The Sunday Salon – December 7, 2014 (plus, wrapping up November’s reading)

sundaysalon2Time and place: 10:10 a.m., Saturday morning, our bedroom. Enjoying some peace and quiet before making a grocery list and heading out in the slushy rain for grocery shopping and to take the boys to see Mockingjay, Part 1.

Thankful for:

~ Noah, our sixteen-year-old, got his first job! He left a resume at a local company called Stick-It Signs about a month ago, and had checked back once, but never heard anything. They weren’t actually even hiring when we dropped it off, he was just hitting any place he could think of. The owner called him Wednesday night, he had an interview Thursday morning, and he started yesterday afternoon. It’s something he will really enjoy, I think, as he’s done all sorts of computer design and drafting stuff before. He was willing to take anything, but was especially excited that it isn’t fast food. :)

~ One more week of school, then three weeks off for Christmas break! Our Thanksgiving week was very full with family and celebrating, and so it wasn’t exactly relaxing. I am really looking forward to three weeks of baking, holiday movies, reading, and quiet time.

Reading: The Humans by Matt Haig; The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber; and A Small Indiscretion by Jan Ellison

Listening to: Written in My Own Heart’s Blood by Diana Gabaldon (not thrilled with this so far, and I’m almost halfway through it); Duma Key by Stephen King (totally hooked); and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (Elijah Wood’s narration is perfect)

Watching: We are really enjoying the new Tea Leoni series Madame Secretary, although I wish Tim Daly was in more scenes. Sigh. Also, we’ve been hooked on Gracepoint, and are really looking forward to the last episode – and finding out who the murderer is! – next week. Recent movie night choices have been Hercules (sheesh!) and The Santa Clause – a classic that Nan’s boyfriend hadn’t seen before. I think Mom has chosen Heaven Can Wait with Warren Beatty for tomorrow night’s viewing. Oh, and, of course, I have been watching football, and my beloved Seahwaks have finally hit their stride! The Thanksgiving game against the 49ers was the perfect way to end our holiday celebration. :)

I hope all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and are getting into the Christmas spirit!

Books completed in November:
The Deadly Dance by M.C. Beaton – 4 stars – This series is always fun.
How To Be a Good Wife by Emma Chapman – 3 starsmy review
Us by David Nicholls – 5 starsmy review
How Green This Land, How Blue This Sea: A Newsflesh Novella by Mira Grant – 4 stars – Love the world she has created with this series!
The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters – 3 stars – Liked it, but it dragged in parts, and was kind of anti-climactic.
We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas (audiobook) – 2 starsmy review
Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson (read-aloud) – 4 stars – Josiah and I had so much fun with this read-aloud!
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger – 4 starsmy review
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster – 3 stars – Another one to check off the “Books You Should Read” list; interesting historical background, but not a page-turner.
The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – 4 stars – Fantastic world-building, but book one of a proposed seven? Really???!!!!
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger – 3 stars – Check another one off that last; well-written, but not a favorite.

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Book Spotlight and Giveaway: The Dreamer’s Pool by Juliet Marillier

dreamerspoolTitle: Dreamer’s Pool
Author: Juliet Marillier
Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Roc
Number of pages: 448
First line: I fished out the rusty nail from under my pallet and scratched another mark on the wall.

Goodreads blurb: In exchange for help escaping her long and wrongful imprisonment, embittered magical healer Blackthorn has vowed to set aside her bid for vengeance against the man who destroyed all that she once held dear. Followed by a former prison mate, a silent hulk of a man named Grim, she travels north to Dalriada. There she’ll live on the fringe of a mysterious forest, duty bound for seven years to assist anyone who asks for her help.

Oran, crown prince of Dalriada, has waited anxiously for the arrival of his future bride, Lady Flidais. He knows her only from a portrait and sweetly poetic correspondence that have convinced him Flidais is his destined true love. But Oran discovers letters can lie. For although his intended exactly resembles her portrait, her brutality upon arrival proves she is nothing like the sensitive woman of the letters.

With the strategic marriage imminent, Oran sees no way out of his dilemma. Word has spread that Blackthorn possesses a remarkable gift for solving knotty problems, so the prince asks her for help. To save Oran from his treacherous nuptials, Blackthorn and Grim will need all their resources: courage, ingenuity, leaps of deduction, and more than a little magic.

I have an ARC copy of Dreamer’s Pool to give away to one of my US readers. Please leave a comment by the end of the week, and I’ll enter your name in the drawing. Good luck!

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Book Review: The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger

divorcepapersTitle: The Divorce Papers
Author: Susan Rieger
Genre: Contemporary fiction
Publisher: Broadway Books
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review copy from Library Thing
Number of pages: 461

Goodreads blurb: Twenty-nine-year-old Sophie Diehl is happy toiling away as a criminal law associate at an old line New England firm where she very much appreciates that most of her clients are behind bars. Everyone at Traynor, Hand knows she abhors face-to-face contact, but one weekend, with all the big partners away, Sophie must handle the intake interview for the daughter of the firm’s most important client. After eighteen years of marriage, Mayflower descendant Mia Meiklejohn Durkheim has just been served divorce papers in a humiliating scene at the popular local restaurant, Golightly’s. She is locked and loaded to fight her eminent and ambitious husband, Dr. Daniel Durkheim, Chief of the Department of Pediatric Oncology, for custody of their ten-year-old daughter Jane—and she also burns to take him down a peg. Sophie warns Mia that she’s never handled a divorce case before, but Mia can’t be put off. As she so disarmingly puts it: It’s her first divorce, too.

I read a lot of novels. (Like you didn’t already know that!) Because of how much fiction I read, I always enjoy it when an author finds a new way to tell a story. Epistolary fiction is one of my favorite genres – when it is done right. And Susan Rieger has figured out how to do it right, adding in the modern twist of e-mail. As someone who has never been divorced (knock on wood), I found the whole idea fascinating – what does a divorce look like from the attorney’s point of view? How does working on a divorce affect this attorney’s worldview, her opinions of people and marriage, the things she thinks she knows about her own personal history? Sophie has a history of dealing with divorce from her experiences when her parents split, and so she has a very strong reaction to the people and issues in the case. This allows the author to give you not only the story of Mia and Daniel’s divorce, but Sophie’s personal journey as she navigates the world of high-stakes divorce litigation.

Susan Rieger was able to give each character such a unique feel, simply from how they chose to write their e-mails, memos, and notes. Sophie and Mia are two very strong women, but strong in different ways. I loved both characters, and especially loved some of the ways Mia reacts to the steps her husband takes in the divorce – reacting as an independent, capable woman who is not going to let this man destroy her and her child. I am so glad that the author also included notes from Jane, notes to her father and grandfather, which gave the reader an inside view on how this divorce process was tearing her apart, causing her to be afraid and insecure and to doubt the very people who are supposed to protect her and make her feel safe.

There is a lot to love in this book, and I only had one minor quibble that kept me from giving it five stars. Some of the portions of the legal papers were simply too long – I felt they could have been summarized a bit more, and found myself skimming a lot of the legalese. But these sections didn’t make up a huge part of the book, and didn’t detract from my overall enjoyment.

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