Wednesday, February 27, 2019

23. Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

listened to on Audible - Unabridged (12:12)
narrated by Cassandra Campbell
2018 G. P. Putnam's Sons
370 pgs.
Adult Historical Fiction 1952 - 1970
Finished 2/27/2019
Goodreads rating: 4.54 - 98,680 ratings (wowzer!)
My rating: 5
Setting: 1952-1970 northern NC coast

First line/s:  "The morning burned so August-hot the marsh's moist breath hung the oaks and pines with fog.The palmetto patches stood unusually quiet except for the low, slow flap of the heron's wings lifting from the lagoon.  And then, Kya, only six at the time, heard the screen door slap."

My comments: What a beautifully crafted story, how I enjoyed listening to it!  I have a feeling that if I had read it I would've been impatient with some of the description of the marsh, the animals, the winds and grasses and beaches.  But listening to it read in Cassandra Campbell's lilting voice, it became poetry.  Loneliness and aloneness, beauty and nature, described brilliantly.  This is a wonderful piece of storytelling.

Goodreads synopsis:  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.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Another set of recent postcards

1918.  Arras, FRANCE (it's in the north)
Bonjour Chris, greetings from Arras.  I'm Ornella.  I'm a nurse.  I love reading.  Her is a box of books, you put the books you have read and you take another if there is one that you like.  Through me it develops a lot.  I deposit more than I take because I already have a lot to read at home.  I love to find flea markets.  I wish you the best.  Oerie

1917.  San Diego, California
Official Jackalope License
Hello Chris, Greetings from sunny San Diego.  I'm giving this another shot, since my fierst card has gone missing.  I love cryptozoology too :} ,,, such a classic American thing.  I like to travel, cook, swim, red, go to museums, concerts, plays and escape rooms, spend time outdoors and learn new things.  Wishing you a full mailbox!  Sue G.

1916.  Oregon
Hello Chris, we hope you like this Oregon Map postcard and postage stamps  We live in Western Oregon, near the city of Eugene and 50 miles from the Pacific Ocean.  We are retired.  My wife, Nancy, is a quilter.  She is part of a group that makes quilts for Lutheran World Relief as well as "baby" quilts for our local AID (Food Pantry).  I am a collector of used postage stamps.  Take care , Larry and Nancy Clough

1915.  Gold Canuon, Arizona (near Phoenix)
Dia de los Muertos Paper Dolls
Hello!  Greetings from Arizona!  My name is Tilly and I live in Gild Canyon, near Phoenix.
Random Facts:  1) I'm originally from Wisconsin; 2) I love the smells of wet dirt, musty basements and skunks; 3) South Africa is my dream trip; 4) I've never had a pet, not even a fish; 5) I don't like coffee, tea or cold pizza; 6)I love chicken livers; 7) Monument Valley is my favorite place in AZ; 8) I'm going to China for two weeks in June.
Wishing you all the best.  Hope you're enjoying you new life in PA.  Tilly

1914.  Aerial View of Wichita, Kansas
Hello Chris, Greetings from Wichita, Kansas, United States of America.  Hope you'd like this card. :)  Aliessia

1913. Minsk, Belarus
MAHILIOV "Monument to the Astrologer"
Greetings from Minsk, Belarus from Ivan and his family.  The postcard shows the beautiful city of Mogilev and its central square of stars.  On this square there is a seven-meter memorial to the stargazer.  According to the sign you need touch to the stargazer.  On a sign in it a huge amount of energy from space gathers, the person will be loaded with good luck for all the works.

Monday, February 25, 2019

22. Lucky Suit by Lauren Blakely

Listened on Audible - an Audible Freebie
2019 Audible Studios
(2;25)  100 pgs.
Adult Romance
Finished 2/25/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.42 - 2188 ratings
My rating: 3

My comments:  An easy, cute, quick, trite romance that was fun to listen to while knitting.  I liked the relationship between Kristen and her grandmother.  Definitely cute.

