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

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

April is National Poetry Month... read any good poems lately?

 


April is National Poetry Month! People seem to have a love/hate relationship with poetry. Either you enjoy it or you can't be bothered. There are all sorts of types of poetry, from Shakespeare's sonnets to more contemporary written poems, such as Amanda Gordon's poem to the Nation... Free verse, Rhymed, Epics, Lyrical, Haiku, Blank verse...

Though I do enjoy reading the Romantics of the late 18th and early 19th century, some of my favorite poets are from the 20th and 21st century. Let me share some of my favorite poets today...

Billy Collins, Mary Oliver, Donald Hall, Jo Harjo, Nikki Giovanni, Seamus Heaney, Wistawa Szymborska, Marge Piercy, Tracy K. Smith, Julia Hartwig, Jane Kenyon, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost,  Federico GarcĂ­a Lorca, and Donna Marie Merritt.

Recently found poets I like... Catherine Cohen, Amanda Gordon, Joumana Haddad.

Poetry Collections that I like... Good Poems by Garrison Keillor, She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey through Poems by Caroline Kennedy, and Poems to Learn by Heart by Caroline Kennedy.

Here is a photo of some of my favorite poetry books too. I have them lying around the house to be picked up and enjoyed whenever the mood strikes.

But, how do you pick out a book of poetry? You open up one and read a poem or two.. maybe more. To get a feel for the poem and the poet... Does it speak to you? Can you relate to its' subject matter? Do you just like it? 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE POETRY BOOKS? WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE POEMS?

Monday, April 26, 2021

Memoir Monday...


 “I have been buried under years of dust and now I have so much to say.” 

These were the first words twenty-five-year-old Emily Grodin ever wrote. Born with nonverbal autism, Emily’s only means of communicating for a quarter of a century had been only one-word responses or physical gestures. That Emily was intelligent had never been in question—from an early age she’d shown clear signs that she understood what was going on though she could not express herself. Her parents, Valerie and Tom, sought every therapy possible in the hope that Emily would one day be able to reveal herself. When this miraculous breakthrough occurred, Emily was finally able to give insight into the life, frustrations, and joys of a person with autism. She could tell her parents what her younger years had been like and reveal all the emotions and intelligence residing within her; she became their guide into the autistic experience. Told by Valerie, with insights and stories and poetry from Emily, I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust highlights key moments of Emily’s childhood that led to her communication awakening—and how her ability rapidly accelerated after she wrote that first sentence. As Valerie tells her family’s story, she shares the knowledge she’s gained from working as a legal advocate for families affected by autism and other neurological disorders. 

This sounds like such an interesting and important book. And a sad fact that for many years, there were a lot of misconceptions about people with autism. I am curious what the breakthrough was and if it could be a means to help others. Recently published by William Morrow, I Have Been Buried Under Years of Dust by Valerie Gilpeer & Emily Grodin is available at your local bookstore, and is on my wishlist to read.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Sunday Salon Reading list for April...


Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's been a few months since we've talked, but there were still books to be read and authors to be appreciated! What have I been reading? Not a heck of a lot. I feel like I've been hibernating along with the bears and the birds that find a cave to hide in or fly South. And since I already live in the South, these birds fly South "er". But with the warm weather comes the urge to crack the spine of a book and immerse myself in a different place and meet new people...

This week something special came in the mail from one of my favorite authors, Sheila Roberts! Sheila sent along a copy of her new book, Sunset on Moonlight Beach! Here's the publishers blurb...

"Jenna Jones has been standing on the shore of the Sea of Love for too long. Even with two good men interested in her, she's been afraid to wade in. According to her best friend, Courtney, she should. The water’s fine. Life is great! Practically perfect, if you don’t count Courtney’s problems with her cranky ex-boss. Maybe Courtney’s right. It’s time to dive in. When tragedy strikes, everything changes and Jenna's more confused than ever. But this fresh heartache might help her figure out at last who she can turn to when times get tough."

Sheila always writes wonderful romance novels that have great storylines behind them. This book is the 5th in her Moonlight Harbor Series and I am sure it will not disappoint us fans or first time readers! Mark your calendar for April 27th because that's when you can purchase the Kindle version or paperback!

This week I also have lined up our reading groups selection which is The Babbling Brook Naked Poker Club by Ann Warner...

