Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme was hosted by Breaking the Spine and is meant to highlight some great pre-publication books we all can't wait to get our grubby little mitts on. I'm choosing to continue the tradition even though she has stopped.

The Color of Rock by Sandra Cavallo Miller.

The book is being released by University of Nevada Press on November 13, 2019 (yes, today!).

The book's jacket copy says: A young physician, Dr. Abby Wilmore, attempts to escape her past by starting over at the Grand Canyon Clinic. Silently battling her own health issues, Abby struggles with adjusting to the demands of this unique rural location. She encounters everything from squirrel bites to suicides to an office plagued by strong personalities. While tending to unprepared tourists, underserved locals, and her own mental trials, Abby finds herself entangled in an unexpected romance and trapped amidst a danger even more treacherous than the foreboding desert landscape.

Sandra Cavallo Miller’s debut novel transports readers to the beautiful depths of Arizona and weaves an adventurous and heartwarming tale of the courage and strength it takes to overcome personal demons and to find love.

Monday, November 11, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past week are:

In Other Words by Christopher J. Moore
Be With by Mike Barnes
A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler
A Stranger at My Table by Ivo de Figueiredo

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhannon
The Ventriloquists by E.R. Ramzipoor
The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell
Eat Joy edited by Natalie Eve Garrett

Reviews posted this week:

Be With by Mike Barnes
The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr

Books still needing to have reviews written (as opposed to the ones that are simply awaiting posting):

Exposed by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
Granny’s Got a Gun by Harper Lin
White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf
At Briarwood School for Girls by Michael Knight
The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel
All Ships Follow Me by Mieke Eerkens
Like This Afternoon Forever by Jaime Manrique
Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten
Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Dear Baba by Maryam Rafiee
Saint Everywhere by Mary Lea Carroll
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Tonic and Balm by Stephanie Allen
Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons
In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Slepikas
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
CinderGirl by Christina Meredith
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renee Lavoie
The Fragments by Toni Jordan
The Question Authority by Rachel Cline
The Plaza by Julie Satow
The Lonely Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya
To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari
Haben by Haben Girma
The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester
Educated by Tara Westover
State of the Union by Nick Hornby
Turbulence by David Szalay
What a Body Remembers by Karen Stefano
The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain
Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers by the New York Public Library
The Honey Bus by Meredith May
The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
Church of the Graveyard Saints by C. Joseph Greaves
Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery by John Gregory Brown
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
Advanced Physical Chemistry by Susannah Nix
Death of a Rainmaker by Laurie Lowenstein
No Good Asking by Fran Kimmel
Laurentian Divide by Sarah Stonich
The Abolitionist's Daughter by Diane C. McPhail
A London Country Diary by Tim Bradford
Crazy Cupid Love by Amanda Heger
A Moveable Feast edited by Don George
Tiny Hot Dogs by Mary Giuliani
Tomorrow's Bread by Anna Jean Mayhew
Love You Hard by Abby Maslin
Unfurled by Michelle Bailat-Jones
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton
Retablos by Octavio Solis
The Tubman Command by Elizabeth Cobbs
The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner
All the Wild Hungers by Karen Babine
Vacationland by Sarah Stonich
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
The Last Ocean by Nicci Gerrard
Something Like Breathing by Angela Readman
Nothing to Report by Carola Oman
Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
The Signal Flame by Andrew Krivak
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
The Garden of Eden by Eve Adams
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de le Cruz
The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde
A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler
Breaking the Ocean by Annahid Dashtgard
In Other Words by Christopher J. Moore
A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler
A Stranger at My Table by Ivo de Figueiredo

Monday Mailbox

Either I was greedy as sin this past week or all my past orders bottle-necked up to arrive in one week (and since many of them were from England and Ireland, I'm choosing to believe the latter). This past week's mailbox arrivals:

Greenwood by Michael Christie came from Hogarth.

A generational saga in reverse and the trees and forests that are the source of the family's rise and fall, this looks complex and amazing.

Invented Lives by Andrea Goldsmith came from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

A Jewish children's book illustrator exiled from Soviet Russia lands in Australia where her presence changes one family forever. I am intrigued for sure.

Remembering the Bones by Frances Itani came from me for myself.

I loved Itani's first novel, Deafening, so I am looking forward to this one about a Candian woman invited to Buckingham Palace to celebrate her 80th birthday with the Queen (they were born the same day) who drives off the road on the way to the airport and remembers her life as she lies on the ground helpless and alone.

