Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Henry, Himself by Stewart O'Nan.

The book is being released by Viking on April 9, 2019.

The book's jacket copy says: A member of the greatest generation looks back on the loves and losses of his past and comes to treasure the present anew in this poignant and thoughtful new novel from a modern master

Stewart O'Nan is renowned for illuminating the unexpected grace of everyday life and the resilience of ordinary people with humor, intelligence, and compassion. In this prequel to the beloved Emily, Alone, he offers an unsentimental, moving life story of a twentieth-century everyman.

Soldier, son, lover, husband, breadwinner, churchgoer, Henry Maxwell has spent his whole life trying to live with honor. A native Pittsburgher and engineer, he's always believed in logic, sacrifice, and hard work. Now, seventy-five and retired, he feels the world has passed him by. It's 1998, the American century is ending, and nothing is simple anymore. His children are distant, their unhappiness a mystery. Only his wife Emily and dog Rufus stand by him. Once so confident, as Henry's strength and memory desert him, he weighs his dreams against his regrets and is left with questions he can't answer: Is he a good man? Has he done right by the people he loves? And with time running out, what, realistically, can he hope for?

Like Emily, Alone, Henry, Himself is a wry, warmhearted portrait of an American original who believes he's reached a dead end only to discover life is full of surprises.

Monday, March 18, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past week are:

The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
The Quintland Sisters by Shelley Wood
The Archive of Alternate Endings by Lindsey Drager
Granny’s Got a Gun by Harper Lin

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Metis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel
White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf

Reviews posted this week:

Tiny Americans by Devin Murphy
The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Quintland Sisters by Shelley Wood

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

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good by Helene Tursten
The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Rules of Surrender by Christina Dodd
The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handle
Oh, Tama! by Mieko Kanai
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Exposure by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
The Archive of Alternate Endings by Lindsey Drager
Granny’s Got a Gun by Harper Lin

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Review: The Quintland Sisters by Shelley Wood

When I was little, I met a lifelong friend. My mom drove the two of us back and forth to Safety Town every day the summer before kindergarten. Her mom didn't drive us because she had infant triplets at home, two identical girls and a boy. The triplets' birth had caused rather a lot of excitement and it reached the point that they had to unlist their phone number so perfect strangers wouldn't call and wake the babies during their nap. I also remember that when the triplets were old enough, they would scoot their cribs across the nursery floor and climb in together, thus foiling the idea of having them sleep separately. Obviously, given the fact that I was only five and I still remember this, it was quite memorable. I can't even begin to imagine the circus that ensued when the Dionne quintuplets were born decades before the triplets I knew. But I don't have to envision it because Shelley Wood has done the research and fictionalized this miraculous and disturbing story in her new novel, The Quintland Sisters.

Emma Trimpany, a bilingual seventeen year old girl with a port wine stain on half of her face, is volunteered by her mother to attend to a birth with the local midwife with the hope of finding Emma a profession. It is 1934 and much of the world is in the grip of the Great Depression so Emma's parents want her to have a secure future, even if she isn't at all certain she wants to be a midwife. The birth she is called out to attend will change the trajectory of her entire life though. It's the unexpected birth of the five, tiny, and identical Dionne quints. The Dionnes, he a poor farmer and she a housewife, were already parents to five other children when the severely premature babies arrived. Keeping the five babies alive is touch and go for quite some time but their remarkable birth immediately captures the imagination of Canada, the US, and the world.

Told through Emma's journal entries, letters to her from those she meets in the course of her years as nurse to the Dionne girls, and newspaper articles celebrating the special little girls, the story, based on the real life Dionne quintuplets, is an infuriating and amazing one of celebrity, greed, exploitation, the bounds of medical ethics, and government overstep. The daily life of the infants, then babies, then toddlers and that of the fictional Emma are woven together easily. Emma remarks that her birthmark makes her invisible, which perfectly places her to see and hear things about the Dionne parents, Dr. Dafoe, the girls' doctor, and the staff at the government built Dafoe Hospital and Nursery that show the reader the tragedy of the strange upbringing of the quintuplets. Emma is quite young and impossibly naive when she witnesses the birth and begins to devote her life to the babies. She shows no concern that the Dionne parents are not allowed access to their own children except on the doctor's carefully charted schedule or that the children were quickly made wards of the Ontario government, seeing these outsiders as appropriate surrogate parents for the children, especially after witnessing the horrible behavior of Maman and Papa Dionne. As the quintuplets grow, Emma's duties change and circumstances force her to start to consider a life not lived in the service of her five precious girls.

Although the book spends a fair bit of time with the quintuplets, it is really Emma's story that is being told, from her first naive reluctance to a doting maternal feeling, to full maturity and control over her own future. As the story and Emma's understanding evolve, it is clear that there is a very seedy underside to the quints' situation. The outside world is not permitted to see any of the stress and strife roiling; they only see the carefully orchestrated marketing that allows them to believe that the girls live an idyllic life in their nursery home. Just as Emma becomes more attuned to the undercurrents, she also comes to see that there are no good guys in the equation either. Exploiting the children for money, even if it is just to keep them financially secure for life (and it's not just that), is no less odious when it is the father, the doctor, or the government doing it. The readers' sympathies swing from character to character, although the girls remain pitiable throughout. The treatment of the girls, being displayed as curiosities to the eager public, and the medical regimentation and testing, although not terribly detailed, were completely repugnant and the reader swings from interest in the story to distaste and back again. Wood has clearly done a lot of research and tried to address the abhorrent bits of the story with delicacy, using Emma's journalistic sensibilities to draw off some of the horribleness. But she has not flinched from portraying the sadness and uncertainty in these little girls' lives, the good impulses and bad, problematic or well meaning, and the impossible position the girls' celebrity and the world's fascination and well wishes cause. Historical fiction fans will enjoy the story, even it is Emma's story first, throughout, and last, rather than Yvonne, Annette, Cecile, Marie, and Emilie's.

