Sunday, January 31, 2021

2021 - Book #14 - The Midnight Library; Matt Haig


TITLE/AUTHOR: The Midnight Library; Matt Haig

PUBLISHER:  Viking

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2020

GENRE: Fiction 

FORMAT:  eBook PP/LENGTH: 288 pp.

SOURCE: library download

SETTING(s): England


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  Life is too short to live with regrets.


BRIEF REVIEW:  Nora Seed, 35 is a young woman who is unhappy with her life and the choices she has made.  She begins to think that ending her life may be her best option.  The real truth is that Nora has not lived up to her full potential. It is only when Nora wakes up and finds herself inside of the library, speaking with Mrs. Elm, her former school librarian, does she get a chance to see her missed opportunities.  The Book of Regrets gives Nora an opportunity to go back in time to see the path she chose versus what would have happened had she made another choice. Nora once was a champion swimmer with Olympic potential, she was once engaged to get married as well. We learn what then happened to her relationship with her brother and what caused a rift with her best friend and also what really happened to her cat. 

This book does have a happy ending even though it starts out a bit of a downer.  The moral of the story: life is too short to live with regrets and, the time to find happiness is in the here and now. Although I'm happy I read this one, I was a little disappointed in it as well. There are quite a few characters in this story that were not well explored IMO; I wanted to know more.  The flow of this story seem too simplistic as well, I wished it was deeper. I thought it felt as if it had been written for a YA audience even though Nora was 35.  Overall, there was very little that will stick with me about this story long term except for maybe Nora's cat and, no, I wouldn't want an do-overs. 

RATING:  3/5 stars

MEMORABLE QUOTES:  "If you aim to be something you are not, you will always fail. Aim to be you. Aim to look and act and think like you. Aim to be the truest version of you. Embrace that you-ness. Endorse it. Love it. Work hard at it......"

Friday, January 29, 2021

2021 - Book #13 - Transcendent Kingdom; Yaa Gyasi

TITLE/AUTHORTranscendent Kingdom; Yaa Gyasi (Narrator: Bahni Turpin)

PUBLISHER: Random House Audio 

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2020

GENRE: Fiction

FORMAT:  audiobook/LENGTH: 8 hrs. 40 min.

SOURCE: Publisher download

SETTING(s): Alabama, California


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A beautiful story about family, faith, science and religion.


BRIEF REVIEW:  I didn't think author, Yaa Gyasi could outdo herself after her incredible debut novel, Homegoing, yet she did with Transcendent Kingdom.  Her latest novel is completely different from her debut, it almost felt as if I was listening to a memoir.  The audio book is read by Bahni Turpin who was just fantastic; it felt as if she was speaking to me.

Our protagonist, Gifty, is a post grad student at Stanford in the neuroscience program. Her focus is on studying the behavior of mice in relation to addiction and depression.  The research is deeply personal to Gifty as her older brother, Nana,  a stellar athlete, died of a heroin overdose once he became hooked on opioids after a sports injury.  Gifty's mother, a God-fearing woman,  suffers from severe bouts of depression that leave her unable to function.

Beautifully written and a bit sad at times, we learn of Gifty's lonely early years as the youngest child and only daughter, growing up in Alabama as the child of an immigrants from Ghana.  Her mother often unable to get out bed when her depressive episodes hit.  At other times when she was better, she still seemed removed and/or focused on son Nana and her church.  Transcendent Kingdom is a multi-layered story that flowed so well. It offers the reader plenty to think about and it also packs a punch.  Although this is not a fast paced story, it is a deep character study and a story that looks at concrete science data versus religious beliefs.  We also see the racial prejudices expressed by those who claim to be religious. This is a book that will stick with me and I suspect most readers for a long while. Highly recommended - my favorite book thus far in 2021 and one I'll likely reread in the future.

RATING: 5/5

MEMORABLE QUOTES: "If I thought of my mother as callous, and many times I have,  then it is important to remember what a callous is: the hardened tissue that forms over a wound."

"My memories of him, though few, are mostly pleasant, but memories of people you hardly know are often permitted a kind of pleasantness in their absence. It's those who stay that are judged the harshest, simply by virtue of being around to be judged."

Thursday, January 28, 2021

2021 - Book #12 - Every Vow You Break; Peter Swanson

TITLE/AUTHOR: Every Vow You Break; Peter Swanson

PUBLISHER: William Morrow

YEAR PUBLISHED:  2021

GENRE: Fiction / Thriller

FORMAT:  eGalley PP/LENGTH: 320 pp.

