Friday Morning Bookclub

September 12, 2016

Who Doesn’t Love a Good Audio Book?? The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

Everyone dreams. Some of us remember our dreams, others do not. But what happens when your dreams seem so real that you no longer are sure what is real and what is the result of an overactive imagination?

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When Kitty opened her eyes and looked around the sage green bedroom, she had no idea where she was. The last thing she remembered was painting her bedroom a sunny yellow. This bedroom had beautiful coordinating bedding, nothing like the mismatched sheets and blankets she was accustomed to. Surely this was a dream and if she closed her eyes she would soon find herself in some other imaginary place.

But the gentle touch of a hand on her shoulder and the sound of a strange male voice told her otherwise. Someone was waking her up. Someone was calling her Katharyn.”Get up Katharyn love, your daughter needs you.”

Her daughter? Kitty Miller did not have any children. Nor was she married. But this was only a dream, and a pleasant dream at that. Why not go along? What choice did she have? She got up and walked down the hall to find her imaginary daughter, a daughter named Missy who apparently needed her. In real life Kitty did not know the first thing about taking care of a child, but in this dream world Katharyn knew exactly what to do. In this dream world she was called Mommy.

And then as quickly as it began, the dream was over. Kitty was back in her sunny yellow room. But unlike her typical dreams, this had felt real and she liked this dream world of hers. What was not to like? The Katharyn of her dreams had a beautiful house, a loving husband and children. She had everything 38 year old Kitty had ever wanted.

But when the dreams began to return and time after time, Kitty found herself living in this alternative life, it became even more confusing. Was she Kitty, or was she Katharyn? Did she own a book store or was she a stay at home mother with a handsome husband and children. Neither Kitty or Katharyn’s lives were perfect. Neither were without their heartbreaks and challenges. Could she choose which life was real? And if so which would you choose?

The Bookseller will keep you guessing until the last moment. It is a thoroughly entertaining read and a wonderful audio book!

Do you listen to audio books? Are there any you would like to recommend?

November 22, 2014

Another Great Audio Book: The Hidden Child by Camilla Lackberg

The Hidden ChildHow is it possible that I have never heard of Camilla Lackberg? It was just by chance that I picked up The Hidden Child while browsing the shelves of playaways at my local library. The story sounded intriguing and I was not disappointed.

Erica Falck and Patrik Hedstom are a modern-day couple. Erica, a crime writer is working on a new book and her husband Patrik, a homicide detective is on paternity leave. It is his turn to take some time off from work to care for the couples one year old daughter Maja.

Playing Mr. Mom does not come naturally to Patrik and although he means well, he does not always make the best decisions when it comes to caring for Maja. Who could blame Erica for being slightly perturbed to find out that Patrik and Maja had taken a little detour during their afternoon walk to visit the scene of a murder?

As it turned out this was not just some random murder. Not only did Erica know the victim, she had recently met with him at the very place he had been murdered, seeking his advice. His name was Erik and he was a retired history teacher and an expert on WWII Nazi memorabilia. When Erica had found a Nazi medal wrapped in a blood stained baby outfit as well as an incomplete set of diaries in her mother’s attic she was left with many questions and it was Erik she had gone to for answers. Perhaps if she knew more about the medal and who it had belonged to she would have a better understanding as to her mothers past and why she had always been such a cold unloving person. Now days later Erik was dead, and Erica was no closer to learning the truth.

The story alternates back and forth between present day Sweden and 1940’s Sweden. Chapter by chapter, piece by piece we learn about all of the people who played a part in Erica’s mother’s past and about the secret that would ultimately come back to haunt each of them. A secret that would lead to murder.

The Hidden Child is the fifth book in Camilla Lackberg’s Fjallbacka detective series. It is an exciting, suspenseful story and an excellent audio book. I look forward to listening to the rest of the series and this time I am going to start with number 1:The Ice Princess!

A four omelet audio book!

The Hidden Child (Patrik Hedström, #5) – Goodreads

Have you listened to any good audio books lately? If so, I would love to hear about them!

September 23, 2014

A Circle Of Wives By Alice LaPlante….Good Enough To Finish In One Day!

Filed under: A Circle of Wives,Book Recomendations — susanbright @ 8:54 am
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circleEveryone has secrets, but Dr. John Taylor’s was a doozy. He had three wives in three different cities. What made it even crazier was that Deborah, wife number one knew all about it. Not only did she know about the other two wives, she orchestrated the whole show. Deborah was the one that kept her husband’s busy schedule straight, not an easy task.