In Other Words by Christopher J. Moore came from me for myself.

A word and phrase miscellany? Don't mind if I do! (And yes, I have already read this one--review to come.)

Colours Others Than Blue by Anthony Glavin came from me for myself.

I'm so easy. Throw that extra "u" into the spelling and then tee up my favorite color in the title to boot and I'm a goner. But this one about a senior nurse and single mother in an elderly care home who starts keeping a diary after her father's death sounds really good beyond that delectable title.

The Hurlyburly's Husband by Jean Teule came from me for myself.

The title alone is enough of a reason to get this one, right?! It doesn't hurt that it is about a French noblewoman who becomes a lady in waiting at Versailles in order to clear up debts but then catches the eye of the not so monogamous king, much to the dismay of her truly loving husband.

Breaking Away by Anna Gavalda came from me for myself.

The front cover calls it "a loving haiku to the joys of having siblings" and I do love family novels. It does look charming and sweet and I may crack it open later today because I have no willpower (and damn the other seven books I have bookmarks in already).

Meet and Delete by Pauline Lawless came from me for myself.

This one looks like quite the giggle as Viv and several others around her plunge into the online dating pool.

The Art of Scandal by Susan Loughane came from me for myself.

When artist Katie's life in NYC craters, she flees back to small town Ireland where she finds artistic inspiration again by painting nudes of the local men. Sounds wonderfully juicy, doesn't it?!

The Birthday Girls by Pauline Lawless came from me for myself.

A book about four little girls whose friendship endures for decades until one birthday weekend has a chance to destroy it, this sounds really good.

5 Peppermint Grove by Michelle Jackson came from me for myself.

An Irish woman wanting to start over moves to Perth and might just uncover a secret of her mother's in the process, how delicious!

The Last to Know by Melissa Hill came from me for myself.

Eve has been with Liam for nine years and has had two children with him. Is it too much for her to want him to marry her? Meanwhile, in Australia, where Liam is often away on business, Brooke gets a mysterious delivery so that she's not the last to know. Can't wait for the scandal!

Three Men on a Plane by Mavis Cheek came from me for myself.

Pamela is an empty nester now and so the three important men from her life, including her ex-husband are all thinking of her romantically again. How much fun!!!

Eat Joy edited by Natalie Eve Garrett came from me for myself.

There's something about the title and the cheery, colorful cover that just calls me about this collection of essays about comfort food from award winning authors. Bonus: there are recipes.

Allmen and the Butterflies by Martin Suter came from me for myself.

A refined art thief who has gone through all of his family's money steals some magnificent Art Nouveau bowls to alleviate some of his mounting debts in this crime caper. It sounds fantastic.

Act One by Moss Hart came from me for myself.

A Broadway memoir from a bygone era, this looks simply mah-velous dahling.

The King of Lavender Square by Susan Ryan came from me for myself.

A group of neighbors pull together to care for a young boy whose mother is quite ill in this magical sounding novel.

Beside Herself by Elizabeth LeBan came from me for myself.

After her husband cheats, Hannah doesn't want to divorce but she needs to even the score so she suggests she have an affair too and her husband agrees. This novel about trying to save a marriage sounds fresh and unusual and I'm looking forward to it.

Room to Breathe by Liz Talley came from me for myself.

A mother whose life seems to be going beautifully is flirting with her adult daughter's ex-boyfriend, a daughter who's come home to work for her mother in order to help support her med school fiance and then also starts flirting online. What could possibly go wrong? Delicious sounding, no?!

Your Perfect Year by Charlotte Lucas came from me for myself.

When a cranky publishing exec goes to his usual fitness class and finds a day planner called Your Perfect Year in his spot, he decides to find the mysterious owner, all the while following the advice inside the planner. Should be a fun read, and maybe I'll find some good advice in it for myself.

The Other Side of Wonderful by Caroline Grace-Cassidy came from me for myself.

Look at this cover (the British one) and then the US one and tell me which one you'd prefer? The premise doesn't sound like a laugh but the blurb promises humor so I'm very curious to see what this one is actually like.

Into the Night Sky by Caroline Finnerty came from me for myself.

Give me a book set in a bookstore any day of the week and twice on Sunday! This one about a man grieving the death of his partner who befriends a young boy who comes into his bookshop looks to be touching and heartbreaking in equal measure.

The Songbird's Way by Jennifer Barrett came from me for myself.

A novel about a woman who wants to travel her own path but who also wants to please others, this looks lovely.

Death in Brittany by Jean-Luc Bannalec came from me for myself.

