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

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Release Day for... Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop by Roselle Lim!

Today's the day! Roselle Lim's latest book, Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop is released today and on the shelves of your favorite book store! Do you like fun, fresh writing with a little romane sprinkled on top? Dive in to Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop then! Here's the blurb from the publisher...

From the critically acclaimed author of Natalie Tan’s Book of Luck and Fortune comes a new delightful novel about exploring all the magical possibilities of life in the most extraordinary city of all: Paris.

Vanessa Yu never wanted to see people's fortunes—or misfortunes—in tealeaves.

Ever since she can remember, Vanessa has been able to see people's fortunes at the bottom of their teacups. To avoid blurting out their fortunes, she converts to coffee, but somehow fortunes escape and find a way to complicate her life and the ones of those around her. To add to this plight, her romance life is so nonexistent that her parents enlist the services of a matchmaking expert from Shanghai.

After her matchmaking appointment, Vanessa sees death for the first time. She decides that she can't truly live until she can find a way to get rid of her uncanny abilities. When her eccentric Aunt Evelyn shows up with a tempting offer to whisk her away, Vanessa says au revoir to California and bonjour to Paris. There, Vanessa learns more about herself and the root of her gifts and realizes one thing to be true: knowing one's destiny isn't a curse, but being unable to change it is.

About the Author...
Roselle Lim is a Filipino Chinese writer who came to Canada from the Philippines as a young teen and learned English by watching wrestling shows on television. She has a degree in humanities and history from York University.

She found her love of writing by listening to her lola (paternal grandmother's) stories about Filipino folktales. Growing up in a household where Chinese superstition mingled with Filipino Catholicism, she devoured books about mythology, which shaped the fantasies in her novels.

An artist by nature, she considers writing as "painting with words."

Want to learn more about Roselle Lim? Check out her website at

Want to read an excerpt?! Follow this link to! You can also listen to an excerpt of the audio book.

Watch for my review of Vanessa Yu's Magical Paris Tea Shop later in the week! I was fortunate to receive an advance digital copy from the publisher, Berkley Publishing, a division of Penguin Random House and I LOVED it!

Monday, July 27, 2020

The Answer is...Memoir Monday? No, it's the Memoir of Alex Trebek!

The Answer is... Reflections on My Life by Alex Trebek... Longtime Jeopardy! host and television icon Alex Trebek reflects on his life and career.

Since debuting as the host of Jeopardy! in 1984, Alex Trebek has been something like a family member to millions of television viewers, bringing entertainment and education into their homes five nights a week. Last year, he made the stunning announcement that he had been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. What followed was an incredible outpouring of love and kindness. Social media was flooded with messages of support, and the Jeopardy! studio received boxes of cards and letters offering guidance, encouragement, and prayers.

For over three decades, Trebek had resisted countless appeals to write a book about his life. Yet he was moved so much by all the goodwill, he felt compelled to finally share his story. “I want people to know a little more about the person they have been cheering on for the past year,” he writes in The Answer Is…: Reflections on My Life.

The book combines illuminating personal anecdotes with Trebek’s thoughts on a range of topics, including marriage, parenthood, education, success, spirituality, and philanthropy. Trebek also addresses the questions he gets asked most often by Jeopardy! fans, such as what prompted him to shave his signature mustache, his insights on legendary players like Ken Jennings and James Holzhauer, and his opinion of Will Ferrell’s Saturday Night Live impersonation. The book uses a novel structure inspired by Jeopardy!, with each chapter title in the form of a question, and features dozens of never-before-seen photos that candidly capture Trebek over the years.

Alex, I love you! And I'm not alone. I can't remember where I was at the start of Jeopardy, but I sure can tell you that I've been hanging around watching jeopardy for at least 30 of its 30 plus years on television. And so, what Alex Trebek fan wouldn't want to read a book by the master himself? Published by Simon & Schuster this past Tuesday, July 21st and available at your favorite bookstore. This is definitely on my wishlist!

