Nov 22, 2015

The Sunday Salon: Back to the Books!

Happy Sunday all! I haven't done a post in awhile where I talk about the books I'm currently reading and listening to so I thought I'd do that today. I'll also update you on the status of my decision to move to Ohio. It's a rainy day here in central Florida, which doesn't bother me at all. It will make for a relaxing book-reading day for me.

With Thanksgiving days away, I'll be taking a break from clearing out my house in preparation of selling it. It's a lot of work when you've lived there for over 20 years, not to mention it's even harder when you are literally half blind.  I hired a guy to come and work in my yard last week and he did a great job! Now if only the leaves would stop falling! Hopefully, I'll be ready to start showing the house the week after. My mom and I met with a realtor last Monday (she's selling her house also and moving with me.) and that made it all seem very real! I know her house will sell very quickly but mine will probably take a bit longer as there are repairs that need to be done. Bur for the right buyer, it would make a great investment. I have a few people interested in looking at it so keep your fingers crossed for me!

Since my recovery from surgery, I've been making up for lost time with the house chores so that hasn't left a lot of time for reading. On the other hand, I am making progress with audios. I love that I can work around the house and listen to my books. It makes the time fly by! But at the end of the day when I think I'll have an hour or so to read, I'm so exhausted I can't stay awake past the first few pages. So my book reading is suffering.

I have two review books I need to read. I've started one called TENACITY by J.S. Law. It's a thriller set in the UK and centers around an investigator with the Royal Navy. She is probing a possible suicide on the British submarine, TENACITY. It's the first book in a new series that others have described as "riveting". I'm very anxious to get back to it. This book was released on November 3rd.

The other book is ALONG THE INFINITE SEA by Beatriz Williams. I've been very curious about her books over the last couple of years but haven't yet read one. So when her 'people' sent me a copy I jumped at the chance to read it. This one is in the historical fiction genre and has a bit of a romance. I was wary of the romance part because I don't usually read books for romance but I was assured it's a subtle element. I haven't read a historical fiction novel in awhile so I'm looking forward to this one. This book was released on November 3rd as well.

I have two audio books going right now but I had to take a break from one of them. A LITTLE LIFE by Hanya Yanagihara is a very long book at over 33 hours and it's a gut-wrenching story. I've reached the half-way point and decided to set it aside for just a bit.

The other audio I started last week is by an author with whom I've become quite smitten. Lucy Clarke's THE BLUE is her third novel and though I'm only about 2 hours in, I'm already totally engrossed and connected to the characters. All of Clarke's books have an adventurous aspect to them as they always revolve around the sea. THE BLUE is about a crew of a 50' yacht that is sailing from The Phillipines to New Zealand and the mysterious goings on amongst this group of people who haven't known each other long but each has a story aching to come out. I have grown to love Clarke's beautiful writing and how she is able to draw the locale into the story and make it seem like it is within reach of the reader. She is a lovely writer and is becoming a favorite of mine. I especially liked the Prologue of this book for it's wonderful prose. I even went back and listened to it twice! The narrator, Scarlett Mack, is doing a terrific job, especially with the different dialects of the characters.
I'm also moving forward with Karin Slaughter's Will Trent Series in between all these other books. I'm on Book 5, FALLEN, though I'm only about 25% done. There are seven books so far in the series and I am really missing it. I desperately want to get back to it. Her crime fiction/suspense writing is amazing but for some it's a bit violent. I have her latest, a stand-alone novel called PRETTY GIRLS on audio but I haven't started it yet. Probably won't get to it until January. :(

The other day, I went through my Kindle and took note of all the books I haven't read yet and I was ashamed of myself! I think it's time for me to ban myself from buying anymore books at least for the rest of the year, if not longer. I have some wonderful books that I'd even fortotten about!

So, that's what's going on in my book world. I'm hopeful I'll make a big dent in my reading this week and I can't wait! I'm starting today! First up I need to finish TENACITY and FALLEN. That is my first priority.

Usually I like to cook on Sunday, but I'm taking a break there too. Yesterday I made a recipe my mom makes all the time that is a cheesy, potato casserole. So I'll just be heating that up, adding a veggie and probably put some chicken in the toaster oven to bake. Easy, peasy!

Now I'm off to get comfortable and start reading! I'd also like to wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

Nov 14, 2015

Finders Keepers by Stephen King (Unabridged Audio)

In this second book of the Bill Hodges Trilogy Stephen King takes us into the mind of a reader obsessed with a series of books. John Rothstein, the writer of the series and creator of the iconic protagonist, Jimmy Gold, has not released a new installment in years and has been living an isolated existence, almost in obscurity for many years.  Morris Bellamy is obsessed with Jimmy Gold and is infuriated about the way Rothstein has left the character. Bellamy is so consumed by this obsession that he, and two accomplices break into Rothstein's secluded home and steal the money he purportedly kept in a safe. While cleaning out the safe they also find several filled notebooks of the aged author's writings. Bellamy is convinced these notebooks are the next installments of the series not yet released.  

After hiding his treasure, Bellamy is then sent to prison for an unrelated crime. As the years pass he dreams of the day when he can reclaim the notebooks and prove that Rothstein had, in fact, written another Gold book.  When finally released he discovers his treasure is gone and he sets out to find it.

