Monday, September 24, 2018

Review: The Removes by Tatjana Soli

For much of American history, we have romanticized the West. It was wild and untamed and it was up to us to bring it under our control (damn the people who already lived there). But even discounting the lies and betrayals offered so glibly by our government, rarely were honest, unbiased accounts of the endurance and brutal violence of life in the territories presented. Instead, there were embellishments, aggrandizing, and outright fabrications that only served to enlarge the legend of the civilizing of the West. In Tatjana Soli's newest novel, The Removes, she strips bare the romance of the time and place through the fictionalized stories of General George Armstrong "Autie" Custer, his wife Libbie, and an invented character, a girl named Anne Cummins who was abducted by the Cheyenne.

The novel opens with a terrifying and graphic raid where 15 year old Anne Cummins' family is killed and she is captured by the Cheyenne and subsequently marched, weak and starving, to the tribe's temporary village. This attack is just one in a long line of back and forth killings and retributions between the Native tribes and the US Army and lays the groundwork for the subsequent depredations into territories promised to the Indians. Then the reader moves to a snapshot in time showing Custer's bravado during the Civil War when his star was rising swift and sure and then to a drawing room party in Monroe, Michigan where a popular and beloved only daughter, Libbie Bacon, meets the Civil War hero for the second time. Moving seamlessly between these three characters, the narrative carries on through Anne's horrific captivity, Libbie and her Autie's courtship and marriage, and Custer's Army exploits ending only in the wake of the Battle of Little Bighorn. Scattered in amongst the chapters centered on these three are snippets from newspapers, army reports, and narration from secondary characters, that serve to round out the picture of these very human people Soli has drawn.

From 1863 to 1876, Custer went from a Civil War hero to an Indian fighter, alternately praised and vilified by those in government and those under his command. He was ambitious and proud, smart and focused. He was also a larger than life dandy who, despite his great and enduring love for his wife, was a terrible womanizer. Despite the hardships of an Army life, it was really the only one that Custer was cut out for even as he had to balance his need for constant action and war with his growing realization of the emotional cost of his actions and the wrongness of the government's view of and intentions toward the Native peoples. During this same period, Libbie went from pampered society miss to loyal and stalwart army wife who endured hardships alongside her beloved husband. Her experiences living so remotely and without any of the accouterments she might have expected had she stayed home in Michigan as well as her disappointments with Custer's behaviour forged a steel backbone in her. Anne, during her captivity, endured abuse and privation with an outsized grit, intelligence, and determination, never giving up on the dream of being rescued but always surviving in the present no matter how harshly she was treated.

Soli doesn't shy away from the horror of the removes, writing scenes of appalling violence that hit the reader viscerally. She also doesn't avoid the truth of the mismanagement and duplicity of the US government in its dealings with the tribes and the way that these things led directly to Custer and his fellow soldier's campaigns and actions. The sections centered on Custer, the long and slow expeditions into inhospitable lands, the interminable monotony of days and days without any Indian sightings or of the chasing after of mirages, felt as long and slow as the operations themselves. The chapters focused on Libbie or Anne were completely different in tone to the Custer chapters, more engaging but still realistic in the portrayals of possible fates of women in the West, at the mercy of others, be it captors or the US government or a husband. Soli's writing is incredibly evocative and her descriptions of the vast and expansive landscape were gorgeously done. This is an impressive and unusual Western about a time and place not often honestly portrayed and only given a brief mention, if at all, in general American history classes.

For more information about Tatjana Soli and the book, check out her webpage and follow her on Facebook. Check out the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book. If you want to see my opinions on Soli's other books, varied and different as they each are, you can read my reviews of The Lotus Eaters, The Forgetting Tree, and The Last Good Paradise.
Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and She Writes Press for sending me a copy of the book for review.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past week are:

The Silver Shoes by Jill G. Hall
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Penelope Lemon by Inman Majors
I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

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
Thousand-Miler by Melanie Radzicki McManus
Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh
After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara
Metis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The New York Time Footsteps by various authors
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
Mean by Myriam Gurba
The Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison
The Wangs Vs. the World by Jade Chang
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
One House Over by Mary Monroe
Burntown by Jennifer McMahon
Everything She Didn't Say by Jane Kirkpatrick
The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale
The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
Surviving Paradise by Peter Rudiak-Gould
The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
The Removes by Tatjana Soli

Reviews posted this week:

