BOOK REVIEWS

A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW BY AMOR TOWLES

I have taken some time between when I finished this spectacular book and writing this review.
Sometimes when I read a unique book such as this one was, I have a really hard time reviewing it. I feel I don’t have the words to describe what a fantastic book 

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

 it really is but I shall give it a try here.

It is 1922 and the Bolsheviks have taken over power in Russia and have abolished all ruling classes. Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov has been stripped of his title and placed under house arrest at his place of residence, The Metropol Hotel. He is doomed to spend the rest of his days, not in his luxurious Suite 37, but in a cramped attic room. If he should step outside the hotel at any time, he will be shot dead. The Count is a true gentleman who approaches this sentence with a good attitude. He commences making friends with the staff of the hotel and the guests.

He makes the best of the fact that all of his possessions, as well as his title, have been taken from him. First, he meets a precocious nine-year-old girl, Nina, and forms a lasting friendship with her. He accompanies her on her journeys throughout the hotel and, since she has acquired a passkey to all the rooms, nearly every nook and cranny is explored.

The author created a fascinating cast of characters, one of which is Nina’s daughter, Sofia, who ultimately ends up in his care and rears as he would his own daughter. There are many others that the reader will get to know throughout this wonderful book. And I defy anyone not to feel as if they are a part of the admiration society for the Count. As a matter of fact, I fell a little in love with him.

There are humorous shenanigans in this book that left me laughing out loud. And at other times, I almost cried.

You can view an interview with Amor Towles on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdEOS…

Amor Towles has created an outstanding novel here. I have purchased Rules of Civility. If it is a fraction as well written as ‘A Gentleman in Moscow’, it will be exceptional.

About the Author

Born and raised in the Boston area, Amor Towles graduated from Yale College and received an MA in English from Stanford University. Having worked as an investment professional in Manhattan for over twenty years, he now devotes himself fulltime to writing. His first novel, Rules of Civility, published in 2011, was a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback and was ranked by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best books of 2011. The book was optioned by Lionsgate to be made into a feature film and its French translation received the 2012 Prix Fitzgerald. His second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, published in 2016, was also a New York Times bestseller and was ranked as one of the best books of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the St. Louis Dispatch, and NPR. Both novels have been translated into over fifteen languages.

Mr. Towles, who lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children, is an ardent fan of early 20th century painting, 1950’s jazz, 1970’s cop shows, rock & roll on vinyl, obsolete accessories, manifestoes, breakfast pastries, pasta, liquor, snow-days, Tuscany, Provence, Disneyland, Hollywood, the cast of Casablanca, 007, Captain Kirk, Bob Dylan (early, mid, and late phases), the wee hours, card games, cafés, and the cookies made by both of his grandmothers.

ABOUT ME

ARE YOU A BIGGER JERK THAN YOU THINK YOU ARE?

Are you known as a jerk to your acquaintances? Our friends, of course, would never say that. Regardless whether they believe it to be true or not. Here’s my issue and what has been gnawing on me all this week. I work full-time at an RV Park during the winter outside of Phoenix, Arizona. This is my third year to work here. I’ve had absolutely no problem with anyone up to this season. I, of course, being fairly strong-willed (just a little, LOL) have taken exception to two particularly irritating individuals’ intrusions into how I and my husband manage the park. No one else seems to have a problem with us. I know that I am a grown woman and, therefore, need to “put my big girl panties on” and deal with it. However, it has gotten me more upset than I want to be.

While pondering this problem, strictly by chance, I came across an article that seemed to speak volumes about my problem. After reading this article no less than three times, I came to the conclusion that, Oh Dear!!! Perhaps I’d better re-examine my behavior as well and figure out how much of this I am causing or exacerbating by being, well, who I am. The article is very interesting. I am putting the link below because I think that most of us need to take a step back, particularly as we get older, and take a look at our behavior and our opinion of others. But, more importantly, take a look at how much we think of ourselves. Try to figure out if we are actually more of a jerk than we think we are.

You may find this article of some value or interest.

LAGNIAPPE - A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA

MORE THINGS TO PONDER

Here are five of just some things that I don’t think about often, but when I do, I am puzzled. The English language is a very hard language to master by someone trying to master it as a second language. I believe it. I’m going to list a few things that make me think. Some I have seen before over the years and others are new to me. I found them interesting.

WHY IS AN ALARM CLOCK GOING “OFF” WHEN IT ACTUALLY TURNS ON?

     Before your head hits the pillow at night, you have to set your alarm to go off at a certain time. But aren’t you really telling it to turn on at a certain time, so that it wakes you up? This is one of the unanswerable questions about life that might not matter much, but makes you think.

IF A PERSON TOLD YOU THEY WERE A PATHOLOGICAL LIAR, WOULD YOU BELIEVE THEM?

