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

Friday, November 11, 2022

Memoir Monday on a Friday... A Veteran's Day Review...

Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime. One such veteran was Louie Zamperini, who served his country during WWII in the Army Air Corps. His story is written by Laura Hillenbrand in her book, Unbroken. She is an amazing writer. I first read her when she published Seabiscuit, which still is one of my favorite books to this day. I read this amazing review of Unbroken, written by Ann Jonas on the College of Saint Benedict Saint John's University bookstore site, and I think that this review is one of the best I ever read, so I'm sharing it here today...

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, Book Review by Ann Jonas, Tradebook Buyer - CSB/SJU
Bookstores

Author Laura Hillenbrand first heard of Louie Zamperini while doing research for her best-selling book Seabiscuit: An American Legend.  She was searching for information on the racehorse Seabiscuit and kept encountering stories about Zamperini, who ran in the 1936 Olympics and then was a World War II POW survivor.  After finishing Seabiscuit, Hillenbrand contacted Zamperini and asked him about his life.  Spellbound, Hillenbrand spent the next seven years reading diaries, letters and unpublished memoirs; she interviewed Zamperini's family, friends, and fellow Olympians, as well as American and Japanese veterans. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is Hillenbrand's engrossing narrative of Louie Zamperini's remarkable life. 

While growing up in California in the 1920s, Zamperini was a failing student and was constantly in trouble for fighting and stealing.  His older brother, who was a star athlete and exemplary student, introduced Zamperini to track, hoping that the sport would help straighten him out.  Zamperini idolized his older brother and was transformed from being a juvenile delinquent to a runner in the1936 Summer Olympics.  He had hopes of running a four-minute mile in 1940 Olympics, but, due to the escalating war in Europe, the Summer Games were cancelled.  In early 1941, Zamperini enlisted in the Army Air Corps; by November 1942, he was trained as a bombardier and was ready to go to war. 

Zamperini and his crew were stationed in Oahu, and survived many dangerous missions while dive-bombing in the Pacific.  In late May of 1943, while on a search mission, the engines on their plane failed, and the plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean.  Zamperini and two other crew members survived the plunge and were stranded on a small raft, managing with only a meager amount of fresh water and food. Hillenbrand's depiction of the men's desperate plight is filled with suspense, as the men drifted on the ocean, battling sharks, a machine-gun attack from a Japanese bomber, and a typhoon, along with starvation and tremendous thirst.  After forty seven days, they caught sight of an island.  Their relief quickly turned to anguish, as they were spotted by a Japanese military boat and taken captive. 

For the next two and a half years Zamperini endured incredible cruelty at the hands of the Japanese, both physically and psychologically.  Hillenbrand's vivid descriptions of Zamperini's treatment are difficult to read; the brutality and savagery that took place in the Japanese POW camps are unimaginable.  Zamperini's unbreakable spirit helped him to persevere until August 1945, when his POW camp was liberated. 

After returning to the United States, Zamperini suffered from agonizing dreams, tormented by his desire for revenge.  Hillenbrand writes of the difficulties that Zamperini and many World War II veterans encountered with the then unknown illness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Zamperini turned to alcohol to forget his pain and floundered for a time. With the help of his wife-- and evangelist Billy Graham-- Zamperini turned his life around and became an inspirational speaker.  

Unbroken tells a riveting story of a man with tremendous courage and perseverance.  Hillenbrand herself mustered a great deal of courage and perseverance in order to write her books.  She has suffered from severe chronic fatigue syndrome for the past 24 years and is seldom able to leave her house.  This well-written and meticulously researched book tells an incredible story about an amazing World War II hero.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager... A Review


 Lock Every Door, but it won't matter... And that's all I am going to say about Riley Sager's book, Lock Every Door, besides if you need some thrill in your reading, start turning the pages on this one. 

My Mom and I have always loved mysteries and thrillers. Often times for her birthday or Christmas, I'll buy her a stack of books. I try to find authors we haven't read before so that we can find some fresh reading. That's how I happened upon Riley Sager. After reading thru the plot blurbs, I found his books all have that eerie plot element that screams "read me if you dare and find out what happens next". This was one of the books in the latest stack I gave Mom and on a recent visit down South, she brought it with her so I could read it. OMG, I spent a whole week at the Bartholomew with Jules Larsen and couldn't stop reading! 

In Lock Every Door, Jules answers a mysterious newspaper ad for a job as an apartment sitter at the very exclusive Bartholomew, where the rich and some famous live very secluded and secretive lives. The money for 3 months of apartment sitting seems too good to be true, but perfect because she just so happens to be broke and without a place to call her own. But Jules soon starts to feel that things aren't quite right at the Bartholomew... and when one of the apartment sitters she makes friends with goes missing, life at the Bartholomew takes on a frightening twist. 

