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.

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