MY BOOKISH (AND NOT SO BOOKISH) THOUGHTS: FAMILY DRAMA & ENGAGING READS

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Welcome to another Thursday, and the ramblings that make up My Bookish (and Not So Bookish Thoughts), hosted by Bookishly Boisterous.

This Saturday is my birthday, and we’ll be gathering at my daughter’s house on Sunday to celebrate.  She loves to cook, for which I am grateful.  When we have the get-togethers that I host, we always meet at a restaurant (see below for one of our gatherings).

 

 

 

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I tell her that I cooked a lot when I was young and when the kids were young…and she says she doesn’t remember that.

Well, I guess she probably doesn’t, because the big dinners ended with the divorce, and she was three.  My work hours were long, so the dinners were quick after I got home.  Does it sound like I’m rationalizing?  LOL

The truth of the matter:  I stopped enjoying spending time in the kitchen after the divorce.  Plus, I was working all day and going to graduate school three nights a week.  Do I get a pass NOW?  Still laughing.

My sons never complain about it, but she doesn’t actually complain, and insists she loves to cook…but then there is always a mention or two.  So maybe there are some issues here…maybe she doesn’t want to be the cook for our get-togethers.  No worries…I am perfectly happy going to restaurants.

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On to safer, bookish topics. 

This week’s books have been pretty engaging so far.

 

Dear Daughter (click for review) was not a favorite, but it did keep me reading.

 

 

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Ruin Falls (click for my review) was very good!  Loved turning those pages and couldn’t seem to put it down.

 

 

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My current read is Further Out Than You Thought, and it is definitely different.  But I keep picking it up and reading.

 

 

 

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In the Neverland that is Los Angeles, where make-believe seems real, three dreamers find themselves on the verge of transformation. Twenty-five-year-old poet Gwendolyn Griffin works as a stripper to put herself through graduate school. Her perpetually stoned boyfriend Leo dresses in period costume to hawk his music downtown, and seems to be losing his already tenuous grip on reality. And their flamboyant best friend and neighbor, nightclub crooner Count Valiant, is slowly withering away.

When the city explodes in violence after the Rodney King verdict, the chaos becomes a catalyst for change. Valiant is invigorated, Leo plans a new stunt—walking into east L.A., naked, holding a white flag—and Gwen, discovering she is pregnant, is confronted by troubling questions. Can Leo become a good, dependable father? Can she leave the club life behind, or will the city’s spell prove too seductive?

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Those of us who were living in California during the 1990s will never forget the riots.  I can even remember the riots from way back, in the sixties (Watts).

Explosive is a mild descriptor.

I am curious about how these events will play out in the book.

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What are you pondering/reading today?  I hope you’ll stop by and share.

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REVIEW: RUIN FALLS, BY JENNY MILCHMAN

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When Paul and Liz Daniels and their two children, Reid and Ally, leave for a vacation one day, they are headed to a place that neither wants to go.

To the farm where Paul grew up and where his parents still live, to the grandparents the children haven’t seen in a very long time.

Paul’s approach to everything in their lives is all about control and changing the world for the better. As a professor, he is used to adulation and has come to expect it. Demand it, even. Liz does her best to cope, but in doing so, she has become more submissive than she thought she would ever be.

Everything changes after the family spends the night in a hotel, and Liz awakens to find the children missing. Something about it isn’t right, however. Paul’s attitude is amiss.

Soon she realizes what has happened when her husband also goes missing.

Over the subsequent weeks, we follow Liz’s efforts to find her children, with some help from an old friend who is a cop. But the search is unofficial, since one parent taking the children from the other is not kidnapping, not when there is no custody order. And not in this state.

Liz’s search extends from Paul’s students and assistants to a strange website, and in the end, the search uncovers unexpected secrets and the discovery of something truly horrific.

Set in the Adirondacks, Ruin Falls: A Novel is a sinister story with creepy characters, some of whom we learn more about in alternating chapters. What do all of these strange individuals have in common? Where are they and what is their agenda?

A story I could not put down, I would recommend it for anyone who enjoys family drama and suspense thrillers. This story will keep you up at night. 5.0 stars.

CURL UP WITH INTROS/TEASERS – “FURTHER OUT THAN YOU THOUGHT”

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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.

Welcome to another Tuesday of delightful sharing, and adding to our TBR stacks.  Today I am spotlighting an ARC from Amazon Vine:  Further Out Than You Thought, by Michaela Carter.

 

 

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Intro:  It had happened.  She’d crossed the finish line.

The transformation was complete.  She was no longer her body.  Her body was not her.  The separation was palpable.

Had you been there, she’d have told you to come closer.

Closer, she’d have said.  I’ll demonstrate.

Can you feel my nipple, the taut nub against your lip, your tongue, your teeth?

I don’t know you?

No, I don’t.

Is that a problem?  It feels wonderful; it means nothing—nothing more than the fact of itself.  It just is, this meeting of flesh.

Is there anywhere else you care to touch?

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Teaser:  In their apartment, Gwen watched the news—the fires, the looters, the inferno the City of Angels had become.  The worst the country had seen since the Watts Riots of ’65.  (p. 110).

