Thursday, June 21, 2018

The Favorite Sister by Jessica Knoll

The Favorite Sister
by Jessica Knoll

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
Website
Facebook
Instagram
Twitter

Just released: May 15, 2018
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Women's Fiction
Hardback: 384
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
A man whose name I do not know slides his hand under the hem of my new blouse, connecting the cable to the lavalier mic clipped to my collar.


When five hyper-successful women agree to appear on a reality series set in New York City called Goal Diggers, the producers never expect the season will end in murder…

Brett's the fan favorite. Tattooed and only twenty-seven, the meteoric success of her spin studio—and her recent engagement to her girlfriend—has made her the object of jealousy and vitriol from her castmates.

Kelly, Brett's older sister and business partner, is the most recent recruit, dismissed as a hanger-on by veteran cast. The golden child growing up, she defers to Brett now—a role which requires her to protect their shocking secret.

Stephanie, the first black cast member and the oldest, is a successful bestselling author of erotic novels. There have long been whispers about her hot, non-working actor-husband and his wandering eye, but this season the focus is on the rift that has opened between her and Brett, former best friends—and resentment soon breeds contempt.

The Favorite Sister explores the invisible barriers that prevent women from rising up the ranks in today's America—and offers a scathing take on the oft-lionized bonds of sisterhood, and the relentless pressure to stay young, relevant, and salable.


Quote to note:
Healthy people are people who feel connected to their communities, who are loved and supported by these around them, and who have a sense of purpose in their lives.
page 14, chapter 1


PeekAbook:



My two-bits:

Felt like a Mean Girls as grown ups - still mean.

This story gives a good dose of the lifestyle of reality tv stars which include a bunch of unlikable characters.

~*~

* part of BookSparks Reading Challenge, Summer (here)

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Tomb Song by Julián Herbert

Tomb Song
by Julián Herbert
translated by Christian MacSweeney

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
BookExcerpt
Twitter

Just released: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Graywolf Press
Genre: Literary, Autofiction
Paperback: 208
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
As a child, I wanted to be a scientist or a doctor. A man in a white coat.

Sitting at the bedside of his mother as she is dying from leukemia in a hospital in northern Mexico, the narrator of Tomb Song is immersed in memories of his unstable boyhood and youth. His mother, Guadalupe, was a prostitute, and Julián spent his childhood with his half brothers and sisters, each from a different father, moving from city to city and from one tough neighborhood to the next.

Swinging from the present to the past and back again, Tomb Song is not only an affecting coming-of-age story but also a searching and sometimes frenetic portrait of the artist. As he wanders the hospital, from its buzzing upper floors to the haunted depths of the morgue, Julián tells fevered stories of his life as a writer, from a trip with his pregnant wife to a poetry festival in Berlin to a drug-fueled and possibly completely imagined trip to another festival in Cuba. Throughout, he portrays the margins of Mexican society as well as the attitudes, prejudices, contradictions, and occasionally absurd history of a country ravaged by corruption, violence, and dysfunction.

Inhabiting the fertile ground between fiction, memoir, and essay, Tomb Song is an electric prose performance, a kaleidoscopic, tender, and often darkly funny exploration of sex, love, and death. Julián Herbert’s English-language debut establishes him as one of the most audacious voices in contemporary letters.


My two-bits:

Found some beautiful passages of observations of this author's past. I was more taken with the childhood memories.

~*~

* part of Rooster Summer Reading Challenge 2018 (here)

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Hotel Brasil: The Mystery of the Severed Heads by Frei Betto

Hotel Brasil:
The Mystery of the Severed Heads
by Frei Betto
translated by Jethro Soutar

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads

Published: 2014 reprint
Publisher: Bitter Lemon Press
Genre: Mystery, Brazil
Paperback: 288
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
He'd seen it out of the corner of his eye, without meaning to see it.

The setting for this witty and insightful debut crime novel is a Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, family hotel. Rio is the perfect backdrop with its history of military dictatorship, drug wars, child gangs, and violent policing tactics.

The decapitated body of a hotel resident is found. The eyes have been removed from the head, casually left on the floor of the room. The victim's eerie, frozen Mona Lisa smile seems to indicate that the murderer had been received as a friend.

According to the police, the victim was stabbed in the heart and died before the decapitation. As the investigation continues, with few leads or clues worth pursuing, other hotel clients are found dead; all decapitated, usually with the head found delicately balanced on their knees.

This classical crime novel provides an opportunity for Frei Betto (a Dominican friar, once a political prisoner, a union activist, and then an adviser to President Lula da Silva) to describe Brazilian society, especially those left at its edge, like Rio's favela children, abused, hunted-down, but also addicted to drugs and violent crime.

