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Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams

Source: William Morrow
Hardcover, 384 pgs.
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Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams tells a twisted and dark tale reminiscent of Rebecca‘s Gothic nature and the secrets held back from the main character Virginia Fortescue — you may remember her sister, Sophie, from A Certain Age.  The narrative shifts between the early 1920s (Virginia’s present) and the Great War where as an ambulance driver for the Red Cross, she meets a charming doctor, Captain Simon Fitzwilliam.  Their relationship starts out as a friendship, but you can tell that there is a spark between them from the start — almost a magnetic pull.  Virginia, unfortunately, carries a great deal of baggage and has an inability to trust men because of her father and the death of her mother. Meanwhile, Simon is bent on protecting her by any means, including keeping secrets and telling lies.  Their relationship seems doomed from the beginning.

The pacing of this novel between the time lines, plus the additional twists and suspenseful moments, can leave the reader fatigued as they try to see through the lies and get at the truth.  Like Virginia, who is the main narrator, the readers is left wandering in a fog of lies with little light to guide them.  The relationship of Simon and Virginia is passionate, but the deeper connection they felt is so easily broken by the lies of others and the circumstances they cannot control.

Many years pass and the darkness has poisoned what was once between them.  It makes it difficult for the reader to have faith in the relationship at all given all that has happened and the inability to find even a little truth in the lies.  It’s like in all the years since WWI, Virginia remains that same naive girl who is easily lead astray.  Simon is a character who is hard to get a handle on because of Virginia’s inability to see who he truly is for nearly the entire novel.

What’s even more frustrating is the last third of the novel seems out of left field in places and overly dramatic (like a soap opera), which again may be related to the Gothic feeling of the novel.  Cocoa Beach by Beatriz Williams is enjoyable in many parts and definitely dramatic.  There is definitely a lot to discuss with a book club.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:

A graduate of Stanford University with an MBA from Columbia, Beatriz Williams spent several years in New York and London hiding her early attempts at fiction, first on company laptops as a communications strategy consultant, and then as an at-home producer of small persons, before her career as a writer took off. She lives with her husband and four children near the Connecticut shore.

Find out more about Beatriz at her website, and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 8+ hrs.
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Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah is narrated by the author and is a look back at his childhood in South Africa while it was under apartheid and after.  He is the child of a black mother and a white father, and under apartheid he was classified as colored alongside the Indians, Chinese, and others that were neither black nor white.  Being born colored was a crime because white and black people were not supposed to procreate.  But beyond only the complex and illogical thinking that is apartheid and racism, in general, Noah’s life was anything but plush.  His mother loved him and he loved his mother, but tough love was the order of the day given the fact that his parents had broken the law to have him in the first place. I knew little about this nation other than Nelson Mandela was there in jail for a long time and that whites somehow controlled an entire country of black people (I really couldn’t wrap my head around it as a child or even now).

Noah’s religious mother believed that Jesus could cure any ill and help her through any challenge, but he did not.  Many stories involve them arguing about the role of Jesus and God like lawyers.  At one point, they were arguing in a series of letters.  Despite the tough love and the arguments about religion, Noah seems to have reconciled those actions with her good intentions.  Many of these stories help to establish a line he has drawn between the tough love she showed him and the beatings he received from his step-father later in life.  Readers looking for information on South Africa and apartheid will find some of that here, but this is a memoir about how that regime and its consequences not only shaped the lives of others, but also that of Noah (as well as how he was treated by others).  His adaptability to certain situations and cultures is a credit to his own ability to puzzle out how best to survive in this barbed world.

Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah is funny, heart-warming, sad, and infuriating.  Like many young men, he chooses the wrong path to make money and get ahead, but he also learns a great deal from his own mistakes. One tragedy clearly shaped the narrative of this letter; it is like a love letter to his mother and how they grew together as a family despite the external challenges they faced.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Trevor Noah is a South African comedian, television and radio host and actor. He currently hosts The Daily Show, a late-night television talk show on Comedy Central.

Mailbox Monday #445

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

The Welcome Home Diner by Peggy Lampman for review with TLC Book Tours.

Betting on the city of Detroit’s eventual comeback, cousins Addie and Samantha decide to risk it all on an affordable new house and a culinary career that starts with renovating a vintage diner in a depressed area of town. There’s just one little snag in their vision.

