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review 2018-01-18 06:12
As Bright as Heaven - Susan Meissner

I have to admit, at first, I didn't really feel anything for this family at the beginning. I even considered packing it away. However, the more I read, the more I felt. This family went through a whole bunch of hardships most families face, but they also had the Great War and the Influenza Flu epidemic. The latter really hitting the family and those around them really bad.

I really was moved by this book and thoroughly enjoyed my journey with this family. 

By the end of the book, I was actually sorry to see them go. Ending it on a somewhat more happy note really made the tears flow.

An incredible story of a family who loved, lost and lived.

Thanks to Berkley Publishing Group and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review.

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review 2018-01-15 15:12
The Old-But-Not-Dead Club strikes again. A truly inspiring read, whatever your age.
On the Bright Side: The New Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 85 Years Old - Hendrik Groen

Thanks to Net Galley and to Penguin UK-Michael Joseph for providing me an ARC copy of this book that I freely chose to review.

A while back I read The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 ¼ Years Old (check my review here) and loved it. I was on the lookout for the next one, and when I saw the next one was available for download at NetGalley I did not hesitate. It has now been published and I could not pass the chance to share my review.

Hendrik explains what has happened since his last diary (yes, he is older now) and decides to write his diary for another year, as a way to keep his brain going. He is now 85 and he needed some time to get over some of the sad events of the last book. But the Old-But-Not-Dead Club is still going strong, with new members and plans, including regularly exploring international cuisine (more or less), a short holiday abroad, and an attempt at local (extremely local) politics. Hendrik’s voice is as witty and observant as it was in the first book, although there is perhaps a grittier and darker note (he is feeling low, everything is getting tougher and unfortunately, life gets harder as the year goes along). But not all is doom and gloom and there are very funny moments, as well as some very sad ones. His comments about politics and world events, always seen from an elderly population’s perspective, are sharp and clear-sighted and will give readers pause. Some of them are local and I suspect I was not the only one who did not know who many of the people where or what anecdotes he referred to at times (I must admit that although I know a bit about Dutch painters, I know little about their politics or music, for example), but even if we cannot follow all the references in detail, unfortunately, they are easily translatable to social and political concerns we are likely to recognize, wherever we live. Funding cuts, social problems, concerns about health and social care, crime, terrorism, global warming feature prominently, although sometimes with a very peculiar twist.

The secondary characters are as wonderful and varied as in the previous book. Some of them have moved on (physically, mentally, or both), and we get to know better some of the ones that only briefly appeared in the previous volume. We also have new arrivals at the nursing home, and a more direct involvement in the home’s politics (with anxiety-provoking news present as well. Is the nursing home going to close?). I loved some of the proposed and adopted rules (a complaint-free zone to avoid wallowing in conversations about ailments and illnesses, a high-tea facilitated by the residents, an art exhibition, even if the artist is not the most sympathetic of characters…) and the sayings of the residents. Of course, life at a nursing home comes with its share of loss and although I don’t want to reveal too much, I can say the subject of death is treated in a realistic, respectful, and moving way.

I shed some of the quotes I highlighted, to give you a taster (although I recommend checking a sample and seeing what you think. And, although it is not necessary to read the first book first, I think it works better knowing the characters and their journey so far):

The idea of using care homes to look after the comfort, control and companionship of the elderly is fine in principle. It just fails in the execution. What old age homes actually stand for is infantilizing, dependence, and laziness.

One in four old people who break one or more hips die within the year. That number seems high to me, but it’s in the newspaper, so there is room for doubt.

It’s always astonished me to see the wide support clowns and crooks are able to muster. Watching old newsreels of that loudmouth Mussolini, you’d think now there’s a bloke only his mother could love. But no, millions of Italians loved him.(Yes, I’m sure this can make us all think of a few people).

Difficult new terms that tend to obscure rather than clarify, especially when uttered by policy-makers. It often has to do with hiding something —either a budget cut, or hot air, or both at once.

Managerial skills alone don’t make for better care, it only makes for cheaper one.

And, a great ending (and one we should all take up this year):

A new year —how you get through it is up to you, Groen; life doesn’t come with training wheels. Get this show on the road. As long as there’s life.

The tone of the book is bitter-sweet, and, as mentioned, it feels darker than the previous one, perhaps because Hendrik is even more aware of his limitations and those of his friends, and is increasingly faced with the problem of loneliness, and with thoughts about the future. But, overall, this is a book that makes us think about the zest for life, about living life to the full, and about making the best out of our capabilities. As I said on my previous review, I hope I can meet a Hendrik if I get to that age, and I’ll also make sure to join the Old-But-Not-Dead Club and be an agitator and enjoy life to the end. Don’t ever settle for the easy way out.

