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, January 27, 2020

Memoir Monday...

Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo... When Marcelo Hernandez Castillo was five years old and his family was preparing to cross the border between Mexico and the United States, he suffered temporary, stress-induced blindness. Castillo regained his vision, but quickly understood that he had to move into a threshold of invisibility before settling in California with his parents and siblings. Thus began a new life of hiding in plain sight and of paying extraordinarily careful attention at all times for fear of being truly seen. Before Castillo was one of the most celebrated poets of a generation, he was a boy who perfected his English in the hopes that he might never seem extraordinary.

With beauty, grace, and honesty, Castillo recounts his and his family’s encounters with a system that treats them as criminals for seeking safe, ordinary lives. He writes of the Sunday afternoon when he opened the door to an ICE officer who had one hand on his holster, of the hours he spent making a fake social security card so that he could work to support his family, of his father’s deportation and the decade that he spent waiting to return to his wife and children only to be denied reentry, and of his mother’s heartbreaking decision to leave her children and grandchildren so that she could be reunited with her estranged husband and retire from a life of hard labor.

Children of the Land distills the trauma of displacement, illuminates the human lives behind the headlines and serves as a stunning meditation on what it means to be a man and a citizen.

When I started to read all the controversy surrounding American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins, I found "alternative" books that were recommended to read instead of that book in order to understand the real experiences of undocumented people entering the US. Children of the Land by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is one of those books. Unlike American Dirt, which is a book of fiction, Children of the Land is a memoir.

Marcelo Hernandez is an awarding winning poet, writer and teacher. He received a B.A. from Sacramento State University and was the first undocumented student to earn an MFA from the University of Michigan. His book Children of the Land, published by Harper, will be available tomorrow at your local bookstore. On my Wishlist.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

The Sunday Salon... and Should we Read American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

Good morning! It's a beautiful sunny day in the Upstate. Upstate is how where I live is refered to in South Carolina. Not to be confused with the Low Country, which is the lower part of the state and I would say the more "popular" vacation destinations of Myrtle Beach and Charleston. It took me a while to really grasp  why the distinction, but it is a lot easier to tell people I live in the Upstate when talking to someone from South Carolina, because they just understand. In any case, today is a beautiful, but cold day in the Upstate. Winter is popping its head in and out and now that I'm retired, when it's really cold outside I tend to stay inside... and either play with some yarn and/or read!

This week I received a pre-order of American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins in the mail. I had read a lot of great press about the book and decided to pre-order and have it arrive at the house the day it came out... so I could avoid having to go out in that cold. It came! Yay! I opened the package and then I was struck by a little yellow circle blazing on my front cover like a beam of light from a freight train... and one of my pet peeves in book jacket designs. I HATE, let me repeat, I HATE those little "advertisements" on the front covers of books."Now made into a major motion picture", "So and so says blah, blah, blah", and this week, "Oprah's Book Club 2020". And that little Oprah blurb I can't even remove because it's actually part of the design. Something I didn't realize was happening when I ordered the book. I had no idea it was an Oprah pick. So, this week I was going to talk about that... Bookish Pet Peeves, but after getting American Dirt in the mail and starting to read it, the internet exploded with so much controversy over this book, I thought we'd touch on that this week... 

Do you care who writes your book?

The controversy surrounding American Dirt is simply this, Jeannine Cummins, who herself has said, is a White, Priviledged person. Because of this can she write this book? The book is about a Mexican Mother and her son who must flee Mexico after her whole family is murdered by a drug kingpin's gang. This story is about the migrant experience, the horrors of the journey to a better life. Can extensive research, and 7 years of research in Jeannine Cummins' case, trump the actual experience? 

So, now there is a raging argument that American Dirt is full of stereotypes and incorrect information on Mexican culture. In an online article for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Jane Henderson writes: 

Latinx writers argue that their more authentic depictions in fiction and nonfiction have not gotten as much support from American publishers as books by white authors, and they pointed to elements in "American Dirt" they felt were stereotypes or errors regarding Mexican culture. Much of the criticism on social media was based on a review by Myriam Gurba.

There is also controversy over the LARGE amount of money for the author received for the book from the publisher, and how if it was a Latinx writer the amount would not have been as significant. 

On the flip side of the controversy, with publishers and reviewers who have praised the book, but now feel as though they need to take a step back, there is the thought that even if there are things "wrong" with the depictions and the story, this book will open the eyes of many to the horrors of these migrants who travel the dangerous road to a better life. 

