Thursday, August 30, 2018

My How I Did with My Summer Reading List 2018

UPDATE - At the start of summer I chose (10) books I planned to read and from that original list, I ended up reading 7 of them (highlighted below). I did have a great summer and read 29 books from June 1- today - 8/30/2018)

Did you make a summer list? If so, how did you do?

I've been meaning to post my summer reading list since Memorial Day but the month of June sort of got away from me.  I have been busy reading and listening to a variety of audio books as well.  Here are (10) books that caught my eye this summer. (a few of them have been on my list for a few years).

  1. Baby Teeth; Zoje Stage -  4/5 - no review yet We Need to Talk About Kevin meets Gone Girl meets The Omen...a twisty, delirious read that will constantly question your sympathies for the two characters as their bond continues to crumble.”―Entertainment Weekly
  2. 84, Charing Cross Road; Helene Haniff -  - 5/5 - loved it "84, Charing Cross Road will beguile and put you in tune with mankind... It will provide an emollient for the spirit and sheath for the exposed nerve." -- The New York Times
  3. Clock Dance; Anne Tyler -  4/5 - no review yet "A bittersweet, hope-filled look at two quirky families that have broken apart and are trying to find their way back to one another . . . The cast of sharply drawn characters dominates in ways both reflective and raucous across a series of emotional events.”
    Publishers Weekly
  4. The Dry; Jane Harper - A small town hides big secrets in The Dry, an atmospheric, page-turning debut mystery by award-winning author Jane Harper.
  5. The Outsider; Stephen King - 4/5 - An unspeakable crime. A confounding investigation. At a time when the King brand has never been stronger, he has delivered one of his most unsettling and compulsively readable stories. (completed 4/5)
  6. The Other Mother; Carol Goodman - 3.5/5 - “An atmospheric and harrowing tale, richly literary in complexity but ripe with all the crazed undertones, confusions, and forebodings inherent in the gothic genre. Recommend this riveting, du Maurier–like novel to fans of Jennifer McMahon.” — Booklist (starred review)
  7. Made for Love; Alissa Nutting - From the exciting and provocative writer of Tampa, a poignant, riotously funny story of how far some will go for love—and how far some will go to escape it. 
  8. The House Swap; Rebecca Fleet - 3.5/5 - " She may not know exactly who is in her house. But she knows why they are there.  A house swap becomes the eerie backdrop to a chilling look inside a broken marriage filled with tantalizing secrets."
  9. Something in the Water; Catherine Steadman - “With unreliable characters, wry voices, exquisite pacing, and a twisting plot, Steadman potently draws upon her acting chops. . . . A darkly glittering gem of a thriller from a new writer to watch.”Kirk's Reviews (starred review)
  10. Moonglow; Michael Chabon -  read 200+ pages but DNF “A wondrous book that celebrates the power of family bonds and the slipperiness of memory….A thoroughly enchanting story about the circuitous path that a life follows, about the accidents that redirect it, and about the secrets that can be felt but never seen, like the dark matter at the center of every family’s cosmos.” (Ron Charles, The Washington Post)
Do any of these appeal to you?  Have you posted a list of your own?

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Visible Empire; Hannah Pittard

Visible Empire; Hannah Pittard
Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt - 2018

The Visible Empire is a work of fiction that was inspired by the Air France at Orly crash of 1962, when a Boeing 707 leaving Paris crashes shortly after takeoff.  In this crash over 100 prominent individuals, white elites, from Atlanta, who were part of a museum tour group were killed.  What follows is the backstory of some who were killed and of those individuals they left behind.

I had mixed feelings about this book, it had a book to movie feel about it. The story is told by a series of alternating characters. I thought there were too many characters and too little detail about some of them.  This book would make a great choice for book groups as there is plenty to discuss. Race and  civil rights issues in the 1960s South, will evoke emotions from some readers, a time when lynching was still occurring. I was not surprised that the flawed characters and white privilege allowed individuals to make poor life choices without suffering any consequences. There was only one character I really cared anything about, Piedmont was a young black man whose life changes unexpectedly.

