Sunday, October 6, 2019

The Sunday Salon: I'm reading again!

Hello from Florida.  We're still in the throes of moving, but at least I'm reading again. After a month of not being able to concentrate on anything, I have an ebook in progress on my kindle and an audiobook in progress on my phone. More about those below, but first an update on the move...

We spent much of August and September organizing our possessions, paring down to a bare minimum (furniture, books, clothes, and various other "treasures" accumulated over thirty years) and packing. It was difficult, to say the least, but also strangely liberating.

Last Monday the movers arrived. They collected our remaining belongings, loaded them into huge containers, and if all goes as planned, the containers will land at a storage facility in Naples soon.

The BIG news is that we also found a house here on Sanibel! We're on track to close on the new place later this month. In the meantime, we're living in what has been our winter home for the past five or six years and I finally have a little time to read again... at least until renovations (on the new house) begin!

Current reading//

  Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner 

My daughter and sister both recommended this "sister story" as a quick, summer read... and since I missed summer reading this year, that's exactly what I want. At the 25% mark, I don't think they've steered me wrong.

Listening to//

by Lori Gottlieb, narrated by Brittany Pressley

My daily beach walks have resumed... and I love spending that time with an audiobook. My current listen provides a behind the scenes look at a therapist's world. Four hours in and this book is a winner!

Finally, a question...

After eleven years, it may be time to change the name of this blog. Lakeside  Musing no longer applies... would a simple switch to Gulfside Musing be confusing? Would you still "recognize" me?

I'm looking forward to visiting blogs and catching up with everyone this week.

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Ch - Ch - Changes

Hello, friends. My blogging break continues, but I wanted to pop in with a quick life update. There's a lot happening this summer, though little of it relates to books...

For the past several years I've been lamenting that fact that we're upside down when it comes to real estate - a big house in central NY where we now spend only summers and holidays, and a small one in FL, which has become our primary residence. This past spring we decided the time had come to sell our NY home. After some intensive prep work, we listed the house in mid-July. To our surprise, we received an offer four days later, and reached a final agreement the following day.

Since then we've been preparing to right-size (I don't like the term down-sizing) - furniture, clothing, so much stuff! Our plan is to move in with my parents shortly after Labor Day as we continue to empty the house in preparation for an early October closing.

Once we're back in Florida, we will look for a house that's larger than the one we currently own, but much smaller than the one we're leaving in NY.

Most of my mental space these days is occupied with planning, logistics, and a healthy dose of nostalgia. I'm very excited about the move and know it's the right thing to do, but it's still bittersweet. You would not believe the things I've saved over the years! We've lived in our home for nearly 27 years and in this town for 31 years...

As you might expect, I haven't been reading much of anything - just 2 books since the beginning of July. I don't see that changing for the next couple of months, so will just post occasional updates here.  I'm still on Instagram, will keep my goodreads page updated, and will also read and comment on your blogs as time allows.

It's going to be an exciting few months!

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The Sunday Salon: A Summer Break

I suppose it was bound to happen... June was an outstanding reading month, especially in terms of quality, but now it's July and the dreaded reading slump has become a reality. Ugh. I've finished just one (sadly mediocre) book all month and set aside countless others. Nothing seems to suit my mood.

The busy 4th of July holiday is responsible for some of this, but we're also inching forward with other lifestyle changes and have a long family weekend on the Connecticut coast ahead. Our daughters will join us to help celebrate my birthday. We lived in CT back in the 80s, so I'm looking forward to visiting a few old haunts and exploring some new ones.

Books will be involved, of course. I can't wait to visit R.J. Julia Booksellers. A crop of new library holds has arrived, I've pulled a couple old favorites from my shelves, and my kindle is fully loaded. Something will break me out of this slump soon... I just know it!

What have you been reading lately? How do you deal with a reading slump?

I'll be on a blogging break for the rest of the month and will catch up with you again in August!

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Midyear Musings and Favorites

We're halfway through 2019 and so far it's been a great year for reading. My overall totals are up and I seem to be choosing better books.

In an unplanned development, 43% of those books have been nonfiction - a personal record. The Supreme Court is the subject that's come up most frequently. I've also read quite a few new releases. We'll see if these trends continue.

Unfortunately, the increase in nonfiction has been at the expense of classics. I've read only one(!) all year and am considering throwing the the towel for the Back to the Classics challenge.

Here are my midyear favorites in no particular order:


Quirky, funny, and probably not for everyone... I loved it. 

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens 
I avoided this novel for a very long time (too much hype), but gave in when my book club decided to read it. I'm very glad they did!

As We Are Now by May Sarton
This is, without a doubt, both the most beautifully written and the most depressing novel I've read this year. At just 144 pages, it's also one of the shortest.

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane (read/listen combination)

This was a solid 5-star read for me.  An all-consuming novel, I lived with these people for a week. Whenever I wasn't reading about them, I was thinking about them! The audio version, narrated by Molly Pope, is also excellent.

