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Carla Loves To Read

A Life in Parts by Bryan Cranston

A Life in Parts

4.5 Stars
Hardcover, 271 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Scribner
Kindle Edition, 289 pages
eAudiobook, Audiobook by Simon Schuster Audio

About the Book: A poignant, intimate, funny, inspiring memoir—both a coming-of-age story and a meditation on creativity, devotion, and craft—from Bryan Cranston, beloved and acclaimed star of one of history’s most successful TV shows, Breaking Bad.

Bryan Cranston landed his first role at seven, when his father cast him in a United Way commercial. Acting was clearly the boy’s destiny, until one day his father disappeared. Destiny suddenly took a backseat to survival.

Now, in his riveting memoir, Cranston maps his zigzag journey from abandoned son to beloved star by recalling the many odd parts he’s played in real life—paperboy, farmhand, security guard, dating consultant, murder suspect, dock loader, lover, husband, father. Cranston also chronicles his evolution on camera, from soap opera player trying to master the rules of show business to legendary character actor turning in classic performances as Seinfeld dentist Tim Whatley, “a sadist with newer magazines,” and Malcolm in the Middle dad Hal Wilkerson, a lovable bumbler in tighty-whities. He also gives an inspiring account of how he prepared, physically and mentally, for the challenging role of President Lyndon Johnson, a tour de force that won him a Tony to go along with his four Emmys.

Of course, Cranston dives deep into the grittiest details of his greatest role, explaining how he searched inward for the personal darkness that would help him create one of the most memorable performances ever captured on screen: Walter White, chemistry teacher turned drug kingpin.

Discussing his life as few men do, describing his art as few actors can, Cranston has much to say about creativity, devotion, and craft, as well as innate talent and its challenges and benefits and proper maintenance. But ultimately A Life in Parts is a story about the joy, the necessity, and the transformative power of simple hard work.

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Before We Were Yours5 Stars

My Review: This book is based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals. Knowing that, as I read, I had a very hard time not getting this book wet with my tears. Georgia Tann, director of a Tennessee Children’s Home Society in Memphis. , kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country who were not able to have their own. This story was heartbreaking and uplifting at the same time. All you need to do is google Georgia Tann and you will find many articles about this human trafficker.

The story is told in two timeframes. The one in the past narrated by a young girl, Rill, whose brother and three sisters were taken from their parents and brought to this so-called orphanage. Families believed that this was temporary and they would get their children back, WRONG. The parents of this young family did not even understand what they were signing. By the time they realized what had happened, they were unable to get their children back. Children were not treated well in the home. They were punished severely for minor indiscretions and fed as little as possible. Sleeping arrangements were not the best, in fact the family of 5 slept in a basement room on smelly, musty cots for a long period of time. Blonde children were particularly valuable as they were more easily adopted, bringing the larger sums of money to it’s crooked founder. Her story is heartbreaking, and though hers is a made up character her story is representative of many that were factual. The modern day story follows a grown woman, Avery, from a prestigious family who wants to find the truth about her beloved grandmother, now suffering from dementia. An accidental meeting of an older woman in a nursing home, sets this search in motion and once started, Avery refuses to give up until she finds out about her own family background.

The past story is what this book is really all about. The characters are more developed and the story is more emotional. The plot is very well written and the two stories tie together nicely. I liked the character of Avery, willing to go against her mother, Honeybee’s, wishes for the first time in her life. I kept turning the pages quickly to see what would happen next. Even though this is a sad read, I enjoyed finding out about the story. I had no idea that this had gone on in the past, even though there is still human trafficking now. Well done Lisa Wingate. This book is historical fiction, but I believe anyone who enjoys good Literary Fiction will enjoy it.

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Death of a Lobster Lover (Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery #9) by Lee Hollis

Death of a Lobster Lover by Lee Hollis4 Stars

My Review: Death of a Lobster Lover is the ninth book in the “Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery” series featuring food columnist Hayley Powell. I was a bit disappointed in the last book, but I really enjoyed this one. Hayley and her best friends Liddy and Mona are taking a much needed girls weekend in Salem Cove, ME to enjoy the town’s Lobster Festival. They are going to stay in Mona’s family cottage that she vacationed at for years. I was expecting a humorous read and I was not disappointed. These ladies have been friends for a long time, but I don’t know how Liddy and Mona have not tried to kill each other.

Hoping that the BFF weekend will help Liddy get over her recent breakup with lawyer boyfriend Sonny, things go from bad to worse when they see Mona’s run down family cabin. When they arrive at the hotel to get a room, Liddy appears to fall for the smarmy travel reporter Jackson Young. After standing Liddy up for the Lobsterfest, Hayley stumbles upon the dead body of Jackson lying on the beach. The trio soon finds themselves suspects in the man’s murder and Hayley is determined to clear their names. Add to all this, Mona runs into her childhood boyfriend and he seems to want to pick up where he left off. And what is with the overzealous Sheriff Daphne Wilkes who seems to have a vendetta against the women, ticketing them for imagined infractions. When the ladies end up behind bars, it is time to call Sonny for help.