Angus, a weary, beloved local, is strongly opposed to his neighborhood’s gentrification—and his concerns reflect the suspicion of the community. Shocked by their reception, Addie and Samantha begin to have second thoughts.

As the long hours, problematic love interests, and underhanded pressures mount, the two women find themselves increasingly at odds, and soon their problems threaten everything they’ve worked for. If they are going to realize their dreams, Addie and Samantha must focus on rebuilding their relationship. But will the neighborhood open their hearts to welcome them home?

What did you receive?

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly (audio)

Source: Public Library
Audiobook; 14 CDs
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Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, narrated by Cassandra Campbell, Kathleen Gati, and Kathrin Kana — which was our September book club selection — is an expertly woven tale of Caroline Ferriday’s lilac girls, or the Ravensbrück rabbits, who were experimented on in a German WWII camp.  Ferriday, who was a real woman, is a socialite who soon realizes that her work with French nationals is more about helping others than it is about her social status, even as she falls for a married French actor and considers a different life for herself.  Told in alternate points of view — Ferriday, polish teen Kasia Kuzmerick, and a young ambitious German Dr. Herta Oberheuser — Kelly’s trifecta pushes readers deep into the emotional baggage of WWII and the relationships that carry each woman through.  Clearly well researched, Ferriday comes to life as a woman with little else to do but mourn her father and help those in need, while Kasia has a lot to learn even as she plunges headlong into the resistance to impress a boy.  Meanwhile, Herta — the most educated of the three — seems to have learned little compassion for others, instead remaining focused on how to get ahead as a medical professional, no matter the cost.

Even the German doctor appears sympathetic at first, until we see how camp life hardens her against humanity.  Kasia wears her camp damage on her at all times, pushing even her family away when it is clear she needs them most.  Meanwhile, Ferriday’s romantic troubles seem trivial in comparison, though it is clear they will push her into something that will become her life’s work — a search for justice for those who need it most.

It will be hard to look away from these women as they deal with the harsh experiments perpetrated by the Nazis, and they are set on their own paths and learn how best to move on with their lives after the war is over.  Kelly has lived with these women for some time, and it shows in her deeply dynamic characterization of the real-life Ferriday and Oberheuser; Kasia and her sister also are clearly based on real life accounts as their sisterly bond becomes a rock on which they can rely in even the toughest moments.  Even if you think you’ve read everything about WWII, this is not to be missed.

Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, narrated by Cassandra Campbell, Kathleen Gati, and Kathrin Kana – is a harrowing look at guilt — misplaced or not — and the affects of bonds between siblings, mothers and daughters, and even strangers during wartime.  Nurturing supportive relationships with other women can ensure survival.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Martha Hall Kelly is a native New Englander who lives in Connecticut and Martha’s Vineyard. She worked as an advertising copywriter for many years, raised three wonderful children who are now mostly out of the nest and Lilac Girls is her first novel. She is hard at work on the prequel to Lilac Girls.

Mailbox Monday #444

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

#RESIST: Poems, which is free from Yes Poetry (get your copy today, it’s an ebook)

Poetry by Gregory Crosby, Kristin Chang, Chris Roberts, Laura Buccieri, Nathan McClain, John Maher, and more.

What did you receive?

Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the Hat by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes

Source: Random House
Hardcover, 40 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the Hat by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, is a whimsical biography of Dr. Seuss and his creation of The Cat in the Hat, which happens to be one of my favorite books from childhood.  The book, which came unbound that promptly became disordered when my daughter pulled it out of the envelope and took a bit for me to get in the right order, has very colorful illustrations of Seuss and his creations.

Young readers will learn that Dr. Seuss had already written a number of books before the Cat, and that the Cat was what came of a list of words his friend challenged him to use when creating a first-grade reader book.  It’s fun how the mind of Seuss is said to have worked to come up with the Cat and his adventures.

My daughter was happy to see the pictures and read some of the words in this one with me.  She would prefer a real bound book, she says.  Something we’ll have to look into.  Until then, we’ll enjoy revisiting the author in Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the Hat by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes.

RATING: Quatrain

2017 New Authors Reading Challenge

From the Author:

I was born in Washington DC and grew up a few miles away in Falls Church, Virginia. My father was a photographer. When I was little, he took hundreds of photographs of me.

​My mother was a school librarian. She and my father read to me every day, and I learned the words in books by heart long before I could read them myself. Later, they encouraged me to learn longer poems from Alice in Wonderland, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats.

