Wednesday, July 31, 2019

July in Review - Favorite Reads



July was one hot and often humid month, we even canceled some getaway plans because of the frequency of thunderstorms and uncomfortable outdoor temps.  I'm actually surprised that I only read (9) books and (3) of them were children's picture books as well.

Our book group read for July was one I had already read and enjoyed: Before the Fall; Noah Hawley. Almost every club member enjoyed this book and thought it made for a lively discussion. 


Favorite Reads in July





  1. The Pawed Piper; Michelle Robinson - 5/5 (my shelves-July)
  2. Sea Glass Summer; Michelle Houts - 5/5 (my shelves-July)
  3. Bear's Book; Claire Freedman - 5/5 (my shelves-July)
  4. Ask Again, Yes; Mary Beth Keane - 5/5 - (combo/audio/eBook-July)
  5. Before the Fall; Noah Hawley - 4.5/5 (bookclub read-July/reread)
  6. If She Wakes; Michael Koryta - 4/5 - (ARC/my shelves-July)
  7. Searching for Sylvie Lee; Jean Kwok - 3.5/5 (eGalley-July)
  8. Summer of 69; Elin Hilderbrand - 5/5 (print/library-July)
  9. Chances Are; Richard Russo - 5/5 (audio and eGalley-July)
Places visited in July: New York, Maine, Martha's Vineyard, The Netherlands, Nantucket Island and back to Martha's Vineyard a second time.



Breakdown

Fiction - 9  NF - 0 - YTD - 91

Audios - 2
eBooks - 2
print     - 5
ARCS/Review Books - 7
audio/eBook Combos - 2
Borrowed from Library - 2
Off my Shelves - 4


August Plans (so far)


  • The Last Resort; Marissa Stapley - in progress The Harmony Resort promises hope for struggling marriages. Run by celebrity power couple Drs. Miles and Grace Markell, the “last resort” offers a chance for partners to repair their relationships in a luxurious setting on the gorgeous Mayan Riviera.
  • Keeping Lucy; T. Greenwood - (eGalley) in progress 
    "A baby born less than perfect in the world's eyes, a mother persuaded that giving up her child is for the best, a lingering bond that pulls and tugs yet will not break. Keeping Lucy follows a mother willing to give up everything to save the child she's been told she must forget. This story will have readers not only rooting for Ginny
    and Lucy, but thinking about them long after the last page is turned." -- Lisa Wingate
  • Never Tell; Lisa Gardner - (audio) in progress  Lisa Gardner returns with an unpredictable thriller that puts fan favorites D.D. Warren and Flora Dane on a shocking new case that begins with a vicious murder and gets darker from there.
  • City of Girls; Elizabeth Gilbert - a delicious novel of glamour, sex, and adventure, about a young woman discovering that you don't have to be a good girl to be a good person.
  • The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted; Robert Hillman - A tender and wise novel about love, family, and forgiveness in 1960s Australia, in which a lonely farmer finds his world turned upside down by a vibrant woman determined to open the first bookstore his town has ever seen--and to leave her haunting memories of the Holocaust far behind.
  • Hope everyone had a great month!

    Chances Are; Richard Russo


    AUTHOR:  Richard Russo
    PUBLISHER: Random House Audio and Knopf
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING: Martha's Vineyard - MA
    FORMAT:  audio (11+ hours) and eGalley
    RATING - 5/5

    In this story, three old friends from Minerva College in Connecticut, now 66 years of age, return to Martha's Vineyard, the place they celebrated college graduation decades earlier.  The place holds both good and bad memories for the trio as the woman each of them had loved disappeared on that Memorial Day weekend, 1971, decades earlier. Just what happened to Jacey, the young woman each cared so much about?

    Together again, the three aging friends: Lincoln, a commercial real estate broker, Teddy who owns a small publishing business and Mickey, a musician, try to piece together just what happened to Jacey.  As each man looks back at what had transpired from their college days to the present: the Vietnam war and the draft lottery and direction that their lives had taken as a result, bits and pieces of their lives as well as the Jacey mystery begins to come together.  

