Friday Book Club ~ 9/18/20

On a roll with two to review.

First up, “The Boy” by Tami Hoag. Per Goodreads: A panic-stricken woman runs in the dead of night, battered and bloodied, desperate to find help. . . . 

I always enjoy a good whodunit despite being terrible at figuring out the clues. When a plot has me gasping, you know it’s a good one. Right out of the gate, the story grabbed me. Such vivid details had me running down the road with Genevieve looking for help. An exciting thriller that kept me guessing until the very end. I was so sure I knew who the culprit was but I was wrong. Themes of power, greed, high expectations, and judgments.

No spoilers here. My rating 4 out of 5 stars.

Next, “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counter intuitive Approach to Living a Good Life” by Mark Manson. Per Goodreads: In this generation-defining self-help guide, a superstar blogger cuts through the crap to show us how to stop trying to be “positive” all the time so that we can truly become better, happier people.

My review: Hogwash. I usually try and go easy on non-fiction. To me, the personal nature of the subject matter should be respected. In this case though, this is not a biography. This is simply one man’s opinion. Just once I’d like a book like this to show a broken person who is in continual struggle with good and bad days. That’s more realistic to me. Answers to life’s dilemmas are not that easy as picking what to give a f*ck about.

Here’s an anecdote for ya. When B had his accident, he went to a therapist for a mild case of PTSD. Yep, just once. The guy (much older than this author and before this book was published) told B that for anything he could not control, he should just say f*ck it. Then he should put it out of his mind and move on. To this day, B deals with his stuff using that method. And I admire that. If only I could learn to be the same way.

My rating, 2 of 5 stars. Much better self-help books are out there.

Friday Book Club ~ 9/4/20

For a while, after COVID, I could not read. Well I could read in the sense that I still knew how.

Duh! Jilly, just move on.

Alrighty. Moving on …

I was too distracted and stressed to concentrate. I seriously could not keep a thought in my head when it came to reading for pleasure. A task that was once my go-to “self-care” me time thing to do.

Now I am happy to announce, I’m back! Woo to the Hoo!

Andromeda Strain broke the curse back in July.  I marked two more off the TBR queue in August.  Thank you SAPL online goodness.  Time to review them now.

“Ask Again Yes” by Mary Beth Keane per goodreads: A profoundly moving novel about two neighboring families in a suburban town, the friendship between their children, a tragedy that reverberates over four decades, the daily intimacies of marriage, and the power of forgiveness.
How much can a family forgive?

My Review:  Acceptance and forgiveness are central themes. Love conquers all for childhood sweethearts Kate and Peter.  Lots of little stories within the bigger arc.  Each of them showed the flaws of humanity but also what can be overcome.

No spoilers here. My rating 4 of 5 stars.  

“An American Marriage” by Tayari Jones per goodreads:  Newlyweds, Celestial and Roy, are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive and she is artist on the brink of an exciting career. They are settling into the routine of their life together, when they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. 

My Review:  This could be ripped from the headlines.  Powerful stories of relationships and the power of living through adversity that changes you to your core.  Demonstrates strength and what one can bear. Something good rises from the ashes.  Left with a sadness for what might have been.

My rating 4 of 5 stars.

I am batting a 1000 with the above choices.  I am 2/3 of the way through “The Boy” by Tami Hoag.  I’ll  report back on that one another random Friday.  


J-Dub’s Review of “The Andromeda Strain”

Welp, no spoilers because the book has been out for ages.   Michael Crichton’s 1969  “The Andromeda Strain” was cutting edge.  In fact, I read in the Wiki that he started the genre of techno-thriller with this book.  For me this is take two or three.  Still as good as ever.

A quick easy beach read.  Yeah, I said beach read.  Not that the subject is all rom-com chick-lit but the pace was quick and easy.  I could picture myself lounging on the beach.  In my favorite chair, under an umbrella with drink in one hand (plastic only or course) and Kindle reader in the other.  Well I can sort of picture myself lounging and reading on the Texas Riviera.  Ya see the beaches here are closing up again.  Dang mo-fo’s couldn’t wait to be back out there again and this happens.  Failed re-open attempt. But I digress …

Or do I digress?  Ya see in this story written 50 some odds years ago, space crud hits the fictional town of Piedmont AZ.  Everyone but two die.  The old Sterno drinker and a baby boy.  A response team of scientists/doctors set up years before for this type of emergency is called in to save the day.  Lots of stuff happens and eventually they do just that … save the day.  The ending is heart racing, we are on the edge of our seats wondering can he stop the detonation in time?  The space crud which caused a town’s demise mutates to a harmless blob and floats up, up, and away.  If we switch space crud with Rona then Bingo! no longer fictional and we are in 2020 instead of 1969. Woo to the hoo.  Ha!

