Thursday, April 30, 2020

Book Review - Weather; Jenny Offill

TITLE:  Weather
AUTHOR:  Jenny Offill
PUBLISHER:  Random House Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2020
FORMAT: audio
RATING: - 4/5

Lizzie is a wife and mother who works in a library in New York . Lizzie has no formal library degree since she's been busy trying to help her own mother as well as her brother, who struggles with addiction. She has a good share of anxiety as she constantly worries about climate change and seems easily overwhelmed by daily stresses.

This is a pretty short novel that was clever and well written but, it's not the type of story that will not appeal to all readers. The writing is rather fragmented, almost a stream of consciousness style. The story never felt depressing and at times it was kind of funny. It was the kind of book that seemed appropriate for the stressful times many of us are finding ourselves in right now. I don't think the print version would have worked as well for me as the audio which was read by Cassandra Campbell who really did a fabulous job.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Book Review - 142 Ostriches; April Davila

  142 Ostriches
AUTHOR:  April Davila
PUBLISHER:  Kensington
PUB. YEAR: 2020
SETTING: CA - Mojave Desert
FORMAT: eGalley
RATING: - 4/5

Tallulah Jones hasn't had much stability in her young life, as a result of an irresponsible mother.  However, when she was 13, her grandmother Helen, came to her rescue and live with her.  Helen had an ostrich farm in the Mojave desert and, truth be told, she needed help so Tallulah filled that need.  Now in her early 20s, Tallulah has decided she wants more out of life an has accepted a job in Montana which she is to begin in a few weeks. However, when her grandmother dies unexpectedly, Tallulah has the birds, a farm, and a house to deal with before she can just pack up and leave.

142 Ostriches was a unique coming of age story. It's a story steeped in family dysfunction and, it's also a story about ostriches - (I never realized the size and power this amazing creatures possess.)  There are some sad and even violent moments in this story but, there are also moments of joy as well. I liked the protagonist and found her character well-developed. This was ultimately a different kind of coming of age story with a nice ending as well.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Dilemma; B.A. Paris

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by  Socrates Book ReviewsThanks to Yvonne for taking over FCFPTI. Each week readers post the first paragraph (sometimes 2) of a book they are reading or planning to read. Feel free to join in.

The Dilemma; B.A. Paris
St. Martin's Press - 2020

Sunday, June 9 3:30 A.M.

"It's the cooling bathwater that wakes me. Disoriented, I sit up quickly, sploshing suds up the sides, wondering how long I've been asleep..  I release the plug and the drain gurgles, a too-loud noise in a silent house.

A shiver pricks my skin as I towel myself dry.  A memory tugs at my brain. It was a sound that woke me, the roar of a motorbike in the street outside.  I pause, the towel stretched over my back.  It couldn't have been Adam, could it?  He wouldn't have gone off on his bike, not at this time of night."

I've read every book by this author, some better than others. What do you think of the intro?

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Week in Review

It's a rainy, cool Sunday with several more days of rain coming this week.  Not the type of weather that will raise our spirits during our stay at home times.
Reading / Reviews Needed…
Still need to review: 

Books Reviewed Last Week…

Currently Reading/listening to:


We've been enjoying some old black & white movies on Turner Classics. This week we watched Sitting Pretty (1948) Robert Young, Maureen O'Hara and Clifton Webb which was a fun comedy and Laura (1944) Clifton Webb & Gene Tierney (noir/mystery).
Exercise and other highlights…
We managed to walk 4 times this week. We also took a ride to spend some time outdoors with my son, DIL and youngest granddaughter.  Haven't been together in months and even though it was just under an hour, it was so nice to chat and catch up.
In The Kitchen…
Another good Instacart experience which included TP - it was Scott's but we will take it - LOL I also purchased the ingredients for the turkey meatloaf recipe Ti@ Book Chatter shared last Sunday.,
Today’s To Do List…
No walk today as it's raining so it will probably be some card games, reading and dinner preparation.  We haven't had our dress-up for dinner and cocktails evening yet. Maybe next week as our anniversary is the beginning of May.

Retail Therapy...

I been a fan of Milk Shake Hair products, they work great and smell so yummy too.  This week's new product was a leave in conditioner that eliminates the fly-away static, leaves hair silky and smells so good.

Looking forward to… (same as last week)
Doing some of the things that I used to take for granted - having family over for dinner, getting a haircut, lunches out, shopping, Starbucks (without 30 cars ahead of me) and buying hanging flower baskets around Memorial Day. Hoping the beaches will be open this summer.
                                                             How are all of you doing?

