July 31, 2022

Cheshire, Oregon

Nothing like another road trip to inspire me to blog about a previous trip. Over the next few days, while on the road to California, I will be sharing posts about our spring trip to Central Oregon. Goodness, I honestly thought it had only been a couple of months since that trip, not 4 1/2 months! Enjoy!

Central Oregon Road Trip
Sunday, March 15, 2022
Depoe Bay to Cheshire, OR
Distance: 89 miles
Duration: 1 night
Cost: Free (Harvest Host) - $38 bottle of wine
Weather: Sunny and warm

We could have driven all the way to our first campsite in LaPine State Park, but we tend to get a late start on our first day out, which would have made for a late arrival. Instead, we opted to take advantage of our Harvest Host membership and found a winery near Eugene. The setting at Bennett Vineyards & Wine Company is pretty, but the tasting area was enclosed with a large tent, which isn't the nicest ambiance. There are picnic tables outside on the lawn near a pond, but we arrived at the end of the day and didn't taste any wines, opting to relax in the rv after a short walk. Harvest Host stays are free, but we always purchase something to support the venue. We bought a bottle of the Pinot Noir, which was quite good. It's more than we usually spend on wine, but as I mentioned, we didn't have to pay to spend the night.

The parking area for HH visitors was too soggy from the recent rains in the area, so we were asked to park on the gravel near the entrance. There was quite a bit of road noise during the night, but otherwise, it was a nice spot for an overnight. We were one of two RVs visiting that day.

If we need a place to stay in the area, we would certainly return. It's only 20 miles to Eugene and a few minutes to our RV dealership in Junction City.

July 29, 2022

Looking Back - The Blind Assassin

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.

2000 Nan A. Talese - Doubleday
Finished on April 30, 2001
Rating: 3.5/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

The novel opens with these simple, resonant words: "Ten days after the war ended, my sister drove a car off the bridge." They are spoken by Iris, whose terse account of her sister Laura's death in 1945 is followed by an inquest report proclaiming the death accidental. But just as the reader expects to settle into Laura's story, Atwood introduces a novel-within-a-novel. Entitled The Blind Assassin, it is a science fiction story told by two unnamed lovers who meet in dingy backstreet rooms. When we return to Iris, it is through a 1947 newspaper article announcing the discovery of a sailboat carrying the dead body of her husband, a distinguished industrialist.

Told in a style that magnificently captures the colloquialisms and clich├ęs of the 1930s and 1940s, The Blind Assassin is a richly layered and uniquely rewarding experience. The novel has many threads and a series of events that follow one another at a breathtaking pace. As everything comes together, readers will discover that the story Atwood is telling is not only what it seems to be--but, in fact, much more.

The Blind Assassin proves once again that Atwood is one of the most talented, daring, and exciting writers of our time. Like The Handmaid's Tale, it is destined to become a classic.

My Original Thoughts (2001):

Hard to get interested in this book. Stuck with it, however, and it did pick up. A mystery of sorts. Fictionalized memoir with a pulp-fiction type of novel within the novel. Complicated yarn! Almost needs to be read a second time right away - everything makes sense and comes together at the end. My first encounter with Atwood. Didn't love the book, but I'm willing to try something else by her.

*If rereading, look for fire & water symbolism.

My Current Thoughts:

I read this with an online book group in 2001 and don't remember a thing about the book. I've gone on to read a few more novels by Atwood, but can't say that I'm a fan of her writing.

July 27, 2022

Lunch in Paris

Nonfiction - Memoir
22010 Little, Brown and Company
Finished on July 22, 2022
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

In Paris for a weekend visit, Elizabeth Bard sat down to lunch with a handsome Frenchman--and never went home again. Was it love at first sight? Or was it the way her knife slid effortlessly through her pave au poivre, the steak's pink juices puddling into the buttery pepper sauce?

