Book Beginnings: Dear. Mr. Knightley

I’m joining Rose City Reader as she encourages fellow bloggers to share the beginnings of a book we are reading.

I’m almost done reading Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay.

 

Dear Sir,

     It has been a year since I turned down your generous offer. Father John warned me at the time that I was making a terrible mistake, but I would’t listen. He felt that by dismissing that opportunity I was injuring not only myself, but all the foster children helped your foundation.

This is one of those Austen knock-offs, but in a good way. It’s set in modern times. I’ve enjoyed the look at the foster care system.

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Wondrous Words #402

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

I have only one new word this week. I found it in the New York Times Daily Opinion newsletter.

innumeracy: “President Trump’s first budget has two themes: redistribution and innumeracy.”

Innumeracy is a derivative of innumerate which means a person lacking basic knowledge of mathematics and arithmetic. Oh my.

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That’s all for me this week. Don’t forget to visit Kathy for more Wondrous Words Wednesday.

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A Look At My Quiet Week

Hi everyone. Thanks for stopping by.

I’ve had another lovely reading week. The highlight of the week was a new book by Joshilyn Jackson. I have loved all of her novels. They are always a combination of southern charm, quirkiness and creativity. This new one is actually the best one yet, although I think I say that about them all. It’s called The Almost Sisters.

It’s the story of Leia, a 38-year old single woman who is the creator of comics and graphic novels. She’s very good at it and is often a “feature” at comic conventions. A few months ago, at one of these conventions, she had a few too many tequilas and a wildly passionate night with Batman. Now she finds herself pregnant without knowing Batman’s real name or how to find him.

But, Leia has additional challenges in her life. For one, Leia’s step-sister’s perfect life has just come apart and Leia feels the need to at least help her thirteen-year-old niece. But before she can do anything else, Lela must deal with her ninety-something grandmother’s scandalous and uncharacteristic behavior in church. Leia drops everything and, with her niece in tow, heads for Birchfield, the small Alabama town settled by her great-great-grandfather. What is it that is causing this behavior. Is it Alzheimers?

It’s in Birchfield where everyone and everything comes together to be sorted out in perfect Joshilyn Jackson style. That style is always witty and humorous as well as thoughtful and touching. I loved Leia and howwell she dealt with her niece, her grandmother and her companion, her step-sister, and the two men — her brother-in-law and her baby’s father. A special treat in this novel is being in on the creation of Leia’s comic book/graphic novel. I could actually visualize all the drawings and imagine what the characters looked like.

Although I received a paperback review copy of this novel from the publisher, I purchased the audiobook version as a treat fo myself. My main motivation was that the author herself is the narrator. Ms. Jackson has narrated all but a couple of her novels. I’m convinced that no one reads her books as well as she does. It feels as if I’m right there in the room while she is telling me the story. I strongly recommend you read this book via audio.

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I also read Finding Nouf by Zoe Ferraris for a book club discussion on Wednesday. The story was very different from our usual fare, but absolutely enjoyed by all. Its set in Saudi Arabia and looked inside the inner workings of very rich and extended family. The surprising twist is that this is a mystery — a detective story.

The mystery is the disappearance and then death of the teenaged daughter of an important family. The detective is Nayir, a man who is very devout while remaining very observant and thoughtful. He is single and is extremely careful not to violate any of the strict laws concerning women. That’s hard, especially when investigating the death and disappearance of a young woman. Fortunately, Nayir gets help from Katya, a very intelligent young woman who works in the coroner’s office. Together they do some solid detective work that will ultimately unravel the truth.

This book made for an excellent book club discussion. We primarily talked about the differences between the women in Saudi Arabia and our own lives. But we also focused on the character of both Nayir and Katya and the difficulty they both had in simply navigating through their jobs and their ability to have a relationship with each other. The book raises lots of questions.

That’s it foe me this week. As the saying goes, it’s been a quiet week in Lake Wobegone. Not a lot going on. I trust your week has been just as peaceful. Happy Reading.