I was going to quote a line but since my book was a loaner from the online library on my Kindle which has since been returned, I will have to paraphrase.  This single utterance struck me since this was written all those years ago.  Somehow like Kreskin, Michael Crichton is a soothsayer.

“The president doesn’t like scientists” so-and-so said.  He simply doesn’t trust them.

Well, well, well what have we here?!?!?

Solid 4 of 5 star 💫 rating.

As always, more to come.

On this day ~ From FB 6/19/15 to 6/19/20

I fancy myself the movie critic … I know, I know, don’t quit my day job. Despite me likely being in the minority for my opinion, I’ll still give an assessment of “Jurassic World” … WITHOUT any spoilers

In my opinion, the movie was just very good but not great, certainly not record breaking over $500M in the opening weekend kind of great. The ending obviously left the door open for another sequel for more moola eventually.

My verdict is out on Opie’s daughter as the lead. I’m not sure she was strong enough to carry it. Perfect hair and heels in the jungles of Costa Rica… puhleese. D’Onofrio, BD Wong, and Chris Pratt played their parts well. I guess I’m just spoiled by Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park and the first big screen adaptation. Laura Dern, Sam Neill, Richard Attenborough, and Jeff Goldblum, I mean come on!! How can you top that talent ?!?!??

I read Mr. Crichton’s book first like I usually do and while the movie deviated a bit from the novel, the 1993 Jurassic Park is classic. I think I’ll dust off my copy and re-read it and after that I’ll re-read the Andromeda Strain. Summer is almost here after all. I’m going to pretend I’m a kid trying to meet my quota for the summer reading program at the McCreless branch library. I want my T-shirt and book bag 

Surprise Find & Book Review in Place of Twofer Tuesday

I am still listening to “Bad Monkey” by Carl Hiaasen.  I have to say I LOVE this book.  Perfect plot for an audio version.  Arte Johnson is superb.  He’s doing voices same as I did when I read to my kids.  LOL.

Bedtime stories for adults during the daily commute.  I am not commuting this week but I am mobile so as I go out and about frolicking in the Spring Break fun amid the Covid-19 plague, I hear snippets.  The whole section on the bad money’s aka Driggs origin and family lineage scene has me in stitches.  Too cute that he was related to the monkey from Friends and a few other monkey descendants that were part of Ace Ventura Pet Detective.  Driggs himself has a stint as the monkey from the Pirates of the Caribbean.

On more than one occasion I have laughed out loud despite the sometimes mature theme.  I won’t spoil the surprise but Chapters 22 and 23 … wow.  I did not see that coming.  I am mid way through CD 7 of 9 meaning light at the end of the tunnel.  Not that I want the light to come on.  In fact, this is Mister Toad’s wild ride and I have enjoyed every single minute.

Therefore I am using this post as my pseudo review.  I am purposefully vague in my reviews any way after the “We Need to Talk About Kevin” debacle.  I will never ever again ruin a book for someone.  I surprised myself being able to follow along and actually think I got more out of listening.  I am at times guilty of speed reading always getting more out of a book when I read it more than once.  As far as ratings, I give this book two thumbs up or 5 stars.  A typical detective caper at its’ heart made ever more entertaining thanks to the late great Arte Johnson and his narration.   Go on read it or listen to it.  You’ll be glad you did.

Oh and the surprise find is completely unrelated to the book.  I have two shoe racks in my closet and usually recycle the shoe boxes.  I hung onto two for Operation Shoebox 2020.  As I was putting up clothes today, the what I thought were empty shoe boxes came tumbling down.  Out pops a brand new pair of navy blue Sketchers with gray bottoms … my new thing that I do because OCD does not allow me to have white bottomed shoes anymore.  They get too dirty; same as non-white soles but at least the dirt doesn’t show.   The receipt was still in the box.  Deeply discounted and use of rewards made the total a whopping $17.98.  Date on the receipt was October 16, 2016!  Sacribleu.  And I’m walking again which means I was about to buy new shoes.  Now I don’t have to.  Yay for me!!

As always, more to come.


Decisions Decisions of the Book Club Variety

The pace of my reading is dramatically reduced in 2020 but I knew that going in.  My goal for this year’s Goodreads challenge is only 12, one per month.   I am behind schedule thus far despite book club suggestions (one of which I did not finish ).  Life’s too short to waste on bad books she said as a former must read to last page or I will die type reader.

