Playing Many Parts


Book Review – The Girl on the Train

the_girl_on_the_train_us_cover_2015I always read the book first.  Since I am a prolific reader I have promised myself that I will always, if at all possible, read the book first.  Before it is made into a movie, and someone else gets to put their interpretation of a book forward as the definitive point of view for millions of people, I want to let my imagination create the world the author has written.

I haven’t seen the movie yet, and might do that to contrast and compare, but I liked the book quite a bit and found it compelling enough to continue reading even though I was quite sure I had figured out the plot a couple of chapters in.  I was right.  It went in the direction I expected, but I think the author intended it that way. . if I ever get the chance to ask her, I will.  There was some important foreshadowing early on that sort of gave things away and that seems like a smart intentional guide. . a kind of Easter Egg for good readers.

I liked this book because I love murder mysteries.  I also love women’s issues and a strong female lead with romance and complications. . .so this book was very interesting to me.  I don’t want to admit it, but I saw parts of myself in the heroine of the story.  I liked very much how Rachel grew and developed and it all seemed somewhat real. . if not romanticized. . but its a novel (it says so on the cover), so I expect that.  Emily Blunt is my Rachel, but that is fine, I look forward to the movie.

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Book Review: The Nightingale

It’s been two weeks since I finished this book and I am still mourning the loss of these characters.  This was a very well written book.  Had I known it was a book about survivors of WWII I probably wouldn’t have read it, but once started, I had to finish.

Both the character development and the beautiful scenery descriptions made these old friends in a place I knew well, even though I have never been to Paris or France.  The quickly moving plot in this historical fiction had me turning pages almost as quickly as when I read the last pages of  The Historian.

I have not read other books by Kristin Hannah, but I now have several of her others on my Amazon wish list and am anxious for my next vacation so I can start a reading marathon.  This was a very happy, unexpected surprise 5 star read for me.  Others have noted that her characters are more modern than a housewife in the 40s would have been, but it is an 80 year old living in the 1990s telling the story, so it all seemed believable to me, but then again, I wasn’t around in 1940 to know.  It seems to me to be a well crafted story of wartime France.


The Key to Happiness

birthdaycakeI turned another year older yesterday.  It wasn’t a milestone of any kind, but after 35, turning another year older can be more and more depressing, if your perspective isn’t right.

I did wake up yesterday feeling a bit glum.  I didn’t have any plans for my big day, my own fault, but still sad.  I had to work all day at a job I don’t love.  And the worst part of all, family and friends were all busy and I was planning a quiet dinner and cake alone.  I do NOT recommend this approach to a birthday.  If you want to be happy, do not spend your birthday alone eating cake.  That is recipe for both weight gain and misery.

However, something kinda awesome happened after I showered and got my first cup of coffee yesterday that kept me from going down a dark hole of self pity and sadness.  I started thinking of all the things I am grateful for.  I literally started counting things I love about my life and was soon overwhelmed with peace and even happiness.  As I got in the car and headed off to work, I kept thinking about more things I was thankful for. And as I was getting happier and happier, nice little surprises started coming my way.  I got a beautiful card from my Mom, my daughter posted a generous note to my FB wall, many friends sent me well wishes, and I even got a surprise monetary kickback from my bank!

I started to wonder if maybe being thankful not only changes how we feel, but changes how others feel about us. Could it be that being thankful opens us to receive more?  Since I was so happy and open, others were able to be open with me. They were free to share thoughts and feelings and I could graciously receive them.  All I know for sure is that when I could have easily gone down a dark road yesterday, being thankful saved my day.  It seems to me that if you are counting your blessings, noting all the things you are thankful for, it is hard to be sad.  If you start to realize all the things you have (it helps to remember that most of the world lives on less than a dollar a day), it is hard to feel sorry for yourself.

So I challenge you empty nesters who are sad, depressed, and looking for ways to make it through another day to start counting you blessings every morning.  Count things like being able to shower.  Clean drinking water from your tap.  A place to live and sleep.  Your next meal or cup of coffee is a real blessing.  You are alive today.  You are probably reading this on a smart phone, computer or tablet.  Are you employed?  Have kids?  Have a significant other who makes you smile ever?  Do you enjoy your freedom?  Are you educated?  Try to come up with a list of at least 10 things you can be thankful for.  Then try 100.  How about 1,000?


