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Hi! My name is Margot. My blog is about the things I love to do. That could be what I'm reading, places we visit, my family, food, or whatever else is happening. I hope you'll stay and visit a while. Contact me by email: joyfullyretired (at) gmail (dot) com.

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"I read so I can live more than one life in more than one place." - Anne Tyler

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Celebrating In Wyoming

Teton 8:2014This year my husband and I passed our fiftieth year as a married couple. We did not want a big fancy party wearing uncomfortable clothes. That’s not us. We are a camping couple and have both camped our whole lives. What we wanted was to gather the whole family and camp at Grand Teton National Park. It’s the place where Jay and I spent our honeymoon. We’ve been back many, many times over the years, but it’s been awhile since we all camped together there. And that’s what we did. We found two large camp sites right next to each other at the Colter Bay Campground. We gathered all the tents, the sleeping bags and all the other camping gear. We even brought some extra firewood for our nightly campfire. We did a variety of activities around the Park.

On Snake RiverGranddaughter Lou, son Christopher and me

(I have no idea what Lou is squishing her nose about.)

One of our traditions is to take a river rafting trip down the Snake River which winds its way all through the Park. We were a big enough group this time to have the whole raft and guide to ourselves. There is nothing like being on that river, completely away from civilization.

Bald EagleFifty years ago, on our first trip, we saw two bald eagles. We were thrilled as the birds were on the Endangered Species List. This trip we saw so many I lost count. Best of all, bald eagles are no longer on the Endangered List. Lou on the SnakeThe rafting trip is also a good place to spot back-country animals like moose, elk, and bear, although not on this trip. This time of year the river doesn’t have as much white-water as it does in June. We had a lull on the trip so our guide took a little break and let our youngest granddaughter take over. As you can see, Lou had a great time and kept us right on target. Cody RodeoWe spent time visiting Yellowstone National Park where we saw lots of buffalo up close and a little too personal. Jay and I visited Cody (east of Yellowstone), which is something we did fifty years ago. They still have a nightly rodeo with the flag drill team and daring cowboys with bunking-broncos and mean-spirited bulls. Trail TownNew (to us) in Cody is a collection of antique, old-western areas buildings that have been rescued from various places in Wyoming. Most people these days visit Cody to enjoy what is now called Buffalo Bill Center of the West. It’s grown into a big center with five museums: Buffalo Bill’s, Whitney Western Art, Firearms, Plains Indians, and Natural History. There is also a big Research Center. People spend days/weeks here. J&M 50 YearsAlthough we didn’t want or expect gifts from anyone, our kids got together and created a special book for us, Jay and Margot Fifty Years: A Life Well Camped. It’s filled with photos spanning our lives together along with family sayings and a rewrite of my favorite poem, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. This book is an absolute treasure for both of us. Well, we’re home now. The tents and other gear are dry and aired out. We’re still sorting out all the photos and bringing back the memories. This celebration will stay with us for a long time.

 

Book Review: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

LandlinePublisher: St. Martin’s Press, July 2014

Since I loved both Eleanor and Park and FanGirl, I was disposed to also love Landline. And, I did. Landline is different from the other two, however. The first two books are both Young Adult novels and Landline is clearly aimed toward an adult audience.

Here’s my summary of Landline:

Georgie is a screen writer in Hollywood who works obsessively with her best friend Seth. They have a couple of TV shows that have done well, but they don’t seem to be satisfied. They are constantly working hard for their big break.

Georgie has been married to Neal for nearly fifteen years. They have two sweet little girls. Georgie’s career has been the main focus over time and Neal has become the house-husband. He’s done a superb job at it and isn’t necessarily unhappy about it. He does, however, feel as if he is often taken for granted.

Everything comes to a head one Christmas. The family had been planning to spend the holiday visiting Neal’s family in Omaha. But then, Georgie and Seth have a chance to create a new special show that means they must work through Christmas. It’s the last straw for Neal. He takes the girls and goes to Omaha anyway.

This move on Neal’s part really shakes up Georgie. She has a hard time thinking and writing. As they say, she slips into a real funk. She can’t bear to stay at her house, so she stays with her mom, which is another whole story.

