Sunday, August 1, 2021

The Sunday Salon: Two Five-Star Reads



It's been a lovely summer week in coastal CT... just a little rain, warm days, and slightly cooler nights. We've been enjoying the company of our oldest daughter and her boyfriend, had a couple of dinners by the shore, and visited a local brewery. I settled on a new walking route last week, too, and, inspired by Kay, will share photos this week.

It's also been an excellent week on the reading front with two  five-star reads, one from a new (to me) author and the other from an old favorite. I can't even remember the last time that happened - a perfect way to end July!


Recent reading//


Count the Ways by Joyce Maynard
William Morrow, 2021
464 pages

Simon & Schuster Audio, 2021
narrated by the author
15 hours and 16 minutes

This could end up being my favorite novel of the year! It's about family, marriage, parenthood, divorce, love, forgiveness... and much more. The characters are so relatable, the writing is excellent, and you know how I'm draw to family dramas. My library hold for the audiobook arrived while I was reading, so it became a read/listen combo. Maynard did a good job narrating, but I had to increase the speed slightly.

 Joyce Maynard has written several novels and memoirs, but this is the first one I've read. I'll certainly look for more. Have you read Maynard? Which one should I pick up next?




Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout
Random House, 2019
289 pages

Random House Audio, 2019
narrated by Kimberly Farr
12 hours and 14 minutes

Elizabeth Strout has been a favorite author for years and Olive Kitteridge  is one of my favorite books ever. I cannot believe it has taken this long to get to Olive, Again, but here we are. This book has been reviewed so widely and there's not much more I can to add. Let's just say I loved everything about it... and was delighted by the appearance of characters from Strout's previous novels.

I'm looking forward to the release of Oh William!  in October.



Current reading//


The Street by Ann Petry

I became aware of this lesser-known classic from the Harlem Renaissance when it was selected for the PBS New Hour Book Club last year and purchased it as a kindle daily deal shortly after. I later added the audio during an audible BOGO sale. I recently learned that Ann Petry was born in Old Saybrook, CT, where we are renting a house for the summer. It finally seems like the right time and place to get started! I'm on the second chapter now and will share my first impressions soon.


The week ahead//

We'll take our daughter and her boyfriend to the train station late this afternoon , then head to a nearby town for a concert on the green. If I get my act together, we'll even have a picnic dinner.

It's back to just three of us for the week ahead. I'm planning to cook at home more often... probably grilling and simpler meals. The kitchen here is pretty well-equipped, but I'd rather not buy a lot of seasonings or special ingredients.

We also plan to explore the Mystic area this week... the seaport, aquarium, and more.


How was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

46 comments:

  1. Count The Ways was just wonderful. I keep thinking about it.

    I think you’ve had a great month. Dinners by the shore make me so happy.

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    1. Ti - Count the Ways is a book I'll be thinking about for a long time! We are just loving our time here in CT.

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  2. I've never read a Joyce Maynard book, but hearing that you consider this one a five-star read makes me want to look for it. So I shall.

    Olive Kitteridge is one of my favorite reads, and I was surprised to find that I liked Olive, Again just as much as the first book. I'm looking forward to Elizabeth Strout's new book this fall.

    We are planning a picnic soon. We might have one this week. We are planning to spend the day at the wildlife refuge and that would be a great place for a picnic.

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    1. Deb - I'm going to read more of Maynard's work. I have a gift certificate to a local indie and plan to pick up at least one or two more before we leave.

      Elizabeth Strout is so talented and she seems to be a wonderful person, too. Have heard her speak a couple of times and enjoyed both events immensely.

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  3. I've heard great things about Count the Ways. So glad it's a five star for you. I have The Street on my reading list as well. I'll be looking forward to your thoughts on it.

    SO glad you can get away from the heat for a bit. Looks like you have some lovely places to visit. It's kind of nice to just keep the meals simple from time to time!

    I hope you have a safe and lovely week.

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    1. Heather - I've read four chapters of The Street now and really like it so far. We'll see how it goes, but I'm already wondering why it isn't more widely read.

