I had a lot of time at the pool and beach daily for two months while on vacation this past winter in Mexico. The writer in me always likes to socialize and at the same time, observe. People-watching and information magnet, that’s me. I decided to look around and take notes on what genres and books people were reading while at the pool. I also noted that most readers were reading paperbacks, not on Ereaders. This is most likely a generational thing as the majority age group were fifty and over.
The Maid, by Nita Prose, seemed to be popular with a few women. And naturally. I was curious to see why so many were reading the same book, so I visited Amazon to have a look and was gobsmacked to see over 30K reviews! Most couples were reading thrillers and swapping books with other people after reading. I didn’t notice many books that weren’t written by popular trad published authors namely, Michael Connelly, Dean Koontz, Nora Roberts, Maeve Binchy and James Patterson. While there wasn’t too much nonfiction reading going on, I also noticed not nearly as many readers as in past years reading political books. Maybe everyone had had enough of doom and gloom and just preferred to stay with fantasy.
People: Scanning around the pool of average age 50 and up, but mainly 60s and 70s, these readers almost all, read paperbacks – thrillers. When I questioned a few if they prefer paper to ebook, most said they prefer holding physical books and paying for something tangible. Some with readers enjoyed reading on a step in the pool. And two people I discovered, read two of my books. I didn’t know them, but apparently, some other people previously had told them I was an author. I thought that was so cool because it wasn’t like I was pushing my books on anyone. In passing conversation, a few through the years asked if I worked. I told them I was a writer and author. They asked where they could look at my books, and, the rest was history!
What kind of books do you like to read while on vacation?
Earlier this week I posted my guest feature over at Valentina Cirasola’s blog about Spring Beauty and Books. Once the series was completed, Valentina kindly, made this beautiful short video, incorporating all the books from the authors she hosted. It’s a lovely video, and it was so nice to have my book be part of the video along with books by many of my writing friends. I’m reblogging Valentina’s ‘thank you post’ here, along with the video.
Note: Click on the Youtube link as the video will not show here.
Spring Beauty and Book Series has ended:
This Spring flew by, between winds of war, fake news, new diseases, corrupted politicians, investigations, and protests around the world to gain the lost freedom, we have arrived almost at Summer. What will it bring us? My hope is always that humanity will mend itself and be infused with so much love, compassion and empathy, as without these elements, life cannot be called life.
With the arrival of Spring, my goal was to instill beauty. Beauty multiplies as it is an entity that everyone wants and everyone recognizes for their wellbeing. I also wanted to spread kind thoughts. Who better than authors can do that? Authors are good with words, they know how to craft them to let the readers live a fantasy, see places and experience new emotions.
Please continue reading at Valentina’s blog and see a complete list of authors who were included in this series.
Author, Diana Peach has a fun writing challenge going on – Write a story about your TBR pile. Great topic as so many of us writers and readers make jokes about how fat our Kindles are. I’ve written a poem about my BFK – My big fat Kindle.
If you’d like to play, here’s how it works:
Deadline is January 23rd
Post the story or poem on your blog
Link back to this post or leave your link in the comments below
Keep it family friendly
I will reblog as many of the entries as I can through the end of the January
Please reply to comments when I reblog your story or poem
I’ll post a summary with links in early February
You may use the (attribution free) pixabay image above if you want to
And most of all, Have Fun!
MY BFK (My Big Fat Kindle)
Stories and more stories
We cannot get enough.
Amazing how many books,
Makes choosing one to read real tough.
No more books we chant
While adding just one more.
Adding different genres,
Excuse to add some more.
Promotional or free,
An author friend's new release,
My enthusiasm heightens,
A brand new read for me.
That's how fast it happens,
Before realizing the count.
What's one more book,
As the rising number mounts?
We are fooled by our Kindles,
At the lack of hefty weight.
Do we even know how many,
No matter because books are great.
So my Kindle and bookshelves,
Spill over with stories and words.
Yet another book is added,
My no more books plan is for the birds.
Though I know my Kindle
Is bursting at the seams,
I'll continue to hit the buy button,
To read more, fulfilling author's dreams.
My Sunday book review today is for Harmony Kent’s novella, Oh Baubles. A story about a young woman Charlene who had some terrible misfortune in her life and thought all chances of love were off the table, not realizing love was right under her nose.
