Wednesday, October 21, 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.

Nights When Nothing Happened by Simon Han.

The book is being released by Riverhead Books on November 17, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: From the outside, the Chengs seem like so-called model immigrants. Once Patty landed a tech job near Dallas, she and Liang grew secure enough to have a second child, and to send for their first from his grandparents back in China. Isn’t this what they sacrificed so much for? But then little Annabel begins to sleepwalk at night, putting into motion a string of misunderstandings that not only threaten to set their community against them but force to the surface the secrets that have made them fear one another. How can a man make peace with the terrors of his past? How can a child regain trust in unconditional love? How can a family stop burying its history and forge a way through it, to a more honest intimacy?

Nights When Nothing Happened is gripping storytelling immersed in the crosscurrents that have reshaped the American landscape, from a prodigious new literary talent.

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Review: A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain

I have long been on record as being a total coward when it comes to my reading but recently I've been trying to open myself up to some mysteries. I've been looking for not quite cozies but not nightmare-inducing either and when I read the jacket copy for A Murder in Time by Julie McElwain, I thought it sounded like it might hit that sweet spot. Note to self that if the main character is an FBI profiler and she's tracking a serial killer, even if she has time traveled from the present to 1815, the book is likely to be far too gruesome for my overly active imagination. I had to sit and read this through in one sitting to make sure that the baddie was appropriately punished and I still managed to have nightmares about the graphic and truly evil murders. I loved the premise but the rest was too much and over the top for me, in multiple ways.

Opening in 1815 with a clandestine gathering that culminates in an unnamed man reveling in the fear and pain of a specially chosen prostitute, the book then moves to present day US. Kendra Donovan is a former prodigy and the only woman on an elite FBI SWAT team tasked with taking down a terrorist. She has uncovered a larger web of involvement than her superiors anticipated and when she lobbies to be on the field team to make the bust, she is granted her wish. So she's in the thick of it when the mission goes horribly wrong, team members are killed, and Kendra herself is badly wounded. After a long and grueling recovery, she is determined to deliver justice to the man who got away. In trying to administer justice, she inexplicably stumbles through time, ending up in 1815, where, posing as a servant, she will be caught up in the dangerous investigation into a serial killer.

Aside from the grisly descriptions of murders, which were always going to be hard for me to read, McElwain has done a beautiful job describing the era, the clothing, and stately Aldridge castle. Her characters are, unfortunately, less believably drawn than the setting is. Kendra, despite being incredibly smart, can be beyond stupid in order to move the plot along. She ignores her own highly specialized training during the investigation, placing herself in dangerous situations, she is incapable of even trying to fit into the time and society in which she finds herself despite knowing she absolutely must stay at the castle to have any chance of going back through the wormhole to her own time, and she cannot simply observe rather than diving in head first before thinking, a trait that actually wouldn't serve her well as a profiler, a job at which she is said to have excelled. The reader is repeatedly told she is incredibly smart but, frustratingly, the bulk of the plot happens to her rather than because of her. And it may seem silly to say that there are unbelievable things in a murder mystery predicated on time travel, but avoidable anachronisms in other pieces of the plot belittle the reader's intelligence. For instance, few of the men, gentry all, exhibit more than a token resistance to not only a woman, but a woman of the servant class, taking charge of an entire investigation and ordering them about. This is passed off as entertaining to them but they will allow it because they recognize her superior intellect and because of her American origins. And Kendra's language is so unchecked and modern that it should be almost incompehensible to the men who rarely seem to need a translation. Their immediate acceptance of everything unusual about Kendra is simply a signal of how enlightened, forward thinking, and intelligent they are.

The narration focuses mainly on Kendra but there are occasional shifts to other characters which, while illuminating their take on this odd person in their midst, also effectively rules them out as the murderer, despite the fact that they should be suspects right up until the final reveal. Brief chapters through the murderer's eyes are dropped into the narrative very occasionally to highlight his utter depravity and they are effective and rather stomach churning. There are quite a few historical mistakes, multiple etiquette breaches (in addition to the ones that Kendra seemingly makes intentionally), and the romance in the end feels tacked on for no apparent reason. Yet something kept me reading. I personally won't be reading the next in the series, mainly for the gory bits, but I can see why people who can suspend disbelief would want to continue on despite the very obvious flaws here. This had a strange and intriguing premise, lacked in the execution, and yet I almost liked it. Rather a conundrum at that.

