Sunday, May 31, 2020

Short Takes 05/31/20


Phoebe Judge
Have you heard of Phoebe Reads a Mystery? Phoebe Judge is best known for hosting the true-crime podcast Criminal. During quarantine she came up with the idea of reading a chapter a day from a mystery starting with Agatha Christie's The Mysterious Affair at Styles. There's much more to explore if you check it out.

Transylvania
If you are looking for a good book with a specific location, check out TripFiction. And if you have a suggestion for a book that is missing, you can become a member and add it for others to enjoy.


Coast of Maine
Mary Kubica has put together this list  of Ten Great Mysteries Set in Maine for The Strand Magazine. Mary Kubica is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of six psychological suspense novels, including her latest release, THE OTHER MRS.

Cookbooks
When looking for a recipe are you overcome by the number of wonderful cookbooks you own? THE WEEK MAGAZINE May 8, 2020 just suggested checking out EatYourBooks.com, a website that indexes the recipes in the books you may already own. For $3/month, the service will let you input your titles. Additionally there are many newspaper and magazine recipes you can access.

Unfortunately for me, when we downsized to a retirement community a year and a half ago, I donated most of my cookbooks to the local library. The ones I kept were unusual ones which I am pretty sure are not indexed by this company. Think local museum cookbooks and small targeted topics. I figured I'd never be able to find them again. Maybe it's time I carefully curated a new collection. I know, I know, there is the Internet but I haven't been thrilled with some of the recipes that people have supposedly been delighted by.

 

Saturday, May 30, 2020

BUZZ BOOKS 2020: FALL/WINTER



A preview of the best of the new books for the season and it's FREE!

Fiction is broken down into categories such as Notables (John Banville's SNOW, Marilynne Robinson's JACK, and Jane Smiley's PERESTROIKA IN PARIS); Highly Anticipated (Sue Miller's MONOGAMY); Emerging Voices; Debut (BEFORE THE RUINS, THE THURSDAY MURDER CLUB, and SET MY HEART TO FIVE); Commercial Fiction (Jodi Picoult, Carl Hiaasen, and Nora Roberts. (There are also numerous categories for Non-Fiction.)

Even though it was the top of the my list for the BUZZ BOOKS 2020 SPRING/SUMMER  I did not get a copy of Emily St. John Mandel's (sequel to STATION ELEVEN) THE GLASS HOTEL to review. But I just finished reading Gail Godwin's OLD LOVEGOOD GIRLS and decided I was brilliant because it was amazing. I also read and enjoyed Barbara Delinsky's beach read A WEEK AT THE SHORE.

First introduced for the 2012 Book Expo America, the FREE digital Publishers Lunch Buzz Books has become the place for both industry professionals and book lovers in general to discover and read about the books expected to spark high demand BEFORE they are published!

What's really great is that after many selections, you have the option to follow a link and request the complete galley copy from Net Galley if you qualify as a 'professional' reader.

Check out Buzz Books on Amazon. Did I mention it's FREE!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

WEEK AT THE SHORE (2020)


A Week at the ShoreA Week at the Shore by Barbara Delinsky
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Can you really go home again? And what will you find there?

Mallory left home some 20 years ago after a tragic accident. Unmarried but with a thirteen year old daughter, she has built a successful life for herself as a photographer of real estate in New York City. Between a phone call warning about her father's worsening dementia and Joy's begging to meet her grandfather, Mallory agrees to "A Week at the Shore."

Besides a story filled with complications, there is much that readers can relate to their own lives. And, of course, there is a renewed love story.

The perfect Chic-Lit book to take along to the beach this summer.

Thanks to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for this early release in exchange for my honest review. Due to be published May 19, 2020.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America's Xanadu (2019)

Mar-a-Lago

Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America's XanaduPalm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America's Xanadu by Les Standiford

I love non-fiction that reads like fiction! Author Les Standiford makes this history of Palm Beach and the people who created it come to life. Central to much of the story is Marjorie Merriweather Post, who built Mar-a-Lago and her incredible influence on many of the ways the world has changed. Fascinating and great research makes for a excellent read! Even as I was engrossed, the History Channel was showing a program that reinforced many things in the book.: "The Food That Built America".

