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

Monday, December 30, 2019

Memoir Monday...

"Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Her family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent. When another brother got himself into college, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge University. Only then would she wonder if she’d traveled too far, if there was still a way home"

No matter what your circumstances, and whatever surrounds you, there is always still you. And Tara Westover gives us pause to reflect on that when you hear her story. Published in February of 2018 by Random House, Educated by Tara Westover is in my TBR pile and I can't wait to read it!

Sunday, December 29, 2019

The Best is Yet to Come... Books on my Nightstand to start the year 2020's Reading

Welcome back! It's a rainy morning in South Carolina! Christmas is over and I'm anticipating the start of a new year! Usually I'd be talking about the best books of the year, but I am so excited about the books I plan to read starting in 2020, that I thought I would share those with you...

These books are in no particular order, but they are all either on my Kindle, on my nightstand or on their way to me. One of these books is my First Book of the Year 2020 choice! But the others will soon follow. There is an almost dead girl, love stories (one of which is a love story of nature), a thriller, coming-of-age, 2 memoirs and a baby sitter. Here are the books and a quick sentence or two blurb about them...

Wild Game: My Mother, Her Lover and Me by Adrienne Brodeur... "A daughter’s tale of living in the thrall of her magnetic, complicated mother, and the chilling consequences of her complicity."

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid... "a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both."

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman... "an exquisitely moving portrait of an elderly man’s struggle to hold on to his most precious memories, and his family’s efforts to care for him even as they must find a way to let go."

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides... "a shocking psychological thriller of a woman’s act of violence against her husband―and of the therapist obsessed with uncovering her motive."

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in The Strange World by Elif Shafak... "A moving novel on the power of friendship in our darkest times."

A Woman is No Man by Etaf Rum... "a must-read about women mustering up the bravery to follow their inner voice.” 

A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabel Allende... "this epic novel spanning decades and crossing continents follows two young people as they flee the aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in search of a place to call home."

Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx... "Part autobiography, part natural history, Bird Cloud is the glorious story of Annie Proulx’s piece of the Wyoming landscape and her home there."

     Are you excited about any particular books for 2020?

It looks like I'll be busy with my nose in a good book. How about you? Thes books are my first book of the year book recommendations, and will follow with book reviews. I'm also finalizing my reading groups Book Bingo card for 2020. Ever played Book Bingo? Basically it's a bingo card and each square has a type of book you need to read to get the square. Squares such as, "Book written in the Year you were born", "Take out a library book or ebook", "Historical Fiction", etc. You get the gist, right? It's fun to try to fill all the squares in. Some of our book club selections will fit, but some the group will have to find on their own. At the end of the year we have drawings for prizes. I've been making up a Bingo card for a few years now and everyone enjoys the challenge. 

Hope I've shared something that sparks your passion to read! Share a good book with me in the comments too! I'd love to hear about it! Happy New Year! See you back here in 2020!

Happy Reading... Suzanne

Friday, December 27, 2019

First Lines Friday...

July 14 
I don't know why I'm writing this. 
That's not true. Maybe I do know and just don't want to admit it to myself. 
I don't even know what to call it--this thing I'm writing. It feels a little pretentious to call it a diary. It's not like I have anything to say. Anne Frank kept a diary--not someone like me. Calling it a "journal" sounds too academic, somehow. As if I should write in it every day, and I don't want to--if it becomes a chore, I'll never keep it up.
                                                                                 .....The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

What is the "Patient" thinking of writing a journal about? Is it "The Patient"? What the heck is going on here? Do these first lines make you want to read more?

A lot of  buzz about this book. Published this past February by Celadon Books, I've seen in on quite a few "Best Books" of 2019 lists. Described as a psychological thriller, this is one book I am looking forward to reading.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Memoir Monday...

Wild Game by Adrienne Arodeur... On a hot July night on Cape Cod when Adrienne was fourteen, her mother, Malabar, woke her at midnight with five simple words that would set the course of both of their lives for years to come: Ben Souther just kissed me. 