After a tragic accident one Christmas, Charlene loses her husband and her leg.Scarred and damaged, the losses leave her lost and reeling, and a long recovery lies ahead of her.
When John, a hot young physiotherapist, comes into her life with his ripped abs and good-god good-looks, she can’t imagine he’d give somebody like her a second glance.
Then she falls for him.
Can Charlene overcome all obstacles to gain back her life and find true love once more?
Find out in this fun-filled, clean Christmas romance novella from award-winning author Harmony Kent.
My 5 Star Review:
Charlene has survived a car crash, and the collateral damage was she lost both her husband and her leg in the crash. And with all she’d been through with coping, and therapy, it didn’t leave her much of a self-esteem. Enter Dr. John her Adonis-like physiotherapist, and Charlene becomes attracted to him, at the same time she couldn’t even fathom that he would be interested in a mess like her.
The book continues on with the encounters between these two characters, sometimes so close, yet so far, as we learn there is a mutual attraction, yet mishaps, misinterpreted signs and setbacks seem to always get in the way of them getting together. The author does a great job of inviting us into all the thoughts these two characters have, and will keep us rooting throughout the roadblocks for them to finally get together.
More than just a romance story with some well developed characters and some insight as to what an amputee endures, both physically and mentally. A sweet holiday read you can enjoy in a two-hour sitting.
Welcome to my Sunday Book Review with an added bonus. Today I’m going to review Joan Didion’s book – The Year of Magical Thinking. But before I share my book review, I’m going to share an overview of the 2017 Documentary currently on Netflix – Joan Didion – The Center Will Not Hold, where 86 year old, literary icon, Joan, reflects on her intimate stories from her writing career and struggles, and her forty year marriage to author John Gregory Dunne, brother to author Dominick Dunne. The documentary was directed by her nephew, Griffin Dunne.
My 5 Star Review Documentary Review:
Joan Didion was born December 5, 1934 in Sacremento, California. She’s an American novelist and essayist and screenwriter. Joan is known for her incisive depictions of social unrest. Joan says she began writing at the age of five and was a shy ‘bookish’ girl. She never considered herself a real writer until her first published book. Joan struggled with social anxiety and took up acting and public speaking to help ease her anxieties. As a young teen, she spent much of her time typing out books by Ernest Hemingway so she could learn how sentence structure worked. Joan had a sordid childhood as her dad was in the army during WWII, with moving a lot she didn’t attend school regularly until returning back to Sacremento in 1944.
After watching the documentary and learning about the demises of both her husband and her daughter Quintana, my heart went out to Joan and I was compelled to read her book, The Year of Magical Thinking, because she wrote it after John’s death. It was first published in 2005. In the documentary, Joan’s publicist talks about how he urged Joan to write her novel published in 2012 – Blue Nights, for both, John and Quintana.
John and Joan met in New York City when Joan won a poetry contest at her senior year in Berkeley for her essay, Prix de Paris, and the prize landed her a job as research assistant at Vogue. John wrote for Time Magazine at the time.
They bounced ideas off one another, each wrote their own books and essays, but they collaborated on screenplays together – Needle Park (1971 with Al Pacino) and A Star is Born (1976 Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson. Joan’s logline for Needle Park – “Romeo and Juliette as junkies.
In this documentary, we get a deep inside look at this author from her beginnings as a journalist writing hard stories, Joan would say that she writes about disorder because she’d then find the situation”less scary”. She wasn’t happy with the way some of her books were portrayed for movies, such as, Book of Common Prayer, complaining her characters were totally different than what she’d written.
Joan admits that much of what she writes contained pieces of her. Her interests in writing were mostly about stories of humanity and the bad things going on in the world. Her visit to El Salvador prompted her to write political stories and essays, and an eventual book called El Salvador. She talks about the lie of the Central Park 7 – propaganda spurred falsely in the accusation of the rape of a jogger in Central Park, N.Y. and on VP Dick Cheney, “Bully of the Bush war,” “He took the lemons, made lemonade, spilled, and made someone else cleanup.”
John and Joan kept a low profile in the celeb world. They adopted their daughter Quintana at birth. When Quintana was asked what kind of mom Joan was, she replied, “Okay, mostly remote.” Joan began questioning how parents are sometimes on auto-pilot and don’t realize child neglect.
