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Thursday, June 20, 2019

Those Other Women - Nicola Moriarty

Those Other Women by Nicola Moriarty

First Paragraph(s):

'Mum!  MUM!'  The two children screamed at her as she stole five minutes to creep into the bathroom and lock the door.  Her kids had been arguing all morning and this was the one place she could demand privacy.  Although she knew some mothers couldn't even find peace in there.  Recently she'd seen a photo on Facebook of a toddler's fingers wriggling under the bathroom door, vying for its mother's attention.
     But she'd laid down the law from day one with her kids.  You don't need to watch me poop.  I don't care how lonely you are.  I don't care if you want a Vegemite sandwich right this second.  I don't care if you're desperate for me to see the exact scene of The Trolls movie that's on at the moment--one I've seen fifteen times before.  Right now, in here, it's Mummy's time.

My Thoughts:

I read another book by Nicola Moriarty (sister of two other writers, Liane Moriarty and Jaclyn Moriarty) last year, The Fifth Letter, and liked it well enough.  This one was a contemporary look at women of all kinds and social media.  A Facebook group for women with no children (who don't want children) and a group for mothers - these groups get into a bit of conflict as there are 'mean' girls on each side and each is exasperated with other women.  No big giant secrets here, but some smaller ones.  The final epiphany was that women feel pressure and stress no matter what stage of life they are at and what their particular role is.  In the end, why can't we just all get along and focus more attention on women who need support because they are in genuinely rough conditions?  I enjoyed this one too and agreed with the 'let's just get along' idea. 

Blurb:

Overwhelmed at the office and reeling from betrayals involving the people she loves, Poppy feels as if her world has tipped sideways. Maybe her colleague, Annalise, is right—Poppy needs to let loose and blow off some steam. What better way to vent than social media?

With Annalise, she creates an invitation-only Facebook group that quickly takes off. Suddenly, Poppy feels like she’s back in control—until someone begins leaking the group’s private posts and stirring up a nasty backlash, shattering her confidence.

Feeling judged by disapproving female colleagues and her own disappointed children, Frankie, too, is careening towards the breaking point. She also knows something shocking about her boss—sensitive knowledge that is tearing her apart.

As things begin to slide disastrously, dangerously out of control, carefully concealed secrets and lies are exposed with devastating consequences—forcing these women to face painful truths about their lives and the things they do to survive.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

First Chapter, First Paragraph - Keep You Close



I am linking up with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter First Paragraph or two of the book you are currently reading or plan to read soon.

I read Karen Cleveland's first book, Need To Know, last year.  Had a few annoyances with it, but finished it and decided that if she wrote another, I'd try it.  Need To Know is the July selection for our mystery book group and I reread it recently.  Many bloggers liked it better than I did and wished for a sequel.  So far, Keep You Close is not a sequel, but it does have some references to characters from Need To Know.  This week I'm highlighting:



by Karen Cleveland

First Paragraph(s):

The woman jolts awake, gasping, heart pounding.  Gunshots echo in her head, ones conjured in sleep.  She reaches for the other side of the bed, finds it empty.  Only an indentation in the sheets, now cold.
     She slips out of bed and shrugs on a robe.  Pads quietly into the darkened hall, bare feet cold on the wood floor.  She peers through the first open door.  A boy sleeps soundly, his features barely visible by the light of the moon.  On to the next door.  A little girl asleep in a rainbow-colored room, a night-light casting a muted glow on her innocent face.  Third door now.  Twin boys, asleep in twin beds.  One has a thumb in his mouth.  The other is snuggled up with a tattered stuffed bear.
     Faint sound from downstairs draws her onward.  Television, the volume low.  She glimpses the screen when she's halfway down the stairs.  News, the twenty-four-hour kind.  Russia.  Election interference.  The sort of story her husband can't stand, always shuts off.


Blurb:

Stephanie Maddox works her dream job policing power and exposing corruption within the FBI. Getting here has taken her nearly two decades of hard work, laser focus, and personal sacrifices—the most important, she fears, being a close relationship with her teenage son, Zachary. A single parent, Steph’s missed a lot of school events, birthdays, and vacations with her boy—but the truth is, she would move heaven and earth for him, including protecting him from an explosive secret in her past. It just never occurred to her that Zachary would keep secrets of his own.

