Tuesday, November 20, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Elevation; Stephen King



Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book that they are reading or plan to read.

Elevation; Stephen King
Scribner - 2018

Chapter 1

Losing Weight

"Scott Carey knocked on the door of the Ellis condo unit, and Bob Ellis (everyone in Highland Acres still called him Doctor Bob, although he was five years retired) let him in.  Well, Scott, here you are.  Ten on the dot. Now what can I do for you?

Scott was a big man, six-feet-four in his stocking feet, with a bit of a belly growing in front. I'm not sure. Probably nothing, but... I have a problem. I hope not a big one, but it might be.


What do you think?  (It's just 146 pages instead of the heavy tome King generally writes.)

Monday, November 19, 2018

OK Mr. Field; Katherine Kilalea and Anne of Green Gables; L.M. MontgomeryGables

 Anne of Green Gables; L.M. Montgomery
Modern Publishing - 2001

I can't believe I never read Anne of Green Gables until now, but as they saying goes - "better late than never". 

Set in Avonlea, Canada, it's very sweet story about an orphan girl who wants a family of her own.  Adopted at the age of eleven by Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, older siblings who actually thought they were adopting a young boy that would be able to help out on the farm.  At first they are not sure how to deal with a young girl in the household.

Anne turns out to be a joy, the bright spot in the lives of all she meets. Happy, adventurous, smart and spirited, her enthusiasm for life is just so uplifting.  Of course, there is drama and at times her new family isn't sure how to handle various issues that pop up. I great story that shows us the importance of love, friendship and family.  (Hope to read the entire series in 2019).


OK Mr. Field; Katherine Kilalea
Crown Publishing - 2018

When Mr. Field (no first name), a British concert pianist injures his wrist in an accident, he is no longer able to perform.  He decides on a change of scene, moving to to Cape Town, South Africa and a house on the beach with his wife Mim, might be just the thing to make him happier. The move, however, seems to have the reverse effect. When his wife leaves him after just a few weeks, things go from bad to worse for Mr. Field.

This was a short novel, just over 200 pages.  I kept waiting for something to happen to Mr. Field but, it never really does. The story was almost a dream-like, series of happenings, watching his life slowly unravel.  This was a debut novel and the writing was actually pretty good. I'm just not having much luck with stream of consciousness fiction these days.  

Vox, Christina Dalcher



TITLE: Vox
AUTHOR: Christina Dalcher
PUBLISHER: Europa Editions
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  US
FORMAT:  - library
RATING: 4/5 stars

Vox is a sometimes chilling look at women in America in the not too distant future.  It's an America where women are silenced by an electrical shock if they utter more than 100 words a day. They can no longer work or even have a bank account. Then it gets even more terrible, when young girls are no longer taught to read. How can this be happening?

It all comes about as a result when a misogynistic president and government officials begin to fit women and young girls with bracelets that send powerful electric shocks if they exceed the 100 word a day limit. If they break the law, they are faced to labor as prisoners. 

The story is told by Dr. Jean McClellan, a former cognitive linguist who was sent home, no longer to work outside the home, once the new Pure Movement took off.

Although our current President's name is never mentioned, the inference is there - the first totalitarian president, elected after the first black president.  

I liked the initial set up of this novel with the formation of the Pure Movement more than how it all played out. It makes you realize how important it is to speak up and let your voice be heard. This would be a good book group discussion choice as well. 

An entertaining novel that makes you think - just what if?

Sunday, November 18, 2018

A few cute Kids Books from Candlewick Press



2018 - Candlewick Press (Kevin Hawkes - illustrator)

Will Mr. Snore ever find just the right hotel room at the busy Sharemore Hotel, to get some much needed sleep?

A funny story, full of comic relief, laugh out loud moments as Mr. Snore seems to find a problem with every room he tries on the various floors of the Sharemore Hotel.  The ending is so darn cute that most kids will want to read this one over and over again. The illustrations are clever and fun as well. Unique and fun!


Heads and Tails; John Canty
2018 - Candlewick Press

Does the special kiddo in your life love animals and guessing games? If so, this fun book is a must read.  On one page there are clues about a particular animal  -- what it looks like, where it lives etc. and just part of a picture of the animal.  Turn the page and in large letters the animal is identified as well as a very large picture of the animal. There are some 14 different animals to keep the kiddos guessing. The illustrations are terrific as well.

