November 29, 2022
November 26, 2022
November 21, 2022
In an odd way, marriages deal with many of the same maintenance issues. Our relationships need our attention as much, if not more, than our houses. And sometimes here, too, the romance of maintenance is that it has none. Caretaking in a relationship is not flowers or date night--necessary as these are, they are the equivalent of a new color painted on your walls. Delightful, but not structural. Structural is unloading the dishwasher when it's your partner's turn, or making sure whoever gets home last from work is greeted with dinner. It's learning about mushroom hunting or musical theater or rugby because your spouse loves it. It is talking about the best of your partner in public, not the worst. It's listening to stories we have heard a hundred times before as if they are new. Often, it is just listening, period.
November 18, 2022
November 16, 2022
November 15, 2022
I remember again how valuable he is, how lucky we are. Karl isn't having a heart attack. Byron didn't know what might have caused the pain. Indigestion? Stress? It didn't matter. Karl is beside me. The meeting I'm missing doesn't matter, and Sparky is fine with his dog friends at the bookstore. For as many times as the horrible thing happens, a thousand times in every day the horrible thing passes us by. A meteor could be skating past Earth's atmosphere this very minute. We'll never know how close we came to annihilation, but today I saw it--everything I had and stood to lose and did not lose. Thanks to this fleeting clarity, the glow from the fluorescent tubes on the ceiling of this small cardiac recovery room lights up the entire world.
As every reader knows, the social contract between you and a book you love is not complete until you hand that book to someone else and say, Here, you're going to love this. I always thought that sharing the books I loved with my students, requiring them to read those books, was the biggest perk of being a teacher. But at the bookstore, people who actually want my recommendations walk through the door all day long. The students were captives, the customers are volunteers.
"Never judge a book by its cover" is a good way of saying that people shouldn't be evaluated on the basis of looks alone, but the adage doesn't apply to actual books. Where books are concerned, covers are what we have to go on. We might be familiar with the author's name or like the title, but absent that information, it's the jacket design--the size and shape of the font, the color, the image or absence of image--that makes us stop at the new releases table of our local independent bookstore and pick up one novel instead of another. Book covers should entice readers the way roses entice bees--like their survival depends on it.
November 11, 2022
November 10, 2022
This book! I went into it completely cold, not even glancing at the publisher's blurb, but relying solely on the rave reviews of my fellow bloggers. I was not disappointed, and it will most definitely wind up on my Best of 2022 list. We Begin at the End took my breath away, made me angry, tugged at my heartstrings, and made me cry. I loved it. I loved the characters, who crawled into my subconscious, invading my dreams, lingering long after I finished reading. Duchess is one tough girl, swearing up a storm and prepared to take on anyone who threatens her family, especially her five-year-old brother, Robin.
Duchess just stared. Some days, mean and tough was hard to locate.
We Begin at the End is not an easy read. In addition to the profanity (which is not gratuitous), there is a fair amount of violence coupled with heartbreaking grief. And yet, this is an extraordinary novel that I won't easily forget. I'm already thinking about a second reading, while hoping for a sequel.
See what others have to say:
I LOVED this book. From the riveting plot to the beautiful writing. But mostly what kept me longing to get back to it each day were the characters, especially young Duchess. Fierce, brave, vulnerable, she leaps off the page fully formed. As does Walk. How aptly named. A chief of police on his own inexorable journey. This is a book to be read and reread and an author to be celebrated. ~Louise Penny
Two damaged children--one timid and sweet, the other foul-mouthed and furious--will break readers' hearts in this well-plotted and perfectly paced novel. If, like me, you love stories that kidnap your intended schedule because you can't not keep turning the pages, then I wholeheartedly recommend Chris Whitaker's We Begin at the End. ~Wally Lamb
November 9, 2022
November 5, 2022
November 4, 2022
November 2, 2022
Ellis nodded and Jasmine went to the kitchen, returning with a glass of tap water. Kincaid wondered, not for the first time, why a glass of water was considered a remedy for shock or grief. But Ellis drank it obediently, like a child told to take medicine, and set the almost empty glass on the end table.
I was left with many questions about Kincaid's new position in Holborn, which I hope will be answered in the next installment. Crombie's cliff-hangers are beginning to feel like those of Louise Penny's. Thankfully, I have the next book ready to read and don't have to wait a year or more for its release!