What do you think? Personally I rarely discount an author's work just based on what I hear, although it does happen. Recently after I purchased The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes I discoverd a whole slew of controversy over plagerism and publisher favoritism. Supposedly the publisher helped the book along by pulling ideas from another book that they were publishing, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson. At that point I did a bit of research on the latter book and decided after reading how much book clubs loved Kim's book to choose that one for my book club's January read. I still have the Jojo Moyes book, but it really irks me that the publisher might have done that. When I do read it, I will judge for myself if there are too many similarities in the story. 

I'm still going to read American Dirt. The beginning of the book was absolutely terrifying and just sucked me in. And no matter what the critisism's are, I was really enjoying her writing. Maybe we can all enjoy it as a story of a Mother's love for her son and be happy with that? Or maybe I can treat it as a book of FICTION and keep that in the back of my head as I read the story for what it is. It's not as though Jeannine Cummins stole the idea from another author either. And if you do a google search for American Dirt controversy, you'll have pages of links, some of which give you alternative reads. Why can't I just read this one? I think I will...

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins was published by Flatiron books and released january 21st. It is an Oprah Book Club pick, The #1 Indie Next Choice, and Editors Choice of the New York Times Book Review. It has been praised by many, many authors. Share your thoughts on this in the comments below! I would love to hear what you think!

Happy Reading... Suzanne

Friday, January 24, 2020

First Lines Friday...

The girl is forbidden from making a sound, so the yellow bird sings. He sings whatever the girl composes in her head: high-pitched trills of piccolo; low-throated growls of contrabassoon. The bird chirps all the musical parts save the percussion, because the barn rabbits obligingly thump their back feet like bass drums, like snares. The lines for violin and cello are the most elaborately composed. Rich and liquid smooth, except when fear turns the notes gruff and choppy. 
                                                  ...The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner

I was lucky enough to receive a digital copy of The Yellow Bird Sings this month and just finished it. How can you say you enjoyed reading about a Mother and her young daughter desperately hiding in a barn from German soldiers? But the story is sensitive and I became so emotionally involved in this WWII story of persecution and survival that I was actually having nightmares. I'll be posting a review next week, but in the meantime I give it 4 stars!  Definitely for WWII readers. This will be released March 3, 2020 by Flatiron Books.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Batman: The Killing Joke written by Alan Moore, illustrated by Brian Bolland.... A Review

Batman: The Killing Joke, written by Allan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland Deluxe (New Edition) 2019...

Let me first say, I am not a superhero kind of girl. I Use to watch Batman and Superman on TV when I was very young, but I never read any of the comic books. I do like graphic novels and comic books though, so I will sit down and read one every now and then. But this one is different...

I kept hearing about Jaoquim Phoenix's awards for his outstanding performance of Joker in the movie by the same name. So I rented it to see what all the fuss was about. Let me tell you, it was depressing. Really depressing. BUT, what a performance by Jaoquin Phoenix! He was amazing as Joker. And the film was amazing too. Remember, I'm not really a superhero kind of girl, so what I was expecting was not what I got. The movie is not a superhero movie, but a human look at the man behind the Joker. Who was he? How did his circumstances make him into the Joker? All so very fascinating, which made me wonder about the comic it was based on.

Way back in 1988, DC comics ran a one-shot, basically a story that begins and ends with one comic book. It was about the origin of Joker written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland. Because of the release of the movie, based on this comic, DC reprinted a deluxe hardcover version with beautiful new coloring and some backstory of how the comic was created... and it is wonderful! There have been so many improvements on how these comics are produced that Brian Bolland went back and colored the story the way he always wanted to (along with a few fixes here and there in the illustrations that he always wanted to do too). And the coloring is beautiful.

Now the story was changed a little for the movie. In the comic, the Joker has a Fiance and he wants a better life for them and their future children. He left his job in the local chemical plant, is a failure as a comic, and is convinced to do something by some thugs to earn a little money. Things go terribly wrong though and the rest as they say, is history. This is a great story! The other thing the movie changed was the way the Joker looks. In the movie it's all grease paint, but in the comic it is something entirely different. (you need to read this to find out!) The comic has some aspects of violence, but humourous in other spots. The interaction between Batman and Joker is great too. And the end of the story puts a human side to the "relationship" between Batman and Joker. The book doesn't stop there though, because there are a few bonus stories and a section on how the story is put together with the first drawings and how the artist shows the writer the intent of the scenes. The back of the book is filled with Brian Bolland drawings, who is an award winning artist, some in full color, of Joker and Batman in various other projects that he's done. The original story is 53 pages, the book itself is 96 pages total. There is a 30th anniversary edition that has more of the original comic book included at twice the price as the Deluxe edition I read, but I am very satisfied with the edition I read.

