Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Betty by Tiffany McDaniel.

The book is being released by Knopf on August 18, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: A stunning, lyrical novel set in the rolling foothills of the Appalachians about a young girl and the family truths that will haunt her for the rest of her life

"A girl comes of age against the knife."

So begins the story of Betty Carpenter. Born in a bathtub in 1954 to a white mother and a Cherokee father, Betty is the sixth of eight siblings. The world they inhabit in the rural town of Breathed, Ohio, is one of poverty and violence--both from outside the family and, devastatingly, from within. The lush landscape, rich with birdsong, wild fruit, and blazing stars, becomes a kind of refuge for Betty, but when her family's darkest secrets are brought to light, she has no choice but to reckon with the brutal history hiding in the hills, as well as the heart-wrenching cruelties and incredible characters she encounters.

Despite the hardships she faces, Betty is resilient. Her curiosity about the natural world, her fierce love for her sisters, and her father's brilliant stories are kindling for the fire of her own imagination, and in the face of all to which she bears witness, Betty discovers an escape: she begins to write. She recounts the horrors of her family's past and present with pen and paper and buries them deep in the dirt--moments that have stung her so deeply she could not tell them, until now.

Inspired by generations of her family, Tiffany McDaniel sets out to free the past by delivering this heartbreaking yet magical story--a remarkable novel that establishes her as one of the most important voices in American fiction.

Monday, August 10, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past couple of weeks are:

The Road to Urbino by Roma Tearne
The Wanting Life by Mark Rader
Invented Lives by Andrea Goldsmith
Friends of the Library by Susan Cushman
In Praise of Paths by Torbjorn Ekelund
Tea by the Sea by Donna Hemans

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Yellow Earth by John Sayles
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
The Big Quiet by Lisa D. Stewart
Wild Dog by Serge Joncour
The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart
Unconditional Love by Jocelyn Moorhouse
The Last Blue by Isla Morley
Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst

Reviews posted this week:

nothing yet

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

Beginning with Cannonballs by Jill McCroskey Coupe
The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair
Faces: Profiles of Dogs by Vita Sackville-West
The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
Holding on to Nothing by Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne
Difficult Light by Tomas Gonzalez
Adults and Other Children by Miriam Cohen
Grief's Country by Gail Griffin
Moments of Glad Grace by Alison Wearing
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube
Search Heartache by Carla Malden
What the Lady Wants by Renee Rosen
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
The Book Keeper by Julia McKenzie Munemo
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Temporary by Hilary Leichter
Blue Marlin by Lee Smith
Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
A Short Move by Katherine Hill
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
Watershed by Mark Barr
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
The Goshen Road by Bonnie Proudfoot
We Have Everything Before Us by Esther Yin-ling Spodek
Anna Eva Mimi Adam by Marina Antropow Cramer
This Is My Body by Cameron Dezen Hammon
Impurity by Larry Tremblay
The Last Goldfish by Anita Lahey
Invisible Ink by Guy Stern
A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Raphael Painter in Rome by Stephanie Storey
Blue Summer by Jim Nichols
The Miracle of Saint Lazarus by Uva de Aragon
Red Mother with Child by Christian Lax
The Mystery of Henri Pick by David Foenkinos
Tamba Child Soldier by Marion Achard
The Girl with Braided Hair by Rasha Adly
The Book of Second Chances by Katherine Slee
Disfigured by Amanda Leduc
Floating in the Neversink by Andrea Simon
Seven Sisters and a Brother by Marilyn Allman May
A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen
Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita
The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
Godshot by Chelsea Bieker
The Hierarchies by Ros Anderson
The Change by Lori Soderlind
The Man in the White Linen Suit by David Handler
I Saw Three Ships by Bill Richardson
A Wicked Kind of Husband by Mia Vincy
Wild Ride Home by Christine Hemp
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim
The Book of Rosy by Rosayra Pablo Cruz and Julie Schweitert Collazo
The Devil to Pay by Liz Carlyle
How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences by Sue William Silverman
The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels
The Bitch by Pilar Quintana
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Continental Divide by Alex Myers
The Road to Urbino by Roma Tearne
The Wanting Life by Mark Rader
Invented Lives by Andrea Goldsmith
Friends of the Library by Susan Cushman
In Praise of Paths by Torbjorn Ekelund
Tea by the Sea by Donna Hemans

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Good Dogs Don't Make It to the South Pole by Hans-Olav Thyvold.

The book is being released by Harper Via on August 18, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: Told through the eyes of a very grumpy yet lovable mutt, a funny and touching tale of aging, death, friendship, and life that proves sometimes a dog's story is the most human of all.

Tassen has always been a one-man dog. When his human companion, Major Thorkildsen, dies, Tassen and Mrs. Thorkildsen are left alone. Tassen mourns Major by eating too many treats, and Mrs. T by drinking too much. But the two unexpectedly find common ground in researching Roald Amundsen’s expedition to the South Pole led by a pack of intrepid dogs.

But the quiet days Tassen and Mrs. T spend together at the library researching the explorer’s arctic adventure are disrupted by the arrival of her son and daughter in-law. Eager to move in to the Major’s spacious house, they plan to send Mrs. T to a nursing home. As he contemplates his own fate, Tassen shudders to think what might happen to him! Yet Tassen and Mrs. T aren’t about to give up. Inspired by Roald Amundsen and his dogs, this unlikely pair are ready to take on anything life throws at them.

Good Dogs Don’t Make It to the South Pole is a darkly comedic and whimsical portrayal of aging and death told through a dog’s friendship with an elderly woman.

