Saturday, December 30, 2017

Books of 2017

Here they are:

A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles - 4.0
Feels Like the First Time, James Grippando - 2.75
here there be dragons, Jeff Rosenplot - 3.25
A Killing at Cotton Hill, Terry Shames - 3.0
If You Are There, Susan Sherman - 2.75
Murder in the Abstract, Susan Shea - 3.0
Everything We Keep, Kerry Lonsdale - 3.25
The Slow Waltz of Turtles, Katherine Pancol - 3.0
West Coast Holiday Series, #3, Elisabeth Barrett - 3.5
Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance - 3.25
Dark Matter, Blake Crouch - 3.25
The Invoice, Jonas Karlsson - 2.25
It Started with a Kiss, Marina Adair - 3.5
An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir - 3.75
Felony Murder Rule, Sheldon Siegel - 3.0
The Orphan's Tale, Pam Jenoff - 3.875
Orphan X, Gregg Hurwitz - 3.0
Under the Painted Sky, Stacy Lee - 3.0
Irresistible in Love, Jennifer Skully and Bella Andre - 3.75
At the Edge of the Orchard, Tracy Chevalier - 3.25
The Weight of Him, Ethel Rohan - 3.25
Hellhound Angel, Nikki Avila - 2.25
The Marriage Lie, Kimberly Belle - 3.75
The Cherry Harvest, Lucy Sanna - 3.25
Your Perfect Life, Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke - 3.25
The Mother's Promise, Sally Hepworth - 3.75
The Atomic Weight of Love, Elizabeth Church - 3.25
The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows - 3.75
Kissing Frogs, Rich Amooi - 3.0
The Last Breath, Kimberly Belle - 3.25
VietnamEazy, Trami Nguyen Cron - 3.0
Kit's Mine, Ann Bridges - 2.5
The Oath, Stephen Robert Stein - 3.0
The Secrets of Midwives, Sally Hepworth - 3.75
Mississippi Blood, Greg Iles - 3.25
The Fifth Reflection, Ellen Kirschman - 3.0
Death of an Assassin, Ann Marie Ackermann - 2.0
Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher - 3.25
Zero Sum, Barry Eisler - 3.0
Magpie Murders, Anthony Horowitz - 2.75
The Marriage Pact, Michelle Richmond - 3.5
Thunder Bay, Mike Degregorio - 2.0
Totlandia, Fall, Book 1, Josie Brown - 2.5
Watch Me Disappear, Janelle Brown - 3.5
Maddy's Game, Michael Lund - 2.25
A Small Indiscretion, Jan Ellison - 2.75
Don't Let Go, Harlan Coben - 3.5
Everything We Left Behind, Kerry Lonsdale - 3.25
Dark Associations, Marie Sutro - 3.5
House of Spies, Daniel Silva - 3.25
Own It, Elisabeth Barrett - 3.25
Health Care Unhinged, Liz Helms - 3.0
Love and Other Consolation Prizes, Jamie Ford - 3.25
The Things We Keep, Sally Hepworth - 3.75
The School of Essential Ingredients, Erica Bauermeister - 3.25
Not Guilty, C. Lee McKenzie (read and edited)
Soulless, Gail Carriger - 3.0
It Happens All the Time, Amy Hatvany - 3.25
The Dating Bender, Christina Julian - 2.5
The Illuminated Kingdom, Alina Sayre (read and edited)
Manhattan Beach, Jennifer Egan - 3.0
Slow Medicine, Dr. Victoria Sweet - 2.75
Everything I Never Told You, Celeste Ng - 2.75
Sourdough, Robin Sloan - 3.25
Before the Rain Falls, Camille Di Maio - 3.5
The Last Watchman of Old Cairo, Michael David Lukas - 3.25
Bed & Breakfast & Bondage 2, Kate Allure - 3.25
In This Moment, Karma Brown - 3.5
A Torch Against the Night, Sabaa Tahir - 3.25
Close Enough to Touch, Colleen Oakley - 4.0
The Alice Network, Kate Quinn - 3.75
Little Fires Everywhere, Celeste Ng - 3.5

DNF (did not finish):

