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, October 29, 2023

The Sunday Salon.... It's Sunday, Call Your Mom!

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's the place where Book Bloggers from around the world share their bookish finds with one another in a virtual place called The Sunday Salon. Thank you to Deb at ReaderBuzz for keeping us all together on Sundays and hosting The Sunday Salon now! I also visited with Kim at The Caffeinated Reader, another Sunday gathering place for us bookish people called The Sunday Post . 

I am fortunate that I am still able to hang out with my Mom. All my life (and that happens to be 60+ years) I have had my Mother to talk to, walk the mall with, do pizza & movie nights, game nights, do crafts with, share books with, basically anything Mothers & Daughters do. She's always been like a BFF. Not that I didn't have her pulling her hair out once in a while, especially during those wonderful teenage years, but in the end we have overcome all that stuff to arrive at two mature women enjoying a special kind of bond. A few years ago, I moved 800 miles away. So, our hangout days turned into video chats and once a year visits. This is week two of Mom flying down South to spend time with me in the Sunny Carolinas. 

I've put most of my blogging on hold while she's been here, but I did get to thinking about what books there were about Mother/Daughters relationships. SO, in honor of our Mother Daughter visit, here are some books about that unique bond Mothers share with their Daughters...

Gone Tonight by Sarah Pekkanen... 
Catherine Sterling thinks she knows her mother. Ruth Sterling is quiet, hardworking, and lives for her daughter. All their lives, it's been just the two of them against the world. But now, Catherine is ready to spread her wings, move from home, and begin a new career. And Ruth will do anything to prevent that from happening.

Ruth Sterling thinks she knows her daughter. Catherine would never rebel, never question anything about her mother's past or background. But when Ruth's desperate quest to keep her daughter by her side begins to reveal crack's in Ruth's carefully-constructed world, both mother and daughter begin a dance of deception.

No one can know Ruth's history. There is a reason why Ruth kept them moving every few years and why she was ready - in a moment's notice - to be gone in the night.  

But danger is coming. Is it coming from outside, from Ruth's past? Is Ruth reaching a breaking point? Or is the danger coming from the darkness that may live in Catherine, herself?

Propulsive, brilliant, layered and provocative, GONE TONIGHT is a thriller that showcases Sarah Pekkanen at the top of her game. 

Published August 2023 by Macmillan Publishers


Things I Wish I Told My Mother by Susan Patterson, Susan Dilallo and  James Patterson... 
A mother and daughter on vacation in Paris unpack a lifetime of secrets and hopes—with a giant Pattersonian twist at the end!Every daughter has her own distinctive voice, her inimitable style, and her secrets.

Laurie is an artist, a collector of experiences. She travels the world with a worn beige duffel bag.Every mother has her own distinctive voice, her inimitable style, and her secrets.

“Dr. Liz,” Laurie’s mother, is an elegant perfectionist who travels the world with a matched set of suitcases.When Laurie surprises her mother with a dream vacation, it brings an unexpected sparkle to her eyes. So begins Things I Wish I Told My Mother. You will wish this novel never ends.

Susan Patterson is James Patterson's wife and this is their first collaboration. Susan Patterson and Susan DiLallo "were inspired to write their moving novel by the shared experience of beloved mothers who lived into their nineties then died in the same year."

Published April 20223 by Little, Brown & Co.


Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage... 
A mute, diabolical 7-year-old wages war against her mother in this chilling debut. Hanna Jensen has never spoken aloud in front of another human being. Her parents, Alex and Suzette, have subjected her to scores of tests, fearing a physical disability, but in truth, Hanna simply finds words to be an ugly means of expression and chooses not to use them. Hanna also knows that her silence anguishes her mother, which is an added bonus; although Hanna adores her father, who believes she can do no wrong, she despises Suzette and torments her at every turn. Hanna has been expelled from three preschools and two kindergartens for bad behavior, forcing Suzette to home-school her—an arrangement that further strains their fraught relationship. The constant stress is wreaking havoc on Suzette’s health, so she redoubles her efforts to locate a school that will accept her troubled child. But as Suzette dreams of child-free days, Hanna is making plans of her own. This tightly plotted, expertly choreographed tale unfolds in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Hanna and Suzette. Author Stage palpably conveys Suzette’s fear, anger, frustration, and desperation while exploring the deleterious effects that motherhood can have on one’s marriage and self-worth. Hanna’s chapters are calm and upbeat by comparison, but they offer no respite from the book’s mounting tension; naïve observations and whimsical fantasies share the page with twisted musings and nefarious schemes, the jarring juxtaposition only compounding the reader's sense of unease.

This book got a starred review from Kirkus Reviews, and that made me take a look at this one. Sounds creepy good. Published in 2018 by St. Martins Press


Happy reading, have a wonderful rest of the week. I'll be back blogging full time next Sunday... Suzanne

Friday, October 27, 2023

First Line Friday...

An old familiar dread was waiting for me this morning. I couldn't tell where it came from. It hadn't followed me out of a dream--at least not one I could remember--but when I got up, there it was in everything. The airless heat of the motel room. The halo of sunlight around the window shades. The vacant smile of the girl at the front desk when she took the key from my hand. 

I thought it might stay behind when I left the motel, but it hitched a ride through the desert with me. Just sitting there. Tightening the world. It knew me so well.

                                                                         ....... The Morningside by Téa Obreht


Thursday, October 26, 2023

#TBT... The Year is 2015


It's Thursday and another "Throw Back Thursday"
What was I reading back in... June 2015?

Have your reading habits ever changed? Have you stopped reading a particular kind of book because you were just too tired of the same old story, same kind of detective, same kind of love story? Or did you just fall in love with a different kind of read and put what you normally read aside? Have you even noticed? It's fun to look back and see what you were reading years ago. Sometimes it's fun to imagine reading that favorite book for the first time and the thrill it gave you as you turned the pages. Here's what I was reading in 2015. I had forgotten how long ago it was that I read Natchez Burning. I still remember how much I loved reading it though... Here is my review from 2015...

June 13, 2015

Natchez Burning by Greg Iles.. a Review

I read this book so fast that it wasn't just Natchez Burning, it was the pages of the book burning!

When I was checking out the new books coming out at the end of April, I stumbled upon The Bone Tree by Greg Iles. It sounded like just the thing I was in the mood for at the time… kind of a murder/police procedural with a gung ho ex-procecutor in the heart of the deep south. BUT, then I read that this was part of a trilogy and this was book 2. It's not always a sin to read books out of order, and The Bone Tree seemed as though it was dealing with new circumstances with the same characters, but ultimately I decided to read what was considered the first book in the trilogy, Natchez Burning. And I am so glad I did!… But first let's talk about Natchez Burning by Greg Iles…

The setting for Natchez Burning is Natchez, Mississippi. The book opens in the 1960's, the era of the Ku Klux Klan, where 3 unsolved murders of black men, will remain in the mind of a young white man who grows up to be a journalist and spends his adult life trying to find justice for them.

Greg Iles delves deep to make this an incredible read. Not just for the way he writes about the historical time period, but for the way this book comes alive with such amazing characters that truly breath life into the story. As the pieces of the 50 year puzzle came together, I was literally on the edge of my seat and flipping those pages as fast as I could. It was exciting, frightening, and heart stopping. Good cops, bad cops, surprising twists, bad guys looking for redemption, a swamp you never want to be taken to… and a great start to a planned 3 book trilogy… my only "not so glowing" part of this review is that the ending was a bit monotonous. There are quite a few characters and as the story hit that pivotal moment when all hell breaks loose, it got a bit crowded with too many characters having major parts. But up until that point the book was superbly written. And just because it got a bit muddy at the end does not mean I would steer you away from reading this. READ THIS!

And now, why you need to read this book first and the trilogy in order… Because when I started book 2, The Bone Tree, it started off exactly where book one ended. And for the next 80 pages (give or take a few) the story rehashed the ending of book 1. Now if I had read book 2 first, I would have known what happened and how everything worked out without the thrill of the surprise. It almost seemed as though the first 2 books were really just a huge tome that the publishers had to cut off somewhere because who's going to read a 1700 page book, right?! The first book is about 875 pages and book 2 is about 800 pages. I am on page 89 of The Bone Tree (yes, I had to immediately start book 2 because I am hooked) and waiting for things to heat up again.

If you love murder mysteries, Natchez Burning is right up your alley. It is a kind of police procedural, but not as stringent as you would normally expect. The murders are ultimately revealed and solved as each character reveals their part it either the act or the hunting down of the people responsible.

What Were You Reading in 2015?

Monday, October 23, 2023

Memoir Monday... a Special Vet and his Companion


Keira & Me by Noel Fitzpatrick... 
'With you by my side, just doing my best was the best thing to do.'

Keira is an extraordinary dog. She held the key to Noel's heart from the moment he first met her.

That's because Keira doesn't judge. When Noel struggles, Keira is there to remind him he need only do his best. When he sees only darkness, Keira is ready to lift him back into the light.

Keira & Me is the real-life story of Supervet Noel Fitzpatrick, his companion Keira and their life together. It captures the incredible bond of unconditional love between us and our canine friends. Inspiring and healing in equal measure, this beautifully illustrated and deeply heartfelt story of Noel and Keira's journey together teaches us all how to embrace the ups with the downs, the joy and the sorrow, the darkness and the light, that make up a life.

Noel Fitzpatrick is known as the Supervet from his TV program in the UK called Supervet. Originally from Ireland and moving to the UK in 1993, his veterinary practice includes 2 hospitals specializing in orthopedics, neurology and oncology. He's won numerous awards, done amazing surgical procedures and has written numerous books. This book is a special story about a pup that stole his heart and took the journey beside his side for many many years. It is suppose to be a beautifully looking as well as a very heartfelt story. For anyone who has a special animal in their lives or was fortunate to have had a special furbaby in their lives. I look forward to owning a copy of this special story. 

Beautifully illustrated by Laura McKendry, who illustrated the book The Boy, the Mole, the Fox and the Horse, and actually done in the same style as that book, Keira & Me will be Published by Orion Publishing Group, October 26, 2023. I had a difficult time finding it anywhere in the US, so look to bookstores such as Waterstones or Blackwells to purchase. And Waterstones has signed copies available right now. 

Friday, October 20, 2023

First Lines Friday...

"Back in 1961, when women wore shirtwaist dresses and joined garden clubs and drove legions of children around in seatbelt-less cars without giving it a second thought; back before anyone knew there'd even be a sixties movement, much less one that its participants would spend the next sixty years chronicling; back when the big wars were over and the secret wars had just begun and people were starting to think fresh and believe everything was possible, the thirty-year-old mother of Madeline Zott rose before dawn every morning and felt certain of just one thing: her life was over."

                                                                    ... Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Sunday, October 15, 2023

The Sunday Salon and let's get cozy... with a ball of yarn!

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's the place where Book Bloggers from around the world share their bookish finds with one another in a virtual place called The Sunday Salon. Thank you to Deb at ReaderBuzz for keeping us all together on Sundays and hosting The Sunday Salon now! I also visited with Kim at The Caffeinated Reader, another Sunday gathering place for us bookish people called The Sunday Post and the ladies at Mailbox Monday. 

It's been a hectic week in South Carolina! Some of you may know that I am also a crafts person. I have a little business called Shawl Y'all and make pretty things with my weapon of choice: a crochet hook! I work all year long creating and my big once a year festival was yesterday. Getting everything ready, packed, loaded and unloaded is always a challenge. I have a very nice husband who helps with all of it, but I still get stressed out. When everything is finally set up and the festival is open, it's always fun. I always meet so many nice people and I get to share my other love besides reading. I always think it's fun to find mysteries that have a craftsy theme, and I always have to pick them up. This week I'm sharing 2 that I just received from publishers and one that I've got on my TBR list. So, let's get cozy...

Killer Hooks by Betty Hechtman... Molly Pink and the Tarzana Hookers have to read between the lines when a bookstore event turns fatal in a new Crochet Mystery.

There’s never a dull moment for amateur sleuth Molly Pink. Without warning, her infant granddaughter has been dumped in her lap for babysitting duties, her son has reluctantly enlisted her help investigating a potential investor in his business, and now she has to manage a high-profile bookstore event for a former Hollywood columnist who’s dishing the dirt in a juicy tell-all. And when the author collapses and dies in the store just as she’s about to reveal an incriminating tidbit, the police suspect foul play and zero in on Molly as the likely culprit.

Getting herself off the hook won’t be easy, but Molly and the Tarzana Hookers are convinced that whoever did the deed wanted to silence the author before she could expose their dark secret. As the police continue to needle Molly, certain she’s trying to pull the wool over their eyes with her claims of innocence, she’s also in over her head in a mommy group run by Hollywood power couples—all of whom may have something to hide. As she finally stitches together the loose ends and figures out the killer’s identity, they decide it’s time to silence her too, and Molly has to think fast before she makes a quick trip from her granddaughter’s cradle to the grave . . .

Includes a crochet project and a scrumptious recipe!

Wow, Betty Hechtman is a crochet girl mystery readers dream! She has over 2 dozen published crochet mysteries and that's not including all the rest she's written. What caught my eye with this mystery was that it has a bookstore in it and includes a crochet project and recipe! But from all the 4.5 stars she has received on almost all her books from readers, I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy her writing too! Would you like to read an excerpt? Here's a link to her webpage and Excerpt of chapter one. Published by Beyond the Page Publishing Sept. 26th, 2023, and available now from your favorite bookstore! I received a copy of Killer Hooks from Beyond the Page Publishing to review. 


A Twisted Skein by Sally Goldenbaum...
Summer is on the wane in the charmingly picturesque coastal village of Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, but an upcoming fashion show benefit ensures there’s still plenty of excitement in store for the Seaside Knitters…

Like every coastal town, Sea Harbor needs tourists and their dollars. But there’s something special about that time of year when summer people return to their normal lives, and the wide sandy beaches welcome back locals with their dogs and strollers. And this year, even as the season cools down, Izzy Perry’s Sea Harbor Yarn Studio is heating up, thanks to an upcoming fashion benefit . . .

The show will feature hand-knit garments, and enthusiastic knitters flock to the shop for supplies to create runway-worthy pieces. Yet Seaside Knitter Birdie is enjoying flocks of a different kind, thanks to a rekindled interest in birdwatching, a hobby she enjoyed with her late husband. Along with a small group of passionate birders, she often spends weekend mornings looking for warblers, or keeping watch for gannets and grebes. The group members themselves are almost as fascinating as the birds. It’s a lovely, special time—until Birdie makes her way through a tangle of vines and stumbles upon a fellow birder’s body.

At first, it appears to be an accidental fall, but an autopsy soon reveals that the victim died before hitting a granite boulder. When police discover a clue linking the victim to one of the Seaside Knitters, the web of suspicion grows. Before the woods are ablaze in autumn glory and the knitters have cast off the final rows on their runway projects, they’ll have to unravel secrets and ties strong enough to bind friends and neighbors together—and some that may press a killer to take another life.

Sally Goldenbaum is also a prolific writer with 16 books in her ​Seaside Knitters Society Mysteries, all with 4.5 out of 5 stars from readers. Looking forward to reading Sally for the first time and nice to know there are plenty of mysteries to read after A Twisted Skein. Would you like to read a few chapters of A Twisted Skein? Follow this link! Published by Kensington Publishing, A Twisted Skein will be released November 28, 2023! Mark your calendars! I received a copy of the eBook from Kensington Publishing to review, so look for that coming soon! 