  Pathological liars never really tell the truth, so it’s hard to believe a word that comes out of their mouths. So if they claim they’re a pathological liar, are they being honest for once?

IS THERE ANOTHER WORD FOR SYNONYM

Synonyms are words that have the same meaning as another word. It would be ironic if ‘synonym’ did not have a synonym, but no words come to mind.

WHAT IF THERE WERE NO HYPOTHETICAL SITUATIONS?

This question is a hypothetical one, which is what makes it so ironic. You can’t imagine a world without hypothetical situations unless you’re thinking about a hypothetical situation.

That’s all of today. I’m sure I’ll find some other things to sit and waste time thinking about when I’m not reading.
Until next time……….farewell!!!!

BOOK REVIEWS

NOTHING TO SEE HERE BY KEVIN WILSON

Today, I am reviewing “Nothing To See Here” by Kevin Wilson.

A quote from the book that describes Lillian’s thoughts as she enters the elite preparatory school for the first time:
As I walked to my dorm, I realized that the other girls didn’t even look at me, and I could tell that it wasn’t out of meanness. I don’t think they even saw me; their eyes had been trained since birth to recognize the importance. I wasn’t that.”

My Thoughts:

I liked this book so much more than I expected to. I tried to read “Ready, Player One” but it just wasn’t for me. So, Netgalley has sent me “Nothing To See Here” by Kevin Wilson. I decided to read that one in its place, and I’m so glad I did. This book made me feel good, sad, angry, and frustrated.

The Main Characters:
We have Madison – Privileged child growing up and wealthy woman by any standards through her marriage to Senator Jasper Roberts.

Then we have Madison’s husband Jasper. He would prefer, of course, to be addressed as, Senator Roberts??? Jasper is in the midst of being vetted for a high political office. He is married to Madison and they have one son, Timothy.

Then we come to the protagonist, Lillian. Lillian is an impoverished child who grew up without wealth or affection. As she reaches adulthood, things haven’t changed much. She is working as a cashier at two different grocery stores and living in her mom’s attic.

I would be remiss in failing to mention Carl. He’s a jack of all trades for the Senator. He runs errands and basically does whatever he is called on to do. This includes babysitting at times.

Then we have the twins, Bessie and Roland. Ten years old and children of Jasper and the late Jane who committed suicide. Oh yes, one important thing about Bessie and Roland is that when angered or upset, they spontaneously combust. They are unharmed but the fire is read. Yes, you read that right.

Lillian and Madison, best friends in high school until Lillian leaves abruptly after a scandal ensues. They have not communicated much past an email or text message now and again in the past 15 years.
Lillian receives a letter from Madison asking for help in a very delicate situation in the form of a job. She sends money for a bus ticket to her home. Lillian boards a bus and arrives at the Senator’s mansion. The “job” is acting as governess to Jasper’s twins who are now his responsibility since their mother’s death. Lillian accepts, after all how hard could it be? Lillian and the twins are housed in an elaborate “guest cottage” on the huge estate.

After they are settled into the guest house, several incidents take place that are, at the least, disturbing. I loved the way Lillian interacted with the twins and the steps she took to make their life as normal as possible including homeschooling them. The children loved her. But alas, another incident occurs and the result of that is Lillian fleeing with the children to her mother’s attic.

This story is wonderful. I wish there was a sequel to this book to find out what everyone is doing today. If there ever is one, I will be first in line to buy it. Highly recommended as an easy read and positive subject matter.

SOMETHING EXTRA
I happened upon a video talking about Nothing To See Here on YouTube. Check it out, it’s awesome.

About the Author

Kevin Wilson, Author

Kevin Wilson was born, raised, and still lives in Tennessee. His writing has appeared in Ploughshares, One Story, Greensboro Review, The Oxford American, Carolina Quarterly and elsewhere. His work has twice been included in the New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best anthology (2005, 2006). He has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, and the KHN Center for the Arts. A graduate of the MFA program at the University of Florida, he currently teaches fiction at the University of the South and helps run the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

MONTHLY READING ROUNDUP

MONTHLY READING ROUNDUP

Well, we have arrived at November 2019. The month of October flew by for me. Christmas will be upon us before we know it. I work as manager and bookkeeper for an RV park in
in Arizona. My husband and I started working five days a week now, rather than just two hours a day.
I only had time to read four books this month, but I enjoyed all of them. The full reviews of these books, with the exception of Orphan X, are all on this blog under Book Reviews. Here they are in the order I finished them.

