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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Weekend Cooking- Sometimes It's The Simple Things

This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food.

Sometimes I dread thinking about what to make for dinner, especially when I know I have to work and won't be home until after 6:30pm. I could get something at the grocery store the day before that's a 30 minute recipe, but then I have to rush home, have no down time, and get right down to cooking.

Or I could turn to my InstaPot, figuring that I will throw something in the slow cooker, turn it on and head out to work. That still requires a grcoery store run the day before, but at least when I get home from work I have the main entree part done. Then it's just figure out a side, vegetable and salad, and it's done.

A few weeks ago, I decided to go the slow cooker route and pulled out a cookbook I haven't yet used- Phyllis Good's Stock the Crock- 100 Must-Have Slow-Cooker Recipes, 200 Variations for Every Appetite. I picked it up at the Book Expo a few years ago, but never used a recipe from it.

Not being in any mood for something with mulitple steps, I found a Basic Chicken and Salsa recipe by Sara P. The book is filled with recipes from "a community of cooks". Well, OK, Sara P., let's see if this works.

You need 2- 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken thighs and a 16 jar of salsa. I happened to have jar of Frontera salsa sitting in my cupboard, so that was easy. Spray your slower cooker with nonstick cooking spray, put the thighs in and top with the salsa. Cook on low for 4 to 4 1/2 hours, then shred the chicken in the salsa and put over rice. That is it.

I had my doubts- it seemed too easy. I was fully prepared to order out that night if this didn't work.
Boy, was I surprised. I came home to a wonderful smell, and my son's girlfriend had kindly shredded the chicken before I got home, so I didn't even have to do that!

It. Was. Delicious. My husband and I loved it, the chicken was so tender and the salsa was flavorful. (Using thighs instead of boneless breast is key.) When my son and his girlfriend came home much later, they had some of the leftovers and asked for the recipe. My husband even took some for lunch the next day

They do suggest some variations to spice it up- add a drained can of black beans and one cup of fresh corn before pouring the salsa over the chicken in the slow cooker. You can also top the chicken with cheese, avocado slices, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion and bell peppers.

Sometimes it's the simple things.

Friday, June 28, 2019

The Friday 5ive- June 28, 2019 edition

Welcome to the Friday 5ive, where I share five things that caught my attention.

It's been a busy week, with lots of family celebrations- my older son JD turned 31 on June 25th, my mom's birthday was June 27th, and we had a belated anniversary celebration for my husband's parents at their home in upstate New York.

1) My father-in-law took this photo of the Hudson River from the deck of their home. It's so gorgeous, I had to share it with all of you.
The cake from the Cake Box was delicious

2) On Wednesday I attended the White Mass at St. Patrick's Cathedral. Cardinal Dolan celebrated a mass honoring health care workers, and it was so wonderful to see a full house of people gathered together to celebrate and honor the important work they do. The procession down the aisle was accompanied by a group of people carrying colorful umbrellas. Cardinal Dolan joked that when he saw the umbrellas he was concerned that the roof of the cathedral was leaking and everyone laughed.
The umbrella procession

Cardinal Dolan greets the congregation

3) My sign of the week stopped me in my tracks and I laughed out loud. The staff at Olive and Bette's are so clever. And it is hot here.

4) I noticed a new feature on my Echo Show. Alexa asked me if I wanted to use my own photos as background on the Echo Show. I tried it and ever since then, random old photos have popped up. I don't even recognize some of them, and many of them I haven't seen in years. I'm still not sure where they came from. One of them is this photo of The Handmaid's Tale star Elisabeth Moss coming out of her set trailer on the Upper East Side. It was at least nine years ago, and I think she may have been on a location shoot for Mad Men or maybe a movie. We chatted for a few minutes, I told her how much my son and I enjoyed her work on West Wing, and she let me take her photo.
Elisabeth Moss 

5) I started and finished Laura Lippman's upcoming mystery Lady in the Lake, the story of  Madeline, a housewife in 1965 Baltimore who decides that she wants her independence. She leaves her husband, gets a job at a local newspaper, and finds herself involved in the disappearance of a young black woman, trying to find answers that no one wants her to discover. Lippman submerses the reader in Madeline's life and what it's like to work at a newspaper in 1965, and it is a fantastic read. Look for this one in July.
I also started Evvie Drake Starts Over, written by NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour host Linda Holmes. It's also about a woman looking for a new life. Evvie is packed and ready to leave her husband when he is killed in a car accident. She doesn't know what to do next when she takes in a tenant, a former New York Yankee pitcher who has lost his mojo. It is so charming and I can't wait to see what happens. If you like baseball and romance, this one is for you.

