Monday, September 16, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past few weeks are:

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton
Retablos by Octavio Solis
The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr
The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America by Matt Kracht

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
The Flicker of Old Dreams by Susan Henderson
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhannon
Breaking the Ocean by Annahid Dashtgard
Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
The Ventriloquists by E.R. Ramzipoor
The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell
A Stranger at My Table by Ivo de Figueiredo
The Tubman Command by Elizabeth Cobbs
Something Like Breathing by Angela Readman
The Last Ocean by Nicci Gerrard
Vacationland by Sarah Stonich
The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner

Reviews posted this week:

The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America by Matt Kracht

Books still needing to have reviews written (as opposed to the ones that are simply awaiting posting):

Oh, Tama! by Mieko Kanai
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Exposed by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
Granny’s Got a Gun by Harper Lin
White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf
At Briarwood School for Girls by Michael Knight
The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel
All Ships Follow Me by Mieke Eerkens
Like This Afternoon Forever by Jaime Manrique
Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten
Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Dear Baba by Maryam Rafiee
Saint Everywhere by Mary Lea Carroll
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Tonic and Balm by Stephanie Allen
Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons
In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Slepikas
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
CinderGirl by Christina Meredith
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renee Lavoie
The Fragments by Toni Jordan
The Question Authority by Rachel Cline
The Plaza by Julie Satow
The Lonely Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya
To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari
Haben by Haben Girma
The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester
Educated by Tara Westover
State of the Union by Nick Hornby
Turbulence by David Szalay
What a Body Remembers by Karen Stefano
The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar
Questions I Am Asked About the Holocaust by Hedi Fried
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain
Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers by the New York Public Library
The Honey Bus by Meredith May
The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
Church of the Graveyard Saints by C. Joseph Greaves
Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery by John Gregory Brown
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
Advanced Physical Chemistry by Susannah Nix
Death of a Rainmaker by Laurie Lowenstein
No Good Asking by Fran Kimmel
Laurentian Divide by Sarah Stonich
The Abolitionist's Daughter by Diane C. McPhail
A London Country Diary by Tim Bradford
Crazy Cupid Love by Amanda Heger
A Moveable Feast edited by Don George
Tiny Hot Dogs by Mary Giuliani
Tomorrow's Bread by Anna Jean Mayhew
Love You Hard by Abby Maslin
Unfurled by Michelle Bailat-Jones
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton
Retablos by Octavio Solis
The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr

Monday Mailbox

This past week's mailbox arrivals:

The Man in the White Linen Suit by David Handler came from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first in this series about a ghostwriter and novelist and his faithful basset hound and have the second on my to be read shelves so I am anticipating being pleased as punch by the third in the series as well.

Recipes from a Down East Inn by Mark Hodesh, Margaret Parker, and Katherine Gould came from me for me

I heard about this on a podcast and I just couldn't resist even though I am currently trying to cook through and pass along my obscene cookbook collection.






Deep Sea and Foreign Going by Rose George came from me for me.

Although a book about container shipping sounds pretty dull, this was talked about on the BBC's podcast A Good Read and it piqued my interest when all three readers talked about how fascinating they had found it despite their initial trepidation.

Unfinished Business by Vivian Gornick came from Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

I love reading about the books that have shaped other people so I am looking forward to this collection of essays for sure.

Westering Women by Sandra Dallas came from St. Martin's Press.

I have enjoyed Dallas' western set novels in the past and this one about a woman who answers an ad to go to California in search of a husband on the Overland Trail looks like a really good one.

A Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier came from Henry Holt.

My daughter adored the Ruby Read series so I might have gotten this for her (but need to pre-read it, of course). Plus she's away in college so she can't possibly know what she's missing if I read it first. LOL!

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins came from Flatiron Books.

When a Mexican bookstore owner's husband crosses the head of a drug cartel, she and their small son must flee to the north, joining so many others in trying to reach the US. This sounds timely and important and my friend who has already read it said I need to pick it up next.

Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore came from Flatiron Books.

About a woman who time travels in her own life, but in no particular order leaving her permanently discombobulated, this sounds amazing to me.

Light Changes Everything by Nancy E. Turner came from Thomas Dunne Books.

I loved These Is My Words when I read it many years ago so I look forward to returning to this world, now as seen by first book main character Sarah Prine's niece.

Good Boy by Jennifer Finney Boylan came from Celadon Books.

I do love books about dogs and with winsome dogs on the cover (although I worry they'll die in the telling of the story) so this memoir about seven dogs who have shared Finney Boylan's life and heart should be really good. (I suspect many of the dogs do die so I'll probably need tissue to read it.)

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler came from St. Martin's Press.

I'm going to be on a book club panel with Ms. Fowler in November (if you want to come, let me know!) but I'd want to read her novel about two families in an affluent neighborhood who live next door to each other, their teenagers who fall in love, and the complications of sharing a property line with someone you don't agree with even if I wasn't.

Otherhood by William Sutcliffe came from Bloomsbury.

I'm hoping that this novel about three mothers who drop in on their thirty-something sons to try and figure out why these sons don't seem to have figured out adulting will be hilarous. Plus there's going to be a movie and I always have to read the book first.