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Book Review - The Red Lotus; Chris Bohjalian

TITLE:  The Red Lotus
AUTHOR:  Chris Bohjalian
PUBLISHER:  Doubleday
PUB. YEAR: 2020
SETTING: NYC and Vietnam
FORMAT: eGalley/audio combo
RATING: - 4/5

The Red Lotus shows readers the dark side of a relationship, one built on lies and evil.

Alexis is an Emergency Room doctor in NYC. One night in walks Austin, an avid cyclist, with a gunshot wound to his arm. The two hit it off and after dating several months he asks her to accompany him to Vietnam for a bike tour.  He says he'd also like to visit the area where is father and uncle had served during the war.  After checking out the sights together, Austin heads off for a bike ride while Alexis returns to the hotel. When Austin doesn't return, authorities get involved and a search for him begins.  

Alexis is not satisfied with what she has been told and her strong personality makes her desperate for answers. Why did Austin really bring her to Vietnam? What was he involved in?

This book started out a bit slow but once Austin disappeared the pace accelerated.  Alexis was an interesting character, a strong character with some baggage of her own. The story definitely has a dark side to it and, getting to the truth of it all made for some interesting fiction.  The audio was read by Rebecca Lowman who did a great job. I've read most every book written by this author and, although this wasn't my favorite, it was an entertaining read given our stay-at-home order.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Book Review - Sea Wife; Amity Gage

TITLE:  Sea Wife
AUTHOR:  Amity Gage
PUB. YEAR: 2020
FORMAT: eGalley
RATING: - 4/5

The Sea Wife was an interesting read about a strained marriage and a man with a dream. A dream to give up his unsatisfying job, buy a boat and have his family sail the Caribbean with him for a year. 

Michael Partlow is the unhappy husband, his wife Juliet is a stay-at-home mom with two young children, Sybil 7, and Georgie 2. For nearly a decade Juliet has been working on her PhD; she is also a woman who suffers from depression stemming from abuse as a child. Despite Juliet's concerns, she decides to go along with Michael's plans. What could possibly go wrong?

Based in part on true events, the story alternates between Michael and Juliet's experiences along their sailing journey. Michael's thoughts tare shared through journaling and Juliet's as she looks back once she has returned home.  The story, sad at times, also has a good amount of joy and splendor as well.  I enjoyed setting and the writing style which was a bit different, I would like to try other books by this author as well.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Illness Lesson; Clare Beams

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by  Socrates Book ReviewsThanks to Yvonne for taking over FCFPTI. Each week readers post the first paragraph (sometimes 2) of a book they are reading or planning to read. Feel free to join in.

The Illness Lesson; Clare Beams
Doubleday - 2020

Ashwell, Massachusetts 1871

The first of the birds Caroline mistook for her own mind's work. When the streak of red crossed the kitchen windowpane, fast, disastrous-bright, she thought it was some bloody piece come loose inside herself.

Then her father appeared from the study and held the doorframe leaning in, "Caroline! Did you see it?"

Based on the intro above, what do you think - pass or read more?

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Week in Review


It's a beautiful sunny Sunday with high temps to reach 62 degrees today. I'll take it as we had some snow one day and, several rainy days in store for the coming week. I do look forward to warmer temps eventually.
This week I finished reading: 142 Ostriches; April Davilla. A really nice debut novel; hopefully I'll review it this week. I've been listening to, You are Not Alone; Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen (pretty good).

Books Reviewed Last Week…
The Library Book, Girls of Atomic City and Animalkind. I read these 3 NF titles in early March. I especially loved Animalkind.


The only thing worth mentioning was the One World Together at Home concert last night. So well done and so very moving. I loved all the music and seeing our lovely former first ladies: Laura Bush and Michelle Obama and their heartfelt messages. SO happy we recorded this as I definitely want to watch it again - the 2 hours flew by.
Exercise and other highlights…
We managed to walk 5 times this week. Our middle granddaughter turned 6 last week and we sent her face time birthday wishes.  Her new bike arrived in time as well so we were happy about that.  Big sister's birthday is this coming week.
In The Kitchen…
Another Instacart, a personal shopper delivery arrived on Tuesday. I was able to get about 40/45 items so that was a win. I did receive milk that was beyond its expiration date - disappointing but, overall just pleased I didn't have to do the shopping. I made some homemade chicken soup and cornbread and a shrimp dish which was rather good. Other than that it was familiar favorites and a bit too much comfort foods. Fortunately we haven't gained any weight as our walking routines have seemed to kept things in balance.
Today’s To Do List…

We will be taking a long walk, perhaps some closet organization, maybe a game, some reading. and dinner preparation.  We are talking about dressing  up nice for dinner and cocktails one night a week instead of living in yoga clothes and sweat pants 7 days a week. I'll let you know if that happens.

