Friday, March 24, 2017

Review: Every Wild Heart by Meg Donohue

Sometimes life takes you down paths you expect and other times it takes you on detours. No matter which way you go though, you have to remain true to yourself and the things that feed your soul. Both a mother and a daughter are reminded of this lesson as they forge ahead together in Meg Donohue's newest novel, Every Wild Heart.

Gail Gideon (G.G.) is a San Francisco talk show host who hit it big when her husband left her and she ranted about it on air. Now she's a huge radio personality hosting a call-in show where she advises listeners on how to find their best, happiest life. She's an exuberant and self-assured person. Her fourteen year old daughter Nic is very much her mother's opposite in personality. She is insecure and awkward with a bit of a stutter when she's under stress. She only blossoms when she's at the stables with her beloved horse, Tru. G.G. accepts and adores Nic as she is and the two of them have a good relationship, even if Nic wants a little more freedom than her mother is entirely at ease with giving her. Aside from a potential stalker (it goes with the territory) whose threats start as slightly troubling and seem to be escalating, life is mostly comfortable for G.G. and Nic. But then Nic falls off her horse and suffers a traumatic brain injury. When she wakes from a coma, she is physically fine but her personality is different. The timidity that ruled her life before has disappeared and she's a bolder, more confident person. As Nic is suddenly less fearful, she becomes determined to save a troubled, dangerous horse everyone else has given up on. Meanwhile G.G. is having to re-evaluate her life and to focus on her own passion, opening herself up to love again and rediscovering the importance of the music she let slip out of her life.

The novel alternates between G.G. narrating in first person and sections focused on Nic being narrated in third person. The reader is given access to G.G.'s most inner thoughts and sees first hand the worries she faces about keeping her daughter safe, the concern about Nic's changed personality, the remnant of feelings she still has for her ex and the growing feelings she might have for someone new, her loyalty to those close to her, and the dawning realization that her own life has veered off the path that makes her the happiest. The third person narration of Nic's sections keeps her a little more closed off from the reader, which works to give a little distance. This distance puts the reader in the role of observer, just as G.G. is in her teenaged daughter's life. It is nice to read a novel about the mother daughter relationship that doesn't have a major conflict between mother and daughter. G.G. and Nic clash but only over the sorts of things that any loving parent and child would clash over, like Nic chafing because her mother has declared her unable to ride until the doctors clear her after her injury and wanting to be treated with more trust since she's getting older. It is in details like this that the novel absolutely rings true to life. The novel is a lovely tale of a growing and changing mother daughter relationship, two potential budding love stories, a slight, secondary mystery, and the power of following your heart, overcoming fear, and creating the life you want. This is a quick and easy read, perfect for anyone who's a little burned out on dysfunction and unhappiness.

For more information about Meg Donohue and the book, check out her author website, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter. Also, check out the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and Harper Collins for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme is 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.

The Forbidden Garden by Ellen Herrick. The book is being released by William Morrow Paperbacks on April 4, 2017.

Amazon says this about the book: Perfect for fans of Kate Morton and Sarah Jio, comes a lush imaginative novel that takes readers into the heart of a mysterious English country garden, waiting to spring to life.

Every garden is a story, waiting to be told…

At the nursery she runs with her sisters on the New England coast, Sorrel Sparrow has honed her rare gift for nurturing plants and flowers. Now that reputation, and a stroke of good timing, lands Sorrel an unexpected opportunity: reviving a long-dormant Shakespearean garden on an English country estate.

Arriving at Kirkwood Hall, ancestral home of Sir Graham Kirkwood and his wife Stella, Sorrel is shocked by the desolate state of the walled garden. Generations have tried—and failed—to bring it back to glory. Sorrel senses heartbreak and betrayal here, perhaps even enchantment. Intrigued by the house’s history—especially the haunting tapestries that grace its walls—and increasingly drawn to Stella’s enigmatic brother, Sorrel sets to work. And though she knows her true home is across the sea with her sisters, instinct tells her that the English garden’s destiny is entwined with her own, if she can only unravel its secrets…

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Review: My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith

Alexander McCall Smith has made a name for himself writing entertaining, gentle fiction. His most well known is probably his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series but he has several other delightful series as well. On occasion he writes stand-alone novels as well. Whether he's writing mystery or general fiction, series or stand-alone, McCall Smith has a certain feel, an amiable, calm, philosophical sensibility to his books. His latest, a stand-alone novel titled My Italian Bulldozer, is a lovely and thoughtful look at love and the sometimes incongruousness of life in the Tuscan countryside.

