Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme is 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.

Perfectly Undone by Jamie Raintree.

The book is being released by Graydon House on October 3, 2017.

Amazon says this about the book: A stirring debut rife with intoxicating family secrets and dazzling insights into our most basic desires, Perfectly Undone offers an intimate, uncensored exploration of forgiveness and fidelity, in all its forms, as a young doctor struggles with her sister's death—and the role she played in it—while her own picture-perfect relationship and promising career unravel around her.

Yes is such a little word…

Dr. Dylan Michels has worked hard for a perfect life, so when her longtime boyfriend, Cooper, gets down on one knee, it should be the most perfect moment of all. Then why does she say no?

For too many years, Dylan's been living for her sister, who never got the chance to grow up. But her attempt to be the perfect daughter, perfect partner and perfect doctor hasn't been enough to silence the haunting guilt Dylan feels over her sister's death—and the role no one knows she played in it.

Now Dylan must face her past if she and Cooper stand a chance at a future together. But when Cooper makes a startling confession of his own, can Dylan find the courage to define her own happiness before her life becomes perfectly undone?

Set among the breezy days of a sultry Portland summer, Perfectly Undone is a deeply moving novel of family secrets, forgiveness and finding yourself in the most surprising of places.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Review: The Way to London by Alix Rickloff

Our family and our experiences shape us into the people we are. If we are loved, we are likely to become loving ourselves. And this is, of course, the life we all deserve and that we wish for others. But many people aren't brought up in love, instead they are brought up in pitiable or hurtful circumstances. This too shapes the people they become. Suffer neglect or disdain and we might assume that is our due and fade into the background or we might act out to force attention onto ourselves. Certainly we'd have trouble developing into a person who both gives and receives love. But it doesn't have to be this way. Some rare and strong people can break out of the emotional void in which they have been raised and learn to care for others. Alix Rickloff's newest novel, The Way to London, is a story of one such rare character as she bumps haltingly towards a kinder, more loving and open existence.

Lucy Stanhope is a pampered, spoiled brat. She's shallow and completely disaffected by anything that doesn't touch her personally. Yes, she's rather odious and delights in causing scandals but she's this way in large part because of the lack of love in her upbringing. She lives with her glamorous, titled mother, who refuses to be called mother by her daughter, and her sleazy but wealthy stepfather in Singapore. When she is caught carrying on an affair with the heir to a rich local family, she is banished from Singapore, sent back to England to live with an aunt she doesn't even know. On the way there, the ship she is on is torpedoed and eventually it turns out that Lucy is among the last to leave Singapore in advance of the Japanese invasion during WWII. When she reaches England, she is unhappy and continues with her scandalous attention seeking, larking about as if there wasn't a deadly war on. Uncharacteristically she befriends a young evacuee boy, Bill Smedley, and agrees to take him back to London from Cornwall to search for his mam.  Along the way, they face disappointment and diversions, misunderstandings and close calls, and Lucy is forced to trust and rely on steady, nice, good guy Michael McKeegan, a soldier invalided out of the army whom she first met in Singapore and whom she can't quite believe is for real. As Lucy tries to find her own sense of belonging and home, she struggles with the promise she made to Bill, especially when fulfilling that promise might conflict with her own possibly selfish wants and desires.

Lucy's character to start is defensive, brittle, brash, and determined. She is completely closed off to others emotionally, taking what she wants without getting her heart involved, never risking real hurt. Her behaviour may be shocking and undesirable but it shields an aching heart and when she opens up just a little to the sneaky, endearing rapscallion that is Bill, her whole being starts to change. Her experiences as the two of them, sometimes joined by Michael, journey toward London help to crystallize her character, giving her an insight into her own heart that she never before wanted to examine. Bill is a delightful, cheeky child and his presence as Lucy's side kick lightens the book up considerably. Their interactions are often humorous and sweet. Michael is almost too good to be true as a character and he selflessly plays Lucy's knight in shining armor more than once. The plot clips along at a good pace and the reader is often uncertain whether old Lucy (selfish and out for herself) or evolving Lucy (learning to honor commitments and not playing fast and loose with others) is going to choose what she does next. The historical details are well researched and presented and the scrapes that Lucy and Bill get into on the way to London and once there are completely believable and quite entertaining. The love story gets a little bit of a short shrift but Lucy is learning to love in more ways than just a traditional love story so it works. With so many WWII novels recently, this one stands out as different: a maturing and personal discovery set during wartime heightened and highlighted by the circumstances but still very internal for all that. Historical fiction fans who can get past an initially not altogether pleasant main character will enjoy this novel quite a bit.

