FLASHBACK FRIDAY: DECEMBER 30,2017

THE ADDRESS by Fiona Davis: A Review

I finished this book nearly a month ago, but summer school and its fast pace prevented me from reviewing it until now.  I wanted to do it justice because the author is a friend, and she has written a really fine novel.

When one hears the address, The Dakota (an apartment building, now a building of condos) in New York, one’s mind automatically goes to John Lennon’s murder, but the story goes back much further than that, to the 1800’s to another infamous murder at that address. Davis has thoroughly done her research on the building (Her novels are set in buildings in New York), and discovered that the architect was stabbed to death, supposedly by a crazy woman of that day. She has envisioned how it could have been and written a very plausible story explaining her vision.

A blurb on the book describes it as “…about the thin line between love and loss, success and ruin, passion and madness.”  In the novel, Theodore Camden was found stabbed to death, presumably by Sarah Smith, his lover. That is the 1800’s story.  The 1985 story finds Bailey Camden (notice the name) an out of work recovering alcoholic just returning from rehab, who is  forced to throw herself on the mercy of Melinda, her vacuous cousin for a job and a place to live.  The job, at the Dakota, which includes an apartment, as what seems to be her only salary, develops into an interest in (bordering on obsession with) the building. I have never read such twists and turns as were in both Sarah’s 1884 story and Bailey’s 1985 investigation into her ancestor’s murder.

As in Davis’ debut novel, The Dollhouse, about the Barbizon hotel, the novel alternates between the early story and the more modern one.  This never confuses the reader, however, for chapters in both novels are clearly marked with dates. Also like The Dollhouse, Davis’ newest is a historical romance story, involves a crime of passion, and has several mysteries to solve. The opening of The Address, begins arrestingly: “The sight of a child teetering on the window ledge of room 510 turned Sarah’s world upside down.” Thus begins a tale that kept me up far past my bedtime because I couldn’t put it down. Dishes and laundry went unwashed, social activities were put on hold, and telephone calls went unanswered during my two-day immersion in The Address. The author’s inclusion of the details of the period were reminiscent of those taken by the creators of “Downton Abbey.”

I am so looking forward to Davis’ next novel, which I have on her mother’s word, is set in Grand Central Station. To all people who love all things New York and any reader who enjoys a good read, I highly recommend this book.

Author: Rae Longest

This year, I will have been a member of AAUW (American Association of University Women) for fifty years, a life time member (which means my fellow AAUW members will begin to pay my annual dues. (ha ha) In the 80’s we began a book group to share our love of reading, books,and fellowship with other women and girls who loved the same. We resurrected the group on-line in September of 2015 and went on from there (See “Introduction”,first blog). This is my first experience at blogging or publishing anything and is becomes more fun with each blog posted. I am currently teaching as an adjunct at The University of Houston Clear Lake. This makes my 27th year there after three years at Alvin Community College and an almost-twenty year career as a classroom teacher with Alvin Independent School District. Reading and writing are “in my blood” just like teaching is. I hope you enjoy the blog.

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Ray’s Christmas!

A Dog's Life ... and mine ... and yours!

The “big kid” late Christmas Eve. He was trying so hard to keep his eyes open. He would obviously have no idea what was going on but, due to a few changes in routines and decor, he would have known that something was up!

Sleep eventually won, and he missed seeing Santa, but he still got a bag of huge biscuits. He was happy on Christmas Day morning, and even happier later when he smelled the turkey!

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CHRISTMAS READ-A-THON RESULTS

Saturday, December 23rd, I began my Readathon at 7:00 a.m., and spent the first hour reading my “grandson’s” dissertation, “If You Do Not Like the Past, Change It”: The Reel Civil Rights Revolution, Historical Memory, and the Making of Utopian Pasts. He is a cultural historian and an expert on how films depict history, but even though his dissertation is a very scholarly work, it is surprisingly readable.  Throughout the day, I would return to this huge red book, and covered the end of chapter two and all of chapter three, a total of 130 pages.

By 8:00, I wanted a break and some breakfast, so while I had my coffee and muffin, I read the morning edition of The Houston Chronicle, skimming most, but closely reading two feature articles and all of the comics.