When Paul Stewart's girlfriend of four years runs off with her personal trainer, he is gutted, retreating from everything and everyone. Only when he almost misses the deadline for his latest food and wine book does he snap out of it. Because Paul is a famous writer and his long-suffering editor, Gloria, isn't going to let him be derailed by a relationship she didn't think much of. Deciding to immerse himself in the food and wine of the place he's writing about, Paul heads to a small hill town in Tuscany to complete his book. Getting there won't prove easy though as a complicated misunderstanding sees the kindly and sad Paul arrested for car theft after landing in Italy. Once he is released from jail, the only way to get himself to his destination is by rented bulldozer, which will prove a slow but interesting way to travel. Once he reaches the town of Montalcino, the accommodation and peaceful acceptance that characterized his trip remains as he parks his odd means of transportation in the car park on the edge of town.

The start of this book makes the reader suspend disbelief. A rental bulldozer? Really? But somehow McCall Smith makes this work and even uses this bumbling, almost ridiculous beginning to set the stage and thoroughly draw his main character's persona. Paul is a thoughtful and considerate, curious and lovely character who makes friends with everyone around him. The people he encounters are quirky and appealing and the countryside comes alive in this comfortable and charming read. The ending is rather predictable but it is the one that the reader wishes for Paul so although it isn't a surprise, it feels appropriate. Those who enjoy the affable charm of McCall Smith's previous books will find this short, quick read similarly pleasing in tone and narrative pacing. It's a light and happy read and might even make you wish you had your own rental bulldozer.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Monday Mailbox

This past week's mailbox arrival:

Strangers Tend to Tell Me Things by Amy Dickinson came from me to me. :-)

I find Dickinson funny on Wait Wait Don't Tell Me...! so I'm curious about this memoir subtitled A Memoir of Love, Loss, and Coming Home.

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.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Review: The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie

Although Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette were the King and Queen beheaded during the French Revolution, much of the discontent of the populace that led to their execution was set during Louis-Auguste's grandfather, Louis XV's reign. Nowhere is this more apparent than in XV's final years, the years in which, ironically enough, he takes a common woman, in fact a low born, illegitimate Paris prostitute not only into his bed but into Versailles itself. Sally Christie's final installment in the Mistresses of Versailles trilogy (after The Sisters of Versailles and The Rivals of Versailles) details not only the rumblings of Louis XV's court as the unpopular monarch ages but also the life of his last, doomed mistress, Jeanne, Madame du Barry and that of his daughter, Madame Adelaide.

Jeanne Becu is an angelic looking child who grows into a beautiful woman. Daughter of a cook, she "models", although perhaps entices is a better term, in a fashionable dress shop when she falls in love with the Comte du Barry, one of the store's wealthy patrons. He makes the fresh looking beauty his mistress, awakening her sexuality and trying to curb what he sees as her frivolity and low class antics. Once she is presentable enough, Barry becomes her pimp, securing her high class lovers. This development shatters young Jeanne's dreams of a monogamous life with her adored Barry and although reluctant, she has no choice but to do his bidding. His ambitions will eventually bring her to the attention of the King, who is still mourning the loss of his beloved Madame de Pompadour. As much as Louis is enchanted with this new lovely temptress, his family and the court at Versailles has no interest in this common Paris courtesan, resolving to effectively ignore the King's latest plaything.

Told in chapters alternating between Madame du Barry's rise to grace the highest bed in the land and chapters centered on Madame Adelaide, one of Louis's daughters who is vehemently against du Barry and what she sees as an attack on her and her sisters' very royalty, the story pits the two women against each other. Adelaide's loathing and her entitlement as a daughter of France makes it clear just what forces Jeanne is up against and how she will be ostracized, even with the King on her side. Jeanne is a much less political creature than the mistresses who preceded her and she is less able to play the games required at court, presenting herself simply as herself, a stunningly beautiful, sweetly kind woman who wants very much to be accepted and liked. Madame Adelaide, by contrast, is not only much higher in the hierarchy but very aware of her own consequence, certain of what she is owed, commanding and rigid and determined to make life for this palace interloper unpleasant. Beneath her haughty and unpleasant manner though, is the heart of a girl who doesn't understand why her father no longer holds her in the esteem he once did and who desperately seeks to regain the love she has lost. The power games within the sheltered walls of the court start to take on a brittle tone as the clamor for a more populace focused government becomes louder and louder, occasionally even leaking into the otherwise sheltered palace.

