Aug 11, 2015

Book Review: LIFE IN NEW YORK by Laura Pedersen

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read. Also visit Teaser Tuesdays meme hosted by Jenn.
Life in New York: How I Learned to Love Squeegee Men, Token Stickers, Trash Twisters, and Subway Sharks, nonfiction by Laura Pedersen, published Jul 28, 2015; Fulcrum Publishing

First paragraph, Chapter One:
As my bus lurched toward the Lincoln Tunnel a sign proclaimed: NO TRUCKS OVER 12' 6". Underneath, in equally large letters, was painted, WE MEAN IT! Obviously I was entering a reckless, self-destructive society that couldn't or, more likely, wouldn't follow the kind of simple direction I'd learned in kindergarten.... After the Lincoln Tunnel sign I was half expecting a troll to ask me a riddle before I was allowed to enter the Big Bad City.
Teasers: There are a ton of great sentences that describe Laura Pedersen's take on New York City. First of all, I noted that NYC is not just the island of Manhattan but describes some five boroughs that includes the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens. Here are some notable and interesting, to me, observations that Pedersen makes:
New York is the number-one tourist destination in the United States. 
Most city residents live in small, cramped apartments....(I)t's not uncommon to live with roommates well into your forties.  
Solitude is rare and considered a luxury....people must often go out on the street with their cell phones to get some privacy. 
You determine where to live in Manhattan, not based on income but on age. 
To promote desegregation, both racial and economic. Kids take subways and buses all over the five boroughs, traversing back and forth to school every day. 
New Yorkers tend to have pets instead of kids. 
The one constant throughout New York City's history has been its ability to change, adapt, and reinvent itself.
And one fact that I especially appreciated about NYC: the drinking water is clean and free. But I'd miss the chance to have solitude, every day and often...There is so much more that Pedersen discusses in her book: the founding and history of NYC, the present subway system, the cultural life, humidity and allergies in the summers, the neighborhoods, the variety of foods and people, and more.

I loved this book. It's informative, current, and humorous. Not at all a dry history or travel book. It's one to read if you are thinking of moving to NYC or just visiting there.

Enter the GIVEAWAY, courtesy of the publicist/publisher, now through August 17, 2015. The contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents. Email me at with the heading New York Giveaway. A winner will be notified by email on Aug. 18 and asked for a mailing address. Good luck! UPDATE: The winner was Sharon Berger!

Aug 8, 2015

Sunday Salon: A Library Surprise

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit Mailbox Monday.

Getting used to Windows 10. Anyone using it? How do you like it?
I haven't noticed too many differences, so far.

We went to the library to return books and borrow DVDs. I got a book I thought my hubby would like, but landed up reading it myself. The thriller, One Mille Under by Andrew Gross, reminds me of some of the Nevada Barr mystery novels featuring park ranger, Anna Pigeon. At least at the beginning.

This one features Dani, a whitewater guide in Aspen, Colorado who finds out more than the sheriff wants her to after she discovers the body of an expert kayaker in the river. Her godfather, who happens to be a PI, is sent to her rescue. Enjoying it so far!

New books on my reading shelf:

9 1/2 Narrow: My Life in Shoes, a memoir by Patricia Morrisroe, published April 14, 2015; by Gotham. 
A funny, poignant coming-of-age memoir told through the shoes that she wore.

A Window Opens, contemporary fiction by Ellizabeth Egan, to be released August 25, 2015; Simon and Schuster
Alice Pearse, a compulsively honest, longing-to-have-it-all, sandwich generation heroine for our social-media-obsessed, lean in (or opt out) age. 

Broken Homes and Gardens, a novel by Rebecca Kelley, published April 28, 2015; Blank Slate Press
A girl, a guy, a broken-down house. Not exactly on-again, off-again, Malcolm and Joanna are in-again, out-again: in love, out of each other’s arms, in an awkward co-living arrangement, out of the country. Their unconventional relationship is the only way, Joanna says, to protect herself from the specter of commitment, which inevitably leads to heartbreak. (goodreads)

The Guilty One, a novel by Sophie Littlefield, to be released August 11, 2015 by Gallery Books.
(A) gripping exploration of the damage people can do to each other, and the resilience they find in themselves.
A man stands on the Golden Gate Bridge, poised to jump…if a woman on the other end of the phone tells him to. (goodreads)

What books are you reading this week? I am reading several books at once -
 Updike,  a biography by Adam Begley
and a few others. 