I hope you find a way to beat this heat- have a great week.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

June Books From Book Expo

I spent some time organizing my books from the Book Expo, and this year I organized them by the month they publish. It's going to make it so much easier to read the books as they publish so I can keep current with my reviews.

The June books  are all about family, and I've read three of them so far.

Mary Beth Keane's third novel, Ask Again, Yes is one of my favorite books of the year. Keane writes so beautifully in her story of two Irish families who live next door to each other. A tragedy tears them apart and years later it still reverberates through the families. My full review is here, but suffice to say, you must read this book.

Jean Kwok's book Searching for Sylvie Lee is also a family drama and wonderfully written as well. Sylvie Lee leaves her home in NYC to go to the Netherlands to visit her dying grandmother. When she disappears, her younger sister Amy goes to the Netherlands to find out what happened. Family secrets are revealed, and the story is told from Sylvie, Amy, and their Chinese immigrant mother's point of view. Jenna Bush Hager chose it as her Today Show June Book Club pick, and Jean will be on Today with Hoda and Jenna on Friday, June 28th.

Jennifer Weiner's Mrs. Everything tells the story of two sisters' lives, from their childhood in the 1950s through the current day. It's really the story of women in America through those years and it's her best book yet, I just inhaled it. It debuted at number two on the NY Times bestseller list last week.

I'm starting Elin Hilderbrand's Summer of '69, which I have heard great things about. It's her first novel set in a different time period and it's about the Levin family and what happens to them during that historic year.  She signed books at the Book Expo, and gave out Corona beers. I wish I liked beer, it looked refreshing.

Grant Ginder's Honestly, We Meant Well is a family story about a Classics professor who finds that her perfect husband is cheating on her and her college-bound son's life is a mess. She takes them to Greece for a month to fix things and it sounds like a good summer read, funny and heartfelt.

Claire Lombardo's novel, The Most Fun We Ever Had follows Marilyn and David and their four adult daughters. One of the daughters gave birth to a son and gave him up for a closed adoption fifteen years ago, but he reappears in their life. Lombardo is being compared to Celeste Ng and Elizabeth Strout, high praise indeed.

Eloisa James' fourth novel in her Wildes of Lindow Castle series is Say No to the Duke, and it continues the story of the Wilde family, with this story focusing on young Lady Betsy Wilde who loses a billiards game and bet to Lord James Roden and now must spend the night with him. I really enjoyed the first three books in the series, the first historical romances I have read in a long time, and I'm looking forward to this one as well.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Friday 5ive- June 21, 2019 edition

Welcome to the Friday 5ive, a bog post about five things that caught my attention this week.

1) On Sunday, Father's Day, my husband wanted to go to the Mercado Little Spain a market located in the new Hudson Yards on the west side. The market is the Spanish version of Eataly, filled with small areas  and restaurants where you can get produce, fruit, meats, cheeses, churros, tapas, paella and delicious sangria. The big tourist attraction is the Vessel, a giant public sculpture that has 154 interconnecting flights of stairs where you have a beautiful view when you get to the top. I'll have a blog post about our visit to the market soon.
The Vessel

2) On Thursday I went to Book Culture, a lovely little book store on the Upper West Side to listen to Lisa Grunwald talk about her fabulous new book, Time After Time with author Betsy Carter. I absolutely loved Time After Time and the conversation was so fascinating. Carter and Grunwald are journalists as well as authors so they both knew their way around an interview. I'll have a post about the evening soon. I'm afraid I fangirled a bit when I met Lisa and I almost left without my books! Her daughter Elizabeth offered to take a photo of us. Seriously, read this book, it's one of the best ones I have read this year. My review is here.
Me and Lisa Grunwald

3) As I came out of my post office today I saw a Postal Police car outside. I'd heard of the postal police, but had never actually seen them until today. They're probably going to arrest all the people who continue to put their UPS and FedEx return packages in the USPS drop box. Apparently it's a serious problem. Book 'em Dano.

