Tuesday, September 19, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Deep Dark Descending; Allen Eskens

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph, maybe two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon. This one is a followup to The Heavens May Fall, which I really enjoyed.

Seventh Street Books - 2017

Chapter 1

Up North

"I raise the ax handle for the third time and my arm disobeys me.  It stiffens above my head, and my hand tangled in knots of shouldn't and should and all those second thoughts that I swore wouldn't stop me.  My chest burns to take in oxygen.  My body trembles with a crystalline rage, and my mind screams orders to my mutinous hand.  For Christ's sake, get it over with.  This is what you came here for. Kill him!"

Does this intro make you curious for more?

Please feel free to join in each Tuesday with your own "First Chapter, First Paragraph Intro" by linking your post from the book you are reading below. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Week in Review - Books and Movies

Hildene, Manchester, Vermont

This past week we got to enjoy the beauty of Vermont.  We stayed in Manchester, such a quaint town with lots to do and explore. We toured Hildene, the Lincoln Family home, saw a few covered bridges along the way, hit several shops, an Indie bookstore, great restaurants and The Vermont Country Store (a real blast from the past).  Driving to Vermont is stress free too with very little highway traffic  and well paved backroads. The foliage still has a way to go but, the Green Mountain State should be peak by the end of the month.  Hope to return to VT, perhaps a different town, one more time before ski season.

Lunch with friends, yoga and the new Jennifer Lawrence movie rounded out the rest of my week.  Have you seen the previews for the movie, "Mother?" OMG

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Javier Bardem, Ed Harris and Michelle Pfeiffer

Overview: A couple's relationship is tested after uninvited guests show up and stay with them.

Opinion: The first hour of this movie was strange but wasn't bad. However, the longer we sat there, the more ridiculous the movie became. Definitely a movie that might appeal to fans of "experimental film", but we really disliked it ---pass

Books Read

I finished (2) books this week, one was an audiobook that we enjoyed on our drive to and from Vermont - that one, The Old Man, Thomas Perry, was a big hit.

The Old Man; Thomas Perry - 
Mysterious Press & Highbridge Audio - 2017

Dan Chase (AKA Michael Koehler) was once an Army Intelligence Officer. Some 30 years earlier he was supposed to deliver some 20 million dollars to Faris Hamza, an agent for rebel fighters, but things didn't go down exactly as planned.  Now, Chase, a retiree in a sleepy Vermont town, with a grown daughter and two huge dogs is a wanted man and suddenly on the run.

This audio book, narrated by Peter Berkrot was an excellent choice for our recent road trip, we both enjoyed it. The story held our interest and there was plenty of action.  The ending might have been a bit too neat but, so glad we listened to this one.  This author was new to us both.  4/5 stars

Death of a Busybody; George Bellairs
Poison Pen Press - 2017

Originally published in 1942, reprinted in 2017 by the Poison Pen Press as part of their British Library Crime Classics.

The 'busybody" who ends up dead, her body found in the cesspool of Reverend Claplady, was Miss Ethel Tither.  Miss Tither was a woman with more than a few enemies in the village of Hilary Magna.  She was a woman who couldn't resist sticking her nose in the "affairs" of others, always trying to reform the sinners of the town. Inspector Thomas Littlejohn from Scotland Yard is called in and as he soon finds out, there is no shortage of possible suspects.

Humorous, witty prose, town gossip, a cozy town made for a good old fashioned mystery.  I enjoyed the way this story unfolded, a well-scripted investigation.  4/5 stars

Currently Reading

Seventh Street Books - 2017

The Almost Sisters; Joshilyn Jackson
William Morrow & Blackstone Audio - 2017

Hope everyone is enjoying their weekend.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Old Man; Thomas Perry

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph, maybe two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon. (I'm 3/4 into the audiobook and enjoying it.)

The Old Man; Thomas Perry
Highbridge Audio - 2017 (Mysterious Press)


"An old man should have a dog. Dan Chases daughter had told him that ten years ago, after his wife died." The part that surprised him was the term "old man."  He had just turned fifty then.  But he supposed she was only giving him advance notice, time to get used to the idea and find a suitable dog.  After a man's wife died, he had to do something not to die too.

Does this intro make you curious for more?

Please feel free to join in each Tuesday with your own "First Chapter, First Paragraph Intro" by linking your post from the book you are reading below. 

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Week in Review - Books and Movies

The first week of September passed in a blur - Two granddaughters hit new milestones, one began preschool 3 days a week and absolutely loved it, and the oldest began kindergarten, another success.  The third granddaughter gets one more year home with mom and preschool next year; we are all getting older.

