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.





 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

A Review of Bad Love Beyond, Book 3 of the The Bad Love Series

This book combines a whole bunch of genres and cultural influences. Specifically, there is time travel, science, historical references, and music, to name just a few.  Let me give you the list of elements of the book that I enjoyed:

1.  A list of 31 popular songs from such a varied group of singers as
Neil Diamond, Led Zeppelin, Rod Stewart, The Beatles, and Carole
King.  It would be best to listen to them as they come up in the story
(unfortunately I didn't but wish I had).
2.  Tons of scientific facts about a whole variety of subjects, including 
dinosaurs, volcanos, musicians, monuments, celestial bodies, airplanes
and Zeppelins, and on and on.
3.  Great quotes at the beginning of each chapter.  Again, they range
from scientists (Carl Sagan) to musicians (Chuck Berry) to actors
(Mel Gibson) to Presidents (Abraham Lincoln) and event to fictional
characters (Jean-Luc Picard from Star Trek:  The Next Generation).
4.  Good writing - lots of very apt analogies and well-timed aphorisms.
5.  Cultural references - e.g. a detailed description of an Ali-Frazier fight.
6.  A closing scene that had me on the edge of my seat.

My only regret about reading Bad Love Beyond, #3, is that I didn't read 1 & 2 first.  It's not critical that you do so.  But I would have been able to get into Bad Love Beyond a little bit sooner.  Once I did connect though, it was full speed ahead!  Now I will be ready for #4, Bad Love Medicine.







  

Friday, February 5, 2021

Another Review You Say? How About Susan Wiggs' The Lost and Found Bookshop

As you know, my last review was for Lisa Gardner's 24th published novel.  That is an amazing feat, don't you think?  Well, Lisa is a newbie compared to Susan Wiggs.  The Lost and Found Bookshop, which is really terrific, is her 40TH PUBLISHED NOVEL!!!  I'm a little embarrassed to say that her 40th is my 1st...but it definitely won't be my last.  

In the wake of a shocking tragedy, Natalie Harper inherits a charming but financially strapped bookshop in San Francisco.  She also becomes the caretaker for her grandfather, Andrew, who grew up in the historic Perdita Street building that houses the store.  Grandpa Andrew has begun to struggle with memory loss, and Natalie plans to close the bookstore and sell the building to pay for his care.  There's only one problem - her grandfather owns it outright and refuses to sell.

Although there are two more paragraphs of intro, I'm going to leave them out.  I've got some things to say, and I don't want to run out of room (or test your patience!).  Here's a list of positives from TLaFB:

1.  It's about a bookstore and takes place in San Francisco - enough said.
2.  The writing is excellent.  Some examples:
     "...he could still remember the way the evening light used to slant
     through the window, settling over her like a benediction while she
     was absorbed in a book."
     "The shock and grief of losing Blythe were so deep and intense that it 
     felt as if a new and devastating emotion had been invented just for
     them."
     + many, many more
3.  I got chills on many occasions, sprinkled in with at least one "Yes!"
     and "OMG!"
4.  There is a variety of great quotes.
5.  2 of my favorite books were mentioned:  The Extraordinary Life of 
     Sam Hell (Robert Dugoni) and Being Mortal (Atul Gawande).  BTW,
     Being Mortal had such a big impact on me that it took 2 blog posts to
     say everything I wanted/needed to say.
6.  Having been very closely associated with 2 bookstores, it was very fun
     for me to read about all the behind-the-scenes stuff.  And even if you
     don't know what goes on when the lights go out, you will appreciate
     what Susan tells us.

Have you figured out yet whether I liked this book?  It's a resounding YOU BET!  The fact that Susan will be gracing our book club with a Zoom appearance in May is just the extra layer of icing on the cake.  Do yourselves a favor and read The Lost and Found Bookshop.  You will be happy you did.





   

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Lisa Gardner's latest - Before She Disappeared

Lisa Gardner has written 23 novels!  I have probably read a couple of the others.  So I was happy when Penguin Random House sent me her latest, Before She Disappeared.  This one has a very interesting storyline:

A recovering alcoholic with more regrets than belongings.  Frankie Elkin has devoted her life to doing what no one else will - searching for the lost and forgotten.  When the police have moved on, when the public no longer remembers, when the media has never paid attention, Frankie starts looking.

A new case brings her to Mattapan, a Boston neighborhood with a rough reputation.  She is searching for Angelique Badeau, a Haitian teenager who vanished from her high school months earlier.  Resistance from the Boston PD and the victim's wary family tells Frankie she's on her own - and she soon learned she's asking questions someone doesn't want answered.  But Frankie will risk it all to discover the truth, even if it means the next person to go missing could be her.  

I'm a big fan of flawed protagonists because, after all, aren't we all flawed to some extent?  Frankie has her demons, even as she is trying to locate Angelique.  We see throughout the book the willpower it takes for Frankie to stick with it even as those demons threaten to overwhelm her.  And Lisa does a good job of giving us supporting characters who are interesting in their own right.  

Aside from the plot line, I was fascinated to learn a lot about alcoholics and alcoholism.  Fortunately, I've never had to face it myself, but, like any addiction, it sure seems like something tough to deal with on an ongoing basis.  I admired Frankie for finding a support group to attend as soon as she got to Boston.  She made a habit of doing that in every new city she came to.  

Before She Disappeared is a solid read.  I think you will get caught up in it pretty quickly, just as I did.  And let's face it, any author who has published 23 novels must be doing something right! 







Monday, February 1, 2021

Trading Secrets, by Rachael Eckles

Rachael Eckles' Trading Secrets is a well-written book that combines thriller, mystery, and romance genres.  I was engaged throughout and definitely got caught up in the what-the-heck-happened and who-did-it questions.  Here is the back cover synopsis:

Celeste Donovan, a high-powered finance executive, seems to have it all - the penthouse apartment, the supermodel physique with a mathematician mind, and a trail of beautiful men she has loved and left behind.  But when her boyfriend Theodore is killed in a mysterious accident, she discovers Omar, her abusive ex she had hoped would never resurface, is behind his death.  Now she's caught in a game of cat and mouse, trying to anticipate Omar's next move, as she realizes he will stop at nothing to get to her.  She sets out alone on a whirlwind journey to entrap him, determined to put an end to Omar's destruction.

I appreciated that Rachael's protagonist is a powerful woman who can be both powerful and a woman at the same time.  Too often, those don't go together.  And I definitely liked guessing wrong on a couple of occasions.  It made the book so much more fun to read.  Bring on #2!

  







Saturday, January 23, 2021

We Have Our Winners!

Hello, all.  At 10:00 this morning, January 23, Joni pulled 3 names, at random, from the group of those who commented on what they love about reading.  The winners are Rich, Alan, and Claudia.  They will each get the print, ebook, or audiobook of their choosing.  Congrats.

If you want to read some great comments, go to my Facebook Book Sage page.

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