Wednesday, May 27, 2020

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.

Miss Cecily's Recipes for Exceptional Ladies by Vicky Zimmerman.

The book is being released by Sourcebooks Landmark on June 9, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: Breakfast with a Hangover
Dinner for a Charming Stranger
Tea for a Crochety Aunt

Food for feasting, friends are for savoring, and the way to a man's heart is...irrelevant

When her life falls apart on the eve of her 40th birthday, Kate Parker finds herself volunteering at the Lauderdale House for Exceptional Ladies. There she meets 97-year-old Cecily Finn. Cecily's tongue is as sharp as her mind, but she's fed up with pretty much everything. Having no patience with Kate's choices, Cecily prescribes her a self-help book with a difference. Food for Thought: a charming 1950s cookbook high on enthusiasm, featuring menus for anything life can throw at the "easily dismayed." So begins an unlikely friendship between two lonely and stubborn souls--one at the end of her life, one stuck in the middle--who discover one big life lesson: never be ashamed to ask for more.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Review: All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

There are many time in the history of mankind where Julian of Norwich's words, "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well," speak directly to us, inspiring hope, evoking prayer, and offering solace. Somehow these words just seem to carry peace. As the epigraph to Susie Finkbeiner's well-written, gentle novel All Manner of Things, the words are incredibly fitting.

It's 1967 and Annie Jacobson is eighteen. She lives with her mother and two brothers, one older and one younger. She works as a waitress in a diner. Life in this West Michigan town is pretty ordinary and Annie's life is generally contented and commonplace. But as the novel opens, her older brother Mike is enlisting in the Army, knowing full well that this will get him sent to Vietnam. Their father left the family years before, chased by his own demons left over from fighting in Korea so they all know of the damage that war can inflict, even on those who come home again. As the remaining Jacobsons go about their lives in the wake of Mike's enlistment, Annie tries to figure out where her life is taking her even as she faces the hope and fear of living every day with Mike overseas at war, the confusion of her father's arrival back in their lives, and the uncertainty of a budding relationship.

Finkbeiner has done a beautiful job evoking the time period and in portraying Annie's balancing on the cusp of her whole life. All of the characters here are quite appealing and she's drawn a realistically loving extended family and community and woven their faith in as an integral part of life. The chapters are short and frequently followed by letters to and from Mike, Annie, their parents and others, offering additional insights into each character and the place in which they find themselves. As the war comes to touch more people, the reader feels the same drop in their stomach that Annie does each and every time but the reader also feels the lightness Annie feels as she comes to appreciate the sweet steadiness of love and caring. As the Jacobsons grow and change over the course of not quite a year, they come together in comfort and heartbreak, happiness and sorrow, and they find and offer forgiveness as they look to the unknown of the future. There is a bittersweet, poignant feel to the novel and the feel of another, simpler time.   Somehow Finkbeiner has captured a beautiful calmness here, that certainty reflected in Julian of Norwich's words: "all manner of things shall be well."  This is a lovely, engaging, and winsome read.

Thanks to LibraryThing Early Reviewers for a copy of the book for review.

Monday, May 25, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Like everyone else, I've lost track of time so this is two weeks' worth at once. This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past weeks are:

Anna Eva Mimi Adam by Marina Antropow Cramer
This Is My Body by Cameron Dezen Hammon
Impurity by Larry Tremblay
The Last Goldfish by Anita Lahey
Invisible Ink by Guy Stern
A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Yellow Earth by John Sayles
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
I Saw Three Ships by Bill Richardson
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
The Big Quiet by Lisa D. Stewart
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim

Reviews posted this week:

not one book

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

Beginning with Cannonballs by Jill McCroskey Coupe
The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair
Faces: Profiles of Dogs by Vita Sackville-West
The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
Holding on to Nothing by Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne
Difficult Light by Tomas Gonzalez
Adults and Other Children by Miriam Cohen
Grief's Country by Gail Griffin
Moments of Glad Grace by Alison Wearing
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube
Search Heartache by Carla Malden
What the Lady Wants by Renee Rosen
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
The Book Keeper by Julia McKenzie Munemo
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Temporary by Hilary Leichter
Blue Marlin by Lee Smith
Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
A Short Move by Katherine Hill
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
Watershed by Mark Barr
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
The Goshen Road by Bonnie Proudfoot
We Have Everything Before Us by Esther Yin-ling Spodek
Anna Eva Mimi Adam by Marina Antropow Cramer
This Is My Body by Cameron Dezen Hammon
Impurity by Larry Tremblay
The Last Goldfish by Anita Lahey
Invisible Ink by Guy Stern
A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

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.

Three Apples Fell from the Sky by Narine Abgaryan.

