Literary Quote of the Month

"A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies," said Jojen. "The man who never reads lives only one." - George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

Sunday, May 19, 2019

The Sunday Salon and Horsing Around with your Reading...

Another beautiful sunny day in South Carolina! I believe the summer has started here and I'm more than willing to enjoy it! This is our first full year in South Carolina, so I'm getting use to the weather and all it brings, including POLLEN! Lots of pollen! It seems everyone I see is sniffling because of it.

So, I've been meaning to share a couple of interesting books I found the week before last...  all found around the time of The Kentucky Derby, the most exciting 2 minutes of sports you'll ever see (or so they say). As a little girl I loved horses (don't all little girls!), but horse racing never really excited me. My brother enjoys watching the ponies and at one point a few years back suggested I read Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. Well, I bought it because he suggested it (and he always has great recommendations) but I really did not think I would enjoy it... BUT, I DID! Not only did I enjoy it, I loved it! It really made horse racing and all that goes into it so exciting and come alive for me! The writing just drew me in and I was hooked... mostly on Laura Hillenbrand's writing. But recently a few other horse related books came out that caught me eye...

Rough Magic by LaPra Prior-Palmer... At the age of nineteen, Lara Prior-Palmer discovered a website devoted to “the world’s longest, toughest horse race”―an annual competition of endurance and skill that involves dozens of riders racing a series of twenty-five wild ponies across 1,000 kilometers of Mongolian grassland. On a whim, she decided to enter the race. As she boarded a plane to East Asia, she was utterly unprepared for what awaited her.

Riders often spend years preparing to compete in the Mongol Derby, a course that re-creates the horse messenger system developed by Genghis Khan, and many fail to finish. Prior-Palmer had no formal training. She was driven by her own restlessness, stubbornness, and a lifelong love of horses. She raced for ten days through extreme heat and terrifying storms, catching a few hours of sleep where she could at the homes of nomadic families. Battling bouts of illness and dehydration, exhaustion and bruising falls, she decided she had nothing to lose. Each dawn she rode out again on a fresh horse, scrambling up mountains, swimming through rivers, crossing woodlands and wetlands, arid dunes and open steppe, as American television crews chased her in their jeeps.

Just the sheer gusts this girl had for entering the race made me want to read the book! I had never heard of this race before, but it sounds fascinating. It also brings to mind all the things that go on in the world that we have no clue about, and how lucky we are that we can READ about it all if we can't actually go to experience it! This one is on my shelves right now. It's next on my reading list. After leafing through it a bit and reading some sections, I found Laura's writing to be good and the story to be entertaining. I'm hoping this will be as good as Wild by Cheryl Strayed, which is a book I loved and would heartily recommend to anyone wanting to experience life on the Appalachian trail.

So as I was looking at this book, another book crosses my path about "Long Rides". Another something I had never heard about, but sounds so interesting. Especially in this day and age when technology reigns, "Long Rides" are all about journeys, travels, adventures with just you and your horse that are 1000 miles or more. There is actually a The Long Riders Guild  and Bernice Ende writes about her adventures as a long rider in her memoir...

Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback by Bernice Ende... we are introduced to Bernice Ende, a solitary figure with the daunting goal of traveling from Trego, Montana to New Mexico in a single ride. At the age of 50, Bernice turned south into the unknown and began her first trip on her way to becoming a world-class long rider. Since that fateful decision she hasn't looked back. Accompanied by her horses and an exceptional dog named Claire, Ende has logged more than 29,000 miles in the saddle, crisscrossing North America and beyond.

She traversed the Great Plains, the Southwest deserts, the Cascade Range, and the Rocky Mountains and was the first person to ride coast-to-coast and back again in a single trek, winning acclaim from the international Long Riders Guild.Through her rides, Bernice shares the heartfelt and inspiring story of inner struggles and triumphs. She tests the limits of physical and mental stamina, learns to cope with inescapable solitude, and ultimately finds the reward of a life well-lived. Readers will be moved as Bernice discovers a renewed sense of self, profound and lasting friendships, and an understanding that home is a concept that extends beyond any border or map.

And of course one of my favorite books about horses, or one horse in particular...