Retail Therapy...

a new outfit from J Jill

and a just for fun walking hat ...

Looking forward to…
Doing some of the things that I used to take for granted - having family over for dinner, getting a haircut, lunches out, shopping, Starbucks (without 30 cars ahead of me) and buying hanging flower baskets around Memorial Day. I don't think I'll be rushing to movie theaters when they reopen them, I'll wait till things really seem more under control.
How are all of you doing?

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Book Reviews - The Library Book; Susan Orlean and The Girls of Atomic City; Denise Kiernan

AUTHOR:  Susan Orleans
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2018
FORMAT: audio/library
RATING: - 3.5/5

The Library Book was one of the books chosen for a book group read in 2020.  One focus of this book was the devastating fire at the LA Public Library (Central Branch) in April of 1986. The fire destroyed the library and its collection and, the rebuilding took more than 8 years. The author highlights the critical role that libraries have played over the years and, she discusses libraries past and present.

The author shares her fond memories of frequent trips to the library as a child with her mother, a tradition she continued with her own child years later. The writing about her personal experiences was wonderful and really resonated with me.

Overall, I was a bit disappointed with this book. I do appreciate all the research that went into this book, however, I thought a lot of it felt unfocused and hard to follow at times. Listening to the audio version was probably not the right decision for this book. I found it especially tedious to listen to the author speak call number after call number (Library Dewey Decimal Classification System) about the types of books destroyed in the fire.  As someone who has worked in libraries for about 15 years, I really thought I'd love this book but that was not the case.  If you decide to try this one I suggest print over audio.

TITLE: The Girls of Atomic City: Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win WWII
AUTHOR:  Denise Kiernan
PUB. YEAR: 2013
FORMAT: print/library
RATING: - 4.5/5

The Girls of Atomic City is a NF work about the young women who during WWII were hired for a secret mission, (unknowingly aiding to help build and fuel the atomic bomb.)

In 1943 Oakridge, TN was a town that no one had heard of, yet, seemingly overnight, the town grew out of the mountains and farmlands on some 80,000 acres. The US government's heavy recruitment efforts created, jobs, jobs and more jobs in this secret city. Most who were hired were women: chemists, mathematicians, secretaries and custodial staff alike. Those hired were housed on site and given only basic information, just enough to enable them to perform their jobs. Never was it acceptable to talk about their work or they would be removed from the the project and the property.

The book focuses on 9 women and what they experienced during their time working on this top secret mission. At times it was a bit difficult to keep all of the characters straight, the stories were so interesting.

This book was our book group read for March but,  we never got to discuss it before the library closed due to the pandemic.  This is one of those books that I would have never selected to read on my own but, I was so happy my group selected it. I do think this book would appeal to a variety of readers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - You Are Not Alone; Hendricks & Pekkanen

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by  Socrates Book Reviews
Thanks to Yvonne for taking over FCFPTI. Each week readers post the first paragraph (sometimes 2) of a book they are reading or planning to read. Feel free to join in.

You Are Not Alone; Hendricks & Pekkanen
Macmillan Audio - 2020

Chapter One


Numbers never lie. Statistics, charts, percentages--they don't contain hidden agendas or shades of gray.  They're pure and true.  It isn't until people start meddling with them, spinning and shaping them, that they become dishonest.
--Data Book - page 1

Two WINEGLASSES ARE ON the coffee table, evidence of a romantic night.  I clear them away, rinsing the ruby-colored stains pooling at the bottom of the goblets.  The coffee is brewing, filling the galley kitchen with the aroma of the dark roasted beans Sean introduced me to when I moved into his Murray Hill Apartment eighteen months ago.

What do you think - read more or pass.  (This is my third thriller by this duo, hoping this is as enjoyable as the others.)

Monday, April 13, 2020

book Review - Animalkind; Gretchen Newkirk and Gene Stone

TITLE: Animalkind
AUTHOR:  Ingrid Newkirk & Gene Stone
PUBLISHER: Simon & Schuster
PUB. YEAR: 2019
FORMAT: print/library
RATING: - 4.5/5

Animalkind, written by the founder of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is a remarkable book that I found engaging and informative.