Adrienne instantly became her mother’s confidante and helpmate, blossoming in the sudden light of her attention, and from then on, Malabar came to rely on her daughter to help orchestrate what would become an epic affair with her husband’s closest friend. The affair would have calamitous consequences for everyone involved, impacting Adrienne’s life in profound ways, driving her into a precarious marriage of her own, and then into a deep depression. Only years later will she find the strength to embrace her life—and her mother—on her own terms.  

Wild Game is a brilliant, timeless memoir about how the people close to us can break our hearts simply because they have access to them, and the lies we tell in order to justify the choices we make. It’s a remarkable story of resilience, a reminder that we need not be the parents our parents were to us.

As I was reading about new books, I kept gravitating to this book. I hadn't read a memoir is quite some time and honestly I wasn't really interested in all the celebrity tell alls that seemed to fill the shelves. But there was something about this one that caught my eye. And after reading the first half dozen pages or so I was hooked on Adrienne's writing, with the story unfolding as though it were literary fiction.

Since it's publication in October of this year by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, it has won "Best Book" accolades from Library Journal, NPR, Washington Post to name just a few. Not that I make my judgements of a book based on how many "Best" lists it's on, but it did make me a bit more curious. SO, this is now on my nightstand waiting for me to crack it open in 2020. This was going to be my first book of the year, but Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid won out after I was able to get a pre publication copy recently and read a half dozen or so pages of that and had to force myself to put it down. I have a feeling that this is going to be a great reading year!

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Has it Really been THAT Long??

Has it really been 5 months since we've talked?! This year has been a busy one for me and I took a little break from writing the blog. I'm retired now, but instead of a 9-5 job, I've started a small business called Shawl Y'all, where I sell my handmade shawls, ponchos and other wearables. Here's a photo of me wearing a couple of my winter creations. But I haven't forgotten about reading and books! How could I?! Books and talking about them has been a big part of my life for many years, and even though I took a little break from here, I've still been reading and participating in my reading group that is 800 plus miles away. Now I go to Book Club via Skype. It's great to be able to still meet with the book club and talk about books.

Being busy with Shawl Y'all, which also includes participating in shows, I miss sharing with y'all all my bookish talk. SO, I plan to make sure in 2020 I put some time aside to get back to the business of books! Great reads, great authors, news of things happening and of course book reviews! And it looks like there are plenty of books to talk about too! I already have a stack of books to start reading in the new year! INCLUDING my pick for First Book of the Year 2000! But you'll have to stop by January 1st to see what I chose!

First thing this year I will be participating in The First Book of the Year 2020, hosted by Sheila of Book Journey. This will be Sheila's 7th year hosting, and I think it's also my 7th year of participating. If you're interested, you have until Dec. 31st to pick out that first book you'll be reading for the start of 2020, take a photo of you and the book, and send it along to Sheila, who makes a collage of all the participants. It's fun to see what everyone else has chosen and it's fun to find that first book too! You can read all about it on her blog here.Will your book define your reading year?

So while I've been busy, knitting and crocheting, what have you been doing?! What great books have you been reading?! You can share that and any other bookish thing in the comments below!

Question... I've found my First Book of 2020, but help me find some other great reads!  
What is the BEST book you read this year?!

In the meantime, Chanukah begins tonight and Christmas is in 3 days, so Happy Chanukah and Merry Christmas! I wish you all wonderful and happy times spent with family and friends! I will see you right back here next Sunday to talk about... what else? BOOKS!

Happy Reading... Suzanne

Friday, December 20, 2019

First Lines Friday...

         That night, when Mrs. Chamberlain called, Emira could only piece together the words “…take Briar somewhere…” and “…pay you double.”