"In Book One of this cozy mystery series, a morose parrot with a reputation for biting sums up Brookside Retirement Community for reluctant resident, Josephine Bartlett. But when Brookside turns out to be a setting for art theft, dodgy dealings, and naked poker it becomes vastly more interesting. Josephine investigates the unusual goings on with friend and handwriting expert, Lill Fitzel. And the two befriend a young woman Josephine tries to prevent from making the same mistakes she has made."

This is a cozy mystery that sounds like a nice fun light read. As it says in the blurb above, it is book 1 of the series and if you enjoy reading it, there are 4 more in the series. This first book is FREE on Kindle right now, so if you like cozy mysteries, you should definitely download it because you have nothing to lose!

And if those two books weren't enough to whet your interest, this one will definitely do it...

Are you ready?... Are you an Outlander fan?....

Go Tell the Bees That I Am Gone by Diana Gabalson, book 9 of the Outlander series, is coming this November! 

"The past may seem the safest place to be . . . but it is the most dangerous time to be alive. . .  Jamie Fraser and Claire Randall were torn apart by the Jacobite Rising in 1743, and it took them twenty years to find each other again. Now the American Revolution threatens to do the same... It is 1779 and Claire and Jamie are at last reunited with their daughter, Brianna, her husband, Roger, and their children on Fraser’s Ridge. Having the family together is a dream the Frasers had thought impossible... Yet even in the North Carolina backcountry, the effects of war are being felt. Tensions in the Colonies are great and local feelings run hot enough to boil Hell’s tea-kettle. Jamie knows loyalties among his tenants are split and it won’t be long until the war is on his doorstep... Brianna and Roger have their own worry: that the dangers that provoked their escape from the twentieth century might catch up to them. Sometimes they question whether risking the perils of the 1700s—among them disease, starvation, and an impending war—was indeed the safer choice for their family... Not so far away, young William Ransom is still coming to terms with the discovery of his true father’s identity—and thus his own—and Lord John Grey has reconciliations to make, and dangers to meet . . . on his son’s behalf, and his own... Meanwhile, the Revolutionary War creeps ever closer to Fraser’s Ridge. And with the family finally together, Jamie and Claire have more at stake than ever before."

I have almost read thru the Outlander series, and then watched the Starz series with much delight, but I am so excited to see a new book in the series! And actually the television series will continue eventually too. I just love this time traveling story and the history it lives in. What about you?

So, what new books have you been reading?  

Do you get the urge to read more in the warmer weather?


April is also National Poetry Month! Have you been reading any poetry? I have and we'll talk more about it in the week ahead. I've got some great new poetry books I think you might enjoy...

Until then... Happy Reading... Suzanne



Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Want to Play Along?... Chicks with Books Bingo 2021!


 Here it is! You're opportunity to play along with me and my reading group! Every year for the past few years I've created a fun, bookish Bingo Card to play along with during the year. During the year, we see if we can fill in all the squares. Want to play along? Feel free to print out this card! Come back here and share what books you used to fill in the squares!

Saturday, January 23, 2021

One Charmed Christmas by Sheila Roberts... A Review

What did I think? My Review...

2 gals of a certain age, both widowed, and one going thru a health crisis. Two younger ladies, Sisters, traveling together because # one’s husband “has other plans”. A widower and his adult daughter spending some fun travel time together. A German teacher bringing his German 201 class on a cruise, who brings his hunky single Brother along too. What do these characters all have in common? They all end up on a cruise ship in Amsterdam at Christmas time… and the results are funny, touching and typical Sheila.

I have to tell you, I always enjoy Sheila Roberts’ books. She writes wonderful characters that seem to walk off the page and could be your bff ( or at least the lady you see at the coffee shop every week), puts those characters in situations that we’ve been in ourselves or can relate to, sprinkles it all with a bit of romance & humor and then gives us that happy ending. I can always escape into one of her stories and come out smiling. One Charmed Christmas, her latest Christmas novel, definitely does all of that. This story is set on a cruise ship leaving Amsterdam and heading for cobblestone streets, German castles and those famous German Christmas markets. The way Sheila describes the cruise makes you feel you are right in the thick of things, from eating all that amazing food at the full spread buffet to getting off at the port o calls for some great holiday shopping! You get to know the characters as they get to know each other. And the setting is perfect.