Yoga, dining out, movies out, pedicure and preparing for a Vermont getaway rounded out the week.  I also finished (2) books.  

This week with will include a hair appointment,  lunch with friends from high school, yoga and time in VT.

As we enjoy perfect early fall weather, (70 degree days and 45-50 degree nights) our hearts go out to those in Houston and Florida and elsewhere affected by the recent hurricanes.


Before, Durning and After by Richard Bausch
(2014) Knopf

Yet another more recent novel (2015) set against the backdrop of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. A story in (3) parts: "Before, During and After" we meet Natasha Barrett, who works for a US Senator - her life in flux, after her most recent relationship with a married man ended.

AT a party, in April of 2001, Natasha meets Michael, a recently divorced Episcopalian priest, 16 years her senior. Great sex = plans to marry (be prepared for details). But, before they are scheduled to marry (and weeks before 9/11), she flies to Jamaica for a pre-wedding vacation while Michael stays back to attend a wedding in NYC.

Something awful happens to Natasha in Jamaica which she keeps to herself but, it's something that changes her and her relationship with Michael, leaving him confused and suspicious, leaving the reader with a story that is sure not to end well.

Great character development of flawed characters and, although the story seemed to veer off track at times and slow, for the most part it was a good story. I will say that because of all the detailed sex some readers will be put off by this novel.

4/5 stars

Penguin - Sept 12, 2018

Shaker Heights, OH touted as the perfect neighborhood for a happy life, well, maybe not for every family who lives there.  We learn from the very first page that the home of the Richardson Family burns to the ground and, that the fire was most likely set by their youngest child, Izzy.

The story takes place in 1997-1998, Shaker Heights  is a neighborhood with strict rules, and strict parents who expect their children to be high achievers. In fact, he oldest daughter, Lexie is expected to enter Yale in the fall. The two sons that follow are Tripp, a popular, athlete and Moody, quiet and shy but a good student. The youngest daughter Isabel (Izzy) is seen as somewhat out of control as she's not afraid to speak her mind, and feels like she's treated differently than her siblings. Father is a defense attorney,  and nosy mom works as a local reporter. 

When Mia Warren, an artist, and teenage daughter Pearl move into the Richardson's rental house, the two soon become more entwined in the Richardson's lives, which in unplanned and unintentional ways stokes the impending fire. To say more would really lead to spoilers.

I loved this book, carefully, crafted characters, dysfunctional families, race, prejudice, secrets, and more. This one would make for a fantastic book club discussion 

fantastic story - 5/5 stars

The Glass Castle (2017) - (Overview) A young girl comes of age in a dysfunctional family of nonconformist nomads with a mother who's an eccentric artist and an alcoholic father who would stir the children's imagination with hope as a distraction to their poverty.

OMG - I loved the memoir by Jeanette Walls, and the movie was fantastic as well. Woody Harrelson plays the alcoholic father and the vivid dysfunction of this family at times brought me to tears. My husband thought it was excellent as well and we couldn't stop talking about it. Have you seen this one?

We decided to celebrate the 40th anniversary viewing of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) on the Big Screen and was happy we did. Believe it or not,  I don't think I ever saw the full movie before this - just bits and pieces. We really enjoyed this on the big screen.

Solitary Man (2009), starring Michael Douglas was one movie I had never seen, and, although it wasn't the best movie we ever saw, we enjoyed it.

(Overview) - A car magnate (Michael Douglas) watches his personal and professional life hit the skids because of his business and romantic indiscretions.

Have a Great Weekend

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Little Fires Everywhere; Celeste Ng

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph, maybe two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon. (I'm 3/4 into this one and enjoying it.)

Penguin - Sept 12, 2018


"Everyone on Shaker Heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle,the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.  All spring the gossip had been about little Mirabelle McCullough--or, depending which side you are on, May Ling Chow--and now, at last, there was something new and sensational to discuss.  A little after noon on that Saturday morning in May, the shoppers pushing their grocery carts in Heinen's heard the fire engines wail to life and careen away, toward the duck pond.  By quarter after twelve there were four of them parked in a haphazard red line along Parkland Drive, where all six bedrooms of the Richardson house were ablaze, and everyone within a half mile could see the smoke rising over the trees like a dense black thundercloud.  Later people would say that the signs had been there all along: that Izzy was a little lunatic, and there had always been something off about the Richardson family, that as soon as they heard the sirens that morning they knew something terrible had happened.  By then, of course, Izzy would be long gone, leaving no one to defend her, and people could--and did--say whatever they liked.  At the moment the trucks arrived though, and for quite a while afterward, no one knew what was happening.  Neighbors clustered close to the makeshift barrier--a police cruiser, parked crosswise a hundred yards away--as they could and watched the firemen unreel their hoses with the grim faces of men who recognized a hopeless cause. Across the street, the messes at the pond ducked their heads underwater for weeds, wholly unruffled by the commotion"

Does this intro make you curious for more?

