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Showing posts from March, 2016

Book Review: State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

Dr. Marina Singh is upset to hear of the death of her colleague Anders Eckman in the Amazon rain forest. Anders had traveled there to check up on the progress of a drug in development by Dr. Annick Swenson. The big pharma company that they work for wanted to ensure that the research was on track but no answers were provided before Anders died. Now Marina is sent to Brazil to look into the progress herself, and gain a deeper understanding of Anders' death at the request of his wife.

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett is a unique story that gets at the way pharmaceutical companies research plant sources for new drugs. I enjoyed this different sort of storyline that takes the reader into the jungle and shows how Dr. Swenson and her researchers live with the indigenous people, trying not to interfere with their lifestyle too much, but obviously having some effect. The drug that they are researching was quite interesting and presented some moral and ethical issues, as I'm sure some dr…

Week in Review

It's Monday and it's Spring! The view out my window is beautiful as the trees are all blooming, with white flower petals that are covering my grass now. It's a bit cold for my taste but the forecast looks good so I'm ready for the warmth to arrive for good. I didn't write a recap last week as I hadn't made much progress in my reading, but this week I have a decent update to report.


What I'm readingI finished North of Here by Laurel Saville and then read State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. My book club will be discussing it tonight.

Next I'll be returning to The Changing Season by Steven Manchester, and then I have Journey to Munich by Jacqueline Winspear to wrap up my month.

What I'm writing I wrote a few posts since my last update.

Review of The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown
My plans for Spring Bloggiesta, which starts today
Review of North of Here by Laurel Saville

My main goal of Bloggiesta this week is to get reviews done, so I will be doin…

Book Review: North of Here by Laurel Saville

After finishing college, Miranda takes some time off and moves from her family home in Connecticut to their cabin in the Adirondacks to try to find herself. Then her brother is killed suddenly and her parents end up in the mountains with her, trying to cope with their loss. When even more tragedy strikes her family, Miranda struggles to find meaning in her life, leaning on two different men, in different ways, to help her make it through.

North of Here by Laurel Saville is told in four parts, sharing the stories of not only Miranda but also three other characters she touches in her journey: Dix, Darius and Sally. Dix is the handyman who has taken care of her family's home in the mountains but he is so much more. Darius is the man from her past, from a similar wealthy background and trying to find meaning in his own life. And then there is Sally, who gets wrapped up with Darius and can't seem to pull herself away.

This was an interesting novel in that it starts off feeling like…

My Plans for the Spring 2016 Bloggiesta

On Monday, the week-long Bloggiesta event kicks off. This blogging marathon is a great time for bloggers to get all the things that have been sitting on the to-do list done. I usually spend time updating things on my sidebar or cleaning things up in the background. But this time, I am focusing on reviews. I have only one 2016 book to review, but I have 10 books from 2015 that I never reviewed. I am hoping to make a major dent in that list. So, here's my actual to-do list:

Write review of A Walk in the WoodsWrite reviews of at least half of the 10 books I read in 2015 and didn't reviewAdd all new reviews to My Reviews pageAdd reviews to GoodreadsPromote reviews on social mediaWork on Book Club Picks newsletter Visit and comment on other participant blogs



Book Review: The Boys in the Boat by Daniel James Brown

The University of Washington's eight-oar crew team made history in 1936 at Hitler's Berlin Olympics. In The Boys in the Boat, Daniel James Brown tells the story of the boys who rowed to victory, and those who trained alongside them. He tells of their struggles, both physical and emotional, during this challenging time in history. He tells the story of the coaches and the competitors that pushed the boys to give everything they had to give. But it is the boat itself that is at the heart of the story.

Coming from humble backgrounds, most of the boys knew nothing of rowing, yet within just a few years of stepping into the boat, they found the greatest victory. I loved reading about the journey that brought them to this place. Although Brown brings a cast of characters into the story, he goes deeper into one boy's life and experiences. Joe Rantz suffered much loss and hardship in his early life, but he persevered and made it into the University of Washington and onto the cre…

Weekly Reading Recap

Welcome back to My Book Retreat. I hope you've had a nice week. I'm very happy to see that Spring seems to be arriving here in North Carolina. It's a good thing since my kids are starting their soccer and tennis seasons this week, so we will be outside a lot! It does mean a bit less time for reading since my evenings are going to be crazy for the next couple months. But it should be fun.


What I'm reading I plan to finish up North of Here by Laurel Saville tonight. Then I will be reading The Changing Season by Steven Manchester. After that, I hope to read State of Wonder by Ann Patchett. That is my March book club selection but I'm still waiting for it to be available at the library.


What my kids are reading M, who is in 3rd grade, finished the Harry Potter series and we watched the last movie on the weekend. Since then, she read The Baby-Sitters Club: Mary Anne Saves the Day by Ann M. Martin and Raina Telgemeier. Now she is reading Island of the Blue Dolphins by S…

Book Review: Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear

In 1929 London, Maisie Dobbs is excited to have her first office of her own and her first client, a man who wants her to investigate his wife to see if she is unfaithful. But Maisie's investigation takes her far beyond this couple's relationship, leading her to The Retreat, a refuge for ex-soldiers who are unable to deal with normal life after the war. The case also takes her back to her own painful memories of the war and the impact it had on her life.

Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear is a ten-year-old novel now, and I've only just read it for the first time. At the end of this month, the twelfth book of the series will be released and I will be reading it as well. It took me a little while to get into the story and style of writing. The book starts in 1929, then goes back in time to share Maisie's background, then back to 1929. I think I would have preferred to read her background first, but I understand why Winspear chose to write it in this order. Once I got to …