Ella by Mallory Kasdan, illustrated by Marcos Chin

Source: Viking
Hardcover, 56 pgs
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Ella by Mallory Kasdan, illustrated by Marcos Chin, is a cute story about a six-year-old girl who lives in a hip hotel and who has a male nanny.  Ella is precocious and smart, but she’s also curious and mischievous.  She’s clearly a handful for her male nanny, and I don’t think that would be any different for any other nanny.  Kasdan packs in a lot of information in short lines and images, with Ella engaged in recycling and using technology on a regular basis, but she also loves to jam and create music.  Chin’s images are alive with character and musicality through his use of color and shape.  The book is visually and verbally engaging, and what’s best is that the words used throughout the book are easy to follow for readers who are just learning words by sight and reading with their parents.

Kasdan’s story may seem a little fanciful, especially as Ella does things that many 6 year olds wouldn’t be able to do or even be allowed to do.  To think that she wouldn’t is false, however, given that children are inquisitive and adventurous, willing to go with the flow and try anything they find interesting.  As long as kids are engaged, they are all about the task at hand and even tasks that are not necessarily for them.

Ella by Mallory Kasdan, illustrated by Marcos Chin, is a fun read for little girls that have big dreams, and I hope that there are more books on the horizon with this quirky, fun, and intelligent little girl.  A lot of what goes on and the characters she meets are more than their appearances convey, and that’s a great lesson for kids to learn.

About the Author:

Mallory Kasdan is the author of ELLA, which will be published by Viking Children’s Books in January of 2015. The grooviest six year old since Eloise ruled The Plaza in the 1950’s, ELLA lives at The Local Hotel with her Manny, her pets and her scooter.  She is artsy, of course.  

Mallory is also a professional voice actor for television and radio, represented by Don Buchwald and Associates.  She writes essays about parenting and has produced arts & culture pieces for public radio. Once upon a time Mallory was a book publicist and accompanied RuPaul on a 5-city book tour. Mallory lives in Brooklyn with her family, not in a hotel and with no room service to speak of.  

About the Illustrator:

Marcos Chin is an illustrator living in Brooklyn. His drawings have appeared inmagazines, book covers, and advertisements in the USA and around the world. Whenever possible he tries to sneak his two dogs, Shalby and Rita, into his drawings. Marcos teaches illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York. Visit his website.

First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

Source: Viking
Hardcover, 320 pgs
On Amazon and on Kobo

First Impressions by Charlie Lovett is a literary mystery in which the fate of Jane Austen’s reputation as a premier novelist hangs in the balance.  Sophie Collingwood has finished her master’s degree at Oxford when she meets a beguiling Eric Hall, an American traveling through Europe.  In a meeting of the minds, they share one passionate kiss, but after he’s gone to France, she must deal with a lot more than her future after university when the family is hit by tragedy.  As she regains her footing, her sister, Victoria, provides her with the framework she needs to move forward, even if it is in baby steps.  She shares a similar relationship with her sister that Jane shared with her own, Cassandra.

“Uncle Bertram’s books were not arranged by author or title or more perplexing to little Sophie, by size or color.  ‘You have to read a book to understand its place on the shelf,’ said Uncle Bertram.”  (page 26)

Soon as a bookshop worker in Boxhill, Sophie finds that she is unwittingly at the center of a book controversy as two separate customers want her to locate the second edition of book, A Little Book of Allegories, by an obscure clergyman named Richard Mansfield.  Sophie is a bookish woman who loves a good mystery, but this mystery has a darkness to it, especially when one of the customers begins issuing veiled threats to motivate her in her search.  Even as she is afraid, she is still determined to uncover the mysterious connections between Mansfield and Austen, but she also finds herself being romantically pursued by two men.

First Impressions by Charlie Lovett is a literary mystery that is not hard to unravel, but it does make for a fun journey.  When your companions are Jane Austen and Sophie Collingwood, you’ll have little to be disappointed about.  From a young Austen crafting her novels at home and sharing them with her small family and social circle to Sophie finding her way after tragedy, Lovett has created an enjoyable mystery full of companionship, love, and suspense.

About the Author:

Charlie Lovett is a writer, teacher, and playwright whose plays for children have been seen in over 3000 productions worldwide. He served for more than a decade as Writer-in-Residence at Summit School in Winston-Salem, NC.  Check out the Book Club Kit.


84th book for 2014 New Author Reading Challenge.