Please feel free to join in each Tuesday with your own "First Chapter, First Paragraph Intro" by linking your post from the book you are reading below.

Friday, September 1, 2017

RIP XII Challenge is Back

Can you believe this is the 12th year of the spooky, spectacular, RIP Challenge? Who doesn't love reading more mysteries and supernatural stuff as we begin to get a chill in the air and our thoughts turn to fall and Halloween!

Once again from September 1 through October 31st, Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings , who has hosted this event in all previous years has passed the baton to Heather and Andi to carry on the tradition. There are several levels of participation and you can read more about this by clicking on the Andi or Heather links in this post!

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books or movies that could be classified as:
Dark Fantasy

I'm still working on my list of (4) books that I plan to read (pretty sure I'll squeeze for scary movies in as well) but, for right now these are the books I'm thinking about.

Hope you'll join in the fun of this challenge as well.

  1. Sleeping Beauties; Stephen King
  2. The Visitors; Catherine Burns
  3. Death of a Busybody; George Bellairs (British Crime classic)
  4. Depth of Lies; E.C Diskin

Thursday, August 31, 2017

August in Review - Goodbye Summer

It's beginning to feel like summer really is slipping away -- kids will be headed back to school, 50 degree nights and 70 degree days and, apple picking time has begun. I love fall but, just don't feel ready to say goodbye to summer yet.

I've enjoyed my summer blogging break and hope to get back to posting a little more frequently beginning in September and, of course, it's time to start thinking about my fall reading list: more mysteries and, yes,  Stephen King's September release: Sleeping Beauties.

                                                         Linky returns on September 5th

My reading was way down this summer but, I wouldn't have changed a thing  -- sometimes books just aren't the most important thing -- did I really say that? LOL. 

August Reads (6) books 

(YTD (70) books

  1. Orhan's Inheritance; Aline Ohanesian (library-book group read) - 4/5 (August/2017)
  2. Papa: My Story; David Ortiz - 4/5 (library) (August/2017)
  3. Grief Cottage; Gail Godwin - 4.5/5 (eGalley) (August/2017)
  4. A Stranger in the House; Shari Lapena - 4/5 (audio) (August/2017)
  5. The Lauras; Sara Taylor - 4/5 (arc) (August/2017)
  6. Home going; Yaa Gyasi (reread-book group) 4.5/5 August/2017
Currently Reading
  1. Little Fires Everywhere; Celeste Ng (eGalley) 
  2. The Almost Sisters; Joshilyn Jackson (audio) 
  3. Before, During, After; Richard Bausch (ARC) 

We were on a roll in August with winning movies at the theaters. With the exception of Dunkirk, all were seen a Indie theater which gets the greatest films.  Maudie, Wind River and Inconvenient Sequel were all excellent and highly recommended.  Dunkirk was good as well but, war movies just aren't my thing.  (Maudie and Wind River were based on true stories -- excellent) and Inconvenient Sequel, very well done.

How was your month for books and movies?

Sunday, July 30, 2017

July in Review

(well almost)

I can't believe we really are half way through the summer.  The weather has been wonderful here in New England, not that many humid days, in fact today it is 82, sunny and super low humidity as I relax on the deck.

A few weeks ago we celebrated my youngest granddaughter's 3rd birthday. I Can't believe how fast time has passed and, what a joy it's been to see these cousins grow up.

This past week we got away and visited, Newburyport, a seaside town in Massachusetts that we hadn't been to before. Gorgeous weather, lunch harbor side, long walks, quaint shops and a swim in the hotel pool made this our favorite getaway of the summer thus far.  Hope to get in a few more road trips in August.

My reading is definitely down this summer but, I did manage to finish (7) books (64 YTD).