    Once again, I found this story to be another trip down memory lane in many ways and all that happened in those 40 plus years. I loved the Martha's Vineyard setting and that this was a very character driven novel. Each character was well explored, very human and somewhat flawed. The mystery element surrounding Jacey's disappearance added a lot to an already great story.  

    This one was a combo audio listen (very good narrator) and eGalley read.

    Tuesday, July 30, 2019

    Searching for Sylvie Lee; Jean Kwok

    AUTHOR:  Jean Kwok
    PUBLISHER: William Morrow
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING: Queens, NY and Netherlands
    FORMAT:  - eGalley
    RATING - 3.5/5

    Part mystery, part immigrant story, Searching for Sylvie Lee, introduces us to the Lee family, specifically the mother, a Chinese immigrant and daughters. Sylvie, the oldest by 7 years, is brilliant and has benefited from an elite education. Amy is 26 and still living at home with her parents in their tiny Queens apartment. Amy is shy and has been sheltered as the baby of the family but she adores her older sister Sylvie who was raised by another family until the age of 9, 

    Amy receives a phone call from a distant cousin in the Netherlands to say the Sylvie has seemed to have vanished while visiting her grandmother who was dying of cancer. Amy and her parents are desperate for answers and Amy is determined to get to the bottom of it all.  As she begins her quest for answers by contacting individuals in Sylvie's life, she uncovers some surprising and at times troubling information about her sister and about the family as well.

    I liked that this story was set in both Queens and the Netherlands but, must admit it was a very slow read at times. Fortunately, the story did pick up towards the end but, it is just not an upbeat or hopeful story and, I guess I hadn't realized that when I began..

    First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Speaking of Summer ; Kalisha Buckhanon


    On Tuesdays, Vicki, ( I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where readers post the opening paragraph (or 2 ) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read.

     Speaking of Summer ; Kalisha Buckhanon
    Counterpoint - 2019

    PROLOGUE

    "I was the nice-looking, well-dressed woman running down 151st Street in Harlem after school and before evening rush hour on a bright day at the end of August in 2015.

    If you saw me with my purse half-open and my balance tested more than once, you were wrong to laugh and right to be alarmed."

    What do you think, read more or pass?

    Monday, July 29, 2019

    Summer of 69; Elin Hilderbrand



    TITLE: Summer of 69
    AUTHOR:  Elin Hilderbrand
    PUBLISHER: Little Brown & Co
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING: Nantucket Island MA
    FORMAT:  - print/library (439 pp)
    RATING - 5/5

    Summer of 69 was the perfect summer read for me: beautiful setting (Nantucket Island), family dynamics and complicated relationships.

    It's 1969 and the Nichols, Foley and Levin clan looks forward, once again, to spending time on Nantucket Island at the Grandmother Nichols family home.  The Foley children: Blair who is pregnant with twins, Kirby, a college student and son Richard (Tiger) , the only boy, who is called to serve his country in Vietnam  and is now off to war as an Infantry soldier.   There is also 13 year old  Jessie Levin, a child from mother Kate's second marriage after her first husband's death.

    There was so much I loved about this story, especially the drama within the family - it felt realistic and not over done.  Mother, Kate is a mess with her son off to war and booze is her coping mechanism.  There were lots of references to historic events that took place in 1969 besides the war, the moon landing, Woodstock and even the tragic event when Teddy Kennedy drove his car off the bridge in Chappaquiddick and the young woman he was with had drowned.  I think baby boomers will especially enjoy the trip down memory lane as I did. I also enjoyed the letters that young Jessie sent to her half-brother in Vietnam as it gave a nice picture of the mindset of both of these characters.

    This is a book that belongs in your summer beach bag if you enjoy a well written family drama with characters you are bound to fall in love with as well.  I think you will be quickly pulled into the story as I was.

