Appreciate the season

Every year at this time, I pull out a book that has been in my possession for many years.  I read it myself. I share it’s contents with friends.  This year I’m sharing it with you!

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“A cup of Christmas tea” by Tom Hegg illustrated by Warren Hanson

I cannot read this wonderful (and slightly sappy) poem with getting all choked up…

It would make a marvelous Christmas gift for someone you love, or, treat yourself and revisit it every year as I do.  It is available at Amazon, Chapters, and, Barnes & Noble. It now has a different cover, but I’ve shown you MY version.  It is one which I treasure.

A Cup of Christmas Tea

by Tom Hegg

christmas-holly

The log was in the fireplace,
all spiced and set to burn.
At last the yearly Christmas race
was in the clubhouse turn.
The cards were in the mail,
all the gifts beneath the tree.
And 30 days reprieve till VISA
could catch up with me.

Though smug satisfaction
seemed the order of the day,
Something still was nagging me
and would not go away.

A week before, I got a letter
from my old great Aunt.
It read: Of course I’ll understand
completely if you can’t,
But if you find you have some time
how wonderful if we
Could have a little chat and share
a cup of Christmas tea.
She’d had a mild stroke that year
which crippled her left side.
Though house bound now,
my folks had said
it hadn’t hurt her pride.
They said: She’d love to see you.
What a nice thing it would be
For you to go and maybe have
a cup of Christmas tea.
But boy! I didn’t want to go.
Oh, what a bitter pill,
To see an old relation and
how far she’d gone downhill.
I remembered her as vigorous,
as funny and as bright.
I remembered Christmas Eves when
she regaled us half the night.

I didn’t want to risk all that.
I didn’t want the pain.
I didn’t need to be depressed.
I didn’t need the strain.

And what about my brother?
Why not him? She’s his aunt, too!
I thought I had it justified,
but then before I knew,
The reasons not to go I so
painstakingly had built
Were cracking wide and crumbling
in an acid rain of guilt.

I put on boots and gloves and cap,
shame stinging every pore.
And armed with squeegee,
sand and map,
I went out my front door.
I drove in from the suburbs
to the older part of town.
The pastels of the newer homes
gave way to gray and brown.

I had that disembodied feeling
as the car pulled up and stopped
Beside the wooden house
that held the Christmas cup.
How I got up to her door
I really couldn’t tell…
I watched my hand rise up and press
the button of the bell.

I waited, aided by my nervous
rocking to and fro.
And just as I was thinking
I should turn around and go,
I heard the rattle of the china
in the hutch against the wall.
The triple beat of two feet
and a crutch came down the hall.

The clicking of the door latch
and the sliding of the bolt,
And a little swollen struggle
popped it open with a jolt.
She stood there pale and tiny,
looking fragile as an egg.
I forced myself from staring
at the brace that held her leg.

And though her thick bifocals
seemed to crack and spread her eyes,
Their milky and refracted depths
lit up with young surprise.
Come in! Come in!
She laughed the words.
She took me by the hand.
And all my fears dissolved away
as if by her command.

We went inside and then before
I knew how to react
Before my eyes and ears and nose
was Christmas past, alive, intact!

The scent of candied oranges,
of cinnamon and pine,
The antique wooden soldiers
in their military line,
The porcelain Nativity
I’d always loved so much,
The Dresden and the crystal
I’d been told I mustn’t touch.

My spirit fairly bolted
like a child out of class
And danced among the ornaments
of calico and glass.
Like magic I was six again,
deep in a Christmas spell.
Steeped in the million memories
That the boy inside knew well.

And here among old Christmas cards
so lovingly displayed,
A special place of honor
for the ones we kids had made.
And there, beside her rocking chair,
the center of it all,
My great Aunt stood and said how nice
it was I’d come to call.

I sat and rattled on about
the weather and the flu.
She listened very patiently
then smiled and said, “What’s new?”
Thoughts and words began to flow.
I started making sense.
I lost the phony breeziness
I use when I get tense.

She was still passionately interested
in everything I did.
She was positive. Encouraging.
Like when I was a kid.
Simple generalities
still sent her into fits.
She demanded the specifics.
The particulars. The bits.

