Saturday, January 16, 2021

HAPPY 10th ANNIVERSARY TO ME! (and you can win a book!)

Guess what this post is about?...Give up?  Yep, on this day, 10 years ago, I posted my 1st blog.  It was called, not surprisingly, Introduction.  How did this blog come about, you ask?  Well, I will tell you.  I was talking to my friend Steve in New York and complaining about how I want to spend more time in Book World.  He said I should write a blog.  And there you have it.  Not that exciting an explanation, but true nonetheless.

To celebrate I'm going to ask you to give me a 1-sentence reason why you read (audiobooks certainly count).  In one week's time, I will have Joni draw 3 names.  Those 3 people will get to pick any paperback, ebook, or audiobook they want.  I'm looking forward to reading what you all have to say.

It will be a much bigger prize for my 20th! 

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Carole Bumpus Gives Us Her Latest Travelogue/Culinary Adventure

Carole Bumpus' latest book, A SEPTEMBER to REMEMBER:  SEARCHING for CULINARY PLEASURES at the ITALIAN TABLE, is her recounting of a month-long sojourn she and her husband, Winston, took to Italy in 1998. As you would expect, we learn a lot about the food they experienced in different parts of the country.  But this book is much more than that. How so, you ask?  Let me count the ways:

1.    Lots of humor
2.    Great Mark Twain quotes
3.    A very interesting explanation of "Psychology of Place"
4.    Good history
5.    The meaning of "community" in Italy verses how we define it here in
       the U.S.
6.    Scary bus drives that make you cringe with worry
7.    Cultural references in the U.S. (do you remember Car 54, Where Are
       You?)
8.    Personal connections (ask me when you see me) 
9.    Cute personal stories
10.  Carole makes you feel like you're there with her

If you want to learn about Italian history, culture, and food, then A SEPTEMBER to REMEMBER is a book for you.



Monday, January 4, 2021

New Authors in 2020

And, finally...I'm always curious as to how many new authors I read each year.  I think there are less in 2020 than usual because of Covid.  Instead of having a bunch of new authors coming to Recycle Bookstore, we Zoomed with a lot of authors that I have already been reading.  Here it goes, and we'll see how it compares with previous years:

Max Tomlinson
Andrew Gross
Steve Martin (audiobook)
Simone St. James
Kelly Rimmer
Helen Zia
Stephanie Wrobel
Nicole Meier
Mary Torjussen
Jennifer Rosner
Elayne Klasson
Donna Levin
Laila Ibrahim
Kristina McMorris
Phoebe Fox
Angela Terry
Amanda Prowse
Robyn Harding
Ann Napolitano
Ehsaneh Sadr
Art Rios
Samantha van Leer (with Jodi Picoult)
Rachael Eckles Britt Bennett
Adrian McKinty
Elizabeth Berg

25

Now that I've finished this year's list, I just looked at 2019 and 2018.  I had 44 new authors in '18 and 48 in '19!

Saturday, January 2, 2021

3.5s and up for 2020

So here is another end-of-year list.  This one is my 3.5s and up for the year ending (thankfully) 2020:

4.0s-
Just Another Silly Love Song - Rich Amooi
Let's Talk - Art Rios

3.75s-
Captivating in Love - Jennifer Skully and Bella Andre
The First Emma - Camille di Maio 
The Book of Lost Names - Kristin Harmel
The Swap - Robyn Harding

3.625s (I know this is kind of a weird rating)-
Park Avenue Summer - Renee Rosen
Big Lies in a Small town - Diane Chamberlain
The Giver of Stars - JoJo Moyes
Sold on a Monday - Kristina McMorris
A Little Bit of Grace - Phoebe Fox
The Orphan Collector - Ellen Marie Wiseman

3.5s
Stay - Allie Larkin
The Boy from the Woods - Harlan Coben
It's Not PMS, It's You - Rich Amooi
The Things We Cannot Say - Kelly Rimmer
Last Boat out of Shanghai - Helen Zia
The Second Chance Supper Club - Nicole Meier
The Two Lila Bennetts - Li Fenton and Lisa Steinke
The Closer You Get - Mary Torjussen
The Yellow Bird Sings - Jennifer Rosner
Love Is A Rebellious Bird - Elayne Klasson
The Plum Tree - Ellen Marie Wiseman
My Sister's Grave - Robert Dugoni
Side Trip - Kerry Lonsdale
What You Wish For - Katherine Center
The Order - Daniel Silva
The Good Sister - Sally Hepworth
White Collar Girl - Renee Rosen
The Chain - Adrian McKinty
The Story of Arthur Truluv - Elizabeth Berg





Thursday, December 31, 2020

Books in 2020

Yep.  If it's the end of the year, then it must be time for the 2020 wrap-up:  Let's begin, shall we?  We'll start with books read.