I really enjoyed this book! I literally could not put it down when I got about 1/3 of the way into it. I have a warning though... DO NOT READ any of the cover "blurbs"... you know, the great things that writers and reviewers say about the book so that you'll read it and are printed in quotes on the front and back covers. Two of those blurbs almost gives away the game. Those blurbs made me suspicious about what was going on and could have ruined the story. I can't say any more...

Want to read a good thriller... read Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. Published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, in 2019. 

Monday, September 26, 2022

Memoir Monday...


Declutter Like a Mother by Allie Casazza... 

Live lighter. Live freer. Live a bigger life with less.

In Declutter Like a Mother, Allie Casazza comes alongside you to explore:

Why decluttering calms anxiety in your heart and lessens tension in your relationships.How to ensure your house is working for you, not against you.Why kids thrive when they’re not overwhelmed with options.How to make time, when you feel you don’t have time, to declutter.

Allie Casazza was tired of feeling it was her against the laundry in her home. She wondered if somewhere beneath her frantic days and the mountains of toys in the playroom she would ever find joy and peace in motherhood. Then she discovered the abundance . . . of less.

As she purged her home of excess stuff, Allie discovered a lifestyle that strengthened her marriage, saved her motherhood, and helped her develop her gifts in a way that no amount of new kitchen appliances or new organizing system ever could.

Research studies show a direct link between stress levels and the amount of physical possessions people have in their homes, and Allie has seen that truth play out in her own life and in the lives of hundreds of thousands of other moms she has mentored through her business and online courses. She proclaims:

You don’t need a home that’s perfect. You need a home that’s lighter. Discover less stress, more space. Less chaos, more peace. Less of what doesn’t matter, so you have room for what matters most of all.

Why am I always curious about books about cleaning up your stuff? I guess because i can use a little help in organization, as books are stacked in various places and well... I have a lot of "stuff". I've read the Marie Condo's take on decluttering (and even clapped my way thru loving & leaving books, which is part of your sparking joy). But Allie's books seems so down to earth... This is on my "very cluttered nightstand" waiting to be read. Published by Thomas Nelson Books and available at your local bookstore now! Stop by soon for my review...

 

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Banned Books Week... What's it all about Alfie?


 IT'S BANNED BOOKS WEEK... What does that mean exactly? Book sellers, librarians, book bloggers, readers, all of us take a moment this week to think about our ability to read what we want to... it's about censorship, freedom of speech and individuals deciding for the masses what is okay to read and what isn't. Wouldn't you rather decide that for yourself?

When it comes right down to it,
It's really about what our children are reading...

As an adult, banned books hurts us when they are removed from the library. We do not have the opportunity to read something that we may have wanted to. We can ultimately buy the book from a book seller, but what if you can't afford to do that? 

As for children, I can see where some material may be too mature for some. A parent knows their child best- or they should. They could take the opportunity to have a conversation about the book in question too. I'm not here to tell you that your child MUST read The Kite Runner, but if a parent feels that it's okay for THEIR child to read it, then they should be able to. 

Quoting from the University of Connecticut Library library guide on banned books week...

                    Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.
A banning is the removal of those materials.

Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.

To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Harry Potter, the Dictionary, even The Holy Bible have been challenged and banned in some circumstances. Here is a list of the top 100 books banned between 2000- 2019. Here is a link to the American Library Associations Top Ten Books Challenged by year.

What do think about Banning Books?

It's always interesting to me to see what books are currently being challenged. I think in the last few years the list has changed because books have become more diverse. But even so, the reasons for the challenges or banning are always the same and fighting censorship is ultimate goal. 

Happy reading (A Banned Book this week!)... Suzanne



 

Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Book Spotlight on... The Queen, Her Life by Andrew Morton

The Queen, Her Life by Andrew Morton... Biographer Andrew Morton provides the definitive, most comprehensive account of Queen Elizabeth II's legendary reign. 

Painfully shy, Elizabeth Windsor’s personality was well suited to her youthful ambition of living quietly in the country, raising a family, and caring for her dogs and horses. But when her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated, she became heir to the throne—embarking on a journey that would test her as a woman and as a queen.

