Mar 31, 2017

Book Beginning: The Forbidden Garden by Ellen Herrick

The Forbidden Garden: A Novel  by Ellen Herrick, April 4, 2017, William Morrow Paperbacks

...the heart of a mysterious English country garden, waiting to spring to life." The second book featuring the Sparrow Sisters.

Book beginning:
Graham, Lord Kirkwood put the phone down and turned to his wife, Stella. 
"Fiona says she's found a gardener," he said.
"In America? What good does that do us here? Stella asked, looking up from her book.
"Fiona thinks this person may be willing to travel - something about a bad summer in her village, a child's death, townspeople on edge, not a good thing. It's been nearly a year, but apparently everyone's still a bit shell-shocked." Graham tapped away at this laptop for a moment in silence. 

Page 56:

... With just six weeks to research, select and plant the early stages of the Kirkwood garden, to cheat the soaking rain that swept through weekly (not to mention look at a bunch of dusty tapestries that might tell her nothing more than she already knew from her own research,) Sorrel barely had time to register the face of London or what it would be like to know the stories. 

Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Mar 27, 2017

First Chapter: Losing Me by Sue Margolis

Losing Me, a novel by the English author Sue Margolis,  published July 7, 2015 by NAL

First chapter:
As she sipped her coffee in the early-morning calm, there were no augurs or omens to suggest that before lunchtime, her life would be in the toilet. Her breakfast egg was boiling on the stove. Through the kitchen window the sky was streaked optimistic orange. The elderly heating boiler was roaring away. In a moment the pipes would start their reassuring ticking and knocking. She relished this time to herself - before the day kicked off, before everybody began demanding bits of her. She would have relished it even more if it hadn't been for Mark Zuckerberg. 

Book description:
Knocking on sixty, Barbara Stirling is too busy caring for her mother, husband, children, and grandchildren. But when she loses her job, everything changes. Barbara is forced to face her feelings and doubts. Then a troubled, vulnerable little boy walks into her life and changes it forever.

MEME: Every Tuesday Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book you are reading or will be reading soon.

Mar 25, 2017

Sunday Salon: Current Reads

Finished this week:

The Rules Do Not Apply by Ariel Levy, a memoir, May 14, 2017. Kindle edition.
My thoughts: 
The plight of the modern woman is outlined in this memoir: what happens or could happen when you want it all - all of life, together, at the same time, without necessarily making the sacrifices and trade-offs required for more predictable, stable outcomes. Revealing, honest.

Still reading: 

I Shot the Buddha by Colin Cotterill,
The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian
Death at Breakfast by Beth Gutcheon.


New book on the shelf:

Mangrove Lightning by Randy Wayne Wright, Doc Ford Mystery #24, March 21, 2017, Putnam Sons
The ghosts of a 1925 multiple murder stalk Doc Ford in a new novel in the New York Times-bestselling series.Setting: Key Largo to Tallahassee
The Night the Lights Went Out by Karen White, April 11, 2017, Berkley
...a young single mother discovers that the nature of friendship is never what it seems..


The Sunshine Sisters by Jane Green, June 6, 2017, Berkley.
... a mother asks her three estranged daughters to come home to help her end her life.

Ebooks on loan from the library have dropped into my Kindle:

The Nest by 

The Dressmaker's Dowry by Meredith Jaeger
What are you reading this week?
Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date Also visit Mailbox Monday.

Mar 24, 2017

Book Beginning: Death at Breakfast by Beth Gutcheon

Death at Breakfast, a novel by Beth Gutcheon, May 10, 2016.
"... a stylish and witty mystery series featuring a pair of unlikely investigators—a shrewd novel of manners set in small-town New England." Featuring recently retired private school head Maggie Detweiler and society matron Hope Babbin in a psychological mystery. 

Book beginning:
Maggie Detweiler, new-minted woman of leisure and not at all sure she was going to like it, had no sense of impending tragedy as she posed in front of the broad stone veranda of the Oquossoc Mountain Inn that bright October morning. She didn't really know what made her say to Hope, "When your picture's being taken, don't you always wonder if it's the one that will run with your obituary?"

Page 56:
"I'm sorry. I know it's been difficult. I will have Cherry take the dog for a walk, and please apologize to the staff for me. There was an accident, this morning, you know, and we're all upset."

What are you reading this weekend?

Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Mar 21, 2017

First Chapter: Flight Patterns by Karen White

FLIGHT PATTERNS, a novel by Karen White, paperback published March 28, 2017.
See my review of the hardcover edition, May 2016.

First chapter:
Georgia April 2015
New Orleans

Memories are thieves. They slip behind you when you least expect it, their cold hands pressed against your face, suffocating. They blow icy-cold air even on the coldest days, and pinch you awake in the middle of the night. My grandfather had once told me that memories were like a faucet you could turn off or on at will, and that after I got to be as old as he was, I'd have figured out how it works. Maybe I just wasn't old enough, because my memories always had a way of getting stuck on the "on" position, flooding my mind with images and snatches of conversation I'd rather not relive. 


