720 in the books…

July 2017 Books
Summer time and the reading is fine

It’s been some time since I made a ‘9 at a time’ book purchase.  I’ve been relying on my local library to satisfy my reading needs, often with limited success.  If you use your library then you can relate – the shelves don’t always offer the books you’d like to read, so you make ‘will do’ choices which aren’t always as engaging as the cover art and book flap accolades led you to believe.

Thanks to a very thoughtful – and completely unexpected- thank you Amazon gift card I just placed an order for nine books that I hope will take me through the dog days of summer and keep me from playing library ‘book roulette’ until the fall.

How about you?  Do you prefer buying or borrowing books?  What are you reading now? What are you looking forward to reading in the next few months.  I’d love to know…

*720 in the Books – Ella Fitzgerald

Twelve eyes of evil…


Do you ever have high hopes before starting a book but after beginning realize you’re already familiar with the plot, even if the cosmetic details like name, location, and time differ?  I often find this is the case, especially since I tend toward books with themes of love and family in their many iterations. I count myself fortunate to have recently read a number of books with plots that are markedly different and excellently written (including Moonglow and The Book of American Martyrs).  Now I can add another unique read to that list – The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti.

‘Twelve Lives’ central theme of family and love is told in alternating chapters voiced by Samuel (a very successful career criminal) and his teenage daughter Loo (a bit of a criminal herself).  Watches, whales, and wounds all feature into the plot, along with Samuel’s brother-from-another-mother Jove and Loo’s boy/friend Marshall Hicks, and each propels the story forward until it culminates in Samuel’s 12th, and Loo’s 1st, life tale.

Have you read this book? I liked the story so much I am going to read Ms. Tinti’s The Good Thief next.  If it is half as good as ‘Twelve Lives’ I will have yet another book to add to my 2017 favorites list!  Keep reading….

*Twelve Eyes of Evil – The Broken Family Band

Moonglow gave me you…

I make no guarantees

If you’ve been following The Grey Goddess then you know I love to read.  I always have a ‘current read’ book on my night table and a pile of future possibilities nearby. Check out my 2B or Not 2Be Reads and Books I’ve Read lists, where I detail my will or have read books. I like to save my TGG posts for books that really stand out in some way, such as my just-finished 5-star read – Moonglow by novelist Michael Chabon.

I can’t remember where I first learned of Mr. Chabon’s fictional memoir of his unnamed grandfather but the book has been on my ‘must read’ list for some time. Utilizing some of the most eloquently phrased sentences I’ve ever read, the author weaves a richly detailed multi-layered possibly true story about the joys and pains of love in its many forms. The reader feels the heat from a life-long ardor shared by his grandparents, understands the unspoken bonds shared by siblings, relates to pursuing one’s passions until death, and stands bedside while witnessing the friendship and love of a grandchild and grandparent.  Moonglow is a beautifully written, sweeping blend of fictionalized truth that jumps between decades and characters but never leaves the reader feeling lost during the journey, only saddened when that journey ends on the last page.

Have you read Moonglow?  I’d love to know what you thought of the book or what you’re reading now……

*Moonglow – Billie Holiday

There’s a great old bookstore…


Did you know that the last Saturday in April is Independent Bookstore Day?

Amazon may be able to deliver any book to your doorstep in two days or less but can it provide you with the opportunity to meet & greet your favorite author? Does Amazon host reading clubs where you can discuss and debate topical books with strangers turned friends?  Can you spend hours on a rainy day browsing the aisles of Amazon, fresh coffee in hand, reading snippets from whatever books catch your attention?  No, no and no. Can you do all of those things at your independent bookstore? Yes, yes and yes.

Find an indie bookstore near you and stop in to raise your favorite book in a toast to reading and to the amazing independent bookstores that make that possible! If you live in Nashville, Miami, Philadelphia or Denver check out my favorite independent bookstores, including Parnassus Booksher bookshop, Books & Books, Wooden Shoe Books, Joseph Fox Bookshop, and Tattered Cover Bookstore.   If you live somewhere else I’d love to know what independent bookstores you recommend.  Happy Independent Bookstore Day…and Happy Reading!

*Daylight Dreamer – Shel Silverstein

Martyrs and madmen….

Nothing is as it seems

I’m, back!  After a week spent in South Florida (more on that in the days to come) followed by a week of work, sick pets, and tax prep I’m back to posting.

For the last two weeks I have been held in thrall by Joyce Carol Oates ‘A Book of American Martyrs’. Luther Dunphy (a poor, uneducated husband, father, carpenter and devout evangelical Christian) and Gus Voorhees (a middle class, highly educated husband, father, ob/gyn, and non-believer) represent both sides of the abortion debate still ranging in America today.  It is a testament to Ms. Oates exceptional writing skills that her readers come to understand, and even emphasize with, how each man’s belief system leads to their resigned acceptance of becoming a martyr.

While the first third of the book focuses on Gus and Luther, the remaining story centers around their daughters; Naomi Voorhees, and Dawn ‘D.D’ Dunphy.   Each girl’s journey from impressionable child to adult is dramatically impacted by their father’s actions and family reactions to the book’s pivotal murder scene.  It is here that Ms. Oates eloquently and seamlessly weaves the many ways that an individual can kill or be killed into the storyline.

One thing that struck me about ‘A Book of American Martyrs’ is you never know which side of the abortion debate, if any, the author supports or wants you, the reader, to adopt. In our politically charged times I applaud Ms. Oates for taking an objective stance on a polarizing topic to produce a powerful, profoundly moving, thought-provoking book perfectly suited to today’s political times.  I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Let me know if you have read or plan to read ‘A Book of American Martyrs’.  I am curious to hear your perspective on one my ‘top 10’ books of 2017.

*Martyrs and Madman – Roger Daltry

That’s nine shots…


March 9

I am reading the last of my holiday books (here) and am about to place the order for my next nine.  I will be packing ‘Big Little Lies‘ and ‘The Mothers‘ in my beach bag and am looking forward to reading each as I soak up the sunshine at the Venetian Pool and Cape Florida State Park in a few weeks.  How about you?  What are you reading?  Do you have any ‘beach read’ recommendations I can add to my next ‘9’ list?  I’d love to know…


I wonder….

Enter a caption

I love – and hate – when I begin a book that I can’t put down so I speed read late into the night just to see what will happen next and before I know it I’ve finished the tale. That’s what just happened with Emma Donoghue’s The Wonder.

The story takes place during the late 1850’s in a small out-of-the way town in Ireland and revolves around two characters: Lib, an English atheist and Florence Nightingale trained nurse and Anna, a devoutly Catholic 11-year old who has survived on ‘manna from heaven’ for 4 months. We follow Lib and Anna over a two-week span of time, as they go from wary strangers to fast family. Along the way questions of family, faith, science, service, media, and fame are explored. Ms. Donoghue is so adept at weaving a nuanced, layered tale I found myself going from ‘no way’ to ‘what if’ before ending in ‘of course’ after finishing the last page and then immediately wanting more.

This is the third Emma Donoghue book that I’ve read and she has become one of my favorite fiction writers. I first read Room, which I found to be claustrophobically incredible (although it left me with no desire to view the movie adaptation). My next Emma book was Frog Music , a murder mystery about a cross-dressing, bicycle riding frog catcher that I learned was based on actual people living in San Francisco during the smallpox epidemic and heat wave of 1876. After reading a bit more about Ms. Donoghue I am adding The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits , Life Mask , and The Sealed Letter to my must read list.  If these books are half as good as the first three I will be in for a real reading treat.

How about you. Have you read any of Emma’s books?  Which was your favorite?  Id love to know…

In the middle of Chapter 3…

Gifts that keep on giving

One of my favorite gifts to receive is a book, or more specifically, books. My Santa Momma gave me 9 books that have been on my ‘2B…or not 2B Reads‘ Pinterest board for awhile now.   I am almost finished with my current read and then I’ve got a big decision to make – what gift do I begin first? Decisions, decisions…just the sort of dilemma I love to resolve.


Fire, I bring you to burn…

Big city, big stories

I just finished my last ‘summer stack’ book (see the other books here) and it turns out I saved the best for last.  Have  you had a chance to read ‘City on Fire‘ by Garth Risk Hallberg? I can’t recommend it enough.  It’s a big, juicy book that jumps from the 50’s to the 90’s with much of the action happening in the 70’s when parts of New York really were burning.  The plot deftly weaves 15+ characters story arcs between each other, with some of the stories told via a book within a book (think fanzine, diary entries, and a manuscript).  This is  Mr. Hallberg’s first novel and he has set the bar high for future writings. If his next book is as good as his first I will be in for another highly enjoyable read.  How about you?  Have you read any good books lately?  I’d love to know what’s on your ‘must read’ list…