Ascending to the throne at only 25, this self-effacing monarch navigated endless setbacks, family conflict, and occasional triumphs throughout her 70 years as the Queen of England. As her mettle was tested, she endeavored to keep the monarchy relevant culturally, socially, and politically, often in the face of resistance from inside the institution itself. And yet the greatest challenges she faced were often inside her own family, forever under intense scrutiny; from rumors about her husband’s infidelity, her sister’s marital breakdown, Princess Diana’s tragic death, to the recent departure of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Now in The Queen, renowned biographer Andrew Morton takes an in-depth look at Britain’s longest reigning monarch, exploring the influence Queen Elizabeth has had on both Britain and the rest of the world for much of the last century. From leading a nation struggling to restore itself after the devastation of the second World War to navigating the divisive political landscape of the present day, Queen Elizabeth has been a reluctant but resolute queen. This is the story of a woman of unflagging self-discipline who will long be remembered as mother and grandmother to Great Britain, and one of the greatest sovereigns of the modern era.

I haven't read one Andrew Morton book, but I love the Queen. Somehow I just see Andrew Morton as a sensationalist, putting gossip into print. I don't know why, it's just the impression I get from celebrity biographies that aren't authorized by the subject of the book. Andrew Morton did get authorization from one of his subjects... Princess Diana, for his book Diana, Her True Story in Her Own Words. With the recent passing of HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Andrew Morton's book will be published November 15th by Grand Central Publishing. The book was originally scheduled for release in 2023. Grand Central Publishing generously sent me an eGalley to read. One point to note is that this book is suppose to be an "update" to his book published last year for the Queen's Jubilee. I'm looking forward to reading this. It has gotten good reviews and Grand Central Publishing generously sent me an eGalley to read & review. So mark your calendars for Nov 15th, when The Queen by Andrew Morton will be available at your local bookstore! And keep your eyes out for my review coming soon...

Monday, September 19, 2022

Memoir Monday...


 

I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki by Baek Sehee... 

PSYCHIATRIST: So how can I help you?

ME: I don't know, I'm – what's the word – depressed? Do I have to go into detail?

Baek Sehee is a successful young social media director at a publishing house when she begins seeing a psychiatrist about her - what to call it? - depression? She feels persistently low, anxious, endlessly self-doubting, but also highly judgmental of others. She hides her feelings well at work and with friends, performing the calmness her lifestyle demands. The effort is exhausting, overwhelming, and keeps her from forming deep relationships. This can't be normal. But if she's so hopeless, why can she always summon a yen for her favorite street food: the hot, spicy rice cake, tteokbokki? Is this just what life is like?

Recording her dialogues with her psychiatrist over a twelve-week period, and expanding on each session with her own reflective micro-essays, Baek begins to disentangle the feedback loops, knee-jerk reactions, and harmful behaviors that keep her locked in a cycle of self-abuse. Part memoir, part self-help book, I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki is a book to keep close and to reach for in times of darkness. It will appeal to anyone who has ever felt alone or unjustified in their everyday despair.

There is a lot of Buzz about this book. It was a massive hit in South Korea, where Baek Sehee is from and translated into at least 8 languages. Part self-help book, part memoir I read about this book and was curious. After receiving an eGalley from Bloomsbury Publishing, I started to read and really liked Baek's matter of fact writing and the way it was written in dialogue between her and her Psychiatrist, and her thoughts in between. One thing I did read was that South Korea has one of the highest rates of suicide in world, and so Baek hopes in sharing her "story" that it can help others cope. Publishing date for this is November 1st! In the meantime, keep your eyes out for my review..

Sunday, September 18, 2022

It's Banned Books Week!



Sunday, July 31, 2022

The Sunday Salon and Great Reading coming your way...


Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's the one day of the week where Book Bloggers from everywhere get together virtually and talk books! It's been an exciting month here too ... many great books are coming out and I just have to share some of my top picks that I was lucky enough to receive for review from the publishers...

Touch by Olaf Olafsson... A mesmerizing, panoramic story of one man’s search to find a lover who suddenly disappeared decades before...

When the pandemic hits, Kristofer is forced to shutter his successful restaurant in Reykjavik, sending him into a spiral of uncertainty, even as his memory seems to be failing. But an uncanny bolt from the blue—a message from Miko Nakamura, a woman whom he’d known in the sixties when they were students in London—both inspires and rattles him, as he is drawn inexorably back into a love story that has marked him for life. Even as the pandemic upends his world, Kristofer finds himself pulled toward an answer to the mystery of Miko’s sudden departure decades before, compelling him to travel to London and Japan as the virus threatens to shut everything down.

A heart-wrenching love story and an absorbing mystery, Touch delves into the secrets of the past to explore the hidden lives that we all possess, the pain and beauty of our past loves and friendships that continue to leave their mark on us. Searching and lyrically rendered by acclaimed author Olaf Olafsson, Touch is a stunning tribute to the weight of history and the complexities of the human heart.

