Sunday, September 17, 2017

"Write By Your Side" by D.J. Van Oss

This was my first introduction to the works of D.J. Van Oss and the folks in the quaint town of Golden Grove, Iowa.  Even though most of the story centered around  six or seven characters, Van Oss excelled in giving the readers a good description of how life is in small town America.

We meet Ellie Chambers and Sam Price, a former couple who started out as writing partners and separated about 4 years prior and have not really been on speaking terms since that time.  As you can imagine with both of them living in the same small town, they frequently saw each other in passing, and usually only communicated in one syllable conversations, particularly Ellie.  When a snafu with their previous publishing contract throws them together again to write another book, each blames the other for the past problems that were cast aside, but not dealt with, after they separated.  The gloves come off and the game is on!!

As they begin this latest venture, both too stubborn to let the other one get the easier path in writing the book, they finally realize that once again, they do make a good writing team, and decide to take the upper hand together against the former publisher.  During the process, both question their previous thoughts as to why their break-up occurred.  At first, each blames the other.  As the story progresses, the tide turns with each becoming the other's staunch supporter.

Their friends wonder how this relationship is going to fare once the book is completed.  Ellie and Sam each have their own thoughts about this too.  Will love win out for them this time?  Will they be able to be happy together?  Pick up a copy of this delightful, quick read and find out for yourself!!  You will not be disappointed.

This reader participated in the book launch for "Write By Your Side" and was provided a free copy of the book by the author in exchange for a review.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

My Reading Stack - September 6, 2017

Back again this week, late as usual!!  This week's reading stack has some new exciting books to share.

"The Boy Who Loved Too Much" by Jennifer Latson is the "true story of pathological friendliness."  Twelve-year-old Eli has a genetic disorder that takes away all of his social inhibitions and makes him "unconditionally loving toward everyone he meets."  Is it wrong to be friendly toward everyone you meet?

"Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore" by Matthew Sullivan is still in the stack.  It is a first novel that takes place in and around a bookstore.  There is murder, mystery, hidden messages in books, long-buried memories unearthed, etc. and I am only a little over a hundred pages into it.  I can only imagine what the rest of the book holds for me.

"Refuge" by Dina Nayeri cover two decades of a relationship between a daughter and her father.  The daughter escaped to live in America while the father stayed behind in Iran.  They only get to visit four times over two decades.  Soon the daughter starts receiving troubling e-mail messages from the father's e-mail address.  She is torn as to how to respond.  Does she leave her Western life behind to seek out what these messages might mean?

"Woman at 1,000 Degrees" by Hallgrimur Helgason introduces us to Herra Bj√∂rnsson, an 80 year-old female who "lives here alone in a garage, together with a laptop computer and a hand grenade" in Reykjavik, Iceland.  She shares her life experiences which have taken her "from Iceland to Nazi Germany, from the United States to Argentina, and back to a post-crash, high-tech, modern Iceland."  She has decided "to control her own fate" much to her family's dismay, and sets "a date for her cremation -- at a toasty 1,000 degrees."  This book will be released January 9, 2018.

"The Library at the Edge of the World" by Felicity Hayes-McCoy takes us to Ireland's West Coast where Hanna Casey drives her mobile library van between the villages of her youth.  Can she forget the ghosts of her past and start her life again?

"The Hidden Letters of Velta B." by Gina Ochsner is a little bit of historical fiction and a little bit of magical realism, secrets, love, and memories all crammed into one book. 

I continue to use my favorite Klimt tea cup for my daily chai.

What is in your reading stack this week?

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

My Reading Stack - August 29, 2017

This week's stack is a carryover from last week. I am still reading "South Pole Station" by Ashley Shelby and should finish it in the next day or so. It has turned out to be a really good book. The Newcomers to the stack are "Wind, Sand and Stars" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery and "The Husband's Secret" by Liane Moriarty.