One day while straightening her son’s room, Steph is shaken to discover a gun hidden in his closet. A loaded gun. Then comes a knock at her front door—a colleague on the domestic terrorism squad, who utters three devastating words: “It’s about Zachary.”

So begins a compulsively readable thriller of deception and betrayal, as Stephanie fights to clear her son’s name, only to expose a shadowy conspiracy that threatens to destroy them both—and bring a country to its knees. Packed with shocking twists and intense family drama, Keep You Close is an electrifying exploration of the shattering consequences of the love that binds—and sometimes blinds—a mother and her child.

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What do you think?  Would you keep reading?  Karen Cleveland is a former CIA analyst.  Some of the situations in both of her books are pretty scary...and probably entirely possible. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

Hiking at the Garden of the Gods - Colorado Springs, Colorado

One of the activities I tried when we were in Colorado last month was a 'Guided Walk' through the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.  Earlier on our trip, we stayed at the Broadmoor Hotel where my husband attended a work conference.  I'll have a couple of posts about the Broadmoor in the next couple of weeks.  Later in the trip, we moved over to a resort that was closer to the Garden of the Gods.  My husband played golf and I signed up for the 'Guided Walk'.  Turned out that I was the only resort guest that signed up, so I had the attention of both the 'wellness' coaches and also one of the valets went with us on the walk.  I had told them that I was on a health journey personally and so we hiked a bit higher and longer (with breaks to drink water and breathe - ha!).  Here's some great shots that I took.


From the balcony of our room looking toward the Garden of the Gods and Pike's Peak.



The 'Guided Walk' began on some easy sidewalks.  It got tougher.  



Here's a picture of me that the nice valet took with the two 'coaches' off to the side.  



This is called the 'Kissing Camels', I think.



If you make this picture larger, you might be able to see the bird that's on top of the rock.  Not sure what kind.  Maybe a goose?



The trails were well maintained, but definitely got a bit more challenging.  And we went up and up and up.



Here you can see how far up - we came from way below.



Another shot of how far up we climbed.  Yes, I had to stop and breathe, though I told them that I was 'taking a picture'.  Ha!



This shot (click to make it bigger) shows climbers on top of the rocks.  Our valet companion told us that he had climbed all over this park.  He grew up in Colorado Springs.



You can see another climber on the side of these rocks.  It turned out that our valet companion recognized the climber and told us a bit about how the leader goes first and attaches the ropes so that other climbers can follow along.  The first guy has no ropes.  Scary.



Here we are at the bottom on the regular walking trails.  Both these ladies were very good and encouraging.  I was so glad that I was brave and took the 'Guided Walk'.  It was a fun time!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

On my morning walk...



So, this was the creature that crossed my path this morning on my walk around the neighborhood.  Just happily scuttling along.  Want to come with me tomorrow?  Ha!  Ha!  I know you all love it when I document the animals that share our space here in Central Texas.  Got any fun spiders in your life?  These actually don't bother me - not that I want one to crawl up my arm or anything.  However, they feed on cicadas, camel crickets and grasshoppers and those guys annoy me to death.  And they 'sing' all night (the cicadas) - loudly!  I say 'go for it, Mr. Tarantula or Ms. Tarantula'!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Another update and what I've been reading...

Hello book friends!  I'm checking back in with all of you and telling a bit of about what I've been reading in the last weeks.

I think my last update post was before Memorial Day.  I spent that weekend  and several days afterward sick with a weird viral thing that my husband brought home.  It was beyond tiresome - like flu with no respiratory or digestive issues.  However, the fever was present and the body aches and lack of appetite and a huge amount of fluid retention.  Horrible.  I hurt all over and it reminded me vividly of what my body used to feel like most of the time when I weighed about 100 pounds more.  Note to self - not going back there...ever!