SOURCE:  Edelweiss

SETTING(s):  Maine


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A new bride quickly learns that the perfect husband may not be as perfect as she thought.


BRIEF REVIEW:   Abigail Baskin is about to marry Silicon Valley millionaire Bruce Lamb but, a brief drunken fling with a man called Scottie, right before the wedding, threatens to ruin everything.  Scottie contacts Abigail before the wedding suggesting she cancel her wedding plans. However, just because she decides to go through with the wedding as planned, it doesn't mean her indiscretion won't come back to haunt her.  When husband Bruce surprises her with a honeymoon at a remote resort on an island in Maine,  a resort inhabited by primarily men, something doesn't feel right.  Her new husband seems to be acting differently as well and soon things go from bad to worst. Abigail will be lucky to get off the island alive.

First, Peter Swanson is a favorite author of mine and a master of fiction thrillers. His last book, Eight Perfect Murders, made my top 10 list for 2020. Unfortunately,  this one took a while for me to get into and I kept wondering where it was headed. This is one of those far out there thrillers that did not have one redeeming character and some implausible twists as well. I was actually quite disappointed in this one. 

RATING: 2.5/5

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Midnight Library, Matt Haig

 

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read soon.

                                                          The Midnight Library, Matt Haig
                                                                        Viking - 2020
The Man at the Door

"Twenty-seven hours before she decided to die,  Nora Seed sat on her dilapidated sofa scrolling through other people's happy lives, waiting for something to happen.  And then,  out of nowhere something did.

Someone, for whatever peculiar reason, rang her doorbell."

I was planning on passing on this one but,  then my daughter mentioned she wanted to read it so I decided to download it. What do you think about the intro, read more or pass?  Have you read this one?

Monday, January 25, 2021

2021 - Book #11 - The Children's Blizzard; Melanie Benjamin

TITLE/AUTHOR: The Children's Blizzard; Melanie Benjamin

PUBLISHER:  Ballantine/Random House

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2021

GENRE: Fiction / Historical

FORMAT:  PP/LENGTH: 368 pp.

SOURCE:  NetGalley

SETTING(s):  Nebraska, North Dakota (Great Plains)


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: A fictionalized account of the 1888 Children's blizzard that hit the Great Plains and 235 lives were lost.


BRIEF REVIEW:  Based on true events,  January 12, 1888 was a bright and mild morning following a severe cold spell in the Great Plains.  Children who had been home from school because of the cold spell were able to return to school that morning with lighter than normal clothing.  When the blizzard arrived later that day with temperatures dropping to minus 40 below and the blinding snow blanketed the area, a disaster was in the making.  School teachers Gerda and Raina Olsen,  just teens themselves, 16 and 18 years old, were unprepared for the tough decision they had to make: keep the children in their classrooms and risk having them freeze to death when heat ran out and temps plummeted or send them on their way and hope that they got home safely. 

The first half of this book pretty much explores what occurred up until the blizzard hit. We learn more about the Olsen sisters  and the choices they made while the second half tell of the blizzard's aftermath and the backlash that followed for the sisters.  While this story was interesting enough to me, I think it could have been improved on as well.  I found myself wanting to know more about the families who lost a loved one in the blizzard and less about child exploitation.  Some of the writing felt a bit uneven and jarring at times as well and even like the time period did not feel right. Despite this, I am still glad I tried this one.  I do want to read the 2005, non fiction book, The Children's Blizzard by David Laskin to compare the specifics about this terrible event.  I feel that this would make a good book group discussion choice.


RATING: 3.5/5

Sunday, January 24, 2021

2021 - Books #8, 9 and 10 - NEW Children's Books from Candlewick Press

Over the Shop, JonArno Lawson (ILL. Qiu Leng)
Candlewick Press-2021 - ages 3-7 (40 pages)

Lowell and Friends General Store occupies the first level of a run down building. An older grandparent runs the store while a small lonely grandchild helps where she can.  There's an apartment above the store that needs to be rented but, it won't be easy finding people not afraid of putting in some hard work.  Low and behold the perfect couple comes along and transforms the place and building into a warm and welcoming place.  I'm generally not a fan of books for young children without words but, the watercolor illustrations are very nice and it was fairly easy to transform the story into words for discussion with little ones.

