Friday, April 28, 2017

Book Review - Night School by Lee Child

You can always count on Lee Child to come through with an exciting read. Night School is no exception.  1996 and Jack Reacher is in the army receiving another medal for merit. Then he’s sent to school. Sounds boring, but he’s off the grid and the classroom holds him, an FBI agent, and a CIA analyst. Forget reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic – how about chasing the reason for a hundred million dollars getting into the hands of a Jihadist sleeper cell. Tasked with finding the American with the money and finding out what’s in exchange takes Reacher and his chosen partner, Sergeant Frances Neagley, to Hamburg, Jalalabad, and Kiev.

Cover blurb Night School moves like a bullet through a treacherous landscape of double crosses, faked identities, and new and terrible enemies, as Reacher maneuvers inside the game and outside of the law.

Ricochet with Reacher and rebound at every challenge. He’s a large man in charge of a commanding presence, yet light on his feet, and smooth with the patter. He trusts his gut, and is fast with his hands. Lee Child never disappoints. The author is at the top of his game with Reacher. Set aside time because once you start this book, you will want to finish it. Going back to school can be fun. 

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wordless Wednesday

 Just spent a week in PA hanging with my Dad.  Oh,spring was in glorious form. I hit a peak week for the flowering trees.  Breathtaking.  Leaves one wordless on a Wednesday.  Have a good rest of the week.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Monday Moment

I have a calendar that says this is National Volunteer Week.  I also read it's Preservation Week

Either way - go outside your box.  Think about volunteering.  Just a little something to help someone or something in your community.

And preserve our parks, nature, and environment

Happy Monday

Friday, April 21, 2017

Book Review - Wrong Side of Goodbye by Michael Connelly

Harry Bosch is Michael Connelly’s lead character in a series of detective books had thirty years in the LAPD. But now he’s out and doing his own private investigating in The Wrong Side of Goodbye. A reclusive billionaire contacts Harry. He’s haunted by a regret and wants Harry to find a child he might have fathered. This was long ago, but there’s a vast fortune at stake.  Is the Mexican girl, now an old woman, still alive? Is she even in the country? Did she have a child? There’s danger ahead for the man, for Harry, and for the possible heir or heirs he’s seeking.

Cover blurb – But as Harry begins to uncover the haunting story – and finds uncanny links to his own past – he knows he cannot rest until he learns the truth.

Meanwhile, Bosch volunteers for a small town police department and tracks a serial rapist – a baffling and dangerous foe. Michael Connelly keeps all of the balls in the air as you hold your breath for Harry. For a retired detective he’s the busiest man in Los Angeles. Fast paced, The Wrong Side of Goodbye, is a darn good read with several  satisfying twists and turns to a crazy ride and  heart pounding ending.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Book Review - The Snow Child by Eowen Ivey

I enjoyed The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey with a book club.  It was a worthy read and discussion and left me pondering part of the overall book. Was she real or not? I don’t have the answer – you will need to read and decide for yourself.

It’s 1920, Alaska and rough country for Jack and Mabel to homestead. As they try to maintain their marriage after she miscarries, the hard work  and loneliness cut a larger drift in their lives. But one evening, the first snow of the season begins to fall. Jack and Mabel build a child out of snow. Cover blurb: The next morning the snow child is gone…but they glimpse a young girl running through the trees.  Faina, as she calls herself, hunts with a red fox and survives in the wilderness. She visits the couple more and more and slowly accepts their food and affection. As they come to understand this child, who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they begin to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent territory, things are  rarely as they appear, and what they learn about Faina will transform them all.

The descriptions of Alaska are beautiful. Ivey lends a wide range of vocabulary to the haunting wildness of the terrain. Her characters begin weak – will they make it in their new home? But Mabel and Jack grow backbones. They meet neighbors who are quite colorful, and slowly there’s a humor and  richness to all their lives as they harvest the bonds of friendship. And Faina is the sprite who grows up before them. She brings anticipation to Mabel’s every day.  P. 117 The December days had a certain luminosity and sparkle, like frost on bare branches, slight in the morning just before it melts.

The Snow Child is a unique story, rich in character, setting, and twists. It’s got roots in the Alaska earth, and also has a freeing native spirit – a mysticism of sorts. I liked this book a lot, as did my book club group. What do you think about Faina?  Read it and see.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Monday Moment

Take time to look up today.

It's splendid

Happy Monday!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

 Happy Easter weekend everyone!   Here's my little tablescape at home.  It was nice to pull out my bunny stuff. Spring pastels and cuteness.  The little ceramic bunny - I made that back in junior high art class.
This bunny plate is a new treat. It caught my eye in the Anthropologie store in Southlake.  Cheap enough kitschy stuff....heck yeah, I wanted it.

I am in PA visiting my Dad. We'll be eating Easter brunch at my brother's place. It will be nice to see everyone. A little spring renewal.

My sister is on spring break for the upcoming week and she'll be popping in and out. Will we accomplish any clean out?  Will Dad allow us to pry stuff loose from his arthritic hands? Can we run faster than him using his walker?

Stay tuned. I will answer these questions and have some Dad senior stories at the end of the month.

Meanwhile - Happy Easter  - enjoy the spirit of the season.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Book Review - Commonwealth by Ann Patchett

From the cover blurb – Commonwealth by Ann Patchett is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together.

Patchett is a glorious writer who can weave together a tale that will pull you in and not let go.  Bert Cousins shows up for Franny’s christening party. He’s not been invited, but the Keatings welcome him because that’s what they do. By nightfall he’s kissed Beverly (the mother)  and has set in motion the dissolution of two marriages and the joining of two families.  Yowza.

