30 June 2015

Today's Read: When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord

When We Were Animals by Joshua GaylordSuppose your town had a dark, secret rite-of-passage for all adolescents. Could you keep your promise to refuse to participate? For Lumen, things became complicated. Years later, living in another place and using another name, she tells us what she remembers.

For a long time, when I was a girl, I was a very good girl.

You should have known me then. You would have liked me. Shy, undergrown, good in school, eager to please. At the diner table, especially when my father and I went visiting, I didn't eat before others, and I sometimes went without salt because I was too timid to ask anyone to pass it. . . .

I did all my homework. I ate celery sticks as a snack. I went to bed early and knew that the shrieking outside my window had nothing to do with me at all.
When We Were Animals by Joshua Gaylord (Hachette Book Group / Mulholland Books, 2015, p. 1)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: rural middle America, modern times
  • Circumstances: Years after Lumen has moved away from home, she lives a conventional life, overprotecting her son, just like she's supposed to. But memories of her youth bubble up, and she wonders how the teen she was became the unremarkable wife and mother she is now.
  • Characters: Lumen/Ann (young & old); people from her childhood: father, friends, neighbors; people from now: husband, son, friends
  • Genre: coming-of-age with Gothic and thriller elements
  • Themes: secrets, family, social pressures, escaping one's past, self-discovery, marriage, love
  • Words & thoughts from reviews: dark, fascinating, emotional, Gothic, different, a story of how childhood experiences shape adult perceptions, well written, couldn't stop reading
  • My thoughts: I haven't read more than a few pages, but I'm intrigued by both Lumen's past and her present.

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29 June 2015

2 June Books I Don't Want to Miss

You know the story: Too many books, not enough time. A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how much I was enjoying the young adult novel Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway. Here are two more June HarperTeen books that I'm looking forward to reading. Maybe this week?

The Leveller by Julia DurangoAlthough being immersed in a virtual reality game is not a new concept, Julia Durango's The Leveller (ISBN: 9780062314000) promises to be a twisty and exciting take on the genre. Nixy Bauer calls herself a bounty hunter, but instead of catching bad the guys, the teen is sent by parents to pull their kids out of MEEP, a virtual reality world in which players can make themselves over into whatever they want to be. When the game's developer calls Nixy to find his son, Wyn, she takes the job. But once inside the game, she discovers that Wyn is being held captive and is unable to return to the real world. To complicate matters, Nixy is beginning to have feelings for Wyn and is having trouble figuring out if they're real or just part of the VR game. This thriller has a mix of mystery, action, and a possible romance.

Rebecca Maizel
Rebecca Maizel's Between Us and the Moon (ISBN: 9780062327611) is a contemporary novel that deals with very real issues. Sarah is a fifteen-year-old math whiz who dreams of being an astronomer. She's not unhappy, but sometimes she wants to be seen as pretty and fun loving, instead of sensible and hardworking. When she meets Andrew, a college boy, during a family vacation on Cape Cod, she decides to be the girl she's always imagined she could be. Using her sister as a role model, Sarah undergoes a transformation, including pretending to be older than she really is. First love is sweet for this new Sarah, but has she really changed? What is her authentic self? This story of self-discovery and self-acceptance sounds like it will have a strong appeal to both teens and adults.

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27 June 2015

Weekend Cooking: The Beer Wench's Guide to Beer by Ashley Routson

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

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The Beer Wench's Guide to Beer by Ashley RoutsonAlthough I am much more of a wine and spirits drinker, I have come to appreciate beer. That's saying quite a lot because just seven or eight years ago, I would have told you that I hated beer.

Well, actually, as it turns out, I hate typical American beers made by the famous big beer makers. Once I tasted an Old World beer made without adjuncts, I discovered that beer can be really good. Since then, I've made a point of tasting beer from local microbreweries and trying a variety of craft beers.

I'm no expert and will likely never be, so I'm thankful that Ashley Routson wrote The Beer Wench's Guide to Beer: An Unpretentious Guide to Craft Beer. Her tasting notes, helpful information, and food pairings--all wrapped up in a down-to-earth, conversational style--are just what I need to help me make wise choices at the store and in the kitchen.

The book is divided into three sections, and Routson invites us to flip through her book, reading the information that interests us most. She's pretty straightforward in her evaluations; if she doesn't like a particular type of beer, she's not afraid to say so. At the same time, however, she remains respectful enough to provide the same in-depth discussion of her least favorite beers as she does for the ones she loves.

The first part of The Beer Wench's Guide to Beer is just that--a guide to all the different styles of beer. Routson includes enough facts to make a beer nerd swoon and enough other information to invite the rest of us to the party. Here's where you learn which beers are bitter, hoppy, light, heavy, dark, and smooth. My favorite part is the listing of beers to try for each style. Some of the breweries might be obscure, but most of them, even I (a beer novice) recognized: Dog Fish Head, Spaten, Troegs, Paulaner, and Odell, for example. I love that she recommends beers that are relatively easy to find throughout the country.

The second part of the book is all about ingredients, how to make beer, how to taste it, and how to serve it. The final part is where we find the food pairings and recipes. What's cool about the food pairings is that Routson not only gives us the expected lists of beers and food but she also offers tips on how to come up with our own pairings. That kind of information is so helpful and really helps us learn the reasons behind the pairings.

The handful of recipes range from soups and stews to main dishes and desserts. Oh and, of course, there are drinks and cocktails. I'm curious to try her beer risotto (I bet it's great!) and especially some of the sauces. There's a salmon dish that's calling my name, along with a hearty Texas-style chili.

Ashley Routson's The Beer Wench's Guide to Beer is not just for beer geeks. It's a great reference to keep on hand if you want to learn about beer and are curious to try different styles from around the world. I love the beer pairings and will be turning to this book often for tips when we have friends over for dinner. This is the clearest and most accessible beer book I've run across and highly recommend it.

Here's how to make Pale Ale Jalapeno Cheese Dip (click the image to enlarge it). Note that the recipe comes from an uncorrected proof copy of the book.


Photos: The photos were scanned from the book and all rights remain with the original copyright holder.

Published by Voyageur Press, 2015
ISBN-13: 9780760347300
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


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25 June 2015

Reading in under an Hour: 3 Shorts from Around the World

Reading in under an Hour @ www.BethFishReads.comLunchtime is reading time for many of us. I used to spend my midday break with my current print/eBook or my audiobook, but lately I've gotten more pleasure out of shorter pieces.

Each day I pick a story or an article I can start and finish before I turn back to my computer for an afternoon of editing. I've been sampling all kinds of works: short stories, essays, articles, and poems.

Here's a look at three stories I read this week. Can't wait to read more in each collection.

Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My ShoesIt's no secret that I'm a huge fan of Per Petterson's novels. Before his longer works made him famous, Petterson published ten stories collected in Ashes in My Mouth, Sand in My Shoes (Graywolf Press) about a young boy living outside of Olso in the early 1960s. These elegantly written shorts view big issues from the perspective of a child's mind. "Like a Tiger in a Cage": After seeing a photograph of his mother from before he was born, Arvid Jansen is startled by the changes in her brought about from the passing of time. He doesn't want to get older, thinking six and a half years are enough, but he can't figure out how to stop time . . . or can he?

He held his hands to his face as if to keep his skin in place and for many nights he lay clutching his body, feeling time sweeping through it like little explosions. . . . But nothing helped, and with every pop he felt himself getting older. (p. 44)
Dark Lies the Island by Kevin BarryKevin Barry's Dark Lies the Island is another winning collection from Graywolf Press. Focusing on what the Minneapolis Star Tribune called "marginalized figures," Barry explores his native Ireland with a brilliant combination of humor and darkness. "The Girls and the Dogs": Our unnamed narrator, on the run after selling a bad batch of crack, ends up at the home of an old acquaintance. Evan has two sets of children from two sisters, and all are living under the same roof. Things start off well enough, but when Evan makes our hero an offer he shouldn't have refused, our man finds himself in a tight spot.
Yes it started like that—the trouble—it started as a soft kind of coaxing. Sly comments from Suze and sly comments from Evan the Head. And I got worried when the winter stretched on, the weeks threw down their great length, the weeks were made of sleet and wind, and it became February—a hard month. (p. 138)
The Beach at Galle Road by Joanna LuloffJoanna Luloff's The Beach at Galle Road (Algonquin Books) is a collection of interlinked stories that bring the effects of the twenty-five-year-long Sri Lankan civil war down to the individual level. Luloff, a native American, spent almost two years in Sri Lanka as a Peace Corps worker, giving her a firsthand view of the country at war. "Ghost Neighbors": After the war has taken her family and dashed her dreams of becoming a teacher, Nilanthi returns to her childhood home, where people from her past offer unwelcome and questionable help. Overwhelmed with how life must be now, Nilanthi becomes silent, talking only to her ghosts. One of them gives her a way out; will Nilanthi listen?
The lye is still under the bucket by the well. Drink some and we can dance here together in circles until we are dizzy with spinning. (p. 232)

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23 June 2015

Wordless Wednesday 347

Butterfly, 2015

(c) www.BethFishReads.com

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Today's Read: The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins

The Library at Mount Char by Scott HawkinsWhat if you were given the chance to study the mysteries of the world? Would you be satisfied by the quest for knowledge or would you also seek power? After a horrible tragedy, twelve young orphans are taken in by a man they call Father and are given such an opportunity. What happens when they become adults?

Carolyn, blood-drenched and barefoot, walked alone down the two-lane stretch of blacktop that the Americans called Highway 78. Most of the librarians, Carolyn included, had come to think of this road as the Path of Tacos, so-called in honor of a Mexican joint they snuck out to sometimes. The guacamole, she remembered, is really good. Her stomach rumbled. Oak leaves, reddish-orange and delightfully crunchy, crackled underfoot as she walked. Her breath puffed white in the predawn air. The obsidian knife she had used to murder Detective Miner lay nestled in the small of her back, sharp and secret.

She was smiling.
The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins (Penguin Random House / Crown Publishers, 2015, p. 3)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: modern times; Virgina (I think)
  • Circumstances: Carolyn and eleven other children are taken in by Father after a disaster kills their parents and destroys their homes. He gives them rooms in his immense library, teaching each child, according to his or her skills, a specialty: languages, math, medicine . . . death and resurrection. Decades later, the librarians have become strong in their areas and are used to their routines, despite the increasing competition among them. But when Father, who has long since revealed his cruel side, suddenly goes missing, who will be powerful enough to find him or, perhaps, who will defeat the others and take over the library?
  • Characters: The librarians: Carolyn, a language specialist; David, a warrior; Michael, a naturalist; Jennifer, a healer; Margaret, a walker among the dead; Peter, a mathematician; and six others. Father who is all knowing. Various people, animals, and beings they come in contact with.
  • Genre: Argh. I'm not sure. Speculative? Literary? Fantasy? Theological? Mystery? Thriller? Horror? Alternate history?
  • Themes: friendship, family, theology, power, revenge, knowledge, the nature of the universe, the world as it really is
  • What I liked: Everything. OK, that's no help.
  • There are mysteries: Why were these twelve children saved from the disaster? Who is Father? What will happen without Father's guiding hand?
  • There are things to think about: What if you had power over life and death? What if you could truly talk to the animals? What if you could change the universe? What if you could change the past? What if you could have absolutely anything?
  • The structure of the book & the writing: We come in near the end of the story and the details are filled in as we need them; brilliantly done. I truly had a hard time putting the book down. The pacing is excellent; the characterizations are perfect. There were surprises all the way to the end. There is so much to think about!
  • Things to know: This is a strong contender for my favorite book of the year. It's different, fresh, horrifying, and mesmerizing. It will suck you in and hold you there. You'll be thinking about Carolyn and the others long after the last page. You'll want everyone you know to read it.

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22 June 2015

Catching Up: A Trio of Reviews

Blackout by Sarah HepolaSarah Hepola's Blackout is one of the strongest memoirs I've read this year. Because I love what I wrote for Readerly magazine, I'm going to quote my short review here and then encourage you to click through to see what other books we're recommending for June:

Blackout is a brutally honest look at life under the influence of alcohol. From her first sip of beer at the age of seven for most of the following 30 years, Hepola's world revolved around drinking. She wasn't a homeless, deadbeat drunk; instead she had a respectable job, meeting her writing and editing deadlines with the help of a bottle or two. In the afterwork hours, however, she often drank herself into blackouts, waking up in a stranger's bed or with no recollection of how she got home. In her frank, straightforward memoir, Hepola writes of her love of drink, her deepest insecurities, and her fear of becoming sober. This can't-stop-reading memoir gives alcoholism a context within Gen X sociocultural pressures and post-feminism expectations.
(Grand Central Publishing, 9781455554591)

The Green Road by Anne EnrightI've already mentioned Anne Enright's latest novel, The Green Road, but now that I've had time to process my thoughts, I need to revise my initial reaction. As I said, the novel reads almost like interlinked short stories, with each chapter focusing on a different member of the Madigan family. The first part of the book deals with the past and how each of the four children struggle with finding their place in the world, and the second part revolves around the widowed Rosaleen's decision to sell the family home, which brings the children home for one last Christmas. Among the themes and issues are family drama, sexuality, intimacy, sibling relationships, aging, and self-identity. Enright's writing is beautiful, but the novel itself is a little uneven, especially near the end. Audiobook: The individual performances of narrators Alana Kerr, Lloyd James, and Gerard Doyle (Blackstone; 9 hr, 45 min) were well done, but the audiobook would have been stronger if it had been read by a male-female duo with well-matched Irish accents. For my full audiobook review, see AudioFile magazine. (W. W. Norton, 9780393248210)

If You Find This by Matthew BakerIf You Find This by Matthew Baker is an engaging mix of mystery and adventure geared to younger teens. Although the themes are a little difficult (aging, death, trouble fitting in at school, economic issues), Baker lightens up the story with good humor and lots of action. Nicholas's life is turned upside down when his father is forced to take an out-of-town job, his mother decides to put their house up for sale, and his estranged grandfather comes back to town. The fun begins when Grandpa Rose comes up with a scheme to save Nicholas's family from their financial troubles. Helped by another grandfather and two friends, the young boy sets off to find a buried treasure, hidden somewhere nearby. The five guys get into all kinds of scrapes as they try to figure out the treasure map and keep their plans a secret. Audiobook: Bryan Kennedy reads the bulk of the story (Hachette Audio; 7 hr, 26 min), which is told from Nicholas's perspective. His enthusiasm, drama, and characterizations are perfect for young listeners. Robert Petkoff, who reads the few sections told from grandfathers' views, offers a nice balance. For my full audiobook review, check out AudioFile magazine. (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316240086)

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20 June 2015

Weekend Cooking: What Katie Ate on the Weekend by Katie Quinn Davies

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

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What Katie Ate on the Weekend by Katie Quinn DaviesTwo summers ago, I wrote about Katie Quinn Davies and her journey from graphic designer to award-winning food and photographer blogger to author of the cookbook What Katie Ate.

When I said her first book was a joy to look through and that her "stunning photos project a rustic, vintage, casual style and are incredibly inviting," I guess I knew what I was talking about. Davies won the James Beard Foundation Award for Excellence for Photography and was nominated for Best General Cookbook.

In the blush of success, Davies was lucky enough to have traveled the world, meeting fellow food enthusiasts and getting to taste and learn about all kinds of new delicious dishes. Fortunately, Davies had her notebook and camera in tow because her new book, What Katie Ate on the Weekend, was clearly influenced by these experiences.

copyright Katie Quinn DaviesAs you can imagine, What Katie Ate on the Weekend is absolutely beautiful. I love the matte pages and full-page photographs. I'm so happy that Davies has stayed true to her signature style: lovely colors, wood and cast iron, and a definite casual feel. Seriously, you need to sit quietly and just absorb each page.

Of course you want more than just a pretty face, you want a cookbook with recipes that you'll really want to make. Fortunately, Davies delivers on this front too. One of the important things to remember, however, is that this is a weekend book. This doesn't mean snobby fancy, but it does mean that most of the recipes will take you more than thirty minutes to put on the table.

The good news is that the directions are clear and the recipes are within almost everyone's abilities. The dishes range from lazy Sunday morning breakfasts to snacks and drinks with friends and from festive main dishes and rustic pizzas to yummy desserts. Katie Quinn Davies has you covered for almost any weekend occasion.

copyright Katie Quinn DaviesAs with Davies's first book, the ingredients are familiar and are generally readily available. Of course, those of you living well inland might have some trouble with fresh seafood, but that's just the way it is if you live far from the ocean.

There are a couple of extras you don't want to miss. First, throughout the book, Davies includes terrific features of some of her travels. These multi-page side trips include amazing photographs and fun stories. She even lists URLs so you can learn more or plan a dream vacation. Some of the features contain menus, so you can bring an authentic meal into your own dining room.

Also be sure to check out the behind-the-scenes section at the back of the book, the photos of Davies at work give you a peek at messy kitchens and miles of beautiful serving pieces.

What Katie Ate on the Weekend has all the elements I really love about a cookbook: a broad range of flavors, dishes for all kinds of occasions and meals, a stunning design and photos, and straightforward directions. I can already see that this is going to be food-splattered and beaten up in no time--signs of a well-used cookbook.

