The Breakdown by BA Paris

Title: The Breakdown: A Novel, Author: B. A. Paris The Breakdown. Finished audio 9-2-18, rating 3/5, thriller, pub. 2017

Unabridged audio narrated by Georgia Maguire

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside—the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her…

from Goodreads

It didn’t take me long to become annoyed with Cass.  She was such a weak character that it was hard to be sympathetic, even when the occasion called for it.  The story itself was okay.  Lots of coincidences, but none were too much.  Is Cass going crazy, suffering from dementia or is someone truly trying to shake her up?  I figured it out by halfway through but don’t want to spoil it for you.

Jason listened to this one too and he wasn’t as irked by Cass as I was, but he also didn’t have any problem figuring it out pretty early.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Title: Austenland, Author: Shannon HaleAustenland. Finished 9-14-18, rating 3.5/5, fiction, 197 pages, pub. 2007

Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.

Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen;or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?       from Goodreads

Jane’s obsession with Colin Firth’s Mr. Darcy is a secret shame of hers but I can’t imagine why.  Everyone knows that Colin Firth will forever melt the hearts of all women (and some men) who have seen the BBC miniseries.  For some reason Jane tries to hide her fangirl crush but her astute aunt wills her a trip to an English estate that caters to the Austen crazies among us who are wealthy enough to play lady to Austen’s heroes.  Jane immerses herself in the experience, but knows, or thinks she knows, that it’s all a game and when her two weeks are up she must go back to New York City without her Darcy.

I thought this was light and fun, but having seen the movie first this lacked a little of the spark that the cast provided it.  All it really did was make me want to track down the movie and watch it again!  That being said, I’d be interested in giving the sequel a shot, if only for my love of the movie.

 

Our Town by Thornton Wilder

Title: Our Town, Author: Thornton Wilder

Our Town. Finished 9-17-18, 4.5/5 stars, classic play, 181 pages, pub. 1938

Our Town was first produced and published in 1938 to wide acclaim. This Pulitzer Prize-winning drama of life in the small village of Grover’s Corners, an allegorical representation of all life, has become a classic. It is Thornton Wilder’s most renowned and most frequently performed play.     from Goodreads

It’s Grover’s Corner, New Hampshire (population 2,642), early 20th century, and the Stage Manager leads us (the audience) through the years.  We follow two families, the Gibbs and the Webbs as the doctor and the newspaperman and their families lead their lives in the small New England town.  The three acts, years apart, see Emily as a child, a teen and a young bride.

I had forgotten how much fun it can be to read a play. First performed in 1938 on a stage devoid of props this play is simplicity at its deepest. The lives of the townspeople weren’t particularly interesting which made the ending such a punch in the gut (of the gentle and not hurtful variety) for me.  That third act was brilliant.  I loved it.

“That’s what it was like to be alive. To move about in a cloud of ignorance; to go up and down trampling on the feelings of those…of those about you. To spend and waste time as though you had a million years. To be always at the mercy of one self-centered passion, or another. Now you know- that’s the happy existence you wanted to go back to. Ignorance and blindness.”

This won the Pulitzer Prize and  my 23rd selection for the Classics Club and I have until January 1, 2020 to get to 50.

The Battle For Paradise:Puerto Rico Takes on the Disaster Capitalists by Naomi Klein

Title: The Battle for Paradise: Puerto Rico Takes on the Disaster Capitalists, Author: Naomi  Klein The Battle for Paradise. Finished 9-16-18, rating 5/5, non-fiction, 80 pages, pub 2018

In the rubble of Hurricane Maria, Puerto Ricans and ultrarich “Puertopians” are locked in a pitched struggle over how to remake the island. In this vital and startling investigation, bestselling author and activist Naomi Klein uncovers how the forces of shock politics and disaster capitalism seek to undermine the nation’s radical, resilient vision for a “just recovery.”  from Goodreads

I don’t think I’ve ever read a book that taught me so much in just 80 pages.  Admittedly, I knew very little about Puerto Rico, but this book isn’t just about the small US territory, it’s also about how capitalism can be and is at odds with humane aid when disaster strikes.  Thankfully, Trump is mentioned toward the end only, and as you can imagine, not favorably, so for the most part this is about what’s actually happening there, starting before the hurricane hit through today, where so many are still living without electricity.

First, let’s start with the term neoliberalism.  Sounds like a word that Mitch McConnell would spit out when talking about Democrats, but that definition didn’t fit with what I was reading so I had to do a small bit of research since the word came up a few times. A concise explanation for those interested…

Liberalism vs. Neoliberalism

“Although the terms share some similarities, the two are distinct. Both are rooted in 19th-century classical liberalism, which supported laissez-fare economics and the freedom of people against an overpowering government. Liberalism is more of a political philosophy that holds liberty to a high standard. It defines all social, economic and political aspects of society, such as the role of government, toleration, freedom to act, etc. Conversely, neoliberalism focuses more on the markets, meaning it supports deregulation, ending protectionism and freeing up the markets. Therefore, it is based on economics.”   From Investopedia

Even my investment hubby wasn’t up-to-date with the term. The Republicans passed a number of tax breaks for businesses and businesses to make Puerto Rico a paradise.  This takeover of the rich was happening before Hurricane Maria.  Now, as the devastation still continues there is a real divide between the native Puerto Ricans and the monied Silicon Valley millionaires wanting to change the landscape of the land.