Monday, August 3, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past couple of weeks are:

The Change by Lori Soderlind
The Man in the White Linen Suit by David Handler
I Saw Three Ships by Bill Richardson
A Wicked Kind of Husband by Mia Vincy
Wild Ride Home by Christine Hemp
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim
The Book of Rosy by Rosayra Pablo Cruz and Julie Schweitert Collazo
The Devil to Pay by Liz Carlyle
How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences by Sue William Silverman
The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels
The Bitch by Pilar Quintana
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Continental Divide by Alex Myers

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Yellow Earth by John Sayles
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
The Big Quiet by Lisa D. Stewart
Wild Dog by Serge Joncour
The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart
Unconditional Love by Jocelyn Moorhouse
The Last Blue by Isla Morley
Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst

Reviews posted this week:

Days Gone Bye by K.A. Spencer
At the Pond compiled by Daunt Books
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

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

Beginning with Cannonballs by Jill McCroskey Coupe
The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair
Faces: Profiles of Dogs by Vita Sackville-West
The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
Holding on to Nothing by Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne
Difficult Light by Tomas Gonzalez
Adults and Other Children by Miriam Cohen
Grief's Country by Gail Griffin
Moments of Glad Grace by Alison Wearing
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube
Search Heartache by Carla Malden
What the Lady Wants by Renee Rosen
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
The Book Keeper by Julia McKenzie Munemo
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Temporary by Hilary Leichter
Blue Marlin by Lee Smith
Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
A Short Move by Katherine Hill
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
Watershed by Mark Barr
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
The Goshen Road by Bonnie Proudfoot
We Have Everything Before Us by Esther Yin-ling Spodek
Anna Eva Mimi Adam by Marina Antropow Cramer
This Is My Body by Cameron Dezen Hammon
Impurity by Larry Tremblay
The Last Goldfish by Anita Lahey
Invisible Ink by Guy Stern
A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Raphael Painter in Rome by Stephanie Storey
Blue Summer by Jim Nichols
The Miracle of Saint Lazarus by Uva de Aragon
Red Mother with Child by Christian Lax
The Mystery of Henri Pick by David Foenkinos
Tamba Child Soldier by Marion Achard
The Girl with Braided Hair by Rasha Adly
The Book of Second Chances by Katherine Slee
Disfigured by Amanda Leduc
Floating in the Neversink by Andrea Simon
Seven Sisters and a Brother by Marilyn Allman May
A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen
Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita
The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
Godshot by Chelsea Bieker
The Hierarchies by Ros Anderson
The Change by Lori Soderlind
The Man in the White Linen Suit by David Handler
I Saw Three Ships by Bill Richardson
A Wicked Kind of Husband by Mia Vincy
Wild Ride Home by Christine Hemp
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim
The Book of Rosy by Rosayra Pablo Cruz and Julie Schweitert Collazo
The Devil to Pay by Liz Carlyle
How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences by Sue William Silverman
The Prettiest Star by Carter Sickels
The Bitch by Pilar Quintana
Three Things About Elsie by Joanna Cannon
Continental Divide by Alex Myers

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals by Becky Mandelbaum.

The book is being released by Simon and Schuster on August 4, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: From the winner of the 2016 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction comes a tender and funny debut novel, set over one emotionally charged weekend at an animal sanctuary in western Kansas, where maternal, romantic, and community bonds are tested in the wake of an estranged daughter’s homecoming.

The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals is in trouble.

It’s late 2016 when Ariel discovers that her mother Mona’s animal sanctuary in Western Kansas has not only been the target of anti-Semitic hate crimes—but that it’s also for sale, due to hidden financial ruin. Ariel, living a new life in progressive Lawrence, and estranged from her mother for six long years, knows she has to return to her childhood home—especially since her own past may have played a role in the attack on the sanctuary. Ariel expects tension, maybe even fury, but she doesn’t anticipate that her first love, a ranch hand named Gideon, will still be working at the Bright Side.

Back in Lawrence, Ariel’s charming but hapless fiancĂ©, Dex, grows paranoid about her sudden departure. After uncovering Mona’s address, he sets out to confront Ariel, but instead finds her grappling with the life she’s abandoned. Amid the reparations with her mother, it’s clear that Ariel is questioning the meaning of her life in Lawrence, and whether she belongs with Dex or with someone else, somewhere else.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Every Bone a Prayer by Ashley Blooms.

The book is being released by Sourcebooks Landmark on August 4, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: Misty's holler looks like any of the thousands of hollers that fork through the Appalachian Mountains. But Misty knows her home is different. She may be only ten, but she hears things. Even the crawdads in the creek have something to say, if you listen.

All that Misty's sister Penny wants to talk about are the strange objects that start appearing outside their trailer. The grown-ups mutter about sins and punishment, but that doesn't scare Misty. Not like the hurtful thing that's been happening to her, the hurtful thing that is becoming part of her. Ever since her neighbor William cornered her in the barn, she must figure out how to get back to the Misty she was before -- the Misty who wasn't afraid to listen.

This is the story of one tough-as-nails girl whose choices are few but whose fight is boundless, as her coping becomes a battle cry for everyone around her. Written by a survivor of sexual abuse, Every Bone a Prayer is a beautifully honest exploration of healing and of hope.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

It seems like everyone in the world has already read this one so I am incredibly late to the party. However, every party needs a pooper; that's why they invited me. Yes, unlike the rest of the world, I did not love this. I can almost see why people reacted the way they did but I was generally unmoved.

In 1952 on the coast of North Carolina, Kya is just six when her mother walks away from their family's rough cabin in the marsh, leaving behind Kya, her older brother Jodie, and their alcoholic, abusive father. Several older siblings are already long gone. That same year, Jodie leaves. And finally, when Kya is ten, her father disappears too, leaving this child to survive in the marsh alone. Kya becomes known as The Marsh Girl in town, laughed at, neglected, and avoided by almost everyone. She manages to figure out how to survive with a little help from Jumpin' and Mabel where she goes to buy her meager supplies and gas. They collect clothing and food for her from the colored church while the white part of town ignores her and scorns her. Kya watches the nature surrounding her, observant and quiet, learning the marsh and its ecosystem like the back of her hand. As she grows, she also watches the people around her, becoming friends with a golden haired boy named Tate, a friend of her older brother's, who will teach her to read and encourage her in her collecting.  She also observes the small group of privileged young people around her age, led by the town's best quarterback ever, Chase Andrews. It is Chase who, in the second timeline of the story will be found dead at the base of an abandoned fire tower, setting off a murder investigation aimed straight at the beautiful, odd Marsh Girl, Kya.

The story ranges from the 50s to the 70s and is a murder mystery, a romance, and a naturalist's diary all rolled into one. The latter is the most successful part of the novel, with Owens' lovely descriptions of the natural world shining through. Unfortunately the murder mystery and the romance were significantly less well written, filled with cliches and stilted writing. There were quite a few completely unrealistic plot points, including Kya's unlikely education and phenomenal success later in life, the uncharacteristic and out of the blue event that contributes to a motive for charging Kya with Chase's murder, and in fact the complicated case for how this simple, reclusive woman who had only left her home once in her life would have plotted and committed it (scroll over the following spoiler to read it) (that this hypothesis basically turns out to be true is even less believable). The characterizations in the novel were thin and underdeveloped and some, like those of the sheriff and his deputy were complete caricatures. Kya started off as a believable character but when Owens tried to add more depth and nuance to her backstory, sharing Kya's parents' more genteel backgrounds and history, she and her situation became less believable. Dialogue between characters was eye-rolling and the fact that dialect was used sometimes and not others, and not character dependent, was incredibly distracting. The beginning of the novel, as Kya is abandoned again and again, facing prejudice and disdain, and has to find a way to scratch out a meager living, is quite slow making the second part of the novel feel like it is in a huge rush to get to the end. I know I am in the minority, but I just couldn't overcome the problems with the novel to really appreciate this the way so many others clearly do.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

Review: At the Pond compiled by Daunt Books

There’s something really special about swimming in ponds and lakes. I wait every year for my first dip in the lake, heading out past the reeds and the cattails to float above an unseen bottom, sometimes brushed by lacy tendrils of seaweed, wondering whether fish are darting past me in the cold, refreshing water. My lake is quite different than I imagine the Ladies’ Pond at Hampstead Heath to be but as I read this collection of essays from authors and poets of different ages, races, and sexuality I felt the same love and feeling for place that I feel for my lake, plus their  appreciation of the community of women, open and inclusive and welcoming.

The Hampstead Ladies' Pond is one of several formed by the River Fleet as it flows through and under London. It is both a natural and a created space, one that feels timeless. It is nature tucked away and appreciated for its very hiddenness. The varied short essays are organized by season starting with those intrepid author swimmers who brave the cold of the pond in winter. Obviously the pond is more crowded and in demand during the summer but each of the seasons chronicled here is appealing. The reader slips into the essays the same way you'd slip into the smooth waters of the pond. Written by the famous as well as less well known authors, the essays are as different as each woman's experience swimming although each firmly places themselves in a long line of women bathing in the pond, a fellowship of women from every walk of life. As a collection, there is the unhurried importance of nature's role in creation and in the discovery of self. The essays read without any urgency, just a bucolic sense of rightness. Instead they inspire a slowing down, an examination, and an appreciation. This collection is probably best for those who can think of nothing better than sliding into the soft, magical fresh water of a pond or lake, those who love to swim "wild," but all nature enthusiasts will probably enjoy the wonder of the place just as literary readers will be pleased by the wide-ranging references.  I will think about several of these gorgeous essays for a long time, especially as I bob in the ripples blown across the surface of my lake.

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel.

The book is being released by Atria on July 21, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: The “quick-witted and razor-sharp” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, New York Times bestselling author of Daisy Jones & The Six) author of Limelight and Small Admissions returns with a hilarious and heartfelt new novel about a perfectly imperfect summer of love, secrets, and second chances.

Bridget and Will have the kind of relationship that people envy: they’re loving, compatible, and completely devoted to each other. The fact that they’re strictly friends seems to get lost on nearly everyone; after all, they’re as good as married in (almost) every way. For three decades, they’ve nurtured their baby, the Forsyth Trio—a chamber group they created as students with their Juilliard classmate Gavin Glantz. In the intervening years, Gavin has gone on to become one of the classical music world’s reigning stars, while Bridget and Will have learned to embrace the warm reviews and smaller venues that accompany modest success.

Bridget has been dreaming of spending the summer at her well-worn Connecticut country home with her boyfriend Sterling. But her plans are upended when Sterling, dutifully following his ex-wife’s advice, breaks up with her over email and her twin twenty-somethings arrive unannounced, filling her empty nest with their big dogs, dirty laundry, and respective crises.

Bridget has problems of her own: her elderly father announces he’s getting married, and the Forsyth Trio is once again missing its violinist. She concocts a plan to host her dad’s wedding on her ramshackle property, while putting the Forsyth Trio back into the spotlight. But to catch the attention of the music world, she and Will place their bets on luring back Gavin, whom they’ve both avoided ever since their stormy parting.

With her trademark humor, pitch-perfect voice, and sly perspective on the human heart, Amy Poeppel crafts a love letter to modern family life with all of its discord and harmony. In the tradition of novels by Maria Semple and Stephen McCauley, Musical Chairs is an irresistibly romantic story of role reversals, reinvention, and sweet synchronicity.