The first part of the book gives insight into animal intelligence, discoveries about their loyalty, how they navigate and how they bond and play. There were stories about cats who found their way back home from distances over 100 miles. Stories of canines who understood over 200 human words and would respond. (I laughed when I read that dogs will only respond to praise is spoken in an upbeat tone though.) There are dolphins who can recognize the whistle of a companion they hadn't seen in decades and, that orangutans have the strongest mother and infant bonding in the animal kingdom - inseparable for years and some offspring nurse for as long as nine years. 

Did you know that 60% of dogs and 63% of cats show grief after losing a human companion?  Most will eat much less and sleep much more.  Cats are more in tune to their predatory instincts than dogs since their hunting skills are rooted in evolution.

The second part of this book deals with animal welfare issues and how humans can learn to be more respectful and compassionate to animals.

As an animal lover, I was really happy I read this book. It is written in an easy, engaging manner. It's a book that gave me hope that humans an animals can coexist and how easy it is for humans to show respect for the vulnerable animals among us.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Happy Easter ~ Happy Passover

It's a mostly cloudy Easter Sunday with high temps of 58 degrees expected today. I'll take it as we've had some heavy winds a few days this week which made a few walks challenging.
Reading/Listening to…
This week I finished listening/reading: The Red Lotus; Chris Bohjalian. (it was very different from this authors previous books but, it was pretty good - review next week I hope).
Books Reviewed Last Week…
A Perfect Alibi and Most Dangerous Place-  I read these 2 early in March. (I still have 3 more reviews to post about from March)
We saw started watching Season 1 on Containment on Netflix. It's about a pandemic (glutton for punishment here). So far the first 3 episodes have been pretty good. We also watched Good Will Hunting (again).

We managed to walk 4 times this week as well as some at home yoga (2x) - not as enjoyable but I'm doing it.
In The Kitchen…
Last week's semi-monthly grocery delivery arrived and although we did get some meat this time (not everything), many things were out of stock...frustrating.  I decided to try another option as I could not schedule another delivery in April - all booked.   On Tuesday, I tried Instacart, a personal shopper.  The stores that participate are based on your zip code.  I was pleased with the stores on the list so I ordered all of the missing items from Sunday's delivery and I was able to get 18/20 items. BONUS: it arrived 2 hours after I placed the order. So excited; our new go-to shopping service. Is is us, or are you spending a fortune on groceries lately? (I guess in part that's because we are not going out to eat or getting take out).
This week we had main meals like: steak, baked potato and salad, butternut squash ravioli and salad, roasted chicken and corn bread and beef stew.
New To Me Stuff:
Nothing new this week but I did order a couple of things.
Today’s To Do List…

I wish I could say I was entertaining my family with a traditional Easter dinner today but, it will be just the 2 of us. I'm thinking it will be a nice breakfast, a long walk, a game of Monopoly (I've lost our last 2 games but, I rock at Gin Rummy.)  We did order some gifts for the girls which we had sent to their homes and thankfully they arrived during the week.

Looking forward to…
The good ole days. I don't want to wish my life away but, there appears to be no end in sight to this social distancing. As an introvert, I'm finding this "staying at home" to be tolerable. But, boy do I miss the boring things I used to take for granted - just knowing I could go out to eat, visit the grocery store and my favorite shops, stopping for a bagel or coffee, movie theaters, my hairdresser. - now even banking is by appointment only or drive through. I am so thankful we have our pets; they are very entertaining.
How are all of you doing?

Thursday, April 9, 2020

a couple of audiobook reviews from early March

I listened to these 2 audio books about a 4 weeks ago after my husband had listened to them. Just getting around to posting a bit about them now.

AUTHOR:  Philip Margolin
PUBLISHER: MacMillan Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2019
FORMAT: /audio/library
RATING: - 2.5/5

Not sure whether I've read this author previously, if so it was years ago.  In this suspense novel there are several story lines to digest.

In one case Robin Lockwood is a Portland attorney who is representing Randy Stark, a young woman who accused a college athlete of rape.  The man, Blaine Hastings Jr., is now in prison. When another rape occurs and the DNA is a match to Blaine's, those involved in the case are baffled. How can this be as Blaine doesn't have an identical twin?

Later Robin is appointed to defend and ex-con named Everett Henderson who is accused of killing and off duty police officer. Then we are introduced to yet another case, a new client accused of new client Douglas Armstrong who is accused of murdering his business partner.

For a fairly short novel there was way too much going on and, I thought this novel was short on substance. I would have preferred more in-depth story lines as some of this felt rushed and disjointed.

