Tuesday, January 28, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Olive, Again; Elizabeth Strout

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. Here's my pick for this week:

Olive, Again; Elizabeth Strout
Random House - 2019


"In the early afternoon on a Saturday in June, Jack Kennison put on his sunglasses, got into his sports car with the top down, strapped the seatbelt over his shoulder and across his large stomach, and drove to Portland--almost an hour away--to buy a gallon of whiskey rather than bump into Olive Kitteridge at the grocery store in Crosby, Maine,  Or even that other woman he had seen twice in the story as he stood holding his whiskey while she talked about the weather.  The weather. That woman--he could not remember her name--was a widow as well."

I loved Olive Kitteridge, the first book of this series, and, I must say this follow-up is just wonderful as well -- so far. The audio is great as well. I'm really into the story so far.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Week #4 in Review - 2020

Last week flew by but I still found time to stick to normal routines like reading, movies and yoga. I also had my book group discussion which resumed after a long holiday break. We discussed, The Stars Are Fire; Anita Shreve, which was a book everyone enjoyed and it also made for a great discussion as well. Next month's book is The Woman in Cabin 10; Ruth Ware (another reread for me but, I liked it so I don't mind.)

We didn't go to the movies but, we did watch: McFarland USA. It's a Disney movie and a heartwarming story which deserved a repeat viewing by us. Have you seen it?

Last Week in Books

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone; Lori Gottlieb - 5/5 stars (print)
The Secrets We Kept; Lara Prescott - 3.5/5 stars (audio)

The Violent Bear it Away; Flannery O'Connor
 DNF (just wasn't working for me)

   In progress and loving these!

This Week's Plans

This evening we are planning on seeing a play called Death Trap, a comedy/thriller.  Wednesday, I'll be having dinner with some high school friends (which is always fun) and, the rest of the week is up for grabs at this point; perhaps the movie 1917How was your week?

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - A Good Neighborhood; Therese Anne Fowler

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. Here's my pick for this week:

A Good Neighborhood; Therese Anne Fowler
St. Martin's Press - 2/2020

Part 1


"An upscale new house in a simple old neighborhood. A girl on a chaise beside a swimming pool, who wants to be left alone.  We begin our story here, in the minutes before the small event that will change everything.  A Sunday afternoon in May when our neighborhood is still maintaining its tenuous peace, a loose balance between old and new, us and them. Later this summer when the funeral takes place, the media will speculate boldly on who's to blame.  They'll challenge the attendees to say on-camera whose side they're one.

             For the record: we never wanted to take sides."

What do you think?  I love the into, it really drew me in and, Ti@ Book Chatter really seemed to enjoy this one as well. I hope to begin this today.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

3rd Sunday of 2020 Review

Well, finally almost (3) weeks into the new year and I finally seem to be falling back in routines, and, as a "creature of habit" this is so important to me.  I'm back to yoga (3x last week), reading, movies and catching up with old friends. We went to the movies to see Adam Sandler in Uncut Gems.

 can't recommend this one sorry

This week I caught up with some mini book reviews:
  1. The Guardians; John Grisham - 4/5 (audio/library/January)
  2. Surfside Sisters; Nancy Thayer - 4/5 (audio/library January)
  3. American Dirt; Jeanine Cummins - 5/5 (eGalley/January)
I finished:

Still Reading (and so enjoying):

New Book Started:

This Week's Plans:

This week I have yoga, a hair appointment and my book group, which hasn't met since October.  This month's book is one I had read previously but I really enjoyed : The Stars are Fire; Anita Shreve. (I really miss this author (I've read all of her books). I was so saddened when I learned that she had passed away in 2018 at age 71.

How was your week?

Thursday, January 16, 2020

(2) quick reviews - The Guardians; John Grisham and Surfside Sisters; Nancy Thayer

TITLE: The Guardians
AUTHOR:  John Grisham
PUBLISHER: Random House Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2019
FORMAT: audio
RATING: - 4/5

Quincy Miller is a black man who has spent over 20 years in prison for killing a Florida lawyer. The lawyer was shot dead in his office and there were no clues. It's a crime Quincy professes his innocence to but, he once was a client of the deceased lawyer.

Cullen Post is a burnt out lawyer and former priest who now works for an organization called Guardian Ministries, a group whose mission is to help individuals unjustly sentenced by proving their innocence. It sounds simple but, there are powerful people who do not way to see Quincy Miller freed.

The story reemphasizes the need for prison reform and how easy it can be to blame a crime on a black man in a town full of mostly white people and jurors.  I really enjoyed the narration (read by: Michael Beck), the short chapters and the story overall, even though a few parts seemed to be a bit overdone.

TITLE: Surfside Sisters
AUTHOR:  Nancy Thayer
PUBLISHER: Brillance Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING: Nantucket Island, MA
FORMAT: audio
RATING: - 4/5

Keely and Isabelle have been best fiends since grade school on Nantucket Island. Although Isabelle's family was wealthy and traveled places Keely could only dream about, the two girls were inseparable.  Both had dreams of becoming successful authors but their lives took different paths. Each envied the other for different reasons and eventually their friendship became strained and cause them to drift apart.
Of course as with all terrific beach reads, this story has a happy ending. 

I needed a lighter read and this once fit the bill. There is a little bit of everything here: female friendship, mother and daughter relationships, career, family and even a bit of romance. This one made for a quick and enjoyable audio experience (read by Cassandra Campbell).