Aug 7, 2015

Book Review: Queen of Hearts by Rhys Bowen

The Friday 56: *Grab a book, turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader. Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grabs you. Post it. Add your (url) post in Linky at Freda's Voice.
Also, visit Book Beginning at Rose City Reader.

Queen of Hearts: A Royal Spyness Mystery #8 by Rhys Bowen, published August 4, 2015, Berkley

Book beginning, first chapter:
MONDAY, JULY 9, 1934
Dear Diary: Weather fine but absolutely nothing to do. Dying of boredom.
I was sitting in a white wicker chair under a spreading chestnut tree on a manicured lawn.Behind me the stately battlements of Kingsdowne Place, seat of the dukes of Eynsford, were reflected int he perfect mirror of the lake, its surface ruffled only by a pair of gliding swans. Before me was a tea table, groaning under tiers of cucumber and smoked salmon sandwiches, strawberries and cream, eclairs, Victoria sponges, petit fours and scones with clotted cream. It was about the most perfect afternoon one could wish for, one of those rare English summer days when the only sounds are the buzzing of bees among the roses the clickety-clack of a distant lawn mower and the thwack of ball on bat at the cricket match down in the village.  
Page 56:
When we went down to dinner, there was no sign of Princess Promila.
"She was very subdued last night," I said. "I hope she's feeling all right."  
My comments: What an intriguing plan for a mystery series. A young English aristocrat, Lady Georgiana Rannock, is regularly commissioned as a royal spy by the Queen, who wants to keep tabs on everyone around her. Georgie travels on the Queen's behalf, reporting back to Her Majesty on the goings on with her subjects in and around the realm.

In this novel, however, it's Georgie's actress mother who persuades her on a trip across the Atlantic to America, where she plans to get a quickie divorce in Reno, Nevada, so she can marry her latest beau, the wealthy Max.

The trip on the boat across the Atlantic is adventurous, with lots of important people, including an Indian princess and a movie mogul, Cy Goldman. Cy persuades Georgie's mom to act in his latest picture in Hollywood and arranges for her to stay at his Hollywood mansion. When Cy turns up dead, however, several suspects at the crowded mansion come into the fore. Georgie is, of course, involved in the sleuthing to find out what happened to Cy.

Well known movie stars such as Charlie Chaplin appear at the Hollywood mansion, adding to the glamour and intrigue of the setting and place. The author seems to throw in everything but the kitchen sink to keep this mystery enticing. Even having an Agatha Christie-like scenario where many people are confined and isolated in a house where a murder has occurred, while the police try to find the culprit. And all these devices work.

I am looking forward to reading Malice at the Palace, the 9th and next in the series by Rhys Bowen.

A review copy of this book was provided by the publisher.

Aug 6, 2015

Murder on the Horizon by M.L. Rowland: Book Feature

Murder on the Horizon: A Search and Rescue Mystery by M.L. Rowland, published August 4, 2015; Berkley

I have read and enjoyed this author of the mystery series. They are full of suspenseful mystery action, but I did find the first, Zero Degree Murder, quite violent and the murders in this third novel, Murder on the Horizon, were so off-putting for me that I didn't finish the book. 

The best read for me, so far, was Murder Off the Beaten Path, the second in the series. 
The series does have a mountain setting, however, that makes the search and rescue operations interesting to read.

Book opening:
 "Damn, that's a lot of blood," a man said, voice echoing in the large room. "What the hell d'you expect?" a second man said. "Go get a bucket."
Book description: As a volunteer for Timber Creek Search and Rescue in the mountains of Southern California, Gracie Kinkaid responds to a call out for a car that’s gone over the side of a treacherous mountain road. 

The crash proves to be one in an escalating and deadly series of events that lead her right back to Camp Ponderosa, a church-owned camp where she works as Program Director. As Gracie probes more deeply into the dark secrets at the camp, she unearths a hidden world of illegal activities, including murder…and finds herself going head-to-head with desperate perpetrators. (goodreads)

A review copy of  the book was provided by the publisher.

