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February 29, 2016

Mailbox Monday


Yes, I brought another ARC home from work a few days ago. I really need to show better restraint, if I plan to read from my existing stacks, don't I?!


by Clare Mackintosh
On Sale 5.3.16

The chilling international bestseller that everyone is talking about...

On a rainy afternoon, a mother's life is shattered as her son slips from her grip and runs into the street..

Jenna Gray moves to the remote Welsh coast, desperate to leave behind the heartbreak of the car accident and heal from the loss of her child and her painful past. At the same time, a pair of Bristol police investigators chase down one hopeless lead after another in the hit-and-run, finding themselves as drawn to each other as they are to the frustrating, twist-filled case before them.

What do you think? Too depressing? I love a good thriller and from all the glowing blurbs, this one sounds like a winner, in spite of the sad nature of the plot. It might be just the perfect read for my flights to Oregon later this year. 

Click on the title for more information.
 
Find more Mailbox Monday posts here.

February 28, 2016

{Gratitude Lately}

Lately, I've been thankful for


Friends who share
and delicious Manhattans


Music and memories
 of my youth


This sweet girl,
 who reminds me
 to stop and smell the snow


Adventures in distant countries
and the joy of memories


Winter sunsets 
through the trees

Saturday nights
and shared snacks


Friday nights
and a new bottle of wine


Creative neighbors
and the joy they share


Valentine's Day 
with my best friend

 Snail mail 
and cute 2-year-olds


Open windows in February


Creative community art

Grilling in February
 in Nebraska


Beautiful commutes
that make early mornings 
worthwhile


and the first sign of spring.

Happy Sunday, friends!
What are you grateful for this week?

For more Gratitude posts, click here.

February 26, 2016

Looking Back - Sleeping at the Starlite Motel


Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.



Sleeping at the Starlite Motel by Bailey White
Nonfiction - Essays
1996 Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Finished in February 1996
Rating: 1/5 (Poor)






Publisher's Blurb:

Anyone who has read her bestseller Mama Makes Up Her Mind--or who has heard her on National Public Radio--knows that Bailey White is one of the keenest observers of Southern eccentricity since Mark Twain. Sleeping at the Starlite Motel revives White's reputation as a master storyteller, Southern division, as it catalogs the oddities of the Georgia town she knows so well.

My Original Notes:

Terrible! Not at all like Mama Makes Up Her Mind, with regard to humor or subject matter. Very dull and senseless. I read the entire book and didn't enjoy a single essay.

My Current Thoughts:

Why in the world did I bother reading the entire book, if I was so dissatisfied? As I recall, I really enjoyed Mama Makes Up Her Mind, so maybe I was trying to remain optimistic. This was probably back before I gave myself permission to quit a book I wasn't enjoying. Live and learn.

February 25, 2016

Lost & Found



Lost & Found (Rocky Pelligrino #1) by Jacqueline Sheehan
Fiction
2007 William Morrow
Finished on September 5, 2015
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)



Publisher's Blurb:

A poignant and unforgettable tale of love, loss, and moving on . . . with the help of one not-so-little dog

Rocky's husband Bob was just forty-two when she discovered him lying cold and lifeless on the bathroom floor . . . and Rocky's world changed forever. Quitting her job, chopping off all her hair, she leaves Massachusetts—reinventing her past and taking a job as Animal Control Warden on Peak's Island, a tiny speck off the coast of Maine and a million miles away from everything she's lost. She leaves her career as a psychologist behind, only to find friendship with a woman whose brain misfires in the most wonderful way and a young girl who is trying to disappear. Rocky, a quirky and fallible character, discovers the healing process to be agonizingly slow.

But then she meets Lloyd.

A large black Labrador retriever, Lloyd enters Rocky's world with a primitive arrow sticking out of his shoulder. And so begins a remarkable friendship between a wounded woman and a wounded, lovable beast. As the unraveling mystery of Lloyd's accident and missing owner leads Rocky to an archery instructor who draws her in even as she finds every reason to mistrust him, she discovers the life-altering revelation that grief can be transformed . . . and joy does exist in unexpected places.

