Tommy Orange’s first novel There There is a relentlessly
paced multi-generational story about violence and recovery, memory and identity,
and the beauty and despair woven into the history of a nation and its people.
He intertwines twelve characters as they travel to the Big
Oakland Pow wow. Each has their reasons – explore traditions, face their
heritage, honor family, and question the life and plight of urban Native
Americans. Here is a voice we have never heard – a voice full of
poetry and rage, exploding on to the page with stunning urgency and force.
(cover blurb) As a member of the Cheyenne and Apache tribes of Oklahoma,
Tommy Orange explores complex history, writes of spirituality, and looks at
addictions and abuse as he introduces his characters. Each character is
interesting and complex. They live in a world I’ve not seen, but I’m aware of
from current news.
This work of fiction is quite strong, relevant, and thought
provoking. I liked his writing and voice and the characters stuck with me even
after the final page. There is a There There worth exploring.
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake offers two
perspectives on the news in 1940. First Iris James, as the postmistress
in a coastal MA town, takes her duty quite seriously. However, one day, she
slips a letter into her pocket, knowing she delays the inevitable but feels
it’s for the best. She reads a heartbreaking letter and does not deliver
it. Meanwhile, Frankie Bard broadcasts overseas with Edward R. Murrow.
She feels compelled to make sure Americans know what is happening in Europe.
She doesn’t want folks to not believe that Nazi Germany is building evil and
that it affects the world.
Cover blurb: The Postmistress is a
tale of two worlds – one shattered by violence, the other willfully naïve – of
two women whose jobs are to deliver the news, yet who find themselves unable to
do so. Through their eyes, and the eyes of everyday people caught in history’s
ride, it examines how we tell each other stories, and how we bear the fact of
war as we live ordinary lives.
This is a solid story with engaging writing. There’s a love
story and a story of survival. P. 351 A story like a
snapshot is caught, held for a moment, then delivered. But the people in them
go on and on. And what happens next? What happens? This book
has a sense of urgency and is a worthy read. Another winner. I’ve been on
Thanks, Linda Hoffman – a friend, and a reader who shares
her excellent finds. Shout out, my friend!
A Simple Favor is a delicious, twisty turning
fun film full of deception, beautiful people , a vlog, surprises, and friends?
Anna Kendrick is Stephanie, super single mom who hosts her video blog, makes
the best school food treats, and is conservatively eager to please. When son
Miles and his friend Nicky beg for a play date, she agrees when Emily, the cold
as ice beautiful Blake Lively, invites Stephanie over for a martini. “Momma
needs a reset button.” Oh my!
Stephanie has never met anyone like Emily, who drinks, curses,
wears power clothes, works in the city, has the hot author husband, and dares
Stephanie to be bad. Then the phone call, “Can you pick up Nicky and take him
after school for a bit? I’m swamped at work.” One simple favor
turns into days…where is Emily? Stephanie posts her concern on her vlog.
Shaun (the luscious Henry Golding) involves the police. What’s going on?
Then a body in a Michigan lake turns out to be Emily – DNA and tattoo
match. End of movie grieving?
Oh no. That was only the beginning. I won’t give more away.
Grab the popcorn tub and hang on for a wild ride in suburbia. Good acting. Lots
of twists. And several, “Say what?” moments.
Today, October 8 - I'm officially truly older than dirt.
I can remember black and white TV and clicking the three or four channels. I remember red dye and when cereal said "sugared" and meant it. I remember "smoking" candy cigarettes in the kitchen while Dad had his one Camel.
Ray and I did marry - Justice of the Peace, in jeans, then a fun party that night.
Picture on the right is my very casual author picture....Maybe I should update it.
And here I am with Ray in Cozumel, cruising onward.....I know less than I did back in the black and white era. Still questioning, still stumbling, still a left-handed, green-eyed gal from PA. (a damn Yankee in TX)
Assuming I make it to Halloween, I will then have lived longer than my mother. That's mind blowing.
But cheers! I plan on eating chocolate cake and enjoying my whole birthday weekend - Friday and Monday off. Go to the State Fair, hit a movie, celebrate with friends, and of course, hang with Ray.
Fannie Flagg has been around forever and her books read like
an old friend stopped by to chat. The Whole Town’s Talking is a
light breezy read that entertains.
Elmwood Springs, MO is home to the Nordstoms. Lorder moved
there from Sweden, farmed, ordered a mail order bride – beloved Katrina, became
the town’s first mayor, and chose the place on the hill for the cemetery.
Naturally he was the first to arrive at the resting place. And much to
his surprise, he “woke up” and could hear town folk visit his grave. Soon other
seniors passed away and joined him. All in all, Flagg keeps us posted through
the decades on the folks who are alive and prospering, and the folks who die.
Some pass too young – boys who went to Vietnam. Some arrive and are annoyed
that they still have to hear the town talk (old man Henderson). Some arrive at
the cemetery, participate, and then suddenly leave.
She mixes real life history with Elmwood Springs growth, and
we enjoy the company of the founders, their offspring, and their grandchildren.
This is Americana at its best – chatty, catty, generous, patriotic, and greedy.