In "Wind, Sand and Stars" by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, we meet the author as he recounts his experiences as a mail pilot in the late 1920s and early 1930s over the Andes Mountains, across the Sahara Desert, and near waterspouts of an African typhoon. Some of you may remember him from being the author of "The Little Prince," one of the best books ever written.

"The Husband's Secret" by Liane Moriarty is about a letter written by a husband to be opened upon his death. The only problem is that the wife finds the letter prior to the demise of the husband. Ooops!! I am reading this book for a book club discussion. I am sure there will be a lot to discuss.

I am back with my favorite tea cup. You can never go wrong with chai in a Klimt tea cup!!

What is in your reading stack this week?

Monday, August 21, 2017

My Reading Stack - August 21, 2017

This week's reading stack is another short one.  I finished "Rabbit Cake" by Annie Hartnett from last week.  It is definitely a 5 star read -- check it out.

"South Pole Station" is about a group of "Polies" who live and work in a place with an average temperature of -54 deg. F. and no sunshine for six months of the year.  People apply and go through rigorous physical and psychological testing to be selected to participate in this program.  This the new debut novel release from Ashley Shelby is  "about the courage it takes to come together, even as everything around you falls apart."

"Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore" is a debut novel by Matthew Sullivan that will solve the mystery surrounding the suicide of a favorite bookstore customer.  As one of the clerks in the bookstore untangles the mystery, she unlocks a secret in her past.

"Idyll Banter" by Chris Bohjalian is a collection of columns submitted to a local weekly newspaper column in Vermont over a period of twelve years.  They serve as a diary of Bohjalian's life and reflections on his personal observations.  Anyone who has read any of his previous work knows they are in for a treat by reading this little treasure.

"Rabbit Cake" by Annie Hartnett

If the title and cover of this book are not enough to intrigue you to read it, I do not know what is.  When I saw it in the bookstore, I immediately put it on my "to-read" list.  I borrowed it from the public library.  After reaching for my highlighter about 40 times, I knew it was time to reach for my laptop and visit Amazon to purchase the book.  For some reason, the folks at the library get upset when you highlight their books.  Hey, I do not charge for my editing/commentating services!!  Anyway, then the wait was on to receive the book in the mail.  About a week later, I was back into the book and was following Elvis Babbitt on her daily journey trying to keep her family together after the untimely death of her Mother. 

I HAD to finish reading this book this morning, so around 6:25 a.m., I finally finished it.  I have to admit that I did drag out the last portions of the book because I did not want it to end -- it was just THAT good.

I laughed on many occasions.  Who knew grief could have a humorous side?  I cried on more than one occasion.  My heart started to break a time or two.  Life seen through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl, who has just lost her Mother, who was also her best friend AND the glue that kept the family together, has its tragic moments. 

Fortunately for Elvis, she has a heart of gold that can forgive just about anything . . . and I do mean ANYTHING!!  It is no wonder all of the animals at the zoo were missing her and asking about her when she was terminated from her volunteer position due to one of her sister's many outrageous antics.  Elvis basically has to deal with the grief of losing her mother all by herself . . . well, except for a counselor at her elementary school who gives her a grieving calendar.  Her older sister and Dad are drowning in their own grief which only adds to more problems for Elvis.

Annie Hartnett has a wonderful style of writing that is down-to-earth and really lets you see the world through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl.  The emotions are real, some gut-wrenching, and make you want to reach out and hug Elvis close to you and tell her things will be okay.  But will they really?  No one really knows from day to day.  Hartnett does a fine job of tying up the loose ends and making us see that there can be happiness on the horizon for everyone.

If you want a break from the normal novel, take a couple of days out and pick up "Rabbit Cake," the debut novel by Annie Hartnett.  I guarantee you will not be bored and you will see a new light on how some people deal with their progress through the grieving process.  You will come away with a new attitude on the whole grieving process!!

Monday, August 14, 2017

My Reading Stack - August 15, 2017

This week's reading stack is short. "Rabbit Cake" by Annie Hartnett is still in the mix. I have not had the time to devote to finishing it. It is an excellent book.