I'm not ashamed to admit that cover art plays a fairly large part in my decision-making process when choosing a new book to read. Unless it's one that has received glowing reviews, I generally ignore the ugly, generic covers that show only the title and author's name against a colorful background. Likewise, a sappy cover, even one with a cute puppy, rarely gets more than a passing glance. So how in the world did Lost & Found wind up on one of my bookshelves? It all but screams "sentimental fluff," don't you think? But someone must have raved about this book and I'm glad I listened. I was pleasantly surprised by the depth of the novel, coming to care about Rocky almost as much as I did Lloyd.

On being a dog:

But in this life, he is dog. His life is ocean, stick, ball, sand, grass, ride in the truck, sleep by the bed, look deep into the eyes of humans, lure them outdoors, greet them with a burst of joy when they come home, love them. Fill this brief life with more. And more.

Final Thoughts:

Do you judge books by their covers? I wonder how many great books I've passed up simply because I didn't like the cover art. Conversely, I know I've been disappointed on more than one occasion when I've chosen a book for its gorgeous cover. I've become quite a sucker for books about dogs, and in spite of the cutesy cover, this one didn't disappoint. While not the same caliber as The Art of Racing in the Rain or The Story of Edgar SawtelleLost & Found is a step above brain candy and I quickly devoured it in just a few short days. There were a few loose ends, but overall, it was very enjoyable. I look forward to reading more by Sheehan. Recommend!

February 22, 2016

In a Dark, Dark Wood



In a Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware
Thriller
2015 Scout Press (Simon & Schuster imprint)
Finished on August 30, 2015
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)




An NPR Best Book of the Year, 2015
A ShelfAwareness Best Book of the Year, 2015
A Publishers Weekly “Top Ten Mysteries and Thrillers” Pick

From the Executive Editor’s note in the ARC:

Leonara (known to some as Lee and others as Nora) is an extremely private person. A crime writer by trade, she is suspicious of everything and everyone, and prefers to be alone, holed up in her cozy nest of an apartment, as isolated as possible from the outside world and from certain… incidents in her past. But when an email arrives with an invitation to a weekend away in a remote house in the English countryside, she is thrown for a loop. The sender is a person from her past whom she hasn’t spoken to in ten years. And try as she might to ignore it, her curiosity gets the best of her… and we all know what curiosity did to the cat.

Forty-eight hours later, Lee (Nora?) wakes up in a hospital bed with severe injuries and a foggy memory. But most alarming of all is that her first thought isn’t, “What happened?” but “What have I done?”

In the bestselling tradition of Asa Harrison’s The Silent Wife and S.J. Watson’s riveting national sensation Before I Go to Sleep, this gripping literary debut will have you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.


In a Dark, Dark Wood is everything you want in a psychological thriller: Strange noises in the middle of the night, footsteps on a landing, a door opening very softly, a creak on the stairs, unexplained footprints in the snow, and an isolated house with a wall of windows looking out into dark, dark forest. The creepiness begins after Nora’s arrival at an old friend’s hen party and I was immediately pulled into the tension of the narrative, holding my breath and wishing I could somehow cover my eyes with a blanket during the scary parts! There’s nothing supernatural about the book, but I kept thinking of Stephen King’s novels and how the details and setting can create a sense of terror when maybe there’s really nothing to be afraid of.

For some reason his words made me shiver. Perhaps it was the tree trunks, like silent watchers in the growing dark. Or perhaps it was the lingering chill that Tom and Melanie had brought with them from the outside. Either way, leaving London, I’d thought the weather had felt like autumn. Suddenly, so much farther north, it felt like winter had come overnight. It wasn’t just the close-growing pines shutting out the light with their dense needles, nor the cold crisp air with its promise of frost to come. The night was drawing in, and the house felt more and more like a glass cage, blasting its light blindly out into the dusk, like a lantern in the dark. I imagined a thousand moths circling and shivering, drawn inexorably to its glow, only to perish against the cold inhospitable glass.

