Monday, April 25, 2016

Stella Bain - #TeaserTuesday and First Paragraph / First Chapter / Tuesday Intros

    Anita Shreve is such an excellent writer! I've just finished reading Stella Bain (published in 2013), and I loved the story. The plot takes place in Europe during World War I, before the United States became involved in the conflict. I don't want to include spoilers, so I'll just say that when the story opens, the main character has lost her memory.
    The author included vivid descriptions of the treatment of wounded soldiers during that war, and also gave me an appreciation of the way women were perceived. For example, a diagnosis of "shell shock" in men was deemed "hysteria" in women. Stella Bain's story unfolds slowly, as the protagonist recovers her memory, and the author goes deep inside her characters. My only complaint, and it's a minor one, is that I would have liked a little more time and attention given to the ending. But maybe that's because I didn't want the story to end! Otherwise, this is a fascinating book that I enjoyed immensely.

Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Length: 261 Pages (Hardback)
Amazon Link: Stella Bain
Author Website: Anita Shreve Books

First Paragraph(s):
Marne, March, 1916
    Sunrise glow through canvas panels. Foul smell of gas gangrene. Men moaning all around her. Pandemonium and chaos.
    She floats inside a cloud. Cottony, a little dingy. Pinpricks of light summon her to wakefulness. She drifts, and then she sleeps.
    Distinct sounds of metal on metal, used instruments tossed into a pan. She tries to remember why she lies on a cot, enclosed within panels of canvas, a place where men who die are prepared for burial away from the rest of the wounded, a task she has performed any number of times.
    She glances down and finds that she is wearing mauve men's pajamas. Why do her feet hurt?

Teaser (from Page 57 of my hardback copy - I cheated and included three sentences):
    Stella has a sudden and intense desire to flee, but she cannot run away from the man beside her. Instead, she freezes rigid on the spot, unable to move a limb, unable to make sense of anything happening around her. She reaches for the back of her neck, certain that someone or something is about to grab her.

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
    When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.
    A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest. Stella had been working as a nurse's aide near the front, but she can't remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.
    In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation.

Teaser Tuesday is hosted by Jenn of Books and A Beat. 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.

Twitter: @SandyNachlinger

Facebook: sandy.nachlinger

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Capitol Hill - #Seattle Neighborhood Hike - Saturday Snapshots

Most of the hikes I've taken with the Auburn Senior Activity Center have been on paths through lush evergreen forests... and that would describe portions of my recent hike through a couple of Seattle's urban parks (link here). However, part of last week's trek took the group through an older, historic area of the city. Today I'm posting photos of some of the beautiful homes we saw along the way. [Click on photos to enlarge.]

Wisteria and pink dogwood in bloom.

Love that red door and trim around the beautiful windows.

A welcoming pathway. Looks like the pink rhododendron near the door is just starting to bloom.

Unusual pink trim along the eaves. This guard dog stayed at his post on the steps.

Each house we passed was unique, and almost every one featured plants in bloom.

No cookie-cutter homes in this neighborhood.

The grandest home of them all on Millionaires' Row. 

It was fun walking through this neighborhood, even though we did get a few curious stares and comments. 

A woman asked, "What are y'all doing?"

One hiker (an 80-year-old) answered, "We're hiking!"
Everybody laughed and the woman looked puzzled. I wonder what she was thinking.

The same thing happened at the Arboretum. A young man asked where we were going. Someone answered, “We’re walking from the Arboretum to Volunteer Park… and back.” He looked at us as if we were aliens from outer space.

I guess I can understand their reactions. After all, how often do you see a group of fifteen senior citizens, sporting backpacks and with trekking sticks, parading by?

Here's a link to the history of the area, along with more information:

 Seattle's Capitol Hill Neighborhood

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. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A New Dawn in Deer Isle - The Friday 56 and Book Beginnings on Friday

    After George McLast's wife Lorna died, his life seemed to lose its purpose. He rarely left the trailer they'd bought in Florida, took afternoon naps to break the monotony, and worst of all, he'd started having a squeezing feeling in his chest. He'd  mourned for almost three years before deciding to take action in the form of a road trip in his van, something he and his wife had planned to do. A New Dawn in Deer Isle tells the story of George's adventure. With surprises along the way, he examines his life and his future.
     Readers who enjoy books with older characters (Baby Boomer age), road trips, and introspective narrative will definitely like this touching story. The author's voice is conversational, as if telling a story to a friend, and the book is an easy, engrossing, and true-to-life read. 
I'll look for more books by this author.

Genre: Fiction/Travel/OA (Older Adult)
Book Length: 181 Pages
Amazon Link: A New Dawn in Deer Isle
Author's Website: Tom Winton

Book Beginning:
     For thirty-five months my life had been a living hell. Every morning, noon, and night relentless flames ravaged my mind, my spirit, and my soul. You see, in 2011 my wife and I moved to that blazing-hot inferno they call Florida. And by the time we'd made it just halfway through the first nine-month summer in that overdeveloped, sub-tropical jungle, we absolutely hated the place. Then in September of the same year, with our hearts broken because we had made the move and couldn't afford to go back to Long Island, my Lorna began to weaken.

Friday 56 (from 56% on my Kindle):
Through the glass I saw Sarah Poulin's face again. She was placing short stout glasses of water  in front of five family members who'd entered the diner minutes earlier. And her lovely face was all lit up with that warm smile of hers. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
     Every once in a while we read a book that profoundly affects the way we perceive our lives. A NEW DAWN IN DEER ISLE is one of those rare books. 
     A common man of modest means, world-weary George McLast decides to forget all his problems and take the trip him and his beloved wife had only dreamed about before she passed away three years earlier. Despite all the unnerving feelings he’s been getting in his chest, his son’s disapproval, and his precarious financial situation, he sets out across America following the same route John Steinbeck took in 1959 with his pet poodle, Charley. And as the legendary author wanted to do back then, George hopes to reacquaint himself with his country and its people. 
     But everything doesn’t work out as planned. Along the way George encounters far more than he had bargained for. And so will readers. During his many adventures and mishaps you’ll feel like you’re right alongside him, in the passenger seat of his old van. And you will not only read his words you’ll learn from them as well. 

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
Facebook: sandy.nachlinger

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"Are We There Yet?" - Smart Girls Read Romance

I'm over at Smart Girls Read Romance today for my once-a-month blog post. This time I'm writing about my self-publishing experience with Bluebonnets for Elly.

Stop by and say "hi." Here's the link:
"Are We There Yet?"