In This Grave Hour, Jacqueline Winspear
Selection Day, Aravind Adega
This Is How It Always Is, Laurie Frankel
A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Recap of the RBC for 2017

We actually had 15 authors come to the RBC this year (yes, I know there are only 12 months in a year).  We've got so many authors who either volunteer to come or say yes to our request, that it's hard to keep to just one per month.  Here's what we had this year:

January -       The Oracle of Stamboul, Michael David Lukas (literary fiction)*
February -     The Scribe, Elizabeth Hunter (fantasy)
March -         A Killing at Cotton Hill, Terry Shames (mystery)
April -           If You Were There, Susan Sherman (historical fiction)
May -            Mother, Daughter, Me, Katie Hafner (memoir)
June -            The Illuminated Kingdom, Alina Sayre (middle grade fantasy)
July -             Here There Be Dragons, Jeff Rosenplot (dark fiction)
July -             Kissing Frogs, Rich Amooi (romantic comedy)
August -        Pure & Sinful, Killian McRae (paranormal)
September -   Everything We Keep, Kerry Lonsdale (literary fiction)
October -       VietnamEazy, Trami Nguyen Cron (literary fiction)
October -       Circumstantial Evidence, Sheldon Siegel (mystery)
November -   The Weight of Him, Ethel Rohan (literary fiction)
December -   Soulless, Gail Carriger (steampunk)
December -   Own It, Elisabeth Barrett (romance)

Last year we had 5 different genres.  This year it was 11!  It's true that we had 3 more authors/books in 2017 than 2016.  But, still, 11 out of 15 demonstrates a pretty darn good variety of genres.  That is definitely one of the best aspects of the RBC, IMHO.

We tried something different this year.  We actually had a book exchange.  Have you ever been to one of those?  I've been to several at Kepler's.  And they are really cool.  Everybody brings one of their favorite books to give away.  Each person gives a brief synopsis of his/her book.  Then everybody draws a number.  #1 picks a book. It can be stolen by somebody who follows that person.  But it can only be stolen once.  If you lose your 1st choice, you get to go again.  Your 2nd choice can't be stolen.  Anyway, obviously everybody ends up with a book.  Bottom line?  It was a pretty big flop.  We only had a handful of people there.  We probably won't do it again.  But we are definitely not opposed to trying new things.  If anybody has any ideas for other RBC-related events, feel free to chime in.

And, finally, here are the authors scheduled for 2018, so far:

January 14 -   Dating Bender, Christina Julian (romance)
January 24 -   Dark Associations, Marie Sutro (mystery)
February 21 - Sweet Spot, Amy Ettinger  (ice cream memoir)
March 14 -     Freedom Child, Chandra Lee Ingram (literary fiction)
March 28 -     Underground River, Martha Conway (historical fiction)
March 28 -     The Last Billable Hour, Susan Wolfe (murder mystery)
April 25 -       The McGlincy Killings, Tobin Gilman (non-fiction murder mystery)
May 23 -        Silver Lies, Ann Parker (historical mystery)

*Michael was our very 1st author when we started back in January, 2014, at Village House of Books in Los Gatos.  We moved to Recycle Books (hence, the RBC - Recycle Book Club) in Campbell in September of 2014.  So we decided to have Michael at our 3-year anniversary of the book club.  And just like the 1st time, all of our members liked The Oracle of Stamboul a whole lot.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Do You Want to Win a Book from My Top 11? Here's How to Do It - and Other Miscellaneous Items

All you have to do for the contest is make a comment on this post or the top 11 post from 4 days ago (some of you have already done that, so you're already "registered").  The comment can be anything from one word (e.g. "In," "Yes," "OK," etc.) to a review of one of the books on the list to a rant on what could I have been thinking!  On January 1, I will draw names.  You 3 winners can pick any book from the list, and I will mail it to you.  Easy, am I right?

