who I thought had abandoned me, have actually been commenting, but your comments went in my spam folder, which I almost never check. I am so sorry I never saw your comments. Forgive me.  Not sure how this happened as most of you who ended up in spam have been commenting on my blog for years?? 

This week I decided to participate in Satuday Snapshot, because I thought this photo was too priceless to keep to myself.

"Mommy, just like tattoos"

(fortunately this was washable, not permanent marker)

To participate in Saturday Snapshot (hosted by West Metro Mommy): post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky below. Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend Kicks Off My Summer Reading Plans

My reading choices always seem to change a bit when summer approaches. Instead of chunky, more intense reads, I tend to choose, shorter books, novels with fewer characters, and other stories that require less concentration -- mostly because in summer, I find myself busier, more easily distracted and yes, when I'm on the beach or in a park with a book, I'm a people watcher --plain and simple.

Here are some of the books that will likely take center stage on my beach blanket this summer.

 Irvin Yalom - Basic Books - 2015

Finders Keepers; Stephen King
Scribner - June 2

Summerlong; Dean Bakopoulos
Ecco - June 16th

Fredrik Backman - Atria - June 16th

Language Arts; Stephanie Kallos
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt- June 9th

Liar's Bench; Kim Michelle Richardson
Kensington - April 2015

House Breaking; Dan Pope
SImon & Schuster - May 12th

The Undertaker's Daughter: a Memoir; Kate Mayfield
Gallery - January 2015

Find the Good; Heather Lende
Algonquin - April 2015

How about you, any summer reading plans?

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You - Finders Keepers; Stephen King

I can hardly wait for June 2, 2015

Finder's Keepers; Stephen King
Scribner - June 2, 2015

(DESCRIPTION) ---- A masterful, intensely suspenseful novel about a reader whose obsession with a reclusive writer goes far too far—a book about the power of storytelling, starring the same trio of unlikely and winning heroes King introduced in Mr. Mercedes.

“Wake up, genius.” So begins King’s instantly riveting story about a vengeful reader. The genius is John Rothstein, an iconic author who created a famous character, Jimmy Gold, but who hasn’t published a book for decades. Morris Bellamy is livid, not just because Rothstein has stopped providing books, but because the nonconformist Jimmy Gold has sold out for a career in advertising. Morris kills Rothstein and empties his safe of cash, yes, but the real treasure is a trove of notebooks containing at least one more Gold novel.

Morris hides the money and the notebooks, and then he is locked away for another crime. Decades later, a boy named Pete Saubers finds the treasure, and now it is Pete and his family that Bill Hodges, Holly Gibney, and Jerome Robinson must rescue from the ever-more deranged and vengeful Morris when he’s released from prison after thirty-five years.

Not since Misery has King played with the notion of a reader whose obsession with a writer gets dangerous. Finders Keepers is spectacular, heart-pounding suspense, but it is also King writing about how literature shapes a life—for good, for bad, forever.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Grasshopper and the Ants; Jim Pinkney

Little Brown for Young Readers - 2015

Jim Pinkney's, The Grasshopper and the Ants, is a slightly more pleasant version of the Aesop story.  In this story Grasshopper is happy it's spring and all ready to make merry music. He tells the ants that they are working much to hard and should be out having fun, making music, fishing and enjoying the weather. The busy worker ants opt not to play and continue with their hard work. As the seasons change and Grasshopper continues to play in leaves and make music.  Before long snow has fallen and Grasshopper finds himself outdoors wet and freezing after making a snowangel. 

As Grasshopper peers into the Ants home he sees that it looks all cozy and warm and there's even food on the table, while Grasshopper is outside cold and hungry. While some of the Ants are knitting near a cozy fire, Grasshopper is initially turned away, but eventually, the good hearted Queen Ant invites him in for hot tea and cookies. Together ALL the critters make music together and enjoy the warmth.

Clearly, it is the gorgeous, full-color, detailed drawings that make this book special. The art work contains such things as, beautiful flowers, woodland scenes, minute details like snowflakes, dragonfly wings, musical instruments, spinning wheels etc, that will truly amaze adults and delight children alike. It is easy to see why the author/illustrator has been a Caldecott winner.

A great addition for collectors.

5/5 stars

Love May Fail; Matthew Quick

Love May Fail; Matthew Quick
Harper - June 2015

Love May Fail is a quirky, yet at times, heartfelt story about finding yourself and person you were meant to be.