We talked about the limitations
that she’d had to face.
She spoke with utter candor
and with humor and good grace.
Then defying the reality
of crutch and straightened knee,
On wings of hospitality
she flew to brew the tea.
 

I sat alone with feelings that
I hadn’t felt in years.
I looked around at Christmas
through a thick hot blur of tears.
And the candles and the holly
she’d arranged on every shelf,
The impossibly good cookies
she still somehow baked herself.

But these rich and tactile memories
became quite pale and thin,
When measured by the Christmas
my great Aunt kept deep within.
Her body halved and nearly spent,
but my great Aunt was whole.
I saw a Christmas miracle,
the triumph of a soul.

The triple beat of two feet and a
crutch came down the hall,
The rattle of the china
in the hutch against the wall.
She poured two cups. She smiled and then she handed one to me.
And then we settled back and had
a cup of Christmas tea.bardecor06

You can now listen to the author recite his work on YouTube.  Keep your tissues handy!

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Wishing you all a stress-free, joyous festive season, filled with laughter and love.

Posted in Christmas, Favorite books, Recommended reading | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Fictionophile now has over 1,000 followers!

1000-followers

I was very excited to note that my blog has just passed this coveted milestone.  I’m incredibly grateful to the 1,004 Fictionophile followers.  Thanks SO much!

Posted in Fictionophile report | Tagged , | 46 Comments

“A snow garden: and other stories” by Rachel Joyce

Every once in a while you find a writer that seems to have a way with words that seems to speak directly to you, the reader.  It is a talent coveted by many, and one that Rachel Joyce possesses.  Her novels “The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry“, “The love song of Miss Queenie Hennessey” and “Perfect” have all been favorites of mine.  Now, with this book, she has written seven linked stories with a Christmas theme running throughout.a-snow-garden-on-kindle

It has to be said that I even enjoyed the forward.  In it the author describes how the characters in this book were sort of ‘left-over’ from her other books.  We readers get a tiny glimpse into the author’s mind and how she views the characters portrayed in her fiction. Peripheral characters in her other books whose appearance in them was very minimal, or cut out altogether.  She cared enough about their stories that she felt they needed to be told.  And I’m glad she did.

A quote from the forward: “We are at the centre of our own stories. And sometimes it is hard to believe that we are not at the centre of other people’s. But I love the fact that you can brush past a person with your own story so big in your mind and at the same time be a simple passer-by in someone else’s. A walk-on part.”

Of the seven linked stories in this volume, my favorite has to be “A snow garden” – the title story.  It tells of a father who has temporary custody of his two sons over the holidays.  He has separated from his wife, due in part, to the fact that he has experienced some mental illness in the form of hallucinations. The story portrays the difficulties and the joys, the promises and the uncertainties of being a parent.

My favorite character of the seven stories has to be Binny, a forty-seven year old single mother.  She is mentioned in both the first story, “The faraway smell of lemon” and the last one, “Trees“.  Her live-in partner, Oliver, has just a few days before Christmas – left her…

“His absence became a presence and she thought of nothing else”.

The stories included in this volume are meticulously wrought, sincere tales of real life. With all of its sadness, joy, struggles, and achievements, they are above all, honest.  They make the commonplace seem magical. They make the reader cry, laugh, and feel connected to their fellow humans in a way that makes fiction shine.

Here are stories of love, marriage, parenthood, loneliness, despair, angst, and compassion. The characters depicted are so vividly described that you feel you have known them for a long time.

“This was how it was, she thought. People would find one another, and sometimes it would last moments and sometimes it would last years.”the-snow-garden-cover

I purchased this book on the strength of my liking of her other work, and, I felt that this would be the perfect time to read it.  Highly recommended!  I believe it will be especially appreciated by fans of Maeve Binchy, Rosamund Pilcher, Kate Morton, and the like.

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I eagerly await the publication of Rachel Joyce’s next novel, “The Music Shop” which is slated for publication by Penguin UK in July 2017.

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Rachel Joyce is the author of the international bestsellers The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Perfect and The Love Song of Miss Queenie HennessyThe Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Book Prize and longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and has been translated into 34 languages. She is also the author of Perfect and a new novel for 2016, The Music Shop. She is the award-winning writer of over 30 original afternoon plays and classic adaptations for BBC Radio 4.  Rachel Joyce lives with her family in Gloucestershire.