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Review: Days Gone Bye by K.A. Spencer

I spend my summers in Upper Peninsula Michigan, not far from Mackinac Island. Most summers we make it over to the Island at least once, although this summer it is unlikely we will given the worry about coronavirus. So when I remembered that this book had been sitting, unread, on my shelves for years, I decided to pull it down and read it, hoping that it would take me to Mackinac on the page.

It’s 1979 and Christopher Allen’s grandfather has passed away in his cottage on Mackinac Island. Christopher travels to the Island to take care of the myriad things that accompany a death. While there, he meets an old friend of his grandfather’s and goes out to Round Island Light, where his grandfather was once an assistant light keeper, to spread his grandfather’s ashes. While there, he hits his head, blacks out, and comes to in 1926 in his grandfather’s body. He has to adjust to life in an earlier time, making friends with his grandfather’s friends and falling in love with a wealthy and beautiful young woman, while always wondering if and when he’ll return to his own time.

In many ways, the plot of the novel reads like a mash-up of Somewhere in Time by Richard Matheson (the movie, not the book) and The Mirror by Marlys Millhiser, which could have been interesting but was marred by the writing with such sentences as “Fall signaled the end of the long summer on Mackinac Island.” (p. 20) The dialogue is stilted and unrealistic and occasionally illogical, as if the author forgot to include entire portions of it. He uses many words or phrases incorrectly. For instance, in describing the fact that the cause of a shipwreck would never be known, he writes, “We might never know the real raison d’etre.” (p. 70) Simpler, more accurate language would have been better. I used to suggest that my students read whatever they had written out loud to help catch strange grammatical constructions or leaps of logic and just garden variety typos. This short novel could have benefited from that quite a bit. Spencer has clearly done some research for the story but he felt the need to insert everything he learned into the story, which reads as clunky info-dump rather than fitting organically. And he explains things that need no explanation, such as when he writes, “Pastor Kilmer read from the book, ‘A Christmas Carol,’ a classic 1843 tale by Charles Dickens, as everyone enjoyed dinner.” (p. 63) In addition to the writing difficulties, the plot jumps from one thing to another without the necessary transitions and the characters are barely explored, sharing their hopes and dreams with each other but not the reader. I wish the book had been engaging enough to overlook even one of these problems, but in the end, it wasn’t and I was terribly disappointed with it.

Monday, July 6, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past two weeks are:

Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita
The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
Days Gone Bye by K. A. Spencer
Godshot by Chelsea Bieker
The Hierarchies by Ros Anderson
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Yellow Earth by John Sayles
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
I Saw Three Ships by Bill Richardson
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
The Big Quiet by Lisa D. Stewart
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim
How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences by Sue William Silverman
Wild Dog by Serge Joncour
The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart
Unconditional Love by Jocelyn Moorhouse
The Change by Lori Soderlind

Reviews posted this week:

nothing these past two weeks

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

Beginning with Cannonballs by Jill McCroskey Coupe
The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair
Faces: Profiles of Dogs by Vita Sackville-West
The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
Holding on to Nothing by Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne
Difficult Light by Tomas Gonzalez
Adults and Other Children by Miriam Cohen
Grief's Country by Gail Griffin
Moments of Glad Grace by Alison Wearing
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube
Search Heartache by Carla Malden
What the Lady Wants by Renee Rosen
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
The Book Keeper by Julia McKenzie Munemo
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Temporary by Hilary Leichter
Blue Marlin by Lee Smith
Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
A Short Move by Katherine Hill
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
Watershed by Mark Barr
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
The Goshen Road by Bonnie Proudfoot
We Have Everything Before Us by Esther Yin-ling Spodek
Anna Eva Mimi Adam by Marina Antropow Cramer
This Is My Body by Cameron Dezen Hammon
Impurity by Larry Tremblay
The Last Goldfish by Anita Lahey
Invisible Ink by Guy Stern
A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Raphael Painter in Rome by Stephanie Storey
Blue Summer by Jim Nichols
The Miracle of Saint Lazarus by Uva de Aragon
Red Mother with Child by Christian Lax
The Mystery of Henri Pick by David Foenkinos
Tamba Child Soldier by Marion Achard
The Girl with Braided Hair by Rasha Adly
The Book of Second Chances by Katherine Slee
Disfigured by Amanda Leduc
Floating in the Neversink by Andrea Simon
Seven Sisters and a Brother by Marilyn Allman May
A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen
At the Pond compiled by Daunt Books
Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita
The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
You Exist Too Much by Zaina Arafat
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon
Godshot by Chelsea Bieker
The Hierarchies by Ros Anderson
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Filthy Beasts by Kirkland Hamil.

The book is being released by Simon and Schuster on July 14, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: Running with Scissors meets Grey Gardens in this gripping, true riches-to-rags tale of a wealthy family who lost it all and the unforgettable journey of a man coming to terms with his family’s deep flaws and his own long-buried truths.

“Wake up, you filthy beasts!” Wendy Hamill would shout to her children in the mornings before school. Startled from their dreams, Kirk and his two brothers couldn’t help but wonder—would they find enough food in the house for breakfast?

Following a rancorous split from New York’s upper-class society, newly divorced Wendy and her three sons are exiled from the East Coast elite circle. Wendy’s middle son, Kirk, is eight when she moves the family to her native Bermuda, leaving the three young boys to fend for themselves as she chases after the highs of her old life: alcohol, a wealthy new suitor, and other indulgences.

After eventually leaving his mother’s dysfunctional orbit for college in New Orleans, Kirk begins to realize how different his family and upbringing is from that of his friends and peers. Split between extreme privilege—early years living in luxury on his family’s private compound—and bare survival—rationing food and water during the height of his mother’s alcoholism—Kirk is used to keeping up appearances and burying his inconvenient truths from the world, until he’s eighteen and falls in love for the first time.

A fascinating window into the life of extreme privilege and a powerful story of self-acceptance, Filthy Beasts recounts Kirk’s unforgettable journey through luxury hotels and charity stores, private enclaves and public shame as he confronts his family’s many imperfections, accepts his unconventional childhood, and finally comes to terms with his own hidden secrets.

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Review: The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

I no longer remember when or how I first came across Jane Austen and her works. She seems to have always been a part, a happy part, of my reading life. I've read the six novels many times, for pleasure and for school, and I've spent hours watching film adaptations and reading modern retellings, books inspired by her works, and books about the author herself. If there is the slightest hint that a book has a connection to Austen, I am all but guaranteed to pick it up. So I was delighted to discover Natalie Jenner's new novel, The Jane Austen Society, a fictionalized account of the founding of the eponymous Jane Austen Society, about a group of people in Chawton trying to preserve Austen's legacy before it's too late.

Set mainly just post-WWII, with only two brief bits outside of this time frame, one before the war and one during, the novel echoes Austen's own stories in the best way. An ensemble cast, composed primarily of residents of Chawton, where Austen lived out the last years of her life in a cottage on the grounds of her older brother's estate, comes together with a few outsiders who are also transported by Austen's works as they try to create a place worthy of the author, a place that justifies the pilgrims that periodically find their way to the small village looking for any sign of the once lived life of Jane Austen. Just as in Austen, the action centers almost entirely in the village, paying similar attention to the everyday realities of the main characters, Austen descendant Miss Frances Knight, farmer Adam Berwick, the widowed Dr. Gray, former teacher and war widow Adeline Grover, the young maid Evie Stone, lawyer Andrew Forrester, and outsiders actress Mimi Harrison and Sotheby's representative Yardley Sinclair, and the society they live in as do Austen's own novels. Each character is simply living his or her ordinary life when they come together in a passion project to do an extraordinary thing, to create the society. And as they create the society, their regular lives and small but important dramas continue to unfold. They are very different from each other on the surface but they are all touched in some way by real life, facing death, addiction, poverty, grief, and disappointment, understanding and learning their own hearts and their very beings, and finding or rediscovering love. And just as in Austen, there is also a villain who could derail the hopes of the society and a crass heir who cares for nothing beyond money.

Jenner has written a completely delightful novel and tied it to Austen, not just in name but in the very fabric of the story she's created. Had Austen been writing a little more than a century onward from her own time, she very well might have written characters like these, found in her own small village in the aftermath of the war. Certainly Jenner has captured the themes of Austen, love and friendship, the state of society and the paths in life open to people from each stratum within it. She has captured the change afoot after the war and its lasting effect on all those who lived through it, even if only indirectly. The reader will warm to and sympathize with each of the main characters, rooting for them to find a way to preserve Austen's quiet legacy amidst the setbacks, legal, financial, and personal. The opening of the novel is a bit slow and the sheer number of characters can be overwhelming until the way that they come together and start to weave in and out of each others' lives consistently becomes clear but the slow build is definitely worth the payoff. Austen fans will love this addition to the books about the author and the impact of her works on ordinary people, smiling broadly as yet another Austen element makes its way into the story and on the page. It is a lovingly drawn picture of an English village post war, a time capsule of society, a historical fiction full of heart. It is not even close to the actual true story of the founding of the Jane Austen Society, nor does it try to be. What it is instead, is a charming novel dedicated to the spirit of Austen, an imagined and creative exploration into the continued importance of literature and reading in our lives, and the ever enduring legacy of Austen and her novels.

If I haven't yet convinced you to read this, you can listen to an audio excerpt of the book read by Richard Armitage. You can also listen to a fun Spotify playlist with music from various film adaptations of Austen's books and from other movie soundtracks.

For more information about Natalie Jenner and the book, check our her author site, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter or Instagram, look at the book's Goodreads page, read another review and follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Laurel Ann from Austenprose and publisher St. Martin's Press for inspiring me to pull my copy of this book off the shelf to review.

Monday, June 29, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past week are:

Floating in the Neversink by Andrea Simon
Seven Sisters and a Brother by Marilyn Allman May
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen
At the Pond compiled by Daunt Books

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Yellow Earth by John Sayles
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
I Saw Three Ships by Bill Richardson
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
The Big Quiet by Lisa D. Stewart
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim
How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences by Sue William Silverman
Wild Dog by Serge Joncour
The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart
Unconditional Love by Jocelyn Moorhouse
The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
The Change by Lori Soderlind
Godshot by Chelsea Bieker
I Was Anastasia by Ariel Lawhon

Reviews posted this week:

A book to be revealed later

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

Beginning with Cannonballs by Jill McCroskey Coupe
The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair
Faces: Profiles of Dogs by Vita Sackville-West
The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
Holding on to Nothing by Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne
Difficult Light by Tomas Gonzalez
Adults and Other Children by Miriam Cohen
Grief's Country by Gail Griffin
Moments of Glad Grace by Alison Wearing
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube
Search Heartache by Carla Malden
What the Lady Wants by Renee Rosen
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
The Book Keeper by Julia McKenzie Munemo
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Temporary by Hilary Leichter
Blue Marlin by Lee Smith
Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
A Short Move by Katherine Hill
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
Watershed by Mark Barr
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
The Goshen Road by Bonnie Proudfoot
We Have Everything Before Us by Esther Yin-ling Spodek
Anna Eva Mimi Adam by Marina Antropow Cramer
This Is My Body by Cameron Dezen Hammon
Impurity by Larry Tremblay
The Last Goldfish by Anita Lahey
Invisible Ink by Guy Stern
A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Raphael Painter in Rome by Stephanie Storey
Blue Summer by Jim Nichols
The Miracle of Saint Lazarus by Uva de Aragon
Red Mother with Child by Christian Lax
The Mystery of Henri Pick by David Foenkinos
Tamba Child Soldier by Marion Achard
The Girl with Braided Hair by Rasha Adly
The Book of Second Chances by Katherine Slee
Disfigured by Amanda Leduc
Floating in the Neversink by Andrea Simon
Seven Sisters and a Brother by Marilyn Allman May
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen
At the Pond compiled by Daunt Books

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.

The book is being released by Grand Central Publishing on July 7, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: Making it up the aisle was the easy part: Rebecca "Bex" Porter must survive her own scandals and adjust to royal British life in this "timely and positively delicious" follow-up to The Royal We that's "just as fun, charming, and delightful as the first" (Taylor Jenkins Reid)

After a scandalous secret turns their fairy-tale wedding into a nightmare, Rebecca "Bex" Porter and her husband Prince Nicholas are in self-imposed exile. The public is angry. The Queen is even angrier. And the press is salivating. Cutting themselves off from friends and family, and escaping the world's judgmental eyes, feels like the best way to protect their fragile, all-consuming romance.

But when a crisis forces the new Duke and Duchess back to London, the Band-Aid they'd placed over their problems starts to peel at the edges. Now, as old family secrets and new ones threaten to derail her new royal life, Bex has to face the emotional wreckage she and Nick left behind: with the Queen, with the world, and with Nick's brother Freddie, whose sins may not be so easily forgotten -- nor forgiven.

Monday, June 22, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past week are:

Phoolan Devi, Rebel Queen by Claire Fauvel
The Girl with Braided Hair by Rasha Adly
The Book of Second Chances by Katherine Slee
Disfigured by Amanda Leduc

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Yellow Earth by John Sayles
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
I Saw Three Ships by Bill Richardson
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
The Big Quiet by Lisa D. Stewart
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim
How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences by Sue William Silverman
Wild Dog by Serge Joncour
Seven Sisters and a Brother by Marilyn Allman May
The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart
Unconditional Love by Jocelyn Moorhouse
The Paris Secret by Natasha Lester
The Change by Lori Soderlind
Godshot by Chelsea Bieker
Floating in the Neversink by Andrea Simon

Reviews posted this week:

not one book :-(

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

Beginning with Cannonballs by Jill McCroskey Coupe
The Right Sort of Man by Allison Montclair
Faces: Profiles of Dogs by Vita Sackville-West
The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley
The Secrets We Kept by Lara Prescott
Exciting Times by Naoise Dolan
Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore
Holding on to Nothing by Elizabeth Chiles Shelburne
Difficult Light by Tomas Gonzalez
Adults and Other Children by Miriam Cohen
Grief's Country by Gail Griffin
Moments of Glad Grace by Alison Wearing
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss
The Library Book by Susan Orlean
Misconduct of the Heart by Cordelia Strube
Search Heartache by Carla Malden
What the Lady Wants by Renee Rosen
The Other Americans by Laila Lalami
The Book Keeper by Julia McKenzie Munemo
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Temporary by Hilary Leichter
Blue Marlin by Lee Smith
Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane
Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
A Short Move by Katherine Hill
A Woman Is No Man by Etaf Rum
The Sudden Appearance of Hope by Claire North
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
Watershed by Mark Barr
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy
The Goshen Road by Bonnie Proudfoot
We Have Everything Before Us by Esther Yin-ling Spodek
Anna Eva Mimi Adam by Marina Antropow Cramer
This Is My Body by Cameron Dezen Hammon
Impurity by Larry Tremblay
The Last Goldfish by Anita Lahey
Invisible Ink by Guy Stern
A Room Called Earth by Madeleine Ryan
Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Raphael Painter in Rome by Stephanie Storey
Blue Summer by Jim Nichols
The Miracle of Saint Lazarus by Uva de Aragon
Red Mother with Child by Christian Lax
The Mystery of Henri Pick by David Foenkinos
Tamba Child Soldier by Marion Achard
Phoolan Devi, Rebel Queen by Claire Fauvel
The Girl with Braided Hair by Rasha Adly
The Book of Second Chances by Katherine Slee
Disfigured by Amanda Leduc

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Lake Life by David James Poissant.

The book is being released by Simon and Schuster on July 7, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: From the award-winning author of the acclaimed story collection The Heaven of Animals, called “a wise debut…beautiful [stories] with a rogue touch” (The New York Times Book Review), comes a sweeping, domestic novel about a family that reunites at their North Carolina lake house for one last vacation before the home is sold—and the long-buried secrets that are finally revealed.

The Starling family is scattered across the country. Parents Richard and Lisa live in Ithaca, New York, and work at Cornell University. Their son Michael, a salesperson, lives in Dallas with his elementary school teacher wife, Diane. Michael’s brother, Thad, an aspiring poet, makes his home in New York City with his famous painter boyfriend, Jake. For years they’ve traveled to North Carolina to share a summer vacation at the family lake house.

That tradition is coming to an end, as Richard and Lisa have decided to sell the treasured summer home and retire to Florida. Before they do, the family will spend one last weekend at the lake. But what should to be a joyous farewell takes a nightmarish turn when the family witnesses a tragedy that triggers a series of dramatic revelations among the Starlings—alcoholism, infidelity, pregnancy, and a secret the parents have kept from their sons for over thirty years. As the weekend unfolds, relationships fray, bonds are tested, and the Starlings are forced to reckon with who they are and what they want from this life.

Set in today’s America, Lake Life is a beautifully rendered, emotionally compelling novel in the tradition of Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, Elizabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge, and Ann Patchett’s Commonwealth.

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

The Last Voyage of Mrs. Henry Parker by Joanna Nell.

The book is being released by Hodder Paperbacks on June 25, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: As the wife of retired ship's doctor Dr Henry Parker, Evelyn is living out her twilight years aboard the Golden Sunset. Every night she dresses for dinner - gown, tiara, runners - and regales her fellow passengers with stories of a glamorous life travelling the world in luxury, as well as showing off her superior knowledge of everything from ships' customs to biographical details of her heroine, Florence Nightingale. The crew treat her with deference. And forbearance.

But when Henry goes missing, Evelyn sets off to search every part of the grand ocean liner to find him, casino, nightclub and off-limits areas included.

Misadventures are had, new friends are made, scandalous behaviour noted - all news to Evelyn. If only she could remember the events of the night before as clearly as she can recall the first time she met Henry on a passage from England to Australia in 1953 and fell in love, abandoning her dreams to become a midwife to be a wife instead - and the long-ago painful events that left Evelyn all at sea.

Why is it so hard to forget some things and so hard to remember others? And where is Henry?

Monday, June 8, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past week are:

The Miracle of Saint Lazarus by Uva de Aragon
Red Mother with Child by Christian Lax
The Mystery of Henri Pick by David Foenkinos
Tamba Child Soldier by Marion Achard

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Yellow Earth by John Sayles
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
I Saw Three Ships by Bill Richardson
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
The Big Quiet by Lisa D. Stewart
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim
How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences by Sue William Silverman
Wild Dog by Serge Joncour
Seven Sisters and a Brother by Marilyn Allman May

Reviews posted this week:

not one book :-(

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

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

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls by Ursula Hegi.

The book is being released by Flatiron Books on August 18, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: From beloved bestselling author Ursula Hegi, a new novel about three mothers, set on the shores of the Nordsee, perfect for fans of Water for Elephants and The Light Between Oceans.

In the summer of 1878, the Ludwig Zirkus arrives on Nordstrand in Germany, to the delight of the island’s people. But after the show, a Hundred-Year Wave roars from the Nordsee and claims three young children.

Three mothers are on the beach when it happens: Lotte, whose children are lost; Sabine, a Zirkus seamstress with her grown daughter; and Tilli, just a girl herself, who will give birth later that day at St. Margaret’s Home for Pregnant Girls. After the tragedy, Lotte’s husband escapes with the Zirkus, while she loses the will to care for their surviving son. Tilli steps in, bonding with him in a way she isn’t allowed to with her own baby, taken away at birth. Sabine, struggling to keep her childlike daughter safe in the world, forms a complicated friendship with Lotte. But the mothers' fragile trio is threatened when Lotte and her husband hatch a dangerous plan to reunite their family, and Tilli and Sabine must try to find a way to pull them back to reality.

As full of joy and beauty as it is of pain, and told with the luminous power that has made Ursula Hegi a beloved bestselling author for decades, The Patron Saint of Pregnant Girls is a shining testament to the ways in which women hold each other up in the most unexpected of circumstances.

Monday, June 1, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past week are:

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Raphael Painter in Rome by Stephanie Storey
Blue Summer by Jim Nichols

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Yellow Earth by John Sayles
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
I Saw Three Ships by Bill Richardson
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
Sansei and Sensibility by Karen Tei Yamashita
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
The Big Quiet by Lisa D. Stewart
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim
How to Survive Death and Other Inconveniences by Sue William Silverman
The Miracle of Saint Lazarus by Uva de Aragon

Reviews posted this week:

All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

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

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

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Review: All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 25, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

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

Books I completed over the past weeks are:

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

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

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

Reviews posted this week:

not one book

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

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

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Three Apples Fell from the Sky by Narine Abgaryan.

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 11, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past week are:

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

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

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

Reviews posted this week:

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

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

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

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

Braver Than You Think by Maggie Downs.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

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

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

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

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

Monday, May 4, 2020

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed over the past week are:

Resurrecting Rain by Patricia Averbach
The Divorce Papers by Susan Rieger
Mrs. Budley Falls from Grace by M.C. Beaton
Watershed by Mark Barr

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Yellow Earth by John Sayles
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
I Saw Three Ships by Bill Richardson
Migrations by Charlotte McConaghy

Reviews posted this week:

Resurrecting Rain by Patricia Averbach
Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

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

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

Friday, May 1, 2020

Review: Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber

Some books just make you smile when you read them. They have a charm and a heart to them that makes reading them a pleasure. Heather Webber's Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe is one of these books. It makes you feel good and feel good about others too.

Anna Kate Callow has never been to small town Wicklow, Alabama before even though her mother grew up there and her grandmother lived there Anna Kate's whole life. She's in town for her beloved Granny Zee's funeral and to close up and sell the cafe she ran. But it turns out that she can't leave town that fast and get back to her plans to attend medical school. The terms of Granny Zee's will dictate that she has to stay in Wicklow for sixty days. And so despite her late mother's warning about going there, that is where she'll be for the next two months, whether she really wants to or not. As Anna Kate settles into the town, she reopens the cafe, weathers the curiosity about this granddaughter who the townsfolk have never met, tries to recreate the famous magical blackbird pies her grandmother made, and gets invested in the lives of several of the people around her. She, and several of the other characters, are all a little bit damaged and looking toward their futures uncertainly in this novel of second chances and starting over.

This novel combines some of my very favorite things: small towns, cooking, complicated family relationships, learning personal history, and endearing characters. While this list might make the book sound twee, it was anything but. (And frankly, even if it had been, so what?!) Anna Kate's mother fled Wicklow pregnant and under a cloud of suspicion after the car accident that killed Anna Kate's young father. The tragedy shaped many lives and Anna Kate's appearance has stirred up never resolved feelings. While all of this swirls through the plot thread dealing with her personal life, there's a light and enchanting bit of magical realism threading through the story as well. Granny Zee's blackbird pies allow people to dream of their lost loved ones but Anna Kate doesn't know the complete recipe for them, something she wants and needs to discover for herself and for the townspeople who wrap themselves around her heart. But how much time should people spend in the past, in their memories, especially when the past can contain happiness and pain, and potentially keep someone from living in the present? Anna Kate is not the only one who needs to consider this question.

Webber has written a completely charming and whimsical novel filled with secrets and gentle magic. The characters are sympathetic and well drawn. The mystery of the strange behaviour of the blackbirds behind the cafe is lightly done through the clever use of an outside newspaper reporter's questions to townspeople. Most of the novel is told in the first person with narration switching between Anna Kate and Natalie, a young widow with a child whose connection to Anna Kate is revealed as their friendship grows. There is guilt and forgiveness, the definition of family, healing and moving forward, community and love and a little romance all packed into this lovely look at how the human heart is filled.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Waiting on Wednesday

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

The Tourist Attraction by Sarah Morgenthaler.

The book is being released by Sourcebooks Casablanca on May 5, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: He had a strict "no tourists" policy...

Until she broke all of his rules.

When Graham Barnett named his diner The Tourist Trap, he meant it as a joke. Now he's stuck slinging reindeer dogs to an endless parade of resort visitors who couldn't interest him less. Not even the sweet, enthusiastic tourist in the corner who blushes every time he looks her way...

Two weeks in Alaska isn't just the top item on Zoey Caldwell's bucket list. It's the whole bucket. One look at the mountain town of Moose Springs and she's smitten. But when an act of kindness brings Zoey into Graham's world, she may just find there's more to the grumpy local than meets the eye...and more to love in Moose Springs than just the Alaskan wilderness.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Review: Resurrecting Rain by Patricia Averbach

We are who we are because of our past, our choices, and our experiences. Some people work very hard to live a different life than the one they knew in the past, but in rejecting that past, it still shapes their present and their future, if only as something to aspire not to repeat. Some of the things that shape us are well beyond our control, but what we do with our situations is often far more telling than an unplanned destiny. These choices make us who we are every bit as much as our past or the things outside of our control. And sometimes, the correct choice is to start over again, whether it be fresh or at the beginning, to remake life and our future. This is a lesson that Deena, the main character in Patricia Averbach's novel, Resurrecting Rain, will have to learn in the midst of dramatic upheaval.

Deena and Martin have lived a very comfortable life in Shaker Heights. He's a pharmacist and she's a librarian at a local university. They're been married for many years and have two children, a daughter in college and a son who is a senior in high school. But when the novel opens, they are losing their house and most of their possessions thanks to an investment gone bad on Martin's part. As they try to regroup in their tiny, new apartment, it is clear that their finances aren't the only thing shattered by their situation. Martin is remote and depressed, Deena is angry and lonely, son Elliott was blindsided, questioning his expected future, and daughter Lauren drops out of college, retreating from her anxious mother. In short, they are all in free-fall. And then Deena does something that sends her life spiraling even further out of control and sending her south from Ohio to Sarasota, Florida in sheer desperation, even as memories of the childhood she fled as soon as she could, the childhood she has kept hidden from her family, come sneaking back to her, making her question the choices she's made along her way.

Deena has worked very hard to create the life she so desperately yearned for, a life so unlike her secret past, and so it isn't a surprise that she goes off the rails when that life disintegrates before her very eyes. She is also unprepared for the fallout when she is caught in circumstances beyond her control although the reader could and would certainly tell her that some of the information she shared and the thoughtless choice she made, assuming that it would be short term and hurt nothing, would absolutely haunt her. As a character, she is a bit tough to sympathize with, initially thoughtless and then filled with regret, and it takes her a very long time to understand that she is going to have to reckon with her past and expose all of her secrets, first to herself and then to those she loves, in order to move forward and find happiness in her life. This is very much a novel of soul searching and as such the other characters aren't as complete as Deena, their presence revealing more about Deena and her thoughts than about themselves. There are philosophical musings about fate and choice, about materialism, and about family and home as Deena examines her life and what means the most to her. Some of the plot is a little far-fetched but Averbach has done a good job capturing the helplessness and despair of someone who is in danger of losing everything.

Taking place in suburban Cleveland, south Florida, and Santa Fe, the latter is the landscape best captured in the novel, reflecting both Deena's beginnings and the deep change both it and she have undergone. There were a couple of mistakes that stuck out to me and took me out of the story a few times.  Early on, son Elliot's assertion that there are only 9 men's Division One swimming scholarships available is simply untrue. There are far more Division One men's swimming programs nationally than 9 and they all have scholarships to offer, averaging 9 per team, so his choice to drop swimming because he wouldn't possibly get one for lack of numbers is false. And then to have a contracted visiting professor leave a university March 1, which would be smack dab in the middle of a semester, to go to another university, also under contract, is completely unlikely. Although both of these things are important in the world of the novel, they were stumbling blocks for me in my reading. And there were some plot threads I would have liked to have more of, including Raisa's life and her writing. After all, she hires Deena to catalog her papers but none of that gets accomplished in the novel although we do see a fragment of a sad and fanciful work. Over all though, this was a thoughtful novel and the reader cannot help turning the pages to see where Deena is going next, how she'll react, and whether she has found the person she wants to be yet, especially in the absence of the things she thought she needed.

For more information about Patricia Averbach and the book, check our her author site, like her on Facebook, follow her on 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 Lisa from TLC Book Tours and publisher Golden Antelope Press for sending me a copy of this book to review.

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