Portia Kane is the woman at the heart of the story. On the surface, she seems to live a pretty cushy life in Florida. The truth is she is married to a louse and she's put up with a lot from her husband,  who has earned his money as a porn producer, and is a big time womanizer. 

As the story opens Portia is hiding in her bedroom closet with a gun getting ready to catch her two-timing spouse h his latest fling, a girl half his age. She comes to her senses and spares his life, but leaves Florida and returns to her home town of New Jersey where her mother, a hoarder, still lives. Not much has changed since she left her home town, but after her experiences with her husband, Portia is on a quest to find the good in others.

After her old school friend Danielle tells her some disturbing news about her favorite former high school English teacher, Portia is determined to track him down and reconnect. She hopes to save Mr. Vernon, who has since retired after a traumatic event has left him depressed and suicidal.

There are several oddball characters that pop in and out of this story. Told through split narratives and flashbacks, the characters, much like Portia, are all in need of a new start in life. How that all shakes out is what makes this novel worth the reading.  I must admit this was a challenging read at times, I was not a fan of the writing style, but I was happy that I stuck it out, because there are not many books that can make me laugh and bring a tear to my eyes and this one did just that. If you love stories about second chances, this just may be the right book for you. (As with his, Silver Linings Playbook, this one, is likely to hit the big screen as well.)

4/5 stars
(review copy)

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Big Ray; Michael Kimball

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.

Big Ray; Michael Kimball
Bloomsbury - 2012


"My father probably died on January 28, 2005, but I wouldn't know he was dead until a few days later when my sister called to tell me.  My father lived alone and nobody else knew he was already dead either.


January 29, 2005, would have been my mother and father's forty-fifth wedding anniversary--if my father hadn't died the day before, if my mother hadn't divorced him ten years before that."

What do you think? Keep Reading?
(feel free to join in and post your link below)

Monday, May 18, 2015

and yet more new books

Several more new books arrive (these by mail) from publishers this week.  The mysteries sound especially good to me, but who am I kidding, they all sound pretty darn good,

Saturday, May 16, 2015

3 Library Book Sales in Less than 24 Hours

For the past 2 years I've been avoiding library book sales simply because I have so many unread books --  it was getting  ridiculous. My streak is officially broken now though since between 2pm yesterday and 9:30a.m today, I hit 3 local library sales and selectively scored 22 books for $12.00. All are books that have a high probability of being read by me.....grin.....

Take a look and let know if there is anything here you really loved.

  • The Luminaries; Eleanor Catton - THE LUMINARIES is at once a fiendishly clever ghost story, a gripping page-turner, and a thrilling novelistic achievement. It richly confirms that Eleanor Catton is one of the brightest stars in the international literary firmament.
  • Please Look After Mom; Kyung-Sook Shin - When sixty-nine-year-old So-nyo is separated from her husband among the crowds of the Seoul subway station, her family begins a desperate search to find her. Yet as long-held secrets and private sorrows begin to reveal themselves, they are forced to wonder: how well did they actually know the woman they called Mom?
  • The Caprices- Sabina Murray - Winner of the PEN/Faulkner award for fiction in 2003, The Caprices is a collection of stories artfully told across the theatre of the Pacific Campaign of World War II. 
  • The Harder They Come; T.C. Boyle - a powerful, gripping novel that explores the roots of violence and anti-authoritarianism inherent in the American character.
  • The Strangeness of Beauty; Lydia Minatoya - A quietly daring exploration of art, family, culture, and conscience, as three generations of women, American and Japanese, face a strained reunion in pre-World War II Japan. 
  • My American Unhappiness; Dean Bakopoulos - “Hilarious and heartfelt . . . This funny-sad novel seems to take elements of the author’s own life . . . and twists them in a funhouse mirror—with delightful results.” —NPR
  • Hattie; Anna Bozena Bowen - HATTIE an award winning novel is a soulful journey about what it means to be human in a sometimes inhuman world.
  • The Weekend; Bernhard Schlink - Old friends and lovers reunite for a weekend in a secluded country home after spending decades apart.
  • Flannery O'Connor: The Complete Stories - 
  • The Enjlish major; Jim HarrisonWinner of the National Book Award--The publication of this extraordinary volume firmly established Flannery O'Connor's monumental contribution to American fiction. There are thirty-one stories here in all, including twelve that do not appear in the only two story collections O'Connor put together in her short lifetime--Everything That Rises Must Converge and A Good Man Is Hard to Find.
  • At Last; Edward St. Aubyn - a work of glittering social comedy, profound emotional truth, and acute verbal wit.
  • The Beet Queen; Louise Erdrich - A vibrant and heartfelt tale of abandonment and sexual obsession, jealousy and unstinting love that explores with empathy, humor, and power the eternal mystery of the human condition.

