Thursday, November 28, 2019

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm wishing all of my US friends a wonderful Thanksgiving.
(I'm hosting - 7 adults and 3 kiddos)

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Inside Out: a Memoir; Demi Moore

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

Harper - 2019


The same question kept going through my head:  How did I get here?

In the empty house where we married, where we'd added on because I had more kids than I had bedrooms, I was now completely alone.  I was almost fifty. The husband who I thought was the love of my life had cheated on me and then decided he didn't want to work on our marriage. My children weren't speaking to me: no happy birthday calls, no Merr Christmas texts.  Nothing. Their father--a friend I'd counted on for years --was gone from my life.  The career I scrambled to create since I moved out of my mother's apartment when I was sixteen years old was stalled, or maybe it was over for good.  Everything I was attached to--even my health--had abandoned me. I was getting blinding headaches and losing weight scarily fast. I looked like I felt: destroyed.

Any interest in this one?

Monday, November 25, 2019

A Day for Skating; Sarah Sullivan and The Shortest Day; Susan Cooper

A Day for Skating; Sarah Sullivan
Illustrated by Madeline Valentine
Candlewick Press - 2019

A fun winter story, complete with frozen pond about the ups and downs (sometimes falling) about learning to ice skate. Told in rhyming verse, I liked the sweet, warm cozy feeling that followed a learning to ice skate adventure. After a full day of new experiences, there is hot chocolate to be enjoyed by a warm fire and then home to a hot bath and bedtime rituals. Lovely illustrations; a winter delight to read and share.

The Shortest Day; Susan Cooper
Illustrated by: Carson Ellis
 Candlewick Press 2019

Susan Cooper's beautiful poem was originally written for a live stage performance. In this story of the solstice, the author and illustrator combine to efforts to celebrate the tradition of the solstice over the ages, exploring the changing seasonal cycles from light to darkness. A blend of modern and ancient traditions, the book is gorgeously illustrated.  I loved this one and think all adults will think it's a gem but, I do think that some very young children might not easily understand the concept of rebirth.

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

The Playground Problem: a Book About Anxiety; Dr Tracy Packiam Alloway

QEB Publishing - SEN Superpowers - 2019

I was very impressed with everything about this book. It an educational story about a little girl named Ruby who suffers with anxiety issues. It also demonstrates how she worked to overcome her fear of doing a show-and-tell in front of her class and made a friend in the process.  As she practices her talk alone under a tree at school, she meets another child, a little boy named Joey who is shy and needs a friend. Who doesn't love a serious story with a happy ending?

The illustrations are lovely and calming, there are exercises, tips for helping children cope with anxiety and discussion points for parents and teachers to work with their children on concocring their fears.  The fonts are dyslexia friendly as well, and although that's not an issue for me, I felt it added to the calming nature of this story.

Highly recommended!

(I received this book for review through the Amazon Vine Program)

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - On Division; Goldie Goldbloom

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

On Division; Goldie Goldbloom
Farrar, Straus and Giroux-2019

The midwife said to the Chassidic woman, "your due date will be the thirteenth of July. Isn't that exciting?"  

Surie hesitated, "No", she said. "I was looking forward to having a little time to myself at last."

"Don't you already have grandchildren? You must be busy anyway.  What's one more child to a family like yours?"

Surie answered gently that a single child is a whole world

I forget where I learned about this book, but, it's getting good reviews. I'm hoping I can focus and read it soon.

Read more or pass?

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Not the Best Week BUT a Bright Side - Lots of New Books for Kids to Share

It's been a total bomb of a week, culminating in a week of sever upper back spasms. Let's see:
  • personal stress  over several weeks (not health related) 
  • bank fraud (a skimming device at my banks drive up resulted in my drained bank account) $$ refunded, but the hassle of police reports and inconvenience - more than 30 people were affected by the incident it appeared
  • Tuesday, a health related stressor, a loved one had a tumor removed, not sure yet whether it's cancer but they did remove ALL of it and we are hopeful. It was a 4.5 hour robotic-assisted surgery; recovering well.
  • unable to exercise or go to yoga all week because of my back so stress continues
  • running back and forth to help loved one 
  • my daughter's 2014 Subaru found her and the girls broken down in 5 o'clock traffic on a 4-lane bridge (it was dark out too) with 2 screaming , terrified children and rude motorists honking their cars as if she chose to park her car in the middle of a bridge in high traffic. 911 call and local police assisted and took them to safety after about 15 minutes.
  • yesterday, my daughter and her husband and the girls came to visit with their other car a brand new Subaru and around 5 o'clock (yep, dark out again) it was parked behind my husband's car and our 81 year old neighbor backed his Lexus SUV out of his garage without looking and caused(what looks like) over $2,000 damage to their new car!  Talk about a bad few car days!
  • today my back is finally much better so hope I can get back to yoga tomorrow as it's a great stress reliever
  • Here's to a Better Week!
  • I suck at the NF November Challenge - finished the Queen Meryl book but, haven't felt like reading much. I don't think it will improve much with me hosting Thanksgiving next week, I haven't read much of anything as I haven't been able to focus. I also have 3-4 reviews to do. 
  • Looking forward to Thanksgiving and family togetherness because in the scheme of things - we've got a lot to be thankful for!

Now for HAPPY STUFF; Look at these lovely books that have arrived by mail (target ages 3-13)

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - An Elephant in my Kitchen; Francoise Malby-Anthony

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

An Elephant in My Kitchen; Francoise Malby-Anthony
Sidgwick & Jackson - 2019

The only walls between humans and elephants are the ones we put up ourselves.

