An Uncommon Fellow~

We’ve got one of these nesting close by our home. Not sure why since we’re not by water.

Look who’s been posing like a model,

at our local ponds lately,

Wood Ducks, which are uncommon in Southern California.

I need to go back and photograph the females,

who are not quite as show stopping as the males,

but are beautiful none the less.

Cheers to you from the uncommonly beautiful California Wood Duck~

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The Searcher – Tana French

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Another blind pick recommendation from my library. I got the audio book.

Stats: Published in Oct 2020. Print is 451 pages. Audio book is 12 discs (14.5 hours), narrator: Roger Clark.

Blurb: Retired detective Cal Hooper moves to a remote village in rural Ireland. His plans are to fix up the dilapidated cottage he’s bought, to walk the mountains, to put his old police instincts to bed forever.

Then a local boy appeals to him for help. His brother is missing, and no one in the village, least of all the police, seems to care. And once again, Cal feels that restless itch.

Something is wrong in this community, and he must find out what, even if it brings trouble to his door.

What I liked: It was an interesting what if… story, if however improbable. Not sure I buy a ex-Chicago cop with a daughter in the States, going all the way to Ireland to live. Lots of desolate places in the US to choose from. That’s not a dig, just seems improbably. The story itself is enjoyable. I thought the characters were real and I cared what happened to them, especially Tray (spelling?). French really makes you want to root for Tray. And I didn’t figure out what was going on until I was told, though I suspected after a while that things weren’t as they appear. Roger Clark does a good job at narration. It everyone sounded very real. I always enjoy listening to a good Irish accent, too.

What I didn’t like: Hum… not sure. It wasn’t a gripping story but it was a good one. Maybe the improbability of the setup is what hinders me giving it a 5/5.

Rating: 4/5

The Ancestor by Danielle Trussoni

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Got this out of my local library when I was looking for a new audio book.

Stats: Published in April 2020, Audio book is 9 discs, narrated by Heather Masters, print book is 349 pages.

Blurb: It feels like a fairy tale when Alberta ”Bert” Monte receives a letter addressed to “Countess Alberta Montebianco” at her Hudson Valley, New York, home that claims she’s inherited a noble title, money, and a castle in Italy. While Bert is more than a little skeptical, the mystery of her aristocratic family’s past, and the chance to escape her stressful life for a luxury holiday in Italy, is too good to pass up.

At first, her inheritance seems like a dream come true: a champagne-drenched trip on a private jet to Turin, Italy; lawyers with lists of artwork and jewels bequeathed to Bert; a helicopter ride to an ancestral castle nestled in the Italian Alps below Mont Blanc; a portrait gallery of ancestors Bert never knew existed; and a cellar of expensive vintage wine for Bert to drink.

But her ancestry has a dark side, and Bert soon learns that her family history is particularly complicated. As Bert begins to unravel the Montebianco secrets, she begins to realize her true inheritance lies not in a legacy of ancestral treasures, but in her very genes.

What I liked: The premise of the book was very fun. Who wouldn’t like to get something in the mail telling you you have a castle in the Alps, holdings in a tree plantation, and a home in Paris! I also enjoyed the narration. Heather Masters does a wonderful job with all the characters. And Alberta – the new heiress – seems real person in a real situation until strange things start to happen and she starts to act strangely too.

What I didn’t like: Alberta does things, little by little, that just don’t ring “true.” She is dropped off at this castle, being told she’d be picked up in a week. Three weeks go by when she finally realizes they aren’t coming back to pick her up – sorry, no way. No cell service in the mountains (sounds right), but they have a land line (okay, maybe), but she doesn’t insist on using it to leave, even though she is told she’s the new owner of the place. She tries to run away to a local (deserted?) village in tennis shoes without gloves or hat. She lived in the Hudson Valley, so she knows what winter is (not a realistic). And when she okays a murder… (nope) I kept reading because I was listening in the car, otherwise I might have stopped. And Trussoni tries to make it more spookier than it has to be. It could have been a strange and thought-provoking story, but it seems she tried too hard to make it something else

Rating: 3/5

Firefily Lane by Kristin Hannah

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 I wanted to read this book before I watched the TV series based on the book, so I ordered the audio book from my local library. Now I wonder what the TV show will be like. 

Stats: Publishing in 2008, hardcover is 479 pages, audio book is 18 hours, narrated by Susan Erickson

Blurb: In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

Firefly Lane is for anyone who ever drank Boone’s Farm apple wine while listening to Abba or Fleetwood Mac. More than a coming-of-age novel, it’s the story of a generation of women who were both blessed and cursed by choices. It’s about promises and secrets and betrayals. And ultimately, about the one person who really, truly knows you—and knows what has the power to hurt you . . . and heal you.

What I liked: I enjoyed Susan Ericksen’s narration. Each character seemed like a different person. She didn’t miss a beat. I am mostly of the generation that Hannah is writing about here, so it was fun to walk down memory lane with her. The things the characters deal with feel real but…

What I didn’t like: I just couldn’t get myself to care much for these characters. I can’t put my finger on why but it wasn’t a book I couldn’t wait to get back to. The writing seemed a bit jagged to me, not consistent. It’s a large book, so I can understand how that might happen, but it’s the editor’s job to help Hannah fix that. I got particularly bored with the struggle Kate had with her daughter. It went on too long and was suddenly dropped on a couple occasions – that jaggedness I mentioned – then revived again. I wasn’t hard to figure out something was going to happen to their friendship and not hard to figure out what it would be that would bring them back together. I haven’t read any of Hannah’s other books but I’ll look closer at ratings before I do.

Rating: 3/5

Photo Phriday – Sea Koalas~

Okay, who doesn’t like sea otters. They don’t look it but they are quite fierce animals.

Wild California Sea Otters,

remind me,

of floating koala bears.

Like koalas they have a laid back approach to life,

and don’t sweat the small stuff!

This pup is clearly embracing the parental philosophy.

Cheers to you from Moro Bay California’s wild sea otters~

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