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, 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. 

Sunday, May 22, 2022

The Sunday Salon... and a New Author and An "Old" Author

Welcome to the Sunday Salon! It's that day of the week where we talk books! Everyone talks books... or everyone as in book bloggers everywhere share their past week of bookish news... As I was saying yesterday, it's been a while since I've checked in, but I'm still a reader and love talking about books. Retirement has blown my time management out of the water, so we're going to take a deep breathe and get back to business.

Today, let's catch up on the books I've been reading lately... one of which is a new author to me and one book from an author I have been reading for YEARS and LOVE!

Sand Dollar Lane by Sheila Roberts... Brody Green is finding it hard to recover after being dumped by his fiancée, Jenna Jones, then watching her walk down the aisle with someone else. Jenna is determined to make up for her love defection and find him the perfect woman, but Brody is done with love. First a divorce, then a broken engagement. From now on he’s keeping things light, no commitments. Luckily Brody’s business is booming. Beach Dreams Realty is the best real estate company in town. And the only one. Until…

Lucy Holmes needs a new start. In business, in love, in…everything. If ever there was a cliché, it was her life back in Seattle. She was a real estate broker working with her husband until she caught him trying out the walk-in shower in a luxury condo—with another agent. She’s always been the more successful of the two, and with him gone, she’s determined to build a business even bigger than what she had. Moonlight Harbor is a charming town and it has only one real estate agency. Surely there’s room for a little competition.

Or not. Looks like it’s going to be a hot market in Moonlight Harbor. And maybe these two competitors will make some heat of their own.

I love Sheila Roberts! She is a fantastic person AND a great writer! I say that about her because I've read her books for years and she regularly Zooms with our reading group. She will always take the time to chat with us about whatever book of hers we are reading and answer all sorts of other questions that our readers have. Her books are always fun and light-hearted, but full of depth. She writes characters that you can relate to and stories that will always touch your heart. Sand Dollar Lane is all of that and more! Romance without having sex dripping off the page and a really good story are what Sheila Roberts books are all about. I always walk away happy after finishing one of Sheilas' books too. Want to read the first chapter?? Here's the link to Sand Dollar Lane (and the first chapter) on Sheila's website. Watch for my full review coming soon...


Relatively Norman by Whitney Dineen... Catriona Masterton's fiancé, Ethan, is Normal. He plans trips six months in advance and arrives at the airport a minimum of three hours early. He purchases life insurance, luggage insurance, and always opts for the extended warranty. He's responsible, reliable, and would make any woman a wonderful life partner.

In other words, he's the exact opposite of the Masterton clan.

Cat's mother has a kitchen gadget fetish, a father whose best friends are taxidermied field mice, and a super stoner man-child brother who lives--where else?--in the basement. Then there's Nan, her proud Scottish grandmother with a proclivity for profanity and mischief.

What on earth will Catriona's Normal fiancé think when he comes home with her to meet her parents? What will he think when he discovers his soon-to-be in-laws invited Cat's ex to join them for a holiday dinner?

Whitney Dineen is a new author to me. One of my reading group members chose this. It's the first in a series of "Relatively" books, which are chick lit at its finest. I have to say once I got going I was really enjoying the story. Once I got in about 51 pages (that's what my Kindle claims I was on), I fell in love with the story. It started to take off with a lot of dynamics... and that's when Catriona Masterton's ex shows up. I can't say anymore without ruining the story, but suffice it to say it gets interesting as Catriona struggles with her inner "good girl". I'll be finishing Relatively Normal up soon and reviewing it here too.

And that's what's been on my reading plate... How about you? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is a regular feature on Chick with Books and IT'S BACK! Have a great week and stop back next Sunday for more great books!

Happy Reading... Suzanne

Saturday, May 21, 2022

Good Morning... Remember Me? now Meet Jazzy...

Good Morning! Is it really the end of May?! Has it really been that long since we've talked?! It doesn't feel like it, but I guess it is...

I'm still reading, still have the book club, still buy books, still read about books, still love authors...

AND I'm still retired... which gives me more time to read, but I'm totally disorganized with my time now. It's rather funny how when working full time you really need to organize your life so that you can fit everything you want to do into the 5 hours or so you have after work and before bed, or on your day off. But you don't feel like you're organizing it all, it just flows. It's not leisurely or wistful, it's practical. When you retire, it all changes... it is leisurely now... I can sip that cup of coffee without an alarm. I'm not on a schedule, BUT I SHOULD BE! And so, I think after writing this post I am putting myself on warning... there will be order out of chaos. 

SO, what have I been doing these few months?.... Meet Jazzy...

This is Jazzy, short for Jazzibelle, which was temporarily Jezebel, when we thought she was a pregnant kitten. We don't know how her life started, but one day in late October of 2021, while my husband, mom and I were sitting outside on our back porch, this little creature comes walking up to us meowing her head off... demanding attention. She was skinny as anything, hair a bit gruff and tiny. We had been feeding the strays that wander by, so we had kibble at the ready and I brought a dish out to her. She immediately went for it no questions asked. Then she jumped right up into my husbands lap, as though it was hers. This did not go over well with our resident old lady, Pepper, who had previously claimed that lap even though she was a Labradoodle and way too big to be in that lap. My Mom is petting Jazzy, my husband is, but I am saying out loud and to deaf ears, "we don't know where that kitten has been... we don't know if she has anything... like some disease..." I kept my distance... She was not coming in the house... she probably will disappear in the night... 

But she didn't... I watched her on the video doorbell sleeping on the porch railing... until morning. There she was still. For 2 nights she hung out with us. I ordered her a outdoor cat house from Amazon, just in case. Then I saw on the weather station that the temps were going to be in the 30's! OMG, we can't leave her out there! The cat house isn't here... I turned to my husband. Should we let her come inside? What about the dog? Where is she going to sleep inside? We can't just let her wander around the house! And that was that. Jazzy walked right inside like she lived there. We stayed up with her in the living room all night, sleeping on the couch with her. I was a goner. I snuggled up with the kitten that I had no idea where she came from or if she had any germs and slept.

I bought her a liter box and a cat bed. I bought her toys and a cat tree. I bought her a scratching post (yeah, right). I bought her canned food and a special dish. Yes, I was hooked... and finally I bought her a carry case and we made a visit to the vet. She looked pregnant because she had worms, so we brought home medicine for that. We got all her kitten shots and talked about spaying her. The vet guessed she was about 6 months old. We made an appointment to get her spayed and chipped. She was part of our family now.

We live in a very rural area. Lots of wildlife like bears, wild hogs, and other predators. We had originally thought of Jazzy as an indoor/outdoor cat, but after she was spayed, and we had to quarantine her for 2 weeks, we decided for her own safety she would remain an indoor cat... and she seems quite content with that. It's been 7 months since we met Jazz. Pepper was not happy about the situation and we slowly got them use to each other. Now Pepper is tolerant of Jazzy and every once in a while I do catch them almost playing. And as far as me and Jazzy... well, she's got me wrapped right around her paw. She usually sleeps right next to me in bed. I didn't give birth to her, but she is my baby. 

So, that's what's been happening here... What have you been up to since we've talked?

Stop by tomorrow for The Sunday Salon... and we'll talk about some of the books I've been reading!

Happy reading... Suzanne

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