"If I Forget You" by Thomas Christopher Greene is a good novel about a couple (Henry and Margot) who date in college, something happens (I have not gotten that far yet), they split up, and then they see each other on a New York City street years later. Now Margot is wondering "what if?" . . . .

"A House Among the Trees" by Julia Glass looks like it is going to be a great book -- at least the cover is great!! I hope to get into it in a couple of days.

Rather than top the stack with a tea cup, I decided to share my favorite cookie -- the MEGA-STUF Oreo. I bought four packages of them this afternoon. Yum!! I will not say how many are left in the first package.

Friday, August 11, 2017

My Reading Stack - August 11, 2017

I am late AGAIN in posting my reading stack for the week.  This morning in the wee hours I finished "My Name is Lucy Barton" by Elizabeth Strout for the library's first book discussion group.

"Goodnight Mind" by Colleen E. Carney, Ph.D., and Rachel Manber, Ph.D. will hopefully offer me some insight to "turn off [my] noisy thoughts & get a good night's sleep."

"Rabbit Cake" by Anne Hartnett is back.  I originally was reading a library book.  I kept reaching for my highlighter too many times and figured it was time I reached for my laptop and ordered the book.  I am about 2/3 of the way through it.  Great book!!

My favorite tea cup is back this week.  

There you have it!!  What is in YOUR reading stack this week?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

My Reading Stack - August 1, 2017

This week's reading stack is a hodge-podge of books.  I just purchased two of Menna van Praag's books I had not read:  "The Lost Art of Letter Writing" and "The Witches of Cambridge."
I received a copy of "The Hippopotamus" by Stephen Fry.  It is a 1994 book that is now being made into a movie.  I saw the trailer for the movie and wanted to read the book.

"The Widows of Malabar Hill" by Sujata Massey takes place in Bombay in 1921.  The book comes out in January 2018.

"The Bright Hour" by Nina Riggs is a carryover from last week. It is "a memoir or living and dying."  It will be a tough one.

"The Library of Light and Shadow" by M.J. Rose is a little bit of mystery and mysticism in the 1920s in Manhattan and the south of France.where Picasso, Matisse, and the Fitzgeralds are summering.  It is also a carryover from last week.

"All the Birds in the Sky" by Jane Anders is "a tale of science and magic, life and love, and the beginning of our future."  One character is able to turn herself into a bird -- definitely something magical about that!!

"Tiny Little Thing" by Beatriz Williams is about the life and times of a weathly familly on Cape Cod in the mid-1960s.  I am reading this book for a book club group.  It is difficult to imagine sitting around all day soaking up the summer ocean breeze and planning a dinner menu.  Ahhh, the life I will never know.

Oh yes, I was reading "Rabbie Cake" by Annie Hartnett last week.  After reaching for my highlighter close to 40 times while I was reading a copy of the library book, I then reached for my laptop and ordered my own personal copy on Amazon.  I should receive it by Thursday.  Then I can highlight to my heart's content and finish the book.  Yeah!!  Check into the book if you have not already done so -- well worth it.

Well, that is it for me this week.  What is in your reading stack this week?

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

My Reading Stack - July 11, 2017

I am in a bit of a quandary regarding my reading stack for the week. I am still reading "Hourglass" by Dani Shapiro. I either finished or passed on the rest of the books from last week. 

Since it is already Wednesday now, I decided to post my possible reads for the week. All three of the books are new releases -- one came out in June and two will be out in August. So while I continue with "Hourglass," I will try a few new ones. I will let you know next week how I fared.
I pulled out my old Sudoku puzzle book a couple of days ago and quickly became addicted to it again. It has distracted me from reading.
I am back to my favorite tea cup -- the Gustav Klimt "Jardin de ferme" with Tazo chai in it -- hard to beat that!!
What is in your stack this week?

"milk and honey" by rupi kaur

milk and honey

rupi kaur

Sometimes the words flowed so beautifully and other times the words were so disturbing.  But I felt as though I had to go on reading.  For some reason, I could not leave the book unfinished.  