Final Thoughts:

Ruth Ware’s debut thriller is quite an intense read. I enjoyed the build-up, but felt the final revelation to be a bit anticlimactic. Nonetheless, I look forward to her next endeavor and, in spite of the scary nature of the book, I’m anxious to see what Reese Witherspoon does with the movie she’s developing, based on the novel. Fans of The Girl on the Train, Luckiest Girl Alive and Gone Girl will not be disappointed with this page-turner. Recommend.

February 19, 2016

Looking Back - Beloved


Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.



Beloved by Toni Morrison
Fiction
1987 Plume
Finished in February 1996
Rating: 5/5 (Outstanding!)
Pulitzer Prize Winner (1988)





Publisher's Blurb:

Sethe. Proud and beautiful, she escaped from slavery but is haunted by its heritage. She must deal with this haunted life on every level, from the fires of the flesh to the heartbreaking challenges to the spirit. Set in rural Ohio several years after the Civil War, this profoundly affecting chronicle of slavery and its aftermath is Toni Morrison's greatest novel, a dazzling achievement, and the most spellbinding reading experience of the decade.

My Original Notes:

Excellent! Very powerful. I read it in less than a week. It started off a little bit confusing. The setting or time period jumped around, as well as the narrator. Once I got in a few chapters, I could understand what was going on a little better. Lots of symbolism. Another story about ghosts. [We had just read The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan.] I found the book to be a real eye-opener about the treatment of slaves before and after the Civil War. I'm anxious to read more of Morrison's works!

My Current Thoughts:

Beloved is another novel that my small book group read and discussed back in 1996. I remember how much this book affected me, with Morrison's powerful prose and storytelling, and I can still picture many of the scenes, even after the passage of twenty years. I have read (and attempted to read) other books by Toni Morrison, but after one failed attempt I decided she is an author I no longer wish to read. However, I could be convinced to re-read Beloved, especially for another book club discussion. Highly recommend and believe it should be required reading for all.

Have you read this Pulitzer Prize winner? What is your favorite Morrison book?

February 18, 2016

Luckiest Girl Alive


Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll
Fiction/Thriller
2015 Simon & Schuster Audio
Read by Madeleine Maby
Finished on August 25, 2015
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)




Publisher’s Blurb:

HER PERFECT LIFE
IS A PERFECT LIE.

Ani FaNelli seems to have it all: a glamorous job at a glossy magazine; an enviable figure with the wardrobe to match; and a handsome fiancé from a distinguished blue blood family. But Ani FaNelli is an invention, that veneer of perfection carefully assembled in an attempt to distance herself from a shocking, sordid past.

As her wedding draws near, a documentary producer invites Ani to speak about the chilling incident that took place when she was a teenager at the prestigious Bradley School. Determined once and for all to silence the whispers of suspicion and blame, Ani must weigh her options carefully, when telling the whole truth could destroy the picture-perfect life she's worked so hard to create.

With a singular voice and a twist you won't see coming, Luckiest Girl Alive explores the deep-seated desire to fit in and the unbearable pressure that so many women feel to "have it all." Ani FaNelli is a complex and vulnerable heroine—one whose sharp edges protect a truth that will move, scandalize, and surprise you.

It wasn't until I was well into this book that I became completely engrossed. I didn't read any reviews or spoilers (do NOT read the Publishers Weekly review if you want to avoid spoilers), so I was shocked at the turn of events in Chapter 12. I think listening to the audio version of the book had an even greater impact on me during this chapter. All in all, a good read. Maybe not as good as The Girl on the Train, but certainly entertaining.

