Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Bookshelf Traveling for Insane Times or Shelfy Selfy

Judith at Reader in the Wilderness has started a new meme: Bookshelf Traveling For Insane Times. The idea is to look through a bookshelf or a bookcase or stacks of books and share some thoughts on the books. You can find more details here and here at Judith's blog.

Now Friday is our FFB day here, so I am going to do this on Tuesday and maybe some of you will join me. I am going to do ten books at a time rather than a whole shelf. And this group is a chaotic bunch as are most of my shelves.
The bottom book is the New York Stores of Edith Wharton. A gift book and I have read one or two of them. One of the many book I have from the NYRB series. A favorite Christmas gift from Phil.I must add I am a great fan of Bleak House, Age of Innocence and Summer, three of her novels.

I have read most of Tana French but this (The Trespasser) is not one of them. My favorite is A Faithful Place.

I have read several biographies of Anne Frank. And of course her diary. As a teenager I was obsessed with the Holocaust and still am. Going to Krakow and seeing the camps only heightened the interest. Anne Frank, the biography by Melissa Muller is a favorite.

This is a James Sallis book I have not read. I think he is a beautiful writer. Cypress Grove and its sequels about a small town sheriff are my favorites. (Potato Tree)

The Devil's Own Rag Doll was written by Mitch Bartoy who was a student in one of my writing workshops. This is one of the two books Mitch published. And then he disappeared. This is a very good crime novel, set in Detroit in the forties. He and Megan shared a first Bouchercon in 2005 or 2006. I followed behind them. The first time he stood up and read a section of this in the workshop, I felt in over my head.

Jean Thompson is a favorite short story writer. I have read this one. (Do Not Deny Me). 

The Innocent is by Ian McEwan. Although I have read most of his work, I don't think I have read this novel At least the first page is unfamiliar.

Don't Look Back by Karen Fossum is a favorite.  I love her settings (Norway) and her series detective, Inspector Sejer.

Amsterdam Stories by Nescio- another gift that I haven't read. Phil was always drawn to the books in the NYRB classic series. Sadly, I doubt I have read many of them. I really have always needed to choose my own books. Either they speak to me or not. Now interestingly, he was the same way. I can't tell you how many unread books I gave him. He was even more prone to a particular interest at a particular time then I was.

The Kind of Friends Who Murder Each Other, Chris Rhatigan. Chris is a delightful guy who published many of my stories over the years. I had completely lost track of this very slim book until now. I will read it soon.

How about you? Want to share a few books on your shelf. Picture is not necessary. Do you need to choose your own books or do gift-givers do a good job of picking ones?

Monday, March 30, 2020

Best synopsis of how to take care of yourself that I have heard...


Deanna Durbin

Who quit Hollywood at the height of her fame. 

I'm Still Here

Boy, am I enjoying some of the above. THE MOVIE MUSICAL is so much fun. Just finished a chapter on Al Jolson, Bing Crosby and Elvis Presley-how each of them dominated movies of their era with their music-and yet none of them made a great musical. If you like musicals, this is your book. And it doesn't matter whether or not you like the artist or their music. It's just fascinating to watch how it all came about. I try not to be judgmental because some of the best sections have been about singers I barely know or don't particularly like their music. 

Also reading the THE FLIGHT ATTENDANT (thriller) by Chris Bohaljian, a thriller. Amazing how much he learned about how airlines function for this novel.

UNORTHODOX (Netflix) is a terrific four- part series based on the novel of the same name. Cannot praise the actress playing the lead enough. Also, although I grew up in a  Jewish community, I learned so much more about this particular sect of Hasidic Jews. Also amazing is MY BRILLIANT FRIEND's second season. Love seeing Italy before it was destroyed by you know what. OZARK looks scary as hell. What a great cast even if the plot is a little reminiscent of BREAKING BAD and other similar shows.

I finally got a grocery delivery service to deliver groceries. And a wine store to deliver wine. And I ordered $100 worth of batteries from Amazon. Even if I only drink a glass or two of wine a day, I want to have it on hand.
I just don't know what I will need to get through this. I have downloaded enough books for months and my house is filled with books I have yet to read. I followed the instructions on unloading groceries and the house reeked of bleach for hours after. Hope I don't poison myself.

I am on the phone a lot, which I both appreciate and dread. Even as a teen I hated talking on the phone. I have probably said this before. Sorry. Even though there is no cord now, I feel tethered and yesterday I spent four hours talking to people. So grateful for them checking in on me though.

