MY BOOKISH (AND NOT SO BOOKISH) THOUGHTS: RAMBLING

PicMonkey Collage-textured

Good morning, and welcome to another edition of My Bookish (and Not So Bookish) Thoughts, hosted by Bookishly Boisterous.

As I came awake this morning, I was full of thoughts about this feature.  I had it well-organized in my mind, with salient points lined up so neatly.

Alas!  Nothing looked as good to me once I sat down at my computer…sigh.

So bear with me…and I’ll ramble along, just as I usually do.

Remember last week when I ranted about waiting for the maintenance people?  Well, as predicted, they kept me waiting until almost the last possible moment (Friday morning at 10:00 a.m.), and then there they were, a woman and a man, and the woman pushed her way in (literally), as if I had been holding HER up…and proceeded to be rude and abrupt.  I ranted a bit about that on my Sunday Potpourri post…and I love this image I found that perfectly sums up her attitude.

 

haughty

 

Okay…enough said on that topic!

I started out the blogging week with last weekend’s Bloggiesta, which I enjoyed; I featured my blog Serendipity for the transformation.

This week was much better than last week, and I had a lovely dinner at my daughter’s home on Monday evening.  She and her fiance Steven put together such a delightful gathering.  They are both great cooks and hosts, and the conversation is always fun and lively. 

I always feel fabulous afterwards.  And I am definitely proud of how well she does so many things.

Two new review books came in the mail on Tuesday:  Evergreen, by Rebecca Rasmussen, and We Are Not Ourselves, by Matthew Thomas.

 

51M9TIJLaXL

 

 

91hu3hzm1PL

 

On the reading front, do you sometimes have your week planned, with a nice mix of eclectic books…and then pick them up, one at a time, and suddenly find yourself on a completely different path?

That was never an issue for me pre-blogging, when my moods totally dictated my reading.  Now, for some reason, I think everything must be planned perfectly:  Review books, TBR Mountain books, New books.  Just like that.

It doesn’t always work like that, does it?  Do you allow yourself to deviate from your bookish goals?  Do you have a Plan B?

One thing I know for sure:  (Oprah moment! LOL)

My attempt to organize my reading has paid off with a smaller TBR Mountain.  Here’s a visual of my stacks in March 2012:

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

And here they are nowadays:

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hope you have a wonderful day, and enjoy your bookish and non-bookish moments!

***

REVIEW: KATWALK, BY MARIA MURNANE

18706141

 

 

 

 

Katrina Lynden’s staid and stable life in Mountain View, CA, has left her feeling miserable. As an accountant at an advertising firm, she is doing what was expected of her by her parents. Utilizing the skills she learned in college.

But something is missing from her life, and the structure that guides her each day is starting to feel like a noose.

So when Kat’s best friend Deb suggests that they quit their jobs and go to New York for a couple of months, for an adventure, she agrees. Even though her parents are horrified and advise against it.

Everything is all set, from giving notice to subletting an apartment in the East Village.

So when Deb cancels at the last minute because her company offered an astonishing promotion if she doesn’t leave, Katrina is forced to make a new plan.

Can she go it alone in New York? How will the shy, retiring persona she has inhabited for so many years take on such a challenge? And will she learn how to transform her life, even as she delights in her new experiences?

Katwalk is a fun venture outside the comfort zone, and I loved how the author took the reader along for the ride. Through Katrina’s eyes (dubbed Kat by her New York friends and neighbors), we see her new world as she experiences it, from the coffee house in the neighborhood to the yoga studio nearby. Rediscovering a long buried desire to paint, Kat is truly expressing a new incarnation as she evolves from the frightened young woman she once was.

Just as I suspected how things might unfold, it was still fun to watch it happen. A delightful character, Kat could be someone we all know and love. 4.0 stars.

MY BOOKISH (AND NOT SO BOOKISH) THOUGHTS – WAITING

PicMonkey Collage-textured

Welcome to another Thursday!  Today I’m participating in a little meme hosted by Bookishly Boisterous:  a chance to explore a variety of thoughts.

Thursdays are an odd day in the week, so I serendipitously discovered this little event last week, and decided to hop on board.

This week has been strangely out of sync, as the management of my condo complex is doing routine maintenance.  But they don’t tell you when they are coming!  The note says “anytime between 9 and 2:30, Mon. to Fri.”

I hate that, because for me, that means staying home every day between those hours. 

I have one of those homes with lots of collections, etc., so the “bull in the china shop” guys have a tendency to mow them down as they go about their business.  Am I being sexist?  No, I have just observed a lot of guys doing their work, whether it’s construction or maintenance, for many years.  And that is why I have elected to stay close to home when they arrive…to observe and protect my turf.  LOL

 

bull_china_shop

 

The upside:  I have been reading, and the books I selected for this week have been wonderfully engaging.  Small Blessings, by Martha Woodroof (click for review) is one of those books that seemed to wrap itself around me like a cozy shawl, as each character brought something special to the canvas.