For more information about Shelley Wood and the book, check our her author website, like her on Facebook or follow her on Instagram or Twitter, look at 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 Harper Collins for making me pull this off my shelf sooner rather than later.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Review and Book Club Questions: The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

Although I read fairly eclectically, I don't often read much in the science fiction or fantasy genres. When I do though, I tend to enjoy the books a lot. You'd think this would translate in me picking up more of them, but no. It means that people know I am reluctant with regards to the genre and only recommend I read the very best, the most thoughtful, the ones that will engage me the most even as they push my regular reading boundaries. Mary Robinette Kowal's novel The Calculating Stars, the first in the Lady Astronaut series, is one of these. Alternate history set in the 50s? Not my usual choice but it came so highly recommended that I knew I should give it a chance. Let's just say that 2 of my 3 year-round book clubs have read it now and this is very likely to be one of the three books for my summer book club as well.  I have the second novel on my shelves to read and was pleased to see that books 3 and 4 have been acquired (novelette 4.5 already exists and was, in fact, written first and won a Hugo to boot).

It's 1952 and physicist, mathematician Elma York and her engineer husband Nathaniel are on vacation in the Poconos when something catastrophic happens.  Initially they think a nuclear bomb has detonated.  Unable to return home to Washington DC, Elma, a former WWII pilot, flies them west to Wright-Patt Air Force base in Dayton, OH where they discover that an enormous meteorite has wiped out the entire East Coast, including the vast majority of the government as well as Elma's family. As if that's not terrible enough, the meteorite has put Earth on a collision course with an ecological disaster so vast that the need to get off this planet and find a viable way to colonize another planet before humanity's time runs out has become of utmost importance. There's no longer a race against other countries to get into space but a cooperative race for space and survival. Elma, who is incredibly brilliant and already worked for NASA before the meteorite, wants to be in the running to be an astronaut. But it's the 1950s and a woman's place is not in space, at least not according to the men around Elma, aside from her husband. As technologies are fast tracked and developed, Elma is right there in the fray. But she faces constant sexism and condescension, being metaphorically patted on the head and discounted until she is proven capable again and again.

Kowal has created a fascinating alternate history that doesn't dismiss the social issues of the 1950s but in fact highlights them in this subtly different world. Elma is a trailblazing character, one who is both impressive and strong but also fully human with weaknesses and doubts. Her push to be included, to realize her dream of being an astronaut, not only raises the question of discrimination because of gender but also finds her allied with women of color who have been doubly marginalized. Because of Elma's profession and ultimate goal to be a Lady Astronaut, there is definitely a good amount of math and science in the story but it isn't necessary to have a full understanding of either in order to enjoy the novel. The social issues and hurdles that Elma faces are really the main thrust here and they are big, complex issues indeed: sexism, racism, mental health, environmentalism. Kowal does a fantastic job raising these issues in the context of the 50s and 60s, using the attitudes of that time to showcase where we today have improved and where we haven't really come all that far. The narrative tension is not really about the outcome of Elma's quest as much as it is about the smaller, more personal pieces of her life (after all, the novelette was published first and its title gives away what has to occur in the preceding books) and it is this focus on the social and personal that makes this such a successful crossover novel. It's a well-researched and thought provoking novel and I'm looking forward to the sequel.

Here are the questions I created for one of my book clubs since I found very little online that suited my purposes. They are in no particular order, just the order they occurred to me as I leafed back through the novel. This novel is eminently discussable and although it might be out of the comfort zone of many book clubs, it raises many worthy questions and can certainly sustain a book club discussion well past that first glass of wine. Feel free to borrow these for your book club as well.

Book Club Questions by Kristen:

Kowall says: “Science fiction and fantasy takes the real world and tips it over to the side so you can see all the gaps in between.” What are the ways you see this being true in this story?

Women in history have frequently been erased but books like Hidden Figures, The Radium Girls, Fly Girls, and other narrative non-fiction like them are starting to bring the amazing sidelined women back into full view. How does fiction like this also add to the narrative?

It’s the coming environmental crisis that drives the push to get into space in the book but when the crisis isn’t nearly as imminent as the public initially thinks, funding for space exploration and settlement could be in danger. How is this mirrored in our world today?

Elma is not only a woman but a Jewish woman and is familiar with both sexism and religious persecution as a result. Does this make it surprising how naïve she is, at least initially, about the treatment of African-Americans, from the government not evacuating survivors in largely African-American areas to the rejection of the best pilots for the astronaut program? How does she try to change her own responses to systemic prejudice?

Elma wants more than anything to have the chance to go into space and makes some pretty big sacrifices towards achieving her dream. What does she sacrifice? Are the sacrifices worth it? Have you ever made sacrifices of this magnitude in order to achieve a long-held dream?

Elma is a character of two extremes. She has crippling anxiety and panic attacks but she’s also fearless enough to excel as a pilot and push against boundaries to be an astronaut. How can these two polar opposites exist so easily in one character? Do these differences make her a more human character?

Nathaniel and Elma don’t have children, although the there is a suggestion that they may want them at some future date. Several other of the potential “lady astronauts” do have children. In fact, one cannot continue in the training program because she’s pregnant. What are the ethics involved in bringing children into a world that is set to self-destruct? Would you choose to have children in the circumstances? Why or why not?