FIRST LINE: "On May 25, 1914, about two weeks after its subject had dressed himself in his Sunday finest, laid himself down in the master bedroom of his Santa Barbara manse, and blown off the top of his head with a hunting rifle, the will of cereal magnate C.W. Post was filed for probate in Washington, D.C.

WHAT I THOUGHT:I found it interesting that as Marjorie grew older she attempted to find a buyer for Mar-a-Lago, she first approached the state, then the Federal Government with the idea that it would serve as the Winter White House. Ultimately no one was willing to commit to the enormous expense of maintaining the house as a private home until Donald Trump stepped forward.

BOTTOM LINE: Highly recommended. I've even considered reading it again to better absorb all the information. Standiford has also written several other books about the area and readers may know him better as the author of crime fiction featuring Detective John Deal set in southern Florida. Here is a list of all his books.

Disclaimer: A copy of Palm Beach, Mar-a-Lago, and the Rise of America's Xanadu by  Atlantic Monthly Press/Net Galley for an honest review.

Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press (November 5, 2019)
ISBN-10: 0802128491
ISBN-13: 978-0802128492

Les Standiford is the author of the bestselling Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean, Water to the Angels: William Mulholland, His Monumental Aqueduct, and the Rise of Los Angeles, and Meet you in Hell: Andrew Carnegie, Henry Clay Frick, and the Bitter Partnership that Transformed America, among many other works of fiction and nonfiction. He lives with his wife, Kimberly, in Florida. (From Amazon.com)


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

BUZZ BOOKS 2020: SPRING/SUMMER




UPDATE: Even though it was the top of the my list for the BUZZ BOOKS 2020 SPRING/SUMMER  I did not get a copy of Emily St. John Mandel's (sequel to STATION ELEVEN) THE GLASS HOTEL to review. But I just finished reading Gail Godwin's OLD LOVEGOOD GIRLS and decided I was brilliant because it was amazing. I also read and enjoyed Barbara Delinsky's beach read A WEEK AT THE SHORE.

A preview of the best of the new books for the season and it's FREE!

There are so many enticing new books in Spring/Summer edition, I decided to be selective in what I could realistically add to my 'to read' pile. For me, the top of the list is Emily St. John Mandel's (sequel to STATION ELEVEN) THE GLASS HOTEL(Wished). Others I jotted down include Zoje Stage's WONDERLAND; Mary Kay Andrews' HELLO, SUMMER; and Denise Mina's THE LESS DEAD. I've asked to read Gail Godwin's OLD LOVEGOOD GIRLS and decided I was brilliant because I had already requested and received Barbara Delinsky's A WEEK AT THE SHORE.

First introduced for the 2012 Book Expo America, the FREE digital Publishers Lunch Buzz Books has become the place for both industry professionals and book lovers in general to discover and read about the books expected to spark high demand BEFORE they are published!

The Introduction gives a nice overview of the upcoming publishing season broken down by literary fiction, debut fiction, commercial fiction, and followed by non-fiction conversation starters, memoir & biography.

What's really great is that after many selections, you have the option to follow a link and request the complete galley copy from Net Galley if you qualify as a 'professional' reader.

Check out Buzz Books on Amazon. Did I mention it's FREE!

 

Friday, December 20, 2019

OLIVE, AGAIN (2019)


Olive, AgainOlive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Olive Kitteridge published in 2008, won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize. My book club chose to read the book before it became a movie (which I still haven't seen and am not sure I would want to). Not everyone found Olive to be a sympathetic character. She is abrasive and sometimes thoughtless but not a bad person. She may remind you of yourself sometimes.

On November 7, 2019 I received the gift of life -  a kidney transplant. Among the wonderful results of this surgery, I was able to start reading once more. I picked up Olive, Again and continued reading where I had left off. The short story  "Light" was about Cindy Coombs and dealing with illness. It spoke directly to me.

FIRST LINE: "In the early afternoon on a Saturday in June, Jack Kennison put on his sunglasses, got into his sports car with the top down, strapped the seat belt over his shoulder and across his large stomach, and drove to Portland - almost an hour away - to buy a gallon of whiskey rather than bump into Olive Kitteridge at the grocery store here in Crosby, Maine."