I began writing and illustrating my own books when I was seven. Sometimes I wrote my school reports in rhyme. I also wrote plays and performed them with my friends. Our favorites were tales of Robin Hood, and the Greek myths.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Annotated by Sophie Turner (Giveaway)

This is not precisely a review of Pride and Prejudice: A Novel. In Three Volumes. (Annotated and Restored to 1813 Egerton First Edition) by Jane Austen and Sophie Turner, as much as it is a look at why this revised edition was created. I’ve read this novel more times than any other, and because I do love it so much, I wanted to take a look at what Sophie Turner found in her endeavor to return the novel as close to Jane Austen’s original as possible. As grammar rules as we know them today were not as established when Austen wrote, there is a sort of free flow with her use of grammar and words.

This is particularly of interest, as the examples cited by Turner indicate how well placed Austen’s commas are in an effort to create a distinct voice for her characters. I also loved that the exclamation points we often think of as part of Mrs. Bennet’s character are not as plentiful as one would assume. I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this novel again, as well as Turner’s annotations. As an editor, I’m obviously fascinated with the choices that novelists make in word choice and punctuation.

Check out Pride and Prejudice: A Novel. In Three Volumes. (Annotated and Restored to 1813 Egerton First Edition) by Jane Austen and Sophie Turner to find Austen’s more authentic voice.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Book:

The novel needs no introduction. But readers may not have realised that we have been losing “Pride and Prejudice” over the years, particularly digitally. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation have eroded significantly from the 1813 Egerton first edition, and many digital copies suffer from poor formatting.

In 2017, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, her “darling Child” has been painstakingly restored to the three-volume 1813 first edition. Adjustments have only been made where there were errors in the 1813 text, and are noted in detailed annotations at the end of the novel.

Please enjoy this beloved story, restored to Jane Austen’s original voice.

About the Sophie Turner:

Sophie Turner worked as an online editor before delving even more fully into the tech world. Writing, researching the Regency era, and occasionally dreaming about living in Britain are her escapes from her day job.

She was afraid of long series until she ventured upon Patrick O’Brian’s 20-book Aubrey-Maturin masterpiece, something she might have repeated five times through.

Alas, her Constant Love series is only planned to be seven books right now, and consists of A Constant Love, A Change of Legacies, and the in-progress A Season Lost.

She blogs about her writing endeavours at sophie-turner-acl.blogspot.com, where readers can find direction for the various social drawing-rooms across the Internet where she may be called upon. Visit her: Facebook, Twitter, Sophie Turner’s Blog, Goodreads, Pinterest, and Amazon.

International Giveaway:

To enter, leave a comment about why you’d like to read this new ebook edition of Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, annotated by Sophie Turner.  Enter by Sept. 15, 2017, 8 p.m. EST.

Good Luck, everyone.

To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts by Caitlin Hamilton Summie

Source: the author
Paperback, 216 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts by Caitlin Hamilton Summie is a collection of short stories pregnant with emotion as characters deal with grief in a variety of ways.  From the WWII homefront to New York, Summie’s characters have experienced deep loss, whether it is the loss of a child or the loss of a father to war.  Grief comes in many forms, but its effects can be devastating, leaving you with a sense of hopelessness and emptiness.

“My father seemed vague and shadowy to me already.  I didn’t think I could lose him any more than I had, but I saw those tags, and touched them, and they were hard and smooth and warm from Jimmy’s constant agitation of them, and I knew this: that I could lose my father completely…” (pg. 14, “Tags”)

Summie has a deep sense of how grief can turn into inaction, reaction, and withdrawal.  She writes from a variety of perspectives, a young boy waiting for his father to return from war, a brother who has removed himself from his family, sisters who have grown apart after the death of a grandfather, and so many more.  These perspectives call to mind the universality of grief and how it impacts us all.  Lest you believe this collection of short stories is too depressing, it is not.

Summie offers characters a glimmer of hope, a moment of clarity, and a way through the grief.  We all struggle with loss, but we all must find a way to move on.  Through this collection, we find the solutions are not always the same, but the journey through grief is often possible with a little will and strength — either from within or through the help of others.