AUTHOR:  James Grippando
PUBLISHER: Harper Audio
PUB. YEAR: 2017
FORMAT: audio/library
RATING: - 4/5

Jack Swyteck series -  In this installment (haven't read others) Jack Swyteck, a Miami defense attorney is one of the good guys, he's married and has a young daughter.  As the story begins he is on his way to the airport to meet an old friend named Keith, a Hong Kong banker. Keith is accompanied by his lovely wife Isabelle (Issy) and their 8 year old daughter who needs a rare surgery to restore her hearing. Just as greetings are exchanged Keith's wife is approached and arrested. She is charged with the murder of an ex-boyfriend who she claims sexually assaulted her in college.  

Jack his his work cut out for him after agreeing to represent Issy.  The more he digs into what she has told him about the incident, the less confident he is that he's getting the whole story.

I thought the audiobook was very good and it kept me guessing. There are plenty of twists and surprises. I hadn't read any of the earlier books in the series and it really didn't seem to matter either. 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - 142 Ostriches; April Davila

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

142 Ostriches; April Davila
Kensington Books - 2020


Four days before the ostriches stopped laying eggs, Grandma Helen died in an accident that really wasn't an accident.  It was a Sunday, when almost everyone was in church, when the only other trucks on Route 66 were bigger than hers, their immense grilles roaring toward her, then escaping one after another, until a tomato trailer out of Sacramento proved too enticing.

Isn't the cover beautiful?  I'm hoping this one is a winner as the reviews have been pretty good.

Would you read more or pass?

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Sunday Thoughts and Books Read in March

It's a bit cloudy this morning but we are expecting a high of 60°. We will definitely be taking a nice walk later.
Reading/Listening to…
This week I’m reading/listening to: The Red Lotus; Chris Bohjalian. (slow start but I'm really into it now).
Books Reviewed Last Week…
None (but I do have at least 5 to post about from March)
We saw Contagion in 2011 at the movie theater but rented it again yesterday. It has a terrific cast and so very well explains the pandemic we are dealing with right now! Highly Recommended.
We managed to walk 4 times this week and I finally set up my yoga mat and accessories in my loft to begin an at home routine - definitely not as enjoyable but I'm doing it.
In The Kitchen…
We have our groceries delivered every 2 weeks, it's coming today so the freezer was pretty bare.  We had things like: meatloaf, a shrimp, veggie and rice dish, pasta and meatballs, cheeseburgers, egg salad sandwiches and soup and cornbread - definitely too many carbs. Can't wait for salad stuff to arrive today.
New To Me Stuff:
I've been missing my retail therapy so, I treated myself to 2 new tops from J. Jill (40% off sale). Not sure when I'll actually wear these but oh...well.

Today’s To Do List…

Catch up on blogs, read, go for a walk and maybe catch up on reviews.

Looking forward to…
Seeing my children and grandchildren in person some day.  My granddaughter (sisters) will be 8 and 6 this month and it's sad that they can't have friends or family to celebrate. My daughter mentioned trying to coordinate a Zoom party. The other granddaughter's birthday is in July so, maybe, maybe things will be a little more normal.
  1. Long Bright River; Liz Moore - 4/5 (audio/March)
  2. The Best Sound in the World; Cindy Wume - 4/5 (print/March)
  3. Juniper Jupiter; Lizzy Stewart - 4/5 (print/March)
  4. Dandelion's Dream; Yoko Tanaka - 4/5 (print/March)
  5. Madame Badobedah; Sophie Dahl - 5/5 (print/MArch)
  6. The Nickel Boys; Colson Whitehead - 5/5 (eGalley/audio/eBook combo/March)
  7. Nothing More Dangerous; Allen Eskens - 5/5 (library/print/audio/March)
  8. The Most Dangerous Place; James Grippando - 4/5 (audio/March)
  9. Animalkind; Ingrid Newkirk & Gene Stone - 4.5/5 (NF/print/library/March)
  10. A Perfect Alibi; Phillip Margolin - 2.5/5 (audio/March)
  11. The Library Book; Susan Orleans (NF) - 3.5/5 (audio/March)
  12. The Girls of Atomic City; Denise Kiernan (NF/Bookgroup) - 4/5 (print/March)
Most of my reading happened in the first 2 weeks in March before things turned crazy here. I read (12) books in March: (4) children's, (3) NF, (5) Fiction - 6 were print versions, 4 - audios and 2-eGalley/audio combo reads. I still have 5 reviews to write!

Favorite Books in March

Stay Safe All