Besides the contest, I've got 5 other notes for you:

1.  How about a bookstore where you can sleep with the books?  Take a look:

What sort of dreams would you have, surrounded by more than 150,000 books? Gladstone's Library is the only library in the UK that lets you sleep among the books, with 26 guest bedrooms on site. Guests have access to the reading rooms until 10 p.m., a full five hours after they close to the public, or can bring a book back to their room with them for a bit of bedside reading. Read more or find out how to book a room here:

2.  Gail Carriger, who was an RBC author earlier this month, and who has written a bunch of books, will be teaching a class to authors in March. Here are some of the details:

March 24 9:00am | Presentation: Brand Management, Social Media & Analytics for Authors
Paid event, intended for authors only. Guests are welcome, but please follow registration instructions from the Silicon Valley RWA chapter (details pending).

You can go to Gail's website or the RWA's website for more details.

3.  I was in a movie theater a couple of days ago and saw a poster for an upcoming movie called The Leisure Seeker.  I got real excited because I loved this book.  It was written by Michael Zadoorian, and, if you haven't read TLS, I highly recommend it.  It's the story of a long-married couple in their early 80s.  The husband has Alzheimers but can still drive.  The wife wants to take one last road trip, on Route 66 starting outside of Detroit and ending up in Los Angeles.  They obviously have some adventures along the way.  The movie will star Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland. The movie looks good, but the book IS good.

4.  I'm reading Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng.  It was the #1 choice from you readers on my TBR post from November 14.  You already know that I wasn't a big fan of Celeste's 1st book, Everything I Never Told You.  Well, I definitely like this one better.  But it still isn't bowling me over.  As we all know, books (movies, TV, art) are very subjective.  But I'm not sorry I'm reading it. 

5.  And, finally, MERRY CHRISTMAS to those of you who celebrate.  I know it will be great day for you and yours.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

2017 Books by Genre

Counting the book I'm reading now (Little Fires Everywhere), I will top out at 71 this year and 22,976 pages.  Here are the books by genre (and in the order read):

Literature and Fiction (30) -
Towles, Amor - A Gentleman in Moscow
Lonsdale, Kerry - Everything We Keep
Pancol, Katherine - The Slow Waltz of Turtles
Karlsson, Jonas - The Invoice
Chevalier, Tracy - At the Edge of the Orchard
Rohan, Ethel - The Weight of Him
Belle, Kimberly - The Marriage Lie
Fenton, Liz & Steinke, Lisa - Your Perfect Life
Hepworth, Sally - The Mother's Promise
Cron, Trami - VietnamEazy
Belle, Kimberly - The Last Breath
Hepworth, Sally - The Secrets of Midwives
Richmond, Michelle - The Marriage Pact
Degregorio, Mike - Thunder Bay
Brown, Janelle - Watch Me Disappear
Lund, Mike - Maddie's Game
Ellison, Jan - A Small Indiscretion
Lonsdale, Kerry - Everything We Left Behind
Ford, Jamie - Love and Other Consolation Prizes
Hepworth, Sally - The Things We Keep
Bauermeister, Erica - The School of Essential Ingredients
Hatvany, Amy - It Happens All the Time
Egan, Jennifer - Manhattan Beach
Ng, Celeste - Everything I Never Told You
Sloan, Robin - Sourdough
Di Maio, Camille - Before the Rain Falls
Lukas, Michael David - The Last Watchman of Old Cairo
Brown, Karma - In This Moment
Oakley, Colleen - Close Enough to Touch
Ng, Celeste - Little Fires Everywhere

Mystery/Thriller/Suspense (11) -
Grippando, James - Feels Like the First Time
Shames, Terry - A Killing at Cotton Hill
Shea, Susan - Murder in the Abstract
Siegel, Sheldon - Felony Murder Rule (#2)
Hurwitz, Gregg - Orphan X
Kirschman, Ellen - The Fifth Reflection (#3)
Eisler, Barry - Zero Sum
Horowitz, Anthony - Magpie Murders
Coben, Harlan - Don't Let Go
Sutro, Marie - Dark Associations
Silva, Daniel - House of Spies (#17)

Dark Fiction (1) -
Rosenplot, Jeff - Here There Be Dragons

Historical Fiction (8) -
Sherman, Susan - If You Are There
Jenoff, Pam - The Orphan's Tale
Sanna, Lucy - The Cherry Harvest
Church, Elizabeth - The Atomic Weight of Love
Shaffer, Mary Ann & Barrows, Annie - The Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Society
Stein, Robert - The Oath
Iles, Greg - Mississippi Blood (#3)
Quinn, Kate - The Alice Network

