Everyday Tidbits...

Be Kind. Do Good. Love is a Verb.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

The Rules of Love & Grammar...#BookReview

About the book:
A woman finds love and closure when she returns to her roots in the newest novel from the author of The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe.

Newly jobless, former technical writer Grace Hammond is unmoored. Desperate to escape the city and her problems, Grace hits 'pause' and returns to her Connecticut hometown, where she discovers that the answers to what her future holds might be found by making peace with-and embracing-the past.

As Grace sets out to correct her mistakes and come to terms, finally, with her sister's death, she rekindles a romance with her high school sweetheart, Peter, now a famous movie director, and finds herself sparring with Mitch, who works at the bike shop.

Torn between the promise of a glamorous life and the allure of the familiar, Grace must decide what truly matters, and how to move on without forgetting where she came from.

I had enjoyed The Irresistible Blueberry Bakeshop & Cafe and how could I resist a book with this premise and title? It sat on my TBR for awhile though and last week I wanted something that I thought might be light and easy to read. This fit the bill.

After having lost her job and her boyfriend at the same time, Grace's ceiling falls in and needs repair. So she leaves New York and returns home to Connecticut to lick her wounds and celebrate her father's birthday. 

I liked Grace, but I found her attitudes and behaviors more suited for a teenager, rather than a thirty-year-old. That she reverted back to high school level jealousy over her former boyfriend and classmate was annoying. I kept wanting to tell her to just grow up. However, the story flowed well and the secondary characters are what made it enjoyable. I laughed out loud at times. 

I think the story had more potential than it reached, but this is light reading with a few heartwarming moments. 

I purchased my own copy.

Read 9/20

* * *
3/5 Stars

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

What If It's Us...#BookReview

About the book:
Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

This isn't a book I would have ever picked up on my own. YA just isn't my thing. But, a young friend brought it to me and asked if I would read it and I did and we had a great discussion about it afterwards.

And it's a cute story. Arthur meets Ben at the post office and likes him immediately. But the two are separated and they each wonder how to find the other in a city as big as New York. So, I learned about missed connections on Craigslist. Kind of cool.

When the boys do meet up again, it's a classic romance of misunderstandings and miscommunications. Ben is getting over a break-up and Arthur has never had a boyfriend. The boys are high schoolers and so expecting levels of maturity is a bit unrealistic.

The secondary characters are almost more fun than the main ones. Dylan just steals the show. You'll love him. The pop culture references are many, almost to the point of saturation. Sorry. Not a fan of Hamilton, but with Arthur and his love of theater, it was inevitable that show tunes will be heard.

I've seen reviews that criticize the ending, but I found it realistic to the story line and the fact that these boys were still in high school. Loved the inclusion: to these boys' family and friends, they were just Arthur and Ben. Being gay wasn't an issue, as it shouldn't be. That the boys were Jewish and Puerto Rican characters was a plus. The one homophobic interaction on the train was handled well by Ben.

I didn't find anything remarkable or special about the book.  It's just a sweet story about two boys who fall in love.

I borrowed a copy.

Read 9/20

* * *
3/5 Stars

Monday, September 14, 2020

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes...#BookReview

About the book:
It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capital, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He's been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined -- every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute... and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

It's no secret that I adored the Hunger Games series. Dystopian YA is not a normal genre for me, but this series is awesome and this prequel? A fantastic villain origin story. 

Coriolanus Snow is an ambitious 18-year-old student whose wealthy family barely survived the war. He is all about image and pretense, which often vie against his normal, human feelings. His parents are dead and he lives in a rundown apartment with his grandmother and cousin Tigris. 

But, the 10th Hunger Games is to be the first one with mentors and Coriolanus has been chosen to mentor the female tribute from District 12. While at first humiliated at not being given a more highly rated district, he quickly realizes that Lucy Gray is someone who could win and it's up to him to figure out how to help her do that. Along the way, Coriolanus learns about love and the dangers it can bring. 

As he works his way through the Games, he also discovers who wields the power in the Capitol, who controls the games and what he needs to do to rise up above the masses. 

The student mentors also have a say in how the games are run, and in a somewhat twisted sort of way, their professor gives assignments and in Coriolanus' essays, we see how future Games come about and evolve. As the mentors talk about the games and what is happening, we also see how they are not all unfeeling or unkind. They view their tributes as people and they can see how unfair the Games really are. At the same time we see that those in the Capitol are only concerned about their well being and that their losses are because of the rebels. 

The Hunger Games series is vibrant and colorful in its imagery. This book, however, was almost more black and gray in its imagery, what with the rubble of the arena and the Capitol still trying to rebuild from the war. That made the contrast of Lucy Gray's colorful skirt and the snakes all the more striking.

As with the rest of the series, we see the government oppression, we see the results of war and rebellion. We see society broken, but fighting and we see that even with survival, life isn't grand and colorful. But we also see that the human spirit is strong. 

No one likes who President Snow becomes and I think writing about his story so that he gains the reader's sympathy is brilliant. The story isn't fast-paced, but it drew me in and kept me enthralled.

I purchased my own copy.

Read 9/20

* * * * *
5/5 Stars

Friday, September 11, 2020

Sourdough...#BookReview

About the book:
Lois Clary is a software engineer at General Dexterity, a San Francisco robotics company with world-changing ambitions. She codes all day and collapses at night, her human contact limited to the two brothers who run the neighborhood hole-in-the-wall from which she orders dinner every evening. Then, disaster! Visa issues. The brothers close up shop, and fast. But they have one last delivery for Lois: their culture, the sourdough starter used to bake their bread. She must keep it alive, they tell her—feed it daily, play it music, and learn to bake with it.

Lois is no baker, but she could use a roommate, even if it is a needy colony of microorganisms. Soon, not only is she eating her own homemade bread, she’s providing loaves daily to the General Dexterity cafeteria. The company chef urges her to take her product to the farmer’s market, and a whole new world opens up.

When Lois comes before the jury that decides who sells what at Bay Area markets, she encounters a close-knit club with no appetite for new members. But then, an alternative emerges: a secret market that aims to fuse food and technology. But who are these people, exactly?
Leavened by the same infectious intelligence that made Robin Sloan’s Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore such a sensation, while taking on even more satisfying challenges, Sourdough marks the triumphant return of a unique and beloved young writer.
Lois is an introvert. She codes all day for a robotics company, even eating their nutritious paste instead of buying groceries. For dinner, she orders take-out every evening from a mysteriously run neighborhood restaurant with no address. When the brothers who own the restaurant have to close suddenly, they leave their sourdough culture with Lois. Their instructions? Keep it alive, feed it, play music and listen to it sing. And bake with it.
Having no experience, Lois bakes sourdough bread. She learns about this starter and what makes it sing and grow. She discovers that faces appear in her loaves which makes it unique and special. She begins selling it to the company cafeteria and decides to try her luck at a local farmer's market. She discovers secret markets, weird technology, funky people and a new life. All because of sourdough.
I loved the quirkiness of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore and so I was excited to read about Lois' adventures. This did not disappoint. And as a Bay Area native, I adored the setting. The secondary characters were just as awesome as Lois. So many creative personalities, so many quirks. 
As Lois begins to discover herself, she finds a life worth living and a purpose beyond anything she'd ever imagined. This book was just fun, full of magical realism, yet thoughtful and endearing. Delightful to read and easily recommended. 
I purchased my own copy.
Read 4/20
* * * * *
5/5 Stars