Crochet and Cauldrons (Vampire Knitting Club) by Nancy Warren
Every family has annoying relatives; mine just happen to be undead.

My Grandmother, Agnes Bartlett, used to own Cardinal Woolsey’s knitting shop in Oxford then died and left her shop to me, without informing me that she wasn’t actually dead. She’s a vampire and part of the world’s strangest craft circle – the Vampire Knitting Club.

As you might imagine, this means she’s free to interfere in how I run the business that used to be hers. She’s trying to teach me to knit and it’s not going well. She’s also trying to teach me how to be a witch, since it turns out I’m from a long line of witches. Another tiny detail about my family that no one ever told me, along with the long-lost witch cousins I recently discovered.

But I’m learning. I’ve got my family spell book, my black cat familiar, some powers that sometimes scare me, and an interesting new group of friends. My archaeologist parents are coming to visit and bringing me a gift I could do without.

So, to recap, I run a knitting shop and I can’t knit. I’m a beginning witch who can’t always control her cat, never mind her magic, and my love life is as tangled as the last sock I tried to knit. Oh, and for some reason, I keep getting involved in murder investigations. Good thing I have my vampire knitters to help sniff out clues.

At least I’ve finally hired the perfect assistant, a real demon with the crochet hook. Or is she too perfect?

Here's a bit of crochet and a bit of vampire/undead in a cozy mystery by Nancy Warren, who has a few different series. She has a Witch Baking series and a flower shop series too. She also has gotten rave reviews from her readers, so I am looking forward to reading this book. Published by Ambleside Publishing, this is an older book published in 2019, but still available from your favorite bookstore.

Weekly Update...

Monday, Memoir Monday was a Graphic Memoir for an important woman, who captured the hearts of Cambodia.

Tuesday was about my sneak peek at the new Apple TV series, Lessons in Chemistry, based on the book by Bonnie Garmus. 

Wednesday, we played a game of This or That, comparing the UK and US covers of a book I was purchasing. Which do you prefer?

Friday on First Lines Friday, we put on our lipstick and read a little about... 

Do you read cozy mysteries?

Do you have a hobby besides reading?

Hope you found something interesting to read today! Let me know what other books your loving this week! 

Happy reading... Suzanne

Friday, October 13, 2023

First Lines Friday...


After the funeral. I'm hiding in Mother's bathroom watching a skincare video about necks. Cheap black dress that chafes. Illicit cigarette. Sitting on the toilet amid her decorative baskets, her red jellyfish soaps, her black towel sets. Smoke comes tumbling out of my mouth in amorphous gray clouds. I blow it out the window where the palm trees still sway and the alien sun still shines and the sky is a blue that hurts my eyes.                                                          ....Rouge by Mona Awad

 I love that second sentence. I don't know why, but watching a video about necks just seems so funny to me. This has gotten a lot of great buzz and it's on my TBR list. 

Wednesday, October 11, 2023

This or That...

 This or That?

We talked about book covers recently. And I had mentioned that I usually like the UK covers more than the US covers, but there are exceptions. I've noticed lately that there are many US covers I like more than the UK version. Here's an example of a big difference in the covers of Starter Villain by John Scalzi. 

I was looking to buy a copy of this book, it's gotten lots of great reviews and sounds like a fun book (in a science fiction, you better be able to embrace an alternate world, kind of way). Way different concepts on how to illustrate the cover. 

Which do you like better? This one or That one? 
Which do you think is the UK cover? 


Do you need to know more about the book to choose? Here's the blurb from the publisher...

Starter Villain by John Scalzi...
Inheriting your uncle's supervillain business is more complicated than you might think. Particularly when you discover who's running the place.

Charlie's life is going nowhere fast. A divorced substitute teacher living with his cat in a house his siblings want to sell, all he wants is to open a pub downtown, if only the bank will approve his loan.

Then his long-lost uncle Jake dies and leaves his supervillain business (complete with island volcano lair) to Charlie.

But becoming a supervillain isn't all giant laser death rays and lava pits. Jake had enemies, and now they're coming after Charlie. His uncle might have been a stand-up, old-fashioned kind of villain, but these are the real thing: rich, soulless predators backed by multinational corporations and venture capital.

It's up to Charlie to win the war his uncle started against a league of supervillains. But with unionized dolphins, hyper-intelligent talking spy cats, and a terrifying henchperson at his side, going bad is starting to look pretty good.

In a dog-eat-dog a cat.

At first I really didn't like the Cat in the suit cover. But it started to grow on me. And I do like cats. The left cover is a nice graphic design. This One or That One? Have you guessed which cover is which yet? Okay, let's see if you're right... The UK cover is on the left, US cover is on the right! 

Let me know which cover you like better in the comments below!

There actually is a great special edition of the one on the left with beautiful sprayed edged from Inkstone Books, an online bookstore that specializes in Science fiction and fantasy books. Here's their special edition of Starter Villain...