If Beale Street Could Talk (audio) by James Baldwin
This 1974 classic is even more wonderful with Bahni Turpin's moving narration.

The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai (read/listen combination)

An "issue novel" about the AIDS crisis, specifically in 1980s Chicago. It triggered memories, both happy and sad, of lost friends and caused me to reflect on my time on the front lines, as a clinical pharmacist in a teaching hospital where research and drug trials were conducted. The audio version, narrated by Michael Crouch added much to my overall experience.

Normal People (audio)
by Sally Rooney, narrated by Aoife McMahon
Quiet and well-written, this is an interior, character-driven novel about relationships. I loved the narrator's Irish accent.


by Dani Shapiro, narrated by the author

Easily my favorite nonfiction this year. Dani Shapiro, a 50-something writer brought up in an Orthodox Jewish family in NYC, takes a DNA test on a whim and discovers that her father was not her biological father. Her history and identity seem to crumbles beneath her, but this is not what you might think. It's actually far more complicated and raises many complex questions. I think listening to Shapiro tell her own story is the best way to experience this book.

by Dani Shapiro, narrated by the author

Since I loved Inheritance so much, a dive into Shapiro's backlist was immediately necessary. This book examines the role of faith, prayer, and devotion in everyday life. Again, I found Shapiro's writing to be thoughtful, intelligent, and insightful.

by Ann Hood, narrated by Donna Postel
I can't resist books about books, so raced through this short audiobook in just a day and a half!


My interest in the Supreme Court goes back decades, but over the past few years I've felt a growing sense of urgency and need for more information and deeper understanding. To that end, I've read four very good books so far this year.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by Jane Sherron De Hart (read/listen combination)
The audio version, narrated by Suzanne Toren, helped me get through the drier, more technical sections.

My Own Words by Ruth Bader Ginsburg (audio)
Listening to Linda Lavin's narration, along with several recordings of RBG delivering her own words, was wonderful!

Breaking in: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor and the Politics of Justice by Joan Biskupic (audio)
After reading Sotomayor's memoir, My Beloved World, several years ago, this was the logical next step. Carrington McDuffie is an excellent narrator.

The Chief: The Life and Turbulent Times of Chief Justice John Roberts by Joan Biskupic (read/listen combination)
It is now obvious that Roberts will play a pivotal role in close rulings. This book helped me understand his background and other factors which may influence his decision-making. The audio version is skillfully narrated by Jennywren Walker.

What are your favorite so far this year? Have you noticed any trends in your reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

This Weeks Read: City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

New York City, April 2010 
I received a letter from his daughter the other day.
I'd thought about Angela many times over the years, but this was only our third interaction.
The first was when I'd made her wedding dress, back in 1971.
The second was when she'd written to tell me her father had died. That was 1977.
Now she was writing to let me know that her mother had just passed away. I'm not sure how Angela expected me to receive this news. She might have guessed it would throw me for a loop. That said, I don't suspect malice on her part. Angela is not constructed that way. She's a good person. More important, an interesting one.
I was awfully surprised, though, to hear that Angela's mother had lasted this long. I'd assumed the woman had died ages ago. God knows everyone else has. (But why should anyone's longevity surprise me, when I myself have clung to existence like a barnacle to a boat bottom? I can't be the only ancient woman tottering around New York City, absolutely refusing to abandon either her life or her real estate.)
It was the last line of Angela's letter, though, that impacted me the most.
"Vivian," Angela wrote, "given that my mother has passed away, I wonder if you might now feel comfortable telling me what you were to my father?"
Well, then.
What was I to her father?
Only he could have answered that question. And since he never chose to discuss me with his daughter, it's not my place to tell Angela what I was to him.
I can, however, tell her what he was to me.
City of Girls
by Elizabeth Gilbert

I've only read the first three chapters of Elizabeth Gilbert's new novel, but have already fallen in love with Vivian's voice. That quip about NYC real estate had me laughing out loud! There's quite a bit of buzz and hype surrounding City of Girls, but I'm trying to keep my expectations in check. So far, it's a lot of fun and the pages are turning quickly.

Here is a portion of the goodreads summary:
In 1940, nineteen-year-old Vivian Morris has just been kicked out of Vassar College, owing to her lackluster freshman-year performance. Her affluent parents send her to Manhattan to live with her Aunt Peg, who owns a flamboyant, crumbling midtown theater called the Lily Playhouse. There Vivian is introduced to an entire cosmos of unconventional and charismatic characters, from the fun-chasing showgirls to a sexy male actor, a grand-dame actress, a lady-killer writer, and no-nonsense stage manager. But when Vivian makes a personal mistake that results in professional scandal, it turns her new world upside down in ways that it will take her years to fully understand. Ultimately, though, it leads her to a new understanding of the kind of life she craves - and the kind of freedom it takes to pursue it. It will also lead to the love of her life, a love that stands out from all the rest.  
Now ninety-five years old and telling her story at last, Vivian recalls how the events of those years altered the course of her life - and the gusto and autonomy with which she approached it. "At some point in a woman's life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time," she muses. "After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is." Written with a powerful wisdom about human desire and connection, City of Girls is a love story like no other. 
What do you think? Would you continue reading?