We had a vacation planned to New Mexico for the first week in June and so we went anyway, even though I wasn't quite 100%.  I got better as time went on and though I wasn't as active as I would have liked, it was a good trip.  We got back last Sunday and my husband managed to get our yard done before our area had some huge storms.  That's what very hot, humid air does when it collides with a cold front blowing in.  There were a couple of small tornadoes around, but we just got lots of lightning, thunder, and rain.  Happily.

My reading has been slow-ish.  I went through a period of not feeling like reading when I was sick, but I finally managed to finish a book or two on our trip.


We listened to Michael Connelly's latest Renee' Ballard/Harry Bosch book, Dark Sacred Night, as we drove across Texas.  We both liked it and it was interesting that it was co-narrated by Christine Lakin and Titus Welliver (the actor who plays Bosch in the TV adaptation).  That worked well for us.  We enjoyed the book and look forward to listening to the next, The Night Fire, which will be published in late October.


I also listened to a recent non-fiction book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gottlieb.  It was narrated by Brittany Pressley and she did a good job with it.  This is a memoir by a therapist about her work and also about her own therapist.  I liked it a lot - funny parts, poignant parts, all the parts.  It just suited me right now, though I don't read a lot of non-fiction.


The last book I'll talk about is one I've read before a number of years ago.  I did read it in print and it's the first book in Betty Webb's Lena Jones mystery series - Desert Noir.  Betty recently had the 10th book in the series published and it will be the last one.  She felt that the whole story of Lena was complete.  I'm sad that there will be no more Lena books, but I've decided to read my way through the whole series in upcoming months.  This is an excellent series, set in Arizona, and written by a talented former reporter.  I've met Betty at mystery conferences and our mystery group spoke with her a number of years ago when we read the 2nd book in the series, Desert Wives.  I recommend these books for sure.

That's about it for my reading lately.  I shared what I'm reading right now on Tuesday.  And I'll likely be around sharing more about my books read in upcoming days.  And maybe even get those Colorado trip posts written.  Ha!     

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

First Chapter, First Paragraph - The Power



I am linking up with Vicki @ I’d Rather Be At The Beach who hosts a meme every Tuesday to share the First Chapter First Paragraph or two of the book you are currently reading or plan to read soon.

The book I'm sharing today is one I'm currently doing a read/listen for a book group meeting next week.  Very much a 'female' speculative fiction book.  See what you think:



by Naomi Alderman

First Paragraph(s):

The men lock Roxy in the cupboard when they do it.  What they don't know is: she's been locked in that cupboard before.  When she's naughty, her mum puts her there.  Just for a few minutes.  Till she calms down.  Slowly, over the hours in there, she's worked the lock loose with a fingernail or a paperclip in the screws.  She could have taken that lock off any time she wanted.  But she didn't, because then her mum would have put a bolt on the outside.  It's enough for her to know, sitting in there in the dark, that if she really wanted to she could get out.  The knowledge is as good as freedom.
     So that's why they think they've locked her in, safe and sound.  But she still gets out.  That's how she sees it.

Blurb:

In THE POWER, the world is a recognizable place: there's a rich Nigerian boy who lounges around the family pool; a foster kid whose religious parents hide their true nature; an ambitious American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But then a vital new force takes root and flourishes, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power--they can cause agonizing pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world drastically resets.

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Would you continue reading?  I'm about at the halfway point right now and becoming more absorbed as I go.  I wasn't drawn in so much for a while, but now...I'm in.  Think the discussion next week may be a good one.  I'm curious what others will think.  Have you read this book?

Friday, May 24, 2019

kay's week - 5.24.19



Happenings this last week...

I've been busy this last few days with the usual pursuits and a few family things.  May is a big month for family birthdays and we've been together with relatives more than once.  Add to that Mother's Day and seems like there's a meal at someone's house or out each week.  One more on Sunday and then a break.  I enjoyed a late Mother's Day Lunch with my daughter last Friday.  She's often working on Mother's Day and so it was nice to get to chat and try a new salad place with just the two of us.

Yoga continues and my WW friends are showing up at the class more and more.  We joked with the teacher that we weren't exactly staging a coup, but...ha!  Not sure that yoga will suit all my friends, but I'm glad to encourage them to try something new (and the free class allowed helps with that).  As for myself, I do feel stronger already in my arms and shoulders - able to hold positions longer.  And more flexible in my hips.

