The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney #TLCBookTours

 

 

 

 

 

Think Grumpy Old Men. In a nursing home.

Well, at least one of the old men is grumpy.

And that is Joel Monroe, who is in his 70s and held ‘prisoner’ at Hilltop Nursing Home. His roommate Miller, who has been in a coma, dies, and Joel, still grieving for his wife, whose bed Miller had taken over, is overcome with grief.

It doesn’t help that the nursing home has stuck him with Frank de Selby, a former soap opera actor who is full of questions, rather flamboyant and optimistic. Joel is determined not to like this new roommate but once he gets to know the real de Selby (real name Frank Adams), he realises that while they are very different people, he quite likes Frank.

Frank shares that his family has left him alone after learning that he’s gay. Joel reveals that he has been thinking of killing himself.

Sharing secrets and escaping the nursing home to get a pint in a bar and these two roommates become great friends, the kind that seem as if they’ve known each other forever.

I loved how different the two men were from each other. And how they learnt from each other and grew, in their own way.

The Great Unexpected is a charming and amusing read, a poignant tale of friendship and ageing.

 

For more information about Dan Mooney and the book, check our his author website, like him on Facebook, follow him on Twitter, look at the book’s Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour.

 

Purchase Links

Amazon | Books-A-Million | Barnes & Noble

 

 

Thanks to  TLC Book Tours and publisher Park Row Books for sending me a copy of this book.

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The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction—but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained all her life to be a dragonrider, but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel.

Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep

I usually prefer to describe the book in my own words but this one is tricky. It is a busy, complex world with societies that have been divided because of their beliefs. But essentially there is a Big Bad and it has been in exile for a thousand years, and guess what, those thousand years are now ending.

But before we get to all of that there is so much of this wonderful world-building to explore. And I feel like you really need to enjoy discovering and wandering through all the author’s worldbuilding when it comes to this book. It does take a while to build up, it does take a while for things to happen and at 848 pages, this is quite an investment. Don’t get discouraged though, because once the pieces begin to fall into place it is glorious.

I’m trying not to spoil anything for anyone here so bullet points to the rescue. Here’s what I loved about this book:

  • women-centred
  • there are dragons and dragon-riders!
  • (but also societies that fear and hate dragons)
  • magic
  • some politicking and power play
  • it’s a standalone, so no need to be desperately waiting for the sequel

Here’s some things that I didn’t like so much:

  • The Big Bad felt a bit like evil for evil’s sake. There didn’t seem to be much of a concrete explanation for what it’s doing
  • It is very long and takes a while to get going. Not everyone has the kind of patience required for a book like this. Perhaps if this wasn’t a library ebook maybe I wouldn’t have read it so fast – the Libby app is especially good at alerting one to the fact that “xx people are waiting” for this book. Which meant that when my time with the book was up, I’d have to put it on hold and wait again. So of course I’m going to finish reading it before that nonsense happens!

Books read in June

In June, I traveled far and wide via my reading!

Some places I explored in books were Tahiti, Alaska, Korea, Germany, India, and some were set right here in California.

Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword – Henry Lien
Moon Rush – Leonard David
The Professor – Charlotte Bronte
Save Me the Plums – Ruth Reichl
Unmarriageable – Soniah Kamal
My So-Called Bollywood Life – Nisha Sharma
The totally awesome Hulk. Vol. 1, Cho time  – Greg Pak
Kid Gloves: Nine months of careful chaos – Lucy Knisley
Tiare in bloom – Celestine Vaite
The Siren Depths – Martha Wells
If You Leave Me – Crystal Hana Kim
The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey
The Aftermath-  Rhidian Brook
The Proposal – Jasmine Guillory
Sadie – Courtney Summers
A Fire Story – Brian Fies

Sadie by Courtney Summers

This was a case of loving the cover art and not knowing much about the book – although of course it was a high likelihood of the story being about a young girl named Sadie.

And it turns out to be a book in a slightly less than usual format – a podcast. Now I’m not much of a podcast listener so I’m not entirely familiar with them but a friend did rave about the Serial podcast and explain a bit about it (but I still haven’t heard it) but the book’s synopsis does actually describe the podcast as “Serial-like” so at least I could pretend to know what it’s referencing.

Anyway the moment I got into the book, I realized I went about this the wrong way and should have tried out the audiobook instead. I don’t tend to listen to fiction audiobooks but this story seems like it was meant for that format.

Sadie is 19, and she goes missing after her younger sister, Mattie, is found dead. The police never found out who killed her but Sadie thinks she knows and is out to find him. She too was abused by this man.

And perhaps this may sound like more than one other story about girls gone missing but the author’s clever device is putting half of the narrative in the form of the podcast. One where West McCray devotes his show to finding Sadie. He talks to those who know her, trace her steps and while the reader already knows plenty via Sadie’s narrative, the podcast reveals more about Sadie’s family than what we see through her young, angry perspective. So what I thought at first as gimmicky turned out to be rather clever.

This book is a dark one. Not just because of the death of a young girl and the unknown whereabouts of another, but also because of the poverty, abuse, addiction that surrounds the lives of so many.

