The Earl’s Inconvenient Wife by Julia Justiss

Title: The Earl's Inconvenient Wife, Author: Julia JustissThe Earl’s Inconvenient Wife. Finished 2-11-19, 4/5 stars, historical romance, 288 pages, pub. 2019

Temperance Lattimar is too scandalous for a Season, until finally she’s sponsored by Lady Sayleford. The whole charade feels wrong when she doesn’t want a husband, but Temper feels awful when MP and aristocrat Gifford Newell is appointed to “protect” her at society events. With her past, she knows she’s not an ideal wife…but then a marriage of convenience to Giff becomes the only option!   from Goodreads

There was plenty of tension and strong-willed heroine exploits in this romance, but there was more too.  I learned a lot about Parliament.  It was refreshing to see an aristocrat actually working for the social good.  Giff did like the ladies a bit too much, but his devotion to his work was a plus.  Temper wanted only to be left alone to work.  After her dad denies her money, she tries a plan  that will leave her without a suitor after the season so that her dad must release her money and she can be left alone to travel around the world collecting artifacts.  As with any good Harlequin the two found themselves wanting one thing, but then discovering that something else made them happy.

This is part of a series and I thought it was well done. It was exactly what I needed, a bit of fun fluff.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Title: Where the Crawdads Sing, Author: Delia OwensWhere the Crawdads Sing. Finished audio 2-8-19, 4.5/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2018

Unabridged audio read by Cassandra Campbell.  12 hours 12 minutes.

For years, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.

Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.  from Goodreads

Down in the North Carolina low country there was a girl the locals called the marsh girl.  Abandoned by her mother, her siblings and then by her abusive father, before the age of ten she fended for herself trying to survive.  Jumpin’ and his wife Mabel take pity on her by providing her a way to earn money and giving her a few necessities and friendship. Kya was truly isolated in extreme poverty at a very young.  The social workers came around and they even got her to school one day, but never could find her after that.  She knew the marsh better than anyone.  Tate, who worked in the waters with his dad befriended her and taught her to read, but too soon he was off to college and Kya was alone again.

This is a beautiful debut novel.  The writing was therapeutic to someone holed up for the winter, say, someone like me.  Kya was a great character and one made richer after you’ve finished the novel and had time to reflect.  Her extreme isolation and poverty gave way to her extreme self-sufficiency and loneliness and all of this led to the prejudice that landed her as a murder defendant.  In what could have been just a sweeping coming of age story, there comes a turn that puts her in town and on display for all of those who have shunned her for years.

I loved it and Kya will surely be sticking with me for a while.

 

An evening with Paula McLain

IMG_5456 (2)Our local library system, Cuyahoga County Public Library, has been hosting these A Cook and A Book events for a while, but I’d not been to one.  Now I may sign up for all of them regardless of the author!  What a great format.  It’s in the upstairs rooms of my favorite grocery store and we were greeted with Hemingway’s favorite daquiri (yum).  The charming Paula McLain talked about spending 14 years in the foster system of Fresno, California and her first paid writing gig – $25 for a poem in Cosmopolitan magazine.  She received her MFA from University of Michigan before allowing Cleveland to call her one of its own 15 years ago.  Of course, she talked about her books.  I’ve only read (and loved) Circling the Sun, but  her first bestseller The Paris Wife was about Hemingway’s first wife and her latest, Love and Ruin, is about his third.  She was granted access to Hemingway’s Cuban home (now a museum that the public can’t enter) and was able to spend three days there going through the house.  Which led to the last bit of the evening, Martha’s Mojo Criollo recipe that I’ll share with you.  We all got to try it and it was tasty.  It was a full hour and a half and a lot of fun.  I was going to read Love & Ruin, but when she explained that Hemingway’s son from The Paris Wife shows up in Love and Run all grown up I realized that I wanted to read them in order.  She was entertaining and warm and showed a lot of love for bad ass women (her words and mine :)).

IMG_5457 IMG_5460 (2)

The Accidental Further Adventures of the 100-Year-Old Man by Jonas Jonasson

Title: The Accidental Further Adventures of the Hundred-Year-Old Man: A Novel, Author: Jonas Jonasson

The Accidental Further Adventures of the 100-Year-Old Man.  Finished 2-5-19, rating 4/5 stars, fiction, 448 pages, pub. 2019

The hysterical, clever, and unforgettable sequel to Jonas Jonasson’s international bestseller The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared.