Georgie’s mom has a landline phone which Georgie uses to call Neal when her iPhone dies. Something magical happens when they talk on the landline – it’s as if they are having conversations at the beginning of their relationship. The reader gets a good look at how they met, how the relationship developed, and what’s important to both of them.

My Thoughts:

As I already said, I loved this book. Rainbow Rowell creates characters that makes me so sympathetic to them and their problems. The story is told through Georgie’s voice and thoughts but seems to be told almost exclusively in dialogue. The language is modern and honest. (Meaning, there are a few f words.)

Landline was also a good honest analysis of a fifteen-year marriage. Having just celebrated our fiftieth year of marriage, I may be a bit more sensitive on the subject. Nevertheless, I think anyone who cares about good, long-term relationships will gain something from Landline.

Several reviewers have negatively compared Landline to the author’s previous books. I find that unfair. This is an adult novel and should be examined in that light. Ms. Rowell hasn’t changed the way she creates characters or plots a story. This is still a novel created with the same high quality standards as her previous stories. So, if you loved Fangirl or Eleanor and Park, you’ll love Landline. Don’t pay attention to the negative reviews.

I listened to Landline. I think, with all the dialogue and Georgie’s voice, it was the best way to experience this book. It was beautifully read by narrator Rebecca Lowman.

Wondrous Words #265

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 just finished reading Yankee Club by Michael Murphy.  I really liked it and will tell you about it tomorrow. It’s set during Prohibition so I expected some new words from the era. The author only gave me one:

fop:  “I’m insulted you think I could fall for such a pompous self-centered fop.”

A fop is a man who is concerned with his clothes and appearance in an affected and excessive way; a dandy.

Sorry I only found one word this week, but I hope you found some words worth celebrating. Feel free to join Wondrous Words Wednesday. Be sure to visit Kathy for the details.

First Paragraph: Landline by Rainbow Rowell

This is the year I became a fan of Rainbow Rowell, along with many other readers. She has given me many hours of pleasure with Fangirl and Eleanor and Park. Naturally, I was eager to read her newest book. I’m only on the first few pages, so the verdict is still out. I’m sharing the beginning paragraphs with you. Read and tell me what you think:

Landline   Georgie pulled into the driveway, swerving to miss a bike.

   Neal never made Alice put it away.

   Apparently bicycles never got stolen back in Nebraska — and people never tried to break in to your house. Neal didn’t even lock the front door most nights until after Georgie came home, though she’d told him that was like putting a sign in the yard that said PLEASE ROB US AT GUNPOINT. “No,” he’d said. “That would be different, I think.”

   She hauled the bike up onto the porch and opened the (unlocked) door.

 What do you think?  Would you keep reading?

This post is linked to First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro sponored by Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea.

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Book Review: Yankee Club by Michael Murphy

Yankee ClubPublisher: Alibi/Random House, August 12, 2014

As you know, I love a good mystery. I especially love a smart detective=style mystery whether he/she is a professional or an amateur. That’s exactly what I found in this brand-new novel. Jake Donovan and his loyal friends are smart and savvy and eager to take on all the bad guys. Here’s the summary of the story:

In Michael Murphy’s action-packed Prohibition-era novel of suspense, a mystery writer returns to the bright lights and dark alleys of New York City—uncovering a criminal conspiracy of terrifying proportions.
 

In 1933, America is at a crossroads: Prohibition will soon be history, organized crime is rampant, and President Roosevelt promises to combat the Great Depression with a New Deal. In these uncertain times, former-Pinkerton-detective-turned-bestselling-author Jake Donovan is beckoned home to Manhattan. He has made good money as the creator of dashing gumshoe Blackie Doyle, but the price of success was Laura Wilson, the woman he left behind. Now a Broadway star, Laura is engaged to a millionaire banker—and waltzing into a dangerous trap.
 


Before Jake can win Laura back, he’s nearly killed—and his former partner is shot dead—after a visit to the Yankee Club, a speakeasy dive in their old Queens neighborhood. Suddenly Jake and Laura are plunged into a conspiracy that runs afoul of gangsters, sweeping from New York’s private clubs to the halls of corporate power and to the White House itself. Brushing shoulders with the likes of Dashiell Hammett, Cole Porter, and Babe Ruth, Jake struggles to expose an inconspicuous organization hidden in plain sight, one determined to undermine the president and change the country forever.