4) I started season three of The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu this week. I just finished episode three, Mary and Martha, which was a brilliant episode. Watching Bradley Whitford and Elisabeth Moss in their scenes together is just a master class in acting. As a huge West Wing fan, I enjoy seeing Josh Lyman and Zoe Bartlett spar. And no one can act better with just her face than Moss. Check out the last shot of the episode in the photo below. Better watch out Gilead.

Elisabeth Moss as June

5) I read Susan Page's biography of Barbara Bush, The Matriarch, this week. Page was able to interview Barbara Bush five times before she passed away, and the book is filled with insight into a woman that we may think we know because she had been in the public eye for so long, but there are surprises here. I found it illuminating, and Page's access to Mrs. Bush's journal entries was invaluable. I especially enjoyed her grandchildren's take on the strong woman they called Ganny. Her rules for visiting the family home in Kennebunkport had me shaking my head and saying, "Yes, you tell them Ganny!" The Matriarch is a must-read for American history and biography readers.

I hope you had a good week and happy summer!

Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney

The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney
Published by Park Row Books ISBN 9780778308584
Trade paperback, $15.99, 368 pages

Dan Mooney's poignant novel The Great Unexpected opens with Joel Monroe talking to his comatose roommate Mr. Miller in their shared room at the Hilltop Nursing Home. His previous roommate was his beloved wife Lucey, and Joel has been desperately unhappy since her passing a year ago.

The nurses at the home are kind, including Liam and Angelica, and his fellow residents, especially Una, a dear friend of Lucey's, do their best to try and bring him out of his depression. His daughter Eva, and grandchildren Lily and Chris come to visit, but he feels little connection to them.

When Mr. Miller passes away, Joel dreads getting a new roommate. He is further upset when the new roommate is Frank de Selby, a vivacious former actor, whose attitude about life couldn't be further apart from Joel's.

When Joel tells Frank about his plan to commit suicide, Frank informs him that it must be a grand gesture, something that everyone will remember. Frank offers to put his playwriting skills to use coming up with the perfect plan.

In the meantime, Frank and Joel plot to escape from Hilltop to go into town and have a pint at the pub. Joel is not allowed to leave Hilltop as his daughter fears he will have another small stroke, as he had done before. Their continued escapes causes great turmoil at Hilltop, leading to trouble for Joel.

Frank and Joel become good friends, sharing stories about how their fathers beat them, Frank's acting career and struggles to reveal his homosexuality in a time when it wasn't accepted by society, and Joel's regrets about not being the kind of father to Eva that he could have been.

Watching their friendship blossom was such a joy. Frank encourages Joel to open up and they become quite the pair. Frank is the only friend Joel has ever had, and since Frank's family disowned him, Joel is his best friend. They do have their moments of disagreement, and Joel can say mean things to Frank and others, including his daughter, that are shocking. There aren't many books that feature male friendships, and that makes The Great Unexpected a rare treat in the genre.

The Great Unexpected is such a lovely story, poignant and heartwarming. The characters, particularly Joel and Frank, are so well-drawn, and Una as their secret accomplice is touching. There are a few laughs and plenty of tears to go around, and this book brings to the forefront the radical idea that older people want to have autonomy over their daily life, just as we all do, no matter where they live.

I highly recommend The Great Unexpected, and I can truly say that I found it unexpectedly wonderful.

Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Dan Mooney's tour. The rest of his stops are here:

Instagram tour:

Monday, June 17th: @nerdybooknurse
Tuesday, June 18th: @shereadswithcats
Wednesday, June 19th: @ohthebooksshewillread
Thursday, June 20th: @sweethoneyandbrei
Friday, June 21st: @crystals_library
Saturday, June 22nd: @downtogetthefictionon
Sunday, June 23rd: @hollyslittlebookreviews

Review tour:

Monday, June 17th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, June 18th: BookNAround
Wednesday, June 19th: A Lovely Bookshelf on the Wall
Thursday, June 20th: Bookchickdi
Monday, June 24th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Tuesday, June 25th: @thriftybibliophile
Wednesday, June 26th: Cheryl’s Book Nook
Thursday, June 27th: @saturday_nite_reader
Friday, June 28th: A Chick Who Reads
Tuesday, July 2nd: Lori’s Reading Corner – spotlight
Wednesday, July 3rd: Books and Cats and Coffee
Friday, July 5th: The Book Return Blog
Monday, July 8th: Book by Book
Tuesday, July 9th: Openly Bookish
Wednesday, July 10th: @one_more_paige
Friday, July 12th: Seaside Book Nook
Monday, July 15th: Asha Reads and @ashareads
Tuesday, July 16th: Real Life Reading
Wednesday, July 17th: Jathan & Heather
Thursday, July 18th: @theunreadshelf
Friday, July 19th: Eliot’s Eats

The Summer Country by Lauren Willig

The Summer Country by Lauren Willig
Published by William Morrow ISBN 9780062839022
Hardcover, $26.99, 464 pages
Historical fiction author Lauren Willig usually writes books set in England. While on vacation in the Caribbean, she visited a museum and heard a story about a plantation fire that killed the Portuguese ward of the owner. The child was neither his ward, nor Portuguese, but was his daughter by an enslaved woman. Willig wanted to know what happened to the mother. Did she live there too? Was she able to claim and care for her child? Did she die in the fire as well?

She turned this story into her latest book, The Summer Country, a book she lovingly refers to as 'the Barbados book.' Set in two time periods, 1812 and in 1854, where we meet Emily, a young vicar's daughter who travels from her home in England to Barbados, where she finds that she has inherited a sugar plantation from her grandfather. No one even knew he had a sugar plantation.

Emily finds the plantation is burned down and in terrible ruins, and she is discouraged. The family that owns the plantation next door wants to buy the plantation from her, and although they seem to be very welcoming to her and her brother, when she hesitates to sell they turn unfriendly.

Arriving in Bridgetown, Emily and her brother Adam meet Nathaniel, a black doctor who lives with his white aunt and uncle. Nathaniel invites Emily to visit the British Royal Infirmary where he works, and she is intrigued.

Emily and Nathaniel are attracted to each other, and when a cholera epidemic hits the island, Emily pitches in to help, much to the consternation of her brother. The cholera epidemic actually happened at that time, and it plays a role in the story.

In 1812, we find out more about the plantations and the mystery of how Emily's grandfather's plantation came to become abandoned and burned down. (This is where the Portuguese ward comes into play.)

Willig's research is so impeccably detailed, you feel like you have been dropped right into 19th century Barbados. You can feel the heat, smell the flowers, and taste the food. My husband and I have spent time in Barbados, and the history of the island is so prominent, more so than any other Caribbean island. The British influence is still very visible, and Willig brings the history of the island to the forefront of her incredible story. (Lauren Willig has a book club reading guide on her website and it's filled with insight on the writing of The Summer Country. It's fascinating, and you can find it here.)

You'll find yourself lost in The Summer Country, and I enjoyed seeing how Emily took charge and asserted herself, even over the objections of her brother and the times she lived in. You're torn between racing through the story to find out what happened at the burned-out plantation and wanting to savor the atmospheric details and remarkable writing. The epilogue is the perfect ending to a magnificent book. Historical fiction fans should put The Summer Country on their summer reading list. I highly recommend it.
Lauren Willig at Barnes & Noble

Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Lauren Willig's tour. The rest of her stops are here:

Instagram Features

Thursday, June 6th: Instagram: @tarheelreader
Saturday, June 8th: Instagram: @theunreadshelf
Sunday, June 9th: Instagram: @giuliland
Monday, June 10th: Instagram: @writersdream
Monday, June 10th: Instagram: @somekindofalibrary