Roxy by Esther Gerritsen came from me for me.

A road trip novel set in motion by Roxy's husband being killed in a car accident with his lover, I am interested to see how this young widow puts her life back together again.

The Second Chance Supper Club by Nicole Meier came from me for me.

Estranged sisters, a clandestine supper club, and a chance at forgiveness. What else could a reader want?

All the Wild Hungers by Karen Babine came from me for me.

I am drawn to this cover and to the idea of essays written by a woman who cooked for her mother while her mother was undergoing treatment for cancer, especially since I cooked for my parents while my mother did the same.

If you want to see the marvelous goodies in other people's mailboxes, make sure to visit Mailbox Monday and have fun seeing how we are all doing our part to keep the USPS and delivery services viable.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Review: The Field Guide to Dumb Birds of North America by Matt Kracht

I am not a birder by any stretch of the imagination. I cannot identify many birds off the top of my head. I do not have bird feeders in my yard to attract our feathered friends. But I do enjoy listening to them chirping and peeping in the trees, even if I can't ever follow their trills to their location. I enjoy watching their little head tilts and apparent curiosity when they catch sight of me as they hop along the deck railing or from branch to branch of the backyard trees. Their preening makes me laugh as I admire the intricacy of their feathers. So I consider them welcome visitors to my yard but my investment and expertise in them is nil. As I was browsing at the bookstore one day, I saw this intriguing little book by the cash wrap and picked it up. Of course it had to come home with me. Now I'm hoping to spot some of the annoying little twit(terer)s Matt Kracht has drawn and described here in his entertaining, profanity-filled field guide.

Modeled after actual field guides, this snarky little spoof of a book has sections on the birds, bird watching tips, seasons, extinct species, bird feeders, and more. The section on the birds themselves are the most entertaining, of course, and that is subdivided into author created bird classifications. Kracht has grouped the birds in the categories of Typical Birds; Backyard Assholes; Hummingbirds, Weirdos, and Flycatchers; Egotists and Show-offs; Fuckers; Floaters, Sandbirds, and Dork-legs; and Murder birds. He illustrates each entry with quick, appealing sketches roughly colored in. The birds are given sarcastically derisive names (the real name is listed below the invented one) and the entry on each bird is short, pithy, and often hilariously annoyed. For example, the seagull's entry reads in part " The commonly used term 'seagull' is actually a catch-all for the many different types of gull and it doesn't describe a specific bird. Practically speaking, this doesn't matter because they're all the same trash bird at heart." His entry on the Canada Goose starts off sarcastically, "Thanks a lot, Canada." Kracht's primary complaints about birds are their annoying and constant loudness and their tendency to poop everywhere. Despite his irreverent, negative and fairly accurate descriptions, it is clear that Kracht actually enjoys birds quite a lot (and not just roasted or baked). The biggest problem with this book is the positively microscopic print but that's a design flaw, not a content flaw. The humor does wear a little thin over the course of a reading unless you read it in small snatches but as long as profanity doesn't offend you, you'll probably giggle along often enough to make this worth reading. I know I did.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme was hosted by Breaking the Spine and is meant to highlight some great pre-publication books we all can't wait to get our grubby little mitts on. I'm choosing to continue the tradition even though she has stopped.

Inheritance by Evelyn Toynton.

The book is being released by Other Press on September 17, 2019.

The book's jacket copy says: In this luminous novel about romance and illusion--and what's left of love when they're stripped away--an American Anglophile is drawn into the lives of a disintegrating aristocratic family.

After the sudden death of her husband, Annie Devereaux flees to England, site of the nostalgic fantasies her father spun for her before he deserted the family. A chance encounter in London leads Annie to cancel her return to New York and move in with Julian, the disaffected, moody son of Helena Denby, a famous British geneticist. As their relationship progresses, Annie meets Julian's sisters Isabel and Sasha, each of them fragile in her own way, and becomes infatuated with visions of their idyllic childhood in England's West Country. But the more she uncovers about Julian's past, the more he explodes into rage and violence. Finally tearing herself away, Annie winds up adrift in London, rescued from her loneliness only when she and Isabel form an unexpected bond.

Slowly, with Isabel as her reluctant guide, Annie learns of the emotional devastation that Helena's warped arrogance, her monstrous will to dominate, inflicted on her children. The family who once embodied Annie's idealized conception of England is actually caught in a nightmare of betrayal and guilt that spirals inexorably into tragedy.