Rating - 3.5/5 stars

The Japanese Lover; Isabel Allende

The Japanese Lover was our August book group pick.  Unfortunately, most of us had lots of issues with this story.

First, here's a description of the story line ---

In 1939, as Poland falls under the shadow of the Nazis, young Alma Belasco’s parents send her away to live in safety with an aunt and uncle in their opulent mansion in San Francisco. There, as the rest of the world goes to war, she encounters Ichimei Fukuda, the quiet and gentle son of the family’s Japanese gardener. Unnoticed by those around them, a tender love affair begins to blossom. Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the two are cruelly pulled apart as Ichimei and his family—like thousands of other Japanese Americans—are declared enemies and forcibly relocated to internment camps run by the United States government. Throughout their lifetimes, Alma and Ichimei reunite again and again, but theirs is a love that they are forever forced to hide from the world.

Decades later, Alma is nearing the end of her long and eventful life. Irina Bazili, a care worker struggling to come to terms with her own troubled past, meets the elderly woman and her grandson, Seth, at San Francisco’s charmingly eccentric Lark House nursing home. As Irina and Seth forge a friendship, they become intrigued by a series of mysterious gifts and letters sent to Alma, eventually learning about Ichimei and this extraordinary secret passion that has endured for nearly seventy years.

Group Comments -

  • Book was poorly written - grammar, lack of punctuation, just a bad translation in general
  • Might have benefited from some actual dialogue
  • It seemed like the author tried to throw in every issue she could think of - WWII, Japanese Internment camps, racism, illegal abortion, homosexuality, sex trafficking, child porn, assisted suicide and even AIDS
  • Alma, the main character, was a selfish individual that was hard to sympathize with. She was a woman living in wealth yet she would meet her lover at a run-down, rat infested, motel.
  • Irina was unlikeable as well: she spies on Alma and, although she had 3 jobs, she lives in a rat infested place with no bathroom and even has to shower at the old age home where she worked.
  • Overall opinion was - Disappointing
My Rating - 2/5 stars

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Perfect Couple; Elin Hilderbrand

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.  

The Perfect Couple; Elin Hildebrand
Little Brown & Company - 2018


"A call before six on a Saturday morning is never a good thing, although it's not unheard of on a holiday weekend.  Too many times to count, Chief Ed Kapxnash of the Nantucket Police Department has seen the Fourth of July go sideways. The most common accident is a person blowing off a finger while lighting fireworks.  Sometimes things are more serious.  One year, they lost a swimmer to a riptide; another year a man drank ten shots of Patron Anejo and then did a backflip off the roof of the Allserve building and hit the water in such a way that his neck snapped. There are generally enough drunk and disorderliness to fill a sightseeing bus, as well as dozens of fistfights, a handful of which are so serious that the police have to get involved."

I have the audio version of this one and hope to start it today. I love books that take place on Nantucket.

What do you think read more or pass?

Sunday, August 26, 2018

a few new books

I've been doing a lot of reading but, I still need to find time to catch up on my reviews so for now here are a few new arrivals that sound really good to me. Thank you to St. Martin's Press; Grand Central Publishing; William Morrow and Atria for sending me these books .

Do any of these appeal to you?

Two estranged sisters, raised in Brooklyn and each burdened with her own shocking secret, are reunited at the Springfield Armory in the early days of WWII. While one sister lives in relative ease on the bucolic Armory campus as an officer’s wife, the other arrives as a war widow and takes a position in the Armory factories as a “soldier of production.” Resentment festers between the two, and secrets are shattered when a mysterious figure from the past reemerges in their lives.
  • The Other Sister; Sarah Zettel - (Grand Central Publishing)Everyone thought reckless, troubled Geraldine Monroe was the bad sister-especially when she fled town after her mother's death twenty-five years ago.

    But people don't know the truth.