Christie has deftly juxtaposed the rigid piety of Adelaide with the sensual profligacy that brings du Barry to court in the last years of Louis XV's life. But she also shows the insularity of the court, not only in regards to protecting their own consequence but also as regards the feelings of the majority outside the walls of their unreal world. People starve for want of bread while the princesses royale spend millions of livres on vacations and other frivolities and du Barry accepts fantastically expensive jewels and the lavish lifestyle she certainly knows from her own upbringing to be excessive. Both women are sheltered from the reality of the outside world because of their residence in Versailles and although Madame Adelaide sees and resents some of the seeds of the coming revolution, she cannot conceive of a general public who would truly destroy everything she's ever known. Jeanne, for all her sexual knowledge, is rather naive and so she too fails to discern the mood outside the gates, focused as she is first on Adelaide's dislike of her and then on the young dauphine, Marie Antoinette's. This final book doesn't finish with the death of Louis XV and Jeanne's banishment from court but instead follows both Jeanne and Adelaide as the Revolution swirls around them, changing the trajectory of their lives forever. This allows the reader to see how Louis XV's reign, his choices and his attitude, led so clearly to the brutal bloodbath that was the Revolution in full flower. This is a fitting conclusion to the trilogy for sure, a fascinating and engrossing read. Those who have read and enjoyed the first two will definitely want to read this. Those who haven't yet read the first two can jump into the history and the story here without missing a beat.

For more information about Sally Christie and the book, check out her author website or her Goodreads page. Also, check out the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and the author for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Monday, March 13, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past two weeks are:

City Mouse by Stacey Lender
The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

A Well-Made Bed by Abby Frucht and Laurie Alberts
The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer
The Lake House by Kate Morton
Shelter by Jung Yun
The Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan
A Manual For Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
The Last Time She Saw Him by Jane Haseldine
The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells
Country of Red Azaleas by Domnica Radulescu
A Hard and Heavy Thing by Matthew J. Hefti
Paint Your Wife by Lloyd Jones
The Company They Kept edited by Robert B. Silvers and Barbara Epstein
No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal

Reviews posted this week:

All the News I Need by Joan Frank
Sinful Scottish Laird by Julia London

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

My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith
Exposure by Helen Dunmore
Eliza Waite by Ashley E. Sweeney
Nine Island by Jane Alison
Roughneck Grace by Michael Perry
I Hid My Voice by Parinoush Saniee
The Other Woman by Therese Bohman
The Florence Diary by Diana Athill
Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James
The Mortifications by Derek Palacio
The Young Widower's Handbook by Tom McAllister
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do But You Could've Done Better by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell
To Love the Coming End by Leanne Dunic
Make Trouble by John Waters
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault
A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe
City Mouse by Stacey Lender
The Enemies of Versailles by Sally Christie

Monday Mailbox

I've been slack on remembering to log what's come in lately so this is more than one week's worth. This past (several?) week's mailbox arrivals:

Every Wild Heart by Meg Donohue came from William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for a blog tour.

About a woman who has made her name being single but is now falling in love and her daughter who feels she pales in comparison to her mother, this looks fantastic.

The Vicar's Daughter by Josi Kilpack came from Shadow Mountain.

A romance that borrows from Cyrano de Bergerac, this tale of a young woman writing letters to a man to help her sister finally get married only to find herself falling in love with him instead looks really delightful.

By the Wayside by Anne Leigh Parrish came from the author and TLC Book Tours for a blog tour.

I really enjoyed Parrish's last collection of stories so I am definitely looking forward to reading this one. And just look at that cover! Totally engaging, right?!

Hard-Hearted Highlander by Julia London came from HQN and TLC Book Tours for a blog tour.

The third in the Highland Grooms series, I am looking forward to this romance set after the Jacobite rebellion that brings a Highlander and an English governess together.

The Little French Bistro by Nina George came from Crown and LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

This looks like to be a completely charming book about a woman who escapes her unhappy life for a restaurant in Brittany and the people she meets there.

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.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Review: Sinful Scottish Laird by Julia London

A Brawny Highlander, a flirtatious Sassenach, smuggling, and kilts. Rawr! Julia London has cornered the market on sexy in Sinful Scottish Laird.