In 2003, Quintana took ill and was rushed to hospital when she went into septic shock resulting from pneumonia, which turned worse and ultimately left her in a coma at the time of John’s death. John and Joan had just come home from visiting Quintana in hospital on December 30, 2003, and they were sick with worry about their daughter. Joan made dinner, the two sat down to eat when John had a massive, fatal heart attack. Later, looking in her husband’s closet with a friend to pack up his clothes, Joan said, “What if he comes back?” That was clearly a grief statement because I could so identify with not wanting to let go. After she wrote The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan said it was the hardest book to write, but had to write it to get through. I totally get that. She told herself that after writing the book she would learn to let go. This woman lost the love of her life while their daughter lay in a coma.
Months after Quintana’s recovery, she fell and hit her head, suffering a massive hematoma and resulting in six hours of brain surgery. As Quintana was recovering her major illnesses in 2004, she came down with Pancreatitis in 2005, and ultimately died from it in August 2005 at age 39. Didion wrote Blue Nights in 2011 for Quintana. That woman was broken.
Joan was/is a tiny woman, and after losing her family, her wonderful friends stepped up to take care of her and made sure she ate at her already weight of 75 pounds. Joan then wrote the play for the book The Year of Magical Thinking, which starred Vanessa Redgrave, in the nonfictional soliloquy.
Joan wrote Blue Nights after the play, about Quintana – a book she said she didn’t want to write. On her life when asked if she had regrets about things, she said, “The failure to plan for misfortune,” her guilt of failing as a mother.
In 2005 Didion won the National Book Award for Nonfiction and became a finalist for National Book Critics Circle Award. She won a Pulitzer Prize for her book, The Magical Year of Thinking. In 2015, President Obama awarded Joan with the Mastery of Style in Writing Award for exploring the culture around us and exposing the depths of sorrow and for her ‘startling honesty’.
“Everyone has moved on except the one left grieving.”
“See enough and write it down.”
“A journal – a forgotten account paid with interest.”
“Remember what it is to be me, that’s always the point.”
I recently finished reading Joan’s book, The Year of Magical Thinking. After seeing the documentary and having only read one other of Joan’s books, I felt compelled to read.
NATIONAL BOOK AWARD WINNER • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • From one of America’s iconic writers, a stunning book of electric honesty and passion that explores an intensely personal yet universal experience: a portrait of a marriage—and a life, in good times and bad—that will speak to anyone who has ever loved a husband or wife or child.
Several days before Christmas 2003, John Gregory Dunne and Joan Didion saw their only daughter, Quintana, fall ill with what seemed at first flu, then pneumonia, then complete septic shock. She was put into an induced coma and placed on life support. Days later—the night before New Year’s Eve—the Dunnes were just sitting down to dinner after visiting the hospital when John Gregory Dunne suffered a massive and fatal coronary. In a second, this close, symbiotic partnership of forty years was over. Four weeks later, their daughter pulled through. Two months after that, arriving at LAX, she collapsed and underwent six hours of brain surgery at UCLA Medical Center to relieve a massive hematoma.
This powerful book is Didion’ s attempt to make sense of the “weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness … about marriage and children and memory … about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself.”
My 5 Star Review:
An accounting of love and loss. In this often, heartwrenching book, Joan Didion champions her once simple writing life alone, without her husband, best friend and consultant on all her writing. Joan reminisces on her life and writing with her husband John, always with her – writing, walking, traveling, filming – they did everything together, despite them both being individual writers, with the exception of a few collaborations.
Joan takes us through her life in vignettes as she shares memories of incidence on vacations the family took together, the circles of people they traveled with, their routines, when they adopted Quintana, motherhood, and mistakes. But most poignantly, Joan focuses on the time of John’s death, the surreal moments, the most insignificant things becoming big things, the most minutest details overlooked while she was living numb are being realized in this story. She begins her story with the the eve her and John went to visit Quintana in hospital, while she was in an induced coma. They were both worried sick about their daughter. Joan makes dinner, they sit down to eat and John has a fatal heart attack right in front of her on December 30, 2003. Her details are precise. She talks about her different kinds of grief, comparing the variation in grief between losing her parents, to how different her grief felt when John died. Joan shares what it was like waking up the next morning alone. She’ll take you right into her realizations. So identifiable for anyone who has ever deeply loved and lost. I know much of what Joan speaks, like not even remembering if we ate or not, mostly not. It’s a numbness that takes over to break the impact of the shock.
