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

Sunday, December 25, 2022

The Sunday Salon and... Merry Christmas and the First Book of the Year 2023

Merry Christmas! From my home to yours, hope your Christmas is a wonderful time spent with family and friends! In our home we celebrate Hanukkah and Christmas and lit our menorah tonight for the 8th night. And as we wrap up the Holidays, I always reflect on the year, but it's also a time where I think about the year ahead. One of those things I think about is.... The First Book of the Year!

 It's that time of year again! 

Time to figure out what book you'll start your reading journey with for 2023! 

Every year, Sheila at Book Journey Reading Blog hosts the First Book of the Year event where book lovers and bloggers from all over submit a photo of themselves with the book they've chosen for their First Book of the Year. It's so much fun to see what everyone picks.

Want to join in on the fun? You can read all about at Book Journey. And on January 1st I'll announce what my First Book of the Year for 2023 will be right here! In the meantime, here's what my First Books have been the past 8 years... (the Artists Way by Julia Cameron was 2022)

What would/will your First Book of 2023 be?

Friday, November 11, 2022

Memoir Monday on a Friday... A Veteran's Day Review...

Veterans Day pays tribute to all American veterans—living or dead—but especially gives thanks to living veterans who served their country honorably during war or peacetime. One such veteran was Louie Zamperini, who served his country during WWII in the Army Air Corps. His story is written by Laura Hillenbrand in her book, Unbroken. She is an amazing writer. I first read her when she published Seabiscuit, which still is one of my favorite books to this day. I read this amazing review of Unbroken, written by Ann Jonas on the College of Saint Benedict Saint John's University bookstore site, and I think that this review is one of the best I ever read, so I'm sharing it here today...

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, Book Review by Ann Jonas, Tradebook Buyer - CSB/SJU

Author Laura Hillenbrand first heard of Louie Zamperini while doing research for her best-selling book Seabiscuit: An American Legend.  She was searching for information on the racehorse Seabiscuit and kept encountering stories about Zamperini, who ran in the 1936 Olympics and then was a World War II POW survivor.  After finishing Seabiscuit, Hillenbrand contacted Zamperini and asked him about his life.  Spellbound, Hillenbrand spent the next seven years reading diaries, letters and unpublished memoirs; she interviewed Zamperini's family, friends, and fellow Olympians, as well as American and Japanese veterans. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is Hillenbrand's engrossing narrative of Louie Zamperini's remarkable life. 

While growing up in California in the 1920s, Zamperini was a failing student and was constantly in trouble for fighting and stealing.  His older brother, who was a star athlete and exemplary student, introduced Zamperini to track, hoping that the sport would help straighten him out.  Zamperini idolized his older brother and was transformed from being a juvenile delinquent to a runner in the1936 Summer Olympics.  He had hopes of running a four-minute mile in 1940 Olympics, but, due to the escalating war in Europe, the Summer Games were cancelled.  In early 1941, Zamperini enlisted in the Army Air Corps; by November 1942, he was trained as a bombardier and was ready to go to war. 

Zamperini and his crew were stationed in Oahu, and survived many dangerous missions while dive-bombing in the Pacific.  In late May of 1943, while on a search mission, the engines on their plane failed, and the plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean.  Zamperini and two other crew members survived the plunge and were stranded on a small raft, managing with only a meager amount of fresh water and food. Hillenbrand's depiction of the men's desperate plight is filled with suspense, as the men drifted on the ocean, battling sharks, a machine-gun attack from a Japanese bomber, and a typhoon, along with starvation and tremendous thirst.  After forty seven days, they caught sight of an island.  Their relief quickly turned to anguish, as they were spotted by a Japanese military boat and taken captive. 

For the next two and a half years Zamperini endured incredible cruelty at the hands of the Japanese, both physically and psychologically.  Hillenbrand's vivid descriptions of Zamperini's treatment are difficult to read; the brutality and savagery that took place in the Japanese POW camps are unimaginable.  Zamperini's unbreakable spirit helped him to persevere until August 1945, when his POW camp was liberated. 

After returning to the United States, Zamperini suffered from agonizing dreams, tormented by his desire for revenge.  Hillenbrand writes of the difficulties that Zamperini and many World War II veterans encountered with the then unknown illness, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Zamperini turned to alcohol to forget his pain and floundered for a time. With the help of his wife-- and evangelist Billy Graham-- Zamperini turned his life around and became an inspirational speaker.  

Unbroken tells a riveting story of a man with tremendous courage and perseverance.  Hillenbrand herself mustered a great deal of courage and perseverance in order to write her books.  She has suffered from severe chronic fatigue syndrome for the past 24 years and is seldom able to leave her house.  This well-written and meticulously researched book tells an incredible story about an amazing World War II hero.

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager... A Review

 Lock Every Door, but it won't matter... And that's all I am going to say about Riley Sager's book, Lock Every Door, besides if you need some thrill in your reading, start turning the pages on this one. 

My Mom and I have always loved mysteries and thrillers. Often times for her birthday or Christmas, I'll buy her a stack of books. I try to find authors we haven't read before so that we can find some fresh reading. That's how I happened upon Riley Sager. After reading thru the plot blurbs, I found his books all have that eerie plot element that screams "read me if you dare and find out what happens next". This was one of the books in the latest stack I gave Mom and on a recent visit down South, she brought it with her so I could read it. OMG, I spent a whole week at the Bartholomew with Jules Larsen and couldn't stop reading! 

