Saturday, August 31, 2019

Lovely Books and Things - 8.31.19

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

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



1. Getting back on track after returning from vacation

2. Surprise chocolate marzipan gift from a friend who returned from travels

3. Andy Warhol exhibit at the SF MOMA



The Last House Guest
by Megan Miranda
-Mystery, Thriller, Maine | Goodreads

AUGUST pick for Reese's Book Club and for my Books and States challenge.

Ten Years a Nomad: A Traveler's Journey Home
by Matthew Kepnes
-Memoir, Travel | Goodreads

FOR tips, tricks and tales of travel for wanderlust cravings.

Review posts theme for next week: Australia
Summer Skin by Kirsty Eagar
The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted by Robert Hillman
Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

AND watched: in theatre

Once Upon A Time in Hollywood (2019)
Director/Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Writer: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Margot Robbie
-Comedy, Drama | imdb | my rating: 5

A faded television actor and his stunt double strive to achieve fame and success in the film industry during the final years of Hollywood's Golden Age in 1969 Los Angeles.

Sooo Hollywood.
Sooo Tarantino.
Pleasantly surprised. I usually am not into the 70's genre, but loved the filming style and Tarantino's take.

AND watched: on DVD

My Brilliant Career (1979)
Director: Gillian Armstrong
Screenplay: Eleanor Witcombe
Based on novel by: Miles Franklin
Stars: Judy Davis, Sam Neill, Wendy Hughes
-Biography, Drama, Romance, Coming of Age, Australia | imdb | my rating: 4

A young independent woman who lives with her grandmother and aunt in the countryside rebels against being pressured into marriage and chooses to solely focus on having a career as a writer. Nevertheless, two suitors propose to her.

LOVELY scenes from the well-manicured mostly the wealthier side of Australia as well as some vast landscapes.


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

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Friday, August 30, 2019

Murder in the Sentier by Cara Black

Murder in the Sentier
by Cara Black

Find out more about this book and author:
YouTube | Twitter

Published: 2003
Publisher: Soho Crime
Genre: Mystery, France, Paris
Hardback: 352
Rating: 4

Aimée Leduc Investigation series:
Murder in the Marais (1999)
Murder in Belleville (2000)
Murder in the Sentier (2003)
Murder in the Bastille (2004)
Murder in Clichy (2005)
Murder in Montmartre (2006)
Murder on the Ile Saint-Louis (2007)
Murder in the Rue de Paradis (2008)
Murder in the Latin Quarter (2009)
Murder in the Palais Royale (2010)
Murder in Passy (2011)
Murder at the Lanterne Rouge (2012)
Murder Below Montparnasse (2013)
Murder In Pigalle (2014)
Murder on the Champ de Mars (2015)
Murder on the Quai (2016)
Murder in Saint-Germain (2017)
Muder on the Left Bank (2018)
Murder in Bel-Air (2019)

First sentence(s):
Aimée Leduc opened the tall windows of her apartment overlooking the Seine, which bordered the tree-lined quai.

When Parisian private investigator Aimée Leduc picks up the phone one hot July afternoon, the call turns her life upside-down. The voice on the other end, with its heavy German accent, belongs to a woman named Jutta Hald. Jutta claims to have shared a jail cell with Aimée’s long-lost mother, a suspected terrorist on Interpol’s most wanted list. If Aimée wants to learn the truth about her mother, she is to meet Jutta at a rendezvous point in an ancient tower in the Sentier. But when Aimée arrives, Jutta is dead, shot in the head at close range.

Aimée realizes she has stumbled into something bigger than Jutta let on, and that her own life is in danger. She has a lot of unsolved mysteries in front of her: Jutta Hald’s murder, resurfaced materials from Sydney Leduc’s terrorist activities in the 1970s, police suppression of important information. The question is, can Aimée put the pieces together before someone else ends up dead?

My two-bits:

I continue to love learning about the uniqueness of each Paris neighborhood described in this series.

This mystery introduces another mystery which caught my attention more than the main one.

Aimée comes across the past actions of her parents which creates big questions, unrest and anxiety.


* weekly theme: Mothers - case of the missing mother for protagonist

* part of Paris in July (here)

Thursday, August 29, 2019

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena

The Couple Next Door
by Shari Lapena

Find out more about this book and author:
Goodreads | Website

Published: 2017
Publisher: Penguin Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Paperback: 336
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
Anne can feel the acid churning in her stomach and creeping up her throat; her head is swimming.

It all started at a dinner party. . .

A domestic suspense debut about a young couple and their apparently friendly neighbors—a twisty, rollercoaster ride of lies, betrayal, and the secrets between husbands and wives. . .

Anne and Marco Conti seem to have it all—a loving relationship, a wonderful home, and their beautiful baby, Cora. But one night, when they are at a dinner party next door, a terrible crime is committed. Suspicion immediately lands on the parents. But the truth is a much more complicated story.

Inside the curtained house, an unsettling account of what actually happened unfolds. Detective Rasbach knows that the panicked couple is hiding something. Both Anne and Marco soon discover that the other is keeping secrets, secrets they've kept for years.

What follows is the nerve-racking unraveling of a family—a chilling tale of deception, duplicity, and unfaithfulness that will keep you breathless until the final shocking twist.

My two-bits:

Although unlikable selfish characters appear in this one, the mystery strung me along.

Part of the appeal was the twist, twist again and one more twist at the end.


* weekly theme: Mothers - protagonist is a mother of a newborn

* Filipino character mentioned

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Whisper Network by Chandler Baker

Whisper Network
by Chandler Baker

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2019
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Genre: Mystery, Thriller, Feminism
Hardback: 352
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
If only you'd listen to us, none of this would have happened.

Sloane, Ardie, Grace, and Rosalita are four women who have worked at Truviv, Inc., for years. The sudden death of Truviv's CEO means their boss, Ames, will likely take over the entire company. Ames is a complicated man, a man they’ve all known for a long time, a man who’s always been surrounded by...whispers. Whispers that have always been ignored by those in charge. But the world has changed, and the women are watching Ames’s latest promotion differently. This time, they’ve decided enough is enough.

Sloane and her colleagues set in motion a catastrophic shift within every floor and department of the Truviv offices. All four women’s lives—as women, colleagues, mothers, wives, friends, even adversaries—will change dramatically as a result.

"If only you had listened to us,” they tell us on page one, “none of this would have happened."

My two-bits:

Feminist issues in regards to sexual harassment and abuse in the work world are handled in a gripping way.

Go ladies!


* weekly theme: Mothers - character dealing with postpartum depression

* part of Reese's Book Club 2019 (here)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

The Lying Game
by Ruth Ware

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2017
Publisher: Gallery/Scout Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Hardback: 384
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
The sound is just an ordinary text alert, a quiet beep beep in the night that does not wake Owen, and would not have woken me except that I was already awake, lying there, staring into the darkness, the baby at my breast snuffling, not quite feeding, not quite unlatching.

On a cool June morning, a woman is walking her dog in the idyllic coastal village of Salten along a tidal estuary known as the Reach. Before she can stop him, the dog charges into the water to retrieve what first appears to be a wayward stick, but to her horror, turns out to be something much more sinister...

The next morning, three women in and around London—Fatima, Thea, and Isabel—receive the text they had always hoped would NEVER come, from the fourth in their formerly inseparable clique, Kate, that says only, “I need you.”

The four girls were best friends at Salten, a second rate boarding school set near the cliffs of the English Channel. Each different in their own way, the four became inseparable and were notorious for playing the Lying Game, telling lies at every turn to both fellow boarders and faculty, with varying states of serious and flippant nature that were disturbing enough to ensure that everyone steered clear of them. The myriad and complicated rules of the game are strict: no lying to each other—ever. Bail on the lie when it becomes clear it is about to be found out. But their little game had consequences, and the girls were all expelled in their final year of school under mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of the school’s eccentric art teacher, Ambrose (who also happens to be Kate’s father).

My two-bits:

With the title, one can guess that this cast of characters are unreliable sources.

Many mysteries in this story kept me curious to the end.

In the end, buried secrets eventually surface (pun intended).


* weekly theme: Mothers - oh my goodness, the grounding affect that a baby can wield

* part of Reese's Book Club 2017 (here)

Monday, August 26, 2019

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng
narrated by Jennifer Lim

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2017
Publisher: Penguin Press
Genre: Contemporary, Literary, Family
Hardback: 352
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
Everyone in Shaker heights was talking about it that summer: how Isabelle, the last of the Richardson children, had finally gone around the bend and burned the house down.

In Shaker Heights, a placid, progressive suburb of Cleveland, everything is planned—from the layout of the winding roads, to the colors of the houses, to the successful lives its residents will go on to lead. And no one embodies this spirit more than Elena Richardson, whose guiding principle is playing by the rules.

Enter Mia Warren—an enigmatic artist and single mother—who arrives in this idyllic bubble with her teenaged daughter Pearl, and rents a house from the Richardsons. Soon Mia and Pearl become more than tenants: all four Richardson children are drawn to the mother-daughter pair. But Mia carries with her a mysterious past and a disregard for the status quo that threatens to upend this carefully ordered community.

When old family friends of the Richardsons attempt to adopt a Chinese-American baby, a custody battle erupts that dramatically divides the town—and puts Mia and Elena on opposing sides. Suspicious of Mia and her motives, Elena is determined to uncover the secrets in Mia’s past. But her obsession will come at unexpected and devastating costs.

My two-bits:

Loved the theme of being true to self.

Got perspective from a photographer's life.


* weekly theme: Mothers - different aspects of motherhood

* Listened to audiobook version.

* part of Reese's Book Club 2017 (here)

Sunday, August 25, 2019

The Need by Helen Phillips

The Need
by Helen Phillips

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: July 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Genre: Horror, Thriller, SciFi
Hardback: 272
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
She crouched in front of the mirror in the dark, clinging to them.

When Molly, home alone with her two young children, hears footsteps in the living room, she tries to convince herself it’s the sleep deprivation. She’s been hearing things these days. Startling at loud noises. Imagining the worst-case scenario. It’s what mothers do, she knows.

But then the footsteps come again, and she catches a glimpse of movement.

Suddenly Molly finds herself face-to-face with an intruder who knows far too much about her and her family. As she attempts to protect those she loves most, Molly must also acknowledge her own frailty. Molly slips down an existential rabbit hole where she must confront the dualities of motherhood: the ecstasy and the dread; the languor and the ferocity; the banality and the transcendence as the book hurtles toward a mind-bending conclusion.

My two-bits:

A touch of science fiction and perfect creepiness for a mother-related thriller.


* weekly theme: Mothers - protagonist is a mother of a newborn

Saturday, August 24, 2019

Lovely Books and Things - 8.24.19

Lovely Books and Things
My Weekly Books and Films Update

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



1. Zarbee's Naturals - Cough Soothers to help overcome a summer cold

2. Finally pulling out The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt from the reading pile to join the Little Brown read along (here) and on instagram #goldfinchreadalong and #thegoldfinchreadalong to finish before the film release on September 13.

The Goldfinch
by Donna Tartt
-Literary | Goodreads

3. Sunset at Molokai



Winter in the Madrid
by C.J. Sansom
-Mystery, Spain, Madrid | Goodreads

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

Author event:

Hollow Kingdom
by Kira Jane Buxton
-Dystopia, Humor, Zombies | Goodreads

Bookshop West Portal hosted a fabulous fun and funny event with author Kira Jane Buxton and her latest novel.


The Bookshop of the Broken Hearted
by Robert Hillman
-Historical Fiction, Australia | Goodreads

FOR an upcoming "bookshop" reading challenge and Australia themed week.

Mr. Flood's Last Resort
by Jess Kidd
-Mystery, Ireland | Goodreads

FOR ibc online book club.

Review posts theme for next week: Mothers

The Need by Helen Phillips
The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena
Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
Whisper Network by Chandler Baker
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
Murder in the Sentier by Cara Black

AND watched: in theatre

Where'd You Go, Bernadette (2019)
Director/Screenplay: Richard Linklater
Screenplay: Holly Gent, Vincent Palmo Jr.
Based on novel by: Maria Semple
Stars: Cate Blanchett, Judy Greer, Kristen Wiig
-Comedy, Drama, Mystery | imdb | my rating: 4

A loving mom becomes compelled to reconnect with her creative passions after years of sacrificing herself for her family. Her leap of faith takes her on an epic adventure that jump-starts her life and leads to her triumphant rediscovery.