At the end of the book, Elma discovers that her grandmother and great aunt had in fact survived the impact. Should she have searched harder for those she loved or was her lack of curiosity understandable given the widespread devastation? How does the idea of family play a part in the novel?

What does her faith mean to her, especially in the aftermath of the meteorite?

Discuss Elma’s contentious relationship with Parker. Is she right to compromise with him despite his horrible misogyny?

When Elma finally agrees to take Miltown, she keeps it a secret because she knows it could jeopardize her position in the space program. How have attitudes towards medications of this type and the conditions they treat changed over the years? Or have they stayed the same?

Elma and Nathaniel have a strong and equal marriage partnership that isn’t often seen in portrayals of the 1950s and Elma is clearly no June Cleaver. How does Nathaniel’s support of and belief in his wife help enable her to pursue her dreams? Does it feel realistic to you?

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.

Cheer Up Mr. Widdicombe by Evan James.

The book is being released by Atria on March 26, 2019.

The book's jacket copy says: From a bright new voice in contemporary fiction comes a hilarious and sophisticated comedy of manners about a delightfully eccentric family and the absurd happenings that befall them during one frenzied summer at their home in the Pacific Northwest.

The inimitable—some might say incorrigible—Frank Widdicombe is suffering from a deep depression. Or so his wife, Carol, believes. But Carol is convinced that their new island home—Willowbrook Manor on the Puget Sound—is just the thing to cheer her husband up. And so begins a whirlwind summer as their house becomes the epicenter of multiple social dramas involving the family, their friends, and a host of new acquaintances.

The Widdicombes’ son, Christopher, is mourning a heartbreak after a year abroad in Italy. Their personal assistant, Michelle, begins a romance with preppy screenwriter Bradford, who also happens to be Frank’s tennis partner. Meanwhile, a local named Marvelous Matthews is hired to create a garden at the manor—and is elated to find Gracie Sloane, bewitching self-help author, in residence as well. When this alternately bumbling and clever cast of characters comes together, Willowbrook transforms into a circus of uncovered secrets, preposterous misunderstandings, and irrepressible passions.

Written in a singularly witty and satirical style, Cheer Up, Mr. Widdicombe is perfect for fans of Maria Semple's Where'd You Go, Bernadette?, Andrew Sean Greer's Less, and Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins.

Monday, March 11, 2019

Review: Tiny Americans by Devin Murphy

It seems to be a trend to use third person limited narration that rotates amongst two or more characters. It is less common, and perhaps a harder feat, to have those multiple points of view, all from first person narrative perspective. This means that each character's voice must be separate and distinct or the reader risks frustration and uncertainty about the "I" who is directing the story at that moment. In Tiny Americans, Devin Murphy's newest novel, he develops his characters beautifully, making the rotating first person narrative structure seem effortless in this poignant and well-written tale of a dysfunctional family and the roads they travel away from each other and then back again.

Opening in 1978 with Terrance Thurber's attempts to teach his children, Jamie, Lewis, and Connor, about the natural world while trying to get himself sober, the Thurber family's world will soon be altered and re-ordered forever by Terrance's eventual abandonment of home and family. Told in chapters alternating mainly between the 3 siblings, the novel examines how this seminal event made each of them who they are as adults, probes where each was broken by their family's dysfunction, and traces those broken echoes through their lives. It is an introspective study of family, searching, and forgiveness. Sadness leaks through the chapters, which span 40 years.

The narrative, primarily character driven, is chronological but spotted with intentional gaps.  The chunks of missing time don't seem important though as the characters are fully rounded by the moments the narrative does spend with each of them, connecting them to each other even when they themselves are not in contact. From the siblings' early explorations into the natural world to the contrasting ways they each cocoon themselves after their father's leaving, Murphy has written this very carefully, very precisely, and very beautifully. The novel is intricately plotted in its move from one sibling to the next sibling either a year or several years further on. It is a slow and deliberate, intimate, ultimately touching story of a family that has lost its way trying to find equilibrium and connection again, to repair themselves, and to find forgiveness.

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

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past week are:

American Duchess by Karen Harper
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Metis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay

Reviews posted this week:

American Duchess by Karen Harper

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

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good by Helene Tursten
The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Rules of Surrender by Christina Dodd
The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handle
Tiny Americans by Devin Murphy
Oh, Tama! by Mieko Kanai
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Exposure by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent

Monday Mailbox

This past week's mailbox arrivals:

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy came from William Morrow.

I've already reviewed this one here.

Stella Ryman and the Fairmount Manor Mysteries by Mel Anastasiou came from me for myself.

An octogenarian amateur sleuth solving mysteries in an old folks home? How delightful sounding!

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, March 6, 2019

Review: American Duchess by Karen Harper

It is hard for us, in this day and age, to reconcile ourselves to the idea of a forced marriage. Most of us choose to marry for love and even those people who I know who have had arranged marriages have had a more modern version where they were allowed to decline if the prospect was too horrible to contemplate. But it's really not that long ago that marriage was a business transaction and not a love match, especially in the upper classes, as Karen Harper shows in her latest historical fiction novel about Consuelo Vanderbilt, American Duchess.