Somehow, despite my general cowardice, I am getting better at mysteries, especially if they are set somewhere appealing, like, say, Brittany. This first in a series about a cantankerous Parisian commissaire who has moved from Paris to the Breton coast and is now investigating his first murder in the area looks like it will hit my sweet spot.

If you want to see the marvelous goodies in other people's mailboxes, make sure to visit Mailbox Monday and have fun seeing how we are all doing our part to keep the USPS and delivery services viable.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Review: The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr

It's funny how fast scandals fade away. Unless, of course, you personally are affected by the scandal. And then it might be so damaging that is has long-lasting, life-altering consequences. For instance, do you remember the Ashley Madison scandal? I bet you remembered it once I named it but unless it touched your life beyond gossipy chit chat, you'd probably dismissed it from your consciousness. It probably changed a lot of people's lives though, exposed them to truth they wanted to keep hidden or to hurt they didn't deserve. This is definitely the case for the main character in Lisa Barr's novel, The Unbreakables.

Sophie Bloom is out to dinner for her birthday with her husband, her two best friends, and their spouses when she discovers that Gabe, her husband, the man she's loved and been with since high school, is listed as one of the biggest serial cheaters in their town on the Ashley Madison site. He used the service 43 different times. That's 43 documented instances of cheating. Fleeing the dinner, she ends up at the beach with her friends, only to discover more indignities. One friend cheated with Gabe while the other friend knew about it. How do you process that level of betrayal from almost every person in your life that you have ever loved? In Sophie's case, she processes it (or not) by jetting off to France to help her distraught 19 year old daughter who is studying abroad. It turns out that her daughter has been cheated on too. But then this 19 year old turns out to possibly be pregnant by her married 40 plus year old professor rather than by her cheating boyfriend. After Sophie solves her daughter's problems, she decides that she needs to take some time to reevaluate and rediscover herself as well. Once a promising sculptor who gave up her art to be a mother and a wife, she heads south to Saint-Paul-de-Vence, where she embarks on a new life, one that is sexually adventurous and professionally fulfilling.

Sophie's world has obviously crumbled and she's reeling so the reader might be expected to sympathize with her but somehow, even in the midst of all of her problems, she is hard to like and even harder to connect with. Her internal dialogue might be true to someone trying to process the destruction of her (not so) perfect life and marriage but it got repetitive. The plot was so over the top and melodramatic that is was completely unbelievable. Throwing a wealthy suburban American woman into a menage a trois with two young and gorgeous French people in order to show Sophie reclaiming her sexuality isn't a feminist move, it's just one more completely unbelievable situation amongst a host of them. Barr can turn a phrase and the mechanics of the writing rescues this somewhat but in the end, it's too full of soap opera drama, too coincidental, too contrived, and too easily resolved. Others felt far differently than I did though so perhaps I just wasn't the proper audience for it.

Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers and the publishers for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Review: Be With by Mike Barnes

I hope it is many years yet before I have to be anyone's caregiver. Actually, I lie. I don't ever want to be a caregiver. It sounds heartbreaking and exhausting both emotionally and physically. But we all age and die and in the normal scheme of things that means that the younger generation takes care of the older. And so I likely won't be spared. Mike Barnes, a poet in his 60s, has been the primary caregiver for his 90 plus year old mother Mary, who suffers from dementia, for eight years. This slight book is a series of four letters of advice he's written to fellow caregivers, not so much hard and fast lessons he's learned but quiet insights he's gained during his mother's long decline. It is emotionally open and honest, acknowledging the hell of dementia even as it recognizes the grace of the mother still and always behind the patient.

Barnes' letters are composed in brief paragraphs and short fragments to allow his fellow caregivers, whose time is limited, to dip in and out of his gentle, poetic musings. This is not a memoir, although he does offer snapshots of his mother's care over the past eight years. Instead, it is an introspective look and sharing of the intangible truths of being a caregiver and of the road that Alzheimer's forces people down. It doesn't detail Mary's declines in anything more than the most general of terms, restoring the dignity that the disease strips off of people. The letters are heartfelt and Barnes urges other caregivers to be gentle with themselves, admitting and accepting that he himself has made mistakes along the way but granting that he has made any errors with the best of intentions. In all of the exhaustion and second-guessing and heart-sick feelings, he never loses sight of his mother as still present, no matter her failing cognitive function, never stops seeing her as smart and brave as she pushes, increasingly ineffectively, against this terminal disease. The title, Be With, tells the most important thing he's learned on this journey with his mother. The most important thing is to be with her, to be present, and to be with himself too. The quiet tone of the letters has a very good chance of offering solace and understanding to people who are so in the weeds of caring for their loved one that they haven't had a chance to reflect on anything beyond money, care homes, and other tangible aspects of dementia care. Just as Barnes says that simply placing a soft hand on Mary's forehead and leaving it there helps to settle her and connect her again, this book becomes the soft hand on the forehead of his fellow caregivers.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of the book for review.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme was hosted by Breaking the Spine and is meant to highlight some great pre-publication books we all can't wait to get our grubby little mitts on. I'm choosing to continue the tradition even though she has stopped.