    Tuesday, July 23, 2019

    First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Chances Are; Richard Russo


    On Tuesdays, Vicki, ( I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (or 2 ) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read.

    This is my second book this month that takes place at least in part in 1969 - 50 years ago. The last book was, Summer of 69; Elin Hilderbrand - loved it but no review yet.

    1969 - 50 years ago: Woodstock, Bobby Kennedy assassination, Vietnam war, Apollo moon landings, the last Beatles concert and so many more memorable events. I was in high school in then - definitely old enough to remember what a wild year it had been.  

    Today's featured book is a story about 3 male friends (all 66 years old in the present). The story also flashes back to 1969 and something that happened back then....I'm about 50% through and it's really a good story by a talented author.


    Chances Are; Richard Russo
    Knopf-2019

    Prologue

    The three old friends arrived on the island in reverse order, from farthest to nearest: Lincoln, a commercial real estate broker, practically cross-country from Las Vegas; Teddy, a small-press publisher, from Syracuse; Mickey, a musician and sound engineer, from nearby Cape Cod. All were sixty-six years old and had attended the same liberal arts college in Connecticut where they'd slung hash at a campus sorority.  The other hashers, invariably frat boys, claimed to be there by choice, because so many of the Thetas were hot, whereas Lincoln, Teddy and Mickey were scholarship students doing the job out of varying degrees of economic necessity. Lincoln, as good-looking as any of the frat boys, was immediately made a face man,  which meant donning a scratchy white waist-length jacket serve the girls in the sorority's dining room.  Teddy, who worked at a restaurant during his junior and senior years of high school, became a cook's helper, making salads, stirring sauces, plating entrees and desserts. Mickey? They took one look and escorted him over to a sink where a mountain of dirty pots sat piled alongside a large cardboard box of off-brand steel scrubbers. Such was their freshman year.  By the time they were seniors, Lincoln has made head hasher and could offer both his friends positions in the dining room.  Teddy, who'd had enough of the kitchen, promptly accepted, but Mickey said he doubted there was a serving jacket big enough to fit him.  Anyway, he preferred remaining a kitchen slave to making nice with the fancy girls out front, since at least the galley was his own."

    Does this seem like one you'd want to read?

    Wednesday, July 17, 2019

    If She Wakes; Michael Koryta


    TITLE: If She Wakes
    AUTHOR:  Michael Koryta
    PUBLISHER: Little Brown & Co (400 pp)
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING: Maine
    FORMAT:  - ARC
    RATING - 4/5

    Tara Beckley is a senior at Hammel College in Maine. She's in charge of driving a visiting professor, Amandi Oltamu to deliver a keynote address at a conference but things don't go as planned.  The professor had been acting strangely and made a few unusual requests of Tara. One of those requests was that Tara stop the car and that they take a selfie of the two of them for social media. Tara complies and Professor O is struck and killed outside of the car. Tara is left in a vegetative state but, oddly, she can hear everything that is being said around her.

    Abby Kaplan is an investigator hired by the university to look into this accident. It doesn't take long for her to see that things just don't add up and that this was no accident, it was most likely a "hit".  As Tara lies in her hospital bed,  hearing everything that is being said she learns that someone wants her dead as well - but why?

     This thriller had an odd set up to get the story moving but once it took off I felt like there was good character development and a fast moving plot. There was a young hitman and a few other interesting characters, as well as some unsuspecting twists that made this a thriller pretty decent read overall. I found myself quickly turning the pages to find out how it would all turn out. 


    Tuesday, July 16, 2019

    First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Summer of 69; Elin Hilderbrand


    On Tuesdays, Vicki, ( I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (or 2 ) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read.

