Saturday, May 1, 2021

Review of a Really Good Book!

Three Words for Goodbye, by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, is absolutely terrific.  It's about 2 sisters, their grandmother, and a long-distance trip, all of it taking place in 1937.  I couldn't put it down.  Here's what I liked about it:

1.  The writing is very visual.  Some examples:
     
"A uniformed guard threw open the compartment doors, sending travel-weary passengers spilling out onto the platform and scattering like marbles from a dropped bag."

"...couples holding hands, families and friends flitting around like butterflies, pollinating each other with love and good humor."

"...the way the watercolors blended and softened, running into each other like old friends."

2.  There is a lot of tension throughout the book regarding a particular mode of transportation that we all know about.  I won't say anything more about that, but you will know what I'm referring to soon enough.

3.  Violet, the grandmother, is a great character.  The chapters in her voice stand out.

4.  The relationship between the sisters is something many people can relate to.  Alas, I cannot.  I have 1brother who is 7 years older than me and who I haven't had any contact with for 40 years.  I certainly was engrossed in watching these 2 sisters work on their relationship.

5.  I am a big fan of books that alternate among 2 or more central characters.  The authors do a great job of making the reader anxious to know what all 3 of their protagonists are saying and doing.

6.  I had plenty of emotional moments, including...I can't tell you!  It's too much information!

7.  I just flat-out liked every page.  That is a rare occurrence.

Is that enough to convince you how I felt about Three Words for Goodbye?  I sure hope so.  You'll have to wait until July 27 for it to hit your bookstores.  But make a note.  You're going to want this in your TBR pile right away!



Heather Webb/Hazel Gaynor (l-r)


Saturday, April 10, 2021

My New Podcast

Yep, that's right.  I am now officially a podcaster.  In conjunction with KCAT TV in Los Gatos, CA, I recorded my 1st author interview yesterday under the moniker of Lloyd on Lit.  It will start out as a monthly 30-minute program.  I don't know exactly when it will air yet, but I will keep you all informed.

My 1st guest was Gary Singh, who is a poet, author, columnist, and, generally speaking, literary man about town.  Gary has been writing weekly columns for a local paper called Metro, Silicon Valley since 2005. He has written approximately 800 so far!  And, in fact, he recently published a book that compiles 250+ of his columns.  It's called Silicon Alleys.  I haven't read it yet but will.  (Plus, he's Zooming in to the RBC in July.)

My 2nd author interview will be with Hannah Jayne, author of the urban fantasy series called the Underworld Detection Agency and a bunch of YAs.  That should air sometime in May.  Meanwhile I am working on getting more authors scheduled.  Details to follow.

Here is a picture of Gary and Me from yesterday.  Just what I needed was a set of headphones to make my head look even bigger!





Saturday, March 27, 2021

6 More Books to Read

I have been reading a plethora (pretty good word, eh?) of good books lately.  I've got 6 to show you.  I rated all 6 of them 3.5/4 or higher!  They are all terrific.  Just look up the blurb to decide in what order you want to read them.  I have listed them in the order they were read:

Have You Seen Luis Velez? - Catherine Ryan Hyde


Winter Garden - Kristin Hannah


We Came Here to Forget - Andrea Dunlop


The Four Winds - Kristin Hannah

 How to Save a Life - Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke 


The Storyteller's Secret - Sejal Badani



Monday, March 15, 2021

A Review of Retirement: Your New Adventure, by Bob Boylan

Although I am of retirement age (I'm an early Baby Boomer!), I am not retiring any time soon.  Having said that, I was still very interested in seeing what Bob Boylan has to say about retiring.  I really like his premise of it being a new adventure.  He says to gear up and down, not just down.  That seems like really good advice.  I think the best way of explaining what Bob has to say about retirement is by giving you a bunch of quotes, from him as well as others.  This should explain his philosophy a lot better than my words will.  Here we go:

The windshield is bigger than the rearview mirror.

It does not take much strength to do things, but it requires great strength to decide on what to do.

Many of us have lived lives paralyzed by unexplored yearnings.

An instinct without execution is only a regret.

"Remember when" vs. "Guess what I'll be doing next month?"

Reading is the gymnasium of the mind.

You cannot move toward anything fulfilling if you're not dreaming.

Your past is now your prologue.

*Keep focusing on seeing what you have, instead of what you don't have. 

You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help enough other people get what they want.

We become what we think about.

Of course a lot of these aphorisms apply to any age.  But since Retirement: Your New Adventure is specifically geared to freshly minted retirees (not to say that veteran retirees can't learn from it!), I can definitively say that this is a book that new retirees, old retires, and about-to-become retirees can all benefit from right away. 

*This is my favorite because it's all about gratitude.

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Odds and Ends - aka "Stuff"

I've got a few interesting pieces of news for you guys:

1.  Ken Follett is coming out with a new book in November.  And this one will be a drama set in the
modern day.

2.  Michelle Obama's Becoming has just come out in a Young Reader's version.  The adult book is
too daunting for a young reader.  I saw some copies at Recycle this past Wednesday.  I'm pretty
sure it's going to be a big seller.

