Tuesday, January 27, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy; Rachel Joyce

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.

Rachel Joyce - Random House - March 2015

First Letter

St. Bernadine's Hospice
Monday, 11 April

Dear Harold,

This may come as a surprise.  I know it is a long time since we last met, but recently I have been thinking about the past.  Last year I had an operation on a tumor, but the cancer has spread and there is nothing left to be done.  I am at peace, and comfortable, but I would like to thank you for the friendship you showed me all those years ago.  Please send my regards to your wife.  I still think of David with fondness.

With my best wishes,

Q h


What do you think, would you keep reading?  Care to join us? If so, post your link below.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Blatherings

Morning Readers. Sitting here with my second cup of coffee and watching the weather channel -- possible blizzard here Monday evening through Tuesday, and we just got 4" of snow yesterday.  I was just bragging about what a mild winter we've had:)  I actually LOVE snow, when I just can sit home and watch it from the comfort of my home.

It's been a fast week -- work-wise as we had Monday off.  I finished a few books (some were started a few weeks ago) -- The Girl on the Train; Paula Hawkins (very good debut) -- Calling Me Home; Julie Kilber (very good) and The Tiny Wife; Andrew Kaufman (a quirky short book which I really liked). Now, I just need to motivate myself to write about them -- ughhhhh

New Books

 (Loved the Book and the Movie)
Little Ones

Left to Right - Potty Trained Princess; 6-toothed cutie and adorable snow baby 

Have a Great Week Everyone

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - The Harder They Come; T.C. Boyle

Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think?

The Harder They Come; TC Boyle
Ecco - March 2015

Acclaimed New York Times bestselling author T.C. Boyle makes his Ecco debut with a powerful, gripping novel that explores the roots of violence and anti-authoritarianism inherent in the American character.

Set in contemporary Northern California, The Harder They Come explores the volatile connections between three damaged people—an aging ex-Marine and Vietnam veteran, his psychologically unstable son, and the son's paranoid, much older lover—as they careen towards an explosive confrontation.

On a vacation cruise to Central America with his wife, seventy-year-old Sten Stensen unflinchingly kills a gun-wielding robber menacing a busload of senior tourists. The reluctant hero is relieved to return home to Fort Bragg, California, after the ordeal—only to find that his delusional son, Adam, has spiraled out of control.

Adam has become involved with Sara Hovarty Jennings, a hardened member of the Sovereign Citizens’ Movement, right-wing anarchists who refuse to acknowledge the laws and regulations of the state, considering them to be false and non-applicable. Adam’s senior by some fifteen years, Sara becomes his protector and inamorata. As Adam's mental state fractures, he becomes increasingly schizophrenic—a breakdown that leads him to shoot two people in separate instances. On the run, he takes to the woods, spurring the biggest manhunt in California history.

As he explores a father’s legacy of violence and his powerlessness in relating to his equally violent son, T. C. Boyle offers unparalleled psychological insights into the American psyche. Inspired by a true story, The Harder They Come is a devastating and indelible novel from a modern master.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Station Eleven; Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven; Emily St. John Mandel
 Random House Audio

I tend to shy away from dystopian / post apocalyptic stories, it's just not my thing, but this book has been receiving such favorable reviews that I wanted to give it a try. The audio book, read by Kirsten Potter is so well done and easy to follow.

The story opens with a well know actor performing King Lear on stage.  The actor, Arthur Leander is stricken with a heart attack on stage. An EMT in the audience, Jeevan Chaudhary jumps to his aid to perform CPR, but is unable to save him.  Although the curtains close while this is happening, a young eight year old actress named Kirsten Raymonde watches in horror.

In another part of the town at the exact same time people are dying of an unusual flu outbreak. Before too long, 99% of the population had died off. Meanwhile, Jeevan and his brother are holed up an apartment, hoping to steer clear of the virus.