Wife number two and wife number three found out about their bigamist husband in the worst way possible. They read his obituary in their local newspaper. Dr.John Taylor, a prominent plastic surgeon  was found dead in his hotel room from an apparent heart attack, or was it? Something did not add up and Detective Samantha Adams suspected foul play.

A Circle of Wives was a fast paced whodunnit mystery. A perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon while the men folks were busy watching football. I read the book in one sitting, stopping only to eat and check on the Raven’s score from time to time. The book tackles issues such as commitment, honesty, infidelity, love and trust, but more than anything it was sheer entertainment.

How can I give it less than 4 Omelets when I had such an enjoyable, lazy day. Just me and my book!

April 6, 2014

Playaways Are The Best! The Silent Wife By A.S.A Harrison…Another Entertaining Audio Book!

silentPlayaways have become my best friend. They accompany me wherever I go. They are a multi tasker’s dream. Life has been hectic lately and by the time I settle down in the evening I have been too tired to pick up a book. No matter how busy or how tired I am there is always time to listen to a book and playaways make it so easy to do. Do I sound like an advertisement?

The Silent Wife is a “he said, she said” book. In this case the titles of the chapters alternate between Him and Her. Him is 40 some year old Todd, Her is 40 some year old Jodi.

The couple met  twenty years earlier in a most unusual way. In fact the first words out of Todd’s mouth after his car clipped the side of Jodi’s rented van was “You crazy bitch”. Perhaps that was an omen as to what was to be, but the couple began to date, fell in love and although they never officially married had been living together ever since. Jodi, a therapist was content with her life. She knew that Todd had been unfaithful at times, but was willing to over look it. She enjoyed getting up in the morning, walking their golden retriever and preparing gourmet meals for Todd. Things were not perfect but Jodi was ok with that. But when Todd falls in love with a younger woman and Jodi’s whole life as she knows it is threatened, Jodi is driven to do things even she did not know she as capable of.

At only 8 hours,The Silent Wife will not disappoint. Somewhat like a short, less convoluted  Gone Girl, The Silent Wife is a quick, fun thriller. Perfect for those who need to be doing something as they go about their day.

A 3 omelet book

March 27, 2014

Touch & Go By Lisa Gardner…..Sheer Entertainment!

Touch And Go was just what I needed. Exciting from beginning to end!

touch Although Libby and Justin Denbes appeared to have it all, their marriage was in trouble. Justin had been having an affair with a younger woman and Libby knew all about it. Libby, the product of a broken marriage wanted more for her teen age daughter and was willing to try to forgive and work things out. It was date night, and after a somewhat awkward dinner the couple returned to their beautiful home in a prestigious Boston neighborhood to find their house unlocked and unarmed. Had their daughter Ashlyn forgotten to put the alarm on again,something she had been warned about numerous times? Unfortunately it was something much more sinister.

When investigator Tess Leone arrived at the Denbes’ home she found signs of a struggle, taser confetti and a pool of vomit. What she didn’t find were the Denbes. How could an entire family disappear and why? Was it something to do with Justin’s multi million dollar company or was it something much more personal?

The dynamics of the Denbes’ family was fascinating as every one of them had secrets, and Tess Leone  had an interesting background as well. Sometimes I forget how much I enjoy a good old fashion mystery. Touch and Go was exciting, full of twists and turns and kept me guessing  up until the very end.

The audio book was read by Elizabeth Rodgers, and although I found the Boston/ northern accents a little strange (what do I know). I quickly adapted to them.  The 15 hours flew by and I plan to head to the library as soon as possible to pick up another playaway. I hate to be without one!

A 4 Omelet audio book!

 

March 15, 2014

You Can’t Help But Enjoy This Book: Orphan Train By Christina Baker Kline

orphanOrphan Train is one of those books you can read over a weekend. I found myself totally caught up in the intertwining stories of Molly and Vivian. Seventeen year old Molly was a foster child, had been bounced around from family to family and was used to disappointment.  In fact, when things did go right in her life, she had no idea how to handle it. At such a young age she had already figured out that it was better to be perceived as tough and weird than weak and vulnerable.

When once again, Molly found herself in trouble, her foster-mother, Dina was not at all surprised.  Dina was always finding fault in Molly, considered her untrustworthy and was just waiting for Molly to slip up. This time Molly had tried to steal an old ragged copy of Jane Eyre from the library.  Molly had wanted this book more than anything and was too shy to ask the clerk at the local book store to order it for her. The library had several other newer copies so who would ever miss it? Of course Molly was caught trying to sneak it out and it was either off to juvie or community service for her.