Crippen by John Boyne

I have read several books written by John Boyne. He is in the top five of my favorite authors of all time. This book was a fictionalized story of Hawley Harlan Crippen who was accused, arrested and tried for the murder of his wife Cora. It is based on a true story. Dr. Crippen, got his “degree” from correspondence courses. He has wanted to be a doctor since early childhood. When friends started questioning Hawley about Cora’s absence, he told them that she had gone to California to tend to a sick relative. Eventually, the police started questioning him as to her disappearance. He was accused for her disappearance. He had taken a lover, a young woman who worked with him and they boarded a cruise ship in Antwerp and headed for Canada in order to live freely and without shame together. The twists and turns of this book are marvelous. If you haven’t read it, please treat yourself. I highly recommend this one.
I finished reading Crippen on October 12, 2019
Get it from Amazon


The Minotaur’s Son and other wild tales
by Kevin Ansbro

Kevin Ansbro, the author of ‘The Minotaur’s Son and other wild tales’ has written three books besides this one and I have devoured each one. These books introduced me to the genre of Magical Realism and I was fascinated. The Minotaur’s Son is a collection of short stories and one of them, if not all, will appeal to everyone. You meet a siren, a hip space cowboy and many others. It’s terrific and can be purchased on Amazon.
I finished reading this book on October 14, 2019.
Kevin is taking a hiatus from writing for a bit, but I am waiting patiently for his next masterpiece.


The Night Olivia Fell
By Christina McDonald

This book really was well-written. I think that it is more for teenagers, mostly girls, than for adults. However, it was a good story. Olivia is a sixteen-year-old teenager with a single mother who is very protective. Olivia falls from a bridge one night and is rendered brain dead. Much to her mother’s surprise, she is told that Olivia is pregnant. Before she is taken off life support she must be kept alive until the baby she is carrying is developed enough to be born and survive the outside world. Olivia’s mother goes on a quest to find out what really happened to her daughter. She does not believe it was an accident nor a suicide. This book was enough to keep me reading because I wanted to find out what happened in the end. Very well-written. You may purchase this book at Amazon.
I finished reading this on October 20, 2019


Orphan X
By Gregg Hurwitz

This is an older book. When I started doing research on it, I found that it is the first book in the Orphan Series. It was dynamite. Move over James Bond!! Evan Smoak was alone in the world, an orphan, raised by a covert operation that is part of the government that disavows any knowledge of its members should there be trouble. Basically, Evan is a trained killer. He was trained by the best for the most dangerous assignments. After dropping out of this covert organization, he vows to help anyone that needs his help. “Pay It Forward” so to speak. This book races from one danger and hair-raising situation to the next as fast as lightning strikes. It’s a great action book, easy and quick to read. You may purchase it at Amazon.
I finished reading this on October 28, 2019

I hope you enjoyed my monthly roundup. I’ll be back on December 1, 2019, to do the Monthly Roundup for November. Happy Reading everyone.

LAGNIAPPE - A LITTLE SOMETHING EXTRA

BOOKS THAT ALL INTROVERTS SHOULD READ

Are you an Introvert or an Extrovert?

I ran across an article earlier that had to do with introverts. Since I am an introvert, I stopped to read it. It gave twenty-six (26) books that introverts might enjoy. I have read a couple of them and I am going to add another one or two to my ever-expanding TBR list. However, my list will outlive me, I have no doubt. I’m in the process of writing a post about my goals as far as book reading goes, during 2020. I’m aiming high and hope I can live up to.
Please check out this article. You can find it here. You will probably find some you have read and add to your list as well
.
There is also a quiz on this site that you can take to determine to what degree and what kind of introvert or extrovert you are.

I have listed below six of the books from this list that either caught my eye, I have read, or I’m planning to read. There are twenty more to check out. It’s a fun list to look at.


TELL THE WOLVES I’M HOME
BY CAROL RIFKA BLUNT

SYNOPSIS
It’s 1987, and June Elbus has lost her best friend in the world, her uncle Finn. June is 14, and reserved in a way her sister, Greta, will never understand. They used to be so close, but now, the only comfort June can find is in the woods, where she is free to think and be alone without the painful eyes of other people on her. As June finds out more about her uncle, and comes to learn more about herself, her family, and the world itself. This perfectly quiet novel will make any shy or introverted person feel immediately understood.

MY THOUGHTS
I have not read this book, however I find the synopsis above to be tempting. Sometimes when I was a child, after I lost my grandmother who died at 96, I would go off in the woods next to our house with just my dog, Lucky, and roam for hours. If I found a cleared spot or got tired, I would stop to rest. I had all I needed. My lunch, my dog, and a book. I may add this to my list. Said list is already so long, it will undoubtedly outlive me. This book is available at Amazon



READY PLAYER ONE
BY ERNEST CLINE

SYNOPSIS
It’s 2044, and the world is falling apart. Ernest Cline’s bestselling first novel tells the story of Wade Watts, a teenager who has almost completely removed himself from reality in order to pursue an “Easter Egg” within a video game to win a billion dollar prize. Wade, and the rest of the world, would rather communicate via virtual reality than actual reality, they feel more themselves tucked away, a feeling most introverts know all too well.