In 1895, at only 18 and in love with another man, Consuelo is forced by her overbearing, social climbing mother into marriage with the ninth Duke of Marlborough, her money for his title and palace estate. One of the Gilded Age's "Dollar Brides," Consuelo was perhaps the most famous among the American heiresses who left America for England and the chance to marry into a cash strapped aristocracy. Trapped in a loveless marriage with a cold fish husband, Consuelo turned towards doing good for those less fortunate than she was, earning the sobriquet of Angel of Woodstock for her ministering in the village near Blenheim Palace. Her life continued to be glittering on the surface even as she stretched her philanthropic muscles and poured herself into her two beloved sons. Being the Duchess of Marlborough, especially with her financial means, brings her into contact with many of the famous, the glamorous, and the royal of her time although she regarded her life as like to being in a gilded cage. And it is only later in life that she finds the freedom and love that she searched for for so long.

The book is narrated in the first person by Consuelo herself and opens with the day of her wedding, the wedding of the century, before moving backwards two years to show just how she ended up on the verge of this unwanted marriage and then forwards into her life as Duchess of Marlborough and beyond. Early on in the story, Consuelo is immature, alternately defiant and compliant, while her mother is firmly dictatorial and her father is a complete milksop. Husband Sunny is unemotional and a hidebound traditionalist but not really as present in the novel as one might expect, and certainly not portrayed as horrible a person as our narrator asserts that he is. In fact, none of the characters is completely fleshed out and they feel a little one dimensional as a result. Even Consuelo as the narrator has no flaws nor does she share the little human details that would have made her character realistic and fully realized, making this read more as a superficial biography, removed from the subject, than as a personal account, which a first person narrative historical fiction should surely have mimicked. Consuelo's story has all the makings of a fascinating one, an activist, an heiress, and American Duchess whose life spanned both world wars and who found her own happiness later in life but this skims lightly across the surface of this complicated woman. The writing is simple and easy to read and although it is not a full portrait of Consuelo (oddly ending on a romance novel note of happily ever after and in the midst of WWII despite the fact that Consuelo lives another 20 odd years), it is a light and fast read perfect for those with a fascination with the English aristocracy, those who like to see how the other half lives, and historical fiction fans looking for an easy beach read.

For more information about Karen Harper and the book, check our her author website, follow her on Facebook, look at 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 Harper Collins for sending me a copy of the book for review.

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.

My Very '90s Romance by Jenny Colgan.

The book is being released by William Morrow Paperbacks on March 12, 2019.

The book's jacket copy says: From New York Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan comes a hilarious romantic comedy about a down-on-her-luck florist whose future begins to bloom when she takes on the challenge of helping to transform her nerdy roommate.

Holly is a frustrated florist whose life doesn’t seem to be coming up roses. Fleeing a roommate situation from hell, she moves in with a motley crew of friends—Josh, a sexually confused merchant banker; Kate, a high-flying legal eagle with talons to match; and Addison, a gorgeous computer geek who spends his days communicating with his online girlfriend and anyone who worships at the altar of Jean-Luc Picard. From the moment Holly catches a rare glimpse of Addison, she’s smitten. The only problem is how to get him to swivel his chair from the computer screen to her adoring gaze.

After a series of false starts—involving a new friend and mathematician, Finn—Holly coaxes Addison away from his computer screen and out into the open. While “out in the open” spells disaster for Addison, curiously, her own future begins to bloom. Holly and her friends make desperate attempts to connect with Addison, drag him away from his fiercely possessive girlfriend, Claudia, and get him to communicate with the real world.

With Jenny Colgan’s trademark wit and a cast of unforgettable characters, My Very '90s Romance will capture your heart.

Monday, March 4, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past week are:

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Exposure by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Metis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
American Duchess by Karen Harper

Reviews posted this week:

The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin
100 Dives of a Lifetime by Carrie Miller and Brian Skerry

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

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good by Helene Tursten
The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Rules of Surrender by Christina Dodd
The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handle
Tiny Americans by Devin Murphy
Oh, Tama! by Mieko Kanai
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Exposure by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung

Monday Mailbox

This past week's mailbox arrivals:

Things You Save in a Fire by Katherine Center came from St. Martin's Press.

A female firefighter has to move from Texas to Boston to help out her sick and estranged mother and finds the change of culture rough, fighting to be accepted at her new firehouse and resisting falling for one of her coworkers. Sounds really good, right?!

Normal People by Sally Rooney came from me for myself.

Boy meets girl, communication problems, Costa Novel winner, Man Booker longlisted, and on and on. How could I not want to read this? Answer: impossible. Of course I want to.

The Rose and the Yew Tree by Agatha Christie came from me for myself.

The queen of crime fiction wrote about crimes of the heart? Well, I am all in on this love triangle novel.

Barracombe's by Susan Scarlett came from me for myself.

This is one of Noel Streatfeild's (best known in this country for her kid's books like Ballet Shoes, etc.) adult novels and I can't wait to read this pre-WWII romance about a nasty cousin who comes to stay and disrupt the lives of her happy extended family.

The Road to the Harbour by Susan Pleydell came from me for myself.

A Greyladies book set in a fishing village, this story of a young woman who goes back to where she was last happy looking to heal and forget the recent past after the scandal of her brother's treasonous actions only to have the past catch up with her looks fantastic.

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, February 28, 2019

Review: 100 Dives of a Lifetime by Carrie Miller and Brian Skerry

I love scuba diving. I really, really love scuba diving. If I didn't have to breathe air, I would never come up from under the water. It feels like my place under there. And I'm not picky at all, loving every underwater experience I've had, well, aside from the busting my eardrum one. So when I saw that this book was available, I jumped at it. National Geographic produces gorgeous books and 100 Dives of a Lifetime is no exception. My first thought as I read through this book was, absolutely! Sign me up for every one of these dives. And I meant it, at least until they got to the Cooper River dive that has no visibility and the possibility of alligators. Yikes! On further reflection, I'd probably also skip the dives that require extra weights to get to the bottom fast because of the sheer number of sharks (and I'd only skip those because of my ear pressure equalization problems, not because of the sharks). And I don't know that I'd be all that jazzed to dive in a flooded missile silo. But the rest? Yes, please. Take me there (after I get a few advanced certifications)!