The book tells the fascinating back stories of the hotel residents, suspects, and eventual victims, such as the maid who dreams of making it in television soaps, and the female pimp who has survived incestuous rape, while being faithful to a suspenseful intrigue that could have been thought up by Ruth Rendell.


My two-bits:

This mystery of severed heads is told with multi perspectives. The focus on the residents of the hotel gave a sense of the different strata of people (culture and class system) in this world. In fact, the stories of each individual became more interesting than solving the mystery.

~*~

* part of Books, Inc. Foreign Intrigue Book Club (here)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Lovely Books and Things - 6.16.18

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)

~*~

HAPPY THINGS:

1. Brought the kid home from college for summer break.

2. Attending the kid's friend's graduation festivities from UC Santa Cruz.

3. Treated to an appearance and Q&A with director/actor Tommy Wiseau before a screening of The Room

~*~

Bought:

Grantchester
Sidney Chambers and the Shadow of Death
by James Runcie
-Mystery, Thriller
Amazon | Goodreads

WANTED to read this before getting into the tv version.


Library:

The Favorite Sister
by Jessica Knoll
-Mystery, Thriller
Amazon | Goodreads

PART of the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge 2018 (here).


For Review:

Dead If You Don't
by Peter James
-Mystery, Thriller
courtesy of Wunderkind -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads

THIS is #14 in the Roy Grace series. Curious to see how it goes.


Unboxing:


A Place for Us
by Fatima Farheen Mirza
-Literary, Family, India, Muslim
Amazon | Goodreads

GOT this to celebrate the first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint, SJP for Hogarth. I like the pre-order offer of swag with this edition.


AND watched: in theatre - part of the SF Film Documentary Festival (here)

Unfractured (2018)
Director: Chanda Chevannes
-Documentary, Environmental | imdb | my rating: 5

A triumphant documentary about resistance, UNFRACTURED follows introspective biologist and mother Sandra Steingraber as she reinvents herself as an outspoken activist.

LEARNED about the activist activity on the topic of the historic fight against fracking in New York state. A Q&A with the director and local activists who are part of the California fight.

Mole Man (2017)
Director: Guy Fiorita
Writer: Cassidy Hartmann (story consultant)
-Documentary, Autism | imdb | my rating: 5

MOLE MAN follows RON, a 66-year-old autistic man who has spent the last five decades building a 50-room structure in his parents' backyard. Using no nails or mortar, Ron instead creates perfectly balanced structures from scavenged materials he finds in the woods outside his Western Pennsylvania home. When Ron's father passes away, leaving him living alone with his 90-year-old mother, Ron's siblings are left to figure out what's best for Ron - who has never been officially diagnosed with autism - when his mother can no longer care for him. In an effort to find the money to keep Ron in his home, his friends team up in search of a mythical mansion Ron insists lays abandoned in the forest. But will they be able to find it? And, more importantly, does it even exist? This is the story of an extraordinary life, a family, and the beauty of thinking differently.

Q&A with the director gave a little more insight and update on Ron and his situation. The film presents some history of autism in relation to its affect on family.


AND watched: in theatre

Hereditary (2018)
Director/Writer: Ari Aster
Stars: Toni Collette, Milly Shapiro, Gabriel Byrne, Alex Wolff
-Drama, Horror, Mystery | imdb | my rating: 4

After the family matriarch passes away, a grieving family is haunted by tragic and disturbing occurrences, and begin to unravel dark secrets.

A couple shockers in an otherwise slow moving horror tales that delivers in the end. Oh boy!


AND watched: on DVD

An Autumn Afternoon (1964)
Sanma no aji (original title)
Director: Yasujirô Ozu
Screenplay: Kôgo Noda, Yasujirô Ozu
Stars: Chishû Ryû, Shima Iwashita, Keiji Sada
-Drama, Japan | imdb | my rating: 5

An aging widower arranges a marriage for his only daughter.

SAD but beautiful story of parent/daughter relation in Japan in the 1960's.

Loving Vincent (2017)
Director/Writers: Dorota Kobiela, Hugh Welchman
Writer: Jacek Dehnel
Stars: Douglas Booth, Jerome Flynn, Robert Gulaczyk
-Animation, Biography, Crime | imdb | my rating: 4
Oscar 2018 nominee

In a story depicted in oil painted animation, a young man comes to the last hometown of painter Vincent van Gogh to deliver the troubled artist's final letter and ends up investigating his final days there.

THE story told by way of paintings was beautifully done. Loved how they incorporated Van Gogh's actual works and subjects.

