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, November 22, 2021

Memoir Monday... Rocks today!


From Cradle to Stage: Stories from the Mothers Who Rocked and Raised Rock Stars by Virginia Hanlon Grohl... While the Grohl family had always been musical-the family sang together on long car trips, harmonizing to Motown and David Bowie-Virginia never expected her son to become a musician, let alone a rock star. But when she saw him perform in front of thousands of screaming fans for the first time, she knew that rock stardom was meant to be for her son. And as Virginia watched her son's star rise, she often wondered about the other mothers who raised sons and daughters who became rock stars. Were they as surprised as she was about their children's fame? Did they worry about their children's livelihood and wellbeing in an industry fraught with drugs and other dangers? Did they encourage their children's passions despite the odds against success, or attempt to dissuade them from their grandiose dreams? Do they remind their kids to pack a warm coat when they go on tour? 

Virginia decided to seek out other rock star mothers to ask these questions, and so began a two-year odyssey in which she interviewed such women as Verna Griffin, Dr. Dre's mother; Marianne Stipe, Michael Stipe of REM's mother; Janis Winehouse, Amy Winehouse's mother; Patsy Noah, Adam Levine's mother; Donna Haim, mother of the Haim sisters; Hester Diamond, Mike D of The Beastie Boys' mother.

David Grohl was the drummer for Nirvana, secretly writing his own music, but not sharing it with the band. When the band disbanded after the death of Kurt Cobain, instead of joining another band as their drummer, and he had offers from a lot of great bands, he decided to form his own band, Foo Fighters. We know about David's career, but what about his Mother? How did she raise he son to be this amazing musician? And that's the interesting perspective of this book... Dave as the son and how his Mother deals with all of it... and how other Mother's deal with it all. Whether you listen to Dave's music or not, everyone has a Mother and this is her story, and the story of other Mother's, about their perspective of their rising rock star children... Published by Seal Press in 2017.

AND, if you do like the Foo Fighters, or are interested in a behind the scenes look at the life of a rock n rock band, Day Street Books just published Dave Grohl's own book of stories. Stories about life on the road called The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music. Was he inspired by his Mother to share his own stories? Who knows, but here they are full of life on the road. From Cradle to Stage by Virginia Hanlon Grohl is on my wishlist, but Dave's book might be interesting to read too. If Dave's book wasn't enough of a creative outlet for him, he has also released a music documentary called, What Drives Us, “This film is my love letter to every musician that has ever jumped in an old van with their friends and left it all behind for the simple reward of playing music..." And from the previews I saw, this looks like a great documentary.

I don't read "music" memoirs too often, or celebrity memoirs for that matter, but way back in 2008 I read Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me by Patti Boyd and really enjoyed it. Was it because I'm a Beatle fan and a Clapton fan? I can only say that it was a great read and showed the hearts of the people involved.

Have I rocked Memoir Monday today?! Hope you found something interesting to crack the spine on...

Sunday, November 21, 2021

It's a THRILLING Sunday... or The Sunday Salon and Thrillers coming soon to a book store near you


Welcome to The Sunday Salon and a beautiful (but cold) day in South Carolina! Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of java and let's talk books...

The first books I remember reading as a young person were mysteries. I read a Nancy Drew mystery almost every Sunday afternoon. I couldn't get enough of them and I loved reading. And that's where my reading origins are from... mysteries. As an adult my reading took a little turn to some chic lit, with reading books like Bridget Jones Diary by Helen Fielding and Jennifer Wiener's Good in Bed. And after I invited my reader friends to form a reading group, my choices became literary fiction, because that's what reading groups read. But I still occasionally read mysteries and thrillers, and with some new books coming out this November and a little later, I think it's time to get back to my roots...