P.S. If one Alex Trebek book wasn't enough, Thomas Dunne Books also published an Alex book released the same day as the other one! Who is Alex Trekek, a Biography was penned by Lisa Rogak, who has written many biographies, including one on Stephen King, Bill Gates and Rachel Maddow. I almost feel as though they jumped on the bandwagon to get out a book of the much loved Jeopardy host because of his diagnosis and serious battle with pancreatic cancer. My money is on the book actually written by Alex Trebek though. I don't have interest in reading a well researched biography. 

Friday, July 24, 2020

First Lines Friday...

"The deadly virus stole unnoticed through the crowded cobblestone streets of Philadelphia on a  sunny September day, unseen and unheard amidst the jubilant chaos of the Liberty Loan parade and the patriotic marhes of John Philip Sousa."
                                     ....The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman

It would seem timely that this book came out now. The story brings us to the end of WWI, in 1918, as the Spanish flu, and the last modern day pandemic, broke out. Courtesy of Kensington Publishing, our book club is reading this as our August pick. Keep an eye out for my review, and what my book club thought of it. If you want to learn more about it, and read an excerpt, visit Kensington publishing. The Orphan Collector by Ellen Marie Wiseman will be released on August 4th!

Monday, July 20, 2020

Memoir Monday...

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt, a Memoir by Anonymous... Part memoir and part joyful romp through the fields of imagination, the story behind a beloved pseudonymous Twitter account reveals how a writer deep in grief rebuilt a life worth living.

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt is two stories: that of the reclusive real-life writer who created a fictional character out of loneliness and thin air, and that of the magical Duchess Goldblatt herself, a bright light in the darkness of social media. Fans around the world are drawn to Her Grace’s voice, her wit, her life-affirming love for all humanity, and the fun and friendship of the community that’s sprung up around her.

@DuchessGoldblat (81 year-old literary icon, author of An Axe to Grind) brought people together in her name: in bookstores, museums, concerts, and coffee shops, and along the way, brought real friends home—foremost among them, Lyle Lovett.
“The only way to be reliably sure that the hero gets the girl at the end of the story is to be both the hero and the girl yourself.” — Duchess Goldblatt

This book by a "real-life" writer sounds like a fun romp through the pages! I guess I have been living under a bus because it wasn't until I read about this book that I had hear about Duchess Goldblatt, the Twitter sensation for the literary crowd. There are book tours hosted by the Duchess's literary friends, aka famous writers who follow "her" on Twitter, and there are her fun tweets to be read, and now we can read about how Duchess Goldblatt came into being... I've just followed Duchess Goldblatt with my Twitter account and I look forward to reading Becoming Duchess Goldblatt published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt this past July 7th, and available at your local bookstore. (p.s. this book has gotten some great buzz, a starred review by Kirkus Review and made the Indie Next list for July 2020.)

Monday, February 17, 2020

Memoir Monday...

To Shake the Sleeping Self by Jedidiah Jenkins... On the eve of turning thirty, terrified of being funneled into a life he didn’t choose, Jedidiah Jenkins quit his dream job and spent sixteen months cycling from Oregon to Patagonia. He chronicled the trip on Instagram, where his photos and reflections drew hundreds of thousands of followers, all gathered around the question: What makes a life worth living? 

In this unflinchingly honest memoir, Jed narrates his adventure—the people and places he encountered on his way to the bottom of the world—as well as the internal journey that started it all. As he traverses cities, mountains, and inner boundaries, Jenkins grapples with the question of what it means to be an adult, his struggle to reconcile his sexual identity with his conservative Christian upbringing, and his belief in travel as a way to wake us up to life back home.

This has gotten great reviews and in particular a nice blurb by Cheryl Strayed, who wrote another book binge worthy book, Wild. Need a little adventure in your life? Want to delve into the adventure without leaving home? I picked up this book after reading some of the first chapter and was immediately taken by Jedidiah's writing. Published by Penguin RandomHouse in December. Read an Excerpt. On my nightstand...