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Source: Public library
Hardcover, 391 pages
On Amazon and on Kobo

The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson is set five years or more after Hayley Kincaid’s father came back from two tours each in Afghanistan and Iraq.  They had been on the road as he drove semi-trucks and home-schooled her, but they return to his home town to set down some roots and for her to attend senior year in a regular school.  She barely reconnects with her childhood friend Gracie and she is plunged head first into peer-pressure drama as she tries to hide her own past and home life struggles.  She meets mega-hottie Finn, who has stopped being the star swimmer for the high school team, and they strike up an unconventional relationship of him doing her favors she never asks for in exchange for articles for the nearly defunct school newspaper.

“My earbuds were in, but I wasn’t playing music.  I needed to hear the world but didn’t want the world to know I was listening.” (page 5)

As much as this story is about Hayley and her ability to connect with people her own age, it is also a story about the wide-ranging effects of PTSD.  Anderson sprinkles in what look like memories from Hayley’s father, which provide enough background on his experiences to demonstrate how real his nightmares had become.  These nightmares are so real that she loses sleep herself, and like most children of addicted parents, she teeters on the edge of caring for him and allowing herself to live her own life without worrying about him.

“A few days after we moved in, Daddy got unstuck from time again, like the Pilgrim guy in Slaughterhouse.  The past took over.  All he heard were exploding IEDs and incoming mortar rounds; all he saw were body fragments, like an unattached leg still wearing its boot, and shards of shiny bones, sharp as spears.  All he tasted was blood.”  (page 9)

Trauma is tricky, and while many veterans never speak of their experiences, family can glean from their nightmares the events that continue to plague their living hours.  Anderson writes for young adults with a seriousness that ensures young readers will feel at home in the worlds she creates, but she never sugarcoats the realities of war or PTSD.  Hayley is strong, but still teeters on the edge when her father takes a wrong turn or stops coming out of his room.  The only thing keeping her in the present and connected are her relationships with Gracie and Finn.  The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson is highly emotional, could be considered a tearjerker, and will leave a lasting imprint on readers’ memories.

About the Author:

Laurie Halse Anderson is the New York Times-bestselling author who writes for kids of all ages. Known for tackling tough subjects with humor and sensitivity, her work has earned numerous American Library Association and state awards. Two of her books, Speak and Chains, were National Book Award finalists. Chains also made the Carnegie Medal Shortlist in the United Kingdom.

Laurie was the proud recipient of the 2009 Margaret A. Edwards Award given by YALSA division of the American Library Association for her “significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature…”. She was also honored with the ALAN Award from the National Council of Teachers of English and the St. Katharine Drexel Award from the Catholic Librarian Association.

Also Reviewed:

14th book (Gulf Wars — Operation Iraqi Freedom) for the 2014 War Challenge With a Twist.

Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman

Source: Author Beth Hoffman
Hardcover, 354 pages
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Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman is a coming of age story for Teddi Overman who has a gift for restoring old furniture that speaks to her.  Her small, close-knit family from Kentucky is as diverse in background and interests as any family could be, with her brother Josh so attuned to nature — he’s almost as wild as the animals he observes and cares for — to her uptight mother Franny, who has secrets hidden deep inside.  Teddi is an independent and stubborn girl whose life is altered when she meets an older man, Mr. Palmer, who’s passing through town.  He buys a refurbished chest from her side-of-the-road shop and encourages her to follow her dream and look him up in South Carolina.  When she graduates from high school, something irrevocably changes for her family as each member either seeks freedom or learns to find that freedom is already there.

“Some people run toward life, arms flung wide in anticipation.  Others crack open the door and take a one-eyed peek to see what’s out there.  Then there are those who give up on life long before their heart stops beating — all used up, worn out, and caved in, yet they wake each morning and shuffle their tired legs through another day.”  (page 1)

The double meaning in the title comes into play when her brother makes his flight from the family farm.  The close relationship between Josh and Teddi is tender and endearing, but it also makes his lack of communication with his sister heart-breaking.  In many ways, looking for me is not about Teddi finding herself — because she already knows who she is and what she wants out of life — but about her finding the piece of herself that went missing when her brother left.  Early on in the story, even Teddi recognizes that leaving home means leaving something of yourself behind, and she even suggests that it’s a piece that cannot be reclaimed, but waits for your return and for you to remember.  Recovering that piece of herself is a journey only she can accomplish, but even so, she can and does lean on the support system of friends she finds in Charleston.

