Sunday, December 18, 2022

A Pre-Christmas Sunday Salon: December 18, 2022

Hello friends, we are back in Connecticut after a long weekend in NYC. No touristy photos were taken, but we had a wonderful time with both city daughters and their partners. There were several amazing dinners, a birthday celebration, time spent with my new grandpuppy Winnie-the-Whippet, and a post-pandemic return to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I especially enjoyed the current Tudor exhibit!

Despite all that activity, a recurrent knee injury has kept me relatively inactive for several days and provided the perfect excuse for uninterrupted reading time.

Finished last week//

Dinosaurs: A Novel by Lydia Millet

I picked up this odd little novel after hearing it mentioned on a podcast. Very broadly, it's about people, mostly trying to do the right thing, and relationships. It begins with a man who walks across the country to start a new life in Arizona after a break-up with his girlfriend, and then expands to include the family  next door, a few friends, and more neighbors. There isn't really a lot of action, but I still found it to be a compelling read. 

audio edition narrated by Ginnifer Goodwin

Wilson's last novel, Nothing to See Here, was my favorite audiobook of 2019 so there was no doubt I'd read his latest. Once again, he's written an unusual story... this time a coming-of-age story featuring the power of art, friendship, and young love. I had both the ebook and audio from the library, but the audio version was excellent so I mostly listened. I won't say more about the plot, but do recommend you give it a try.


Foster by Claire Keegan

What an absolutely gorgeous novella this is! I read it yesterday evening (just 90 pages) and can't stop thinking about it. Several months ago I listened to Keegan's Small Things Like These, but was left wanting more. Now I'm considering a reread (rather than listening) to see what I missed there. Do yourself a favor and try Foster.

Current reading//

by Rosamunde Pilcher, narrated by Jilly Bond

I've been planning to read this at Christmastime for the past couple of years, but this year the timing is finally right! I sank right into this read/listen combination and am thoroughly enjoying every sentence. 

On the blog//

The week ahead//

The holiday begins for us on Tuesday when our oldest daughter and fiancé arrive for a weeklong visit. Twin A and her partner come in Friday night, also for a week, so we'll all be together for a long Christmas weekend. I have plenty of cookies to bake, meals to plan, and presents to wrap in the meantime. Wish me luck!

I'll be back around the end of the year with a reading wrap-up and list of my favorite books. Wishing you all peace and joy this holiday season.

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.

Saturday, December 10, 2022

Recent Reading: Six Short Reviews

Lighthouse at Saybrook Point Marina

Several days ago I shared our Hurricane Ian update and now, as promised, here is my fall reading update. As you can imagine, through late September and most of October I couldn't concentrate on reading anything. Eventually audiobooks returned to my daily routine and by mid-November I began to read print books, too... what a relief! 

Here are the books I've read and/or listened to since the storm:

by Nina Totenberg, narrated by the author

I've followed Nina Totenberg's reporting for years, but knew nothing about her career path or personal life prior to listening to this memoir. Be aware that the focus is not on RBG as the title might lead you to believe. Rather, it is the story of Totenberg's long career and how strong female friendships, primarily with RBG and Cokie Roberts, have enriched her life. I'm glad I listened to this one.

by Linda Greenhouse, narrated by Beth Hicks

I heard Linda Greenhouse, journalist and Yale Law School lecturer, on R.J. Julia's "Just the Right Book!" podcast when this book was originally published last year. At that time, the after-the-colon subtitle was The Death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Rise of Amy Coney Barrett, and Twelve Months That Transformed the Supreme Court. After Roe v. Wade was overturned this past June, Greenhouse added an update and changed the title. I listened to the newer edition.

This book made for some fascinating listening. If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know of my fascination with the Supreme Court. There's not much new information here, but having the events and significant cases of the past couple of years laid out chronologically, alongside relevant background information, was an illuminating (and infuriating!) review. 


by Dani Shapiro, narrated by the author

Beautifully written, skillfully constructed, and incredibly moving  - I loved this book! It was a read/listen combination for me and Shapiro's narration was just perfect. I borrowed the ebook from the library, but have since purchased a copy to keep on my shelf. I've been a fan of this author for years, especially her recent memoirs, but this is her first novel in twenty years. It's a contender for my favorite book of the year... highly recommended.

by Emi Yagi, translated by David Boyd and Lucy North
narrated by Nancy Wu

As the only woman at her new workplace... Ms. Shibata is expected to do all the menial tasks. One day she announces that she can't clear away her colleagues' dirty cups--because she's pregnant and the smell nauseates her. The only thing is . . . Ms. Shibata is not pregnant. (from goodreads)

The premise here is unusual and it eventually turns just plain weird, but this short novel is surprisingly engaging. I enjoyed Nancy Wu's narration of Convenience Store Woman and it made for a pleasant 4 1/2 hours here, too. 


Cara Romero, in her mid-50s, loses her factory job in the Great Recession and must meet with a job counselor in order to qualify for benefits.

 Over the course of twelve sessions, Cara recounts her tempestuous love affairs, her alternately biting and loving relationships with her neighbor Lulu and her sister Angela, her struggles with debt, gentrification and loss, and, eventually, what really happened between her and her estranged son, Fernando. As Cara confronts her darkest secrets and regrets, we see a woman buffeted by life but still full of fight.

It took a little while to get used to Cara's voice, but I eventually grew to understand and appreciate her. I'm so glad I persevered!

by Bethan Roberts
narrated by Piers Hampton, Emma Powell
"I considered starting with these words: I no longer want to kill you - because I really don't, but then decided you would think this far too melodramatic. You've always hated melodrama, and I don't want to upset you now, not in the state you're in, not at what may be the end of your life."
This novel grabbed me with the opening lines (above) and held me through the final sentence. It is lushly written and heartbreaking. Set in mid-20th century England, My Policeman  is loosely based on novelist E. M. Forster's relationship with policeman Bob Buckingham. In the novel, museum curator Patrick Hazelwood randomly meets a young policeman, Tom Burgess, following a street incident and is immediately attracted to him. Tom is married to Marion and trying to lead a conventional life, but is also drawn to Patrick... and a relationship develops. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of Patrick and Marion. The reader never hears directly from Tom, the policeman.

As a read/listen combination, the audio production employs dual narrators to make the most of alternating perspectives. It was very well done.

The novel was originally published in 2012 and a new film adaptation is currently available on amazon prime video. I plan to watch it this weekend.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Catching Up: Hurricane Ian Update


Pre-Ian view from my front porch

Hello friends, I've missed you. This blog went silent in October as my attention focused on Hurricane Ian recovery. We drove to Sanibel to assess the situation, check on the remediation work, and begin to clean-up/rebuild. Let me say up front that we were lucky and I am very thankful.

It was truly surreal and disorienting to be on the island. The devastation is overwhelming. It was often hard to figure out where we were - landmarks, street signs, and most mailboxes are gone. The houses I knew so well and walked by daily are often unrecognizable. We even hesitated pulling in to our own driveway! 

Our lower level (along with my husband's beloved convertible) was destroyed and we lost siding on one side of the house. Damage to the upper level, our main living area, was nowhere near as severe and was primarily due to the failure of one of our front doors.

We cleaned up as much as we could before returning to Connecticut. By the time we left Florida, our power and water had been restored. We're still waiting for internet. 

Thanksgiving in CT was unusual - for the first time ever, we went out for dinner! After hosting "the feast" for decades, this was a HUGE change and I'm still not quite sure how I feel about it.

This past weekend we were in central New York celebrating my father's birthday. We're planning to spend a few days in NYC before Christmas, too... plus another visit with my parents before returning to Sanibel in January. 

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to carve out a little time for books.

My next post will be a fall reading update, then I'll have the usual end-of-year posts. I'm hoping to return to a regular blogging routine by the end of January. Fingers crossed our internet is back by then. Thank you for all the comments, emails, and DMs as we began our recovery journey... it's meant a lot!