Joan bares herself with raw honesty on what grief leaves on someone, the stages of steps involved until reaching acceptance, but I wonder how many ever get there. Joan shares how she came to decisions about giving her loved one’s clothes away, as Joan in her denial stage held hope he may come back. Joan discusses her concern of having to break the news to Quintana about her father’s death, after she awakes from a long coma. Joan shares her fears about her daughter getting sick again overshadowing her grief – “Until now, I had been able only to grieve, not mourn. Grief was passive. Grief happened, Mourning, the act of dealing with grief, required attention.”
Imagine trying to stay sane!
Joan Didion is an iconic writer. As a journalist, she followed stories of humanity, out in the field. She said it was easier to deal with war if she could see it. She’s a tiny frail woman who can barely move her hands now at age 86, but that doesn’t stop her from still using them to articulate what she speaks. She’s lived through hell and back TWICE, first losing the love of her life, then her daughter. I can only imagine the amount of courage it took to write about such pain. It’s not surprising this Warrior Woman has won so many awards. I was drawn to this book after watching a documentary about her, The Center Will Not Hold on Netflix after my own husband’s passing, and I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who have loved and lost.
Poignant Quotes that resonate:
“Life changes fast.
Life changes in the instant.
You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends.
The question of self-pity.”
“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.”
“I could not count the times during the average day when something would come up that I needed to tell him. This impulse did not end with his death.”
“Marriage is memory, marriage is time.”
“For forty years I saw myself through John’s eyes. I did not age. This year for the first time since I was twenty-nine I saw myself through the eyes of others.”
“I have trouble thinking of myself as a widow. I remember hesitating the first time I had to check that box on the ‘marital status’ part of a form.”
“I realized that for the time being I could not trust myself to present a coherent face to the world.”
“I know why we try to keep the dead alive: we try to keep them alive in order to keep them with us.”
“I realize as I write this that I do not want to finish this account.”
Welcome to my Sunday Movie Review. Happy Halloween! And seeing as today is Halloween and wanting to keep with the theme here, I want to share my review of Practical Magic. This is the title of the book written by Alice Hoffman, an author whose books I always enjoy. As what often happens, the book is collecting dust in my Kindle, but I came across the movie version. What I found interesting were the comments I read on the book page on Amazon. . .
Whenever I watch a movie made after the book, I always go over to Amazon to read reviews to read opinions from reviews on whether the book was better than the movie or vice versa. Interestingly enough, this book has thousands of reviews, but the most poignant points on most all comments from those who’ve both read the book and seen the movie were that THE MOVIE was better than the book! Also, the movie strayed a bit from the original book, yet, many appreciated the movie version more. With that said, now I’m curious to the read the book. But for now, I’m sharing my review of the movie version.
The book and blurb:
*25th Anniversary Edition*—with an Introduction by the Author!
The Owens sisters confront the challenges of life and love in this bewitching novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Rules of Magic, Magic Lessons, and The Book of Magic.
For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in their Massachusetts town. Gillian and Sally have endured that fate as well: as children, the sisters were forever outsiders, taunted, talked about, pointed at. Their elderly aunts almost seemed to encourage the whispers of witchery, with their musty house and their exotic concoctions and their crowd of black cats. But all Gillian and Sally wanted was to escape. One will do so by marrying, the other by running away. But the bonds they share will bring them back—almost as if by magic…
“Splendid…Practical Magic is one of [Hoffman’s] best novels, showing on every page her gift for touching ordinary life as if with a wand, to reveal how extraordinary life really is.”—Newsweek
“[A] delicious fantasy of witchcraft and love in a world where gardens smell of lemon verbena and happy endings are possible.”—Cosmopolitan
My 5 Star Movie Review:
This was a fun and entertaining romp of love, sisterhood and of course, magic.
Gillian and Sally are sisters. They were born from a line of witches. Their mother died of a broken heart when they were little girls, undoubtedly, because of the Owens family curse – any man to fall in love with an Owens woman would suffer a fatal curse.
Gillian and Sally went to live with their very witchy aunts as children. They both had ‘the gift’, only Sally wanted nothing to do with it until she was faced with a tragic situation, then all bets were off. Gillian was the wild child, free-spirt, and all she did was seem to get herself in trouble. But her clear psychic connection with her sister always alerted Sally when Gillian was in trouble.