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Lessons in Chemistry... Streaming to a TV near you

I received an invitation to an online screening of Apple TV's Lessons in Chemistry this past weekend. The series is based on Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. The book, Lessons in Chemistry, was published in 2022 and was a major hit with readers , even being named Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, Oprah Daily, and Entertainment Weekly to name a few. I'm reading this right now... I like reading the book before seeing the movie... and that means finishing the book too, but I haven't yet... so what's a girl going to do with the invite?....... Accept it of course! 

The Series premiers this Friday, Oct. 13th on Apple TV. The series will run 8 episodes. The pilot and first episode will be released on Oct. 13th, then a new episode every week until episode 8. 


Need to know what the book is about? Here's the synopsis from the publisher, Penguin Random House:

Lessons in Chemisty by Bonnie Garmus...Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it's the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel Prize–nominated grudge holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results. 

Like science, though, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Eizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother but also the reluctant star of America's most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth's unusual approach to cooking ("combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride") proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because, as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn't just teaching women how to cook. She's daring them to change the status quo.  


What did I think of it? I really enjoyed it! The TV series changed the order of some things. I don't want to ruin it for you, so suffice it to say, they changed some of the circumstances, but kept the flavor. Not unusual for a book to movie, or in this case TV, adaptation. First of all the cinematography is wonderful. They have captured the 1950's/60's perfectly! (Don't you just love the fashions of the day!) They also capture the sexism that existed and the frustration any woman in the workforce would feel. Especially in a male dominated environment that Elizabeth Zot, our lead heroine, works in. I liked the way Elizabeth Zot bucked the conventions of the times. The acting was very good, good chemistry (no pun intended) between our lead actors, Brie Larson and Lewis Pullman( he plays Calvin Evans). But I suspect the series will shift to Elizabeth being a cooking show goddess after the pilot. There are some flashbacks in the pilot that help flesh out Elizabeth, but because of some of these flashbacks there are trigger warnings. (Anyone who thinks this is a comedy may be surprised, because this deals with some very serious issues.) 

What is a trigger warning? Here is the definition as per the Cambridge Dictionary:

a statement at the beginning of a piece of writing, before the start of a film, etc., warning people that they may find the content very upsetting, especially if they have experienced something similar: Trigger warnings are supposed to protect people from post-traumatic flashbacks.

What are some of the triggers in Lessons in Chemistry? rape, sexism, and suicide to name three. The pilot alluded to some sort of sexual abuse that happened to Elizabeth towards the end of the pilot. Towards the beginning of the book, there are no allusions, the abuse is in black & white on the page and it is brutal. But maybe that will be revealed in total in a later TV episode?

The pilot ends with a cliff hanger. Of course. But the first episode is right after, and I look forward to watching it. 

I am enjoying the book so far. The "brutal" scene at the beginning does not take away from the rest of the story. It explains Elizabeth's actions. But as I move along in the story, I am really enjoying the writing of Bonnie Garmus. And I'm all there rooting Elizabeth on...

So now, I need to finish the book before the weekend so I can watch the series without ruining the reading experience.

Have you read Lessons in Chemistry?

Do you like to read the book before you see the movie?

Monday, October 9, 2023

Memoir Monday... Graphically speaking

The Golden Voice by Gregory Cahill, Illustrated by Kate Baumann 

In Battambang, Cambodia, in the year 1967, singer Ros Serey Sothea, known to her family as Little Cricket, has been making her name around town, performing at weddings and talent shows despite her periodic bouts of stage fright. Music is a fun distraction from her day job boiling and selling snails, not to mention the political violence that has gripped the country. When she’s offered the opportunity to sing on Cambodia’s National Radio, she goes against her mother’s wishes and runs off to the capital, Phnom Penh. Soon she has a top radio hit and is performing for the Cambodian royal family. Her rising star breeds resentment in some of the other radio performers, including crooner Sos Mat (whom she nevertheless agrees to marry). When the royal family is ousted in an American-backed coup, Ros finds herself forced to write patriotic songs for the new regime. The new political reality doesn’t prevent Ros’ star from rising even higher, though it does wreak havoc on her personal and romantic life. As disruptive as the new government is, however, it is nothing compared to the one waiting in the wings—the brutal communist regime known as the Khmer Rouge. Cahill and Baumann bring Ros’s story to life with subtlety and grace. The writing is economical but effective at capturing the characters’ various personalities. “I think big city living made little cricket soft,” Ros’s mischievous brother tells her when she returns briefly to work on the family farm. “I can just picture you sitting in a French cafe ordering expensive coffee and saying ‘ooh la la.’ ” Baumann’s art is particularly stunning, rendering the shiny studios of Phnom Penh and the green of the countryside in vivid color. Ros’ brilliant but short life makes for an excellent avenue to explore this tumultuous period of Cambodian history and demonstrates the ways that music can capture the spirit of a people—even after the musician is gone. A compelling graphic novel documenting a lost musical history.

I was reading Kirkus Reviews and came across this graphic novel. I had no idea who they were talking about. When I read this same blurb from Kirkus Reviews about Ros Serey Sothea , I was so intrigued. My knowledge of that time period and the Khmer Rouge is from a high school history class many years ago. But that's the thing about books, they open up a whole new world to anyone who wants to discover and learn more. And so, I started reading about Ros Serey Sothea, her music, the era that she became popular and the take over over by the Khmer Rouge. There is a sad ending to her story, but some of her music has been saved, and Ros Serey Sothea's life story has been saved by Gregory Cahill, who wrote this graphic novel, but who also made a documentary about Ros Serey Sothea. A great deal of care and detail went into the writing and illustrating of The Golden Voice. It was important to everyone involved to be accurate with the history and the life of Ros Serey Sothea. I look forward to reading this... keep an eye out for my review in the future.

