Sunday, April 5, 2020

Lovely Books and Things - 4.5.20

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)

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HAPPY THINGS:

1. Yummy new cooking recipe - creamy Cauliflower Cashew Soup

2. Getting the creativity flowing - working on completing projects (embroidery for 25 million stitches project, crochet throw blanket and knit cardigan sweater) previously started

3. Spotting something new in Golden Gate Park - a wheel thing, SkyStar - a traveling ferris wheel ride originally set to open in April, but now, who knows when???


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KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH BOOKSTORES AND AUTHORS

Book Passages Conversations with Authors:
Live sessions with the writers and thinkers most committed to America’s independent bookstores

The sessions start this weekend 7:00est/4:00pst.

Check out the author line-up (here)


For Review:

The Sweeney Sisters
by Lian Dolan
courtesy of publisher - Thanks!
-Women's Fiction | Goodreads


Bought:

Duke Darcy's Castle
(Dare to Defy #3)
by Syrie James
-Romance, Historical | Goodreads

Little Gods
by Meng Jin
-Historical, Literary, China | Goodreads


AND watched: on DVD

The Third Man (1949)
Director: Carol Reed
Screenplay and based on book by: Graham Greene
Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Alida Valli
-Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller | imdb | my rating: 5

Pulp novelist Holly Martins travels to shadowy, postwar Vienna, only to find himself investigating the mysterious death of an old friend, Harry Lime.

AWESOME classic. Watched this in preparation for a Vienna trip which got postponed this month. Gave us ideas to take photos with a Dutch angle when we do finally go ;-)
~*~

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

*** THANKS to those on the front line during these times ***

Stay healthy! Be safe!

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Friday, April 3, 2020

What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume

What I Like About Me
by Jenna Guillaume

Just released (US): April 1, 2020
Publisher: Peachtree Publishing Company
Genre: YA, Romance, Australia
Hardback: 304
Rating: 5
Goodreads
Excerpt
Facebook

First sentence(s):
3 things I discovered today:
1. Ms. Singh is a sadistic sumbitch who thinks it's a great idea to assign homework over vacation.

You know all those movies where teenagers have, like, THE SUMMER OF THEIR LIVES?

This summer is probably not going to be that.

Source: Everything that's happened since yesterday ...

The last thing sixteen-year-old Maisie Martin thought she'd be doing this summer is entering a beauty pageant.

Not when she's spent most of her life hiding her body from everyone.

Not when her Dad is AWOL for Christmas and her gorgeous older sister has returned to rock Maisie's shaky confidence. And her best friend starts going out with the boy she's always loved.

But Maisie's got something to prove.

As she writes down all the ways this summer is going from bad to worse in her school-assignment journal, what starts as a homework torture-device might just end up being an account of how Maisie didn't let anything, or anyone, hold her back...


My two-bits:

Fun YA story told in a journal entry mode. Just right for these days in shelter. Might get you interested in binge-ing action films starring Arnold Schwarzenegger or the Rock. Maybe even a re-watch of Dirty Dancing - more specifically, the final dance scene ;-)

I liked the self-discovery and growth with the protagonist. Issues of body weight, image as well family dealings keep this gal writing in her journal and kept me reading.

Also, lots of romance, crush-ing and friend interactions to keep the drama flowing.

~*~

* review copy courtesy of publisher

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Mary Toft; or, the Rabbit Queen by Dexter Palmer

Mary Toft; or, the Rabbit Queen
by Dexter Palmer

Published: 2019
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Genre: Historical
Hardback: 319
Rating: 5
Goodreads | Website


First sentence(s):
The convoy of decrepit coaches and wagons that constituted Nicholas Fox's exhibition of medical curiosities rolled into the village of Godalming on a Friday in early September 1726, soon after sunrise.

"...based on a true story—in 1726 in the small town of Godalming, England, a young woman confounds the medical community by giving birth to dead rabbits."

Surgeon John Howard is a rational man. His apprentice Zachary knows John is reluctant to believe anything that purports to exist outside the realm of logic. But even John cannot explain how or why Mary Toft, the wife of a local farmer, manages to give birth to a dead rabbit. When this singular event becomes a regular occurrence, John realizes that nothing in his experience as a village physician has prepared him to deal with a situation as disturbing as this. He writes to several preeminent surgeons in London, three of whom quickly arrive in the small town of Godalming ready to observe and opine. When Mary's plight reaches the attention of King George, Mary and her doctors are summoned to London, where Zachary experiences for the first time a world apart from his small-town existence, and is exposed to some of the darkest corners of the human soul. All the while, Mary lies in bed, waiting for another birth, as doubts begin to blossom among the surgeons and a growing group of onlookers grow impatient for another miracle...


My two-bits:

Just the right kind of whimsical craziness. And based on a true story.

Loved how this was written - really felt the time period, place and people.