Fully realized characters and a good enjoyable story. What more can you ask for? 

Want to take a Christmas cruise and meet someone tall dark and perfect?! Hop aboard One Charmed Christmas by Sheila Roberts! My Book Club read this for our Holiday read and everyone loved it! 

One Charmed Christmas was published by MIRA Books this past September. I would like to thank the publisher and author for a review copy of this book! Thank you, I loved it!

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Good Dogs Don'e Make it to The South Pole by Hans-Olan Thyvold... A Review

 Good Dogs don't Make it to The South Pole by Hans-Olan Thyvold... and I wish I hadn't, or at least I wish I hadn't read about it in this book. I forced myself to finish this book. In fact, I forced myself to continue reading this book after a 100 pages or so because I wanted so much for it to be a good read. It was totally NOT what I was expecting, which was a bit of humor derived from the protagonist dog telling the story of his life with his Master.

What I did get... Tassen (the dog), takes us from his humble beginnings of his human, Mr. Thorkildsen, bringing him home from the breeder, to Mr. Thorkildsen's death, to his bonding with Mrs. Thorkildsen, who is an ex-librarian, who misses her husband so much that she frequently drowns her sorrow in what Tassen, the dog, calls Dragon water. Part of the bonding between Tassen and Mrs. Thorkildsen revolves around her telling Tassen the story of Roald Amundsen's expedition to the South Pole because the story really is about the dogs that made the trip with him (but didn't make it back) and she feels this is a story they both can enjoy together. Tassen because he's a dog, and Mrs. Thorkildsen because for some unknown reason she has a crush on one of the explorers that made the trip with Amundsen. 

I have to say I did learn alot about that trip to the South Pole. I'm not sure I really needed to read about ALL the various ways Amundsen and his crew killed the dogs along the way... repeatedly. The Amundsen story was written inbetween the story of Mrs. Thorkildsen's life spiraling down after the death of her husband and... well, I won't say any more here in case you really want to torture yourself and read the book yourself. 

And if all that wasn't enough, if you are a dog lover... You will not be happy with the ending.  The ending sucks. Yes I wrote "sucks".

There were bits of humor inbetween everything. Tassen does have some funny observations about humans, but not enough for me to have said I enjoyed reading this book. I also have to say the story itself seemed to be a bit disjointed. 

The book had everything going for it before I read it... Norwegian writer ( I was thinking the writing would be similar to Swedish writer Fredrik Backman), Dog as protagonist (Think "The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein") and a award winning inside flap description (and they say don't judge a book by its' cover). But I am sad to say that it disappointed me on all counts. And having to read about the mistreatment of the animals made it worse... no wait, the ending was worse... 

Sunday, January 17, 2021

The Sunday Salon... Resolutions, Rachel and Romance

It's Sunday! And you know what that means... Book talk! It's the one day of the week where we all get together virtually and share our bookish finds. Well, it's a little over 2 weeks into the new year and somehow I don't feel any different. Do you? It use to be January first marked the beginning of lots of
things, not just the new year. Resolutions were just waiting to be made. But as I've said before, I typically don't do any resolutions for the new year, except maybe some fun reading ones like how many books I think I'll read in a year, or the Book Bingo card I make every year for my book group, which isn't really a resolution as it is a challenge (which I think I'll share with everyone here this week now that I'm thinking about it).

Self help books seem to pop up at the beginning of the new year. Different kinds of help... mental and physical, and I've found a couple that are now on my nightstand. One is a declutter your space book, which doesn't remind me at all of that "other" tidying up book (which I did like. And which suggested and I did "clap" at my ever intimidating collection of books) Another is by motivational guru Rachel Hollis, famous for making you wash your face. Since your face is washed (or it should be), now she talks about making your life the best it can be. After all that anticipation of life changing reading, I escaped and finished up reading a great Christmas novel by Sheila Roberts called One Charmed Christmas. So let's sit down and talk about it...