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

My Reading Stack - July 4, 2017

My reading selections this week are all over the place. I finally received "milk and honey" by rupi kaur (yep, all lower case -- hard for me to even type it that way), a very diverse collection of poetry. I am still trying to get into "The... Ministry of Utmost Happiness," and "The Dress Shop of Dreams is a pleasant read. "Still Life with Tornado" caught my attention by its cover -- we shall see how it reads.

I finished reading "Anything is Possible" by Elizabeth Strout. It is a collection of stories about people in a small town rather than being a novel. It took me a few chapters before I put that together -- I was a little slow. Strout's writing is wonderful and she does a great job of linking the stories together. It is a quick read and definitely worth the short amount of time it takes to read it.

Oh yes, the coffee mug this week is a gift I received from a friend of mine in Canada (tku Rhonda Schellenberg). It commemorates the marriage of Prince William to Catherine Middleton in April 2011.

The background is a beautiful PURPLE tote bag I received from another friend (tku Sharon Smith).
Okay, back to my books. Let me know what you are reading this week.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

My Reading Stack - June 20, 2017

The stack this week is brand new. I gave up the ghost on two books from last week and finished one. 
This week I have one I am reading for a review for a writer friend. ("Real Artists Don't Starve) One is the type of book you can browse through at your leisure. (1,001 Ways to Slow Down) The last one I have been waiting for and just barely got started when I went to bed this morning. (Pieces of Happiness) I can already tell it is going to be another great one. 
The tea cup was a gift from my dear friend, Jami Fenner.

Happy reading this week, my friends!!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

My Reading Stack - June 12, 2017

For the past few weeks, I have been posting a photograph on Facebook every Monday (or Tuesday) of the stack of books I am currently reading.  I also include a tea cup or coffee mug in the photograph.  Over this past weekend, I happen to think it would be a good idea to also post this weekly photograph on my blog sooooo, drum roll please . . . here it is!!

This week's stack did not change too much from last week.  The mug is one I have had for many years and was the one I used at work for my coffee mug.

Monday, May 22, 2017

"Bringing Them Home" by Barbara Hinske
Product Details

This is another wonderful installment in the Rosemont Series that was over way too soon for this reader.  It was nice to be able to slip right back into the lives of my friends in Westbury.

As this series unfortunately comes to a close (I know, I know, all good things must come to an end . . . eventually), good has triumphed over evil.  Life is settling down once again in Westbury but this time, several of our friends are on new paths.  New friendships have been made and the book closes with a nice ending for everyone.

Even though I read this book several weeks ago, my thoughts still return to my friends in Westbury.  I wonder what adventures they are getting into now.  Perhaps Hinske has more rabbits to pull out of her hat for Westbury yet!!  We shall see.

Thank you Barbara Hinske for a wonderful series.  I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Disclaimer:  I was provided an electronic copy of the book by the author to early read and provide a review.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

"The Story of Arthur Truluv" by Elizabeth Berg

Elizabeth Berg has once again woven her magic with another great read.  This time it is about life between a teenager and two elderly adults.  All three have suffered devastating tragedies in their lives and yet they have found a way to blend their lives together to find contentment.  

Berg has a wonderful way of describing her characters and their interactions with each other.  You seem to be able to identify a little bit of yourself in each character.  This book was a quick read and leaves you thinking about the characters long after you finish the book.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

"The Keeper of Lost Things" by Ruth Hogan

As a way to reconcile a past loss, a gentleman begins to collect items that people drop or lose without realizing it.  He catalogs these items with the hope of someday locating and returning the items to the correct owners.  After the gentleman passes, this task falls to his assistant to whom he has left his entire fortune, along with all of the lost objects.  This story holds a wonderful mixture of happiness, sadness, a little magic, creating new connections, and helping a restless spirit find peace.  This wonderful debut by Ruth Hogan ended way too soon for this reader!!