Jan 3, 2021

Sunday Salon: Practices for Resilience During a Pandemic

 I recently was sent two books from Wiley at Saichek Publicity, which is promoting a novel, A Bend in the River by Libby Fischer Hellmann, and a nonfiction book, Steady, Calm, and Brave by Kimberly Brown. 

A Bend in the River by Libby Fischer Hellmann has pretty good reviews from many readers on Goodreads. Published October 7, 2020, The Red Herrings Press

Genre: historical fiction, set in Vietnam, 1968 

Publisher's book description: 

In 1968 two young Vietnamese sisters flee to Saigon after their village on the Mekong River is attacked by American forces and burned to the ground. The sole survivors of the brutal massacre that killed their family, the sisters struggle to survive but become estranged, separated by sharply different choices and ideologies. Mai ekes out a living as a GI bar girl, but Tam’s anger festers, and she heads into jungle terrain to fight with the Viet Cong. For nearly ten years, neither sister knows if the other is alive. Do they both survive the war? And if they do, can they mend their fractured relationship? Or are the wounds from their journeys too deep to heal? In a stunning departure from her crime thrillers, Libby Fischer Hellmann delves into a universal story about survival, family, and the consequences of war. 

The author visited visited Vietnam to do research for her book - covering Vietnamese history before, during, and after the war. She interviewed a former North Vietnamese colonel in Hanoi and also interviewed and heard the stories of Vietnamese boat people and refugees in the U.S.  A Vietnamese editor helped "make sure the story sounds true."

The second book I got is a self-help book written by meditation teacher, Kimberly Brown. 

Steady, Calm, and Brave: 25 Practices of Resilience and Wisdom in a Crisis by Kimberly Brown, an ebook published June 28, 2020. 

Book description:

Practical teachings to take care of yourself and others in uncertain and unsettling times.

Steady, Calm, and Brave offers simple and accessible ways to help readers during a pandemic and beyond. With short, stand-alone readings designed to help you through difficult circumstances, it offers the tools, understanding, and encouragement necessary to meet the extraordinary challenges we face today.

Meditation teacher Kimberly Brown shares honest and sometimes humorous stories from her life, family, and community to help us navigate difficulties--including social isolation, working from home, societal divisiveness, and worry for the future--with patience, clarity, and mindfulness. Incorporating practical techniques that provide on-the-spot support, Steady, Calm, and Brave will help you access and develop your calm, courageous, and loving heart to make skillful decisions and take compassionate actions for yourself and the world. The proceeds of this ebook will benefit The Loveland Foundation. 

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Nov 1, 2020

Sunday Salon: New Library Books

 I found a few books at the library last week that I liked so much I immediately started them.

Finished reading:

Mr. Nobody by Catherine Steadman,  published January 7, 2020, Ballantine Books

Genre: psychological thriller

Setting: Britain

I learned a new neuropsychiatry term, "dissociative fugue", which refers to a rare type of amnesia, in which the patient loses memory of his identity, over and over again. Mr. Nobody, later called Matthew, is found on a British beach with no idea of who he is. He is seen by a neuropsychiatrist, Emma Lewis, who becomes caught up in trying to help him, not knowing at the beginning what type of amnesia he has. 

For some reason, he knows more about her secret past than many people do, and this frightens her. Matthew is not as innocent as he seems, and certainly not the normal amnesia victim. The story becomes a thriller, with Emma fighting for her life in action packed and thrilling scenes. I was willing to give the book four stars but by the time I reached the ending, my rating became a solid 5. 

Braised Pork by An Yu, published April 14, 2020, Grove Press

Genre: literary fiction, international fiction, with magical elements

In modern Beijing, Jia Jia finds her husband dead one morning in the bathtub, kneeling with his head in the water.  

She begins to dream about a fish-man whom she follows into dark watery depths. The silvery fish-man is elusive and darts away each time she enters this dream world. Jia Jia is determined to find out about the significance to this creature to her husband and her deceased mother, who has left many sculptured pieces of this creature. 

Her search takes her to Tibet, where she finds more of the sculptures and is told about her mother's visit there. The image of this fish-man and its elusiveness is a major theme in the book and it's left to the reader to determine its significance to the people in the book. 

A well-crafted, original literary novel and a five-star read. 

Currently reading:

The Half Sister by Sandie Jones, published June 16, 2020, Minotaur Books
Genre; psychological thriller

Kate and Lauren, sisters, have Sunday lunch at their mother's house every week. Kate and Lauren are not close sisters, but their differences are forgotten when an unexpected visitor to their Sunday meal throws the sisters and their mother into disarray and confusion.

I have just started this domestic thriller and hope I like it enough to finish!

Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan, published June 30, 2020, Doubleday
Genre: romance, international fiction

This is a new book by the author of Crazy Rich Asians trilogy. Set on the island of Capri, it seems to be a n international romance with many cultural complexities. I'm looking forward to starting it.

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Oct 11, 2020

Sunday Salon: Psychological Thrillers

 Psychological thrillers:

It takes an extraordinary plot to make a psychological thriller stand out so much that you remember it even after reading umpteen similar thrillers. 

After a while, to me, the plots and the books run into one another, and while I enjoy them while reading them, I easily forger them once I've put down the books. Anyone else have this happen?