A quick read, Sadie is suspenseful and moving. This is the first book from Summers that I’ve read but now I’d love to read more.

It’s Monday and it’s July!

 

 

Happy July everyone! I know it’s officially been summer for a while already but it only feels properly summer when July begins.

Also, it’s my birthday month and I’m hitting a big one this year!

Anyway, over the weekend, we ate at one of my favourite places in Mountain View, Doppio Zero. Love their pastas, especially the Bottarga, and pizzas which are more Italian than American (thin crust).

The kids had fun at their space camp.

 

 

Currently…

 

Reading:

 

 

 

Watching:

Stranger Things season two. Definitely a binge-watch!

Listening:

No audiobooks at the moment

 

Eating:

Last night, some homemade gula melaka coconut ice-cream

Drinking:

Water

Cooking:

It’s a short week and I don’t have to prep lunches for camp this week so I’m figuring I’ll make up a big pot of bolognese and we can happily eat that.

Last week:

I read:

The Proposal – Jasmine Guillory
The Snow Child – Eowyn Ivey
The Aftermath  – Rhidian Brook

I posted:

 

Eating at Universal Studios Hollywood

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

Library Loot (June 26 to July 2)

 

 

badge
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is a place to meet up and share what you have been, are and about to be reading over the week. This meme started with J Kaye’s Blog   and then was taken up by Sheila from Book Journey. Sheila then passed it on to Kathryn at the Book Date

 

Eating at Universal Studios Hollywood

Theme park food is generally pricey and junky. Hot dogs, burgers, popcorn, pizza, churros, ice-cream, all kinds of cold drinks and sweet things.

Luckily at the Wizarding World there is the Three Broomsticks

I went with the bangers and mash. I love how there was so much vegetables – peas, cabbage, grilled tomato and of course the mash.

 

The husband ordered the Sunday roast and that was a surprisingly large piece of prime rib. I felt that it could have used more salt though!

 

The building itself is a beautiful space!

 

 

And can you say that you’ve been to Wizarding World if you haven’t had a Butterbeer? It’s like a root beer with some butterscotch notes to it.

Right next to Wizarding World is Springfield and other than Krusty Burgers and Duff Beer (both of which are available for purchase!) the other iconic Simpsons refreshment is the Lard Lad Donut. It is humongous (the size of a cake really) and comes in several flavours but we went with the traditional pink with sprinkles. It was surprisingly light for a doughnut and so worked well with the frosting. Of course it was shared by six of us but we had a nice sized piece each.

 

There are quite a few options for food around the park, especially in the Springfield area – Cletus’ Chicken Shack, Luigi’s Pizza, Bumblebee Man’s Taco truck, Sud’s McDuff’s Hot Dogs. We ended up in the Despicable Me area, and ate at Gru’s Lab Cafe, which had rotisserie chicken, meatball subs and this noodle salad thing I decided on, which interestingly had banana chips, watermelon cubes, lettuce, peppers, sprouts.

 

 

Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, beer, wine, photographs

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

 

This is one of those books that I’ve let pass by for quite a while.

It was first published in 2012 and there was been plenty of talk about it and I had it on my TBR list but never picked it up.

It was a heatwave that made me borrow it.

39C or 102F!

And that is the kind of weather where you just have to stay indoors, turn on the AC, drink tons of ice water, and turn on the TV for the kids because it is just too hot to be outside.

So I was craving a book full of cold, full of ice and snow. A story where a scarf and hat and gloves and boots need to be pulled on, over layers of clothing. A story of freezing temperatures and the quiet, the stillness of winter. For summer is LOUD. The birds are up so early and they are chattering away all the time. The sun is blazing before 8am. Fans and air-conditioning units are whipping up the air. Summer is a noisy time. As you might be able to guess, summer is not my favourite.

And The Snow Child was just what these unbearably hot few days needed.

“November was here, and it frightened her because she knew what it brought – cold upon the valley like a coming death, glacial wind through the cracks between the cabin logs. But most of all, darkness. Darkness so complete even the pale-lit hours would be choked.”

Although it took a few chapters for snow to actually arrive. And at last, there it is…

“The first flakes clumped together as they twirled and fluttered to the ground. First just a few here and there, and then the air was filled with falling snow, caught in the light of the window in dreamy swirls.”

Jack and Mabel are struggling in the Alaskan wilderness. After a long summer and autumn, the land was barely cleared, they only got one little potato harvest, and Mabel makes pies to sell in town to help out.

And when the snow falls, they decide to make a snowman. A little snow girl.

The snow child disappears the next morning but they catch glimpses of a girl, no more than 8 or 9, with white-blond hair, who seems to be living in the forest. Is she a lost child? Or could she be like that snow child in the Russian fairytale Mabel remembers, the one a childless couple makes, but in every version, the story doesn’t end well, with the girl always melting.

The girl, as Jack and Mabel learn, is named Faina. She flits between the woods and the little cabin, dancing in and out of their lives, bringing a new spark to their relationship. But we are never quite sure if she is imaginary or not.

It’s a strange and mesmerizing tale, something that hovers between fairytale and reality.