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

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. 

Monday, December 10, 2018

7 Days of Favorite Books... Day 6

This is an amazing story. So vivid, so beautifully written and one of my all time favorite reads! Read my review this week! Until then, just know I thought it was a "breathtaking, sweeping novel" and loved every minute I spent with these characters!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Sunday Salon (or Should I say The Snow Day Salon) and Surprise Boxes...

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! Or should I call it the Snow Day Salon, because here in South Carolina we got snow! Yes, moving from Connecticut did not help me avoid all that white stuff, but now that I'm retired, that white stuff looks awful pretty!

What doesn't look awful is South Carolina! We are still settling in in our new home. The people I've met are so friendly and I'm loving where we live!  I don't think we'll ever get through all these moving boxes though, but we've got dining room chairs now, so we can sit down and eat, and we've got most of our furniture in place so that we can relax. Of course I did manage to get some bookcases up and filled, and have more books I need to find places for. In the meantime, as the weather has cooled off and I feel more like lounging around the house than gardening in the cold and snow, I turn to reading and surprises (like snow in the South)...

Over the past few months, I decided that it might be fun to give BOTM a try. Yes, Book of The Month Club is still thriving and after a zillion questions to their customer service representative, I signed up to see how it went. Some of the questions I had were... Are your books "the same" as the books I would buy in the bookstore? Meaning are these edited in any way or abridged. The answer I received was no. I had always thought that they were indeed BOTM "versions", but was happy to find out differently. (Maybe I was thinking of the Readers Digest condensed versions) I was also told that the dust jackets were BOTM covers, thus a pretty little graphic indicating this was a Book of the Month selection. Okay, that bothered me a little because it kind of defaces the cover in my opinion. (stickers on books with "autographed by..." also are one of my pet peeves as well as "movie edition" jackets). So for 14.99, I signed up for BOTM, which entitled me to select from their 5 "books of the month" and/or some other customer favorites from past months. I also got credit for an additional selection for free.

In my first order of BOTM club selections, I received...

Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty (which was nominated for this years best fiction category for the Goodreads Choice Awards) and Every Breath by Nicholas Sparks. Both books I wanted to read. And a short time later, my books arrived in the mail. It was a treat to open up the BOTM and fish out the books. But these weren't "surprises", I had picked them out, although it felt like it was a "surprise" box. It was fun getting these books in the mail. It was more fun than ordering from Amazon, but I really don't know why. And I decided that I would check out the next months selections. If I don't care for any of the choices, I can simply pass on that month and wait to see what next month will bring. Some of these choices will be before they are in the stores, which I thought would be fun too. I did make a selection for next month, which is One Day in December by Josie Silvers, which seemed a cute romance. But as much as I love getting surprises in the mail, and how fun it seemed to get this BOTM club selection box, I should have checked the Big "A" for it
first. This book was published in October in paperback and the current price is $10.60. A substantial savings from my hardcover BOTM club edition, which I would cancel had it not been shipped a few days ago. Oh well, live and learn. I would feel better if I had paid that at an Indie bookstore.

So NOW let's talk about REAL surprise boxes... There is a trend these days for "boxes". Boxes that people fill up for you and send you. Surprise boxes also known as "Subscription Boxes".And don't we all love a surprise!? Sometimes that is... There are subscription boxes for almost anything you can think of... beauty, food, socks, dog toys, cookware, clothes, crafts, sewing. You name it, there is more than likely some kind of subscription box.

I have tried The Quarterly Book Box, now defunct, by Book Riot, which was filled with a few books and swag. At the time I opened that first box, Here's my review from 2014, I liked the two books I received and the mug, and on a whole I liked all the little things that came in the box, but I didn't feel like it was worth $50, which was the cost. And that's the problem with some of these subscription boxes... would you have better spent the money picking out books yourself? BOTM club seems to be the most reasonable of the subscription boxes I found recently. You basically get a book delivered to your house for about what it would cost at the bookstore on sale. And you can add another book from their choices for $9.99. And finally, if you don't see anything from their selections of the month, you can pass.

If you're curious as to what "Book Subscription Boxes" are out there, here are two great resources...

My Subscription Addiction, founded by Liz Cadman, who was searching for subscription boxes and reviews herself. When she came up short, she decided she'd create a place for just that, and My Subscription Addiction was born. Here is a list of Best Book Subscriptions of 2018 from that site.

Cratejoy, is another great "Box Subscription Warehouse", where search for the type of subscription box you are looking for and actually subscribe through the website. When I checked out the Book Subscriptions, there were over 150 of them! Here's the link to those listings! And included in some of those listings were boxes with used books, bringing the price of those subscription boxes quite a bit lower. I have no idea where they get their used books or what kind of condition they would be in, but it's an interesting choice. Used Books Monthly is one of those used book boxes and for $9.99 a month you get two books in a genre that you choose. The reviews have been good and I don't see any complaints about the condition of the books.

Would you try a Book Subscription Box? 
And if you have already, what did you like/dislike?

Weekly Recap...
I added to my 7 Days of Favorite Books this week with Wild by Cheryl Strayed and Eternal on The Water by Joseph Monninger.   Days 1, 2 & 3 included Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett, Dracula in Love by Karen Essex. Next week we'll wrap it up with the last two "Favorite" books. But remember these are NOT my ONLY favorite books! (Ain't that the truth!)

Friday began with First Lines Friday! Follow the link to see what great first lines we shared and what book it was! All I can say it was purrfect!

And one final thought for today... First Book of the Year! 
Every year I start off by reading a book. Of course the first book we read for the year would be the first book of the year, BUT I try and choose a really great book to start the reading year right. My 2018 choice was Still Me by Jojo Moyes, and what a great read that was (here's my review)! It actually won the Goodreads Readers Choice Award for best fiction book of the year.

You have 23 days to figure out your book if you'd like to join in on the fun! I'll remind you when we get to that last week in December, but I've chosen my book and you'll have to stop by Dec. 31st to find out what it is!

Do You Pick a Special Book for Your First Book of the Year?

Until next week... Happy reading, Suzanne

Saturday, December 8, 2018

7 Days of Favorite books... Day 5

All I can say is, READ this! Beautiful story, wonderfully written, it touched my heart and everyone 's heart that I've shared this with!

Friday, December 7, 2018

First Lines Friday...

"  I am a cat. As yet, I have no name. There's a famous cat in our country who once made this very statement.

    I have no clue how great that cat was, but at least when it comes to having a name I got there first. Whether I like my name is another matter, since it glaringly doesn't fit my gender, me being male and all. I was given it about five years ago--- around the time I came of age."
                       ... The Traveling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

As I was walking through a bookstore, I came across this book on a table with many others, but I was initially attracted to it because of the cover and its size. It's one of those cute little gift size books, about the size of a 5 x 7 photograph. As I opened the book, I realized that it was indeed a tale as told through the cat's perspective and that it was an international best seller. As I opened that cover and read some of the story, I was enamored. I look forward to reading this soon!

7 Days of Favorite Books... Day 4

Cheryl Strayed definitely held my attention and had me turning those pages to keep reading. One of my favorite books, nonfiction, memoir and definitely better than the movie, which only touched on all the emotional, thought provoking writing.
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