Goodreads synopsis:  Kristen Leonard is done with setups. She’s not interested in your son or your nephew or your butcher or the guy who mows your lawn, thank you very much, grandma! After all, she’s a modern woman—she’ll take her chances on the algorithms of online dating to find her ideal man. Before long, she meets a man who might just be the one—he’s hilarious, quick-witted, and full of heart. And when she meets up with Cameron in real life, he certainly looks exactly like his profile picture…but something’s not quite right.
          There’s really no telling what brought them together and all bets are off as to whether or not they can trust their hearts over their heads. After all, can you fall in love with someone you’re not sure you really even know?

MOVIE - How to Train Your Dragon 3: The Hidden World

PG (1:50)
Wide release 2/22/2019
Viewed after school on 2/25/29 with Tristan at Carlisle 8
RT Critic:  91  Audience:  87
Critic's Consensus:  The rare trilogy capper that really works, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World brings its saga to a visually dazzling and emotionally affecting conclusion.
Cag:  3.5 
Directed by Dean DeBlois
Universal Pictures

My comments:  Definitely better than some of the previous "animated" movies I've seen...kept me entertained and Tristan enthralled.

RT/ IMDb Summary:  Now chief and ruler of Berk alongside Astrid, Hiccup has created a gloriously chaotic dragon utopia. When the sudden appearance of female Light Fury coincides with the darkest threat their village has ever faced, Hiccup and Toothless must leave the only home they've known and journey to a hidden world thought only to exist in myth. As their true destines are revealed, dragon and rider will fight together-to the very ends of the Earth-to protect everything they've grown to treasure.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

21. The Vanishing Stair by Maureen Johnson

#2 Truly Devious Trilogy
Listened on Audio
Read by Kate Rudd
Unabridged audio (9:13)
2019 Katherine Tegen Books
384 pgs.
YA Mystery
Finished 2/24/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.36- 3966 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Contemporary Vermont With Flashbacks to 1930s

First line/s: " 'Has anyone seen Dottie?' Miss Nelson asked"

My comments: I remember being extremely frustrated after finishing the first book because it left everything so incredibly up in the air. I think I feel even more frustrated after just now finishing this second installment. So unsatisfying! Decent mystery, especially since it’s YA and a good YA mystery is a bit unusual. I listened to this one and enjoyed all the “voices“ that Kate Rudd used except for that of Stevie, the protagonist. For some reason she used a very flat and expressionless tone for her, which didn’t suit the character at that too was disappointing. A year to wait before the sequel comes out. I think I will include, below, a brief outline of the story and characters so that I can refresh my memory before reading book number three!

Goodreads synopsis:  All Stevie Bell wanted was to find the key to the Ellingham mystery, but instead she found her classmate dead. And while she solved that murder, the crimes of the past are still waiting in the dark. Just as Stevie feels she’s on the cusp of putting it together, her parents pull her out of Ellingham academy.
          For her own safety they say. She must move past this obsession with crime. Now that Stevie’s away from the school of topiaries and secret tunnels, and her strange and endearing friends, she begins to feel disconnected from the rest of the world. At least she won’t have to see David anymore. David, who she kissed. David, who lied to her about his identity—son of despised politician Edward King. Then King himself arrives at her house to offer a deal: He will bring Stevie back to Ellingham immediately. In return, she must play nice with David. King is in the midst of a campaign and can’t afford his son stirring up trouble. If Stevie’s at school, David will stay put.
          The tantalizing riddles behind the Ellingham murders are still waiting to be unraveled, and Stevie knows she’s so close. But the path to the truth has more twists and turns than she can imagine—and moving forward involves hurting someone she cares for. In New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s second novel of the Truly Devious series, nothing is free, and someone will pay for the truth with their life.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

20. The Au Pair by Emma Rous

listened on Audible
read by Elizabeth Sastre
Unabridged (11:31)
2019, Penguin Group
379 pgs.
CRF with Flashbacks, lots of them...
Finished 2/21/2019
Goodreads rating: 3.72 - 3363 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting:  Contemporary Norfolk, England seaside, with half the book flashing back to a period 25 years prior.