It all begins with a hot air balloon trip and three bottles of champagne. Allan and Julius are ready for some spectacular views, but they’re not expecting to land in the sea and be rescued by a North Korean ship, and they could never have imagined that the captain of the ship would be harboring a suitcase full of contraband uranium, on a nuclear weapons mission for Kim Jong-un. Yikes!

Soon Allan and Julius are at the center of a complex diplomatic crisis involving world figures from the Swedish foreign minister to Angela Merkel and President Trump. Needless to say, things are about to get very, very complicated.     from Goodreads

I didn’t read the first Allan and Julius story, but when Trish suggested I might like this I couldn’t resist.  An international caper with a crotchety old guy?  She knows me so well.

Allan and Julius are one of the most fun pairs I’ve had the chance to read lately.  Allan, who has led a very exciting life and gotten by with his gift of conversational nothingness, and Julius, the asparagus loving charmer always looking for a con, managed to find themselves in the most absurd situations.  I loved the chapters with those two, often laughing out loud at their antics.  They also managed to surround themselves with a somewhat cuckoo cast of characters who were easy to love.

The gift of this book is the humor, the light touch and easy way Jonasson manages to poke fun.  No political figure was too esteemed.  Kim Jong-un, Donald Trump, and Angela Merkel were hilarious in their interactions with Allan.  Allan and Trump golfing together was one of my favorite scenes.  Good stuff.

After a while I did find myself skimming through some of the chapters of secondary to world leaders characters and didn’t feel like I missed much.  At over 400 pages, I really just wanted the action focused on the main characters.

This was a fun book full of absurd situations.  I’d love to read a book about Allan when he turns 102 🙂

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins for sending me a proof for this book tour.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expury

Title: The Little Prince Deluxe Pop-Up Book (with audio), Author: Antoine de Saint-ExuperyThe Little Prince: Deluxe Pop-Up Book, Unabridged Text.  Finished 2-3-19, 5/5, children’s classic, 63 pages, pub. 2015

After being stranded in a desert after a crash, a pilot comes in contact with a captivating little prince who recounts his journey from planet to planet and his search for what is most important in life.

For over sixty-five years Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic, The Little Prince, has captured readers’ hearts. The whimsical story with a fairy tale feel has sold over 3 million copies in all formats. This exciting pop-up edition includes the complete original text accompanied by Saint-Exupery’s beautiful illustrations brought to life through paper engineering. Perfect for longtime fans and those meeting the little prince for the first time!   from Goodreads

Oh, how I loved reading this classic for the first time with Gage.  This pop-up book with all of the original text was amazing!  The three of us read a chapter at night for family reading time and I don’t know how we’re going to top it with our next family book.  Here’s a pic of one of the pages.

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Some of them just popped up and some of them had more interactive features.  It was well done and I plan on buying a copy since this one is from the library.

As for the story itself.  Jason and I laughed at the making fun of adults and sometimes Gage didn’t get the joke, but otherwise the story was a fun adventure story of a young prince from another planet. Well, it was fun until the end.  For some reason I was not prepared for the end.  It led to good discussion with Gage, especially since he’s been asking me very specific questions about Heaven these days.

I don’t know what took me so long to read this, but this is a fun book to read with your child and the pop-ups will only bring it more to life for the both of you.

This was my 25th selection for the Classics Club challenge.  I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.

 

A Quick Trip to Asheville

Jason and I took a 4 day weekend and turned it into a road trip to Asheville, North Carolina.  It’s a little over 8 hours from southeast Cleveland according to Google, but we managed to turn it into over 11 on the way down after a speeding ticket and a stop at the wrong hotel.  That’s what makes road trips so much fun!  We listened to Origin by Dan Brown on the way there and back and still didn’t manage to finish yet.

Asheville was lovely and I was most impressed by the two bookstores they had downtown that were within a mile of each other.

First we hit Malaprop’s and I loved it.  I spent some money.  When I went to find Jason in the café he was playing an online game with an exchange student from Chile.  They were trying to get themselves on the same team, lol.  Let me just say that I complain more often than I should that the game he plays on his phone is antisocial and now I can’t.  He’s making international friends!  So, I left them playing, or whatever nonsense was going on, and went back to shopping.  If I couldn’t complain about the game I could at least spend more money on the bookstore.