An action packed plot makes this installment a quick page turner that’s hard to put down. The antics of Hayley and her friends will have you laughing during some parts, and holding my breath, or biting my nails during others. There were scenes that took me by surprise, and more than one mystery to keep me guessing. With the story set in a vacation locale none of the secondary characters readers of the series are familiar with appear. The love lives of her two best friends are the focus in this edition, and a surprising twist at the conclusion will leave you in shock. Once again there are several recipes for cocktails and lobster sprinkled throughout the book. Also some of Hayley’s columns are there, which add some of the humor to the books, but do break up the story somewhat. You will either like this or hate it depending on how you feel about that. A must read in this series for cozy mystery lovers.

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WWW Wednesday

WWW

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme is hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words. The Three Ws are:

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Death of a Pumpkin Carver (Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery #8) by Lee Hollis

Death of a Pumpkin Carver (Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery #8)3 Stars

My Review: I have only read a couple of books in this series, but had no trouble following the story. The “Hayley Powell Food and Cocktails Mystery” series is made up of shorter mysteries that have a lot of character development and details from the lives of the townspeople as well as a mystery. In this story, Hayley can’t imagine a worse trick than her ex-husband Danny returning to Bar Harbor just before Hallowe’en. Her kids may think it is a treat, seeing their dad, but Hayley’s determined not to be taken in by his charms, and she is always wary of his ulterior motives (usually financial troubles). When Danny’s favorite uncle, Otis, a moonshiner who often samples his own goods, turns up dead in the cemetery, Hayley tries to find the killer. She is worried that Danny’s proximity to their children might put them in danger.

Death of a Pumpkin Carver is fun, lighthearted, with a few serious moments but its a change from the books I’ve been reading lately. I wanted a cozy read and this book fits the bill nicely. This book was a delightful mix of humor, Halloween fun, family life and murder mystery. I liked the columns written by the main character telling anecdotes and stories from Hayley’s life, followed by fall theme recipes for all sorts of different foods and cocktails. I am a huge pumpkin fan, (I even grow my own pumpkins to cook and puree) so I am going to try several of the recipes. If you like seasonal cocktails, there are a few in this book.

While Haley and the other characters were a lot of fun and there were a lot of humorous situations, the mystery seemed to be a minor plot in the story. It took a third of the book before the crime took place, and afterwards there wasn’t much in the way of finding clues and figuring things out. The last part of the book was a lot quicker tying together all the storylines and unveiling the murderer. In the end, I was surprised at who the murderer was as well as the reason behind it. I enjoyed the humor at the end, Danny is really not very bright. I did not enjoy this one as well as some other cozies, but I will read another in the series to see how it goes.

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Death by Eggnog (Bookstore Cafe Mystery #5) by Alex Erickson

Death by Eggnog (Bookstore Cafe Mystery, #5)4 Stars:

My Review: I am still enjoying this series. Krissy is my kind of sleuth. She is smart, kind, has good judgement, loyal and real. I love how she is not afraid to admit her flaws and laugh about her mistakes. This story does not use the coffee shop setting as much as the other books, but it is easy to see that this is where Krissy’s comfort zone is. It is Christmas time and Krissy has a week off to go to California to spen the holiday with her father. At the last minute he calls her to say he is going away with his girlfriend so she has a week off and is staying in town. She gets roped in to playing an elf in the local holiday play, a singing and dancing elf and she can’t sing and dance. There are so many things happening backstage such as the director being too demanding, the performers all gossiping backstage, male characters fighting over the same girl, and there are fights over who will play the lead role. Within a couple of rehearsals, the man playing Santa Claus is murdered. It turns out Chuck was a bully to the guys and rather handsy with the women so there were a lot of people who might have had a reason to kill him. When Krissy’s ex-boyfriend is arrested for the crime, Krissy is convinced that he didn’t do it. Both he and his new girlfriend ask Krissy to help and the investigation begins.

The mystery moved along at a nice pace. There were plenty of suspects, twists and turns and I was not able to figure out who the killer was. The author did such a good job of spreading out red herrings. I like Alex Erickson’s writing style. It is humorous at times and to the point with just enough description to make the story enjoyable. The characters are quite likable with the exception of some of the minor characters in the play. They were a bit aggravating and did not appreciate Krissy investigating the crime. The holiday theme was well done, not overdone. When the culprit was revealed, he/she explained why, but it was not the best explanation for me. It was plausible, but just did not sit well with me. That is why I only gave it 4 stars. There was some humor in the story that had me smiling throughout the book. The romance was not very much a part of this story which is fine, but I am not very impressed with Will, Krissy’s present boyfriend. He is rather stiff I and does not seem to be much fun. I would love to see her get back with Paul, the police officer. I do recommend not only this book, but the series to cozy mystery lovers. They are well written with great mysteries and characters. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

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#NormalizeKindness

I thought this was something we all need to see and think seriously about. Thanks Edith Maxwell for sharing Alexia Gordon’s wonderful words.

Wicked Cozy Authors

Edith here, in the busy second half of a busy month. And I’ve been thinking about kindness.  This is a card someone was handing out at Quaker Meeting recently.

kindessmatters.jpg

We’ve all been witnessing way too many unkind, malicious, and violent acts, whether on the news or in person, of late. Horrifying events. Disgusting acts. Cowardice and rudeness.

Can kindness counter what seems like a tidal wave of really bad behavior? Can it be contagious? Think of how you feel when somebody you don’t even know does you a favor. Smiles, prepays your coffee, or writes and email out of the blue to say how much they loved your book. Kind of makes you want to return the gesture, doesn’t it?20180520_152736_HDR

Saturday I woke up earlier than usual, put on my tiara, grabbed a scone I had baked the day before (I left the bubbly for later, since it was only…

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The Girl I Used to Be by Mary Torjussen

The Girl I Used to Be4.5 Stars

My Review: This is the first book I have read by Mary Torjussen, but after reading some good reviews, I wanted to give it a try. What happens when you lie to your spouse about how you spend your evening away? Can a marriage survive when one spouse is resentful? Do you ever know who you can completely trust? The Girl I Used to Be is a psychological thriller that is almost completely told from Gemma’s point of view, however, there are some chapters told from another point of view as the story goes on. There are some flashbacks to past events that have shaped the situation happening in the present, as well as making Gemma the person she is. The story is very easy to follow and everything flows smoothly.

When Gemma Brogan gave birth to her son she and her husband agreed that he would be the one to stay at home and care for their child while she got her real estate business up and running.It is now four years later and Gemma is becoming resentful. Joe does not even pretend to look for work and with her being the only breadwinner, she puts in long hours. She is beginning to feel like an outsider in her family, especially when Rory wants daddy to do everything for him. When an out of town training event takes Gemma away she tells him she is looking forward to a quiet and restful evening with dinner in her room. When she calls home to talk to her son, she is upset because he is already in bed. Frustrated and hearing the happy sounds from the bar terrace below, she heads out of her room and runs into a client who invites her to dinner. The night led to a lot of talking and quite a few drinks which left Gemma kicking herself the next morning. Not only is she hungover, but she does not remember what happened after she got to her room. When she begins to receive messages, pictures and video, she realizes that something happened that she does not remember. Will the police be able to help her? Who is sending these things to her? What will happen to her marriage if Joe finds out?

As I read this story, I thought I had it figured out, then boom, something happened to change my mind. There were several twists and I could just see Gemma falling apart and not knowing where to turn. This story kept me guessing almost to the end. I felt for Gemma, she was a good person who did not seem to deserve what had happened to her in the past or the present. I really liked the ending. It tied up all the loose ends and was very satisfactory. The writing flowed smoothly, was descriptive and had me emotionally involved in this story. As the story progressed, it was hard to put it down. I will definitely look for more books by Mary Torjussen. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Edelweiss.

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The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews

The High Tide Club5 Stars

My Review: I loved The High Tide Club by Mary Kay Andrews. I had a hard time classifying this book as it has a bit of so many things. There is friendship, betrayal, greed, lust, some romance, a murder mystery, forgiveness, state vs. resident, and some historical information about “the geechees” and the freed slaves in the south as well as the roles and expectations of women in the 1940s . Most of the story is told from the perspective of Brooke Trappnell, a single mother who has hung out her legal shingle in a small coastal town in Georgia. The scenes from the past are from the perspective of the girls in the “High Tide Club”, Ruth, Winnie, Varina and Josephine.

Ninety nine year old Josephine Bettendorf Warrick owns most of Talisa Island. The state is trying to purchase the island for a state park. Josephine has been fighting them for years and they are trying to condemn the land so she is forced to sell. She hires Brooke to carry on the fight for her island and home as well as her assistance to do some estate planning. She wants to create a trust and leave it to the members of the High Tide Club or their descendants. Josephine has terminal cancer as well, so is in a bit of a rush for this to be completed before she dies. This is not Brooke’s area of expertise, but she wants to meet the old woman who is basically a hermit. When Josephine shares part of her story with Brooke, she has to refuse the estate planning as her mother is one of the intended heirs. She contacts her mentor that she worked for in Savannah and he agrees to take on this part of the case. I do not want to go into anymore detail because of spoilers.

As I read this story, I was immersed in the lives of the women and other characters both in the past and present. I wanted Josephine to make amends, but at other times I was angry with what she had done. The two time periods of the story were woven together so well, that the flow was wonderful. The secrets from the past that are slowly unveiled as the story progressed led the reader on a path with many twists. Reading about the time period of 1939 to 1942 gave me more information of how women were treated as well as African Americans. This book kept me up until after 1:00 in the morning because as I got deeper into the story, I did not want to put it down. A wonderful story written by an author that I have added to my list of those not to be missed. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.

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