Monday, September 9, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past few weeks are:

Tomorrow's Bread by Anna Jean Mayhew
Love You Hard by Abby Maslin
Unfurled by Michelle Bailat-Jones
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
The Flicker of Old Dreams by Susan Henderson
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhannon
Breaking the Ocean by Annahid Dashtgard
Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
The Ventriloquists by E.R. Ramzipoor
The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell
A Stranger at My Table by Ivo de Figueiredo
The Tubman Command by Elizabeth Cobb
Something Like Breathing by Angela Readman
The Last Ocean by Nicci Gerrard
Vacationland by Sarah Stonich
Retablos by Octavio Solis
The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Reviews posted this week:

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig
Congratulations, Who Are You Again? by Harrison Scott Key
Living the Dream by Lauren Berry

Books still needing to have reviews written (as opposed to the ones that are simply awaiting posting):

The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handle
Oh, Tama! by Mieko Kanai
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Exposed by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
Granny’s Got a Gun by Harper Lin
White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf
At Briarwood School for Girls by Michael Knight
The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel
All Ships Follow Me by Mieke Eerkens
Like This Afternoon Forever by Jaime Manrique
Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten
Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Dear Baba by Maryam Rafiee
Saint Everywhere by Mary Lea Carroll
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Tonic and Balm by Stephanie Allen
Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons
In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Slepikas
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
CinderGirl by Christina Meredith
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renee Lavoie
The Fragments by Toni Jordan
The Question Authority by Rachel Cline
The Plaza by Julie Satow
The Lonely Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya
To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari
Haben by Haben Girma
The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester
Educated by Tara Westover
State of the Union by Nick Hornby
Turbulence by David Szalay
What a Body Remembers by Karen Stefano
The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar
Questions I Am Asked About the Holocaust by Hedi Fried
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain
Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers by the New York Public Library
The Honey Bus by Meredith May
The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
Church of the Graveyard Saints by C. Joseph Greaves
Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery by John Gregory Brown
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
Advanced Physical Chemistry by Susannah Nix
Death of a Rainmaker by Laurie Lowenstein
No Good Asking by Fran Kimmel
Laurentian Divide by Sarah Stonich
The Abolitionist's Daughter by Diane C. McPhail
A London Country Diary by Tim Bradford
Crazy Cupid Love by Amanda Heger
A Moveable Feast edited by Don George
Tiny Hot Dogs by Mary Giuliani
Tomorrow's Bread by Anna Jean Mayhew
Love You Hard by Abby Maslin
Unfurled by Michelle Bailat-Jones
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland

Monday Mailbox

This past week's mailbox arrivals:

Meet Me in Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb came from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.


A novel about a young woman named Sophie in Monaco who becomes a close friend of Grace Kelly's, their long friendship, and the man who cannot stop thinking of Sophie, this sounds perfectly magical.

Obsessed by Elisabeth Bronfen came from me for me


I am salivating over this culinary memoir and cookbook written by a well known cultural critic.

If you want to see the marvelous goodies in other people's mailboxes, make sure to visit Mailbox Monday and have fun seeing how we are all doing our part to keep the USPS and delivery services viable.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Review: Living the Dream by Lauren Berry

Being a grownup is hard. When our older two children went off to college, we told them that we didn't expect them to know what they wanted to do with their lives at 18. As the oldest moves into the real world, we still don't expect him to know where his path is. Obviously his first job (yay for a fully employed kid!) is the first step on his path but there's no reason to expect that he knows with any certainty where that path will ultimately lead. Even people who have long had a very good idea of what they want to do (child #2 here) don't know how the path will get them where they want to go. And it's the stops along the way to a goal that shape a person, that make them who they are, and if they're lucky, turn them into adults. Lauren Berry's novel, Living the Dream, entertainingly details the life detour main character Emma has to make as she works toward her ultimate goal of being a writer.

Emma works at an advertising agency where she is quite good at her job as a "creative" but is often unrecognized and certainly underpaid and unfulfilled. What she really wants is to be a writer. From her best friend Clementine's perspective, Emma's life looks pretty good as after a year abroad doing an intensive and well-respected but very expensive graduate program, Clem has had to move back into her mother's house and work as a bartender while she waits impatiently to be discovered as the talented screenwriter she is. Neither Em nor Clem envisioned her adult life looking the way it is and both feel stuck waiting for their dreams to come true.

This is a funny and delightful look at the lives of young women in London figuring themselves and their lives out. Emma is struggling personally and professionally, her one glimmer of professional happiness being in the blog she writes on the side, her outlet for truth. Otherwise she is swamped in the tediousness of office life and in feeling like a sellout helping advertise companies in whom she doesn't believe. Clem doesn't want to sell out to the corporate world but she isn't moving forward any faster than Emma and she's always broke to boot. Both Em and Clem want to find happiness and fulfillment, which they try to do through a lot of boozy nights out, dating disasters, and kvetching to each other and their assorted friends but it takes actual movement and risk for anything to actually change in their lives.

Berry has written a terrifically entertaining novel about launching into adulthood, chasing dreams, and finding yourself. Emma is a complete delight and the cast of secondary characters around her are compelling and real feeling.  Clem is billed as a second main character but she really plays second fiddle to Emma in the novel.  There is certainly a lot of true to life angst here but the humor balances it out nicely so the reader never feels as if she's wallowing with the characters. As a mother of young adults, this novel does make me sad to think so many newly minted grownups are so unhappy and stuck in their lives, but it also gives me hope that finding the right path will happen, things will look brighter, and not everything along the way will be terrible. This quirky coming of age novel should appeal to others who remember their twenties with a shudder and a sigh of relief that they are through that fraught time and by those living through it who want to see themselves in these fun-loving but scared to make a move reflections of themselves.

Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers and the publisher for sending me a copy of the book to review.

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