Sunday, February 16, 2020

The Sunday Salon and Books on my Nightstand...

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's been a cold and rainy week in South Carolina. Perfect weather to curl up with a good book... and other inside pursuits. I guess I have to accept that it is winter in the South. Besides running around with my normal chores, I spent some time reading, finding interesting books and sewing, some of which I would consider book related. 

My book related sewing was with this fun Valentine's Day fabric with hunky readers. I started making these infinity scarves with hidden pockets and was looking for some fun fabric. I immediately thought of my readers friends and reading group ladies when I spotted this fabric. The scarf is perfect when you're going somewhere and don't want to carry your pocketbook. The pocket is big enough for a small wallet, credit cards, money, passport, etc. What do you think?

I didn't spend all my time sewing though... I did some reading and had some interesting book finds. Here's what's on my nightstand right now...

When We Were Viking by Andrew David MacDonald... 
from MacDonald’s offbeat debut introduces 21-year-old Zelda, a Viking-obsessed young woman with a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, who lives with her gruff, tattooed older brother and guardian, Gert. While he attends college on a hardship scholarship, Zelda enjoys spending time with Gert’s feisty ex-girlfriend AK47 and at the community center with her friends. She’s also determined to have sex with her boyfriend, Marxy, if only his overprotective mother would get out of the way. Money is tight, and when Zelda discovers that Gert has resorted to some possibly illegal money-making methods, she decides to help, because helping the tribe is what a Viking warrior does. What follows is by turns funny and tragic as Zelda navigates a new job at the library, explores intimacy with Marxy, and puts herself firmly in the crosshairs of some decidedly unsavory people.

I had seen this book everywhere and the publisher's blurb just left me scratching my head. It really didn't sound like anything that I'd like to read. And I wasn't really understanding the premise of the book either. And yet it was the Indie Next choice for February, LibraryReads book pick, and one of Book Riots best winter releases. So I looked for an actual review and not just a blurb and when I found Publishers Weekly's review it clicked. The main character made sense to me at that point and I decided to read it... and so, it is now on my nightstand. Along with...

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilain Lions by Mario Giordano... On her sixtieth birthday, Auntie Poldi retires to Sicily, intending to while away the rest of her days with good wine, a view of the sea, and few visitors. But Sicily isn’t quite the tranquil island she thought it would be. When her handsome young handyman goes missing—and is discovered murdered—she can’t help but ask questions. Soon there’s an investigation, a smoldering police inspector, a romantic entanglement, one false lead after another, a rooftop showdown, and finally, of course, Poldi herself, slightly tousled but still perfectly poised. This “masterly treat” (Times Literary Supplement) will transport you to the rocky shores of Torre Archirafi, to a Sicily full of quirky characters, scorching days, and velvety nights, alongside a protagonist who’s as fiery as the Sicilian sun. 

This is the first book in the Auntie Poldi detective series, which from my investigation seems to be 3 books so far. The series reminds me of cozy mysteries and has gotten great reviews. We all need a little mystery in our loves, right? It also will fulfill my Book Bingo square of "1st in a series"... Also on my nightstand...

The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott... A thrilling tale of secretaries turned spies, of love and duty, and of sacrifice--inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia, not with propaganda, but with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago.

At the height of the Cold War, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where no one dare publish it, and help Pasternak's magnum opus make its way into print around the world. Glamorous and sophisticated Sally Forrester is a seasoned spy who has honed her gift for deceit all over the world--using her magnetism and charm to pry secrets out of powerful men. Irina is a complete novice, and under Sally's tutelage quickly learns how to blend in, make drops, and invisibly ferry classified documents.

I do love historical fiction and this story just sounds so interesting! Spies, love, sacrifice, how can you go wrong. It's also a Reese Book Club pick, and I'm not thrilled that I have that icon as part of my book jacket cover, but when I opened the book to read a bit, I really enjoyed the way Lara Prescott wrote, so now it is on my nightstand...