Daisy, Lady Chatwick, is a widow with a young son. Her late husband's will says that Daisy must remarry in three years or forfeit her son's inheritance. Having married for duty once, Daisy is hoping that this time she can marry for love so she packs up her household and heads to the impossibly remote Scottish Highlands, ostensibly to check on Ellis' Scottish hunting lodge but really to escape the fortune hunting men in London clamoring for her large purse as she waits for her first love, Captain Robert Spivey, to return from his latest voyage and rescue her. As Daisy, Ellis, her gloomy, catastrophizing cousin Belinda, and the rest of the household travel north, their carriage runs into trouble and they meet the rugged, imposing Cailean, Laird of Arrandale. He is not best pleased to see a Sassenach in the valley but finds himself intrigued by the beautiful widow. Daisy, for her part, is immediately struck with lustful thoughts for this man who will turn out to be her nearest neighbor.

Daisy, like the flower she's named for, is a pretty hardy and cheery character. She's a hard worker, helping put the neglected hunting lodge and its environs to rights without benefit of a huge staff doing it for her. She's discovered the power of being free to direct her own life in the past two plus years and she's not looking forward to ceding her rights to a husband again. She's never been the stereotypical "merry widow" but she acknowledges and embraces herself as a sexual human being, which allows her to flirt with and tempt Cailean, a man who has good reasons for trying to resist her. He is set to take over as laird of his clan now that his father is slowing down. He and his brother run a smuggling operation to help keep their people afloat and prosperous in a time of crippling taxes. That the delectable Daisy is waiting for her Rob, a captain of the Royal Navy, and the man who has been chasing Cailean and his men forever, does not go down well. Daisy and Cailean waffle between fighting their attraction and giving in to it as they come to know each other better. Young Ellis comes to revere the brawny Scot and Cailean is wonderful in his interactions with the boy. When Rob shows up in the Highlands, the antagonism between he and Cailean is palpable, even if Cailean doesn't think he Cailean is competing for Daisy's hand.

The chemistry between Daisy and Cailean is steamy and development of their love story is quite satisfying. The historical aspects of the novel are well researched and form a nice framework for the story. But the best part of the novel is Daisy's awakening to her own strength and worth. She is intelligent but unfortunately constrained by the times. Her love for Cailean is hampered by practical roadblocks on both sides, a situation that is rather refreshing and one that can be overcome with work and ingenuity. This is the second of the Highland Grooms books but it stands entirely on its own. Readers who like a heroine with a little more agency than usual and a thoughtful, loyal hero in a kilt will enjoy this one quite a bit.

For more information about Julia London and the book, check out her author website, like her on Facebook or follow her on Twitter or Instagram. Also, check out the book's Good Reads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and the author for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Review: All the News I Need by Joan Frank

What happens when introverts age? If they've lost the person in their life who keeps them tethered to other people, they may find themselves retreating from the world, worrying about their aloneness but not knowing how to change it or in actuality having more than a passing desire to do so. In Joan Frank's novel, All the News I Need, a meditation on aging, on connection and relationship, and on the way that life can always deliver surprise and change, two characters look back at their past lives, wallow in their presents, and finally take a chance on the future.

Fran is a widow in her fifties. Painfully forthright and sometimes a little crass, Fran has maintained a friendship of sorts with her late husband Kirk's good friend Ollie. Ollie is a single gay man in his early sixties. He's a worrier, shy, introspective, and a little persnickety. The two of them are quite alone except for each other and as they approach aging, they vow to remain each other's human connection through their carefully laid out Rules for Aging. These two lonely people are set in their ways, shut off from the richness of life, plodding towards the quiet unremarked end until Fran decides that they should travel to Paris together, jolting both of them out of their routines. Easy travel partners they are not though, exploring Paris by revisiting the places Fran and Kirk once knew, each irritated and bothered by the other in ways that only travel can expose so clearly. For both Fran and Ollie, there is a deep sadness in the past, of those they loved and lost, and in the loss of the potential for what was.

The novel is very much a character driven one focused on two solitary people who spend much of the book alone together. Chapters alternate in perspective between Fran's and Ollie's musings on their own situation, the minor (and major) annoyances of the other person, and on their own grief and loss. The writing, especially in the beginning is almost staccato in style. This clipped, fragmentary style can contrast a little oddly with the long, descriptive passages fleshing out Ollie and Fran's characters but most often it makes the story feel very present. Fran and Ollie don't start out as the most likeable characters and their relationship, despite its long term, often feels dutiful, an obligation to their shared memory of Kirk. And the denouement of their Paris trip is not unexpected. But Frank does a wonderful thing for the reader, following Fran and Ollie into promise and happiness, moving them past the small, disheartening stagnation of the beginning of the novel. Slow to get into, the payoff in the end makes this a worthwhile read.