The book is divided into sections based on the difficulty of the dives. There are beginner, intermediate, and advanced dives as well as all skills locations and valuable information in the back of the book not only on scuba resources but on the importance of divers taking the lead in ocean conservation as well. Each of the 100 dive locations listed here is described briefly. All entries have a helpful list of the wildlife divers can expect to see at each location and the statistics on the water (average temperature, visibility, etc.).  Many of them also have helpful travel tips and share when during the year the diving is best at each spot or when specific species are in the area. The photographs accompanying the text are stunning, as you'd expect of National Geographic. They range from gorgeous ocean life to aerial shots of the islands and reefs. If you are a diver, this book will add to the list of places you want to explore for sure. My husband and my bank account may not be pleased I have this to consult and to dream over but I am glad I can revisit the pages, at least until I can dive the actual sites.

For more information about the book, 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 National Geographic for sending me a copy of the book for review.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Lost and Wanted by Nell Freudenberger.

The book is being released by Knopf on April 2, 2019.

The book's jacket copy says: An emotionally engaging, suspenseful new novel from the best-selling author, told in the voice of a renowned physicist: an exploration of female friendship, romantic love, and parenthood--bonds that show their power in surprising ways.

Helen Clapp's breakthrough work on five-dimensional spacetime landed her a tenured professorship at MIT; her popular books explain physics in plain terms. Helen disdains notions of the supernatural in favor of rational thought and proven ideas. So it's perhaps especially vexing for her when, on an otherwise unremarkable Wednesday in June, she gets a phone call from a friend who has just died.

That friend was Charlotte Boyce, Helen's roommate at Harvard. The two women had once confided in each other about everything--in college, the unwanted advances Charlie received from a star literature professor; after graduation, Helen's struggles as a young woman in science, Charlie's as a black screenwriter in Hollywood, their shared challenges as parents. But as the years passed, Charlie became more elusive, and her calls came less and less often. And now she's permanently, tragically gone.

As Helen is drawn back into Charlie's orbit, and also into the web of feelings she once had for Neel Jonnal--a former college classmate now an acclaimed physicist on the verge of a Nobel Prizewinning discovery--she is forced to question the laws of the universe that had always steadied her mind and heart.

Suspenseful, perceptive, deeply affecting, Lost and Wanted is a story of friends and lovers, lost and found, at the most defining moments of their lives.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Review: The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

There are events in life that shape people, forge them, become an integral piece of who they are. Sometimes these events are seemingly insignificant and other times they are clearly big, life-changing occasions. In Tara Conklin's newest novel, The Last Romantics, two of these huge, defining events happen back to back, leading inexorably toward an outcome and an ending that feels fated, determined by the past and written from the beginning.

Ellis Skinner was 34 when he died suddenly, leaving behind 4 children, ranging in age from 11 to 4, and a wife who had no idea of the dismal state of their finances until her dentist husband is gone. Mother Noni falls into an all consuming depression that lasts for years and that the children call The Pause, during which they must fend for themselves, running a little feral and solidifying each of them into the person she and he will grow to be as adults. Renee is the oldest, driven to take on the responsibility of her younger siblings, taking care of others before herself. Eight year old Caroline is the worrier, leaning into family, although not to her own family but to the Duffy crew the Skinner kids meet that first summer. Seven year old Joe is the golden child, beloved by everyone but whose troubles are either hidden, ignored, or explained away, leaving him searching for what he's missing, first through baseball and then through alcohol. And four year old Fiona, the baby of the family is the observer, coming to hold the family story close and finally to record it through her poetry, to give it voice. The children persevere and survive and eventually Noni comes out of her crushing depression but the siblings always wonder about her emotional resiliency and protect her from any unpleasantness until there is no way to protect her or their own hearts.

The story is framed, and occasionally interrupted, by celebrated poet Fiona Skinner at a reading in 2079, answering audience questions, one of which leads her to tell her family's story, continuing on even during a power outage that seems to stretch on and become slightly sinister. Fiona, now 102 years old and quite famous, narrates the majority of the story in the first person, slowly revealing long held secrets and highlighting the enduring bond that grew between the four Skinner siblings in the aftermath of their father's death and their mother's retreat. The narration occasionally shifts to third person when Conklin wants to show the reader a closer look at what is going on with the other three siblings that Fiona could not have known. The shifts are smooth but sometimes they are so subtle, it takes the reader a minute to adjust to the fact that the focus has changed.

The sibling relationships are the anchor of this novel. They are messy and sometimes frayed, but the strength of the Skinners' history with each other keeps them forever tethered no matter how far they may roam. The conceit of the future setting seems unnecessary as there are only small hints of the reality of life in 2079; the real story is that of Fiona's childhood into adulthood, perhaps even as far as middle age.  The beginning is a little slow but the occasional allusions to further tragedy will keep the reader engaged in the story and invested in these flawed but oh so real feeling siblings. The end comes quickly, even as events come fast and furious, each sibling's life wrapped up in just a few sentences once Fiona has revealed what she has lived with for so long.  Each character is scarred, perhaps not visibly like two of the minor characters, but marked nonetheless, forever carrying proof of the pain they endured but eventually allowing it to heal and be relegated to the past. This is a sensitive, well-written look at love, responsibility, addiction, mental health, and grief in a family fractured and mended over and over again and fans of sibling books and of families struggling but ultimately uniting will enjoy this for sure.