My library volunteering life has also been busy.  Summer is coming and that's always a challenge for libraries everywhere.  Summer reading programs and just more people walking in the door.  I volunteer at two local libraries and my main job at one of them is assisting with processing new materials.  That has meant a lot of kid stuff especially in the last few weeks.  My tasks at the other library (my former workplace) are all over the map.  When I walk in the door I never know exactly what their staffing levels will be for the day and what they will need me to assist with.  I do shelving and process holds mostly, but I can step up in other ways as well.

I went to a book club discussion of Lawrence Wright's God Save Texas Tuesday.  As I had suspected, it was an interesting time talking about various aspects of the book.  I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I had done a read/listen of it - the author narrates and does a decent job - and that I had agreed mostly and enjoyed parts and disagreed with a few conclusions.  The book group as a whole was OK with it, though there were several that became so angry with some of the government and political aspects that they were unaware of,  it colored their experience.  A couple of people wished that there had a been more discussion of Texas history (I would have liked that too) and some thought that it was too scattered and had little focus.  It was indeed filled with a lot of vignettes and took the reader from one side of the state to the other and from north to south.  I was glad that I read it and might check out other books by the author.


In upcoming days...

The book group I mentioned above will be discussing Naomi Alderman's book, The Power, in June.  We also received the schedule for the rest of 2019 at the meeting.  Some good books to come.  I volunteered to lead the discussion in July when the group will be reading The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See.  I've read other books by the author and have had this one on my list for a while.  Have you read it or other books by Lisa See?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

I'm hoping to have 3 posts talking about our Colorado trip.  I've been a bit slow getting my thoughts together about them.  Maybe next week or maybe later in the summer.  I'll be out again for a bit, but when I return, I'll try to share a little more about my reading. 

Hope everyone has a very nice Memorial Day weekend! 

Friday, May 17, 2019

Visiting the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver...


As you guys know, visiting libraries and bookstores on vacations is a big fun event for me.  On our recent trip to Colorado, I got the chance to stop by the Colfax location of Denver's famous Tattered Cover Bookstore.  My first time at this independent bookstore - hopefully not my last.  The original Tattered Cover opened in 1971 and this particular location on Colfax opened in 2006.  It was an old theater that had been renovated.  There's a cafe and many events are scheduled at this and other locations as well.



This a nice seating area in the center of the store.  My husband sat there for a while with a cup of coffee and had fun with the 5G that was available.  Not sure if those theater seats are from the original here, but perhaps.  In any case, I took my time looking around.



As one might expect, I started my shelf-looking in this section.  I know.  You're shocked.  Ha!  The Tattered Cover reminded me a bit in some ways of Powell's in Portland, Oregon.  They sell both new and used books and shelve them together.  That's a nice feature which I always liked about Powell's.  I was so engrossed in the shelves that it took me a bit to realize that I spilled part of my latte down the front of my shirt.  Sigh.  Off to find the restrooms downstairs to clean myself off as much as possible.



I'm not buying very many books in print these days, but I make exceptions for independent bookstores.  These were my two purchases.  Girl In Snow by Danya Kukafka was on a shelf section with 'Local Authors' at the top.  Not sure if the author lives in the Denver area, but the book is set in Colorado and it's a debut novel.  One Small Sacrifice is by Hilary Davidson, an author that I met at Left Coast Crime in Phoenix a few years ago.  She was appearing at an event at the bookstore the night after we were there.  I wish I could have attended that event, but I convinced the staff to sell me a paperback copy of the book.  Then I just had to figure out how to get the books into my suitcase for the flight home.

If you ever get a chance to visit The Tattered Cover, it's worth it.  I hope to go back one day.

Monday, May 13, 2019

What our mystery book group will read for the second half of 2019...



I thought several of you might be interested in what is scheduled for our mystery book group reading pleasure in upcoming months.  We meet at a local library branch and have done so for over 11 years now.  It's fun to visit with other crime novel lovers and discuss what we've read - mysteries, thrillers, suspense, cozies, true crime, and TV and movie adaptations. 