FOLLOWS the book pretty well. Great to see the fictional architectural pieces come to life.


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

Thanks for stopping by :-)

Friday, August 23, 2019

Author binge: Lisa Jewell

Lisa Jewell
Reading Challenge
(mystery thrillers)

Ralph's Pary (1999)
Thirtynothing (2000)
One-Hit Wonder (2001)
A Friend of the Family (2004)
Vince and Joy (2005)
Roommates Wanted (2007)
The Truth About Melody Browne (2009)
After The Party (2010)
The Making of Us (2011)
Before I Met You (2012)
The House We Grew Up In (2013)
The Third Wife (2014)
Girls in the Garden (2015)
I Found You (2016) (review)
Then She Was Gone (2017) (review)
Watching You (2018)

* image header source: Then She Was Gone cover

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Books and States

BOOKS and STATES Challenge
arm-chair road tripping
through United States of America

Setting up a grand challenge for myself as I have been wanting to read my way through parts of the country that are unknown to me. I picked mostly current books rather than classics. Slim pickings in some states. But maybe more newbies will be released in the Fall/Winter.

Below is the tentative list.

TRAVEL - USA (road trip)
America for Beginners by Leah Franqui
Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell
Cape May by Chip Cheek
Don't Turn Around by Jessica Barry
The Grand Tour by Olivia Wearne
He Started It by Samantha Downing
I Might Regret by Abbi Jacobson
The Wangs vs. The World by Jade Chang

The Summer House by Lauren K. Denton (review)

AK: The Great Alone by Kristen Hannah
AK: To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

AZ: Inland by Téa Obreht
AZ: The Perfect Fraud by Ellen LaCorte

AR: Dear Wife by Kimberly Belle
AR: Twenty-eight and A Half Wishes by Denise Grover Swank

Los Angeles: The Last Story of Mina Lee by Nancy Jooyun Kim (review)

CO: The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger
CO: Eventide by Kent Haruf

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (review)

DE: The Book of Unknown Americans by Cristina Henríquez
DE: The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Camino Island by John Grisham (review)

GA: Dark Town by Thomas Mullen
GA: The Complete Stories by Flannery O'Connor

The Burning Island by Hester Young (review)

ID: Educated by Tara Westover
ID: Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

IL: Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson
IL: The Other Mrs. Miller by Allison M. Dickson

IN: The Starlite Drive-in by Marjorie Reynolds
IN: Come and Get Me by August Norman

IA: Real Life by Brandon Taylor
IA: Midnight Assassin: A Murder in America’s Heartland by Patricia Bryan and Thomas Wolf

KS: In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
KS: To the Stars Through Difficulties by Romalyn Tilghman

The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes (review)

LA: The Agony House by Cherie Priest
LA: This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston

The Last House Guest by Megan Miranda (review)

MD: Murder at the Mansion by Sheila Connolly
MD: Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner (review)

Beach Read by Emily Henry (review)

MN: Say Say Say by Lila Savage
MN: The Lager Queen of Minnesota by Ryan J. Stradal

MS: The Gone Dead by Chanelle Benz
MS: Desperation Road by Michael F. Smith

MO: Enemy Women by Paulette Jiles
MO: Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

MT: Fall Back Down When I Die by Joe Wilkins
MT: Winter Range by Claire Davis

NE: The Bones of Paradise by Jonis Agee
NE: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

NV: Don't Skip Out On Me by Willy Vlautin
NV: On Swift Horses by Shannon Pufahl

NH: The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
NH: Fake Plastic Love by Kimberley Tait

NJ: Guestbook: Ghost Stories by Leanne Shapton
NJ: The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

NM: First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones
NM: The Infinite Pieces of Us by Rebekah Crane

Long Island: The Summer We Found the Baby by Amy Hest (review)

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens (review)

ND: Three Women by Lisa Taddeo (review)

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng (review)

OK: The Art of Crash Landing by Melissa DeCarlo
OK: Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann

OR: Red Clocks by Leni Zumas
OR: Consolation Prizes by Jamie Ford (seattle/worlds fair)

