Rmlblog's Weblog

April 25, 2018

Mothers and Fathers

Filed under: Favorite Books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 10:33 pm

I am listening to the book, The Sun Does Shine, by Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 28 years on death row for crimes he did not commit. He was finally released after the Supreme Court overturned his conviction. His devotion to his mother and hers to him is a powerful part of the book and so different from another good book I read, Educated, by Tara Westover, who had absolutely awful parents.

In honor of Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, here are some books to read about good and bad parents. Do you have some suggestions for the list?

  • The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  • Liar’s Club by Mary Karr
  • Empire Falls by Richard Russo
  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman
  • Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery
  • Danny the Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
  • Ordinary People by Judith Guest
  • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (some people like Mr. Bennet, but, really, can you be a terrible husband, but a good father?)
  • Rabbit, Run by John Updike
  • About a Boy by Nick Hornby
  • East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy
  • Fortune’s Daughter by Alice Hoffman
  • Not My Father’s Son by Alan Cumming
  • Tender at the Bone by Ruth Reichl
  • Census by Jesse Ball
  • Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

December 27, 2017

Mary Higgins Clark Turned 90 in December!

Filed under: Favorite Books,mysteries,Reading life — rmlblog @ 9:38 am

Mary Higgins Clark is a role model for any aspiring author. She started as a copy editor before she was married, then sold her short stories to add to the family’s income while raising five children. She started a writing workshop in NYC with other writers to improve each other’s work. When her young husband died in 1964 after 15 years of marriage, she supported her family by writing radio scripts. After one failed novel, she switched to suspense fiction with Where Are The Children? Since then she has written more than 50 books, including her memoir Kitchen Privileges.

Here’s an interview with her when she was 89. 

If you like Clark’s brand of suspense, you might like Lisa Gardner, Iris Johansen, and Joy Fielding.

Here is a list of Clark’s books as of spring 2018: 

Aspire to the Heavens (Mount Vernon Love Story) (1960)
Where Are the Children? (1975)
A Stranger Is Watching (1978)
The Cradle Will Fall (1980)
A Cry in the Night (1982)
Stillwatch (1984)
While My Pretty One Sleeps (1989)
Loves Music, Loves to Dance (1991)
All Around the Town (1992)
I’ll Be Seeing You (1993)
Remember Me (1994)
Pretend You Don’t See Her (1995)
Let Me Call You Sweetheart (1995)
Silent Night (1995)
Moonlight Becomes You (1996)
You Belong to Me (1998)
We’ll Meet Again (1998)
Before I Say Good-Bye (2000)
Deck the Halls (2000) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
On the Street Where You Live (2001)
He Sees You When You’re Sleeping (2001) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
Daddy’s Little Girl (2002)
Kitchen Privileges — memoir (2002)
The Second Time Around (2003)
Nighttime Is My Time (2004)
No Place Like Home (2005)
Two Little Girls in Blue (2006)
The Christmas Collection (2006) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
Santa Cruise (2006) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
I Heard That Song Before (2007)
Where Are You Now? (2008)
Dashing Through the Snow (2008) (with Carol Higgins Clark)
Just Take My Heart (2009)
The Shadow of Your Smile (2010)
Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (2013)
Inherit the Dead (2013) (with C J Box, Lee Child, John Connolly, Charlaine Harris, Jonathan Santlofer and Lisa Unger)
I’ve Got You Under My Skin (2014)
The Cinderella Murder (2014) (with Alafair Burke)
The Melody Lingers on (2015)
All Dressed in White (2015) (with Alafair Burke)
The Sleeping Beauty Killer (2016) (with Alafair Burke)
Every Breath you Take (2017) (with Alafair Burke)
I’ve Got My Eyes on You (2018)

August 21, 2017

Comfort Reads: Mac & Cheese for the Soul

Filed under: best books,Favorite Books,Jane Austen,Reading life — rmlblog @ 8:26 pm

These days I’ve found that I’m having trouble reading books that get my “fight or flight” system going, even though the book may be well-written (Try Hum if You Don’t Know the Words by Bianca Marais; I’ll read it when things have calmed down.) I think I am just overloaded with the events in the news. However, I never stop reading; I just turn to my comfort reads.

Comfort reads are very personal. No one can really recommend to you what you would consider comforting. Many times it has to do with something in your childhood. In my case, The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, is on my list because my father brought it to me when I was sick.

Others include:

  • Agatha Christie
  • Jane Austen
  • Harry Potter
  • PG Wodehouse
  • Louise Penny
  • Many of my fantasy authors (Hobb, Sanderson, Kay)
  • Terry Pratchett
  • Patrick O’Brien

I’ve been collecting many of these authors in audio so when my eyes go I can still listen.

