Monday, September 14, 2020

Some Mini-Reviews & and Some News Items

First of all, I've got some news reports for you.  I will follow that up with 3 very short reviews.

1.  Warner Brothers has purchased the rights to The Alice Network.  We know that buying the rights doesn't always mean that the project will come to the big or little screen.  But it sure is a good story, and it would be great to see it produced.

2.  Reese Witherspoon's production company is bringing Where the Crawdads Sing to the big screen.  This is one of the few books I've read in recent years that has gotten a thumbs up from everybody I know who has read it.

3.  Kerry Lonsdale's book, Side Trip, has a pretty unique surprise in it. She is going to have a meeting designed to give readers a chance to ask questions...and they/we WILL have questions!  The event is called Kerry's Tiki Bar, and is scheduled for October 1, 4:00PST.  You can go on her website to get the link.

And now 3 mini-reviews:

1.  The Dutch House, by Ann Patchett.  I have liked a lot of Patchett's books (especially Bel Canto) but haven't been crazy about the most recent ones.  TDH has gotten a ton of high ratings.  I liked it well enough but didn't love it.  Interestingly enough, Joni and I started listening to the audiobook (narrated by Tom Hanks) quite a few months ago.  We liked it but turned it in because we wanted to listen to Ronan Farrow's Catch and Kill (which we couldn't get through).  We never went back to the audiobook, but I decided to read it based on some glowing reviews from friends of mine.  The best I can say is that I'm not sorry I read it.



 

2.  Charming Falls Apart, by Angela Terry.  This is a debut novel for Angela.  And I liked it a lot.  I definitely recommend it and look forward to her next one, whenever that hits the circuit.




3.  The Light in the Hallway, by Amanda Prowse.  This is an author that I had never heard of until recently.  And she's written almost 30 novels and novellas!  I discovered her on a FB book group page.  I saw several members raving about her books.  I went back and forth with them and finally decided I would read one of her books and make up my own mind.  I picked this one based on recommendations and Goodreads ratings.  Anyway, although this was a very long-winded explanation, the bottom line is that I definitely liked it.  I would probably read others by her but don't feel the need to run out and do that.




Sunday, September 6, 2020

Another Top-Notch Book from Katherine Center

Back in 2018, I read my 1st Katherine Center book.  It was How to Walk Away, and I loved it.  Then why did it take me so long to read another one?  Beats me.  But I finally did.  It's called What You Wish for, and it's darn good.  This one hit me differently than a lot of other books do.  I was rolling along, enjoying HtWA.  I wasn't as emotionally connected as I like to be with the books I read.  But I was certainly engaged and glad I picked it.  And then...BOOM!  It hit me like a ton of bricks.  The last 65 pages I almost couldn't stop crying.  It definitely crept up on me.  So I guess I was emotionally connected after all!  Here's what the book is about:

Samantha Casey is a school librarian who loves her job, the kids, and her school family with passion and a joy for living.  But she wasn't always that way.  Duncan Carpenter is the new school principal who lives by rules and regulations, guided by the knowledge that bad things can happen.  But he wasn't always that way.  And Sam knows it.  Because she knew him before - at another school, in a different life.  Back then, she loved him, but she was invisible.  To him.  To everyone.  Even to herself.  She escaped to a new school, a new job, a new chance at living. But then Duncan, of all people, gets hired as the new principal there. Although it feels like the worst thing that could possibly happen to Sam, it feels like the best thing that could possibly happen to the school.  Until the opposite turns out to be true.  The lovable Duncan she had known is now a suit-and-tie-wearing, rule-enforcing tough guy so hell-bent on protecting the school that he's willing to destroy it.  As the school community spirals into chaos, and danger from all corners looms large, Sam and Duncan must find their way to who they really are, what it means to be brave, and how to take a chance on love - which is the riskiest move of all.

Katherine not only tell a good story, she also writes well.  Here are a couple of examples of great visuals:

"I could not disguise the bizarre feeling of joy that had just appeared inside my body - like a million tiny, carbonated bubbles.  I felt positively fizzy."

"I'd try to give in just enough to satisfy the urge without actually doing it.  Like biting the corner of a chocolate bar."

She even has a scene in which Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove is mentioned.  That's in my Top-12 All-Time.  Obviously a fun reference for me.

I waited a couple of years to read my 2nd Center.  But the 3rd will be making its appearance much sooner.  I've already ordered Things You Save in a Fire.  I daresay that even with the mountain-high books in my TBR pile, I will get TYSiaF near the top pretty quickly.  And there are 5 more after that!  It's a daunting proposition...but a good problem to have.






Tuesday, September 1, 2020

New Books in September - along with a HUGE Surprise!

We've got some books coming out next month from big name authors:

Nicholas Sparks -The Return 



Yaa - Gyase - Transcendent Kingdom (her 1st book, Homegoing, was really good                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                    
                                  Jodi Picoult - The Book of Two Ways  


                                                                                                                                            AND, the biggest one of all...wait for it...do you feel the tension mounting...it's...Ken Follett - The Evening and the Morning - IT'S A PREQUEL TO PILLARS OF THE EARTH! - I'm sure you all know by now that Pillars, along with The Source and Shogun, are my 3 favorite books of all time  



Sunday, August 30, 2020

Independent Bookstore Day

Yesterday was Independent Bookstore Day.  And, not surprisingly, I trekked over to Recycle Bookstore in Campbell to pay homage.  Here are a few pics from my visit:

                                  Good old Recycle!