I’m reading this book now (October 30, 2019). I haven’t gotten very far into it, but it has been on my TBR list for a very long time. I checked Goodreads for reviews and came away with many 5* reviews. A good many, from long-time friends of mine whose opinion I trust. So, I have high hopes for this one. This book may be found at Amazon


WHERE’D YOU GO BERNADETTE
BY MARIA SEMPLE

SYNOPSIS
Bernadette might be the ultimate introvert in literature. She would rather disappear from her daughter’s life all together than take a trip to Antarctica, because other people will be there. While we’ve surely all felt this way at one time or another, Bernadette takes introversion and dislike of crowds to an entirely new, hilarious level.


MY THOUGHTS
This is another book that has been on my TBR list for a couple of years now. It will go on my list of goals for 2020. Be on the lookout for a separate post later in the year.


It really sounds good. While I am an introvert, I don’t think that I would risk losing contact with one of my children rather than go anyplace undesirable to me. I would probably just “suck it up” and be miserable. I’m looking forward to reading this book. This title can be purchased from Amazon


Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking
by Susan Cain

SYNOPSIS
Susan Cain takes a scientific look at introverts, and the quiet power they hold, even in a society that seems to grow louder and louder every day. A must read for any and all introverts who could use a little empowerment every now and then.

MY THOUGHTS
I have read this book and it was an epiphany to me. It’s a must if you’re the least bit curious about introverts and extraverts and the difference between the two. I highly recommend reading this. You can find it here.


THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER
BY STEPHEN CHBOSKY


SYNOPSIS
It wouldn’t be a list about being an introvert without this one. Stephen Chbosky (literally) wrote the book on it. There’s a good chance you read The Perks of Being a Wallflower at some point in high school and related so well to Charlie that you couldn’t quite believe it. He’s quiet, he just wants to read his books, go to school, and make things work, and, sometimes, he just can’t put those things into words. Been there, felt that.

MY THOUGHTS
I have read this book many years ago. It described exactly how I felt as a teenager in high school. I was a big geek, as I am now, and would rather read than socialize. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, young or old for either a reminder of their teenage years, or to make them feel better to know that lots of people go through this to some degree.
Find it here . A movie was also made several years ago. Find it here


THE GOLDFINCH
BY DONNA TARTT


SYNOPSIS
The Goldfinch features the ultimate dynamic: the introverted, shy friend joined by the incredibly spunky, outgoing best friend. Tartt’s writing has so much to it, but one of the best parts by far is the friendship between Theo and Boris. An introvert brought out of his shell and pushed by an extroverted friend is something all introverts have experienced at least once!

MY THOUGHTS
This is in my top five favorite books for me in 2019. It was absolutely wonderful. Donna Tartt is a terrific author and I have read several of her books. Unfortunately, I could not find a website dedicated to her. You can find out more about her from goodreads.com. You can find the book at Amazon. The Goldfinch was a Pulitzer Price Winner for fiction in 2014. A movie came out in 2019. I did not get a chance to see it. I’m hoping it will hit Netflix sooner than later. It is fantastic and I would recommend it to all.

So that’s it folks. I hope you look over the entire list and maybe you will pick up one or two that you must read. I know I did.

ABOUT ME

THINGS TO PONDER

I’m having a lazy day today. Just sitting here thinking about things I need to think more about. Just random thoughts. And it suddenly occurred to me that maybe someone else out there needs to give more thought to things in their life. I will add to the post from time to time. For today, I am thinking about two things.

I think about this a lot. How much does swearing and pitching a fit about something really help any situation. I’m sure that most people will say, it only makes the situation worse, but it always makes me feel better to let loose with a temper tantrum and a few well-chosen curse words.
You know what they (I’ve never really known who “they” is specifically) say. Opinions are just like a**holes, everyone has one. I always try to remember that I can agree to disagree with many different opinions but still remain open to others.

I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the fact that I wasted so much time of my life doing things that I really didn’t enjoy. Putting up with people that I really didn’t enjoy. No, I’m not feeling sorry for myself or regretting the life I have led. At the time, I was doing exactly what I thought I wanted to do at the time. One of the main things I really should have thought about was getting married fresh out of high school at 18 years of age. I had no idea who I was or who I might become . I stumbled around for years, hating the jobs I had, not being with people that I really enjoyed being with. I could go on and on about the stupid things I did as a younger person. I have to laugh at some of my shenanigans. I have come to realize that I had to get past 60 to settle down into a job I love, travel where I want to go and have found my soulmate.

I’d like to see what things you regret as well as things that have gone right for you. I’d be interested to know.