Final Course... Great story! I thoroughtly enjoyed it and found it entertaining. The artwork is beautiful! Brian Bolland did an amazing job coloring it as well. I would recommend this to any comic book fan, movie fan, and for someone who really hasn't gotten into comic books, but would like to give comics a try. Now this is considered a graphic novel, but when I think of graphic novels I think of much longer and thicker works. Published by DC Comics in September of 2019.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Memoir Monday

Know My Name by Chanel Miller... "She was known to the world as Emily Doe when she stunned millions with a letter. Brock Turner had been sentenced to just six months in county jail after he was found sexually assaulting her on Stanford's campus. Her victim impact statement was posted on BuzzFeed, where it instantly went viral--viewed by eleven million people within four days, it was translated globally and read on the floor of Congress; it inspired changes in California law and the recall of the judge in the case. Thousands wrote to say that she had given them the courage to share their own experiences of assault for the first time.

Now she reclaims her identity to tell her story of trauma, transcendence, and the power of words. It was the perfect case, in many ways--there were eyewitnesses, Turner ran away, physical evidence was immediately secured. But her struggles with isolation and shame during the aftermath and the trial reveal the oppression victims face in even the best-case scenarios. Her story illuminates a culture biased to protect perpetrators, indicts a criminal justice system designed to fail the most vulnerable, and, ultimately, shines with the courage required to move through suffering and live a full and beautiful life.

Know My Name will forever transform the way we think about sexual assault, challenging our beliefs about what is acceptable and speaking truth to the tumultuous reality of healing. It also introduces readers to an extraordinary writer, one whose words have already changed our world. Entwining pain, resilience, and humor, this memoir will stand as a modern classic."

Published by Viking in September 2019. Chosen as Best Book of the Year by The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, TIME, Elle, Glamour, Parade, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, and BookRiot. A book that gives voice to the victim and has made quite an impact. And Chanel Miller's writing has been praised. On my wishlist.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

The Sunday Salon and Breaking Up is Hard to Do... What to read after you break up with your book.

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! Winter is starting to settle in, in South Carolina. We started the week with 70 degrees and sunny and yesterday we couldn't get above 40 degrees! So, I grab two things to keep me warm in the winter... crocheting and a good book. Of course this is all done in front of a cozy fire going in the fireplace and possibly something interesting to drink.

This week I finished a great book! The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michel Richardson had all the things that hold your attention -- a great lead character, well developed minor characters, an interesting story (which in this case happens to be based on history), some interesting plot twists with a little romance thrown in for good measure. I'll be reviewing it later in the week, but trust me, if you enjoy historical fiction, write this one down for your TBR list!

But the thing with reading a great book is that sometimes you need an emotional break. I was getting so into the book that starting another book wasn't going to be easy. It's almost like breaking up with your book because sometimes you become so invested in the characters and story that when it ends you are just so... alone, lonely, spent.

How do you recover? Big breath and then I try to read something "light".  Maybe a graphic novel, some poetry, a funny book... I need to go thru a detox. So, here are some "inbetween" books or books to lighten your emotional load...

Strange Planet by Nathan Pyle...

"Nathan Pyle fills the pages of his new book Strange Planet with big eyed, bright blue aliens from a planet that shares a lot in common with Earth. These aliens sunbathe, sneeze and even wish each other sweet dreams like us, but they describe these practices with deadpan technical terminology like "sun damage" and "face fluid explosions." The lifegiver aliens even implore their offspring to "imagine pleasant nonsense" as they tuck them in for the night."...NPR's Liz Metzger.

A friend of mine recently shared this graphic novel that he received as a Christmas present. He's not really the graphic novel kind of guy, but he loves humor and that is exactly what Nathan Pyle dishes out in 144 pages. Nathan started drawing Strange Planet and sharing it on Instagram, where he has his aliens exploring all of our human emotions and explaining them in their own "alien" terms. Follow the link to his Instagram page and check it out. Little tidbits of human wisdom on each page. I love reading them! This book is on its way to me! Published by MorrowGift.

Adulthood is a Myth by Sarah Andersen... These casually drawn, perfectly on-point comics by the hugely popular young Brooklyn-based artist Sarah Andersen are for the rest of us. They document the wasting of entire beautiful weekends on the internet, the unbearable agony of holding hands on the street with a gorgeous guy, and dreaming all day of getting home and back into pajamas. In other words, the horrors and awkwardnesses of young modern life. Oh and they are totally not autobiographical. At all.

Another artist who posted her comics on social media before releasing her  popular humorous books. She really hits the nail on the head sometimes with her poignant funny cartoons. She has a big following too. Lighten up with Sarah's Scribbles! Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy... Charlie Mackesy offers inspiration and hope in uncertain times in this beautiful book based on his famous quartet of characters. The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse explores their unlikely friendship and the poignant, universal lessons they learn together.

This book won Barnes & Noble's Best Book of the Year 2019 award! It has rave reviews and there is and was a lot of buzz about it after it was published in October by HarperOne. Sit down and relax with this one and slowly take it in. A great book to reset your mindset with. And this book is on it's way to me also. Published by HarperOne.

Now those were some sweet, fun reads to enjoy while getting back to the business of serious literary reading, but what if you wanted a little bit more to sink your teeth into? Well, my last recommendation is a 180 from these others...

Batman: The Killing Joke written by Alan Moore, illustrated by Brian Bolland... "For the first time the Joker's origin is revealed in this tale of insanity and human perseverance"

I started reading this after I watched the movie Joker starring Jaoquin Pheonix. Have you seen that movie yet? I am not really a superhero kind of girl, but this movie had gotten so much buzz (and a few awards) about the performance Jaoquin Pheonix did that I just had to rent it. I have to say it is depressing. Really depressing and sad. And it's not really a superhero movie. This movie is really about the person the Joker was before becoming notorious and how his circumstances created the crazy evil guy that we know today. This is the comic book that the movie is based on and it really is a great story. Read the deluxe hardcover edition, the artwork is amazing and the story is so interesting. This edition also shares the process of story boarding and developing the actual drawing of the story. I really only knew the Joker based on the Batman series on TV. This graphic novel really puts a human face to the criminal we all thought we knew. Not a "light" read, but not a complex literary tomb either. Published by DC Comics.

Weekly Update...
Memoir Monday... highlighted Hill Women by Cassie Chambers and tells the story of the strong Kentucky women who helped shape her and how she left her humble beginnings to find a different way of life

First Lines Friday... highlighted Ordinary Grace by William Kent Kreuger, and his beautiful opening lines for Ordinary Grace.

Saturday I shared my Book Bingo Card for 2020! Ever play Book Bingo? Every year I create a Bingo Card with bookish squares that my reading group tries to fill in during the year. The squares range from reading a MYSTERY to Read a Book Whose Author's Last Name Starts with the First Letter of Your Name. Want to play along?? Follow the link and print out the Bingo Card!

Do you need a break after reading a really good book? 
...or do you dive right into your next read?

I've got quite a few books to choose from to get back to "literary" reading this week. One of which is a WWII tale of a girl and her mother hiding from German soldiers in a barn... and there is a Barbara Delinsky eBook I just got from the publishers too. I always love reading Barbara Delinsky! and this one will be released May 2020. (I also love Barbara Delinsky because she was also sweet enough to Skype with my reading group once).... What are your plans this week? What great books have you been reading?! Share in the comments because I would love to know!! 

Happy Reading... Suzanne

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Chick with Books Book Bingo 2020...

It's that time of year again when I release.... This years Book Bingo Card! Ever play Book Bingo? Well, you're in for a treat either way! Book Bingo is set up like your typical Bingo card, except the spaces are filled with types of books. As the year goes on, you X thru squares. Say you read The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, which is fictional account of the historic Kentucky Pack Horse Library Project, you would X out the square that has "Historical Fiction". The point of the Bingo card is to have fun Xing out each square based on the books you are reading this year and see how many squares you can X. All of them X'd out is pretty darn good. And remember each book can only be for ONE square, so if a book can really be for 2 squares, you need to decide which square you are going to count it for.

I do one of these cards every year for my reading group and everyone loves it. At the end of the year we have some fun with prizes and such, but the best part is to see if you can match up your books and fill the whole square up! Are you up for the challenge?!

I've read 2 books already this year. Fredrik Backman's And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer, which at 76 pages fulfills "A Book with less than 202 pages", and Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, which I am going to use for "Any Celebrity Book Club pick", because Reese's Book Club (Reese Witherspoon), Hello Sunshine, picked it as their January Book Club pick. 
Join in on the fun and stop by each week to see what squares I check off if any, and share the squares you check off and what books you did them with! You can click on the Bingo card below and print it out too!

Friday, January 17, 2020

First Lines Friday...

All the dying that summer began with the deaht of a child, a boy with golden hair and thick glasses, killed on the railroad tracks outside New Bremen, Minnesota sliced into pieces by a thousand tons of steel speeding across the prairie toward South Dakota. His name was Bobby Cole, He was a sweet-looking kid and by that I mean he had eyes that seemed full of dreaming and he wore a half smile as if he was just about to understand something you'd spent an hour trying to explain.
                                     ... Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

I was hearing a lot of buzz about This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger and saw that this was not his first book. In fact, William Kent Krueger has an award winning mystery series with #17 having been published in 2018. But Ordinary Grace and This Tender Land were not mysteries, but were literary fiction, coming-of-age novels. As I read the sample of Ordinary Grace I was struck by the easy going readability, the really good story writing and decided he was someone I needed to read. This Tender Land is on my TBR list, but Ordinary Grace is on my nightstand now. Published by Atria Books in 2014.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Memoir Monday...

