Tuesday, September 26, 2023

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 Future Future by
Adam Thirlwell.
The book is being released by FSG on October 17, 2023.

The book's jacket copy says: A wild story of female friendship, language, and power, from France to colonial America to the moon, from 1775 to this very moment: a historical novel like no other.

It's the eighteenth century, and Celine is in trouble. Her husband is mostly absent. Her parents are elsewhere. And meanwhile men are inventing stories about her--about her aff airs, her sexuality, her orgies and addictions. All these stories are lies, but the public loves them and spreads them like a virus. Celine can only watch as her name becomes a symbol for everything rotten in society.

This is a world of decadence and saturation, of lavish parties and private salons, of tulle and satin and sex and violence. It's also one ruled by men--high on colonial genocide, natural destruction, crimes against women, and, above all, language. To survive, Celine and her friends must band together in search of justice, truth, and beauty.

Fantastical, funny, and blindingly bright, Adam Thirlwell's The Future Future follows one woman on an urgently contemporary quest to clear her name and change the world.

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

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 Woman at the Wheel by
Penny Haw.
The book is being released by Sourcebooks Landmark on October 3, 2023.

The book's jacket copy says: Inspiring historical fiction based on the real life of Bertha Benz, whose husband built the first prototype automobile, which eventually evolved into the Mercedes-Benz marque.

"Unfortunately, only a girl again."

From a young age, C├Ącilie Bertha Ringer is fascinated by her father's work as a master builder in Pforzheim, Germany. But those five words, which he wrote next to her name in the family Bible, haunt Bertha.

Years later, Bertha meets Carl Benz and falls in love--with him and his extraordinary dream of building a horseless carriage. Bertha has such faith in him that she invests her dowry in his plans, a dicey move since they alone believe in the machine. When Carl's partners threaten to withdraw their support, he's ready to cut ties. Bertha knows the decision would ruin everything. Ignoring the cynics, she takes matters into her own hands, secretly planning a scheme that will either hasten the family's passage to absolute derision or prove their genius. What Bertha doesn't know is that Carl is on the cusp of making a deal with their nemesis. She's not only risking her marriage and their life's work, but is also up against the patriarchy, Carl's own self-doubt, and the clock.

Like so many other women, Bertha lived largely in her husband's shadow, but her contributions are now celebrated in this inspiring story of perseverance, resilience, and love.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Review: Kiss Me in the Coral Lounge by Helen Ellis

Helen Ellis is pretty reliable for the reader looking for light and oftentimes relatable humor. She is the person who you'd like to have as a friend because her filter is a little askew but not malicious. I've read a collection of her quite entertaining, definitely offbeat short stories (American Housewife) and several of her generally enjoyable essay collections (Southern Lady Code is my pick for the best) so I was looking forward to Kiss Me in the Coral Lounge: Intimate Confessions from a Happy Marriage.

These short essays, many of which are a result of settling into her NYC apartment with Lex, her husband of twenty years, during the pandemic, are mildly humorous but not quite as laugh out loud funny as I'd hoped, maybe because I'm the long time inhabitant of a similar marriage. Ellis is quite candid about her life with her husband and pokes fun at him and, more often, at herself throughout the collection. Her gentle hyperbole makes for heartwarming and appealing storytelling. She's quirky, finding humor in the mundane, and looking at things just a bit slant, writing about her husband's (and her friends' husbands) snoring and all the failed solutions for it, learning to tend plants and turning their apartment into a jungle during the pandemic, her particular and exacting instructions for their cat sitter, using stickers--which she adores--to commemorate her sex life with her husband, her views on death, and more.

There is much to enjoy here and it is a quick read but ultimately it didn't make me laugh out loud and I forgot a lot of it as soon as I closed the book. To be fair, this might be because I come from a family filled with our own brand of crazy (for instance, my youngest once told me that when he was home alone every sound was a serial killer, and his ever empathetic sister questioned why it had to be a serial killer since they only had to kill him, we claim gifts and other items of interest belonging to others by asking if we can have whatever it is on that person's "last day," and like Ellis, my parents have debated who can be trusted to be their "plug-puller" at the end of life--spoiler, it's not my sister or me but our husbands, which probably tells you more than you need to know about us, and my father has requested that his ashes be spread over the ever malfunctioning septic field because he's spent so much time up to his knees in it in life that he might as well spend eternity there too) so Ellis and her friends and family's brand of crazy is less entertaining kookiness and more just everyday, normal daily life to me. Most people think she and this book are outrageously funny. Me? I think she's moderately amusing in this collection and wonder (not really) if we're distant branches on the same, not right family tree. That said, most readers will get a lot of chuckles out of this light and easy read.

Wednesday, September 6, 2023

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.

All You Have to Do Is Call by
Kerri Maher.
The book is being released by Berkley Books on September 19, 2023.

The book's jacket copy says: Chicago, early 1970s Who does a woman call when she needs help? Jane.

The best-known secret in the city, Jane is an underground women's health organization composed entirely of women helping women, empowering them to live lives free from the expectations of society by offering reproductive counseling and safe, illegal abortions. Veronica, Jane's founder, prides herself on the services she has provided to thousands of women, yet the price of others' freedom is that she leads a double life. When she's not at Jane, Veronica plays the role of a conventional housewife--which becomes even more difficult during her own high-risk pregnancy.

Two more women in Veronica's neighborhood are grappling with similar disconnects. Margaret, a young professor at the University of Chicago, secretly volunteers at Jane as she falls in love with a man whose attitude toward his ex-wife increasingly disturbs her. Patty, who's long been content as a devoted wife and mother, has begun to sense that something essential is missing from her life. When her runaway younger sister Eliza shows up unexpectedly, Patty is forced to come to terms with what it really means to love and support a sister.

In this historic moment when the personal was nothing if not political, when television, movies, and commercials told women they'd "come a long way, baby," Veronica, Margaret, and Patty must make choices that will change the course of their lives forever.

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