First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intro is hosted by Vicki at I'd Rather Be At The Beach.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Sunday Salon: June 30, 2019

June 30, halfway through 2019 already. Time is flying... Summer is here and the weather has been perfect for outdoor activities. We temporarily caught up with garden chores and took a midweek walk along the Old Erie Canal trail. In addition to the photo above, I posted several others on Instagram.

Finished reading//

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Talk about all-consuming. Whenever I wasn't reading this novel, I was thinking about it. It begins in the 1970s with two families - Irish immigrants, rookie NYC cops, next door neighbors - living in the Long Island suburbs. A life-altering event tears the families apart. We see how it shapes the lives of the two couples and their children over the next forty years... always in the background, inexplicably binding them together.  Ask Again, Yes  has everything I look for in a novel: good writing, well-developed characters, and a great story. I often avoid novels which involve mental illness, but am glad I didn't skip this one. It was excellent!
My rating:

Current reading//

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert 

Choosing a follow-up to a 5-star read can be tricky. In this case, the library did it for me. I picked up City of Girls  yesterday afternoon and immediately fell in love with Vivian's voice... the playful, self-deprecating humor of an older woman looking back on her youthful experiences. I can't wait to continue.

Listening to//

by John Carreyrou, narrated by Will Damron

I borrowed this audiobook from the library and haven't started it yet, but only have a few days left until it expires! Now I'm trying to decide whether to start it anyway (and maybe use an audible credit it I'm hopelessly hooked) or pick up something else and get back on the hold list. Decisions, decisions...

On the blog//
This Week's Read: Ask Again, Yes  by Mary Beth Keane

In the kitchen//

We're going to my sister's for dinner and I have this Chocolate Yogurt Cake in the oven as I type. It was simple to make... I'll let you know how it turns out.

After trying many variations over the years (and probably sharing one or two here) I've settled on the perfect Miso Maple Glazed Salmon recipe. This one is from Allrecipes and I made just one simple substitution... use sesame oil instead of vegetable oil. It was delicious.

The week ahead//

The 4th of July falls on Thursday and we've got a busy holiday week coming up. Daughter #1 will take the train up from NYC on Tuesday, lots of cooking and set-up on Wednesday, then a family party on Thursday. Our small town goes all out for the 4th... after the road race, parade, concert, and fireworks, other events and activities continue through the weekend.

How was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

This Week's Read: Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane


July 1973
Francis Gleeson, tall and thin in his powder blue policeman's uniform, stepped out of the sun and into the shadow of the stocky stone building that was the station house of the Forty-First Precinct. A pair of pantyhose had been hung to dry on a fourth floor fire escape near 167th, and while he waited for another rookie, a cop named Stanhope, Francis noted the perfect stillness of the gossamer legs, the delicate curve where the heel was meant to be. Another building had burned the night before and Francis figured it was now like so many others in the Forty-One: nothing left but a hollowed-out shell and a blackened staircase within. The neighborhood kids had all watched it burn from the roofs and fire escapes where they'd dragged their mattresses on that first truly hot day in June. Now, from a block away, Francis could hear them begging the firemen to leave just one hydrant open. He could imagine them hopping back and forth as the pavement grew hot again under their feet.
Ask Again, Yes
by Mary Beth Keane

June has been an unusually good reading month for me and it looks like it might end it on a high note. I started reading Ask Again, Yes  Saturday evening, am about a third of the way through now, and it's excellent! Within just a few pages, I was fully invested in this story of two rookie NYC policemen and their families.

Here's the goodreads summary:
Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, rookie cops in the NYPD, live next door to each other outside the city. What happens behind closed doors in both houses—the loneliness of Francis's wife, Lena, and the instability of Brian's wife, Anne, sets the stage for the explosive events to come. 
Ask Again, Yes  is a deeply affecting exploration of the lifelong friendship and love that blossoms between Kate Gleeson and Peter Stanhope, born six months apart. One shocking night their loyalties are divided, and their bond will be tested again and again over the next 40 years. Luminous, heartbreaking, and redemptive, Ask Again, Yes  reveals the way childhood memories change when viewed from the distance of adulthood—villains lose their menace and those who appeared innocent seem less so. Kate and Peter’s love story, while haunted by echoes from the past, is marked by tenderness, generosity, and grace.
What do you think? Would you keep reading?

First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intro is hosted by Vicki at I'd Rather Be At The Beach.


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