Reading and Writing

It isn’t that I haven’t been reading but it is that I’ve – surprise – actually spent more time writing Family Myths – the third book of the Augustus Family Trilogy than I have spent reading the last couple of weeks.  That, of course, doesn’t mean I  haven’t been reading at all it just means I haven’t read a book a day. So sad!

Besides working on the new book I’ve been “enjoying” a construction project at my home.  This has resulted in massive amounts of dust and dirt and the need to pour a glass of wine for myself the moment the workers leave for the day and then binge watch Six Feet Under.  Hmmm. That might not be exactly what I meant because some times the workers get here at 11 AM and are gone by 1PM.  I always wait for the wine until I’m done fretting about the day’s progress.

Enough about nothing…here’s the new list of what I’ve read recently. Hope you find something you like.

Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova – by the author of Still Alice – Genova takes a look a another devastating disease. Huntington’s Disease is a genetic mutation and if you are unfortunate enough to inherit the mutated gene it is 100% certain you will die from the disease. This a warm, wonderful, loving look at a family and their responses to the terrible news that the father has been diagnosed. It will make you laugh and cry and examine your reactions both to those who are “different” and to how you handle the difficult. *****

Saving Grace by Jane Green – a quick read.  I’d call this one “chick lit”.  The plot is one we’ve all read and/or seen the movie but the cooking angle is nice and I actually tried one of the recipes – Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle – and it was wonderful!  ***

In The Unlikely Event by Judy Blume – I’m a fan of Bloom so I read this as soon as I noticed it at the library.  It is based on true events – a series of airplane crashes – that took place in her home town during her teenage years.  She does a good job of showing the fear kids felt and how it affected them for the rest of their lives.  It’s not her best book and it took me awhile to get into it.  It was difficult to keep the characters straight – but by the end I was thinking – not bad. **1/2

You’re Never Weird On The Internet by Felicia Day – A quirky, weird ,memoir by Day who is popular young actress and an admitted math nerd.  I was surprised how much I enjoyed this – probably because I’m a bit of a nerd myself. I usually stay away from memoirs written by anyone under 50, unless they have a devastating illness, but Day is a talented, enterprising, obviously smart and successful woman and she has a story to tell. She tells it well.  ***

The Pearl That Broke It’s Shell by Nadia Hashimi – This was a book club choice and I slogged my way through it.  The story is a familiar one about the terrible oppression and abuse of women in Afghanistan. Hashimi uses two stories set against the history of the country – one takes place in the early 1900’s and other in a more modern-day setting.  The writing is awkward and difficult to follow but the discussion reading this book provokes makes it worth while. ***

A Window Opens by Elisabeth Egan – A light-hearted, funny beach or fireplace (depending on your weather) read. A modern marriage.  A warm female friendship. Big ugly internet seller vs the local bookstore. A peak into publishing. A few tears. a few giggles.  Just a super fun book to breeze through. ****

Reviews Weird and Wonderful Books Sept. 20, 2015

A spent a wonderful week with a friend in Santa Barbara, CA but I read nothing but weird and unusual books. Take a look.

Normal by Graeme Cameron – Who’s to say what is normal?  Certainly a serial killers’ normal is not the same as mine – and I hope not – the same as yours.  But none the less his/her life is normal and a bit humdrum to him/her until they fall in love with someone whom they do not want to kill.  This a totally different read and I loved it.  I had to read the ending twice to be sure I “got it”.  *****

Fun House by Alison Bechdel – my first graphic novel.  This is an interesting medium that I’m not certain I enjoy but Bechdel’s memoir is an appropriate story to present to the reader in this format. The poignant coming out  detailed literary allusion etc.  *****

Why I Don’t Write Children’s Literature by Gary Soto – picked this up off the newest books table at the Coronado library based simply on it’s title.  Every so often I like to read a book of essays and this was, like most, a good sampling of Soto’s work.  Some were good, some were okay and a couple were great. If you like this type of book give it a try. ****

The Wonder Garden by Lauren Acampora – Excellent book of dark short stories.  Even those of you who say you don’t like short stores might like these.  They are all linked together and the book reads almost like a disturbing novel. *****

Trans-sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian – The story of a trans-gendered M2F (male to female) and the woman who loves him before the transition.  Also the story of a great mother-daughter relationship and the story of a divorce.  The book is written around an NPR (Nation Public Radio) broadcast featuring the story of the relationship and the towns’ reaction to the relationship – a clever idea that actually works.  I learned a lot about the struggles of transsexual persons and although, I admit, sometimes the graphic sexual details made me uncomfortable it was a very engaging read. *****

 

 

 

Review The Splendid Things We Planned

I’ve just returned from a wonderful vacation with family in Seattle, WA area.  Despite the fun I found plenty of time to read and review  – but – I didn’t write a single word of book three of the Augustus Family Trilogy. So…. I’m posting this and then I’m not even going to glance at Facebook until I’ve accomplished at least a 1000 new words.   FYI – FAMILY LIES is on promotion only a few more days if you want a free Kindle download. (Over 1000 people have downloaded books 1 and 2 during this BookDaily promotion and I’m hoping for some reviews!)

The Splendid Things We Planned by Blake Bailey – A autobiography – the often sad story of a family that struggles with everything. Told by the younger brother, this is a tough look at a dysfunctional family. *****

In The Mirror by Kaira Rouda – A women’s heartfelt, first person story of the devastation of her life as she struggles with breast cancer. I was surprised at how much I liked this book, the narrator (Jennifer for most chapters) is tough and funny and loving and awful.  She faces things head on and then allows herself to slide away from the truth as we often do. *****

Me  Before You by JoJo Moyes – I think I read this when it first came out but if I did I loved it this time (and maybe last time, too). Exploring the ‘death with  dignity issue is a tough subject.  Moyes manages to make it warm and loving.  Lou (the narrator) is smart and funny and a bit quirky – my favorite kind of person. *****

The Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom – this story takes place in the southern states in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s. It is, of course, about the evils of slavery and indentured servitude but it is more about the evils of damaged individuals and the wide ripples they create by their actions, about the love people feel for the families they create no matter the color of their skin and about the dangers of miscommunication and secret keeping. ****

15 Minutes by Jill Cooper – A young adult time travel book.  The beginning of a series.  New the near future we are able to travel into the past – but not to touch it. While each stay is limited to 15 minutes it is astounding what a difference changing any 15 minutes in the past will make in your life.  The editing could use a little polish but I enjoyed this book.  **** This book is currently free as a Kindle download.

We Never Asked For WIngs  by Vanessa Diffenbaugh – I liked the thought-provoking nature of this book. Immigration is a difficult subject and Diffenbaugh treats it with grace. The youngest child, Luna, is not believable but the teenagers Alex and Yesenia are well written. Single mom, Letty and her male interests, Wes and Rick, often made me impatient but – overall – it’s a simple read that will remind you of how hard it can be to “make it” in the USA. ****

View all my GOODREADS reviews

BookDaily Promotion

This has been an exciting and a very stressful week all at the same time.  If you are a BookDaily subscriber you may have seen that my book FAMILY MATTERS was promoted.  (I still haven’t seen the email that went out.) It was exciting because so many of you downloaded the book but stressful because they were supposed to be promoting FAMILY LIES.  If you downloaded Book 2 FAMILY MATTERS but would like to read Book 1 FAMILY LIES before you read book 2 I think it will be promoted for a few days next week. I’m not sure because I can get no response from the BookDaily people!  Anyway, thanks again to those of you who are reading.  Please leave me a review on Amazon, it really is fun for me to know what you are thinking.  If you’d like to see any of my Amazon books visit my Author Page or search Amazon for my books by name or author name.  FAMILY LIES, FAMILY MATTERS, SUBTLE DIFFERENCES

July 18, 2015

Because of a hurricane off Baja we have had a tumultuous day.  At 6:30 AM I woke to thunder and lightening – something we almost never see or hear in Southern California.  And then it poured!  Also something we seldom experience.  It’s very warm and very wet!  Perhaps this will help the drought – I certainly hope so.  Some good needs to come of it since, of course, the deck construction is incomplete and I had a bit of a leak – it’s fixed now – no damage. Last night I finished rereading To Kill A Mocking Bird and today I started Go Set A Watchmen so I’ll include both of those next week. One of my lovely readers requested that I add a note that mentions which book I read each week that is My Favorite so I’ll do that from now on.

The picture I featured on this post was taken by Brook Taylor of Sacramento, CA. – this morning from her room at the Hotel Del Coronado.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel – A graphic memoir. I really enjoyed this first because it’s a good story – Bechdel’s father is both an English teacher and the director of the town’s funeral home (Fun Home) and then because it’s a graphic novel, and I don’t think I’ve ever read a compete one before, it was an interesting format to explore.  I caution you that if you buy it as a Kindle book – it does not open on my Kindle – it does home in the Kindle app on both my laptop and my phone.  On the phone it was much too small to read.  ****

The World Before Us by Aislinn Hunter – I read only about half of this book.  The write up sounded intriguing but I just couldn’t get into the story.  It’s beautifully written but… maybe during these hot summer days I just need an easier read.  I’ll try this again later.

 MY FAVORITE  The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson – A clever “Sliding Doors” story.  I loved both worlds inhabited  by Kitty/Katharyn.  While it is easy to guess that the two worlds will need to be resolved and it is apparent quite early which is the real world it’s a great read, written by a skillful new writer.  I read it straight through. ****

Hover by Anne A. Wilson – I like that this is the story of a female Naval Academy Graduate who is a suburb Naval Officer.  The action/terrorism part of the story is a clever plot but the characters reacted to one another in too much of a Harlequin romance manner.  This is a debut novel and I’ll bet the next one is stronger. **

As Night Falls by Jenny Milchman – A rather violent hostage situation in the present alternates chapters with the past to explain the actions of the characters. It’s a good plot but I didn’t love it.  The chapters from the past were of more interest then the present.  ***

July 4, 2015

I live in town that knows how to celebrate Independence Day! Perhaps  in part because we are a small town, 25,000 residents but more likely because Coronado Island, CA has a long, proud history of supporting the military.  Whatever the reason, it’s our favorite holiday and the town turns out in all it’s glory for the parade, the rough water swim, the concerts, the special performances and the glorious fireworks!  And every year many, many (100,000 or more) people from all over the world join us. This year was no exception – it was a wonderful party from Wednesday the 1st all the way through to the last concert in the park on Sunday the 5th.

I did mange to sneak in some reading between all the fun. No matter how tired, I HAVE to read before sleep — every night.

my grandmother asked me to tell you she’s sorry – Fredrik Backman – translated form Swedish this is a heart warming love story – the love between Grandparents and Grandchildren and how that love affects the world.  told in a wonderful fairy tale, fantasy, hard life facts manner I was captivated from the first page. ****

The Library At Mount Char – Scott Hawkins – Not sure if this is fantasy, science fiction or a cult gone bad – but it’s a great read.  Full of intrigue, twist and turns, a bit of human tenderness.  I really wanted to know more about some of the characters but that’s not a compliant they were just that interesting.  *****

The Children’s Crusade – Ann Packer – This new novel from the talented Packer explores the secrets and desires, the remnant wounds and saving graces of one California family, over the course of five decades. The mother is especially well drawn.  It’s really worth a read if you like books about families and how they survive anything.  *****

The Dark Road To Mercy – Review

It’s been a week for lots of reading and reviews – in fact all I did this week was read and binge watch Orange Is The New Black.  I love the way this season is showing backstories on many of the characters. I’m not going to write any spoilers here just in case you haven’t found time to watch but let me just say  – it’s a GREAT season!

This Dark Road to Mercy – Wiley Cash – This is a sad/happy book. A tale of love and atonement, blood and vengeance and most of all the story of a wayward father’s love for his daughters and their love for him.  Great character development. *****

The Enemy Inside – Steve Martini – I read all of Martini’s books and since these take place in my hometown I was looking forward to the read.  But this one misses the mark.  Very choppy and difficult to follow and believe me with a plot this simple it should have been easy to read.  I’m giving one star for effort. *

The Unfortunates – Sophie McManus – I really didn’t like this one.  It was simply a story about whining rich people loosely draped around pharmaceutical drug trials and Wall Street corruption.

Low Pressure – Sandra Brown – When a writer publishes a book anonymously which is based on the murder of her sister 18 years earlier, the writer’s true identity is revealed and the book becomes an instant best seller.  And as Brown’s books always do, you are swept into the fear created by a stalker who may or may not be the murderer.  A good read.  ***

The Qualities of Wood – Mary Vensel White – This is a debut novel from a writer with potential. White writes good descriptions and has plotted an interesting mystery.  The ending seemed weak but maybe I was just reading too much! **

Bed Of Bones – Cheryl Bradshaw – If you are a fan of Bradshaw you’ll like this book.  It’s number 5 in her Sloane series.  Personally I find the Sloane character a little too sweet and the descriptions a little to “romance novelly” but I like Bradshaw’s surprise endings and the story behind the bombing of the theater made for a good back story. **

The Dry Grass of August – Anna Jean Mayhew –  A coming of age story for a young women in the throes of the segregationist south.  A first book and available on Kindle Unlimited for free.  It’s well worth a read.  ***