Tuesday, March 31, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - All the Broken People; Leah Konen

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by  Socrates Book Reviews
Thanks to Yvonne for taking over FCFPTI.

G.P. Putnam 2020

"People have all sorts of ideas about what they'd do if it happened to them.

They'd tell their friends. They'd make that call. They'd leave.  They certainly wouldn't continue on like normal, banging out personal essays or temping at whatever online mag needed a freelance editor for the day.  They'd tell their family (assuming they still had family in their lives to tell), they'd keep themselves busy (pottery class! political campaigns! yoga!) They'd heal, and they'd move on, and they'd rebuild their lives.

That's what I'd always thought too."

Recently, this title caught my eye, I hope to start it soon. What do you think about the intro?

Friday, March 27, 2020

A COVID-19 Check-In - Not Reading Much

How are all of you doing in these crazy times, as most of us are forced to remain home in order to stay safe and help stop the spread of the virus?

As a retired person and an introvert,  the staying home more part isn't difficult, but the not going out to lunch or dinner and not seeing family/friends has been. Yes, we can still get takeout, but I've avoided ALL unnecessary trips outside of the house and, can't help wondering if the person who might be preparing takeout might unknowingly have the virus. We've canceled f/up doctors appointments, started having groceries delivered 2x a month, and hair/nail appointments are a thing of the past as well. (I'm seriously thinking that this may be the perfect time to stop coloring my hair and embrace my gray).  Just when I thought I'd be reading more, I find it difficult to concentrate, reading 10-15 pages and then staring at the ceiling a lot. (I do have several reviews I've been working on).  I am obsessed with the news (not a good thing, I know).  I'm so happy we have pets to pamper and play with.  The other day my daughter ran out of Tylenol and every place was out of stock, so we drove to her house and dropped it on her porch, waving to her and the girls from a distance. How sad is it that we can't even be with our own families (unless they are part of your family unit).

Typical Boring Day - I usually wake up by 6 a.m., have coffee, while we watch Morning Joe, then I make us breakfast (more coffee), check social media, do some chores, we go for a walk, have a snack/tea or light lunch while watching more news, check social media, watch our 401K's plunge, then we play cards/read/check in with friends/family or nap,  think about preparing dinner, shower (sometimes this happens before breakfast), have dinner, some wine, watch a bit more tv and bed. Next day - repeat! Oh, and yes, I'm finding it difficult to sleep more than 5 hours most mights.

What's your typical day like in the midst of this pandemic?

Stay Safe!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Sea Wife; Amity Gage

Thanks to Yvonne at Socrates’ Book Reviews for taking over FCFPTI.

 Sea Wife; Amity Gage
A. Knopf - 2020


"Where does a mistake begin? Lately I've found this simple question difficult. Impossible, actually.  A mistake has roots in both time and space--a person's reasoning and her whereabouts. Somewhere in the intersection of those two dimensions is the precisely bounded mistake--in nautical terms, its coordinates."

I haven't been able to focus on much reading lately but, I started this one last night and I'm enjoying it so far.  Isn't the cover beautiful? What do you think about the intro?

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic; Matt McCarthy, MD

Thank you Vicki for hosting FCFPTI these last few years. I'm thrilled this Tuesday feature will continue. Thank you, Yvonne @ Socrates’ Book Reviews for keeping this going beginning Tuesday, the 24th.

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros invites you to share the first paragraph or two of a book that you are reading or plan to read soon. 
Avery - 2019
"IT WAS JUST after dawn when I felt the buzz on my hip. I broke stride, put down my coffee, and glanced at my pager: I was needed in the emergency room. It was 2014, an unseasonably warm October day, and the text induced a flurry of anxiety and excitement.  After eleven years of training, I had accepted a position as a staff physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, a tertiary care center on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, and a patient had just arrived with a perplexing infection, one that had stumped the team in the ER."
What do you think - pass or read more?

Monday, March 16, 2020

2 more fun kids books - Dandelion's Dream; Yoko Tanaka and Madame Badobedah; Sophie Dahl

Dandelion's Dream; Yoko Tanaka
Candlewick Press - 2020

It's dandelion season and buds are sprouting everywhere but, then the unexpected happens -- bit bit bit one of the buds sprouts into a real -- lion.

In general, I'm not a fan of wordless picture books for the very young but this one is "too cute for words." Who wouldn't like to experience the cute little lion's adventures this spring?

The charcoal colored background with bright pop's of yellow on the pages throughout made for an imaginative springtime story.

Madame Badobedah; Sophie Dahl (Illust-Lauren O'Hara
Walker Books (Candlewick Press) 2020

A story in 3 parts

Mabel is an only child and she lives the Mermaid Hotel where he dad is the manager and her mom is the "boss".  Mabel is a keen observer of all things and people.  When a feather-clad, mature guest with a growly voice arrives with a heavy suitcase, the curious Mabel, names her "Madame Badobedah".  The guest is assigned to Room 32, a room with a secret, Mabel's curious but, not allowed to enter a guest's room so she becomes - Mabel the Spy and she comes up with a theory, Madame B is a super-villain!