The Silver Shoes by Jill G. Hall

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

Paper Boats by Dee Lestari
Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies
Swimming with Elephants by Sarah Bamford Seidelmann
Visible Empire by Hannah Pittard
The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
Love Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
A Song for the River by Philip Connors
In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt
Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian
Still Life with Monkey by Katharine Weber
America for Beginners by Leah Franqui
Vanishing Twins by Lea Dieterich
Tenemental by Vikki Warner
Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
The Lido by Libby Page
The Invisible Valley by Su Wei
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs
The Showrunner by Kim Mortishugu
I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice
Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan
Terra Nullius by Clare G. Coleman
Christmas in July by Alan Michael Parker
Nothing Forgotten by Jessica Levine
Housegirl by Michael Donkor
Wildwood by Elinor Florence
All Day at the Movies by Fiona Kidman
Weedeater by Robert Gipe
The Mannequin Makers by Craig Cliff
Chemistry by Weike Wang
The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
Come Back to the Swamp by Laura Morrison
The Animal Gazer by Edgardo Franzosini
Melmoth by Sarah Perry
Sound by Bella Bathurst
Celine by Peter Heller
In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
You'll Always Have Tara by Leah Marie Brown
The Taster by V.S. Alexander
Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce
Calypso by David Sedaris
A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass
Postcards from the Canyon by Lisa Gitlin
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Sycamore by Bryn Chancellor
The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
As Wide As the Sky by Jessica Pack
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
Plum Rains by Andromeda Romano-Lax
Second Wind by Nathaniel Philbrick
Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia
Paper Is White by Hilary Zaid
Hotel Silence by Audur Ava Olafsdottir
The Vain Conversation by Anthony Grooms
The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak
Ostrich by Matt Greene
The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop
Maggie Boylan by Michael Henson
We All Love the Beautiful Girls by Joanne Proulx
Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
Shores Beyond Shores by Irene Butter
The Shakespeare Requirement by Julie Schumacher
Fiction Can Be Murder by Becky Clark
Tigerbelle by Wyomia Tyus
Wolf Season by Helen Benedict
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
London Road by Tessa Smith McGovern
Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt
Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe
Love Literary Style by Karin Gillespie
The Secret of the Irish Castle by Santa Montefiore
The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love by Per J. Andersson
A Cast of Vultures by Judith Flanders
The Governess Game by Tess Dare
In-Between Days by Teva Harrison
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Penelope Lemon by Inman Majors
I'd Rather Be Reading by Anne Bogel

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

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.

Transcription by Kate Atkinson.

The book is being released by Little, Brown and Company on September 25, 2018.

Amazon says this about the book: In 1940, eighteen-year old Juliet Armstrong is reluctantly recruited into the world of espionage. Sent to an obscure department of MI5 tasked with monitoring the comings and goings of British Fascist sympathizers, she discovers the work to be by turns both tedious and terrifying. But after the war has ended, she presumes the events of those years have been relegated to the past forever.

Ten years later, now a radio producer at the BBC, Juliet is unexpectedly confronted by figures from her past. A different war is being fought now, on a different battleground, but Juliet finds herself once more under threat. A bill of reckoning is due, and she finally begins to realize that there is no action without consequence.

Transcription is a work of rare depth and texture, a bravura modern novel of extraordinary power, wit and empathy. It is a triumphant work of fiction from one of the best writers of our time.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Review: The Silver Shoes by Jill G. Hall

Anne is an artist living in San Francisco whose work is starting to be recognized although she still works as a valet in order to make her rent each month. She has been in a bi-coastal relationship with boyfriend Sergio for a while now and she wants nothing more than for him to finally ask her to move to New York and live with him. He runs the family shoe manufacturing company, is sophisticated and charming, and tells Anne he loves her but is strangely reticent about asking her to move in with him and has certainly never mentioned marriage. On Anne's latest trip to New York, she sees a vintage pair of sparkly rhinestone dancing shoes in the window of a store and when they fit her large feet like a glove, she buys them. They and the other contents of the shoe box will become her muses as she decides what she wants and needs from Sergio and from the rest of her life.

Clair is a towering red-headed debutante in New York City just before the Stock Market Crash of 1929. She is the doted on only child of a wealthy father but she desperately wants a friend and a bigger life than the one she lives in her gilded cage. She finds that friend in Winnie, a salesgirl at Macy's who has grand ambitions to perform on stage. It is under Winnie's bubbly and gregarious wing that Clair acknowledges her own desire to break out and perform as well. The two girls secretly frequent a speakeasy and revue owned by Winnie's boyfriend and Clair gets a taste of the forbidden and of freedom. But Clair's father has plans for her, including marrying an odious older man Clair cannot stand and nothing Clair can do can seem to change his mind. And then Black Thursday happens and Clair must somehow hold her fragile little family together.