Seabiscuit was one of the most electrifying and popular attractions in sports history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, receiving more coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. But his success was a surprise to the racing establishment, which had written off the crooked-legged racehorse with the sad tail. Three men changed Seabiscuit’s fortunes:

Charles Howard was a onetime bicycle repairman who introduced the automobile to the western United States and became an overnight millionaire. When he needed a trainer for his new racehorses, he hired Tom Smith, a mysterious mustang breaker from the Colorado plains. Smith urged Howard to buy Seabiscuit for a bargain-basement price, then hired as his jockey Red Pollard, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye, half-crippled, and prone to quoting passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Over four years, these unlikely partners survived a phenomenal run of bad fortune, conspiracy, and severe injury to transform Seabiscuit from a neurotic, pathologically indolent also-ran into an American sports icon.

If you haven't read this book, read this book! It's so well written and edge of your seat kind of story. Eye opening too, because there is alot of interesting things Jockey's do to train themselves and their horses. They did make a movie based on the book, but not wanting to be disappointed or really needing to see what I already read, I've never seen it.

So there you have it, today's horse and racing post! The Kentucky Derby is always the first Saturday in May, but we can read about horses and racing all year round! And reading about these books, makes me want to jump on the back of a horse and find a trail... but it's been about 45 years since I've been on a horse, so I don't think I would be doing any "long rides".

Have you read any "horse" books that you liked?! I'd love to hear about them! I'll be sitting down this week and reading a book I talked about last week, The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. And in the meantime I'll be keeping my eyes open for those next great books!

Happy Reading... Suzanne

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Sunday Salon and Let's Talk Books... again!


Hello! Happy Mother's Day! It's been a while since I've checked in. You would think that retirement would be vast amounts of time that you need to think of things to fill it up with or else you'll go crazy, but let me tell you... it's not! Much to my surprise, retirement is busy! For me, there was time spent settling into a new home and a new town (Not to mention a new state 800 miles away from where I called home). Slowly meeting people and getting involved in the community was something else I started to do... and getting back to doing activities that I have time for now... such as crocheting & knitting. I actually did my first crafts show showcasing and selling my handmade ponchos and shawls, and also created my business, Shawl Y'all, to showcase those designs... But there will always be reading...

I still have my reading group, Chicks with Books, but now I Skype with then during our book club get togethers. I belong to my local friends of the library, which I have volunteered to help out when needed. And I frequent my library, which is a system of 4 libraries that are in located thru out the same county. I still read! And I still love to talk about what's coming out and that great book I picked up...
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So as I sit here with a cup of coffee in hand, I feel like I'm relaxing with an old friend that I haven't spent a lot of time with lately. But that's about to change... time to get back to sharing those great book recommendations every week here. I've missed that. So, let's talk books........

One book I picked up last week was The Bride Test by Helen Hoang. Released just last week, it sounded similar in some ways to The Rosie Project, with the main character falling in love, but having challenges with romance due to his autism and processing his emotions differently than most people. But after reading a little of The Bride Test, I enjoyed the writing and found that though Khai Diep had autism, the storyline really didn't focus on that alone. It seems this romcom is going to be a fun romp...


Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he's defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride. 

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can't turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn't go as planned. Esme's lessons in love seem to be working...but only on herself. She's hopelessly smitten with a man who's convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme's time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he's been wrong all along. And there's more than one way to love.

On my wishlist and another recently published novel, is Jennifer McMahon's The Invited. I really loved her book, Dismantled, way back in 2009 and would definitely put anything written by her on my TBR list. She has quite a long list of books too, of which I've read most. Dismantled was my favorite though. She writes these ghost like story stories with the past always coming out of the closet like a bad dream...

In a quest for a simpler life, Helen and Nate have abandoned the comforts of suburbia to take up residence on forty-four acres of rural land where they will begin the ultimate, aspirational do-it-yourself project: building the house of their dreams. When they discover that this beautiful property has a dark and violent past, Helen, a former history teacher, becomes consumed by the local legend of Hattie Breckenridge, a woman who lived and died there a century ago. With her passion for artifacts, Helen finds special materials to incorporate into the house--a beam from an old schoolroom, bricks from a mill, a mantel from a farmhouse--objects that draw her deeper into the story of Hattie and her descendants, three generations of Breckenridge women, each of whom died suspiciously. As the building project progresses, the house will become a place of menace and unfinished business: a new home, now haunted, that beckons its owners and their neighbors toward unimaginable danger.

A book I recently picked up, but had to put down, was Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken. The premise sounded so cute- a woman is found half frozen in a cemetery with only a bowling ball, candlestick pin, and some money. On the surface it seems she has no past and is content to stay put in this little town, but things change...