In Lock Every Door, Jules answers a mysterious newspaper ad for a job as an apartment sitter at the very exclusive Bartholomew, where the rich and some famous live very secluded and secretive lives. The money for 3 months of apartment sitting seems too good to be true, but perfect because she just so happens to be broke and without a place to call her own. But Jules soon starts to feel that things aren't quite right at the Bartholomew... and when one of the apartment sitters she makes friends with goes missing, life at the Bartholomew takes on a frightening twist. 

I really enjoyed this book! I literally could not put it down when I got about 1/3 of the way into it. I have a warning though... DO NOT READ any of the cover "blurbs"... you know, the great things that writers and reviewers say about the book so that you'll read it and are printed in quotes on the front and back covers. Two of those blurbs almost gives away the game. Those blurbs made me suspicious about what was going on and could have ruined the story. I can't say any more...

Want to read a good thriller... read Lock Every Door by Riley Sager. Published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Random House, in 2019. 

Monday, September 26, 2022

Memoir Monday...

Declutter Like a Mother by Allie Casazza... 

Live lighter. Live freer. Live a bigger life with less.

In Declutter Like a Mother, Allie Casazza comes alongside you to explore:

Why decluttering calms anxiety in your heart and lessens tension in your relationships.How to ensure your house is working for you, not against you.Why kids thrive when they’re not overwhelmed with options.How to make time, when you feel you don’t have time, to declutter.

Allie Casazza was tired of feeling it was her against the laundry in her home. She wondered if somewhere beneath her frantic days and the mountains of toys in the playroom she would ever find joy and peace in motherhood. Then she discovered the abundance . . . of less.

As she purged her home of excess stuff, Allie discovered a lifestyle that strengthened her marriage, saved her motherhood, and helped her develop her gifts in a way that no amount of new kitchen appliances or new organizing system ever could.

Research studies show a direct link between stress levels and the amount of physical possessions people have in their homes, and Allie has seen that truth play out in her own life and in the lives of hundreds of thousands of other moms she has mentored through her business and online courses. She proclaims:

You don’t need a home that’s perfect. You need a home that’s lighter. Discover less stress, more space. Less chaos, more peace. Less of what doesn’t matter, so you have room for what matters most of all.

Why am I always curious about books about cleaning up your stuff? I guess because i can use a little help in organization, as books are stacked in various places and well... I have a lot of "stuff". I've read the Marie Condo's take on decluttering (and even clapped my way thru loving & leaving books, which is part of your sparking joy). But Allie's books seems so down to earth... This is on my "very cluttered nightstand" waiting to be read. Published by Thomas Nelson Books and available at your local bookstore now! Stop by soon for my review...


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Banned Books Week... What's it all about Alfie?

 IT'S BANNED BOOKS WEEK... What does that mean exactly? Book sellers, librarians, book bloggers, readers, all of us take a moment this week to think about our ability to read what we want to... it's about censorship, freedom of speech and individuals deciding for the masses what is okay to read and what isn't. Wouldn't you rather decide that for yourself?

When it comes right down to it,
It's really about what our children are reading...

As an adult, banned books hurts us when they are removed from the library. We do not have the opportunity to read something that we may have wanted to. We can ultimately buy the book from a book seller, but what if you can't afford to do that? 

As for children, I can see where some material may be too mature for some. A parent knows their child best- or they should. They could take the opportunity to have a conversation about the book in question too. I'm not here to tell you that your child MUST read The Kite Runner, but if a parent feels that it's okay for THEIR child to read it, then they should be able to. 

Quoting from the University of Connecticut Library library guide on banned books week...

                    Banned Books Week draws national attention to the harms of censorship.

A challenge is an attempt to remove or restrict materials, based upon the objections of a person or group.
A banning is the removal of those materials.

Challenges do not simply involve a person expressing a point of view; rather, they are an attempt to remove material from the curriculum or library, thereby restricting the access of others. As such, they are a threat to freedom of speech and choice.

To Kill a Mocking Bird, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Harry Potter, the Dictionary, even The Holy Bible have been challenged and banned in some circumstances. Here is a list of the top 100 books banned between 2000- 2019. Here is a link to the American Library Associations Top Ten Books Challenged by year.

What do think about Banning Books?

It's always interesting to me to see what books are currently being challenged. I think in the last few years the list has changed because books have become more diverse. But even so, the reasons for the challenges or banning are always the same and fighting censorship is ultimate goal. 

Happy reading (A Banned Book this week!)... Suzanne


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Book Spotlight on... The Queen, Her Life by Andrew Morton

The Queen, Her Life by Andrew Morton... Biographer Andrew Morton provides the definitive, most comprehensive account of Queen Elizabeth II's legendary reign. 

Painfully shy, Elizabeth Windsor’s personality was well suited to her youthful ambition of living quietly in the country, raising a family, and caring for her dogs and horses. But when her uncle, King Edward VIII, abdicated, she became heir to the throne—embarking on a journey that would test her as a woman and as a queen.

Ascending to the throne at only 25, this self-effacing monarch navigated endless setbacks, family conflict, and occasional triumphs throughout her 70 years as the Queen of England. As her mettle was tested, she endeavored to keep the monarchy relevant culturally, socially, and politically, often in the face of resistance from inside the institution itself. And yet the greatest challenges she faced were often inside her own family, forever under intense scrutiny; from rumors about her husband’s infidelity, her sister’s marital breakdown, Princess Diana’s tragic death, to the recent departure of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Now in The Queen, renowned biographer Andrew Morton takes an in-depth look at Britain’s longest reigning monarch, exploring the influence Queen Elizabeth has had on both Britain and the rest of the world for much of the last century. From leading a nation struggling to restore itself after the devastation of the second World War to navigating the divisive political landscape of the present day, Queen Elizabeth has been a reluctant but resolute queen. This is the story of a woman of unflagging self-discipline who will long be remembered as mother and grandmother to Great Britain, and one of the greatest sovereigns of the modern era.