My Thoughts on the Story:

Immediately, I was excited about the story featuring an obsessed reader. Morris Bellamy is a low-life but he is no dummy. He is totally obsessed with these books and will do anything to get those notebooks back. It has now been a few years since the Mercedes killings when we first met retired cop Bill Hodges. He isn't present right away, but King enters him into the story very naturally. Along with Hodges, Jerome and Holly are also included, which I really liked. They  sre an odd group of friends that you wouldn't think would have anything in common with each other, but their bond is evident. There are also a few minor characters from book one. For me, the story was original and had me riveted from the beginning. I have only read a few of King's other books but I really enjoy the way he reveals details in these crime fiction books. He doesn't throw everything at you at once. It's like peeling layers of an onion. I enjoyed it very much. There was just as much suspense as in the first book so it made the listening time go by very quickly.

My Thoughts on the Audio Performance:

As with MR. MERCEDES, Will Patton was exceptional. I've always been a fan of his acting ever since I first saw him in the Costner/Hackman film NO WAY OUT. His talent is unending. The way he can so smoothly distinguish between characters is total perfection. He brings such life to these people and makes them totally believable.  His ability to use so many different inflections of his voice for all these characters and keep them all straight is amazing. He is one of my all-time favorite narrators.

The Bottom Line:

I was curious where this second book would take us and if it would be a continuation of MR. MERCEDES.  I liked how King told a new story but kept it related to Book One. And even though I wasn't as blown away with this one as I was with MR. MERCEDES, I still really liked it. I'm looking forward to the final book. Lastly,  I have to mention the cover! It is as great as the previous one with its subtle hints! It's a great read in any form, but if you're looking for a new audio, I highly recommend giving this one a try. Will Patton is wonderful and makes the whole experience even better.

FINDERS KEEPERS (Unabridged Audio)
Author: Stephen King
Narrator: Will Patton
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Published:  June 2015
Length: 13 Hrs 5 Mins (448 pp)
Source: Purchased from

Nov 5, 2015

Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

As a lover of Southern Fiction and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, I was actually nervous to read this book. I had read the reviews and the criticism beforehand which only added to my nervousness. I wanted it to be great. I wanted it to be just as wonderful as TKAM. But realistically, I knew that wasn't possible. Even before reading it I felt it was unfair to compare it to the giant literary work we have loved and coveted for over fifty years.  I still feel that way now after reading it.

When I began reading, it felt odd that Jean-Louise was now a grown woman, living in NYC and it took me a while to get used to that fact. I know, it's silly, but that'a how I felt. Once I shed the dream of having Scout back in the same form, the story grew on me. Yes, by that I mean I wasn't in love with the story right away. It took some time to warm up to it. So much had changed but, like real life, it's a normal progression.  Along with Jem's absence in the book, one of the first aspects that surprised me was the change in Calpurnia's relationship with the family. A true sign of the times, I realize it is a reflection of how life was changing in the south with regard to African Americans. But much like Jean-Louise, it caught me off guard and I felt a sort of loss. The South was evolving and so were it's people.  Because Jean-Louise had moved North for school, she didn't see the slow progression of this change and upon returning home that new reality slapped her in the face. Scout never saw Cal as black, she was just Cal and she loved her. She never saw the division and she didn't want to see it now.

The book is a sharp contrast to TKAM in that it shows not only how much the South waschanging, but also Jean-Louise's realization that Atticus may not be the man she thought he was.  As she struggle to accept these changes, she questions what she always thought to be true.  All she wants is for things to go back to the way she remembered.  Seeing a parent through grown up eyes is sometimes difficult, especially when the image you have of that person is almost god-like, as in Scout's case with Atticus. I remember well the first time, as an adult, I saw a flawed version of my own father and how hard it was for me to come to terms with him not being perfect. That is what Jean-Louise is dealing with here.

Unlike many readers, I didn't feel like this book showed Atticus as being a racist. In fact, I didn't find him much different than in TKAM. Jean-Louise made assumptions about her father and in true Scout form, reacted before looking at the whole picture. I feel like a lot of the readers who also saw him as racist did the same thing. He was still a man fighting for his community with all its changes, but doing it in a different way. Some see it and some don't. The book became more emotional to me as it went on and by the final pages, I had a lump in my throat that almost choked me. It was in those pages that I came to my final opinion about the book. It moved me and I'm so glad I read it. I had no idea what to expect going in but what I got was an appreciation for Harper Lee's view and her talent.

One final note, the title was a mystery to me at first but now that I've read the book and I understand where that phrase comes from and what it means, I totally get it and think it is the perfect title.

The Bottom Line:

I strongly suggest reading this book but only if you've already read TKAM. Don't try to compare the two books, just go into it with an open mind. I flew through it and will more than likely read it more than once. It's not often we get the chance to have a highly regarded writer of a piece of classic literature offer something such as this and I commend Harper Lee for her courage in doing so.

GO SET A WATCHMAN (Kindle Version)
Author: Harper Lee
Publisher: Harper
Published: July 2015
Length: 288 pp
Source: Purchased