Your Spacious Self by Stephanie Bennett Vogt... It's a jungle...in here! Most of us do too much, or have more possessions than we need. Or both. Our lives are caught in a swirl of attachments, overwhelm, and endless mechanical "doing." As humans it is our nature to experience clarity and spaciousness all the time. The problem is we lose focus, get off balance, and forget how. With inspiring lessons, humorous stories, and nourishing practices in slowing down, simplifying, and self-care, longtime space clearing expert, Stephanie Bennett Vogt, shows you how to clear your home, quiet the mind, and restore your spirit, in ways that feel good and last a lifetime... It's not our stuff, but holding on to it that creates a force field of "stuckness" that clouds our perceptions and paralyzes our lives. Clutter is not just the junk spilling out of the closet. It is any thing, or thought, that prevents us from experiencing our true nature and best life. Clearing is not a tedious exercise in throwing away, but a gentle journey of letting go - one small step, drawer, or moment at a time.

I found this interesting because it's sort of a workbook and it doesn't preach change as much as discovering there is a connection between a uncluttered space and an uncluttered mind. Discover that connection and you might be able to free yourself from some of those "ruts".

Didn't See That Coming by Rachel Hollis... Fear. Grief. Loss. Betrayal. Rachel Hollis has felt all those things, and she knows you have too. Now, she takes you to the other side. With her signature humor, heartfelt honesty, and intimate true-life stories, #1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel Hollis shows readers how to seize difficult moments for the learning experiences they are and the value and growth they provide. When it comes to the “hard seasons” of life—the death of a loved one, divorce, loss of a job—transformation seems impossible when grief and uncertainty dominate your days. Especially when, as Didn’t See that Coming reveals, no one asks to have their future completely rearranged for them. But, as Rachel writes, it is up to you how you come through your pain—you can come through changed for the better, having learned and grown, or stuck in place where your identity becomes rooted in what hurt you.

Rachel Hollis is everywhere. And now she's on my nightstand. She is a motivator and a really good writer. And who can't gain a little insight from someone who cares enough to tell you to wash your face?  Glancing thru this little book I see tidbits of how to manage stress, making a joy list and other life affirming suggestions. It's a cute little book too, something that would make a nice little stocking stuffer. This is one of three of these types of "self help" books where Rachel shares stories to illustrate how she managed to make her life better. Rachel also has a few cookbooks and some fiction mixed in. 

Besides reading motivational books, you still need some good ol' fashion fiction. I want to share the first book I read and finished this year... 

One Charmed Christmas by Sheila Roberts...  Catherine Pine is hoping her Christmas is a bit more jolly than last year’s. That one was her first without her husband, and with her kids and their families absent this year, she’s worried. But things change when her good friend invites her on a Christmas cruise
to lift her spirits. Suddenly every day is an adventure and she’s making a bunch of new friends, including the lovable Sophie Miles. 
It’s like a gift from Santa when Sophie and Catherine meet the charming Dr. Rudy Nichols, a perfect match for hypochondriac Sophie. But he comes with a two-legged lump of coal, his guard-dog daughter. And then there’s chocolatier Trevor March, who’s also interested in the scrumptious Sophie. Can he convince her that chocolate is the perfect cure for what ails her? Who knows what Santa has in store for these holiday travelers? Anything could happen this charmed Christmas!

I love all of Sheila Roberts' books. She's a great writer who mixes wonderful stories with just enough humor and romance to satisfy any reader. My reading group this month read One Charmed Christmas for our annual Christmas read and everyone loved it. (You can read my review this coming Saturday!) Sheila is genuinely a nice person too! We asked if she'd like to come talk with our reading group and she did this week as we Zoomed our meeting. What fun! So, if your in the mood for a bit of romance, don't hesitate to pick up one of Sheila's book. She's written quite a few, and not all Christmas. She has two series going right now along with the stand alone Christmas books she writes every year.

Do You Like Reading Motivational Books?

So, what are you reading this week? Since I finished One Charmed Christmas this week, I'll be picking my First Book of the Year (Good Dogs Don't Make it to the South Pole by Hans-Olav Thyvold) back up and finishing that. I'm actually slogging through it. Not what I thought it would be, but learning alot about eating sled dogs( even though it is fiction, ugh). 

Hope you've found something interesting here this week! Share in the comments what you're reading this week! I'd love to hear about it!

Oh and don't forget to look for my review of One Charmed Christmas by Sheila Roberts at the end of the week!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Monday, January 11, 2021

Memoir Monday...



Untamed by Glennon Doyle...

 This is how you find yourself.

