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November 28, 2020

Under a Wing

 


Nonfiction - Memoir
1998 Delta
Finished on November 26, 2020
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)

Publisher's Blurb:

"We Lindberghs still know ourselves best as a tribe: close-knit, self-enclosed, and self-defining, always prepared to be besieged by invisible forces upwelling from the past...."

The world knew Charles Lindbergh as a daring aviator, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, and controversial isolationist in World War II. His wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, was a bestselling author. To their five children they were Father, never Daddy, and Mother. Charles, a stern yet loving father, was surprisingly affectionate and playful; Anne provided a great, gentling love. With remarkable candor, their youngest daughter provides a rare, intimate look at her legendary family...the pervasive impact of her brother's kidnapping and death...the complexity of her parents' long, loving marriage...the night her life and her mother's converged, as Reeve's own infant son died suddenly. With grace and insight, Reeve Lindbergh appraises her remarkable parents, her unusual childhood, and the troubling questions that remain. At once an eloquent reminiscence and a slice of American history, Under a Wing is, at its core, a heartfelt tribute to an extraordinary family.

I read Reeve Lindbergh's collection of essays, Forward From Here, a couple of years ago and it was a bit of a disappointment. I've had Under a Wing on my shelves for many years and decided to read it for this year's Nonfiction November challenge. Sadly, it was another letdown. I almost quit after the first 100 pages, but decided to skim the last half of the book. I've always been a little curious about the Lindberghs and had hoped to learn more about the family from Reeve's perspective, but quite honestly, I found her memoir dull and repetitive. My recommendation for those interested in the Lindbergh family is to read The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin, which I thought it was terrific. Reeve's books, however, were unsatisfying.

Click on the links to read my earlier reviews.

November 27, 2020

Looking Back - Reservation Road

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. 



Fiction
1999 Vintage (first published in 1998)
Read in January 2000
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

A tragic accident sets in motion a cycle of violence and retribution in John Burnham Schwartz's riveting novel Reservation Road. Two haunted men and their families are engulfed by the emotions surrounding an unexpected and horrendous death. Ethan, a respected professor of literature at a small New England college, is wracked by an obsession with revenge that threatens to tear his family apart. Dwight, a man at once fleeing his crime and hoping to get caught, wrestles with overwhelming guilt and his sense of obligation to his son. As these two men's lives unravel, Reservation Road moves to its startling conclusion. This is an astonishing tale of love and loss, rage and redemption, that is as suspenseful as it is emotionally compelling.

My Original Thoughts (2000):

Horribly, terribly sad! Riveting. Engrossing. Very quick and readable. How tragic to lose a child to such a senseless death. Somewhat anticlimactic ending.

My Current Thoughts:

I don't really remember this book and I'm pretty sure I never saw the movie. It doesn't sound like anything I'd want to read again, either.

November 22, 2020

Educated



Nonfiction - Memoir
2018 Random House
Finished on November 22, 2020
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)

Publisher's Blurb:

Tara Westover was 17 the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her "head-for-the-hills bag". In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father's junkyard.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara's older brothers became violent.

Then, lacking any formal education, Tara began to educate herself. She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust and the civil rights movement. Her quest for knowledge transformed her, taking her over oceans and across continents, to Harvard and to Cambridge. Only then would she wonder if she'd traveled too far, if there was still a way home.

Educated is an account of the struggle for self-invention. It is a tale of fierce family loyalty and of the grief that comes with severing the closest of ties. With the acute insight that distinguishes all great writers, Westover has crafted a universal coming-of-age story that gets to the heart of what an education is and what it offers: the perspective to see one's life through new eyes and the will to change it.

Educated is a train wreck of a book. I cringed with every assault (both verbal and physical) by one of Tara's brothers, grew angry with her father's cruelty and paranoia, and shook my head in confusion at her mother's lack of nurturing and turning of a blind eye to the dangers of her husband's fanatical beliefs. While I admire the author's resilience and ability to overcome her lack of education, not only graduating from BYU, but advancing further to receive a masters degree and a doctorate, I was not impressed with her memoir. I was compelled to keep reading, eager for some climatic event that would bring her parents to some sort of acceptance and understanding of her choices in life. If not that, at least some event that would finally land her insane brother in prison. I grew more and more frustrated each time Tara returned home, unable to understand why she couldn't cut the ties to her dysfunctional family. I don't need to like all the characters in a book in order to enjoy it, but as I read the final page, I wondered what was the point? I love a good memoir, but this one left me cold and annoyed. 

November 20, 2020

Looking Back - Tender at the Bone

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. 