Lunch In Paris is a memoir about a young American woman caught up in two passionate love affairs--one with her new beau, Gwendal, the other with French cuisine. Packing her bags for a new life in the world's most romantic city, Elizabeth is plunged into a world of bustling open-air markets, hipster bistros, and size 2 femmes fatales. She learns to gut her first fish (with a little help from Jane Austen), soothe pangs of homesickness (with the rise of a chocolate souffle) and develops a crush on her local butcher (who bears a striking resemblance to Matt Dillon). Elizabeth finds that the deeper she immerses herself in the world of French cuisine, the more Paris itself begins to translate. French culture, she discovers, is not unlike a well-ripened cheese-there may be a crusty exterior, until you cut through to the melting, piquant heart. Peppered with mouth-watering recipes for summer ratatouille, swordfish tartare and molten chocolate cakes, Lunch in Paris is a story of falling in love, redefining success and discovering what it truly means to be at home. In the delicious tradition of memoirs like A Year in Provence and Under the Tuscan Sun, this book is the perfect treat for anyone who has dreamed that lunch in Paris could change their life.

I love a good memoir, especially one that include travel ideas and recipes. Lunch in Paris has been languishing on my Nook for a few years and I just happened to notice it after I made up my list for the Paris in July reading challenge. Having given up on a few books from that list, I decided to give Elizabeth Bard's memoir a go. I was not disappointed, and yet it didn't resonate with me as much as Eloisa James' memoir, Paris in Love, which I read (and loved) in 2012. I shared a half dozen passages (and marked dozens more) from Paris in Love, but didn't find anything notable in Bard's memoir. I enjoyed her story of falling in love with her husband (and France), and will probably go on to read her follow-up books (Picnic in Provence and Dinner Chez Moi), but I'm not chomping at the bit to buy a print edition of Lunch in Paris for my keeper shelf. I am, however, tempted to curl up with Paris in Love, which deserves a second reading.

July 25, 2022

Summer of '69

2019 Hachette Audio
Narrated by Erin Bennett
Fininshed on July 13, 2022
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Four siblings experience the drama, intrigue, and upheaval of the '60s summer when everything changed in Elin Hilderbrand's #1 New York Times bestselling historical novel.

Welcome to the most tumultuous summer of the twentieth century. It's 1969, and for the Levin family, the times they are a-changing. Every year the children have looked forward to spending the summer at their grandmother's historic home in downtown Nantucket. But like so much else in America, nothing is the same: Blair, the oldest sister, is marooned in Boston, pregnant with twins and unable to travel. Middle sister Kirby, caught up in the thrilling vortex of civil rights protests and determined to be independent, takes a summer job on Martha's Vineyard. Only-son Tiger is an infantry soldier, recently deployed to Vietnam. And thirteen-year-old Jessie suddenly feels like an only child, marooned in the house with her out-of-touch grandmother and her worried mother, while each of them hides a troubling secret.

As the summer heats up, Ted Kennedy sinks a car in Chappaquiddick, man flies to the moon, and Jessie and her family experience their own dramatic upheavals along with the rest of the country. In her first historical novel, rich with the details of an era that shaped both a nation and an island thirty miles out to sea, Elin Hilderbrand once again earns her title as queen of the summer novel.

A perfect beach read! I enjoy Elin Hilderbrand's summery novels and this one didn't disappoint. Erin Bennett does a nice job with the variety of voices for the audio narration (I'm always amazed when a female reader nails the male voices) and the family drama kept me interested without being over the top. 

This is not literary fiction, but I thoroughly enjoyed the book, almost as much as 28 Summers. If you enjoy historical fiction (this is Hilderbrand's first), Summer of '69 isn't quite as heavy as those set during World War II. (Ok, it's a bit light and simplistic, but as I said, a perfect beach read.) Plus, there's no alternating time periods, although the POV does switch between the three sisters and their mother. Overall, a worthwhile read. Recommend.

