Saturday, September 30, 2017

Goodbye September, Hello October - Books, Life and Cats

What a pitiful month September was for me and books. I only read (5) books which I'm pretty sure is the lowest number read in the 16 years I've been tracking.  I felt easily distracted and just found it easier to watch television or play games on my phone instead. Here's to a more exciting October for me and books.

The little one's continue to love preschool and kindergarten, a loved one is recovering nicely from hernia surgery and the best of the fall foliage here, is yet to come. It had been fairly warm here, humid almost until yesterday when cooler temps hit which will help speed up the pretty colors of fall.

September Reads

  1. Before, During and After; Richard Bausch (ARC) 4/5 (Sept/2017
  2. Little Fires Everywhere; Celeste Ng (eGalley) 5/5 (Sept/2017)
  3. Death of a Busybody; George Bellairs - 4/5 (eGalley) Sept/2017
  4. The Old Man; Thomas Perry (audio) 4.5/5 - Sept/2017
  5. Almost Sisters; Joshilyn Jackson (audio) 4/5 (Sept/2017) (no review yet)
Our book group met to discuss Station Eleven (read and reviewed in January of 2015. I didn't reread it but, the discussion was lively and everyone was surprised by how much they enjoyed it.

New Books

Thanks to Candlewick Press, I received these lovely children's books.

  1. The Twelve Days of Christmas: Panorama Pop-Up
  2. Christmas Decorations: Press Out & Color; Kate McLelland
  3. Windows; Julia Denos
Plans for October

Book group pick is The Muralist; B.A. Shapiro, still reading: The Deep Dark Descending and Never Coming Back; B.A. Shapiro. I dare not make any more reading commitments based on my recent slump.

Freckles, our 14 year old cat is not doing well.  Once playful and a lover of all food, he is now just moping around and turning his nose up on every food offering, including deli turkey.  He is a bad vet patient and at his last visit 2.5 years ago, he tried to bite the vet and they were unable to perform a full exam.  Now, his weight is down from about 15 to 11 pounds -- we will be taking him back for an exam and blood work -- hoping he will cooperate.  After losing our sweet Lily this past year, I hope its something easy like a thyroid issue.  Purrs for Freckles please.

Have a Great Month Everyone.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Never Coming Back; Alison McGhee

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. 
Never Coming Back; Alison McGhee
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - 2017

"Now that my mother was disappearing, I wondered when it began to happen.  A few months before her neighbor called to tell me something was wrong, or maybe years ago, when I was in my nomadic twenties and home only once or twice a year?  Or did something inside her change in a single moment? Quit working? Decide enough was enough?

Hard to say. Hard to know."

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. 

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