Post-Ian view from my front porch

Sunday, October 16, 2022

Ian Recovery and a Blogging Break

Sanibel Lighthouse, pre-Ian
 photo from

Sanibel Lighthouse, post-Ian
image from

Hello, friends. I'm here with another update before taking a blogging break. As you all know, the devastation on Sanibel Island following Hurricane Ian is staggering. Our beloved lighthouse, easily the island's most recognizable landmark, gives you an idea of the current situation.

Initial photos from our home are shocking, but I still believe we have been relatively lucky. Our main living area on the second level sustained only minor damage as far as I can tell. The ground level, where the water line was 55",  is completely destroyed. We lost an exterior wall of the garage and some interior walls are gone, too. 

A remediation crew is on the scene. We'll begin the drive down soon. 
I'll check in again when I can...


Sunday, October 2, 2022

We are okay. Sanibel is not...

Hello, friends. I'm popping in with a quick update to let you know we are safe, though far from our Sanibel home. You have undoubtedly seen the devastating images of our island and the collapsed causeway.

Satellite images from NOAA show our house standing with an intact roof. I am so thankful... and amazed. Our house and neighborhood are also pictured in this Wall Street Journal article

Search and rescue continues, and remains the top priority. One couple from our neighborhood was airlifted off the island yesterday. We anxiously await word from others. 

Eventually we will be allowed in to assess water damage, remove important possessions, and begin mold remediation/repairs.

Finally, I want to thank my online friends for checking in over the last few days... it's meant a lot to me.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

The Sunday Salon: Fall is Here!


Hello again from central New York. We drove back yesterday for today's birthday celebrations. Both my mother and nephew had birthdays this past week. Tomorrow we'll go with Mom to her doctor's appointment, then head home on Tuesday. The photo above was taken on the first day of fall at our town beach in Connecticut... low tide and a brisk, chilly wind!

Meanwhile, it looks like Ian will hit somewhere along Florida's gulf coast. We're keeping a very close eye on the weather reports and I'm thinking of all my Florida friends as you prepare...

Recent Reading//

I finished two books this week, both were read/listen combinations.

by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, narrated by Lauren J. Daggett

Set in 1970s Alabama, This book is about a young, idealistic black nurse, Civil Townsend, who takes a job at a family planning clinic in Montgomery. Among her first patients are two young black sisters aged 11 and 13. Civil is shocked to learn she is responsible for administering birth control shots to the girls. When she stops, something even worse occurs and Civil finds herself involved in a lawsuit against the government.  Based on a true story, this book broke my heart.

by Elizabeth Strout, narrated by Kimberly Farr

Lucy Barton is back. In this novel, Lucy and her ex-husband William flee NYC at the beginning of the pandemic for a house on a cliff by the ocean in Maine. I loved everything about this book and did not want it to end! 

I borrowed both the ebook and audiobook from the library and, once again, Kimberly Farr's narration was excellent. After finishing, I went out and purchased a copy to keep on my shelf... along with a hardcover edition of Oh William!  Lucy by the Sea  may just be my favorite book so far this year.

Up next//

I'm not sure. Shall I start Hamet by Maggie O'Farrell for an October book group, George by Alex Gino which was banned by our Florida county school board, or The Trees by Percival Everett which just arrived from the library and is on the Booker shortlist? Decisions, decisions...

The week ahead//

We'll head back to Connecticut on Tuesday. Our oldest daughter and her fiancĂ© (they got engaged in Napa last weekend!) will  arrive on Thursday for a long weekend. Of course we'll also be keeping an eye on Ian. Stay safe, friends!

How was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Sunday, September 18, 2022

The Sunday Salon: September 18, 2022

Hello from upstate New York! We've been here with my parents for the past week and tomorrow we'll drive back to Connecticut. It's been fun seeing family and playing tourist in our former hometown. Especially enjoyable was a chilly midweek dinner by "our" old lake. Fall is definitely in the air! 