Molly removed her nose ring, put on borrowed clothing and reported to the home of 91-year-old Vivian where she would complete her 40 hours of community service. Just what Molly wanted to do….clean up some old ladies attic.  Although she did not realize it at the time, this assignment was going to be one of the best things that had ever happened to Molly. These two women  had more in common than anyone would have guessed. When Vivian was a young girl she too had lost both her parents.  Little by little, box by box Vivian shares her story of how she arrived in Minnesota via an Orphan Train.

Orphan Train  is a beautiful and inspiring story and I fell in love with both Molly and Vivian. Christina Baker Kline does a wonderful job of weaving these two very different, yet similar stories. The comparison between our modern-day foster system and the supervised welfare program called The Orphan Train Movement was fascinating.  My only criticism is that it left me wanting more, and how can that be a bad thing? I want to know more about the Orphan Train Movement that transported over 250,000 homeless children from eastern cities to  the rural midwest between 1853 and  1929. I want to know more about a welfare program which allowed couples to pre-select children by filling out an order form and checking off the age, gender, and even such traits as hair color they desired.

Orphan Train is an excellent discussion book. Over coffee and eggs (although not necessarily omelets) we talked about Molly and Vivian’s plight which led to a thoughtful discussion of The Orphan Train Movement which was the predecessor to our modern-day foster system.Was it a good plan? How could it have been better? Orphan Train is a quick, easy read and more than anything piqued my interest.

I give Orphan Train 4 1/2 omelets! How about you?

February 24, 2014

The Good House By Ann Leary…..More Than Just An Entertaining Audio Book!

Filed under: Audio books,Book Recomendations,The Good House — susanbright @ 9:10 pm
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the gooid housI can’t help it. I am a multi-tasker. It is a curse. I have a difficult time doing one thing at a time. The invention of the play away was designed just for people like me. It makes it possible to “read” a book while doing necessary everyday tasks, and sometimes with a good audio book, like The Good House, I find myself looking for things to do around the house just so I have an excuse to keep “reading”.

Hildy Good is a successful small town realtor. In fact she is one of the most successful business woman in Wendover, Massachusetts, a town she has lived in her entire life. Hildy knows how to read people. “Alcoholics, hoarders, binge eaters……”. One look at their house tells her all she needs to know. “I can walk through a house once and know more about its occupants than a psychiatrist after a year of sessions”, she boasts.

Unfortunately, Hildy is also an alcoholic.  So she likes a drink once in a while? She never drinks before 5 and most nights only has a few glasses of wine. In fact, she actually drives better when she is drunk and as for that DWI, she barely tapped the car. So she had misjudged the distance? Could happen to anyone. Yes, Hildy has an answer for everything. She is clearly in denial. Even after an intervention (an inquisition according to Hildy) orchestrated by her daughters and a 28 day program in Minnesota, Hildy reverts  back to her old habits. Afterall, “Is a blackout really a blackout if no one is there to see it?”

Hildy Good is an “old Townie” and knows all of the colorful residents of Wendover, There is Rebecca McAllister, the young pretty girl married to one of the riches men in new England. It was Hildy that sold the McAllister’s their multi million dollar house. Hildy could tell that Rebecca was depressed just by the type of flowers she planted in front of the house.  Peter Newbold, the local shrink has an office right above Hildy’s and she has known him from the time he was a little boy, and Frank Getchell, a local contractor and Hildy go way back. They have a history.  Everyone in town has secrets and Hildy is good at keeping them, but how long can she keep her drinking a secret and her life from unraveling?

The Good House is more than just a quick, entertaining novel. It also is an insightful look into the world of an alcoholic, written by someone who knows what they are talking about. The author, Ann Leary is a recovering alcoholic.

“The challenge for me as the writer was to write a book, in the first person, from the point of view of an alcoholic in complete denial,” says Leary.

Interview with Ann Leary, author of the novel, “The Good House”

The Good House: A Novel: Ann Leary: 9781250043030: Amazon 

September 27, 2013

Look What I Received In The Mail!

Filed under: Book Festivals,Book Recomendations — susanbright @ 8:38 pm

2013-09-27 20.09.52Yes! A box of books. I am the winner of the Reading Group Choices Gaithersburg Book Festival random drawing. So many wonderful authors and titles! Some I have heard of, others are totally new to me. There is a little of everything in this box and I can’t wait to get started!