At 8:45, I read on the novel, Manhattan Beach, and over the course of the day, I read approximately 130+ pages.

By 9:00, my e-mails and texts were pinging in, so I dealt with them, plus reading a few blog posts until 9:30 when I returned to Manhattan Beach. It was becoming really interesting by this point.

From then until noon, taking a few minutes out to put dinner in the oven, I read a few chapters of Finish Strong by Richard G. Capen to include some non-fiction reading.

At lunch we had unexpected company, whom, of course, we invited to eat with us, and I broke my Readathon until 3:00 p.m. in order to enjoy a Christmas visit.

Back to the dissertation at 3:00 until 4:00 p.m. when I took a break to clean up the kitchen, grab a snack, and deliver Christmas goodies to neighbors, which, again, required a bit of visiting time.

By 4:30 I was in the mood for Manhattan Beach again, followed by a few pages from Finish Strong when I came to the chapter break of the novel, and then, on to the 5:30 evening news and a light supper.

At 6:00 p.m., I decided to switch to the Kindle app on my laptop and read S. Higbee’s Running Out of Space (I was propelled through several chapters at time-warp speed because of the fast paced action).  The book is an exciting adventure in the future on board a spaceship (and other places). By 8:15, I needed to catch my breath and breathe in some of Earth’s familiar oxygen, so I returned to Finish Strong.  Overall, I managed to read chapters 4-11 of this very inspiring, very readable book.  The only drawback was, while on this book, I often found myself stopping to copy down some parts of it for my quotes book.

Around 8:00 p.m., I secured the house, turned on the outside lights, and prepared myself to finish my reading in bed. Until 9:00, I read on the dissertation, and followed with two of Neil Gaiman’s essays from his The View from the Cheap Seats.  As I became sleepier and sleepier, I decided that approximately 10 hours was a respectable accomplishment for a readathon, and although I didn’t fulfill my goal of finishing a whole book, I did make a good dent in four books on my TBR list.

In spite of not finishing a whole book nor reading for twelve hours, I would deem my little Readathon a success.

Merry Christmas!

CHRISTMAS READ-A-THON

Join me on Saturday, December 23rd in a twelve-hour Christmas Read-a-thon. No, you do not have to read Christmas themed books, but you may if you would like to. My goal is to finish the books I have started and to read as far as I can in books that are in my house in this order: books checked out from library /escape reading to soothe me from the hustle and bustle I will have been through by then/books that will whittle down my TBR shelves and stacks.

I plan to cook my Christmas Eve dinner and thaw my Christmas day dinner items while I am reading on Saturday.  Sunday we will go to our Christmas Church Service at 10:30 (no Bible Study/Sunday School that day), then return at 5:00 p.m. of Christmas Eve for a Communion/Celebration, so there will be scant time for cooking.  Hopefully by Saturday, everything will be wrapped and delivered and nothing but peace and goodwill will reign for the rest of the Christmas weekend and day. I am looking forward to some quiet, reflective time both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  Leading up to this time with a day of reading and thawing/cooking will be a Christmas gift to myself.

Who would like to join me?  Indicate in the comment section if you’re “in.”

Happy Holiday Reading Days Ahead…

A SHOUT OUT TO JAMES J. CUDNEY, BLOGGER AND AUTHOR EXTRADONAIRE

I have just finished listening to a 2017 audio book, Beartown, by Fredrik Backman which was recommended to me by blogging friend, James J. Cudney of This Is My Truth Now, one of my favorite blogs that I follow. I recently reviewed his debut novel,Watching Glass Shatter, on both this site and my “accidental blog,” blogging807.wordpress.com. I gave his novel a 5 out of 5 points, and have been recommending it to all my discerning reader friends who want a “good read” to give to someone for Christmas (after reading it themselves first, of course). I have told people that they will love the characterization skills James demonstrates as he deals with the members of the Glass family, all flawed characters, but unforgettable, and ones we can relate to. Cudney weaves the braid of the  family’s dynamics and relationships from the individual complexities of each character, none of whom we fail to care about. He has mentioned in his blog that he will make an announcement on This Is My Truth Now early in 2018 as to whether there will be a sequel.  I, for one, am keeping my fingers crossed and will be first in line to purchase a copy!