~*~

* part of the Tournament of Books 2020 (here)

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Happy Release: What I Like About Me by Jenna Guillaume

What I Like About Me
by Jenna Guillaume
-YA, Romance | Goodreads
Release date (US): April 1, 2020

You know all those movies where teenagers have, like, THE SUMMER OF THEIR LIVES?

This summer is probably not going to be that.

Source: Everything that's happened since yesterday ...

The last thing sixteen-year-old Maisie Martin thought she'd be doing this summer is entering a beauty pageant.

Not when she's spent most of her life hiding her body from everyone.

Not when her Dad is AWOL for Christmas and her gorgeous older sister has returned to rock Maisie's shaky confidence. And her best friend starts going out with the boy she's always loved.

But Maisie's got something to prove.

As she writes down all the ways this summer is going from bad to worse in her school-assignment journal, what starts as a homework torture-device might just end up being an account of how Maisie didn't let anything, or anyone, hold her back...


Excerpt: (from pages 46–53)

Oh, DJ, what a day. It started out bad, and it ended up worse.

Let’s start with the bad, shall we? Don’t worry, we’ll get to the worse stuff in time.

BIKINI SHOPPING.

Sadly, real life is not like the movies. There was no montage of Anna and me trying on various outfits, pulling faces, dancing around and having a glorious time, while a track like “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” played over the top. There was no “stick you” moment to snobby salespeople, no triumphant moment of glory when I found the perfect bikini. There was definitely no finding a magical item of clothing that somehow fit both me and Anna and would take us on adventures we’ve never even dreamed of.

Here’s what there was:

Anna: “We’re looking for an amazing swimsuit for my amazing friend.”

Salesperson: “What’s your size?”

Me: *mumbles incoherently*

“We have this piece and this piece available in that size.”

Anna: “That’s it?”

Me: *dying*

Anna: “Come on, Maisie, let’s try that place down the road.”

End scene. Repeat four times over, with only slight variations, such as:

Salesperson: “Sorry, we don’t carry that size.”

OR

Salesperson: “You could try these separates? They look great together!” (When they didn’t match at all.)

Finally, we reached a shop that had absolutely gorgeous swimsuit AND the salesperson said they carried my size. I almost felt hopeful. Almost. Then I saw the price tags. A top alone cost at least $150 and a one-piece was over $200.

“Come on, let’s get out of here,” I said, and walked out.

“What are you doing? They have some really nice things,” Anna said as she followed after me.

“Did you see the prices?! I told you this would be impossible.”

Anna bit her lip. “Hey, I think there’s one more store we haven’t tri—”

“Anna, I love you, but come on. It’s time to give up.”

“No! The perfect swimsuit could be waiting for you in there. You won’t know unless you at least take a look.”

She grabbed my hand and practically dragged me to the last store. I was in there for all of three seconds before I froze, staring up at two huge posters behind the counter.

Anna looked up to see what had caught my attention.“Oh my god, is that your sister?”

Yep. There was Eva, on stage, in a blue-sequined bikini and high, high heels, her tanned and toned body posed, poised, and perfect—the words “this could be you” scrawled over her flat stomach. And there was Eva again, this time in a pink strapless evening dress, a grin on her face, tears in her eyes, and a tiara on her head, with the words “Enter Now!” over her perky (thanks to the chicken fillets I knew were stuffed inside her bra) cleavage.

I spun around, walked straight out of the store, and kept walking down the road.

“Maisie, wait! What was that?” Anna said, chasing after me.

“It’s this ridiculous pageant they do here every year: Cobbers Bay Miss Teen Queen,” I said, affecting an announcer voice. “Eva won when she was sixteen. Guess she’s part of the advertising now.”

Anna was quiet. She knows Eva and I don’t get on, although she doesn’t know the full details of why. I’ve always been too embarrassed to tell her—to tell anyone.

Then she said, “Who cares about Eva! Why don’t we go back and actually look in that shop? You never know—”

“I do know. It’s not going to happen.”

“You’re so stubborn sometimes.”

I stuck my tongue out at her, and she stuck out hers back.

“Seriously, let’s just go to the beach,” I said.

“Okay, but…what are you going to wear?”

I let out a fake-sob-that-almost-wasn’t-fake.

“Look, why don’t you show me the swimsuits you have?” Anna said gently. “They can’t be that bad. They’ve gotta be better than those board shorts you were wearing, honestly.”

We went back to the cabin, and I put on my swimsuit. The expression on Anna’s face said, I’m trying to keep a straight face and, oh god, how do I say this nicely, but all her mouth said was, “Ummm…”

“It’s alright,” I said. “Let’s just go.” I put my jeans and t-shirt back on over the top of my swimsuit, and didn’t take them off all day.

Not when I was sweating like pig iron on the beach, while everyone else went in the water.