One memorable thriller because of the unusual characters is The Girl in the Mirror, featuring identical twins who, you guessed it, take each other's place, in a convoluted plot involving murder, deception, an inheritance, and more. 

The Girl in the Mirror, by Rose Carlyle, October 20, 2020, William Morrow. NetGalley

 Other psych thrillers that I enjoyed while reading them include the following. 

The Poison Garden by A.J. Banner, October 22, 2019, Lake Union Publishing. 

Sleepwalking, a secret potion made out of a deadly flower, infidelity of a husband, observant neighbors, and plots to use the poison against one and more people. An enjoyable suspense novel. 

The Good Neighbor by A.J. Banner, September 1, 2015

A fire, two people killed, nosy neighbors, and a questionable marriage. The main character has her hands full looking after the dead couple's child while trying to figure out her own marriage. Enjoyable read.

Both these thrillers by A.J. Banner include the themes of infidelity, and neighbors, good and evil. I'm looking forward to reading the others by the same author and interested to see if the same themes run through them. 

By the way, I've changed my blog name from Book Dilettante to the original: BookBirdDog 

Hope you will keep visiting.. 

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Oct 4, 2020

Sunday Salon: Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin

 Currently reading:

Never Look Back by Alison Gaylin, July 2, 2019, William Morrow
Genre: suspense, mystery
Source: library book 

A teenage girl and her boyfriend went on a killing spree 43 years ago before being killed in a fire. The brother of one of those killed wants to make a podcast about the victims and their surviving families. He is then told that the young girl, one of the killers, might still be alive. 

I'm a third of the way through the book and it's holding my interest. 

What are you reading this week? 

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Sep 29, 2020

First Chapter: Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead by Olga Tokarczuk


Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week, share the first paragraph of a book you are now reading or plan to read soon.

After I started reading and was enjoying this novel, I realized that the Polish author not only won the Man Booker International Prize for a previous book, Flights, but is also a Nobel Prize winner for literature. I immediately borrowed the ebook of Flights from our library and so have that to look forward to after this book. 

First Chapter/First Paragraph:

I am already at an age and additionally at a stage where I must always wash my feet thoroughly before bed, in the event of having to be removed by an ambulance in the Night.

Had I examined the Ephemerides that evening to see what was happening in the sky, I wouldn't have gone to bed at all. Meanwhile, I had fallen very fast asleep; I had helped myself with an infusion of hops, and I also took two valerian pills. So when I was woken in the middle of the Night by hammering on the door - violent, immoderate and thus ill-omened - I was unable to come round. 


Would you read on?  

Sep 27, 2020

Sunday Salon: One By One by Ruth Ware

 Cooler weather is on the way at this end of summer. I am not sure if I welcome it or not. As long as I can get my morning walks in, I'll be pretty happy. 

Just finished reading:

One By One by Ruth Ware,
September 8, 2020, Scout Press

Setting: French Alps ski chalet

Genre: suspense, thriller

Source: NetGalley

About: Ten people are locked together in a chalet in a remote part of the Alps, hemmed in by snow after a massive avalanche. There is a chalet worker and a cook and lots of food and wine, plus ample amount of logs for the fireplace. The drawback is that there is a murderer among them. Five or six remain who are not dead or missing. The ones remaining decide to hike to another chalet for help and to ski down to the main town, despite the destruction of ski paths after the avalanche. 

The ending is suspenseful as characters face off in a fight for survival. 

Comments: Well plotted and written - the details of the avalanche and its destruction, the slow reveal of the characters and their motives - the novel was hard to put down. I gave it an enthusiastic five stars.

Next on the reading list:

  • a bunch of library books
  • a suspense novel 

What Lies Beneath by Bill Kitson, October 1, 2019, Joffe Books

Setting: Yorkshire, England

Genre: detective fiction, DI Mike Nash #1 series

Source: Kindle Unlimited

About: I've only just started this series and hopefully will like it enough to keep going. It's a crime thriller involving a British detective inspector, an international criminal network, Eastern Europe law enforcement, and a Russian detective.

What are you reading this week?

Memes: The Sunday Post hosted by The Caffeinated Bookreviewer. Also,  It's Monday: What Are You Readingand Sunday Salon

Sep 22, 2020

First Chapter: The Passengers by John Marrs


Welcome to First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book ReviewsEach week, share the first paragraph of a book you are now reading or plan to read soon.

The Passengers August 27, 2019, Berkley
Genre: suspense

First paragraph:


House of Lords votes unanimously in favour of driverless vehicles on British roads within five years. Ban on non-autonomous vehicles expected within a decade.  


        • 1. Programme car for Ben's office.
        • 2. Use Uber app for car under "guest" account. don't use real name.
        • 3. Get picked up from Ben's car park, go to work.
        • 4. Start testing Ben midmorning. 
        • 5. Call his boss around midday.



By the time the front door closed, the car was parked outside Claire Arden's home, waiting for her. 

She lingered outside the porch, re-reading the notes she had made on her phone until she heard the faint beep-beep of the alarm as the house secured itself. 

Would you read on or pass on this novel? 


Sunday Salon: New Reads

 Recently finished: Central Park  by Guillaume Musso,  March 16, 2021 by Bay Back Books. Genre: thriller, mystery Source: Netgalley The book...