Published by Life Drawn, an imprint of Humanoids, this will be released this Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2023 

Sunday, October 8, 2023

The Sunday Salon and... Books That Have Gone to the Birds... or have birds, are about birds, heck if you like birds read this!

Welcome to The Sunday Salon! It's the place where Book Bloggers from around the world share their bookish finds with one another in a virtual place called The Sunday Salon. Thank you to Deb at ReaderBuzz for keeping us all together on Sundays and hosting The Sunday Salon now! I also visited with Kim at The Caffeinated Reader, another Sunday gathering place for us bookish people called The Sunday Post and the ladies at Mailbox Monday.

Who knew that such a little blackish bird from 19th century Europe would cause such a stir in the U.S. and be one of the most prolific songbirds of today. I have never considered them songbirds myself. I have always seen large groups of them in various places causing havoc. Most birders I know have always thought of them as pests. They are considered invasive by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. They can do a lot of damage to crops, kick birds out of their natural habitats and female Starlings are known to replace their own eggs in other birds nests. BUT, there is another side to these birds. And I've read quite a bit lately to make me take a second look at these fascinating "non-native" birds... 

    Some interesting facts about Starlings...

*All the European Starlings in North America descended from 100 birds set loose
 in New York's Central Park in the early 1890s. The birds were intentionally released by a group who wanted America to have all the birds that Shakespeare ever mentioned.

*Starlings are great vocal mimics: individuals can learn the calls of up to 20 different species. And in the case of Mozart, he found that his Starling actually mimiced one of his movements.

*Starlings turn from spotted and white to glossy and dark each year without shedding their feathers. It's called "wear molt". And actually they're quite beautiful when they molt   and show off their iridescent colors. 

But all of this "research" into Starlings started with a simple book cover... I came across Amanda Linsmeier's book, Starlings, and couldn't take my eyes off it. How gorgeous is that cover?! When I started googling the book, another book popped up. That book was Starling House by Alix E. Harrow. That's a pretty cover, and the book sounded good too. So then I was all in and just googled "Starling" and found Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt, a Naturalist. So, this week's Sunday Salon is all about books with Starlings. Either on the cover or part of the story. And here they are...

 Starlings by Amanda Linsmeier...

 Kit’s dad always said that her grandmother was dead.

 But when Kit’s father dies suddenly, Agatha Starling, his 
 mysterious (and very much alive) mother, invites Kit and her mom   to leave North Dakota and spend the winter holidays at her home.   Agatha lives in a small apartment even though she still owns   massive Starling House, the old family home that’s since been   turned into a museum. When Kit and her mother arrive in   Rosemont, a Stepford-like small town in Wisconsin, for Christmas,   what awaits her isn’t a quaint holiday with her long-lost   grandmother but a horror-filled trip complete with creepy   townsfolk, magical roses, disembodied voices, and even a   mysterious death. When Kit’s mother suddenly disappears under   strange circumstances and her grandmother seems more    preoccupied with an upcoming New Year’s town festival, Kit knows   something is not right. She is forced to rely on herself and her few   new Rosemont friends to figure out what is really going on and what exactly is keeping Rosemont seeming so outwardly perfect. This is an original and fast-paced horror novel with elements of fantasy. While the prose is at times overly embellished and the supporting characters lack significant depth, the deliciously chilling plot advances swiftly toward a conclusion that will leave readers delightfully creeped out and thoroughly content. Main characters are White; Kit is bisexual, and there is some diversity in race and sexual orientation among supporting characters. A foreboding, flower-filled, feminist horror story. 

I absolutely judged this book by its' cover. I think it is gorgeous. Because of that I read more about it and the story seems intriguing to me. I did not expect it to be a horror story either. In my eReader right now! Starlings by Amanda Linsmeier was published this past June 2023 by Delacorte Press.

 Starling House by Alix E. Harrow...
 A grim and gothic tale... about a small town haunted by secrets that   can't stay buried and the sinister house that sits at the crossroads of it   all.

 Eden, Kentucky, is just another dying, bad-luck town, known only for 
 the legend of E. Starling, the reclusive nineteenth-century author and i   illustrator who wrote The Underland—and disappeared.

 Before she vanished, Starling House appeared. But everyone agrees 
 that it’s best to let the uncanny house—and its last lonely heir, Arthur   Starling—go to rot. Opal knows better than to mess with haunted 
 houses or brooding men, but an unexpected job offer might be a chance   to get her brother out of Eden. Too quickly, though, Starling House   starts to feel dangerously like something she’s never had: a home.

As sinister forces converge on Starling House, Opal and Arthur are going to have to make a dire choice: to dig up the buried secrets of the past and confront their own fears, or let Eden be taken over by literal nightmares.

I really love this cover too. And gothic tales are a old reading favorite. This has gotten a lot of great reviews and Alix E. Harrow is a Hugo award winner. AND, Starling House is actually Reese's Book Club pick for October! I picked up a copy and I'll be reading this soon. Starling House by Alix E. Harrow was just released Oct. 3, 2023 by Tor.


  Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt...

  A bird lover discovers the joys of living with a starling.

 One day, glimpsing a gathering of starlings outside her window,       bird-watcher and naturalist Haupt (The Urban Bestiary:               Encountering the Everyday Wild, 2013, etc.) happened to recall 
 that Mozart kept a pet starling, a choice that seemed to her           extraordinary. Starlings, she reveals, are among the most “reviled”   birds: invasive, aggressive, omnivorous, and destructive. Some call   them “rats with wings” and would happily obliterate the entire s   species. They oust other birds from their nests, voraciously eat food   crops and feed from cattle and swine troughs, and cause $800   million in agricultural damage each year. Orphan starlings are   killed if brought to animal shelters, which is how Haupt happened t   to raise one herself. Weaving together cheerful memoir, natural   history, and biography, the author celebrates her “insatiably social” pet starling, Carmen; investigates Mozart’s experience with his avian “companion, distraction, consolation, and muse”; and offers intriguing details about starling behavior. Mozart discovered his starling in a bird shop in Vienna, when it apparently was able to sing a motif from one of his concertos. Fascinated by this bit of lore, Haupt has discovered that starlings, rare among birds, are able to mimic sounds. Carmen, for example, has a repertoire of 15 phrases, including “Hi, honey,” and “C’mere, honey!” Haupt is completely entranced by her feathered friend, allowing her to fly freely around the house, perch on her shoulder or in her hair, and scamper across her fingers as she writes at the computer, making changes to documents and emails that Haupt thinks is evidence of her intelligence. Of course, the bird poses some problems: she swallows things that could kill her (a rubber band, a garbanzo bean), and she poops constantly, everywhere. Like all birds that fly a lot, starlings need to eliminate waste that can weigh them down. Haupt provides visitors with “poop shirts.”

Linguists, audiologists, ornithologists, music historians, and Mozart’s many biographers contribute to this lively investigation of a small wild bird.

This book really piqued my interest. When it popped up in a search for "Starling", I didn't expect a story-like naturalists book about Mozart, his love of his startling intertwined with a story of Lyanda Lynn Haupt's pet starling. Not to mention some history of the starling thrown in. Who knew having pet starlings were a thing? Who knew about Mozart and his pet starling? I'm hoping that this book is in the same vein as Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery, which was about her friendship with an Octopus named Athena. (I loved that book and if you haven't read it you should! It is so fascinating and really made me fall in love with Octopuses (yes, it's octopus-es) Here's a link to my review back in 2016). However the book turns out, I just bought a copy to read. Look for my review sometime in the future. Mozart's Starling by Lyanda Lynn Haupt was published by Little, Brown Spark in 2018.

What's Your Favorite Book with a Bird in it?

Weekly Update...

Monday, Oct. 2nd... Mailbox Monday about 3 books great sounding books I received advanced copies of from publishers last week. 

Tuesday, Oct. 3rd... Release Day Review of The Twelve Months of Christmas by Sheila Roberts. A heartfelt and heartwarming story perfect for the Holiday season! 

Wednesday, Oct. 4th... It was Banned Books Week this week! I always read a banned book for Banned Books Week and this year I chose to read Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult. Click the link to check out about Banned Books Week and Nineteen Minutes. 

Friday, Oct. 6th... First Lines Friday was from a book that is a strange combo of Mexican Horror films and Nazi's. 

Saturday, Oct. 7th... I wrap up Banned Books Week with 2 books I found that show the reasons for diversity and the need for all books to be available to all people.

That wrap's it up for this week! Hope you found something interesting here today! And share what interesting books and bookish things you're reading and doing this week!

Happy reading... Suzanne

Saturday, October 7, 2023

2 Books to Wrap Up Banned Books Week...

The Arabic Quilt
The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale
Both written by Aya Khalil, illustrated by Anait Semidzhyan

As we wrap up Banned Books Week, I wanted to share two books I was reading about this week. The Arabic Quilt and The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale by Aya Khalil. The first book I read about was The Great Banned-Books Bake Sale and I thought it was a great book for children to read about to understand about what banned books were. But when I read about why author Aya Khalil actually wrote the book, I was even more interested....

"They banned my debut, so I wrote a picture book about it."
                                                                                               ...Aya Khalil

Aya Khalil was inspired to write the story of The Arabic Quilt based on her own experiences growing up as an immigrant. Her family moved to the United States from Egypt when she was one, and eventually going to elementary school, Aya was the only Muslim in her class. This made for some challenges for Aya and in an essay she wrote for We Need Diverse Books she recounts some of these challenges, including when a classmate tells her to "Go Back to your country". I can't imagine going thru all of that at such a tender age. Fast forward to Aya writing The Arabic Quilt, getting it published, the book enjoying a place in school libraries and book stores. This was her debut book. A book she believed in. It was very popular. The Arabic Quilt was published in February of 2020 and by the Fall of 2021, Aya was told that her book was on a list of banned books in Pennsylvania. 

I googled about The Arabic Quilt to find out why it was banned. All I could find was that it was banned period. So, I decided I would ask Aya Khalil herself. I found her on Facebook and messaged her. Her reply was this...

