Wednesday, January 30, 2019

2 quick reviews - Waiting for Bojangles; Olivier Bourdeaut and The Whistler; John Grisham

TITLE: Waiting for Bojangles (176 pages)
AUTHOR: Olivier Bourdeaut
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING:  Paris, France
FORMAT:  - eGalley
RATING: 4.5/5

Waiting for Bojangles is a dark, touching and sometimes funny story. It's told from the POV of an unnamed, young boy growing up in an unconventional home in France with his eccentric parents George and Louise. 

His parents appear madly in love but, something is off. Everyday they enjoy colorful cocktails and dance to the song, Mr. Bojangles while George calls his wife by different first names.
In reality, Louise suffers from mental illness and George is only trying to protect his wife when those highs quickly descend to new lows.

This debut novel reads as if it could be autobiographical but, the author claims it is not.  The characters are ones that I came to care for with a feeling of real love within the family despite the sometimes unpredictable behaviors of the parents.  Although parts of this short novel made me laugh, there is also sadness within the pages as well. I do understand why this won a literary award in France.  The translation by Regan Kramer was very good.

TITLE: The Whistler (419 pages - 13 hours/audio)
AUTHOR: John Grisham
PUBLISHER: Random House Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2016
SETTING:  Florida
FORMAT:  - audio (library) - Cassandra Campbell (narrator)
RATING: 3.5/5

In this thriller, Lacy Stolz and Hugo Hatch work for the Florida Board of Judicial Conduct.  When an alleged corruption case is brought to light by a disbarred attorney, the two have their work cut out for them as their investigation takes them into dangerous territory.   The case involves a female judge who reportedly has been taking in $250,000 each month in Indian gaming casino profits for the last 11 years.

The Indian gaming casino, a corrupt chief, skimming by a mafia don and the corrupt judge made for an interesting story. The Cassandra Campbell narration made this enjoyable but, the story was way too long and far from perfect.  I do miss the quality of those earlier Grisham thrillers.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Morningstar; Ann Hood

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. (This week's pick is another one by one of my favorite author's.)

Morningstar: Growing Up With Books; Ann Hood
W.W. Norton & Co. & Highbridge Audio - 2017


Growing Up With Books

"WHEN I WAS FOUR YEARS OLD, FOR REASONS NO  ONE in my family could explain, I picked up my older brother Skip's reading books and I read it.  This was in 1959 or 1960, but I can still remember staring at that page and reading the words Look! Look! In that instant, all of my cells seemed to settle into place and I had one thought: I want to live inside a book."

What do you think of the intro from this memoir? I'm listening to the audio and really enjoying it as we learn so much about the books that she loved and, the books that made her want to become a writer as well as other personal information.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

My Week in Review

    But First a Question - Do you have vivid dreams or reoccurring dreams?
    I have reoccurring and bizarre dreams all the time. About a house we had lived in for 20 years (I'm sometimes snooping around or people who don't belong there are inside). Then for 7 years I had reoccurring dreams about an old boss and when he passed away in 2013, the dreams stopped. Then there's the one where I can't find my car in a parking lot or garage. I know many people don't recall their dreams but I always do.  
    Last night I dreamt I was texting someone who died last year that I hadn't spoken to in over 9 years. In the dream I said to my husband, "She's not responding to my text", he said, "that's because she's dead!" and, I said, but she's not dead in my dream."! How crazy is that!

     I also yell in my sleep from time to time and my husband has to wake me and ask if I am okay. ( I guess I  have lots of unresolved issues LOL)
    I woke up to 18 degree temps outside but sunny and it should warm up a bit. Colder temps are moving in mid-week..
    I'm thankful that my recent dreams are just dreams.
    Reading - The Overstory; Richard Powers  ended up being a DNF for me. Yes, beautiful writing, but, it was a struggle for me and I just was never that excited about getting back to it. Listening to: Tapestry of Fortunes; Elizabeth Berg and reading Good Riddance; Elinor Lipman (both are good)
    Finished -  I  finished (but need to review) Waiting for Bojangles; Oliver Bourdeaut (loved it); The Whistler; John Grisham (audio - not bad)
    Watched- The Good Doctor, The Residents, New Amsterdam and This is Us We also watched Murder on the Cape (true story - loved the book but, the movie was awful). We also watched The King's Speech (repeat) and The Company Men (saw at movies previously) both very good.
    In The Kitchen - Can I just say, I hate cooking! Beef Stew in the crockpot was my only creation last week LOL - Restaurants love us.
    New To Me Stuff - Who knew this existed? I love it!  Great for fried eggs as well.