Romance (6) -
Barrett, Elisabeth - West Coast Holiday Series, (#3)
Adair, Marina - It Started with a Kiss
Skully, Jennifer & Andre, Bella - Irresistible in Love (#4)
Barrett, Elisabeth - Own It
Julian, Christina - Dating Bender
Allure, Kate - Bed & Breakfast & Bondage #2

Memoir (1) -
Vance, J.D. - Hillbilly Elegy

Scifi (1) -
Crouch, Blake - Dark Matter

Fantasy (2) -
Tahir, Sabaa - An Ember in the Ashes (#1)
Tahir, Sabaa - A Torch Against the Night (#2)

Young Adult (YA)(3) -
Lee, Stacy - Under the Painted Sky
Asher, Jay - Thirteen Reasons Why
McKenzie, C. Lee - Not Guilty

Paranormal/Urban Fantasy/Steampunk (2) -
Avila, Nikki - Hellbound Angel
Carriger, Gail - Soulless (#1)

Romantic Comedy (1) -
Amooi, Rich - Kissing Frogs

History (1) -
Ackerman, Ann Marie - Death of an Assassin

Women's Fiction (1) -
Brown, Josie - Onesies, Fall (Totlandia #1)

Healthcare (2) -
Helms, Liz - Healthcare Unhinged
Sweet, Victoria - Slow Medicine

Middle Grade Fantasy (1) -
Sayre, Alina - The Illuminated Kingdom (#4)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Top 10 books of 2017

Even though it's only December 21, I'm ready to give you my top 10 (actually 11) now.  You might be wondering how I can post this list now when I've still got 10 days left in the year.  I've got the answer in 5 words (with 1 hyphen):  Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng.  As you know, I wasn't a big fan of Celeste's 1st book, Everything I Never Told You.  But I'm reading her 2nd one because it was the #1 pick by readers in the TBR voting.  But 37 pages in tells me that I'm not going to love this one either.  And by the time I finish it, I probably won't get through another complete book before 12/31.

So without further ado, here they are, in order:

1.  A Gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles.  This is just flat-out one of the best-written books I have ever read.  I had to divide my review in 2 parts because there were just too many passages that I had to quote.

2.  Close Enough to Touch, Colleen Oakley.   A late 20s woman has a very rare allergy in which she can't have skin contact with another human. She hasn't even left her house in 9 years!  Then she meets a man who is a little bit older and who has a 10-year old son that he adopted when his best friend and wife died in a crash.  Great story.

3.  The Orphan's Tale, Pam Jenoff.  My top historical fiction novel of the year (and among my favorite historical fictions ever).  Before WWII, there were lots of circuses in Germany, some of them Jewish-owned. During the war, the Jewish circuses were eliminated.  In one of them, the daughter of the owners gets away and joins a non-Jewish circus. Really interesting.

4.  The Things We Keep, Sally Hepworth.  The 1st of 3 Hepworth books I read this year, all of them in the top 11.  This one is about a 38-year old woman with Alzheimers who ends up in a residential facility.  Some tough moments, but so well done.

5.  The Mother's Promise, Sally Hepworth.  Yep, #2.  A dying mother and a teenage daughter, also with issues.  And the 2 women who come into their lives.  If you haven't figured it out yet, Sally addresses some pretty difficult issues.

6.  The Alice Network, Kate Quinn.  I just finished this one today!  It's historical fiction with a lot of actual history in it.  It's the story of a famous female spy network during WWI in Germany-occupied France. Like The Orphan's Tale, it's a fascinating piece of history.

7.  The Marriage Lie, Kimberly Belle.  What would you do if you found out your spouse was killed in a plane crash but it was a different flight than he told you he would be on?  Hmmm.

8.  The Secrets of Midwives, Sally Hepworth.  #3.  This story revolves around 3 generations of midwives.  I liked the story a lot and enjoyed learning about midwifery.