    Marie Monroe knows. She was there for their father's cruel punishments, the constant manipulation, the lies. Everyone thinks she's the perfect daughter-patient and kind, and above all obedient. No one would suspect her of anything. Especially not murder.

    Now Geraldine's home again, and she and Marie have united in a plan for the ultimate revenge. But when old secrets and new fears clash, everyone is pushed to the breaking point . . . and the sisters will learn that they can't trust anyone-not even each other.

  • November Road; Lou Berney - (William Morrow) - Set against the assassination of JFK, a poignant and evocative crime novel that centers on a desperate cat-and-mouse chase across 1960s America—a story of unexpected connections, daring possibilities, and the hope of second chances from the Edgar Award-winning author of The Long and Faraway Gone.
    Frank Guidry’s luck has finally run out.
    A loyal street lieutenant to New Orleans’ mob boss Carlos Marcello, Guidry has learned that everybody is expendable. But now it’s his turn—he knows too much about the crime of the century: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
    Within hours of JFK’s murder, everyone with ties to Marcello is turning up dead, and Guidry suspects he’s next: he was in Dallas on an errand for the boss less than two weeks before the president was shot. With few good options, Guidry hits the road to Las Vegas, to see an old associate—a dangerous man who hates Marcello enough to help Guidry vanish.
    Guidry knows that the first rule of running is "don’t stop," but when he sees a beautiful housewife on the side of the road with a broken-down car, two little daughters and a dog in the back seat, he sees the perfect disguise to cover his tracks from the hit men on his tail. Posing as an insurance man, Guidry offers to help Charlotte reach her destination, California. If she accompanies him to Vegas, he can help her get a new car.
    For her, it’s more than a car— it’s an escape. She’s on the run too, from a stifling existence in small-town Oklahoma and a kindly husband who’s a hopeless drunk.
    It’s an American story: two strangers meet to share the open road west, a dream, a hope—and find each other on the way.
    Charlotte sees that he’s strong and kind; Guidry discovers that she’s smart and funny. He learns that’s she determined to give herself and her kids a new life; she can’t know that he’s desperate to leave his old one behind.
    Another rule—fugitives shouldn’t fall in love, especially with each other. A road isn’t just a road, it’s a trail, and Guidry’s ruthless and relentless hunters are closing in on him. But now Guidry doesn’t want to just survive, he wants to really live, maybe for the first time.
    Everyone’s expendable, or they should be, but now Guidry just can’t throw away the woman he’s come to love.
    And it might get them both killed.

  • Blind Kiss; Renee Carlino - (Atria) -Penny spends her afternoons sitting outside a sandwich shop, surrounded by ghosts. Fourteen years ago, this shop was her childhood dance studio—and she was a dancer on the rise. Now she’s a suburban housewife, dreading the moment her son departs for MIT, leaving her with an impeccably decorated McMansion and a failing marriage. She had her chance at wild, stars-in-her-eyes happiness, but that was a lifetime ago. After The Kiss. Before The Decision.

    The Kiss was soulful. Magical. Earth-shattering. And it was all for a free gift card. Asked to participate in a psych study that posed the question, “Can you have sexual chemistry without knowing what the other person looks like?” Penny agreed to be blindfolded, make polite conversation with a total stranger, and kiss him. She never expected The Kiss to change her life forever and introduce her to Gavin: tattooed, gorgeous, and spontaneous enough to ask her out seconds after the blindfolds came off.

    For a year, they danced between friendship and romance—until Penny made The Decision that forced them to settle for friendship. Now, fourteen years later, both of their lives are about to radically change—and it’s his turn to decide what will become of their once-in-a-lifetime connection.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Calypso; David Sedaris

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.  David Sedaris, is one of my "go to" authors for when I need some comic relief. Looking forward to beginning his latest book.