Final Thoughts:

Even after re-reading the publisher’s blurb and my notes, I still only have a vague recollection of this thriller. (And, I have absolutely no idea what happened in Chapter 12!) I’m tempted to drop the rating down a notch, but I’ll leave it as is since I did find it entertaining at the time. In a word, brain-candy.

February 15, 2016

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry



The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Fiction
2014 Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Finished on August 11, 2015
Rating: 4.5/5 (Terrific!)




Publisher’s Blurb:

We are not quite novels.
We are not quite short stories.
In the end, we are collected works.

A.J. Fikry’s life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died; his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history; and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island—from Chief Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who’s always felt kindly toward him; from Ismay, his sister-in-law, who is hell-bent on saving A.J. from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who persists in taking the ferry to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.’s bad attitude. Even the books in the his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, he can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It’s a small package, though large in weight—an unexpected arrival that gives A.J. the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn’t take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J., for the determined sales rep Amelia to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light, for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.’s world. Or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn’t see coming.

As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

We readers do so love books about books, don’t we? And as a bookseller, I love reading about bookstores, with all the remarks about handselling, ARCs and galleys, and of course, customers. I think I fell in love with Gabrielle Zevin’s novel before I even opened up the book to the first page. The cover art, as well as the back cover blurbs, grabbed my attention and I couldn’t wait to dive in!

On reading tastes:
Like,” he repeats with distaste. “How about I tell you what I don’t like? I do not like postmodernism, postapocalyptic settings, postmortem narrators, or magic realism. I rarely respond to supposedly clever formal devices, multiple fonts, pictures where they shouldn’t be—basically, gimmicks of any kind. I find literary fiction about the Holocaust or any other major world tragedy to be distasteful—nonfiction only, please. I do not like genre mash-ups a la the literary detective novel or the literary fantasy. Literary should be literary, and genre should be genre, and crossbreeding rarely results in anything satisfying. I do not like children’s books, especially ones with orphans, and I prefer not to clutter my shelves with young adult. I do not like anything over four hundred pages or under one hundred fifty pages. I am repulsed by ghostwritten novels by reality television stars, celebrity picture books, sports memoirs, movie tie-in editions, novelty items, and—I imagine this goes without saying—vampires. I rarely stock debuts, chick lit, poetry, or translations. I would prefer not to stock series, but the demands of my pocketbook require me to. For your part, you needn’t tell me about the ‘next big series’ until it is ensconced on the New York Times Best Sellers list. Above all, Ms. Loman, I find slim literary memoirs about little old men whose little old wives have died from cancer to be absolutely intolerable. No matter how well written the sales rep claims they are. No matter how many copies you promise I’ll sell on Mother’s Day.”

On keeping up with the times:
“Why must I? What is so great about the times?” A.J. has often reflected that, bit by bit, all the best things in the world are being carved away like fat from meat. First, it had been the record stores, and then the video stores, and then newspapers and magazines, and now even the big chain bookstores were disappearing everywhere you looked. From his point of view, the only thing worse than a world with big chain bookstores was a world with NO big chain bookstores. At least the big stores sell books and not pharmaceuticals or lumber! At least some of the people who work at those stores have degrees in English literature and know how to read and curate books for people! At least the big stores can sell ten thousand units of publisher’s dreck so that Island gets to sell one hundred units of literary fiction!

Final Thoughts:

I loved The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry. It’s a delightful book that made me laugh out loud and tugged at my heartstrings. Highly recommend!

Go here to listen to a NPR interview with Gabrielle Zevin.

February 13, 2016

Blogiversary!



They say time passes more quickly the older you are. I don't really feel any older, but more and more, time seems to be flying by far too fast! The other day I had to confirm my age on a document. I was certain someone had made a mistake, if only by one year, but no. After a quick calculation, I realized I was wrong and not the document.