Olivia and Teddi tell each other like it is, and like most real-life friends, keep secrets from one another when they know the unsolicited advice they’d receive is not something they would want to hear.  Teddi rebuilds and refinishes furniture, but in many ways she uses those same skills to restore her own family, which fell into disrepair through a series of missteps and miscommunications.  Through a greater understanding of her mother and father’s motivations and backgrounds, Teddi is able to come to terms with her past and embrace her future fully.  Grammy Belle, Josh, Sam, Albert, Inez, and Olivia will leave lasting impressions on Hoffman’s readers, causing them to be missed something fierce when the last page is turned.

Second novels can suffer from harsh criticism, especially when they follow a wildly successful debut novel, like Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt (my review), but Looking for Me breaks through preconceived expectations to weave a story that will enchant readers with not only its southern charm and hospitality, but also the mysteries of family connections and miscommunications.  Hoffman’s second novel is captivating from the first pages and will give readers hope that the future is brighter than we expect it to be.  Another winner from an author I love.

About the Author:

Twelve days after Beth Hoffman’s first novel was published in January 2010, she became a New York Times bestselling author with foreign rights selling to prestigious publishers in Italy, Germany, France, Poland, Norway, Hungary, Indonesia, Korea, Israel, and the United Kingdom.

Before beginning her writing career, Beth was president and co-owner of an interior design studio. An artist as well as an award-winning designer, her paintings are displayed in private and corporate collections in the United States, Canada, and the UK.

Beth lives, along with her husband and two very smart cats, in a restored Queen Anne home in a quaint historic district in Northern Kentucky. Her interests include the rescue of abandoned and abused animals, nature conservancy, birding, historic preservation, and antiquing.  Visit her on Twitter and Facebook.

Virgin Soul by Judy Juanita

Source: Viking
Hardcover, 306 pages
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The rhythm of Virgin Soul by Judy Juanita’s narrative is reminiscent of scat singing, but with a street-based undertone, jumping from moment to moment creating an atmosphere that resembles the turbulent nature of the 1960s.  In this way, she captures the atmosphere, especially among African-Americans in California at that time, really well.  The protagonist Geniece Hightower has always felt like an outsider since her mother died and her father skipped out, but when she heads off to college, she thinks that she’s finally found a place to fit in.  She meets some people engaged in the civil rights movement, and falls in love with Allwood, who becomes her lover and teacher.  She falls in and out of relationships, but at her heart Allwood is her first love.

Juanita breaks the book into one year of college from Freshman to Senior year, and its first-person narrative makes it read more like a memoir than fiction.  The novel bounces from moment to moment, reading more like a journal than fiction, and Geniece is tough to get a handle on as she’s pulled between the moral and conservative views of her family and the angrier, more liberal thinking of her friends.

“Uncle Boy-Boy was a dentist and Aunt Ola Ray was his wife and I was not their adored child–I was more obligation than kin, their dark-skinned orphan-in-residence.  I had gotten accepted into SF State as a freshman, but my ‘financial resources’ amounted to my seventy-two-dollar monthly Social Security check.  I wasn’t about to ask them to support me.”  (page 3)

Geniece is looking for her place in the world, and as she’s felt like an outsider in her own family, it’s easier for her to be captured by the passions of others, and eventually, she falls into the Black Panthers.  While she’s caught up in the movement, she never loses sight of getting her education, knowing from her family that it is about the only way she can break free from poverty.  As a member of the party, she learns that she is as angry as the men in the party, but she draws the line at killing.  Geniece never seems to grow out of the naive way in which she relates to the men in her life — falling into bed at a moment’s notice, even when there is very little attraction — but her relationships with her female friends are at arms length in most cases.

“Whenever Allwood insisted, I resisted, but only to a point.  I wanted to know what he knew, feel what he felt inside that righteousness.  The only way in was to surrender, and I was willing.  I had plenty of motivation and a demonstrated interest, but I needed a catalyst.  Allwood was the reason I became black.”  (page 35)

Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, the leaders of the Black Panthers, are here, along with many others from history, but they are more in the backdrop than in the foreground.  Other figures from history include Stokely Carmichael, Betty Shabazz, Eldridge Cleaver, and more.  Geniece, however, is on the sidelines and working with the community and the children and on the paper, but she has little to do with the violent protests and demonstrations.  She’s a bystander, but she isn’t.  Her involvement is focused on the rebuilding of the community, and in this way, her character matures and becomes a focal point for what was good about the Panthers.  Readers looking for an in-depth connection to these historical figures will be disappointed because the novel’s focus is Geniece and her experiences during the 1960s and the civil rights movement, which also gets caught up in the controversy of the Vietnam War and the deaths of Black soldiers on the front lines.