Calypso; David Sedaris
Little Brown - 2018

Company Man

"Though there's an industry built telling you otherwise, there are few real joys to middle age.  The only perk I can see is that, with luck, you'll acquire a guest room.  Some people get one by default when their kids leave home, and others, like me, eventually trade up and land a bigger house.  "Follow me." I now say.  The room I lead our visitors to has not been hastily rearranged to accommodate them.  It does not double as an office or weaving nook but, exists for only one purpose.  I have furnished it with a bed rather than a fold-out sofa, and against one wall, just like in the hotel, I've placed a luggage rack.  The best feature, though, is its private bathroom.

"If you prefer a shower to a tub, I can put you upstairs in the second guest room," I say.  "There's a luggage rack up there as well." I hear these words coming from my puppet-lined mouth and shiver with middle-aged satisfaction..  Yes, my hair is gray and thinning.  Yes, the washer on my penis has worn out, leaving me to dribble urine long after I've zipped my trousers back up.  But I have two guest rooms."

Have you ever tried this author? Pass or Read more?

Monday, August 20, 2018

he Other Mother; Carol Goodman

The Other Mother; Carol Goodman
William Morrow - 2018

Daphne Marist is a struggling new mother with a fussy, 6 month old daughter -- Chloe. Daphne is dealing with postpartum depression which is affecting her marriage.  At her controlling husband Peter's insistence, she agrees to join a support group for new mothers.

At this group Daphne becomes fast friends with Laurel, another young mom who also has an infant daughter named -- Chloe.  Laurel is everything that Daphne is not - sophisticated and strong. Before long the two women even start dressing alike (initially, I'm thinking about the movie, Single White Female). It isn't long before the lives of these women become entwined.  Enough said!

I don't want to give away any of those twisty spoilers and there are a few.  The Other Mother is one of those psychological thrillers that will make you quickly turn the pages, maybe sometimes scratching your head, trying to figure out what is going on.  Although I thought some of this was so far-fetched, it was fun, twisty read overall.

One thing I do love about this author's books is that they are always atmospheric -- this one has a remote stone mansion in the Catskills with a mental hospital close by.

Rating - 3/5/5 stars 

Sunday, August 19, 2018

The House Swap; Rebecca Fleet

The House Swap; Rebecca Fleet
Pamela Dorman Books - 2018

Personally, as a private person, I think the whole idea of a "house swap" is rather creepy. I'd never consider it, but, that is the set up for this novel.

Can a  one week "house swap" fix a crumbling marriage and a steamy affair?"  Caroline and Francis, who have been having some marriage difficulties, are willing to give this a try. In 2013, Francis was a therapist with some sort of a pill addiction. His wife, Caroline was the breadwinner, with primary responsibility for parenting are in need of an escape.  She begins an affair which a much younger man as a way to cope with the stresses at home. 

Now in 2015, they decide to swap their flat for a week with the owner of a house in an upscale London suburb, leaving their young son with Caroline's mother.  

When the couple arrives at their Chiswick, London house swap they finds the place oddly sterile with only the bare necessities. It almost looks like the house was staged. It isn't long before things begin to happen that seem to indicate that whoever owns the place knows too much about Caroline and about her past. There's also an attractive woman next door who seems to be a bit too friendly that adds to the creep factor.

This is a psychological thriller complete with flawed, unlikable character and some sex as well.  I found the first half of the book easy to put down and harder to pick up as it seemed to take forever for the story to get going, taking me 2 weeks to finish this one.  The story is told mostly from Caroline's POV both prior to the house swap and the present.  I actually felt sorry for their young son Eddie, even though he was a very minor character, as this couple were not good parents. 

Rating - 3.5/5 stars

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Other Mother; Carol Goodman

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.

The Other Mother; Carol Goodman
William Morrow - 2018

Part 1

Chapter One

"She's crying again.

I don't know why I say again.  Sometimes it seems as if she's done nothing but cry since she was born.  As if she'd come into this world with a grudge."

 I read a few favorable reviews on this one, what do you think?