Not the Girl You Marry by Andie J. Christopher.

The book is being released by Berkley on November 12, 2019.

The book's jacket copy says: Jack Nolan is a gentleman, a journalist, and unlucky in love. His viral success has pigeon-holed him as the how-to guy for a buzzy, internet media company instead of covering hard-hitting politics. Fed up with his fluffy articles and the app-based dating scene as well, he strikes a deal with his boss to write a final piece de resistance: How to Lose a Girl. Easier said than done when the girl he meets is Hannah Mayfield, and he's not sure he wants her to dump him.

Hannah is an extremely successful event planner who's focused on climbing the career ladder. Her firm is one of the most prestigious in the city, and she's determined to secure her next promotion. But Hannah has a bit of an image problem. She needs to show her boss that she has range, including planning dreaded, romantic weddings. Enter Jack. He’s the perfect man to date for a couple weeks to prove to her boss that she’s not scared of feelings.

Before Jack and Hannah know it, their fake relationship starts to feel all too real—and neither of them can stand to lose each other.

Monday, November 4, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past week are:

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de le Cruz
The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde
A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler
Do You Mind If I Cancel? by Gary Janetti
Breaking the Ocean by Annahid Dashtgard

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhannon
The Ventriloquists by E.R. Ramzipoor
The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell
A Stranger at My Table by Ivo de Figueiredo
A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

Reviews posted this week:

Do You Mind If I Cancel? by Gary Janetti

Books still needing to have reviews written (as opposed to the ones that are simply awaiting posting):

Exposed by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
Granny’s Got a Gun by Harper Lin
White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf
At Briarwood School for Girls by Michael Knight
The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel
All Ships Follow Me by Mieke Eerkens
Like This Afternoon Forever by Jaime Manrique
Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten
Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Dear Baba by Maryam Rafiee
Saint Everywhere by Mary Lea Carroll
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Tonic and Balm by Stephanie Allen
Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons
In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Slepikas
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
CinderGirl by Christina Meredith
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renee Lavoie
The Fragments by Toni Jordan
The Question Authority by Rachel Cline
The Plaza by Julie Satow
The Lonely Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya
To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari
Haben by Haben Girma
The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester
Educated by Tara Westover
State of the Union by Nick Hornby
Turbulence by David Szalay
What a Body Remembers by Karen Stefano
The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain
Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers by the New York Public Library
The Honey Bus by Meredith May
The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
Church of the Graveyard Saints by C. Joseph Greaves
Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery by John Gregory Brown
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
Advanced Physical Chemistry by Susannah Nix
Death of a Rainmaker by Laurie Lowenstein
No Good Asking by Fran Kimmel
Laurentian Divide by Sarah Stonich
The Abolitionist's Daughter by Diane C. McPhail
A London Country Diary by Tim Bradford
Crazy Cupid Love by Amanda Heger
A Moveable Feast edited by Don George
Tiny Hot Dogs by Mary Giuliani
Tomorrow's Bread by Anna Jean Mayhew
Love You Hard by Abby Maslin
Unfurled by Michelle Bailat-Jones
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
Hungry Monkey by Matthew Amster-Burton
Retablos by Octavio Solis
The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr
The Tubman Command by Elizabeth Cobbs
The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner
All the Wild Hungers by Karen Babine
Vacationland by Sarah Stonich
The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
The Last Ocean by Nicci Gerrard
Something Like Breathing by Angela Readman
Nothing to Report by Carola Oman
Dog Songs by Mary Oliver
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
The Signal Flame by Andrew Krivak
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
Washington Black by Esi Edugyan
Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
The Garden of Eden by Eve Adams
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de le Cruz
The Canterville Ghost by Oscar Wilde
A Well-Behaved Woman by Therese Anne Fowler
Breaking the Ocean by Annahid Dashtgard

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