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Book Beginnings: Orphan X by Greg Hurwitz’

I’m joining Rose City Reader as she encourages fellow bloggers to share the beginnings of a book we are reading.

I’m currently reading Orphan X, a thriller about a man surrounded by secrets and a secret past. Here’s how it begins:

 

After picking up a set of pistol suppressors from a nine-fingered armorer in Las Vegas, Evan Smoak headed for home in his Ford pickup, doing his best not to let the knife wound distract him.

Although Evan Soak is a killer, I couldn’t help but admire him. He has a soft spot for people in trouble. Its a good read, so far.

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Wondrous Words T#401

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

I found this new word in a blurb for Mortal Fear by Greg Iles:

1. sysops: Only “sysops” like Harper – the high priests of the system – know and see all.

Sysops are systems operators.

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I heard this word while watfching an interview with a reporter from The Washington Post:

2. bifurcate: “I believe this issue was trying to bifurcate the campaign.

I should have figured this out from the bi. Bifurcate means divide into two branches or forks.

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That’s all for me this week. Don’t forget to visit Kathy for more Wondrous Words Wednesday.

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My Week In Review

I’ve had an excellent week of reading. For me it was a good old-fashioned “sumer reading” week. For me, “summer reading” began back in grade school. I always loved reading, but I felt school got in the way of my opportunity to spend hours and hours at it. But, Summer Vacation!! was all about hours and days and weeks of free reading.

Back then our local library always ran some kind of summer reading contest that the competitive side of me loved. Those programs have continued at most libraries, at least for my children as well as my grandchildren. Well, guess what — our local library is offering a Summer Reading Challenge for Adults!

My husband, son and I signed up for it right away. (Our grandson joined the preschool version.) The challenge is in the form of Bingo. That’s my card above. Most of the squares involve books read, but there are also squares for things like this: Visit a museum or cultural site, Learn 5 words in another language, Read a poem or short story, Perform a random act of kindness, Visit a park, path or trail and so on. Doesn’t that sound like fun? We’re having fun doing it. Check with your local library and see if they are doing something similar.

As I said above, I had an excellent reading week. All three books were fun and they kept me turning the pages.

Midnight At the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Michael Sullivan is a brand new, debut novel that tells the story of Lydia, a woman who works at a bookstore, and Joey, a young man who hangs out at the book store a lot. Right at the beginning we learn that Joey has just committed suicide in the bookstore and leaves clues for Lydia to unravel. We also learn that, as a child, Lydia was a witness to a horrific triple murder. How all these events and the people involved are interwoven pulled me right in. Its an interesting mystery that is slowly revealed. There are lots of book references. I highly recommend it.

In This Grave Hour by Jacqueline Winspear is book 13 in the Maisie Dobbs series. It’s now 1939 and, for most people, its obvious that war is coming. Maisie and her team are asked to solve a mystery involving some Belgium refugees from the first World War. The mystery was good, but I really enjoyed reading about how various  people were reacting and preparing for the possibility of war. In particular, I enjoyed watching what was happening with some of the children. This is an especially good series. I’m glad I’m following along.

The Lullaby Sky by Carolyn Brown begins in divorce court. The main character, Hannah, is about to be divorced. Hannah’s lawyer assures her that everything will be okay, but she’s scared her abusive, controlling husband is going to do something mean. All Hannah wants is full custody of their daughter and the clear title to her grandmother’s house and land. Although her lawyer and the judge urge her to ask for more from her very wealthy husband, she just wants out. Once she is free she wants to devote her time and resources towards helping other abused women. The best thing about this novel was the wonderful cast of characters — Hannah’s family and friends. I loved them all.

Thanks everyone for visiting me. Have a great week ahead.

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The Beginning Of A Book: The Almost Sisters

I’m joining Rose City Reader as she encourages fellow bloggers to share the beginnings of a book we are reading.

I’m a fan of the novels of Joselyn Jackson and will agree to read her latest book without knowing  a thing about it. Its okay because I know there is always a wonderful cast of characters with drama, chaos and Southern charm in every book. Here how the story begins:

“My son, Digby, began at exactly 3:02 in the morning on the first Friday in June. I don’t mean his conception or his birth. I mean the moment he began for me, which happened between those two large events.”