    Last Week - Yoga twice, but yet another UTI (just 2 weeks after the last) kept me indoors more than I would have preferred. Did you know blueberries are good for UTI's at least that is what the doctor said. I did go to my book group. We discussed The Women in the Castle, Jessica Shattuck - everyone liked it and a great discussion about the hateful things that happened under Hitler and the similarities of hate we see happening now.
    This Coming Week: Yoga, a movie (Green Book - hopefully) and lunch with kids on Tuesday (unless we get snowstorm) so far.
    Hope you all had a good week!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

2 quick reviews

AUTHOR: Michael Roizen, MD and Michael Crupain MD
PUBLISHER: National Geographic
PUB. YEAR: 2019
FORMAT:  - print (library)
RATING: 3.5/5 stars

I saw this book on the "new books" shelf and it seemed like a worthy choice to start 2019 off on the right foot. I liked that it was written by (2) doctors and although I loved the way the book was organized, much of the information was not new to me.

In this book you will learn how to use various foods to increase your longevity and improve the way you feel. The authors claim that out bodies are designed to eat more in the morning and less in the evening for optimal effectiveness. They recommend eating only in the daylight hours if possible and consuming all your food intake in a 12 hour period - ie: 6a.m.-6p.m (no snacking afterward).  We adopted this type of eating style 3.5 years ago when I retired and I lost about 12 lbs without dieting. 

This is definitely not a weight loss book, it's full of ideas for healthier alternatives and better food choices.  I liked the way the book was organized and, that the book has different step by step suggestions for different lifestyles. I do admit to skimming sections where I didn't feel that the info was new or relevant but, overall, it's a book worth checking out (if your library has a copy)


TITLE: The Lady with the Purple Hat (162 pages)
AUTHOR: Otilia Greco
PUBLISHER: iUniverse
PUB. YEAR: 2017
SETTING:  Switzerland and an English Village
FORMAT:  - print (library)
RATING: pass

I saw this slim book on my library shelves and decided to give it a try.  It's about a woman in the midsts of a divorce battle who wants to be a widow not a divorcee.  Her mission is to see that her husband dies before their divorce becomes final (they've been battling it out for 10 years).  As the story opens her husband is in a hospital bed dying of cancer, but his death is not coming fast enough for Daisy. She decides to speed things up, donning a huge purple hat she heads to his hospital room planning to poison him, but, her plan doesn't work out as she had hoped.

The story goes back to the time when the couple met and paints Daisy as a money hungry, status seeker from the very start. She's not a character you could ever like or sympathize with and, although she tries to reinvent herself in the end, by then, I just didn't care what happened to her. A very quick read, I was actually surprised to find something like this on the library shelves. I just can't recommend this one, sorry.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good; Helene Tursten

AUTHOR: Helene Tursten
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Sweden
FORMAT:  - print (library)
RATING: 5/5 stars

What a delight this book was - a 171 page mystery consisting of 5 connected short stories. Each story features Maud, an 88 Year old retired teacher who lives all alone, rent free, for as long as she lives, in a top floor apartment. She's been in the apartment for 60 years and, the rent-free part was a stipulation in her father's will. Maud is a senior citizen who travels solo and someone who just wants to be left alone. She's not a person to cross and also someone who not afraid of murderous retaliation.

Dark, just mildly disturbing but, utterly charming as well, each story is well-crafted and connected and, as you might expect, no one suspects 88 year-old Maud is capable of murder. I loved everything about this one and, the small size of this hardcover is wonderful. I've decided to buy a few copies to give to give as gifts.

From the Table of Contents:
  1. An Elderly Lady Has Accommodation Problems
  2. An Elderly Lady and Her Travels
  3. An Elderly Lady Seeks Peace at Christmastime
  4. The Antique Dealer's Death
  5. An Elderly Lady is Faced With a Dilemma

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Good Riddance, Elinor Lipman

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. (This week's pick is by one of my favorite author's.)

Good Riddance; Elinor Lipman
Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt - 2019

The Grateful Class of 68

"FOR A FEW WEEKS after my mother's death, I was in possession of the painstakingly annotated high school yearbook that had been dedicated to her by the grateful class of 1968.

Yes, she'd been their English teacher and yearbook advisor, but that didn't explain her obsessive collecting of signatures and tributes next to every senior's photo.  I could picture her --age twenty-three, her first job after college, roaming the corridors or Pickering High School, pen and book in hand, coaxing the shyest, least engaged boy or girl to sign--Write anything, I want to remember every one of you. Could you personalize it, just a few words?"