I love that each chapter title is the name of a song from 1969. I plan to put together a Spotify playlist of all these great songs:

Fortunate Son (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

Both Sides Now (Joni Mitchell)

Born to Be Wild (Steppenwolf)

Fly Me to the Moon (Frank Sinatra)

Time of the Season (The Zombies)

Magic Carpet Ride (Steppenwolf)

Those Were the Days (Mary Hopkin)

Suspicious Minds (Elvis Presley)

Young Girl (Gary Puckett & The Union Gap)

Everyday People (Sly & the Family Stone)

More Today Than Yesterday (Spiral Staircase)

Piece of My Heart (Janis Joplin)

Everybody's Talkin' (Harry Nilsson)

Mother's Little Helper (The Rolling Stones)

Help! (The Beatles)

White Rabbit (Jefferson Airplane)

Summertime Blues (The Who)

I Heard It Through the Grapevine (Creedence Clearwater Revival)

19th Nervous Breakdown (The Rolling Stones)

A Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum)

Whatever Lola Wants (Sarah Vaughan)

Sunshine of Your Love (Cream)

Can't Find My Way Home (Blind Faith)

Ring of Fire (Johnny Cash)

All Along the Watchtower (Bob Dylan)

Midnight Confessions (The Grass Roots)

For What It's Worth (Buffalo Springfield)

Get Back (The Beatles)

Someday We'll Be Together (Diana Ross & The Supremes)

July 22, 2022

Looking Back - Fortune's Rocks

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.

Fortune's Rocks by Anita Shreve
1999 Little, Brown and Company
Finished on April 24, 2001
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

A stunning new work from Anita Shreve, the author of the acclaimed bestsellers The Pilot's Wife and The Weight of Water, Fortune's Rocks is a profound and moving story about unwise love and the choices that transform a life.

On a beach in New Hampshire at the turn of the last century, a young woman is drawn into a rocky, disastrous passage to adulthood. Olympia Biddeford is the only child of a prominent Boston couple--a precocious and well-educated daughter, alive with ideas and flush with the first stirrings of maturity. Her summer at the family's vacation home in Fortune's Rocks is transformed by the arrival of a doctor, a friend of her father's, whose new book about mill-town laborers has caused a sensation. Olympia is captivated by his thinking, his stature, and his drive to do right--even as she is overwhelmed for the first time by irresistible sexual desire. She and the doctor--a married man, a father, and nearly three times her age--come together in an unthinkable, torturous, hopelessly passionate affair. Throwing aside propriety and self-preservation, Olympia plunges forward with cataclysmic results that are the price of straying in an unforgiving era. Olympia is cast out of the world she knows, and Fortune's Rocks is the story of her determination to reinvent her broken life--and claim the one thing she finds she cannot live without.

A meditation on the erotic life of women, an exploration of class prejudices, and most of all a portrayal of the thoughts and actions of an unforgettable young woman, Fortune's Rocks is a masterpiece of narrative drama, beautifully written by one of the most accomplished novelists of our time.

My Original Thoughts (2001):

Engrossing story of young love between a 15-year-old girl and a 40-year-old man. Reminds me of Edith Wharton's books. Victorian-age. 1899. Olympia is from a wealthy, well-known family from Boston who has a summer "cottage" in Fortune's Rocks. Somewhat predictable, yet still a page-turner.

My Current Thoughts:

Until I glanced at my notes from my reading journal, I had no memory of Olympia's age! 15-years-old with a 40-year-old man? Yikes. I still have a copy of the book, and I love Shreve's stories, so maybe I'll give this one a second reading and see if I enjoy it as much as I did all those years ago.

July 17, 2022

Klara and the Sun

Fiction - Dystopic
2021 Alfred A. Knopf
Finished on July 10, 2022
Rating: 2/5 (Fair)

Publisher's Blurb:

From the best-selling author of Never Let Me Go and The Remains of the Day, a stunning new novel—his first since winning the Nobel Prize in Literature—about the wondrous, mysterious nature of the human heart.

From her place in the store, Klara, an Artificial Friend with outstanding observational qualities, watches carefully the behavior of those who come in to browse, and of those who pass on the street outside. She remains hopeful that a customer will soon choose her, but when the possibility emerges that her circumstances may change forever, Klara is warned not to invest too much in the promises of humans.

In Klara and the Sun, Kazuo Ishiguro looks at our rapidly changing modern world through the eyes of an unforgettable narrator to explore a fundamental question: what does it mean to love?