Monday, August 13, 2018

Go Ask Fannie; Elisabeth Hyde

Go Ask Fannie; Elisabeth Hyde
G.P. Putnam -2018

Murray Blaire is 81 and has been a widower for over 30 years. A tragic car accident took the life of his wife Lillian as well as their son Daniel who was 15 at the time.

At Murray's request, over the course of a weekend, his grown children gather at their father's rural New Hampshire farm home. The three very different siblings - Ruth, controlling, Lizzie, a free spirit with a much older boyfriend and, George, the overly sentimental son.  Each sibling has their own issues which are revealed as the weekend progresses.

The "Fannie" at the center of the story is a reference to an old-time cookbook called, The Fannie Farmer Cookbook", a beloved item, complete with the cryptic margin jottings by the late mother.  The cookbook, like Lillian, has met with an unfortunate ending.

Although this story wasn't perfect, it was engaging. I like stories about dysfunctional families and this one had well-crafted characters and plenty of drama to hold my interest.

Rating - 4/5 stars

Sunday, August 12, 2018

I Love Candlewick Press - New Books for Fall-2018

Lovely books that 3 to 7 year olds will just love. The illustrations and the stories are so well done.

The Stuff of Stars, Marion Dane Bauer


In an astonishing unfurling of our universe, Newbery Honor winner Marion Dane Bauer and Caldecott Honor winner Ekua Holmes celebrate the birth of every child.

Before the universe was formed, before time and space existed, there was . . . nothing. But then . . . BANG! Stars caught fire and burned so long that they exploded, flinging stardust everywhere. And the ash of those stars turned into planets. Into our Earth. And into us. In a poetic text, Marion Dane Bauer takes readers from the trillionth of a second when our universe was born to the singularities that became each one of us, while vivid illustrations by Ekua Holmes capture the void before the Big Bang and the ensuing life that burst across galaxies. A seamless blend of science and art, this picture book reveals the composition of our world and beyond — and how we are all the stuff of stars.

by: David Ezra Stein


Surprise! The little red chicken is back — and as endearingly silly as ever — in David Ezra Stein’s follow-up to the Caldecott Honor–winning Interrupting Chicken.

It’s homework time for the little red chicken, who has just learned about something every good story should have: an elephant of surprise. Or could it be an element of surprise (as her amused papa explains)? As they dive in to story after story, looking for the part that makes a reader say “Whoa! I didn’t know that was going to happen,” Papa is sure he can convince Chicken he’s right. After all, there are definitely no elephants in “The Ugly Duckling,” “Rapunzel,” or “The Little Mermaid” — or are there? Elephant or element, something unexpected awaits Papa in every story, but a surprise may be in store for the little red chicken as well. Full of the same boisterous charm that made Interrupting Chicken so beloved by readers, this gleeful follow-up is sure to delight fans of stories, surprises, and elephants alike.

by: Bethany Deeney Murgula
September - 2018


Is believing in magic the key to seeing a unicorn? If you keep your eyes open to wonder, the possibilities are endless.

Is that a horse wearing a hat? It’s definitely not a unicorn in disguise — that would be ridiculous, right? It’s probably just a horse that’s having a bad hair day. Or trying to keep the sun out of its eyes. Or perhaps this horse just really likes hats! If you follow it long enough, maybe it will take off its hat and you’ll finally know for sure. Or will you? It’s all a matter of perspective in this cheerful, cheeky story about seeing magic in the everyday.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

2 books by Ellen Meeropol - House Arrest and Kinship of Clover

When I found out that the author resides in an area where I grew up, I decided to research her a bit. A former Nurse Practitioner, she began writing fiction in her 50's. Her fiction explores medical ethics, political activism and family life.  

A founding member of the Rosenberg Fund for Children, her husband, Robert Meeropol, was the youngest son of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg who were executed in 1953, accused and convicted of running a spy ring to help the Soviet Union make an atomic bomb. I was more than a little shocked making this connection but, I do recall seeing this sad story on news a few years ago.

