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


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