First line/s:   "We have no photographs of our early days, Danny and I."

My comments: Another wonderful book that I read in one long gulp.  It was told in two voices 25 years apart, by two innocent young women, one whose decisions and silence profoundly affected the life of the other. A mystery that one could almost… but not quite… figure out.  Well defined characters. Lovely British setting.  And read beautifully by Elizabeth Sastre.

Goodreads synopsis:  Seraphine Mayes and her twin brother Danny were born in the middle of summer at their family’s estate on the Norfolk coast. Within hours of their birth, their mother threw herself from the cliffs, the au pair fled, and the village thrilled with whispers of dark cloaks, changelings, and the aloof couple who drew a young nanny into their inner circle.
          Now an adult, Seraphine mourns the recent death of her father. While going through his belongings, she uncovers a family photograph that raises dangerous questions. It was taken on the day the twins were born, and in the photo, their mother, surrounded by her husband and her young son, is beautifully dressed, smiling serenely, and holding just one baby.
          Who is the child and what really happened that day?
          One person knows the truth, if only Seraphine can find her.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

19. Erotic Stories for Punjabi Widows by Balli Kaur Jaswal

listened on Audio
read by Myra Syal
Unabridged (10:34)
2017, William Morrow
304 pgs.
Adult CRF, quite racy in places!
Finished  2/19/2019
Goodreads rating:  3.91 - 25,470 ratings
My rating:  4.5
Setting: Contemporary London

First line/s:  :Why did Mindi want an arranged marriage?"

My comments:  This book IS actually full of exotic stories, as well as insight into the Punjabi/Indian/Sikh culture in contemporary London. Told from the point of view of a modern British young woman of Punjabi heritage, the twists, turns, inter-generational friendships, arranged marriages, and honest peeks into a fascinating culture enthralled me totally. And listening to the lilting accented reader was a special added treat.

Goodreads synopsis:  A lively, sexy, and thought-provoking East-meets-West story about community, friendship, and women’s lives at all ages—a spicy and alluring mix of Together Tea and Calendar Girls.
          Every woman has a secret life . . .
          Nikki lives in cosmopolitan West London, where she tends bar at the local pub. The daughter of Indian immigrants, she’s spent most of her twenty-odd years distancing herself from the traditional Sikh community of her childhood, preferring a more independent (that is, Western) life. When her father’s death leaves the family financially strapped, Nikki, a law school dropout, impulsively takes a job teaching a "creative writing" course at the community center in the beating heart of London’s close-knit Punjabi community.
          Because of a miscommunication, the proper Sikh widows who show up are expecting to learn basic English literacy, not the art of short-story writing. When one of the widows finds a book of sexy stories in English and shares it with the class, Nikki realizes that beneath their white dupattas, her students have a wealth of fantasies and memories. Eager to liberate these modest women, she teaches them how to express their untold stories, unleashing creativity of the most unexpected—and exciting—kind.
          As more women are drawn to the class, Nikki warns her students to keep their work secret from the Brotherhood, a group of highly conservative young men who have appointed themselves the community’s "moral police." But when the widows’ gossip offers shocking insights into the death of a young wife—a modern woman like Nikki—and some of the class erotica is shared among friends, it sparks a scandal that threatens them all.

Monday, February 18, 2019

MOVIE - Isn't It Romantic

Wide release 2/13/19
Viewed date at 2/18/19 with Ella in Carlisle
IMBd:  6/10
RT Critic:  70  Audience:  51
Critic's Consensus:  It follows as many genre conventions as it mocks, but Isn't It Romantic is a feel-good rom-com with some satirical bite -- and a star well-suited for both.
Cag:  3/liked it
Directed by  Todd Strauss-Schulson
New Line Cinema

Rebel Wilson, Liam Hemsworth, Adam DeVine, Priyanka Chopra

My comments:  Very cute movie, wish there was more singing and dancing.  The finale was great, a song a dance number in the middle of an empty midtown street in New York City.  Ella love it.