My book group is discussing Klara and the Sun later next week. I have heard so much praise for this novel and have always intended to read something by Ishiguro, so I was happy to get a copy from the library with plenty of time to read it for the discussion. My overall impression is that this is a very odd story. It took me three or four chapters before I got interested in the novel and almost quit early on. I went back to Goodreads and read some of the reviews posted by my friends and decided to push on and see why so many loved Klara's story. The dialogue is stilted and unnatural, which became annoying as the story progressed. There are details about Klara and the dystopic society that are confusing, but most of my questions were answered in the Q&A section on Goodreads. There is a vagueness to the plot, and the ending is ambiguous; the combination was frustrating and makes me wonder if I'm not smart enough for Ishiguro or if I simply missed the underlying metaphors. It will be interesting to hear the opinions of my fellow book group members, but whether or not they enjoyed the book, I'm sure we'll have plenty to discuss. I plan to read Never Let Me Go, which has been languishing on my shelves for years, but Ishiguro's latest isn't one that I can recommend. I hope Kazuo Ishiguro isn't going to be one of those authors like Margaret Atwood and Toni Morrison (I know, I know) who just isn't for me. 

July 15, 2022

Looking Back - The Pact

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 Pact: A Love Story by Jodi Picoult
1998 William Morrow
Finished on April 18, 2001
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

Friendship, loyalty, lifelong love -- and teenage suicide. A riveting, timely, and terrifying novel from an acclaimed writer who skillfully intertwines the intimate perceptions of Anne Tyler with the dramatic tension of John Grisham.

The Golds and the Hartes, neighbors for eighteen years, have always been inseparable. So have their children-and it's no surprise that in high school Chris and Emily's friendship blossoms into something more. But the bonds of family, friendship, and passion-which had seemed so indestructible -- suddenly threaten to unravel in the wake of unexpected tragedy.

When midnight calls from the hospital come in, no one is ready for the truth. Emily is dead at seventeen from a gunshot wound to the head. There's a single unspent bullet in the gun that Chris pilfered from his father's cabinet-a bullet that Chris tells police he intended for himself. But a local detective has doubts about the suicide pact that Chris describes.

This extraordinary, heart-rending novel asks questions that every parent faces: How much do we know about our children? Our friends? What if . . .? As its chapters unfold, alternating between an idyllic past and an unthinkable present, The Pact paints an indelible portrait of families in anguish . . . and creates an astonishingly suspenseful courtroom drama, as Chris finds himself on trial for murder.

It's rare to find a writer who combines Alice Hoffman's gift for evoking everyday life in pellucid prose with a remarkable ability to create a legal page-turner that will keep you up all night reading, but this is such a book. The Pact rings true: wonderfully observed, truly moving, frightening, and utterly impossible to put down.

My Original Thoughts (2001):

Excellent. This author is talented! Grabbed me with the first page. Riveting. Unpredictable. Page-turner. Somewhat scary - how well do we know our teenagers? Great courtroom drama (as with Keeping Faith). Couldn't put it down. Realistic events and characters. Twists and turns kept me guessing.

My Current Thoughts:

According to my reading journal, I read this in two days. That's extremely fast for me, considering the hardcover is almost 400 pages. I've often thought about reading it again, but with all the recent gun violence, I'm not sure it's for me anymore.

July 10, 2022

The Narrowboat Summer


Original Title: Three Women and a Boat
2020 Flatiron Books
Finished on July 1, 2022
Rating: 4/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

From the author of Meet Me at the Museum, a charming novel of second chances, about three women, one dog, and the narrowboat that brings them together.

Eve expected Sally to come festooned with suitcases and overnight bags packed with everything she owned, but she was wrong. She arrived on foot, with a rucksack and a carrier bag. “I just walked away,” she said, climbing on to the boat. Eve knew what she meant.

Meet Eve, who has left her thirty-year career to become a Free Spirit; Sally, who has waved goodbye to her indifferent husband and two grown-up children; and Anastasia, a defiantly independent narrowboat-dweller, who is suddenly landlocked and vulnerable.

Before they quite know what they’ve done, Sally and Eve agree to drive Anastasia’s narrowboat on a journey through the canals of England, as she awaits a life-saving operation. As they glide gently – and not so gently – through the countryside, the eccentricities and challenges of narrowboat life draw them inexorably together, and a tender and unforgettable story unfolds. At summer’s end, all three women must decide whether to return to the lives they left behind, or forge a new path forward.