    Summer of 69; Elin Hilderbrand
    Little Brown & Company - 2019
    Prologue

    Fortunate Son

    "When the Selective Service notice comes for Tiger, Kate's first instinct is to throw it away. Surely, this is every mother's first instinct? Pretend it got lost in the mail, buy Tiger a few more weeks of freedom before the U.S. Army sends another letter--by which time, this god-awful war in Vietnam might be over.  Nixon has promised to end it.  There are peace talks going on right now in Paris.  Le Duan will succumb to the allure of capitalism or The will be assassinated and someone with better sense will take over.  Frankly, Kate doesn't care if Vietnam succumbs to the Communists. She wants to keep her son safe."

    I started this yesterday and am really enjoying it, especially since I can relate to the time period. Does this one appeal to you? Is it on your summer reading list?

    Monday, July 15, 2019

    Summer Reading Check In and New Book Arrivals


    Right before Memorial Day I posted a list of 10 Books I hoped to read this summer.  I haven't even looked at the list since then and was curious whether I stayed on plan or not. I was surprised to see that I've read 4/10 and am on a 5th one right now.  (None were outstanding but, a few were in solid reads) Here's an update:

  • Restoration Heights; Wil Medearis - A debut novel about a young artist, a missing woman, and the tendrils of wealth and power that link the art scene in Brooklyn to Manhattan’s elite, for fans of Jonathan Lethem and Richard Price (finished in June)
  • Drawing Home; Jamie Brenner - An unexpected inheritance, a promise broken, and four lives changed forever: discover "the gold standard of summertime escapism" from USA Today bestselling author Jamie Brenner (Elin Hilderbrand).
  • The Last Resort; Marissa Stapley - The Harmony Resort promises hope for struggling marriages. Run by celebrity power couple Drs. Miles and Grace Markell, the “last resort” offers a chance for partners to repair their relationships in a luxurious setting on the gorgeous Mayan Riviera.
  • The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted; Robert Hillman - A tender and wise novel about love, family, and forgiveness in 1960s Australia, in which a lonely farmer finds his world turned upside down by a vibrant woman determined to open the first bookstore his town has ever seen--and to leave her haunting memories of the Holocaust far behind.
  • The Secretary; Renee Knight - A novel of psychological suspense about the intricate power struggle between a prominent female executive and her faithful personal assistant—and its explosive consequences. (finished-June)
  • If She Wakes; Michael Koryta - "an edgy suspense story...that brilliantly plays on the primal fear of being buried alive."―Marilyn Stasio, New York Times Book Review (finished July - no review yet)
  • Man of the Year; Caroline Louise Walker - Beware the Man of the Year. You may praise him, resent him, even want to be him: but beneath the elegant trappings that define him, danger looms. Caroline Louise Walker’s stunning debut novel, for fans of Herman Koch’s The Dinnerand Shari Lapena’s The Couple Next Door, delves into the increasingly paranoid mind of a man whose life as the most upstanding of citizens hides a relentlessly dark heart.
  • The Ditch; Herman Koch - The bracing and inventive new novel of suspicions and secrecy from Herman Koch, the New York Times bestselling author of The Dinner (finished - June)
  • Summer of 69; Elin Hilderbrand - Four siblings experience the drama, intrigue, and upheaval of a summer when everything changedin New York Timesbestselling author Elin Hilderbrand's first historical novel  (in progress-July)
  • The Turn of the Key; Ruth Ware -“Truly terrifying! Ware perfects her ability to craft atmosphere and sustain tension with each novel.” Kirkus Reviews

  • Are you enjoying your summer choices?


    NEW BOOKS


    I think it has been several weeks since I posted new books that arrived by mail from publishers. Take a peek, I thought they looked pretty good. Have you read any of them yet?