There is a voice of longing inside each woman. We strive so mightily to be good: good partners, daughters, mothers, employees, and friends. We hope all this striving will make us feel alive. Instead, it leaves us feeling weary, stuck, overwhelmed, and underwhelmed. We look at our lives and wonder: Wasn’t it all supposed to be more beautiful than this? We quickly silence that question, telling ourselves to be grateful, hiding our discontent—even from ourselves. 

For many years, Glennon Doyle denied her own discontent. Then, while speaking at a conference, she looked at a woman across the room and fell instantly in love. Three words flooded her mind: There She Is. At first, Glennon assumed these words came to her from on high. But she soon realized they had come to her from within. This was her own voice—the one she had buried beneath decades of numbing addictions, cultural conditioning, and institutional allegiances. This was the voice of the girl she had been before the world told her who to be. Glennon decided to quit abandoning herself and to instead abandon the world’s expectations of her. She quit being good so she could be free. She quit pleasing and started living.

Soulful and uproarious, forceful and tender, Untamed is both an intimate memoir and a galvanizing wake-up call. It is the story of how one woman learned that a responsible mother is not one who slowly dies for her children, but one who shows them how to fully live. It is the story of navigating divorce, forming a new blended family, and discovering that the brokenness or wholeness of a family depends not on its structure but on each member’s ability to bring her full self to the table. And it is the story of how each of us can begin to trust ourselves enough to set boundaries, make peace with our bodies, honor our anger and heartbreak, and unleash our truest, wildest instincts so that we become women who can finally look at ourselves and say: There She Is.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Sunday Salon and Getting Back to Nature




There's something about the beginning of a new year that gives me pause. I don't make resolutions anymore, although I do contemplate things that I'd like to accomplish. This new year, more so than most, has really made me stop and think about what is really important in life. I don't know if this is because of my aging years or because of the craziness happening that started with the pandemic, but things feel different. Of course my family and friends are important. Those relationships give me purpose and hope. But I have also found comfort in the natural world around me.

This year my husband and I planted 2 raised bed gardens. It was a thrilling rollercoaster of emotions as we watched and waited to see things grow. We planted mostly small tomato and pepper plants bought at a local farm, but I did manage to find some Clemson Okra seeds and planted one small row of those too. Every morning, coffee in hand, we would inspect the gardens and thrill at the micro inches that we noticed with our naked eyes. The Okra looked pathetic, but we persisted in babying them along and months later we had incredible strong and tall stalks filled to the brim. We woke up to our tomato plants being devastated by insect or animal and learned about Tomato Hornworms. Though they wiped out my tomatoes one summer day, I was fascinated by them. Once spotted, they didn't scurry away, they kept on their mission or at least they were enjoying themselves too much to be bothered with us. On a gardening site someone suggested I buy a blacklight flashlight and search for them at night. Sure enough any interloper feasting on our plants lit up light a Christmas tree and we were able to move them to a more suitable location.

We also have a huge pear tree in our front lawn and every year since we've been here, which would be almost 3 years now, the tree gets so heavy with fruit that the branches bow to the ground. Pears fall and make an incredible mess. But strangely as I walked out one day this summer I noticed there were no pears on the ground. I was amazed and wondered who might be feasting on those. Maybe the deer I spotted on our security camera munching on our fresh winter crops? I don't know, but I loved watching them, 3 baby deer and their mother, play near those gardens and nibble to see if they liked brocolli. 

Have you looked outside around you lately? There is a world outside that goes on without much bravado or fanfare. A world that will bend to our will if need be, but is content to "do its' own thing" unnoticed. Besides our own observations, have you read any books that coaxed you to "stop and smell the roses"? Of course there are the classics, such as Bill Bryson's A Walk in The Woods, or anything written by John Muir. I might even venture to mention Born Free by Joy Adamson, which I read as a teenager and remember crying my eyes out. But I've never really been a big "nature" reader. This year seems to be the year of change though and I have a few books on my nightstand waiting for me to crack the spine and find a nice comfy chair to slowly turn some pages...