In a crowded apartment and across from someone screaming “That’s my song!,” Emira stood next to her girlfriends Zara, Josefa, and Shaunie. It was a Saturday night in September, and there was a little over an hour left of Shaunie’s twenty-sixth birthday. Emira turned the volume up on her phone and asked Mrs. Chamberlain to say it again.
        ………… Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid  

I just read a blurb about this book in Entertainment Weekly. In that blurb we find out what Emira decides and... what happens.  Do these first lines make you want to keep going? I found it intriguing... and I guess someone else did too, because even before this novel hits the shelves December 31st, the rights to a movie deal have already been signed.

Read an excerpt and decide for yourself at Penguin Random House. You can also listen to an excerpt there too!

Categorized as Literary Fiction; Women's Fiction and published by G.P. Putnam Sons, an imprint of Penguin group. 

Friday, July 5, 2019

First LInes Friday...

 Nobody recognized her. Harper Lee was well known, but not by sight, and if she hadn’t introduced herself, it’s unlikely that anyone in the courtroom would have figured out who she was. Hundreds of people were crowded into the gallery, filing the wooden benches that squeaked whenever someone moved or leaning against the back wall if they hadn’t arrived in time for a seat. Late September wasn’t late enough for the Alabama heat to have died down, and the air-conditioning in the courthouse wasn’t working, so the women waved fans while the men’s suits grew damp under their arms and around their collars. The spectators whispered from time to time, and every so often they laughed - an uneasy laughter that evaporated whenever the judge quieted them.
                                    .. Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep

Friday, June 28, 2019

First Lines Friday...

We came to Birchwood Manor because Edward said this it was haunted. It wasn't, not then, but it's a dull man who lets truth stand in the way of a good story, and Edward was never that. His passion, his blinding faith in whatever he professed, was one of the things I fell in love with. He had the preacher's zeal, a way of expressing opinions that minted them into gleaming currency. A habit of drawing people to him, of firing in them enthusianms they hadn't known were theirs, making all but himself and his convictions fade.
                                               ..... The Clockmaker's Daughter by Kate Morton

Friday, June 21, 2019

First Lines Friday...

The beaches were empty, the stores were closed, and after sunset, all the houses on New Hampshire Avenue stood dark. For months, Effie had been telling him about this place and the many things they would do here, but she had only known it in the summer, and this was the end of September. She had not understood what "off-season" meant. They had come up from Georgia on the overnight train. They were supposed to spend two weeks here, for their honeymoon. 
                                                                 .....Cape May by Chip Cheek

Monday, June 17, 2019

Memoir Monday...

The Day That Went Missing by Richard Beard...

On a family summer holiday in Cornwall in 1978, Richard and his younger brother Nicholas are jumping in the waves. Suddenly, Nicholas is out of his depth. One moment he's there, the next he's gone. 

Richard and his other brothers don't attend the funeral, and incredibly the family returns immediately to the same cottage - to complete the holiday, to carry on, in the best British tradition. They soon stop speaking of the catastrophe. Their epic act of collective denial writes Nicky out of the family memory.

Nearly forty years later, Richard, an acclaimed novelist, is haunted by the missing piece of his childhood, the unexpressed and unacknowledged grief at his core. He doesn't even know the date of his brother's death or the name of the beach where the tragedy occurred. So he sets out on a pain-staking investigation to rebuild Nicky's life, and ultimately to recreate the precise events on the day of the accident. 

When I read about this memoir, I felt so much empathy for the author, Richard Beard, who tragically looses his brother. What piqued my curiousity was how everything surrounding the tragedy is shrouded in mystery, and the memory of a young boy, or the lack there of, pushes the grown up boy to pursue the truth. What is the truth? Why does it seem the whole family kept it all from him? On my wish list.

Friday, June 14, 2019

First Lines Friday...

Let me begin again.