Now, the present, Sally’s husband dies in an accident and spurs her to pack up her things and her own girls now and moves back into her aunts’ home. Meanwhile, Gillian had run off with some crazy guy who turns out to be a maniac wanting to be a vampire who ultimately becomes violent with her and it’s Sally to the rescue.
To get into all the shenanigans that happens because of Gillian, would be spoilers, but suffice it to say, the girls try a few methods to get rid of James, and Sally thinks she finally may have killed him, only to find this guy won’t die and tries to get inside Gillian’s body.
In the meantime, a good looking detective comes around looking for this James guy because of the evil he’s done to others. He can’t figure out whether or not the girls have killed him or not. All the while the detective gets swooped into the scene where James is trying to possess Gillian’s body, and with a bird’s eye view of the mayhem and magic going on, he realizes he’s dealing with witchcraft and not your average murder.
Throughout the action there becomes a strong attraction between Sally and the detective, but Sally is apprehensive to follow her feelings because she’s afraid of her mother’s curse taking another potential love away from her. Will she take another chance on love with her fear of the curse? I can’t tell you that. Will we see Sally, the ex- non willing participant for witchcraft form a coven of strangers to form an exorcism on Gillian? We surely will!
Despite my description, this book is anything but scary – oh, except maybe the possession part, kind of.. But it’s a fun movie to watch with plenty of love, magic and entertainment, oh, and some fine music in this film too!
I have two videos to share from this movie. One shows snippets of the film, the other is seven minutes long with actual scenes from the movie. A superb cast, starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock.
I’d recommend this fun, magical chickflick for a cozy Halloween watch.
My Sunday Book Review is for S.R. Mallery’s, Charlotte. This is a cleverly written short story that doesn’t feel like a short story because even in the limited pages, the story is well crafted, will keep our curiosity revved until the very end when we find out who ‘Him’ is.
Sometimes things are not as they seem…
In 1793, all the twenty-four-year-old Charlotte desires is to travel the long distance to Paris and visit Him. Despite La Guillotine operating day and night, in spite of her family’s warnings about her being too independent, she has a true mission and will not be deterred. In the end, will everything work out? Will meeting him give her the fulfillment she so craves?
She only knows that when she finally does face him to execute her plan, she will take care to look her most beautiful. For, by doing that, she will assuredly draw him in––and forever change her life. She cannot wait.
Originally entitled, “Him,” in the short story collection, TALES TO COUNT ON, this is an alternative route to a famous event during the French Revolution.
My 5 Star Review
This is a short story that packs a punch. Mallery paints a story taking place during the French Revolution. Charlotte Corday is on a mission to leave her comfortable country home to visit a mysterious ‘someone’ in Paris, at a time when Paris was known as the City of Blood and the guillotine was working overtime. We are taken through her journey of her traveling to Paris, and the stops she made along the way to ensure her safe passage. In a time where one must be aware of surroundings during the time of bloodshed, simply because one had wealth or nobility, Charlotte dressed in her finery, set out to seek the man, only referred to as ‘Him’ throughout the story.
We learn she must look her finest and takes great pains to make sure she does in preparation to finally see ‘Him’, she will be the desire of his wantings when she arrives. She thinks.
This author is known for her short stories that are deliciously descript and for a mere 8 pages she sets the tone for this quick-paced historical fiction tale that is guaranteed to drop a few jaws by the time we reach the end.
Welcome to September edition of #WATWB – We are the World Blogfest, where writers join in on the last Friday of each month to share something good going on in the world. In this edition I’m sharing a wonderful initiative – publishing books for children to read for free to fulfil its mission, believing that every child by aged five should own at least 100 books.
Bookdash is a literacy organization that publishes books in eleven South African languages, an initiative that began in 2014, and has so far published over 146 books and over one million copies.
“Almost 60 percent of South African homes do not own a single book according to a 2016 South African Book Development Council report. According to the report, having as few as 20 books in the home has a significant impact on a child’s going on to higher levels of education. The impact of having 100 is even more pronounced.”
“The reason that so few South African homes have books is because they simply cannot afford them, Book Dash’s director Dorette Louw told theChristian Science Monitor. Many families cannot purchase glossy children’s picture books in bookstores. Printing short-run books for a South African market is very costly.”
You can read the whole article at Goodnet. And enjoy this video that shares more about the dire need for these books to improve literacy for the children in South Africa.