 

18404204

 

Today I am reading Big Little Lies, by Liane Moriarty, and those pages seem to fly through my fingers.  There is bullying, and there is lots of competition between the mums at the school, and there is a murder…we think.  The hint of it hovers over every page, as we wonder who did what to whom.

 

81+iucjYd9L._SL1500_

 

The kinds of books that definitely distract me during this long, hot week of annoyances.

Oh, and by the way…it is Thursday, I’ve been stuck at home all week, and they haven’t come yet!  I cancelled my hair stylist for today…just because they might come today.

I looked in the mirror and studied my locks…they can manage another week.

Blogging is something else that distracts me when I’m waiting for things….and I have done something on my blogs every day this week.

I have changed themes, headers, etc.  Did you notice that this blog has a new look?

So…now I’m off to grab my breakfast tray and enjoy a little munching.  What are you up to today?

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

***

REVIEW: SMALL BLESSINGS, BY MARTHA WOODROOF

18404204

 

 

Professor Tom Putnam is a bumbling, kind, and quiet individual, just making it a day at a time.

And then, out of nowhere, a chain of events unfold to turn his world topsy-turvy, but in ways that seem like gifts. First he meets Rose Callahan, a quirky woman who is the Assistant Manager at The Bookshop, near the university. She has been like a rolling stone her whole life, as she and her single mother moved from place to place. Almost as if they were afraid of settling down. What is it about Rose that, despite her nomadic history, gathers those she meets into a circle of warmth around her, making the world seem like it is bursting with sunshine?

Even Tom’s troubled and fragile wife Marjory is drawn to Rose.

Small Blessings: A Novel is one of those books that seemed to wrap itself around me like a cozy shawl, as each character brought something special to the canvas. Even loud and ebullient Iris adds her own unique presence, once we manage to see beneath her obnoxious demeanor, along with the somewhat cranky Agnes, Tom’s mother-in-law, who conceals a sharp legal mind behind her façade.

Most of all, among the unexpected gifts in each of their lives, the presence of young Henry will change everything about the predictable world they had all lived in for so long. But Henry comes with baggage…not only the kind that hides in the folds of his backpack, but the mysteries of his past. What, if anything, does another professor, Russell Jacobs, have to do with Henry? And why are all of these people keeping so many secrets?

Even as we wonder about the intricacies of their lives, we bumble along, almost like Tom, savoring the moments…and then, as startling as a flash of lightning, everyone is thrust into a dangerous situation. Who will save the day? And what will finally happen to make Rose realize that it is okay to be happy?

Set somewhere in Virginia, not too far from Charlottesville, this story is one that made me keep turning those pages, connecting with these characters and their lives, as if we might knock on their doors one day. Five stars.

CURL UP WITH INTROS/TEASERS – “BIG LITTLE LIES”

y8ekqo13031746531

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

Welcome to another Tuesday celebrating bookish events, from Tuesday/First Chapter/Intros, hosted by Bibliophile by the Sea; and Teaser Tuesdays hosted by Should Be Reading.

Today I am spotlighting an ARC that I will probably start reading tomorrow.  It is from a new favorite author, Liane Moriarty…and I know that many of you will recognize it:  Big Little Lies.

 

 

 

81+iucjYd9L._SL1500_

 

Intro:  “That doesn’t sound like a school trivia night,” said Mrs. Patty Ponder to Marie Antoinette.  “That sounds like a riot.”

The cat didn’t respond.  She was dozing on the couch and found school trivia nights to be trivial.

“Not interested, eh?  Let them eat cake!  Is that what you’re thinking?  They do eat a lot of cake, don’t they?  All those cake stalls.  Goodness me.  Although I don’t think any of the mothers ever actually eat them.  They’re all so sleek and skinny, aren’t they?  Like you.”

Marie Antoinette sneered at the compliment.  The “let them eat cake” thing had grown old a long time ago, and she’d recently heard one of Mrs. Ponder’s grandchildren say it was meant to be “let them eat brioche” and also that Marie Antoinette never said it in the first place.

Mrs. Ponder picked up her television remote and turned down the volume on Dancing with the Stars.  She’d turned it up loud earlier because of the sound of the heavy rain, but the rain had eased now.

She could hear people shouting.  Angry hollers crashed through the quiet, cold night air.  It was somehow hurtful for Mrs. Ponder to hear, as if all that rage were directed at her. (Mrs. Ponder had grown  up with an angry mother.)