The author knows people and keeps her sense of humor as she regales us with
town talk. The Whole Town’s Talking is just plain fun – a
good read on a rainy day that will keep you chuckling as you turn the
pages. After a few chapters, go stroll through your neighborhood and find
something or someone to talk about. Make sure it’s good or juicy! Enjoy.
(cover blurb) She was his best kept secret – a mysterious
Frenchwoman begins work on a dangerous memoir. It is a story of a man she once
loved in the Beirut of old, and a child taken from her in treason’s name. The
woman is the keeper of the Kremlin’s most closely guarded secret. Long ago, the
KGB inserted a mole into the heart of the West – a mole who stands on the
doorstep of ultimate power.
And of course who shall come to the rescue of
civilization? Gabriel Allon - art restorer, assassin, chief of
Israel secret intelligence – is back to reluctantly join in a quest to thwart
treason, restore global order, and of course, arrive home safe to the arms of
his lovely Italian wife, Chiara, and their twins. Gabriel is getting older,
more world weary, and yet those deep green eyes burn when there are wrongs to
Daniel Silva knows how to keep pages turning. Double
crosses. Twists. World travel locations. Whirlwind espionage with the strongest
cast of characters around. I’ve written plenty of Silva reviews on this blog.
Add The Other Woman to my list of compelling reads. Silva is
scary current with a pulse on our fragile world situation. Reading his work is
like having the key to our future. Now, who’s our Gabriel Allon? He can conquer
the bad guys…gotta love fiction. (or scary truth?) Enjoy!
The Wife is a solid flick, maybe a tad
predictable. BUT. And this is a big BUT …watching Glenn Close is a master
class in acting. She is compelling even when silent. Her eyes and face must be
watched. Let Oscar races begin for fall.
Jonathan Pryce plays Joe, the author, awaiting a phone call
from Sweden. Sure, enough he wins the Nobel Prize for Literature and who’s by
his side? Joan (Glenn Close), the wife – ever supportive and caring through the
years. So, the trek to Stockholm brings out family dynamics between Joe, his
son, and Joan. Joe is vain, insecure, and has failing health. Joan is classy,
smart, and stands in the corner watching the whole schmooze. We see flashbacks
to when she met Joe at Smith College in 1958. She’s the talented student in
literature. He’s the young, hot professor in a “bad” marriage. She marries,
they have kids, he’s the talented author.
Oh, but there’s more to that story. We gain insight as
Christian Slater (a reporter, biographer) asks probing questions about Joe and
Joan. He has theories about the body of work and success of Joe. You can see
where this is all headed, but it’s worth the 100 minute journey just to watch
Glenn Close. Good lines, good pauses, blue eyes that can flash anger, signal
disappointment, smile, and show fierce determination. The Wife,
the wife – a woman to be reckoned with, not to be taken lightly. Tight
film and excellent performances. As an author/writer, I enjoyed the literature
aspect of this movie.
Unmasked by Andrew Lloyd Weber is part one of
his memoir. Oh it’s a bit much. The man goes into far too much detail of
his childhood, and he does blather a bit. BUT, this book is immensely skim
worthy. He’s chatty in the humorous British way – he can be snarky and you, the
reader, do feel like you are at tea or perhaps a bar and he’s regaling you with
stories. So, it’s a fun book if you are interested in all things Weber and
His behind the scenes look at the London stage and Broadway
is fascinating. The amount of work involved in putting on a show is amazing.
And certainly , his successes are not to be sneered at, nor does he shy away
from the failures in his book. He dishes on various people and his
collaborations with deep talent – Tim Rice, Robert Stigwood, Harold Prince,
Cameron McIntosh, and Trevor Nunn. There are plenty of details on his first hit
– Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, the fabulous Jesus
Christ Superstar, Evita, the groundbreaking Cats, and he ends
this book with the history dazzling Phantom of the Opera.
He’s obviously a brilliantly talented man with interests in
architecture and music. His witty anecdotes of numerous celebrities -
Sarah Brightman, Judi Dench, Mandy Patinkin, Patti LuPone, Michael Crawford,
Betty Buckley, and more will keep you turning pages. There’s a lot to be
learned and shared in Unmasked. If you like theater, this
is a book for you. If you’ve seen Phantom more than once…this
book is for you. If you are a T.S Elliott Cats fan….well, read
for the Memory….like I said, you can skim and hum and chuckle along.
David Sedaris is one of my favorite writers and his latest
book, Calypso, does not disappoint. He’s hilarious. His
observations on people and life can be a tad rude, and yet spot on. From
the cover blurb – This is beach reading for people who detest beaches,
required reading for those who loathe small talk, and love a good tumor joke.
Calypso is simultaneously Sedaris’ darkest and warmest book yet – it is comedy
born out of that vertiginous moment when your own body betrays you and you
realize that the story of your life is made up of more past than future.