The story switches back and forth between Anne in the present day and Clair in 1929. As is common with dual narratives, one is stronger than the other, in this case, Clair's story is far more fascinating than Anne's. Neither main character seems in charge of her own destiny though. As Anne goes through her days, including during a trip back to Michigan with Sergio to see her family and then a trip to Italy to meet his Nonna, she is constantly focused on having a conversation with him about her moving to New York and her desire to get married, noting over and over again that because of situations or reasons, there will be no discussion that day or night. As for Clair, her own lack of power is slightly more understandable given the time in which she lives but she is willing to obey her father so far as to even marry a man who repulses her despite having a beloved aunt or her friend Winnie to escape to. Such frustrating passivity in both of them! The historical details, besides descriptions of Clair and Winnie's clothes, take a backseat to the personal but every now and then there's a nice touch to remind the reader where we are, such as the a-oo-gah of the car horns. There are things that ground Anne's story in the present too, like mentioning how many likes a Facebook post got, Sergio's man bun, Anne's Michigan Trumpster relatives, and referencing a scene from The Big Bang Theory (although she calls Sheldon Sherman) but these feel gratuitous and out of place, jarring rather than organic.  Anne feels very single minded about the topic of her relationship throughout the majority of the novel, only recognizing her truth in the very end.  Clair and her father act unbelievably out of character in key instances to change the direction of the historical portion of the story, Clair in her encounter with Mr. X and her father in his easy acquiescence to her eventual performance and the connection between the two women, through the silver sparkly shoes ends up being incredibly tenuous.  The secret revealed in Clair's story comes out of left field as well, flashing into the narrative and then out again, having ultimately changed little.  Over all this was a light but quick read and although I thought there were some problems in the execution and didn't connect with it the way I had hoped, others seem to have no such qualms so you may want to search this out and make up your own mind.

For more information about Jill G. Hall and the book, check out her webpage, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter. Check out the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.
Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and She Writes Press for sending me a copy of the book for review.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I had a lot of reading time and not much reviewing time this past week as Hurricane Florence (who had been downgraded to a tropical depression before she decided to hover over top of us and make us wonder if an ark was a good idea) came to visit. Winds weren't too bad, the creek behind our house did overflow but didn't get too far into the yard (unless the rain keeps going for several more days after today anyway), and we only lost power briefly. As long as our trees hold up in the over saturated ground, I'd say this was perfect reading weather! This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past week are:

The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love by Per J. Andersson
A Cast of Vultures by Judith Flanders
The Governess Game by Tess Dare
In-Between Days by Teva Harrison
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

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
Thousand-Miler by Melanie Radzicki McManus
Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh
After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara
Metis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The New York Time Footsteps by various authors
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
Mean by Myriam Gurba
The Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison
The Wangs Vs. the World by Jade Chang
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
One House Over by Mary Monroe
Burntown by Jennifer McMahon
Everything She Didn't Say by Jane Kirkpatrick
The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale
The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
Surviving Paradise by Peter Rudiak-Gould
The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
The Silver Shoes by Jill G. Hall

Reviews posted this week:

The Secret of the Irish Castle by Santa Montefiore

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

Paper Boats by Dee Lestari
Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies
Swimming with Elephants by Sarah Bamford Seidelmann
Visible Empire by Hannah Pittard
The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
Love Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
A Song for the River by Philip Connors
In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt
Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian
Still Life with Monkey by Katharine Weber
America for Beginners by Leah Franqui
Vanishing Twins by Lea Dieterich
Tenemental by Vikki Warner
Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
The Lido by Libby Page
The Invisible Valley by Su Wei
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs
The Showrunner by Kim Mortishugu
I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice
Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan
Terra Nullius by Clare G. Coleman
Christmas in July by Alan Michael Parker
Nothing Forgotten by Jessica Levine
Housegirl by Michael Donkor
Wildwood by Elinor Florence
All Day at the Movies by Fiona Kidman
Weedeater by Robert Gipe
The Mannequin Makers by Craig Cliff
Chemistry by Weike Wang
The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
Come Back to the Swamp by Laura Morrison
The Animal Gazer by Edgardo Franzosini
Melmoth by Sarah Perry
Sound by Bella Bathurst
Celine by Peter Heller
In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
You'll Always Have Tara by Leah Marie Brown
The Taster by V.S. Alexander
Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce
Calypso by David Sedaris
A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass
Postcards from the Canyon by Lisa Gitlin
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Sycamore by Bryn Chancellor
The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
As Wide As the Sky by Jessica Pack
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
Plum Rains by Andromeda Romano-Lax
Second Wind by Nathaniel Philbrick
Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia
Paper Is White by Hilary Zaid
Hotel Silence by Audur Ava Olafsdottir
The Vain Conversation by Anthony Grooms
The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak
Ostrich by Matt Greene
The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop
Maggie Boylan by Michael Henson
We All Love the Beautiful Girls by Joanne Proulx
Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
Shores Beyond Shores by Irene Butter
The Shakespeare Requirement by Julie Schumacher
Fiction Can Be Murder by Becky Clark
Tigerbelle by Wyomia Tyus
Wolf Season by Helen Benedict
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
London Road by Tessa Smith McGovern
Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt
Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe
Love Literary Style by Karin Gillespie
The Secret of the Irish Castle by Santa Montefiore
The Cactus by Sarah Haywood
The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love by Per J. Andersson
A Cast of Vultures by Judith Flanders
The Governess Game by Tess Dare
In-Between Days by Teva Harrison
The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh
In the Heart of the Canyon by Elisabeth Hyde

Monday Mailbox

The supplemental books are still rolling in and a good thing since I've read a lot during Florence's big rainy visit. This past week's mailbox arrivals:

Never Greener by Ruth Jones came from me for myself.

Have you ever wondered what would have happened if you made different choices in life? Me too. So this book about a woman who meets the married man she had an affair with when she was younger and, despite the fact that each of them is happily married, faces the choice of whether they should make a different choice this time around. Sounds intriguing, no?

Bowlaway by Elizabeth McCracken came from Ecco.

Why did I want this one? Because it's Elizabeth McCracken, right? But also because it's about a woman discovered unconscious in a cemetery who opens a bowling alley and marries the town doctor and it just gets weirder sounding after that.

The Going and Goodbye by Shuly Xochitl Cawood came from me for myself.

I heard about this one on a podcast and I do like memoirs about leaving and memories so I thought I'd give it a shot.

The Other Us by Fiona Harper came from me for myself.

Yep, another what would you do if you had the chance to live your decisions over again book. I do like them rather a lot, I know, but how can you not want to read all iterations of this theme? I mean, it's like the book version of itself. LOL!  And this one has the main character waking up in her 21 year old body again so its truly a reliving (or not) your choices one.

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.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

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.

Unsheltered by Barbara Kingsolver.

The book is being released by Harper on October 16, 2018.

Amazon says this about the book: The New York Times bestselling author of Flight Behavior, The Lacuna, and The Poisonwood Bible and recipient of numerous literary awards—including the National Humanities Medal, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the Orange Prize—returns with a timely novel that interweaves past and present to explore the human capacity for resiliency and compassion in times of great upheaval.

Willa Knox has always prided herself on being the embodiment of responsibility for her family. Which is why it’s so unnerving that she’s arrived at middle age with nothing to show for her hard work and dedication but a stack of unpaid bills and an inherited brick home in Vineland, New Jersey, that is literally falling apart. The magazine where she worked has folded, and the college where her husband had tenure has closed. The dilapidated house is also home to her ailing and cantankerous Greek father-in-law and her two grown children: her stubborn, free-spirited daughter, Tig, and her dutiful debt-ridden, ivy educated son, Zeke, who has arrived with his unplanned baby in the wake of a life-shattering development.

In an act of desperation, Willa begins to investigate the history of her home, hoping that the local historical preservation society might take an interest and provide funding for its direly needed repairs. Through her research into Vineland’s past and its creation as a Utopian community, she discovers a kindred spirit from the 1880s, Thatcher Greenwood.

A science teacher with a lifelong passion for honest investigation, Thatcher finds himself under siege in his community for telling the truth: his employer forbids him to speak of the exciting new theory recently published by Charles Darwin. Thatcher’s friendships with a brilliant woman scientist and a renegade newspaper editor draw him into a vendetta with the town’s most powerful men. At home, his new wife and status-conscious mother-in-law bristle at the risk of scandal, and dismiss his financial worries and the news that their elegant house is structurally unsound.