July 2019NEED TO KNOW by Karen Cleveland

August 2019The ‘I’s’ Have It! – Reading books set in countries or states beginning with the letter ‘I’

September 2019THE ESCAPE ARTIST by Brad Meltzer

October 2019SHIRLEY JACKSON Month – Choose any of her books or short stories

November 2019KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON: THE OSAGE MURDERS AND THE BIRTH OF THE FBI by David Grann

December 2019 - Annual Christmas Party, Favorite Reads for the Year, and Book Swap

Have you read any of these books?  You're welcome to join with us virtually and read along. 

Friday, May 10, 2019

A little of this and that...yoga class and some book group reading...

So, I guess the question is, what have I been doing lately?  Well, several things.  Some more fun than others, but I was happy to find that my dentist appointment went very well on Wednesday.  They said I was taking good care of my teeth and they would see me in November.  Yay!  I'm good with that.  Ha!

I've continued my walking journey and have moved to the outside part of the time.  We're in storm season here in Central Texas right now.  May is usually a stormy month for us.  Rain, thunderstorms, even hail and tornadoes.  And then there is the flash flooding that accompanies those things.  Some days I walk outside and some days not.

I did come to realize that even though my legs and lower body strength is good from all the walking and some hiking, my upper body has lost not only weight but muscle mass.  I never thought of myself as particularly strong.  However, my age (61) and losing a lot of weight have taken a toll on my arms and shoulders.  I had heard about a very affordable and good yoga class at a local rec center from a friend at church.  I took the one free class offered, loved it, and have signed up for more.  I've now been to several classes of Gentle Flow Yoga and it's going to be very good for me.  I talked about it at my Weight Watchers meeting a couple of times and two of my friends there have also joined and another has been to her free class.  We hope she comes back.  I've done yoga in the past and it was good for me mentally.  This time it will be good both mentally and physically.  I go Tuesday and Thursday mornings and can also attend another class late Sunday afternoons if it works out.

Some have wondered about what I've been reading.  Well, I have been reading and listening to audios, but maybe not as much as usual.  I've listened to a few books that were rereads - always a fun thing for me.  I've listened to a lot of music during my walking as well and a few podcasts.  Right now, I'm working on reading a couple of books for the afternoon book group that I attend most of the time.  I had to miss May's mystery book group meeting because of our Colorado trip and I'll also have to miss June's meeting.  It's good for the group to fend for themselves now and then without me and I have a fabulous substitute by the name of Gayle.  Her blog is It's a Mystery!  You should visit Gayle.  They discussed Memory Man by David Baldacci and had a good time.

I'm about to finish God Save Texas: A Journey Into the Soul of the Lone Star State by Lawrence Wright for discussion in a couple of weeks.  I've been very glad to read this book as Nan had gifted me a copy last year when she came to Austin for a trip.  I've done a read/listen and enjoyed it very much.  I haven't agreed completely with all the author says, but I think any person who has lived in Texas for a long time or is a native Texan will recognize and nod their heads at many aspects of this non-fiction book.  I look forward to the discussion.  Many of the regular members of the group are not from this area originally and many have not lived here very long.  Should be a 'vivid' time.  Ha!

The June selection for that book group is The Power by Naomi Alderman.  I'm going to do a read/listen of that one as well.  And I may just move right on into it because we have a busy early June.  We'll see how it goes.  I'll try to relate some of  the discussions of both of these books if I can.  Another group that I attend very sporadically is discussing The Dry by Jane Harper next week.  I've already read it as well as Force of Nature, the next book in the author's series.  Not sure I'll make that meeting, but I might try.

I'm going to attempt to get some posts written about our Colorado visit for next week.  Maybe 3 or 4 of them.  We shall see.  Those will have pictures.  I also would like to show you a couple of bookstores that I visited (well, a local one that I haven't made it to yet, but it's very new - plan to visit in the next few days).

Hope you all have a nice weekend and I'll see you soon!  And my plan for the blog here in upcoming days is to come and go as I have time.  I'll comment on your posts as I can and check them out event if I don't comment.