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Blurb:  Combining the eloquence and raw sensuality of Jeanette Winterson with the romantic, renegade spirit of Patti Smith, Further Out Than You Thought is a taut and erotically charged literary debut, set against the chaos of the 1992 L.A. riots, about three people searching for identity and meaning from award-winning poet and indie bookshop co-founder Michaela Carter.

In the Neverland that is Los Angeles, where make-believe seems real, three dreamers find themselves on the verge of transformation. Twenty-five-year-old poet Gwendolyn Griffin works as a stripper to put herself through graduate school. Her perpetually stoned boyfriend Leo dresses in period costume to hawk his music downtown, and seems to be losing his already tenuous grip on reality. And their flamboyant best friend and neighbor, nightclub crooner Count Valiant, is slowly withering away.

When the city explodes in violence after the Rodney King verdict, the chaos becomes a catalyst for change. Valiant is invigorated, Leo plans a new stunt—walking into east L.A., naked, holding a white flag—and Gwen, discovering she is pregnant, is confronted by troubling questions. Can Leo become a good, dependable father? Can she leave the club life behind, or will the city’s spell prove too seductive?

Combining poetry and sensuality with an edgy urban sensibility, Further Out Than You Thought is a celebration of life and a haunting story of love, friendship, and one woman’s quest for redemption.

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What do you think?  I love the idea of revisiting a time in California history when all of us who lived here back then were shaken to the core by events that literally exploded.

What are you sharing today?

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MY BOOKISH (AND NOT SO BOOKISH) THOUGHTS: SAVORING THE MOMENTS

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Welcome to another Thursday, and the ramblings that make up My Bookish (and Not So Bookish Thoughts), hosted by Bookishly Boisterous.

Last weekend I had a lovely dinner at my daughter’s new home, the one vacated by my youngest son.  Everything is coming together in her inimitable and colorful style, but she still needs a few pieces of furniture.  So I offered and she accepted my little dining room table that I have had for years…and which she also used in my guest house a few years ago.

Here’s a photo (below) that I took of it last Christmas.  It is small, but will work nicely in her little dining area.

 

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I wrote a post about my rearranging of my space again, here at Guess What?  My Interiors Are In Flux Again.  Here’s what took the place of my table and chairs:

 

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In honor of my new reading plan, I have been savoring a mystery/thriller this week.  One that is a part of a series.  The Carrier, by Sophie Hannah (click for review), had lots of puzzling elements that kept me guessing.

 

 

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Currently I am reading and enjoying Accidents of Marriage, by Randy Susan Meyers.  This is my first by this author, and I am loving it so far.

 

 

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From the bestselling author of The Comfort of Lies, an engrossing look at the darker side of a marriage—and at how an ordinary family responds to an extraordinary crisis.

Maddy is a social worker trying to balance her career and three children. Years ago, she fell in love with Ben, a public defender, drawn to his fiery passion, but now he’s lashing out at her during his periodic verbal furies. She vacillates between tiptoeing around him and asserting herself for the sake of their kids—which works to keep a fragile peace—until the rainy day when they’re together in the car and Ben’s volatile temper gets the best of him, leaving Maddy in the hospital fighting for her life.

Randy Susan Meyers takes us inside the hearts and minds of her characters, alternating among the perspectives of Maddy, Ben, and their fourteen-year-old daughter. Accidents of Marriage is a provocative and stunning novel that will resonate deeply with women from all walks of life, ultimately revealing the challenges of family, faith, and forgiveness.

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What has your week been like?  Are you engaged in your bookish/non-bookish moments?

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REVIEW: THE BOOKSELLER, BY CYNTHIA SWANSON

22635858Kitty Miller and Frieda Green own and run a bookstore in Denver, Colorado. It is the 1960s, and their idyllic world includes books and all things bookish.

But at night, Kitty lives in an alternate world created in her dreams: she is Katharyn Andersson, married to Lars, with triplets: Mitch, Missy, and Michael. And Michael is autistic.

When Kitty first begins visiting her dream world, her life is almost perfect. But as she spends more time there, she realizes the challenges of this world.

And then, at some point, she must question which world is real? And which world is a dream?

A captivating tale that took me back to what life was like for me in the 1960s where I could totally relate to both Kitty and Katharyn and what choices were involved for each version of the young woman she was.

The Bookseller: A Novel was impossible to put down, and I didn’t want it to end. Which version of reality would we finally have to accept? And what did these dream worlds tell us about the young woman and the choices she had to make? 5.0 stars.

MY BOOKISH (AND NOT SO BOOKISH) THOUGHTS — SORTING & ELIMINATING

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Welcome to another Thursday, and the ramblings that make up My Bookish (and Not So Bookish Thoughts), hosted by Bookishly Boisterous.

What a strange week this has been!  Okay, I know I have said that before…but that does not rule out the possibility that this could have been ANOTHER strange week.

After reading The House We Grew Up In, (click for review), I suddenly felt an urge to avoid becoming a hoarder.