PA: Marilou Is Everywhere by Sarah Elaine Smith
PA: The Readymade Thief by Augustus Rose

RI: My Mrs. Brown by William D. Norwich
RI: The Witches of Eastwick by John Updike

SC: The Southern Book Club's Guide to Slaying Vampires by Grady Hendrix
SC: The New and Improved Romie Futch by Julia Elliott

SD: Hour Glass by Michelle Rene
SD: Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Donald Zochert

TN: Little Sister Death by William Gay
TN: Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver

TX: Exile by Lisa M. Bradley
TX: Waiting for Eden by Elliot Ackerman

UT: The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff
UT: Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey

VT: The Ghost Clause by Howard A. Norman
VT: Life Among The Savages by Shirley Jackson

Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby (review)

WA: Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao
WA: The Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton

WV: The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows
WV: The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls

WI: Leviathan by Paul Auster
WI: Revival by Tim Seeley

WY: The Western Star by Craig Johnson
WY: Skies Like These by Tess Hilmo

DC: Summerlings by Lisa Howorth
DC: The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

The Bookseller by Mark Pryor

The Bookseller
by Mark Pryor

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2012
Publisher: Seventh Street Books
Genre: Mystery, Paris
Paperback: 303
Rating: 5

Hugo Marston series:
The Bookseller
The Crypt Thief
The Blood Promise
The Button Man
The Reluctant Matador
The Paris Librarian
The Sorbonne Affair
The Book Artist

First sentence(s):
The largest of Notre Dame's bells tolled noon just as Hugo reached the end of the bridge, the brittle air seeming to hold on to the final clang longer than usual.

Zombie sighting:
He reminds me of a zombie limping around like a corpse.
-chapter 27, page 26

Max—an elderly Paris bookstall owner—is abducted at gunpoint. His friend, Hugo Marston, head of security at the US embassy, looks on helplessly, powerless to do anything to stop the kidnapper. Marston launches a search, enlisting the help of semiretired CIA agent Tom Green. Their investigation reveals that Max was a Holocaust survivor and later became a Nazi hunter. Is his disappearance somehow tied to his grim history, or even to the mysterious old books he sold?

On the streets of Paris, tensions are rising as rival drug gangs engage in violent turf wars. Before long, other booksellers start to disappear, their bodies found floating in the Seine. Though the police are not interested in his opinion, Marston is convinced the hostilities have something to do with the murders of these bouquinistes.

Then he himself becomes a target of the unknown assassins.

With Tom by his side, Marston finally puts the pieces of the puzzle together, connecting the past with the present and leading the two men, quite literally, to the enemy's lair.

Just as the killer intended.

My two-bits:

Nice start of a series with a pair of likable Texans solving mysteries in Paris. Loved the locations and light banter along the way.

The book theme and learning about Paris bookstalls along the Seine also grabbed my attention.


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

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson

American Spy
by Lauren Wilkinson

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2019
Publisher: Random House
Genre: Historical, Mystery, Africa
Hardback: 304
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
I unlocked the safe beneath my desk, grabbed mud old service automatic, and crept toward my bedroom doorway, stealthy until I was brought to grief by a Lego Duplo that stud the sole of my foot.

It's 1986, the heart of the Cold War, and Marie Mitchell is an intelligence officer with the FBI. She's brilliant but she's also a young black woman working in an old boys' club, and her career has stalled out; she's overlooked for every high profile squad, and her days are filled with monotonous paperwork. So when she's given the opportunity to join a shadowy task force aimed at undermining Thomas Sankara, the charismatic, revolutionary president of Burkina Faso, whose Communist ideology has made him a target for American intervention, she says yes. Yes, even though she secretly admires the work Thomas is doing for his country. Yes, even though she is still grieving the mysterious death of her sister, whose example led Marie to this career path in the first place. Yes, even though a furious part of her suspects she's being offered the job because of her appearance and not her talent.

In the year that follows, Marie will observe Thomas, seduce him, and ultimately, have a hand in the coup that will bring him down. But doing so will change everything she believes about what it means to be a spy, a lover, a sister, and a good American.