Would you read more or take a pass?

Sunday, January 20, 2019

My Week in Review

We woke up to snow, snow and more snow (about 5"- 6") and now sleet and freezing rain. Colder temps are moving in this tomorrow - perfect reason to stay in and read.
It was nice having a no-stress week.  It's also so nice to live in a condo and not have to worry about snow removal on days like today.
Reading - Still reading The Overstory; Richard Powers (beautiful writing, but, a tough read for me). This may be a DNF.

New Book Arrivals 

Some wonderful new books
from: Viking, Penguin, Atria, Candlewick, Celadon, Bookouture

Finished -  I  finished (3) other books (no reviews yet) : What to Eat When; Roizen & Crupain (just okay as it contained a lot of familiar info) and An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good; Helene Thursten (loved it) and Waiting for Bojangles; Oliver Bourdeaut (another loved it)
(Still) Listening To The Whistler; John Grisham
Watching - Thrilled to see: The Good Doctor, The Residents, New Amsterdam and This is Us return after it's winter break.  We also watched The Founder (McDonald's story). We saw this one at the movies, but, enjoyed it again a second time.
In The Kitchen - We always eat out a lot but, I did make a pasta primavera with shrimp one day.
New To Me Stuff - Frye Melissa Tote (this one is similar but mine has a zipper closure) and TJ MAXX had a much lower price.                            

Last Week - I did go to yoga M-W-F , I visited 3 different libraries, had a hair appointment and I  had lunch with my daughter and one granddaughter.
This Coming Week: Book group on Wednesday, yoga W and F and, I hope to have lunch with my son, DIL and  granddaughter on Friday.
Hope you all had a good week!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

One Day in December; Josie Silver and The Travelling Cat Chronicles; Hiro Awikawa

TITLE: One Day in December (416 pages)
AUTHOR: Josie Silver
PUBLISHER: Crown Publishing
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  London
FORMAT:  - eGalley (Edelweiss)
RATING: 4/5 stars

  • It feels like love at first sight when Laurie sees a man through the window of a bus she is on. Their eyes connect but then he is gone.  His name is Jack but, all Laurie can do is search, yearn and hope that their paths will cross once more.  Then one day at a party they meet, nut, Jack is dating Sarah, Laurie's best friend.
  • Romantic comedy with movie potential - think of Sleepless in Seattle.
  • A feel good story to be enjoyed by anyone longing for a nice lighter read.
  • The story is told through Laurie and Jack's POV.
  • It makes you think about the "one that got away".
  • A nice story that I enjoyed way more than I  enjoyed way more than I  expected to.

TITLE: The Traveling Cat Chronicles (288 pages)
AUTHOR: Hiro Awikawa
PUB. YEAR: 2018
FORMAT:  - print (sent by publisher)
RATING: 4.5/5 stars

  • Translated from the Japanese and told mostly from the POV of a once stray cat.  The cat was taken in by the kind-hearted Santoru after it was hit by a car.  The cat was named Nana (based on the Japanese word for seven-a lucky number). After 5 years together, the two head out on a road trip to visit old friends from Santoru's past. We are not sure why, but, it appears as if Santoru is trying to find a new home for Nana.
  • Without giving spoilers, this book is a must-read for anyone who has had a special bond with a cat (or any animal for that matter).
  • Funny, sad and a quick read as well. It's a story of family, old friendships, love and loss.
  • I loved this story so much but, I do wish that it was all told from the POV of the cat.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - An Elderly Lady is Up to No Good; Helene Tursten

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.

SOHO Crime - 2018 

An Elderly Lady Has Accommodation Problems

"THE SHRILL SOUND of the doorbell sliced through the silence.  Maud sat motionless in her armchair, making no attempt to get up.  She knew the bell would soon ring again. And again. And again. This had been going on for weeks"

I came across this on the "new book" library shelves last week, the size is so cozy, smaller than my Kindle and just 171 pages.  It's not often fiction is written about senior citizens and a mystery collection as well so I decided to give it a try. What do you think?