There is an blog from Australia about the site’s staffs’ comfort reads: https://www.readings.com.au/news/our-best-comfort-reads

What are yours?


April 27, 2016

Women’s Lives and Relationships — Just for Women?

Filed under: Favorite Books,Reading life — rmlblog @ 8:24 pm

I am in a Reader’s Advisory Group that is looking at the category of “Women’s Fiction” or as we rather call it “Women’s Lives and Relationships.” We are getting ideas to help people who like this kind of novel find other authors they might like.

But we are having trouble deciding what fits in the category. It’s easy to say that the books have to be contemporary and about contemporary times. No historical fiction. The focus has to be on the emotional life of the people. Thrillers don’t count — they have their own audience. The plot is what drives thrillers. Psychological thrillers may be character driven, but they don’t fit either.

Many books are about women who help each other through life: think of Angry Housewives Eating Bonbons by Lorna Landvik,Wednesday Sisters by Meg Clayton wednesdayor Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan. The subject term for this in the catalog is Female Friendship. But what if there are some men in the group? Ann Hood’s The Knitting Circle or The School of Essential Ingredients by Erica Bauermeister both have men who help the group deal with their problems. Then the subject heading is Friendship Fiction.

Mother and Daughters- or Sisters- Fiction is another category for which most books would be Women’s Fiction. However, Jodi Picoult’s My Sister’s Keeper has a completely different feel than Liane Moriarty’s Three three wishesWishes, but both are about sisters. And not all writers have the same tone for all their books.

To complicate the subject, women’s lives are different when they are teens, twenties, young mother, empty-nester, part of the sandwich generation, and retired. Someone who likes Sophie Kinsella might not want to read Ann Leary’s The Good House or Jeanne Ray’s Eat Cake.

The articles all say that Women’s Fiction books must be about women and by women authors. Is this true? Do only women read books about women? What about The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion? This is categorized as romance and humor, but it is not a Romance novel.

So if you like books about Women’s Lives and Relationships, which authors would you read? I’ll make a book list of what we discover.

December 28, 2015

Winter’s Coming: Read Aloud for Family Fun

Filed under: Children's books,Favorite Books,Reading life,Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 11:43 pm

When I was a teacher, one of my favorite times was after recess when we would gather the kids around and read longer chapter books to them. One former student still remembers The Book of Three as the book that turned him on to reading. When I was in grade school, I remember the librarian reading long books to us — Johnny Tremain, comes to mind — and how much we looked forward to it each week.

This fun doesn’t have to be limited to teachers or librarians. Reading aloud  is a wonderful experience. And there are some great books out there that adults and older children would enjoy. Just imagine sometime this winter, turning off the television, sipping hot cocoa or cider, and listening to an adventure that takes you away from the cold, the wars, the terrorism and off to another world. Books can do that, you know.

Here’s a list of books that Eunice recommends for reading aloud:

Good Read Alouds

April 24, 2015

Ready for an Adrenaline Rush?

Filed under: best books,Favorite Books,Psychological — rmlblog @ 2:32 am

Thrillers are the biggest sellers in the publishing industry. for thriller blogThe latest “hot” title is The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; a few years ago it was Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl. Not all thrillers are equally thrilling, however. I’ve found that thrillers that are parts of a series — think most of James Patterson, Harlan Coben, Michael Connolly, Lee Child — lack that “anything can happen” feel because you know the main character at least will survive.

The scariest thrillers are the stand-alone titles. You have no idea who will survive until the end (Girl on the Train) or who is the bad guy and who just appears to be (Before I Go to Sleep.) John Grisham is good at this. I recently listened to The Firm for a legal thriller discussion; I had no idea who would survive.

I’ve created a book list of some of the recent Stand-Alone Thrillers and the May book display at the library will be thrillers.

Let us know which ones gave you the chills!

March 27, 2014

Connect to Books!

Filed under: best books,Favorite Books,History,Narrators,Reading life — rmlblog @ 12:45 am

I have been noticing interesting connections with some of the books I’ve been reading lately. It made me think of a hyperlinking in websites that would take you to somewhere else for more information. Here are some of my recent connections:

boys in the boat

The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown is the story of the 1938 USA Olympic 8-man crew that won in Berlin. The story is actually exciting, even though you know how it will end. (In fact, it led me to try the rowing machine at the Y.) In the early sections when the book tells about the boys’ earlier lives, it reminded me of Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America 1927. The main character Joe in Brown’s book lives part of the time in Squim, Washington, which was a destination in The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook which we read for book discussion. The descriptions of what was happening in Berlin leading up to the Olympics reminded me of the book Life After Life by Kate Atkinson. At one point, Joe works on the Grand Cooley Dam. One of my favorite authors, Ivan Doig, has some books set at Montana’s Fort Peck Dam.  The information I had learned from each of these other books gave The Boys in the Boat an extra depth.