One of the mystery/thrill writers I LOVED for so long was Patricia Cornwell. After discovering her first book Postmortem, I read her books voraciously, one after the other until I had to wait for new ones to be published. Then she started writing a different series of books with new characters along side her writing the Scarpetta stories and I thought she lost a bit of her shine. I wasn't thrilled with her stories like I once was and put her books down around book 11 of the Kay Scarpetta novels... but I missed her. And now after reading that she is going to be publishing a new Kay Scarpetta novel I am excited to visit my old friend. I think maybe I should catch up to where the story has been up until now, but can I really read thru 13 books until I get to book #25, Autopsy? I think not...

Autopsy by Patricia Cornwell... Forensic pathologist Kay Scarpetta has come almost full circle, returning to Virginia as the chief medical examiner, the state where she launched her storied career. Finding herself the new girl in town once again after being away for many years, she’s inherited not only an overbearing secretary, but also a legacy of neglect and potential corruption.

She and her husband Benton Wesley, now a forensic psychologist with the U.S. Secret Service, have relocated to Old Town Alexandria where she’s headquartered five miles from the Pentagon in a post-pandemic world that’s been torn by civil and political unrest. Just weeks on the job, she’s called to a scene by railroad tracks where a woman’s body has been shockingly displayed, her throat cut down to the spine, and as Scarpetta begins to follow the trail, it leads unnervingly close to her own historic neighborhood.

At the same time, a catastrophe occurs in a top-secret laboratory in outer space, endangering at least two scientists aboard. Appointed to the highly classified Doomsday Commission that specializes in sensitive national security cases, Scarpetta is summoned to the White House and tasked with finding out exactly what happened. But even as she works the first potential crime scene in space remotely, an apparent serial killer strikes again very close to home. 

Will be published by William Morrow and on bookstore shelves November 30th! This is one I'm really looking forward to!


Every year my Mother comes for a visit to South Carolina from Connecticut. She's a reader too and usually she'll be tackling some reading while she is here. This year she decided not to bring anything or go out to the bookstore, but to pull something off my shelves. As you can imagine, I have a lot of books. I knew she liked mysteries and thrillers, so I pulled out The Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz. I actually had not read it yet. There was a signed first edition just sitting on the shelves... Mom enjoyed it and I had to not ask questions as she was enjoying the read so as not to ruin the fun for me because now I was putting it next on my reading list. What was perfect was I heard about Anthony Horowitz coming out with a followup to The Magpie Murders! Book 2 in the series...

The Moonflower Murders by Anthony Horowitz... Ryeland is living the good life. She is running a small hotel on a Greek island with her long-term boyfriend Andreas. It should be everything she's always wanted. But is it? She's exhausted with the responsibilities of making everything work on an island where nothing ever does, and truth be told she's beginning to miss London.

And then the Trehearnes come to stay. The strange and mysterious story they tell, about an unfortunate murder that took place on the same day and in the same hotel in which their daughter was married—a picturesque inn on the Suffolk coast named Farlingaye Hall—fascinates Susan and piques her editor’s instincts. 

One of her former writers, the late Alan Conway, author of the fictional Magpie Murders, knew the murder victim—an advertising executive named Frank Parris—and once visited Farlingaye Hall. Conway based the third book in his detective series, Atticus Pund Takes the Cake, on that very crime. 

The Trehearne’s, daughter, Cecily, read Conway’s mystery and believed the book proves that the man convicted of Parris’s murder—a Romanian immigrant who was the hotel’s handyman—is innocent. When the Trehearnes reveal that Cecily is now missing, Susan knows that she must return to England and find out what really happened.

Brilliantly clever, relentlessly suspenseful, full of twists that will keep readers guessing with each revelation and clue, Moonflower Murders is a deviously dark take on vintage English crime fiction from one of its greatest masterminds, Anthony Horowitz. 

Published by Harper Publishing, this came out Nov. 10th!