~*~

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

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Friday, June 15, 2018

The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story by Marie Kondo

The Life-Changing Manga of Tidying Up: A Magical Story
by Marie Kondo
illustrated by Yuko Uramoto

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
BookExcerpt
Twitter

Published: 2017
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Genre: Graphic Novel, Japan
Paperback: 192
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
You really want to tidy up, but you don't believe you can. If this describes you, don't worry. You, too, can be just like Chiaki in this story.

Marie Kondo presents the fictional story of Chiaki, a young woman in Tokyo who struggles with a cluttered apartment, messy love life, and lack of direction. After receiving a complaint from her attractive next-door neighbor about the sad state of her balcony, Chiaki gets Kondo to take her on as a client. Through a series of entertaining and insightful lessons, Kondo helps Chiaki get her home--and life--in order. This insightful, illustrated case study is perfect for people looking for a fun introduction to the KonMari Method of tidying up, as well as tried-and-true fans of Marie Kondo eager for a new way to think about what sparks joy.

My two-bits:

This is just as helpful as the book this manga was based on, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing. The added illustrations make the process easy to follow. FYI there are videos online as well for visual instructions.

And a cute romance is added to this art of organizing to make this a fun read.

~*~

* part of the Blog All About It Challenge (here)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Lovely Books and Things - 6.9.18

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)

~*~

HAPPY THINGS:

1. My Happy Birthday week :-)

2. Won free movie tickets for the SF Documentary Film Festival

3. Alexander Nevsky at Herbst Theatre - I had a blast singing with the chorus at this performance.


~*~

Bought:


THE Bindery hosted a conversation between Mariko Tamaki and Gene Luen Yang to celebrate the release of Mariko's Supergirl: Being Super. Cool talk on graphic novels, superheroes, DC vs. Marvel as well as Mariko's origin story.

Supergirl: Being Super
by Mariko Tamaki
illustrated by Joëlle Jones
-Graphic Novel, Superhero
Amazon | Goodreads

She's super-strong. She can fly. She crash-landed on Earth in a rocket ship. But for Kara Danvers, winning the next track meet, celebrating her 16th birthday and surviving her latest mega-zit are her top concerns. And with the help of her best friends and her kinda-infuriating-but-totally-loving adoptive parents, she just might be able to put her troubling dreams--shattered glimpses of another world--behind her.

Until an earthquake shatters her small town of Midvale...and uncovers secrets about her past she thought would always stay buried.

Now Kara's incredible powers are kicking into high gear, and people she trusted are revealing creepy ulterior motives. The time has come for her to choose between the world where she was born and the only world she's ever known. Will she find a way to save her town and be super, or will she crash and burn?


THIS will be my introduction to the superhero Supergirl as I do not know anything about her. Looking forward to the mega-zit part as that was spoken of affectionately at the talk.


Library: for the Rooster Summer Reading Challenge (here)

An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones
-Literary, African American
Amazon | Goodreads

Census
by Jesse Ball
-Literary, Dystopia
Amazon | Goodreads

The Friend
by Sigrid Nunez
Amazon | Goodreads

Tomb Song
by Julián Herbert
-Literary, Historical
Amazon | Goodreads


AND watched: in theatre

The Pain of Others (2018)
Director: Penny Lane
-Documentary | imdb | my rating: 4

The Pain of Others is a found footage documentary about Morgellons, a mysterious illness whose sufferers say they have parasites under the skin, long colored fibers emerging from lesions, and a host of other bizarre symptoms which could be borrowed from a horror film. The Pain of Others is composed entirely of videos shared by a group of "Morgies" who have turned to YouTube for community and to prove they're not crazy. Unsettling, funny and intimate, The Pain of Others is at once a body-horror documentary and a radical act of empathy.

INTERESTING compilation of videos to inform and start dialogue about this unusual illness.

American Animals (2018)
Director/Writer: Bart Layton
Stars: Evan Peters, Barry Keoghan, Blake Jenner, Jared Abrahamson, Ann Dowd
-Crime, Drama | imdb | my rating: 5

Four young men mistake their lives for a movie and attempt one of the most audacious heists in U.S. history.

LOVED the mish mosh kind of way this was filmed with heist movie pop culture references and documentary vibe.


EARLY birds got a free coloring book that is illustrated by one of the four, Spencer Reinhard.

RBG (2018)
Directors: Julie Cohen, Betsy West
Stars: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Gloria Steinem, Nina Totenberg
-Documentary, Biography | imdb | my rating: 5

A look at the life and work of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

AN amazing woman to take note of indeed!