Posted in Christmas, Fiction, Recommended reading, Short stories | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

20 questions with Eva Lesko Natiello (author of “The Memory Box”) + GIVEAWAY!

Eva Lesko Natiello is a native New Yorker, who, by transplanting to the New Jersey suburbs, conceived her first novel, “The Memory Box“, an award-winning debut thriller. I’m excited to announce that she has graciously consented to an interview on Fictionophile.

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Also,  animated-drum-rollshe has generously agreed to provide a signed copy of her novel in order that I might host a ‘giveaway‘ open to the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom.  In order to qualify for the draw, readers must ‘like‘ or ‘comment‘ on either this blog post, or, on the post of my review of “The Memory Box“.

Thanks so much Eva!

Welcome to Fictionophile.

F:   The Memory Box” is your debut novel.  It has been very popular with readers, and it won the Houston Writer’s Guild Manuscript Award in 2014.  To what do you attribute its success? (besides your obvious writing talent)

ELN: There are a few things I think are at work here. One, the Googling aspect. It’s sort of a secret thing people do, Google themselves. Not many people talk about Googling themselves. It feels a little shameful, like trying to overhear what people are saying about you. So, to see how someone’s Google search goes terribly wrong, it comes with a little shudder, and a “what if that happens when I do it?”. It feels voyeuristic, and we all love that! The second thing at work, I believe, is that it is a fast read. I have heard from many people who have a hard time sticking with a book till the end. They are so happy to get sucked in and to, well, get to the end! The third, I think, is the popularity of the “marriage thriller.” In a world where everything feels knowable, it is truly the last bastion of privacy: a couple’s private life. The fourth, it is a extremely popular book club book. And book club people love to talk about books! So they have helped tremendously with the word of mouth.

F:  How old were you when you first began writing?

ELN: 40

F: What inspired “The Memory Box”?  How long did the writing process take? 

ELN:  The book was inspired by a story I read in the New York Times about a teenager who Googled himself and discovered that he was on a missing persons list in Canada. I thought, if you could find out something so personal from a Google search, that was previously unknown to you, that’s pretty amazing.   Writing took about a year, editing took longer!

F:  Are re-writes part of your personal writing process?

ELN:  Yes!

F:  Your novel was set in the state where you live. Do you think it is best to set your novels in locales with which you are familiar?  Do you think an author can do justice to a setting of a novel if they have never been to the place about which they write?

ELN:  I am in awe of authors who write historical fiction for exactly that reason. For creating such a realistic portrait of a place and time which are foreign. I don’t think I could do that. 

F:  When I was reading “The Memory Box”, I felt increasingly sorry for Caroline’s husband, Andy.  Do you view him as a sympathetic character, or was he just a pawn in Caroline’s plan?

ELN:  People in book clubs often tell me that he infuriated them. They thought he was very naive (they sometimes used much harsher descriptions!), but I always remind people to remember that it’s through Caroline’s eyes that we get to know Andy. It is through her perception of him. It would be very interesting to read this story through Andy’s eyes, wouldn’t it?

F:  Your protagonist, Caroline had some deep-seated emotional issues.  Did you find it difficult to get inside the head of someone so innately psychotic and filled with angst?

ELN:  Yes, it was very difficult and often unsettling and traumatic for me. It presented a very difficult conflict.

F:  Control is a predominant theme in “The Memory Box”.   Even when her life was chaotic, Caroline always had her daily schedule nearby.  Is your own life very structured?  Do you maintain a daily schedule?

ELN:  That’s funny! I try to give myself the impression that I have things under control. The reality often does not match that impression! I do, however, keep to-do lists all over my desk. The problem for me is that once I write them, I very rarely look at them again! 

F:  Caroline, the protagonist of “The Memory Box” seems obsessed with twins.  Are there any twins in your own family?

ELN:  No. I have no twins in my family but I am super curious about them. I have about three more story-lines with twins in them.

F:  The family’s Westie terrier named Smarty Pants added some needed diversion from the intensity of the plot of your novel.  Do you have a Westie in your own life?