From the day she is discovered unconscious in a New England cemetery at the turn of the twentieth century—nothing but a bowling ball, a candlepin, and fifteen pounds of gold on her person—Bertha Truitt is an enigma to everyone in Salford, Massachusetts. She has no past to speak of, or at least none she is willing to reveal, and her mysterious origin scandalizes and intrigues the townspeople, as does her choice to marry and start a family with Leviticus Sprague, the doctor who revived her. But Bertha is plucky, tenacious, and entrepreneurial, and the bowling alley she opens quickly becomes Salford’s most defining landmark—with Bertha its most notable resident. When Bertha dies in a freak accident, her past resurfaces in the form of a heretofore-unheard-of son, who arrives in Salford claiming he is heir apparent to Truitt Alleys. Soon it becomes clear that, even in her death, Bertha’s defining spirit and the implications of her obfuscations live on, infecting and affecting future generations through inheritance battles, murky paternities, and hidden wills.

Maybe I just wasn't in the right "mood" for this book, but the beginning was so slow I just had to put it aside. I will give it another chance, but it won't be the first book I grab..

Oh, and a quick mention of our book club read this month... American Princess by Stephanie Marie Thornton... It's historical fiction and about Alice Roosevelt, Teddy Roosevelt's daughter, who is suppose to be quite the girl... We'll talk more about that after I sink my teeth into it!

So, what are you reading?! Tell me what good books you've found in the comments! I would love to hear about them! And in the meantime... Next Sunday we'll look at some books to saddle up with in honor of that recent horse race, The Kentucky Derby!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Sheets by Brenna Thummler... A Review

It was a dark and stormy night... no, wait, this may be a story about things that go bump in the night, but it wasn't really dark and stormy, Brenna Thummler's graphic novel, Sheets, is about true grit and friendship...

Marjorie is a 14 yr. old teenager, left with the responsibility of running the family laundry business and caring for her little brother after her mother dies and her father essentially is depressed and keeps to himself. Pretty tough life for a young girl who is dealing with all the pressures of growing up. But Marjorie trudges on, whether dealing with mean girls at school, or obnoxious customers at the laundry, which includes Mr. Saubertuck, who is trying to steal the building out from under Marjorie's family by doing all he can to make them lose customers, until one day she meets Wendell... Wendell is a ghost, but not just any ghost, but the ghost of a little boy trying to deal with fitting in, in a world he doesn't really understand yet (he just became a ghost). Wendell happens to travel back to the land of the living and accidentally reaks havoc in the laundry at night. And so the story begins...

One of the things I look for in a graphic novel is the artwork, and Brenna Thummler's artwork is good.  The coloring of her characters and scenery is a beautiful faded array of colors that depict the gray days Marjorie is going through. The next thing I look for is a good story, which Sheets is. Ultimately it's a story of friendship and perseverence in the face of adversity. Although this story did not hook me, the target audience, 9 - 12 year olds, should enjoy it. For myself, I found the story depressing and Marjorie such a sad character. Even the ending didn't give me a lot of pleasure, but as I said I am not the target audience, and this is just one of those graphic novels that IMHO is not for "the adults" too.

I give Sheets, 3 cups of laundry detergent for a good story and good artwork...

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Chick with Books Book Bingo 2019!


A new year and a new bingo card! Every year for the past 4 years, I've created a Bingo Card for my Book Club and here it is for YOU to enjoy too! Ever play Book Bingo? It's just like regular bingo, but instead of numbers and letters on the card, we have books! When you read a book that fits one of the catagories, you can "X" it out. By the end of the year, see if you can "X" out the whole card or how many you can "X" out! Prior years we had prizes for how many categories we had read, but even without prizes it's fun to try and match a category with a book you've read! My goal is to complete the card! Want to play along?! I hope you do... You should be able to print out this card from your computer, but if you can't email me and I'll send one along to you...

P.S. One category you'll need to fill in PRIOR to starting the  bingo card is, "A Book with a ? Cover". Pick out a color prior to starting your year of reading and have fun trying to read a book cover that is that color. This year out book club chose Purple!

Have fun and Good Luck!


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

First Book of the Year... 2019! Happy New Year!

First Book of the Year... 2019!

I've been so eager to share my choice for First Book of the Year 2019! And here it is... 