Candid, hilarious, and uplifting, The Narrowboat Summer is a novel of second chances, celebrating the power of friendship and new experience to change one’s life, at any age.

I have always loved being on or near the water, whether that be sailing on a lake, cruising on a river, or simply sitting by the ocean. My husband and I have cruised the San Juan Islands (on my dad and stepmom's boat), and I took a fabulous two-week cruise (on the Rhine, Main and Danube rivers) with my mom a few years ago. Each of these excursions involved traveling through locks, so I was interested to read Anne Youngson's novel, The Narrowboat Summer, which centers around two strangers (who become great friends) traveling the canals of England on a narrowboat. It took me a few chapters to get fully immersed in the story, but once I did, I couldn't put it down. I came to care about Eve and Sally, as well as Anastasia and her goofy dog Noah. With Youngson's attention to detail, I felt like I was on the journey with this motley crew.
On the towpath of a canal in a town not far from London, not far from the coast, is moored a narrowboat pained dark blue with the name Number One picked out in red lettering on the prow. It is tethered tightly to the bank with ropes made wet by the rain and slimy with age, wrapped around pegs bent out of shape by the misaimed blows of a lump hammer. It is still in the water. At either end the doors are fast shut and the windows along the side are latched. On the roof is a skylight, cantilevered up to let the fresh air into the cabin below. Puddles of water on the deck and roof show that it has been raining, but at this moment it is not. 
I had hoped for a happy ending, and I wasn't disappointed. If you're looking for a feel-good read (which is neither cloying nor sentimental), The Narrowboat Summer is just the ticket. I not only want to read it again, but I'm looking forward to trying Youngson's previous work, Meet Me at the Museum.

In addition to this uplifting story, I fell in love with the cover art illustration. You can find more information about the artist, Sarah Maycock, here and here
Eve drove the Number One through the first ten locks and Sally thought that, when she took over, there would be time to talk in the dripping gloom of an empty lock while that waited for it to fill up. This, however, proved impossible. It was necessary to keep the boat steady in the lock, avoid it drifting too far forward, where the nose could become trapped on a beam of the gate, or too far back, where the sill could foul the rudder, and the concentration needed, plus the noise, the engines and the roar of the water coming into the lock, meant that nothing could be said that needed consideration, until the last, calm moments as the lock filled right to the top, when the Grimm's crew swapped over. 

The following photos are from the Great Rivers of Europe Cruise. We traveled through 66 locks (many while we were sleeping) over the course of two weeks. 

Inside the lock

Gate closing

Water rising

These photos (below) are of the Ballard Locks in Seattle. The locks connect Puget Sound with Lake Union and Lake Washington.

Click here for more information about the operation of canal locks.

July 8, 2022

Looking Back - A Painted House

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.

2001 Doubleday
Finished on April 15, 2001
Rating: 4.5/5 (Very Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

The hill people and the Mexicans arrived on the same day. It was a Wednesday, early in September 1952. The Cardinals were five games behind the Dodgers with three weeks to go, and the season looked hopeless. The cotton, however, was waist-high to my father, over my head, and he and my grandfather could be heard before supper whispering words that were seldom heard. It could be a "good crop."

Thus begins the new novel from John Grisham, a story inspired by his own childhood in rural Arkansas. The narrator is a farm boy named Luke Chandler, age seven, who lives in the cotton fields with his parents and grandparents in a little house that's never been painted. The Chandlers farm eighty acres that they rent, not own, and when the cotton is ready they hire a truckload of Mexicans and a family from the Ozarks to help harvest it.

For six weeks they pick cotton, battling the heat, the rain, the fatigue, and, sometimes, each other. As the weeks pass Luke sees and hears things no seven-year-old could possibly be prepared for, and finds himself keeping secrets that not only threaten the crop but will change the lives of the Chandlers forever.

A Painted House is a moving story of one boy's journey from innocence to experience.

My Original Thoughts (2001):

Fantastic! Started off rather slow (character-driven versus plot-driven), but well worth hanging in there. Unforgettable characters. Touching. Humorous. Seven-year-old Luke is wise beyond his years. Witness to two killings. Loves the St. Louis Cardinals. Picks cotton with his family on their farm in Arkansas. Set in 1952. A quiet story. Subtly suspenseful. A refreshing departure from Grisham's legal thrillers.