Monday, October 19, 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:

Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler
Enrique's Journey by Sonia Navario
Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell
The Pigeon Pie Mystery by Julia Stuart
Yellow Earth by John Sayles

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

House of Gold by Natasha Solomons

Reviews posted this week:

nothing yet

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

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
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
Heiress for Hire by Erin McCarthy
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur
The Royal Abduls by Ramiza Shamoun Koya
The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline
The Expert's Guide to Driving a Man Wild by Jessica Clare
How to Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Startled by His Furry Shorts by Louise Rennison
Love and Hunger by Charlotte Wood
Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify by Carolyn Holbrook
You Have Arrived at Your Destination by Amor Towles
In Our Midst by Nancy Jensen
On the Steamy Side by Louisa Edwards
The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
A Shot in the Dark by Lynne Truss
Unconditional Love by Jocelyn Moorhouse
Along Came Mary by Jo-Ann Mapson
The Big Quiet by Lisa D. Stewart
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart
True North by Beverly Brandt
Betrayal at Ravenswick by Kelly Oliver
Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst
Wild Dog by Serge Joncour
Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Children of Dust by Ali Eteraz
Happily Ever After by Debbie Tung
The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin
Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg
Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew
The Last Blue by Isla Morley
Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn
Redhead by the Side of the Road by Anne Tyler
Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario
Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell< br /> The Pigeon Pie Mystery by Julia Stuart
Yellow Earth by John Sayles

Tuesday, October 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.

The Bad Muslim Discount by Syed M. Masood.

The book is being released by Doubleday on February 2, 2021.

The book's jacket copy says: Following two families from Pakistan and Iraq in the 1990s to San Francisco in 2016, The Bad Muslim Discount is an inclusive, comic novel about Muslims immigrants finding their way in modern America. For fans of Hanif Kureshi, Mira Jacob, and Mohammed Hanif.

It is 1995, and Anvar Faris is a restless, rebellious, and sharp-tongued boy doing his best to grow up in Karachi, Pakistan. As fundamentalism takes root within the social order and the zealots next door attempt to make Islam great again, his family decides, not quite unanimously, to start life over in California. Ironically, Anvar's deeply devout mother and his model-Muslim brother adjust easily to life in America, while his fun-loving father can't find anyone he relates to. For his part, Anvar fully commits to being a bad Muslim.

At the same time, thousands of miles away, Safwa, a young girl living in war-torn Baghdad with her grief-stricken, conservative father will find a very different and far more dangerous path to America. When Anvar and Safwa's worlds collide as two remarkable, strong-willed adults, their contradictory, intertwined fates will rock their community, and families, to their core.

The Bad Muslim Discount is an irreverent, poignant, and often hysterically funny debut novel by an amazing new voice. With deep insight, warmth, and an irreverent sense of humor, Syed M. Masood examines universal questions of identity, faith (or lack thereof), and belonging through the lens of Muslim Americans.

Monday, October 12, 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:

This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg
Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew
The Last Blue by Isla Morley
Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Yellow Earth by John Sayles
The Pigeon Pie Mystery by Julia Stuart

Reviews posted this week:

Beginning with Cannonballs by Jill McCroskey Coupe
This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone
If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim

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

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
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
Heiress for Hire by Erin McCarthy
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur
The Royal Abduls by Ramiza Shamoun Koya
The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline
The Expert's Guide to Driving a Man Wild by Jessica Clare
How to Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Startled by His Furry Shorts by Louise Rennison
Love and Hunger by Charlotte Wood
Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify by Carolyn Holbrook
You Have Arrived at Your Destination by Amor Towles
In Our Midst by Nancy Jensen
On the Steamy Side by Louisa Edwards
The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
A Shot in the Dark by Lynne Truss
Unconditional Love by Jocelyn Moorhouse
Along Came Mary by Jo-Ann Mapson
The Big Quiet by Lisa D. Stewart
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart
True North by Beverly Brandt
Betrayal at Ravenswick by Kelly Oliver
Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst
Wild Dog by Serge Joncour
Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Children of Dust by Ali Eteraz
Happily Ever After by Debbie Tung
The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin
Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams
Small Game Hunting at the Local Coward Gun Club by Megan Gail Coles
The Daughter of Sherlock Holmes by Leonard Goldberg
Recipes for Love and Murder by Sally Andrew
The Last Blue by Isla Morley
Because of Miss Bridgerton by Julia Quinn

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Monday Mailbox

This past week's mailbox arrivals:

Finessing Clarissa by M.C. Beaton came from me for myself.