My thoughts:

This is one of the best detective stories I’ve read in quite a while. I was seduced by Jake Donovan within the first few pages. Jake is both the narrator and star of the story. He has a witty, sarcastic attitude, and he brags while at the same time being a bit self-deprecating. He’s very loyal to his old friends and they to him. He also wears his heart on his sleeve for his life-long love, Laura. The reader can’t help but hope for the best for these two.

The plot is full of surprises and lots of twists and turns. At first I thought this was going to be one of those regular solve-the-murder mysteries. Within a few chapters clues began to unfold and the story turned into a much bigger and better one. Jake suddenly finds himself with a case involving a national conspiracy that could endanger the Roosevelt government. I’m not going to say more as I’ll spoil it for you. I will tell you that it was a real OMG moment for me and it kept me glued to the book until the end.

The author obviously did a ton of research to pull off such a believable story. He fit in actual events that were happening at the time. However, I think he occasionally went a bit too far when it came to real people. This is my only criticism. I was okay with the inclusion of the Dashiel Hammett character. After all, they were both writers. But Jake being the inspiration for a Cole Porter song and new Broadway show? It just didn’t “sit” with me.

In spite of that little complaint, I loved this novel. All of the characters are people I liked spending time with. Fortunately, Yankee Club is the first book in an upcoming series. That’s good news. It’ll give me a chance to spend more time with Jake and Laura and, hopefully, Gino and the rest of the gang.

I highly recommend Yankee Club by Michael Murphy.

Thanks to the publisher for my copy of the book and to TLC Book Tours for allowing me to be a part of it all. To see other stops on the book tour, visit the schedule here: TLC Book Tours

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Book Review: The New Men by Jon Enfield

New Men
What the book is about
:

For us, the new man, he is one of two things. First, he is the new worker, a man we instruct and investigate until his probation is complete. But also he is an idea. In the foundry, they make parts. On the line, they make autos. But in Sociological, we make men.

Tony Grams comes to America at the start of the twentieth century, set on becoming a new man. Driven to leave poverty behind, he lands a job at the Ford Motor Company that puts him at the center of a daring social and economic experiment.

The new century and the new auto industry are bursting with promise, and everyone wants Henry Ford’s Model T. But Ford needs men to make it. Better men. New men. Men tough enough and focused enough to handle the ever-bigger, ever-faster assembly line. Ford offers to double the standard wage for men who will be thrifty, sober, and dedicated… and who will let Ford investigators into their homes to confirm it.

Tony has just become one of those investigators. America and Ford have helped him build a new life, so at first he’s eager to get to work. But world war, labor strife, and racial tension pit his increasingly powerful employer against its increasingly desperate enemies.

As Tony and his family come under threat from all sides and he faces losing everything he’s built, he must struggle with his conscience and his weaknesses to protect the people he loves.

My thoughts about the book:

I was looking forward to reading this book. I loved the concept of it from a professional point of view. I’m a retired Human Resource professional and I liked the idea of closely examining the changes in the workforce when a whole list of dynamics have been changed.

I also like the stories of immigrants and how they assimilate into the new country. Neither one of these two concepts came through for me. Unfortunately, the book didn’t work for me. I had a difficult time connecting. There were times when the story seemed disjointed, skipping around a bit too much for me. I wanted to love The New Men, but I just couldn’t.

Published by Wayzgoose Press (May 14, 2014)

Thanks to TLC Book Tours and the publisher for my copy of the book. To read the opinions of other reviewers, visit the tour schedule here:  TLC book Tours

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Wondrous Words #264

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.

While on vacation, I didn’t do as much reading as I thought I would. And, I only found one new-to-me word. Fortunately, it’s a good one I found while reading The New Men by Jon Enfield.

peculation:  Father truly had been, guilty of peculation or merely of supporting the new regime before it had enough power to protect him.

Peculation is a derivative of peculate which means to embezzle or steal.

That’s it for me this week. I hope you also found some new words in your reading adventures. Don’t forget to visit Kathy at Bermuda Onion.