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  4. Count the Ways left me wondering about how could I ever find another story that will make me feel like that one did? I've read most every book she has written. I might suggest Labor Day, as we watched the movie based on the book yesterday staring Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin - what a great movie. Have you seen Olive Kitteridge miniseries? That was awesome as well. Glad you are enjoying summer by the shoreline of CT.

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    1. Diane - It'll be a while before another book like Count the Ways comes along! I'll probably end up buying Labor Day with the gift card I have to the local indie. I haven't seen the Olive Kitteridge series other than the first episode which I watched on a plane. Will look for it now... thanks for the reminder.

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  5. What a lovely time you’re having. Sounds like good weather & nice family visits!

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    1. Tina - It's been just perfect!! Makes me remember how much we liked it when we used to live here.

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  6. I have Count The Ways on my list to read. Time with family is the best!

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    1. Vicki - It sure is! I think you'll enjoy Count the Ways, too.

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  7. Your time in CT sounds delightful! Isn't it nice to have a new place to walk?

    I'm so happy to see your 5-star reads and am anxious to read both. I already have Olive, Again and will read that in the coming months, but I may hold off on the Maynard book for later in the year when I can really focus on it and not read it a little at a time each night. Since the author reads the book, I think I'll get it in print. Typically, audiobooks narrated by the author have not been my favorite. As I've mentioned, The Usual Rules is one of my favorite books by Maynard. I highly recommend it!

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    1. Les - I'm loving this area! It's even better for walking than the town we were in last summer. My husband has a bike here (he left one at my parents to use during the summer)and has made good use of it. I left my one bike in Florida.

      I'm planning to use my bday gift certificate for more Maynard novels... looks like The Usual Rules and Labor Day are at the top of my list. Hope the local indie has them in stock. Ans I think it's a good idea to save Count the Ways for a time when you can fully enjoy it!

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  8. I started to add The Street to my TBR but see it's already on there.

    Count The Ways - I am #14 on 1 ebook copy.

    Loved the Olive books.

    Your CT vacation sounds amazing. Sigh...


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    1. Jinjer - The Street is turning out to be a good read... looking forward to more reading time this evening. We're loving it here in CT!

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  9. There's almost nothing better than having a 5 star read and to have 2 in one week is fantastic! I have been hearing wonderful things about the Joyce Maynard novel so may have to find a copy.

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    1. Helen - I'm not sure if I've ever read two five-star books in a row. This has been pretty much an ideal reading week!

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  10. I love Elizabeth Strout, but have yet to read either Olive or Olive, Again. (I’ve only read Amy and Isabelle, and My Name is Lucy Barton.) I’m so glad that you had TWO five star books. When does that ever happen?😉 I’m wondering if the Mystic of which you speak is the same as the setting of Mystic River by Lehane? Regardless, have a lovely, lovely time, and I look forward to the pictures from your walk as Kay also shares. Walking has helped me through the pandemic enormously.

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    1. Meredith - There is a Mystic River in CT, but I think Lehane's book is set in Boston. Walking has kept me sane during the pandemic, too... I don't think I've ever valued my walking time with an audiobook more! Elizabeth Strout is so talented and I highly recommend both Olive books. I was delighted when Isabelle appeared in Olive, Again!

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  11. All three books sound very good. I've not read a Joyce Maynard book either before and making a note of this one. Thankyou for the post.

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    1. Mystica - I'm sure Joyce Maynard will end up as my top author discovery this year. Hope you get a chance to read her, too.

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  12. Both of your books are new to me. I'm so glad you had such a good reading week. Your summer sounds like it is going wonderfully. Come see my week here. Happy reading!

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    1. Kathy - I have the perfect porch for reading at this house and am trying to make the most of it!

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  13. I just splurged and got Count the Ways after several bloggers' recommendations! Can't wait, reading it next. Haven't read any of Stout's books, but I will give them a try. Do you think I have to read Olive Kitteridge first before this one?

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    1. Rita - Oh, that's wonderful! I hope you love Count the Ways as much as I did. You don't really need to read Olive Kitteridge before Olive, Again but I think part of my enjoyment came from checking in with Olive again after all these years. It was so good to see how she's adjusted to widowhood and life in general as she's aging.