The main character returns home a grandmother with dementia and secrets in the attic and a step-sister with big marital problems. And, she’s come home to share her own secret – she’s about to become a single mom. Yes, Drama with a capital D. Excellent summer reading.

 

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Wondrous Words #400

WWWEvery week word-lovers post new words they’ve discovered while reading. It’s called Wondrous Words Wednesday and was created by Kathy at Bermuda Onion’s Weblog.

I really like to read the online “newspaper” Politico.  I often find new words there. Here are two:

1. dissembling: Dietl’s recent admission to the Journal also opens him up to charges of dissembling.

Dissemble is a verb meaning to conceal one’s true motives, feelings, or beliefs.

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When I saw this word it didn’t seem to fit in the sentence:

evinced: “He has slagged off NATO, evinced skepticism about the European Union . . . “

Evince is a verb meaning to reveal the presence of.

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That’s all for me this week. Don’t forget to visit Kathy for more Wondrous Words Wednesday.

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My Week . . .

Thanks for stopping by.

Last week I told you I’d tell you about the visit of my sister. My sister and her family live in Southern California. It’s a ten-hour drive so we don’t see each other often. However, every Spring Kaye and her husband Don usually visit Yosemite National Park and then drive over to see us.

Here’s a rare picture of Kaye and I as we posed on our Town Green. (Kaye is on the right.)

We always have a great time playing cards, visiting area sites of interest, and eating local foods. Don usually shares pictures of Yosemite and especially my two favorite spots — The Yosemite Falls and Half Dome.

They are unusually spectacular this year because of all the rain and snow that visited California this past Winter. All the water coming over the Falls is amazing. And, if you look close, you can still see snow on the top of Half Dome.

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I love talking about books and people who also love to talk about books. Thus I belong to two book clubs. Today I want to tell you about the last two books I read for those two book clubs. Here are the two books we read during June:

Into the Beautiful North by Alberto Luis Urrea is an amazing story about saving a small town in the mid/south section of Mexico. Because most of the men have emigrated north to the U.S. the town has only young women, the elderly, and no babies. Plus, the “banditos” are threatening to take over the town. Some of the women watch the movie “The Magnificent Seven,” and one of them, Nayeli, develops a plan to go north to find seven “warriors.” Nayeli and four others set off on a journey north for the express purpose of bringing home seven men to help with the town’s situation.

The journey was an eye-opening look at part of the US/Mexico immigrant problem. Parts of the story were funny, and parts were sad and maddening. It hurt to read about the living condiitons on both sides of the border and the political situation some people are forced to live with. The book made for an excellent book club discussion. So much to talk about]

The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson is a character-rich story set in the south of England during the early part of World War I. The story begins when the main character, Beatrice, comes to the small town of Rye. She’s come to be the Latin teacher, an unheard of and scandalous idea. Her champion is Agatha, one of the important matrons in town who is frequently looking for ways to advance the cause of women’s rights without being pushy about it.

Within a week of Beatrce’s arrival war breaks out and the plot of the story expands with refugees arriving from Belgium and men signing up for service in the armed forces. In spite of the title, the story actually cover the entire period of the war, so we are able to see how plot lines develop and conclude. The major themes of the story were the status and righs of women and the secrets people keep to themselves. It too was a satisfying discussion, although I must admit not as lively as the discussion for Into The Beautiful North.

On The Screen:

Last Sunday I watched the first episode of a new series, Prime Suspect, on PBS. I loved the old Helen Mirren season of the same name – all seven seasons. This is new, a look back at Jane Tennison as a rookie on the London police force. It’s set in the 1970s and it really felt like the 1970s. Stephanie Martini is the actress doing a good job of playing the young Jane Tennison. Last Sunday was the first episode, the second is tonight, and the third next week. I highly recommend.

That’s it for me this week. I wish you and your family a happy and safe Fourth of July.

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