  • The World as we Know it; Joseph Monninger - A subtle and heartrending—a love story of friendship, nature, and the surprising twists that can alter our destinies forever
  • The Tennis Partner; Abraham Verghese    - An unforgettable, illuminating story of how men live and how they survive, from the acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Cutting for Stone
  • Ruby; Cynthia Bond - Utterly transfixing, with unforgettable characters, riveting suspense, and breathtaking, luminous prose, Ruby offers an unflinching portrait of man’s dark acts and the promise of the redemptive power of love.
  • Human Voices; Penelope Fitzgerald - If you love language, quirky and vividly drawn characters, delicious irony, and above all, if you want to spend some time with the creative work of someone possessing an exquisite gift for writing, read this book.
  • Out; Natsuo Kirino    -   Out is also a moving evocation of the pressures and prejudices that drive women to extreme deeds, and the friendships that bolster them in the aftermath.
  • Beauty and Sadness; Yasunari Kawabata -The successful writer Oki has reached middle age and is filled with regrets. He returns to Kyoto to find Otoko, a young woman with whom he had a terrible affair many years before, and discovers that she is now a painter, living with a younger woman as her lover. Otoko has continued to love Oki and has never forgotten him, but his return unsettles not only her but also her young lover. This is a work of strange beauty, with a tender touch of nostalgia and a heartbreaking sensitivity to those things lost forever. 
  • Night Train; Martin Amis -  Fusing brilliant wordplay with all the elements of a classic whodunit, Amis exposes a world where surfaces are suspect (no matter how perfect), where paranoia is justified (no matter how pervasive), and where power and pride are brought low by the hidden recesses of our humanity.
  • A Traitor to Memory; Elizabeth George - When an elderly woman is deliberately run down and killed on a quiet London street, Detective Inspector Thomas Lynley must discover why. 
  • Powder and Patch; Georgette Heyer - "This story sparkles with witty dialogue and wonderful descriptions of costumes and festivities of the 1700s. I re-read it at least once a year and I enjoy it as much as the first time, again and again!"
  • A Place of Hiding; Elizabeth George - In one of her most compelling mysteries, bestselling novelist Elizabeth George explores the darker landscapes of human relationships. Here she tells a gripping, suspenseful story of betrayal and devotion, war and remembrance, love and loss . . . and the higher truths to which we must all ultimately answer.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You - My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry; Fredrik Backman

As a huge fan of this author's first book, I'm anxious to try this one which releases next month.

June - 2015 - Atria

From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a charming, warmhearted novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother’s fairy tales.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s internationally bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and an ode to one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

I Saw a Man; Owen Sheers

I Saw a Man; Owen Sheers
Nan Talese - 2015

This book started off like a thriller when Michael, enters his neighbors unlocked house to retrieve a screwdriver he had loaned his neighbors Josh and Samantha Nelson.  He creeps around their home opening drawers and looking in likely places, but when he doesn't find it, he doesn't leave either. [ creepy neighbor]

In fairness to Michael, however, he is still mourning the loss of his 30-something wife Caroline, a journalist who was on assignment in Pakistan and killed in a drone strike. Having left their home in Wales and relocating to London, his new neighbors, the Nelsons, are helping him to get on with his life.

While Michael navigates his way around his neighbor's house --it's clear there may be another side to neighbors, Josh and Sam.

The story moves both back and forth in time, which I found distracting at times as it took away from the immediate suspense as I read.  I do understand why the author did what he did, but for me it detracted from the beautiful writing and conflicted characters.  Although this book wasn't perfect for me, I do plan to try something else by this author.

3.5 stars

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros; Love May Fail; Matthew Quick

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.

Love May Fail; Matthew Quick
Harper - 2015

Part One - Portia Kane
Chapter 1

"I'm kneeling in one of my own bedroom closets --peering E.T.-like through the white door slats--when the following epiphany hits me harder than a lawn dart to the eye: I'm a disgraceful woman.

Gloria Steinnem would call me whatever's the feminist equivalent of an Uncle Tom."

