Tuesday, June 27, 2023

An Overdue Review: NINE BLACK ROBES by Joan Biskupic

by Joan Biskupic
William Morrow, 2023
416 pages

Audio edition narrated by Kristen Potter
Harper Audio, 2023
13 hours and 11 minutes

This is an excellent book! Joan Biskupic has presented us with a well-researched, comprehensive, and objective look at the Supreme Court from the period following Antonin Scalia's death in February 2016 (when the senate chose not to take up Barak Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland because it was too close to a presidential election), to the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in September 2020 and the confirmation of her replacement just days before a presidential election, and through last year's Supreme Court term. 

Regular readers of this blog know I'm a Supreme Court junkie. I've read several biographies (including two by Biskupic) of different justices, as well as a few other books about the court in general. This book has a broad focus as Biskupic chronicles both the work of the Court and events surrounding the Court. 

Events surrounding the Court include death and retirement of justices, selection and vetting of new candidates, the confirmation process, the Covid pandemic, the working relationship between justices, and more. 

The work of the Court delves into specific cases. Biskupic provides relevant background information, including the path cases take prior to appearing on the Court's docket. She covers oral arguments, behind the scenes negotiations ahead of rulings, Court decisions with vote counts, and significant quotes from judgements and dissents. 

There is a lot of information here to absorb and digest. I found that a read/listen combination worked best for me as I read the book slowly, over a longer period of time. 

Most of the information in this book is not new. It has been extensively presented over the years - in books, newspapers, magazines, online news sources, as well as podcasts and on television. Sometimes though, unless you're paying very close attention, it can be hard to wade through the content, put it all in context, and see trends as they develop. Reading through this history, thoroughly and logically presented in one book, was eye-opening.

This is an important book. It may require some patience and dedication to get through, especially if you are unfamiliar with the specific cases discussed, but I found it to be an interesting and extremely worthwhile read. Very highly recommended.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

The First Sunday Salon of Summer: June 25, 2023

Hello, friends. Summer is officially here and all the planned activities, not to mention summer reading, have kicked into high gear. It's been a full month and, sadly, the blog has been neglected for a few weeks. Today's post is mostly a quick catch-up. 

At the beginning of the month we spent a week with my parents in central New York. It was so good to be with them and spend time with my siblings, niece and nephews. We also got to see our daughter, her fiancé, and the grandpup... they drove up from NYC for the weekend. 

Back in CT we have been exploring different parts of the state (the photo above is in Mystic) and enjoying our own town, too - concerts on the green, dinner with friends, and walks along the coast.

As for reading...

Did I mention that I joined Anne Bogel's  Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club (MMD) last month? It's something I've considered for a while, but took the plunge so I could get Anne's annual Summer Reading Guide. So far, the club has had a positive impact on my overall quality and satisfaction from reading.  I've gotten some great book recommendations (as if I don't already get plenty from all of you!), have participated in live events and author chats, and am currently involved in a small group read of  Lonesome Dove.

Recent reading//

No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister
narrated by a full cast

I can't resist books about books and this one was a solid listening experience. It's basically a collection of stories linked by each character's involvement/experience with a single book. I gave it 4 stars and plan to post a more complete review soon.

by Jake Bittle

We've all familiar with climate change, but this book brings us to ground zero - hurricanes in the Florida Keys, wildfires in California, floods in Houston, water shortages in Arizona, rising sea levels in Norfolk, VA, and more. It provides plenty of background information, along with first hand accounts from residents of each area. There is already a surprising number of "climate change refugees" in the US. This book makes for compelling and sobering reading... 5 stars, for sure. I'll have more to say in a review.

Current reading//

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

I've been wanting to read this book for years, maybe even decades. Last summer I finally bought a copy and this summer made it my reading project. As luck would have it, Lonesome Dove  was also chosen as a Community Pick at MMD, so I'm now reading with a small group. We're on week four and I've made it to page 365... of nearly 900. Westerns are not generally my thing and this took a good hundred pages to pull me in, but now I'm loving it! The audio version (36 hours) is available on hoopla, so I've made this a read/listen combination.

The Postcard by Anne Berest

This is one of the July selections at MMD book club. I have the hardcover on my shelf, but found the audio available on hoopla and started listening on my walk this morning. There are a lot of very positive reviews out there, but it's too soon for me to share even first impressions. 

The week ahead//

We are gearing up for the 4th of July. Our daughter, her fiancé, and puppy will be here later in the week and will stay through the holiday. Catching up on book reviews and blog posts is also high on my list...

How have you been lately? What are you 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, June 4, 2023

May Reading Wrap-Up and Summer Begins!

Hello, friends... summer is here! After a week of sunshine and warm temperatures, it turned cloudy, windy, and (by Florida standards) positively frigid in CT this weekend. It was 55 degrees when I took this photo after dinner Saturday night and, with a strong breeze, it felt much colder! Fingers crossed it warms up again this week.

May reading wrap-up//

I finished a grand total of two books last month. A record low, I think. But as hurricane repair continued on our FL home, we were getting packed and organized for our trip north... and then there was the trip itself. At least both books were 5-star reads.

I started the month with nonfiction. Nine Black Robes was excellent and I still plan to write a brief review. Somehow May got away from me...

Next I tried a couple of novels, but set them both aside. A new book by an author I generally enjoy just didn't grab me. After nearly 40% of Künstlers in Paradise by Cathleen Schine, I didn't really care what happened to the characters, so gave up. Then my library hold of Happy Place by Emily Henry, a highly anticipated new release, arrived. That took only a chapter or two to decide it was too light for my current mood.

The dreaded reading slump was descending... and I turned to Jane Austen. Jane's novels never let me down and it was high time for another reread of Pride and Prejudice anyway. Slump averted!

Current reading//

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Last week I started a book that's been on my TBR (to be read) list for literally decades. I'm reading the nearly 1000 page tome over the next eight weeks or so with a small group from the Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club. After our first week's "assignment" of about 100 pages, I've already developed a soft spot for these characters and look forward to reading more.

Current Listening//

No Two Persons by Erica Bauermeister
narrated by a full cast

After six months with an injured knee, I've finally resumed my daily walks with an audiobook. Those walks are shorter and a little slower, but they are happening and I couldn't be happier! My first selection is a book Tina raved about earlier in the spring.

I've enjoyed a few of Bauermeister's earlier books and was further tempted by this description:
One book. Nine readers. Ten changed lives. New York Times bestselling author Erica Bauermeister’s No Two Persons is “a gloriously original celebration of fiction, and the ways it deepens our lives.”
When I discovered the audio was a multi-narrator production, I decided to go that route. At the halfway mark, I am thoroughly enjoying it!

In the kitchen//

I tried a new recipe last week for Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas from BudgetBytes. They're simple to make and taste delicious. Add any toppings or accompaniments you like... we just served them with a side salad. We love fajitas and this would probably work just as well with shrimp, steak, or even tofu.

Blueberries were on sale last week, so I pulled out the recipe for Easy Puff Pastry Blueberry Galette from Simply Delicious. I made this multiple times last summer with all sorts of fruit variations. A tasty treat!

The week ahead//

We've been working on the flower beds here and have at least one more trip to the garden store this week. A rose bush didn't make it through the winter and needs to be replaced, and I'd really like to add some peonies on the sunny side of the house.

Later in the week, we'll drive to central NY to see my parents. One of our NYC daughters, along with her fiancé and the grandpup will join us, too!

How was your week? What have you been reading lately?

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


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