For more information about Joan Frank and the book, check out her author website. Also, check out the book's Good Reads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme is 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.

The Book of Polly by Kathy Hepinstall. The book is being released by Pamela Dorman Books on March 14, 2017.

Amazon says this about the book: The laugh-out-loud story of a girl determined to keep up with her aging, crazy-as-a-fox mother and learn the truth of her mother’s long-secret past

Willow Havens is ten years old and obsessed with the fear that her mother will die. Her mother, Polly, is a cantankerous, take-no-prisoners Southern woman who lives to shoot varmints, drink margaritas, and antagonize the neighbors—and she sticks out like a sore thumb among the young modern mothers of their small conventional Texas town. She was in her late fifties when Willow was born, so Willow knows she’s here by accident, a late-life afterthought. Willow’s father died before she was born, her much older brother and sister are long grown and gone and failing elsewhere. It’s just her and bigger-than-life Polly.

Willow is desperately hungry for clues to the family life that preceded her, and especially Polly’s life pre-Willow. Why did she leave her hometown of Bethel, Louisiana, fifty years ago and vow never to return? Who is Garland Jones, her long-ago suitor who possibly killed a man? And will Polly be able to outrun the Bear, the illness that finally puts her on a collision course with her past?

The Book of Polly has a kick like the best hot sauce, and a great blend of humor and sadness, pathos and hilarity. This is a bittersweet novel about the grip of love in a truly quirky family and you’ll come to know one of the most unforgettable mother-daughter duos you’ve ever met.

Monday, March 6, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past two weeks are:

Make Trouble by John Waters
All the News I Need by Joan Frank
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault
Sinful Scottish Laird by Julia London
A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

A Well-Made Bed by Abby Frucht and Laurie Alberts
The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer
The Lake House by Kate Morton
Shelter by Jung Yun
The Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan
A Manual For Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
The Last Time She Saw Him by Jane Haseldine
The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells
Country of Red Azaleas by Domnica Radulescu
A Hard and Heavy Thing by Matthew J. Hefti
Paint Your Wife by Lloyd Jones
The Company They Kept edited by Robert B. Silvers and Barbara Epstein
City Mouse by Stacey Lender

Reviews posted this week:

Madam by Cari Lynn and Kellie Martin
Breaking and Holding by Judy Fogarty
Wreck and Order by Hannah Tennant-Moore

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

My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith
Exposure by Helen Dunmore
Eliza Waite by Ashley E. Sweeney
Nine Island by Jane Alison
Roughneck Grace by Michael Perry
I Hid My Voice by Parinoush Saniee
The Other Woman by Therese Bohman
The Florence Diary by Diana Athill
Seven Minutes in Heaven by Eloisa James
The Mortifications by Derek Palacio
The Young Widower's Handbook by Tom McAllister
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
Breaking Up Is Hard to Do But You Could've Done Better by Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell
To Love the Coming End by Leanne Dunic
Make Trouble by John Waters
All the News I Need by Joan Frank
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault
Sinful Scottish Laird by Julia London
A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Sunday Salon: My Pirate Obsession

It is a well known fact that I love books about water. Put a picture of water on a cover and I'm sure to pick that book up and more than likely to buy it. Use a water word (lake, river, ocean, sea, etc.) in the title and the same thing is true. I also have a weakness for boat tales and for scuba stories. This is likely because of their connection to water; I'm not exactly the deepest, most inscrutable person ever. Another thing I like to read about that's related to water? Pirates. There's just something about them, you know? All that swashbuckling and plundering and such. And that last sentence explains why there are so very many romances with pirates in them, doesn't it?

I first fell in love with pirate stories when I read Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson as a young girl. I didn't want to be Long John Silver; instead, I wanted to be Jim Hawkins. But I still drew pirate maps leading to buried treasure and imagined what I would do with all that pirate bounty. I know that pirates in real life were much more complicated than my imaginary romanticized version and yet I remain drawn to them, both real and imagined, in books.
When I was at Winter Institute in January, I met and chatted with Tricia Levenseller, author of the YA novel Daughter of the Pirate King. She mentioned that she didn't know of many female pirates in books and little nerd that I am, I had to scurry over to her afterwards and share some of the pirate books (with male and female pirates) I've read and enjoyed.