So You Want to Be an Owl; Jane Porter (ILL. Maddie Frost)
Candlewick Press - 2020 - Ages 5-9 (32 Pages)

This is one of those perfect educational books for young readers. Meet Professor Olaf who does a great job teaching little humans and adults alike all about owls.  The book is so informative and so well illustrated that it makes a great teaching tool. I wish there were more books in this series on other topics as it's just so well done and perfect for a school library collection as well.  A fascinating look at everything you ever wondered about owls. 



                                      Miss Mingo and the 100th Day of School; Jamie Harper
                                             Candlewick Press - 2020  - ages 4-8 - (40 pages)

Miss Mingo (the flamingo) is marking the 100th day of school with special projects the class has done to celebrate 100 days of success in school.  Hippo celebrates the 100th day telling about the birth of his 100 lb. newborn sister. Octopus has sorted 100 seashells into ten piles of ten. Panda chooses bamboo shoots with two bundles of 50.  Cricket, cockroach, koala, ant, centipede and more join in as well.  I loved how fun this one was with its delightful and colorful illustrations and an instructional lesson about the different ways we can get to the number 100.



These books were sent to me by the publisher in exchange for my unbiased review.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

2021 - Book #7 - The Push; Ashley Audrain

 

TITLE/AUTHOR: The Push Ashley Audrain

PUBLISHER: Penguin Audio 

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2020

GENRE: Fiction / Domestic / Psych thriller

FORMAT:  audiobook/LENGTH: 8 hrs. 38 min.

SOURCE: Penguin Audio download

SETTING(s): unsure (author is Canadian)


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A chilling story about the sometimes darker side of motherhood.


BRIEF REVIEW:  The birth of first baby Violet should have been the happiest of times for Blythe Connor, an aspiring writer and her husband Fox. Yet from the very beginning something feels off for Blythe as she feels unable to bond with her difficult baby.  As Violet grows things fail to improve.  Husband, Fox does not see any of the issues that concern his wife and, he has had no problem bonding with his daughter. Despite this Blythe does not feel it is all her fault, especially as she seems to have no difficulty bonding when the second child is born.  Spending the majority of time with Violet she sees first hand that Violet is not like other children her age and seems to have a mean streak. When things reach a crisis situation and the unimaginable occurs, the reader is made to wonder whether the child or an unstable mother is to blame? 

Told from the POV of Blythe and  is a story that grips you early on.  My feelings about Blythe changed as we learn about her sad childhood at the hands of her own troubled mother, Cecilia and her grandmother Etta.  The writing is very good and some the vivid details still linger with me. As a debut novel, this one is exceptional so I'm pretty sure this talented author has a promising future in store for her.  Although the ending was a "wow" moment, it's also one that I felt was open to interpretation. This book gives the reader plenty to discuss especially if you had the right group of readers however, I can understand why this one might not appeal to everyone - the subject matter is tough.  The audio book version read by Marin Ireland who did an excellent job.

RATING: 4.5/5

MEMORABLE QUOTES: " Marriages can float apart. Sometimes we don't notice how far we've gone until all of a sudden, the water meets the horizon and it feels like we'll never make it back."

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

2021 - Book #6 - Brood; Jackie Polzin

 

TITLE/AUTHOR: Brood; Jackie Polzin

PUBLISHER: Doubleday

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2020

GENRE: Fiction 

FORMAT:  eGalley/LENGTH: 240 pp.

SOURCE: NetGalley

SETTING(s): Minnesota


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A story about emerging from grief by caring for a feathered flock.


BRIEF REVIEW:  Brood, a work of fiction, is a story about chickens, four of them, and a broken woman's determination to see these chickens survive. Told over the course of a year, the Brood: Darkness, Gloria, Gam Gam and Miss Hennepin County,  and their caretaker lived in Minnesota with it's sub-zero winters and scorching hot summers.   Our unnamed narrator certainly had her work cut out for her.  As she tells her story we learn of the challenges she faced along the way, not only in caring for her "brood" but, we also learn of her personal challenges and the deep sorrow and grief of having suffered an earlier miscarriage.

From the perspective of someone like me who has never tried to raise chickens or experienced a miscarriage, I had a somewhat difficult time engaging with this brief novel.  While I loved the cover and was curious about work involved in raising chickens, I thought that the writing felt a bit flat. I did learn quite a bit about raising chickens.

RATING: 3/5

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

2021 - Book #5 - My Grandmother's Braid; Alina Bronsky


TITLE/AUTHOR: My Grandmother's Braid;  Alina Bronsky

PUBLISHER: Europa Editions

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2020

GENRE: Fiction 

FORMAT:  eGalley/LENGTH: 177 pp.

