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The Week in Review: 05.01.2020

May 1, 2020


Between the Covers

Finished last week:

STEPPING STONES by Lucy Knisley is a graphic novel for the middle grade set inspired by Knisley’s own childhood.  In the book, Jen’s parents are divorced and her mother has moved from the city to a farm.  Jen is expected to do chores and help at the farmer’s market.  Her mother’s boyfriend is overbearing and annoying and his daughters (who come up for the weekend) are just as bad.  Jen hates the country and longs for the city.  The girls make their peace, though, and learn to become “part-time sisters.”

I love Knisley’s work – she does a fabulous job of telling a story and showing emotion with a few words and her wonderful illustrations – and this book was no exception.  In her note to her readers she includes photos from her childhood and says:

One of the worst things about being a kid is finding yourself in these situations where you have no control over the decisions the adults are making that affect you.  But sometimes it’s also one of the best things — to find yourself in a situation you couldn’t possibly have chosen for yourself, totally at sea.  It can sometimes bring unexpected beauty, and introduce strangers that become family.

I think it’s a sentiment many kids can relate to and hopefully this gem of a book will help them see the silver lining in their clouds.  (Review copy provided by RH Graphic.)


I’ve always been curious about the events surrounding her death so I picked up NATALIE WOOD: THE COMPLETE BIOGRAPHY by Suzanne Finstad.  It recounts Wood’s life from birth to her tragic death in a well researched, detailed manner.  Born Natasha Zakharenko to Russian immigrant parents, Wood’s mother was the ultimate stage mother – she would do anything to make Wood a star.  Intelligent and eager to please, the pliable Wood did as she was asked and her career soared.  Her personal life was another matter, though.

Wood married Robert Wagner and divorced him several years later when she caught him in a compromising position.  She couldn’t get him out of her system, though, and remarried him in 1972, leading to her death, made all the more tragic because of her deep fear of “dark water.”  Her drowning and the bungling of its investigation has made the headlines several times throughout the years.  Finstad has researched it extensively and believes she knows what happened and shares her thoughts in this book.  I found it plausible and think she is likely correct.

I found this book to be well written, compelling and sad.  I listened to the audio version and thought Rose McGowan did a good job with the narration.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)


Jack Harris’s wife was killed in a mass shooting leaving him to raise his daughter alone.  Several years later, when the father of the shooter is murdered, Jack is the prime suspect.  When he’s arrested, Jack’s daughter contacts Olivia, his ex-fiancé, to defend him.  Olivia didn’t treat Jack that well so she feels like this could be her chance to redeem herself.

THE EX by Alafair Burke was just the book I needed to distract me from the news.  I thought the plot was well done and the characters were better developed than usual in this type of book.  There were several twists along the way and I only figured out the big one right before it was revealed.  This was my first book by Burke and I’m wondering why I waited so long.  I’ll definitely be reading more of her work in the future.  (Review copy provided by Harper Collins.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

At Ti‘s recommendation, we’ve started watching The Stranger.  In it, a stranger comes to town and turns lives upside down by revealing secrets to families and friends.  We’re not sure yet how all the stories tie together and are curious enough to keep watching to find out.

Off the blog

  • On Sunday, a tornado touched down very close to Vance’s house.  Luckily, no one was injured and his property didn’t sustain any damage.

  • I finished my puzzle and will start a new one soon.
  • We walked at least three miles every morning and I averaged just over 16,250 Fitbit steps a day.

What’s going on in your corner of the world?

24 Comments leave one →
  1. May 1, 2020 7:12 am

    I’m glad the tornado didn’t cause injury to anyone! We’ve been watching AfterLife on Netflix. Dark comedy but a good distraction. Have a good weekend!

  2. May 1, 2020 7:28 am

    Oh my goodness, that tornado must have been frightening, thanks goodness Vance is OK. I like Alafair Burke’s books, she knows how to keep the reader guessing.

  3. Beth F permalink
    May 1, 2020 8:00 am

    I grew up with tornadoes . . . so scary. Glad Vance is OK. I liked The Stranger!

  4. May 1, 2020 9:20 am

    I am also fascinated by Natalie Wood, having enjoyed several of her movies and also wondering about her mysterious death. I’ll be checking out this book.

    I read and loved The Ex a while ago, and I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    I love Marcia Clark’s books…and I have Pretty Things, a recent acquisition.

    Now I must check out The Stranger.

    Thanks for sharing, and enjoy your weekend…and May.

  5. May 1, 2020 10:16 am

    I’m so glad that Vance is okay. Tornadoes and the virus – crikey! I love Alafair Burke’s books – so much fun to read. The Stranger was such a good show. Hope you have a great weekend 🙂

  6. Susan permalink
    May 1, 2020 12:46 pm

    Yeah Natalie Wood’s tragic death was awful. Did the author think it was an accident? It seemed there had been a lot of booze drinking that nite, right? I also liked The Ex and enjoyed the audio narrated by Xe Sands, who is one of my favs. The puzzle is lovely …. I too am working on a puzzle right now …. just sort of here & there.

  7. May 1, 2020 1:06 pm

    Nice mix of reads. I love the jigsaw and am thinking of getting one to see how it goes. Just announced that the curfew is going on till the 11th may was a bit of a blow. It was to be lifted on the 4th. Can’t be helped.

  8. May 1, 2020 3:03 pm

    I have the Natalie Wood book in my list to read. I’ll have to try The Stranger.

    Glad Vance didn’t have any damage!

  9. Diane permalink
    May 1, 2020 6:46 pm

    The Natalie Wood book sounds interesting.

    I’m so glad you are all safe after the tornado so close by. Hope you have a nice weekend Kathy, it seems your state might be on the way to seeing better days.

  10. May 1, 2020 7:03 pm

    Kathy, I’m glad the tornado wasn’t any closer to Vance! The books sound absorbing, and the puzzle is very pretty. Enjoy your weekend!

  11. May 2, 2020 2:59 am

    We watched a couple of episodes of The Stranger, but haven’t yet continued on.

  12. May 2, 2020 7:20 am

    I plan to watch the special based on the Natalie Wood book on May 5. I have always been a big fan!

  13. May 2, 2020 9:42 am

    Three good books is a good week, I think, especially these days. People who marry, divorce, and then remarry like Natalie Wood are intriguing to me. And a new graphic novel from Lucy Knisley sounds wonderful.

    Look at that great puzzle. We ordered our first puzzle a month and a half ago, and it arrived about a month later. I finished it yesterday. I’m thinking about disassembling it and putting it in my Little Free Library now.

    I will have to look for The Stranger.

    Have a good week, Kathy.

  14. May 2, 2020 10:51 am

    Glad to see you’re watching Coben. He makes a cameo in all of the mini series he does, so watch out for him 🙂 i have a Burke book waiting to be read so maybe I need to move it to the top of the pile. I’ve never read her either.
    Love the puzzle and glad that Vance is ok.

  15. May 2, 2020 5:08 pm

    We just finished another puzzle (Starry Night), which was quite challenging! So glad Vance is ok. I hate tornadoes and am so glad I never saw one in person while living in Nebraska and Texas. There were certainly a lot around us, but never up close in our neighborhoods. Thanks for the recommendation for The Stranger. I have a vague recollection of the book and I think I liked it, but it’s been a while.

  16. May 2, 2020 8:12 pm

    Natalie Wood’s story is so sad. I would be curious to read the biography and am glad you liked it. I am glad Vance’s house was spared by the tornado. I hope you have a good weekend and week, Kathy. Stay safe and well.

  17. May 3, 2020 11:34 am

    I didn’t realize Lucy Knisley had a new book out. I’ll be checking it.

    I hadn’t heard of Natalie Wood but wow, you are right – such a tragic story from her childhood.

    I’m looking forward to watching the Coben show as well.

  18. Helen Murdoch permalink
    May 3, 2020 1:27 pm

    Both The Ex and the Natalie Wood book sound good. Natalie Wood and I share a birthday (different years) so I’ve always been a bit intrigued by her.

  19. May 3, 2020 4:21 pm

    That puzzle is so pretty! How scary that a tornado was so close. When I was 10ish, I would have been home alone and at the last minute, I decided to join my parents on their outing. While we were gone A tornado hit our home. We lost trees and the insulation was sucked into our house, but otherwise, the house was ok except for some damaged siding. I’m just so glad I wasn’t home alone. Since then, I’ve been a little scared of tornados.

  20. May 3, 2020 5:42 pm

    All three of your books sound good. I especially like MG in graphic form. Glad to hear Vance is ok after that tornado.

  21. May 4, 2020 6:39 am

    Tornadoes are terrifying, I’m glad your loved once’s are safe.

    Wishing you a great reading week and good health

  22. May 4, 2020 12:51 pm

    Tornadoes are scary! So glad Vance stayed safe. I’ve been meaning to read The Ex for a while…

  23. May 4, 2020 4:56 pm

    I think I may have forgotten to submit my reply earlier. Just in case.
    Let me know what you think of The Stranger when you finish it.
    I saw a documentary recently about the night of Wood’s accident and it all seemed so far-fetched. Even if she was drunk, I don’t think she’d get into a boat given her extreme fear of water. Also, I didn’t know that Christopher Walken was also there that night.

  24. May 5, 2020 7:12 am

    Knisley does write engaging books. The Stranger sounds interesting. I just wonder if I have the attention span for a series.

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