First, and one of the most recent I've read, was Eli Brown's Cinnamon and Gunpowder. I hope she read it because it was a lot of fun for sure and it has a female pirate captain to boot.
Another one I liked a lot, although it may no longer be in print, was Gideon Defoe's The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists. It is madcap and crazy and has the benefit of being a part of a series so if you like it, you can indulge in even more adventures with this particular band of pirates.
A non-fiction title, although not exclusively about pirates, I really enjoyed is called Seafaring Women: Adventures of Pirate Queens, Female Stowaways, and Sailors' Wives by David Cordingly.









Other pirate books in my collection include:

Pirateology

Pirate

Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie

The Pyrates by George MacDonald Fraser

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Pirate Hunters by Robert Kurson

Pirates of Pensacola by Keith Thomson

The Pirate and the Belle by Steve Brown

Cassandra, Lost by Joanna Catherine Scott

Ship of Magic by Robin Hobb











And then I have at least a pair of pirate adjacent books. The pirates or defeating the pirates isn't the main story but they have unforgettable pirates in them nonetheless.

The Princess Bride by William Golding has Westley in the guise of The Dread Pirate Roberts.

Drums of Autumn by Diana Gabaldon (and two of the subsequent books in her wonderfully engaging Outlander series) have the notorious and awful Stephen Bonnet.









Have I missed any good pirate books? Let me know if I have so I can add them to my list asap!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Review: Wreck and Order by Hannah Tennant-Moore

Do you ever run across something that makes you feel old? Hannah Tennant-Moore's novel Wreck and Order was one of those things. I was intrigued by the premise before reading it but I spent much of the novel wanting to shake some sense and motivation into the self-destructive, annoying, and thoroughly unlikable main character. Obviously this does not bode well for my eventual overall impression.

Elsie is a thirty-something young woman who drops out of college and thereafter coasts on the money her father gives her. She is intermittently translating an obscure French novel, which is somehow supposed to reinforce her own (misguided) idea that she is intelligent and special. But her navel gazing narration of an unmoored life lived as a series of destructive sexual encounters or, when not actively engaged in those encounters, fantasizing about them, makes the reader question any implication of intelligence previously granted. Elsie connects with a lying, cheating, boozy boyfriend who becomes an obsession in her life, the man she returns to again and again. At one point when she has broken free of Jared, she is too bored by her colorless (a synonym for violence-free to Elsie) sex life with the normal man she's met so she sabotages their life together. At another point she travels to Sri Lanka and stays with Suriya, a young woman she intends to help achieve her dream of teaching English. And yet even in this trip, which just highlights over and over again her self-centered preoccupation, ennui, and unpleasantness, Elsie can't maintain an interest in this poor girl and her family, ending up treating Suriya as an embarrassing and disposable project she can just abandon rather than as a human being she should care about.

Perhaps Elsie's character as written would be forgivable if the book had been more interesting all around. Instead, she is a caricature of a vapid, spoiled millennial and who wants to read about that? Self-destructive characters can be worth reading about if they serve a greater purpose. Elsie does not. Character and plot are both aimless. The erstwhile philosophical pieces were tiresome, overblown, and filled with circular ramblings that didn't actually mean anything if you took the time to parse them out. I think the book is meant to come off as profound but sadly, it only came off as profoundly boring. Then again, maybe it will appeal to readers a generation younger than me who can more readily connect with the Elsies of the world. But if this is their reality, I have to say I pity them.

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

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme is 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.

All Grown Up by Jami Attenburg. The book is being released by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on March 7, 2017.

Amazon says this about the book: From the New York Times best-selling author of The Middlesteins comes a wickedly funny novel about a thirty-nine-year-old single, childfree woman who defies convention as she seeks connection.

Who is Andrea Bern? When her therapist asks the question, Andrea knows the right things to say: she’s a designer, a friend, a daughter, a sister. But it’s what she leaves unsaid—she’s alone, a drinker, a former artist, a shrieker in bed, captain of the sinking ship that is her flesh—that feels the most true. Everyone around her seems to have an entirely different idea of what it means to be an adult: her best friend, Indigo, is getting married; her brother—who miraculously seems unscathed by their shared tumultuous childhood—and sister-in-law are having a hoped-for baby; and her friend Matthew continues to wholly devote himself to making dark paintings at the cost of being flat broke.

But when Andrea’s niece finally arrives, born with a heartbreaking ailment, the Bern family is forced to reexamine what really matters. Will this drive them together or tear them apart? Told in gut-wrenchingly honest, mordantly comic vignettes, All Grown Up is a breathtaking display of Jami Attenberg’s power as a storyteller, a whip-smart examination of one woman’s life, lived entirely on her own terms.

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