Inspired by true events--Thomas Sankara is known as "Africa's Che Guevara"--this novel knits together a gripping spy thriller, a heartbreaking family drama, and a passionate romance. This is a face of the Cold War you've never seen before, and it introduces a powerful new literary voice.

My two-bits:

When romance and work intermingle in an espionage setting things can get hazardous.

Interesting to learn about some of unglamorous parts of the spy life.


* part of the Camp ToB 2019 (here)

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Elevation by Stephen King

by Stephen King

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2018
Publisher: Scribner
Genre: Horror, Novella
Hardback: 146
Rating: 4

First sentence(s):
Scott Carey knocked on the door of the Ellis condo unit, and Bob Ellis (everyone in Highland Acres still called him Doctor Bob, although he was five years retired) let him in.

Although Scott Carey doesn’t look any different, he’s been steadily losing weight. There are a couple of other odd things, too. He weighs the same in his clothes and out of them, no matter how heavy they are. Scott doesn’t want to be poked and prodded. He mostly just wants someone else to know, and he trusts Doctor Bob Ellis.

In the small town of Castle Rock, the setting of many of King’s most iconic stories, Scott is engaged in a low grade—but escalating—battle with the lesbians next door whose dog regularly drops his business on Scott’s lawn. One of the women is friendly; the other, cold as ice. Both are trying to launch a new restaurant, but the people of Castle Rock want no part of a gay married couple, and the place is in trouble. When Scott finally understands the prejudices they face–including his own—he tries to help. Unlikely alliances, the annual foot race, and the mystery of Scott’s affliction bring out the best in people who have indulged the worst in themselves and others.

My two-bits:

Gentle horror.

Loved the illustrations at the chapter headings.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

by Andrew Sean Greer
narrated by Robert Petkoff

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: 2017
Publisher: Lee Boudreaux Books
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQ
Hardback: 272
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
From where I sit, the story of Arthur Less is not so bad.

Who says you can't run away from your problems?

You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can't say yes--it would be too awkward--and you can't say no--it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?

ANSWER: You accept them all.

What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.

Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, LESS is, above all, a love story.

My two-bits:

Plenty of wonderful arm-chair travel in this one.

Oh, the whoas of love and relationships.


* Winner of the Pulitzer Prize 2018

* Listened to audiobook version.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Trust Exercise by Susan Choi

Trust Exercise
by Susan Choi

Find out more about this book and author:

Published: April 2019
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Genre: Literary, Coming of Age
Hardback: 272
Rating: 5

First sentence(s):
NEITHER CAN DRIVE. David turns sixteen the following March, Sarah the following April. It is early July, neither one within sight of sixteen and the keys to a car.

In an American suburb in the early 1980s, students at a highly competitive performing arts high school struggle and thrive in a rarified bubble, ambitiously pursuing music, movement, Shakespeare, and, particularly, their acting classes. When within this striving “Brotherhood of the Arts,” two freshmen, David and Sarah, fall headlong into love, their passion does not go unnoticed—or untoyed with—by anyone, especially not by their charismatic acting teacher, Mr. Kingsley.

The outside world of family life and economic status, of academic pressure and of their future adult lives, fails to penetrate this school’s walls—until it does, in a shocking spiral of events that catapults the action forward in time and flips the premise upside-down. What the reader believes to have happened to David and Sarah and their friends is not entirely true—though it’s not false, either. It takes until the book’s stunning coda for the final piece of the puzzle to fall into place—revealing truths that will resonate long after the final sentence.

As captivating and tender as it is surprising, Trust Exercise will incite heated conversations about fiction and truth, friendships and loyalties, and will leave readers with wiser understandings of the true capacities of adolescents and of the powers and responsibilities of adults.

My two-bits:

Heartache, painful growth for the first half of the book. The second half gets into a whole other something that made my head spin a little. Interesting twist.


* part of the Camp ToB 2019 (here)

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Blog All About It: Sky

Things found in the sky...


by Stephen King
-Short Story, Horror | Goodreads


Aurora: Fire in the Sky (2017)


Hop on a plane for vacation.


Check out the Chinatown Kite Shop on 717 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA.


Both Sides of the Sky
by Jimi Hendrix


* image source: plane

* part of the Blog All About It Challenge (here)
Imagination Designs
Images from: Lovelytocu