 After rising from poverty to earn two Ivy League degrees, an Appalachian lawyer pays tribute to the strong “hill women” who raised and inspired her, and whose values have the potential to rejuvenate a struggling region. Nestled in the Appalachian mountains, Owsley County is one of the poorest counties in both Kentucky and the country. Buildings are crumbling and fields sit vacant, as tobacco farming and coal mining decline. But strong women are finding creative ways to subsist in their hollers in the hills... Cassie Chambers grew up in these hollers and, through the women who raised her, she traces her own path out of and back into the Kentucky mountains.

Published this past week by Ballantine Books, Hill Women by Cassie Chambers gives us another book that follows the journey of a determined girl to rise from her very humble beginnings and make a different life for herself. This has gotten great reviews so far from early reviewers. It's on my wishlist!

Sunday, January 12, 2020

The Sunday Salon and... "Sunny" Book Covers for a Winters Day

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! The special day of the week we talk books!  It's been a gorgeous weather week in South Carolina, with a few days of short sleeves and barefoot reading on the front porch to breezy & sunny and ending in better put on you winter coat and maybe even a raincoat. I've tuned into finding some more great books this past week, adding a few more to the TBR pile, as well as starting my January Book Club pick, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson (which I am half way thru reading and am loving it!). I also finished my First Book of the Year 2020, Such a Fun Age by Kiely Reid and really enjoyed that! It seemed like a light read at the beginning, but there was plenty of depth to the characters and story that I could not put it down. In fact I read it in one day. Now there's a book that would make a great book club read. You can read my full review here. But what "new" books did I find this week? To go with all the Sunny South Carolina weather this past week, I happen to find "Sunny" Book covers... books that in some way I thought had "Sunny" covers... I may have stretched that a bit...

My Sunshine Away by W.O. Walsh... Oprah magazine called this book "A tantalizing mystery and 
tender coming-of-age story...Unputdownable." And from the book jacket:  In the summer of 1989, a Baton Rouge neighborhood best known for cookouts on sweltering summer afternoons, cauldrons of spicy crawfish, and passionate football fandom is rocked by a violent crime when fifteen-year-old Lindy Simpson—free spirit, track star, and belle of the block—is attacked late one evening near her home. For such a close-knit community, the suspects are numerous, and the secrets hidden behind each closed door begin to unravel. Even the young teenage boy across the street, our narrator, does not escape suspicion. It is through his eyes, still haunted by heartbreak and guilt many years later, that we begin to piece together the night of Lindy’sattack and its terrible rippling consequences on the once-idyllic community.

For the life of me I can't remember how I stumbled upon this book, but since finding it I've looked thru countless rave reviews about it. Published in 2016 by G.P. Putnam's & Sons, I have this one on my nightstand this week, part of my Library Loot this week.

The Yellow Bird Sings by  Jennifer Rosner ... In Poland, as World War II rages, a mother hides
with her young daughter, a musical prodigy whose slightest sound may cost them their lives.

As Nazi soldiers round up the Jews in their town, Róza and her 5-year-old daughter, Shira, flee, seeking shelter in a neighbor’s barn. Hidden in the hayloft day and night, Shira struggles to stay still and quiet, as music pulses through her and the farmyard outside beckons. To soothe her daughter and pass the time, Róza tells her a story about a girl in an enchanted garden.

I requested this book from the publisher, Flatiron Books, because it seemed like such a great story. And of course for all of us WWII story fans, this just seemed perfect. I have the digital copy in my eReader as we speak and just reading the little I have inbetween books, I have decided I really like author Jennifer Rosner's writing. This book will be released March 3rd.

Late MigrationsL A Natural History of Love and Loss by Margaret Renkl... Growing up in
Alabama, Renkl was a devoted reader, an explorer of riverbeds and red-dirt roads, and a fiercely loved daughter. Here, in brief essays, she traces a tender and honest portrait of her complicated parents―her exuberant, creative mother; her steady, supportive father―and of the bittersweet moments that accompany a child’s transition to caregiver.

And here, braided into the overall narrative, Renkl offers observations on the world surrounding her suburban Nashville home. Ringing with rapture and heartache, these essays convey the dignity of bluebirds and rat snakes, monarch butterflies and native bees. As these two threads haunt and harmonize with each other, Renkl suggests that there is astonishment to be found in common things: in what seems ordinary, in what we all share. For in both worlds―the natural one and our own―“the shadow side of love is always loss, and grief is only love’s own twin.