It doesn't seem like yesterday that I sat down and started writing about the books I'd been reading (back when this was called Lesley's Book Nook, with its dull brown template), but I can hardly believe it's been 10 years! I've taken a few breaks (some very brief and a couple for several months), but I always come back, eager to talk about the books I've read, sharing a favorite passage or two, in addition to photos of my travels, near and far. I love the conversations we have in the comment section and it is you, my dear friends, that keep me coming back to this place; a place that has been such a big part of my life for the past decade. I could easily keep track of all the books I've read in a notebook, or on Goodreads, or not at all, but what fun is that? I love to talk about books and I love to hear about what you've been reading. So, thank you. Thank you for making this all worthwhile. And, most importantly, thank you for your friendship.

For those of you who enjoy stats, here are a few of mine from the past 10 years:

Posts: 1,214
Comments: 13,225
Page Views All Time History: 286,408
Highest Page View Post: Cowboy Lasagna (Trisha Yearwood) 18,904 views (go figure!)

For more Blogiversary posts (and shout-outs to some of my favorite bloggers), go here.

February 12, 2016

Looking Back - The Hundred Secret Senses


Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.



The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
Fiction
1995 Putnam
Finished on February 4, 1996
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)





Publisher's Blurb:

Set in San Francisco and in a remote village of Southwestern China, Amy Tan's The Hundred Secret Senses is a tale of American assumptions shaken by Chinese ghosts and broadened with hope. In 1962, five-year-old Olivia meets the half-sister she never knew existed, eighteen-year-old Kwan from China, who sees ghosts with her "yin eyes." Decades later, Olivia describes her complicated relationship with her sister and her failing marriage, as Kwan reveals her story, sweeping the reader into the splendor and violence of mid-nineteenth century China. With her characteristic wisdom, grace, and humor, Tan conjures up a story of the inheritance of love, its secrets and senses, its illusions and truths.

My Original Notes:

Great book! Quick read. Very well done. Another selection for my small book group. Maybe we'll discuss it over Chinese food. {We did! Then we played Mah Jong. Lots of fun.}

My Current Thoughts:

Amy Tan was one of my favorite authors in the early 1990s. I loved The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God's Wife, so when The Hundred Secret Senses was published, I immediately bought the hardcover. I no longer own my copy, so somewhere along the way I must have decided it wasn't one I would ever re-read again. I do still own those first two novels and think it would be nice to read them again. It's been long enough that I have only a vague recollection of their plots.

Are you a fan of Amy Tan's novels? Have you read her latest book, The Valley of Amazement? Should I add it to my TBR list?

February 10, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday - The City of Mirrors



City of Mirrors is the 3rd and final installment in the Passage Trilogy by Justin Cronin. The book is set to be released this May and I am more than excited! I've listened to the first two books (The Passage and The Twelve), both of which were read by Scott Brick. City of Mirrors weighs in at a whopping 624 pages, so I definitely plan to stick with the audio version. I gave The Passage a near-perfect rating of 4.75/5, but The Twelve dropped down to 3.5/5. Fingers crossed that the grand finale ends on a high note!




Overview

In The Passage and The Twelve, Justin Cronin brilliantly imagined the fall of civilization and humanity’s desperate fight to survive. Now all is quiet on the horizon—but does silence promise the nightmare’s end or the second coming of unspeakable darkness? At last, this bestselling epic races to its breathtaking finale.

The world we knew is gone. What world will rise in its place?

The Twelve have been destroyed and the hundred-year reign of darkness that descended upon the world has ended. The survivors are stepping outside their walls, determined to build society anew—and daring to dream of a hopeful future.

But far from them, in a dead metropolis, he waits: Zero. The First. Father of the Twelve. The anguish that shattered his human life haunts him, and the hatred spawned by his transformation burns bright. His fury will be quenched only when he destroys Amy—humanity’s only hope, the Girl from Nowhere who grew up to rise against him.

One last time light and dark will clash, and at last Amy and her friends will know their fate.