This book led to some great discussion with Jason and I can now say that I understand the bitcoin phenomena a bit better.  Also of interest is how some of the things that happened after Hurricane Katrina are happening here.  It’s sad and scary.

I don’t know the answer for Puerto Rico but they are engaged and I hope that the heart of of the territory prevails.

I recommend this for everyone.

September’s Movies & Life update

Sadly, I did not complete my 30 books in 30 days challenge this year.  I’ll be posting a few of the reasons why on the challenge blog shortly, but the big two are house related.  The place by the lake we’ve been staying for over two months kicked us out a month early due to them finding someone to rent the place for six months 😦  So, yesterday we moved our stuff back into my parent’s condo.  The upside is that I am now 5 minutes from home, not 30.  As for the house itself, one day last week I had an outside crew, a gutter grew and mold crew all here at the same time and 2 guys came to interview for the drywall job.  And I fed them, lol.  Anyhoo, just trying to keep my head above water.  I read 25 books and I’m considering that a win!

the outsideIMG_4541

the inside IMG_4534

Amazed I watched anything at all in September!

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 $95 right now.

A Simple Favor.png A Simple Favor, 2018 (Anna Kendrick, Blake Lively, Henry Golding, Jean Smart)      Grade B

Sparkly and stylish dark mystery.


Lady Bird poster.jpegLady Bird, 2017 (Saorse Ronan, Laurie Metcalf, Tracy Letts, Lucas Hedges, Timothee Chalamet)                     Grade B

Real coming of age angst.

 New twist on old story.  (Kathy)

Upbeat coming-of-age story, great acting.  (Heather)


Sierra Burgess Is a Loser.png Sierra Burgess is a Loser, 2018 (Shannon Purser, Kristine Proseth, BJ Cyler, Noah Centineo)                      Grade B

Worth watching teen catfish story.

30 books in 30 days

Even though I am currently taking care of two houses , two cats, one second grader, and one husband, and whoever I can get to come work on our house, Heather’s interest pushed me from my hesitation.  For the third September in a row, Gage and I will be reading a book a day.  I’ll probably update here weekly, but here’s my first post on my 30 day challenge blog…

It’s here! The first day of my 30 books in 30 days reading challenge!  We had a lazy morning after spending all day yesterday at Cedar Point, but both G and I got our books done early. For him, having a wide variety of books that are just under his reading abilities is going to be important.  He does not want to have to work too hard, lol.

G chose the latest Pete the Cat, The Petes Go Marching and I enjoyed hearing him sing this book to his dad this morning 🙂

I’ll admit that I started How To Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh in the spring, but didn’t make it too far, so I decided to start again this morning when I couldn’t sleep at 2 am.  This is part of his mindfulness series, of which I’m a huge fan.  Hanh is a Buddist monk and his books expand the way I see the world and his books will always be on my to-read list.  This is a slight 125 page book on not only how to eat, but how to do so with the meaning.  Mindfulness is about being present in all that you do, so by bringing that to your food, you can change your life for the better.  This is not a diet book, but he does touch upon that we should only be putting the healthiest of foods in our body and that we should not be eating our worries, fear, or anger.  I’ll leave you with a few quotes.

“Enjoy your meal. Stop thinking and be here fully, body and mind.” page 32

“With each meal, we make choices that help or harm the planet.” page 59

“If we feel empty, we don’t need to go to the refrigerator to take things out to eat.  When you eat like that it’s because there is a feeling of emptiness, loneliness, or depression inside.  The moments of our daily lives can be filled with joy and meaningful activities.  Our community includes our family and friends and our connection to other living beings.  They are there to help us get out of these feelings.  We are not alone.  Sharing a meal together is not just to sustain our bodies and celebrate life’s wonders, but also to experience freedom, joy, and the happiness of being in a harmonious community during the whole time of eating.”  page 77

“May we find ways to live more simply in order to have more time and energy to change the system of injustice that exists in the world.”  page 113

Heather (Gofita’s Pages) is joining us this year, YAY!  Here’s her post from yesterday.  So happy to have her aboard.

August’s Movies & another house update

Our poor house is still struggling and we’ve extended our stay at the condo close to downtown and the beach.  I am so thankful that we can afford to do so, but before all is said and done it will be 3 months there and that might even be pushing it.  Our poor house only needs people to work on it.  We’ve had such bad luck with hiring people that don’t do the job correctly and/or don’t show up for weeks at a time.  Just hired someone new yesterday and are paying double the cost of his competitor because he can get started in September and not October.  The outside will be started on next week and the inside by the end of September.

While we’ve had people not showing up Jason has taken on a lot of the burden himself.  He spends a few night a week here at the house working late into the night and in the wee hours of the morning.  Gage stays with Grandma once a week and that means I get to spent the night in the condo all by myself (I tried staying here one night but the house in its current state made me sick). Such a weird feeling.  So weird that I fell prey to having a glass of wine and watching a few teen rom-coms that felt like throwbacks to my favorite 80’s John Hughes movies.  I admit that I’ve secretly liked being able to sleep in the next morning before meandering back to my guys 🙂

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 $93 right now.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before poster.jpgTo All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, 2018 (Lana Condor, Noah Centineo, Janel Parrish, Anna Cathcart. John Corbett)      Grade B+

Sweet diverse teen romance.


The Kissing Booth.pngThe Kissing Booth, 2018 (Joey King, Jacob Eldori, Joel Courtney, Molly Ringwald)             Grade B

Energetic heroine + Hunky Anti-Hero 80’s Throwback

The Glass Castle (film).pngThe Glass Castle, 2017 (Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Max Greenfield, Naomi Watts)        Grade B-

Loved book, adaptation not so much.

 

The Immortal Gene by Jonas Saul

Title: The Immortal Gene, Author: Jonas Saul  The Immortal Gene. Finished 8-14-18, rating 3.5/5, fiction, 319 pages, pub. 2018

From my earlier thoughts…

I’m scheduled to post about The Immortal Gene today for a TLC tour so here I am providing you with half review and half life update.

I’m over half way done with the book and really like it. The story is good, even if the bad guy really sickened me last night when I was reading before bed.  It runs along two main storylines, Jake the detective and Jeffery the serial killer.  There’s a mysterious shadowy group that has something to do with why Jake was in a coma for two years and why he now appears to be something more than a man.  I like the writing and the story and look forward to finishing and telling you more, hopefully next week.  (original post)

Okay, I liked this one, but the first half worked a little bit better for me. When I referenced Jake turning into more than a man, well,  that went full scale reptile in the second half and it was both interesting and a bit too much for me.  I do think it will appeal to many sci-fi readers, especially since the basis is rooting in reality.  This is the beginning of a series and I may read the next one to see what happens since there was a lot left unsettled at the end.

 

 

Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

Title: Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike Series #3), Author: Robert GalbraithCareer of Evil. Finished audio 7-5-18, 3.5/5 stars, mystery, pub. 2015

Cormoran Strike #3  (1-The Cuckoo’s Calling, 2-The Silkworm)

Unabridged audio read by Robert Glenister. 17 hours

When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg.

Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible – and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.

With the police focusing on the one suspect Strike is increasingly sure is not the perpetrator, he and Robin take matters into their own hands and delve into the dark and twisted worlds of the other three men. But as more horrendous acts occur, time is running out for the two of them….  from Goodreads

Let me start by saying that I love Cormoran and Robin and their relationship, which is a good thing since the book was full of the twists and turns of their working turned personal life.  Cormoran is involved and Robin is planning her upcoming wedding but the tension and intimacy are there to complicate things.  Will the marriage happen?  You find out at the end.

The mystery was good, but since I was listening in the car I had a problem keeping the three suspects separate in my mind.  They often lumped together.  I thought they would differentiate themselves eventually, but some of the enjoyment was lost because of how long it took.  But I did learn a lot about the creepy obsession people have for losing limbs.  Not really a world I enjoyed too much.

If you like this series you’ll like this book, but I don’t think this would be a great one to read without having read at least one of the first two.

Robert Galbraith is JK Rowling for those who have forgotten 🙂

Heartbroken by Lisa Unger

Title: Heartbroken, Author: Lisa UngerHeartbroken. Finished 7-19-18, 3.5/5 stars, fiction, pub. 2012

Kate has written a novel based on a tragic love story from her family’s past. Emily is a struggling waitress whose toxic relationship with the wrong man has led her to make a horrible, life-altering decision.

Without knowing each other, and with lives that couldn’t be more different, they head to the same point on the map: Heart Island. It’s an idyllic place in the middle of an Adirondack lake, and home to harsh and unyielding matriarch Birdie Burke. These three women find themselves on a heart-wrenching collision course–with dark memories, restless ghosts, and one another. And unbeknownst to them all, Heart Island has a terrifying history of its own.

Heartbroken is a tense, mesmerizing novel about the limits of dysfunctional families, of an island haunted by dark memories, and of the all-too-real demons we must battle.    from Goodreads

Sometimes when I’m listening to a book in the car I’m willing to put up with a slower story since I’m only half listening anyway 🙂  This book with the storylines from three women, Birdie, her daughter Kate, and young Emily who seems to make all the bad choices started slow and its pace never really picked up until the end. Birdie was a tough one to like, but fit perfectly on Heart Island, a remote place that had been passed down from generations ago.  Kate, seemed to be a in perfect place in her life, so having to deal with Birdie issues made her more interesting.  Emily was the outlier.  The reader knows she’s connected but sure exactly how. As much as Birdie was cold, Emily was at least that much confused and because of that confusing.  I wanted to like her but really couldn’t.

I liked it. Heart Island was a character all of its own and the atmosphere was perfect for the messed up family dynamics.  There was a mystery of sorts on top of trying to figure out how Emily fit into the story.  For a thriller it was slower than I prefer, but since it was a car listen it worked just fine.