Also on my nightstand, is Woof Woof Story by the author Inumajin. It's a fun humorous Manga of a man reincarnated as a legenday Wolf King...

Woof Woof Story by Inumajin... After being worked quite literally to death, corporate slave Routa Okami's dying wish is to be reborn as the well-loved pet of a rich family. When a compassionate goddess actually grants his wish, Routa commits himself to the lazy, carefree, all-you-can-nap lifestyle of a pampered pup-complete with a beautiful owner and all the delicious food he can eat! But as Routa grows...and grows...and grows...he realizes something is terribly wrong. With his enormous body, razor-sharp teeth, and fierce visage, it's painfully obvious that he was reincarnated not as a dog but as a giant wolf. And not just any wolf-the legendary wolf king Fenrir!

In Japan, Adults read these Manga as well as teenagers. This is the first in a series and I haven't decided if I'm going to continue reading the series. I'm enjoying it though and probably will. What's nice for American readers is that this Manga is a novel and reads like a normal book. No trying to figure out front to back and up and down.

Do You Like Bookish Gifts for Yourself or to Give Your Reading Friends?

Week in Review...
Monday was Memoir Monday and I highlighted a memoir by Anne Morrow Lindbergh, called Gift From the Sea.

First Lines Friday was about When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

How was your week?! Any good books?! I'd love to hear about them! You can share them in the comments! As for me, it is still cold and rainy here today, so I will be curling up with a good book and waiting for Spring!

Happy Reading ... Suzanne

Thursday, February 13, 2020

First Lines Friday...

The Viking my brother got me for my birthday was tall and had muscles. Even if you were nt an expert on Vikings and had not read Kepple's Guide to the Vikings, you would say, that is a Viking. He lookee like he could defeat hordes of villains and commit acts of bravery, like Beowulf, the most famous Viking, who defeated Grendel, who was not only a regular villain but also a monster.
                                          ... When We Were Vikings by Andrew David MacDonald

Lots of great buzz about this book. It has been compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time this timewith a 21 year old heroine who has fetal alcohol syndrome and navigates her world thru her unique perspective. Published by Scout Press and available now.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Memoir Monday

Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh...

In this inimitable, beloved classic—graceful, lucid and lyrical—Anne Morrow Lindbergh shares her meditations on youth and age; love and marriage; peace, solitude and contentment as she set them down during a brief vacation by the sea. Drawing inspiration from the shells on the shore, Lindbergh’s musings on the shape of a woman’s life bring new understanding to both men and women at any stage of life. A mother of five, an acclaimed writer and a pioneering aviator, Lindbergh casts an unsentimental eye on the trappings of modernity that threaten to overwhelm us: the time-saving gadgets that complicate rather than simplify, the multiple commitments that take us from our families. And by recording her thoughts during a brief escape from everyday demands, she helps readers find a space for contemplation and creativity within their own lives.

With great wisdom and insight Lindbergh describes the shifting shapes of relationships and marriage, presenting a vision of life as it is lived in an enduring and evolving partnership. A groundbreaking, best-selling work when it was originally published in 1955, Gift from the Sea continues to be discovered by new generations of readers.

When I hear the name Lindbergh, I immediately think of the kidnapping and tragic death of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh's baby, Charles Jr. in 1932. I think of Charles Lindbergh's solo flight across the Atlantic. But my thoughts don't travel to Anne Morrow Lindbergh, who I have since learned was an amazing woman in her own right. From her 2001 obituary in The New York Times, Eric Pace writes:

Anne Morrow Lindbergh scored an immense literary success in midlife with her 1955 book ''Gift From the Sea'' ( Pantheon), which was a philosophical meditation on women's lives in this century. It was on the nonfiction best-seller list of The New York Times for 80 weeks and was No. 1 for 47 of those weeks. In the book's first 20 years in print, more than five million copies were sold in hard-cover and paperback editions. Mrs. Lindbergh was the author of more than two dozen books of prose and poetry, including five volumes of diaries; her work was often acclaimed by critics and popular with readers.