SOURCE: NetGalley

SETTING(s): Germany


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY:  A immigrant story with both tender and comical undertones.


BRIEF REVIEW: The larger than life "grandmother" in this story is a former Russian Ballerina who has immigrated to Germany from Russia with her husband and grandson, Maxim (Maxi) in search of a better life.  They live in a nine story building for refugees known as The Sunshine Inn.

Almost immediately it becomes obvious that Grandmother rules the roost.  She leads poor Maxi, who has just turned 7 as the story begins, to believe he frail, requires bland food, and is too weak and "mentally deficient" to attend school. None of these things are true, he's a bright, observant child and very loyal to grandmother.  Grandfather, takes a backseat in this novel, but we do know a few things about him: he has "Asian genes" and a wandering eye when it comes to women.  When Grandmother befriends some other refugees in the building, namely, Nina, a single woman and her daughter, Vera who is a bit older than Maxi, things go from bad to worse.

Translated from German, the story flowed very well. I can't ever recall being disappointed by a Europa Edition and, I've read plenty of them over the years. Bronsky's writing style is wonderful: human, tender and comical. This one had a perfect blend of laugh out loud moments with an equal blend of seriousness as well.  Told from the perspective of young Maxi, we quickly learn there are two sides to grandmother and for good reason. Referred to as only grandmother or (Oma) throughout this short novel, it is only as we read the very last word of the book that we learn her name was Margo but, she was a character that I'll not easily forget.

(NOTE: If you think you might like to read this short novel, please don't read the lengthy publisher description, it gives away too much of the story IMO.)

RATING: 4.5/5

MEMORABLE QUOTES:  (that made me smile)

"The strawberry ice cream that I'd unexpectedly survived taught me two things: Grandmother was wrong more often than I'd suspected, and happiness was easier to find than I'd thought.  The colorful world of forbidden foods, suddenly opened up to me."

"I met a delightful woman. Her name is Nina and she teaches piano.  Lives here with her daughter. The girl's Maxi's age, but normal. No husband, lucky her, bringing up her illegitimate daughter all alone...."

(Although Grandmother wasn't Jewish she attended services on a regular basis)

"Behind her show of confidence I sensed deep fear of being exposed as an imposter and being sent back to the collapsing Soviet Union.

While the shabbiness of the refugee home disappointed Grandmother, the shiny, new synagogue elicited a respectful word or two.  She wholeheartedly welcomed the fact that women sat separately from men during services. 'I'm happy not to have to see their grouchy mugs for a while.'  She sought out the neighbors she knew from the refugee home and ensnared them in long conversations at the cold buffet before she inconspicuously--she thought--swiped this or that food item."

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Murder at the Vicarage; Agatha Christie

 

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read soon. 

                                                       Murder at the Vicarage; Agatha Christie
                                                      (#1 - Miss Marple - Harper 2011 edition)

One

"It is difficult to know quite where to begin this story, but I have fixed my choice on a certain Wednesday at luncheon at the Vicarage.  The conversation, though in the main irrelevant to the matter in hand, yet contained one or two suggestive incidents which influenced later developments.

I had just finished carving some boiled beef (remarkably tough by the way) and on resuming my seat I remarked, in a spirit most unbecoming to my cloth, that anyone who murdered Colonel Protheroe would be doing the world at large  a service."

This year is going to be a year  that I delve into A.C. I hope to at least read the first books of each of her series. What do you think of this intro? Have you read this one?  Personally, I generally tend to love a first person POV.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Sunday - January 2021 - Mid Month Reading Update

Half of January is over and I've been listening to as little news as possible as it just makes me sad. Instead I've been immersing myself in good books, some really good books these last (2) weeks.  I've finished (5) books and 4 of the 5 were wonderful. I had (1) DNF as I'm just not going to continue reading anything that is not working for me any longer.  Here's what I read so far:

BOOKS READ

  1. Sleepless Nights; Elizabeth Hardwick (4.5/5) Settings: KY, NY, Maine, CT and Europe
  2. Those People; Louise Candlish (3.5/5) Setting: South London, U.K.
  3. Fifty Words for Rain; Asha Lemmie (4/5) Setting: Japan
  4. Monogamy; Sue Miller (5/5) Setting: MA and VT
  5. My Grandmother's Braid (4.5/5) Setting: Germany (no review yet)
  6. The Push; Ashley Audrain (in progress)

DNF (Because Life is Too Short to Read a Bad Book)
  1. Night Boat to Tangier; Kevin Barry - January (read 4 chapters and gave up)
COMING WEEK'S PLANS
  • Review - My Grandmother's Braid
  • Finish Listening to: The Push; A. Audrain
  • Read/Review (2) new children's books
  • Start: The first Agatha Christie book in the Miss Marple series: Murder at the Vicarage
  • Watch: the Inauguration on Wednesday
  • Start an eBook from my Kindle
  • Go for some walks if the weather and my knee cooperate
  • Continue healthy eating
                                                                      Deb@Reader Buzz


                                       How did the first (2) weeks of the New Year go for you?