Aug 3, 2015

Book Review: The Reinvention of Albert Paugh by Jean Davies Okimoto

First Chapter, First Paragraph is hosted weekly by Bibliophile by the Sea. Share the first paragraph of your current read. Also visit Teaser Tuesdays meme hosted by Jenn.
The Reinvention of Albert Paugh by Jean Davies Okimoto, published by Endicott and Hugh Books (July 23, 2015)

First paragraph, first chapter:

Al didn't quite know how he got sidetracked. He'd never thought of himself as an impulsive person, it was rare that he did anything without thinking it through and he certainly had every intension of taking Bert, his chocolate Lab, to Point Robinson. It was a beautiful fall day and Bert was eager to get to the beach were he loved to swim and retrieve his rubber frog.Of course, Al was supposed to get exercise, too. But instead of going to the beach like he'd told Eleanor he'd be doing - the past eighth months he'd been very dutiful about always letting his wife know his whereabouts - somehow, he inexplicably ended up going in the opposite direction...

A quote/teaser from chapter 2:
"I'm flunking retirement, Martha Jane.""You're doing what, Albert?""I'm flunking retirement. My retirement is a failure, it's not going well at all.""Oh, my. that doesn't sound good." 
My comments: 
Al Paugh retires and sells his veterinary practice on Vashon Island, Washington, after his heart attack and surgery, urged on by his wife Eleanor. When Al finds himself alone, retired from a practice he loved, he has only his faithful dog Bert to rely on. 

Retirement doesn't sit well with Al. He misses his practice and taking care of animals, he has to sell the house he and his wife had for years, and he has to learn to be alone. This is the story of what and how he does, how Al, in spite of being pulled in different directions in the beginning,  "reinvents" himself after retirement, with a little help from his dog and old friends. Al goes through a lot of changes; it's not a predictable story though he does find new love.. 

I enjoyed the book, as I did the author's previous one, Walter's Muse. Besides interesting and unusual characters, the book has many insightful thoughts, ideas, and observations about getting old, retiring, and finding new meaning in life, with help from people on sometimes rocky roads. I gave this a five star and think everyone would enjoy it -young or old, working or retired.  
Jean Davies Okimoto is an author and playwright whose books and short stories have been translated into seven languages. Her many awards include Smithsonian Notable Book, the American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, the Washington Governor’s Award and the International Reading Association Readers Choice Award. She has appeared on CNN, Oprah, and The Today Show. Jeanie, a retired psychotherapist, and her husband Joe retired to Vashon Island in 2004 where they (and their dogs Bert and Willie) are visited by deer families and their six grandchildren. Visit her at

The Reinvention of Albert Paugh is the third book in Jean Davies Okimoto’s Island Trilogy, following The Love Ceiling and Walter’s Muse

Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for a review copy of the book. 
For the full tour schedule, see more reviews.

Aug 1, 2015

Sunday Salon: A Bouquet of Flowers and Books

Welcome to the Sunday Salon where bloggers share their reading each week. Visit The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also visit Mailbox Monday.

The roses have decided to bud and open now that the rain has stopped the past week and the weather is warm and sunny. I picked from the garden a small bouquet of two fragrant yellow roses, a pink zinnia, and a yellow and purple daylily for a relative who just got out of the hospital. She loved the fragrance and the variety of colors. 

Two new books for review: 
The Beautiful Bureaucrat: A Novel by Helen Phillips, to be published August 11, 2015 by Henry Holt and Co.

"In a windowless building in a remote part of town, the newly employed Josephine inputs an endless string of numbers into something known only as "The Database." After a long period of joblessness, she's not inclined to question her fortune, but as the days inch by and the files stack up, Josephine feels increasingly anxious in her surroundings.... Helen Phillips enters the company of Murakami, Bender, and Atwood as she twists the world we know and shows it back to us full of meaning and wonder-luminous and new."  (goodreads)

I've started this one and can't seem to put it down. I love the magical world of Murakami, and this book seems to be in a similar vein. 

Evergreen Falls by Kimberley Freeman, to be released August 4, 2015 by Touchstone. 

A long-forgotten secret, a scandalous attraction and a place where two women's lives are changed foreverInspired by elements of her grandmother's life, a tale of intrigue, heartbreak and love from the author of LIGHTHOUSE BAY and WILDFLOWER HILL. (goodreads)

This one mixes the past and the present - 1926 and 2014. 

What's new on your bookshelf?

Saturday Snapshot: In the Garden

To join in Saturday Snapshot, head over to the post by West Metro Mommy Reads:

A pale coral hollyhock plant came up among the others of bright pink. Hope more of them will come up next year.

The bee balm in the yard attracted hummingbirds and bees.

Sunday Salon: Japanese Authors and a Mystery

  Klara and the Sun   by Kazuo Ishiguro. Intellect having "heart" Klara and the Sun was easy to read for a literary novel of suc...