Feb 9, 2021

Top Ten Tuesday: Valentine's Day

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. 

Each Tuesday she assigns a topic and then posts a top ten list that fits that topic. Freebie days: you may choose your own topic.

February 9: Valentine’s Day/Love 

Title: A Passionate Love Affair with a Total Stranger by Lucy Robinson

Lucky Suit by Lauren Blakely

Falling by Jane Green

Wedding Girl by Stacey Ballis

Timeless Desire by Gwyn Cready

A Groovy Kind of Love

A Groovy Kind of Love (The Bibliophiles #3) by Karen Wojcik Berner

 Wedding Night by Sophie Kinsella

Title: The Great Escape by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

The Dark Rose:A Novel 
by Erin Kelly

These are my Top Ten books for Valentine's Day! What are yours? 

Feb 7, 2021

Sunday Salon: The Searcher by Tana French

 New thriller I'm currently reading:

The Searcher by Tana French, October 6, 2020, Viking

Setting: Ireland

Genre: thriller, mystery

Source: library ebook

A retired Chicago cop decides to live in Ireland, where he thinks there is little or no crime, but soon gets caught up in his little village's rural life. He is persuaded by a young teen to search for the teen's missing brother. and there are two unexplained violent attacks on a sheep of two different farmers. These situations are interesting enough to pull him back into detective mode, albeit on his own and not officially. 

I'm looking forward to see what he uncovers. 

Other news: 

It has been snowing in earnest, although we have gotten only about 4 inches so far, but we have an arctic freeze this weekend and into next week. The temps are in the teens right now and we have another incentive besides self-isolation from the virus to stay in. So, I can get some more reading in!

I've been having fun posting pictures of the various winter socks I'm wearing to keep warm even indoors! 

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

Jan 31, 2021

Sunday Salon: The Punjab and Charleston

 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

Published April 30, 2019, William Morrow
Genre and setting: England and India; family drama, travel novel, women's fiction
Source: ARC

The Shergill sistersRajni, Jezmeen, and Shirina - are on a journey or pilgrimage to the Punjab, fulfilling the dying wishes of their now deceased mother, Sita. Born in England, they are westernized to a large degree, but know about their heritage and culture from their mother.

The eldest sister Rajni and the youngest, Shirina, both have secrets they carry on their trip. As they travel to the Sikh shrines and holy places outlined by their mother as places they must visit in the Punjab, the three very different sisters clash and reconcile in turn and finally help each other. 

This is family drama as well as a travel novel, rich in detail of places and people, with unexpected stories behind each of their lives. 

I am three-quarters of the way through and enjoying the book more than I had expected at the beginning. 

Haunted Hibiscus (A Tea Shop Mystery) by Laura Childs
Publication: March 2, 2021, Berkley
Genre and setting: Charleston, cozy mystery
Source: ARC, ebook

Theodosia Browning, proprietor of the Indigo Tea Shop, and her tea sommelier, Drayton, solve another mystery in fashionable Charleston, while serving tea, scones, and other goodies in their elegant tea shop. 

I am looking forward to reading this one, lighter fare in between heavier books. 

What books do you plan to read ? 

Jan 26, 2021

Review, Intro: Clever Girl by Tessa Hadley

 First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Yvonne @ Socrates Book Reviews.

 Every Tuesday, readers post the first paragraph of a book they are currently reading or plan to read.

Clever Girl by Tessa Haley, published March 2014, by Harper.

Setting: England

Genre: women's fiction, family drama, character-driven novel

First paragraph:

My mother and I lived alone. My father was supposed to be dead, and I only found out years later that he'd left, walked out when I was eighteen months old. I should have guessed this -should have seen the signs or the absence of them. Why hadn't we kept any of his things to treasure? Why whenever he came up in conversation, which he hardly ever did, did my mother's face tighten, not in grief or regret but disapproval - the same expression she had if she tasted some food or drink she didn't like....