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

American Dirt; Jeanine Cummins

TITLE: American Dirt
AUTHOR:  Jeanine Cummins
PUBLISHER: Flatiron Books
PUB. YEAR: 2019
FORMAT: eGalley
RATING: - 5/5

Lydia Quixano Perez was a bookstore owner in Acapulco Mexico. She her husband, Sebastian, a journalist, and eight-year old son Luca had a nice life until one day, it all ended horribly. Lydia feels responsible for the fact that her husband and 15 family members were gunned down at a family cookout, after she unknowingly befriended a drug cartel operative.  Although she and her young son were lucky enough to escape death, the cartel also knows their job isn't finished yet.

Lydia and Luca are forced to flee their home with some cash and just what they could carry in backpacks. What follows is the dangerous journey they face as they set out on foot, by bus and, even by learning to hop onto moving trains in an attempt to get to the US. During their harrowing journey they face hunger, cruelty and although there are a few kind people along the way, there is far more bad than good to be had along the way. They meet other migrants who share their heartbreaking experiences and become travel companions to two sisters fleeing Honduras who share incredibly sad secrets as well.

Although Lydia's background and economic status was not the norm of the migrants they met along the way, I thought their story was just as heartbreaking. I had to read this story in short bursts as I found it to be realistic and quite sad; I was almost afraid to see how it would end.  A work of fiction, it felt like it could be representative of why many migrants are traveling thousands of miles to reach the U.S. for a safer, better way of life for their family. I especially enjoyed the author's notes at the end which gave insight as to why she wrote this story.  This book is sure to be a popular bookclub discussion choice and, it's worth all the hype it's been getting IMO.

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Violent Bear it Away; Flannery O'Connor

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. 

The Violent Bear it Away; Flannery O'Connor
Farrar, Straus and Giroux - 2007 edition


FRANCES MARION TARWATER'S uncle had been dead for only half a day when the boy got too drunk to finish digging his grave and a Negro named Buford Munson, who had come to get a jug filled, had to finish it and drag the body from the breakfast table where it was still sitting and bury it in a decent and Christian way, with the sign of its Saviour at the head of the grave and enough dirt on top to keep the dogs from digging it up. Buford had come along about noon and when he left at sundown, the boy, Tarwater, had never returned from the still."

What do you think -- read more or pass? 
(I've long loved the way Flannery O'Connor wrote so, this year I'm hoping to catch up on some of her novels that have been on my shelves as unread.)

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Sunday #2 of 2020 Update

It was between 62 to 68 degrees and sunny this weekend. Very odd for January in New England and, everyone was outdoors enjoying this January treat. Back to the low 40s tomorrow and then possible snow later in the week.  Have you been experiencing crazy weather patterns as well?

January in Books - I finished (3) books so far this month but, I haven't posted any reviews yet (short ones are in the works).

                                                               (This week I Finished)
5/5 stars 
(incredible story - dark and gritty)

I began

(I'm enjoying both of these non-fiction selections)

Non - Bookish Stuff

  • My doctor's follow/up visit went well with pathology results benign (thankfully)
  • Never made if to yoga as one class was cancelled, my doctor's appointment and then an unexpected something came up as well. Tomorrow definitely!
  • A few weeks ago we tried a new Meals to Go place that is owned by our favorite restaurant.  So far we brought home the: baked stuffed shrimp, chicken marsala and pot roast with root veggies and a blackened salmon dish with pasta alfredo. All were delicious (enough for 2 people plus some and reasonably priced as well).
  • Oh and P.S. I HATE using Google Chrome with my MAC while blogging! Why won't this align right - UGH
How was your week?

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Maybe You Should Talk to Someone; Lori Gottlieb

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.  
Houghton, Mifflin and Harcourt - 2019

Part One

Nothing is more desirable than to be released from an affliction., but nothing is more frightening than to be divested of a crutch. --- James Baldwin



Chart Note: John

Patient reports feeling "stressed out" and states that he is having difficulty sleeping and getting along with his wife.  Expresses annoyance with others and seeks help "managing the idiots."

What do you think pass or read more? I read most of this first chapter/case to my husband and we both thought the writing was good and very funny as well.  (So many have recommended this NF collection, that I couldn't wait to get a copy from the library).

Sunday, January 5, 2020

First Sunday of the New Year

Hope the first (5) days of 2020 have been kind to my readers out there.  I think I'm still recovering from all the holiday excitement. I find that we eat different, move different and fall out of our routines from November through January. I look forward to more normal routines beginning this week.  In December we saw a couple of great live performances, celebrated my birthday with children, grandchildren and Santa, and tried a new restaurant and a few old favorites.

This past week we went to see Knives Out (it's rated 8/10 stars). I really liked it a lot but my husband thought it was silly. It is the kind of movie I'll probably only see once, but, it was fun!

I'm savoring my first book of the New Year, American Dirt by just reading 2-4 chapters each day. I'm about 55% into it now. It is really good but, it's also a book that is not a happy story.  I finished an audio book by John Grisham : The Guardians (no review yet but 4/5 stars) a very good listen, read by Michael Beck.  My current audio book is a lighter story by Nancy Thayer called: Surfside Sisters. It's a good story read by Cassandra Campbell, which is a nice bonus.

How was your week?

This coming week I have a follow-up appointment for a same day hospital procedure I had done the day after Christmas. (Hoping for good news here)  My husband also has a few appointments this week and then there will a return to yoga (2 weeks off) which I'm looking forward to.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

First Book of the New Year - American Dirt; Jeanine Cummins

Happy New Year!

American Dirt; Jeanine Cummins
Flatiron Books - Release Date January 21, 2020

The book's description gives way too much of the plot, but here's what some who have already read the book have thought:

American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.
Already being hailed as "a Grapes of Wrath for our times" and "a new American classic," Jeanine Cummins's American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

( I'm already hooked after the first 25%.)