World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil... As a child, Nezhukumatathil called many places home: the grounds of a Kansas mental institution, where her Filipina mother was a doctor; the open skies and tall mountains of Arizona, where she hiked with her Indian father; and the chillier climes of western New York and Ohio. But no matter where she was transplanted―no matter how awkward the fit or forbidding the landscape―she was able to turn to our world’s fierce and funny creatures for guidance. “What the peacock can do,” she tells us, “is remind you of a home you will run away from and run back to all your life.” The axolotl teaches us to smile, even in the face of unkindness; the touch-me-not plant shows us how to shake off unwanted advances; the narwhal demonstrates how to survive in hostile environments. Even in the strange and the unlovely, Nezhukumatathil finds beauty and kinship. For it is this way with wonder: it requires that we are curious enough to look past the distractions in order to fully appreciate the world’s gifts.

This was my original pick for First Book of the Year this year, but I really wanted to read and finish "that first book" as a pleasant distraction and World of Wonders seemed more like a book I would enjoy reading a chapter a night. So I will start this book after I put down my "First" book and leisurely enjoy it. Published by Milkweed Editions in 2020, it is also Barnes and Nobles Book of the Year of 2020.


Braiding Sweetgrass:  Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer... As a botanist, Robin Wall Kimmerer has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science. As a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. In Braiding Sweetgrass, Kimmerer brings these two lenses of knowledge together to take us on “a journey that is every bit as mythic as it is scientific, as sacred as it is historical, as clever as it is wise” (Elizabeth Gilbert). 

When I first opened this book and read in the preface... 
"Hold out your hands and let me lay upon them a sheaf of freshly picked sweetgrass, loose and flowing, like newly washed hair… Hold the bundle up to your nose. Find the fragrance of honeyed vanilla over the scent of river water and black earth…” 
...it brought me back to my first visit to Charleston, SC and the Charleston City Market where the Gullah artists weave Sweetgrass Baskets that are beautiful as well as functional. I found one I could afford and brought it home with me, filling my livingroom with that wonderful smell. One of the ladies braided a few pieces together and handed it to me so I could enjoy putting it up to my face and breathing in that earthy clean smell. And if Robin Wall Kimmerer could capture that in the first few sentences of her book, I wanted to read more of her writing. She has gotten rave reviews for this book, and it is on my wishlist now. Probably soon to be on my nightstand!  Published by Milkweed Editions in 2013.


The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from A Secret World by Peter Wohllebeh... Are trees social beings? In The Hidden Life of Trees forester and author Peter Wohlleben convincingly makes the case that, yes, the forest is a social network. He draws on groundbreaking scientific discoveries to describe how trees are like human families: tree parents live together with their children, communicate with them, support them as they grow, share nutrients with those who are sick or struggling, and even warn each other of impending dangers. Wohlleben also shares his deep love of woods and forests, explaining the amazing processes of life, death, and regeneration he has observed in his woodland.

A small book that really had a lot of buzz back when it was published in 2016 by Greystone Books. Almost reminding me of the buzz around The Secret Life of Plants: A Fascinating Account of the Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual Relations Between Plants and Man by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird in 1989. I had picked this book up and was fascinated with a section I read on the way the trees in a forest look out for one another. But as I said I'm not a big nature reader, so for some reason I never finished the book. Now I am determined to. As with some books, there is a right time to read them and this feeling of connection around me is motivating me. How about you? 

Do you read books about the Natural World? Nature essays?

Maybe you've found yourself at home more than usual these last 6 months or so and had the opportunity to spend more time outdoors. Being retired I'm able to sit around more, but usually find myself busier than I was when I was working. But this, this nature thing, I think I'm going to read more about it. I know I've enjoyed paying attention this past summer and this winter. I hope you get a chance to too...

Weekly Update...
Monday, January 4th... Memoir Monday! Learn about cute Matthew McConaughey and his new memoir Greenlights. Follow the link to read about this interesting and fresh outlook on life.

Friday, January 8th... First Lines Friday! Follow the link to read the first lines of a great book to see if it's your cup of tea!

Hope you find something here that piques your interest! And if you've found a great book, please share it here! I love hearing about great and interesting books!

In the meantime, stop by this week to enjoy more of Memoir Monday and First Lines Friday and maybe some other interesting bookish talk.

Happy reading... Suzanne

Friday, January 8, 2021

First Lines Friday...


 

"For eight years I dreamed of fire. Trees ignited as I passed them; oceans burned. The sugary smoke settled in my hair as I slept, the scent like a cloud left on my pillow as I rose. Even so, the moment my mattress started to burn, I bolted awake. The sharp, chemical smell was nothing like the hazy syrup of my dreams; the two were as different as Carolina and Indian jasmine, separation and attachement. "

                                     ...... The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh


Monday, January 4, 2021

Memoir Monday... Yes, Matthew McConaughey is Cute!