RT/ IMDb Summary  New York City architect Natalie works hard to get noticed at her job but is more likely to be asked to deliver coffee and bagels than to design the city's next skyscraper. And if things weren't bad enough, Natalie, a lifelong cynic when it comes to love, has an encounter with a mugger that renders her unconscious, waking to discover that her life has suddenly become her worst nightmare -- a romantic comedy -- and she is the leading lady.

Friday, February 15, 2019

18. Murder Theory by Andrew Mayne

#3 The Naturalist (Dr. Theo Crain)
listened on Audible (8:42)
read by Will Damron
2019, Thomas & Mercer
296 pgs.
Contemporary Mystery/Thriller
Finished 2/15/19
Goodreads rating: 4.49 - 391 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting:Contemporary Atlanta and other east coast domiciles

First line/s:  "The helpless  man in the wheelchair thrilled him.  It wasn't a physical thrill or something he'd describe as deviant but the fact thst it was this man who was unconscious and at his mercy excited him."

My comments: Theo Cray is still a reckless, belligerent, thoughtless, brilliant scientist who is a blast to follow.  There seems to be even more scientific information that I found a little difficult to follow in this third book, but I ignored it and took it for what it was - interesting filler (which could be true or not...).  He didn't always have enough clues to get him from one place to another, but this was glossed over a bit, and his awkward and/or dysfunctional relationships with people had my eyes rolling big-time.  But I enjoy this guy, the messes he gets himself into, and his ability to walk through dog shit and come out smelling like a rose every time!

Goodreads synopsis:  The desire to kill is becoming contagious in this riveting novel of conceivable mad science by the Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Naturalist.
          Computational biologist and serial-killer hunter Dr. Theo Cray receives an off-the-record request from the FBI to investigate an inexplicable double homicide. It happened at the excavation site where a murderer had buried his victims’ remains. In custody is a forensic technician in shock, with no history of aggression. He doesn’t remember a thing. His colleagues don’t even recognize the man they thought they knew. But an MRI reveals something peculiar. And abnormal.
          What on earth made him commit murder?
          After discovering that a mysterious man has been stalking crime scenes and stealing forensic data, Cray has a radical and terrifying theory. Now he must race against time to find a darker version of himself: a scientist with an obsession in pathological behavior who uses his genius not to catch serial killers—but to create them.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

A Few Recent Cool Postcards

1912.  Russia
Hello Chris!  Greetings from Russia!  My mom worked at the library when I was a kid and I spent there lots of time.  I love reading.  My friends and I are meeting from time to time to discuss books.  Best wishes, Nina

1911.  Sopot, Poland, on the Baltic Sea coast
Hello Chris!  I'm Natalia (33 y.o.) and I live with my husband and two lovely children (3 and 6 y.o.) in Sopot, a touristic city on the Baltic Sea coast.  Today here in Sopot is -6 degrees C (21 F) and it is snowing.  My children are going on a sled.  Wish you all the best in 2019!  Natalia

1910.  Hungarian Mailbox sent from GERMANY
"Red Postbox, Esztergom, Hungary"
Hello chris, a lot of greetings from frosty Berlin, we have -7 degrees C today.  And now a bit snow and I would be happy.  What subjects did you teach?  A job in a library sound really well.  I can imagine this for me also.  I wish you all the Best!  Yours, Anna

1908.  Hamburg, Germany
Hi Chris, the "Rote Flora" is a former theatre in the Sternschanze quarter in Hamburg.  It has been squatted since Nov. 1989 in response to a decision to turn it into a musical theatre.  It has served as a nexuc for radical and revolutionary culture.  Having survived multiple fires, plans by the city to demolish the entire structure, and frequent clashes with the police, Rote Flora, with its dilapidated, graffiti=covered facaed, has become a symbol of the radical left in Germany.
     So, this is not a typical tourist card from least I hope so!
Best wishes, Sophia