And our last thriller is from an author I've never read, but has gotten a lot of buzz for the books that he's written. He's been up for numerous literary awards, been on the NY Times Bestseller list and has a band. His book that got my attention is not his soon to be published one, but one of his older books, Universal Harvester.                                         

Universal Harvester by John Darnielle... It’s the late ’90s, and you can find Jeremy Heldt at the Video Hut in Nevada, Iowa—a small town in the center of the state. The job is good enough for Jeremy, quiet and predictable, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a carwreck. But when a local school teacher comes in to return her copy of Targets—an old movie, starring Boris Karloff—the transaction jolts Jeremy out of his routine. “There’s something on it,” she says as she leaves the store, though she doesn’t elaborate. Two days later, another customer returns another tape, and registers the same odd complaint: “There’s another movie on this tape.”

In Universal Harvester, the once-placid Iowa fields and farmhouses become sinister, imbued with loss and instability and foreboding. As Jeremy and those around him are absorbed into tapes, they become part of another story—one that unfolds years into the past and years into the future, part of an impossible search for something someone once lost that they would do anything to regain.

It's a slim book coming in at 224 pages, but it is sitting on my nightstand waiting for its' turn to be opened and read. I think the premise is interesting and I am looking forward to seeing if John Darnielle's writing lives up to all the hype. Universal Harverster was published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2017.

He has a new book coming out January 2022 called The Devil House that also looks interesting.

Do you read mysteries and thrillers?

What books have you been reading lately? And have your reading tastes changed over the years? For now, I'm jumping back to my "roots" with mysteries and thrillers. Hope you found something interesting here today!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Friday, November 19, 2021

First Lines Friday...

 "Once upon a time there was a pair of pants. They were an essential kind of       pants --- jeans, naturally, blue but not that stiff, new blue that you see so often on the first day of school. They were a soft, changeable blue with a little extra fading at the knees and the seat and white wavelets at the cuffs."

           ... The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

This book was published just over 20 years ago and I still remember the magical feeling it gave me as I read it. It's about friendship, growing up, and life in general as the summer whisks 4 BFF's into adventures apart from each other, but linked by a pair of blue jeans they share. After the success of this first book, there were 3 more books to follow, a movie and then books "related" to the story, all by Ann Brashares. I only read the first book and never got around the other books, but if you haven't read this book and you're a girl at heart or remember those summers you grew up to be a woman, you should read this book! 

Published by Delacorte Press a division of Penguin Random House.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Memoir Monday...

When I Grow Up by Ken Krimstein... New Yorker cartoonist Ken Krimstein’s new graphic nonfiction book, based on six of hundreds of newly discovered, never-before-published autobiographies of Eastern European Jewish teens on the brink of WWII―found in 2017 hidden in a Lithuanian church cellar.

These autobiographies, long thought destroyed by the Nazis, were written as entries for three competitions held in Eastern Europe in the 1930s, just before the horror of the Holocaust forever altered the lives of the young people who wrote them.

Collected in three contests sponsored by *YIVO in the 1930s, they were part of the institute’s drive to gather information about the everyday lives of Jewish adolescents amid political and economic turmoil. Young people of all education, class, occupation and political affiliation were asked to write about themselves, their families and their relationship with them, their teachers and schools, boyfriends and girlfriends and youth and political organizations. The stories were anonymous — the authors submitted their names separately for the purpose of the prizes — and they were urged not to embellish

In When I Grow Up, Krimstein shows us the stories of these six young men and women in riveting, almost cinematic narratives, full of humor, yearning, ambition, and all the angst of the teenage years. It’s as if half a dozen new Anne Frank stories have suddenly come to light, framed by the dramatic story of the documents’ rediscovery.

Beautifully illustrated, heart-wrenching, and bursting with life, When I Grow Up reveals how the tragedy that is about to befall these young people could easily happen again, to any of us, if we don’t learn to listen to the voices from the past.