Each month I get the Prime freebie.  I’ve quite a collection to break into since each month I download a pick but I haven’t read any of them in a while.  For March, my choice was “The Club King: My Rise, Reign, and Fall in New York Nightlife” by Peter Gatien. I’ll report back sometime later.  The offerings were stellar this month, adding the following to my TBR queue:

  • “Rain Will Come” by Thomas Holgate
  • “The Last Bathing Beauty” by Amy Sue Nathan
  • “The Other Family: A Novel” by Loretta Nyhan

Too cheap to pay but maybe the library will have these gems eventually or perhaps a Goodreads giveaway.  I keep going for those.  Filling up the Want to Reads.  Ah, now that’s the sweet stuff.

As always, more to come.

#SAS Twofer Tuesday 3/3/20 ~ On Hiatus

No more Jack until June 2, 2020.  I will being using my free Sirius XM until then.  I bet you’re wondering why then doesn’t she post the last two songs of the commute from Sirius?  What difference does the station make?  Well I’ll tell ya.  Since Sunday, I have been listening to an audio book.  A first for me!

Arte Johnson (yes that Arte!  The guy from Laugh-In fame) is reading Bad Monkey by Carl Hiassen to me.  Sadly Arte passed away in July of 2019 at the ripe ole age of 90.  Yet his voice and life’s work lives on.  How cool is that?!?!?

I’ll report back on the audio book once we’re done.

As always, more to come.

Easily Amused

I got a new book Saturday. I mentioned to B that I expect him to be around while I’m reading because the book is very scary. So much so that it’s says to read it with the lights on. In typical B fashion he asks me “well how else are you supposed to read it? In the dark?” Cracked me right up. Yep I’ll be reading in the dark. Duh 🙄

Proof this is part of the liner …

I’m not scared … yet.

As always more to come.

J-Dub’s Review of “Before and After” by Judy Christie & Lisa Wingate

I finished in one day! That’s how good is this book. My new word “un-put-downable”. These are real-life stories of children used as commodities of a corrupt system. Georgia Tann was a monster in my opinion. Yet despite what happened, we see the human connection. These stories told from the adoptees POV are riveting. I’m glad the authors took that route by giving them a voice after years of being somehow less than. The psychology of it all is fascinating. I’m convinced now more than ever that people do the best they can with what they’ve been given. Flawed humans aren’t we all. Still triumph of the human spirit endures. Tears 😭 both happy and sad. My rating 5 out of 5 stars ✨!!

As always more to come.

J-Dubs Review of “Hope: A Tragedy A Novel” by Shalom Auslander

In place of tunes we have book club. Yay to multi-media. Time to get started.

I almost didn’t review this book calling it un-PC but in actuality the story is satire. Or my layperson’s definition of satire. Kind of cool that the kidlet recommended even though he couldn’t finish the book. He said he’ll pick it up again once his own personal demons pass. He’s very astute and realized what would happen before it happened. The theme in a way mirrored his life last year. Or perhaps just too close for comfort.

I’ll try not to spoil the story for anyone though this book has been out some time. Solomon Kugel is the proverbial sad sack or schmuck. Sort of “Death of a Salesman” Willy Lowman like. Sol trudges through a job he hates to afford the American dream he really doesn’t want while caring for his aging mother and trying to make everyone happy.

He carries around a small pocket sized notebook and pen so he can write down his possible last words as things strike his fancy. He borders on obsessed really. He knows the famous last words of several celebrity types. Some of his entries are so wrong they’re right. Funny too.

He has a warped relationship with his mother. Well don’t we all? She’s right off her rocker. Well yes I am. 😂 There’s a long suffering spouse and plucky only child. He has a sister who’s missing in action leaving their mother’s care mainly to him.

I think some fantasy was woven in with Professor Jove his psychiatrist who I believe never existed and the realtor Eve. She seems to have made a deal with the devil selling houses with a special surprise in the attic. The tale starts and finishes with fire as a theme of arson is carried on throughout. Though dark and twisted, there were parts which were literally laugh out loud.

I sometimes joke Hope is a fickle bitch. Sol Kugel would likely agree. I didn’t get a lot of quotes for my commonplace book. Instead I got one rather long passage that expresses to me that the past can be difficult with which to come to terms. I’m not the only one who might wish for a do-over occasionally.

If only there was a Miracle Away for the past. A Forever Gone for brutalities, atrocities, indignities great and small. A lemon-scented life, that was what he wanted; for Jonah, for Bree, for Mother, for Anne. A pine scented, clean, polished, revitalized life. Leaves no residue. Resists finger prints. Sixty-four ounces of new, price on Amazon – who cares? Click to add to cart. Rush delivery.

May not be for everyone but I’d read it again. I’d probably pick up some new gems. Sol is a tragic character who you laugh with … to keep from crying maybe. My rating 4.25 of 5 stars.