Yes, I am rather addicted to MC Beaton's frothiest works and I enjoy the School for Manners series. This one is about a clumsy young lady.

Marrying Harriet by M.C. Beaton came from me for myself.

Yes, I am rather addicted to MC Beaton's frothiest works and I enjoy the School for Manners series. This one centers on a prim and proper Miss and a rake.

Enlightening Delilah by M. C. Beaton came from me for myself.

Yes, I am rather addicted to MC Beaton's frothiest works and I enjoy the School for Manners series. A gorgeous young lady who had her heart broken and so breaks others' hearts is the challenge in this one.

Making Conversation by Christine Longford came for me from myself.

About a plain, young girl who cannot seem to master conversation, saying too much, saying too little, this has mostly languished in obscurity and current readers don't seem to like it very much but I enjoy being contrary so I'm looking forward to it.

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 Salon: The Importance of Reading

With a mother like me, you'd think my children would realize how important it is to read, to read everything, and to read carefully. But like children the world around, they don't always pay attention to me. And here's the result:

Let me tell you what exactly you're looking at. When you move a boy child into college, the joke is that you hang up a flag and you're done. It's funny because it's essentially true. And my youngest is a huge flag fan so it's extra true of him. His college delayed move-in for the kids in the dorms by a month but when he finally did get to move in, the only decoration he cared about was the state of Ohio flag his girlfriend gave him. He can (and will) wax poetic on why the Ohio flag is the best state flag out there. So of course he took it from his room at home to hang in his dorm room. It took up one entire wall. But he had another wall that needed something so he decided he needed a state of North Carolina flag to hang there. I fully intended to buy and ship him one. Before I could, he had ordered one himself and sent me the above picture. In case it's hard to tell, that grey wrinkled thing at the bottom of the picture is his pillow. And it's just a standard size pillow. "My NC flag just arrived" and "It's 4x6 inches not feet" and "I'm a little upset." (By the way, I don't think he intended the humor of that last bit, a "little upset," but boy howdy did it make me howl with laughter.) When I finally talked to him, it turns out that he didn't read the description fully. Let that be a lesson to you. Reading is important. And mama told you so.

And before you ask, yes, I sent him a full sized North Carolina flag. Because I'm a good mom. He did hang the large flag but he also left up the itty bitty mini flag. Because it's also important to laugh at yourself.

Friday, October 9, 2020

Review: If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim


My biggest exposure to the Korean War was through M*A*S*H. I don't mean this to be funny or tongue in cheek but just to point out that Korea has been rather a blind spot in much of our learning here in the US. So I am always interested when I come across a book that will open up new worlds to me. Crystal Hana Kim's debut novel If You Leave Me, promised to show me a Korea during and post war that I had never seen before, through young characters whose normal lives have been upended and now must make the choice between love and security, survival and uncertainty, in a world not of their own making.

Haemi, her widowed mother, and her chronically ill younger brother fled their village home and live in a refugee camp on the coast. Life is hard, food is scarce, and medicine for her brother scarcer. One of the remaining joys of her life is to sneak out at night with her old friend Kyunghwan. She dresses as a boy and they get into mischief. But she is also getting older so not only does she face social disapproval for her antics, but she and Kyunghwan are becoming more and more aware of each other, their love for each other becoming more complicated. At the same time, Kyunghwan's wealthier cousin Jisoo decides to court the lovely Haemi, wanting to ensure that he has a family waiting for him when he returns from fighting in the civil war. Haemi has an impossible choice to make. In the end, she must forsake Kyunghwan and marry Jisoo for all he can offer her, her mother, and brother. But as the years go on, Haemi has to live with her choice and its consequences, as must her children and all those who love her.

Set from 1951-1967, the novel is told in chapters narrated by Haemi, Kyunghwan, Jisoo, Haemi's brother Hyunki, and eventually her daughter Solee, all in the first person. The reader sees first hand the bitterness, disappointment, and despair that pervade these characters in so many aspects of their lives. They've all been marked indelibly by the war and their circumstances: soul mates separated, education unobtainable, distant parents, and more. The price of war is far more than just physical. The novel is also broken into five parts between which are gaps in the story's timeline, allowing the characters to move into new situations without the intervening getting there. This does lessen the impact of Haemi's misery some but keeps the reader from having to feel as trapped and depressed in her role as mother and wife as Haemi herself does. She is the character around whom the other characters turn, even if she is not valued as she should be, and her unhappiness colors everything. Each of the characters is flawed and hard in ways that challenge the reader to work past, something that happens with varying degrees of success. Ultimately the story is a heartbreaking one, clear by the end that there was no other possible ending to the story, no other option when life extracts such a high price, requires such a sacrifice.