This work by Ken Krimstein has gotten a lot of buzz. It's interesting that a graphic novel is what was chosen to bring these stories to life, but this form may make these stories more accessible. I look forward to reading this, but am not sure if I will be able to enjoy the life they are sharing with the knowledge of what was to come. With the essays being submitted anonymously, but their names still recorded, I wonder if we will find out what ultimately happens to these young people. Or maybe we aren't suppose to find out, but feel the connection of these essays to our own youth.

Published by Bloomsbury Publishing and in bookstores tomorrow, November 16th.

*YIVO, acronym for Yidisher Visnshaftlekher Institute in Vilnus, or the INSTITUTE FOR JEWISH RESEARCH is dedicated to the preservation and study of the history and culture of East European Jewry worldwide. 

Friday, November 12, 2021

First Lines Friday...


"While in prison, I received a dictionary. It was sent to me with a note. This is the book I would take to a deserted island.... 

                                                                          ...The Sentence by Louise Erdrich 

Here's the blurb from the publisher, Harper Collins... In this stunning and timely novel, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award–winning author Louise Erdrich creates a wickedly funny ghost story, a tale of passion, of a complex marriage, and of a woman's relentless errors.

I love the writing of Louise Erdrich! This book just hit the shelves this past tuesday and has gotten rave reviews already from early reviews. Imagine an unlikely book seller, whose most irritating customer dies, but won't go away. That is just part of the story, and I'll be cracking the spine on this one soon, with a review to follow... 

Monday, November 8, 2021

Memoir Monday...

Everything Happens for a Reason And Other Lies I've Loved by Kate      Bowler...   Kate Bowler is a professor at Duke Divinity School with a modest Christian upbringing, but she specializes in the study of the prosperity gospel, a creed that sees fortune as a blessing from God and misfortune as a mark of God’s disapproval. At thirty-five, everything in her life seems to point toward “blessing.” She is thriving in her job, married to her high school sweetheart, and loves life with her newborn son.

Then she is diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer.

The prospect of her own mortality forces Kate to realize that she has been tacitly subscribing to the prosperity gospel, living with the conviction that she can control the shape of her life with “a surge of determination.” Even as this type of Christianity celebrates the American can-do spirit, it implies that if you “can’t do” and succumb to illness or misfortune, you are a failure. Kate is very sick, and no amount of positive thinking will shrink her tumors. What does it mean to die, she wonders, in a society that insists everything happens for a reason? Kate is stripped of this certainty only to discover that without it, life is hard but beautiful in a way it never has been before.

Frank and funny, dark and wise, Kate Bowler pulls the reader deeply into her life in an account she populates affectionately with a colorful, often hilarious retinue of friends, mega-church preachers, relatives, and doctors. Everything Happens for a Reason tells her story, offering up her irreverent, hard-won observations on dying and the ways it has taught her to live.

Someone I know gave a rave review of this book and its' author. I can't even recall who it actually was right now, but it was so good I immediately bought the book. The reviewer had described Kate as a brutally honest and hilarious writer among other things. This book is not an aim at humor, but a heartfelt message to those who are suffering with something and those who are trying to support someone. Follow along Kate's journey to learn from her experiences. This is next on my nightstand to be read. Published by Random House Books in 2019. 

Sunday, November 7, 2021

The Sunday Salon... Meow!

 Welcome to The Sunday Salon! What is The Sunday Salon? Let me tell you... 

"Imagine some university library's vast reading room. It's filled with people--students and faculty and strangers who've wandered in. They're seated at great oaken desks, books piled all around them, and they're all feverishly reading and jotting notes in their leather-bound journals as they go. Later they'll mill around the open dictionaries and compare their thoughts on the afternoon's literary intake.... 

That's what happens at the Sunday Salon, except it's all virtual. Every Sunday the bloggers participating in that week's Salon get together--at their separate desks, in their own particular time zones--and read. And blog about their reading. And comment on one another's blogs. Think of it as an informal, weekly, mini read-a-thon, an excuse to put aside one's earthly responsibilities and fall into a good book."