 

Immediately after Malaprop’s we went to Battery Park Book Exchange Champagne Bar.  

 

This space was so cool.  Not only did it have a full bar, but the furniture, décor and the way each room of books led you to the next was a place I could have spent hours exploring.  Alas, we did not have that kind of time.  The mimosa and food were excellent.

I posted some pics on Facebook and the one that got the most attention was the mirror selfie I took of Jason and I at Biltmore.  This made me smile since I took it because of one of my favorite pics that I took of Jason and me when we visited Versailles in France in 2010.  Two audacious homes.  Here are the two pics

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I could crop and blow up the one from Biltmore but I kind of like it the way it is.

I missed seeing Kathy this trip, but hopefully next time!  We’ve known each other online since 2008, but have never met in person.

January’s Movies and $ for Charity

Well I only made it to the theater once this month, with Gage and his BFF.  I’m waiting for the Oscars to tell me what I need to go see 😉

Add your 5 words (or less!) to mine in a comment and earn $1 for charity. Once we get to $100 the person with the most reviews will choose the charity. Click here to see the past winners, the charities they chose and the other reviews you can add to. Anyone is welcome to join in at any time.

We’re at $5 right now.  Thanks to Heather, the Best Friends Animal Society received $100 last month!  Your charity could be next 🙂

Original movie poster for the film Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.jpgWho’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1966 (Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, George Segal, Sandy Dennis)  Grade B+

Beautiful mess of a marriage.

One Day Poster.jpgOne Day, 2011 (Anne Hathaway, Jim Sturgess, Rafe Spall, Tom Mison, Jodie Whittaker, Patricia Clarkson)      Grade B+

Broke my poor romantic heart.


Avengers Infinity War poster.jpgAvengers: Infinity War, 2018 (Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlet Johansson, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pratt, Josh Brolin, Don Cheadle, Tom Holland, Chadwick Boseman, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Zoe Saldana, Anthony Mackie, Sebastian Stan, Danai Gurira)    Grade B

Fighting, saving, quips, defeat and death.

NEED THE SEQUEL NOW, PLEASE!!!!  (Kay)

So many thrills, then wahhhhhhhhhh!  (Michelle)


Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018 film poster).png Ralph Breaks the Internet, 2018 (Voices-John C Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, Taraji P Henson, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, Alfred Molina, Ed O’ Neill)                     Grade B

Such a sweet friendship.


Il racconto dei racconti poster.jpgTale of Tales, 2015 (Salma Hayek, John C Reilly, Vincent Cassel, Toby Jones, Christian & Jonah Lees)         Grade B

Bizarre & fascinating dark fairy tales.

Unique, wonderful and bizarre tales!  (Michelle)


Cellular poster.JPGCellular, 2004 (Kim Basinger, Chris Evans, Jason Stratham, William H Macy, Noah Emmerich)       Grade C

Captain America during his amateur days.

I can barely remember it (Michelle)


Did you hear about the morgans ver2.jpgDid You Hear About the Morgans?, 2009 (Hugh Grant, Sarah Jessica Parker, Sam Elliott, Mary Steenburgen, Elizabeth Moss, Michael Kelly, Wilford Brimley)    Grade D+

Did they even like each other?

Absolutely anything with Hugh Grant (Michelle)

Fave Movie #51 – Crash

Crash ver2.jpg2004

Cast- Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillion, Jennifer Esposito, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris Bridges (Ludacris), Thandie Newton, Micheal Pena, Ryan Phillipe, Larentz Tate

Directed by Paul Haggis

Winner of Best Picture Oscar and Best Original Screenplay

It’s Los Angeles around Christmas and the lives of a diverse cast of characters intertwine to show the ugly underbelly  of racism.  A politician, a detective, a director, a thug, policemen and others all face their own demons in this excellent ensemble film.

Why I Love It – The all-star cast and the way that Haggis put all of these different stories together was so satisfying to me.  Michael Pena’s character almost broke my heart and Sandra Bullock’s anger resonated.  But it was the rest of it, all of it, the bad with the good that make me love it.  Matt Dillion and Thandie Newton’s scenes together? Full circle storytelling.  Same with Don Cheadle.