I only now realize I have read this book before, in 2014 just before it was published in March that year.  Here is the short review I wrote on goodreads:

More character driven than plot driven. This is the story of Tessa Hadley, from a young girl to a rebellious teen, single mother, wife, and middle aged woman. Well written, poetic in parts.

The novel is narrated by the main character, Stella, a "clever girl" who only realizes her full potential later, after "going off track" during the rocky stages of her teen years and single motherhood. I enjoyed reading it again and got much more from it the second time around!

Jan 24, 2021

Sunday Salon: International Fiction, Thrillers

 A few books have begun to arrive this year! I was pleased to receive two new books for feature/review.

The Foreign Girls by Sergio Olguin, translated from the Spanish, ARC copy

Setting: Argentina

Genre: thriller, crime fiction

Expected publication: March 23rd, 2021 by Bitter Lemon Press (first published April 1st 2014)

 A young journalist from Buenos Aires, Veronica Rosenthal, takes a vacation in the north of Argentina, traveling to smaller towns through more scenic areas. She meets two tourists, girls from Scandinavia and the other from Italy. Veronica befriends them, they stay for a few days at Veronica's cousin's house in the hills and they decide to travel together in the area. But the foreign girls, innocent of the locals and the region, become targets in a game in which they come out for the worst. 

The journalist is determined to stay in northern Argentina to find the truth about what happened to the girls, even if it might involve people she and her family know. 

Veronica is a complex character, but a determined one who isn't afraid of danger or taking risks to achieve her goals. The relationship between herself, the locals, and the foreign girls take the novel to a level that explain the lengths she will go to resolve the issue of her newfound friends. 

The plot, the setting, and character development made this an intriguing mystery novel. 

My rating: 4/5 stars

Days of Distraction by Alexandra Chang, review copy

Setting: Silicon Valley, New York

Genre: contemporary fiction, Asian American fiction, multicultural

Published March 31, 2020 by HarperCollins

When the narrator's longtime boyfriend, J, decides to move to upstate New York for grad school, she leaves her job as staff writer at a publication in Silicon Valley to follow him.

But in the process, she finds herself facing misgivings about her role in an interracial relationship. Captivated by the stories of her ancestors and other Asian Americans in history, she must confront a question at the core of her identity: What does it mean to exist in a society that does not notice or understand you? (publisher)

Two other books recently finished:

Three O'Clock in the Morning by Gianrico Carofiglio, ARC copy

Setting: Marseilles

Genre: family drama, coming-of-age novel, international fiction

Publication March 16, 2021 by HarperVia 

A coming-of-age, literary novel about a young Italian teen, an epilectic, who discovers more about himself and his estranged father while both are on a trip to a clinic in Marseilles. They explore the city together and get to know each other while waiting for his treatment at the clinic. Heartfelt story told in the teen's words. Very moving at times. Excellent writing.

My rating: 5/5

The Quiet Girl by S.F. Kosa, personal copy

Setting: Provincetown, Boston

Genre: mystery, psychological thriller

Publication: August 11, 2020, Sourcebooks

Alex is happily married to his new wife, Mina, a romance writer. At least until they have an argument and she disappears, leaving her engagement and wedding rings on her desk. 

Alex reaches out to Mina's parents and to her best friend, but they have no clue as to what happened to her.  Only when he is given a copy of Mina's newest manuscript, as yet unpublished, does he begin to put the pieces together and try to find his wife. The manuscript is not a romance but a novel based on her horrific life story. 

Secrets, family dynamics, psychological disorders, amnesia, are all important themes in this thriller. There are surprises and suspense at the ending, as the writer skillfully leads the reader toward the final revelations.

My rating: 4/5 stars

Reading for Book Club:

The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington by Brad Meltzer

Setting: 1776, Washington

Genre: historical fiction based on true events

In 1776, an elite group of soldiers were handpicked to serve as George Washington’s bodyguards. Washington trusted them; relied on them. But unbeknownst to Washington, some of them were part of a treasonous plan.


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

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

Book Beginning: Radical Love by Satish Kumar

  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 L...