9.  The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.  This is my 3rd, and last, historical fiction in the top 11. It also takes place in Western Europe.  It's 1946, and a writer from London wants to write about the German occupation of the island, Guernsey. She learns a lot more than she planned on.

10. An Ember in the Ashes, Sabaa Tahir.  This is my one and only fantasy. And I only had 2 the whole year.  (The 2nd one was book 2 in the series.)

11. Irresistible in Love, Jennifer Skully & Bella Andre.  This is book 4 in one of my favorite romance series of all time.  It's called The Maverick Billionaires.  Great collaboration.

I will end the year with 71 or 72 books.  And I had a bunch of good reads.  In fact, I have had (so far) 54-3.0s or higher!  Have I had a good year or what?  And these 11 are on the top of pile.  Way to go, guys.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Close Enough to Touch, Part II

I told you at the end of Part 1 that I couldn't get it all into one post. Ergo, Part II.  I just had to quote a few passages from the book to show you how well-written it is (in case you don't believe me!).  Voila:

"...and when she stands up, I see that she's thin everywhere except her hips - her body looks like a snake that's just swallowed a rodent."
"But she runs hot and cold like a bipolar faucet..."
"...I lean toward it, putting my cheek in his palm like a desperate, feral cat in need of petting."
"And then I remember Ellie's words in the hospital, stuck in my mind like a pebble in a shoe."

She's got a definition of love that you're going to love.  I won't quote it now, but you'll know it, and like it, when you read it.

So I mentioned in Part I that there were a few places in the book that I could relate to.  Here they are:

1.  Jubilee's inability to be touched reminds me a little bit of a TV show that ran from late 2007 to early 2009 called Pushing Daisies.  Even though it was on for a short time, in 2015 it was voted as the #1 show for being cancelled too soon.
2.  There is a mention of a cookie called a snickerdoodle.  I don't know if I've told you this story or not.  But when our granddaughter Haley was very young, my wife took her on Fridays.  She always got her a snickerdoodle at a local bakery.  That was all fine and good...until Haley learned to talk.  One day when Joni and Haley were walking by the bakery with Haley's parents, Haley pointed to the bakery and yelled "Snickerdoodle."  Joni got in trouble.
3.  I did a review of Rachael Herron's book, The Ones Who Matter Most, in which I talk about the different definitions of "family."  That happens in Close Enough to Touch, too.  Take a look at my review of Rachael's book to see what I'm talking about:

You Want to Know What Family Is? Read: The Ones Who Matter Most, by Rachael Herron - NOW!

4.  This is another one I may have already told you about (the memory is a bit wispy right now!).  But, first, here's a passage from the book:  "So I need to wash her off, right?  That's the only way I'm getting her clean at this point.  I take her into Dinesh's bathroom, sit her in the sink, and turn on the water.  It's freezing cold."  I did that when my now 41-year old son was 1st born.  The nurse asked me to get some water so she could show us how to bathe a newborn.  I brought in cold water.  When she put her finger in the water, she turned to me and very acerbically said:  "Would you bathe in cold water?"  Not one of my finer moments!

I think I'm finally ready to wrap it up.  PLEASE let me know if you read this excellent book.  I will be extremely anxious to hear what you think. Plus, I'm a sucker for adulation, extolment, acclaim, and even a little sycophancy (I went to the Thesaurus for these), all of which will be coming to me when you finish Close Enough to Touch.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

My 2nd 4/4 of 2017! - Close Enough to Touch, by Colleen Oakley

I have read a lot of very good books this year.  When I actually do a count, I imagine I will have at least 2 dozen books with a rating of 3.5 or higher.  But I was surprised to learn today that I only had one 4/4, prior to Colleen Oakley's Close Enough to Touch (btw, it's A Gentleman in Moscow, by Amor Towles).  This is so darn good.  I'm going to blurb you right away:

Jubilee Jenkins has a rare condition:  she's allergic to human touch.  After a nearly fatal accident, she became reclusive, living in the confines of her home for nine years.  But after her mother dies, Jubilee is forced to face the world - and the people in it - that she's been hiding from.
Jubilee finds safe haven at her local library where she gets a job.  It's there she meets Eric Keegan, a divorced man who recently moved to town with his brilliant, troubled, adopted son.  Eric is struggling to figure out how to be the dad - and man - he wants so desperately to be.  Jubilee is unlike anyone he has ever met, yet he can't understand why she keeps him at arm's length.  So Eric sets out to convince Jubilee to open herself and her heart to everything life can offer, setting into motion the most unlikely love story of the year.