Curious little children who love animals will enjoy reading or having this unique book read over and over again.  Each will enjoy showing off their animal knowledge as well. Loved it!

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Strike Your Heart; Amelie Nothomb



AUTHOR: Amelie Nothomb
PUBLISHER: Europa Editions
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  France (small town)
FORMAT:  - library
RATING: 5/5 stars

"Strike Your Heart" - that's where genius lies -- Alfred de Musset

Diana is the firstborn, one of 3 children born to Marie and her pharmacist husband.  Marie was used to being the pretty girl everyone envied, but when she became pregnant at 20 with Diana, she wasn't expecting how much her life would change.  After Diana was born, she becomes the center of attention and, Marie's jealousy causes her to shun her infant daughter and become a cold, distant mother.  This behavior by Marie was even more evident after the birth of the other two children: Nicholas and Celia. On the contrary, she begins a new pattern of obsessive love over Celia, the youngest child.

I loved this quote --

"Before long Nicholas, too, realized something was wrong. His mother went on loving him but there would be no comparison with the transports of love she experienced with Celia.  When he saw Diana was seeking grandmotherly asylum, he told his older sister that he would stay at home to stop Maman from eating Celia as if she were some coconut cake."

But, this story is really about Diana, who grew up with grandparents and later when they are killed in a car crash, living in with her friend Elisabeth's family. Later as Diane pursues med school in the hopes of becoming a cardiologist, she meets an assistant professor, Olivia Aubusson who in many ways reminds her of her own mother in the way Olivia treats her own daughter Mariel.

I love stories about complex mother-daughter relationships. It's difficult to say too much for about this slim, gem of a novel (just 135 pages). It packs a punch.  Easily read in one sitting, this story is one that will surely stick with me; it's brilliant. Try it!

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

In Pieces; Sally Field


TITLE: In Pieces
AUTHOR: Sally Field
PUBLISHER: Grand Central Publishing
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  CA
FORMAT:  - hardcover/personal copy
RATING: 4/5 stars

I always liked Sally Field and can recall looking forward to watching Gidget and later the Flying Nun in my room on my black and white portable television in the late 60's. Her memoir, In Pieces, was enjoyable. 

 (My review contains some SPOILERS so please skip if you plan to read this one).

Sally was born in 1946, her parents separated when she was just 3 years old. She and her brother were raised by women in the early years: mother, grandmother, great aunt and great grandmother. Her mother, Margaret Morlan was also an actress. I thought her mother came across as accessible but, emotionally absent from her life.  

Sally was sexually abused by her stepfather, Jack Mahoney, an actor and stuntman, but, she never told her mother when it was happening. She talks about her relationship with Burt Reynolds, personal and professional, her (2) failed marriages - although not much is said about her second husband, Alan Greisman.

The memoir pretty much covers the first 30 years of her life with lots of details about her acting career and the self-doubt that seemed to haunt her thought her life, which seemed to be best attributed to the complex relationship she had with her mother, who passed away when Sally was 65. I thought the ending was a bit rushed and although I really liked this book, I do wish there was a bit more detail about the second 30 years of her life as well.

Where the Crawdads Sing; Delia Owens

G.P Putnam - 2018

AUTHOR: Delia Owens
PUBLISHER: GP Putnam
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  North Carolina
FORMAT:  - library
RATING: 5/5 stars


Catherine Clark (Kya)  as the youngest child of 5 who grew up in a dysfunctional home in a rural area of North Carolina. When "Ma" took off one day, one by one Kya's older siblings followed suit. At the age of 10, Kya finds herself alone with her alcoholic and abusive father.   Kay is smart and fearless but, illiterate and lonely as well.  She is shunned by many as she is wild looking and dirty and her time in the classroom is short-lived. She soon becomes known as the "Marsh Girl", spending long days there exploring. Her father leaves for long periods of time and when one day he fails to return home, Kya finds herself on her own without any money. For her, the marsh lands soon becomes her home.

In 1969 when the body of Chase Andrews, a well-known, star quarterback is found along the marsh, Kya becomes a suspect in his death.