A great book for those interested in the subject of growing old, in great characters, and in an out-of-the-ordinary setting. It has plenty of adventures and events (even trips abroad and international cuisine), although it is not a book I’d recommend to people who love fast action and high-octane thrillers. If you enjoy first-person narrations, love older characters, and don’t mind thinking about the long-term (ish) future, I recommend this very inspiring book.

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review 2018-01-03 05:15
Overkill
Musings of a Gossip Queen: A Chick-Lit Comedy - Victoria Bright

Blake starts a new job after thinking life is over as she knows it.  I sometimes think it is this anger that has her pushing through to pay her bills as she begins her new adventure.  She meets a girl at the office who is so jealous of her, it is kind of pathetic.

 

Silas is hot and gives her something to look at.  Man candy if you will.  It just does not seem to help the sheen that is all over this new job.  It is not a good gloss, and it is taking its toll on Blake.  What should she do?

 

I found this book to be funny at times.  I know that many will think it is too funny and just die of laughter.  I stopped laughing about two chapters in, since I found this character kind of pathetic.  I had a hard time pushing myself to finish the story.  Word to the wise - this book has language meant only for adult ears.  I personally think the humor would have come across better without the extra vulgarity, but maybe that is just me.  I give this one a 2/5 Kitty's Paws UP!

 

 

***This early copy was given in exchange for an honest review only.

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review 2017-12-28 22:40
Eventually your past will catch up with you
Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore: A Novel - Matthew J. Sullivan

I had hoped to keep up the momentum and actually post a new review every single day leading up to New Year's but I got super busy with mom in town and...ah well. :-)

 

I thought I made notes about every single book that I've read this year and then it's time to review Midnight at the Bright Ideas Bookstore by Matthew J. Sullivan and I've got nothing. This leaves me in an interesting predicament because I read this book quite a while ago (September to be precise) and so this is going to be a test of the narrative's sustainability in my memory. (Full disclosure: I had to look up the synopsis because all I remembered was 'mystery, death, and bookstore'.) Without being too spoiler-y, the book follows a young woman named Lydia who works at the Bright Ideas Bookstore. Lydia has a secret. Well, it's at least a secret from her closest friends and co-workers. At the very start of the novel, Lydia discovers the body of one of her favorite patrons hanging in the bookstore where she works. (This isn't giving anything away because it's on the book jacket, ok?) This sets her off on a journey to not only discover why he killed himself but how the two of them might be interconnected beyond the clerk/customer relationship. Full of suspense (and not a little gore), this was an enjoyable read. I felt a bit like Sherlock Holmes trying to suss out the real clues from the barrage of information that the author threw my away but it wasn't too overwhelming. This is definitely a novel full of drama so if that isn't your jam I don't recommend this one. (And if you're squeamish I think you'd better steer clear.) 8/10 with a few points lost because I predicted the ending somewhat.

 

What's Up Next: Roald Dahl's Book of Ghost Stories 

 

What I'm Currently Reading: I FINALLY FINISHED SCYTHE

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2017-12-08 22:27
Friday Reads - December 8, 2017
Burning Bright: Four Chanukah Love Stories - Jennifer Gracen,KK Hendin,Stacey Agdern,Megan Hart
Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race - Margot Lee Shetterly
When Dimple Met Rishi - Sandhya Menon

This weekend I am getting my Bah-Humbug self into the holiday spirit even if I need alcohol to do it. The tree is up in its place of honor (second floor landing) and lights strung; the kids just need to put the ornaments on. I'm taking the boy child out tomorrow so he can shop for the family gifts; girl child will get to do it on Monday. I am baking lots of cookies this weekend for Monday's cookie drive on base (spouses' group makes bags of homemade cookies for every Airman living in the dorms - roughly 12,000 cookies are needed).

 

So with what little time I have to read this weekend/upcoming week, here is what I plan to read:

 

1. Burning Bright: Four Chanukah Love Stories by Various Authors

     Hanukkah starts on December 12th. We celebrate (kind of) on the first night.

 

2. Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly

    For an upcoming square and for Pop Sugar. I've already seen the movie and loved it. I'm hoping some non-fiction gets me out of my DNF streak of late.

 

3. When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

    Impulse borrow from the library

 

COYER starts next weekend, so I am trying really hard not to read off my list until then. I am seriously striking out on the books for the 16 Tasks for the Festive season challenge - I just DNF'd another book tonight.

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