THE STORY: "I do not have a clue who I have been. Truthfully, I do not understand a thing."

Revisiting Elizabeth Strout's iconic character, Olive Kitteridge once again becomes the glue holding together the thirteen interlocking stories about human loneliness. Olive is older now and has begun to experience the trials and tribulations of aging. Some stories hit pretty close to home.

WHAT I THOUGHT: One is always a bit apprehensive when approaching a new book by a loved author especially when it is a sequel, but I found and still find Olive to be a fascinating person.

Both the November (written by Joyce Carol Oates) and December (Oprah's Book Club) issues of Oprah Magazine, stories about Elizabeth Stout's new book Olive, Again. Publication was on  October 15, 2019.

One other minor connection was the setting in Maine where we often vacationed when I was growing up. Although Cosby, Maine is fictional, Reid State Park is mentioned and I remember going there to picnic. The author knows how to convey the sense of place in which her characters live.

BOTTOM LINE: I'd read both books. The poignancy that evolves from aging will resonate with readers. The writing is beautiful. The ways Olive appears in the various stories is carefully crafted. Experience Olive for yourself.

Disclaimer: A copy of Olive, Again was provided to me by Random House/Net Galley for an honest review.

Hardcover: 293 pages
Publisher:  Random House (October 15, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1984818236
ISBN-13: 978-1984818232
 
Elizabeth Strout is the author of the New York Times bestseller Olive Kitteridge, for which she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; the national bestseller Abide with Me; and Amy and Isabelle, winner of the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize. She has also been a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize in London. She lives in Maine and New York City.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

THE SWALLOWS (2019)


The SwallowsThe Swallows by Lisa Lutz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It took me forever to read The Swallows. I was first drawn to the story by the boarding school setting, but the cacophony of voices telling the story in first person was a challenge. And although the story was darkly humorous, it was rather unpleasant. Relevant to the #MeToo conversation, the boys take and share revealing pictures of girls and rate sexual encounters. The battle eventually turns into a war where no one is left unscathed.

FIRST LINE: "Some teachers have a calling. I'm not one of them."

THE STORY: Alex Witt reluctantly takes a job teaching creative writing at an elite Vermont boarding school where her parent's friendship with the Headmaster means her recent past will be overlooked. 

It starts with a simple writing prompt from Alex Witt in her effort to get to know the students. When the answers raise disturbing questions, Ms. Witt suspects there's more going on at the school than the faculty wants to see.

WHAT I THOUGHT: I am always attracted to a story that takes place in a boarding school, but apparently I wasn't the only reader who found the book slow going (It took me over two months to finish.) Filled with anonymous notes and secret meetings, Lutz pays homeage to spy novels with a reference to Magnus Pym, a double agent in a book by John le Carré. The actual writing is sharp and funny. And, by the way, swallow has many meanings. One is "a female agent employed to seduce people for intelligence purposes." You can guess at the others.

I enjoyed her earlier book, The Passenger, a thriller, but I'm not familiar with the Spellman series.

BOTTOM LINE: Some reviewers loved this book, some reviewers did not finish reading. The amount of frank sexual description may be too much for some readers.

Disclaimer: A copy of The Swallows was provided to me by Ballantine Books/Net Galley for an honest review.

Hardcover: 416 pages
Publisher:  Ballantine Books (August 13, 2019)
ISBN-10: 1984818236
ISBN-13: 978-1984818232

Lisa Lutz is the New York Times bestselling author of the six books in the Spellman series, Heads You Lose (with David Hayward), and How To Start A Fire. Her latest offering is the thriller The Passenger (March, 2016 from S&S).

Lutz has won the Alex award and has been nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel. Although she attended UC Santa Cruz, UC Irvine, the University of Leeds in England, and San Francisco State University, she still does not have a bachelor's degree. Lutz spent most of the 1990s hopping through a string of low-paying odd jobs while writing and rewriting the screenplay Plan B, a mob comedy. After the film was made in 2000, she vowed she would never write another screenplay. She lives in the Hudson Valley, New York. .(from Amazon)