Brilliantly executed and compulsively readable, Unsheltered is the story of two families, in two centuries, who live at the corner of Sixth and Plum, as they navigate the challenges of surviving a world in the throes of major cultural shifts. In this mesmerizing story told in alternating chapters, Willa and Thatcher come to realize that though the future is uncertain, even unnerving, shelter can be found in the bonds of kindred—whether family or friends—and in the strength of the human spirit.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Review: The Secret of the Irish Castle by Santa Montefiore

I've never watched soap operas on television but boy do I devour them in book form! Of course, they aren't generally called soap operas in book form. Instead they're called things like epics or family sagas. In fact, I already called the first two books in Santa Montefiore's Deverill Chronicles trilogy (The Girl in the Castle and The Daughters of Ireland) family sagas. The third and final book of the trilogy, The Secret of the Irish Castle, is the grand resolution to this saga. And in its case, it would be fair to say that it is not just a family saga but a great stonking Irish soap opera with all the twists and turns appropriate to a television show.

Martha Wallace is from Connecticut. She's come to Ireland with her old nanny and is looking for her birth mother after her younger sister's spiteful revelation that Martha was adopted. She has no idea what she'll find as far as her mother goes but she does find JP Deverill, making a connection with him that will turn out to dig up long buried secrets and change the direction of both of their lives as the next generation of Deverills, O'Learys, and Doyles take their places in the family drama. Bridie Doyle has married and returned to Ballinakelly as the Countess di Marcantonio. She, her flirtatious, womanizing husband, and their spoiled son are now the owners of Deverill Castle but Bridie feels as out of place as ever, not comfortable as the great lady of the manor but no longer Bridie the cook's daughter either. Kitty Deverill and her husband Robert still live in Ballinakelly with their daughter and JP, Kitty's half brother whom Kitty has raised since infancy. Kitty is terribly distraught by Bridie's ownership of the family home and the two formerly close friends remain completely estranged. But that isn't the worst of it for Kitty, as she discovers when Jack O'Leary, the man she has loved her whole life, moves back to Ballinakelly with his wife Emer and their three children. As the shadow of WWII draws closer and then through the war and out the other side, mistakes will be made, hearts will be broken, relationships will be revisited and reclaimed for good or for ill, and a tangle of lies and deceit will unravel.

Montefiore does wrap up all the story lines from the previous two books here in this final work of the trilogy. Readers who are coming to this after the other two books will not be surprised by any of the resolutions but readers who are picking this up without reading the other two books are likely to be a bit confused by the history they are missing.  So this is probably best read only after books one and two. As in the other books, love and family are terribly important but here the theme of forgiveness is tantamount. And to be sure, there's a lot of forgiveness that needs to be given here! The paranormal elements of the story line and acknowledgment and importance of the family curse are still here but they are quite minimized despite framing the rest of the story. All story lines are tidily resolved, characters get what they deserve and things end up the way they've always needed to end, if a bit easily at that. There's less of an Irish feel to this story than to the previous two, perhaps because it relies so much less on important events of Irish history and more on the individual characters and their feelings. The novel is a bit predictable but over all a satisfying conclusion to an engrossing summer read.

For more information about Santa Montefiore and the book, check out her webpage, like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter or Instagram. Check out the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.
Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for sending me a copy of the book for review.

Monday, September 10, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past week are:

Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt
Love Nina by Nina Stibbe
Love Literary Style by Karin Gillespie
The Secret of the Irish Castle by Santa Montefiore

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

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
Thousand-Miler by Melanie Radzicki McManus
Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh
After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara
Metis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love by Per J. Andersson
The New York Time Footsteps by various authors
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
Mean by Myriam Gurba
The Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison
The Wangs Vs. the World by Jade Chang
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
One House Over by Mary Monroe
Burntown by Jennifer McMahon
Everything She Didn't Say by Jane Kirkpatrick
The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale
The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
Surviving Paradise by Peter Rudiak-Gould
The Cactus by Sarah Haywood

Reviews posted this week:

nothing at all (oops)