Dear Ma,
I am writing to reach you- even if each word I put down is one word further from where you are. I am writing to go back to the time, at the rest stop in Virginia, when you stared, horror-stuck, at the taxidermy buck hung over the soda machine by the restrooms, its antlers shadowing your face. In the car, you kept shaking your head. “I don’t understand why they would do that. Can’t they see it’s a corpse? A corpse should go away, not get stuck forever like that.”
                                  …… On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel  by Ocean Vuong

Monday, June 10, 2019

Memoir Monday...

K: A History of Baseball in Ten Pitches by Tyler Kepner... "traces the colorful stories and fascinating folklore behind the ten major pitches. Each chapter highlights a different pitch, from the blazing fastball to the fluttering knuckleball to the slippery spitball. Infusing every page with infectious passion for the game, Kepner brings readers inside the minds of combatants sixty feet, six inches apart.

Filled with priceless insights from many of the best pitchers in baseball history including twenty-two Hall of Famers--from Bob Gibson, Steve Carlton, and Nolan Ryan to Greg Maddux, Mariano Rivera, and Clayton Kershaw."

 I love baseball. When I read about this book, it just sounded like baseball. Those great stories behind the games, the plays... the pitches. With Father's Day just around the corner, this would definitely make a great gift for the guy in your life that enjoys the sport... AND those ladies that love the game too!  On my nightstand and planning on reading one story at a time inbetween other reading.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

The Sunday Salon and Getting Lost in a Good Book... or Finding One After Getting Lost...

Welcome to Sunday... It's cloudy and rainy here, in South Carolina. It's the last day of the weekend, but it's the day I typically hunt for those wonderful crafts fairs and artist markets. None of that is happening this weekend, but last weekend we were in Lake Lure, NC. I had read about this crafts festival in the beautiful town of Lake Lure, NC, home to Chimney Rock, a 315 ft. granite monolith with a waterfall . It was a bit of a drive for us, about 90 minutes, but so pretty as we navigated through some mountains and towns that looked interesting enough themselves. Thank goodness for good ole GPS, because without it we definitely would have gotten lost finding this town, but when we finally found our way there I also found an author and a book.

I find books in a lot of ways... I walk into a bookstore and look at what just came in or is turned facing out on a shelf, I read Kirkus Reviews or Publisher Weekly or any numerous publications about what's coming to a bookstore near me, I go to flea markets and/or tag sales and a book may catch my eye on a table, and going to the library is always a great way to find interesting books and you don't even have to spend a dime there. I also talk to other book bloggers and see what publishers have sent them and I talk to them about what great books they are reading. What I didn't expect this past Sunday was to find Rose Senehi sitting behind a table with her books on display.

I was talking to the Oregon artist who made these beautiful desk lamps in the style of Frank Lloyd Wright, when out of the corner of my eye I saw what I thought were a pile of books. "Yes... there are piles of books on that table...", then I noticed my husband stopping to talk to her... yes, I know he's going to be mentioning the blogger and book lover he's married to... and then I walked over. And I was hooked. Not on the books at first, but the wonderfully friendly woman behind the books, Rose Senehi. Almost as though we were already friends, we started chatting about books and writing and how she came about being an author. Yes, she was interested in selling her books, but you could see that she loved books just as much as I did. After a half hour or so, off I went with two books, one of which was a gift, and a promise to let her know (and all of you know) what I think of her books. And I will do that... in the next couple of weeks.

What struck me about finding Rose, was where I found her. I don't think I ever met a writer at a crafts fair before. Writers are definitely craftsmen, they have a skill and they design their pieces very carefully. They polish them and display them and we admire them. But usually not at a crafts fair. And why not?! Why don't we find more of these writers mingled in with the craftsmen who create their works with metal and fabric and wood? (Well there's good reason for Rose being there, her books  revolve around the Blue Ridge Mountains and the area we were visiting today...)

While I am now getting lost in a good book (Carolina Belle by Rose Senehi), after finding one after getting (almost) lost, I would love to know where are the places you find your books?! What was the most unusual place you have found a book and/or author?Leave a comment below and let me know!

Happy reading... Suzanne

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...
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?!

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