Review Stops

Wednesday, June 5th: BookNAround
Thursday, June 6th: A Chick Who Reads
Friday, June 7th: Reading Reality
Monday, June 10th: Broken Teepee
Wednesday, June 12th: Iwriteinbooks’s blog
Thursday, June 13th: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Monday, June 17th: Read Like a Mother
Tuesday, June 18th: Into the Hall of Books
Thursday, June 20th: bookchickdi
Friday, June 21st: Always With a Book
Wednesday, June 26th: Laura’s Reviews
TBD: Tuesday, June 4th: Instagram: @readingmama_reviews

Friday, June 14, 2019

The Friday 5ive- June 14th Edition

Welcome to the Friday 5ive, a weekly recounting of things that caught my attention.

1) On my visit to the annual Book Expo, I found many treasures. I spent some time organizing my books and in keeping with the theme of Friday 5ive, I chose five books that I want to read first from the Expo.

  • Angie Kim's debut novel Miracle Creek has been on many best of the summer lists, it's billed as a "literary courtroom thriller about an immigrant family and a young single mother accused of killing her autistic son." One of my favorites, Laura Lippman, blurbed it so I know I'll like it.
  • Julie Satow's The Plaza is the history of NYC's iconic Plaza Hotel. I saw her on The Today Show this week with Jenna Bush Hager. We enjoy the Plaza's food hall, and I'm intrigued by the backstory of the hotel.
  • Jeanine Cummins' novel American Dirt was the book everyone was talking about at the Book Expo. It's a story about a Mexican mother and her young son fleeing a drug cartel to make it to America. It's timely and Stephen King called it "an extraordinary piece of work". It publishes in January.
  • I love everything Ann Patchett, from her brilliant novels to her essay collection to her marvelous Nashville bookstore, Parnassus, so it's a no-brainer that I will devour her newest novel The Dutch House, about a family and their house outside Philadelphia.
  • Cara Wall's novel The Dearly Beloved tells the story of two pastors and their families in New York City. Enough said.
2) The Tony Awards were on Sunday night, and as you know, I'm a big Broadway fan. It's the one award show that is actually entertaining, where you get to see live performances from some of the most talented people working in the industry. The opening number with host James Corden and performers from the nominated shows was amazing. After seeing the performances, I put Choir Boy and winner for Best Musical Hadestown  on my list of must-sees. Oklahoma's performance was fabulous too, and I'm glad Ali Stroker won for her performance as Ado Annie- she is a knockout! 

3) On Tuesday evening I dodged the rain to go to Barnes & Noble on the Upper East Side to hear Lauren Willig talk about her fabulous new historical novel The Summer Country with author and PopSugar book columnist Brenda Janowitz. The book is terrific, set in 1816 and 1854 Barbados, and Willig drops the reader right into the setting; you'll feel like you are there as you read it. It was an interesting discussion, Willig is so smart and so funny. I'll review her book on June 20th. (Spoiler alert- I loved it!)
Lauren Willig and me at Barnes & Noble

4) There are so many interesting sights in NYC, and this one in front of Mel's Burgers on First Ave. made me laugh.

5) In this week's reading, I finished Susan Lewis' One Minute Later, about a young woman who has everything going for her and then finds out she needs a heart transplant. It's a love story with a mystery inside, and you learn about the importance of organ donation. It's a powerful story. I'm just starting Laura Lippman's The Lady in the Lake, a mystery set in 1960s Baltimore about a middle-aged housewife who leaves her husband, goes to work at a newspaper, and tries to discover who murdered a young woman. Lippman's books are always page-turners.
Lady in the Lake

I hope you had a good week and Happy Father's Day to all the terrific dads out there!

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Published by Scribner ISBN 9781982106980
Hardcover, $27, 390 pages
I read Mary Beth Keane's first novel The Walking People about the Irish immigrants in New York City who spent their days digging the subway tunnels. Her second novel, Fever, recounted the story of the Irish immigrant who became known as Typhoid Mary and was quarantined on an island off of New York City, and it is an astonishing piece of literature.

So I was excited to hear that she has written a third novel, Ask Again, Yes, which is also about Irish immigrants. Two young Irish cops, Francis Gleeson and Brian Stanhope, join the police force at the same time in 1970s New York City. They also end up moving next door to each other in a commuter town in upstate New York and start their families.