Fast forward fifteen years and the child actress Kirsten, now a young woman is performing with a Traveling Symphony. The group travels to various locals to perform for some individuals have managed to survive the pandemic. In one particular village they cross paths with a violent prophet who believes the pandemic was a sort of cleansing, and that he and his followers are the light of what is left of the old world.

The story moves back and forth in time, describing life before and after the outbreak. The author shines in her descriptiveness of the characters and the events which have occurred, and the overall feeling is mostly optimistic. It's a story about the relationships that keep us going when all seems lost. Station Eleven gives readers plenty to think about.  I'm happy I gave this one a try.

4/5 stars
(audio book)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph ~ Tuesday Intros - Bones & All; Camille DeAngelis

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon. (This one sounds quirky and fun and has been receiving positive reviews as well.)

Bones & All; Camille DeAngelis
St. Martin's Press - March 2015

"Penny Wilson wanted a baby of her own in the worst way.  That's what I figure, because she was only supposed to watch me for an hour and a half, and obviously she loved me a little too much.  She must have hummed a lullaby, fondled each tiny finger and toe, kissed my cheeks and stroked the down on my head, blowing on my hair like she was making a wish on a dandelion gone to seed.  I had my teeth but I was too small to swallow the bones, so when my mother came home she found them in a pile on the living room carpet."

What do you think, would you keep reading?  Care to join us? If so, post your link below.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

First Snow; Peter McCarty and One Snowy Night; M. Christina Butler and Tina McNaughton

First Snow; Peter McCarty
Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins - 2015


First Snow is all about "first" experiences for little ones, which most of us know can be a scary thing for some children.  In this story little Pedro comes from a place where he has never seen snow, but is visiting his cousins who live in snow country.  Pedro views the snow as new and strange, but the other little ones, bunnies, chickens, and other animals, keep encouraging him to try new things like sledding and making snow angels.

I thought this book's appeal was more about the adorable illustrations than the story itself.  The animals, the way they are dressed, and their facial expressions are terrific. The gorgeous illustrations are done in ink and water colors.  The author/illustrator is a Caldecott award winner, and his artistic talent shows through in this book once again.

4/5 stars

One Snowy Night; M. Christina Butler and Tina McNaughton
Good Books - 2004

In One Snowy Night, Little Hedgehog wakes up on Christmas morning to find that Father Christmas has left him a warm, red, wooly hat which makes him very happy because he is very very cold.  Unfortunately, the prickles on his head make it difficult for this hat to fit just right.

Hedgehog give the hat to his friend rabbit, but the hat is too big. Rabbit gives it to badger, and it fits great but he can't hear, so he gives it to fox who puts two holes in it for his ears.  In his travels Fox finds a baby hedgehog shivering in the snow, and puts the baby inside of the red hat, using it as a blanket to keep it warm and it soon falls fast asleep.

One Snowy Night is a "touch and feel book" that I fell in love with.  Vivid colors and the fuzzy feel of the red hat, in addition, to the wonderful story of sharing and caring, make this book a winner all around.

5/5 stars

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - The Same Sky; Amanda Eyre Ward

Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think?

The Same Sky; Amanda Eyre Ward
Ballantine - Jan 2015

From the acclaimed author of How to Be Lost and Close Your Eyes comes a beautiful and heartrending novel about motherhood, resilience, and faith—a ripped-from-the-headlines story of two families on both sides of the American border.

Alice and her husband, Jake, own a barbecue restaurant in Austin, Texas. Hardworking and popular in their community, they have a loving marriage and thriving business, but Alice still feels that something is missing, lying just beyond reach.

Carla is a strong-willed young girl who’s had to grow up fast, acting as caretaker to her six-year-old brother Junior. Years ago, her mother left the family behind in Honduras to make the arduous, illegal journey to Texas. But when Carla’s grandmother dies and violence in the city escalates, Carla takes fate into her own hands—and with Junior, she joins the thousands of children making their way across Mexico to America, facing great peril for the chance at a better life.