Nonfiction - Memoir
1999 Broadway Books (first published in 1998)
Read in January 2000
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

At an early age, Ruth Reichl discovered that "food could be a way of making sense of the world. . . . If you watched people as they ate, you could find out who they were." Her deliciously crafted memoir, Tender at the Bone, is the story of a life determined, enhanced, and defined in equal measure by a passion for food, unforgettable people, and the love of tales well told. Beginning with Reichl's mother, the notorious food-poisoner known as the Queen of Mold, Reichl introduces us to the fascinating characters who shaped her world and her tastes, from the gourmand Monsieur du Croix, who served Reichl her first soufflé, to those at her politically correct table in Berkeley who championed the organic food revolution in the 1970s. Spiced with Reichl's infectious humor and sprinkled with her favorite recipes, Tender at the Bone is a witty and compelling chronicle of a culinary sensualist's coming-of-age.

My Original Thoughts (2000):

Good, but not great. Entertaining and funny. I enjoyed the first half more than the second. Preferred reading about her childhood. I would like to try some of the recipes, though. 

My Current Thoughts:

This may have been one of my earliest encounters with a "foodie" memoir. I remember laughing out loud at some of Reichl's childhood stories, especially those centered around her mother's cooking skills. The only other book I've read by Reichl is her novel, Delicious, but I have Save Me the Plums in my audio queue and hope to read that later next month.

November 18, 2020

Wordless Wednesday

 




Four moonrises at Nehalem State Park, Oregon


November 14, 2020

Nonfiction November

Nonfiction November is one of my favorite reading challenges. I don't usually participate in all the monthly memes/activities, but I love getting recommendations for new books, as well as spending the entire month reading nothing but nonfiction.

So far this year, I've only read seven nonfiction books, which surprises me. I would've thought I'd read a higher percentage in relation to the 48 books I've finished so far in 2020, but I guess not. To date, I've read the following (click on the links for my reviews):

The Only Plane in the Sky by Garrett Graff (5/5)

Inheritance by Dani Shapiro (3/5)

Option B by Sheryl Sandberg (5/5)

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson (3/5)

Women Rowing North by Mary Pipher (2/5)

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (4/5)

When My Time Comes by Diane Rehm (4/5)

The above photo is an optimistic selection, so I may continue reading from the dozen I've pulled from my shelves (several of which have been there for decades!) until the end of the year.

November 13, 2020

Looking Back - The Mark of the Angel

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. 




Fiction
1999 Steerforth Press (first published in 1998)
Read in January 2000
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

In the spring of 1957, a young German girl arrives in Paris to take a position as housekeeper to a bachelor flautist. Soon Saffie and Raphael are married and a son, Emil, is born. One day, Saffie and Emil go on errands to the Marais where they encounter an intriguing instrument maker, Andras. A passionate affair that will last a decade begins immediately. Framed within the love triangle is an exploration of the ways in which individual lives and historical events intersect, from the Soviet invasion of Budapest to the Kennedy assassination, and the different ways in which the German girl and the Hungarian Jew remember World War II and the Algerian war for independence.

My Original Thoughts (2000):

Read this in one day (home sick)! I enjoyed this novel very much. It reminded me a little bit of Anna Karenina. 

My Current Thoughts:

This one doesn't ring any bells and it's not one that was popular when I read it, so who knows what inspired me to read it. 

November 10, 2020

A Field of Darkness

 


Madeline Dare #1
Mystery
2007 Grand Central Publishing (first published in 2006)
Finished on November 6, 2020
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Madeline Dare isn't your average detective. Born into a blue-blood family, she followed her heart to marry ruggedly handsome Dean, a farmboy-genius investor who's as far from high society as humanly possible. Now Maddie's stuck in the post-industrial wasteland of Syracuse, New York, while her husband spends weeks on the road perfecting the railway equipment innovation that might be their only chance to escape. She can handle churning out lightweight features for the local paper--it's the Dean-less nights in their dingy, WASP-castoff-crammed apartment that Maddie can't stomach. Obsession trumps angst when a set of long-buried dog tags link her favorite cousin to the scene of a vicious double homicide. Drawn by the desire to clear her cousin's name, Maddie uncovers a startling web of intrigue and family secrets that could prove even more deadly.

I have no idea when or why I picked up this book, but it turned out to be a winner. My first impressions weren't very positive and I felt the author was working too hard at being literary, but once I got immersed in the story, I no longer felt that way and couldn't stop reading. There were times when I found Maddie's sudden role as a crime reporter a bit far-fetched, but I was willing to ignore that and felt the tension of her involvement mounting and had me holding my breath on several occasions as I worried about her safety. This is a solid debut mystery with well-developed characters, believable dialogue, a plot that kept me guessing and a denouement that quickened my pulse. And that part about Cornelia Read trying too hard at being literary? I was wrong, although the reviews are mixed on that point.