Francis and his wife Lena have three daughters, the youngest one Kate the same age as Brian and his wife Anne's son Peter. Lena attempts to befriend Anne, but Anne keeps to herself and Lena has her hands full with her three girls. Francis prefers to keep his distance from his former partner Brian, but the reader doesn't know why.

Soon it becomes clear that Anne has mental health issues, and Brian seems ill-equipped to handle them. Peter and Kate become closer, but Peter hides his mother's outbursts from Kate. A terrible tragedy devastates both families, and Peter moves away.

Peter's life becomes very different, and he falls out of touch with Kate, but she is never off his mind. We see what happens as they grow into adults, and come to terms with their feelings for each other.

Keane's novels fill the reader with all kinds of emotions, and never more so than in Ask Again, Yes. You feel like these characters are so real, so full of humanity, and you care deeply for them. My favorite character is Peter's uncle George, who does his best to help his nephew navigate a new life, even though he himself is young and not a parent. I just fell in love with George. ( I got to meet Mary Beth Keane recently at the Book Expo and I told her how much I adored George and she said she loved him too.)
Mary Beth Keane at Book Expo

The characters face problems that befall many- mental health issues, alcoholism, serious illness- and they draw strength from their family relationships. They are not perfect, they stumble and fall, and one main character just had me so full of anger. Keane's writing is just exquisite.

I can't say enough good about Ask Again, Yes except to tell you that you must read this book. It is perhaps the best book I have read this year, and one of my coworkers and I spent a long time gushing over it recently.  You know a book is great when you spend time thinking about the various characters and wondering where they are now. Mary Beth Keane can't write books fast enough for me.

Mary Beth Keane will be at Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca today June 13th speaking about her book.

My review of Fever is here.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

One Minute Later by Susan Lewis

One Minute Later by Susan Lewis
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks ISBN 9780062906564
Trade paperback, $16.99, 480 pages

As I began to read Susan Lewis' novel, One Minute Later, I wasn't very excited. Another story about a young, beautiful, hugely successful lawyer who lives in a fabulous apartment in London.

But then 27 year-old Vivi is rushed to a hospital when she has some kind of medical episode during her birthday party with friends. Unbeknownst to her, Vivi has a serious congenital heart condition and needs a heart transplant.

Vivi moves back home to her mother's house in a small town in England. She and her mom have a strianed relationship; nothing Vivi's mom Gina says or does is right, and Gina criticizes Vivi. But now Vivi must rely on Gina and her best friends Michelle and Sam to care for her.

Things look very bleak for Vivi. She is weak, frequently bedridden, and the chances of her finding a heart for transplant are low. She becomes depressed.

Then she meets Josh, Sam's best friend and a local veternarian. Vivi knows she shouldn't get involved with Josh, it is unfair to both of them, but she enjoys his company and they begin to spend a lot of time together.

Vivi's story is interspersed with Shelley's story from 1985. Shelley and her husband Jack inherit a dilapidated farm, and with the help of family and friends, they bring the farm back to working order and begin to raise their three children there. They struggle financially, but are a loving family.

While reading, I was wondering how these two stories would intersect, and when you get the answer, it is a surprise. Lewis' leads the reader in one direction, and then she skillfully takes the story another way.

Author Lewis includes a real person in this emotionally powerful story,  Jim Lynskey, a young man in England who founded the Save9Lives campaign to get people to sign up to be organ donors. Lynskey himself needs a heart transplant and he befriends Vivi in this story.

In addition to being a love story with a mystery, One Minute Later educates the reader about the importance of organ donation and the reality of life while waiting for a transplant. She also brought to life the hard work it takes to make a living farming.

I'm always happy when a book surpasses my expectations, and Susan Lewis' One Minute Later certainly did that. I recommend it.