perfume collector

Another book I really enjoyed was The Perfume Collector by Kathleen Tessaro. This book jumps around in time as we learn more about a mysterious woman who leaves a legacy to Grace Munroe. Some of the book is set in New York in 1927 (see Bryson book above!) and deals with life in a hotel in New York. That reminded me of The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell, a suspenseful book about a couple of typists in New York during Prohibition. (The narrator in that book is definitely unreliable.) Grace, however, is a newlywed in London just after WWII — shades of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer When she travels to Paris to get her legacy, she discovers how the Nazis are involved with the perfume collector. This part reminded me of Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay.

All in all, I encourage everyone to sample both nonfiction and fiction books that intersect with each other. The result is richer in all ways.

What books have you found that intersect well with each other?

April 22, 2013

Reading Aloud for Adults

Filed under: Favorite Books,Narrators,programs,Reading life — rmlblog @ 8:45 pm

A recent blog discussed what used to be — before television and probably radio — a common practice of having a Reading Party. People would read stories and poetry to each other. Some people are wonderful storytellers — and not just children’s librarians. My mother read aloud to us a lot when we were young and I still hear her voice reading tales such as The Wind in the Willows and Just So Stories in my head.

I enjoy reading aloud, but rarely get to do it nowadays. Sometimes I’ll read a particularly interesting part of a book to my husband. I have trouble with the funny authors such as Dave Barry or P.G. Wodehouse because I can’t stop laughing.

Would it be fun to read aloud favorite parts of books at our Book Pot Luck? Which authors work best for read aloud? Dickens was certainly read aloud in parlors all around the country and even the world when he was published. Jane Austen is fun to read aloud, though I’m not sure my husband is an enthusiastic listener. The new Woody Guthrie book (reviewed in the Prov. Journal on April 21, 2013) sounds like it would be good read aloud.

Let me know what you think.

July 26, 2012

Mouth-Watering Reads

Filed under: Cooking,Favorite Books,mysteries,Mystery,Uncategorized — rmlblog @ 6:46 pm

In a July 16, 2012 NY Times article on Food and Mysteries, Otto Penzler, owner of Mysterious Bookstore in Manhattan, said, “in a grim story, food gives readers comfort.” Some of my favorite mystery writers do seem to include a lot of food in their books. If I were a chef, I would be tempted to make some of these foods that sound so good.

From Martin Walker‘s Bruno, Chief of Police: …” …Bruno served the perfect omelette, the earthy scent of the truffle just beginning to percolate.”
Walker has a website http://www.brunochiefofpolice.com with recipes.

Louise Penny is always having her characters eating at the bistro in Three Pines. In Bury Your Dead, Jean-Guy Beauvoir has filet mignon with cognac blue cheese sauce for dinner as he consults Clara about a murder.

Robert Parker‘s detective Spenser is famous for his cooking: boneless leg of lamb, risotto, grated beets and, of course, wine, calm Spenser and Susan down in Small Vices.

Linda Fairstein‘s team doesn’t cook very much, but they go to all the best restaurants in New York City and Martha’s Vineyard.

Other people have blogged about food and books. Check out readingupsidedown.com/book-chat/food-and-books

Which authors make you drool as you read or listen to their works?

May 24, 2012

Nonfiction that Reads Like Fiction

Filed under: best books,Favorite Books,History — rmlblog @ 7:29 pm

We just had a book discussion of Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, a true story of a man’s and his comrades’ experience in the Pacific during WWII and afterwards. All of us were struck by how the book was a page-turner. Hillenbrand’s writing is descriptive without being flowery, her characterization and pacing keep you wondering what was going to happen next. And the plot was definitely an example of truth being stranger than fiction.

While not quite in the same category, books such as Shadow Divers, Flyboys, The Professor and the Madman, Galileo’s Daughter and Blind Side are also nonfiction books that pull you into the lives of the people involved.

Overbooked listed these nonfiction titles for their Nonfiction that Reads Like Fiction 2011 page:

Oath: The Remarkable Story of Surgeon’s Lfe Under in Chechnya by Khassan Baiev

Blue Blood by Edward Conlon

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America by Erik Larson

Random Family: Love, Drugs, Trouble, and Coming of Age in the Bronx by Adrian Leblanc

Truth and Beauty: A Friendship by Ann Patchett

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach

Name All the Animals: A Memoir by Alison Smith

Rats: Observations on the History and Habitat of the City’s Most Unwanted Inhabitants by Robert Sullivan

Love in the Driest Season: A Family Memoir by Neely Tucker

Blood Done Sign My Name: A Memoir by Timothy Tyson

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