When the police and the FBI are watching your every move, it is naive to think that even as a mere writer or community volunteer that you wouldn’t be a target.  Unfortunately, Geniece is very naive in terms of precarious situation as a party member — a perception that she has to face head on later in the book.  Moreover, it seems as those she simply falls into a socialist movement, and gets herself deeper involved without thinking about the consequences.  Where the novel failed is at the end where too many things are left unresolved and hanging, and Geniece’s character is only partially evolved beyond her first introduction.  The relationships between the main character and the male party members are vague at times or seemingly non-existent until they fall into bed.

Virgin Soul by Judy Juanita is not for every reader; it is definitely frank about the 1960s movements, the violence, the drug use, the rampant sexual activity without commitment, and the paranoia that many in the African-American community felt.  However, Juanita has a firm grasp of her setting and time period, making it easy for readers to transport themselves back in time and to feel the tension and paranoia that these activists felt as they strived for change.  Another aspect that comes to life is the color differences and prejudice within the Black community itself, particularly in how darker skin men and women were treated compared to those with lighter brown skin.  Overall, a turbulent novel that reads more like a series of memories.

About the Author:

Judy Juanita’s poetry and fiction have been published widely, and her plays have been produced in the Bay Area and New York City. She has taught writing at Laney College in Oakland since 1993. This is her first novel. She lives in Oakland.  Check out this Interview from Publisher’s Weekly.

This is my 36th book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.

Cascade by Maryanne O’Hara

Cascade by Maryanne O’Hara is set in 1930s Massachusetts as the rest of the world is on the cusp of war with the Nazis and Boston is hoping to alleviate its water shortage by creating a new reservoir along the Cascade River.  Painter Desdemona Hart Spaulding lives in the sleepy little town of Cascade, which has been a target of lawmakers looking for water over the last decade.  Her life is nothing like she expected as her family falls on hard times, and she makes a life-altering decision to marry Asa to save her father and her home.  What she fails to realize is that some decisions are made for you by circumstance and fate in a cascade of changes that you can either fight or ride.

From the moment readers meet Dez, they know that she is conflicted about her new role as wife.  She makes her husband’s breakfast and tries to care for her father, but her mind wanders to her studio, her paints, and her canvases, making her lose track of time as she dives into the colors and scenes she creates.  Asa is hard to grasp as he seems to want to be oblivious to his wife’s struggles, but is forced to see reality when his wife makes decisions that place them both in the spotlight as the town looks for ways to save itself from drowning.

“Their once-fashionable resort town with its pleasant waters was looking more and more like the ghost valley that was invading dreams and even the pages of her sketchpad.”  (page 3)

O’Hara’s novel is not just about the cascade of decisions and twists in one’s life, but also the unexpected changes that face a country in a depression on the verge of a possible world war — at a time when sentiment against Jews is turning negative as many people lose their jobs and are thrust into poverty.  Things spiral out of control for the Spauldings and the town, but Dez is determined to follow her innate desire to pursue her art in spite of her duty to her husband and her father’s legacy as she hopes to turn public sentiment in favor of saving Cascade from the water department.  The parallels between the river and how it can shape a town and how events can shape people are deftly made in O’Hara’s lyrical prose.  She intertwines Shakespeare’s plays and famous quotations easily, tying Dez to her father’s legacy throughout the novel even when she has all but abandoned it in favor of an affair of art.

While Dez can seem immature in her clinging to Jacob, a traveling salesman, it is clear from her relationship with Asa that she’s never been in love with anything other than Shakespeare as seen through her father’s theater in Cascade and her own painting.  She is an artist that needs to feel substantial loss and pain before she can fully come into her art.  O’Hara has created a novel about the tensions between duty and desire and following one’s dream.  She has captured the struggle of artists, who unfortunately are too often misunderstood by non-artists, to achieve the time necessary to create without the guilt of failing to meet the obligations of family life and other relationships.