First and second grade readers will enjoy the visual and challenges that this charming book offers.  This book is a funny, engaging and imaginative story of friendship. Wonderful, fun illustrations as well.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Book Review - Nothing More Dangerous; Allen Eskens

AUTHOR:  Allen Eskens
PUBLISHER: Mulholland Books/Hachette Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2019
FORMAT: combo/print/audio/library
RATING: - 5/5

Set in the 1970's Ozark mountains, the story opens with talk of a missing black woman named Lida Poe. She was believed to have stolen money from the company where she had worked and had possibly left town. Jessup, MO, however, is a small town full or prejudice and steeped in racism. The whereabouts of the missing woman plays an important part in the novel.

Boady Sanden is a 15 year old boy living with his strict, widowed mother. After getting caught stealing his mother sends him to a Catholic high school where he is bullied and just doesn't seem to fit in.  He spends his free time exploring the woods, reading and talking with Hoke, his retired neighbor. Hoke is a positive influence, providing nurturing lessons on life which leads to a wonderful friendship.  When the Elgin's, a black family, moves in across the street, the father hired to run a local company, Boady becomes good friends with son Thomas. Boady begins to see the injustices black people have had to endure.

What a great novel! Honestly I've enjoyed every book this author has written.  If you love great character development, a little mystery and great writing, this is the book for you. It was wonderful to see Boady rid himself of the racial prejudices he had grown up with. Yes, this book has some unpleasant topics like:  bullying, violence and white supremacy which is hard to read about at times, but, it is an important part of this novel.  A haunting coming of age story. Read it!

The Nickel Boys; Colson Whitehead

AUTHOR:  Colson Whitehead
PUBLISHER: Doubleday/Random House Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2019
FORMAT: combo/eBook/audio
RATING: - 5/5

Set in the 1960s, Jim Crow era, The Nickel Boys is a work of fiction but, based on an actual place: The Dozier school, a horrible reform school in Marianna, FL that remained in operation for 100+ years. In this story that reform school is known as The Nickel Academy.

Elwood Curtis is a smart black boy who is being raised by his strict grandmother. He's on the right path, headed for college but, one bad decision lands him at the Nickel Academy. It's a place where young men are brutally abused: tortured and sexually assaulted. Despite all he must endure he tries to keep Dr. Martin Luther King's messages and ideals on his mind and in his heart.  His friend Turner is more skeptical, he calls his friend naive. The boys try to follow the rules and not buck the system knowing full well that their lives are at risk.

The Nickel Boys is a relatively short book. It's a tough yet important story about a terrible time in US history. I thought the story was well written, heartbreaking at times, with a rather shocking and abrupt ending.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

a few new books for kids

Quarto Group - 2020

A whimsical story about a little lion named Roy who lived in a big city and loved music as did his friend Jemmy. Roy traveled far and wide searching for the most perfect sounds. Often distracted, the more Roy searched the more confused and lonely he began to feel being away from home.

When he returns home and sees his friend Jemmy again, he was much happier than he had been before. Maybe their music wasn't perfect, but together, they sang and danced and Roy wasn't lonely any longer.

A friendship story with adorable illustrations -- even though at times they didn't seem consistent with the text/message.

4/5 stars

Juniper Jupiter; Lizzy Stewart
Frances Lincoln Children's Books - 2020

Juniper Jupiter, she's a super hero, super brave, super sneaky, super strong and, she can fly!

Juniper quickly finds out that being a super hero is a lonely job.  She decides she could use a side kick. She makes a list of qualities her side kick should possess and posts the notices all around town.  She's not prepared for the gigantic response. It's all very confusing for her and little did she realize that the perfect side kick was right there before her eyes.

Water color and ink art work make for some bright and fun illustrations. The story is simple, yet fun and silly too.

4/5 stars

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Wild Game; Adrienne Brodeur

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:

Wild Game; Adrienne Brodeur
Houghton, Mifflin Harcourt - 2019


A BURIED TRUTH, that's all a lie really is.

Cape Cod is a place where things surface and disappear again: wooden lobster pots, the vertebrae of humpback whales, chunks of frosted glass. One day there's nothing; the next, the cynical forces of nature--erosion, wind, and tide--unearth something that has been there all along. A day later, it's gone.

I love memoirs and have been looking forward to this one.  What do you think?

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Long Bright River, Liz Moore

AUTHOR:  Liz Moore
PUBLISHER: Penguin Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2020
SETTING: Philadelphia, PA

FORMAT: audio
RATING: - 4/5

The city of Philadelphia (Kensington) comes alive in this story of two sisters. Mickey is a 30-something police officer and single mother to a 4 year old boy. Kacey is her younger sister.  Mickey has always been protective of her younger sister, often taking on a parental role. When Kacey loses her battle with addiction, all Mickey can do is watch from the sidelines. She tries to keep tabs on her sister while on duty, watching her sister prostitute herself to pay for her next fix.

Soon it appears a possible serial killer has been targeting homeless, addicted women in the area and Kacey hasn't been seen in while, Mickey is desperate to try and find out whether Kacey is alive or a new victim.