For more information about Tara Conklin and the book, check out the author's website, like hr on Facebook or 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 Harper Collins for sending me a copy of the book for review.

Monday, February 25, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past week are:

The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi
100 Dives of a Lifetime by Carrie Miller and Brian Skerry

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Metis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
The Last Romantics by Tara Conklin

Reviews posted this week:

The Forgotten Guide to Happiness by Sophie Jenkins
The Sisters Hemingway by Annie England Noblin
In Another Time by Jillian Cantor
Surviving Paradise by Peter Rudiak-Gould

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

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good by Helene Tursten
The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Rules of Surrender by Christina Dodd
The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handle
Tiny Americans by Devin Murphy
Oh, Tama! by Mieko Kanai
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi

Monday Mailbox

This past week's mailbox arrival:

Twisted Family Values by V. C. Chickering came from St. Martin's Griffin.

I do love a good dysfunctional family novel, especially one set in a privileged family so this one should be interesting to say the least.

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.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Review: Surviving Paradise by Peter Rudiak-Gould

If you were marooned on a small island, what would you want to have with you? I've come up with the only food I would require, the five books I'd take with me, and so on. And hopefully I'll never be marooned with or without these things. But there's something a little romantic about daydreaming about no longer being tied to all our (unnecessary) material possessions and to the always-on digital world we live in these days, right? It might be thoughts like this that inspires some people to sign up to volunteer for organizations like the Peace Corps or WorldTeach but as Peter Rudiak-Gould makes clear in his book Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island, the reality is far more complicated than it seems, especially if you are marooned inside a whole different culture.

Rudiak-Gould signed up with WorldTeach after he graduated from college and asked to be assigned to a truly remote place. He got his wish. Not only are the Marshall Islands remote as a whole, but he was sent to tiny Ujae (1/3 square mile), one of the most remote of the islands in the island chain. He faced culture shock on a grand scale. There to teach English, very few, if any of his students or their families placed much import on education. And he didn't walk into the expected traditional culture but into an uneasy amalgam of the traditional and modern imported American culture. But this is not just a memoir of his experiences living so remotely, it is an examination of his own cultural biases, sometimes embracing them, sometimes pushing against them, but always accepting them and yearning to get back to the familiar.

The personal anecdotes of this memoir and anthropological tale were more interesting than the generalizations, which inclined to more descriptive than active. There's actually quite little about his experience in the classroom and teaching here, as if that was of little importance in his year--and maybe it was given the islanders' attitudes toward school but it seems odd in a memoir of his time teaching on the island. It is clear how much Rudiak-Gould comes to care for some of the people he meets even if he never quite comes to grips with certain aspects of their culture. In fact, learning such a different culture from his own makes him reflect all the more on how much he himself is a product of American culture. Interspersed with his own experiences are musings on the phrasings and the language of the islands, the curious customs, and the structure of the society, of which the foreign teacher will never truly be a part. He tells his tale with humor and frustration and finishes up with a look at the very real danger the islands face from rising sea waters. It sounds as if Rudiak-Gould values his experience with on Ujae but that he wouldn't be so very quick to sign up for another round, even as he wants to protect this unique place before it is gone forever. Armchair travelers and those who enjoy peeks at other cultures will enjoy reading this one.

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

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Review: In Another Time by Jillian Cantor

Would you have left Germany in the years leading up to World War II? It's easy to sit at this historical remove and declare that you would have seen the imminent danger and the toxic, spreading hate and left. But so many people didn't leave. For those with the money and the ability to go, especially the Jews with the money and ability to go, why didn't they? What kept them tied to a Germany becoming increasingly hostile to them? Jillian Cantor's newest novel looks at one young Jewish woman who chose to stay and the young Christian man who loved her and vowed to protect her.

In 1931, when bookstore owner Max Beissinger stumbles into the wrong auditorium at the Lyceum, he is transfixed by the magical violin music he hears and the lovely young woman playing it. Despite her horror at his accidental intrusion on her practice session, they eventually come together and fall in love. Their road is not an easy one though. Hanna is a Jew and Max is not. Max disappears for weeks and months at a time with no contact beyond a simple goodbye letter, never telling Hanna where he has been nor inviting her to join him. But they manage to come back together each time something tears them apart, seemingly fated to be with each other, in defiance of the rising anti-Semitism as Hitler gains more and more power. Max begs Hanna to leave Germany as freedom after freedom is curtailed but she refuses, saying that she is a German, Germany is her country too, and as an aspiring concert violinist, she will come to no one's notice. Max worries until he opens a forbidden closet in his bookstore. What's inside convinces him he can keep Hanna safe.

When Hanna opens her eyes in a cold field in 1946, she is convinced that she had just been in the bookstore with Max when four SA men broke into the shop.  How she got to the field and where Max is are both mysteries.  In fact, it's been a decade since that night and she has amnesia. Taken in by a kindly nun and then her older sister who thought she'd died in the Holocaust, Hanna struggles with the missing decade of her life and whatever happened to Max. Her violin is the only thing she has to hold onto and she works towards making a living as a musician even as it strains her relationship with her sister. Healthy in body but with her traumatic amnesia seemingly permanent, she has to bring herself back to life through the music that still lives within her. She will always love Max, searching for him in the memories she cannot access, playing her violin like fire, and finding the passion within her.

