FIRST LINE FRIDAYS

I first heard about this fun meme on this blog.

Today’s Friday Firstliner comes from Before the Coffee Gets Cold by Oshikazu Kawaguchi (Wait, let me check and see I put all the letters in!)

” ‘Oh gosh, is that the time? Sorry, I have to go.’ the man mumbled evasively, as he stood up and reached for his bag.”

Evidently this is the beginning of a lover’s quarrel. Hmmmm, looks like I’ll have to start this library book today to find out.

THE ART OF PURRING by David Michie: A Review

The second book in a series about the Dali Lama’s Cat

I read this book on my Kindle, and I found that I am enjoying reading electronically almost as much as handling a physical book. That’s progress for me! HCC, His Holiness’s Cat, aka Snow Lion contemplates the question, “What makes cats purr?” As a matter of fact, she meditates on purring, an act of joy, contentment and satisfaction through the whole book. Interestingly enough, there are many reasons cats purr, and HCC enlightens us with anecdotes for all the different ones. As she instructs us, we get to explore Buddhism’s views on happiness.

Told from the cat’s point of view, the story examines the deep-down happiness seen more in cats than in other animals. Michie, through his intriguing plot and developing characters warns us, the readers, about the “perils of self-obsession.” Besides the setting of the Dali Lama’s palace, the author creates The Himalaya Book Cafe, where HCC spends a great deal of her time when the Dali Lama is away and where she discovers a Karmic connection in this second book.

As one critic says, the book is filled with “wisdom, warmth, and a touch of mischief.”

ANXIOUS PEOPLE by Fredrick Backman: A Review

(publication date: 2019) I am definitely recommending this one to my book club.

By the author of A Man Called Ove

This novel is fun-ny! Opening with a scene that borders on the bizarre, one wonders how things could get any weirder. Just keep reading because they do! The interview transcripts taken by father and son cops, Jim and Jack, are masterpieces of deliberate miscommunication and humor. A conglomerate of people/individuals,”eight extremely anxious strangers,” are thrown together as we learn of their life-issues, problems, and reasons for anxiety. Their “hurts, secrets, and passions…are ready to boil over” as we read of a bank robbery that didn’t happen, a hostage situation, and a man in a rabbit suit.

Backman’s story is simultaneously “humorous, compassionate, and wise.” It is an exploration of the things in human nature that “save us in the most anxious of times.” The ending is extremely satisfying, and the interconnectedness Backman brings out of the chaos at the beginning warms our hearts better than a crackling, fireplace on a cold morning.

SATURDAY MORNING (BUT NOT) FOR KIDS

Funny thing, this week I didn’t read a single kid’s book, so instead, I will recommend and review a book about people who work with (and live for) kids: teachers, librarians, and principals. I listened to this one as an audiobook and had the best experience with an audiobook to date. Now I know why so many of my blogging friends like and read audiobooks.

I definitely will look for more books by this author.

This 2020 publication was made for me–the protagonist was a librarian in a private school located in, Galveston, Texas, thirty miles south of where I live. It was both “timely” and “uplifting,” two of the words critics and reviewers used to describe this novel. The “author’s essay at the end, “Read for Joy,” is one I intend to use in my writing class next semester as a model to emulate.

There is tragedy in this book, both in the past and the present, but that is also the “message” the author is successfully preaching–One “should choose joy even [and especially] in difficult times.”and in the midst of tragedy.

The quirky school librarian,Samantha, who is dealing with trauma and tragedy, both physical and emotional, is a character you will love and root for. Duncan Carpenter, the stoic, cold new principal, who was once a presence in Samantha’s life, is the love interest you’ll love to hate. The twists and turns will keep you engaged in this “novel full of hope and love” right down to the satisfactory “comforting warmth” you will experience at the end.

This was one of my favorite “reads” so far this year.

FRIDAY FIRSTLINERS

I found this fun meme at Hoarding Books. What one is asked to do is grab a book at random and copy the first line, so here’s mine for Friday, September 18, 2020:

” February 3 was a dark and dank day altogether; cold spitting rain in the morning and a low, steel-grey sky the rest of the afternoon.”

The above is from The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott, my choice for the white book of my “Celebration of Color” Challenge.