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  14. I am so glad you enjoyed Count the Ways, and I hope you go on to love more from this author.

    I haven't read Olive Kitteridge, but saw (and loved) the miniseries. Now I want to try more from the author.

    Enjoy August!

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    1. Laurel-Rain Snow - I can't imagine not liking Maynard's previous books, but hope my expectations aren't too high after Count the Ways. I'm going to borrow the Olive Kitteridge miniseries from the library as soon as we get back to Florida.

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  15. Your photos have been so lovely! We're going to the shore in September, and I can't wait! I'll have to bump Maynard's new book up on my list.

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    1. Beth F - You're in for a treat with Maynard's novel! So, so good!

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  16. It sounds like you have had a fantastic week.
    I’m been meaning to read Olive Kitteredge but haven’t had the time, I just discovered the movie on a streaming service though so I might watch it.

    Wishing you a great reading week

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    1. Shelleyrae - I still haven't watched the Olive miniseries, but plan to borrow it from the library when we return to Florida.

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  17. Thanks for the tip on the Maynard novel. I plan to get to it. I also liked Olive Again a lot last summer -- I both read & listened to it ... and various chapters are pretty priceless, especially the first with Jack Kennison getting a speeding ticket. I was surprised some of the town's people problems are pretty dark in it. Still I liked Olive herself best. Your Connecticut days are sounding glorious, so live them for us!

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    1. Susan - Oh, yes... that was a GREAT chapter where Jack gets the ticket. Loved it! And Olive is a hoot. One of my friends said that Olive reminds her of her mother!! Can't wait to hear what you think of Maynard's novel.

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  18. Your summer sounds lovely! I've been in a reading slump lately, so I'm jealous of your two 5-star reads, lol. They both sound wonderful!

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    1. Diana - I really think having two 5-star reads back to back is a first for me... best reading week ever!

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  19. Elizabeth Strout has been one of my favorites for a few years now...and I just finished "Oh, William!" a few days ago while on a road trip. I plan to review it in the next couple of days, but let's just say that you are going to love it. Strout is better than ever.

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    1. Sam - You are the first person I know who's read Oh William! and I'm so happy to hear it's another winner. I've been to a couple of Strout events and she's a very engaging speaker, too. Will be looking for your review and I hope you're having a wonderful road trip.

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  20. Wow! Two 5-star books in one week is amazing!

    I was surprised by how much I loved Olive Kitteridge. I still haven't read Olive, Again though. I need to make sure it's actually on my digital library wish list, now that I think about it.

    I've never heard of The Street so I'll be curious what you think of it.

    My husband and I have only driven through Connecticut twice, on our way to and from Maine. We thought it was a beautiful state but honestly wondered where all the gas stations were! We were towing our camper so we needed them pretty frequently. We'd like to explore the state more in the future.

    Enjoy your week!

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    1. Jen - I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever read back-to-back five star books... it was an amazing week of reading! The Street is off to a very good start. I'll be listening to more on my walk this morning. Laughing about your gas station comment. We haven't noticed that, but then again we're not towing a camper and don't have to stop as frequently.

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  21. Always great to find an author's book you like and then want to go check out their backlist.

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    1. Kathryn - It's a great feeling, isn't it? I'm so glad Maynard has a very long backlist.

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  22. I read Lucy Barton years ago and loved it. I really meant to check out Olive Kittridge but somehow never did. I really should get that one and Olive,Again soon.

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    1. Katherine - I loved Lucy Barton, too... and also the follow-up Anything is Possible. Hope you get a chance to read the Olive books at some point.

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  23. I need to add your 5 star reads to my list. Well, I do have the Lucy Barton on my list just haven't gotten to it yet. I have read Joyce Maynard but probably back when the Oprah book club selected one of her books. Looking forward to your review of The Street!

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    1. Iliana - I'm surprised I never read Maynard when Oprah selected her books. I read most of Oprah's choices years ago. You can't go wrong with anything by Elizabeth Strout. And I just finished The Street this afternoon - wow!

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