    Sunday, July 14, 2019

    Ask Again, Yes; Mary Beth Keane



    AUTHOR:  Mary Beth Keane
    PUBLISHER:  Simon and Schuster Audio (12+ hours)
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING: New York
    FORMAT:  - eGalley/audio down load
    RATING - 5/5

    Set in the early 1970s, Ask Again, Yes, tells the story of two working class families over a period of about forty years. The men, Francis Gleason, an Irish immigrant and Brian Stanhope meet while attending NYC's police academy.  Francis quickly marries Anne, a nurse and Irish immigrant herself, and, although we don't learn until later, she's also mentally unstable.  Brian marries Lena,  Polish/Italian background, and soon after the two families become neighbors in a suburb outside of New York City.  Anne is standoffish and, when Peter, the couple's only child and Kate, the youngest of the 3 Stanhope daughters become very close, Anne doesn't want her son to spend time with Kate. In a fit of rage, Anne does something that shatters the lives of both families longterm.

    If you enjoy domestic fiction, this is it at it's finest. Completely engrossing and character driven, it's a story that pulled me right in. At times I felt like I was observing some of what happened first hand.  The characters seemed like everyday people and their experiences, although tragic at times, made the entire store feel that much more realistic.  The audiobook is read by Molly Pope who did and excellent job. This is one of my favorite reads of 2019 this far.

    Friday, July 12, 2019

    As We Are Now; May Sarton


    AUTHOR:  May Sarton
    PUBLISHER:  WW Norton
    PUB. YEAR: 1973
    SETTING: New England
    FORMAT:  - print/library (133 pp)
    RATING - 5/5

    I recently read about this book from JoAnn@ Lakeside Musing and, I'm so happy I decided to read it.

    It's not that often that I've read a book written from the perspective of a senior citizen, especially one in failing health.  Such is the case of Caroline (Caro) Spencer.

    Caro is 76 years old, a quiet, intelligent and sensitive woman. She never married and spent 40 years as a teacher.  When she suffers a heart attack, she's no longer able to navigate the stairs in her home and briefly moves in with her older brother John, 80, and his much younger wife, Ginny.  Soon after this brief stay, her brother drops her off at Twin Elms, a rural nursing home over 100 miles from where she once lived. He's not sure what to say so he remains quiet and quickly leaves.

    She tries to make the best of her situation. Caro is happy to have her own room with a nice view, as well as some music and poetry. She begins journaling as a way to preserve her failing memory. Some days she begins to doubt those memories. She calls her journal, "The Book of the Dead", as when someone discovers it, she knows that she will be dead. 

    On the days she sits outside, she pretends to be on vacation enjoying the scenery. She enjoys the times the resident cat, sneaks into her room for a visit.  She wonders where her brother John has been, he hadn't visited since he dropped her off. When he does eventually show up (4 weeks after he left her there) he only stays for fifteen minutes and once again remains quiet.

    What is not so pleasant about life at Twin Elms are the mother and daughter team that runs the home: Harriet and Rose. They seem to find a way to show their disapproval of things the residents do by withholding privileges or occasional niceties. Like in childhood, she's sent to bed without supper because of a tantrum. Deep down she is bitter and angry.

    So if this sounds like a downer of a story, it is, but, it is also seemed so honest and so beautiful. It's only 133 pages, and I loved it so much. It was written more like a journal with the first person narrative.  Highly recommended.

    Tuesday, July 9, 2019

    First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Searching for Sylvie Lee; Jean Kwok


    On Tuesdays, Vicki, ( I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (or 2 ) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read. (Today's pick is a new release by an author I've enjoyed in the past)


    William Morrow - 2019

    Part 1

    Chapter 1

    Amy - Monday May 2

    "I'm standing by the window of our small apartment in Queens, watching Ma and Pa leave for their jobs.  Half hidden by the worn curtains Ma sewed herself, I see them walk side by side to the subway station down the street.  At the entrance, they pause and look at each other for a moment. Here, I always hold my breath, waiting for Pa to touch Ma's cheek, or for Ma to burst into tears, or for either of them to give some small sign of the truth of their relationship.  Instead, Ma raises her hand in an awkward wave, the drape of her black shawl exposing her slender forearm, and Pa shuffles into the open mouth of the station as the morning traffic roars down our busy street.  Then Ma ducks her head and continues her walk to the local dry cleaners where she works."