My favorite books read in July were:

  1. The Leavers; Lisa Ko - 4/5 (library) July-2017
  2. The Lying Game; Ruth Ware - 4/5 - (eGalley) - July-2017
  3. Eleanor Elephant is Completely Fine; Gail Honeyman - 5/5 (audio) - July-2017
  4. The Best of Us: a memoir; Joyce Maynard - (eGalley) - 5/5 - July/2017
  5. Sea Change; Robert Parker - (audio) 2/5 - July/2017
  6. The Summer That Made Us; Robyn Carr - (eGalley) - 4/5 - July/2017
  7. I'll Take You There; Wally Lamb (arc) - 2/5 - July/2017

Hope everyone is having a wonderful summer!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Mid-year Favorite Books - 2017

I hope everyone is having a nice summer.  I've been enjoying my time away from the blog and loving the no pressure joy of just reading and going places.  It's hard to believe that my youngest granddaughter just turned 3 (party next weekend) and that my oldest granddaughter will be in all-day kindergarten this fall. This weekend is rather quiet for us but looking forward to seeing the movie Beguiled today.  Weird thing is that the movie has been advertised so much around here yet we need to travel to a small independent theater to see it. Have you seen the previews? It's looks awesome and a tad scary. Have safe and happy 4th of July to everyone here in the US.

I have been busy reading and posting short reviews on GoodReads and Amazon and/or/ Edelweiss and NetGalley as well as acquiring new books - thanks to the wonderful publishers out there - new acquisitions:

Here's a LIST and breakdown of my January through June reading:

57 Books - YTD

Fiction - 40
Non Fiction - 12
Kids Books - 5
Audio Books - 15

and, in no particular order, I chose (4) non fiction and (4) fiction that I've enjoyed the most thus far.

Diane's bookshelf: mid-year-favorites-2017

The Leisure Seeker
John and Ella are a sweet senior couple who have been married 60 years and have enjoyed traveling in their RV "The Leisure Seeker" much of their married lives. Both Ella and John have health issues and against their children's wishes the...
On Turpentine Lane
I've enjoyed many of Elinor Lipman's earlier novels, The Inn at Lake Devine, was an all time favorite, but, I must say, On Turpentine Lane, runs a close second -- such a fun read. Our protagonist, Faith Frankel has a so-so job in the Dev...
What I Know for Sure
This audio book was just what I needed this week. The book is read by Oprah herself and she does a marvelous job. It's very heartfelt and inspirational. Told as a short series of essays on a variety of topics, organized by theme: joy, re...
Books for Living: Some Thoughts on Reading, Reflecting, and Embracing Life
This is another audio book that was amazing. My first experience with this author was his audio version of, The End of Your Life Book Club, a non fiction offering, which I loved, where Schwalbe and his mother, who was dying of pancreatic...
The Inner Life of Cats: The Science and Secrets of Our Mysterious Feline Companions
Being a cat lover all of my life, I really enjoyed the insight that this book provided. This book is well written and I liked that much of it was a love letter to the author's cat, Augusta, who arrived as a kitten one cold day in winter ...
Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood
As a huge fan of his comedy show, since he replaced Jon Stewart on the Daily Show at Comedy Central in 2015, I couldn't wait to read Trevor Noah's memoir. This book is read by the author and is pitch perfect. Noah who is 32 years old, te...
White Fur
This is an addictive debut novel: a love story that is raw, gritty and sexually explicit. Jamey Hyde and Elise Perez were neighbors in New Haven, CT. They meet and fall in lust love but, their backgrounds couldn't be more different. It's...
The Stars Are Fire
As I read this book I was reminded of the author's earliest novels and anxiously turned each page. Set in 1947 Maine, Grace Holland is expecting her third child. Her husband Gene is a good provider but, not a loving partner. As the nove...


Here's a list of all my 2017 reads thus far, in case you are curious.