Not when Sebastian said to me for the second time, “You coming, Maise?” and I said, “Nah,” and then he said, “C’mon, aren’t you boiling?” and I said, “Nah,” while trying to subtly wipe the sweat off my upper lip with my equally sweaty arm.

And definitely not when Beamer decided to intermittently run from the water up to where I was sitting and shake himself off above me like a goddamn dog, saying, “Come on, Maisie Martin, the water’s beautiful,” before running back in.

DJ, at this point, you’re probably wondering if Anna’s plan to talk me up and draw me into conversation with Sebastian Lee was more successful than her plan to get me into a hot new bikini. Well, I hope you don’t mind spoilers (personally, I’m torn on them: sometimes they can enhance my enjoyment, and other times they make me really, really mad), because here is a big one: IT WASN’T.

Oh, she asked him lots of questions and tried to include me, but I was still struggling to move past monosyllabic responses like “nah,” “yeah,” “ha,” “uhhh,” and “mmmm.” At one point Beamer quietly
said to me, “Are you on LinkedIn, Maisie Martin? ’Cos I’d like to endorse you for your conversational
skills.”

“Is anyone even on LinkedIn? What are you, a forty nine-year-old investment banker?” I hissed at him.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, don’t sprain your tongue there. That was a lot of words in one go.”
In response, I stuck out said tongue. Beamer grinned.

Which really made me want to show him. I turned to Sebastian.

“So, Seb—Sebastian,” I managed to get out. Then my mind went blank. Think of something, Maisie. Think. Sebastian was looking at me expectantly. “Uhhhh…”

I heard Beamer chuckling behind me.

“How’s school going?” I finally squeaked.

Sebastian made a face. “Ugh, I don’t even want to think about it.”

“Oh.” I glanced over at Anna, who gave me a tight smile.

Sebastian sighed. “I’m so done with it. And Mum won’t get off my back. She’s all, ‘I know you’ve got a brain in that head, Sebastian, why aren’t you using it?!’”

“She sounds like my mum,” Anna said.

“Really?” Sebastian tilted his head her way, a smile on his face. “My condolences.”

“Hey, your mum’s not that bad,” Beamer said to him.

Sebastian scoffed. “Yeah right. She won’t even let me go to Penang with Dad and the twins in February. She reckons I can’t afford to miss any school, especially with the marks I’m getting.”

Sebastian’s family makes the trip to Malaysia every few years, and I know how much he loves going over there. He’s really close to his cousins, despite the distance. I was working up the courage to say something about this when Beamer broke in with, “Ah, don’t worry, Sebby. I told ya, I’ll tutor you. Have you up to scratch in no time.”

I snorted at the idea that Beamer could teach Sebastian anything.

“I had to get a tutor last year,” Anna said. “Mainly for math. It’s sooooo painful.”

“Right?!” Sebastian said. “It’s like, when are we ever going to use this shit after school?”

“Totally!” Anna said. The two of them shared a smile. “Maisie’s brilliant at math, though, aren’t you Maise?” Anna added, looking at me pointedly. “And English. She’s so smart.”

I laughed nervously. After a moment, I said to Sebastian, “I, um, I bet you kill it at English.”

He scrunched up his nose. “Nah. That’s even worse than math. All Shakespeare and poetry. Bo-ring. No offense if you’re into that. It just does my head in.”

“But—” I was about to protest, thinking about Sebastian’s own poetry, and then I realized he was probably saying those things because he didn’t want anyone to know about it. I swallowed the rest of my sentence.

“But what?” Sebastian prompted.

“Oh. Um. Nothing.”

“Okay,” he said, that bemused (or whatever the word for it is) expression appearing on his face.

Yep. I was totally nailing this whole conversation thing.

~*~

* Excerpt courtesy of publisher

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Lovely Books and Things - 3.22.20

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)

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HAPPY THINGS:

1. Trying a new recipe - Lamb and pearl barley soup - success! Yummy!

2. Organizing my bookshelves and this book blog

3. Taking long leisurely walks for a dose of fresh air - Ocean Beach at sunset


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Bought:

Kolymsky Heights
by Lionel Davidson
-Mystery, Russian, Siberia | Goodreads

FOR my face-to-face group, Foreign Mystery Book Club, April selection.


The Unlikely Event
by L.J. Shen
-Romance, Contemporary | Goodreads


Bookcrossing:

The Betrayal of Trust
by Susan Hill
-Mystery, Crime, England | Goodreads


AND watched: online

Mob Psycho 100 (2016)
tv series, season 1 and 2
Stars: Setsuo Ito, Takahiro Sakurai, Akio Ôtsuka
-Animation, Action, Horror, Japan | imdb | my rating: 5

A psychic middle school boy tries to live a normal life and keep his growing powers under control, even though he constantly gets into trouble.



~*~

* comment and TELL me what you have acquired for your shelves recently

Stay healthy! Be safe!

Thanks for stopping by :-)
 
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