2011 - Red Hen Press

In House Arrest, Emily Klein is a home visit nurse who is given a new pregnant client, Pippa Glenning. Pippa is on home confinement until the trial resulting from her young daughter's death in a cult-like ritual.  If Pippa plays by the rules she may be allowed to keep this baby, and just be on parole for 3 years after the baby is born. Pippa, however, is torn and feels she must find a way to participate in an upcoming cult Solstice ceremony which means ignoring her "house arrest".

House Arrest was a short, debut novel which made me feel sad at times for Pippa and the circumstances that lead to her daughter's death and her subsequent home confinement.  Initially, I  was surprised by how quickly Emily and Pippa began to develop a concern for each other but, Emily's family circumstances do make this easier to understand. The novel had several other characters that were introduced but not in too much detail. I liked that the novel reflected the names of actual places that I am well familiar with in that the author is from the area where I grew up.  Note - A family cat ends up dead in this story which bothered me.

Rating - 4/5 stars

2017 - Red Hen Press

Kinship of Clover is a novel which reintroduces a few of the characters from House Arrest.  I actually read this book first without realizing it and it worked out just fine for me.

Jeremy and Tim are twins from an unconventional family. Their parents  were sentenced to prison for criminal negligence which resulted from the deaths of 2 young children who froze to death in a park in 2005.  When Jeremy was a 9 year old child he claimed to have felt plants wrap themselves around him and borrow into his skin during a greenhouse funeral ceremony. Now, a Botany major at the University of Massachusetts, Jeremy is upset about the variety of plants that are becoming extinct because of ecological changes.  When his passion for endangered species at college is perceived to be a little over the top, college officials, concerned for his well-being take action and place him on leave, reuniting him with his twin brother in Brooklyn. But, in Brooklyn Jeremey's passion for the environment is still front and center. He becomes involved with some eco-terrorists that just might not have his best interest in mind.

In this novel a few new family members are introduced which include,  Flo, grandmother and aging political activist who is dealing with dementia. Zoe, Flo's granddaughter, who has spina bifida, Tian, the cultish leader whose children froze to death in 2005.

This book addressed some tough issues, the environment, trauma, Alzheimer's and the importance of finding ones place in life.  Like House Arrest, I loved the references to familiar places as well as the political and social justice issues covered.  I felt this book was fairly well written, although a bit slow at times, but, ultimately what started out as somewhat sad story made me feel hopeful by the end.

I plan to read the author's other book, On Hurricane Island (2015), touted as a "fast-paced political thriller" soon.

Rating - 4/5 stars

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

2 - Non-Fiction - audiobooks - Educated; T. Westover and The Death of Truth; M. Kakutani

Educated: A Memoir; Tara Westover
Random House Audio - 2018

We listened to this audiobook on a recent road trip and although the narration was very good, read by Julia Whalen, we just didn't love this story as much as many other readers. 

For those who haven't read it, the author was one of many children born to Morman, survivalist parents in Idaho.  The mother was a self-taught herbalist and midwife, the father operated a junk yard and was paranoid of the government.  The children didn't even know their actual birthdates or have birth certificates for a long while. They never saw a doctor or visited a hospital even for serious burns and injuries.  The father was sometimes abusive, probably the result of undiagnosed bi-polar disorder. Home schooled, the author claims she never set foot in a classroom until the age of 17 but began teaching herself math and grammar and was admitted to Brigham Young University where she studied history and later attended Cambridge and received a Phd from Harvard.

Maybe I'm just a skeptic but, I found some of this memoir quite far-fetched as to just how this wilderness girl, without formal education, was able to figure out the multi-faceted college application, entrance exam process, etc. to make the college experience a reality, especially since she wasn't given a full scholarship and her father had opposed formal education.

Although the first half of this book was quite interesting, learning about the family dynamics, overall, this was a just okay memoir for us.

Rating - 3/5 stars

Michiko Kakutani - Random House Audio - 2018

This was another non-fiction audiobook that we listened to this summer as we traveled.  This is one of those books that most likely will only be read by readers who are outraged by the current political climate and the cultural forces that allow the President to continue to say the things he says, discrediting the media, conspiracy theories and proven science.