Through gorgeous descriptions and painting techniques, O’Hara plunges readers into the light-filled studios and landscapes of Dez, as well as into her nightmares, her guilt, and her nostalgia for things past.  Through quick brushstrokes and scraped canvases, the novel transports readers into muddied waters and into the bold color of an artist’s life.  Cascade by Maryanne O’Hara is a debut that shimmers like the rushing river over the rocks of the waterfall with its quiet power shaping Dez and what was once Cascade, Massachusetts.

***On a completely different note, I was totally in LOVE with this cover.   It was so utterly distracting with its water shapes in the profile image and how the boulders blended in as the woman’s hair.  I was enamored.***

About the Author:

Maryanne O’Hara was the longtime associate fiction editor of Ploughshares, Boston’s award-winning literary journal. Her short fiction has been published in magazines like The North American ReviewFive PointsRedbook, and many anthologies. She has received grants from the St. Botolph Foundation and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and her story collection was a finalist for 2010′s Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. She lives on a river near Boston.

Find out more about Maryanne at her Website, her blog, and connect with her on Facebook.

This is my 83rd book for the New Authors Reading Challenge in 2012.


The Odds by Stewart O’Nan

The Odds by Stewart O’Nan is a slim volume that begins each chapter with a probability that sets the tone for the following chapter — a gimmick that is extraneous to the story he’s telling about an older couple — Marion and Art Fowler — whose marriage in on the brink of complete failure as they face insolvency and an empty nest.  Rather than prefacing each chapter with the odds of a married couple having sex during the week or the odds of getting food poisoning while on vacation, O’Nan could have allowed the decision to gamble away their life savings while on vacation in Canada speak for itself about the couple’s dire financial situation and marriage.  But this is a minor quibble.

O’Nan does a good job of demonstrating the tentative way in which each maneuvers around the other in conversation and shared space, which demonstrates the unspoken pain between them and the tentative hope that they can find something to spark a passion they thought they once had and maybe even shared.  However, through the oscillating narration between Art and Marion, readers soon discover that they have very different takes on what this Valentine’s Day trip is about, with Art hoping to save his marriage and Marion waiting for it to end so she can move on.

“They weren’t good liars, they were just afraid of the truth and what it might say about them.  They were middle class, prey to the tyranny of appearances and what they could afford, or dare, which was part of the problem.”  (page 1)

More than anything, The Odds is about deception. Art is deceiving himself that he can erase his past transgressions and right the wrongs with a Valentine’s Day trip to Niagara Falls and can remedy their financial situation with gambling. Marion is deceiving herself that Art will accept that she wants a divorce and to move forward.  We deceive ourselves about our motivations, our emotions, and our dreams, but how long can we deceive ourselves and others before there are consequences?  Midway, there is a deeply ominous feel to the book as a horse-and-carriage ride brings with it a couple tales of daredevils who needed rescuing after going over the falls and lovers who were parted by a freak thaw in 1912 that washed them away on the American side of the falls.

The Odds by Stewart O’Nan is not a typical love story, but in a way it is similar to how love stories come about, through chance and taking a risk.  In the end, we all have regrets and at times those regrets eat away at us, but how many of us would completely change our decisions and lives, giving up our children or spouses, for the unknown after so many years together?  Then again, O’Nan’s prose clearly demonstrates that even if you have regrets, you can change your luck and your direction with the one you love at your side — even against the odds.


This is my 12th book for the 2012 New Authors Challenge.  I borrowed this one from the library after reading Ti’s review at Book Chatter.  Also check out the review from Literate Housewife.


Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington

Alice Bliss by Laura Harrington is a coming of age story about a teen girl growing into adulthood at a time when her father, Matt, is sent to Iraq and her mother, Angie, is not dealing with his absence as well as Alice thinks she should.  The blissful life her family has had up until this point is turned around and twisted as Alice takes on more of her mother’s duties — making dinner, washing clothes, getting her sister’s (Ellie) lunch ready, and getting her sister to school.  She’s constantly worried about her father not returning home, about how she seems not to be anyone’s favorite, and the changes she sees in her friends, family, and Henry (her neighbor and friend).

Harrington creates a world and cast of characters that grab your heart and don’t let go.  The Bliss family story will have your tearing up right from the beginning when the father is first setting his affairs in order and explaining to Alice what she’s to do while he is at war.  Yes, he says, he is coming back, but readers know about the uncertainties of war and so does Alice, which makes his parting all the more heart-wrenching.  Alice only finds solace when running, like her mother finds solace when swimming, but they are too alike to find comfort in one another and often find themselves at odds.  Dynamic characters young and old tackle difficult questions of how to go on without a loved one, who often calmed the waters and even when that situation is expected to be temporary.