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

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Review: This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal el-Mohtar and Max Gladstone


My daughter is a fan of time travel so when I saw this novella, I decided, as any good mom would, that I would get it for her and read it myself when she finished it. I should have taken note that she handed it back to me with a shrug and a "You can keep it." Not the world's biggest endorsement. And I have to say that I am sad to report that I agree with her assessment. Despite a promising premise, a lesbian Romeo and Juliet story set across time, a love story unbounded by our reality, This Is How You Lose the Time War just didn't deliver for me. (As it won this year's Hugo Award for a Novella, apparently those in the know disagree with me!)

On a dying world, an operative from the Agency finds a letter from Garden's agent. Red and Blue work for different entities in this all out war. They are supposed to be sworn enemies. Over vast quantities of time and space, traveling through different realities, these two post-human women have come across each other again and again, each agent trying to foil her opposite. Red and Blue slip through time backwards and forwards to make large and small impacts that will win battles for their respective sides and ultimately win the war. They are each other's equal and after catching sight of one another once upon a time, Blue writes to Red, offering respect and gratitude for the deadly game they have been engaging in. As they weave through time, they exchange more and more letters, offering tiny bits of their reality to each other and ultimately falling deeply in love, despite fighting for opposing sides. If they are found out, they cannot possibly survive.

The details of the world Red and Blue live in, many stranded as it seems to be, are left hazy and indistinct. Red and Blue themselves are also indistinct, giving no real sense of their characters beyond their desperate yearning for each other. Plot is minimal. All of this gives the entire novella an otherworldly, dream-like feel that can be frustrating to read. The language is lush, poetic, and descriptive but there's no there behind it; it all just becomes too much, too overwrought, too florid. Although the reader is told again and again that is would be catastrophic for Red and Blue to be discovered, there is never any actual sense of danger until the odd and sinister climax that comes out of the blue (yeah, bad pun). The unusual delivery of the letters between the two women is creative but does nothing beyond highlighting their repeated cleverness. In the end, I didn't care which side won the war. I had no idea what they were fighting for or over or even who the two sides really were. I didn't care about Red and Blue or their love. In fact, I didn't even care whether love won and this, I think, sums up why I didn't enjoy the novella. The reader should care. But after 198 pages, I just couldn't. And that's a shame because I think there was a kernel of something there. Maybe in another timeline.

Tuesday, October 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.

Simmer Down by Sarah Smith.

The book is being released by Berkley on October 13, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: In this finger-licking good rom-com, two is the perfect number of cooks in the kitchen.

Nikki DiMarco knew life wouldn’t be all sunshine and coconuts when she quit her dream job to help her mom serve up mouthwatering Filipino dishes to hungry beach goers, but she didn’t expect the Maui food truck scene to be so eat-or-be-eaten—or the competition to be so smoking hot.

But Tiva’s Filipina Kusina has faced bigger road bumps than the arrival of Callum James. Nikki doesn’t care how delectable the British food truck owner is—he rudely set up shop next to her coveted beach parking spot. He’s stealing her customers and fanning the flames of a public feud that makes her see sparks.

The solution? Let the upcoming Maui Food Festival decide their fate. Winner keeps the spot. Loser pounds sand. But the longer their rivalry simmers, the more Nikki starts to see a different side of Callum…a sweet, protective side. Is she brave enough to call a truce? Or will trusting Callum with her heart mean jumping from the frying pan into the fire?

Review: Beginning with Cannonballs by Jill McCroskey Coupe

Friendship is a curious thing. It can last a season or a lifetime or any stretch of time in between. It can be buffeted by winds that the friends don't even notice or it can be caught up in a storm that they can hardly ignore. Perhaps this is no more true than inside an interracial friendship during the era of the Civil Rights Movement. Some friendships can survive outside forces while others will not. Jill McCroskey Coupe has written a beautiful paean to a lifelong friendship that starts in innocence, suffers, and is refound again despite the forces that try so hard to break it in her novel, Beginning with Cannonballs.

It's the 1950s and babies Gail and Hanna share a crib, the closest of friends from the beginning. Hanna's mother Sophie is Gail's family's maid. Gail is white and Hanna is black. As young girls, they don't see any complication in this fact, only questioning the world on rare occasions, but their mothers certainly foresee problems, especially as the girls grow older. They remain devoted friends despite the pressures beyond them until Hanna moves to Philadelphia with her mother and the girls lose touch thanks to the interference of Gail's mother Bessie. But Gail never forgets her first and best friend, reaching out and trying to rekindle their once close relationship without understanding all of the forces at work in and against Hanna. Their differences magnified, and their lives so very different, these two women come back together tentatively, testing the power and forgiveness of friendship.

Coupe takes that most precious friendship of a childhood, that touchstone, and complicates it with race and distance and family disapproval. She delicately describes a friendship that has no choice but to be impacted by the outside world, a friendship that would once have been quietly let go forever but that is too much a friendship of the heart, too valuable and important, to let fade away. There are short jumps in time between the chapters, allowing Gail and Hanna to grow and change, to be molded both by national and personal events in the intervening time, and the story itself spans from the 50s to the 90s. Coupe has done a great job capturing the innocence of the young girls, the dawning of understanding and push back in the young women, and the acceptance and forthrightness (with a touch of rebellion) in the middle-aged women. The writing is accessible and warm and the characters are fully fleshed out and real. This book is a kaleidoscope of snapshots in a specific time of a real and beautiful friendship with all of the attendant ups and downs, hurts and joys, of any long standing relationship between two people still adapting and growing and learning, in all of their flawed, human glory.

Thanks to Caitlin Hamilton Marketing and Publicity for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Monday, October 5, 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:

Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Children of Dust by Ali Eteraz
Happily Ever After by Debbie Tung
The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin
Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams

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 Last Blue by Isla Morley

Reviews posted this week:

Phoolan Devi, Rebel Queen by Claire Fauvel
Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden

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
Heiress for Hire by Erin McCarthy
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur
The Royal Abduls by Ramiza Shamoun Koya
The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline
The Expert's Guide to Driving a Man Wild by Jessica Clare
How to Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Startled by His Furry Shorts by Louise Rennison
Love and Hunger by Charlotte Wood
Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify by Carolyn Holbrook
You Have Arrived at Your Destination by Amor Towles
In Our Midst by Nancy Jensen
On the Steamy Side by Louisa Edwards
The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
A Shot in the Dark by Lynne Truss
Unconditional Love by Jocelyn Moorhouse
Along Came Mary by Jo-Ann Mapson
The Big Quiet by Lisa D. Stewart
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart
True North by Beverly Brandt
Betrayal at Ravenswick by Kelly Oliver
Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst
Wild Dog by Serge Joncour
Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb
Children of Dust by Ali Eteraz
Happily Ever After by Debbie Tung
The Case of the Gilded Fly by Edmund Crispin
Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Monday Mailbox

This past week's mailbox arrivals:

You, Me and the Movies by Fiona Collins came from me for myself.

A love story punctuated with movies, can't we all use a love story about now? I know I sure can!

Enrique's Journey by Sonia Nazario came from me for myself because of book club.

The true story of a Honduran boy who goes north to find his mother in the US, eleven years after she was forced to leave him, this story of his dangerous trip should be amazing.

Bride Flight by Marieke Van Der Pol came from me for myself.

I know nothing about the Bride Flight in the 1950s, where brides to be flew from London to Christchurch to join their fiances and I am so very intrigued about the women and the aviation race surrounding this flight.

The Memory Collector by Fiona Harper came for me from myself.

A woman confronts her mother's hoarding and the memories of her childhood in this potentially heartbreaking novel. Sometimes you just need a highly emotional read, you know?

Miss Graham's Cold War Cookbook by Celia Rees came for me from myself.

Female spies are so enticing, aren't they? One looking for a Nazi war criminal and posing as a cookbook author as she searches sounds too perfect for me!

A Chip Shop in Poznan by Ben Aitken came for me from myself.

I enjoy travel narratives a lot and I've never read one set in Poland so I am really looking forward to this one about a guy who moved to Poland to see why Poles were all emigrating.

A World Between by Emily Hashimoto came for me from myself.

Two women in college fall in love but end up going their own ways in life. This is the novel about what happens when they run into each other years later and are pulled to each other once again. I do enjoy love stories and I'm curious to see if this is a second chance love story or not.

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 Salon: The 2020 Great Group Reads List

Some people look to October for Halloween and spooky stuff. Me? I'm a coward so what I look forward to this month is the release of the Women's National Book Association Great Group Reads list. The list is always phenomenal and this year is no different. The included books are perfect for book clubs. They contain issues that we're already talking about right now and will be for a long time to come. They're well written and engaging, fiction and memoir. I've read them all and I recommend them for sure. (Full disclosure, I'm the Great Group Reads Chair so this is very much my baby although my committee chooses the books so it's not just a personal passion project.) All books can be bought through your local independent bookstore or online through Bookshop as well as from all other in person and online sources. Read one or two (or all) of these and let me know what you think.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Review: Winter Counts by David Heska Wanbli Weiden


If you picture Native Americans, what do you see? Do you see a people decimated by systemic racism, alcohol and drugs, and a deep and grinding poverty? Do you see shamans, powwows, and defenders of the Earth? Do you see dusty reservations and casinos? Do you see missing and murdered indigenous women, failed by a federal judicial system that dismisses their duty, leaving criminals unpunished or entirely unprosecuted and victims unavenged? All of these things are true and yet not even close to a full picture of the many different groups who fall under this designation. David Heska Wanbli Weiden, an enrolled citizen of the Sicangu Lakota Nation, has written a riveting novel that confronts and enlarges on life on the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Winter Counts is a thriller, a crime novel, and a Lakota cultural examination.

Virgil Wounded Horse is half Lakota, a recovering alcoholic, and a vigilante. When justice isn't done by federal or tribal courts, people pay Virgil to redress the wrongs. He punishes the rapists, thieves, and wife beaters that the law ignores. When Ben Short Bear, a councilman running for Tribal President, contacts him to investigate the sudden influx of heroin into the reservation, Virgil isn't sure he wants to get involved even though the payout would be big. Then Virgil's own nephew, 14 year old Nathan, who Virgil is raising after his sister's death, overdoses and almost dies. Now Virgil has no choice but to get involved. He and his ex, Maria Short Bear, Ben's daughter, head to Denver after the small time criminal who has hooked up with the big boys to bring heroin onto the reservation. This trip embroils Virgil and Maria in something much bigger, more insidious, and more personal than they ever imagined.

Virgil narrates his own story, remaining clear eyed about both the good and ill of his community on the reservation. He was bullied as a child for his mixed race and he still sees firsthand the economic disparity, the accepted corruption, and the failure in leadership that exists but he also sees the perseverence and connection of a community trying to save its young people, to improve everyone's lives, and to try to honor and maintain their culture, even if he himself is frequently skeptical of that culture. In Virgil, Weiden has created a character who recognizes the wrongs done to the Lakota people and who is invested in righting those wrongs in whatever way he can. He is both an insider and an outsider, which allows the reader to learn and grow with him. The descriptions of the secondary characters and life on the reservation fully round out the story. This is not really a thriller in the heart pounding sense, rather it is one that carefully peels back each layer of the plot deliberately, until the depth of the corruption and the fullness of the novel is exposed in all its complexity.

The book is a fast and engrossing read that feels like it could be the first in a series. It doesn't flinch from the truth of the ways in which the government and white American have failed the Native population or from the ways its own people do the same to themselves. It is thought provoking, violent, and gripping. Those who like their novels gritty and realistic will quite enjoy this.

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

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Review: Phoolan Devi, Rebel Queen by Claire Fauvel

When most societies are already firmly patriarchal, how much harder is it to be a woman when you are also of a low caste and from a poor family within that caste to boot? Would you fight back against the injustices meted out to you? Would you stand up for other women and children mistreated, raped, and abused as you were? Would you become the powerful woman whose name was whispered, then lauded, then shouted? Phoolan Devi was one such woman. Claire Fauvel has essentially adapted Devi's dictated autobiography (Devi was illiterate) in her graphic biography of the famous, late dacoit (an armed robber).

Phoolan Devi was a child who spoke out against injustice, even when that injustice was perpetrated by her own extended family. But a girl child doesn't have a lot of power and so she was punished, married off at the age of 11 to a much older man who raped her, spat upon and reviled for fleeing her abusive husband. When, as a young woman, she finally escapes her village in the company of dacoits, she changes her own life, earning power and respect from the other outlaws, and enabling her to take revenge on the rich and powerful who abused and destroyed the women and children in their lives. She became a courageous and avenging symbol of justice to many, eventually being elected to the Indian Parliament before being assassinated by extremists in 2001.

Fauvel illustrates the story of Phoolan Devi's life in earth tones and dark colors, reflecting both the despair of what she endured and the land she spent so much time living and hiding in. She doesn't shy away from graphic depictions of the rape and abuse that Devi endured and she depicts the extremes of emotion very well even if the faces of her characters are sometimes rather oddly drawn. Fauvel has chosen to use Devi's own words in the story, wanting the simple but direct language of the woman herself but that means that she cannot fill in pieces of Devi's life that are covered less extensively or not at all in the autobiography, such as how she went from a regional rebel to a nationally well known dacoit who inspired fear in others, or the years she spent serving in government. The rape by her husband is brutal and several pages long, as it should be as a (the?) major catalyst for her life's decisions, but it is also hard to read and view. The story here is a pretty fascinating one. I had never heard of Phoolan Devi before but I wish her life had been a little further fleshed out so that I had a better sense of her as a real person rather than a character.

Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book for review.

Tuesday, September 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.

Tsarina by Ellen Alpsten.

The book is being released by St. Martin's Press on November 10, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: Before there was Catherine the Great, there was Catherine Alexeyevna: the first woman to rule Russia in her own right. Ellen Alpsten's rich, sweeping debut novel is the story of her rise to power.

St. Petersburg, 1725. Peter the Great lies dying in his magnificent Winter Palace. The weakness and treachery of his only son has driven his father to an appalling act of cruelty and left the empire without an heir. Russia risks falling into chaos. Into the void steps the woman who has been by his side for decades: his second wife, Catherine Alexeyevna, as ambitious, ruthless and passionate as Peter himself.

Born into devastating poverty, Catherine used her extraordinary beauty and shrewd intelligence to ingratiate herself with Peter’s powerful generals, finally seducing the Tsar himself. But even amongst the splendor and opulence of her new life—the lavish feasts, glittering jewels, and candle-lit hours in Peter’s bedchamber—she knows the peril of her position. Peter’s attentions are fickle and his rages powerful; his first wife is condemned to a prison cell, her lover impaled alive in Red Square. And now Catherine faces the ultimate test: can she keep the Tsar’s death a secret as she plays a lethal game to destroy her enemies and take the Crown for herself?

From the sensuous pleasures of a decadent aristocracy, to the incense-filled rites of the Orthodox Church and the terror of Peter’s torture chambers, the intoxicating and dangerous world of Imperial Russia is brought to vivid life. Tsarina is the story of one remarkable woman whose bid for power would transform the Russian Empire.

Monday, September 28, 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:

The Big Quiet by Lisa D. Stewart
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart
True North by Beverly Brandt
Betrayal at Ravenswick by Kelly Oliver
Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst
Wild Dog by Serge Joncour

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
Wild Dog by Serge Joncour
The Last Blue by Isla Morley
Meet Me In Monaco by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

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
Heiress for Hire by Erin McCarthy
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur
The Royal Abduls by Ramiza Shamoun Koya
The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline
The Expert's Guide to Driving a Man Wild by Jessica Clare
How to Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Startled by His Furry Shorts by Louise Rennison
Love and Hunger by Charlotte Wood
Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify by Carolyn Holbrook
You Have Arrived at Your Destination by Amor Towles
In Our Midst by Nancy Jensen
On the Steamy Side by Louisa Edwards
The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
A Shot in the Dark by Lynne Truss
Unconditional Love by Jocelyn Moorhouse
Along Came Mary by Jo-Ann Mapson
The Big Quiet by Lisa D. Stewart
All My Mother's Lovers by Ilana Masad
The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
The Care and Feeding of Ravenously Hungry Girls by Anissa Gray
The Moonshiner’s Daughter by Donna Everhart
True North by Beverly Brandt
Betrayal at Ravenswick by Kelly Oliver
Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst
Wild Dog by Serge Joncour

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Monday Mailbox

This past week's mailbox arrivals:

A Man of Some Repute by Edmondson came from me for myself.

An Earl missing for seven years, a skeleton unccovered under the chapel flagstones, and an intelligence officer and the Earl's niece partnering up to uncover the truth, this sounds like a good Halloween read for the cowardly among us (aka me).

Refining Felicity by M.C. Beaton came from me from myself.

Beaton is just an easy, lighthearted delight and so I am looking forward to this first in The School for Manners series about a terribly spoiled brat who must be married off.

Animating Maria by M.C. Beaton came from me from myself.

Another in The School for Manners series, this one has not a bratty young woman but insufferable parents and should also be a fun escape.

A Very British Christmas by Rhodri Marsden came from me from myself.

Yeah, I'm an unapologetic Anglophile so this looks like an entertaining look at British culture around the holidays.

The Unexpected Love Objects of Dunya Noor by Rana Haddad came from me from myself.

Two Syrian immigrants fall in love and decide to return to Syria together, a decision that will change their lives. Such an intriguing premise, I look forward to this one for sure.

Blue Summer by Jim Nichols came from me from myself.

I had this in e-book format but I can't stand e-books so I got it in paperback.

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.

Tuesday, September 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.

Midnight Train to Prague by Carol Windley.

The book is being released by Atlantic Monthly Press on November 3, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: The acclaimed author of Home Schooling returns with Midnight Train to Prague, a timeless tale of friendship, romance, betrayal, and survival that spans the turbulent decades of the twentieth century, through two world wars and between countries and continents.

In 1927, as Natalia Faber travels from Berlin to Prague with her mother, their train is delayed in Saxon Switzerland. In the brief time the train is idle, Natalia learns the truth about her father--who she believed died during her infancy--and meets a remarkable woman named Dr. Magdalena Schaeffer, whose family will become a significant part of her future. Shaken by these events, Natalia arrives at a spa on the shore of Lake Hev z in Hungary. Here, she meets Count Mikl's Andorj n, a journalist and adventurer. The following year, they will marry.

Years later, Germany has invaded Russia. When Mikl's fails to return from the eastern front, Natalia goes to Prague to wait for him. With a pack of tarot cards, she sets up shop as a fortune teller, and she meets Anna Schaeffer, the daughter of the woman she met decades earlier on that stalled train. The Nazis accuse Natalia of spying, and she is sent to a concentration camp. Though they are separated, her friendship with Anna grows as they fight to survive and to be reunited with their families.

Wednesday, September 16, 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.

Escaping Dreamland by Charlie Lovett.

The book is being released by Blackstone Publishing on September 22, 2020.

The book's jacket copy says: Robert Parrish's childhood obsession with series books like the Hardy Boys and Tom Swift inspired him to become an author. Just as his debut novel becomes a bestseller, his relationship with his girlfriend, Rebecca, begins to fall apart. Robert realizes he must confront his secret demons by fulfilling a youthful promise to solve a mystery surrounding his favorite series--the Tremendous Trio.

Guided by twelve tattered books and an unidentified but tantalizing fragment of a story, Robert journeys into the history of the books that changed his life, hoping they can help him once again. His odyssey takes him to 1906 Manhattan, a time of steamboats, boot blacks, and Fifth Avenue mansions, but every discovery he makes only leads to more questions.

Robert's quest intertwines with the stories of three young people trying to define their places in the world at the dawn of a new and exciting century. Magda, Gene, and Tom not only write the children's books that Robert will one day love, together they explore the vibrant city on their doorstep, from the Polo Grounds to Coney Island's Dreamland, drawing the reader into the Gilded Age as their own friendships deepen.

The connections between the authors, their creations, and Robert's redemptive journey make for a beautifully crafted novel that is an ode to the children's series books of our past, to New York City, and above all, to the power of love and friendship.

Monday, September 14, 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:

Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
A Shot in the Dark by Lynne Truss
Unconditional Love by Jocelyn Moorhouse
Along Came Mary by Jo-Ann Mapson

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
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
The Last Blue by Isla Morley
Queen of the Owls by Barbara Linn Probst

Reviews posted this week:

I did do one but it can't be shared publicly yet, otherwise still slacking

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
Heiress for Hire by Erin McCarthy
In Five Years by Rebecca Serle
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Wild Game by Adrienne Brodeur
The Royal Abduls by Ramiza Shamoun Koya
The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline
The Expert's Guide to Driving a Man Wild by Jessica Clare
How to Eat by Thich Nhat Hanh
Miracle Creek by Angie Kim
Startled by His Furry Shorts by Louise Rennison
Love and Hunger by Charlotte Wood
Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify by Carolyn Holbrook
You Have Arrived at Your Destination by Amor Towles
In Our Midst by Nancy Jensen
On the Steamy Side by Louisa Edwards
The Beauty of Your Face by Sahar Mustafah
The Second Home by Christina Clancy
Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells
A Shot in the Dark by Lynne Truss
Unconditional Love by Jocelyn Moorhouse
Along Came Mary by Jo-Ann Mapson

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Monday Mailbox

This past week's mailbox arrivals:

Cat Out of Hell by Lynne Truss came from me for myself.

A talking cat, murder, and grammar maven Lynne Truss? Don't mind if I do!

Hieroglyphics by Jill McCorkle came from Algonquin Books and LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

I have loved McCorkle's work for decades now (I even have her early books in the oddly shaped paperback size that used to be Algonquin's signature) so I am looking forward to her latest about loss, memories, and legacy.

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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