I don't really know how to begin this review.  I've got so much to talk about.  But I will give it a try.  Here goes:

1.  It's been a long time since I've had a takeaway from a book.  Well, I got one here.  There is a scene between Eric and his daughter, Ellie, in which Eric had no idea what Ellie was thinking.  He is flabbergasted when she tells him.  What's the takeaway you ask?  It's that you can't always know what somebody is thinking unless they decide to let you in on it.  So don't judge at least until you know what's going through the other person's mind.  I had a takeaway from another book about not judging someone unless you have experienced what they have gone through.  This one is an adjunct of that.
2.  As the blurb says in the last sentence, this is a fantastic love story. Does the guy get the girl, or vice versa?  You'll have to read it to find out. I will tell you, though, that the ending reminded me of Stephen King's 11/22/63 (and I'm sure you remember what I thought of that book!). Both King and Oakley had a chance to take the easy way out...and didn't.
3.  The key relationship is between Eric and Jubilee, obviously.  But Jubilee has other relationships that grabbed me nearly as hard as the one she has with Eric (I'm not telling you anything more than that).  And Eric has significant moments with his two kids.  This book is NOT a one-trick pony.
4.  Wow did I get hit with tons of emotional moments.  But here's the funny part.  It didn't start really affecting me until about halfway through the book.  And from that point on...BOOM!  It's a little bit like A Man Called Ove.  It just grew and grew on me.  I liked CEtT a lot from the get-go.  But it took a while before I started getting gobsmacked.  (P.S. There is a moment where I think my heart melted a little bit.  We'll discuss it after you've read the book.)  So, if you are soft-hearted, like me, and prone to emotional upheavals, like me, then be prepared for chills, OMGs, Holy Mackerels, and lots and lots of tears.  Don't say I didn't warn you.  But you will still thank me when you finish.
5 & 6.  I have just made an important decision.  I'm going to give you a Part II for this blog.  I want to give you some examples of Colleen's excellent writing.  And I also want to tell you about several parts of the book that resonated with me on a personal level (besides the takeaway, that is).  Stay tuned.


Saturday, December 9, 2017

Review of A Torch Against the Night, Sequel to An Ember in the Ashes, by Sabaa Tahir

Back on March 15 of this year, I wrote a review of An Ember in the Ashes, book 1 of a fantasy series written by Sabaa Tahir.  I liked it so much (3.75/4) that I went out and bought #2, A Torch Against the Night, the next day!  It only took me 8.5 months before I finally got to the sequel.  I can't tell you why it took so long.  But it is what it is.

Okay, so did #2 measure up?  Not exactly.  It was still good, but not as good as the original.  As I'm sure you remember(!), I just went through this with Jamie Ford's latest, Love and Other Consolation Prizes.  I liked it, but I liked Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Songs of Willow Frost better.  It's really unfair because a 3.25/4 (my rating for this one and for LaOCP) is a darn good rating.  It's just not a 3.75.  Let me tell you why by comparing it to the 5 very positive bullet points that I listed for #1:

1.  #1 had 2 main protagonists, and the chapters flipped back and forth. #2 had 3 main protagonists, which I thought was fine.  I looked forward to all 3 perspectives.
2.  There was a lot of suspense in #1.  This one was also suspenseful. And there was a very big surprise about 3/4 of the way through.  That was cool.
3.  I really got into the romances and almost romances from #1.  In #2, not so much.
4.  This was the crusher.  I only got emotional a few times.  It's not that I didn't care, because I did.  It's just that I wasn't as invested in the characters as I hoped to be based on my reactions in #1.
5.  It was still well-written.  But, for me, it just didn't flow quite as smoothly as #1.