Vanishing in the Haight - Max Tomlinson - 2.75
Stay - Allie Larkin - 3.5
The Boy from the Woods - Harlen Coben - 3.5
Button Man - Andrew Gross - 3.25
Captivating in Love - Jennifer Skully and Bella Andre - 3.75
Born Standing Up:  A Comic's Life (audiobook) - Steve Martin - 3.0
The Dreamer - Sheldon Siegel
The Sun Down Hotel - Simone St. James - 3.25
Its Not PMS, It's You - Rich Amooi - 3.5
The Things We Cannot Say - Kelly Rimmer - 3.5
Park Avenue Summer - Renee Rosen - 3.625
Last Boat out of Shanghai - Helen Zia - 3.5
Three Hours in Paris - Cara Black - 3.0
Big Lies in a Small Town - Diane Chamberlain - 3.625
Darling Rose Gold - Stephanie Wrobel - 3.25
The Second Chance Supper Club - Nicole Meier - 3.5
The Two Lila Bennetts - Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke - 3.5
Freedom Lost - Chandra Ingram
Dream Beach - Linda Gunther
Cerberus - A.J. Silverberry - 3.25
The Closer You Get - Mary Torjussen - 3.5
The Yellow Bird Sings - Jennifer Rosner - 3.5
On Safari to Stay - Mike DeGregorio
Just Another Silly Love Song - Rich Amooi - 4.0
Tell Me More - Kelly Corrigan - 3.0
Love Is A Rebellious bird - Elayne Klasson - 3.5
The First Emma - Camille di Maio - 3.75
The Plum Tree - Ellen Marie Wiseman - 3.5
The Narcissism of Small Differences - Michael Zadoorian - 3.0
Fire by Night - Alina Sayre
Stranger in the Lake - Kimberly Belle - 3.0
The Giver of Stars - JoJo Moyes - 3.625
He Could Be Another Bill Gates - Donna Levin
My Sister's Grave - Robert Dugoni - 3.5
The Book of Lost Names - Kristin Harmel - 3.75
Musical Chairs - Amy Poeppel - 3.0
Paper Wife - Laila Ibrahim - 3.25
Side Trip - Kerry Lonsdale - 3.5
Sold on a Monday - Kristina McMorris - 3.625
A Little Bit of Grace - Phoebe Fox - 3.625
Charming Falls Apart - Angela Terry - 3.25
The Dutch House - Ann Patchett - 3.0
What You Wish For - Katherine Center - 3.5
The Orphan Collector - Ellen Marie Wiseman - 3.625
The Light in the Hallway - Amanda Prowse - 3.375
Finding Chika - Mitch Albom
The Swap - Robyn Harding - 3.75
The Order - Daniel Silva - 3.5
The Party - Robyn Harding - The Order - 3.25
Coal River - Ellen Marie Wiseman - 3.25
Dear Edward - Ann Napolitano - 3.375
A Door Between Us - Ehsaneh Sadr - 3.25
Let's Talk - Art Rios - 4.0
The Good Sister - Sally Hepworth - 3.5
Between the Lines - Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer - 3.0
The Final Out - Sheldon Siegel
Trading Secrets - Rachael Eckles 
White Collar Girl - Renee Rosen - 3.5
The Uncanny Valley Girl - Stephen Howser
The Vanishing Half - Britt Bennett - 3.25
The Chain - Adrian McKinty - 3.5
A September to Remember - Carole Bumpus
The Story of Arthur Truluv - Elizabeth Berg - 3.5

63 books
20,346 pages

The 63 compares to 80 last year.  Part of the difference comes from not being in the car to listen to the audiobooks (where would I go?).  And part comes from being home.  Interestingly enough, it was harder to read while at home than it is to be out and about.  Tough to explain.