3.  The RBC just landed John Hart for May 26.  For those who have followed my blog through the
years (the 2 of you know who you are!), you are already aware that I have loved some of his books and have at least liked others.  There's only 1 that I didn't much care for.  Here are the titles and my ratings:

     The Last Child - 4/4
     Iron House - 4/4
     The King of Lies - 3/4
     Down River - 3/4
     Redemption Road - 3.75/4
     The Hush - 2.25/4

I haven't read his latest, The Unwilling, yet...but I will.  And we will be reading The Last Child for book club.

4.  And speaking of the RBC, Susan Meissner will be Zooming in on May 12.  And here's the exciting part of this news (other than the book is really good):  She will be showing us pictures of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, both pre- and post-.  I've seen them, and they are very cool.

5.  I also want to mention that for those who are interested in seeing authors talk about how they got published, their writing process, whose books might be made into big/small screen movies, et al, then you might want to Zoom in to one of our meetings to see if you like it.  If you want to give it a try, email me at lloydrrussell@gmail.com, and I can give you more information.

6.  There is no number 6.

 
      

Thursday, February 18, 2021

4 Ideas with Actionable Wisdom, by Bob Boylan

4 Ideas with Actionable Wisdom is a very concise, well-written, well-explained, practical self-help book.  Bob Boylan states those 4 Ideas and the means by which we can achieve them.  Let's start by listing the 4:

1.  Calm water thinking will balance your whitewater day.
2.  See your life through the Lens of Gratitude.  
3.  Making changes more effectively:  Focus on One Thing you want 
     to do and One Thing you need to stop doing.
4.  Thinking outside the box requires risk.  And you've done it
     successfully.

Here's a little more detail for each one:

1.  If you drop a pebble in calm water, it creates concentric circles. Think of these as representing your ability to concentrate your thoughts and adding new ones.  Now think of what happens if you drop that same pebble in whitewater.  You can easily see the difference.

2.  This is the one that grabbed me the hardest.  First of all, Boylan gives us a bunch of quotes on gratitude from Oprah Winfrey to Albert Schweitzer to Suze Orman to John Wooden.  This is the definition of a "wide range," yes?  Then he talks about a daily gratitude journal.  It's suggested that you take 10-15 minutes a day to first speak your gratitudes and then write them down.  Now I have to say that I spend a minute or two each night expressing gratitude for the day's events.  But Boylan's plan is more comprehensive and will make me even more grateful.  I started it this morning!

3.  With the idea being that our lives are already full, Boylan tells us that in order to focus on something we want to do, we have to first give up something else.  I like this quote:  "You can't steal 2nd base and keep your foot on 1st."  Boylan also talks about the scene from City Slickers with Jack Palance and Billy Crystal.  Billy asks Jack "What is the secret of life?"  Jack holds up 1 finger.  When Billy asks him what that means, Jack says that's what each of us need to figure out.  Once we have an answer, then we strive to go after it.  This definitely gives me something to think about.

4.  This one is probably the hardest for me.  Thinking outside the box requires taking a risk but, at the same time, is critical for growth.  Boylan gives us a lot of practical suggestions on how to do this.  It calls for a paradigm shift.  And a paradigm is defined as "...your perception of reality."  He indicates that the coronavirus has created a new paradigm shift for all of us.  And he tells us why and how to achieve it.  I will give you a hint that love is involved.  And here are probably my favorite 2 quotes of the book:

"Loyalty to petrified opinions must be broken." - Mark Twain
"If you want to succeed, double your failure rate." - Tom Watson (founder of IBM)

This book has a lot to say.  I think everybody would find that at least one of his 4 Ideas of Actionable Wisdom would resonate.  And, very likely, it could be 2, 3, or 4!  Take a look.








Saturday, February 13, 2021

2 Short Reviews of Very Good Books

My last 2 books have both been terrific.  And one of them is already scheduled for the RBC!  Here are a couple of (very) short reviews:

Faye, Faraway, by Helen Fisher:

This is a very different take on the time travel theme.  All I will tell you is that the protagonist, Faye, is 37-years old and very happily married with 2 children.  Through an extremely odd set of circumstances ( guess that's obvious if it's time travel!), she is transported back to when she was 6, and her mother, who died when Faye was 8, was 26.  Can you see where this one could be headed?  No?  Me, neither.  It's very cleverly done and has an ending you will want to talk to others about.  I've definitely read some good time travel books in my day, and Faye, Faraway, sits right there with the others.



The Nature of Fragile Things, by Susan Meissner:

Susan, who will be Zooming in to the RBC on May 12, has written a very good book centered on the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco.  Aside from the story, the details about the earthquake itself, along with the aftermath, are very educational.  Having lived in the San Francisco Bay Area all my (long) life, it seems I would know more about this event than I do.  Plus, I definitely felt the effects of the 1989 earthquake here. But, despite all of that, I really learned a lot about it.

The story itself centers on Sophie, a 19-year old Irishwoman who leaves Ireland at 16, spends a couple of years in New York, and then answers an ad from a man in San Francisco who is looking for a woman to marry who will also help take care of his 6-year old daughter.  Sophie jumps at this opportunity, and she is wed within a couple of hours of her ship landing in San Francisco.  Between the things she ultimately learns about her husband and all of the fallout from the earthquake, we get a very interesting story.