Book description:

Georgia Chambers' work as an expert on fine china—especially Limoges—requires her to return to her family home on the coast of Florida. She finds solace in seeing her grandfather still toiling away in the apiary where she spent much of her childhood, but encountering her estranged mother and sister leaves her rattled. 

MEMES: Every Tuesday Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book you are reading or will be reading soon.

Teaser Tuesdays is hosted by The Purple Booker, where you can find the official rules for this weekly event. 

Mar 19, 2017

Sunday Salon: Spring At Last

We have seen the last of the snow for this year, I think. It will be rain from now on, and hopefully spring!!

I'm reading I Shot the Buddha by Colin Cotterill, a mystery with a lot of humor, set in Laos. I finished The Sleepwalker: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian, a mystery about a missing mother, with a twist at the end; and finished The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff. a WWII novel set in Poland. Also finished,  Cooking for Picasso, a novel by Camille Aubray, I enjoyed them all.

Two new books on my shelf:
A proof of Chemistry: A Novel by Weike Wang, May 23, 2017, by Knopf. 
Described as " a luminous coming-of-age novel about a young female scientist who must recalibrate her life when her academic career goes off track." Set in Boston.

The Last Chance Olive Ranch by Susan Wittig Albert, April 4, 2017, Berkley.
China Bayles fears for her husband’s life as an escaped convict targets him...

My Kindle borrows from the library:
The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian, a novel published in 2013, about an Italian family, the Rosatis,  in Florence during WWII.  Fast forward to 1955, when someone is targeting the remainder of the Rosati family, and a young Florentine detective is assigned to the case.

Another intriguing historical novel of WWII. I finished the author's new novel, The Sleepwalker, and am looking up all his earlier novels. This is the first in the list that I'll be reading. 

I also have the ebook of 
The Dressmaker's Dowry by Meredith Jaeger, February 7, 2017, William Morrow.
The book description: "the story of two women: one, an immigrant seamstress who disappears from San Francisco’s gritty streets in 1876, and the other, a young woman in present day who must delve into the secrets of her husband’s wealthy family only to discover that she and the missing dressmaker might be connected in unexpected ways."

Unfinished books which I plan to get back to include: The Day I Died, The Sun King Conspiracy, and My Last Lament. 

What are you reading this week? 
Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date

Mar 17, 2017

Book Beginning: I Shot the Buddha by Colin Cotterill

My lucky library find:
I Shot the Buddha by Colin Cotterill, published August 16, 2016, is the 11th in the Dr. Siri Paiboun mystery series, featuring retired coroner Siri Paiboun and his wife, Madame Daeng, in Laos. 

The couple share their small Vientiane house with an assortment of homeless people, mendicants, and oddballs. One of these is Noo, a Buddhist monk, who rides out on his bicycle one day and never comes back, leaving only a cryptic note in the refrigerator: a plea to help a fellow monk escape across the Mekhong River to Thailand. (publisher)

Book beginning:
It was midnight to the second with a full moon overhead when three women were being killed in three separate locations. Had this been the script of a film, such a twist of fate would have been the type of cinematic plot device that annoyed Comrades Siri and Civilai immensely. In their book coincidences came in a close third behind convenient amnesia and the sudden appearance of an identical twin. But this was real life, so there was no argument to be had. 

Page 56:
"I can't start a mission by losing face," he said.
"You're not. Nobody knows you're here. They haven't even seen your face. We can return tomorrow, refreshed, and they'll all be embarrassed about today and your face will be intact."  

What are you reading this Friday?
Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Mar 14, 2017

First Chapter: The Sleepwalker by Chris Bohjalian

The Sleepwalker: A Novel by Chris Bohjalian, January 10, 2017.
"a spine-tingling novel of lies, loss, and buried desire—the mesmerizing story of a wife and mother who vanishes from her bed late one night," 

My rating on goodreads: five stars.

First chapter:
Everyone in the county presumed that my mother's body was decaying - becoming porridge - at the bottom of the Gale River. It was the year 2000, and we were but three seasons removed from the Y2K madness, the overwrought, feared end of the digital age. It was a moment in time when a pair of matching towers still stood at the tip of Lower Manhattan. Fracking and photobomb and selfie were years from becoming words, but we were only months from adding to our vocabularies the expression hanging chad.  

I was twenty-one that summer and fall and my sister was twelve. Neither of us fully recovered. 

Based on the first chapter of the book, would you read on? 

MEME: Every Tuesday Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book you are reading or will be reading soon.

Mar 11, 2017

Sunday Salon: False Spring

The crocuses have pushed up during a brief, false spring and may survive the next several days. Snow is expected Monday-Tuesday!