In this elegant novel, the lives of Alice and Carla will intersect in a profound and surprising way. Poignant and arresting, The Same Sky is about finding courage through struggle, hope amid heartache, and summoning the strength—no matter what dangers await—to find the place where you belong.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Life Drawing; Robin Black

Life Drawing; Robin Black
Random House - 2014

(Intro) - "In the days leading up to my husband Owen's death, he visited Allison's house every afternoon.  I would watch him trudge over the small snowy hill between our two properties, half the time away from me, half the time toward me.  And I would wonder what he thought about as he went.  Wonder too if Allison watched him from a window of her own, and whether the expression she saw on his face as he approached was different from the one I saw as he came home."

From the very first paragraph of Life Drawing, it is clear that Owen is dead.  Yes, the reader is curious how he died, but once I began this story,  I so so enthralled by the beautiful writing and memorable passages that getting to the actual event didn't seem as important to me.

The story is told by August (Gus), 47, after her husband's death.  The novel is their life story, a marriage of 20 years.  August is an artist and Owen was a writer.  The couple moves from the city to the countryside in rural Pennsylvania for a fresh start after Gus's affair with the father of one of her students.  The two hope that the solitude of the country will help heal the wounds of betrayal, as well as inspire their creative talents.

After the couple settles in they meet a new neighbor across the way who has moved to a rundown home there. Allison is around the same age as the couple, divorced with an abusive ex-husband and a daughter. She's on sabbatical and hoping this change in locale is just what she needs as well. Soon the quiet isolation the couple hopes for becomes steeped in tension as the friendship intensifies.

Life Drawing is a wonderful debut novel. It's a beautiful portrait or a marriage --warts and all. The writing is very literary and each character is fully explored.  The story is tension-filled from the very first page. With a few unexpected twists, most of all, Life Drawing, it is a story of love, secrets, betrayals and jealousy, and a story that sticks with you.

4.5/5 stars

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

First Chapter First Paragraph ~ Tuesday Intros - Dollbaby; Laura Lane McNeal

Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.

Dollbaby; Laura Lane McNeal
Pamela Dorman Books - 2014

Part One

Chapter One

"There are times you wish you could change things, take things back, pretend they never existed.  This was one of those times, Ibby Bell was thinking as she fell back against the car seat and stared bug-eyed out the car window.  Amid the double-galleried homes and brightly painted cottages on Prytania Street, there was one house that didn't belong."

What do you think, would you keep reading?

Care to join us? If so, post your link below.

Monday, January 12, 2015

RED 1-2-3; John Katzenbach

RED 1-2-3; John Katzenbach 
 Mysterious Press / Highbridge Audio - 2013

RED 1-2-3 is a page turning thriller with a psychopath who calls himself the Big Bad Wolf calling the shots -- at least initially that is.

The Wolf's targets are (3) red-headed women who live in the same general area, but who seem to have nothing more in common other than their red hair.

  • Red - 1 - is a 51 year-old doctor. She's single and secretly does comedy gigs in her free time.
  • Red - 2  - is a 33 year-old teacher whose husband and young daughter were killed in an accident.  She's a mess, drinking and over-medicating herself way too much since the tragedy.
  • Red - 3 - is only 17 and lives in a dorm at a private prep school.
The other character that adds some interest to the plot is Mrs. Big Bag Wolf.  She seems like a pushover, but when she becomes suspicious and curious about her wanna-be writer husband's work, she does a little snooping and certainly finds more than she bargained for.

One thing the Big Bad Wolf did not plan on was the resourcefulness and tech savvy of his targets.

Red 1-2-3 had the potential to be a fantastic nail biting thriller. The author did a terrific job of hooking you early on.  The audio book reader, Donna Postel is wonderful.  Unfortunately, the story drags on and on way too long (11+ hours on audio). The author spends a lot of time developing the REDS, but not much time on the Wolf himself or his wife.  Despite this it was still enjoyable, and it's another story that takes place in Western Massachusetts a place I've fondly called home,

3.5/5 stars
(library audio book and eGalley)