The novel is told moving back and forth in time between Max and Hanna. Hanna's story only starts in 1946 as she tries to build a new life without knowing her past. Max's chapters start in 1931 and tell the story of the two of them meeting and falling in love as Max tracks Hitler's rise. Nothing that Max tells illuminates Hanna's missing years, leaving the reader as in the dark about her whereabouts during the war as she is. He tells of the years of their pre-war relationship and the reason behind his occasional months long absences that threaten to break them up. But he never tells Hanna why or where he's gone thinking she will never believe him. Their two stories work towards a crescendo of memory, loss, and enduring love in their two different timelines.

Cantor knows how to write engaging stories and this is no exception. Max and Hanna's relationship is occasionally volatile but their love feels real and strong. The mystery of Hanna's missing ten years and Max's whereabouts underpins almost the entire story and the reader is eager to find out the answers to these two questions as well as whether they can find each other and be together "in another time."  There is a speculative fiction piece to the story that feels out of place in this otherwise captivating novel. This piece is underdeveloped and comes rather out of the blue. It does offer another potential answer to Hanna's missing years but it sits strangely beside the otherwise realistic and emotional story of two lovers facing the coming danger of the Holocaust. Hanna and Max are well drawn and the secondary characters anchor them in time and place. This is a well-written and affecting, very different look at both pre-war Germany and post-war London and Europe and the people whose lives were rent apart by a terrible war.

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

Waiting on Wednesday

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

The Promise of Elsewhere by Brad Leithauser.

The book is being released by Knopf on March 26, 2019.

The book's jacket copy says: A comic novel about a Midwestern professor who tries to prop up his failing prospects for happiness by setting out on the Journey of a Lifetime.

Louie Hake is forty-three and teaches architectural history at a third-rate college in Michigan. His second marriage is collapsing, and he's facing a potentially disastrous medical diagnosis. In an attempt to fend off what has become a soul-crushing existential crisis, he decides to treat himself to a tour of the world's most breathtaking architectural sites. Perhaps not surprisingly, Louie gets waylaid on his very first stop in Rome--ludicrously, spectacularly so--and fails to reach most of his other destinations. He embarks on a doomed romance with a jilted bride celebrating her ruined marriage plans alone in London. And in the Arctic he finds that turf houses and aluminum sheds don't amount to much of an architectural tradition. But it turns out that there's another sort of architecture there: icebergs the size of cathedrals, bobbing beside a strange and wondrous landscape. It soon becomes clear that Louie's grand journey is less about where his wanderings have taken him and more about where his past encounters with romance have not. Whether pursuing his first wife, or his estranged current wife, or the older woman he kissed just once a quarter-century ago, Louie reveals himself to be endearing, deeply touching, wonderfully ridiculous . . . and destined to find love in all the wrong places.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Review: The Sisters Hemingway by Annie England Noblin

I jumped at this book because of the title. I know some people don't like Hemingway. But I fell in love with his The Old Man and the Sea when I first read it in school (junior high? high school?). And I have been fascinated by his complicated, ultimately tragic life ever since. So I might have felt a small stab of disappointment that there's nothing really Hemingway about the book other than the nod to Hemingway's multiple wives in the names of the main characters. But I got over the disappointment as I sank into the story of this messy family, the dysfunction amongst the adult sisters, the tragedy that set them on their respective paths, and the secrets, long buried and of newer province both, that were uncovered in the course of Annie England Noblin's newest novel.

Hadley, Pfeiffer, and Martha have all come home to the tiny Missouri Ozark town that they grew up in for the first time in years. They're back for the funeral of their Aunt Bea, the great aunt who stepped into their lives when their mother and youngest sister died in a tornado. Their father having died young of cancer, the sisters' lives were full of tragedy and sorrow. As each grew up in turn, they all moved away from town, never going back to visit, as much their own choice as because Aunt Bea, who hadn't spoken a word since her own girlhood flight from the town, didn't want them to come back. But each of them returns to pay tribute to the woman who stepped up for them and returned to the town she had left so long ago without a second thought. And each of the estranged sisters comes home bearing secrets and baggage she's keeping from her sisters.

Oldest sister Hadley is polished and poised, married to a Senator. She's incredibly worried about appearances, an uptight, unhappy cold fish but she's hiding the fact that her less than happy marriage has been over for a long time. Pfeiffer had gone to New York to be a writer but ended up as a successful senior editor, certain of her taste and opinions until she passed on the biggest, most successful book to come out in years, doing so in spectacular fashion and ending up by getting herself fired, something she's not willing to share with her sisters just yet. And Martha, the youngest, shot to fame as a country singer in Nashville, marrying another huge star who took credit for her songwriting. When her marriage failed, assuming she'd be nothing without her talented husband her label dropped her, and she sank into alcoholism. Now she's just out of rehab and trying to rediscover herself. Each of the sisters is at rock bottom and it will only be by relying on each other and old friends who have always cared about them to find a second chance, especially when Aunt Bea's journal surfaces and a secret far older than the sisters is uncovered in their own front yard.

The novel rotates among the sisters' perspectives so the reader knows each of the womens' secrets long before her sisters do. This style of narration highlights each sister's frustrations, fears, insecurities, and vulnerabilities very clearly and shows the slow building of trust as the sisters learn to rely on each other and to address the truth and tragedy of their shared past. The resolutions for the sisters are appropriate after all of the healing they faced together and although several of the plot lines, including the reveal surrounding the decades old family secret, are fairly predictable, this is still a likable story of family, resilience, and second chances. Fans of women's fiction and sister stories will gulp this down in no time at all.

For more information about Annie England Noblin and the book, like the author on Facebook or 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 Harper Collins for sending me a copy of the book for review.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Review: The Forgotten Guide to Happiness by Sophie Jenkins

Write what you know. It's the famous writing advice doled out to every aspiring writer there is. And there's a good reason for it but what happens when you don't want to write about what you know anymore, when you're having trouble finding anything in the creative well, and certainly not finding anything anyone else wants to read? In Sophie Jenkins' novel The Forgotten Guide to Happiness, one of the main characters is facing just this very crisis but life will soon present her with inspiration and understanding from unexpected quarters.

Lana Green wrote a breakout novel based on her real life romance with live-in boyfriend Mark. She's under contract for another book in the same vein but she can't write the book her publisher is looking for because Mark has dumped her long distance and she's going to have to give up their once shared apartment, not having the money to continue to live there. Of course she can't write a book with a happy ending right now when her life is falling apart. Then she meets a man named Jack, who claims he's ready to be her next hero. And he is, sort of. Not only will he go on pretend dates with her to help her with her writing inspiration, it turns out that his step-mother, Nancy Ellis Hall, a well known but now retired feminist writer, is in her eighties and suffering from ever worsening dementia so she needs an in home caregiver. Excited about the proximity to such a well known writer, Lana is delighted to move in, help Nancy, and maybe pick up some valuable writing tips at the same time. She doesn't expect to learn about love and friendship too but she certainly does.

Readers start off feeling sorry for Lana, who has clearly been completely blindsided and heartbroken by Mark's decision to leave. But Lana, similarly to the protagonist of her thinly veiled autobiographical novel, is rather weak and her wallowing and self-centeredness really starts to grate. She needs to write her own story, both figuratively and literally. Her unhappiness at having to take a job teaching a writing class and her impression of her students is dismissive and unkind, especially given her own writer's block. Thankfully her impressions do change and the writing class people teach her as much as or more than she teaches them. While she is good and understanding with Nancy, she continues to look for ways that Nancy can benefit her, from taking her to the writing class to wow her students to reading Nancy's journals in hopes of a kernel of an idea to write about. She is clearly a flawed and not always likable character but she is consistent until 2/3 of the way through the book when she abandons everything she's learned and becomes a character the reader doesn't even recognize, not just because she makes a dreadfully poor decision, but because this out of character interlude causes the story to sort of fall apart. Once she recognizes her mistake, about six seconds from the end of the book, the entire ending is scanty, rushed, and unearned.

Nancy, in all of her quirkiness and with her failing memory, is delightful and step-son Jack is charming and forgiving in a way that makes the reader really root for this beta hero, even if he doesn't believe in love.  That's okay though as this is not really a romance.  Since the novel is told in the first person by Lana, the reader spends more time with her (and often times frustrated by her) than they do with Nancy and Jack. This short-changes Jack's character in terms of depth but Nancy's was still heart-warmingly fleshed out. Even inhabiting Lana's perspective, sometimes her reasoning for her choices is not always clear or well developed. Despite this maddening lack, it was genuinely nice to watch her interact with the other characters and learn the true meaning of caring for other people, wanting the best for them and for herself, both in love and in friendship. In the end, this is an easy, generally sweet read that didn't quite live up to my expectations.

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past week are:

The Sisters Hemingway by Annie England Noblin
The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handle
Tiny Americans by Devin Murphy
Oh, Tama! by Mieko Kanai
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
In Another Time by Jillian Cantor

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Metis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais
Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
The Baghdad Clock by Shahad Al Rawi

Reviews posted this week:

nothing because I have been consumed with Great Group Reads administrative stuff


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

The Forgotten Guide to Happiness by Sophie Jenkins
Surviving Paradise by Peter Rudiak-Gould
Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah
An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good by Helene Tursten
The Girl Who Smiled Beads by Clemantine Wamariya
Red, White and Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston
Rules of Surrender by Christina Dodd
The Sisters Hemingway by Annie England Noblin
The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handle
Tiny Americans by Devin Murphy
Oh, Tama! by Mieko Kanai
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
In Another Time by Jillian Cantor

Monday Mailbox

This past three week's mailbox arrivals:

The Sisters Hemingway by Annie England Noblin came from TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for a book tour.

Do I really have to give you a reason why a book with three sisters named after Hemingway's wives would appeal to me? To be fair, stories about sisters just plain appeal to me but add in a nod to Hemingway and you have me hook, line, and sinker.

The Women of the Copper Country by Mary Doria Russell came from Atria.

Mary Doria Russell. ::swoon:: Upper Peninsula Michigan. ::double swoon:: Historical fiction by Russell and set in the UP, well, of course I will.

Mariana by Monica Dickens came from a friend for a book exchange.

Do you see this cover? Persephone Books does beautiful books and this is one of them. That it's a bildungsroman about a girl growing up in the 1930s is icing on the cake!

The Art of Baking Blind by Sarah Vaughan came from a friend for a book exchange.

This sounds a bit like the book version of The Great British Baking Show and who can resist that?

Gold by Chris Cleave came from a friend for a book exchange.

Cleave's Little Bee was impressive and I'm looking forward to this one about two Olympians, friends and rivals, going for the gold and the sacrifices each woman has made and will continue to make to win.

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George came from a friend for a book exchange.

A book set on a bookshop barge on the Seine with an owner who can prescribe the right book for his readers, unable only to find the book to soothe his own soul, this looks captivating.

100 Dives of a Lifetime by Carrie Miller and Brian Skerry came from TLC Book Tours and National Geographic for a book tour.

I adore being under the water and probably wouldn't surface if I didn't have to. But since I still have to breathe air when the scuba tank is empty, a gorgeous book like this can keep me going until I can get back underwater. I feel certain it will add to the places I want to dive someday.

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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