Though I wonder if the writing in Gift from the Sea is dated, I still would love to read it! On my wishlist.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

The Sunday Salon and Snowbound with the Oscars

If the weather wasn't already crazy the past few weeks,  I would have said it was after a 70 degree day, a day of torrential rain that caused massive flooding, and then two days later a real winter snowfall in which I wish I had my Connecticut snow shovel!

It's been a great week to enjoy a good book. First on the front porch in the beautiful warm weather, and then the last half of the week inside and housebound. This is my second winter in South Carolina and I've had some great snow days! And today I've discovered a coveted Southern food called Snow cream! Have you ever heard of it or had it?? Here is the recipe...

8 cups snow, 1 cup milk, 1/3 cup sugar and teaspoon vanilla. Mix well and enjoy!!

Some of my snowbound reading has been Oscar related. I started reading I Heard You Paint Housed by Charles Brandt, which my husband already had on his Kindle. The Irishman is based on this book. I'm always interested in the books that movies are based on if there is one. I like to read the book first if at all possible. First, to read the story as the author has written it, and secondly because I like to imagine my own characters in my head and not necessarily the actors that play the parts. 

Here are a few of the Oscar 2020 contenders that started as books...

The movie is The Irishman, The book is: I Heard You Paint Houses by Charles Brandt...  "I heard you paint houses" are the first words Jimmy Hoffa ever spoke to Frank "the Irishman" Sheeran. To paint a house is to kill a man. The paint is the blood that splatters on the walls and floors. In the course of nearly five years of recorded interviews, Frank Sheeran confessed to Charles Brandt that he handled more than twenty-five hits for the mob, and for his friend Hoffa. Sheeran learned to kill in the U.S. Army, where he saw an astonishing 411 days of active combat duty in Italy during World War II. After returning home he became a hustler and hit man, working for legendary crime boss Russell Bufalino. Eventually Sheeran would rise to a position of such prominence that in a RICO suit the US government would name him as one of only two non-Italians in conspiracy with the Commission of La Cosa Nostra, alongside the likes of Anthony "Tony Pro" Provenzano and Anthony "Fat Tony" Salerno. When Bufalino ordered Sheeran to kill Hoffa, the Irishman did the deed, knowing that if he had refused he would have been killed himself. Charles Brandt's page-turner has become a true crime classic.

I thought the movie was really good, although a bit long. It is a Martin Scorsese movie, which automatically means LONG, but I wasn't falling asleep because of it either. Although I think 1917 will win the Oscar for the best film this year, I really think that the Irishman (and Parasite, which I absolutely loved and thought was the best film) didn't get much Oscar love for best film. I'm enjoying the book. It's well written. I would recommend it for people who enjoy true crime novels. Originally published by Steerforth in 2004.

The movie is JoJo Rabbit, the book is: Caging Skies by Chistine Leumens... An extraordinary, strikingly original novel that reveals a world of truth and lies both personal and political, Caging Skies is told through the eyes of Johannes Betzler, avid member of the Hitler Youth during World War II. Filled with admiration for the F├╝hrer and Nazi ideals, he is shocked to discover his parents are hiding a Jewish girl named Elsa behind a false wall in their home in Vienna. After he’s disfigured in a raid, Johannes focuses more and more on his connection with the girl behind the wall. His initial horror and revulsion turn to interest—and then obsession. After his parents disappear, Johannes is the only one aware of Elsa’s existence in the house, and he alone is responsible for her fate. Drawing strength from his daydreams about Hitler, Johannes plans for the end of the war and what it might mean for him and Elsa.
I had absolutely no interest in seeing the movie Jojo Rabbit until I read about the book it was based on. From the trailers of the movie, it looked like a farse on Hitler and the Hitler youth, which I really don't think is a very funny subject. BUT, when I read about the book and how it was about a couple hiding a Jewish girl, while living under the pretense of being "loyal" citizens, it brought a whole new perspective to the movie for me. This book is on my wish list. Published by Overlook Press, an imprint of Abrams in 2019.