Yes, Matthew McConaughey is cute and I have loved watching him on the big screen, but do I really want to read a memoir written by him? Is there some substance in those pages or is the publisher banking on the fact that yes, Matthew McConaughey is cute? I have to say that I am a bit tired of celebrity memoirs, as though that in itself makes an interesting story...

But I have to say, yes, Matthew McConaughey is cute, but so is his memoir, Greenlights

"This is an approach book... This is a playbook based on adventures in my life."

As you look through Greenlights it becomes apparent quite soon that this isn't your "normal" memoir. There are pages of post-it-notes and polaroids and short little snippets of life that Matthew McConaughey shares throughout the book and in-between longer anecdotes. As I opened the book and sampled some of his writing, I noticed something else... the writing is really good! He kind of pulls you into his story, just like he does on the big screen. 

Greenlights by Matthew McConaughey... an unconventional memoir filled with raucous stories, outlaw wisdom, and lessons learned the hard way about living with greater satisfaction.

Published in October of 2020 by Crown Publishing, this is on my nightstand waiting for me to fully dive in!


Sunday, January 3, 2021

The Sunday Salon and... Last Trip to the Bookstore 2020

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! Yes, it's that day of the week we talk books, and boy it sure has been a long time since we have talked. It's been a crazy year, hasn't it?! And it's not really over yet. Here in South Carolina where I live, there are no mandates. One town over, and in many of the other towns close to me, there are mask mandates. We haven't traveled anywhere this year, my Mother didn't get to fly from Connecticut to come visit us this year, and traveling for anything other than essentials nowadays is tinged with a bit of apprehension. Hand sanitizer, toilet paper and paper towels are almost commodities. But books, yes books, have remained steadfast... and it has been a means for escape for many. I hope y'all are doing well in these strange times. Welcome back!

 Every year for the past 8 years, I have participated in First Book of the Year, hosted by Sheila at Book Journey. Bloggers and readers from all over the world have participated. We all share
the first book we are planning to read for the year... we take a selfie with that book and Sheila puts them all together in a photo collage or two and posts them on her blog. It is a lot of fun to participate every year and see what everyone else is going to read. My first book of the year "technically" is Good Dogs Don't Make It to the South Pole: A Novel by Hans-Olav Thyvold. I originally had decided on World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments 
by Aimee Nezhukumatathil, but I decided I wanted to leisurely read it, a story at a time, and I felt that my first book should also be the book I finish first which was not going to happen with World of Wonders. You see World of Wonders is a book of essays on nature. These essays are small subtle observations of some of the things around us, little stories that are just a page or two for each one. Aimee is a poet and these essays reflect her beautiful writing, which makes me want to enjoy them over time... So, I will start the year with Good Dogs and at bedtime I will relax with the first story in World of Wonders.

What are you reading for your First Book of the Year 2021?

But I was having a hard time finding my original choice for First Book (you can read the story on my post for First Book of the Year 2020) and because of that managed to find myself in a Barnes and Noble. Well, I couldn't just pick up World of Wonders and go home, could I? No, I had to wander around a bit. And because of that I picked up 3 other books to take home with me too...

First I picked up Good Dogs Don't Make It to the South Pole: A Novel by Hans-Olav Thyvold...  I had read a little something about it already. I decided to open the book up and read the inside jacket...

 "Told through the eyes of a very grumpy yet lovable mutt, a funny and touching tale of aging, death, friendship, and life that proves sometimes a dog's story is the most human of all."

He had me at "through the eyes of a very grumpy yet lovable mutt..." Yes, I love "dog" stories, but love stories told thru the eyes of a dog as the protagonist, like The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, which, BTW, is a great read! I expect "Good Dogs..." to be a fun light read that will start my reading year off happy!

Then I wandered further and picked up a book of poetry by Barbara Kingsolver called How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons).  I had no idea she even wrote poetry, but I can't resist poetry books so I opened it up and I loved what I read. This is her SECOND book of poetry, and now will have to check out her first collection. If you enjoy poetry, look for How to Fly! I'll review it later this month.

And Finally...