~*~

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

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Friday, June 8, 2018

Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End by Manel Loureiro

Apocalypse Z: The Beginning of the End
by Manel Loureiro
translated by Pamela Carmell

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
Twitter

Published: 2012
Publisher: AmazonCrossing
Genre: Horror, Zombies
Paperback: 333
Rating: 4

Apocalypse Z series:
The Beginning of the End
Dark Days
The Wrath of the Just

First sentence(s):
Today's going to be insane.

The dead rise…

A mysterious incident in Russia, a blip buried in the news—it’s the only warning humanity receives that civilization will soon be destroyed by a single, voracious virus that creates monsters of men.

Humanity falls…

A lawyer, still grieving over the death of his young wife, begins to write as a form of therapy. But he never expected that his anonymous blog would ultimately record humanity’s last days.

The end of the world has begun…

Governments scramble to stop the zombie virus, people panic, so-called “Safe Havens” are established, the world erupts into chaos; soon it’s every man, woman, and child for themselves. Armed only with makeshift weapons and the will to live, a lone survivor will give mankind one last chance against…

Apocalypse Z


My two-bits:

Good start to a trilogy. It is an intro to Spain, the protagonist and his cat.

The story focus is on the day-to-day puzzling out what is happening and how to survive in this world gone apocalyptic.

The cat element is a new one for me. So, it is interesting to see how he fares.

~*~

* Zombies in May (here)

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Winners for June



Here is the winner for giveaway that
ended May 31, 2018

Thanks to all contestants!

~*~

Isabella's Painting
(Karina Cardinal Mystery Book 1)
by Ellen Butler
-Mystery
courtesy of author -Thanks!
Amazon | Goodreads | giveaway

Winner: Midnight Cowgirl

~*~

* to see the original giveaway offer, click on the signup link

* I will email winners for mailing addresses within two weeks.
Winners, feel free to contact me with your info if you don't get my email
or if you are just too darn excited and want to let me know -- like NOW ;-D

* contest policy

* if not this time, maybe next time

Monday, June 4, 2018

Tournament of Books Summer Reading Challenge 2018

Morning News Tournament of Books
Rooster Summer Reading Challenge 2018
details

We’ve selected six Rooster-worthy works of fiction from 2018 to read over the next three months—two per month—and once a week we’ll meet back (here) to discuss our reading progress.

~*~

JOINING another one...

I really like the books selected by the Tournament of Books for this challenge (and for ones selected in past tournaments) and enjoy the critique and discussions presented.

I am already working on other reading challenges this year so may not necessarily read everything on the list per timing.

~*~

The Summer 2018 Reading Schedule:

June 6: Tomb Song, through page 109
June 13: Tomb Song to end
June 20: An American Marriage, through page 145
June 27: An American Marriage to end
July 3: Circe, through chapter 15
July 11: Circe to end
July 18: Census through “G”
July 25: Census to end
Aug. 1: The Friend through Part Six (page 112)
Aug. 8: The Friend to end
Aug. 15: Kudos to page 120
Aug. 22: Kudos to end—voting begins
Aug. 29: Winner announced

Book list:

An American Marriage
by Tayari Jones
-Literary, African American
Amazon | Goodreads

Census
by Jesse Ball
-Literary, Dystopia
Amazon | Goodreads

Circe
by Madeline Miller
-Fantasy, Mythology, Retelling
Amazon | Goodreads

The Friend
by Sigrid Nunez
Amazon | Goodreads

Kudos
by Rachel Cusk
-Literary, Contemporary
Amazon | Goodreads

Tomb Song
by Julián Herbert
-Literary, Historical
Amazon | Goodreads | my review | my rating: 4

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Dark Tales: The Call of Cthulhu by H. P. Lovecraft

Dark Tales:
The Call of Cthulhu
by H. P. Lovecraft,
illustrated by Dave Shephard

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads

Just released: March 6, 2018
Publisher: Canterbury Classics
Genre: Horror, Graphic Novel
Paperback: 128
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
February 28, 1925, Providence, Rhode Island, sculptor Henry Wilcox sleeps fitfully and dreams of strange, monstrous forms...

In this Dark Tale, dead Cthulhu waits dreaming...

H.P. Lovecraft’s story of supernatural monsters deep in the Pacific, told in graphic novel format, will keep you on the edge of your seat. More than 100 pages of illustrated horror and adventure await! Henry Wilcox can’t ignore his dreams of an enormous green monster calling to him from an underwater alien city. He seeks the help of Professor Angell, who dies suddenly, leaving a box of research on the subject for his nephew, Francis. Francis seeks answers about his uncle’s death, and in the process uncovers evidence of a cult waiting for the Great Old Ones to return.


