Saturday, March 25, 2017

Books Read - Week in Review - W/E - 3/25/2017


Another week has flown by, definitely more cheerful than the previous.  I had my book group meeting, spring flower show and yoga. We also celebrated my daughter's birthday with a nice restaurant lunch on Tuesday, and then we watched the girls at our house on Wednesday so that she and her husband could enjoy a nice kid-free dinner out.  Here are a  few pictures from the flower show.


Books Read Last Week


Ill Will; Dan Chaon
Ballantine Books - 2017

(My Thoughts) - In the present, Dustin is psychologist in Cleveland, Ohio who has recently lost his wife to cancer. He has 2 grown sons, one in college and another struggling with drug addiction. Some 30 years earlier Dustin's parents, aunt and uncle were brutally murdered.  The individual convicted of the crime was his adopted foster brother Rusty who has spent decades in prison until DNA evidence later proved his innocence. So who was the real killer?  In addition to this crime, there is also a present day serial killer thread that runs through the story. Ill Will is a gripping thriller that hooked me from the very beginning but, it's not a quick or easy read. The story is told by a series of narrators, some in the first person and others in the third.  A lot of the story relies on memories, some events having occurred some 30 years earlier,  while the story jumps back and forth in time. Despite this it's a well written novel that kept me on the edge of my seat. Worth reading (4/5 stars)

All the Stars in the Heavens; Adriana Trigiani
Harper - 2015

(March Book Group Read) - Loosely based on the true Hollywood love story of actress Loretta Young and Clark Gable who meet on the set filming Call of the Wild in 1935. Clark Gable is married and 13 years her senior. Alda Ducci, was in training to be a nun at an orphanage when she was forced to leave. She is given a job as Loretta Young's personal secretary, a job which she's ill prepared for given the contrast between her background and the things that go on in Hollywood yet, the two grow very close. The Hollywood story includes other stars such as David Niven, Spencer Tracy, Myrna Loy and a few others as well.  Although I liked Alda's story, I struggled with this book, finding the dialogue between the stars trivial and uninteresting which resulted in my skipping pages while plodding along.  can't recommend this one.

The other women in my book group (most older than me) seemed to enjoy what they described as a "trip down memory lane" so I found myself, along with one other reader about my age to be the only ones disappointed by this offering.  (2/5 stars overall)




Swing Time; Zadie Smith
Penguin Random House Audio - 2016

(My Thoughts) - This was a DNF for me. I had high hopes for this novel of first friendships between two biracial girls in London who dream of being dancers, even though only one (Tracey) has real talent. The story is told in the first person by an unnamed narrator and later by Tracey. I started out enjoying the audio but as the story moved from past to present and back again and location to location. London, New York and West Africa, I found myself losing interest. After falling asleep listening 3 nights in a row, I decided to abandon ship. (Honestly, the story seemed unfocused and, I'm not sure I would have enjoyed this one any more if I had tried the print version instead -- probably just not for me. (DNF)



Widowmaker; Paul Dorion
Macmillan Audio - 2016


The Futures; Anna Pitoniak
Lee Bourreaux Books - 2017



(3) new books arrived by mail last week. I think they all sound great.

How was your week ?

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Widowmaker; Paul Dorion


Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph, maybe two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon.  This week's selection is part of a series. I started the audio version without reading the earlier installments and it's working out great so far.

Widowmaker; Paul Dorion
MacMillan Audio - 2016

1

"On my first day as a cadet at the Maine Criminal Justice Academy, the instructors showed my class the most disturbing video I had ever seen.  It was a montage of real-life footage--most of it taken during routine traffic stops -- of police officers who had been ambushed on the line of duty.  We saw cops being run over, cops being wrestled to the ground by multiple assailants, cops having their service weapons stripped from their hands and used to kill them.

"You only need to get careless once,' our instructor told us.  As if we needed to be told.

Five years had passed since I'd seen that video; I was no longer a twenty-three-year-old cadet, no longer a rookie, and yet those horrible images still made regular appearances in my nightmares.  Every time I went on patrol, without exception, I would hear my instructor's warning in my head, and I would wonder if this was the day that some seemingly harmless stranger would smile at me through a window and then shoot me in the face.

I might have called myself paranoid if I hadn't watched those cops being murdered,"

Based on this intro, would you read more or pass on this book?

Feel free to join in by posting your own First Chapter First Paragraph Intro and linking below.







