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, 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... 

Friday, July 22, 2022

The Big Library Read...





 Just read about this today... It's The Big Library Read where readers from around the world read the same book and can join in on the discussion about the book. It's a BIG Digital Book Club. The book is available thru Overdrive, which is what many libraries use today for their eBook distribution. I checked my local library, The Pickens County Library, and they had unlimited copies available to checkout! 


We're a little late to the party, but there's still 5 days left to the program, but you can check this book out thru Overdrive for up to 27 days. Sounds like an interesting read too.

 

Here's a like to the Big Library Read website for more info...


https://biglibraryread.com/




Wednesday, July 20, 2022

If You Know the Ending... is it still fun?


I was reading some reviews of Hawk Mountain by Conner Habib. I can't remember off hand how I happened to find the title, but I must have run across it in some list of "books to read next". The book starts out with Todd Nasca's high school bully popping back into his life after so many years and how that might have happened coincidentally... or not. And no matter which way, the consequences have  tumultuous results... The tension seems to built right from the start, but some of the reviews I glanced thru have a common negative comment - that the climax of the story happens before the ending... way before the ending. Which made me pause to think... should it matter? If the story is a good one that keeps your eyes pressed to the pages, will the reveal too soon, ruin the story so much so that you don't need or want to finish the book? 

There are books that you know right from the beginning what happens, but that is the story - everything that leads up to the climax. 

I can't recall right now any books I've read where the climax is in the middle of the book. I guess I'm going to have to read Hawk Mountain and find out if I still want to read it after "the climax"... but somehow I think I will. I hate to not finish a book no matter how bad it is... but let's save that for another discussion...

What do you think? Have you read any books where you find out the "Big Story"  way before the ending? and how did that effect your reading of the book?

Monday, June 27, 2022

Memoir Monday...



The Puzzler by A.J. Jacobs... What makes puzzles—jigsaws, mazes, riddles, sudokus—so satisfying? Be it the formation of new cerebral pathways, their close link to insight and humor, or their community-building properties, they’re among the fundamental elements that make us human. Convinced that puzzles have made him a better person, A.J. Jacobs—four-time New York Times bestselling author, master of immersion journalism, and nightly crossworder—set out to determine their myriad benefits. And maybe, in the process, solve the puzzle of our very existence. Well, almost.

In The Puzzler, Jacobs meets the most zealous devotees, enters (sometimes with his family in tow) any puzzle competition that will have him, unpacks the history of the most popular puzzles, and aims to solve the most impossible head-scratchers, from a mutant Rubik’s Cube, to the hardest corn maze in America, to the most sadistic jigsaw. Chock-full of unforgettable adventures and original examples from around the world—including new work by Greg Pliska, one of America’s top puzzle-makers, and a hidden, super-challenging but solvable puzzle that will earn the first reader to crack it a $10,000 prize*—The Puzzler will open readers’ eyes to the power of flexible thinking and concentration. Whether you’re puzzle obsessed or puzzle hesitant, you’ll walk away with real problem-solving strategies and pathways toward becoming a better thinker and decision maker—for these are certainly puzzling times.

I'm a puzzle solver and a scrabble player. I love a good word search. I love Wordle. I guess you could call me a word nerd. The Puzzler by A.J. Jacobs sounds like a fun read... and it is contains a puzzle too. Published by Crown just this past April, this read is on my wishlist.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Memoir Monday...

 


Amy Bloom began to notice changes in her husband, Brian: He retired early from a new job he loved; he withdrew from close friendships; he talked mostly about the past. Suddenly, it seemed there was a glass wall between them, and their long walks and talks stopped. Their world was altered forever when an MRI confirmed what they could no longer ignore: Brian had Alzheimer’s disease.

Forced to confront the truth of the diagnosis and its impact on the future he had envisioned, Brian was determined to die on his feet, not live on his knees. Supporting each other in their last journey together, Brian and Amy made the unimaginably difficult and painful decision to go to Dignitas, an organization based in Switzerland that empowers a person to end their own life with dignity and peace.

In this heartbreaking and surprising memoir, Bloom sheds light on a part of life we so often shy away from discussing—its ending.

I've read fiction by Amy Bloom over the years, but this is not fiction. And no matter how many books you've written, or how famous (or not famous) you are, Alzheimer's doesn't care. It will invade and devastate. This is what Amy Bloom and her husband must deal with in her memoir, In Love

"In Love is an unforgettable portrait of a beautiful marriage, and a boundary-defying love."

This book has gotten so much praise, high recommendations and it received a Star Review from Kirkus. It seems it all stems from the wonderful writing of Amy Bloom and the way she writes about the subject, not as just a disease, but of a love story that the disease just can't crush. Published by Randomhouse this past March. On my book list...

Monday, June 13, 2022

Memoir Monday... and a Great Father's Day Gift!



The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnanski... A magnum opus from acclaimed baseball writer Joe Posnanski, The Baseball 100 is an audacious, singular, and masterly book that took a lifetime to write. The entire story of baseball rings through a countdown of the 100 greatest players in history, with a foreword by George Will.

Longer than Moby-Dick and nearly as ambitious,​The Baseball 100 is a one-of-a-kind work by award-winning sportswriter and lifelong student of the game Joe Posnanski that tells the story of the sport through the remarkable lives of its 100 greatest players. In the book’s introduction, Pulitzer Prize–winning commentator George F. Will marvels, “Posnanski must already have lived more than 200 years. How else could he have acquired such a stock of illuminating facts and entertaining stories about the rich history of this endlessly fascinating sport?”

