Tuesday, June 28, 2022

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.

Acts of Violet by Margarita Montimore

The book is being released by Flatiron Books on July 5, 2022.

The book's jacket copy says: From Margarita Montimore, the author of GMA Book Club pick and national bestseller Oona Out of Order, Acts of Violet is a dazzling and twisty new novel about a famous magician who disappears, leaving her sister to figure out what really happened.

Nearly a decade ago, iconic magician Violet Volk performed her greatest trick yet: vanishing mid-act. Though she hasn’t been seen since, her hold on the public hasn’t wavered. While Violet sought out the spotlight, her sister Sasha, ever the responsible one, took over their mother’s salon and built a quiet life for her daughter, Quinn. But Sasha can never seem to escape her sister’s orbit or her memories of their unresolved, tumultuous relationship. Then there’s Cameron Frank, determined to finally get his big break hosting a podcast devoted to all things Violet—though keeping his job hinges on an exclusive interview with Sasha, the last person who wants to talk to him.

As the ten-year anniversary approaches, the podcast picks up steam, and Cameron’s pursuit of Sasha becomes increasingly intrusive. He isn’t the only one wondering what secrets she might be keeping: Quinn, loyal to the aunt she always idolized, is doing her own investigating. Meanwhile, Sasha begins to experience an unsettling series of sleepwalking episodes and coincidences, which all lead back to Violet. Pushed to her emotional limits, Sasha must finally confront the most painful truths about her sister, and herself, even at the risk of losing everything.

Alternating between Sasha’s narration and Cameron’s podcast transcripts, interspersed with documents that offer a tantalizing peek at Violet herself, Acts of Violet is an utterly original, propulsive story of fame, deception, and forgiveness that will make you believe in magic.

Monday, June 27, 2022

Review: Death and Croissants by Ian Moore

Sometimes you need to read a book that will make you chuckle and leave you with a smile on your face. I'm not even sure where I came across Ian Moore's Death and Croissants, the first in his Follet Valley mystery series, but I am glad I did for the light-hearted escapism that this caper in light, cozy mystery form provided me.

Richard Ainsworth is a middle aged Englishman who runs a bed and breakfast in the French countryside. He is a former film historian and sees much of his life through the lens of his favorite films. Not that his life is nearly that interesting. He is eminently forgettable and his fondest wish is to live a quiet life, blending in with the wallpaper. This becomes an unfortunate desire when one of his guests disappears, leaving behind nothing beyond smashed glasses and a bloody handprint on that wallpaper. Richard would prefer to ignore this turn-up but another of his guests, the very attractive Valérie D'Orçay, convinces him to investigate the disappearance and possible murder. What follows is not exactly madcap but it has a similar feel to it and Richard hasn't felt so alive since his estranged wife left him. Richard is very much the bumbling sidekick to Valérie's intrepid investigator but his offhand and unthinking musings do inspire her to work towards solving the mystery.

The cast of characters here is truly bananas: middle aged swingers, Mafia hitmen, identical twins who hate each other, a dog in a purse, 3 hens named for famous sirens of the silver screen, an ineffective French policeman, a terrifying French cleaning lady, and more. Moore has populated his giggle inducing mystery with tongue in cheek clichés and outlandish characters but he gets away with all of it. It is pure entertainment to watch Richard try to juggle his not exactly ex wife, the manipulative and secretive but kindly femme fatale, and his outraged adult daughter even as he tries to take over the direction of his own life. I thoroughly enjoyed this humorous and charmingly quirky romp, even though I sometimes felt as lost as Richard was. This is the perfect book to read when you want a lighthearted book to carry you along on a lively adventure.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

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.

In Her Boots by K J Dell'Antonia

The book is being released by G. P. Putnam's Sons on July 5, 2022.

The book's jacket copy says: From the New York Times bestselling author of The Chicken Sisters comes a delightfully entertaining story about a ruse that goes awry and a chaotic homecoming that proves that confronting your past can sometimes set you free.

Sometimes you have to go big to go home.

Rhett Gallagher’s adventurous life is imploding. Just as she turns the big 4-0, her long-term relationship collapses and her gran’s death draws her back to the family farm. The only silver lining is that Rhett’s inspirational book, The Modern Pioneer Girl’s Guide to Life—written under a pseudonym—has become a wild success, so much so that when her big publicity moment comes, self-doubting Rhett panics and persuades her best friend, Jasmine, to step into the limelight in her stead.

But their prank turns into something more when the controlling mother Rhett hasn’t seen in two decades announces her intent to sell the farm Rhett loves and expected to make her own. To save her inheritance—and her identity—Rhett must concoct a scheme that will protect her home and finally prove to her mother, and to herself, that she can stand on her own two feet.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

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.

A Shoe Story by Jane L. Rosen

The book is being released by Berkley on June 28, 2022.

The book's jacket copy says: A young woman has one month and a closetful of shoes to discover the future she thought she'd lost in this captivating new novel from the author of Eliza Starts a Rumor and Nine Women, One Dress.

Esme Nash is eager to leave her small town and begin her carefully planned post-grad life: a move to New York City, an apartment with her loving college boyfriend, and a fancy job at an art gallery. But when tragedy strikes, instead of heading to Manhattan, she returns home to care for her ailing father, leaving every bit of her dream behind.

Seven trying years later, Esme is offered a dog-sitting job in Greenwich Village by a mysterious stranger, giving her access to all of her long-buried hopes and dreams—as well as to an epic collection of designer shoes. Esme jumps at a second chance to step into the future she's sure was meant to be hers.

As she retraces her steps, one pair of borrowed shoes at a time, making new friends and reconnecting with her old love, Esme tries on versions of herself she didn’t know existed. But the hazy August days and warm summer nights pass too quickly, and Esme must decide how much of the life she imagined still fits, and what—and who—is on the road ahead of her.

Saturday, June 4, 2022

Review: Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan

Sometimes the smallest books pack the biggest wallop. Claire Keegan's brief novella Small Things Like These might be tiny but it has no less impact for that thanks to Keegan's amazing, intentional use of language and the heartfelt, devastating plot.

In a small Irish town in 1985, where the economic devastation is great, Bill Furlong delivers coal, timber, and peat to customers trying desperately to weather both the economy and a bitterly cold winter. The illegitimate son of a young maid whose kindly employer kept her on during and after her pregnancy and then helped young Bill after his mother's early death, Bill is married with five daughters. He is a generous and compassionate man, helping his struggling neighbors out as much as he can. He reflects on his own life and how others made a difference for him, wondering what it has all meant. Near to Christmas, Bill is delivering to the local convent when he comes across a young woman locked in the freezing cold coal shed, a surprising and disturbing discovery that will weigh on this goodhearted, world weary man.

Reading this deceptively simple novella feels like walking through a snowstorm, fat flakes coming down all around muffling and muting the rest of the world. It was simultaneously gorgeous because of the writing and an appalling look at the head in the sand complicity of the town, indeed of Bill's own wife, in ignoring the horrible truth of the goings on at the convent's so called training school, in reality a Magdalen laundry. Keegan's tale is a thoughtful and reflective, slightly melancholic morality story devastating in its restraint, quiet and unadorned and skillful. And it will stay with the reader long after the last page is turned.

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