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

Paper Boats by Dee Lestari
Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies
Swimming with Elephants by Sarah Bamford Seidelmann
Visible Empire by Hannah Pittard
The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
Love Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
A Song for the River by Philip Connors
In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt
Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian
Still Life with Monkey by Katharine Weber
America for Beginners by Leah Franqui
Vanishing Twins by Lea Dieterich
Tenemental by Vikki Warner
Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
The Lido by Libby Page
The Invisible Valley by Su Wei
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs
The Showrunner by Kim Mortishugu
I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice
Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan
Terra Nullius by Clare G. Coleman
Christmas in July by Alan Michael Parker
Nothing Forgotten by Jessica Levine
Housegirl by Michael Donkor
Wildwood by Elinor Florence
All Day at the Movies by Fiona Kidman
Weedeater by Robert Gipe
The Mannequin Makers by Craig Cliff
Chemistry by Weike Wang
The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
Come Back to the Swamp by Laura Morrison
The Animal Gazer by Edgardo Franzosini
Melmoth by Sarah Perry
Sound by Bella Bathurst
Celine by Peter Heller
In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
You'll Always Have Tara by Leah Marie Brown
The Taster by V.S. Alexander
Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce
Calypso by David Sedaris
A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass
Postcards from the Canyon by Lisa Gitlin
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Sycamore by Bryn Chancellor
The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
As Wide As the Sky by Jessica Pack
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
Plum Rains by Andromeda Romano-Lax
Second Wind by Nathaniel Philbrick
Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia
Paper Is White by Hilary Zaid
Hotel Silence by Audur Ava Olafsdottir
The Vain Conversation by Anthony Grooms
The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak
Ostrich by Matt Greene
The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop
Maggie Boylan by Michael Henson
We All Love the Beautiful Girls by Joanne Proulx
Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
Shores Beyond Shores by Irene Butter
The Shakespeare Requirement by Julie Schumacher
Fiction Can Be Murder by Becky Clark
Tigerbelle by Wyomia Tyus
Wolf Season by Helen Benedict
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
London Road by Tessa Smith McGovern
Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt
Love, Nina by Nina Stibbe
Love Literary Style by Karin Gillespie
The Secret of the Irish Castle by Santa Montefiore

Monday Mailbox

The supplemental books are still rolling in. ::big grin:: This past week's mailbox arrivals:

To the Back of Beyond by Peter Stamm came from me for myself.

I have two friends named Thomas and Astrid so I was intrigued from the get go by this novel about a couple who hear their young son cry out and when Astrid the wife/mother gets up to go to him, Thomas the husband/father walks out of their garden and just leaves. Intriguing no?

Of Murder, Muses and Me by Claudia Chibici-Revneanu came from me for myself.

A publishing world mystery where a fan has to solve her favorite writer's murder, this looks delightful.

Third Son's a Charm by Shana Galen came from me for myself.

I do enjoy a good Regency set historical romance and this one about a stubborn Society miss and the noble younger son hired to be her bodyguard should be a fun romp in one of my favorite time periods.

The Amendment by Anne Leigh Parrish came from Unsolicited Press and TLC Book Tours for a blog tour.

I have thoroughly enjoyed Parrish's other books (By the Wayside and Our Love Could Light the World) so I am looking forward to this one about a widow who meets a collection of people and reflects on her own past while on a road trip.

Root, Petal, Thorn by Ella Joy Olsen came from me for myself.

Don't judge a book by its cover, right? I do though and this is a beautiful one. The story, about 5 women who live in a historic home over a century, sounds fantastic.

All Over the Place by Geraldine DeRuiter came from me for myself.

A travel memoir written by a woman who shouldn't travel because she's a disaster, this looks like it will be hilarious and I can't wait.

The Wedding Beat by Devan Sipher came from me for myself.

I should sheepishly admit I've now bought this twice. I guess that's good because it means I definitely want to read it. About a man who writes the wedding column for a newspaper who meets the woman of his dreams at a society wedding, loses track of her, and only finds her again when he is set to cover *her* wedding, this does sound good, right?

Shining Sea by Anne Korkeakivi came from me for myself.

I do like sweeping stories about families and this one that starts with the loss of a father and husband looks really amazing.

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.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

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.

Around Her by Sophie Bienvenu.

The book is being released by Talonbooks on October 16, 2018.

Amazon says this about the book: Heartily sincere, human, and compassionate, Around Her is a multifaceted novel that explores, through the words and reflections of a large community of characters, the bonds that unite us, and love in all of its manifestations – the love that one finds, that one loses, destroys, desires, or recovers. In the mid-1990s, a sixteen-year-old girl, secretive and vulnerable, gives birth to a healthy boy in the anonymity of a Montreal hospital. She gives him up for adoption – a parting that will affect, perhaps even govern and determine, all successive stages of her adult life. Around Her traces twenty years of the lives of Florence Gaudreault and her estranged son Adrien through the prism of twenty characters who have crossed their paths and who, each in turn and with their own unique voice, tell their story. Patiently assembling disparate points of view, those of the young, the old, the families, the couples, or the lonely souls, this novel, replete with emotive twists and turns, probes the failures and hopes of a whole segment of society, revealing the proximity of past traumas.