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that highlights a book we can't wait to be published.  It is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine.

February 9, 2016

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up


The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
Nonfiction - Self-Improvement
2015 Tantor Medio (Audio)
Read by Emily Woo Zeller
Finished on August 7, 2015
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)




Publisher's Blurb:

This guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this book featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

I've been an organizer since I was a very young child. Not only was my bedroom neat and tidy, but so were my brothers' rooms. Over the years, however, I've gotten less obsessive about my housework and I'm no longer as organized as I'd like. Hidden gifts and Christmas gift wrap and cards that I purchased at the end of the previous year are apt to be forgotten or overlooked for several years. My paper clutter is out of control. I can't even talk about how far behind I am with my photo albums.

Marie Kondo's slim book appealed to my inner neat-nick and after perusing it at work on more than one occasion, I decided to download the audio and see what tips I could glean from this bestseller. While she is a little out there (who thanks inanimate objects for a job well-done?!), I have to admit the book is very inspiring. I've already gone through all my clothes and recently tackled my books. As you can imagine, this was quite daunting. How in the world do I part with unread books? How do I decide which favorites to keep or toss? Going through them one-by-one (this means removing every single book from each shelf), touching every single book, makes a huge difference. I lost track of how many books I took to HalfPrice Books, but it was in the hundreds. I made a whopping $178 and still had four large grocery bags of ARCs (which can't be sold) to pass on to a friend. Now all I have on my shelves are my absolute favorites and the books I really want to read. Purging one's belongings is quite addictive and I'm actually tempted to give the closets and bookshelves another overhaul!

Final Thoughts:

"Does it spark joy?" has become my new mantra. While it may sound silly to think in these terms, it actually does work, at least with regard to reducing the junk around our house. I may not fold my clothes the way Kondo recommends, but my drawers and closets are no longer crammed full of things I no longer enjoy wearing. My bookshelves have space for photographs and cherished items, as well as all the books I still want to read. Now to tackle the basement before the neighborhood garage sale in early May. I don't own a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, but eventually it might be worth a second listen, as I'm sure I'll need a refresher in a few years.

How about you? Have you jumped on the KonMari bandwagon? Have you read her new book, Spark Joy?

February 8, 2016

Mailbox Monday


I'm trying not to bring anymore ARCs home from work. No, really. But this one caught my eye and I do so love a good thriller. I think I read about this on another blog a week or two ago, but I can't remember where that was.

by Holly Seddon
On Sale 2.16.16

For fans of Gillian Flynn, Laura Lippman, and Paula Hawkins comes Holly Seddon's arresting fiction debut--an engrossing thriller full of page-turning twists and turns, richly imagined characters, and gripping psychological suspense.

Some secrets never die. They're just locked away.

Alex Dale is lost. Destructive habits have cost her a marriage and a journalism career. All she has left is her routine: a morning run until her body aches, then a few hours of forgettable work before the past grabs hold and drags her down. Every day is treading water, every night is drowning. Until Alex discovers Amy Stevenson. Amy Stevenson, who was just another girl from a nearby town until the day she was found after a merciless assault. Amy Stevenson, who has been in a coma for fifteen years, forgotten to the world. Who, unbeknownst to her doctors, remains locked inside her body, conscious but paralyzed, reliving the past.

Soon Alex's routine includes visiting hours at the hospital, then interviews with the original suspects in the attack. But what starts as a reporter's story becomes a personal obsession. How do you solve a crime when the only witness lived, but cannot tell the tale? Unable to tear herself away from uncovering the unspeakable truth, Alex realizes she's not just chasing a story--she's seeking salvation.

Shifting from present to past and back again, Try Not to Breathe unfolds layer by layer until its heart-stopping conclusion. The result is an utterly immersive, unforgettable debut.


What do you think? Does this sound good to you? I may have to read this one sooner than later!



Click on the title for more information.
 