First of all, I have to say I love this cover! Secondly, I love the idea of reading little snippets, miniature stories or small essays about nature and family. I read about this book on Ann Patchett's bookstore Parnassus' blog. (Which if you haven't visited, the bookstore or the blog, you should!) And then I read a sampling of the writing and essays, and just loved it. So, I ordered a copy from Parnassus. Besides me enjoying the sample I read, it has gotten rave reviews from countless bookish places, including Indie Next, Oprah, New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library and Publishers Weekly. Released in July 2019 and published by Milkweed editions.

How Do You Find Your Next Reading Book?

Week in Review...
This week I highlighted a couple great books in my Memoir Monday and First Lines Friday post.

In Memoir Monday I posted about The Library Book by Susan Orlean, which isn't really a memoir as much as a love story to libraries. You can read Memoir Monday here.

First Lines Friday, I posted the first lines of Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx. How anyone can resist reading anything by Annie Proulx would amaze me. Her writing is beautiful and this book is no exception. Read about it here.

Book Review of And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman. It's a novella that will strike a chord with anyone ever effected by a loved one with Dementia or Alzheimers. You can read my review here.

That is about all that has happened this past week, how about you?! Any great book finds this week? Next week there will be more books to talk about but also... Book Bingo!! Yes, next week I'll reveal Chick with Books Book Bingo Card for 2020! Ever play Book Bingo? It's a year long "game" where we try to fill our bingo card with books specific to the bingo squares. You have to check it out! It's another good one this year. My Book Club meets this Thursday, so I can't reveal it until after then.

Happy reading... Suzanne

Saturday, January 11, 2020

And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman... a Review

A grandfather shares the memory of falling in love with his wife to his young grandson, whose feet can’t yet touch the ground as they sit side by side on a bench. And he shares other memories, like the time they slept in the tent or how mathematics rule the universe. But some memories are harder to remember, and soon even the memories that he thought were his forever are slipping away…

A heartfelt and touching story of love, life and letting go. And Every Morning The Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman is told thru the fading memories of a loving Grandfather to his grandson and son, as they learn to accept the inevitable in a loving and graceful way.

Anyone who has seen the devastating effects of Alzheimers or dementia in a loved one, will relate to this small, beautiful little novella written by Fredrik Backman. Originally Mr. Backman was not going to publish this story, he wrote it as a way to deal with his own feelings of love and loss, but we are grateful that fate stepped in and he shared this personal journey.

It’s hard to say more than read this. it is a beautiful love letter written to all of our parents and grandparents, but also for us, to help us, the caretakers and loved ones, to understand what such a loss of ourselves really means, and feels like…

Published in 2016 by Atria Books, and one of my Library Loot Reads for 2020, (But I think I’ll eventually put this one on a shelf)

Friday, January 10, 2020

First Lines Friday...

“The cow-speckled landscape is an ashy grey color. I am driving through flat pastureland on a rough county road that is mostly dirt, the protective gravel long ago squirted into ditches by speeding ranch trucks. Stiffened tire tracks veer off the road, through mud and into the sagebrush, the marks of someone with back pasture business.”
                                                                   ... Bird Cloud by Annie Proulx

I can't say much more than Annie Proulx's writing creates a beautiful landscape made up of words...

Monday, January 6, 2020

Memoir Monday...

On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire alarm sounded in the Los Angeles Public Library. The fire was disastrous: it reached two thousand degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?

Weaving her lifelong love of books and reading into an investigation of the fire, award-winning New Yorker reporter and New York Times bestselling author Susan Orlean delivers a “delightful…reflection on the past, present, and future of libraries in America” (New York magazine) that manages to tell the broader story of libraries and librarians in a way that has never been done before.

In the “exquisitely written, consistently entertaining” (The New York Times) The Library Book, Orlean chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger, crucial role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries; brings each department of the library to vivid life; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.

“A book lover’s dream…an ambitiously researched, elegantly written book that serves as a portal into a place of history, drama, culture, and stories” (Star Tribune, Minneapolis), Susan Orlean’s thrilling journey through the stacks reveals how these beloved institutions provide much more than just books—and why they remain an essential part of the heart, mind, and soul of our country.

Not really a Memoir, but if we can stretch the terminology a bit here, maybe a memoir of libraries. And if not that, maybe we can just categorize it as interesting as anything, especially if you love libraries! On my TBR list. I've heard so many great things about this book!