“February rolled in with a storm.  The snow came, and it hung in the air like a bad mood.” (pg. 99, “Patchwork”)

“We leaned against one another, against the pressure of what was coming as slowly and stealthily as that snow, wild in the wind outside yet silent.” (pg. 120, “Geographies of the Heart”)

Summie’s imagery is phenomenal; readers will be swept into the snowy landscapes, heavy with drifts.  Like the grief these characters experience, the snow weighs them down.  It’s devastatingly beautiful and poetic.  To Lay to Rest Our Ghosts by Caitlin Hamilton Summie is gorgeous in every word.  These stories remind us, “‘The grief never leaves. You just have to learn how to carry it.'” (pg. 199, “Taking Root”)

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Caitlin Hamilton Summie earned an MFA with Distinction from Colorado State University, and her short stories have been published in Beloit Fiction Journal, Wisconsin Review, Puerto del Sol, Mud Season Review, and Long Story, Short. Her first book, a short story collection called TO LAY TO REST OUR GHOSTS, was published in August by Fomite. She spent many years in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Colorado before settling with her family in Knoxville, Tennessee. She co-owns the book marketing firm, Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity, founded in 2003.  Discussion questions.

2017 New Authors Reading Challenge

Mailbox Monday #443

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog. To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links. Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Martha, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what we received:

These Dreams by Nicole Clarkston for review.

Pride and patriotism lend fervor to greed and cruelty, and Fitzwilliam Darcy is caught at the centre of a decades old international feud. Taken far from England, presumed dead by his family, and lost to all he holds dear, only one name remains as his beacon in the darkness: Elizabeth.

Georgiana Darcy is now the reluctant, heartbroken heiress to Pemberley, and Colonel Fitzwilliam her bewildered guardian. Vulnerable and unprepared, Georgiana desperately longs for a friend, while Fitzwilliam seeks to protect her from his own family. As the conspiracy around Darcy’s death widens and questions mount, Colonel Fitzwilliam must confront his own past. An impossible dream, long ago sacrificed for duty, may become his only hope.

Newly married Lydia Wickham returns to Longbourn- alone and under mysterious circumstances. Elizabeth Bennet watches one sister suffer and another find joy, while she lives her own days in empty regrets over what might have been. Believing Darcy lost forever, she closes her heart against both pain and happiness, but finds no escape from her dreams of him.

When We Are Married by Caitlin Williams for review.

Two sisters, one man. Someone’s heart is about to get broken.

Elizabeth Bennet quickly realises she has misjudged Mr Darcy. In Kent, she learns first impressions are not always accurate. His proposal is disastrous, insulting even, but when she reads his letter her heart begins to thaw, and her objections and prejudices start to melt away. Elizabeth decides to offer Mr Darcy a sliver of hope, an apology, and a second chance.
Yet when he begins to call at Gracechurch Street, determined to become a better man and humbled by Elizabeth’s reproofs, he unwittingly stirs the romantic hopes of another lady altogether.

Jane Bennet, bereft and confused, rejected by Charles Bingley is fearful of becoming an old maid. She is eager to fall in love with the very first gentleman who takes notice of her, and Mr Darcy’s is, after all, everything her mother has wanted for her, rich and handsome, the perfect suitor.

Through crowded, industrious Cheapside, to the elegant ballrooms of Mayfair, Mr Darcy chases Elizabeth Bennet, unaware that the quiet unassuming girl who smiles too much, is fully intent on chasing him.

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, annotated by Sophie Turner for review.

-Restored to the grammar, spelling, and punctuation of the 1813 Egerton first edition, save clear errors
– Forward by the editor
– Notes on historical context, including entails, debt, housekeeping, etiquette, and travelling
– Notes on Austen’s grammar
– Detailed annotations for each volume
– List of recommended further reading

The novel needs no introduction. But readers may not have realised that we have been losing “Pride and Prejudice” over the years, particularly digitally. Grammar, spelling, and punctuation have eroded significantly from the 1813 Egerton first edition, and many digital copies suffer from poor formatting.

In 2017, the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death, her “darling Child” has been painstakingly restored to the three-volume 1813 first edition. Adjustments have only been made where there were errors in the 1813 text, and are noted in detailed annotations at the end of the novel.

Please enjoy this beloved story, restored to Jane Austen’s original voice.

Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss Wrote The Cat in the Hat by Judy Sierra, illustrated by Kevin Hawkes, which is for review.

A lively new picture-book biography of the most beloved children’s book author of all time: Dr. Seuss!

Have you ever wondered how the great Dr. Seuss wrote his most famous book? Did you know that for The Cat in the Hat, he wasn’t allowed to make up the fun words he was known for—like OOBLECK and IT-KUTCH and HIPPO-NO-HUNGUS? He was only allowed to use words from a very strict list!