Saturday, March 18, 2017

Books Read - Week in Review - W/E 3/18/2017

It's been another one of those weeks that I'm happy to see behind us.  Between the Nor'easter, 17" of snow here and, the frigid temps which followed, I'm definitely suffering from some cabin fever. We also had a loved one with pneumonia which resulted in a 2 day hospital stay in the midst of Storm Stella (home now and doing well). Enough of winter already.  

I did manage to finish (3) books last week and enjoyed them all. 2 out of 3 were audio books


What I Know for Sure; Oprah Winfrey
(read by author - so awesome)
Macmillan Audio - 2014

(My Thoughts) - This audio book was just what I needed this week.  The book is read by Oprah herself and she does a marvelous job. It's very heartfelt and inspirational.  Told as a short series of essays on a variety of topics, organized by theme: joy, resilience, connection, gratitude possibility, awe, clarity and power,  I found myself nodding my head and surprised by many of the things that Oprah struggled with had been issues for me as well throughout my adult life. There were a few parts that really resonated with me and made me tear up because it hit so close to home. No there is nothing earth shattering that we all have not heard at some point in our lives but, her words are powerful and inspirational.  I may need to purchase the print version and reread this one at the beginning of each new year --- loved it.  (5/5 stars)



Books for Living; Will Schwalbe
Random House Audio - 2016
(Jeff Harding -Narrator)

(My Thoughts)  - This is another audio book that was amazing. My first experience with this author was his audio version of, The End of Your Life Book Club, a non fiction offering, which I loved, where Schwalbe and his mother, who was dying of pancreatic cancer, read and discussed  various books during her illness. It was a way to share their love of books and briefly escape from the reality of impending death.  In Books for the Living, the author shares his love of reading and the books that made a difference in his life. He asks the reader, Why is it That We Read? Is it to Pass Time? To Learn Something New? To Escape From Reality? For the author he states, It is a form of entertainment, to become a better person and to help make sense of the world.  He discusses some 27 books (20 of which I've read) and what they meant to him.  Of course since my reading taste seemed to mesh with his, I found myself adding (3) new books to my must read list: The Importance of Living; Lin Yutang (which he mentions over and over again); Bird by Bird; Anne Lamott and A Tale for the Time Being; Ruth Ozeki. A must read for book lovers who understand the magical power of books. (5/5 stars)



Every Living Thing; Cynthia Rylant
Modern Curriculum Press - 1988

(My Thoughts) - This book is targeted at the middle grade student and I know a blogger (?) had recommended it years back so I purchased it.  It is a lovely collection of (12) very short stories in which an animal has made a profound effect on a human being. I can see how this book would be a great teaching tool in the classroom. Quick read for adults but, very thought provoking.  (4/5/5 stars)


(4) new book arrivals came by mail last week.





  • The Futures; Ana Pitoniak (ARC - from Amazon Vine) (Lee Bourdeaux Books) (good)
  • lll Will; Dan Chaon (eGalley - Ballantine Books) (very good but, a challenge)
  • Swing Time; Zadie Smith (the audio is good but, put me to sleep several nights - think I need the print version)
Enjoy Your Weekend!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Swing Time; Zadie Smith


Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph, maybe two, of a book that I'm reading or plan to read soon. 

Swing Time; Zadie Smith
Penguin - 2017

Prologue

"It was the first day of my humiliation.  Put on a plane, sent back home, to England, set up with a temporary rental in St. John's Wood.  The flat was on the eighth floor, the windows looked over the cricket ground.  It had been chosen, I think, because of the doorman, who blocked all inquiries.  I stayed indoors. The phone on the kitchen wall rang and rang, but I was warned not to answer it and to keep my own phone switched off.  I watched the cricket being played, a game I don't understand, it offered no read distraction, but still it was better than looking at the interior of that apartment, a luxury condo, in which everything had been designed to be perfectly neutral, with all significant corners rounded, like an iPhone. When the cricket finished I stared at the sleek coffee machine embedded in the wall, and at two photos of the Buddha--one a brass Buddha, the other wood--and at a photo of an elephant kneeling next to a little Indian boy, who was also kneeling.  The rooms were tasteful and gray, linked by a pristine hallway of tan wood cord. I stared at the ridges in the cord.



Based on this intro, would you read more or pass on this book?

Feel free to join in by posting your own First Chapter First Paragraph Intro and linking below.