First Paragraph: The New Men

Hi everyone,

We are back from our super-celebration in Wyoming. The whole family came together to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary and it was indeed memorable. Now it’s back to a sort-of-normal life. At least I didn’t stop reading. Life in the outdoors is just right for an avid reader.

I’m finishing a new novel for a book tour on Thursday. It’s a good historical fiction called The New Men. See what you think of the first paragraph:

New MenI am staring at a false horizon. Hovering before it, a great ocean liner churns a cerulean sea. The spray and the wake stand out vividly against the calmer surrounding waters, and the indistinct flags of sixty nations flutter from the ship’s smokestacks as though from the proud masts of clipper ships.

What do you think?
Would you keep going?

This post is linked to First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intro sponored by Diane at Bibliophile By the Sea.

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I Am Unplugged!!

DisconnectedAll the camping gear is loaded in the truck, our bags are  packed, and I am almost ready to go. I just need to double-check my email and then this computer is going to be unplugged.

We are off to the hills – big hills. We’re going to spend a few weeks in northwestern Wyoming. Fifty years ago this year my husband and I were married. We honeymooned at Grand Teton National Park and have been back more times than we can remember. (We’ve actually tried to count it, but memory fails.)

When it came to the idea of a fiftieth-anniversary celebration, our only request was that the whole family gather together at the Tetons and camp. And now, we’re off to make it happen. Here’s what we’ll be looking at:

Tetons w:horses

It’s not my best photo. I’ll try to take a few better ones and share them with you when I return. See you in a few weeks.

Book Review: The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion

Author (and narrator): Fannie Flagg

Publisher: Random House 2013

I’ve been “reading” a lot of audiobooks. I particularly like the ones where the author reads her/his own work. There’s an occasional dud, but usually I like how they come across. It’s the way I think they came out of the author’s head. It feels personal. Such was the case with Fannie Flagg’s latest novel. From the very beginning, her voice alone made me smile in anticipation of the fun ahead.

Before I go any further let me share the description of the story (from the publisher):

All-Girl Filling StationMrs. Sookie Poole of Point Clear, Alabama, has just married off the last of her daughters and is looking forward to relaxing and perhaps traveling with her husband, Earle. The only thing left to contend with is her mother, the formidable Lenore Simmons Krackenberry. Lenore may be a lot of fun for other people, but is, for the most part, an overbearing presence for her daughter. Then one day, quite by accident, Sookie discovers a secret about her mother’s past that knocks her for a loop and suddenly calls into question everything she ever thought she knew about herself, her family, and her future.
 
Sookie begins a search for answers that takes her to California, the Midwest, and back in time, to the 1940s, when an irrepressible woman named Fritzi takes on the job of running her family’s filling station. Soon truck drivers are changing their routes to fill up at the All-Girl Filling Station. Then, Fritzi sees an opportunity for an even more groundbreaking adventure. As Sookie learns about the adventures of the girls at the All-Girl Filling Station, she finds herself with new inspiration for her own life.

Nobody creates characters quite like Fannie Flagg. She made my heart ache for Sookie, the main character. Sookie tried so hard to please everyone, especially her mother. Then this bombshell is dropped in her lap and she scrambles to handle it all.

The other thing Fannie Flagg does so well is tell a story that is complete with layer after layer of characters and culture. And – she does this while also telling us a story with flashbacks to another era. In this particular novel the reader gets a full-bodied story of present day Alabama and World War II era Wisconsin, with lots of characters, story lines and details from both eras.

Fannie Flagg was the reader/narrator on the audiobook, but it felt more like she was simply telling me the story. Even though the author is also an actress, her voice is not your normal, professional-reader style. It’s a bit high-pithed, but with a wonderful Alabama accent. I listened to this over the course of several afternoons (it’s nearly eleven hours long) and by the end I felt like Fannie Flagg, in the form of Sookie Poole, was one of my good friends.

As you can see, I’m recommending this audiobook, especially to those of you who already love Fannie Flagg. If you’ve missed out on her previous books, I’d suggest starting with Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Or – see the movie version. Then come back to read/listen to The All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion.