Friday, February 24, 2017

My Friday Five...

1.  Tom Petty.  2017 MusiCares Person of the Year.  And one of my all-time favorite performers.  I've had Wildflowers on repeat all week long.  Such a great album.

2. Vision Board.  Is that even still a thing? Well, regardless, I'm making one. I've been cutting out images and words from my magazines and putting them aside.  I want to create something positive to inspire me about my present life and my future life. Kind of like, how I want to be - healthy, strong, brave, etc.  What do you think? Have you ever done this?

3.  Books.  I'm currently reading two books:
I read Six Four at the gym and Inheritance from Mother at night.  Both are so different, but feel so similar at times.  I feel like I'm barely making a dent in Six Four, but for some reason I'm enjoying the slow-going pace of it.  As for Mizumura's book...wow, just wow.  I love her writing and I love this book. 

3.  The X-Files or The West Wing?  I'm re-watching season 1 of The X-Files right now. Mulder and Scully are in the middle of an investigation involving NASA.  So far nothing "ET" has happened just yet.  However, part of me is itching to re-watch The West Wing.  I typically re-watch the show once a year, around Fall.  Lately with the state of our country being so crazed, I've been craving some political goodness in the form of "Bartlet for America".  What do you think? Stick it out with Mulder and Scully or reunite with Josh, C.J., and Toby?

4.  Upcoming reads. 

How fab do these two books look? I'm a sucker for a great cover and I am just loving both of these.  I'm especially excited to read Kwan's book - I loved his first two (Crazy Rich Asians and China Rich Girlfriend).  His books are like a mashup of a soap opera and an episode of Rich Kids (a reality show about super rich kids in Beverly Hills) - and I absolutely LOVE that combination.  As for the Nina George book, I love anything set in France, so I'm eager to dip into this one about a woman finding her self in a place referred to as "the end of the world".  What do you think?  Have you read any or either of these authors? 

5.  Quilts.  My mom's making a baby quilt for one of my dearest friends right now.  She plans on making a quilt for me and one for my sister.  However, before she starts that project, she wants to make one for her sister.  She's looking for peacock material, but can't seem to find any.  I was wondering if anybody quilts and knows where to order fabric online.  Please let me know, I'd really appreciate it. Thank you!!

Alright, well I'm off to read my copy of the latest issue of Vogue and O magazine.  Hope you all have a great weekend!! Happy reading!!

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Messenger of Truth: A Maisie Dobbs Novel by Jacqueline Winspear

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

London, 1931. The night before an exhibition of his artwork opens at a famed Mayfair gallery, the controversial artist Nick Bassington-Hope falls to his death. The police rule it an accident, but Nick’s twin sister, Georgina, a wartime journalist and a infamous figure in her own right, isn’t convinced.

When the authorities refuse to consider her theory that Nick was murdered, Georgina seeks out a fellow graduate from Girton College, Maisie Dobbs, psychologist and investigator, for help. Nick was a veteran of World War I, and before long the case leads Maisie to the desolate beaches of Dungeness in Kent, and into the sinister underbelly of the city’s art world.

my thoughts:

You know me, I love me some Maisie Dobbs. So, of course I jumped at the chance to read (or in my case re-read) one of her earlier works for the TLC Book Tours Month of Maisie Readalong - how could I not join in on the fun?  Plus, next month I'll be posting a review of the newest book in the series, In This Grave Hour - talk about EXCITING!!

Messenger of Truth centers on art.  Or in this case the death of an artist.  Nick BH has died and his sister, Georgina BH, is convinced he was murdered.  The police do not believe foul play was involved so they do not dissuade her from hiring Dobbs to look into Nick's death.  You see, the police are working with some higher ups on a much more important case and need to get GBH out of their hair.  Dobbs decides to take on the case and along with her faithful assistant, Billy, sets out to uncover the truth behind Nick's early demise.  Along the way, she comes across a smuggling ring, breaks up with her boyfriend Dene, and suffers a devastating loss.  Talk about a book chock full of melodrama!

I loved reuniting with Maisie and her gang - its always such a treat.  As usual she solves the case, but this time the reveal is not so neat and tidy.   Seems that Nick's family has some skeletons in its closets.  Oh, and did I mention that a painting is the key to the murder.  Yep, art can definitely kill.  Or at least in this case, it can incite people into such a rage that they can't control their actions.  As for the other story lines, the only one that truly grabbed me was that of Billy and his family.  Yes, little Lizzie Beale succumbs to death after falling ill.  I didn't understand why Billy didn't ask Maisie for help sooner or why Maisie didn't insist on visiting the sick child.  It frustrated me and saddened me.  Especially with all the talk about the rich versus the poor that this case had opened up.  I wanted Maisie to stop talking and do something instead - HELP LIZZIE!  Ack!  I teared up reading about her passing - it broke my heart.  Reading this series, I always hate how much bad luck seems to fall upon the Beale family.  It just doesn't seem fair.  Of course, that is life, right?

All in all, Messenger of Truth was a fantastic re-read.  Winspear always writes a strong, engaging, and unputdownable story - this book attests to that fact.  I would definitely recommend this book to fans of the series and fans of sleuth novels - you will LOVE this book!! 

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Messenger of Truth
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Vanity Fair's Writers on Writers, edited by Graydon Carter

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Since its inception in 1914, Vanity Fair magazine has been a beacon of literature, attracting the most influential writers of the last century. An ode to those impactful storytellers, VANITY FAIR’S WRITERS ON WRITERS edited by Graydon Carter; introduction by David Friend, is a collection of the magazine’s forty-one best pieces about accomplished writers by accomplished writers.

What did Christopher Hitchens think of Dorothy Parker? Or what did Salman Rushdie think of Christopher Hitchens? How did meeting e.e. cummings change the young Susan Cheever? What does Martin Amis have to say about how Saul Bellow’s love life influenced his writing? Collected here for the first time are essays about novelists, poets, journalists, and publishers. From James Baldwin to Joan Didion to James Patterson, VANITY FAIR’S WRITERS ON WRITERS is an assembly of the very best of these essays, giving readers a look into the lives and psyche of some of the world’s most esteemed writers.

my thoughts:

Talk about the perfect book for book lovers and writers!  A superb collection of bookish essays about some of the BEST writers, written by some of the BEST writers - how awesome does that sound?  It sounds like bliss to me.  Fortunately, it was.

I am a huge fan of books about books.  So, believe you me, I was thrilled to read a book about writers writing about writers.  I just loved settling down with this delightful tome and dipping into essays about Toni Morrison, Ernest Hemingway, and Truman Capote.  And to top it off, the essays were written by Jacqueline Woodson, Martin Amis, Dave Eggers, and Nadine Gordimer.  Who wouldn't want to read their thoughts and opinions about their friends, colleagues, and inspirations?  Especially, if the stories they share are personal or their critiques are less than polite - now that is a fun time.

In fact, this book reminds me of a classmate of mine from grad school.  He was always sharing biographical tidbits of the author's or critic's works we were discussing, as if he knew them personally.  He was always fascinated by their personal lives and how it affected and influenced their writing.  He would absolutely LOVE this book.  I admit that it annoyed me at first, but eventually I grew to enjoy the bits and bobs he shared with us.  It definitely made me look at certain writers differently and wonder about their work.  And now, I love books about books and books about writers.

Vanity Fair's Writers on Writers is most definitely a must-read for anyone interested in the 'literati' - you will LOVE this book! I would happily recommend it to fans of the magazine Vanity Fair (these essays were from the magazine) and fans of books about writers.  I just know you'll enjoy it as much as I have.

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A Piece of the World: A Novel by Christina Baker Kline

(Thank you the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the smash bestseller Orphan Train, a stunning and atmospheric novel of friendship, passion, and art, inspired by Andrew Wyeth’s mysterious and iconic painting Christina’s World.

“Later he told me that he’d been afraid to show me the painting. He thought I wouldn’t like the way he portrayed me: dragging myself across the field, fingers clutching dirt, my legs twisted behind. The arid moonscape of wheatgrass and timothy. That dilapidated house in the distance, looming up like a secret that won’t stay hidden.”

To Christina Olson, the entire world was her family’s remote farm in the small coastal town of Cushing, Maine. Born in the home her family had lived in for generations, and increasingly incapacitated by illness, Christina seemed destined for a small life. Instead, for more than twenty years, she was host and inspiration for the artist Andrew Wyeth, and became the subject of one of the best known American paintings of the twentieth century.

As she did in her beloved smash bestseller Orphan Train, Christina Baker Kline interweaves fact and fiction in a powerful novel that illuminates a little-known part of America’s history. Bringing into focus the flesh-and-blood woman behind the portrait, she vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past, and a special bond with one of our greatest modern artists.

Told in evocative and lucid prose, A Piece of the World is a story about the burdens and blessings of family history, and how artist and muse can come together to forge a new and timeless legacy.

This edition includes a four-color reproduction of Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World.

my thoughts:

Wow.  Talk about a beautifully written story.  I absolutely LOVED A Piece of the World by Christina Baker Kline.  The writing was top notch, the characters were unforgettable, and the story was spellbinding.  I enjoyed the mix of art, history, and fiction - it blended together so perfectly.

Set in Maine during the early 1900s, this is the story of Christina Olson, the subject behind artist Andrew Wyeth's painting, Christina's World.  How cool is that?  A painting with a history that inspired Kline to write her own version of the story - pretty exciting, eh?  I just love the idea of being so inspired by art or music and having/needing to create something about it.  With this novel, Kline transports her reader to a different world, time, and place with her vivid imagery and crisp details. She paints a gripping account of friendship, history, life, and art.  Her writing is so engaging and picturesque - you can smell the country air and feel the weathered wood of the dilapidated farmhouse.  Its truly an intoxicating read.

A Piece of the World takes us through Christina's past, where we learn about her childhood, her crippling illness, her failed romantic life, and her decision to remain self-sufficient and live in her family's old home.  We learn about a determined, strong, and independent woman.  I will admit that she is unlikeable in so many ways - her attitude and demeanor are less than civil.  Yet, she finds a connection with Wyeth and the two share an unlikely friendship - he's introduced to her via his future bride, Betsy (Christina's neighbor).  Wyeth pays attention to the simple life the Olson's have chosen to live - one without any modern conveniences.  He's mesmerized by their lives and their homestead, so he paints them and their home.  And in the end he gives us, Christina's World

I absolutely LOVED this book! I enjoyed learning about the Olson's and Wyeth's friendship.  I found the characters to be unforgettable and their stories to be unputdownable.  I just loved this book in every which way.  Such a great read!

I would most definitely recommend A Piece of the World to fans of Christina Baker Kline and fans of Andrew Wyeth's art - you will fall in LOVE with this story.

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: A Piece of the World
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, February 17, 2017

My Friday Five...

1.  TWD.  Finally! Its back on the air and I'm excited to find out where this season takes us.  I love seeing Rick and Michonne on the same page again.  That scene where they mow down the walkers was brill.  I'm not happy with Carol, Morgan, Gabriel, Rosita, and Gregory.  In fact, I could pretty much do without all of their unnecessary dramatics.  I didn't like Daryl staying behind, because anytime they separate something happens. As for the ending - a new group? Say what?!  I'm thinking its a new group who may be able to help Rick and the Hilltop finally take down Negan.  My fingers are crossed!

2.  Midori.  I wound up buying a Midori notebook instead of a Sojourner one (for now).  I bought the passport size in dark brown.  I wanted a small one to keep in my purse.  Plus, I wanted to see whether or not I would even like them.  Well, I did.  So, I ordered a black one in the regular size and I can't wait to get my hands on it.  I want to start keeping a journal again and figure that this would be a great notebook to start fresh in.  I will admit to having an addiction to journals - I buy them all the time.  I have a stack of them waiting to be written in.  I've been jotting down quotes in the same one for two years now.  I should just use the ones I have, but I've been seeing so many people rave about the Midori that I wanted to get one.  Plus, I thought it would be a nice reward for sticking with the gym for nearly two months now (1 month and three weeks).

3. Death Cab for Cutie.  I've been listening to Ben Gibbard and gang all week long.

4.  Books.  I received these lovelies earlier this week:

5.   RHOBH.  OMG!! What a show!  The group is still in Mexico and things are definitely heating up.  Last week Kyle found out via Pump that Rinna has been telling Eden crazy lies about her and her sister, Kim.  This week, Rinna and Ashley are in Mexico.  Kyle is uncomfortable knowing that Rinna was talking crap about her family.  EJ decides that Kyle's husband's company party is the time to tell Rinna that Kyle is upset with her.  Seriously!?  Is it in their contracts to always fight at parties?  Anyhow, Rinna goes up to Kyle and tells her that EJ said they should talk.  Kyle confronts her in front of everyone.  Rinna acts beyond shocked that Eden would accuse her of saying such horrid things about Kim and Kyle.  She is shocked and feigns innocence.  Of course, Bravo shows footage of Rinna telling Eden that Kim is still imbibing, near death, and Kyle is enabling her.  I loved the flashbacks - hilarious!  Pump wants Rinna to "own it" a la last year's reunion where Rinna shouted at Pump to "own it".  No one owns anything here.  Rinna denies it all and then goes outside to cry about it.  Talk about a buzzkill.  Next week we see Rinna confronting Eden - I can't wait!  Reality TV is my vice.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!! Happy reading!!