PeekAbook:


My two-bits:

CTHULHU struck me as a weird and mysterious name. I wondered what and why it is referenced in the scifi genre. This graphic novel is a great way to be introduced to the Cthulhu phenomenon. I am now more curious to read the original story.

The introduction gives some insight on the background and inspiration of H.P. Lovecraft's story.

The illustrations are spot on to get the vibe of the time periods in the story.

~*~

* review copy courtesy of publisher

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Lovely Books and Things - 6.2.18

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

Linking up with:
Stacking the Shelves (details)
Sunday Post (details)
Mailbox Monday (details)

~*~

HAPPY THINGS:

1. Spring cleaning - how nice it is to open up spaces in the closet and on the book shelves

2. National Hamburger Day on May 28 - tried the Maven Burger (angostura, house pickles, muenster ) at Maven on Haight

3. Sharing fancy latte with my kid at Home on Clement



~*~

Library:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
by Taylor Jenkins Reid
-Chicklit
Amazon | Goodreads

PART of the BookSparks Summer Reading Challenge 2017 (here) - yup, going backward to do a little catchup.


Freebie:

Love Muffin and Chai Latte
by Anya Wylde
-Romance, Comedy
Amazon | Goodreads

PICKED this up for sweet giggles after reading Sophia Rose's review of the second book in this series at a Delighted Reader (here).


AND watched: on Netflix

Ugly Delicious (2018)
Netlix series, season one
Stars: David Chang, Peter Meehan
-Documentary | imdb | my rating: 5

Chef David Chang travels around the world tasting food from different cultures.

LOVED the mix of food and food history with American Asian perspectives.


AND watched: in theatre

Book Club (2018)
Director/Writer: Bill Holderman
Writer: Erin Simms
Stars: Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen, Mary Steenburgen
-Comedy | imdb | my rating: 4

Four lifelong friends have their lives forever changed after reading 50 Shades of Grey in their monthly book club.

BOOK lover in me could not resist a book club related film. Fun chick flick with great cast ;-)

Best F(riends) 2 (2018)
Director: Justin MacGregor
Writer: Greg Sestero
Stars: Greg Sestero, Tommy Wiseau
-Comedy, Thriller | imdb | my rating: 4

As Sestero's drifter makes a run for it, he finds himself on a desert expedition, where wild characters and dark foibles intersect. As his misadventure teaches him about friendship and loyalty, Wiseau's mortician surfaces a surprise or two.

THE stories continues with lots of Tommy-isms. Love his positive vibe.

~*~

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

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Friday, June 1, 2018

The Leavers by Lisa Ko

The Leavers
by Lisa Ko
narrated by Emily Woo Zeller

Find out more about this book and author:
Amazon
Goodreads
BookExcerpt
Website
Facebook | Instagram
Twitter

Just released: May 2, 2017
Publisher: Algonquin Book
Genre: Literary, Family, Asian American, China
Hardback: 352
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
The day before Deming Guo saw his mother for the last time, she surprised him at school.

One morning, Deming Guo’s mother, Polly, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, goes to her job at a nail salon—and never comes home. No one can find any trace of her.

With his mother gone, eleven-year-old Deming is left mystified and bereft. Eventually adopted by a pair of well-meaning white professors, Deming is moved from the Bronx to a small town upstate and renamed Daniel Wilkinson. But far from all he’s ever known, Daniel struggles to reconcile his adoptive parents’ desire that he assimilate with his memories of his mother and the community he left behind.

Told from the perspective of both Daniel—as he grows into a directionless young man—and Polly, Ko’s novel gives us one of fiction’s most singular mothers. Loving and selfish, determined and frightened, Polly is forced to make one heart wrenching choice after another.

Set in New York and China, The Leavers is a vivid examination of borders and belonging. It’s a moving story of how a boy comes into his own when everything he loves is taken away, and how a mother learns to live with the mistakes of the past.


My two-bits:

I had an overall feeling of sad while reading this book. The plight of the situations and the realities were presented in a heartbreaking fashion.

I liked how this portrays both perspectives of the mother and son. Both with their individual pains yet survival in the U.S.

~*~

* Winner of the 2016 PEN/Bellwether Prize for Fiction, awarded by Barbara Kingsolver for a novel that addresses issues of social justice.

* Named one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by Entertainment Weekly, TIME, Bustle, Buzzfeed, The Millions, NYLON, The Washington Post, and others

* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of International Book Club (here)

* part of BookSparks Reading Challenge, Summer 2017 (here)
 
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