I haven't read one Andrew Morton book, but I love the Queen. Somehow I just see Andrew Morton as a sensationalist, putting gossip into print. I don't know why, it's just the impression I get from celebrity biographies that aren't authorized by the subject of the book. Andrew Morton did get authorization from one of his subjects... Princess Diana, for his book Diana, Her True Story in Her Own Words. With the recent passing of HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Andrew Morton's book will be published November 15th by Grand Central Publishing. The book was originally scheduled for release in 2023. Grand Central Publishing generously sent me an eGalley to read. One point to note is that this book is suppose to be an "update" to his book published last year for the Queen's Jubilee. I'm looking forward to reading this. It has gotten good reviews and Grand Central Publishing generously sent me an eGalley to read & review. So mark your calendars for Nov 15th, when The Queen by Andrew Morton will be available at your local bookstore! And keep your eyes out for my review coming soon...

Monday, September 19, 2022

Memoir Monday...


I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki by Baek Sehee... 

PSYCHIATRIST: So how can I help you?

ME: I don't know, I'm – what's the word – depressed? Do I have to go into detail?

Baek Sehee is a successful young social media director at a publishing house when she begins seeing a psychiatrist about her - what to call it? - depression? She feels persistently low, anxious, endlessly self-doubting, but also highly judgmental of others. She hides her feelings well at work and with friends, performing the calmness her lifestyle demands. The effort is exhausting, overwhelming, and keeps her from forming deep relationships. This can't be normal. But if she's so hopeless, why can she always summon a yen for her favorite street food: the hot, spicy rice cake, tteokbokki? Is this just what life is like?

Recording her dialogues with her psychiatrist over a twelve-week period, and expanding on each session with her own reflective micro-essays, Baek begins to disentangle the feedback loops, knee-jerk reactions, and harmful behaviors that keep her locked in a cycle of self-abuse. Part memoir, part self-help book, I Want to Die but I Want to Eat Tteokbokki is a book to keep close and to reach for in times of darkness. It will appeal to anyone who has ever felt alone or unjustified in their everyday despair.

There is a lot of Buzz about this book. It was a massive hit in South Korea, where Baek Sehee is from and translated into at least 8 languages. Part self-help book, part memoir I read about this book and was curious. After receiving an eGalley from Bloomsbury Publishing, I started to read and really liked Baek's matter of fact writing and the way it was written in dialogue between her and her Psychiatrist, and her thoughts in between. One thing I did read was that South Korea has one of the highest rates of suicide in world, and so Baek hopes in sharing her "story" that it can help others cope. Publishing date for this is November 1st! In the meantime, keep your eyes out for my review..

Sunday, July 31, 2022

The Sunday Salon and Great Reading coming your way...

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's the one day of the week where Book Bloggers from everywhere get together virtually and talk books! It's been an exciting month here too ... many great books are coming out and I just have to share some of my top picks that I was lucky enough to receive for review from the publishers...

Touch by Olaf Olafsson... A mesmerizing, panoramic story of one man’s search to find a lover who suddenly disappeared decades before...

When the pandemic hits, Kristofer is forced to shutter his successful restaurant in Reykjavik, sending him into a spiral of uncertainty, even as his memory seems to be failing. But an uncanny bolt from the blue—a message from Miko Nakamura, a woman whom he’d known in the sixties when they were students in London—both inspires and rattles him, as he is drawn inexorably back into a love story that has marked him for life. Even as the pandemic upends his world, Kristofer finds himself pulled toward an answer to the mystery of Miko’s sudden departure decades before, compelling him to travel to London and Japan as the virus threatens to shut everything down.

A heart-wrenching love story and an absorbing mystery, Touch delves into the secrets of the past to explore the hidden lives that we all possess, the pain and beauty of our past loves and friendships that continue to leave their mark on us. Searching and lyrically rendered by acclaimed author Olaf Olafsson, Touch is a stunning tribute to the weight of history and the complexities of the human heart.

I found this book from reading Book Blogger friend, Harvee Lau's blog called BookBirdDog (Book Dilettante). Her post for The Sunday Salon last Sunday included this book and the description just made me want to read it. I love stories about friends and lovers finding each other after many years and this seemed a perfect fit. Right now it is in my eReader thanks to the generosity of the Publisher, Ecco Publishing, who sent me a copy for review. 

This book will be published August 16, 2022 by Ecco Publishing, an imprint of HarperCollins...


The Kingdoms of Savannah by George Dawes Green...
Savannah may appear to be “some town out of a fable,” with its vine flowers, turreted mansions, and ghost tours that romanticize the city’s history. But look deeper and you’ll uncover secrets, past and present, that tell a more sinister tale. It’s the story at the heart of George Dawes Green’s chilling new novel, The Kingdoms of Savannah.

It begins quietly on a balmy Southern night as some locals gather at Bo Peep’s, one of the town’s favorite watering holes. Within an hour, however, a man will be murdered and his companion will be “disappeared.” An unlikely detective, Morgana Musgrove, doyenne of Savannah society, is called upon to unravel the mystery of these crimes. Morgana is an imperious, demanding, and conniving woman, whose four grown children are weary of her schemes. But one by one she inveigles them into helping with her investigation, and soon the family uncovers some terrifying truths—truths that will rock Savannah’s power structure to its core.