I have been reading more ebooks from the library and just finished Into Thin Air, an account of the tragic expeditions in a climb of Everest in the spring of 1996, a story which had me in tears in parts.
I also whizzed through Girl in Translation, finding ebooks faster to read.

Books on my desk:

Where the Dead Lie by C.S. Harris, April 4, 2017, Berkley
Setting: London, 1813.
Plot: missing children; Sebastian St. Cyr #12 mystery

From the library:
Quicksand by Malin Persson Giolito, March 7, 2017, Other Press
Genre: courtroom thriller, drama
Setting: Stockholm, Sweden
Award: Best Swedish crime novel of the year

The Kommandant's Girl by Pam Jenoff, February 20, 2007.
Setting: Krakow, Poland during WWII
Genre: historical fiction

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date

Mar 10, 2017

Book Beginning: The Boat Rocker by Ha Jin


The Boat Rocker by Ha Jin, October 25, 2016

Book beginning:
Chapter One
A week before the fourth anniversary of 9/11, my boss, Kaiming, barged into my office, rattling a three-page printout in his hands.
"Look at this, Danling," he said, dropping the papers on my desk. "This is outrageous! How could they claim that George W. Bush had agreed to endorse a book by Yan Haili? Everyone can tell it's a lie the size of heaven."

Page 56:

Then she said, "I have written a script, and a movie company has been considering it."

About the book: From the award-winning author of Waiting and War Trash: an urgent, timely novel that follows an aspiring author, an outrageous book idea, and a lone journalist’s dogged quest for truth in the Internet age. (publisher)

Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader. 

Mar 8, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday: Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Waiting on Wednesday is hosted weekly by Jill at Breaking the Spine. What new releases or soon to be released books are you eagerly waiting for. 
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng will be published September 12, 2017, the author's second book since the acclaimed Everything I Never Told You.

Book description: In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned – from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren – an enigmatic artist and single mother – who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town--and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides.  Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia's past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs. 

Little Fires Everywhere explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, and the ferocious pull of motherhood – and the danger of believing that following the rules can avert disaster. (publisher)

Mar 7, 2017

Book Tour: Abby's Journey by Steena Holmes

Abby's Journey by Steena Holmes, February 14, 2017, Lake Union Publishing
Publisher book description:
Twenty-year-old Abigail Turner knows her mother, Claire—who died shortly after she was born—through letters, videos, postcards, and journals. Abby’s father, Josh, has raised his precious daughter himself, but Abby longs to forge out on her own and see the world after a childhood trapped indoors: she suffers from bronchopulmonary dysplasia, which means a case of the sniffles can rapidly escalate into life-threatening pneumonia.

But when Abby’s doctor declares her healthy—for now—her grandmother Millie whisks her away to Europe to visit the Christmas markets that her mother cherished and chronicled in her travel journals.

Despite her father’s objections, Abby and Millie embark on a journey of discovery in which Abby will learn secrets that force her to reevaluate her image of her mother and come to a more mature understanding of a parent-child bond that transcends death.

My comments: Young Abby is plagued by a childhood illness that carries over into adulthood. She has to be careful as she could get ill at any time. Abby's mother died leaving a series of messages and instructions for her husband Josh and for Abby, in the form of letters of guidance, counsel, and a form of mothering that will take Abby from childhood into adulthood.

Abby visits Europe to follow in her mother's footsteps, but becomes ill in Brussels. She meets her half-brother Jackson, and learns things about her mother that will answer a lot of questions.

A little sentimental and more than a little heartfelt, Abby's Journey will touch those readers who know or who have young Abbys of their own.

For a list of other reviews, visit the TLC Tour Stop for Abby's Journey

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

About Steena Holmes

After writing her first novel while working as a receptionist, Steena Holmes made her dream of being a full-time writer a reality. She won the National Indie Excellence Book Award in 2012 for her bestselling novel Finding Emma. Now both a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, Steena continues to write stories that touch every parent’s heart in one way or another. To find out more about her books and her love for traveling, you can visit her website at www.steenaholmes.com or follow her journeys over on Instagram @steenaholmes.
-----------------------------------------------------------------
First chapter:
Prologue
Claire

Dear Josh, I've written this letter a thousand times (okay, that might be exaggerating just a little, but I have written it a few times now). At first, it was a list of parenting tips, because that's what I do. I write lists. And then you would read it and memorize it,. because that's what you do to humor me.

MEME: Every Tuesday Bibliophile by the Sea hosts First Chapter First Paragraph, Tuesday Intros sharing the first paragraph or two, from a book you are reading or will be reading soon. 

Mar 4, 2017

Sunday Salon: Thriller, Fiction, Literary Fiction

I have finished several library books: The Other Einstein, The Orphan's Tale, and I See You. My new reading includes Cooking for Picasso, The Day I Died  and Big Breasts and Wide Hips, Previous posts will show the covers and details of the books.

