Carol’s Top Ten of 2018

Among the books I read this year, these truly stand out as my favorites of

2018

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

Varina by Charles Frazier

Less by Andrew Seth Greer

The Word is Murder by Anthony Horowitz

The Mars Room by Rachel Kushner

My Ex-Life by Stephen McCauley

The 7 1/2 Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

The Last Hours by Minette Walters

Tell the Machine Goodnight by Katie Williams

Enjoy the holidays, spend time with family and friends, and have a fabulous 2019–filled  with all good things (and great books)!   ~Carol

 

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Carol’s Top Ten Books of 2017!

What a year it has been! While I’m personally happy to welcome in 2018, I’m also grateful for oh, so much–including reading some fabulous books that were published this year!booktreeThe Wonderling by Mira Bartok – This Children’s fiction debut has a Dickensian setting  and follows Arthur, a fox groundling, who sets out on a quest to escape from a cruelly-run orphanage.

Future Home of the Living God by Louise Erdrich – This dystopian novel is set in a not-so-distant future where evolution seems to be reversing. It’s a fascinating and scary read that is perfect for fans of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman – Long comfortable in her solitude, Eleanor Oliphant inadvertently begins to emerge from a life of isolation and the results are both heart-breaking and hilarious. Read this novel and be inspired to be an even kinder version of yourself.

News of the World by Paulette Jiles – I’ve read this one twice already! 71-year-old Captain Jefferson Kidd is hired to return to her family a 10-year-old girl who was raised by Native Americans. This historical/literary/western will pull on your heartstrings and stay in your mind long after you’ve closed its cover.

IQ by Joe Ide — Irresistible reading with slick dialog and morally ambiguous protagonists, this book is the start of a new series starring an inner-city version of “Sherlock” and his “Watson” who has done hard time.

The Midnight Cool by Lydia Peelle — This novel introduces two less-than-ethical horse traders who are travelling together in the early 1920s, as America’s involvement in WWII looms. Forced to make decisions based on circumstances, their friendship will never be the same in this moving and poignant novel, rich in detail and history.

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney — Based on the real life of Margaret Fishback, the highest paid female advertising copywriter of the 1930s, this story is wise, funny, and moving, and is like a love letter to New York City.  This book makes me want to be Lillian when I grow up!

Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout — Poignant, bittersweet and at times heartbreaking, this is more of a series of connected stories than a novel. Per usual, Strout’s characters are lovingly portrayed with dignity despite their experiences and she can knock me out with a single sentence.

The Twelve Lives of Samuel Hawley by Hannah Tinti — This suspenseful coming-of-age novel slowly reveals the criminal past of Loo’s father Samuel, when, for the first time in her twelve years, he finally allows the two of them to settle down.

A Talent for Murder by Andrew Wilson —  Agatha Christie went missing for several days in December 1926. In this novel, Christie is blackmailed by the doctor of her husband Archie’s lover into murdering the doctor’s own wife! This twisty read, which has a sequel on the way, is a dark and atmospheric, old-fashioned crime story.

Perhaps you’ll read one or two of these while you are waiting for Santa to come? Have a wonderful holiday season!  ~Carol

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun on Memorial Day Weekend

Memorial Day is a U.S. federal holiday currently observed every year on the last Monday of May. It originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War and it was established as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. Eventually the holiday was extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service.

It also marks the start of the unofficial summer vacation season and results in a 3 day weekend for many lucky Americans!

What kind of fun will you be up to this holiday? If you aren’t sure yet and are looking for things to do, here’s a list of area activities happening this Memorial Day Weekend:

balloons

FESTIVALS:

Berea’s National Rib Cook-Off: May 26 to 29 at the Cuyahoga County Fairgrounds

Blossom Time: May 25 to May 28, in and around downtown Chagrin Falls

Day Out with Thomas (Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad): Friday-Sunday May 26-28, Departs from Boston Mills – Brandywine Ski Resort 7100 Riverview Road, Peninsula

Flats East Bank Taste of Summer: Old River Road,Flats East Bank, Friday, May 26, 4 p.m. – 10 p.m., Saturday, May 27, noon – 10 p.m., Sunday, May 28, noon – 10 p.m.

Tremont Greek Festival: May 26 to 29, corner of West 14th and Fairfield in Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland

PARADES AND CEREMONIES:

Avon Lake: Monday, May 29, 10 a.m. – noon, Veteran’s Memorial Park.

Bay Village: Memorial Day Parade, May 30 at 8:450 a.m. from Huntington Park.

Brecksville: Monday, May 29, 10:30 a.m. parade begins at City Hall.

Cleveland, Riverside Cemetery:  Monday, May 29, 9:30 a.m.

Cleveland Heights: Monday, May 29, 10:30 am at the Veterans Memorial in Cumberland Park

Fairview Park: ceremony, 8 a.m., Fairview Park City Hall, parade 9:00 a.m. from Corrigan Craciun Funeral Home, West 208 Street and Lorain Road

Hudson: American Legion Family Memorial Day Parade will step off at 10:00 am from Milford Rd.

Independence: parade, 9 a.m.

Medina: Friday, May 20, 7:30 p.m., Candlelight Vigil, town square

Lake View Cemetery:  Monday, May 29, 10:30 a.m. at the Garfield Memorial

North Ridgeville:  Monday, May 29, parade begins at 9:45 AM from the Marc’s parking lot and will end at the Middle School Ranger Stadium with a ceremony to follow at the stadium

Westlake: Monday, May 29, 10 a.m. from Sts. Peter & George Coptic Orthodox Church to Clague Park.

Whatever you end up doing, I hope you enjoy it!

                                                                       ~Carol

It’s National Pack Rat Day!