Saturday, January 16, 2021

2021 - Book #4 - Monogamy; Sue Miller

 


TITLE/AUTHOR:
Monogamy; Sue Miller

PUBLISHER: Harper Audio

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2020

GENRE: Fiction 

FORMAT:  PP/LENGTH: 352 pp. / 10+ hours

SOURCE:  Library Audio

SETTING(s): Massachusetts (VT - briefly)


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: Even seemingly good marriages are complicated. 


BRIEF REVIEW:  Graham and Annie McFarlane, the central characters of this novel, have been married for 30 years. Graham co-owns a bookstore in Cambridge, MA near Harvard, and, Annie's passion is photography.

Graham is a big burly guy and full of life. He is the kind of guy people are drawn to and, he is also a guy who craves that attention. Graham has a son Lucas from his first marriage to Frieda.  Although the marriage ended, the two have always remained close.  Annie is a petite, more reserved woman who at times appears aloof but, despite their personality differences their marriage is fun and full of passion.  The couple have a daughter Sarah who lives in CA. 

When Graham passes away one night unexpectedly, Annie is left empty and does not know how she will carry on.  It is only at his funeral that she's found a reason to reexamine her marriage and made to wonder whether she really ever knew and understood her late husband.

Monogamy, is a beautiful story of a marriage with all its imperfections.  The writing is wonderful as we learn all of the backstories of the characters and see the positive attributes of each as well as their flaws.  The characters are so deeply explored, at times they felt like friends; I'll remember them for a long while. I loved the way the author dug deep, she made me feel like I knew what each was thinking. Even the minor characters were fully fleshed.  This was perfect pandemic reading with an intimate feel.  The audio book was read by the author who did a wonderful job!  I think this is a book that will definitely have a greater appeal to those who are married or who have been married.


RATING: 5 stars


MEMORABLE QUOTES: " Love isn't just what two people have together, it's what two people make together, so of course, it's never the same."

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - My Grandmother's Braid; Alina Bronsky and The Push; Ashley Audrain

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read soon. 

                                                 
 My Grandmother's Braid; Alina Bronsky
                                                                       Europa - 2021

SUNSHINE INN

'I can remember the exact moment Grandfather fell in love.  In my eyes, he was ancient--already over fifty--and his new, delicate secret hit me with a wave of admiration tempered by schadenfreude. Up to then I'd always thought that I was my grandparents' only problem.

I sensed that Grandmother wasn't supposed to know about it. She's already threatened to kill him for far less offenses, like when he crumbled bread during dinner."

The intro made me smile.  I already love the narrator from the brief paragraph above and, I can't wait to read more.   What do you think?  I hope to start this one today.

BTW - I had to look up:  Definition of schadenfreude enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.


                          This week I'm featuring a second new book that has me somewhat curious:

                                                               The Push; Ashley Audrain
                                               Pamela Dorman Books and Penguin Audio - 2021

"It is often said that the first sound we hear in the womb is our mother's heartbeat.  Actually, the first sound to vibrate our newly developed hearing apparatus is the pulse of our mother's blood through her veins and arteries.  We vibrate to that primordial rhythm even before we have ears to hear.  Before we were conceived, we existed in part as an egg in our mother's ovary. All the eggs a woman will ever carry form in her ovaries while she is a four-month-old fetus in the womb of her mother.  This means our cellular life as an egg begins in the womb of our grandmother. Each of us spent five months in our grandmother's womb and she in turn formed within the womb of her grandmother.  We vibrate to the rhythms of our mother's blood before she herself is born." 

(Layne Redmond, When the Drummers Were Women)

(I just started the audio version, read by Marin Ireland, and am enjoying it thus far.)

Saturday, January 9, 2021

2021 - Book #3 - Fifty Words for Rain; Asha Lemmie

 

TITLE/AUTHOR: Fifty Words for Rain Asha Lemmie

PUBLISHER: Dutton

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2020

GENRE: Fiction Historical

FORMAT:  Print/LENGTH: 463 pp.

SOURCE: Library

SETTING(s): Japan


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: A touching coming of age story about a biracial girl growing up in post WWII Japan.


BRIEF REVIEW:  Noriko (Nori) Kamiza is a biracial child born to a woman from a prominent Japanese aristocratic family; her father a black, American G.I.  An embarrassment to the prominent family, the story begins in 1948 with eight year old Nori being dropped off with a suitcase at the iron gates of her grandparents estate.  Upon her arrival she is hidden up in an attic and is forced to endure painful bleaching scrub baths in an effort to lighten her skin color. She's a bright girl who learns to read, write and do math as well; she does what she is told. When Akira, the older half-brother that Nori never knew about arrives to live at the estate after his father's death, it is a lucky break for Nori. Akira, the likely heir to the grandparents fortunes, turns out to be an advocate for her. He shows her kindness, teaches her about music and helps her gain some freedom like being able to spend time outdoors.  However, grandmother is not happy about the closeness of the half-siblings and will do whatever is necessary to keep the them apart.

The story spans a few decades and although it starts out rather sad, the book is not all doom and gloom and there are some moments of joy as well.  This was an impressive debut novel even though at times I felt the Nori character felt inconsistent. I think this would make a very good book club discussion choice. I forgot just how much I really enjoy historical fiction whenever I read it.  I also liked the setting of post-WWII Japan.


RATING: 4/5 stars

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

2021 - Book #2 -Those People; Louise Candlish

 

TITLE/AUTHORThose People; Louise Candlish

PUBLISHER: Berkley

YEAR PUBLISHED: 2019

GENRE: Fiction / Domestic Suspense

FORMAT:  eGalley PP/LENGTH: 370 pp.

SOURCE: Net Galley

SETTING(s): An upscale neighborhood in South London, U.K.


ONE SENTENCE SUMMARY: What's a neighborhood of seemingly peaceful people to do when the new people on the block disrupt that friendly mix?

BRIEF REVIEW: Someone has died in a terrible accident as this novel opens, was it an accident or something more sinister?  As the police begin to interview the neighbors as to what transpired leading up to the tragedy, readers begin to learn more about each neighbor as well as the newbies: Darren & Jodie Booth who inherited the house next door eight weeks earlier.  

Haven't we all had an annoying neighbor at one time or another? It was easy to dislike the new couple, at least early on. The Booths turned the lovely street into what looked like a used car lot out front. The place was a construction zone with extensive renovations happening and loud music playing to name a few of the annoyances. When neighbors try to voice their issues in a civilized manner, nothing changes. 

This is a story where class divide comes into play.  Some neighbors seemed to feel they were better than the new people, especially when they saw their unwritten rules to conform ignored.  The story was pretty good and had a lot of potential but, I thought it could have been better.  I found it hard to keep all of the neighbors, as well as their various issues and secrets straight.  It would have been nice to have a feel where each of them lived on the street in relationship to each other.  If you enjoy domestic thrillers/suspense stories, you might want to add "Those People" to your list. 

RATING: 3.5/5 stars

MEMORABLE QUOTES: “It was in her hand, as everyone’s was these days, as if phones were dialysis machines that could not be out of reach without life-threatening consequences.” 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Fifty Words for Rain; Asha Lemmie

Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, now hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week readers post the first paragraph (or 2) of a book they are reading or that they plan to read soon. 

                                                         Fifty Words for Rain; Asha Lemmie

                                                                        Dutton - 2020

PRELUDE

Kyoto Prefecture, Japan

Summer 1948

"The first real memory Nori had was pulling up to that house. For many years afterward, she would try to stretch the boundaries of her mind further, to what came before that day.  Time and time again, she'd lie on her back in the stillness of the night and try to recall.  Sometimes she'd catch a glimpse in her head of a tiny apartment with lurid yellow walls. But the image would disappear as quickly as it came, leaving no sense of satisfaction in its wake.  And so if you asked her, Nori would say that her life had officially begun the day she laid eyes on that imposing estate that rested serenely between the crests of two green hills. It was a  stunningly beautiful place--there was no denying it--and yet, despite this beauty, Nori felt her stomach clench and her gut churn at the sight of it.  Her mother rarely took her anywhere, and somehow she knew that something was waiting for her there that she would not like."

What do you think pass or read more? I loved the sound of this from the first time I read about it on Judy's Blog, Keep the Wisdom.  I'm enjoying this one so far.