The story is told in two timelines; 1952 and 1969. An addictive, coming of age story,  love story and mystery.  The writing is beautifully descriptive. The Kya character is both heartbreaking and resilient to read about. I loved the way that the suspense built, ending in a way that I wasn't expecting. This is truly a wonderful debut novel, worthy of all the positive buzz it's received.  The author is a wildlife scientist and her love of nature shows in this well-written novel. This would be a terrific book for book club discussions.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - What We Owe; Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde


Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book that they are reading or plan to read.

What We Owe; Golnaz Hashemzadeh Bonde
Mariner Books - Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - 2018

"I'VE ALWAYS CARRIED MY DEATH WITH ME. Perhaps saying so is trite, an observation the dying always make.  But I'm not like other people, in this as in everything else, or so I like to believe.  And, I do believe it, truly. I said as much when Masood died.  Our time was always borrowed. We weren't suppose to be alive.  We should have died in the revolution.  In its aftermath. In the war. But I was given thirty more years.  More than half my life.  It's a considerable length of time, something to be grateful for.  The same length of time, something to be grateful for.  The same length as my daughter's life. Yes, that's one way to see it.  I was allowed to create her.  But she didn't need me this long.  No one did. You think because you are a parent, you're needed.  It's not true.  People find a way to get by.  Who says I was worth more than the trouble I caused?  I don't believe it.  I'm not the type who gives more than I take.  I should be.  I'm a mother, after all.  It's my job to bear the weight, bear it for others. But I never have, not for anyone."

What do you think?  It's a translated work but, I decided to try this one after reading several favorable reviews. I'll be starting it this week.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

R.I.P. Buddy (2002 - 2018)


The day we very much dreaded came yesterday - Tuesday, November 6th.  We made the difficult decision to let our sweet boy pass on. His breathing had become labored and needed oxygen. We learned that he was in congestive heart failure with fluid accumulating in his lungs.

Once we were a family of (5) cats, all but one acquired as kittens. Now we have none (for me, a first in 36 years.)


How lucky we were to have a cat that made letting him go so hard

Buddy came into our lives in September of 2002, adopted from a shelter in Rhode Island.  He was about 3 months old and joined our household with (3) other cats at the time. He spent the first 6 years of his life as an indoor/outdoor cat but, when we moved to a new home in 2008, all of our cats became indoor only.

Buddy was alway a bit insecure and never fond of strangers.  As he got older, he became more of a lap cat than ever and a silent reading companion I could always count on. After losing one cat in 2/2017 and another in 10/2017,  he became the only cat left and very needy, always wanting to be near us and protesting a bit when we went out, he learned to make us feel guilty. He counted on me to share my cheerios & milk and oatmeal with him. He was a cat that always looked at me with such loving, soulful eyes, summoning me to bed around the same time each night. A cat who left a huge void in now my aching heart. Buddy, you were loved and will not be forgotten. Thank you for 16.5 years of happiness.

 Run free my special boy.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Strike Your Heart; Amelie Nothomb


Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book that they are reading or plan to read.

Strike Your Heart; Amelie Nothomb
Europa Edition- 2018

"Marie liked her name. It wasn't as ordinary as one might think; it gave her everything she wanted.  When she told people her name was Marie, it had a certain effect. 'Marie,' people would echo, charmed.

The name alone was not enough to explain her success. She knew she was pretty, Tall, with a good figure, her face lit with blond radiance: she did not leave people indifferent.  In Paris she might have gone unnoticed, but she lived in a town that was far enough away from the capital not to be considered a suburb.  She had always lived there, and everyone knew her."

This intro might not WOW you, but, this short novel was incredible. I picked it up yesterday and read it in one sitting. Beautiful writing and haunting story about the lasting impact of mother-daughter bond, or in this case, the lack of that bond.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

October in Review - November Plans



I think fall is one of my favorite times of year to read. The cooler weather always makes me look forward to some mystery and thriller books, a cup of hot tea and a fluffy comforter and cat on my lap.
I finished the RIP X111 Challenge early and also manager to read more books in October than I planned (15).  Some of my favorite books were:














Here's what I finished:
  1. Unsheltered; Barbara Kingsolver (ARC) - 3.5/5 - Oct/2018
  2. The Trauma Cleaner; Sarah Krasnostein (memoir-library) - 2.5/5 - Oct/2018
  3. After Anna; Lisa Scottoline (audio) - 3/5 - Oct/2018
  4. Ten Horse Farm; Robert Sabuda - (personal copy) - 5/5 (Oct/2018)
  5. Sea Prayer; Khaled Hosseini - (library) - 3.5/5 (Oct/2018)
  6. Waking Up White; Debby Irving NF- (library) 4/5 (Oct/2018)
  7. An Unwanted Guest; Shari Lapena (library) 4.5/5 (Oct/2018)
  8. No Good Asking; Fran Kimmel (ARC) 4.5/5 (Oct/2018)
  9. The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal & Hysteria in 1692 Salem; Stacy Schiff (NF) (book group) - 3/5 Oct/2018 
  10. After You; Jojo Moyes - (personal copy) - 4/5 (Oct/2018)
  11. Still Me; Jojo Moyes - (personal copy) 3.5/5 (Oct/2018)
  12. Family Trust; Kathy Wang (eGalley) - 4/5 (Oct/2018)
  13. Sight; Jessie Greengrass (ARC) 2/5 - (Oct/2018)
  14. Twelve Patients: Life & Death at Bellevue Hospital; Eric Manheimer MD (NF) (library) - 3/5 (Oct/2018)
  15. Where the Crawdads Sing; Delia Owens (eGalley) - 4.5/5 - (Oct/2018) - no review yet
YTD Total - (97)

Plans for November:

How was your month? any Plans for November?

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Vox; Christina Dalcher




Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book that they are reading or plan to read.

Vox; Christina Dalcher
Berkley - 2018

ONE

"If anyone told me I could bring down the president, and the Pure Movement, and that incompetent little shit, Morgan LeBron in a week's time, I wouldn't believe them.  But I wouldn't argue. I wouldn't say a thing.

I've become a woman of few words."

What do you think? Read more or pass? (My DIL told me about this one and I thought it sounded good).

Monday, October 29, 2018

Twelve Patients: Life and Death at Bellevue Hospital; Eric Manheimer, M.D.



AUTHOR: Eric Manheimer, M.D.
PUBLISHER: Grand Central Publishing
PUB. YEAR: 2012
SETTING:  NYC
FORMAT:  - library
RATING: 3.5/5 stars

Twelve Patients is a memoir and more written by the former (13) year medical director of Bellevue Hospital, the oldest public hospital in NYC.  This story was the inspiration for the new 2018, weekly medical series, New Amsterdam, which we've been watching and enjoying.

As Manheimer is put in charge with getting the medical team and hospital back on track, he a;p learns he has cancer and is forced to deal with his own illness. In addition to his story we read the stories of (12) different patients in medical crisis, Many of the stories involve individuals who never benefited from preventative health services before their situations reached too critical to cure levels. From prison inmates, illegal immigrants, the homeless and even a Wall Street executive, were just some of the stories Manheimer shares. Some of these stories end well, some do not, but, it was easy to be drawn into lives of these patients. 

Overall, this was a decent read,  even though I found the details about government regulations and drug companies a little dry and less interesting than the rest of the book. If you like non-fiction or stories of medical crises, try this one.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Sight; Jessie Greengrass


TITLE: Sight
AUTHOR: Jessie Greengrass
PUBLISHER: Hogarth
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  
FORMAT:  - ARC
RATING: 2/5 stars

I not sure what I was expecting when I decided to read this brief novel (less than 200 pages), but I can honestly say, it just was not my "cup of tea".

An unnamed narrator is expecting her second child and spends a great deal of time obsessing about everything: her first born growing up and away from her, her mother's death when she 20, the father who left her, a less than sensitive psychoanalyst grandmother and more.

I found the stream of consciousness writing style was somewhat off putting; the thoughts jump from one worried thought to another. There are lots of heavy themes in this short novel as well. Sorry I just can't recommend this one, it's depressing.

The Witches: Suspicion, Betrayal & Hysteria in 1692 Salem; Stacy Schiff




AUTHOR: Stacy Schiff
PUBLISHER: Little Brown
PUB. YEAR: 2015
SETTING:  MA
FORMAT:  - print
RATING: 3/5 stars

The Witches was our book group pick for October, most of us were looking forward to it.  I think for many of us there has always been a fascination with the New England witch hysteria and subsequent executions which resulted in some 59 trials, lasting less than a year, in which 19 individuals were hanged.