2017 Books Read

  1. Chocky; John Wyndham - 4/5 (my shelves) - Jan/2017
  2. The Seventh Day; Yu Hua; 3.5/5 (eGalley) - Jan/2017
  3. On Turpentine Lane; Elinor Lipman (eGalley) - 4.5/5 - Jan/2017
  4. The Leisure Seeker; Michael Zadoorian (my shelves) - 5/5 - Jan/2017
  5. The Marriage of Opposites; Alice Hoffman (eGalley-BookGroup pick) - 4/5 -Jan/2017
  6. Second Hand; Michael Zadoorian - (my shelves) 3.5/5 - Jan/2017
  7. Hospital Hill; Katherine Anderson - (library) - 3.5/5 - Jan/2017
  8. The Beautiful Dead; Belinda Bauer - (eGalley) - 3.5/5 - Jan/2017
  9. The Fifth Floor; Julie Oleszek - (library) - 4.5/5 - Feb/2017
  10. Excellent Women; Barbara Pym - (audio & my shelf) - 4/5 -Feb/2017
  11. The Impossible Fortress; Jason Rekuluk - (eGalley) 4/5 - Feb/2017
  12. Is This Tomorrow; Caroline Leavitt - (audio) - 4/5 Feb/2017
  13. Setting Free the Kites; Alex George - (arc) - 4/5 Feb/2017
  14. Being Mortal; Atul Gawande (book group) NF - 4.5/5 - Feb/2017
  15. Hillbilly Elegy; J.D. Vance - NF (audio) - 4/5 - Feb/2017
  16. How To Be a Bigger Bunny; Florence & Wendell Minor (print) - Feb/2017
  17. Behind Closed Doors; B.A. Paris (audio & eGalley) - 4/5 - 2/2017
  18. Everything Happens Today; Jess Browner - (arc) - 4.5/5 - 2/2017
  19. Agnes; Peter Stamm - (arc) - 4/5 - 2/2017
  20. Among the Lesser Gods; Margo Catts - (arc) - 4.5/5 - March/2017
  21. First Women; Kate Anderson Brower - (audio) - 3.5/5 - March/2017
  22. The Residence; Kate Anderson Brower (audio) - 4/5 - March/2017
  23. What I Know For Sure; Oprah Winfrey (NF) (Audio) - 5/5 - March/2017
  24. Books for Living; Will Schwalbe (NF) (audio) - 5/5 - March/2017
  25. Every Living Thing; Cynthia Ryland - (my shelves) - 4.5/5 - March/2017
  26. Ill Will; Dan Chaon (eGalley) - 4/5 - March/2017
  27. All the Stars in the Heavens; A. Trigiani (library) - 2/5 - March/2017
  28. The Widowmaker; Paul Dorion (audio) - 4/5 March/2017
  29. The Futures; Anna Pitoniak (arc) - 4/5 March/2017
  30. Green Pants; Kenneth Kraegel (my shelves) 5/5 March/2017
  31. Rain; Sam Usher (my shelves) 5/5 March/2017
  32. How To Be Human; Paula Cocozaza - 3.5/5 - April/2017
  33. The Inner Life of Cats; Thomas Macnamee - 4.5/5 - April/2017
  34. Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty; Ramona Ausubel - April/2017
  35. Born A Crime; Trevor Noah (NF) - (audio) 5/5 - April/2017
  36. White Fur; Jardine Libaire - (ARC) - 5/5 - April/2017
  37. Strays: A Lost Cat, a Homeless Man, and Their Journey Across America; Britt Collins - 4.5/5 - April/2017
  38. Everything I Never Told You; Celeste Ng - (audio) (book group) - 4.5/5 - April/2017
  39. Dark Flood Rises; Margaret Drabble - library - 4.5/5 - April/2017
  40. The Hideaway; Lauren Denton - (arc) - 4/5 April/2017
  41. The Fall of Lisa Bellow; Susan Perabow (audio) 3.5/5 - May/2017
  42. Anything is Possible; Elizabeth Strout (eGalley) - 4.5/5 - May/2017
  43. The Stranger in the Woods: The Extraordinary Story of the Last True Hermit; Michael Finkle - (audio) - 4/5 May/2017
  44. Her Every Fear; Peter Swanson (audio) - 3.5/5 - May/2017
  45. My Very Own Space; Pippa Goodhart - 3/5 - May/2017
  46. The Ocean at the End of the Lane; Neil Gaiman (book group/library) - 4/5 - May/2017
  47. The Book of Polly; Kathy Hepinstall (library) - 4/5 - May/2017
  48. Woman No. 17; Edan Lepucki - (arc) 4/5 - May/2017
  49. Dear Ijeawele, or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions ; C. Adichie - (library) - 5/5 - May/2017
  50. Miss Rumphius; Barbara Cooney - 5/5 (library) - June/2017
  51. The Stars are Fire; Anita Shreve - 4.5/5 (eGalley) - June/2017
  52. The Breakdown; B.A. Paris - 4.5/5 (arc) - June/2017
  53. We Should All Be Feminists; C. Adichie (NF) - 4.5/5 (library) June/2017
  54. Dead Wake; Erik Larson (NF) - 4/5 (book group) June/2017
  55. The Yellow Wallpaper; Charlotte Perkins Gilman - 4.5/5 (eBook) June/2017
  56. Everybody's Son; Thrity Umrigar - 4.5/5 - June/2017
  57. Beautiful Animals; Lawrence Osborne - 4/5 (arc) June-2017

DNF - 
    • Every Fifteen Minutes; Lisa Scottoline (audio) (Feb)
    • Swing Time; Zadie Smith (audio) (March)
    • Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk; Kathleen Rooney (audio and print)(March)

    Happy Summer!