    What do you think? Pass or read more?  

    Thursday, July 4, 2019

    What Alice Forgot; Liane Moriarty



    AUTHOR:  Liane Moriarty
    PUBLISHER:  Berkley
    PUB. YEAR: 2009
    SETTING: Australia
    FORMAT:  - print/my shelves (459 pp)
    RATING - 4/5

    What Alice Forgot was our book group read for June. Almost everyone, including me, thought it was a nice summer read.

    When Alice Love falls off an exercise bike at the gym, she hits her head and ends up with a serious concussion. She wakes up to find that she has lost 10 years of her memory. She thinks that she's 29 and expecting her first child, when in fact, she's 39, in the process of a divorce from Nick and has 3 children: Madison, Tom and Olivia.

    Bit by bit the pieces of what happened in Alice's life between 1998 and 2008 are revealed. The story setup was quite clever. I liked that the author kept you wondering what happened in those 10 years and then slowly gave Alice recall or allowed other characters like her sister, Elizabeth to fill in the holes in various ways.  Alice's reactions to hearing about what happened in her past seemed realistic and were often laugh out loud funny, while other parts were quite serious.

    Most of us felt the story was unnecessarily long at (459 pp) and that certain story lines were not needed. Overall, I liked this one and plan to try another by this author soon, perhaps: Big Little Lies.

    Wednesday, July 3, 2019

    3 cute kids books for summer - Candlewick Press














    The Pawed Piper; Michelle Robinson (Illust: Chinlun Lee
    Candlewick Press 2019

    This is a delightful tale about a little girl who desperately wants a cat of her own, just like Hector, her granny's cat.

    She comes up with an idea to attract cats and it works. Sixty-seven cats have made their way to the young girl's house. She never anticipated this would happen, what will she do?  Of course, everything works out well in the end including one happy little girl with a cat of her own.

    Regardless if you are a little (or big) cat lover, you are going to adore this gem - utterly delightful and such sweet illustrations as well.

    RECOMMENDED















    Michelle Houts (Illust: Bagram Ibatoulline)
    Candlewick Press

    When Thomas visits his grandmother's sea side cottage she gives him a magnifying glass that had once belonged to his grandfather.  As Thomas begins to explore the beach, he finds unique pieces of sea glass and other treasures. His imagination has him dreaming of shipyards, the christening of ships and other imaginings about the past as well.   Fast forward and years later Thomas is a grandfather himself, he gets to see his own granddaughter Annie, explore the magic of the sea as well.

    This book was a nice trip into the past. It's a book that will appeal to anyone who has sweet memories of summers spent at the beach. The book has lovely illustrations which includes a very elderly looking grandmother, but it also is a book which encourages conversations, exploration and imagination.

    RECOMMENDED














    Bear's Book
     Claire Freedman (Illust: Allison Friend)
    Templar / Candlewick Press

    Bear loves to read but his very favorite book is so worn out that one day when it's windy, the pages blow away.  Instead of being saddened by what has happened, he has an idea - maybe he can write his own storybook. If he can't do it alone, then maybe his friends, mouse, rabbit and owl will help him. Of course, the friends accomplish their goal by working together and they are already planning another book. Great whimsical illustrations and BONUS: a copy of their new book -  "Bear's Story" is inserted within the main book.

    A cute story about working together to get things done.

    RECOMMENDED

    All 3 books seem perfect for pre-school to grade 1 perhaps.

    Sunset Beach; Mary Kay Andrews



    TITLE: Sunset Beach
    AUTHOR:  Mary Kay Andrews
    PUBLISHER:  Macmillan Audio
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING: NC
    FORMAT:  - audio/library
    RATING - 4/5

    I love having at least a few good beach reads every summer and this one fits the bill.