It all began in Massachusetts when the 11 year old niece of a minister and her 9 year old cousin became hysterical, claiming they were being bitten and chased by something invisible. (Mind you it was the dead of winter, there was no electricity, 2 kids in the dark of night who were probably just bored.)

Our Discussion - Out of about 10 who attended our meeting, no one finished the entire book. Most found the 500+ page textbook like style to be rambling and unfocused with too many names to keep track of.  Although the book seemed well-researched, most agreed that it was not well organized and that the writing style was dry.  Lot's of detail and footnotes galore.

Have you read this one? If so what did you think?

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Family Trust; Kathy Wang



TITLE: Family Trust
AUTHOR: Kathy Wang
PUBLISHER: William Morrow
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Silicon Valley, CA
FORMAT:  - (eGalley)
RATING: 4/5 stars

Stanley Huang has long claimed to have it all. Once a poor man in China, through hard work he has attained the American dream and should now be enjoying life. On the contrary, Stanley has been given a death sentence, diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, he's forced to get his affairs in order and quick.

Family Trust is a complicated and sometimes funny family drama told from alternating POVs.  There is Linda, Stanley's ex-wife, who was married to him for 34 years. She wants to make sure that the couples (2) adult children get the bulk of his inheritance and not his much younger current wife, Mary.  There is son Fred, is a Harvard Business grad, who hasn't quite attained the corporate prestige and recognition he had hoped for.  Daughter, Kate, is a working mom, supporting a husband who has been trying to get a business off the ground and, lastly, Mary, the much younger current wife of Stanley, who has been married to Stanley for 9 years.

I loved the way the story is told, the various POVs and terrific character development worked well.  Although I disliked a couple of the characters, some of the things that happen to them at times were so funny that I could overlook their short comings.  I thought this was a well written and engaging debut novel about an Asian American family and life in Silicon Valley. It was, in some ways, was reminiscent of The Nest

Thursday, October 25, 2018

No Good Asking; Fran Kimmel


AUTHOR: Fran Kimmel
PUBLISHER: ECW Press
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Canada
FORMAT:  - print
RATING: 4.5/5 stars


No Good Asking is a quiet yet moving story, set in rural Canada about the power to heal the human spirit.

Hannah is an 11 year old girl whose mother has died. She was left living with her mother's abusive ex-boyfriend.  As the story opens she is spotted walking on a rural snowy road on a cold December night and appears bloodied.

Eric Nyland is in law enforcement, he spots her, rescues her and brings her home to stay with his family: wife Ellie, son Daniel 14 and autistic son Sammy, age 5, until other arrangements can be made.  Hannah's stay initially places undue stresses on this already troubled family, but as days pass her presence and positive attitude brings about subtle changes which may be just what this family needs to heal.

Told from the POV of Eric, Ellie, Daniel and Hannah, No Good Asking is a beautifully written story about kindness and its power to transform and heal.  Kindness is something the world needs more of these days. I thought this was a beautiful book.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - In Pieces; Sally Field


Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book that they are reading or plan to read.

In Pieces: a memoir; Sally Field
Grand Central Publishing - 2018

1
My Grandmother's Daughter

"I WAIT FOR my mother to haunt me as she promised she would; long to wake in the night with the familiar sight of her sitting at the end of my bed, to talk to her one more time, to feel that all the pieces have been put into place, the puzzle is solved, and I can rest.

Sometimes I think I've seen something out of the corner of my eye and I stop still in the middle of my Pacific Palisades kitchen, looking for the flutter of a sign; or I'm walking in the West Village, headed to my New York apartment, loaded down with groceries, when I hear her laugh ring out.  I turn in circles looking for her. Where are you mom? Why won't you come?"

What do you think, Any interest in this one? 

I love a good memoir and this one has been getting great reviews. Thanks to Grand Central Publishing for sending me this boo.

Monday, October 22, 2018

JoJo Moyes - After You and Still Me - 2 quick reviews

I read Me Before You, the first book in this 3 book trilogy in 2012, and, despite loving that book, books 2 and 3 of the trilogy sat on my shelves unread until this month. Here are a couple of brief reviews.