Baseball’s legends come alive in these pages, which are not merely rankings but vibrant profiles of the game’s all-time greats. Posnanski dives into the biographies of iconic Hall of Famers, unfairly forgotten All-Stars, talents of today, and more. He doesn’t rely just on records and statistics—he lovingly retraces players’ origins, illuminates their characters, and places their accomplishments in the context of baseball’s past and present. Just how good a pitcher is Clayton Kershaw in the twenty-first- century game compared to Greg Maddux dueling with the juiced hitters of the nineties? How do the career and influence of Hank Aaron compare to Babe Ruth’s? Which player in the top ten most deserves to be resurrected from history?

No compendium of baseball’s legendary geniuses could be complete without the players of the segregated Negro Leagues, men whose extraordinary careers were largely overlooked by sportswriters at the time and unjustly lost to history. Posnanski writes about the efforts of former Negro Leaguers to restore sidelined Black athletes to their due honor, and draws upon the deep troves of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and extensive interviews with the likes of Buck O’Neil to illuminate the accomplishments of players such as pitchers Satchel Paige and Smokey Joe Williams; outfielders Oscar Charleston, Monte Irvin, and Cool Papa Bell; first baseman Buck Leonard; shortstop Pop Lloyd; catcher Josh Gibson; and many, many more.

The Baseball 100 treats readers to the whole rich pageant of baseball history in a single volume. Chapter by chapter, Posnanski invites readers to examine common lore with brand-new eyes and learn stories that have long gone unheard. The epic and often emotional reading experience mirrors Posnanski’s personal odyssey to capture the history and glory of baseball like no one else, fueled by his boundless love for the sport.

When I read about this book, I immediately thought of my husband. He's such an avid baseball fan. But fan doesn't even come close to his knowledge of baseball and it's subtle intricacies. I can see him debating the choices and the players that Joe Posnanski ranks in his 100 of the greatest players of baseball and I think that any fan of the game would have fun doing it as well. Published by Avid Reader Press (a division of Simon Schuster) in 2021, I think this would make a great Father's Day gift for the guy who loves baseball... 

Friday, June 10, 2022

First Lines Friday...


"Anna regularly dreamed about killing him. About creeping up on him and swiftly running the blade across his throat. That was why, on this particular morning, she didn’t sit up in bed with a jolt but calmly linked as she woke from yet another dream that left a kaleidoscope of violent images on the inside of her eyelids and filled her with excitement..."   from The Corpse Flower by Anne Mette Hancock

Any time I hear Scandinavian Noir my ears perk up. I love Scandinavian writing, and particularly Scandinavian Thriller/Noir. So, when I read a little about The Corpse Flower I wanted to find out more. From the authors agency page at the Nordin Agency, this is what I read...

"In 2017 she made her debut as an author with The Corpse Flower, where we are introduced to journalist Heloise Kaldan and police officer Erik Schäfer. This poignant suspense novel awarded her with the Danish Crime Academy’s debutant prize in 2017. The second book in the series, The Collector, was published in 2018 to great acclaim. That very year Anne Mette Hancock was named Author of the year in Denmark. Her third novel Pitbull was published in January 2020 and went straight to the top of the Danish bestseller chart."

I'm all in now after reading all that about her. I was able to read the first 4 chapters and thought the writing was really good too. The Corpse Flower was published by Crooked Lane Publishing October of last year. The Collector is scheduled to be released Nov 8, 2022. And there is no date yet for the release of Pitbull in the US, but if the first two books do well, I'm sure we'll see it released in the US as well. Anne Mette Hancock's characters, journalist Heloise Kaldan and police officer, Erik Schafer are the investigators in the ongoing series. The Corpse Flower is on my nightstand...

Monday, June 6, 2022

Memoir Monday... Can We Talk About It?


Code Talker, The first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII by Chester New...

His name wasn’t Chester Nez. That was the English name he was assigned in kindergarten. And in boarding school at Fort Defiance, he was punished for speaking his native language, as the teachers sought to rid him of his culture and traditions. But discrimination didn’t stop Chester from answering the call to defend his country after Pearl Harbor, for the Navajo have always been warriors, and his upbringing on a New Mexico reservation gave him the strength—both physical and mental—to excel as a marine.

During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, they created the only unbroken code in modern warfare—and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific.

I have always been fascinated by the WWII Code Talkers. It's such an amazing part of history and an important one. Imagine the dedication these young men had to fight for their country, the country that pretty much turned its back on the Indians and their culture, forcing them off their land. 

"On August 7, 1942, U.S. Marines of the 1st Marine Division hit the beaches of Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and the Florida islands in the first land offensive against Japan. Of the 11,000 Marines who landed, 15 were Navajo Code Talkers. This was to be their inaugural test in battle—three months after they’d been initially sworn in at Fort Wingate, New Mexico on May 4, 1942. In those three months, the code talkers went through basic training, underwent extensive instruction in radio operation and message transmittal, and developed and memorized a code that not even other native Navajo speakers could decipher."

Navajo Code Talkers Day was established by President Ronald Reagan on August 14, 1982. In 2014, Arizona passed legislation declaring every August 14 Navajo Code Talkers Day in Arizona. And every year around this time, there is a special Ham Radio Event commemorating the history of the Navajo Code Talkers. I had the privilege to talk to a relative of one of the Code Talkers on my ham radio last August. It was an honor and such an interesting conversation. I look forward to reading Code Talker by Chester Nez, published by Dutton Caliber, a boutique imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, in 2011. 

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