The hate and prejudice was so in your face.  It’s out in the open and not blunted by political correctness.  It’s an anger, unfortunately, that is alive and well in 2019.  I know it’s no for everyone, but for me it was real and raw and shines a light on things that people don’t like to discuss.

Fear: Trump in the White House by Bob Woodward

Title: Fear: Trump in the White House, Author: Bob WoodwardFear: Trump in the White House.  Finished audio 1-16-19, rating 4/5, truth, pub. 2018\

Unabridged audio read by Robert Petkoff

With authoritative reporting honed through eight presidencies from Nixon to Obama, author Bob Woodward reveals in unprecedented detail the harrowing life inside President Donald Trump’s White House and precisely how he makes decisions on major foreign and domestic policies. Woodward draws from hundreds of hours of interviews with firsthand sources, meeting notes, personal diaries, files and documents. The focus is on the explosive debates and the decision-making in the Oval Office, the Situation Room, Air Force One and the White House residence.  from Goodreads

I’m going to try and be as even-handed as I can be because Woodward went out his way to do so.  If you love Trump and call everything that is negative fake news this is not the book for you.  If you are on the fence about the man, liking some things and trying to ignore the rest, this is the book you need to read.  It is not a hit piece.  It is a methodical retelling of many moments at the White House in Trump’s first year or so.  If you detest Trump, this book will reinforce why, but it will also humanize him a bit.

I’m not spoiling anything for anyone by saying that this book could have just as easily been called Liar.  Every person in his administration that shows up in the book readily agrees.  I’m not exaggerating when I say that the man obviously has a problem with the truth.  Some people questioned whether he even knew he was lying or if it was just that much in his nature.  He also has a real issues with facts and hard data that go against what his gut tells him.  Seriously, he is making nuclear decisions based on nothing but opinions based on something he saw on TV.

I came away with adjusted views of the Ivanka and John Kelly (not in a positive way) and more respect for Cohn, Priebus and even Rob Porter.  Woodward is a well-respected journalist who does a very good job with this one.  My low opinion of Trump has not changed, but it was good to see that some sane people around him were trying to keep the country running (I should point out that all of these people are now gone).

 

Goodreads Cleanup Help

Okay, I’ve tried this twice and you guys have helped me so much.  Let me tell you why.  Obviously, I’ve shown you 15 and I’ve eliminated 6 off my list.  But it has forced me to actually look at the books on my list.  I mean the list is only useful if it really is what I want to read.  Not 6 years ago, but today.  And I’ve put on hold the ones available at my library!  So, I’m going to keep it going once or twice a month until my TBR list is reasonable (and no I don’t have a set number in mind for this).

I am planning on writing a post on my Mt. TBR of unread books, but I’ll give you a heads up- during our mold remediation I got rid of every. single. one.  So I really am ready to utilize my 895 Goodreads list 🙂

Help a middle -aged gal out!

How to participate:

  • Go to your Goodreads to-read shelf
  • Order by Ascending Date Added
  • Take the first 5 (or 10 if you’re feeling adventurous) books. Of course if you do this weekly, you start where you left off the last time.
  • Read the synopses of the books
  • Decide: keep it or let it go?

 

What We Keep Ginny Young is on a plane, en route to see her mother, whom she hasn’t seen or spoken to for thirty-five years. She thinks back to the summer of 1958, when she and her sister, Sharla, were young girls. At that time, a series of dramatic events–beginning with the arrival of a mysterious and sensual next-door neighbor–divided the family, separating the sisters from their mother. Moving back and forth in time between the girl she once was and the woman she’s become, Ginny at last confronts painful choices that occur in almost any woman’s life, and learns surprising truths about the people she thought she knew best. 

I love Berg but this just looks okay to me. Have you read it?

Les and Sheila are a Yes!


We Are All Welcome HereWe Are All Welcome Here, features three women, each struggling against overwhelming odds for her own kind of freedom.
It is the summer of 1964. In Tupelo, Mississippi, the town of Elvis’s birth, tensions are mounting over civil-rights demonstrations occurring ever more frequently-and violently-across the state. But in Paige Dunn’s small, ramshackle house, there are more immediate concerns. Challenged by the effects of the polio she contracted during her last month of pregnancy, Paige is nonetheless determined to live as normal a life as possible and to raise her daughter, Diana, in the way she sees fit-with the support of her tough-talking black caregiver, Peacie.

I really want to read this!