1902.  New York State
"Old Museum Village, Smith's Clove: One Room Schoolhouse from Monroe 1805-1840"
Hi Chris!  Greetings from the southern tier of NY!  I grew up in southeastern PA (between VAlley Forge and Lancaster) and am jealous of your new digs!  PA is so lovely.  NY is pretty too, but not the same.  Hoping that you are well & happy postcrossing!  Suzanne & Charles

1901.  New Zealand
"Treasure Hunt" by Aimee Stewart

Dear Chris, One of my very favourite cards for you.  Stamps are pretty depressing, chosen as you are interested in history.  I love sugar skulls too, spent a year in Mexico, most magical year of my life.  Stole a Mexican too, married 11 years in September.  Lots of love to you, Lyn

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Monday, February 11, 2019

17. Trail of Lightning by Rebecca Roanhorse

The Sixth World #1
listened on Audible (8:58)
read by Tanis Parenteau
2018 Saga Press
287 pgs.
Adult Fantasy/dystopia
Finished 2/11/2019
Goodreads rating:  4.12 - 5367 ratings
My rating:  3
Setting: Navajo reservation in the near future
A great review is in The Quiet Pond blog.

First line/s:  "The monster has been here.  I can smell him."

My comments:  I have mixed feelings about this book because I didn't totally understand it.  I could follow a lot of the mythological Navajo/Dineh superstitions of monsters and witchcraft and clan magic, but not enough of it to fully understand what was going on all the time.  I used my imagination as much as I could, but there are still a lot of gaps/holes in my understanding of the plot.  I'm glad I read it, but I don't think I'll read any more.  I listened to the to this on audio, and it was really well read.

Goodreads synopsis:  While most of the world has drowned beneath the sudden rising waters of a climate apocalypse, Dinétah (formerly the Navajo reservation) has been reborn. The gods and heroes of legend walk the land, but so do monsters.
          Maggie Hoskie is a Dinétah monster hunter, a supernaturally gifted killer. When a small town needs help finding a missing girl, Maggie is their last—and best—hope. But what Maggie uncovers about the monster is much larger and more terrifying than anything she could imagine.
          Maggie reluctantly enlists the aid of Kai Arviso, an unconventional medicine man, and together they travel to the rez to unravel clues from ancient legends, trade favors with tricksters, and battle dark witchcraft in a patchwork world of deteriorating technology.
          As Maggie discovers the truth behind the disappearances, she will have to confront her past—if she wants to survive.
          Welcome to the Sixth World.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

16. An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

listened on Audible (11:40)
read by Barrie Kreinik and Julie Whelan
2019 St. Martin's Press
375 pgs.
Adult Psychological Thriller
Finished 2/2/19
Goodreads rating:  4.02 - 14,110 ratings
My rating: 4.5
Setting: Contemporary NYC

First line/s:  "It's easy to judge other people's choices."

My comments:  This was fascinating to listen to and fun to watch unfold.  The so-called "surprise" ending wasn't too, too surprising once the personalities of the protagonists were illuminated.  Listening to it being read by two different readers, both who nailed the nuances of their characters, made it even better.  Oh, such twisted minds there are in the world!

Goodreads synopsis:  The next novel of psychological suspense and obsession from the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us.
          Seeking women ages 18–32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.
          When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave.
          Question #1: Could you tell a lie without feeling guilt?
          But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking… and what she’s hiding.
          Question #2: Have you ever deeply hurt someone you care about?
          As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.
          Question #3: Should a punishment always fit the crime?
          From the authors of the blockbuster bestseller The Wife Between Us comes an electrifying new novel about doubt, passion, and just how much you can trust someone.