Around Her is a highly emotional book, written with stylistic virtuosity, and populated with a complex kaleidoscope of voices. Author Sophie Bienvenu has a tangible gift for portraying real-life, contrasting characters, and revealing their idiosyncratic and evolving streams of consciousness. Around Her is Bienvenu’s fiction at its best, rigorously authentic, wholeheartedly humane, and delightfully vulnerable.

Monday, September 3, 2018

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past week are:

Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
Another Woman's Husband by Gill Paul
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood
London Road by Tessa Smith McGovern

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

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
Thousand-Miler by Melanie Radzicki McManus
Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh
After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara
Metis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Amazing Story of the Man Who Cycled from India to Europe for Love by Per J. Andersson
The New York Time Footsteps by various authors
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
Mean by Myriam Gurba
The Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison
The Wangs Vs. the World by Jade Chang
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
One House Over by Mary Monroe
Burntown by Jennifer McMahon
Everything She Didn't Say by Jane Kirkpatrick
The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale
The Child Finder by Rene Denfeld
Invitation to a Bonfire by Adrienne Celt
Surviving Paradise by Peter Rudiak-Gould

Reviews posted this week:

Another Woman's Husband by Gill Paul
Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood

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

Paper Boats by Dee Lestari
Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies
Swimming with Elephants by Sarah Bamford Seidelmann
Visible Empire by Hannah Pittard
The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman
Love Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
A Song for the River by Philip Connors
In the Shadow of 10,000 Hills by Jennifer Haupt
Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian
Still Life with Monkey by Katharine Weber
America for Beginners by Leah Franqui
Vanishing Twins by Lea Dieterich
Tenemental by Vikki Warner
Meet Me at the Museum by Anne Youngson
The Lido by Libby Page
The Invisible Valley by Su Wei
The Last Equation of Isaac Severy by Nova Jacobs
The Showrunner by Kim Mortishugu
I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice
Paris by the Book by Liam Callanan
Terra Nullius by Clare G. Coleman
Christmas in July by Alan Michael Parker
Nothing Forgotten by Jessica Levine
Housegirl by Michael Donkor
Wildwood by Elinor Florence
All Day at the Movies by Fiona Kidman
Weedeater by Robert Gipe
The Mannequin Makers by Craig Cliff
Chemistry by Weike Wang
The Summer Wives by Beatriz Williams
Come Back to the Swamp by Laura Morrison
The Animal Gazer by Edgardo Franzosini
Melmoth by Sarah Perry
Sound by Bella Bathurst
Celine by Peter Heller
In Every Moment We Are Still Alive by Tom Malmquist
The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris
You'll Always Have Tara by Leah Marie Brown
The Taster by V.S. Alexander
Dear Mrs. Bird by AJ Pearce
Calypso by David Sedaris
A House Among the Trees by Julia Glass
Postcards from the Canyon by Lisa Gitlin
The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
Sycamore by Bryn Chancellor
The Home for Unwanted Girls by Joanna Goodman
As Wide As the Sky by Jessica Pack
Indian Horse by Richard Wagamese
Plum Rains by Andromeda Romano-Lax
Second Wind by Nathaniel Philbrick
Leave No Trace by Mindy Mejia
Paper Is White by Hilary Zaid
Hotel Silence by Audur Ava Olafsdottir
The Vain Conversation by Anthony Grooms
The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells
The Widows of Malabar Hill by Sujata Massey
The Last Suppers by Mandy Mikulencak
Ostrich by Matt Greene
The Mercy Seat by Elizabeth H. Winthrop
Maggie Boylan by Michael Henson
We All Love the Beautiful Girls by Joanne Proulx
Every Note Played by Lisa Genova
Shores Beyond Shores by Irene Butter
The Shakespeare Requirement by Julie Schumacher
Fiction Can Be Murder by Becky Clark
Tigerbelle by Wyomia Tyus
Wolf Season by Helen Benedict
Beasts of Extraordinary Circumstance by Ruth Emmie Lang
The Second Mrs. Hockaday by Susan Rivers
London Road by Tessa Smith McGovern

Monday Mailbox

I might have supplemented my kids' back to school books with books for myself. Shhhhhh! Don't tell. This past week's mailbox arrivals:

When All Is Said by Anne Griffin came from Thomas Dunne Books Books.