Michigan and especially the Detroit area is in horrible shape, due somewhat to Trump's fight with our governor.
It is 95% his fault but still she should have known you don't shove a stick in the cage with a wild animal.

Hope things are okay in your area. Steve and I will have to tough it out separately in Detroit. A mile separates us but it might as well be an ocean. Twelve days since I saw another person.  Except from my window where they are riding, walking, skating by.

Want to calm down? Watch the Live Jellyfish Cam at the Monterrey Aquarium on you tube. Or follow Sam Neill on Instagram where he talks about nature. 

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MUSICAL? Even if it is not your bag you might still like STOP MAKING SENSE or HELP.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Tuesday's Gone


Another good addition to the story of Frieda Klein, the psychotherapist who helps the police solve murders in England. In this one, a man is found naked and dead, a part of a finger missing, in the home of a woman who is mentally diminished. How he got there, who he is, who she is, are all part of a pretty complicated plot. We also come to learn more about Klein, her family and friends. All of the characters receive a lot of attention. This is a well-plotted series and individual novel. One of the nice things about this series is it draws on the authors' knowledge of London as we walk through it at night and in the day. The sheer number of characters drawn well in this book is impressive.

Monday, March 23, 2020

I'm Still Here

Just added. If you have instagram on your phone, you get get IGTV with it where loads of short plays, mostly about isolation but many funny, are on there under The 24 Hour Plays. These are  performed by well-known actors and range from a few minutes to a bit longer. For theater lovers for sure. 

Haven't seen another person in eight days now. Yes, I talk on the phone and text and email, but it is eerie. We have had some nice weather and I have taken a few walks. And now is the time when not driving becomes a problem. I am leery about taking car services now. Lucky to be able to order some of the things I need online. My driver./cleaner will not come until this is over.

Watching BLOOD on Acorn, which is pretty good. BETTER CALL SAUL manages to keep the same vibe year after year. Listening to lots of podcasts. Just found the ones for Desert Island Discs, which should be fun. Rewatching SEX AND THE CITY just for a nostalgic look st NY. Will it ever be like that again? Lots of stuff is bound to be left behind.Didn't much like BLOW THE MAN DOWN on Amazon but it was probably just me.

Reading the Tuesday book of the French series, but I am going to take a break after this one. I don't think you are meant to binge them. Yes, read them in order but not in immediate succession. Reading the Jeanne Bassinger book on THE MOVIE MUSICAL, which is loads of fun.

What about you?

Friday, March 20, 2020


I decided to go back and see how the Frieda Klein series started. It is a strong start indeed although by the fourth book you can see growth in character development and plot. Frieda Klein is a therapist who is drawn into a kidnapping case in BLUE MONDAY when her patient describes his dreams of a small red-headed boy who matches a child newly snatched. She takes her story to the police, feeling the similarities are too striking not to report it.
A lot of this novel is taken up with therapy sessions with this patient, which are well-handled if a little repetitive. Klein's personal life and personal quirks are also given attention. Have now started on Tuesday. It is very unusual for me to read a series book after book. I usually get tired of the characters or the setting, but the writing here propels it past those concerns. How often do you read right through a series?

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Things That Are Making Me Happy

Really? Stuck in my house alone? Hard to think of much. Reading another Nicci French book. Watching the really depressing Aussie soap, A PLACE CALLED HOME, where almost every character is either a villain or their target. I am counting on you guys to find something to be happy about. I got nothing other than I survived the flu I had for two weeks in Florida. Hope I can survive the next one.Oh, the weather is not bad.

Friday, March 13, 2020


This is the fourth or fifth book in a series about a female psychologist, written by a husband and wife. It would have been much better to begin at the beginning because French refers to the earlier books and characters way too much for this reader. 

Dr. Frieda Klein, is drawn back into her past in working class Braxton when a former schoolmate comes to her with worries about her child. The girl claims to have been raped by a man who came to her bedroom at night.
Rather than feeling grateful for Klein's help, the schoolmate feels Klein has made matters worse. Especially when the girl hangs herself. Klein's interest in the case is personal and professional.

Frieda has many painful memories about growing up in Braxton. She also has a poor relationship with her mother, a very difficult woman who is dying. 

This was a complex and well-written book and I liked Klein and her assortment of friends. She is an enigmatic character in many respects and there are things that are never explained. I guess that will be the job of the next book in the series.