His twist of phrase, his timing, and his family dynamics
will keep you turning the pages. In each essay, you feel like he’s just hanging
out telling stories. I’ve been to one of his author talks and that’s worth the
price of admission in itself. He’s quirky and knows it and can laugh at
He’s bought a beach house and family can gather. Oh, the
stories there…and his thoughts too -
p.13 When visitors leave, I feel like an actor
watching the audience file out of the theater, and it was no different with my
sisters. The show over, Hugh and I returned to lesser versions of
p.67 I’m not sure how it is in small families, but in
large ones relationships tend to shift over time. You might be best friends
with one brother or sister, then two years later, it might be someone else. It
doesn’t mean you’ve fallen out….just that you’ve merged into someone else’s
lane. The beauty of it is that it’s always changing.
p.91 Memory aside, the negative just makes for a
better story: the plane was delayed, an infection set in, outlaws
arrived. Happiness is harder to put into words.
Well I can state that David Sedaris makes me happy. His
writing is just different in a good way. He’s funny and also can be poignant,
then hit a snarky note that’s perfect.
The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall is a
hoot. This book has Southern flair, a dynamo heroine, and a unique
family. I chuckled out loud multiple times, and was also surprised
at very simple twists and turns. I think the cover blurb gives you the
full flair and gist of the book:
Ten year-old Willow Haven is obsessed with the fear that
her mother, Polly, will die. Polly – a take-no-prisoners Southerner who lives
to drink margaritas and antagonize the neighbors in their small Texas town –
was in her late fifties when Willow was born. Willow knows she’s here by
accident, and she is desperate for clues about all that preceded her,
especially Polly’s secret past. The Book of Polly is a hilarious
and bittersweet story about the grip of love in a truly quirky family – it’s a
page turning battle royale…where the weapon of choice is love.
A friend lent me this book. I recommend you look for it in
your library or, what the heck, find it on Amazon. It’s got heart and humor – a
fun summer read. Enjoy!
Went to the nicest show last Saturday. The Fort Worth Symphony presented an abbreviated version of their regular program at 11 am. As part of the Family series, it was the Superhero, Juniors. Kids could wear their costumes - lots of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. ( I wore my Underdog T-shirt. Yeah, I'm that old). The show was only 45 minutes - just right for ages 4 to teen. Ticket prices were $15.00.!
The place was packed. This was a bargain and so entertaining. The conductor gave great intros to the tunes. He had folks clap who were first time symphony goers - there were a lot. It was an excellent way to let folks see and hear a symphony in a relaxed environment. And frankly, the place stayed quiet. You could hear some kid voices and questions, but in their "indoor" voices.
The themes soared - Captain America, Avengers, Wonder Woman, a step back to Lone Ranger, Batman, and I enjoyed the Incredibles music. And of course the finale was Hans Zimmer's creation Man of Steel....Superman.
Look in your own backyard - the arts are not unobtainable. And I had to smile - two little boys behind me kept asking their dad before the show began, "Is this only music? Really...and we have to sit still? No videos?" They did sit still and they did enjoy the "only music".
Searching is quite different in a good way. We
first meet the Kim family via pictures, videos, their phone interaction. We see
the good times and sadly the bad, as the mother gets reminders for doctor
appointments, and then is in the hospital, and then she’s gone. From there the
movie depicts life in texts with the dad played by John Cho and his daughter
Margot, a high school student. Only child, pianist, gets decent grades. The
interaction via facetime and texts seem “normal”. That is until, Margot
doesn’t respond. And then she’s not home. And very quickly Dad is worried. He
phones the police, alerts are put out, and the detective (played by Debra
Messing) suggests he dig deeper into her phone and laptop. Find friends,
get the scoop.
Keep in mind, this movie is playing out with us seeing
computer/phone/facetime/facebook/ etc.responses. Sounds weird, but it works.
And as he digs he questions if he even knows his daughter. I won’t give away
any more, but of course there is banking, money flow. There’s a lot of questions
for boys and girls alike – who knew Margot? There’s questions on data
manipulation and friendships made on the internet – what’s real or not?
Searching has a ton of twists and turns and
the suspense builds with each text, each new finding, each new avenue on the
internet. John Cho is excellent as the very worried father. You want him to
keep digging, don’t give up, and trust me you’ll be jumping to conclusions
yourself. Who did it? Where is Margot? I suggest you seek out a theater
and find out. Enjoy!
doesn’t believe Bubba can dig a hole to China. But when the hole swallows them,
the kids find themselves in Xi’an, China, surrounded by Terracotta Warriors.
It gets worse when the ghost of the first emperor of China
appears. He tells them they can’t go home until they find his missing pi. The
kids don’t know where to begin until they meet a girl and her grandmother who
promise to help find the pendant.
Soon they realize they are being followed. And they are no closer
to finding the missing pi. Will Bubba and Squirt ever make it back home?
About the Author: Sherry Ellis is an
award-winning author and professional musician who plays and teaches the
violin, viola, and piano. When she is not writing or engaged in musical
activities, she can be found doing household chores, hiking, or exploring the
world. Ellis, her husband, and their two children live in Atlanta, Georgia.
Joanne Faries, originally from the Philadelphia area, lives in Texas with her husband Ray. She considers herself fortunate to be able to pursue a writing career after eons in the business world. Joanne enjoys reading and movies, and is the film critic for the Little Paper of San Saba.