Five decades are covered in Commonwealth.  The six kids unite and manage to become friends, united against the parents who betrayed them.  Franny, our heroine, begins an affair with a famous author, Leon Posen. Her stories to him of her family become gristmill for his award winning book. Can Franny survive this betrayal of sorts? Can the family overcome the losses, guilt, and connection they have to the past to overcome the future? Humor and heartbreak are the connections in Commonwealth.

Through it all, Patchett’s writing is lovely. She captures the characters, weaves her plot, and keeps us wanting more.  I highly recommend this book and shall not give away more plot. You must delve into it yourselves. Dig deep and root for this family to pull together and make it work. This is very much a book about current times, blended families, and the power of love. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Book Review - Underground Railroad by Colin Whitehead

Holy Cow – Colin Whitehead’s book Underground Railroad is just stunning. The story, the writing, and the characters.  Totally worthy of Pulitzer Prize nomination and many awards for 2016.  Whitehead reimagines the underground railroad as a real train. Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Caesar compels her to take a risk and join him for escape. Oh, but plans go awry. Now they are hunted.  There’s a secret network of tracks and tunnels. We follow Cora and Caesar as they navigate the system and you root for them all the way.  But it’s tough.

First stop is South Carolina. Seemingly idyllic, but hiding slave catchers and others blocking true freedom.  Cora is so strong and her odyssey is a journey through time and space. From the cover – Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors for black people in the pre-Civil War era, his narrative seamlessly weaves the saga of America.  The Underground Railroad is at once a kinetic adventure tale of one woman’s ferocious will to escape the horrors of bondage and a shattering, powerful meditation on the history we all share.

I was transfixed reading this book. It will break your heart and also strengthen your resolve in rooting for Cora. Just knowing what her grandmother went through, and her mother, and then her. Wow – so strong and vital, and smart, and good, and worthy of a chance.  Whitehead’s writing is lovely. I enjoyed his book Sag Harbor, and now in this book he is just better and stronger.  There is no agenda. Just darn good writing and a story for the ages. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

Monday Moment - More Flower Power

 Spring fling folks

I'd rather be at the Dallas Arboretum than at work.  But as you read this, I am at work, stuck in a building, typing away like a robot.  I can look out the small window in the door and the view is ugly.

What's your view?  Work from home or in a factory/store/ etc.  ??

Do you want to stand up and scream?

Happy Monday!!1

Friday, April 7, 2017

Book Review - Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen

Cover blurb – Writing about yourself is a funny business…But in a project like this, the writer has made one promise, to show the reader his mind. In these pages, I’ve tried to do this.  Bruce Springsteen.

Bruce Springsteen was Born to Run – in music, in his life, sometimes from himself.  Just as he gives his all on stage, in the studio, and on his recordings, he gives his all in this book. He discusses his demons, his depression, his restlessness, and his need to write and perform music. His words pour out on the page – well crafted, poetic at times, and rough and raw on other pages. I enjoyed this book a lot and I hauled out some old albums for backdrop music.

He grew up Catholic and poor in Freehold, New Jersey. Poetry, danger, and darkness fueled his imagination.  He played the bars of Asbury Park, and became beloved at the Jersey Shore. With the E Street Band, they toured, wrote, toured more, and struggled often.

p.15 I am alienating, alienated, and socially homeless…I am seven years old

p.237 There was no master plan guiding band selection beyond instinct, geography, and the power of the music once we began to play.

p. 243 describing the late Clarence Clemons-genius sax player:  He had the face of an exotic emperor, an island king, a heavyweight boxer, a shaman, a chain-gang convict, a fifties bluesman, and a deep soul survivor. It held one million secrets and none at all.   (any mention of Clemons is a joy in this book. The brotherly bond and love of music shines through. And Springsteen loved and counted on Clarence Clemons as a backbone to his life)

p. 369 on Patti Scialfa –his wife and bandmate – I was more than a song, a story, a night, an idea, a pose, a truth, a shadow, a lie, a moment, a question, an answer, a restless figment of my own and others’ imagination…Work is work..but life…is life…and life trumps art…always

If you love music, read this book. If you enjoy good writing and a glimpse into a musical poet’s soul, read this book. Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen is genuine to the core.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wednesday With a Song

I treated myself a few Sundays ago to a symphony ticket. How glorious. As part of the Pops series, the Fort Worth Symphony presented Rodgers & Hammerstein show tunes accompanied by film clips. Basically, the symphony played and the singers on screen burst into song.

I knew them all thanks to my folks. My mother and father loved theater and show tunes and I grew up knowing Oklahoma , The King and  I, Carousel, Sound of Music, and South Pacific.  Wow - so many great songs.

If I Loved You, June is Bustin' Out All Over, There is Nothing Like a Dame, Some Enchanted Evening, Getting to Know You, Shall We Dance, Oh What A Beautiful Morning, and more....

I had a great seat in the orchestra section. The symphony did a grand job, and the clips brought back such awesome memories.  I was fortunate to actually see Yul Brynner many years ago in a touring production of the King and I  - holy cow - he commanded the stage.

Anyway, support your local musicians and go see some and hear some great tunes. I'll be going back, that's for sure.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Happy A - to Z Everybody - Monday Moment

 I am not participating in A to Z for April 2017.  I wish everyone good luck who is posting and I shall enjoy my visits.
 Meanwhile, I shall post my usual schtick - today for Monday Moments I include pictures from the Dallas Arboretum. The theme is Flower Power and oh, they know how to have trippy fun
 Anyone own a VW back in the day.  My crazy Aunt Jane did and if you rode with her it was like Mr. Toad's wild ride. I can remember a trip to the Jersey shore back in the day - crazy fun
 Here are some "trial" gardens.  Very healthy and lovely.
So much color. Vibrant, bold, and glorious.   Happy Monday - and happy A to Z to all participants.