After You; Jojo Moyes
Penguin - 2015

TITLE: After You
AUTHOR: Jojo Moyes
PUBLISHER: Penguin
PUB. YEAR: 2015
SETTING:  UK
FORMAT:  - print
RATING: 4/5 stars

Book #2 takes place 18 months after the death of quadriplegic, Will Traynor. Louisa Clark was Will's caregiver and the two were in love.  Louisa is trying to get over Will's death, and with some money Will left her in his will,  she moves from her parents home in a small English village to a small flat in London. She's attending a support group with others who are grieving and still works as a barmaid at an airport bar.  However, we an accident leaves her unable to care for herself, she moves back to her parents until she recovers.

An unexpected visit from a 16 y/old girl named Lily who needs a place to stay takes Louisa by surprise, reminding her once again about the young man she lost and the fact that life does go on after a loved one dies.

I liked this one, perhaps not as much as book #1, but a good story all the same. This story winds down with Louisa receiving a job offer in the US, leaving a nice change of scene opportunity for Louisa in book #3.  I think most fans of Jojo Moyes should be pleased with this story.


Still Me; Jojo Moyes
Pamela Dorman Books - 2018

TITLE: Still Me
AUTHOR: Jojo Moyes
PUBLISHER: Pamela Dorman Books
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  NYC
FORMAT:  - print
RATING: 3.5/5 stars


In Still Me, book #3, of the Me Before You trilogy, Louisa (Lou) has accepted a one year assignment as a social secretary to the wealthy Gopnik family in New York City.  Leonard Gopnik's new, younger wife Agnes, his formerly his masseuse, is feeling like a fish out of water.  As wife #2, this Polish immigrant is insecure about her new role and higher social class. The Gopniks occupy a 7,000 square foot 5th Avenue apartment overlooking Central Park. Louisa has a calming effect for Agnes yet, Lou must keep a delicate balance to ensure she doesn't overstep her role and lose her paycheck in the process.  Meanwhile, Louisa has met Joshua, a handsome young man, who reminds her of the love she lost, but, is she capable of keeping her emotions in check and her new life separate from the one she left behind?

This wasn't perfect but, I did enjoy watching Louisa navigate big city life in a new country.  A fun follow up novel overall.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

An Unwanted Guest; Shari Lapena



AUTHOR: Shari Lapena
PUBLISHER: Pamela Dorman Books
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Upstate NY
FORMAT:  - print (library)
RATING: 4.5/5 stars

Mitchell's Inn, a remote getaway nestled in the Catskill Mountains of NY is the perfect place for recharging oneself or for a romantic getaway. There's a wood burning fireplace, a wine cellar, a library full of books and games and more.  The snow is falling and soon a major blizzard and ice storm is in full play. The guests: an attractive wealthy young engaged couple, a middle aged couple whose marriage is on the rocks, two female friends, a female author working on a novel, a NYC lawyer acquitted of his wife's murder and the inn keeper and his son.

On the first night the storm has caused the Inn to lose power, the generator is not working, no phone, no WIFI, and everyone's cell phones are losing their charge.  Sometime during the night a woman's body is found at the bottom of the staircase and it looks like an accident, but is it?  The ice and blizzard prevent the medical examiner from promptly removing the body which puts the other guests on edge.  However, when a second and eventually third person dies, everyone is a suspect.

It seems that almost every guest has a secret which are slowly revealed. This is a fast-paced whodunit, reminiscent of Agatha Christie's "And Then There Were None". I must say, I liked the modern feel of this one, and, I didn't guess who the murderer was either. There were plenty of red-herrings to throw me off track.

I was happy to pick this one up from the library as I liked the author's 2 earlier books. The cover art really drew me and I thought it was just perfect based on how the story plays out.

Waking Up White and Finding Myself in the Story of Race; Debby Irving


AUTHOR: Debby Irving
PUBLISHER: Elephant Room Press
PUB. YEAR: 2014
SETTING:  MA (mostly)
FORMAT:  - print (library)
RATING: 4/5 stars

The author, Debby Irving, is a white woman of privilege. She was born in 1960, one of 5 children who grew up in an exclusive Boston suburb. There was a family summer home in Maine, country club membership and for activities: swimming, tennis, sailing and golf.  She identified as 100% New England WASP with roots back to the Mayflower. Her family was a successful lot of bankers, lawyers and businessmen. As she grew up, she was well aware of racial tensions, and, often found herself worrying about offending people of color, the very people that deep down she was trying to befriend.  She sought to understand more.