What do you think? Keep Reading?
(feel free to join in and post your link below)

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Happy Mother's Day ~ You Nest Here with Me; Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple with Illustrations by Melissa Sweet

Happy Mother's Day to all the women who have made a difference in the life a child.  I hope your day is special.  Yesterday my daughter and I celebrated by having lunch and driving to the outlet mall and doing a little shopping.  It was nice to be able to talk without distrations of little ones.  Today, my husband gave my Amazon giftcards from the "cats" - how purrfect!! This afternoon I'll get to spend time with my son, daughter and their spouses and of course my 3 adorable granddaughters -- life is good.

I bought this NEW and lovely book for Mother's Day for both my daughter and daughter in-law.  Its's a gorgeous book with a story perfect for mom's and her little ones.

You Nest Here with Me; Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple
 with Illustrations by Melissa Sweet
Boyds Mill Press - 2015

I bought (2) copies of this book for my daughter and daughter in-law for Mother's Day. It's a lovely book to read to little ones at bedtime and has all the elements that makes for a perfect delight for the pre-school set.  With rhyming verse, outstanding colorful illustrations, each page depicts a different type of bird (14) different species, their babies and pictures of where different birds like to build their nests.  It teaches young children about the nesting habits of different birds and reinforces to the child that "their nest is at home with their mom". This book is a definite keeper for your permanent collection. There is also a 2-page section at the end of the book that gives a picture and detailed information of various kinds of birds. The talented authors are a mother and daughter team from Massachusetts.

Happy Mother's Day

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Listener; Rachel Basch

The Listener; Rachel Basch
Pegasus - 2015

Honestly, it was the cover art that initially attracted me to this novel, but then I read the first paragraph, and was immediately intrigued---

 "She was a freshman, allergic to sulfa drugs and codeine.  She didn't wear corrective lenses and she didn't smoke.  She wasn't taking any medication.  She's checked yes for vitamin supplements and no for birth control.  At the bottom of the form on the line that read Other, she'd printed OTHER in big block letters".

Malcolm Dowd is a "Listener", a psychologist with a private practice as well as a counselor at Baxter College in Maine. His wife died unexpectedly, 14 years earlier and his children are grown and on their own. Although he's seeing a woman named Cara who teaches at Baxter, his life is still in flux. Malcolm has a secret about his deceased wife that even his children aren't aware of.

As the story opens, one of his Baxter students has arrived at the behavioral Health center for a counseling session.  Leah,  A.K.A. Noah, arrives and almost immediately sheds a blond wig and female attire to reveal freshman acting student Noah who is struggling with gender issues. Malcolm had spoken to Noah months earlier, and now this conflicted young patient of his will require even closer "listening" skills than ever.  The funny thing is that patient, Noah, at times seems to be a much better "listener" than the man whose help he has sought. One thing is certain though, by the end of the semester both individuals will help one another more than they ever expected.

This was an enjoyable novel. It's witty at times and the author know hows to get inside the heads of her characters to reveal their private pain. The characters are complex and dealing with difficult issues like gender issues, grief, parenting, loss and love. I think The Listener is a novel that will appeal to a variety of readers.

4/5 stars

Coming Soon to a Bookstore Near You; Summerlong; Dean Bakopoulos

I thought this is a soon to be released novel that seems like it would be a great summer or vacation choice.

Summerlong; Dean Bakopoulos
Ecco-June 17, 2015


The author of Please Don’t Come Back from the Moon and My American Unhappiness delivers his breakout novel: a deft and hilarious exploration of the simmering tensions beneath the surface of a contented marriage which explode in the bedrooms and backyards of a small town over the course of a long, hot summer.
In the sweltering heat of one summer in a small Midwestern town, Claire and Don Lowry discover that married life isn’t quite as they’d predicted.
One night Don, a father of three, leaves his house for an evening stroll, only to wake up the next morning stoned, and sleeping in a hammock next to a young woman he barely knows. His wife, Claire, leaves the house on this same night to go on a midnight run—only to find herself bumming cigarettes and beer outside the all-night convenience store.
As the summer lingers and the temperature rises, this quotidian town’s adults grow wilder and more reckless while their children grow increasingly confused. Claire, Don, and their neighbors and friends find themselves on an existential odyssey, exploring the most puzzling quandaries of marriage and maturity. When does a fantasy become infidelity? When does compromise become resentment? When does routine become boring monotony? Can Claire and Don survive everything that befalls them in this one summer, forgive their mistakes, and begin again?
Award-winning writer Dean Bakopoulos delivers a brutally honest and incredibly funny novel about the strange and tenuous ties that bind us, and the strange and unlikely places we find connection. Full of mirth, melancholy, and redemption,Summerlong explores what happens when life goes awry.