It's been a long time since my first Sunday Salon Post. Actually my first Sunday Salon was August 2, 2009. Twelve years and a little bit, I'm still here posting on Sundays and joining a group of bloggers that ebbs and flows as life moves us in different directions.

Life has taken me in a different direction again... Oh, I'm still reading and talking books, but now life includes a little stray kitty we named Jazzy. About a month ago as my husband and I were sitting on the back porch, a little fur ball came walking up urgently meowing. She was so small and skinny, and pretty demanding. We had been feeding the feral kitties the last few months, so we had cat food and filled a dish with food, another with water and watched as she ate like there was no tomorrow. She then jumped up on my husbands lap and went to sleep. OMG, what a little cutie. She obviously wasn't feral, but she probably was dumped, which is an unfortunate thing that happens in the boonies where we live.

Jazzy was here the next day too... I saw her sleeping in one of the porch chairs that night... We bought some can food for her... And after a few days she walked into the house to check it all out... Then the temps were going to be pretty cold, really cold for South Carolina, so in she came. We slept on the couch in the living room with her. Our dog Pepper didn't know what a cat was...  The next morning, off she went into the woods in back... but back at night... we started calling her Jazzy, a kind of short version of Jezibel because we thought she may be pregnant... Then I asked my husband if we were going to have her as part of the family... he said she's already part of the family... Now she has food, water, a bed, a cat tree, a leather couch and 2 humans wrapped around her paw. She's had her first vet visit and checked out as pretty healthy and what caused her stomach to look like she was pregnant they think is worms, so add deworming meds on top of everything else. She is an inside/outside cat for now. I think she is slowly acclimating to life inside, but she does love having adventures outside. When she does venture out in the morning she comes when I call her to come back in... just like a dog. lol

All of this cat rearing has me doing lots of research to make sure I am being a good fur mommy and of course that means advice books... in walks Jackson Galaxy... not physically, although I would welcome him with open arms if he happened to show up. His book Total Cat Mojo is exactly what I need! 

Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life with Your Cat by Jackson Galaxy... This comprehensive cat care guide from the star of the hit Animal Planet show "My Cat from Hell," Jackson Galaxy, shows us how to eliminate feline behavioral problems by understanding cats' instinctive behavior.

Cat Mojo is the confidence that cats exhibit when they are at ease in their environment and in touch with their natural instincts—to hunt, catch, kill, eat, groom, and sleep. Problems such as litter box avoidance and aggression arise when cats lack this confidence. Jackson Galaxy's number one piece of advice to his clients is to help their cats harness their mojo. 

This book is his most comprehensive guide yet to cat behavior and basic cat care, rooted in understanding cats better. From getting kittens off to the right start socially, to taking care of cats in their senior years, and everything in between, this book addresses the head-to-toe physical and emotional needs of cats—whether related to grooming, nutrition, play, or stress-free trips to the vet. 

Published by TarcherPerigee, a division of Penguin Books, in 2017, it's gotten a lot of praise and I am enjoying it! Lots of good advice and love the way he writes! If you have a cat, do yourself a favor and read this book! A full review coming soon.

So, Welcome to The Sunday Salon today and Meow, today is all about Jazzy and how I'm learning Cat.

Happy reading... Suzanne

P.S. Jazzy has her own Instagram Account now, you can follow her at Jazzygirl.Meow .

Friday, November 5, 2021

First Lines Friday...

 "She Rides out of the forest alone. Seventeen years old, in the cold March drizzle, Marie who comes from France"         
                                                                  ... Matrix by Lauren Groff

The bastard half-sister of the Queen Eleanor is basically thrown to the wolves as she is made Prioress of a starving, needy group of nuns. How does a seventeen year old, living in the lush confines of a noble house, with want for nothing, deal with her new circumstances? You'll need to read Matrix by Lauren Groff to find out, but let me tell you, Marie with be your new heroine after a few pages. Enjoying this new read by Groff even though it will be short lived at 257 pages.

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