                They've always got racks of books out in front of the store.

                                        Their front windows are very enticing.

These are my bookshelves, where there are RBC selections and my personal recommendations!

                Racks in the front of the store, this one with children's books.

                                                           And these with current bestsellers.

                                                    Part of their back wall, with literary fiction.

        Here is part of their fantasy section.  Pretty cool, eh?

                                                                How about their mystery section?

This is a section where you know the genre but don't know the book.

                           Do you want to buy a book bag or T-shirt?  Here they are.

                                                          There's Paul, ringing up a sale.

      And, finally, Lauren, buying back books (Tuesday-Saturday, 11-5).












                                                                    

 



Monday, August 24, 2020

A bunch of mini-mini-mini--reviews

Sometimes I get so behind on my reviews that I just can't catch up.  In those situations, I will once in a while write some short reviews.  In this case we're talkin' REAL short.  

Kimberly Belle - Stranger in the Lake - liked it but definitely liked The Marriage Lie better

JoJo Moyes - The Giver of Stars - real good - I've liked everything I have read from her

Robert Dugoni - My Sister's Grave, Tracy Crosswhite #1 - this one and The Eighth Sister are very good - but The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell is just flat-out great

Michael Zadoorian - The Narcissism of Small Differences - decent but I loved The Leisure Seeker

Amy Poeppel - Musical Chairs - definitely readable but pales in comparison to Limelight

Laila Ibrahim - Paper Wife - good book

Kerry Lonsdale - Side Trip - very good - one scene had me yelling out loud - not smart in a coffee shop!

Kristina McMorris - sold on a monday - my 1st McMorris - really well done - more to follow

 

Every one of these authors is coming to a virtual RBC meeting except for Zadoorian (who's already been) and Moyes.

Saturday, August 22, 2020

A Little Bit of Grace, by Phoebe Fox - A VERY Fun Read

I learned about A Little Bit of Grace through - you guessed it - Melissa! In this case, she actually introduced me to the author via FB Messaging. So I immediately bought the book and got to it right away.  The only potential problem was...what if I didn't much care for it?  The fact that Melissa liked it a lot made me feel a little bit more confident that I would too.  But there's no guarantee!  Well, there was no need to worry.  I enjoyed the heck out of ALBoG.  Here's the blurb, and then I've got stuff to tell you:

Family is everything - Grace Adams McHale's mom must have said it to her a thousand times before she died.  Before Grace's dad ran off with an aspiring actress half his age.  Before only-child Grace found out she was unable to have children of her own.  Before Brian - her childhood best friend, business partner, and finally her husband - dropped a "bombshell" on her in the form of her stunning new replacement.

Which means Grace now has...nothing.

Until she receives a letter from a woman claiming to be a relative Grace never knew she had, sending her on a journey from the childhood home she had to move back into to a Florida island to meet a total stranger who embraces her as family.  There, Grace starts to uncover answers about the eccentric woman her family never mentioned: a larger-than-life octogenarian who is the keeper of a secret held for more than fifty years, and the ultimate inspiration to always be true to yourself.  As Grace gets to know this woman and picks up the pieces of her own shattered life, she is forced to question whether she can find forgiveness for the unforgivable.

Let me start the actual review part of this post by saying A Little Bit of Grace is simply delightful (one of my mother-in-law's favorite words). And it sure applies in this case.  That is not say there is no substance. How do I know this?...because I got a takeaway from Grace.  This only happens every 50-75 books.  But it happened here.  Let me quote the passage:  "I just mean...maybe you and Brian were together for the part of your paths that ran the same direction...until they didn't anymore.  And that was going to happen regardless of anything either of you did or didn't do.  You just each moved on to a different part of your map."  I'm going to keep this in mind when I encounter obstacles.  Thanks, Phoebe!

Here's the other thing about this book.  Phoebe has come up with some of the best visuals I can remember ever reading.  Here are just a few examples of many:

"His forehead wrinkled like a shar-pei's."

"...people were bursting through the door like the Kool-Aid man..."

"I couldn't have felt more awkward if I'd broken in like Goldilocks and helped myself to a comfortable bed."

There are a dozen more where those came from.  So many that I would have had to devote an entire post to these very clever similes/metaphors/comparisons.  And if I did that, you would be missing out on a whole bunch of occasions to smile and nod your head.  I don't want to take that pleasure away from you!  More importantly, read A Little Bit of Grace.  It's just what the doctor (any doctor!) ordered.



  

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Autographed Literary Masterpiece

Prior to the shutdown, we had an RBC meeting with author Stephen Houser. He asked all of us what our favorite books were. I said my 3 favorites are Shogun, Pillars of the Earth, and The Source. Shortly after that, Stephen presented me with a copy of The Source autographed by James Michener himself! Here are pictures of the cover and the inscription and signature from Michener to somebody named Carola, in 1967. This is the most prized literary possession I have. Thank you Stephen!