Sunday, January 5, 2020

A New Year, A New You... Books to start the Year right

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! It's a sunny but cold day in South Carolina. It's the first weekend of the new year and I happen to be spring cleaning. Yup, spring cleaning, which I should probably call Winter cleaning because that's what season we are really in. But it doesn't really feel like Winter here. It has been cold a few days, and all this week it has rained a LOT, but it's not like Connecticut with a foot of snow, so I think I'm confused. And those cold days did trap me inside, which lead to the spring cleaning. BUT, when January rolls around, don't we all make resolutions and new starts? And isn't spring cleaning like a new start? Which leads me to the books I've been seeing on these "start the year right" lists. Making positive changes, starting over, new opportunities. We've read all the books on mindfullness and the joys of uncluttering your life. Now here are some books that have piqued my interest and promise to make your year a good one... A New Year and a New You!

Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis... As the founder of the lifestyle website
and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we’ve told ourselves so often we don’t even hear them anymore.

With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle--and how to give yourself grace without giving up.

Rachel Hollis is like the new "it" girl. I see her everywhere. Before her "Girl, " series (Girl, Wash Your Face and Girl, Stop Apologizing) it seems Rachel wrote women's fiction. But her "Girl" books are suppose to be like a little kick in the butt for anyone who just needs to realize they've got the right stuff, they just don't know it.
The Joy of Less by Francine Jay... Having less stuff is the key to happiness: Do you ever feel
overwhelmed, instead of overjoyed, by all your possessions? Do you secretly wish a gale force wind would blow the clutter from your home? If so, it's time to simplify your life! The Joy of Less is a fun, lighthearted guide to minimalist living:
Part One provides an inspirational pep talk on the joys and rewards of paring down.
Part Two presents the STREAMLINE method: ten easy steps to rid your house of clutter.
Part Three goes room by room, outlining specific ways to tackle each one.
Part Four helps you get your family on board and live more lightly and gracefully on the earth.
Ready to sweep away the clutter? Just open this book, and you'll be on your way to a simpler, more streamlined, and more serene life. 

Francine has helped hundreds of thousands of people declutter their homes and simplify their lives with her bestselling book, The Joy of Less.

We've all read Marie Condo's book, The life changing magic of tidying up, but here's a different take on decluttering, and by the reviews I have read, for the most part Francine Jay's way is working.
The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wikimg... Embrace Hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) and become happier with this definitive guide to the Danish philosophy of comfort, togetherness, and well-being.

Why are Danes the happiest people in the world? The answer, says Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, is Hygge. Loosely translated, Hygge―pronounced Hoo-ga―is a sense of comfort, togetherness, and well-being. "Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience," Wiking explains. "It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe."

Hygge is the sensation you get when you’re cuddled up on a sofa, in cozy socks under a soft throw, during a storm. It’s that feeling when you’re sharing comfort food and easy conversation with loved ones at a candlelit table. It is the warmth of morning light shining just right on a crisp blue-sky day. The Little Book of Hygge introduces you to this cornerstone of Danish life, and offers advice and ideas on incorporating it into your own life, such as:

Get comfy. Take a break.
Be here now. Turn off the phones.
Turn down the lights. Bring out the candles.
Build relationships. Spend time with your tribe.
Give yourself a break from the demands of healthy living. Cake is most definitely Hygge.
Live life today, like there is no coffee tomorrow.
From picking the right lighting to organizing a Hygge get-together to dressing hygge, Wiking shows you how to experience more joy and contentment the Danish way.

Can I say any more about this book? Seems to me we can always use a little more comfy in our lives!
So you make New Year's Resolutions? 
Do you treat January as a time to refresh yourself?
Week in Review... The start of the year did bring some refreshing reading to Chick with Books! In looking for my First Book of the Year, I came across a pile of books I just had to start my year of reading. You can find those books in last Sundays' Sunday Salon. But I didn't reveal what my First Book of the Year was going to be until January 1st, and that choice was Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. The story had me from the get go, but it was so much more that what the start of the story alluded to. I read that book in a day and really enjoyed it. The characters were great and there were enough surprises along the way and the ending that made the book hold my interest. There were a few little things that held me back from a 5 star rating, but I would definitely recommend it, especially to book clubs because I really think there is a lot to discuss. Here's my full review. I wish my book club read it because I am dying to talk about it with someone! But I joined the FB discussion group for Reese Witherspoons Book Club, Reese's Book Club (Hello Sunshine) and Such a Fun Age is actually what Reese picked for her January selection, so I am saved a little. 

This week was also the start of my Memoir Monday meme. For some reason I just have a unusual number of Memoirs and Biographies that I want to read and here's where I share the ones I have found that get put on my TBR list. This week's Memoir Monday was about Educated by Tara Westover. The first 17 years of her life she had no formal education, but her desire to learn brought her full circle to Harvard and Cambridge University. On My TBR list!