“This is the first time Alice has been allowed to walk back to their campsite from the Kelp Shed alone.  She is fourteen, barefoot, her sneakers tied together by the laces and slung across her shoulder so she can feel the soft, sandy dust of the single-track road between her toes.  Her sister fell asleep halfway through the square dance, dropping from hyperexcited to unconscious in a flash.  Her father carries Ellie draped over his shoulder, and casually, or so it seems, her mother says, ‘Come home when the dance is done.'” (page 1)

While Alice is a strong, young woman, she is also timid when it comes to her changing relationship with Henry and volatile when it comes to her relationship with her mother and sister and her schoolmates.  Alice’s life spirals out of control while she’s daydreaming and running away, but there are moments of hope when letters arrive and broken up phone calls pepper their days.  Alice is growing up before readers’ eyes.  She’s learning that her friendship with Henry is more complicated than she expects and at a time when she wants it to stay the same.  She’s flattered when a popular senior asks her to a baseball game, and she’s disenchanted with high school society when her childhood friend Steph remains distant even when it is obvious she needs someone to lean on.  Her sister Ellie tries to act more mature than her sister, and does on some occasions, but she’s still just eight and what’s important to her — a new haircut, new clothes, a nice lunch — skirts the realities of their lives without Matt.

Uncle Eddie and Gram are the rocks of the family that help hold up Angie, Alice, and Ellie — keeping them from imploding.  Harrington has created a wide cast of characters who evolve steadily throughout the novel.  Despite the third person omniscient point of view, Harrington’s narrative evokes an emotional connection between the characters and the reader.  The distance often felt with this point of view is not present here in the least.  Readers will feel the loss, the waiting, the anger, the sadness, and the confusion all at once — just as the characters do — while cheering them on to remain positive that Matt will return home.  This is a young adult novel adults will praise for its realistic portrayal of adult themes, while young adults will praise the relate-ability of its teen characters and their situations.

“Even though Mrs. Grover wears those awful sensible shoes and has gray hair that she wears in a bun, Alice thinks that maybe Mrs. Grover is still young in the ways that are important.  Like she’s not so serious all the time, and she sings and right now she’s teasing a cardinal.  Whistling in response to its call and damn if that cardinal doesn’t whistle right back.  Alice’s mother doesn’t even have a clothesline, let alone stand outside and lift her face to the sun and sing and whistle to the birds.” (page 101)

Harrington is talented at creating a world that is real — a small town where everyone knows one another and feels as though they are under a microscope at home and school — and generates an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty — in the silence of waiting.  What are those keepsakes that we hold dearest? What are those memories that we hold onto tightest? Alice and her family find these answers and more, making the novel even more suspenseful.  Alice Bliss not only tracks the evolution of Alice from child to adolescence and the bumps along the way, the novel teaches readers about heartache, compassion, and strength.

About the Author:

Laura Harrington’s award winning plays, musicals, operas, and radio plays have been widely produced in the U.S., Canada, and abroad. Harrington is a two time winner of the Massachusetts Cultural Council Award in playwriting and a two time winner of the Clauder Competition for best new play in New England for Mercy and Hallowed Ground.

“Alice Bliss”, a novel, published by Pamela Dorman Books, Penguin/ Viking, will be on sale spring 2011. She is currently writing a new novel, “A Catalogue of Birds,” as well as a song cycle with composer Elena Ruehr, and a series of choral works with composer Roger Ames. Ms. Harrington teaches playwriting at M.I.T and is a frequent guest artist at Tufts, Harvard (where she was a visiting Briggs Copeland Lecturer), Wellesley, University of Iowa, and other campuses.

Please also check out this great Q&A, an excerpt from the novel, and her blog.


This is my 59th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.



Alice blissI took part in the experiment to see where this book would end up once I read, reviewed, and released it into the world.  So, here’s a picture of me releasing it into the wilds of Maryland (Ok, its a Safeway/Starbucks Cafe).

I toyed with releasing it in a bookstore, at the library among the library sale stacks, and finally decided to release it in the Safeway near my house in their Starbucks Cafe.  It was done surreptitiously and I was incredibly self-conscious.  Nevermind that this is a book I really didn’t want to let go because I loved it so much.

I may just have to buy my own copy of this book to add to my shelves and read it again.  It was THAT GOOD!