Find more Mailbox Monday posts here

February 6, 2016

Our Souls at Night



Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf
Fiction
2015 Knopf ebook
Finished on August 1, 2015
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good!)





Publisher's Blurb:

A spare yet eloquent, bittersweet yet inspiring story of a man and a woman who, in advanced age, come together to wrestle with the events of their lives and their hopes for the imminent future.

In the familiar setting of Holt, Colorado, home to all of Kent Haruf’s inimitable fiction, Addie Moore pays an unexpected visit to a neighbor, Louis Waters. Her husband died years ago, as did his wife, and in such a small town they naturally have known of each other for decades; in fact, Addie was quite fond of Louis’s wife. His daughter lives hours away in Colorado Springs, her son even farther away in Grand Junction, and Addie and Louis have long been living alone in houses now empty of family, the nights so terribly lonely, especially with no one to talk with.

Their brave adventures—their pleasures and their difficulties—are hugely involving and truly resonant, making Our Souls at Night the perfect final installment to this beloved writer’s enduring contribution to American literature.

Another winner by the late Kent Haruf. I started this novel back in June, but set it aside to read a month later on my flight to Oregon. I wound up reading it on the flight home and the time passed very quickly. I love Haruf's spare prose and familiar settings and quickly came to care about the characters in this gem of a book. My only complaint is that it was too short. I wanted more and was surprised when I reached the last page. (I never pay attention to my place in a book while reading an ebook!) 

Final Thoughts:

This one's a keeper and worthy of several re-reads. R.I.P. Kent Haruf. You left us at the top of your game.

February 5, 2016

Looking Back - My Dear Cassandra


Looking Back... In an effort to transfer my book journal entries over to this blog, I'm going to attempt to post (in chronological order) an entry every Friday. I may or may not add extra commentary to what I jotted down in these journals.


My Dear Cassandra: Selections from the Letters of Jane Austen (Penelope Hughs-Hallett, editor)
Nonfiction - Epistolary
1990 Collins & Brown
Finished in January 1996
Rating: 3/5 (So-so)




Publisher's Blurb:

It has been said that Jane Austen the woman and Jane Austen the author are all of a piece, and nowhere is this more evident to the lovers of her novels than in the pages of her letters. This new celebration of these letters is illustrated with portraits, facsimile letters, topographical engravings and fashion plates, and aims to bring to life the world Jane Austen inhabited. Although the book follows a broadly chronological scheme, the letters are arranged round visual themes considered particularly suitable for illustration, such as the Hampshire countryside, social life in Bath and London, domestic pursuits, paying visits and traveling by carriage. The author, who was born in Jane Austen's Hampshire village, lectures on English Literature for the Open University and the Oxford University Department of External Studies. Her special interest is 19th-century children's literature and she has compiled an anthology, "Childhood".

My Original Notes:

A wonderful look into Jane Austen's life through letters to her sister, Cassandra. Full of biographical information, as well as the original letters. Reading the letters was actually tedious and more secondary than the biography and side notes.

I read this prior to my book club meeting for Sense & Sensibility, so I'd have additional information on Jane's life to contribute to the discussion.

My Current Thoughts: 

A "wonderful look" might be a bit of a stretch. I love epistolary works, but as I vaguely recall, this was a chore. I no longer own the book, so I can't flip through it to see if the annotations were really any more interesting than the letters. No rating at the time, so I give it an average 3/5.

February 3, 2016

Wordless Wednesday {more or less}

Today we had a snow day, so Annie and I pretty much spent the day inside. I read and watched the snow fall. Annie did what she usually does: sleep. I finally decided we both needed to get outside and check things out in the 'hood.


6 a.m.
Best dad ever!


This is where I planned to spend most of the day. 


Yep. Still here.




Looks pretty much like every snowstorm
 photo shot from our front door.




Neighbors' kid. {??}


Just hangin' out.





Making snow angels.






Leading the way.




Ready for bed!
{at 6 pm}