Sheila says yes!


Back on Murder (A Roland March Mystery, #1)Det. Roland March is a homicide cop on his way out. But when he’s the only one at a crime scene to find evidence of a missing female victim, he’s given one last chance to prove himself. Before he can crack the case, he’s transferred to a new one that has grabbed the spotlight–the disappearance of a famous Houston evangelist’s teen daughter.

Anyone vouch for this series?

Kay says yes!


Sleepyhead (Tom Thorne, #1)Detective Inspector Tom Thorne now knows that three murdered young women were a killer’s mistakes — and that Alison was his triumph. And unless Thorne can enter the mind of a brilliant madman — a frighteningly elusive fiend who enjoys toying with the police as much as he savors his sick obsession — Alison Willetts will not be the last victim consigned forever to a hideous waking hell.

I’ve been wanting to read Billingham since I saw him at Bouchercon.

Kay says yes!


The Kennedy Detail: JFK's Secret Service Agents Break Their SilenceThe New York Times bestselling and extraordinary true story of the critical events leading up to and following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, as told by the Secret Service agents who were firsthand witnesses to one of America’s greatest tragedies.

I go through my Kennedy phases for sure.


Forever . . .Katherine and Michael meet at a New Year’s Eve party. They’re attracted to each other, they grow to love each other. And once they’ve decided their love is forever, they make love.

It’s the beginning of an intense and exclusive relationship, with a future all planned. Until Katherine’s parents insist that she and Michael put their love to the test with a summer apart…

Don’t know how I can call myself a girl of the 80’s and not have read this.


Talk of the TownDarlings, what a to-do at the Daily Mail today! After fifteen years as Chicago’s gossip guru, Rebecca Covington has been demoted from divulger of secrets for the city’s elite to headlining recipes in the Home and Food section. Apparently, a touchy senator is threatening legal action for Rebecca’s latest extramarital scoop. But Windy City rumor has it that new CEO and dreamy Pierce Brosnan look-alike David Sumner downgraded Rebecca in favor of fresher, younger blood on the social beat.

This sounds trite, but that cover!!


 

Five Miles South of PeculiarIf these three sisters don’t change direction, they’ll end up where they’re going.

Darlene Caldwell has spent a lifetime tending Sycamores, an estate located five miles south of a small town called Peculiar. She raised a family in the spacious home that was her grandfather’s legacy, and she enjoys being a pillar of the community. Sycamores is the kingdom where she reigns as queen . . . until her limelight-stealing twin sister unexpectedly returns.

Carlene Caldwell, veteran of the Broadway stage, is devastated when she realizes that an unsuccessful throat surgery has spelled the end of her musical career. Searching for a new purpose in life, she retreats to Sycamores, her childhood home. She may not be able to sing, but she hopes to use her knowledge and experience to fashion a new life in Peculiar, the little town she left behind.

Haunted by a tragic romance, Magnolia Caldwell is the youngest of the Caldwell girls. Nolie has never wanted to live anywhere but Sycamores. She spends her days caring for her dogs and the magnificent gardens she’s created on the estate, but when she meets a man haunted by his own tragedy, she must find the courage to either deny her heart or cut the apron strings that tie her to a dear and familiar place.

Eh.


Crossbones YardRay and Marie Benson killed 13 women before they were caught, tried and imprisoned. Five of their victims were never found. Six years later, psychologist Alice Quentin discovers a woman’s body on the waste ground at Crossbones Yard. The wounds are horrifyingly similar to the Bensons’ signature style. But who would want to copy their crimes? When Alice is called in to consult, her first instinct is to say no. She wants to focus on treating her patients, not analysing the mind of a murderer. But the body at Crossbones Yard is just the start, and the killer may already be closer than Alice knows.

I’m intrigued.


The Goose Girl (The Books of Bayern, #1)Anidora-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree spent the first years of her life listening to her aunt’s incredible stories, and learning the language of the birds. Little knowing how valuable her aunt’s strange knowledge would prove to be when she grew older. From the Grimm’s fairy tale of the princess who became a goose girl before she could become a queen, Shannon Hale has woven an incredible, original and magical tale of a girl who must understand her own incredible talents before she can overcome those who wish her harm.

I’m on board with this I think.

Jill and Heather say yes!


Okay, I really want to know your thoughts on these – especially the ones you’ve read.