Observed on May 17, National Pack Rat Day encourages us to take a look at ourselves and see if we have “Pack Rat” tendencies. While most of us enjoy collecting something, when our collections turn to clutter and we run out of space to put everything, a change is necessary for our peace of mind.

clutter

This unofficial holiday is the perfect opportunity to begin to clean your space and beautify your surroundings!

One way to recycle your unwanted (and overflowing) items is to hold a yard sale. An added bonus is that you might make a few dollars for more useful things.

You can also donate your unwanted belongings. This is a win-win scenario—you’ll get satisfaction from helping others and reduce your clutter in the process. There are many charitable organizations that will pick up your donations right from your front door.

If you are truly motivated, you can get a table at a local Flea Market and unload your collectibles or head to a website like ebay or craigslist and sell online!

This household purging is the ultimate spring cleaning–find your inner zen, make a little cash and do some good, all while keeping items out of the landfills!

                                                                                                                                  ~Carol

The Handmaid’s Tale & Other Reasons to Love Margaret Atwood

I’ve been a huge fan of Margaret Atwood since I read The Handmaid’s Tale in the early 90s. Published in 1985, this dystopian novel won the 1985 Governor General’s Award and the very first Arthur C. Clarke Award in 1987! It was also nominated for the 1986 Nebula Award, the 1986 Booker Prize and the 1987 Prometheus Award. Despite the accolades, and having been adapted into a 1990 film and a 2000 opera, many readers are just finding Atwood’s masterpiece thanks to a new TV series created by Hulu and starring the amazing Elisabeth Moss.

Regardless of how or when you’ve found Margaret Atwood, I say “hooray.” Now you must run, not walk, to your local library and check out all of her books. I highly recommend starting with my other two favorites: The Blind Assassin and Alias Grace. The Blind Assassin, published in 2000, is an amazing blend of historical and science fictions, and contains a novel within a novel. It won the Man Booker prize and Time magazine named it the best novel of 2000 and included it in its list of the 100 greatest English-language novels since 1923.  Alias Grace is a work of historical fiction about the notorious 1843 murders of Thomas Kinnear and his housekeeper, of which two other Kinnear household servants, Grace Marks and James McDermott, were convicted of the crime.

Atwood’s novels feature strong female characters facing adversity. Her books are politically charged and she’s an advocate for the environment and animals. While she is best known for her work as a novelist, Atwood has also published fifteen books of poetry. Oh, and she’s an inventor too! She is the creator and developer of the LongPen, a remote signing device that allows a person to remotely write in ink anywhere in the world via tablet and the internet. Impressed yet? Here’s one more tidbit: her latest novel, Hag-Seed, is a modern retelling of William Shakespeare’s The Tempest. It’s smart and funny  and inventive–just like Margaret Atwood.

                                                                                                       ~Carol

It’s May 5, or Cinco de Mayo!

What is Cinco de Mayo?

mexican

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of culture and freedom, commemorating the May 5, 1862 victory of an outnumbered Mexican Army against the French imperial invaders in the Town of Puebla, Mexico. Ironically, Mexican-Americans and non-Latinos celebrate the holiday more in the United States than people in Mexico do. Today, Cinco de Mayo has taken on party-friendly connotations here in the States. Feel free to hoist a margarita or eat a taco to celebrate it, but be respectful and refrain from wearing racist costumes. You may also wish to avoid corporate chains and instead explore authentic Mexican cuisine.

~Carol

Carol’s Top Ten of 2016

Among the books I read, these truly stand out as my favorite books of the year:

Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood ~ This novel is part of the Hogarth Shakespeare Project series and is a modern retelling of The Tempest. In Atwood’s hands Felix is a theater director out for revenge. His long-game plan isto direct Shakespeare’s classic story of magic, fantasy and hatred–in a correctional institute with a cast of mostly non-violent criminals. Nothing could go wrong there, right?

The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett ~  Jim and Eva live out three realities and their lives collide in each of them. This novel about the different paths that our lives might follow is great read for anyone enjoyed Kate Atkinson’s Life after Life. It’ll certainly make you think– What if one small decision could change the rest of your life?

At The Edge of The Orchard by Tracy Chevalier ~ 19th-Century America comes alive, warts and all, in a novel that begins in the muddy Black Swamp of Ohio and travels west to the giant Redwoods of California. Think Little House on the Prairie for adults.

The Trespasser by Tana French ~ French continues her gritty Dublin Murder Squad series by focusing on Detective Antoinette Conway in this procedural, that has Conway questioning her loyalty to the job. It’s book #6 but don’t let that stop you. Go now. Read them all.

Be Frank with Me by Julia Claybourne Johnson ~ Reclusive literary legend “Mimi” Banning hires Alice Whitely to care for her awkward, eccentric and endearing 5-year-old son, Frank ,and the result is is a captivating and charming story. Need a smile? This will help.

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett ~ Two families are broken apart when Bert Cousins and Beverly Keating fall in love. The result is a multi-layered family drama that I dare you to take your eyes off of.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld ~ This smart and sassy modern updating of Pride and Prejudice works in every way and was oh, so satisfying of a read.

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout ~ Filled with line after line of quotable prose, this novel about author Lucy Barton’s extended hospital visit might be one of my favorite reads of the DECADE and is a powerful story about moving on and learning from one’s past.

Underground Airlines by Ben Winters ~ Victor lives in a present day where the Civil War never happened. A free black man, Victor tracks down escaped slaves for the U.S. Marshall service. This literary thriller will have you racing to its final pages and leave you thinking about it for days.

Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead ~ This 2016 National Book Award winner tells the story Cora, a slave traveling the underground railroad and desperate for freedom. Excellent writing propels this grim, but ultimately hopeful must-read.

Have the happiest of holidays and keep on reading!                   ~Carol