Thursday, November 26, 2015

The Mirror - Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56

Have you ever read a book where you weren't sure if you liked the main character? That's what I felt about the protagonist (Agnes La Grange) in The Mirror by Lynn Freed. Agnes was hired as a housekeeper, but after the father of the family where she worked installed a full-length mirror in her bedroom and she became aware of her beauty, she took full advantage of her assets. I admired Agnes's honesty with herself, her determination, and her ambition, but she was selfish and just not likable. Of course, that also made her story very interesting! I will say that the book kept me entertained and fascinated. Part of that was due to the setting: South Africa in the 1920s-1940s. I also enjoyed the way the story was presented - as a memoir, complete with photographs. It seemed real although it was fiction.  

Here's the Book Beginning:
     I came into that house of sickness just after the Great War, as a girl of seventeen. They were there waiting for me, father and daughter, like a pair of birds, with their long noses and their great black eyes. The girl was a slip of a thing, no more than twelve, but she spoke up for the father in a loud, deep voice. Can you do this, Agnes? Have you ever done that? And the old man sat in his armchair with his watch chain and his penny spectacles, his pipe in his mouth and the little black moustache. Sometimes he said something to the girl in their own language, and then she would start up again. Agnes, do you know how to-

The Friday 56 (from Page 56 in my paperback):
     In the books I read, there was nothing but joy in the hearts of the mothers, except when they weren't real mothers at all, but only stepmothers. And then it was all rage and fury, and the girls cowering under the rod or eating poisoned apples. But here was I, the real mother, and I thought, She'll not always be a child, and I'll not always be young and beautiful. And who will I have then but her?

Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Length: 219 Pages (plus a reader's guide)
Amazon Link: The Mirror
Author's Website: Lynn Freed

Synopsis (from Amazon):
This is the story of Agnes La Grange, a beautiful young woman who emigrates as a housekeeper to South Africa in 1920. With a determination to make a future of her own and a love of men that does not leave her in desperate need of them, Agnes constructs a life beyond the conventions of colonial society. Written in her own fresh and unguarded voice, The Mirror is a fictional memoir, telling the story of the essential female, what she must do to survive, and how little the cost has changed over time.

FYI: A friend recently cleared out some books from her collection and gave a lot of them to me. This book was among them. It was copyrighted in 1997, and there were no grammatical or other errors in the book to distract me.


Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56.
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Monday, November 23, 2015

The Beach House - First Chapter / First Paragraph and Teaser Tuesday

     Today's post features The Beach House by Mary Alice Monroe. It's a beautifully written story about 40-year-old Cara and her mother who is dying of lung cancer. Cara goes back home to the barrier islands of South Carolina and while caring for her mother, confronts issues that have followed her since she was a child. Loggerhead turtles figure in the plot too, and I learned a lot about them through this story.
     Seems like a lot of the books I've been reading lately are set at the beach. Maybe it's time for a getaway to someplace warm! 
FYI: This book is part of a trilogy.

First Paragraph:
     It was twilight and a brilliant red sun lazily made its hazy descent off the South Carolina coast. Lovie Rutledge stood alone on a small, rolling sand dune and watched as two young children with hair the same sandy color as the beach squealed and cavorted, playing the age-old game of tag with the sea. A shaky half smile lifted the corners of her mouth. The boy couldn't have been more than four years of age yet he was aggressively charging the water, the stick in his hand pointing outward like a sword. Then, turning on his heel, he ran back up the beach, chased by a wave. Poor fellow was tagged more often than not. But the girl... Was she seven or eight? Now there was a skilled player. She danced on tiptoe, getting daringly close to the foamy wave, instinctively knowing the second to back away, taunting the water with her high laugh.

Teaser (from Page 179 of my paperback):
     Brett slowed their pace and the engine lowered to a bubbly growl as he expertly motored through the jungle of grass, his eyes on the bank, one hand on the rudder. It was like being Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart on the African Queen, she thought to herself.
    "Are we almost there, Mr. Allnut?"

Genre: Contemporary Women's Fiction
Length: 407 Pages (paperback)
Amazon Link: The Beach House
Author Website Link: Mary Alice Monroe

Caretta Rutledge thought she’d left her Southern roots and troubled family far behind. But an unusual request from her mother coming just as her own life is spinning out of control has Cara heading back to the scenic Lowcountry of her childhood summers. Before long, the rhythms of the island open her heart in wonderful ways as she repairs the family beach house, becomes a bona fide “turtle lady” and renews old acquaintances long thought lost. But it is in reconnecting with her mother that she will learn life’s most precious lessons true love involves sacrifice, family is forever and the mistakes of the past can be forgiven.

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Miz B of A Daily Rhythm. Post two sentences from somewhere in a book you're reading. No spoilers, please!

First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros is hosted by Bibliophile By The Sea. To participate, share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you're reading or thinking about reading soon.
Link at BibliophileByTheSea

Twitter: @SandyNachlinger
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Friday, November 6, 2015

The Pink Door - Seattle, WA - Saturday Snapshots

     Recently, our son generously offered to treat us to dinner out. He said he'd act as chauffeur, and he knew just the place he wanted us to go -- The Pink Door Restaurant in downtown Seattle. He'd heard they had good Italian food, but the main attraction was the trapeze act! So we set a date and went. 
     Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get a photo of the trapeze performer. She twirled and twisted high above the tables in the main dining room, and did her contortions while clinging to a length of fabric. Reminiscent of Cirque du Soleil. Amazing! However, here's a photo of the restaurant's simple exterior. 

You'd think the restaurant's entrance was the door lit with a pink light, right? Nope. It's the door flanked by corn husks with the tiny oval "sign" to its left. The restaurant is located in Post Alley at Pike Place Market. 

Here's the view from our table on the covered terrace. I couldn't believe someone was actually standing on that balcony, playing the guitar. Turns out it was a mannequin. That's the Seattle Great Wheel on the waterfront in the background.

I copied this info from the restaurant's website:

By the way, the food was good. We took advantage of the Seattle Restaurant Week menu and had a three-course meal, paired with appropriate wines. A nice evening out.

Link: The Pink Door 

Saturday Snapshots is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads.
To enjoy a variety of beautiful pictures from around the world, 
click HERE or on the box below.  

West Metro Mommy Reads
To participate in Saturday Snapshots: post a photo that you (or a friend or family member) 
have taken then leave a direct link to your post in the Mister Linky on the host blogsite. 
Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate 
for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. 
Please don’t post random photos that you find online.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Hoot - The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings on Friday

     Several weeks ago I featured Skinny Dip by Carl Hiaasen on my Teaser Tuesday / First Paragraph post (here). It is definitely a book for adults. Today my excerpts are from HOOT by the same author, but this book is written for kids aged 10 to 15. It's a great story (Hiaasen's first children's book, written in 2002) and is fun reading for both kids and adults. As with all of Hiaasen's books, there's an environmental slant along with plenty of humor. In this story, the concern is for burrowing owls being displaced by construction of a pancake house.
     The sticker on the cover says: "Newberry Honor Book."  

Here's the Book Beginning:
     Roy would not have noticed the strange boy if it weren't for Dana Matherson, because Roy ordinarily didn't look out the window of the school bus. He preferred to read comics and mystery books on the morning ride to Trace Middle.
     But on this day, a Monday (Roy would never forget), Dana Matherson grabbed Roy's head from behind and pressed his thumbs into Roy's temple, as if he were squeezing a soccer ball. The older kids were supposed to stay in the back of the bus, but Dana had snuck up behind Roy's seat and ambushed him. When Roy tried to wriggle free, Dana mushed his face against the window.

The Friday 56 (from Page 156 in my trade paperback):
     "How would you and Mom like it," Roy pressed on, "if a bunch of strangers showed up one day with bulldozers to flatten this house? And all they had to say was 'Don't worry, Mr. and Mrs. Eberhardt, it's no big deal. Just pack up and move to another place.' How would you feel about that?"

Genre: Children's Book -- Environment/Humor/Mystery
Length: 292 Pages
Amazon Link: Hoot
Author's Website: Carl Hiaasen

Synopsis (from Amazon):
     Unfortunately, Roy’s first acquaintance in Florida is Dana Matherson, a well-known bully. Then again, if Dana hadn’t been sinking his thumbs into Roy’s temples and mashing his face against the school-bus window, Roy might never have spotted the running boy. And the running boy is intriguing: he was running away from the school bus, carried no books, and–here’s the odd part–wore no shoes. Sensing a mystery, Roy sets himself on the boy’s trail. The chase introduces him to potty-trained alligators, a fake-fart champion, some burrowing owls, a renegade eco-avenger, and several extremely poisonous snakes with unnaturally sparkling tails.
     Roy has most definitely arrived in Carl Hiaasen’s Florida.


Anyone can participate in Book Beginnings on Friday and The Friday 56.
Click HERE to connect to other Book Beginnings posts (sponsored by Rose City Reads) 
Click HERE to join other Friday 56 bloggers (sponsored by Freda's Voice)

Twitter: @SandyNachlinger
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