ELN:  No. I don’t even have a dog! But dogs also are very intriguing to me. The dog is definitely a character in the book. There is a dog in the book I’m writing now. They are often a good side-kick to the main character. Smarty Pants is a clever one….

F:  Writers are also avid readers. What type of book do you like to read for pleasure?

ELN:  I do love historical fiction. Some of my favorites, The Paris Wife, Vanessa and her Sister, The Chaperone and I am madly in love with a book I’m reading now: The Danish Girl.

F:  Do you believe that libraries continue to provide a valuable resource for youth and adults alike?  Or, do you think the internet has made visiting libraries a practice that is becoming obsolete?

ELN:  Funny you should ask. I was recently asked to speak at a library association’s annual meeting about the changes in publishing and self-publishing and how those changes are going to change the way libraries stay relevant. I believe there will always be a need for libraries as part of a community. They’re essential. It will be necessary for them to keep up with how readers consume books and media in order to stay relevant.

F:  If you could sit and enjoy a chat and a glass of wine with another thriller novelist – who would it be?

ELN: Well, she is not a thriller novelist, but I’d love to have a glass of wine with Erin Morgenstern, the author of The Night Circus. I am dazzled by her lush and imaginative writing.

 F:  What current novelist do you feel is underrated or deserves to be more well known?

ELN:  Kea Wilson, author of We Eat Our Own. This horror literary fiction is her debut. She is a gorgeous writer.

F:  Do you watch crime television?  If so, what are some of your favourite shows?

ELN:  I don’t watch crime television unless I am looking to see my brother, Luke Lesko, who is a TV and film stuntman and, no surprise, he often appears on crime TV programming.

 F:  Does your next novel have a title yet?  Can you tell us anything about it?

ELN:  The working title is “Mistaken”.

F:  Will we see Caroline Thompson in another novel? Would you ever write a series? Do you find the prospect of maintaining a series daunting?

ELN:  I am open to this idea, and I have been scribbling a little regarding this. (Wow, that sounds very cryptic, doesn’t it?)

F:  I am a huge fan of cover art and have been working on a blog series called “Cover Love”.  How much input did you have in choosing the dustjacket for “The Memory Box”?

ELN:  A lot. That is one of the benefits of self-publishing. You are basically in charge of everything!the-memory-box

F:  I’ve just retired from a library career and have known for some time that mysteries/crime thrillers are some of the most read genres of fiction.  Why do you think crime fiction is so popular?

ELN:  I think because it’s a fast read. That is so important today because our attention spans are shrinking.

F:  How do you wish to be contacted by ‘fans’?  Facebook? Twitter? Your own blog?

ELN:  All of the above! I love to hear from readers and I’m often contacted through Goodreads, my website, Facebook and Twitter. Actually, it was through Twitter that I learned The Memory Box hit the New York Times bestseller list!

F:  Thanks SO much for answering my questions, and, being patient with my nosiness.  It was a pleasure to have you visit my blog.


giveaway

Readers!!!  Don’t forget to enter the draw for a signed copy of Eva’s best-selling novel “The Memory Box”.  Just ‘like’ or ‘comment’ on this post or on my review of her novel before midnight on December 11th.  Good Luck!

The draw is open to the United States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. I will enter all the entrants name in a Random Name Picker, and the lucky winner will receive a signed copy from the author.

Contact links for Eva Lesko Natiello:

Her website

Goodreads

Twitter

Facebook

paperclipmessbarEva thought you might like to read an article written in Vice Magazine by a journalist named Caroline Thompson. (the same name as the protagonist in “The Memory Box”).  The journalist found her book in the craziest and most perfect way possible — she got a Google alert email that she set up for her name. The alert said: Caroline Thompson Googles herself and discovers shocking details of a past she doesn’t remember. She was freaked out. She thought it was her. Then when she clicked on it she saw that it was a fictional character with her name who Googles herself. The journalist ended up writing an article about this for Vice. I attached it below (please forgive the crude headline of her article…). It was very wacky. You can imagine her reaction to one day opening up her emails and seeing one sent to her from Caroline Thompson! She was shaking!

Discovering a Fictional Version of Myself Freaked Me the Fuck Out | VICE | United States

Posted in author interviews, Authors, Debut novels, Psychological thrillers | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Cover Love – Part 14 – Keys

I find myself attracted to certain kinds of covers.  Covers are, after all, the way the publisher ‘hooks’ the reader into choosing one book over countless others.

Dustjackets entice the reader to enter a different world.

In this, my fourteenth installment of ‘Cover Love‘, I’d like to show you books that feature keys on their covers.
Some I’ve already read, some are on my ‘to read’ list, and some I chose only for their covers.

Some, perhaps, will now be on your TBR!cover-love-14-keys

In fiction, KEYS unlock new worlds…

Just click on the cover to read the book’s synopsis from  Goodreads.

You might just find your next favorite book!

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temple-secretsthe-last-anniversarythe-secrets-of-mary-bowserthe-other-childtwisted-riverdeath-in-holy-ordersdead-keythe-kitchen-househeart-stopperdeath-of-an-irish-politicianthe-lake-of-dreamspretending-to-dancethe-observationshidden-legacythe-minotaurcarousel-courtabigale-hall

Stay tuned for Cover Love Part 15:

“Letters”

or… revisit any of the first thirteen installments of Cover Love:

#1  In Red Walking Away

#2  Windows

#3  Gates

#4  Doors

#5  Lakes

#6  Jars

#7  Piers

#8  Lighthouses

#9  Umbrellas

#10  Looking up at treetops

#11  Autumn leaves

#12 Crows and ravens

#13 Seeing doublec038974d36f8f48743a950884b0b6b39

Posted in Cover Love series, Dustjackets, Fiction | Tagged , | 4 Comments

“Snowdrops at the Star and Sixpence” by Holly Hepburn

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Today is the day when I decorate my house for the holiday season.  To get in the mood, I thought I’d start reading this holiday novella.  I was meaning to read it while taking breaks from the decorating, but instead I devoured it in one sitting.

Two sisters have just inherited a Cotswolds village pub from their father.  He hadn’t been a part of their lives for many years – they haven’t even spoken to him for over twenty years – mostly due to the fact that he was an alcoholic.  Nessie has just parted from her husband and Sam is escaping a scandal in London.  They both need to reconnect with each other, and start afresh.

When they arrive at the pub on a dark, December night they are met with a run-down, cold, and dreary building.  With the usual amount of ‘hiccups’, the girls restore the pub and aim for an opening on Boxing Day.  After getting on the wrong side of some of the villagers, their hopes for making the pub a success seem in jeopardy, even with the help of their energetic cellarman and neighbouring blacksmith.

how I imagined the interior of The Star and Sixpence would look...

how I imagined the interior of The Star and Sixpence would look…

A charming, warm, holiday story with ‘real’ characters and an idyllic setting straight off of a box of chocolates, this novella will make you feel warm inside.

Available in Canada from Simon and Schuster. I purchased this novella from Amazon to read on my Kindle.  Just the light and easy read to get you in the holiday mood.

This novella is the first entry in the Star and Sixpence series. If you just can’t get enough of the Star and Sixpence, the author has written other titles that feature this charming pub.

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Holly Hepburnholly-hepburn‘s favourite thing is making people smile.

She has tried many jobs over the years, from barmaid to market researcher and she even had a brief flirtation with modelling. These days she is mostly found writing.

She lives near London with her grey tabby cat, Portia. They both have an unhealthy obsession with Marmite.

Posted in 1st in series, Christmas, Love stories, Novellas, Recommended reading, Setting | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

Hello December! (Fictionophile updates)

December already!  A too short, dark, and VERY BUSY month for a lot of folks.hello-december

Fictionophile’s readership is growing!  

Over the past month an additional 83 people have begun following this blog!  That makes a total of 979 followers altogether!   It would be SO awesome if I could reach 1000 followers by the end of the year!

I’ve been posting in my Cover Love” series for some time now, AND, I have many more posts that I have planned in order to continue this series.  This month I posted my 13th entry in the series which showcased identical and very similar book covers.

I added a third entry in my blog series called Mystery series to savour.  Hope you follow along with me as I expound on mystery series that I have enjoyed SO much that I would, and hopefully, will, read again!

I’ve begun a new series of blog posts called “Trilogies to Treasure” that highlight some of my favorite trilogies.  The first installment showcases Denise Mina’s  Garnethill trilogy.