Sunday, January 13, 2019

My Week in Review

It's  22° with snow predicted on Friday and continuing through the weekend. 
On Tuesday I had a biopsy and I'm feeling thankful that the results came back as benign.  Not so thankful for my first UTI (ever) but, at least the meds are working.  Also our middle granddaughter had a terrible bout of the flu, spent time in the ER and lost 3 lbs in a few days but, finally she has turned the corner.
Reading - The Overstay; Richard Powers (beautiful writing, liking it, but it's lengthy and a tough read for me)
Finished - One Day in December; Josie Silver (no review yet) 4/5 stars and The Traveling Cat Chronicles; Hiro Awikawa (no review yet) loved it -  4.5/5
Listening To - The Whistler; John Grisham
Watching - We binge watched The Sopranos this week (1 season)
In The Kitchen - We ate out a lot this week as I was kinda stressed but, I did make pancakes and banana nut bread this morning.
New To Me Stuff - Love Beauty & Planet Lavender Deodorant (love this stuff)
                              - Harney's Tropical Green Tea (liked it)

This Week - Back to yoga M-W-F (I missed all last week due to medical stuff for me, but thankfully thats all behind me. Bringing my SIL to airport on Tuesday and have a hair appointment Wednesday.
Hope you all had a good week!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Traveling Cat Chronicles; Hiro Arikawa

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.

Berkley - 2017 (277 pps)
(translated from the Japanese by Philip Gabriel)

The Cat With No Name

"I am a cat. As yet, I have no name.  There's a famous cat in our country who once made this very statement.

I have no clue how great the cat was, but at least when it comes to having a name I got there first.  Whether I like my name is another matter, since it glaringly doesn't fit my gender, me being male and all. I was given it about five years ago--around the time I came of age."

What do you think? Pass or read a bit more? I'm enjoying it so far.

Monday, January 7, 2019

First 2 Books of 2019 - Winter in Paradise and The Women in the Castle; Jessica Shattuck

TITLE: Winter in Paradise (310 pages)
AUTHOR: Elin Hilderbrand
PUBLISHER: Little Brown & Co
PUB. YEAR: 2018
SETTING:  Iowa and St. John's, Caribbean
FORMAT:  - library print (borrowed)
RATING: 3.5/5 stars

  • First book of a 3 book series
  • Irene Steele is a 50-something wife and mother of 2 adult sons. Her husband travels a lot for his business. It isn't until tragedy strikes and she travels with her sons to St Johns that she learns that her husband had a secret life in the Caribbean.
  • I was surprised that it took me a while to get into this story and some of the things that happened seemed implausible. The story ends with a cliff hanger and, although overall this book left me lukewarm, I'm curious enough to want to read the next installment.

AUTHOR: Jessica Shattuck
PUBLISHER: William Morrow and Harper Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2017
SETTING: Germany
FORMAT:  - Galley and audio download
RATING: 4/5 stars

  • "Three women, haunted by the past and the secrets they hold"
  • Book group selection for January
  • This story opens in 1938 where Marianne Von Lingenfel is hosting a party at a Bavarian castle that has been in her husband Albrecht's family for generations. Albrecht and two friends are part of the resistance that are trying to assassinate Hitler.  He asks his wife to promise to find and protect the wives of his friends if something happens to the men (which it does).
  • After the war ends Burg Lingenfel castle is in a serious state of disrepair from the war. Marianne keeps her promise to her husband. We follow the women through decades and a detailed story of secrets unravels.
  • This was an excellent story with great writing. Although the audio was beautifully narrated by Cassandra Campbell, I found it very hard to follow as the story moves back and forth in time. Because of this I supplemented it with my eGalley and that worked out well.  At times the details were heartbreaking.
  • I'll be looking forward to discussing this one with my book group later this month.  I generally do not read books set in this time period, but, I'm glad I tried this one. The author is very talented.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Reading Thoughts for 2019

Blogging about books for over 10 years now, I no longer join lots of reading challenges like I did early on, with the exception of the fall RIP Challenge that I've done every year since 2008. I do, however,  like to make some tentative lists in a new journal that keeps me somewhat on track during the year.

For 2019 here's my plans thus far:
  • Read or listen to at least 100 books (2) per week is more than doable being retired.
  • Read 4 (min)  Classics (2) by Dickens
  • Read 25 books (min) from my shelves (sounds easy but it's always a challenge for me)
  • Read 10  eGalleys  from 2018 or earlier(catching up on downloads)
  • Read 4-6 Summer Themed Books between Memorial Day and Labor Day)
  • Read 4 mysteries or thrillers for the RIP Challenge in Fall
  • Read 4 Christmas or holiday themed books in December
  • Continue my library book group (January's pick is Women in the Castle; Jessica Shattuck)
  • Join an online monthly read group (can you suggest some online group you enjoy?)
Current Reads - First Books of 2019 (in progress)

Do you have any plans in mind for 2019 reading?