Violent weather always unsettled our elephants, and the predicted gale-force winds meant there was a danger of trees blowing over and causing breaches in Thula's perimeter fence.  The cyclone has threatened for days, and while we desperately needed water after a scorching summer, we definitely didn't need a tropical storm.  We were worried about the herd, but my husband Lawrence and I were confident that, somewhere in the vast expanse of our game reserve, they had been led to safety by their new matriarch, and my namesake, Frankie.

We hadn't seen them near the house in a while and I missed them.

I've long loved these gentle creatures and thought this might be a great read for non fiction November.

What do you think?

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Dutch House; Ann Patchett

AUTHOR:  Ann Patchett
PUBLISHER: Harper Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING: Pennsylvania
FORMAT: audio/library
RATING - 5/5

What a wonderful story of family, home, memories, love and loss. This is likely to be my favorite book of 2019.  

The "Dutch House" is a character itself in this story. The grand estate located outside of Philadelphia was acquired in the mid-1940s by real estate developer Cyril Conroy after the previous "dutch" owner falls into financial ruin.  When Cyril's wife, Elna learns that the family (they have a daughter Maeve, 10 and son Danny 3) are suppose to call this showy estate their home, she wants no part of it. Their previous home was tiny and cozy and now, the mansion comes complete with silk furniture, Chinese lightening and rich oil paintings along with hired help.

Elna had not been aware that her husband had acquired so much money and, the thought of living in this grand mansion causes her to flee to pursue her dream of helping the less fortunate.  This leaves the young children to grow up with their cold, distant father and the hired help and, soon a wicked-step mother with her own children.

Told over a 50 year period from the POV of Danny (Tom Hanks is the audio book narrator and really comes alive in this role).  He tells such an engaging and memorable story about the impact of our earliest childhood memories on our adult lives. I loved how this story came full circle and kept me engaged throughout. This just may be Ann Patchett's best book yet. I marvel at her ability to create a sense of tension and anticipation to her stories.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Three Women; Lisa Taddeo

TITLE: Three Women
AUTHOR:  Lisa Taddeo
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PUB. YEAR: 2019
FORMAT: print/library
RATING - 3.5/5

After so much buzz about this book, I decided to try it for myself; I'm glad I read it but, I didn't love it. Actually, I wasn't sure what to expect when I began this NF title except the author's intent was to write about female desire.

Profiled are stories of (3) very different women from different backgrounds and social classes.  There's 23 year old Maggie from North Dakota who was involved in a sexual relationship with her married high school English teacher when she was just 17.  A resulting criminal trial rocks their quiet community.  Lina, a mid-western housewife whose loveless marriage has her reconnecting with an old flame.  Finally there is Sloane, a gorgeous woman from a wealthy family in New York City. She moves to Newport, Rhode Island to become a successful restauranteur.  Sloane's husband is also in the same business with her. He enjoys watching her have sex with men and women.

While it's clear that each woman was craving something more, something missing in their lives, they often came across as both self abusers and victims.  Almost every story is a combination of raw, emotional and sexually explicit. All of the women have baggage or issues they were dealing with from alcoholic parents to eating disorders.

I thought the author captured the complex emotions of the women she writes about, but, I didn't really care for the way the stories seemed to jump back and forth between the women. I also thought a wrap up was needed as the ending seemed rather abrupt. It's clear the author did her homework, spending more than 8 years gathering data on these very different women. Each woman, in some way, felt like a victim to me.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Queen Meryl: The Iconic Roles, Heroic Deeds & Legendary Life of Meryl Streep; Eric Carlson

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

 Eric Carlson - Hachette Books - 2019

Chapter 1
From Geek to Streep

I wanted to learn how to be appealing. So I studied the character I imagined I wanted to be, that of a generically pretty high school girl.

Meryl Streep was six years old when she discovered a talent for getting into character.  Her role: the Virgin Mary.  The scene: the Streep family living room, standing in for the nativity.  Meryl's you're brothers, Harry the Third, and Dana, whom she tended to boss around, were cast as Joseph and a barnyard animal, respectively.  When Meryl wrapped her mother's half slip around her head and held Baby Jesus (her Betsy Wetsy doll), she fell under a trance of quiet holiness that spread link gospel to her siblings, following their sister's solemn lead. While the kids' father, Harry the Second, shot footage on Super 8, Meryl learned an important lesson: she didn't have to yell at her costars to get them to do what she wanted.

Any interest in this one?

Friday, November 1, 2019

The Reckless Oath We Made; Bryn Greenwood

AUTHOR:  Bryn Greenwood
PUB. YEAR: 2019
FORMAT: print/library
RATING - 3.5/5

The Reckless Oath We Made is a memorable story with several dysfunctional characters to root for.

As the story opens we meet Zee; she's 26, 6' tall with bright red hair and a young woman in a lot pain due to a shattered hip. Her father was deadbeat dad and convicted of murder; he died in prison.  Her mother is a homebound, 600 lb hoarder. To pay the rent on the apartment Zee shares with her sister and nephew, she supplements her waitress income as an occasional drug mule for her boss.  Most recently she had to bring along her 6 year old nephew with her when her sister failed to come home from her prison volunteer work, only to find out she's been abducted in a prison escape.  Then there is Gentry, a young man on the spectrum, who wants to rescue Zee and be her knight in shining armor.  He's loyal, has a heart of gold and speaks in medieval tongue.

I had really been looking forward to this book, as I loved the author's previous book: All the Ugly and Wonderful Things. There was a lot to like about this story as it covers so many aspects of today's society, but at times it felt a bit too quirky for me. The Middle English speak on the part of Gentry was really off-putting for me - a little went a long way. Overall, a heartfelt story but also a challenging read at times.