I’ve added several titles to my elibrary.  The following titles were purchased from Amazon.ca on sale.  All TEN of them together only set me back $21.48

Just click on the covers to learn more about the book via a link to Goodreads.

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“The girls next door” by Mel Sherratt was on sale for $1.99

the-teacher-99

“The teacher” by Katerina Diamond was on sale for $ .99

"A Mersey killing" by Brian L. Porter was on sale for $4.99 on Amazon.ca

“A Mersey killing” by Brian L. Porter was on sale for $4.99

"Between you and me" by Lisa Hall was on sale for $ .99 on Amazon.ca

“Between you and me” by Lisa Hall was on sale for $ .99

"Black December" by Scott Hunter was on sale for $ .99 on Amazon.ca

“Black December” by Scott Hunter was on sale for $ .99

"Deliver her" by Patricia Perry Donovan was $6.55 on Amazon.ca

“Deliver her” by Patricia Perry Donovan was $6.55

"The girl from the sea" by Shalini Boland was $3.99 on Amazon.ca

“The girl from the sea” by Shalini Boland was $3.99

"The liar" by Jennifer Wells was $ .99 on Amazon.ca

“The liar” by Jennifer Wells was on sale for $ .99

"The Miranda warning" by Heather Day Gilbert was FREE on Amazon.ca

“The Miranda warning” by Heather Day Gilbert was FREE

"The art of murder" by Nicola Slade was FREE on Amazon.ca

“The art of murder” by Nicola Slade was FREE


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I added seven new titles from NetGalley to my TBR.  Don’t know how I lost control…  (red-faced with shame)  I have a partial excuse as three of these titles were publisher invites… and you don’t say ‘no’… do you?

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“I found you” by Lisa JewellAtria Books 
In a windswept British seaside town, single mom Alice Lake finds a man sitting on the beach outside her house. He has no name, no jacket, and no idea how he got there. Against her better judgment, she invites him inside.
Meanwhile, in a suburb of London, twenty-one-year-old Lily Monrose has only been married for three weeks. When her new husband fails to come home from work one night she is left stranded in a new country where she knows no one. Then the police tell her that her husband never existed.
Twenty-three years earlier, Gray and Kirsty are teenagers on a summer holiday with their parents. Their annual trip to the quaint seaside town is passing by uneventfully, until an enigmatic young man starts paying extra attention to Kirsty. Something about him makes Gray uncomfortable—and it’s not just that he’s playing the role of protective older brother.
Two decades of secrets, a missing husband, and a man with no memory are at the heart of this brilliant new novel, filled with the “beautiful writing, believable characters, pacey narrative, and dark secrets” (London Daily Mail) that make Lisa Jewell so beloved by audiences on both sides of the Atlantic.

lillian-boxfish-takes-a-walk-netgalley“Lillian Boxfish takes a walk” by Kathleen Rooney – St. Martin’s Press

It’s the last day of 1984, and 85-year-old Lillian Boxfish is about to take a walk.  As she traverses a grittier Manhattan, a city anxious after an attack by a still-at-large subway vigilante, she encounters bartenders, bodega clerks, chauffeurs, security guards, bohemians, criminals, children, parents, and parents-to-be—in surprising moments of generosity and grace. While she strolls, Lillian recalls a long and eventful life that included a brief reign as the highest-paid advertising woman in America—a career cut short by marriage, motherhood, divorce, and a breakdown.  A love letter to city life—however shiny or sleazy—Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk by Kathleen Rooney paints a portrait of a remarkable woman across the canvas of a changing America: from the Jazz Age to the onset of the AIDS epidemic; the Great Depression to the birth of hip-hop.

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“The girl in the garden” by Melanie Wallace – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

An unforgettable novel about a young woman and her infant son, abandoned at a seaside motel in New England, and the secrets of the townspeople who provide them with shelter.
When June arrives on the coast of New England, baby in arms, an untrustworthy man by her side, Mabel—who rents them a cabin—senses trouble. A few days later, the girl and her child are abandoned.   June is soon placed with Mabel’s friend, Iris, in town, and her life becomes entwined with a number of locals who have known one another for decades: a wealthy recluse with a tragic past; a widow in mourning; a forsaken daughter returning for the first time in years, with a stranger in tow; a lawyer, whose longings he can never reveal; and a kindly World War II veteran who serves as the town’s sage. Surrounded by the personal histories and secrets of others, June finds the way forward for herself and her son amid revelations of the others’ pasts, including loves—and crimes—from years ago.

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“The shivering turn” by Sally Spencer – Severn House

Introducing Oxford-based private investigator Jennie Redhead in the first of a brand-new mystery series.         

‘My daughter’s not just run away – she’s dead!’ When Mary Corbet walks into private investigator Jennie Redhead’s rundown Oxford office one pleasant spring day in 1974, she is a desperate woman. Although she’s convinced her daughter has been murdered, she can get neither the police nor her husband to agree with her.  Jennie is not convinced either, but more out of compassion than conviction agrees to take the case. The only clue she has to go on is a fragment of an obscure 17th century poem she finds in Linda’s bedroom: Or will you, like a cold and errant coward/Abandon all and make a shivering turn. But from that one clue Jennie’s investigations will lead her beyond the city’s dreaming spires to Oxford’s darker underbelly, in which lurks a hidden world of privilege, violence and excess.

how-will-i-know-you-hachette-invite-ng“How will I know you?” by Jessica Treadway (an invitation from Grand Central Publishing)

On a cold December day in northern upstate New York, the body of high school senior Joy Enright is discovered in the woods at the edge of a pond. She had been presumed drowned, but an autopsy shows that she was, in fact, strangled. As the investigation unfolds, four characters tell the story from widely divergent perspectives: Susanne, Joy’s mother and a professor at the local art college; Martin, a black graduate student suspected of the murder; Harper, Joy’s best friend and a potential eyewitness; and Tom, a rescue diver and son-in-law of the town’s police chief. As a web of small-town secrets comes to light, a dramatic conclusion reveals the truth about Joy’s death.

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“Gone without a trace” by Mary Torjussen – an invitation from Berkley Publishing Group

Hannah Monroe’s boyfriend, Matt, is gone. His belongings have disappeared from their house. Every call she ever made to him, every text she ever sent, every photo of him and any sign of him on social media have vanished. It’s as though their last four years together never happened. As Hannah struggles to get through the next few days, with humiliation and recriminations whirring through her head, she knows that she’ll do whatever it takes to find him again and get answers. But as soon as her search starts, she realizes she is being led into a maze of madness and obsession. Step by suspenseful step, Hannah discovers her only way out is to come face to face with the shocking truth…

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“The timekeeper’s son” by Sara Baker – an invitation from Deeds Publishing

In the small town of Milledge, Georgia, aspiring teenage filmmaker Josh Lovejoy hits a jogger while driving late at night. But this is not just any jogger: the victim is prominent local activist and historian David Masters. The accident not only puts Masters in the hospital in a coma, it shatters the fragile Lovejoy household. Adrift from friends and family, a shocked Josh reluctantly takes up his court-ordered community service work at the Good Shepherd School for Disabled Children. Meanwhile, the comatose Masters is visited by the ghost of the singer Peggy Lee, and his childless wife Meg, consumed with grief, fantasizes that Josh is the son she might have had.  In love with an unstable girl, and estranged from his angry father and preoccupied mother, Josh escapes to New York City. Things there do not go as planned and, overwhelmed, Josh makes a fateful decision that puts him beyond the help of his family. Facing physical and spiritual annihilation, he must choose between the death of the heart and the acceptance of the imperfect good that is his life. Josh’s story reminds readers that while our lives may be flawed, they can still be embraced with love.

That’s seven more review commitments… Woe is me.  I guess Santa came early.

I’ve been trying to have a lot of willpower in requesting NetGalley titles.  As you can see, I failed dismally this month.  I’m still chasing the elusive 80% badge.  I’m standing at 69% as of today. (Down one percentage point from last month – GULP)donkey80

I was EXCITED to find out that one of my favorite authors has a new book coming out!

Fredrik Backman’s “Bear town” will be published by Atria Books on or near May 2, 2017

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Posted in Fiction, NetGalley title | Tagged , , | 8 Comments