Moving from the homeless encampments that ring the city to the stately homes of Savannah’s elite, Green’s novel brilliantly depicts the underbelly of a city with a dark history and the strangely mesmerizing dysfunction of a complex family.

When I hear a novel is set in Savannah, I am immediately drawn to it. I love Savannah. It is romantic, beautiful and late at night as you walk the streets there is an eery quality to it all. The book seems to promise to bring Savannah to life as this mystery/thriller comes to life. From the first line I was hooked and I'm reading this right now! Released on July 19th, 2022 by Celadon Publishing, I received a copy from the publisher. Stay tuned for my review...


The Many Daughters of Afong Moy by Jamie Ford...

Dorothy Moy breaks her own heart for a living.

As Washington’s former poet laureate, that’s how she describes channeling her dissociative episodes and mental health struggles into her art. But when her five-year-old daughter exhibits similar behavior and begins remembering things from the lives of their ancestors, Dorothy believes the past has truly come to haunt her. Fearing that her child is predestined to endure the same debilitating depression that has marked her own life, Dorothy seeks radical help.

Through an experimental treatment designed to mitigate inherited trauma, Dorothy intimately connects with past generations of women in her family: Faye Moy, a nurse in China serving with the Flying Tigers; Zoe Moy, a student in England at a famous school with no rules; Lai King Moy, a girl quarantined in San Francisco during a plague epidemic; Greta Moy, a tech executive with a unique dating app; and Afong Moy, the first Chinese woman to set foot in America.

As painful recollections affect her present life, Dorothy discovers that trauma isn’t the only thing she’s inherited. A stranger is searching for her in each time period. A stranger who’s loved her through all of her genetic memories. Dorothy endeavors to break the cycle of pain and abandonment, to finally find peace for her daughter, and gain the love that has long been waiting, knowing she may pay the ultimate price.

One of my favorite books was Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet written by Jamie Ford in 2009! (and if you haven't read it yet, here's a link to its anniversary edition which is on sale for $10.69. Remember though to check the price before you hit the buy button because Amazon does change those bargain prices often...) SO, when I see a new book written by Jamie Ford I have to check it out! And it's a lost loves love story! The story sounds so intriguing and add Jamie Fords fantastic writing and I predict a winner! This will be released August 2, 2022 by Atria Books, a subsidary of SimonSchuster.

And if those authors coming out with new books isn't enough, so are Kate White, Sandra Brown, Phillip Margolin and Isabel Allende... but I'll save those until next week! 

I always find summer an exciting book season. Maybe the sun hitting my pale skin and the warmth that I feel makes me long for the lazy days on the beach with a good book in my hands that I use to enjoy as a teenager. There were some great books read back then... The Shining and The Exorcist  are two that come to mind. 

What kind of reading do you do in the summer? 

I hope you've found a couple of interesting reads here today! Let me know what books you're reading!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Monday, July 25, 2022

Memoir Monday and Finding The Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard


Finding the Mother Tree: Discovering the Wisdom of the Forest by Suzanne Simard... The world's leading forest ecologist who forever changed how people view trees and their connections to one another and to other living things in the forest—a moving, deeply personal journey of discovery

Suzanne Simard is a pioneer on the frontier of plant communication and intelligence; her TED talks have been viewed by more than 10 million people worldwide.

In this, her first book, now available in paperback, Simard brings us into her world, the intimate world of the trees, in which she brilliantly illuminates the fascinating and vital truths--that trees are not simply the source of timber or pulp, but are a complicated, interdependent circle of life; that forests are social, cooperative creatures connected through underground networks by which trees communicate their vitality and vulnerabilities with communal lives not that different from our own.

Simard writes--in inspiring, illuminating, and accessible ways—how trees, living side by side for hundreds of years, have evolved, how they learn and adapt their behaviors, recognize neighbors, compete and cooperate with one another with sophistication, characteristics ascribed to human intelligence, traits that are the essence of civil societies--and at the center of it all, the Mother Trees: the mysterious, powerful forces that connect and sustain the others that surround them.

And Simard writes of her own life, born and raised into a logging world in the rainforests of British Columbia, of her days as a child spent cataloging the trees from the forest and how she came to love and respect them. And as she writes of her scientific quest, she writes of her own journey, making us understand how deeply human scientific inquiry exists beyond data and technology, that it is about understanding who we are and our place in the world.

I find trees and their behaviors fascinating! To some, trees are just tall objects that occupy our lawns and our forests, giving us shade and apples. But trees have so much more to them. The way they live and help eachother is something of much research. Not since The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben, have I found a book that really pulled me in about this topic. Finding The Mother Tree by Suzanne Simard is getting all the buzz these days too. Here is a link to one of her TED talks. Published last year by Knopf and widely available. It's on my nightstand... 

Friday, July 22, 2022

The Big Library Read...

 Just read about this today... It's The Big Library Read where readers from around the world read the same book and can join in on the discussion about the book. It's a BIG Digital Book Club. The book is available thru Overdrive, which is what many libraries use today for their eBook distribution. I checked my local library, The Pickens County Library, and they had unlimited copies available to checkout! 

We're a little late to the party, but there's still 5 days left to the program, but you can check this book out thru Overdrive for up to 27 days. Sounds like an interesting read too.


Here's a like to the Big Library Read website for more info...

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

If You Know the Ending... is it still fun?