 

 

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Not that I am anywhere near that, since I have collections, (probably a lot of collections, including my books), but I believe that they are arranged attractively.  I have some of my precious things indoors, while others reside in bins.  In the garage.

I rotate them in and out…sometimes.

But after reading the book, I visualized myself a few (maybe even many) years from now, dying, and my kids having to deal with my stuff.  So much better if I deal with it first…right?  And make it manageable.

So I have been going through the bins.  What I mostly wanted to eliminate was the old paperwork from taxes, houses I had purchased and tried to purchase, houses sold, etc.  And all of the detritus that went into that part of my life.  Not to mention all the various manuscripts submitted over the years, before anything was published.  I couldn’t believe I still had all of that stuff!

But when I moved (downsized) into this place seven years ago, everything was dumped into those bins.  To be dealt with eventually.

Eventually is now.

 

 

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Here (above) is the next-to-the-last bin I went through earlier today…followed by the final one.  There was lots of sorting involved.  And quite a bit of shredding.  I still have a little bit of shredding to do, but it is manageable.  I’m saving that for tomorrow, in case I find myself with nothing else to do…LOL.

 

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These remaining bins (above) have cute little bears and dolls, etc., in them…I haven’t yet decided if they can stay…or go.

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Meanwhile, the bookish part of my week came with a startling revelation. 

I had entered a Mt. TBR Challenge at the beginning of the year, in which I pledged to read 36 books from all those purchased before this year.  I thought it would be easy enough, until I got to the “bottom of the barrel,” so to speak.

The books remaining on this stack were books I had avoided reading for numerous reasons…and after I had struggled to read one of them today, and pondered that I had some more of similar ilk to read before I was done…I closed the book, shoved all of those remaining books aside, and said “THAT’S IT!  NO MORE.”

This will be an incomplete challenge, and I am okay with it.  I don’t want to read those remaining books when I have so many more that I wish to read.  And I had already finished 32 older books, so that was no small feat.

The revelation also means that I do not plan to join ANY challenges in the coming year.  I want to read what I wish to read and nothing else.  So there!

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Do you ever reach conclusions that change everything about the way you approach your reading?  Do you feel giddy afterwards?  I definitely do.

And no, the remaining books are perfectly lovely and I may even read one or more of them at some future point…or maybe not.  I just don’t want to feel as though I have to read them.

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As I mentioned, it has been a strange week!  What was yours like?

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MY BOOKISH (AND NOT SO BOOKISH) THOUGHTS: CELEBRATING FAMILY

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Welcome to another Thursday, and the ramblings that make up My Bookish (and Not So Bookish Thoughts), hosted by Bookishly Boisterous.

Today is the one-year anniversary of this event.  So we should do something really special…right?

All week long, I  have been feeling the bittersweet memories of how my two youngest children, now adults, have been close by for their whole lives.  Yes, hard to imagine. Especially since my oldest two “flew the coop” a long time ago, with the eldest a European now; an expatriate, if you will, currently living in Berlin.

The second one, soon to have a birthday, is not that far away:  four hours, in LA.

But my youngest son is now living in the northern corner of our state, but on the bright side, it will be a beautiful place to visit.  Here is a photo he sent of his view of the world in this coastal community.

 

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According to Google maps, it is 7-1/2 hours to drive, and 450 miles.  Not that bad.  My daughter-in-law said it was a TWELVE hour drive, but maybe they took the long way.

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I have lived all over this state, from the Central Valley, to San Francisco, to Sacramento…and now here again.  Stuck in the Central Valley.  But, as my kids are showing me, there are options.

My daughter is still here, so I will probably remain…at least for a while.  We are excited, because she moved into my son and daughter-in-law’s house, and is renting it from them.

So we can still go there for family events.  I love that!

Meanwhile, last Saturday, we gathered together, my daughter and her son, my youngest son and his wife and two of his kids…to celebrate.  Dinner at Olive Garden.  Many glasses tipped, some tears, mostly from Fiona, who has never lived far from her dad.

 

Fiona as a redhead

 

Like her Aunt Heather, the hair stylist (below),  Fiona changes her hair color frequently.  Now she is a brunette.  With a little of the trademark red in the highlights.

 

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I can’t wait to see what Heather will do to the house, in putting her own touches on it.  Interestingly enough, she has lived in a house that her brother vacated, back in 2000, when she took over my guesthouse in the foothills, after her brother moved out.

I sold that house a few years later, but here’s what she did to it during her tenancy, the kitchen and great room in golden hues:

 

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Here’s the bathroom in hues of reddish orange:

 

 

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I have fond memories of those days.  But not to turn maudlin about the past and the memories, on to bookish thoughts and this collection of horror tales I am reading, just in time for the season:

 

The Corn Maiden (and Other Nightmares), by Joyce Carol Oates.  I have read the title story of 137 pages:

 

 

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The story turned out better than I had imagined…but I’m almost afraid to continue!  Has anyone read this one?  Now I’m ready to continue, in spite of my misgivings.  I’ve had this book on my shelves since 2011.

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Happy anniversary!

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