The Prince and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

Great artwork, a really good story, well written and one that will hold your attention! It's a bit out of the box, it's about a cross-dressing prince who hires a young and upcoming dressmaker to make... well dresses for him... in secret. Written for teenagers, ultimately it's a book about acceptance of oneself and of others...

What are you reading in 2019?!


Saturday, December 15, 2018

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi ... A Review


At the moment of finishing Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, all I could think was "Wow"! What a breathtaking, sweeping novel. All of the characters were so incredibly alive off of the pages. The story, the landscapes, were all so incredibly rich with details and substance. I read this leisurely, enjoying every minute. I was captivated from the very start. A multi-generation tale that spans 300 years and two continents, starting in Ghana. 2 girls of the same mother, but whose lives took different journeys, of which one suffers in the throws of slavery. How did Yaa Gyasi pack all of this in, in one book without faltering?! I am sad that I am done, but I don't think this story will fade from my thoughts for a long, long time. READ THIS!

Friday, December 14, 2018

First Lines Friday




"My story begins on a sweltering August night, in a place I will never set eyes upon. The room takes life only in my imaginings. It is large most days when I conjure it. The walls are white and clean, the bed linens crisp as a fallen leaf. The private suite has the very finest of everything. Outside, the breeze is weary, and the cicadas throb in the tall trees, their verdant hiding places just below the window frames. The screen sway inward as the attic fan rattles overhead, pulling at wet air that has no desire to be moved. "
                                            ... Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate



Sisters and secrets and a girl who loves reading makes me want to read this. I enjoy historical fiction and Lisa Wingate brings us together with a "tale based on the true story of Georgia Tann, a director of an adoption agency, who kidnapped and sold children to the wealthy."

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Dear Mrs. Bird... A Review

WWII London, a spunky little lady named Emmy, and a Dear Abby type advice column answered by a woman who doesn't like any "unpleasantness" make this lighthearted story, Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce a charmer...

Our heroine of the story, Emmeline, dreams of becoming a war correspondent someday, which leads her to answer a help wanted add for what she thinks is a major London newspaper. Not only answering the ad, but accepting the job without hearing one word about what it actually involved. What she finds out soon afterwards is that the job is not working for the newspaper, but for a subsidiary of the newspaper - Woman's Friend magazine and specifically for Henrietta Bird, the Ann Landers of Woman's Friend, who incidentally is not really a friend of any of the women who write in for help, because she doesn't like any letters with any "unpleasantness", which includes anything about Sex, War and Rock n' Roll (okay that last one didn't exactly exist back then, but you get my drift), and for which she orders Emmy to tear up and throw away any letters about "those topics". After reading so many letters, from so many women and girls looking for help and being categorically rejected by Mrs. Bird, Emmy decides to take matters in her own hand and starts answering them personally, under the guise of Mrs. Bird.

A nice cast of characters fill out the story and Emmy's life, including a BFF, a fiancé and quirky work mates, and paint a realistic picture of life in London during WWII with the tragedies, hopes & dreams, and the strength of the women left behind.

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this sweet charming read to historical fiction fans. Emmy is a great character, so are her friends, and the story does a good job of immersing the reader in London during WWII. I enjoyed the premise of the story, where Emily decides she can't ignore those crushing letters that Mrs. Bird rejected. And there was a steady build up to see if Emmy was going to get caught answering those letters herself.  My only wish for a little more would be in developing Emmy's love interest, but putting that aside I would say it was a good read.

Dear Mrs. Bird is the debut novel of AJ Pearce, who was inspired by reading advice columns from women's magazines from the 1930's. A strong 3 1/2 stars from this reader!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

7 Days of Favorite Books... Day 7


This is my "final" post for 7 Days of Favorite Books, and with that I decided I would step out of the box a little here. I know there are a lot of adult readers who would never forage into the Manga section of their bookstore, but there are some amazing stories there! This is one of them...

Ooku is a historical Manga about the Edo period of an alternate Japan which is ruled entirely by women due to a strange plague that has wiped out most of the men. It is an ongoing series that I just love! Not only is the artwork wonderful, but the storyline is great. The characters come alive off the page and we learn quite a bit about this period of time in Japanese history. Even though this is an "alternate" reality, this story presents the history of the period well. 


my read shelf:
Suzanne's book recommendations, favorite quotes, book clubs, book trivia, book lists (read shelf)