Bookish (& Not So Bookish) Thoughts

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Bookish & Not So Bookish Thoughts

is a weekly meme hosted by Christine over at Bookishly Boisterous, where we post things that are on our minds.  Head over there and check it out!

1.  I watched the new show Empire.  I know I am dating myself, but did it remind anyone else of Dynasty?  Cookie is the new Alexa Carrington!!

 

2.  I saw this on Shelf Awareness’s FB page-and swooned.  I loved this book-and Hugh Jackman.

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3.  I have been in a little bit of a slump with the ARCs I have been reading.  Not really enjoying all that many-until this week.  I read Unbecoming by Rebecca Sherm in one day and I loved it! I can’t wait to write the review.  Have you read any amazing books for review lately?

4.  I booked a trip for my family over the kids’ spring break.  My 16 yr old son and 15 yr old daughter wanted to go to-Disneyworld.  With a side trip to Universal for some HP fun.  While I am excited about going to HP world for the 1st time, I thought-Really?  Disney again?  But then I realized this might be the last time for a good long while, so if they want to go-ok.  I can’t believe how much they love going to Epcot and walking around the different countries.

5.  I am reading Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald- is it me or is this his BEST novel?

6.  Looking forward to getting some skiing in this weekend!  If it has to be cold, then I want to at least be able to ski.

7.   I love my gym (as much as anyone can love a place you go to torture yourself).  It has great treadmills I use during the winter, fun spin classes, and an awesome hot yoga class.  I HATE going to the gym in January.  Everyone with a New Year resolution to lose weight is there.  Good word- get off my freakin treadmill!

8.  Another thing I hate about the gym- the yummy mummies.  I saw a woman yesterday on the machines “working out” with about 5 other women.  Forget that they were working out there jaws about 100x more than anything else.  One woman had full make up on-fully done up- a beautiful top bun, and sunglasses on top of her head- working out?  My age- not some 20 something home from college.  Really?

I guess I don’t actually love the gym- so scratch that.

9.  I actually succeeded in my Goodreads challenge for 2014 and read 100 books.  I was so happy.  I upped it to a whopping 115 this year.  I should have made it 200, because really, failure is failure, whether by a little or a lot.

These are all the thoughts in my head.  I am off to find an empty treadmill, then to hot yoga, so I can witness how much more flexible and agile everyone else is in the class.  While sweating my ass off.

The Wife, The Maid, and the Mistress- She Reads Book Club Selection

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The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress

by Ariel Lawhon

published by Doubleday

2014

I received this book as a digital ARC from the publisher through Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Summary

A tantalizing reimagining of a scandalous mystery that rocked the nation in 1930-Justice Joseph Crater’s infamous disappearance-as seen through the eyes of the three women who knew him best.

They say behind every great man, there’s a woman. In this case, there are three. Stella Crater, the judge’s wife, is the picture of propriety draped in long pearls and the latest Chanel. Ritzi, a leggy showgirl with Broadway aspirations, thinks moonlighting in the judge’s bed is the quickest way off the chorus line. Maria Simon, the dutiful maid, has the judge to thank for her husband’s recent promotion to detective in the NYPD. Meanwhile, Crater is equally indebted to Tammany Hall leaders and the city’s most notorious gangster, Owney “The Killer” Madden.

On a sultry summer night, as rumors circulate about the judge’s involvement in wide-scale political corruption, the Honorable Joseph Crater steps into a cab and disappears without a trace. Or does he?

After 39 years of necessary duplicity, Stella Crater is finally ready to reveal what she knows. Sliding into a plush leather banquette at Club Abbey, the site of many absinthe-soaked affairs and the judge’s favorite watering hole back in the day, Stella orders two whiskeys on the rocks-one for her and one in honor of her missing husband. Stirring the ice cubes in the lowball glass, Stella begins to tell a tale-of greed, lust, and deceit. As the novel unfolds and the women slyly break out of their prescribed roles, it becomes clear that each knows more than she has initially let on.  (from Goodreads)

My Review

From the author Ariel Lawhon, a co-founder of She Reads, comes this wonderful tale based on the true story of the disappearance of Judge Joseph Crater in the 1930s.  Once called “the missingest man in NY”, Judge Crate disappeared into a cab one night and seemingly vanished into thin air.  The author takes us into a world of speakeasies and jazz clubs to imagine what really happened to the judge through the eyes of the women who knew hime best- his socialite wife Stella, his showgirl mistress Ritzi, and his maid Maria.  The story moves along nicely as we get to know these women and the kind of man the “honorable” judge was.  Then about 3/4 of the way through-BAM!  Awesome twist that makes you turn the pages even faster.  I love books set in this era, especially those set in NY.  What makes this even better is that it is based on a true story, which always makes me want to look up all the facts that I can on it.  The author does a terrific job of weaving in what might have happened to the judge, while creating very vivid female character to tell her story through.  Wonderfully written and evoking a spellbinding time in our history, I would definitely recommend this book.

Go over to She Reads to see more reviews of this book.

To learn more about the disappearance of Judge Crater-

http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/joseph-force-crater-becomes-the-missingest-man-in-new-york

http://www.prairieghosts.com/crater.html

About the Author

Ariel Lawhon is the co-founder of the popular online book club She Reads (www.shereads.org). A novelist, blogger, and life-long reader, she lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and four young sons (aka The Wild Rumpus). Ariel believes that Story is the shortest distance to the human heart. Her next novel, THE WIFE, THE MAID, AND THE MISTRESS, will release from Doubleday in February of 2014.

Bookish (& Not So Bookish) Thoughts

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Bookish & Not So Bookish Thought

is a weekly meme hosted by Christine over at Bookishly Boisterous, where we post things that are on our minds.

1.  I did a good amount of shopping at Target over this past month, so when I woke up and saw the news, I was all-WTF!!!  Nice way to start the holidays.

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2.  Over the last week and a half, we have had 4 winter storms.  4!  There have been snow days and delayed openings galore.  My son’s school actually called a “at home school day”, where from 10-3, the teacher posted work online and the kids did it and submitted it.  That wasn’t so bad.

But seriously, the wrapping needed to be done.  Remember I told you I am the sole holiday worker in this household?

3.  I have been in such an awesome groove reading wise lately!  I actually read a book (Reconstructing Amelia) in less than 11 hours yesterday.  I simply could not put it down, ignoring all others until I finished. (Please, at 13 and 15, they were thrilled). I can’t wait to review it, but I need to give myself a few days.  It made such an impression, that I kept having dreams about it last night!

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4.  Last week, I was dreading getting back out on the slopes- well, I did it!

This is what I looked like- yeah right.

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No broken bones or anything though, but now hubby is trying to convince me I can move onto the next level slopes.  I don’t think so.

5.  I hate it when you think you are totally done with the shopping for gifts, only to realize after you have wrapped, that you forgot something.  Guess I am hitting Marshall’s tomorrow.

6.  Getting very excited for the holidays!  We have a pretty cool tradition.  We stay home on Christmas Eve, decorate our tree, and have a fancy dinner.  This year my daughter insisted on lamb chops.  Then we exchange one gift, usually a jokey gift, then watch Scrooged in front of the fire.   Do you have any fun holiday traditions?

Please leave a comment- I love hearing from you!

 

The End of the Affair- a review

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The End of the Affair

by Graham Greene

published by Penguin Books

1951

Summary

The love affair between Maurice Bendix and Sarah, flourishing in the turbulent times of the London Blitz, ends when she suddenly and without explanation breaks it off. Two years later, after a chance meeting, Bendix hires a private detective to follow Sarah, and slowly his love for her turns into an obsession.

(from Goodreads)

My Review

The End of the Affair is a story about lost love, jealousy, resentment, and faith.  It is a lot in a short story.  We meet the bitter writer and narrator Maurice Bendrix, who has loved and inexplicably lost the married Sarah Wells.  Through Sarah’s journal, we slowly discover why she ended the affair with Bendrix.  As I say, this is a rather short novel, but it is filled with such strong emotions that I could not read it very quickly.  I was pulled into the story of Sarah and how strongly she affected people.  I was surprised by the amount of Catholic dogma in the later part of the book, and am not sure how I really feel about the ending.  It seems I have been reading a few books lately that were very well written good books, that featured characters that I just didn’t like (this book), and even  actually despised (review to come next week).  I thought Bendrix was quite awful.  Even when he was with Sarah, he usually wound up acting like a jerk.  I did believe they loved each other, and can understand how crushing jealousy can be to a relationship, but he was a bit too much.  I did like the writing very much, and am looking forward to trying another Greene novel.

Did you read this book?  What did you think?

Rating

3.5 out of 5

loved these quotes-

The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belongs to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity.”

“It’s a strange thing to discover and to believe that you are loved when you know that there is nothing in you for anybody but a parent or a God to love.”

and my favorite-

“I had to touch you with my hands, I had to taste you with my tongue; one can’t love and do nothing.”

Bookish & Not So Bookish Thoughts…

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Bookish & Not So Bookish Thought

is a weekly men hosted by Christine over at Bookishly Boisterous, where we post things that are on our minds.

I am crazy busy, so I am not sure how many actual thoughts I will be able to string together.

1.  With less than 2 weeks till Christmas, I am getting run down.  Somehow, I am responsible for buying ALL the gifts- my extended family, his extended family, our children.  Poor hubby?  He has to wrack his brain to buy for me.  Nevermind all the wrapping, baking and cooking.  Now add to that a snow day this Tuesday, and going away this weekend and next for some skiing, and I am thinking that I am screwed.  If I don’t watch out I am going to be grumpy mess for the holidays.

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2.  I gave in and borrowed a copy of The Bone Season from my library.  I had heard many good things, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to start a new series-this is supposed to be the first of 7.  Well, I read it.  And loved it.  Now I have to wait for the darn author to write the next 6!  Hurry up already, I want to know what happens!!!

3.  As I mentioned above, it snowed and there was no school for the kids.  I actually sat in my chair with a lovely wool blanket as the snow started falling aground 7 am, and read as the snow fell.  It was probably the best 2 hours of my week.

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4.  I started skiing last year, at the age of 40+.  I survived.  I’m supposed to go back and do it again this weekend.  I know I probably won’t die, but the thought has entered my head.  Often.  I am afraid of breaking something or worse.  This is why you should teach these sorts of things while people are really young.  I have to start thinking positive.  I will not fall.  I will not fall.  By the way, I tend to stick to the greens- the easiest slopes-with all the little kids and beginners.

5.  My blogging and reviewing has slowed down a bit, but at the same time, I am read a lot and loving it.  Plus, I have taken a step back from accepting ARCS for a while and I am only reading books that I am choosing.  It’s all going pretty nicely.  I am hoping to get back into more blogging after the holidays, but for now I am just going with the flow.

6.  I am so looking forward to joining Leah at Books Speak Volumes in a few weeks for Jazz Age January!  She has invited bloggers to join along in  “reading  books related to the Jazz Age- novels, written by Jazz Age authors, non fiction about the 20’s and contemporary fiction set during this time period.”  I wrote my thesis in History in this time period, and have always loved the literature that came out of it.  Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stein, and then all the books that have been written about them and the decade.

 Stop by if you are interested and sign up!

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7.  Last January, I signed up for the Goodreads 2013 challenge, and I set out to read 100 books in the year.  I am at 94, and I think I am going to make it (fingers crossed).

8.  This is all I want for Christmas- Jane Austen’s Persuasion Scarf.  Or Pride & Prejudice.  I’ll take either.  But I will probably get pajamas.

And maybe a sweater.

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The Paris Architect by Charles Belfoure- a review

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The Paris Architect

by Charles Belfoure

published by Sourcebooks Landmarks

2013

I received this book as a digital ARC from the publisher through Net Galley in return for an honest review.

Summary

Like most gentiles in Nazi-occupied Paris, architect Lucien Bernard has little empathy for the Jews. So when a wealthy industrialist offers him a large sum of money to devise secret hiding places for Jews, Lucien struggles with the choice of risking his life for a cause he doesn’t really believe in. Ultimately he can’t resist the challenge and begins designing expertly concealed hiding spaces—behind a painting, within a column, or inside a drainpipe—detecting possibilities invisible to the average eye. But when one of his clever hiding spaces fails horribly and the immense suffering of Jews becomes incredibly personal, he can no longer deny reality.

Written by an expert whose knowledge imbues every page, this story becomes more gripping with every life the architect tries to save. (from Goodreads)

My Review

It seems like I have read many well written books recently that centered on WWII, such as The Storyteller, The Girl You Left Behind, The Light in the Ruins, and The Perfume Collector.  I had heard good things about The Paris Architect, so I decided to give it a try, though I hated to compare it to the previous books I loved.  When I began this book, I admit I didn’t like it much.. The writing was very good, but I didn’t like the main character, Lucien.  He was a bit smug, shallow, and obnoxious.  This quickly changed as I read further.  In the end, I loved this book.  It was well written and moved very fast for me.  I read it in 1 1/2 days.  The only thing I would change is I would have liked to have known more about the people Lucien was helping.  There was some background given, but it left me wanting to know more about them.  I guess this is a good sign! If you enjoyed any of the books I mentioned before, I would definitely recommend this book to you.

rating

4 out of 5

The Shining- (or how I scared myself to death)

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The Shining

by Stephen King

published by

Anchor Books

1977

Summary

Danny was only five years old but in the words of old Mr Halloran he was a ‘shiner’, aglow with psychic voltage. When his father became caretaker of the Overlook Hotel his visions grew frighteningly out of control.

As winter closed in and blizzards cut them off, the hotel seemed to develop a life of its own. It was meant to be empty, but who was the lady in Room 217, and who were the masked guests going up and down in the elevator? And why did the hedges shaped like animals seem so alive?

Somewhere, somehow there was an evil force in the hotel – and that too had begun to shine.. (from Goodreads)

My Review

I have previously admitted on this blog that I am the World’s Biggest Wimp!  I am.  This began when I was about 6-7 years old.  My two older (read evil) sisters and lots of cousins had gone to see The Amityville Horror. 165px-Amityville_poster When they came home, we had a big sleepover in the living room, where my sister -the middle, and more evil of the two- proceeded to describe the entire movie to my young self.  From that point on, I have tried to watch horror movies, but wind up scaring myself so badly that I can’t sleep.  This has continued on into adulthood, and is the reason I don’t read horror novels, and have never read Stephen King.

I have seen movies based on his books, which I honestly found creepy, but not terrifying.  I watched Carrie, Cujo (I actually felt bad for the dog), and Christine- meh.  I LOVED LOVED LOVED Misery, Stand by Me, and The Shawshank Redemption.  So I was familiar with his work-sort of.  And I will admit-I saw The Shining numerous times, always a little creeped out, but very amused with Jack Nicholson’s acting.

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So, after turning the corner in age, I decided to try new things, and reading a King novel was one of them.  I was going to read The Stand, since it was highly recommended to me, but when I saw the size of it, I got real nervous and put it back.  I figured I would start with The Shining, since I knew the story and might not get that scared.  WRONG.

I admit it did help a bit, but I was pretty scared.  As I have said, I wouldn’t read it when I was home alone- or late at night.  All of the sudden, I kept all the lights on, and made my chocolate lab lay in the bathroom while I showered.  Because I was scared.

But what an amazing book!

I would have put it down (wimp) if the writing wasn’t so wonderful, and the story so compelling.

And I thought I knew the story from the film. No, no, no I did not.  There was so much more background and foreshadowing.  And the end!!  I looked at my husband, very pleased with myself and said “It ends differently than the movie.”  When he asked how, I told him to read it (he has voluntarily read maybe 3 books in the 20+ years I have known him).

So, I am not going to sum up the book- most people have either read it, saw the movie, or think they know what it is about.  All I can say is it is if you haven’t read it, it is so much better than you think it is.  Go out and get it and read it!  But not alone.  Or in the dark.  If I can do it, you certainly can.

So, what King book should I read next???