Grab your current read, and join in.

Celebrating Color Progress: DEAR MR. KNIGHTLY by Katherine Reay

Bright orange colored cover

Thanks to Carla at Carla Loves to Read for introducing me to this great author. I checked this one out from my local library in big print. Knightly was Reay’s debut novel, and perhaps the one I enjoyed most. It is epistolary in nature, told in the form of letters from Samantha, a “bookish” grad student who often quotes classics and sometimes hides behind the words of their characters, to an anonymous donor who pays for her school and gives her a monthly allowance. I guessed early on who the donor was, but instead of ruining the story for me, it just made it all the better.

As in most of Reay’s novels, there is a touch of romance, and Alex, a published author five years older than Samantha provides just that. Christian values and integrity are present as well, and instead of making the story “sappy,” it allows the “good guys” to win.

There are also additions at the back of the book: a reading group guide, a list of the books Samantha quotes or mentions with enough to make the reader say, “Aha, I see… ,” and questions and answers with the author. This would make a fine book club selection.

ATONEMENT, TENNESSEE by Teagan Riordain Geneviene: A Review

by blogger friend Teagan Geneviene

My personal “Book of the Month,” this novel by blogger friend, Teagan, is set in Atonement, Tennessee, a “quaint” town full of interesting characters. When Esmerelda Lawton, “Ralda” to her friends, suffers from “big city blues,” she finds an old foreclosed-upon mansion in Atonement at a price too good to be true. And when something is too good to be true…well, you know the rest of the saying. She buys the house sight-unseen, and only when she arrives in town does she discover the old mansion comes complete with an ancient cemetery.

Gwydion, the local florist from Fae’s Flowers, and conveniently a handyman, is the first to visit. Cael, the foreign-accented, dark, and very handsome neighbor, who hangs around the cemetery, rounds out the love interests in this tiny town .

The story is a mix of urban fantasy and Celtic mythology, emanating a “feeling” of mystery and paranormal romance. The book ends with a cliffhanger that definitely requires a sequel, for which I can hardly wait.

NATIONAL READ A BOOK DAY

I didn’t read a whole book today, I finished one. I chose this book from the Alvin library because Carla of Carla Loves to Read put me on to this great, new-to-me author, thus finishing the challenge of 20 in 20–books recommended by blogging friends. It also fits in with my “Celebrating Color” challenge as my yellow book.

If I were doing “Austin in August” this year a la Deb Nance of Readerbuzz, and if it weren’t already September, this would fit a third challenge. LOL

This 2017 novel by Katherine Reay is for all Austin fans and anyone who loves a good, clean love story. Mary Davis, the main character, an engineer at a company she helped start, is contacted by Isobel an estranged childhood friend. Isobel offers a free two week stay in a gorgeous manor house in England. Mary, at the urging of her father, agrees although she doesn’t know why because Isobel and she have little in common any more. While in England, Isobel has an episode where she believes she is actually in Austin’s England, not just dressing in costume and pretending to live in the time. The “costume-clad guests” at the manor house are appreciative of her knowledge of Austin, and she entertains them with specifics as the Lit major that she is. During this time, “hard truths about the women’s pasts” come out, and Nathan, “the man who stands between them” joins them in England, as this fantasy themed vacation takes on a series of misunderstandings that almost wreak havoc in the women’s already troubled friendship.

This is a great story and a great read. I finished it today on National Read a Book Day, September 6, 2020.

F I WERE YOU, An Audiobook by Lynn Austin

This is a new audiobook by Lynn Austin, read by Sarah Zimmerman. It is labeled a “Christian Romance,” but it does not preach or chide; it just teaches by exampled. One critic calls it “a novel of sisterhood and self-discovery.”

Set in WWII and in 1950, just after, the novel compares the stories of Audrey Clarkson, “born to the manor,” and her servant, Eve Dawson. Opening at the impressive Wellingford Hall, the novel has an “Upstairs/Downstairs” quality about it as it traces the lives and activities of the two women. Then comes the war.

Although they have lost track of each other, the two women make contact once again in 1950 under the strangest of circumstances. I don’t want to give the plot away, but it involves an act on the part of one which normally would be unforgivable to the other.

This is a splendid “read” and makes for easy listening.