I was reading some reviews of Hawk Mountain by Conner Habib. I can't remember off hand how I happened to find the title, but I must have run across it in some list of "books to read next". The book starts out with Todd Nasca's high school bully popping back into his life after so many years and how that might have happened coincidentally... or not. And no matter which way, the consequences have  tumultuous results... The tension seems to built right from the start, but some of the reviews I glanced thru have a common negative comment - that the climax of the story happens before the ending... way before the ending. Which made me pause to think... should it matter? If the story is a good one that keeps your eyes pressed to the pages, will the reveal too soon, ruin the story so much so that you don't need or want to finish the book? 

There are books that you know right from the beginning what happens, but that is the story - everything that leads up to the climax. 

I can't recall right now any books I've read where the climax is in the middle of the book. I guess I'm going to have to read Hawk Mountain and find out if I still want to read it after "the climax"... but somehow I think I will. I hate to not finish a book no matter how bad it is... but let's save that for another discussion...

What do you think? Have you read any books where you find out the "Big Story"  way before the ending? and how did that effect your reading of the book?

Monday, June 27, 2022

Memoir Monday...

The Puzzler by A.J. Jacobs... What makes puzzles—jigsaws, mazes, riddles, sudokus—so satisfying? Be it the formation of new cerebral pathways, their close link to insight and humor, or their community-building properties, they’re among the fundamental elements that make us human. Convinced that puzzles have made him a better person, A.J. Jacobs—four-time New York Times bestselling author, master of immersion journalism, and nightly crossworder—set out to determine their myriad benefits. And maybe, in the process, solve the puzzle of our very existence. Well, almost.

In The Puzzler, Jacobs meets the most zealous devotees, enters (sometimes with his family in tow) any puzzle competition that will have him, unpacks the history of the most popular puzzles, and aims to solve the most impossible head-scratchers, from a mutant Rubik’s Cube, to the hardest corn maze in America, to the most sadistic jigsaw. Chock-full of unforgettable adventures and original examples from around the world—including new work by Greg Pliska, one of America’s top puzzle-makers, and a hidden, super-challenging but solvable puzzle that will earn the first reader to crack it a $10,000 prize*—The Puzzler will open readers’ eyes to the power of flexible thinking and concentration. Whether you’re puzzle obsessed or puzzle hesitant, you’ll walk away with real problem-solving strategies and pathways toward becoming a better thinker and decision maker—for these are certainly puzzling times.

I'm a puzzle solver and a scrabble player. I love a good word search. I love Wordle. I guess you could call me a word nerd. The Puzzler by A.J. Jacobs sounds like a fun read... and it is contains a puzzle too. Published by Crown just this past April, this read is on my wishlist.

Monday, June 20, 2022

Memoir Monday...


Amy Bloom began to notice changes in her husband, Brian: He retired early from a new job he loved; he withdrew from close friendships; he talked mostly about the past. Suddenly, it seemed there was a glass wall between them, and their long walks and talks stopped. Their world was altered forever when an MRI confirmed what they could no longer ignore: Brian had Alzheimer’s disease.

Forced to confront the truth of the diagnosis and its impact on the future he had envisioned, Brian was determined to die on his feet, not live on his knees. Supporting each other in their last journey together, Brian and Amy made the unimaginably difficult and painful decision to go to Dignitas, an organization based in Switzerland that empowers a person to end their own life with dignity and peace.

In this heartbreaking and surprising memoir, Bloom sheds light on a part of life we so often shy away from discussing—its ending.

I've read fiction by Amy Bloom over the years, but this is not fiction. And no matter how many books you've written, or how famous (or not famous) you are, Alzheimer's doesn't care. It will invade and devastate. This is what Amy Bloom and her husband must deal with in her memoir, In Love

"In Love is an unforgettable portrait of a beautiful marriage, and a boundary-defying love."

This book has gotten so much praise, high recommendations and it received a Star Review from Kirkus. It seems it all stems from the wonderful writing of Amy Bloom and the way she writes about the subject, not as just a disease, but of a love story that the disease just can't crush. Published by Randomhouse this past March. On my book list...

Monday, June 13, 2022

Memoir Monday... and a Great Father's Day Gift!

The Baseball 100 by Joe Posnanski... A magnum opus from acclaimed baseball writer Joe Posnanski, The Baseball 100 is an audacious, singular, and masterly book that took a lifetime to write. The entire story of baseball rings through a countdown of the 100 greatest players in history, with a foreword by George Will.

Longer than Moby-Dick and nearly as ambitious,​The Baseball 100 is a one-of-a-kind work by award-winning sportswriter and lifelong student of the game Joe Posnanski that tells the story of the sport through the remarkable lives of its 100 greatest players. In the book’s introduction, Pulitzer Prize–winning commentator George F. Will marvels, “Posnanski must already have lived more than 200 years. How else could he have acquired such a stock of illuminating facts and entertaining stories about the rich history of this endlessly fascinating sport?”

Baseball’s legends come alive in these pages, which are not merely rankings but vibrant profiles of the game’s all-time greats. Posnanski dives into the biographies of iconic Hall of Famers, unfairly forgotten All-Stars, talents of today, and more. He doesn’t rely just on records and statistics—he lovingly retraces players’ origins, illuminates their characters, and places their accomplishments in the context of baseball’s past and present. Just how good a pitcher is Clayton Kershaw in the twenty-first- century game compared to Greg Maddux dueling with the juiced hitters of the nineties? How do the career and influence of Hank Aaron compare to Babe Ruth’s? Which player in the top ten most deserves to be resurrected from history?

No compendium of baseball’s legendary geniuses could be complete without the players of the segregated Negro Leagues, men whose extraordinary careers were largely overlooked by sportswriters at the time and unjustly lost to history. Posnanski writes about the efforts of former Negro Leaguers to restore sidelined Black athletes to their due honor, and draws upon the deep troves of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum and extensive interviews with the likes of Buck O’Neil to illuminate the accomplishments of players such as pitchers Satchel Paige and Smokey Joe Williams; outfielders Oscar Charleston, Monte Irvin, and Cool Papa Bell; first baseman Buck Leonard; shortstop Pop Lloyd; catcher Josh Gibson; and many, many more.

The Baseball 100 treats readers to the whole rich pageant of baseball history in a single volume. Chapter by chapter, Posnanski invites readers to examine common lore with brand-new eyes and learn stories that have long gone unheard. The epic and often emotional reading experience mirrors Posnanski’s personal odyssey to capture the history and glory of baseball like no one else, fueled by his boundless love for the sport.

When I read about this book, I immediately thought of my husband. He's such an avid baseball fan. But fan doesn't even come close to his knowledge of baseball and it's subtle intricacies. I can see him debating the choices and the players that Joe Posnanski ranks in his 100 of the greatest players of baseball and I think that any fan of the game would have fun doing it as well. Published by Avid Reader Press (a division of Simon Schuster) in 2021, I think this would make a great Father's Day gift for the guy who loves baseball... 

Friday, June 10, 2022

First Lines Friday...

"Anna regularly dreamed about killing him. About creeping up on him and swiftly running the blade across his throat. That was why, on this particular morning, she didn’t sit up in bed with a jolt but calmly linked as she woke from yet another dream that left a kaleidoscope of violent images on the inside of her eyelids and filled her with excitement..."   from The Corpse Flower by Anne Mette Hancock

Any time I hear Scandinavian Noir my ears perk up. I love Scandinavian writing, and particularly Scandinavian Thriller/Noir. So, when I read a little about The Corpse Flower I wanted to find out more. From the authors agency page at the Nordin Agency, this is what I read...

"In 2017 she made her debut as an author with The Corpse Flower, where we are introduced to journalist Heloise Kaldan and police officer Erik Schäfer. This poignant suspense novel awarded her with the Danish Crime Academy’s debutant prize in 2017. The second book in the series, The Collector, was published in 2018 to great acclaim. That very year Anne Mette Hancock was named Author of the year in Denmark. Her third novel Pitbull was published in January 2020 and went straight to the top of the Danish bestseller chart."

I'm all in now after reading all that about her. I was able to read the first 4 chapters and thought the writing was really good too. The Corpse Flower was published by Crooked Lane Publishing October of last year. The Collector is scheduled to be released Nov 8, 2022. And there is no date yet for the release of Pitbull in the US, but if the first two books do well, I'm sure we'll see it released in the US as well. Anne Mette Hancock's characters, journalist Heloise Kaldan and police officer, Erik Schafer are the investigators in the ongoing series. The Corpse Flower is on my nightstand...

Monday, June 6, 2022

Memoir Monday... Can We Talk About It?

Code Talker, The first and only memoir by one of the original Navajo code talkers of WWII by Chester New...

His name wasn’t Chester Nez. That was the English name he was assigned in kindergarten. And in boarding school at Fort Defiance, he was punished for speaking his native language, as the teachers sought to rid him of his culture and traditions. But discrimination didn’t stop Chester from answering the call to defend his country after Pearl Harbor, for the Navajo have always been warriors, and his upbringing on a New Mexico reservation gave him the strength—both physical and mental—to excel as a marine.

During World War II, the Japanese had managed to crack every code the United States used. But when the Marines turned to its Navajo recruits to develop and implement a secret military language, they created the only unbroken code in modern warfare—and helped assure victory for the United States over Japan in the South Pacific.

I have always been fascinated by the WWII Code Talkers. It's such an amazing part of history and an important one. Imagine the dedication these young men had to fight for their country, the country that pretty much turned its back on the Indians and their culture, forcing them off their land. 

"On August 7, 1942, U.S. Marines of the 1st Marine Division hit the beaches of Guadalcanal, Tulagi, and the Florida islands in the first land offensive against Japan. Of the 11,000 Marines who landed, 15 were Navajo Code Talkers. This was to be their inaugural test in battle—three months after they’d been initially sworn in at Fort Wingate, New Mexico on May 4, 1942. In those three months, the code talkers went through basic training, underwent extensive instruction in radio operation and message transmittal, and developed and memorized a code that not even other native Navajo speakers could decipher."

Navajo Code Talkers Day was established by President Ronald Reagan on August 14, 1982. In 2014, Arizona passed legislation declaring every August 14 Navajo Code Talkers Day in Arizona. And every year around this time, there is a special Ham Radio Event commemorating the history of the Navajo Code Talkers. I had the privilege to talk to a relative of one of the Code Talkers on my ham radio last August. It was an honor and such an interesting conversation. I look forward to reading Code Talker by Chester Nez, published by Dutton Caliber, a boutique imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, in 2011. 

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Relatively Normal by Whitney Dineen... A Review


Relatively Normal by Whitney Dineen...

Whitney Dineen sure knows how to add fun to her stories and Relatively Normal is a wonderful example. High School sweethearts Sam and Cat have their whole lives planned out, or so Cat thought until Sam breaks her heart. 14 years later the fun begins again, but not how you'd expect. Cat is engaged, bringing her fiancé and his parents home for a true Scottish Thanksgiving. What is a true Scottish Thanksgiving? You have no idea... But hold that thought because things are going to get even crazier... Cat's parents welcome her future in-laws with open arms AND have invited Cat's ex and HIS parents! What?!? Oh yes, and this is where the real fun begins! As the story unfolds, Cat must decide to play it safe or gamble with her heart once again in a scenario that seems all too familiar, and her "good girl" practical self is struggling to not lose the battle.

Relatively Normal is a fun RomCom (translation: romantic comedy), with a quirky cast of characters that will warm your heart. Whitney Dineen is a master with her writing abilities and she proves it with this delight of a tale. The story did not slow down for me at all, kept my attention and made me want to open the book every chance I got. I loved it! A light fun read that any type of reader will surely enjoy. Put this one on your TBR list! I read the eBook, Published by Whitney in 2018.

Friday, June 3, 2022

First Lines Friday...


June 12, 1954… The drive from Salina to Morgen was three hours, and for much of it, Emmett hadn’t said a word; For the first sixty miles of so, Warden Williams had made an effort at friendly conversation. He had told a few stories about his childhood back East and asked a few questions about Emmett’s on the farm. But this was the last they’d be together, and Emmett didn’t see much sense in going into all of that now. So when they crossed the border from Kansas into Nebraska and the warden turned on the radio, Emmett stared out the window a the prairie, keeping his thoughts to himself.

                                                 ... The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

We will be reading The Lincoln Highway next month as a reading group pick. We had read Amor Towles wildly popular previous book, A Gentleman in Moscow and everyone had enjoyed the story and the writing, so we have high hopes for this book. Published last October by Viking (a division of PenguinRandomhouse), this book has garnered a lot of praise and starred reviews. Click on the link to read an excerpt of The Lincoln Highway

Monday, May 30, 2022

Memoir Monday... a Children's book to understand Memorial Day...

 Memorial Day is a day of remembrance. It's a day honoring the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. It is a somber day, not a day of celebration. One way to honor these brave men and women is to not forget... Not to forget the ultimate sacrifice they gave and the difficulties they endured. 

In a children's book, The Wall by Eve Bunting we find a way to teach our children the importance of Memorial Day...

The Wall by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Ronald Himler... A young boy and his father visit the Veterans Memorial to find Grandpa's name. What makes "The Wall" so moving is that instead of answering questions it will get children to ask them. A great book to open discussion with the class about war and it's consequences.

 School Library Journal reviews The Wall as: "A sensitive and moving picture book, and a great discussion book as well."

Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Sunday Salon...and some Library Love


Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's that day of the week bloggers gather all over in a virtual library and chat about books! Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of Java and relax..

Here's my Library books this week. It's funny how it's feast or famine sometimes when you request books. When they're not available and you have to wait for them to come back to the library, and wait for your turn, sometimes they all come in at once! And that's what happened to me this week. I'm excited though! I picked up The Charm Bracelet while I waited for the new Jennifer McMahon book, The Children on The Hill, and then read some great reviews about The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh and requested that when it came back in. Wow, I have some great reading ahead of me...

The Children on The Hill by Jennifer McMahon...

1978: At her renowned treatment center in picturesque Vermont, the brilliant psychiatrist, Dr. Helen Hildreth, is acclaimed for her compassionate work with the mentally ill. But when she’s home with her cherished grandchildren, Vi and Eric, she’s just Gran—teaching them how to take care of their pets, preparing them home-cooked meals, providing them with care and attention and love. 
Then one day Gran brings home a child to stay with the family. Iris—silent, hollow-eyed, skittish, and feral—does not behave like a normal girl. Still, Violet is thrilled to have a new playmate. She and Eric invite Iris to join their Monster Club, where they catalogue all kinds of monsters and dream up ways to defeat them. Before long, Iris begins to come out of her shell. She and Vi and Eric do everything together: ride their bicycles, go to the drive-in, meet at their clubhouse in secret to hunt monsters. Because, as Vi explains, monsters are everywhere. 2019: Lizzy Shelley, the host of the popular podcast Monsters Among Us, is traveling to Vermont, where a young girl has been abducted, and a monster sighting has the town in an uproar. She’s determined to hunt it down, because Lizzy knows better than anyone that monsters are real—and one of them is her very own sister.

I love the writing of Jennifer McMahon! I am never disappointed. She writes suspense stories, sprinkling in a bit of a ghost story here and there and always with some great twists and turns. The Children on The Hill was released in April by Scout Press. BTW, one of my favorite Jennifer McMahon book is Dismantled... check that one out too! 

The Love of My Life by Rosie Walsh...

Emma loves her husband Leo and their young daughter Ruby: she’d do anything for them. But almost everything she's told them about herself is a lie. And she might just have got away with it, if it weren’t for her husband’s job. Leo is an obituary writer; Emma a well-known marine biologist. When she suffers a serious illness, Leo copes by doing what he knows best – researching and writing about his wife’s life. But as he starts to unravel the truth, he discovers the woman he loves doesn’t really exist. Even her name isn’t real. When the very darkest moments of Emma’s past finally emerge, she must somehow prove to Leo that she really is the woman he always thought she was . . But first, she must tell him about the other love of her life.
Rosie Walsh is a new author to me. I was reading reviews a few weeks ago and came across a starred review of The Love of My Life from Kirkus Reviews. Sounded great, lots more literary love for it on the internet, and I found it available to request at my local library! I can't wait to dive into this one too! Published by Pamela Dorman Books this past March, it's available now at your local bookstore OR your local library. Want to read an excerpt? Here's a link to Chapter One of The Love of My Life.

Libraries are a great source for reading material. In my little town in South Carolina, our library is part of the County and 3 other library towns. We can check books out of any of them, which helps if my local branch doesn't have the book I want, but one of the other branches do. And this included eBooks too!

Do you use your library? 

I'm about half way thru The Charm Bracelet by Viola Shipman and am enjoying it. It's a very light read, just what a summer afternoon almost requires. I believe these other books will have a bit more meat on their bones, but still qualify as summer reads, which tend to be more relaxing reads. 

I do have on my TBR list some much heavier books because I was reading about The International Booker Award for this year and everything (except for the winner) sounded so interesting. First, what is The Booker Award?

"The International Booker Prize is awarded annually for a single book, translated into English and published in the UK or Ireland."

And the winner this year was Tomb of Sand written by Geetanjali Shree and translated by Daisy Rockwell. When a majority of the reviews I read said it was work to get thru the novel, I pause before enthusiastically picking it up. And I wonder sometimes why certain novels win these awards. It may be that this book checks off some serious politically correct boxes? You can read about Tomb of Sand here. But quite a few of the other books really caught my eye... Let's talk about them later this week...

Let me know what the last library book you took out was! And do you follow book awards? Stop back later in the week and I'll talk about those International Booker Prize runners up...

Happy Reading... Suzanne

Friday, May 27, 2022

First Lines Friday...




The key is to go to a few different stores. I used to always go to Jerry’s Liquors on Bonifant Avenue. I was a regular. Too regular. Jerry’s mouth started to form a thin line when I’d come in. I could see the conflict on his face. He was glad for the business, but judgmental about the frequency of my visits.

Don’t make this hard on me, his face seemed to say. Don’t make me feel bad for you.

Jerry, like so many others, didn’t want to be bothered with sympathy.

Now, I don’t go to Jerry’s anymore. I have five other stores I frequent, all within a fifteen-mile radius of my house. They all think I’m a regular. A devoted and loyal customer.

They’re all right.

Typically, I stop by each one once a week. One store per day, Monday through Friday. I like to go in the early afternoon. Always after three, but usually before four.

My favorite store is Pine View Liquors on Main Street. My Friday store. It’s a little bit bougie, amid the boutiques selling clothing of the type I used to wear in my former life, and restaurants serving tapas and crepes, and houseware shops displaying accent chairs to be admired but not sat upon, and teakettles to be visible in the background of Instagram posts but never used, and candles to be sniffed but not lit on fire.

In addition to beer and wine and liquor, Pine View sells bags of kettle chips that shimmer with oil, colorful artisanal sodas, and specialty chocolates stuffed with PB&J, salted caramel, and cookie butter. I always load a few such items into my basket to distract the cashier from the fact that I’m a five-foot-four woman purchasing seven hundred and fifty milliliters of Grey Goose vodka, just as I do nearly every Friday.

It was in Pine View Liquors that I first saw her.

It was like looking at myself, nine months ago.

When I read a Kirkus Starred Review that compared The Favour by Nora Murphy to Strangers on a Train, the Patricia Highsmith novel, which later became a thrilling cinematic ride by Alfred Hitchcock, I had to look at it a bit closer. With voyeurism similar to Rachel's in The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (and if you haven't read that book YOU SHOULD!), Leah Dawson watches McKenna Hawkins... their two worlds will eventually collide. The Favour will be released May 31, 2022 by Minotaur Publishing... and it's on my wishlist. 

Monday, May 23, 2022

Memoir Monday...

 Memoir Monday... I'll Show Myself Out: Essays on Midlife & Motherhood by Jessi Klein... 

“Sometimes I think about how much bad news there is to tell my kid, the endlesslylong, looping CVS receipt scroll of truly terrible things that have happened, and I want to get under the bed and never come out. How do we tell them about all this? Can we just play Billy Joel’s We Didn’t Start the Fire and then brace for questions? The first of which should be, how is this a song that played on the radio?”

In New York Times bestselling author and Emmy Award-winning writer and producer Jessi Klein’s second collection, she hilariously explodes the cultural myths and impossible expectations around motherhood and explore the humiliations, poignancies, and possibilities of midlife. 

In interconnected essays like “Listening to Beyoncé in the Parking Lot of Party City,” “Your Husband Will Remarry Five Minutes After You Die,” “Eulogy for My Feet,” and “An Open Love Letter to Nate Berkus and Jeremiah Brent,” Klein explores this stage of life in all its cruel ironies, joyous moments, and bittersweetness.

I'm not a Mother, but I suppose I'm of that age where I can relate to women who are Mothers. When I read about this collection of essays by Jessi Klein, who is an actress and stand-up comedian, I had to read more and a smile broke out on my face. This is Jessi Klein's 2nd collection of essays, so I immediately thought I should read the first. Even though I could relate to the subject of Klein's first collection, navigating the ins and outs of girlhood into womanhood, somehow Motherhood was funnier. Maybe I've gotten past my own growing up so long ago, that my inner self didn't need to learn how someone else navigated it. Or maybe I've read too many coming of age books that all the jokes were "old". In any case, I was enjoying reading the sample of  I'll Show Myself Out, Essays on Midlife & Motherhood by Jessie Klein. Published by Harper Collins and on my wishlist... 

Here's a link to the author's page at Harper Collins where you can read a sample or listen to one of the book. 

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