The movie is Ford V. Ferrari, the book is: Go Like Hell by A.J. Baime... The epic story also told in the film FORD V. FERRARI: By the early 1960s, the Ford Motor Company, built to bring automobile transportation to the masses, was falling behind. Young Henry Ford II, who had taken the reins of his grandfather’s company with little business experience to speak of, knew he had to do something to shake things up. Baby boomers were taking to the road in droves, looking for speed not safety, style not comfort. Meanwhile, Enzo Ferrari, whose cars epitomized style, lorded it over the European racing scene. He crafted beautiful sports cars, "science fiction on wheels," but was also called "the Assassin" because so many drivers perished while racing them.
Go Like Hell tells the remarkable story of how Henry Ford II, with the help of a young visionary named Lee Iacocca and a former racing champion turned engineer, Carroll Shelby, concocted a scheme to reinvent the Ford company. They would enter the high-stakes world of European car racing, where an adventurous few threw safety and sanity to the wind. They would design, build, and race a car that could beat Ferrari at his own game at the most prestigious and brutal race in the world, something no American car had ever done.

When I was very young, my parents took me to see Le Mans in the movies. Actually they didn't take me to see it as much as taking me along so they could see it, since they didn't believe in leaving me with a baby sitter. I vaguely rememeber the excitement of the cars racing around the streets. But that excitement and this book is what the movie Ford v Ferrari is based on and sounds so interesting. On my wishlist. Published by Mariner in 2010.

No Oscar knods for this movie, but the movie is The Good Liar and the book is: The Good Liar by Nicholas Searle... When Roy meets a wealthy widow online, he can hardly believe his luck. Just like Patricia Highsmith’s Tom Ripley, Roy is a man who lives to deceive—and everything about Betty suggests she’s an easy mark. He’s confident that his scheme to swindle her will be a success. After all, he’s done this before. Sure enough, Betty soon lets Roy move into her beautiful home, seemingly blind to the web of lies he’s woven around her. But who is Roy, really? Spanning almost a century, this stunning and suspenseful feat of storytelling interweaves the present with the past. As the clock turns back and the years fall away, long-hidden secrets are forced into the light. Some things can never be forgotten. Or forgiven.

One of the movies I recently got to see was The Good Liar starring Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen. The trailer just piqued my interest and I had to see it. I can't believe it did not get one Oscar nomination! It was a really good movie! The cat and mouse game between Helen Mirren and Ian McKellen was just so well done, and both actors did a great job. And even though I was guessing through out the movie what the catch was, because there just had to be a little something else besides Ian McKellen fleecing Helen Mirren out of all her money, I could never have guessed the twist at the end. I definitely want to read the book, even though I think I would have enjoyed reading the twist ending more if I hadn't seen the movie. The Good Liar is on my wish list. Published by Harper originally in 2016.

Do You Like to Read the Book Before You See the Movie?

The movie, It's a beautiful Day in the Neighborhood starring Tom Hanks is based on an Esquire Article...

The Joker was based on the graphic novel, Batman: The Killing Joke written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland. I read this and really enjoyed it. The movie changed a few key things, but I still think the movie worked really well to show the human side of The Joker. Here is the link to my review of Batman: The Killing Joke.

Watching the Oscars tonight? I'm not really a TV kind of girl, but I do love movies and since I've seen quite a few of these Oscar nominees, I'm going to watch to see who wins and root my favorites on! 

Week in Review...
Memoir Monday highlighted a memoir written by our new United Stated poet Laureate, Joy Harjo called Crazy Brave. Written back in 2012, she shares her beginnings and how she blossomed into a poet. 

First Lines Friday highlighted a bit of time traveling fiction called Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore

Well that about does it for this week. The snow is melting now, but it's still good reading in front of the fire weather. That's what I'll be doing today. What are your plans? What good books are you reading now?! Share them right here so we can all read them!

Happy reading... Suzanne

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