There were some aspects of this book that was an eye-opener for me, a middle class white woman, who never considered myself racist. For example, I never knew that the GI Bill of 1944 was not accessible to black veterans when it was instituted nor, did I realize that less than 2% of new housing in 1962 went to people of color.  There were other examples of how people of color have been excluded from programs white people have taken for granted.

The author had an opportunity to attend some insightful classes and other coursework in racial and cultural identity issues.  At the end of each chapter of this book there are questions posed to the reader to make you think about how you might react to various situations. It makes you consider the way people of color have been, or continue to be, impacted by the fact that most white people, from childhood, have been conditioned to feel superior.  Well-written and informative.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

A Star is Born (2018) WOW


I've seen this gem, directed by Bradley Cooper, twice already and can't sing its praises enough.  I'm not an emotional person by nature nor, was I a Lady Gaga fan, but this movie stirred all sorts of emotions in me, in the best possible way.

Lady Gaga is a struggling service worker with a beautiful voice. Bradley Cooper, is a rock musician with addiction issues and a hearing disability, who by chance discovers Ally's musical talent and a quick mutual attraction draws them together.  The two are amazing, the acting, the singing -- just the perfect chemistry and the music is so moving. 

It's funny, I've never been a Barbra Streisand fan, so the 1970s version of this movie never really appealed to me, but, this modern version, IMO, is not to missed.

Have you seen it? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I had to purchase the soundtrack, so awesome.


Monday, October 15, 2018

Sea Prayer; Khaled Hosseini



TITLE: Sea Prayer
AUTHOR: Khaled Hosseini
PUBLISHER: Riverhead Books
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Syria/Turkey
FORMAT:  - print
RATING: 3.5/5 stars


"Inspired by the story of Alan Kurdi , a 3 year old Syrian refugee, who drowned in the Mediterranean Sea trying to reach safety in Europe in 2015.  In the year after Alan's death 4,176 others died or went missing attempting the same journey."

This was a very short story but powerful story. It's a message from a father to his young son on the eve before the two will attempt to free Syria's war zone for the hope of a better life.

This book is targeted for ages 7 and up.  The vivid watercolor images, the message emphasizing the refugee crisis are well done but, I thought the story may be difficult for some younger children to fully understand. The proceeds from the sale of this book will go to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Ten Horse Farm, a pop-up book by Robert Sabuda



AUTHOR: Robert Sabuda
PUBLISHER: Candlewick Press
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  N/A
FORMAT:  - print
RATING: 5/5 stars


One of our granddaughters is crazy about horses and at age 4 has even begun riding lessons inside a local stable where she attended summer camp.  When I first learned Robert Sabuda, known for his outstanding pop-up books (we own several) had a new book about horses, I had to get. It's outstanding.

Just take a look at the 3-D, pop up illustrations (I've included pics of just a few) and how they come to life and pop off the pages. The quality of the book, the color combinations and the fine detail paid to every single page makes this book a winner and for sure a keeper.

If you have a horse lover in your family, be sure to buy a copy of this one.










Tuesday, October 9, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - No Good Asking; Fran Kimmel



Each Tuesday, Vicki, from I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (sometime two) of a book that they are reading or plan to read.


No Good Asking; Fran Kimmel
ECW Press - 2018

One

They All Come From Somewhere
Friday, December 20

"From a distance, it looked like a small smear of blood on a white blanket.  Perhaps a wounded coyote, staggering along the road in the relentless wind.  Eric drove on, a flurry of white surrounding his car, keeping to the faint tracks he'd made the day before.  As he drew nearer, the speck transformed into a withered old man, startling him with legs, arms, torso bent into a gale.  But it was worse yet.  He finally recognized the shape as a young girl.  People didn't walk along his road, not out here in the middle of nowhere.  Not a girl, certainly not in this weather."

Does this one appeal to you?  I'm looking forward to beginning this one soon.