The book is being released by Oneworld Publications on August 4, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: An unforgettable story of friendship and feuds in a remote Armenian mountain village

In an isolated village high in the Armenian mountains, a close-knit community bickers, gossips and laughs. Their only connection to the outside world is an ancient telegraph wire and a perilous mountain road that even goats struggle to navigate.

As they go about their daily lives – harvesting crops, making baklava, tidying houses – the villagers sustain one another through good times and bad. But sometimes all it takes is a spark of romance to turn life on its head, and a plot to bring two of Maran's most stubbornly single residents together soon gives the village something new to gossip about...

Three Apples Fell from the Sky is an enchanting fable that brilliantly captures the idiosyncrasy of a small community. Sparkling with sumptuous imagery and warm humour, this is a vibrant tale of resilience, bravery and the miracle of everyday friendship.

Monday, May 11, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past week are:

Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
Goshen Road by Bonnie Proudfoot
We Have Everything Before Us by Esther Yin-ling Spodek

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Yellow Earth by John Sayles
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
I Saw Three Ships by Bill Richardson
The Second Home by Christina Clancy

Reviews posted this week:

Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace by M.C. Beaton

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

Beginning with Cannonballs by Jill McCroskey Coupe
The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair
Faces: Profiles of Dogs by Vita Sackville-West
The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
Holding on to Nothing by Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne
Difficult Light by Tomas Gonzalez
Adults and Other Children by Miriam Cohen
Grief's Country by Gail Griffin
Moments of Glad Grace by Alison Wearing
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube
Search Heartache by Carla Malden
What the Lady Wants by Renee Rosen
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
The Book Keeper by Julia McKenzie Munemo
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Temporary by Hilary Leichter
Blue Marlin by Lee Smith
Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
A Short Move by Katherine Hill
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
Watershed by Mark Barr
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
The Goshen Road by Bonnie Proudfoot
We Have Everything Before Us by Esther Yin-ling Spodek

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

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.

Braver Than You Think by Maggie Downs.

The book is being released by Counterpoint on May 12, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: Newly married and established in her career as an award-winning newspaper journalist, Maggie Downs quits her job, sells her belongings, and embarks on the solo trip of a lifetime: Her mother's.

As a child, Maggie Downs often doubted that she would ever possess the courage to visit the destinations her mother dreamed of one day seeing. "You are braver than you think," her mother always insisted. That statement would guide her as, over the course of one year, Downs backpacked through seventeen countries―visiting all the places her mother, struck with early-onset Alzheimer's disease, could not visit herself―encountering some of the world's most striking locales while confronting the slow loss of her mother. Interweaving travelogue with family memories, Braver Than You Think takes the reader hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, white-water rafting on the Nile, volunteering at a monkey sanctuary in Bolivia, praying at an ashram in India, and fleeing the Arab Spring in Egypt.

By embarking on an international journey, Downs learned to make every moment count―traveling around the globe and home again, losing a parent while discovering the world. Perfect for fans of adventure memoirs like Wild and Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube, Braver Than You Think explores grief and loss with tenderness, clarity, and humor, and offers a truly incredible roadmap to coping with the unimaginable.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Review: Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace by M.C. Beaton

I save the books in the Poor Relations series from M.C. Beaton for when I need a delightful, fluffy, palate cleanser of a read and this third in the series, after Lady Fortescue Steps Out and Miss Tonks Turns to Crime, does not disappoint.

Despite the success, on several fronts, of their previous capers, the proprietors of The Poor Relation Hotel in London are once again in need of money for their concern. This time it is the small, pretty, unassuming widow, Mrs. Budley, who draw the short straw and must go to a relative's home and steal something the group can sell. But Mrs. Budley's relatives, to a person, will not welcome her, a woman in trade, into their houses so instead, a plan is hatched where she will travel to Warwickshire and pose as the relative of the wealthy, elderly, and quite potty Marquess of Peterhouse. But it turns out that Sir Philip's gossip on the Marquess is out of date and the senile old man they thought they were sending Mrs. Budley to has died and his heir is a quite handsome, only in his thirties, and in possession of all of his faculties. He knows immediately that Mrs. Budley is not a relative and he convinces her to tell him the truth of her mission. Meanwhile in London, the group of impoverished aristocratic relations have been hired to cater the ball of the season as long as they will also serve at it. Plots and hijinks ensue.

This is both a caper and a love story. It is 100% predictable. And yet, that is exactly its charm and appeal. The characters continue on as they were in the first and second books of the series and the lightness of the tone throughout is pure pleasure to read. The book touches lightly on the continued economic inequity between different classes during the Regency and the lack of (legal) ways to earn money, as well as the snobbery of the time toward anyone who did in fact earn money as opposed to inheriting it, but mostly these social issues are background to the engaging and breezy plot. If you want or need to escape the state of the world right now, you can't do better than with this happy series.

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