This novel is about the five people that one man raises one glass each to, the people who define him and who explain his life. What a cool concept for a story!

The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves came from St. Martin's Press.

An introverted English major and a boy in chess club fall in love in college and when they meet up again a decade later, they might have a second chance together. Does anyone else have a soft spot for second chance stories like I do? I just can't get enough of them.

A Quiet Life in the Country by T.E. Kinsey came from me for myself.

A 1908 mystery set in the English countryside with an eccentric widow and her martial arts trained maid? Don't mind if I do.

Kudos by Rachel Cusk came from FSG.

Surely I can't be expected to forgo the third in the trilogy, right?

The Seabird's Cry by Adam Nicolson came from Henry Holt.

There's something so appealing about seabirds, isn't there? Even if I hadn't fallen under the spell of Jonathan Livingston Seagull when I was a small girl (long before I read the book), I would still be interested in this piece of science writing.

Lady Helena Investigates by Jane Steen came from me for myself.

Yes, most of the mysteries that appeal to me all have similar covers. What of it? ;-) I am attracted to the Victorian era for sure.

Drinking from the Trough by Mary Carlson came from me for myself.

Can you resist those faces? Me either. Having a sister and brother-in-law who are both vets, I am curious indeed about this veterinarian's memoir.

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer came from a friend for a "my favorite book exchange."

I am always curious to read other people's favorite books, especially other book lover's favorite books so I am looking forward to this one.

The Summer House by the Sea by Jenny Oliver came from me for myself.

About a summerhouse on the Spanish coast and a woman looking to rejuvenate herself and her grandmother's summerhouse, this looks like a delightful and fun read.

The Man Who Couldn't Miss by David Handler came from me for myself.

I thoroughly enjoyed Handler's The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes so I am looking forward to this mystery as well. Plus there's a basset hound named Lulu.

The Figgs by Ali Bryan came from me for myself.

A novel about an empty nest that doesn't seem to empty, since I am only two years from empty nesting myself, I need to see what this set of parents did wrong. Just kidding but it sounds like a great book with adult children lingering and then a grandchild added to the mix.

Vacationland by Sarah Stonich came from me for myself.

I am a complete sucker for books set up north so this one set in northernmost Minnesota at a crumbling lodge and about a woman who lived there as a girl is just up my alley.

Eats of Eden by Tabitha Blankenbiller came from me for myself.

How cute is that title? Essays about food, writing, and recipes, this looks great.

Painting Blue Water by Leigh Fossan came from me for myself.

A book with water on the cover? Yep. A woman starting over and trying to connect with her artistic self in the peace of this lake town? Yep. This book is like my own personal cat nip.

Love Literary Style by Karin Gillespie came from me for myself.

A love story between a stuffy literary writer and a self-published romance author and set in the publishing world, this looks like great fun.

The Lost Girls of Camp Forevermore by Kim Fu came from me for myself.

I may never have gone to a traditional sleep away camp (does a week of swim camp at a boarding school count?) but I am intrigued by camp stories, especially one like this one where five girls have to come through an overnight ordeal that shapes the rest of their lives.

Love Nina by Nina Stibbe came from me for myself.

I love epistolary books (novels or nonfiction). There's something so pleasingly voyeuristic about them. So this collection of letters home to her sister from a nanny in London is exactly the sort of book I love to read.

Worlds Elsewhere by Andrew Dickson came from me for myself.

Shakespeare went viral before viral was a thing. I am excited to read this book talking about just how Shakespeare spread all over the globe (and not just the theater). <--yeah boo="" hiss="" i="" know.="" nbsp="" on="" p="" pun.="" the="">
Mr. Lynch's Holiday by Catherine O'Flynn came from me for myself.

This sounds like a hallucinogenic vision of a father and son reconnecting and I am intrigued.

The Comfort Food Diaries by Emily Nunn came from me for myself.

I like comfort food and I would certainly have invited the author to come and cook comfort food at my house as she tried to heal a grieving and broken heart. Even though I didn't get to be part of her comfort food tour, I am looking forward to going on the tour vicariously through this book. And maybe to finding some tasty comfort food recipes while I'm at it.

London Road by Tessa Smith McGovern came from me for myself.

Seven linked short stories about people who all live in one boardinghouse, I do enjoy these types of ensemble books.

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.

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