I'm going to add a #6.  And this is going to sound really dumb:

6.  There was too much senseless violence.

You're probably thinking "Huh?"  It's really hard to explain.  Remember when I said in #1 that there was a scene so heinous that I had to stop reading for a little bit?  Well, that happened a lot in this book.  I never stopped reading, though, because I think I became a little inured to it. Go figure.

I want to emphasize that A Torch Against the Night is a very good book. If you read An Ember in the Ashes, then you will want to read ATAtN. Several people that I know and trust liked this one as well as the first one.  It definitely could just be me.  As the professor in my poli sci class said in response to a student who prefaced his comment by saying that he could be wrong, "We'll concede that possibility."

Monday, December 4, 2017

#3 for Karma Brown...and Another Winnah!

Karma Brown has written 3 books:  Come Away with Me (review on 10/31/15), The Choices We Make (9/19/16), and the latest, In This Moment.  The only other author who has written 3 out of 3 terrific books that I can think of (this might be a blog post some day) is Sally Hepworth.  And to be honest with you, I'm kind of blown away by how both of them keep doing it book after book.  So, yes, In This Moment follows in the literary footsteps of Karma's 1st two.  If you read CAWM and TCWM, then I know you will read this one and really not even need my review.  If you haven't, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING ON?  For you Doubting Thomas-es/Tina-s, here's what it's about:

Meg Pepper has a fulfilling career and a happy family.  Most days she's able to keep it all together and glide through life. But then, in one unalterable moment, everything changes.
After school pick-up one day, she stops her car to wave a teenage boy across the street...just as another car comes hurtling down the road and slams into him.
Meg can't help but blame herself for her role in this horrific disaster.  Full of remorse, she throws herself into helping the boy's family as he rehabs from his injuries.  But the more Meg tries to absolve herself, the more she alienates her own family - and the more she finds herself being drawn to the boy's father.
Soon Meg's picture-perfect life is unraveling before her eyes. As the painful secrets she's been burying bubble dangerously close to the surface, she will have to decide:  Can she forgive herself, or will she risk losing everything she holds dear to her heart? 

There were a lot of things about In This Moment (along with her other 2) that I really liked.  For one, she is a really good writer.  But, at the same time, she's very readable.  Those 2 attributes don't always mesh.  For another, it's edge-of-the-seat drama even though it's not a mystery. How does she do that?  But what really stands out in this book is how many times there were circumstances, people, or places that I could relate to:

1.  The accident itself is similar to one that happened to somebody I casually know.  His son crossed the street in front of his high school and got hit.  Tragically, he was killed.
2.  There is an accident from Meg's teenage years that occurred when high school kids were drinking and driving.  One of the passengers was killed.  Another casual acquaintance of mine experienced that with her daughter.  Fortunately, her daughter was injured but was not the one who died.
3.  There is a situation in which Meg was very close to a mother, Emma, while their kids were growing up.  And then she wasn't.  That happened to Joni.  Fortunately, Joni and her friend got back together and, today, couldn't be closer.  I'll let you read about what happens with Meg and Emma.
4.  When Meg's daughter was 6 or 7, she was heartbroken because she wasn't invited to a birthday party by a girl in her class.  Our son, Josh, had that same situation at about the same age.  When he asked the birthday boy why he wasn't invited, he was told that he could invite his 4 best friends...and Josh was #5.  And our youngest child, Lauren, also found herself excluded from a birthday party at roughly the same age. When she questioned the birthday girl, she was told that she couldn't invite her because it was a very expensive party.  Lauren told the girl that her mother should have had a different kind of party.
5.  Brookline, Massachusetts is mentioned.  Our older daughter (middle child), Meredith, lived in Brookline for a year right after she graduated from a college in Northern California.  In fact, she moved to Boston 5 days before 9/11!

That's a lot of connections, don't you think?  Did that make me like, and emotionally connect with, the book more than I otherwise would have? Maybe.  Does that matter?  Nope.  Karma's 1st 2 books did not have storylines that were part of my personal experiences.  But they were books that I still loved.  People, just read her stuff.  I don't care which one you start with because you will read all 3 in a very short period of time.  And they are all standalones.  Would I steer you wrong? Debatable...but not this time!