This book is rather long and at times slow moving. There are lots of unnecessary details about the streets and neighborhood places of Philadelphia. Despite that, I loved the way the story moved back and forth in time which created an important look at the strong bond between these sisters and the earliest role that their parents had played.  I'm guessing many readers might go into this book thinking its a thriller/mystery, but, it's really more like a police procedural and family saga IMO.  Although there is not a lot of action in this novel and the subject matter is tough at times,  it's a timely story about the Opioid crisis and its effects on the victim and their family.  The audio was well done.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

The Last Time I Saw You; Liv Constantine

TITLE: The Last Time I Saw You
AUTHOR:  Liv Constantine
PUBLISHER: Harper Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2019
SETTING: Maryland

RATING: - 4/5

Dr. Kate English was a woman to be envied: successful, an heiress to a large fortune, charming husband and daughter.  When her mother is murdered in her own home, she just doesn't understand who could have wanted her dead.  Soon after menacing texts and other messages, directed at Kate, begin appearing making her wonder whether she could be the next target.

Kate turns to Blair, a former friend, who has been absent from her life for 15 years for consolation.  Blair is a mystery writer and plans to help figure out who may have wanted Lily dead.

High society, money, hidden secrets and betrayals surface at every turn.  Just when I thought I knew who might have been behind all of this, something unexpected presented itself.  Even though the characters felt a bit flat at times, overall, this was a quick enjoyable read/listen combo.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Animalkind; Ingrid Newkirk & Gene Stone

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:

Ingrid Newkirk & Gene Stone 
Simon & Schuster - 2020


The dog who jumps for joy when you come home. The emperor penguin guarding his child through a subzero blizzard. The dolphin smiling at us from the water. The sleepy  cat's purr of contentment. The manta's rays intricate underwater ballets. The lark's exquisite song. Animals delight, fascinate, and enrich human lives and thoughts everyday of the year.

I'm a sucker for books about animals. How about you, read more or pass?

Sunday, March 1, 2020

February Reading and Movies

Leaping ahead into March (can you believe it)? February found me watching several wonderful movies. (2) are Netflix movies and the others available "On Demand".  If you haven't seen these surprising gems, check them out.

Sadly, my choice of books in February failed to "wow" me for the most part. In fact, only (2) fiction books were decent reads for me. (I think I'll do better in March as the 2 books I've started are very good.) How was your month in books?

Books Read in February (7) YTD Totals (16)
  1. Mr. Nobody; Catherine Steadman - 3.5/5 (eGalley/February))
  2. The Woman in Cabin 10; Ruth Ware - 4/5 (audio/reread/book group/February)
  3. The Winters; Lisa Gabriele - 3/5 - (ARC/February)
  4. Eat Right 4 Your Type: The Individualized Blood Type Diet Solution - 5/5 (reread  2008/Feb)
  5. A Hundred Small Lessons; Ashley Hays - 3.5/5 (audio/February)
  6. The Last Time I Saw You; Liv Constantine - 4/5 (ARC/audio/February)
  7. Such a Fun Age; Kiley Reid - 3/5 (audio/February)

           Favorite (2) books of February

Currently Reading

A Hundred Small Lessons; Ashley Hay and Such a Fun Age; Kiley Reid

TITLE: A Hundred Small Lessons
AUTHOR:  Ashley Hay
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2020
SETTING: Australia 

FORMAT: audio
RATING: - 3.5/5

Elsie Gormley, husband Clem, and now adult children have enjoyed a long life and shared history in the family home in Brisbane, AU. Now Elsie is forced to leave it all behind after a fall has her entering a nursing home.  Her home is sold but, her memories of the past remain.

Lucy and Ben and their young son are the new owners of Elsie's former home. They are a young couple trying to adjust to a lifestyle change since becoming parents.  When Lucy finds an item belonging to Elsie, she feels a connection to her and the home's history.

A character driven novel, well written that delves into the personal lives and challenges of the two families: love, motherhood, marriage life and death. Although the story is well written it was very slow for me. It's been compared to Olive Kitteridge; Elizabeth Strout (which I loved) but, I didn't see the connection.  I think this story will appeal to readers who like quiet reflective fiction.

TITLE: Such a Fun Age
AUTHOR:  Kiley Reid
PUBLISHER: Penguin Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2020
SETTING: Philadelphia
FORMAT: eGalley/audio
RATING: - 3/5

Alix Chamberlain is a 30-something, white woman and successful social influencer who knows what it takes to get the attention of others.  Emira Tucker is a 20-something, black woman and college graduate who is trying to figure out a direction for a satisfying future, but for now, she babysits Briar, the young daughter of Alix.

Early on in the novel there is a racially motivated incident at a grocery store where a security guard questions Emira being out late at night with Briar, a white child. Emira is detained while her story is investigated. The whole scene is filmed by a young white man, Kelley.  Alix is horrified when she learns what has happened and wants to make it up to Emira.

This is a character driven novel; I thought the characters was unlikeable and shallow and found them pretty annoying on audio as well. I was disappointed that the Emira character, who I wanted to root for, was so underdeveloped.   I felt this story had potential but, the execution was the issue. I didn't get the hype over this novel.