I picked up a fourth book... A Wild Winter Swan. All I had to see was the cover for it to pique my interest. First I loved the cover instantly. It looked like a woodcut and it was colorful. But it also had another cool element... a cutout! And the cutout/window revealed part of the amazing cover underneath! My photo cannot really show how cool this cover is, but trust me it is. And then I read a bit of the inside jacket, "an Italian-American girl's poignant coming-of-age story, set amid the magic of Christmas in 1960s New York." And after all of that, I noticed the author... Gregory Maguire! Yes, the master storyteller himself. This is his take on Hans Christian Andersen's "The Wild Swans". I vaguely remember reading that story as a child, but look forward to reading something written by Gregory Maguire.

So that was my last bookstore adventure for 2020! And if that weren't enough to keep me reading, I have plenty of TBR's in my book cases. 

Weekly Catchup...

Friday... First Book of the Year! Follow this link to read all about what book I chose!

Saturday... I've been making a first book choice for 8 years now. Saturday I rounded them all up and posted them HERE so you could see what they were!

What great books have you found lately? I would love to hear about them! You can share them here! And in the meantime...

Happy Reading... Suzanne

Saturday, January 2, 2021

First BOOKS of the Year... 2014 - 2021!


First Books of the Year... 2014 thru 2021!

2014... The Unwelcomed Child by VC Andrews

2015... Wonder by R. J. Palacio

2016... Japanese Lover by  Isabel Allende

2017... I Remember You by Yrsa Sigurdardottir

2018... Still Me by Jojo Moyes

2019... The Princess and the Dressmaker by Jen Wang

2020... Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

2021... Good Dogs Don't Make it to the South Pole by Hans-Olav Thyvold

Friday, January 1, 2021

First Book of The Year 2021


Happy New Year! And Happy New Books Year! Every year for the past 8 years, Sheila over at  Book Journey has hosted the First Book of the Year. I'm going to look back, but I think I have picked out a first book every year for all those years.


This year I had originally picked out World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil. But I was having a hard time finding a copy anywhere! Even the big box store online was out of stock. Barnes and Noble had chosen it as its Book of the Year 2020 and IT was out of stock online, BUT it said that one of the Barnes and Nobles in "the big city" about a 45 minute drive from here DID have a copy... so off I went.

Of course I couldn't just walk in and pick that book up and leave! No, I had to wander around. A bookstore is like a candy store to us readers, so I was in happy land. After a few hours I was back in the car driving home with a small bag of books... (I'll share those books here Sunday for my Sunday Salon post) One of which was my original choice for First Book of the Year, and another book that will be the first book I am also going to read for my first book. Let me explain...

World of Wonders is this beautiful little book of natures essays, 28 to be exact, that quietly bring you back to what matters. Aimee is an award winning poet, but here she uses her skills with the pen and her subtle observations to write about such subjects as the Catalpa Tree, the Narwhal, and even the flamingo. But these aren't long drawn out essays, these are like little poems, love notes of a page or two that let us relax in a world we may have temporarily forgotten. And it's because of that that I want to linger among the pages and have decided to read World of Wonder over time. Enjoying an essay or two every night until I turn the last page. So it will be "technically" my First Book of the Year, but I won't finish it first...

So what book will I finish first? That would be... Good Dogs Don't Make It to the South Pole by Hans-Olav Thyvold. I had briefly read something about this book. Basically it's a story told thru the eyes of a dog. I like dog books. I've read quite a few books where the dog is telling the story... The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein, Finding Mr. Right by Emily Carmichael being two I loved... so I was interested. Then I read the inside jacket flap, about "A funny and touching tale...told thru the eyes of a grumpy yet lovable mutt" which made me want to read it more. And finally the author is Norwegian, which made it a slam dunk because I have enjoyed other Norwegian writers, such as Jo Nesbo and Karin Fossum. Of course the later two authors write crime fiction, but there is a certain style to their writing I like. 

My First "Books" of the Year 2021 will be one to relax by and regain focus for what is important, something that I think we all need to do after all the craziness of 2020, and one to make me smile, which is something we all need once in a while too. 


What will your First Book of the Year be?

Will it be funny, sad, advice? Will it be a book to set the mood for 2021? Will it be funny, sad, advice? Let me know in the comments below what you're pick will be! and in the meantime, come back on Sunday to see what other books I brought home with me!


Happy Reading.... Suzanne


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