For more information about Alix Rickloff and the book, check out her website, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter or Pinterest. Check out the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

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

Monday, September 18, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

Two weeks at once because I just wasn't on top of things what with my parents evacuating to my house to escape Irma and then finding yet *another* thing falling apart about my house. ::sigh:: This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past week are:

Song of Two Worlds by Alan Lightman
The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Old Herbaceous by Reginald Arkell
The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper
The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
A Season of Ruin by Anna Bradley
Incontinent on the Continent by Jane Christmas

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

A Well-Made Bed by Abby Frucht and Laurie Alberts
The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer
The Lake House by Kate Morton
Shelter by Jung Yun
The Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan
A Manual For Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells
Country of Red Azaleas by Domnica Radulescu
A Hard and Heavy Thing by Matthew J. Hefti
Paint Your Wife by Lloyd Jones
The Company They Kept edited by Robert B. Silvers and Barbara Epstein
No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal
Lily and the Octopus by Stephen Rowley
Thousand-Miler by Melanie Radzicki McManus
Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh
After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara
Metis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
Smoke by Dan Vyleta

Reviews posted this week:

The Long Run by Catriona Menzies-Pike

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

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
To Love the Coming End by Leanne Dunic
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault
A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe
City Mouse by Stacey Lender
Cutting Back by Leslie Buck
Siracusa by Delia Ephron
The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
A Narrow Bridge by J.J. Gersher
The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson
The Heart of Henry Quantum by Pepper Harding
The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler
Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
How to Survive a Summer by Nick White
Bramton Wick by Elizabeth Fair
The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman
Meet Me in the In-Between by Bella Pollen
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
The Island of Books by Dominique Fortier
Lights On, Rats Out by Cree LeFavour
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
Him, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar
What Are the Blind Men Dreaming? by Noemi Jaffee
Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
The Talker by Mary Sojourner
When the Sky Fell Apart by Caroline Lea
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
'Round Midnight by Laura McBride
The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn
Last Things by Marissa Moss
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
Civilianized by Michael Anthony
The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies
Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki
In the Woods of Memory by Shun Medoruma
Before the Wind by Jim Lynch
Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent
Inhabited by Charlie Quimby
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
One Good Mama Bone by Bren McClain
The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton
You and I and Someone Else by Anna Schachner
Meantime by Katharine Noel
The Portrait by Antoine Laurain
So Much Blue by Perceval Everett
The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel Davis Huber
Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell
This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell
How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
Between Them by Richard Ford
Kinship of Clover by Ellen Meeropol
The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman
The Clay Girl by Heather Tucker
Morningstar by Ann Hood
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran
Song of Two Worlds by Alan Lightman
The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Old Herbaceous by Reginald Arkell
The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper
The Original Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig
A Season of Ruin by Anna Bradley
Incontinent on the Continent by Jane Christmas

Monday Mailbox

This past two week's mailbox arrivals:

Caroline by Sarah Miller came from William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for a blog tour.

Little House on the Prairie from Ma Ingalls' perspective? Oh yes, I'll happily read that!

The Other Alcott by Elise Hooper came from William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for a blog tour.

Amy March in Little Women was kind of a selfish brat so I'm curious to see what May Alcott, the inspiration for the character her sister created, was like, at least in this fictionalized version of her life.

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb came from William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for a blog tour.

A romantic epistolary novel that moves between WWI and 1968 in Paris, this looks amazing!

Christmas at Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan came from William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for a blog tour.

I'm extremely excited to go back to Mount Polbearne and back to Polly and Huckle, especially during the Christmas season.

The Way to London by Alix Rickloff came from William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for a blog tour.

Another WWII novel but this one takes a bit of a different take as it focuses on a young woman who was the last person safely out of Singapore and sent to England, a young evacuee searching for his mother, and an invalided soldier from Singapore. This looks wonderful.

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.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Review: The Long Run by Catriona Menzies-Pike

Have you ever driven down the street when it's raining or snowing or it's blistering hot and you see someone out running? Unless you are a runner yourself, you probably write that person off as completely crazy. You might even write off as crazy a runner out on a perfectly temperate day if you aren't a runner yourself. So why exactly do people run? Why do women in particular run? Catriona Menzie-Pike looks at the larger culture of women running through history as well as how she herself came to running to overcome a decade of grief. Her thoughtful and intelligent memoir, The Long Run, is a personal, political, and social history of running.

When Catriona Menzies-Pike was just twenty years old and starting her adult life, her parents were killed in a plane crash. Ten years after that, she started running. If that makes the two sound unconnected, it shouldn't. Running became a good and healthy way for her to find her path through the grief that still sat heavily on her and it also became a way for her to learn about herself and the women who ran before her. Menzies-Pike calls herself a complacent runner rather than a competitive one but even a complacent runner is transformed by the freedom of movement. She stumbled into running a half marathon and found herself while out on the roads and paths she trod. She ran into any number of road blocks on her way to her many races but through it all, she persevered. Woven in with her own personal journey, is the history of the marathon and specifically women's place in that history. She looks at the advances of women in running as a mirror of the growth in feminism, changing social perceptions of women's abilities and place in the world, and the ongoing long run towards equality. The narrative can veer off on tangents and some chapters feel more like essays than through narrative so this is definitely not a traditional memoir but over all it works. Runners, those interested in running history, and feminists will find much to enjoy here. And maybe it will inspire some non-runners to lace up running shoes for the first time and to stride off into the rich history of women running.

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme is 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.

From Scratch by Gail Anderson-Dargatz.

The book is being released by Orca Book Publishers on September 26, 2017.

Amazon says this about the book: Cookie is about to lose her job at the local bakery. She dreams of owning her own bakery but doesn't think she has the skills or money to do it. Most of all, she doesn't have the self-confidence. When she takes a course at the local college, she finds she has much more going for her than she imagined. With the help of her community, she figures out how to make sure no one has to go without her famous doily cookies for long!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme is 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.

The Good People by Hannah Kent.

The book is being released by Little, Brown and Co. on September 19, 2017.

Amazon says this about the book: Based on true events in nineteenth century Ireland, Hannah Kent's startling new novel tells the story of three women, drawn together to rescue child from a superstitious community. Nora, bereft after the death of her husband, finds herself alone and caring for her grandson Micheál, who can neither speak nor walk. A handmaid, Mary, arrives to help Nóra just as rumours begin to spread that Micheál is a changeling child who is bringing bad luck to the valley. Determined to banish evil, Nora and Mary enlist the help of Nance, an elderly wanderer who understands the magic of the old ways.

Set in a lost world bound by its own laws, THE GOOD PEOPLE is Hannah Kent's startling new novel about absolute belief and devoted loveTerrifying, thrilling and moving in equal measure, this follow-up to Burial Rites shows an author at the height of her powers.

Monday, September 4, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past week are:

The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes by David Handler
Morningstar by Ann Hood
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

A Well-Made Bed by Abby Frucht and Laurie Alberts
The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer
The Lake House by Kate Morton
Shelter by Jung Yun
The Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan
A Manual For Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells
Country of Red Azaleas by Domnica Radulescu
A Hard and Heavy Thing by Matthew J. Hefti
Paint Your Wife by Lloyd Jones
The Company They Kept edited by Robert B. Silvers and Barbara Epstein
No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal
Lily and the Octopus by Stephen Rowley
Thousand-Miler by Melanie Radzicki McManus
Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh
After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara
Metis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter
The Heart's Invisible Furies by John Boyne
Smoke by Dan Vyleta

Reviews posted this week:

The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes by David Handler

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

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
To Love the Coming End by Leanne Dunic
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault
A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe
City Mouse by Stacey Lender
Cutting Back by Leslie Buck
Siracusa by Delia Ephron
The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
A Narrow Bridge by J.J. Gersher
The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson
The Heart of Henry Quantum by Pepper Harding
The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler
Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
How to Survive a Summer by Nick White
Bramton Wick by Elizabeth Fair
The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman
Meet Me in the In-Between by Bella Pollen
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
The Island of Books by Dominique Fortier
Lights On, Rats Out by Cree LeFavour
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
Him, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar
What Are the Blind Men Dreaming? by Noemi Jaffee
Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
The Talker by Mary Sojourner
When the Sky Fell Apart by Caroline Lea
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
'Round Midnight by Laura McBride
The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn
Last Things by Marissa Moss
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
Civilianized by Michael Anthony
The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies
Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki
In the Woods of Memory by Shun Medoruma
Before the Wind by Jim Lynch
Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent
Inhabited by Charlie Quimby
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
One Good Mama Bone by Bren McClain
The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton
The Long Run by Catriona Menzies-Pike
You and I and Someone Else by Anna Schachner
Meantime by Katharine Noel
The Portrait by Antoine Laurain
So Much Blue by Perceval Everett
Good Karma by Christina Kelly
The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel Davis Huber
Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell
This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell
How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
Between Them by Richard Ford
Kinship of Clover by Ellen Meeropol
The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman
The Clay Girl by Heather Tucker
Morningstar by Ann Hood
Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran

Monday Mailbox

This past week's mailbox arrivals:

The Confectioner's Tale by Laura Madeleine came from Thomas Dunne Books.

Is there any doubt that I can't resist a novel about a love affair at a Paris patisserie and the granddaughter of one of the lovers uncovering the tale many years later? There shouldn't be. Because I can't. ;-)

Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell came from St. Martin's Griffin.

As if I need another reason to be interested in this one besides the luscious hot chocolate on the cover, this is the tale of a mother trying to fulfill her terminal little girl's wish list, tops on which is a specific dad. ::swoon::

Mothers of Sparta by Dawn Davies came from Flatiron Books.

A fiercely honest book about motherhood by a mother who has never been interested in comparing her mothering with others, this looks like a fantastic read for those of us who are mothers but without the socially sanctioned (and wholly created) maternal gene we read about so frequently anymore.

I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice came from Bloomsbury.

I can't wait to read this memoir of a woman who has surrounded herself with her tribe, a tribe that supports and nourishes her given her husband's ALS diagnosis, that swims with her in the freezing cold Irish Sea, and that helps her live this life.

The Lost Season of Love and Snow by Jennifer Laam came from St. Martin's Griffin.

The lives of famous author's wives fascinate me so I am definitely looking forward to this fictionalization of Natalya Goncharova Pushkin's life, the wife whose honor Pushkin died defending.

The Italian Party by Christina Lynch came from St. Martin's Press.

An American couple in Italy in the 1950s keeping secrets from each other? Oh, please don't fro me in that briar patch!!!

Points North by Howard Frank Mosher came from St. Martin's Press.

A collection of stories set in the Northeast Kingdom, I enjoy tales about these sorts of normal people I don't often run across in my own suburban daily life.

The Little French Guesthouse by Helen Pollard came from me to me.

Can't you tell this is a foreign publication just by the cover? And that it's about a young woman who goes on holiday with her boyfriend only to have him run off with the guesthouse owner's wife makes it just that much more delectable.

Flying by the Seat of My Knickers by Eliza Watson came from me to me.

Any book with knickers in the title must be good and hilarious, right? I am betting so with this first in a series about a woman who is trying to prove herself at her new job in Dublin.

Surfing with Sartre by Aaron James came from Doubleday as an Instagram contest win.

Surfing and philosophy seem like unlikely bedfellows so I am curious to see how the author pulls them together. And as a side note, this has the perfect cover for this content.

Pieces of Happiness by Anne Ostby came from Doubleday as an Instagram contest win.

About a group of high school friends in their sixties reuniting to live at one of the friends' cocoa farm in Fiji, what's not to love about this premise? I mean, aside from the fact that I can't possibly ever be invited to do the same thing since I don't have an old high school friend with a cocoa farm in Fiji.

The Goddesses by Swan Huntley came from Doubleday as an Instagram contest win.

A novel about manipulation, friendship, and marriage set in the lushness of Kona, Hawaii? Yep, right up my alley.

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.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Review: The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes by David Handler

Isn't it funny how over time your tastes change? There are foods I never liked as a child that I love now and some I used to like and am less impressed with now. There are colors I like better than I used to, clothing styles I wouldn't have touched with a ten foot pole that I'll now wear. And of course, my reading tastes have evolved too. I started out reading everything. Then I went through a stage where if it wasn't literature (and please pronounce that as lit-ruh-chure and loft your nose into the air as you say it), I wasn't interested. I was a serious reader, you see. Then I went through a phase where I read romances like candy, devouring their guaranteed happily ever afters. Now I like to think I am a much more balanced reader. I want something that is well-written. I like it to be thoughtful but it doesn't always have to be. Most of all, though, I want a cracking good story. That can mean heavy or light, funny or not. But it means a book that keeps me turning the pages, wanting to live in its world (although for the sad or heavy books, maybe not as one of the characters!). And I am finding these across genres. They happen in literature. They happen in romances. They happen in commercial fiction. To my surprise (and perhaps down to my ever changing taste), they happen in mysteries. David Handler's newest mystery, The Girl With the Kaleidoscope Eyes is one such book. After a twenty year hiatus from his Stewart Hoag series, Handler is back with another adventure for Hoagy and his basset hound sidekick Lulu.

Hoagy was once the darling of the literary world, publishing a novel that promised an amazing career. He married a famous actress but when he was unable to write a second novel, he crashed and burned spectacularly. Now Hoagy's divorced, although still close with his ex-wife, and his career as a ghost writer is pretty successful.  But he's still not writing his own novel. His agent offers him a big, developing story as his next ghost project and although there are signs that Hoagy should turn it down, he agrees to it.

Richard Aintree was a famous author who disappeared after his wife committed suicide. He left behind his two daughters, one of whom, Monette, has turned herself into a wildly successful lifestyle brand, married a popular actor from whom she is now separated, and has two teenage children. The other, Reggie, was once a poet of some re-known herself as well as being an ex of Hoagy's, the one to whom he dedicated his novel, his first love. The sisters have been estranged for two decades, ever since their father disappeared. It appears though, that Richard is preparing to surface from his long-time self-imposed anonymity, writing first to Monette and then to Reggie.  The literary establishment wants Hoagy to document this reappearance in a book. Or the whole thing could be a hoax for a host of reasons, perpetrated by a host of different people. Either way, Hoagy and his four legged sidekick Lulu fly out to Monette's house in LA and get completely embroiled in the sensational tabloid mess going on in Hollywood. Monette's husband has apparently gotten his nineteen year old co-star pregnant and it's caused a major media feeding frenzy. In the midst of this, Hoagy's trying to figure out the legitimacy of the letters to the Aintree daughters but his assignment gets completely overshadowed when there's a murder and then even more bodies start to pile up. People are clearly lying about what truly happened and Hoagy, assisted by Lulu, just wants to uncover the truth.

Although this is the ninth in the series, it stands on its own with no trouble. Hoagy and Lulu are fantastic characters and all of the secondary characters are fully realized and totally human as well, flaws and all. The 1992 setting is delightful, as it allows the reader to remember back to the beginnings of personal computers, cell phones the size of bricks, and other nascent technology and Handler does a good job integrating their use into the story, grounding the novel in a definite time period, without being too serious or didactic about the technological advances we've now gone so far past.  His portrayal of the chaos and unreality of Hollywood and celebrity is marvelous as well.  There is a wonderful sense of humor here and it pops up in unexpected places such as when Hoagy dons a light green shirt to match his skin after he'd been drinking the night before or when the literary agent and the producer both retreat to opposite sides of the pool to get better signals and talk/shout on their cell phones. It's not often that I've read a mystery that made me smile like this one did, twining levity and noir together so well. And the ending had several neat twists to it that were entirely believable in the context of what went before. I thoroughly enjoyed this one and might just have to catch myself up on the back list of Hoagy and Lulu's adventures and I certainly hope they will add more in the future as well because this was indeed a cracking good read.

For more information about David Handler and the book, check out his website, like him on Facebook, or follow him on Twitter. Check out the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

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

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme is 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.

Something Like Happy by Eva Woods.

The book is being released by Graydon House on September 5, 2017.

Amazon says this about the book: With wry wit and boundless heart, Eva Woods delivers an unforgettable tale of celebrating triumphs great and small, seizing the day, and always remembering to live in the moment.

“It's simple, really. You're just meant to do one thing every day that makes you happy. Could be little things. Could be big. In fact, we're doing one right now…”

Annie Hebden is stuck. Stuck in her boring job, with her irritating roommate, in a life no thirty-five-year-old would want. But deep down, Annie is still mourning the terrible loss that tore a hole through the perfect existence she'd once taken for granted—and hiding away is safer than remembering what used to be. Until she meets the eccentric Polly Leonard.

Bright, bubbly, intrusive Polly is everything Annie doesn't want in a friend. But Polly is determined to finally wake Annie up to life. Because if recent events have taught Polly anything, it's that your time is too short to waste a single day—which is why she wants Annie to join her on a mission…

One hundred days. One hundred new ways to be happy. Annie's convinced it's impossible, but so is saying no to Polly. And on an unforgettable journey that will force her to open herself to new experiences—and perhaps even new love with the unlikeliest of men—Annie will slowly begin to realize that maybe, just maybe, there's still joy to be found in the world. But then it becomes clear that Polly's about to need her new friend more than ever…and Annie will have to decide once and for all whether letting others in is a risk worth taking.

Monday, August 28, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date.

Books I completed this past week are:

What's My Pee Telling Me? by Josh Richman and Anish Sheth
Kinship of Clover by Ellen Meeropol
The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore
The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman
The Clay Girl by Heather Tucker

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

A Well-Made Bed by Abby Frucht and Laurie Alberts
The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer
The Lake House by Kate Morton
Shelter by Jung Yun
The Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan
A Manual For Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells
Country of Red Azaleas by Domnica Radulescu
A Hard and Heavy Thing by Matthew J. Hefti
Paint Your Wife by Lloyd Jones
The Company They Kept edited by Robert B. Silvers and Barbara Epstein
No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal
Lily and the Octopus by Stephen Rowley
Thousand-Miler by Melanie Radzicki McManus
Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh
After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara
Metis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais
We Were the Lucky Ones by Georgia Hunter

Reviews posted this week:

What's My Pee Telling Me? by Josh Richman and Anish Sheth
The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

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

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
To Love the Coming End by Leanne Dunic
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault
A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe
City Mouse by Stacey Lender
Cutting Back by Leslie Buck
Siracusa by Delia Ephron
The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
A Narrow Bridge by J.J. Gersher
The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson
The Heart of Henry Quantum by Pepper Harding
The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler
Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
How to Survive a Summer by Nick White
Bramton Wick by Elizabeth Fair
The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman
Meet Me in the In-Between by Bella Pollen
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
The Island of Books by Dominique Fortier
Lights On, Rats Out by Cree LeFavour
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
Him, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar
What Are the Blind Men Dreaming? by Noemi Jaffee
Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
The Talker by Mary Sojourner
When the Sky Fell Apart by Caroline Lea
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
'Round Midnight by Laura McBride
The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn
Last Things by Marissa Moss
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
Civilianized by Michael Anthony
The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies
Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki
In the Woods of Memory by Shun Medoruma
Before the Wind by Jim Lynch
Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent
Inhabited by Charlie Quimby
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
One Good Mama Bone by Bren McClain
The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton
The Long Run by Catriona Menzies-Pike
You and I and Someone Else by Anna Schachner
Meantime by Katharine Noel
The Portrait by Antoine Laurain
So Much Blue by Perceval Everett
Good Karma by Christina Kelly
The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel Davis Huber
Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell
This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell
How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
Between Them by Richard Ford
Kinship of Clover by Ellen Meeropol
The Life She Was Given by Ellen Marie Wiseman
The Clay Girl by Heather Tucker

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Review: The Daughters of Ireland by Santa Montefiore

I thoroughly enjoy family sagas in books. If there's a family tree in the front to help keep characters straight, even better. So of course I was thrilled to read the first book in the Deverill Chronicles, The Girl in the Castle and it was everything I expected. With the second book, The Daughters of Ireland, now available to US readers, I had to get my hands on it and see just where the story went.

The first novel in the trilogy really centered mostly on Kitty Deverill, whose grandparents lived in Castle Deverill, her growing to adulthood, her choices, her heart, her politics, and her life. This second novel takes a closer look at her cousin Celia and childhood friend Bridie, both of whom loomed large and altered Kitty's life in some way and both of whom were always also tightly woven into the story of Castle Deverill. After the destruction at the end of the first book, cousin Celia and her husband Archie have bought Castle Deverill and she is determined to restore it even beyond its former glory. Kitty is uncomfortable with Celia's plans and ownership of the castle but she is busy in her own life, raising her half brother (Bridie's son) and trying to decide if she can run away to America with Jack O'Leary, the long time love of her life. Meanwhile Bridie has done well for herself in America, inheriting money from a former employer and then marrying a wealthy elderly man who has left her a widow. But she still aches for the son she left behind and for Jack O'Leary, even as her one-time love for best friend Kitty has soured into hatred. As the world changes around them, from the relief and residual sorrow of the end of the Great War, to the financial upending of the Great Depression, and finally to the stirrings of WWII, these three woman, make their way through life, intimately tied to Ireland, the land of County Cork, and the castle in particular as they each learn to live with and accept their pasts.

This second novel is very much an Irish soap opera, not only for the intertwined lives of the main characters but also for the sheer variety of things that happen in the plot, the tragedies and losses, and the character turnabouts that occur to so very many. Celia comes across as a self-centered and flighty character who discovers a backbone, a brain, and an indisputable moral compass. Bridie, who was sympathetic in the first novel, is exceedingly unpleasant here and she is not the only one as Grace, Lady Rowan-Hampton, suddenly becomes rather closer to a villain than she previously was. Jack O'Leary, who is understandably frustrated and angry with life, turns into a cold and unsympathetic character as well. Harry Deverill and best friend Boysie stay rather closer to their characters in the first book and the other secondary characters, including the ghosts, now with the addition of the late Adeline Deverill, add color to the story again. In fact, the Shrubs' situation with Lady Rowan-Hampton's father is a huge delight. This second installment offers far more information on the Deverill curse and the history behind it although it is no closer to being broken than it was in book one. The ending here is full of hanging plot threads which gives it a rather unfinished feel, despite its more than 500 pages. Readers not familiar with the first book can read this one but having read the first book to have a full knowledge of everything that sets up the situations here would definitely be the better option. I didn't love it nearly as much as I did the first novel but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't curious to see where the final book goes. The third novel of the trilogy is already out in the UK if you just can't wait to see how Montefiore wraps up this sprawling saga.

For more information about Santa Montefiore and the book, check out her website, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter or follow her Facebook page dedicated to her books. Check out the book's Goodreads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

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

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday

This meme is 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.

The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas.

The book is being released by Flatiron Books on August 29, 2017.

Amazon says this about the book: I viewed the consumptive nature of love as a threat to serious women. But the wonderful man I just married believes as I do―work is paramount, absolutely no children―and now love seems to me quite marvelous.

These words are spoken to a rapturous audience by Joan Ashby, a brilliant and intense literary sensation acclaimed for her explosively dark and singular stories.

When Joan finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, she is stunned by Martin’s delight, his instant betrayal of their pact. She makes a fateful, selfless decision then, to embrace her unintentional family.

Challenged by raising two precocious sons, it is decades before she finally completes her masterpiece novel. Poised to reclaim the spotlight, to resume the intended life she gave up for love, a betrayal of Shakespearean proportion forces her to question every choice she has made.

Epic, propulsive, incredibly ambitious, and dazzlingly written, The Resurrection of Joan Ashby is a story about sacrifice and motherhood, the burdens of expectation and genius. Cherise Wolas’s gorgeous debut introduces an indelible heroine candid about her struggles and unapologetic in her ambition.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Review: What's My Pee Telling Me by Josh Richman and Anish Sheth

I snickered when What's Your Poo Telling You appeared in my husband's Christmas stocking several years ago but when I picked it up and read it, I found it funny and informative and perfect for bathroom reading. When I saw that Richman and Sheth had a second book in the series, I knew the bathroom bookshelf had found another perfect inhabitant. The format of book number two, named for number one, is similar to the first book in that it is made up of short bits, small tidbits, and interesting side notes. There's not nearly as much on pee as there was on poo so instead of being focused entirely on pee, there are sections on poo (new info) and farts as well. I may be too much of a twelve year old boy but I don't typically find pee as funny as poo (a phenomenon the authors acknowledge) and I truly laughed fewer times than during the first book. In fact, I don't think I laughed until I hit the fart section, which says a lot more about my maturity level than anything else, I suspect. Although if pressed I'd choose the first book over this one, What's My Pee Telling Me? still had some interesting facts (do you know the two smells that urine can have and why or why men have such poor aim in the bathroom?) and makes for informative reading when you are perched on the throne.

Monday, August 21, 2017

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

This meme is hosted by Kathryn at Reading Date. I've lost all track of everything given that I just got back from a summer long vacation with family and have bags of stuff strewn all over everywhere. I came home to a house falling down around my ears (kitchen torn apart to fix a toilet leak behind the drywall so kitchen contents all over the house, mold on bathroom ceilings and weeping woodwork from who knows what source, cracked bookshelves that had to be evacuated of their contents, and now a strong smell of burning rubber in some parts of the house which the fire department swears isn't actually caused by anything they can find via thermal imaging camera). And as if that wasn't enough, I had to move the two oldest back to college yesterday as well so I've got the detritus of their leaving all over everywhere as well. So this might be for one week or maybe two; it's even possible it's for the past three. I don't even know anymore!

Books I completed this past week are:

Whispering in French by Sophia Nash
Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell
This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell
How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
The Sworn Virgin by Kristopher Dukes
Between Them by Richard Ford

Bookmarks are still living in the middle of:

A Well-Made Bed by Abby Frucht and Laurie Alberts
The Children's Crusade by Ann Packer
The Lake House by Kate Morton
Shelter by Jung Yun
The Center of the World by Jacqueline Sheehan
A Manual For Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin
The Beauty of the End by Debbie Howells
Country of Red Azaleas by Domnica Radulescu
A Hard and Heavy Thing by Matthew J. Hefti
Paint Your Wife by Lloyd Jones
The Company They Kept edited by Robert B. Silvers and Barbara Epstein
No One Can Pronounce My Name by Rakesh Satyal
Lily and the Octopus by Stephen Rowley
Thousand-Miler by Melanie Radzicki McManus
Dear Fang, With Love by Rufi Thorpe
Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley
America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie
Hope Has Two Daughters by Monia Mazigh
After the Bloom by Leslie Shimotakahara
Metis Beach by Claudine Bourbonnais
The Clay Girl by Heather Tucker
Kinship of Clover by Ellen Meeropol

Reviews posted this week:

Make Trouble by John Waters
Whispering in French by Sophia Nash
The Sworn Virgin by Kristopher Dukes

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

The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso
To Love the Coming End by Leanne Dunic
The Peculiar Life of a Lonely Postman by Denis Theriault
A Loving, Faithful Animal by Josephine Rowe
City Mouse by Stacey Lender
Cutting Back by Leslie Buck
Siracusa by Delia Ephron
The Wife, the Maid, and the Mistress by Ariel Lawhon
A Narrow Bridge by J.J. Gersher
The Never-Open Desert Diner by James Anderson
The Heart of Henry Quantum by Pepper Harding
The Hearts of Men by Nickolas Butler
Dance of the Jakaranda by Peter Kimani
How to Survive a Summer by Nick White
Bramton Wick by Elizabeth Fair
The Finishing School by Joanna Goodman
Meet Me in the In-Between by Bella Pollen
All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
The Island of Books by Dominique Fortier
Lights On, Rats Out by Cree LeFavour
Salt Houses by Hala Alyan
Him, Me, Muhammad Ali by Randa Jarrar
What Are the Blind Men Dreaming? by Noemi Jaffee
Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka
The Lying Game by Ruth Ware
The Talker by Mary Sojourner
When the Sky Fell Apart by Caroline Lea
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid
'Round Midnight by Laura McBride
The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See
The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn
Last Things by Marissa Moss
All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
Civilianized by Michael Anthony
The Redemption of Galen Pike by Carys Davies
Woman No. 17 by Edan Lepucki
In the Woods of Memory by Shun Medoruma
Before the Wind by Jim Lynch
Dinner with Edward by Isabel Vincent
Inhabited by Charlie Quimby
Pachinko by Min Jin Lee
One Good Mama Bone by Bren McClain
The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton
The Long Run by Catriona Menzies-Pike
You and I and Someone Else by Anna Schachner
Meantime by Katharine Noel
The Portrait by Antoine Laurain
So Much Blue by Perceval Everett
Good Karma by Christina Kelly
The Velveteen Daughter by Laurel Davis Huber
Mothers and Other Strangers by Gina Sorell
This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell
How to Find Love in a Bookshop by Veronica Henry
Between Them by Richard Ford

Monday Mailbox

This past week's mailbox arrivals:

Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams came from William Morrow.

I've read the previous linked novels by Williams so I am looking forward to this finale to the story, this one set in Prohibition era Florida.

The Girl With Kaleidoscope Eyes by David Handler came from William Morrow and TLC Book Tours for a blog tour.

A mystery story with a one-hit-wonder author, now ghostwriter, and his basset hound as the sleuths, centered around a disappeared author and his long estranged daughters, this sounds intriguing for sure.

A Hundred Small Lessons by Ashley Hay came from Atria Books.

I just love well done intertwined stories so this one about an elderly woman who has moved out of her house and the young couple who have moved in looks completely and totally up my alley.

A Paris All Your Own edited by Eleanor Brown came from Putnam.

A collection of personal essays on Paris by some of the most popular writers writing today. Need I say more on why I want to read it?

Who Is Rich? by Matthew Klam came from Random House and LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

A novel about an unhappily married woman and a sort of famous cartoonist who are having an affair at a summer arts conference, this should be an interesting look into the business of academia and a fascinating examination of marriage and art. I'm also curious about the strange cover, but that might just be me!

The Art of Failing by Anthony McGowan came from Oneworld and LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

How can you not want to read a book that purports to be about a man, his marriage, and his daily failures? This is supposed to be a comedic novel and I'm always pleased for some levity in my reading.

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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