I found this book from reading Book Blogger friend, Harvee Lau's blog called BookBirdDog (Book Dilettante). Her post for The Sunday Salon last Sunday included this book and the description just made me want to read it. I love stories about friends and lovers finding each other after many years and this seemed a perfect fit. Right now it is in my eReader thanks to the generosity of the Publisher, Ecco Publishing, who sent me a copy for review. 

This book will be published August 16, 2022 by Ecco Publishing, an imprint of HarperCollins...

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The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green...
Savannah may appear to be “some town out of a fable,” with its vine flowers, turreted mansions, and ghost tours that romanticize the city’s history. But look deeper and you’ll uncover secrets, past and present, that tell a more sinister tale. It’s the story at the heart of George Dawes Green’s chilling new novel, The Kingdoms of Savannah.

It begins quietly on a balmy Southern night as some locals gather at Bo Peep’s, one of the town’s favorite watering holes. Within an hour, however, a man will be murdered and his companion will be “disappeared.” An unlikely detective, Morgana Musgrove, doyenne of Savannah society, is called upon to unravel the mystery of these crimes. Morgana is an imperious, demanding, and conniving woman, whose four grown children are weary of her schemes. But one by one she inveigles them into helping with her investigation, and soon the family uncovers some terrifying truths—truths that will rock Savannah’s power structure to its core.

Moving from the homeless encampments that ring the city to the stately homes of Savannah’s elite, Green’s novel brilliantly depicts the underbelly of a city with a dark history and the strangely mesmerizing dysfunction of a complex family.

When I hear a novel is set in Savannah, I am immediately drawn to it. I love Savannah. It is romantic, beautiful and late at night as you walk the streets there is an eery quality to it all. The book seems to promise to bring Savannah to life as this mystery/thriller comes to life. From the first line I was hooked and I'm reading this right now! Released on July 19th, 2022 by Celadon Publishing, I received a copy from the publisher. Stay tuned for my review...

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The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford...

Dorothy Moy breaks her own heart for a living.

As Washington’s former poet laureate, that’s how she describes channeling her dissociative episodes and mental health struggles into her art. But when her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior and begins remembering things from the lives of their ancestors, Dorothy believes the past has truly come to haunt her. Fearing that her child is predestined to endure the same debilitating depression that has marked her own life, Dorothy seeks radical help.

Through an experimental treatment designed to mitigate inherited trauma, Dorothy intimately connects with past generations of women in her family: Faye Moy, a nurse in China serving with the Flying Tigers; Zoe Moy, a student in England at a famous school with no rules; Lai King Moy, a girl quarantined in San Francisco during a plague epidemic; Greta Moy, a tech executive with a unique dating app; and Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set foot in America.

As painful recollections affect her present life, Dorothy discovers that trauma isn’t the only thing she’s inherited. A stranger is searching for her in each time period. A stranger who’s loved her through all of her genetic memories. Dorothy endeavors to break the cycle of pain and abandonment, to finally find peace for her daughter, and gain the love that has long been waiting, knowing she may pay the ultimate price.

One of my favorite books was Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet written by Jamie Ford in 2009! (and if you haven't read it yet, here's a link to its anniversary edition which is on sale for $10.69. Remember though to check the price before you hit the buy button because Amazon does change those bargain prices often...) SO, when I see a new book written by Jamie Ford I have to check it out! And it's a lost loves love story! The story sounds so intriguing and add Jamie Fords fantastic writing and I predict a winner! This will be released August 2, 2022 by Atria Books, a subsidary of SimonSchuster.

And if those authors coming out with new books isn't enough, so are Kate White, Sandra Brown, Phillip Margolin and Isabel Allende... but I'll save those until next week! 

I always find summer an exciting book season. Maybe the sun hitting my pale skin and the warmth that I feel makes me long for the lazy days on the beach with a good book in my hands that I use to enjoy as a teenager. There were some great books read back then... The Shining and The Exorcist  are two that come to mind. 

What kind of reading do you do in the summer? 

I hope you've found a couple of interesting reads here today! Let me know what books you're reading!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Monday, July 25, 2022

Memoir Monday and Finding The Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard

 


Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard... The world's leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest—a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery

Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.

In this, her first book, now available in paperback, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths--that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.

Simard writes--in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways—how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies--and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.

And Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world.

I find trees and their behaviors fascinating! To some, trees are just tall objects that occupy our lawns and our forests, giving us shade and apples. But trees have so much more to them. The way they live and help eachother is something of much research. Not since The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, have I found a book that really pulled me in about this topic. Finding The Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard is getting all the buzz these days too. Here is a link to one of her TED talks. Published last year by Knopf and widely available. It's on my nightstand... 

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