Thanks to TLC Tours for putting me on Susan Lewis' tour. The rest of her stops are here:

Instagram Features

Tuesday, June 11th: Instagram: @jennsbookvibes
Wednesday, June 12th: Instagram: @readingwithmere
Thursday, June 13th: Instagram: @reallyintothis
Friday, June 14th: Instagram: @crystals_library
Saturday, June 15th: Instagram: @writersdream
Sunday, June 16th: Instagram: @theoxfordcommamomma
Monday, June 17th: Instagram: @storiesandcoffee
Tuesday, June 18th: Instagram: @tarheelreader

Review Stops

Tuesday, June 11th: Bibliotica
Wednesday, June 12th: bookchickdi
Thursday, June 13th: Girl Who Reads
Friday, June 14th: Ms. Nose in a Book
Monday, June 17th: I Wish I Lived in a Library
Tuesday, June 18th: Booked J
Wednesday, June 19th: Literary Quicksand
Thursday, June 20th: Kahakai Kitchen
Monday, June 24th: Books and Bindings
Tuesday, June 25th: Brooke’s Books and Brews
Wednesday, June 26th: Into the Hall of Books
Thursday, June 27th: Comfy Reading

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald

Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald
Published by Random House ISBN 9780812993431
Hardcover, $27, 416 pages

People often ask me where I get my book recommendations. Frequently I get them from my bookish friends, other bloggers, and authors. So when two people whose taste I respect (including author Adriana Trigiani) told me I have to read Lisa Grunwald's Time After Time, I listen.

I'm not normally a fan of time travel/magical books, but this one sucked me right in. In 1925, a young woman named Nora was killed, along with many other people, in a horrific train crash at Grand Central Terminal in New York City.

In 1937, Joe, a railroad leverman man who works at Grand Central, finds Nora standing near the gold clock at the terminal, looking lost and out of place. He asks if he can help her, and there is a spark between them. She says she has to go home to Turtle Bay Gardens, and Joe goes back to work.

Exactly one year later, Joe sees Nora again at the terminal. He takes her to lunch at a coffee shop in the terminal and they get to know each other. Joe offers to walk her home, and after a young man accosts them and Joe scares him off, he turns to find that Nora has disappeared.

When Joe goes to the address that Nora gave him, a man living there says that Nora doesn't live there- she died thirteen years ago in the train crash. Joe is astonished and can't believe the story, but something about Nora is different and maybe this could explain it.

Joe can't get Nora out of his mind. He discovers that Nora shows up on the anniversary of the day of her death, which happens to be Manhattanhenge, a phenomenon when the sun lines up with the East/West streets so that you can see it from the East River to the Hudson River.

Every year on that day, he looks for Nora at the exact place he orginally found her. Now they need to find out what makes her disappear. While they figure that out, they fall in love as they explore all of Grand Central Terminal together.

Lucky for them, Grand Central Terminal has everything they need- food, clothing stores, and Nora even takes art lessons there. They try to have as normal a life as possible, even staying at the Biltmore Hotel there.

Watching them fall in love is lovely, and seeing Grand Central Terminal through their eyes is magical. It will be impossible now to go to Grand Central Terminal and not look for Nora and Joe, as well as stare at the window that seems to be Nora's porthole to life.

I can't recommend Time After Time highly enough. It is a love story to get lost in, and it feels like it is destined to be a classic, a book that you can return to again and again to reread.  Joe and Nora touched my heart deeply. Time After Time is the love story of the summer. Do yourself a favor and read this book.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Book Report: Summer Reading Recommendations

Memorial Day has come and gone, and now it’s time to get serious about our summer reading. Whether it’s at the beach or on the porch, you’re going to need to some good books to keep you occupied.
Elinor Lipman’s novel Good Riddance tells the story of a daughter who inherits her deceased mother’s effects, including a signed yearbook from Mom's days as a yearbook advisor. She tosses the yearbook out, and her neighbor rescues it and decides to made a documentary out it, which causes all kinds of trouble. You’ll be careful what you toss out after you read this. 
Good Riddance
Stay Up With Hugo Best by Erin Somers is about a young female writer for a late night talk show who ends up with an invitation to spend some time at the boss’ home after the show has been cancelled. It will put you in mind of David Letterman’s story, and it’s a cautionary tale. 
Stay Up With Hugo Best