I'm looking forward to reading The Crazy School (Madeline Dare #2) and am happy to see that there are a total of four books in this series.

I read A Field of Darkness for the RIP XV Challenge.





November 5, 2020

A Month in Summary - October 2020

Little Whale Cove
Depoe Bay, Oregon
October 2020

I had hoped to get this posted before the election, but it's been a busy few days and I am only just now able to sit down and reflect on the past month. As I write, I am feeling anxious about the outcome of the election, which has yet to be called. I never expected it to be such a close race and I will never again trust the polls. I'm heartbroken that we remain so divided and that the underbelly of this country is filled with so much hatred and racism. Moving on...

I didn't have a very good month of reading with regard to quantity, mainly because my current audiobook (which is over 22 hours in length) is slowing me down. The two books I did finish were very good and I'm eager to read more by those authors. I also finished the RIP XV reading challenge and did much better than I anticipated. You can find my posts about that event here

Books Read (click on the title for my review):

Blood Harvest by S.J. Bolton (4/5)

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (4/5)

Abandoned:

The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt

First Lines:

'She's been watching us for a while now.' (Blood Harvest)

A bottle of wine. A family-sized packet of Nacho Cheese Flavoured Tortilla Chips and a jar of hot salsa dip. A packet of cigarettes on the side (I know, I know). The rain hammering against the windows. And a book.

What could have been lovelier? (Magpie Murders)

Movies and TV Series:


DCI Banks - We love this series. I think it's as good, if not better than, Bosch.


Game of Thrones (Season 7) - So good! I loved the last episode of this season and am ready to finally watch Season 8.





The World Series - Yay, Dodgers!! I grew up in Southern California and even though we lived in San Diego (home of the Padres), I was always a Dodger fan. This was such a great series and I was thrilled when we were able to watch the final game on our TV in our RV. If all goes well, there are only 148 days until Opening Day.

Puzzlemania:





We completed just one puzzle this month, but it was very difficult and 1000 pieces (although that's the average size we typically work on). Nonetheless, it was enjoyable and quite satisfying. Pomegranate puzzles have become a favorite brand, with gorgeous images by world-famous artists.


Peloton -
We received an early Christmas gift from my daughter and I can't tell you how much I love it! I had no idea that I could not only take cycling classes, but I can also use the app for yoga, meditation, strength training, walking, running, cardio, bootcamp and stretching. This will help motivate me to keep up with my exercise during the long, cold & rainy winter. 

Outings:




Rod met with the orthopedic surgeon and she recommended shoulder replacement surgery. Once we had that surgery on the calendar, we decided to take the RV out for a little trip up to Nehalem State Park, which is only a couple of hours north of us. We spent 11 days there (which is the longest we've stayed in a single campground) and we had it pretty much to ourselves, with the exception of the first weekend. Even then, it was maybe only 10% full. The weather was great, with temps in the low 60s and only one day of rain and one overnight shower. It was perfect for sitting outside, reading in the sun, or taking walks to the bay or along the beach. In addition to the wonderful weather, we were treated to multiple visits by a herd of elk, many times right in our campsite! We've experienced this before at a campground in Washington, but never at Nehalem. We probably won't get back out for another camping trip until next spring, so we're very happy we were able to manage this one.

That pandemic continues to rage on. To date, we have seen daily numbers reaching almost 100,000 new cases, which is astonishing. Please, wear your masks, wash your hands and stay 6 feet apart from those outside of your household.

November 3, 2020

R.I.P. XV Results

 

I'm very pleased with my RIP XV reading challenge results! I selected a dozen books from which to choose and read five, abandoned three, and started one that I knew I wouldn't finish before the 31st, but will still count. 


Books Read (click on link for review):

Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough (4/5)

Every Last Lie by Mary Kubica (2/5)

Elevation by Stephen King (2/5)

Blood Harvest by S.J. Bolton (4/5)

Magpie Murders by Anthony Horowitz (4/5)

A Field of Darkness by Cornelia Read (in progress)


Books Abandoned:

The House on the Strand by Daphne Du Maurier

Sycamore by Bryn Chancellor

The Good Daughter by Alexandra Burt

This was a good challenge to help whittle away at my TBR stacks, particularly those four ARCs that have been sorely neglected. While there were a couple of duds, the others were very good and I plan to read more by those authors (Pinborough, Bolton and Horowitz).

November 1, 2020

Quote du Jour

Nehalem State Park
Nehalem, Oregon


What lies behind us
and what lies before us
are small matters
compared to what lies within us.
And when we bring
what is within us
out into the world,
 miracles happen.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson