Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday

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

The Floating Feldmans by Elyssa Friedland.

The book is being released by Berkley on July 23, 2019.

The book's jacket copy says: Sink or swim

Too bad her kids didn’t get the memo.

Between the troublesome family secrets, old sibling rivalries, and her two teenage grandkids, Annette’s birthday vacation is looking more and more like the perfect storm. Adrift together on the open seas, the Feldmans will each face the truths they’ve been ignoring–and learn that the people they once thought most likely to sink them are actually the ones who help them stay afloat.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday

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

At Dusk by Hwang Sok-yong.

The book is being released by Scribe US on July 16, 2019.

The book's jacket copy says: Park Minwoo is, by every measure, a success story. Born into poverty in a miserable neighborhood of Seoul, he has ridden the wave of development in a rapidly modernizing society. Now the director of a large architectural firm, his hard work and ambition have brought him triumph and satisfaction. But when his company is investigated for corruption, he’s forced to reconsider his role in the transformation of his country.

At the same time, he receives an unexpected message from an old friend, Cha Soona, a woman that he had once loved, and then betrayed. As memories return unbidden, Minwoo recalls a world he thought had been left behind―a world he now understands that he has helped to destroy.

From one of Korea's most renowned and respected authors, At Dusk is a gentle yet urgent tale about the things, and the people, that we abandon in our never-ending quest to move forward.

Monday, July 1, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this week are:

Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain
Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers by the New York Public Library The Honey Bus by Meredith May
The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
Church of the Graveyard Saints by C. Joseph Greaves

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
A Moveable Feast edited by Don George
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhannon
Breaking the Ocean by Annahid Dashtgard
Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery by John Gregory Brown
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
The Ventriloquists by E.R. Ramzipoor
The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell

Reviews posted this week:

nothing at all :-(

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

The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handle
Oh, Tama! by Mieko Kanai
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Exposure by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
Granny’s Got a Gun by Harper Lin
White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf
At Briarwood School for Girls by Michael Knight
The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel
All Ships Follow Me by Mieke Eerkens
Like This Afternoon Forever by Jaime Manrique
Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten
Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Dear Baba by Maryam Rafiee
Saint Everywhere by Mary Lea Carroll
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Tonic and Balm by Stephanie Allen
Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons
In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Slepikas
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
CinderGirl by Christina Meredith
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renee Lavoie
The Fragments by Toni Jordan
The Question Authority by Rachel Cline
The Plaza by Julie Satow
The Lonely Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya
Portugal by Cyril Pedrosa
To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari
Haben by Haben Girma
The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester
Educated by Tara Westover
State of the Union by Nick Hornby
Turbulence by David Szalay
Southernmost by Silas House
What a Body Remembers by Karen Stefano
The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar
Questions I Am Asked About the Holocaust by Hedi Fried
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain
Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers by the New York Public Library The Honey Bus by Meredith May
The Liar in the Library by Simon Brett
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
Church of the Graveyard Saints by C. Joseph Greaves

Monday Mailbox

A great looking duo arrived this week. This past week's mailbox arrivals:

Rush by Lisa Patton came from St. Martin's Press.

I never joined a sorority but I have it on good authority (from other non-sorority girls and even one non-girl) that this story of a Southern sorority and the people inside it and out, wealthy and poor, who are affected by it is a wonderful read.

The Ravenmaster by Christopher Skaife came from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.

Who wouldn't be fascinated by the life a a yeoman warder and the ravens in the Tower of London? I am completely intrigued and can't wait to read this one.

If you want to see the marvelous goodies in other people's mailboxes, make sure to visit Mailbox Monday and have fun seeing how we are all doing our part to keep the USPS and delivery services viable.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday

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

The Ingredients of Us by Jennifer Gold.

The book is being released by Lake Union Publishing on July 1, 2019.

The book's jacket copy says: From debut author Jennifer Gold comes a delicious novel about the sweet and sour ingredients of life and love.

Elle, an accomplished baker, has a recipe for every event in her life. But when she discovers her husband’s infidelity, she doesn’t know what to make of it. Jam, maybe? Definitely jam.

Fed up with the stale crumbs of her marriage, Elle revisits past recipes and the events that inspired them. A recipe for scones reminds her of her father’s death, cinnamon rolls signify the problematic courtship with her husband, and a batch of chocolate cookies casts Elle in a less-than-flattering light. Looking back, Elle soon realizes that some ingredients were missing all along.

After confronting her husband, Elle indulges her sweet tooth in other ways, including a rebound that just leaves her more confused. As secrets from the past collide with the conflicts of the present, Elle struggles to manage her bakery business and maintain the relationships most important to her. In piecing her life back together, will Elle learn to take the bitter with the sweet?

Monday, June 24, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this week are:

The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore
The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney
The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar
Questions I Am Asked About the Holocaust by Hedi Fried
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
A Moveable Feast edited by Don George
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhannon
Breaking the Ocean by Annahid Dashtgard
Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery by John Gregory Brown
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton
The Honey Bus by Meredith May
The Ventriloquists by E.R. Ramzipoor
Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain

Reviews posted this week:

The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore
The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney

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

The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handle
Oh, Tama! by Mieko Kanai
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Exposure by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
Granny’s Got a Gun by Harper Lin
White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf
At Briarwood School for Girls by Michael Knight
The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel
All Ships Follow Me by Mieke Eerkens
Like This Afternoon Forever by Jaime Manrique
Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten
Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Dear Baba by Maryam Rafiee
Saint Everywhere by Mary Lea Carroll
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Tonic and Balm by Stephanie Allen
Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons
In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Slepikas
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
CinderGirl by Christina Meredith
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renee Lavoie
The Fragments by Toni Jordan
The Question Authority by Rachel Cline
The Plaza by Julie Satow
The Lonely Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya
Portugal by Cyril Pedrosa
To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari
Haben by Haben Girma
The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester
Educated by Tara Westover
State of the Union by Nick Hornby
Turbulence by David Szalay
Southernmost by Silas House
What a Body Remembers by Karen Stefano
The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar
Questions I Am Asked About the Holocaust by Hedi Fried
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok

Monday Mailbox

Look at this spectacular haul! Hoping to get some of these sooner rather than later. This past week's mailbox arrivals:

Peculiar Questions and Practical Answers by the New York Public Library came from St. Martin's Griffin.

I do enjoy books of trivia and this one should be fantastic.

The Nobodies by Liza Palmer came from Flatiron Books.

A tale of a woman who reinvents herself and in doing so might have found the thing that brings her back to the core of who she was. This sounds so good, right?

The Grammarians by Cathleen Schine came from Sarah Crichton Books.

Two language obsessed sisters who fight over the family heirloom dictionary? Oh my! I couldn't find a book more perfectly written for me.

This Is Happiness by Niall Williams came from Bloomsbury Publishing.

Williams writes beautifully so I'm really looking forward to reading this one about rain stopping in western Ireland, a small town, and a woman who arrives in the town to try to find her long lost love.

The Man That Got Away by Lynne Truss came from Bloomsbury Publishing.

I do love Truss' books so I am tickled to have the latest of the Constable Twitten mysteries.

The Girl Who Reads on the Metro by Christine Feret-Fleury came from Flatiron Books

I think I want to be the main character in this book! She meets a secondhand bookseller and his daughter and becomes a passeur for him, taking books out into the world to try and match them up with people. Sounds completely delightful, doesn't 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.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday

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

The Plus One by Sarah Archer.

The book is being released by G. P. Putnam's Sons on July 2, 2019.

The book's jacket copy says: When she couldn't find Mr. Right, she built him.

Dating is hard. Being dateless at your perfect sister's wedding is harder.

Meet Kelly. Twenty-nine, go-getter, a brilliant robotics engineer, and perpetually single. So when her younger sister's wedding looms and her attempts to find a date become increasingly cringeworthy, Kelly does the only logical thing: she builds her own boyfriend.

Ethan is perfect: gorgeous, attentive, and smart--all topped off by a mechanical heart endlessly devoted to her. Not to mention he's good with her mother. When she's with him, Kelly discovers a more confident, spontaneous version of herself--the person she'd always dreamed she could be. But as the struggle to keep Ethan's identity secret threatens to detonate her career, Kelly knows she has to kiss her perfect man good-bye.

There's just one problem: she's falling for him.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Review: The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney

When you see that Dan Mooney's novel, The Great Unexpected, is about two men in their late seventies living in a nursing home, you might think the great unexpected of the title is death but when you think about it, death is never really unexpected in a nursing home. In fact, they are called things like Heaven's Waiting Room, Old Folk's Home, Wrinkle Ranch, and Elder Shelter, all of which imply age and mortality. No, what the great unexpected refers to here is making a friend, a dear and close friend, and learning to really live at the end of life.

Joel is a cantankerous old coot who lives at Hilltop Manor, a nursing home/assisted living center. He moved in with his wife Lucey after they sold their home to help their daughter financially but Lucey's been gone now for three years. Joel's next roommate is a comatose man called Mr. Miller. Joel says he's the best roommate ever because he doesn't make much noise and lets Joel have control of the TV remote. When Miller also dies one night, Joel is thrown for a loop by how much he is bothered by this death. Then he is horrified anew when another resident is moved into his room. This new roommate, Frank Adams, a retired actor whose stage name was Frank de Selby, is everything that drives Joel batty. Frank is outgoing and charming and incredibly chatty. He is flamboyant and dapper, wearing a silk scarf every day. Joel is determined to dislike this interloper in his room but finds that as he gets to know the person underneath the de Selby mask, he rather likes Frank. The two men couldn't be more different and they love to wind each other up, but they become treasured friends. Frank confides in Joel about his terrible family and how alone he has been since they discovered that he's gay. Joel's reaction to Frank's homosexuality is not as open minded as it could be so to make up for his initial intolerance, he admits to Frank that he doesn't think his life is worth living anymore and that he wants to kill himself.  Sharing their secrets brings them closer together, cementing their friendship even as they bicker and hurt one another verbally.  And Frank helps Joel to learn to live even as together they consider different scenarios for Joel's suicide.  It's like they've known each other for decades instead of just a few weeks.

These two old geezers, repeated nursing home escapees, are delightful to read about. Frank is debonair and educated. He's generally a happy soul although he lets few people see the real person behind the charmer. Joel is a curmudgeon who feels trapped in the nursing home and as if everyone around him is against him. He resents being treated like a child, being stripped of control over his own life, and condescended to when he once owned his own garage, supported his family, and was a successful adult. His grumpy demeanor is completely understandable given his assessment of his life. Frank's personality is 180 degrees different and he tries to view everything cheerfully despite the ugliness and hatred he faced in his life. The mischievousness of the pair together is only enhanced by their differences and leads to moments of great humor. Mooney does a good job showing how we treat old people, how demeaning and unfair it is, and how much richer we'd be if we didn't fail our elderly population. The contrast between the two men is used to good effect, showing how our attitudes towards things matter. Life is so much more pleasant with a glass half full perspective. But he also doesn't minimize real reasons for depression and sadness. The ending of the novel is completely predictable but even that predictability doesn't take away from the tender and delightful tale of late in life friendship, understanding, and the importance of family connections all riven through with entertaining banter. Anyone who liked Grumpy Old Men, A Man Called Ove, or The Odd Couple will enjoy Joel and Frank's relationship and exploits and anyone with an aging relative (that would be all of us) should read this and consider how we treat the aging folks we love.

For more information about Dan Mooney and the book, check our his author website, like him on Facebook, follow him 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 Park Row Books for sending me a copy of this book to review.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Review: No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal

I am almost immediately attracted to books about the Indian American immigrant experience. I can't explain it; I just accept it. So when I first heard about Rakesh Satyal's novel No One Can Pronounce My Name, I knew I wanted to read it. And it very much is a novel about the Indian American immigrant experience but somehow it just didn't capture me; I set it down twice and only finished it on the third try with a concerted effort despite the fact that it should have been perfect for me.

Ranjana has spent years being the wife and mother she was expected to be but now that her only child, Prakash, is off to college, her life is sort of drifting. Her marriage has become background noise and she thinks her husband might be having an affair. To fill her free time she starts writing paranormal romances, attending a writer's group (even if she doesn't feel brave enough to participate to start with) and takes a job as a receptionist in a doctor's office. She is a reserved woman whose loneliness and need for direction is palpable. Harit is a middle aged man who works in a department store and lives with his mother. After work, he dresses up in his late sister's saris, pretending to be her for his nearly blind mother's benefit. She hasn't accepted his sister's death and he thinks to ease her by his deception. Like Ranjana, he too is crushingly lonely. It will take meeting each other and the outside influence of their respective co-workers for Ranjana and Harit to blossom into the people they want to be.

Satyal is a strong writer but the narrative here is slow and meandering. More and more secondary characters come into the story drawing it out even further. This highlights both Ranjana and Harit's distance from their community, both just hovering on the edges of the Indian American community in Cleveland, not fully integrated or accepted, but it also gives the story a lack of focus. This is very much a character study centered around issues of identity and belonging, friendship and the desire to be loved for who one is. There are some funny moments and some poignant moments as well but over all the story went off track a little too often, sprawling out in side plots that did nothing to drive the central story forward and the ending was an unrealistically happy and facile ending for the tone up to that point. The pacing was uneven as well, with the first half somberly dragging out as it established Ranjana and Harit's (and to a lesser extent Ranjana's son Prashant's) characters and the second half turning into a more comedic road trip kind of tale. The two halves were definitely an odd juxtaposition. Not a bad book, but not one that called to be picked back up once it was set down either.

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

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Review: The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore

"If once you have slept on an island / You'll never be quite the same" (Rachel Field, "If Once You Have Slept on an Island"). People head to islands for many reasons: a place to vacation, a chance to slow down and figure things out, a place to heal, a place to live. Islands are different places from the mainland somehow, even if people are just going about their lives, especially if the island is one dependent on summer tourism. Meg Mitchell Moore has captured some of the unique summer magic of an island and the people on it in her charming latest novel, The Islanders.

Anthony Puckett, the son of a famed thriller writer, is an author himself who had a much feted first novel. His second novel turned into a huge literary scandal. He started drinking and his wife kicked him out, withholding their young son from him. He's on Block Island house-sitting a friend's uncle's place while trying to come to terms with what he did to his life. Depressed and ashamed, he just wants to fade into the background and disappear. Joy is a year-round islander who owns and runs the island bakery. Joy Bombs is famous for its reinvented whoopie pies but this summer Joy is struggling both financially and personally. Her rent has increased and a French food truck that sells macarons is giving her stiff competition. Her 13 year old daughter is heading into the tough teen years, making Joy, a single parent, feel abandoned and as if she's failing as a mom.  That her ex-husband has gotten his life together with a second wife and cute younger daughter doesn't help her feelings of inadequacy.  Lu is a stay at home mom to two young boys. Her husband is a surgeon and she used to be a lawyer but she quit her career to stay home with their children. Their family has moved out to Block Island for the summer, compliments of her in-laws' (unasked for) generosity. Four years into this life of domesticity, Lu is unhappy and unfulfilled. She feels trapped. She's lost her sense of self but she's starting to secretly reclaim it, working on something that gives her great joy, something that has the potential to turn into a job that completes her, if only she can find the courage to tell her husband her needs and wants have changed. The summer proves one of great change for all three of them.

Each of the three main characters here are floundering, facing changes, and trying to see what the future holds for them. As their lives intertwine and their secrets and fears come out, they each find a way forward towards the life that will fulfill them. They learn more about themselves and learn to accept themselves, warts and all, as the summer unfolds. The novel rotates through each of the three main characters, opening their lives, decisions, and motivations up to the reader. If the characters start by seeming unconnected, they eventually come together in ways that are both expected and realistic. There are no big explosive secrets to reveal, just interesting personal dramas in characters living and making a life on the same island. Anthony, Joy, and Lu are not always sympathetic, making poor decisions, hiding things that shouldn't be hidden, but ultimately they are honest with themselves and about their needs. This is an engaging summer novel about people trying to get it right, trying to find themselves, trying to take the scary next step, personally and professionally. The ending comes a little quickly, like a sudden summer storm, and I for one, would have liked more time with these three flawed, human characters getting to that end but overall, the novel was a very satisfying way to spend a few hours.

For more information about Meg Mitchell Moors and the book, check our her author website, like her on Facebook, follow her on Instagram, look at the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and publisher Harper Collins for inspiring me to pull this off my shelf to review sooner rather than later.

Monday, June 10, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this week are:

The Summer Country by Lauren Willig
What a Body Remembers by Karen Stefano

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
A Moveable Feast edited by Don George
The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhannon
Breaking the Ocean by Annahid Dashtgard
Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery by John Gregory Brown
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
The Honey Bus by Meredith May
The Ventriloquists by E.R. Ramzipoor
The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore

Reviews posted this week:

The Summer Country by Lauren Willig

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

The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handle
Oh, Tama! by Mieko Kanai
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Exposure by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
The Archive of Alternate Endings by Lindsey Drager
Granny’s Got a Gun by Harper Lin
White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf
At Briarwood School for Girls by Michael Knight
The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel
All Ships Follow Me by Mieke Eerkens
Like This Afternoon Forever by Jaime Manrique
Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten
Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Dear Baba by Maryam Rafiee
Saint Everywhere by Mary Lea Carroll
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Tonic and Balm by Stephanie Allen
Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons
In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Slepikas
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
CinderGirl by Christina Meredith
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renee Lavoie
The Fragments by Toni Jordan
The Question Authority by Rachel Cline
The Plaza by Julie Satow
The Lonely Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya
Portugal by Cyril Pedrosa
To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari
Haben by Haben Girma
The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester
Educated by Tara Westover
State of the Union by Nick Hornby
Turbulence by David Szalay
Southernmost by Silas House
Oval by Elvia Wilk
What a Body Remembers by Karen Stefano

Monday Mailbox

Just one again this week. This past week's mailbox arrival:

Time After Time by Lisa Grunwald came from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

There's just something so romantic about a good time travel novel, isn't there? I can't wait to read this one about a railroad man from Queens and a socialite who seems out of step with the time who meet in Grand Central Terminal and then meet there again and again and again.

If you want to see the marvelous goodies in other people's mailboxes, make sure to visit Mailbox Monday and have fun seeing how we are all doing our part to keep the USPS and delivery services viable.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Review: The Summer Country by Lauren Willig

We might think we know many things from history but more has been forgotten or hidden than has ever been written down, giving us an incomplete knowledge of actual people and events of the past. This is true on a grand scale, but it can also be true on a much smaller, more personal scale as well. In Lauren Willig's newest novel, The Summer Country, the secrets of the past change history in a very personal way.

In 1854, Emily Dawson travels from England to Barbados with her cousin Adam and his wife so that she can look into the mysterious inheritance her grandfather has left her. Adam's father (and by extension Adam) inherited the family's lucrative shipping business while Emily, a favorite of her grandfather, has been left a previously unmentioned sugar plantation on Barbados. She cannot think why she's inherited Peverills, especially when she discovers that it's in ruins, having been burned in Bussa's Rebellion in 1816. Determining to learn all about the plantation, she ends up staying at Beckles, a neighboring plantation, run with an iron fist by the assertive and intimidating Mrs. Davenant, who clearly wants to make a match between her grandson, George, and Emily.

In 1812, Charles Davenant returns from England in the wake of his father's death to take up the reins of Peverills. His relationship with younger brother Robert, who was never offered the chance to go to England, has soured and is fraught with jealousy on Robert's part. In addition to the tension within his own house, Chalres is faced with tension without as well in the persons of Mary Anne Beckles, the owner of Beckles plantation, her domineering uncle Colonel Lyons, and the quiet, inscrutable enslaved maid Jenny who must tread carefully between her mistress and her natural father, the Colonel. Charles is idealistic, having returned to Barbados with progressive ideas about freeing slaves and cooperative farming but these ideas and his goal of changing the system from within aren't shared by everyone, including his brother and Mary Anne, and when it matters most to him that they come to fruition, he will fail.

The two different timelines alternate back and forth, revealing small hints and pieces of family history as Emily moves through her own daily goings-on, searching for answers, enlisting the help of George Davenant from Beckles and Dr. Braithwaite, the nephew of her late grandfather's black partner, Mr. Turner, as she digs into the question of Peverills and just why this ruined place was left to her. The characters in both timelines are quite well fleshed out, with the possible exception of Emily's grandfather, which is both surprising and in a way, necessary. Emily as a character is very forthright and forward thinking in ways that might seem anachronistic for her time except for the constant reiteration of her parents' pedigrees as reformers and humanists. The novel is almost Gothic in tone, with an undercurrent of creeping uneasiness pervading Beckles and Emily's interactions with Mrs. Davenant. This same whiff of menace weaves through Beckles in the 1812 story line as well. The revelation of the family secrets was slow and steady, just enough to feed speculation. The chapter bridges, the first sentence of a new chapter echoing the last sentence of the previous chapter is quite clever and helps to connect the two different timelines nicely. The epilogue, set between the two time periods of the narrative, was an interesting and unconventional way to end the book but it worked. It did take a bit of reading to get into the story and then the family secrets weren't terribly hard to figure out but the story was ultimately compelling. Readers who enjoy historical fiction, who are interested in exotic locations like Barbados, who like uncovering family secrets, and who thrill to a suggestion of the Gothic will be well rewarded here.

For more information about Lauren Willig and the book, check our her author website, like her on Facebook, follow her on Instagram or Twitter, look at the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours and publisher Harper Collins for sending me a copy of this books for review.

Waiting on Wednesday

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

The Orphan's Song by Lauren Kate.

The book is being released by G. P. Putnam's Sons on June 25, 2019.

The book's jacket copy says: A song brought them together.
A secret will tear them apart.

Venice, 1736. When fate brings Violetta and Mino together on the roof of the Hospital of the Incurables, they form a connection that will change their lives forever. Both are orphans at the Incurables, dreaming of escape. But when the resident Maestro notices Violetta's voice, she is selected for the Incurables' world famous coro, and must sign an oath never to sing beyond its church doors.

After a declaration of love ends in heartbreak, Mino flees the Incurables in search of his family. Known as the "city of masks," Venice is full of secrets, and Mino is certain one will lead to his long-lost mother. Without him, the walls close in on Violetta and she begins a dangerous and forbidden nightlife, hoping her voice can secure her freedom. But neither finds what they are looking for, until a haunting memory Violetta has suppressed since childhood leads them to a shocking confrontation.

Vibrant with the glamour and beauty of Venice at its zenith, The Orphan's Song takes us on a breathtaking journey of passion, heartbreak, and betrayal before it crescendos to an unforgettable ending, a celebration of the enduring nature and transformative power of love.

Monday, June 3, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this week are:

State of the Union by Nick Hornby
Turbulence by David Szalay
The Current by Tim Johnston
Southernmost by Silas House
Oval by Elvia Wilk

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
A Moveable Feast edited by Don George
The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhannon
Breaking the Ocean by Annahid Dashtgard
Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery by John Gregory Brown
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane
The Honey Bus by Meredith May
The Ventriloquists by E.R. Ramzipoor
What a Body Remembers by Karen Stefano

Reviews posted this week:

The Current by Tim Johnston

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

The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handle
Oh, Tama! by Mieko Kanai
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Exposure by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
The Archive of Alternate Endings by Lindsey Drager
Granny’s Got a Gun by Harper Lin
White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf
At Briarwood School for Girls by Michael Knight
The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel
All Ships Follow Me by Mieke Eerkens
Like This Afternoon Forever by Jaime Manrique
Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten
Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Dear Baba by Maryam Rafiee
Saint Everywhere by Mary Lea Carroll
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Tonic and Balm by Stephanie Allen
Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons
In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Slepikas
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
CinderGirl by Christina Meredith
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renee Lavoie
The Fragments by Toni Jordan
The Question Authority by Rachel Cline
The Plaza by Julie Satow
The Lonely Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya
Portugal by Cyril Pedrosa
To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari
Haben by Haben Girma
The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester
Educated by Tara Westover
State of the Union by Nick Hornby
Turbulence by David Szalay
Southernmost by Silas House
Oval by Elvia Wilk

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Review: The Current by Tim Johnston

I don't generally read literary suspense or thrillers but one of my favorite booksellers knows that I have a thing for books with water on the covers and pushed The Current on me based on that (and his enthusiasm for the novel, of course). More properly, this has ice on the cover (and I tend to gravitate to running water rather than solid water) but since it's in shades of blue (another weakness of mine), it totally counts for my cover catnip. That J. said it was a great read convinced me to overcome my usual cowardly feelings about the genre and give it a try. Luckily this was not the heart pounding, keep me up at night hiding from bad guys kind of suspense novel that some are. Johnston's newest novel is a tense, slow build of a story that will leave you horrified and angry at the myriad ways that justice has treated woman in the past and continues to treat them, even as it acknowledges important nuances and imperfections in the law and in public perception.

Audrey Sutter's father, a retired sheriff in Minnesota, is dying of cancer so she asks her friend Caroline for bus fare to go home to see him before it's too late. Instead, Caroline chooses to drive Audrey from their Southern college all the way north. In the middle of the night, just before they get to Minnesota, the girls stop for gas and Audrey is assaulted in the gas station bathroom. Caroline rescues her and they careen out of the lonely station back toward the highway but Caroline loses control of the car on ice and they come to a stop on the verge of a frozen river. Then headlights appear in the rear view and another car pushes them out onto the unstable ice and both girls end up in the freezing water. Audrey comes to in the hospital but Caroline drowns. This tragic death, and the slow investigation into the two boys who assaulted Audrey and their possible connection to the car that sent the girls into the river stirs up the memory of another girl who drowned in the same river ten years prior and whose murderer was never brought to justice.

These two terrible river plunges and drowning deaths ten years apart weave in and out of each other as the narrative moves forward. In a small town, the intermixed connections, close and loose of the people are reflected in the characters and their individual ties to each case. No one is left untouched by these crimes, not the innocent, not the guilty, and the grief and tragedy resonate through the town and the lives of the townspeople forever. Because of the multiple narrative focuses, the twining of the two investigations, and the interconnectedness of the characters, it can be confusing to the reader to try and figure out which year in time the story is in in any given chapter, making it a bit more muddled than is comfortable. For thriller fans, this is not so much a thriller as it is a heavily descriptive and intricately written, character driven story with an unsolved crime (possibly two) at its core. As the denouement approaches, the myriad sub plots, secrets, and unspoken, unacknowledged truths start to come together in a surprising pattern. Johnston has done a very good job laying out bits and pieces that lead the reader in one direction, before turning her in another equally plausible direction entirely until quite late in the novel. Readers who want to feel the penetrating chill of an icy river, the rising tension of a cerebral whodunit, and experience the suffering of those touched by senseless crime will find this a novel to sink into.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Waiting on Wednesday

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

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo.

The book is being released by Doubleday on June 25, 2019.

The book's jacket copy says: When Marilyn Connolly and David Sorenson fall in love in the 1970s, they are blithely ignorant of all that's to come. By 2016, their four radically different daughters are each in a state of unrest: Wendy, widowed young, soothes herself with booze and younger men; Violet, a litigator-turned-stay-at-home-mom, battles anxiety and self-doubt when the darkest part of her past resurfaces; Liza, a neurotic and newly tenured professor, finds herself pregnant with a baby she's not sure she wants by a man she's not sure she loves; and Grace, the dawdling youngest daughter, begins living a lie that no one in her family even suspects. Above it all, the daughters share the lingering fear that they will never find a love quite like their parents'.

As the novel moves through the tumultuous year following the arrival of Jonah Bendt--given up by one of the daughters in a closed adoption fifteen years before--we are shown the rich and varied tapestry of the Sorensons' past: years marred by adolescence, infidelity, and resentment, but also the transcendent moments of joy that make everything else worthwhile.

Spanning nearly half a century, and set against the quintessential American backdrop of Chicago and its prospering suburbs, Lombardo's debut explores the triumphs and burdens of love, the fraught tethers of parenthood and sisterhood, and the baffling mixture of affection, abhorrence, resistance, and submission we feel for those closest to us. In painting this luminous portrait of a family's becoming, Lombardo joins the ranks of writers such as Celeste Ng, Elizabeth Strout, and Jonathan Franzen as visionary chroniclers of our modern lives.

Monday, May 27, 2019

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

I am in the middle of a streak of picking up and putting down a lot of books. :-( This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this week are:

Waisted by Randy Susan Meyers
The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester
Educated by Tara Westover
The Desert Sky Before Us by Anne Valente

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

Smoke by Dan Vyleta
Coco Chanel by Lisa Chaney
The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
The Bottom of the Sky by Rodrigo Fresan
A Breath of Snow and Ashes by Diana Gabaldon
The Confessions of Young Nero by Margaret George
A Moveable Feast edited by Don George
The Atlas of Reds and Blues by Devi S. Laskar
Speaking of Summer by Kalisha Buckhannon
Breaking the Ocean by Annahid Dashtgard
The Current by Tim Johnston
Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery by John Gregory Brown
Searching for Sylvie Lee by Jean Kwok
Oval by Elvia Wilk
The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib
Ask Again, Yes by Mary Beth Keane

Reviews posted this week:

Waisted by Randy Susan Meyers
The Desert Sky Before Us by Anne Valente

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

The Magnetic Girl by Jessica Handle
Oh, Tama! by Mieko Kanai
The Red Address Book by Sofia Lundberg
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
Exposure by Jean-Philippe Blondel
Here I Am! by Pauline Holdstock
All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung
Miss Blaine's Prefect and the Golden Samovar by Olga Wojtas
Ways to Hide in Winter by Sarah St. Vincent
The Book of Delights by Ross Gay
The Archive of Alternate Endings by Lindsey Drager
Granny’s Got a Gun by Harper Lin
White Elephant by Julie Langsdorf
At Briarwood School for Girls by Michael Knight
The Optimistic Decade by Heather Abel
All Ships Follow Me by Mieke Eerkens
Like This Afternoon Forever by Jaime Manrique
Gravity Well by Melanie Joosten
Motherhood So White by Nefertiti Austin
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Dear Baba by Maryam Rafiee
Saint Everywhere by Mary Lea Carroll
All Systems Red by Martha Wells
Tonic and Balm by Stephanie Allen
Black Light by Kimberly King Parsons
In the Shadow of Wolves by Alvydas Slepikas
The Queen of Hearts by Kimmery Martin
CinderGirl by Christina Meredith
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
The Chelsea Girls by Fiona Davis
Autopsy of a Boring Wife by Marie-Renee Lavoie
The Fragments by Toni Jordan
The Question Authority by Rachel Cline
The Plaza by Julie Satow
The Lonely Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya
Portugal by Cyril Pedrosa
To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari
Haben by Haben Girma
The Paris Orphan by Natasha Lester
Educated by Tara Westover

Monday Mailbox

Just one again this week. This past week's mailbox arrival:

The Summer Country by Lauren Willig came from TLC Book Tours and William Morrow for a blog tour.

About the poor cousin, an English vicar's daughter, who inherits a ruined plantation in Barbados from her grandfather in 1854, this sounds like it will be completely lush and atmospheric and I can't wait!

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, May 26, 2019

Sunday Salon: My annual summer reading list

Since tomorrow marks the unofficial start of summer, it's time for me to put together my annual summer reading list again. Go ahead and weigh in if you've read any of these or if they are on your own summer reading list. And by all means, feel free to add to my list if I've missed a great one. I never get through the entire list and I do end up reading things that aren't on this original list so it's always interesting to see what the final product ends up looking like.

Southernmost by Silas House
The Summer Country by Lauren Willig
The Islanders by Meg Mitchell Moore
The Great Unexpected by Dan Mooney
Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
Vacationland by Sarah Stonich
The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah
The Accidentals by Minrose Gwin
A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park
The Chocolate Maker’s Wife by Karen Brooks
The Lost Daughter by Gill Paul
Death of a Rainmaker by Laurie Lowenstein
The Lost Flowers of Alice Hart by Holly Ringland
An Afterlife by Frances Bartkowski
Something Like Breathing by Angela Readman
Three Ways to Disappear by Katy Yocom
Tacoma Stories by Richard Wiley
Broken Wing by David Budbill
The Dishwasher by Stephane Larue
Man with a Seagull on His Head by Harriet Paige
In West Mills by De'Shawn Charles Winslow
The Rapture Index by Molly Reid
River People by Margaret Lukas
Retablos by Octavio Solis
Wait It Gets Worse by Lydia Slaby
Moon of the Crusted Snow by Waubgeshig Rice
No Good Asking by Fran Kimmel
Trolls by Stefan Spjut
Being Various edited by Lucy Caldwell
Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain
The Paper Wasp by Lauren Acampora
The Affairs of the Falcons by Melissa Rivero
The Peacock Summer by Hannah Richell
Friday Black by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah
Unfurled by Michelle Bailat-Jones
The Secret Wife of Aaron Burr by Susan Holloway Scott
Tomorrow’s Bread by Anna Jean Mayhew
The Abolitionist’s Daughter by Diane C. McPhail
The Guest Book by Sarah Blake
Brown White Black by Nishta J. Mehra
Walking to the End of the World by Beth Jusino
Zuleikha by Guzel Yakhina
The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner
Love You Hard by Abby Maslin
The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo
The Last Ocean by Nicci Gerrard
Lights All Night Long by Lydia Fitzpatrick
Sugar Land by Tammy Lynne Stoner
We Hope for Better Things by Erin Bartels
The Lake on Fire by Rosellen Brown
Questions I Am Asked About the Holocaust by Hedi Fried
Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner
The Tubman Command by Elizabeth Cobb
Flowers Over the Inferno by Ilaria Tuti
The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis
The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michelle Richardson
Bedside Manners by Heather Frimmer
Mother India by Tova Reich
Laurentian Divide by Sarah Stonich
A Catalogue of Small Pains by Meghan L. Dowling
A Dream and a Chisel by Angela Gregory and Nancy L. Penrose
Nima by Adam Popescu
The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall
The Ticking Heart by Andrew Kaufman
Congratulations! Who Are You Again by Harrison Scott Key
The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr
All Manner of Things by Susie Finkbeiner

And of course, I'd like to finish all the books I have started and set aside but I'll consider them bonuses since I have so many others on the list above that I really do need to read.

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