The book is short, well-organized and informative.  It examines the state of the world,  the phenomenon of "fake-news", racist ideologies, and the role of social media to fuel the fires that divide us.  There are references to Huxley's, Brave New World and Orwell's, 1984.  

Well-organized, concise and informative.  We had plenty to talk about after we finished this one.

Rating - 4.5/5 stars

The Ones We Choose; Julie Clark

The Ones We Choose; Julie Clark
Gallery Books - 2018

The Ones We Choose is a debut novel that packs a punch.  The author uses fiction and fascinating science tidbits about the DNA that shapes each of us. 

Paige Robson is a successful genetic research scientist in a small California town. Busy with her career, she soon realizes that her only chance at motherhood might be through the use of a sperm donor. 

Fast forward, Paige's son Miles is a lonely 8 year old who has issues fitting in. He also resents his mother's, kind, patient boyfriend Liam, and longs to know why he is the only child who doesn't know who his father is.  (Paige, has also had a childhood with an absent father who reappears later in the story.)

As the story progresses secrets to the identity of Miles father begin to unravel and are revealed. 

This is an amazing debut novel that blends literary fiction with science. At the beginning of each chapter are interesting genetic facts. I really enjoyed this book, a tender, heartwarming and informational read, reminding me of author, Lisa Genova.

Rating - 4.5/5 stars

Beartown; Fredrik Backman and Moonglow; Michael Chabon

 Beartown; Fredrik Backman
Atria - 2017

Beartown is a small close-knit community in Sweden, surrounded by forests.  The town doesn't have much going for it, except that it's residents are believers that a better day is coming.  The town has an ice rink and the junior teen ice hockey team are excited about competing in the semi-finals. Ice hockey and competition becomes all consuming.

There are a lot of characters in this story, each with their own story or personal issues.  The pass for the sport is felt throughout this novel, but, there are also some tough issues that surface and the execution of these difficulties is beautifully done. Bear town may be a small town but, they still must deal with many of the issues larger cities face:  Sexual assault, homophobia, bullying, peer pressure and the need to belong.

The story starts out a bit slow but once it gets going, it was hard not to become a little emotionally invested in the lives of Beartown residents. I started listening to the audio (beautifully done) and I also had the luxury of reading the print version as well. Recommended

Rating - 4/5 stars

Moonglow; Michael Chabon
Harper - 2016

Moonglow was our July book group read and of the 14 group members, only (1) liked the book (I did not like it).

The book was nearly 500 pages and touted as fictional, non fiction, as well as an autobiography wrapped in a novel, disguised as a memoir. The story unfolds as a deathbed confession of sorts of a man referred to only as "my grandfather".  Over the course of a week the reader hears tales of war, marriage, sex, the space program and more.

Here's what some of our book group members had to say -
  • the story seemed to lack focus and was hard to follow and confusing
  • oftentimes, the players were unnamed and you didn't know who was being written about
  • couldn't connect to the characters
  • the story switched back and forth in time too often, it was not put together well.
  • some really didn't care what happened to the grandfather as he came across as a mean child who grew into a mean man.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - House Arrest; Ellen Meeropol

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. 

  House Arrest; Ellen Meeropol
Red Hen Press - 2011

1 ~ Emily

"I tried to get out of the assignment.  Prenatal visits to a prisoner? Okay, house arrest, same difference.  I couldn't believe that I was supposed to take care of a woman whose child died in a cult ritual.  What kind of mother could get so involved in an oddball religion that she'd let her baby freeze to death? And what kind of name was Pippa?

Don't get me wrong. Every patient deserves expert and compassionate care.  Even the most despicable criminal.  I learned that in nursing school and I believe it, really.  Still, the assignment gave me the creeps."

What do you think? This is the author's debut novel. I recently finished another book by this author that I really enjoyed, Kinship of Clover, so decided to try her debut novel as well.