***

Teaser:   Jane pulled up at a red light behind a big shiny SUV with its hazard lights blinking and watched a dark-haired woman hurry along the side of the road back to her car.  She wore a floaty blue summer dress and high strappy heels, and she smiled and waved apologetically, charmingly at Jane.  The morning sun caught one of her earrings, and it shone as if she’d been touched by something celestial.  (p. 13).

***

Blurb:   Sometimes it’s the little lies that turn out to be the most lethal. . . .A murder… . . . a tragic accident… . . . or just parents behaving badly?

What’s indisputable is that someone is dead.
But who did what?
Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:
Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).
Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.
New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.
Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.
***
I have been a fan of this author ever since I read The Husband’s Secret.  Now I must have every one of her books.  What do you think?  Did it grab you?  Would you keep reading?
***

Review: The From-Aways, by C. J. Hauser

410KHgwjn4L

 

 

 

 

Leah meets Henry in New York, but falls for him because of his oddities, as well as the stories he tells about his childhood in Maine. They marry too quickly, before they really know each other. Will they realize that they have nothing in common?

Quinn has been the caretaker during her mother’s illness, so when she dies, there is a void. Her mother’s last request is that she go to Menamon, Maine, to try to find the folk-singer father who abandoned them. Scrappy and smart-mouthed, Quinn gets a job at the local paper, an apartment above the town diner, and tries to shore up the courage to meet her father. But falling in love with her roommate, Rosie, was never part of the plan.

In alternating chapters, we follow Leah’s and Quinn’s first-person narratives, and learn each woman’s thoughts and feelings. Of the two, I liked Leah the best, as Quinn seemed too impulsive and careless, rushing blindly into all kinds of situations. Her girlfriend Rosie, was similar and before either of them could realize the extent of their poor choices, it would be too late.

A news story that is likely to divide the town further brings the two young women together on a hot-button issue. How can these two outsiders fit in? Will their pursuit of the perfect topic alter their position in the town? Will Leah’s marriage fall apart?

The From-Aways: A Novel is an engaging tale about small-town life…specifically, small-town life in a fisherman’s paradise. It is about people not wanting their town to change; people who love everything the way it has always been. When outsiders force changes on them, there will be hell to pay. 4.0 stars.

Curl up with Book Beginnings/Friday 56: “Small Blessings”

4-30-curlupandread-001-framed-book-beginnings2friday 56

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Welcome to some bookish fun today as we share Book Beginnings, hosted by Rose City Reader; and as we showcase The Friday 56 with Freda’s Voice.

To join in, just grab a book and share the opening lines…along with any thoughts you wish to give us; then turn to page 56 and excerpt anything on the page.

Then give us the title of the book, so others can add it to their lists!

If you have been wanting to participate, but haven’t yet tried, now is the time!

What better way to spend a Friday?

 

Today I’m happy to share an ARC from next week’s list:  Small Blessings, by Martha Woodroof, an inspiring tale of a small-town college professor, a remarkable new woman at the bookshop, and the ten-year old son he never knew he had.

 

 

18404204

 

Beginning:  There she was, as welcome in this insular community as fresh air in a multiplex, a woman who, rumor had it, risked being happy.  Tom had heard the most about her from Russell Jacobs, his colleague in the English Department, and now he was looking at her in the flesh, at this tall, slender, dark-haired creature, oddly stylish in her ill-fitting, baggy trousers and white T-shirt.

***

56:  Agnes hesitated, then shook her head decidedly.  “No, I’m teetering on the edge of maudlin as it is.  I hate maudlin drunks.”

“It beats argumentative ones.”

***

Blurb:  Tom Putnam has resigned himself to a quiet and half-fulfilled life. An English professor in a sleepy college town, he spends his days browsing the Shakespeare shelves at the campus bookstore, managing the oddball faculty in his department and caring, alongside his formidable mother-in-law, for his wife Marjory, a fragile shut-in with unrelenting neuroses, a condition exacerbated by her discovery of Tom’s brief and misguided affair with a visiting poetess a decade earlier.

Then, one evening at the bookstore, Tom and Marjory meet Rose Callahan, the shop’s charming new hire, and Marjory invites Rose to their home for dinner, out of the blue, her first social interaction since her breakdown. Tom wonders if it’s a sign that change is on the horizon, a feeling confirmed upon his return home, where he opens a letter from his former paramour, informing him he’d fathered a son who is heading Tom’s way on a train.  His mind races at the possibility of having a family after so many years of loneliness. And it becomes clear change is coming whether Tom’s ready or not.
A heartwarming story with a charmingly imperfect cast of characters to cheer for, Small Blessings‘s wonderfully optimistic heart that reminds us that sometimes, when it feels like life has veered irrevocably off track, the track shifts in ways we never can have imagined.
***
I have been eagerly awaiting this book, so now I am ready to totally engage with it.  What do you think?  Are you intrigued?
***