In the next few days I will list my new authors and ratings that are 3.5 or higher.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Some Quick Ratings

Hello, all.  I have been extremely remiss in keeping you up-to-date on the books I have recently read.  And by "recently" I mean in the last 4 months!  Plus I've got year-end posts coming up over the next couple of weeks.  So I'm just going to give you ratings.  I will also asterisk the authors that will be Zooming into our book club.  If you have any interest in seeing them live, let me know, and I will send you the schedule of appearances.  

In order of reading:

The Orphan Collector - Ellen Marie Wiseman - 3.625

The Swap - Robyn Harding* - 3.75

The Order - Daniel Silva - 3.5

The Party - Robyn Harding* - 3.25

Coal River - Ellen Marie Wiseman - 3.25

Dear Edward - Ann Napolitano - 3.375

A Door Between Us - Ehsaneh Sadr* - 3.25

White Collar Girl - Renee Rosen* - 3.5

The Vanishing Half - Britt Bennett - 3.25

I also read Finding Chika, by Mitch Albom, and Trading Secrets, by Rachael Eckles.  Unfortunately, I failed to give them a rating at the time of reading and can't remember all of these months (weeks?) what rating I intended to give them.  I did like them both, though.

My only disappointment was Lisa Wingate's The Book of Lost Friends.  I absolutely loved When We Were Yours.  But I couldn't get through this one.  I gave it a pretty fair chance - 86 pages.  But when my son-in-law, Joe, gave me a book that he highly recommended (a review will be upcoming), I jumped at the chance to put TBoLF down.  And here's the crazy part...it has a 4.21 rating on Goodreads with almost 34,000 ratings! That is a very high score.  I can't explain it.  I guess it just is what it is.


Monday, December 7, 2020

On the Trail of Delusion, by Fred Litwin - Everything You Wanted to Know about Jim Garrison and His Take on the Assassination of JFK

Everybody knows that Jim Garrison, the DA in New Orleans from the early 60s to the early 70s, claimed that the Warren Report was inaccurate and set out to prove his theory.  But what he did during his investigation is mind-boggling.  Fred Litwin has done an amazing job of giving us a detailed account of the time Garrison spent trying to discredit the Warren Report.  Here are just a few of the highlights:

1.  He claimed that Lee Harvey Oswald, Jack Ruby, and several others were part of a homosexual ring that were responsible for the assassination.

2.  He linked co-conspirators based, in part, on how close they lived to each other.

3.  He ultimately said it wasn't the Oswald-Ruby group but, rather, anti-Castro Cubans who were unhappy with how the Bay of Pigs incident was handled.

4.  He blamed LBJ, claiming that he benefited the most from the assassination.

5.  He said the Dallas police were involved.

6.  He targeted certain individuals whose lives were ruined by the attention they got.  (One of them, Clay Shaw, was found innocent in 54 minutes.  And it only took that long because the jurors had to queue up for the bathroom!)

7.  He said that the dismissal of any further prosecution against Clay Shaw by the Supreme Court was due to a conspiracy consisting of top-level military authorities and our intelligence agencies.

8.  Garrison came out with his first book in 1970, called A Heritage of Stone.  He wrote several others.

9.  He was interviewed by Playboy, which led to one of the biggest circulations Playboy has ever had.

10.The bulk of the book concerns the JFK assassination.  But the last part explores some quirky side notes, including an explanation of how Oliver Stone, in his 1991 movie, JFK, made Garrison out to be a hero.  Kevin Costner played the title role.

There were parts of the book that dragged for me a little.  But the original documents and quoted passages are outstanding.  In college I took a history course that only looked at original documents.  And I still remember (many decades later!) how that positively affected my enjoyment of the class and the impact it had on me.  That was a really neat part of the book.

Let me wrap up by saying this:  If you are looking for a comprehensive tome on Jim Garrison and all of the efforts he made to tell us what really happened re JFK's assassination, complete with a whole slew of original documents and actual conversations, then I strongly recommend you pick up a copy of On the Trail of Delusion, by Fred Litwin.  It's all you will need to understand Jim Garrison and his many machinations.