I haven't had much time to read, but did listen to a couple of audiobooks.


by Steven Rowley, narrated by the author

I'm so glad I chose to listen to this book! The author's fabulous narration added to the overall experience. While much of the novel is light and humorous, it also deals with serious issues, especially loss and grieving. I was happy to learn a film adaptation is already in the works and am tempted to check out the author's earlier novels, Lily and the Octopus  and The Editor. Have you read them?

by Claire Keegan, narrated by Aiden Kelly

Short-listed for the Booker Prize, this beautifully written novella (just under 2 hours on audio) left me wanting more - of everything. It was wonderful as far as it went, but I felt it ended far too abruptly. I'm definitely in the minority as most readers loved the book. Maybe it might have been more satisfying in print..


by Dolen Perkins-Valdez, narrated by Lauren J. Daggett

I'm really enjoying this as a read/listen combination and hope to finish today or tomorrow... such a troubling, compelling story based on actual events. I'll have more to say next week.


Lucy by the Sea by Elizabeth Strout

I'm at the top of the library hold list and expect to receive this book when it's released on Tuesday. Elizabeth Strout is one of my favorite authors, so I can't wait!

On the blog//

The week ahead//

It's going to be busy. Besides general catching up when we get home tomorrow, a few appointments are scheduled later in the week, and then we turn around and drive back to NY next weekend. My mother's birthday was yesterday and we had a small celebration, but her "official" birthday party with a larger family gathering is scheduled for next weekend. 

How was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Review Catch-up: Fellowship Point by Anne Elliott Dark and The Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

Fellowship Point by Anne Elliott Dark
Scribner, 2022
592 pages
source: library ebook

Fellowship Point is a novel primarily about one life-long female friendship. It's also a multi-generational family tale set mostly in rural Maine, where the natural surroundings play an important role. One of the main characters is an author and her literary storyline added further to the novel's appeal.

This book grew on me as I turned the pages. The leisurely pace allowed a gradual reveal of personalities, backgrounds, and relationships. Characters seemed to grow richer with each added detail. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the writing and my reading experience... until somewhere around 400 pages when the pace began to feel more plodding than leisurely. At that point, I became impatient and wished the author would move more quickly toward a resolution. 

Despite the length and slow pacing, I still recommend this book. Read it when you have plenty of time to really sink into a novel and relax with it.

by Sy Montgomery, narrated by the author
Atria Books, paperback 2016 - 261 pages
HighBridge Audio, 2015 - 9 hours and 10 minutes
source: purchased paperback, hoopla audio

Who knew octopuses were so intelligent? I certainly didn't until I read Remarkably Bright Creatures  by Shelby Van Pelt. That novel piqued my curiosity... I needed to learn more about these amazing animals right away.

Montgomery's book was the perfect choice. Her journalistic style coupled with the interesting subject matter kept me turning the pages. She set out to learn more about octopuses at the New England Aquarium in Boston. She regularly spent time with octopus keepers and staff, and interacted directly with several octopuses over the years. Eventually she learned to scuba dive so she could interact with octopuses in the wild. Fascinating stuff!

There were two facts I found especially surprising. First, octopuses seem to have distinct personalities. For example, one may be playful and engaging, while another could be on the shy side. I also learned that octopuses require regular activities/ mental stimulation to prevent boredom. Evidently a bored octopus tends to become a destructive octopus!

Next up for me is a trip to a nearby aquarium.  I'm also hoping we can visit the New England Aquarium in  Boston before heading back to Florida!

This was a read/listen combination for me. I enjoyed the author's narration, but was glad I had a print copy to view the color photos. It's well worth the read in either format. 

Sunday, September 4, 2022

August Wrap-up and September Reading Possibilities

Hello, friends. How is your Labor Day weekend going? We're enjoying the long weekend with a visit from Twin A and her boyfriend... trying to savor every last moment of summer! August seemed like a long month to me. It was the hottest August on record in CT and probably close to the driest, too. We visited my parents a couple of times, spent a long weekend in northern NY/Vermont for my FIL's memorial, and completed a couple of small projects at home. 

August was a good reading month, too. I finished four books, with two more completed this weekend. (Those will be on my September list.)

Books Read in August//

September Reading Possibilities//

There are also a few library holds which may come in and you never know when a book from my shelves will call out. So many books...

How was your August reading? What was your favorite book?


Related Posts with Thumbnails