This bouncy account of the early career of Dr. Seuss (a.k.a. Ted Geisel) proves that sometimes limitations can be the best inspiration of all.

Kid-friendly prose (with Seussian rhyme for Ted’s dialogue) and whimsical illustrations by award winner Kevin Hawkes recall the work of Dr. Seuss himself. Writing tips from Dr. Seuss and exclusive letters from the author and illustrator, detailing how they created this book, are included!

What did you receive?

Join Me at Bourgeon

Over the last weekend while on vacation, I got the wonderful news that a very personal poem about my Vovó, who passed away two years ago.  I knew that she was ill and didn’t have much time left, and I was furiously writing.

I planned to read it at her funeral, but I was so emotionally wrecked, I was unable to do so.  I did the next best thing — after seeking sage advice from a few writer friends — I let the poem rest with her.

Fast forward two years, I tried to read Pergola at the poetry reading I participated in this year, but failed miserably at that as well.  However, during that reading, I met the wonderful Gregory Luce, who suggested I send him a few poems.

I was happy when he told me Pergola found a home at Bourgeon.  Please feel free to check it out.

Stitching with Jane Foster by Jane Foster

Source: QuartoKnows
Hardcover, 52 pgs.
I am Amazon Affiliate

Stitching with Jane Foster by Jane Foster is similar to the Suzy Ultman book of stitching with its templates and fun designs.  Many of these are animals, which my daughter loves. You need the same materials for this: embroidery thread, embroidery needles, and a needle threader.  This one also has step-by-step instructions for cross-stitching.  We haven’t gotten to that step yet, but I’m sure we will.  There are other stitches as well, including seed stitching and back stitching.

This one includes bookmarks, which I’m hoping she’ll make me one.  Some of these designs also can be colored by the artist before they do the stitching.  This has so many possibilities for little artists.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stitching with Jane Foster by Jane Foster is another great project book for kids as young as age 6.  She has a great time picking out her templates and matching the colors.  She creates her own designs with simple stitches.  Since her and nana started, she can’t seem to stop making them.  Right now, she’s working on a frameable one and it is only 9 a.m.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Jane Foster is an illustrator and screen printer living and working in south Devon. Her work, which is strongly influenced by Scandinavian and British design from the 1950s and 60s, has been featured in many publications including Vogue, Homes & Antiques, and Mollie Makes. She is a designer for Clothkits and has done commissions for Ikea. Jane’s products are stocked throughout the world.

She’s recently been working with the company Make International who are using her designs on ceramics, glasses and kitchen textiles. These are sold globally.  Jane is the author of Creative Craft With Kids (9781909397439) and Fun with Fabric (9781908449900), published by Pavilion. Jane’s recent two books (May 2015) are for pre-school children – 123 and ABC, published by Templar.  Follow her on Twitter. Visit her Website and check out her Instagram.

Fun with Stitchables by Suzy Ultman

Source: QuartoKnows
Hardcover, 36 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Fun with Stitchables! by Suzy Ultman is a simple way to get kids interested in creating things through sewing. My daughter and I had to grab some essentials for this book, such as embroidery needles and embroidery thread.  It took me a while to grab these materials, but once we got them, she was off to the races.  She even learned how to use a needle threader when her nana was here visiting.  She already learned how to make knots at summer camp with the Girl Scouts, so she had that part down.

It was good to see her enthusiastic about these designs and learning to use different colors in the designs.  The book includes step-by-step instructions on how to thread the needle, how to tie the knot, and some stitching basics, as well as knotting the end.  The book includes frameable prints, ornaments, embellishments for greeting cards, and so much more.

Fun with Stitchables! by Suzy Ultman is a fun activity for kids to learn about sewing and coordinating colors and creating patterns.  My daughter and her nana had a fun time creating together, and I’m sitting here next to her while she does another one.  She must love it if she keeps going back for more.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Suzy Ultman was born in Pennsylvania, but colorful and vibrant Amsterdam also plays a large part in her work. She has lived on three different continents and embraced the culture and communities of each, allowing them to influence her visual aesthetic. Suzy’s style of illustration is influenced by her childhood, love of nature, and travel experiences. She enjoys being in beautiful habitats among nature’s playful palette of forms, textures, and colors. Suzy explores the worlds within our world, the little details that make us smile, and the connections that make us all part of the global community.

2017 New Authors Reading Challenge