I also started back posting my First Lines Friday meme, which I always love sharing. I always read a little of a book I'm thinking of buying to see if the writing grabs me. And what can be more telling than the first lines that start the book. This past weeks First Lines Friday was about a book called,  10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak and this book is also on my nightstand to be read ASAP. 

So, how was your week? What great books have you started reading for the new year? Please share them because I'd love to know!

Stop by next week to find out what interesting books I found for Memoir Monday and First Lines Friday, and another book I review for the new year on Saturday! Until then...

Happy reading... Suzanne

Saturday, January 4, 2020

Such a Fun Age by Kiely Reid... A Review

First book of the year and what a thought-provoking read. My emotions were running in so many directions, as the stories of each of the main characters played out and their histories revealed.

The opening "incident" of the book just sucks you in. Emira, the 25 year-old black babysitter of a very privileged white couple, is accused of kidnapping their daughter when she takes the little girl into an upscale market late at night. Words are exchanged, things happen, a bystander films it and as I feverishly read the pages because I wanted to find out how it ends I am thinking that this is what the book is about. This incident. But it's not. Deceptively this incident really isn't the story at all, it just serves as a catalyst for everything else.

Mother of the little girl, Alex, feels guilty over the incident and decides to try and become friends with Emira. Try to treat her like an "equal", which doesn't really work out too well because they really live in two very different worlds. And we see this as the book navigates the two women's lives separately and together. Emira doesn't really want to be friends and she doesn't want her "help" either.  

But when something from Alex's past connects the two women, it causes an explosion of emotions from both women, and the story really takes off. OMG... Any façade that these characters had just got burned off in the fire.

The writing is fresh. The story is complex and interesting. You can really read this story in many ways. On the surface it's a story about Emira's "coming-of-age", a story of a young black girl trying to find herself as she navigates her life with 2 part time jobs and a strong group of women she calls friends. It's about the strong bond of women's friendship. It's about being young and vulnerable. But deeper into the layers of the story you see the social commentary Kiley Reid is pointing out about race, privilege and the the choices we make to be true to ourselves.

The characters are awesome. The author really develops their personalities, lives and back stories. Once you start reading Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid, you won't want to put it down. There is so much more to talk about, but if I did, it would reveal all sorts of spoilers. That being said, this would make a great book club selection, because believe me, there is plenty to discuss. I definitely give it a solid 4 stars.

I want to thank Penguin Group Putnam for sending along a digital copy for me to review.

Friday, January 3, 2020

First Lines Friday...

Her name was Leila.
Tequila Leila, as she was known to her friends and her clients. Tequila Leila as she was called at home and at work, in that rosewood-colored house on a cobblestoned cul-de-sac down by the wharf, nestled between a church and a synagogue, among lamp shops and kebab shops - the street that harbored the oldest licensed brothels in Istanbul.
Still, if she were to hear you put it like that, she might take offense and playfully hurl a shoe - one of her high-heeled stilettos.
                ...10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak

Without knowing anything about the book, would these first lines intrigue you enough to want more? I think any character with the name Tequila Leila deserves a chance! In fact just her name makes me want to know more about her. But if I told you what the title of the book referred to, you may find it even more fascinating... but you'll have to read more about the book to know what that is!

Elif Shafak is the most widely read female author in Turkey. She has written 17 books. She is a member of The Royal Society of Literature. And yet, I have never heard of her. I have to admit that the cover and then reading the title of the book made me stop and find out what the book was about. But now it's on my TBR list.

Released September of 2019 and published by Bloomsbury Publishing, it will be coming out in paperback January 2nd, 2020.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Happy New Year!

First Book of The Year 2020!

Happy New Year! A new reading year has begun! What is our First Book of the Year 2020...

It's Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid! 

"Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living, with her confidence-driven brand, showing other women how to do the same. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains' toddler one night, walking the aisles of their local high-end supermarket. The store's security guard, seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make things right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix's desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix's past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other."

Published by G.P. Putnam's & Sons and just released December 31st, I am so excited about reading this! This book sounds like it is filled with emotion and characters that will pull us into the story. I was lucky enough to receive an advanced digital copy of Such a Fun Age from the publisher too, but have been saving it for my choice for the first book I open the year with! In fact, it's the first book I'm opening the decade with! 

I'm also participating in The First Book of the Year 2020 with Sheila over at Book Journey, who is hosting this event for the 7th year! Want to see what other people are reading for their book? Hop on over to Book Journey and check it out!

So today you will find me with my nose stuck into a good book! And very soon I'll let y'all know what I thought about it (aka as a review!)... Happy New Year! and Happy New Reading Year to you too!

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