Book Review – More Herby Goodness

So I am new to the whole herbal medicine scene.  I have been checking out websites, watching YouTube videos, and ordering all of the things I need.  A friend recommended that I go over to Amazon and see if there were any free books for the KindlePC that might be helpful to me, and boy was he right!

I lucked upon Herbs Gone Wild! and got it the one day it was being offered for free.  And while my favorite herbal website so far has to be HerbMentor.com, my favorite book so far is this one by Diane Kidman.  I have been copying and pasting her recipes like crazy and have been taking notes on all the new herbs I need to buy and try.  Diane writes in a very approachable style and has a very easy going manner that makes it much less intimidating to give some of her recipes a try.  Watch for posts in the near future using some of her recipes.

I would pay a lot for this book.  It is a fantastic reference book on herbs and how to use them.


Quick Money Saving Tip – CHEAP Books

I am sure everyone knows this already, but just in case you don’t, many thrift stores have CHEAP books for sale!  You can’t go get the latest titles probably. . .but you can get some great books for next to nothing.  I have been paying full price for books at Amazon, and at least half price for books at Alibris and used on Amazon, but last weekend I got my best deal yet.  At my local thrift store I got 7 books for $6.25!

My haul included several classics, a college literature book (preparing to homeschool my son), and two best sellers from a few years ago (one was a P.D. James book I have had on my “to read” list for a while now).  If your thrift store takes and sells books, in my humble opinion, it is worth a couple of hours to go sort through the pile.  This sure could get addictive!


Book Review – Innocent In Death by J. D. Robb

innocentindeath1I love Nora Roberts, and I love murder mysteries, so it is no great surprise that I am now completely hooked on reading all of the books she has written as J. D. Robb.  I discovered her back in 200o and at that time I went through and read everything she had ever written, but I did not read any written under the Robb pseudonym.  A friend had this book on her desk the other day and I commented about loving Nora Roberts so she insisted I read this one.  I am glad I did, but my family will be missing me soon, as I have found another series that is nearly impossible to put down.

Innocent In Death is a who-done-it murder mystery with just enough romance thrown in to keep it interesting and personal.  I love Nora Roberts’ characters, especially the women; I always find her heroines strong, passionate and sincere.  I will admit that sometimes the plot is a bit predictable, but the story is usually told well enough that it is still fun to follow along.  I read to be entertained, and I always find entertaining characters in anything Roberts’ writes.  As I finish the last pages of this book, I am already searching Amazon and Paperback Swap for other books with Eve Dallas as the main character.


Book Review – How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff was not what I expected.


Finally Friday Fun – Food and First Editions

Food First

salsa I mentioned in my last post that I was searching the web last week for  places in my home state of Michigan that sold organic food and how much fun I was having finding and testing food.  I found another little gem.  I received my first order from a store called Food For Thought on Wednesday and was quite pleased with my purchases.  Not only is their site and packaging adorable, their food is delicious.  Of the few things I ordered, my favorite item hands down was the Organic Cherry Salsa Atento, I could honestly eat it by the buckets!

First Editions

I ate this wonderful salsa while I did some research online to determine if I accidentally own a first edition, first print book.  I LOVE books, and love reading them even more.  I have been seriously considering starting a collection that would second as an investment and so I have been doing some reading up on buying first edition books.  I randomly picked up a book that I got mailed to me by a friend and as I was trying to determine its edition, realized I had a first edition.  So my collection has officially started.  This particular book is not very well known and my book isn’t worth much. . .but everyone has to start somewhere.


Book Review – The Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood

A review of the Young Adult book The Year of the Hangman by Gary Blackwood.


Dewey’s Books Reading Challenge – List

I have spent a couple of days now going over the reviews at The Hidden Side of a Leaf and have my list set for the challenge.  I do however, reserve the right to change my mind at any moment for any reason.  Most likely, as I go back through the reviews I may just find other books that interest me more, but here is my first attempt at a list:

2003 – The Buffalo Soldier by Chris Bohjalian

2004 – The Inner Circle by T.C. Boyle but may change to The Lovely bones by Alice Sebold

2005 – Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood or Saturday by Ian McEwan

2006 – Outlander by Diana Gabaldon or March by Geraldine Brooks

2007 – The Pesthouse by Jim Crace

2008 –  How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff