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Summer Books Giveaway: You Pick!!

July 17, 2018

Have I got a giveaway for you!  The folks at Penguin Random House have offered to give one lucky reader their choice of one of these great summer reads:

THE LATE BLOOMERS’ CLUB– Pamela Dorman Books | On Sale July 17, 2018

Novelist Louise Miller returns to the sleepy fictional town of Guthrie, Vermont (the setting of her critically acclaimed debut The City Bakers’ Guide to Country Living 2016) to tell the story of two headstrong sisters, Nora and Kit Huckleberry. Nora, the older and more “responsible” sister has remained in Guthrie her entire life, taking over the family business after their parents passed away at a young age. Her sister, Kit, left Guthrie behind years ago to pursue her dreams as an aspiring filmmaker. After a tragic accident, the two sisters find out they stand to inherit the home and land of Peggy Johnson, the town’s beloved cake lady. When it comes to light that Peggy was in the process of selling her land to a big-box developer before her death, the two sisters find themselves at odds.

As with her debut, Miller has yet again treated us to stunning visions of Vermont landscapes and mouthwatering descriptions of freshly baked goods and delicious desserts. Perfect for anyone charmed by the small town magic of Gilmore Girls.

GHOSTED – Pamela Dorman Books | On Sale July 24, 2018

These days, nearly every person who has spent time on the dating scene is well aware of being “ghosted,” or has ghosted someone themselves. In a study last year, 4 out of 5 single millennials admitted to having been “ghosted” at least once. Most people give up after a few days of calls and texts go unanswered. But what if there were another explanation for someone disappearing off the face of the earth? This is exactly what Rosie Walsh explores in her gripping U.S. debut novel Ghosted.

When Sarah, on a short holiday in her childhood home in Gloucestershire, meets Eddie, they connect instantly and fall in love. To Sarah, it seems as though her life has finally begun, and after only six days together, she and Eddie begin making plans to bring their lives together. When Eddie leaves for a long-booked vacation and promises to call from the airport, she has no cause to doubt him; she has never been so certain of anything in her life. But he doesn’t call, and he stops responding to her texts. Sarah’s friends tell her to forget about him, but she can’t. She knows something has happened—there has to be an explanation. Minutes, days, weeks go by as Sarah becomes increasingly worried. But then she discovers she’s right. There is a reason for Eddie’s disappearance, and it’s the one thing they didn’t share with each other: the truth.

THE WHALE: A LOVE STORY – Penguin Books | On Sale June 26, 2018

In the summer of 1850, Herman Melville finds himself hounded by creditors and afraid his writing career might be coming to an end–his last three novels have been commercial failures and the critics have turned against him. In despair, Melville takes his family for a vacation to his cousin’s farm in the Berkshires, where he meets Nathaniel Hawthorne at a picnic–and his life turns upside down.

The Whale chronicles the fervent love affair that grows out of that serendipitous afternoon. Already in debt, Melville recklessly borrows money to purchase a local farm in order to remain near Hawthorne, his newfound muse. The two develop a deep connection marked by tensions and estrangements, and feelings both shared and suppressed. Melville later dedicates Moby-Dick to Hawthorne, and Mark Beauregard’s novel fills in the story behind that dedication with historical accuracy and exquisite emotional precision, reflecting his nuanced reading of the real letters and journals of Melville, Hawthorne, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and others. An exuberant tale of longing and passion, The Whale captures not only a transformative relationship–long the subject of speculation–between two of our most enduring authors, but also their exhilarating moment in history, when a community of high-spirited and ambitious writers was creating truly American literature for the first time.

LONG PLAYERS – Penguin Books | On Sale June 5, 2018

A passionate, heartfelt story about the many ways we fall in love: with books, bands and records, friends and lovers, and the families we make.

Have you ever fallen in love – exalting, wracking, hilarious love – with a song? Long Players is a book about that everyday kind of besottedness – and, also, about those other, more entangling sorts of love that songs can propel us into. We follow Peter Coviello through his happy marriage, his blindsiding divorce, and his fumbling post marital forays into sex and romance.

Above all we travel with him as he calibrates, mix by mix and song by song, his place in the lives of two little girls, his suddenly ex-stepdaughters. In his grief, he considers what keeps us alive (sex, talk, dancing) and the limitless grace of pop songs.

THE HOUSE SWAP – Pamela Dorman Books | On sale May 22, 2018

When Caroline and Francis receive an offer to house swap–from their city apartment to a house in a leafy, upscale London suburb–they jump at the chance for a week away from home, their son, and the tensions that have pushed their marriage to the brink.

As the couple settles in, the old problems that permeate their marriage–his unhealthy behaviors, her indiscretions–start bubbling to the surface. But while they attempt to mend their relationship, their neighbor, an intense young woman, is showing a little too much interest in their activities.

Meanwhile, Caroline slowly begins to uncover some signs of life in the stark house–signs of her life. The flowers in the bathroom or the music might seem innocent to anyone else–but to her they are clues. It seems the person they have swapped with is someone who knows her, someone who knows the secrets she’s desperate to forget. . . .

To enter to win one of these terrific books, simply fill out the entry form.  Since the publisher will be mailing the prize, contest is open to those with a US address only – one entry per person, please.  I’ll pick a winner on Thursday, July 26, 2018.

Mailbox Monday

July 16, 2018

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.   I found these books in my mailbox last week:

Thursday

Friday

What did you find in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 07.13.2018

July 13, 2018
tags:

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

SHADOW OF A PUG by Casey Lyall is the second book in the Howard Wallace, P. I. series.  Howard and his partner Ivy have been hired by two different people to find Spartacus, the pug that’s their middle school’s mascot.  The school’s big rivalry game is coming up and the basketball team hasn’t been playing well and everyone thinks getting Spartacus back will help.  Howard immediately suspects his ex-best friend Miles. but knows a good detective has to have more than a hunch.  To solve the case, Howard has to put up with a pesky reporter and a partner who’s acting funny.

This middle grade mystery was just the kind of book I loved as a kid.  Who am I kidding?  I still enjoy a good mystery and I thought this one was just that.  Howard and Ivy are quirky, smart, and determined to find the truth.  I didn’t realize this was the second book in a series until after I picked it up but I had no trouble following the story and enjoying the characters.  I think middle grade mystery lovers will gobble up this series and wish the publisher had given it a more attractive covers.  (Review copy provided by Sterling Publishing.)

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David Sedaris returns to his roots with the publication of CALYPSO, a collection of personal short stories about Sedaris and his family.  Many of the stories revolve around a home Sedaris purchased on Emerald Island, North Carolina.  Because of his eye for the absurd and his quirky sense of humor, this type of essay is where Sedaris’s talent shines.  I loved almost all of these stories but a few really stood out for me:

  • Stepping Out is about Sedaris buying a Fitbit and becoming obsessed with getting his steps in, something I can relate to.
  • In Sorry, Sedaris tells about the competitive games of Sorry his family plays at the beach.
  • The Comey Memo is about his father’s frugal ways.

There are a few sad elements in the book and lots of laugh out loud moments.  It didn’t take me long to read this fun book.  Fans of Sedaris won’t want to miss it.

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CLOCK DANCE by Anne Tyler is the story of Willa.  Willa grew up with a loving father and a mother who struggles with life, often leaving home for days at a time.  As a young woman, Willa put herself in the role of caregiver, looking out for her younger sister.  She marries Derek and they have two sons.  When Willa receives a phone call asking her to help the former girlfriend of one of her son’s, she decides to fly from Arizona to Maryland to do just that, over the objection of her second husband Peter.

It’s rather hard to describe the plot of this quiet, character driven novel but I couldn’t put it down.  Willa is meek and passive yet strong in ways even she doesn’t know.  Even though she drove me crazy at times, I couldn’t help but like her.

I enjoyed the way this novel went back and forth in time, piecing Willa’s life together gradually.  I thought the book was terrific and think it would make a great book club selection.  The audio version is narrated by Kimberly Farr and I thought she did an outstanding job of bringing Willa’s story to life.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

Currently reading:

On the Screen

Not much of anything.

Off the blog

  • I renewed my library card this week.
  • We had a really nice visit with our nephew who was here for the 4th.
  • We walked at least three miles every morning and I averaged just under 17,100 Fitbit steps a day.

What’s going on in your corner of the world?

Wondrous Words Wednesday

July 11, 2018

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I found this word in the blog post “Kid Lit Review of “Yo Soy Muslim: A Father’s Letter to His Daughter” by Mark Gonzales” by my smart friend Jill of Rhapsody in Books.

1. recrudescence – “Given the number of people ascribing to this faith, as well as a recrudescence of prejudice and suspicion in many countries against minority cultures, this timely book takes on new importance.”

Recrudescence means a new outbreak after a period of abatement or inactivity.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?

Mailbox Monday

July 9, 2018

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia and now hosted on its own blog.   I found these books in my mailbox last week:

Monday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

 

What did you find in your mailbox?

The Week in Review: 07.06.2018

July 6, 2018
tags: ,

the-week-in-review

Between the Covers

Finished last week:

FAILURE IS AN OPTION: AN ATTEMPTED MEMOIR by H. Jon Benjamin is fairly well named.  In it, Benjamin admits to some success but mainly shares his failures throughout life.  I wasn’t familiar with him before I picked this book up but that didn’t keep me from liking it.  His stories range from his failure at waiting tables to his parents “discovery” of P. F. Chang’s.  He also shares failed pick-up lines and some of his struggles as a father.  I found some of the stories pretty funny but have to admit that I didn’t really “get” some of them.  Benjamin narrates the audio version himself and does a great job.  In the end, this book was a little uneven for me so I liked it but didn’t love it – I suspect fans of Benjamin will love it, though.  (Review copy provided by Penguin Random House.)

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OCEAN MEETS SKY by The Fan Brothers is a sweet, imaginative picture book with absolutely gorgeous illustrations.  It’s the story of young Finn who misses his grandfather and the stories he would tell.  On what would have been his grandfather’s 90th birthday, Finn builds a boat to see if he can find “a place far away where ocean meets sky” that his grandfather described to him.  Parents and children alike will enjoy Finn’s story and will love looking at the illustrations over and over again.  I noticed something different almost every time I looked through this fabulous book.  I would happily hang the art from this beautiful book on my walls.  In case you can’t tell, I adored OCEAN MEETS SKY.  (Review copy provided by Simon & Schuster.)

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THE SECRETS BETWEEN US by Thrity Umrigar is the story of Bhima, an Indian woman who works as a maid and cook, scrimping and saving every penny she can in order to send her granddaughter Maya to college so she can have a better life.  There never seems to be enough money, though, so, after a chance encounter with Parvati, Bhima comes up with a plan to make more.

I didn’t want to give too much away so I kept my description of this wonderful book brief.  I didn’t realize it was the sequel to THE SPACE BETWEEN US (a book I haven’t read) until I was partway through the book but this obviously stands alone because I had no trouble following the story.  Umrigar is one of my favorite authors and I think she knocked it out of the park with this one.  Her writing is beautifully descriptive and her characters are absolutely fabulous.  I loved the story and the setting and I learned a lot about class and gender in India.  Bhima and Parvati and their little corner of Mumbai felt real to me.  I cried big, ugly tears at one point and let out a sigh of contentment when I finished the book.  (Review copy provided by Harper Collins.)

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Currently reading:

On the Screen

I really wasn’t all that interested in I, Tonya until Allison Janney won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress but I talked everyone into watching it Sunday night.  It’s the story of Tonya Harding and her involvement in the Nancy Kerrigan incident.  The movie portrays Harding’s mother as mean and abusive.  When their relationship got too tumultuous, Harding married Jeff Gillooly to get away from home and found herself in another bad relationship – one in which she gave almost as much as she got.  Harding was somewhat of an outsider in the skating world so when competition was tight for the 1994 Olympics, her ex-husband decided to take matters into his own hands.

I’m not sure how accurate the movie is but it certainly portrayed Harding in a sympathetic light.  The movie is unique because actor’s break the fourth wall on numerous occasions.  The acting was terrific (I can see why Janney won an Academy Award) even if the skating scenes were not well done.  Overall, I thought the movie was entertaining and well worth watching.

Off the blog

  • Our nephew is here to celebrate the 4th with us.  When he’s here, Vance stays with us too.
  • I walked at least 3 miles every morning (even getting caught in a downpour one day) and averaged just over 17,500 Fitbit steps a day.

What’s going on in your corner of the world?

Wondrous Words Wednesday

July 4, 2018

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I found these words while reading TANGERINE by Christine Mangan.

1. hammam – “Instead he and his friend Charlie went gallivanting around the city, spending hours at the hammam or the markets, smoking kif in the backs of cafés, always trying to enear themselves to the locals rather than to their fellow coworkers and countrymen.”

A hammam is a communal bathhouse, usually with separate baths for men and women, usually found in Islamic countries.

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2. msemmen – “I stopped at one stall, and then another, purchasing a few grams of bright green olives at one, a stack of hot, sweating msemmen at another.”

Msemmen is a rich, pancake-like bread common to Morocco, Algiers, and Tunisia.

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What words do you want to celebrate today?