The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls – absolutely loved The Glass Castle!

Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter- this has been on my to read list..no excuse now!

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin- also on my to read list!

Flight Behavior by Barbara Kingsolver- loved her earlier books!

One Glorious Ambition by Jane Kirkpatrick- historical fiction based on Dorothea Dix and her crusade on behalf of the mentally ill.

Counter Clockwise by Lauren Kessler- My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate and Other Adventures In the World of Anti-Aging!

The Cottage at Glass Beach by Heather Barbieri

Next to Love by Ellen Feldman

Those We Love Most by Lee Woodruff

The Lola Quartet by Emily St. John Mandel

Love Slave by Jennifer Spiegel

The Lighthouse Road by Peter Geye

Thank you Reading Group Choices and the Gaithersburg Book Festival. i can’t wait to read and share these wonderful books with The Friday Morning Bookclub!

April 24, 2013

The Triple Agent: A Review By Bob

agentThis past Sunday, I went with my wife to The Friday Morning Bookclub’s annual  couple’s  pot luck dinner meeting and discussion. A good time was had by the 18 attendees. We reviewed The Triple Agent by Joby Warrick. It was a lively discussion with fervor and intensity as it was just days after the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon and capture of the second perpetrator.
The book chronicles the events leading to the New Years eve 2009 suicide attack that killed nine CIA and FBI agents and two Afghani employees at Khost Military base in Afghanistan. The suicide bomber was a religious Jordanian physician/ zealot and Al-Qaida supporter recruited by Jordanian Intelligence and the CIA . The book is an easy read and very enlightening about our war against Al-Qaida.
Among the many comments there were the following conclusion that most agreed upon:
A religious zealot will never be converted
Mistakes were both made by CIA/FBI hierarchy and the inexperienced leadership at Camp Khost. Each group was so anxious to get what they felt was outstanding intelligence that normal safety protocols were abandoned.
Guarding against terrorist attacks has and will remain a way of life in our world.
Americans serving in the CIA, FBI and Military against the war on terrorism are extremely dedicated to their dangerous mission. They make numerous and tremendous sacrifices to protect our country and it’s citizens. We owe them a debt of gratitude.

I recommend the book and rate it a 4+

April 6, 2013

The Submission By Amy Waldman

Filed under: Book Recomendations,The Submission — susanbright @ 11:52 am
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For months the jury had been reviewing the thousands of anonymous submissions for the September 11th memorial contest. Finally they were down to two designs.  The Garden, Claire’s favorite was beautiful and a place she could imagine her family and other victim’s families visiting. The second design, The Void was just too dark for her. Although there were artists, politicians, a retired university president and a historian on the panel, Claire was the only jury member who had lost a family member. Claire’s husband had been killed in the attack and she represented the families. It was time to vote and Claire was ecstatic when The Garden design was chosen for the memorial.

The piece of paper containing the winner’s name was passed from palm to palm like a fragile folio. There were a few gasps and “hmmms,” an “interesting,” an “oh my.” Then: “Jesus fucking Christ. It’s a goddam Muslim!

What an amazing premise! What now? Should they eliminate the winner just because his name was Mohammed? Could this be a “healing gesture” as one juror suggested or was it a disaster just waiting to happen. Was the beautiful Garden memorial actually a Islamic garden; a martyrs paradise?  What should they do…what could they do? A winner had been selected fair and square.

Mohammed Khan or “Mo” as his friends called him was born in Virginia, the son of Muslim Immigrants from India. He was a talented, ambitious architect. We get to know Mo and feel for him when he gets pulled out of the security line at the airport just because of his name. We are also introduced to Sean, an angry young man whose brother was killed in the twin tower attack and could not accept a memorial designed by a Muslim. And then there is Asma Anmar, a pregnant, illegal Bangladeshi immigrant whose husband was also killed in the attack.

The Submission touches on so many relevant topics. How do we feel about American Muslims? There is still so much fear and confusion when it comes to Islam. Last year as I was driving home I noticed a group of people gathered on the front lawn of the Slade mansion in Pikesville. They were clearly Muslim and engaged in some type of ceremony. At the time I was unaware that the Baltimore Congregation of The Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam had bought the property and I have to admit that I was startled and somewhat uncomfortable. We all have a lot to learn. The Submission is a quick read and is definitely food for thought.

The Official Website for The Submission, a Novel by Amy Waldman

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