My Current Thoughts:

While I don't remember much about the story, I do remember that I loved it. This would be a great book to revisit on audio.

Favorite Passage:
As we left town I thought about the end of the season. Baseball began in the spring, when we planted and when hopes were high. It sustained us through the summer, often our only diversion from the drudgery of the fields. We listened to each game, then talked about the plays and the players and the strategies until we listened to the next one. It was very much a part of our daily lives for six months, then it was gone. Just like the cotton.

I was sad by the time we arrived home. No games to listen to on the front porch. Six months without the voice of Harry Caray. Six months with no Stan Musial. I got my glove and went for a long walk down a field road, tossing the ball in the air, wondering what I would do until April.

For the first time in my life, baseball broke my heart.

July 4, 2022

A Month in Summary - June 2022

Nehalem River
Nehalem, Oregon
June 2022

The above photo was taken on our final day of camping on the coast in early June, and I only took a couple of pictures the rest of the month. I was uninspired and feeling out of sorts (and angry) after the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v Wade. And Covid cases are once again climbing and some of our relatives are sick, so they've had to cancel their trip to see us next week. But the sun is shining and I'm getting back outside for my daily walks, which helps keep me sane during this unsettling time in our country.

I did well with my reading in June, listening to a couple of audiobooks and reading several from my stacks. I loved Jodi Picoult's latest and two other novels were very enjoyable. I'm knocking a lot off my summer reading list, but now need to focus on the Paris in July challenge.

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

The People We Keep by Allison Larkin (3/5)

Florence Adler Swims Forever by Rachel Beanland (4/5)

Necessary Blood by Deborah Crombie (4/5)

We Run the Tides by Vendela Vida (2/5)

Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult (4.5/5)

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner (3/5)

Movies & TV Series:

The Staircase - Wow! This was such a great series. Colin Firth and Toni Collette are outstanding. I plan to watch the documentary later this summer and hope to find time to listen to the HBO podcast.

Traces - Meh. Not the best acting and the only reason we watched every episode was to find out whodunnit.

The Year Earth Changed - Very good. Thought-provoking and great cinematography.

Acceptable Risk - We have a couple of episodes remaining, but so far, so good.



My brother and nieces came for a visit (unfortunately, my sister-in-law couldn't get away) and we had a very nice time. The rain even let up for part of their time here, but living in Nebraska, I think they welcomed the cooler weather.

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Fourth of July. 

July 2, 2022

Crying in H Mart

Nonfiction - Memoir
2021 Random House Audio
Narrated by Michelle Zauner
Finished on June 30, 2022
Rating: 3/5 (Good)

Publisher's Blurb:

An unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up one of the few Asian American kids at her school in Eugene, Oregon; of struggling with her mother's particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence; of treasured months spent in her grandmother's tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food.

As she grew up, moving to the East Coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, and performing gigs with her fledgling band--and meeting the man who would become her husband--her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother's diagnosis of terminal cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her.

Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Zauner's voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, and complete with family photos, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share, and reread.

I nominated Crying in H Mart to my book group after reading several rave reviews. We don't plan to discuss it until August, but summertime is usually pretty busy with visitors and travel, so I decided to get a jump start. I began reading the print edition of Zauner's memoir, but after a couple of chapters, switched over to audio. I was somewhat bored with the opening chapters but listening to the author narrate her story made for a more compelling experience. I'm not a big fan of authors reading their own works, and Zauner's monotone delivery could have been better, but I enjoyed hearing the pronunciation of specific foods and phrases in Korean. Despite the author's flat audio narration, some of her passages are beautifully written, bringing my attention back to her story. Food (specifically Korean food) is a large part of the narrative and while I enjoy "foodie" memoirs, I was not familiar with most of the items described. I didn't love Crying in H Mart, but anyone who has stood vigil over a loved one can't help but have their heartstrings tugged as they read about the death of Michelle's mother. Overall, this was a decent story, but not one I can recommend. I hope the women in my book group enjoy it better than I did!