" The only reason it was banned was because it was on a list of diverse books and the district took off all the books on that list for no reason told."

Can you imagine a school taking all the diverse books off the shelf?! The ban was short lived with the help of student protests, which eventually lead to her writing The Great Banned-Book Bake Sale. She kept the same characters in her new book from her first book, which I think is wonderful! 

"For a period of time, students weren’t able to check out The Arabic Quilt from their libraries, and this picture book could have been the only book with a positive portrayal of an Arab Muslim."    
                                                            Aya Khalil from her essay, " They banned my debut, so I wrote a picture book about it"

The simple quote above shows one example for the need for diversity in books. And what Aya when thru with her children's book, The Arabic Quilt, shows us how important the freedom to choose what books you want to read is. School libraries are sometimes the only place for a child to borrow a book to read. Limiting these books, banning these books, hurts children. 

Reading Aya's experiences in school touched my heart. Reading about these books touched my heart. If you'd like to learn more about Aya Khalil and her experiences, follow these links to her Blog Post in Kidlit in Color  and her essay on We Need Diverse Books

Here is a wonderful review of Aya Khalil's book The Arabic Quilt by Ronna Mandel of Good Reads with Ronna.

Read about Aya Khalil's book The Great Baned-Books Bake Sale at Goodreads.

What books did you read or read about during Banned Books Week?

I hope you found the stories behind these childrens's books as interesting as I did. And I hope during Banned Books Week you found something great to read!

Happy reading... Suzanne


Friday, October 6, 2023

First Lines Friday... from Silver Nitrate

An Engorged, yellow moon painted the sky a sickly amber hue, illuminating a solitary figure. A woman, standing between two sycamore trees. It had rained, and the earth was slippery as, breathing with difficulty, she ventured toward the cabin. The woods felt awake and dangerous, with the sounds of crickets and rolling thunder in the distance. There was a humming. Was that a bird? It was too high-pitched, that noise. The woman pressed a hand against her lips and stared at the cabin, with its welcoming lights. But that oasis of warmth was distant. A twig snapped, and the woman looked behind her in terror. She began to run.

                                        ...Silver Nitrate by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

As I was looking at the new eBooks available to borrow at my local library, I saw this book cover. Wow, look at those terrified eyes! Then I recognized the author, who wrote Mexican Gothic, a gothic horror novel, that has been on my TBR list for a while. So how could I not read the description...

"NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From the New York Times bestselling author of The Daughter of Doctor Moreau and Mexican Gothic comes a fabulous meld of Mexican horror movies and Nazi occultism: a dark thriller about the curse that haunts a legendary lost film—and awakens one woman’s hidden powers."

I thought the first lines were intriguing... then I read the first page and really was intrigued... So another horror story? a cursed movie? Okay, I'm interested... 

What do you think? Do the first lines hook you?

You can listen to a sample of the audiobook or read a 15 pages of the book at PenguinRandomHouse

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Fall In Love Giveaway!

I follow author Marie Bostwick on Instagram and she posted this Fall In Love Giveaway! It includes 8 books including her book, Esme Cahill Fails Spectacularly! How awesome is that! Follow the link above to enter (and be quick... this giveaway ends midnight 10/6). Good luck!!

Wednesday, October 4, 2023

It's Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week October 1st to October 7th, 2023!

Have I mentioned that it's Banned Books Week?! What is Banned Books Week? Here's what the ALA (American Library Association) writes about it:

"Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in libraries, bookstores, and schools. Typically (but not always) held during the last week of September, the annual event highlights the value of free and open access to information and brings together the entire book community — librarians, educators, authors, publishers, booksellers, and readers of all types — in shared support of the freedom to seek and to express ideas"

It's the 21st century and still we have book burners and censorship. I think that the point here is that parents should be involved in what their children read and help them understand what they are reading, guide them in choosing appropriate material for their curious minds. BUT, let's not infringe on the reading rights of another child, whose parent may not wish to ban a certain book. Most banning and censorship takes place in the most accessible (and free) place to check out a book - a library! Let's not make reading a privilege. 

What do YOU think?!

Are you reading anything special for Banned Book Week?! I have opened the pages of Jodi Picoult's book Nineteen Minutes. Nineteen minutes is about a school shooting and its' aftermath. This was originally published in 2007. 

In 2015 Nineteen Minutes was "Challenged at the Gilford (NH) High School. Challenged but retained at the Kennett (PA) High School despite a parent’s complaint that the content in the book is not suitable for high school students. The award-winning novel depicts a school shooting in a fictional New Hampshire high school. The novel contains depictions of physical violence in public schools and a scene of graphic sexual activity."

In 2007, Ms. Picoult actually gave out books to classrooms in schools and was invited to one of the schools to discuss the research that went into the writing of Nineteen Minutes. A young man stood up and said he didn't have a question, but wanted to say "this October I was gonna bring a gun to school. Then my teacher assigned 19 Minutes, and I started reading, and I realized I wasn't the only person who felt like I do." 

Want to read more about Banned Books Week? You can read more at PEN America, The American Library Association and here's a list of the 50 most banned books in America right now from Readers Digest. It's a very interesting list.

Let's read a banned book this week!
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