    Drue Campbell is a young woman trying to find her place in the world.  Her parents were divorced when she was young and she hadn't seen her father, Brice, a personal injury attorney, in about 20 years. Now her mother has just died and it's at the funeral where father and daughter reconnect. It's awkward to say the least. To make matters worst, her father has remarried and his new wife, Wendy is someone Drue went to school with - the two never liked one another.

    Drue has just learned that she has inherited her grandmother's run-down beach cottage on Sunset Beach (prime location), she's back in the area where her father and his new wife live and work.  When her father offers her a job at the law firm, she's hesitant, but needs the money.  It isn't easy having to report to Wendy but she tries to make the best of it it. 

     It's here on the job that Drue learns about an old buried case. An older black woman's daughter was murdered while working at a beach front hotel.  Now the woman is responsible for raising her granddaughter.  She has been screwed with the settlement and her father's firm had the case. Drue is determined to find out how this happened and, she hopes to make things right for this woman and her young granddaughter, even if it means exposing the ugly truth

    This was such a pleasant surprise; the audio was very good as well; it's read by Kathleen McInerney.  It's got the beach setting, a good mystery, sympathetic characters, some humor and more.  There were also a few good sub plots built into the story as well. Try it if you are looking for a nice summer read.

    Tuesday, July 2, 2019

    First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Ask Again, Yes; Mary Beth Keane


    On Tuesday, Vicki, ( I’d Rather Be At The Beach hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros where  readers post the opening paragraph (or 2 ) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read. 


    Ask Again, Yes; Mary Beth Keane
    Scribner - 2019

    Prologue
    July 1973

    "FRANCIS GLEASON, TALL AND thin in his powder blue policeman's uniform, stepped out of the sun and into the shadow of the stocky stone building that the station house of the Forty-First Precinct. A pair of pantyhose had been hung to dry on a fourth floor fire escape near 167th, and while he waited for another rookie, a cop named Stanhope. Francis noted the perfect stillness of those gossamer legs, the delicate curve where the heel was meant to be Another building had burned the night before and Francis figured it was now like so many others in the Four-One; nothing left but a hallowed-out shell and a blackened staircase within.  The neighborhood kids had all watched it burn from the roofs and fire escapes where they dragged their mattresses on that first truly hot day in June. Now, from a block away, Francis could hear them begging the firemen to leave just one hydrant open.  He could imagine them hopping back and forth as the pavement grew hot again under their feet."

    I'm on chapter 9 and so far I must say it's wonderful. It's supposed to be one of the hottest books this summer. Would you read more or pass?

    Monday, July 1, 2019

    The Better Sister; Alafair Burke



    AUTHOR:  Alafair Burke
    PUBLISHER:  Harper Audio
    PUB. YEAR: 2019
    SETTING: NY
    FORMAT:  - audio/library
    RATING - 3.5/5

    When (2) sisters marry the same man and that man ends up murdered, do the police need to add to the list of suspects? 

    Nicky is the first sister to marry Adam Macintosh, a man with a promising career. The two have a son, Ethan, but Nicky is a bit irresponsible and the couple eventually divorce and Adan seeks custody of their son. In the present Ethan is now16.

    When Adam moves to New York City, younger sister, Chloe, a successful professional at a leading women's magazine, helps her ex-brother-in-law find a job as a US prosecutor.  Chloe is stranged from her sister but was always a friend to Adam. The two eventually marry and, once again, Chloe helps Adam find even a better job. This time the job ends up being one that Adam hates and their relationships gets rocky from that point on.  When Chloe is up for a big award and celebration at her company, Adam skips the affair, it's that very night that he ends up dead. But, just who killed Adam?  It seems that more than a few may have wanted him dead?

    This was a pretty good story but not perfect.  I liked how the relationship between the sisters was well-explored. I actually ended up liking Nicky,  the first wife more even though she had many issues she was dealing with.  One of the detectives (Guidry) got on my nerves a bit but, the then author then did a good job slowly revealing secrets the suspects had been hiding.  There were some surprise twists that I hadn't anticipated. Not perfect but and enjoyable enough audio book production.