I have started a novel on the history of blues in Chicago, Windy City Blues, and almost finished a quirky novel, The Wangs vs. the World, but misplaced my copy just when I'm so close to finishing!

Three paperback arrivals.
A Certain Age by Beatriz Williams, a book of romance and scandal in the Roaring Twenties of New York.
Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones, a coming-of-age story of an lunlusual boy, an outsider.
Wilde Lake by Laura Lippman, a modern day twist of To Kill a Mockingbird.

I am finally reading more e-books from the library, using Overdrive to order online. There are several queued for me so I'll get them when they become available. Suits me fine as I can hardly read too many at one time!

On a sunny but cold day in Ohio, Cooking for Picasso, a novel by Camille Aubray, is wonderful company and hits the spot. The book is set in Picasso's heyday in the sunny, blue Mediterranean, on the Cote d'Azur.
Cooking for Picasso
What are you reading this March?
Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit It's Monday, What Are You Reading? hosted by Book Date

Mar 2, 2017

Review: The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict

The Other Einstein, an historical novel by Marie Benedict, October 18, 2016.

Einstein's first wife, Mileva “Mitza” Marić was a brilliant physicist in her own right and may have contributed to his theory on relativity.

Book beginning:
October 20, 1986
Zurich, Switzerland
I smoothed the wrinkles on my freshly pressed white blouse, flattened the bow encircling my collar, and tucked back a stray hair into my tightly wound chignon. The humid walk through the foggy Zurich streets to the Swiss Federal Polytechnic Campus played with my careful grooming. The stubborn refusal of my heavy, dark hair to stay fixed in place frustrated me. I wanted every detail of the day to be perfect.

Page 56:
On the evening of his first visit, Helene greeted him with a disgruntled, "Who simply appears on a classmate's doorstep uninvited?"

My comments: The novel is fiction and speculative when it comes to the amount of collaboration Einstein and his wife Mileva may have had in the first four paper he wrote in 1905, including the theory of relativity. Mileva was a physicist in her own right, and a mathematician. But now, there are historians and authors who are looking into how much Mileva did contribute to Einstein's work.

The author has done extensive research on the Einsteins, their meeting at university where Mileva was the only female in Einstein's physics class, his intense courtship of her, their marriage, their moving from one European university to the other during Einsteins rise to the top as a physicist and professor.

Readers might not want to believe that Einstein was at any time selfish with the praise for his research and dismissive of his wife, with whom he had close collaboration in their studies while there were university students, and who could have had serious input into his discoveries. Mileva is shown as gradually being marginalized by Einstein and relegated to simple housewife for him and their two children, this after she had lost her scientific career after an unplanned pregnancy while they were students forced her to give up school and her cherished dream of academics.

Historically, the marriage broke up close to the height of Einstein's career. Part of the divorce agreement was that Mileva would get the proceeds from any Nobel Prize coming from Einstein's work in the future. It's hard to believe he would agree to give that up unless his wife had very well contributed to his work, though unacknowledged and unrecognized.

Recommendation: A fascinating history of the facts of the Einsteins' lives, their marriage, his success, and an intriguing guess at what might have been different for her and for women scientists that came after, if his first wife Mileva had been recognized, even in a footnote, in any of the papers Einstein published in 1905.
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Memes: The Friday 56. Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% of your eReader. Find any sentence that grabs you. Post it, and add your URL post in Linky at Freda's Voice. Also visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader. 
 

Another Great Library Find: Big Breasts and Wide Hips by Mo Yan

I found an intriguing library book: a novel and an historical one at that.
Big Breasts and Wide Hips, a novel by Nobel Prize winner Mo Yan, author of Red Sorghum, published 2014.
Book description: This is a book about women but it's also a book about China, from the fall of the Qing dynasty up through the Japanese invasion in the 1930s, the civil war, the Cultural Revolution, and the post-Mao years. In sum, this stunning novel is Mo Yan's searing vision of 20th-century China.

In a country where men dominate, and as the title implies, the female body serves as the book's most important image and metaphor. The protagonist, Mother, is born in 1900. Married at 17 into the Shangguan family, she has nine children, only one of whom is a boy, the narrator of the book, a spoiled and ineffectual child who stands in stark contrast to his eight strong and forceful female siblings.

Mother, a survivor, is the quintessential strong woman, who risks her life to save the lives of several of her children and grandchildren. The writing is full of life-picturesque, bawdy, shocking, imaginative. (publisher)

The title and topics and history are inviting an exploration of Mo Yan's unique vision!

Mo Yan is a modern Chinese author, known for his novel Red Sorghum (which was turned into a movie by the same title). Often described as the Chinese Franz Kafka or Joseph Heller.