(Photo credits: the photos are copyright by Katie Quinn Davies and appear in the book.)

Take a look at the following scan (click the image to enlarge) to get a feel for the cookbook and to read a recipe. This pork looks sooooooo good to me! And I love how the left page looks water stained! Fun design element. This recipe is definitely first up when the weather turns cool in the fall.


Reprinted by arrangement with Avery Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © Katie Quinn Davies, 2015.

To see more photos and more recipes, visit Davies's blog What Katie Ate.

Published by Penguin Putnman / Viking Studio, 2015
ISBN-13: 9780525428954
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


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18 June 2015

Celebration & Giveaway: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

ReadRiordan: 10 years of Percy Jackson

Hold onto your hats! If you can believe it, Percy Jackson is ten years old! That's right, just a short decade ago, Rick Riordan introduced us to the demigod Percy, son of Poseidon. Ten years and five books later, Percy is still wowing readers, young and old.

I can't tell you how excited I am to help celebrate Percy Jackson's anniversary. Every month from now to the end of the year, I'll be writing about this fantastic series. I'll tell you ten things I love about each book, I'll clue you in to special anniversary extras, and I'll even have three great giveaways (starting with the one I have today, thanks to Disney-Hyperion).

I hope you join me for the ride. Look for photos, cool swag, and more across your social media sites by searching for the hashtag #ReadRiordan. First up? Let's take a closer look at the book that started it all: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by (of course) Rick Riordan.

Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief by Rick RiordanWhat's it all about? Just in case you're unfamiliar with The Lightning Thief, here's the publisher's summary:
Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse--Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends--one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena--Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.
Ten Things I Love About The Lightning Thief
  1. The scene where Mrs. Dobbs turns from math teacher to "shriveled hag with bat wings and claws and a mouth full of yellow fangs." Poor Percy! This is his first real hint that the world might be more than it seems.
  2. Dionysus scoffing at humans: "Oh I love mortals--they have absolutely no sense of perspective. They think they've come so-o-o far."
  3. That Charon has gotten a taste for expensive silk Italian suits.
  4. The EZ Death line on the way to Hades.
  5. Grover!! Do I need to say more? Well, OK, Grover wearing the flying shoes!
  6. Percy jumping off the top of the Gateway Arch. I'm not so sure I'd be that brave or trusting.
  7. The demigods' method of IM-ing: Iris-messaging, that is. Just make a rainbow!
  8. Annabeth giving her father another chance.
  9. Percy's mother's new career, which started with the life-size concrete sculpture called The Poker Player.
  10. Percy accepting who he is and taking the chance to live in the world instead of at Camp Half Blood.
Do you have a favorite scene or character from The Lightning Thief? If so, let me know in the comments.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians boxed setGiveaway: Now for the giveaway you've all been waiting for! To help celebrate the tenth anniversary of the first Percy Jackson book and thanks to Disney-Hyperion, I am able to offer one of my readers a box set of all five of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians books.

All you have to do to be entered to win is to have a U.S. mailing address and to fill out the form. I'll pick the winner on June 26 using a random number generator. Once the winner has been confirmed and his or her address has been passed along to the publicists, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck!



Even more cool things!
  • Special eBook deal through June 22, 2015: Buy The Lightning Thief for only 99¢; this version includes a sneak peek from Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book One: The Sword of Summer.
  • Buy the exclusive Barnes & Nobel anniversary edition of The Lightning Thief (see the cover above), which includes bonus material from the author and illustrator.
  • Download the anniversary edition activity kit, which consists of fun games and puzzles. While there, check out the other kits and reading guides.
  • Finally, don't forget to get Percy Jackson anniversary news by following hashtag #ReadRiordan across your social media sites and keep up with author Rick Riordan by following him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Be sure to stop back next month, when I focus on The Sea of Monsters!

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17 June 2015

Wordless Wednesday 346

Clover (repeat from Instagram), 2015


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16 June 2015

Today's Read: Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway

Emmy & Oliver by Robin BenwayImagine being seven years old and finding out that your best friend had disappeared without a trace. How would your childhood be affected? Now imagine that friend returned ten years later. Would you still have anything in common? That's the story of Emmy and Oliver:

The last time Emmy sees Oliver is on their forty-third day of second grade.

Oliver is her next-door neighbor and her friend. They were born in the same hospital on the same day: July 7—7/7. She thinks she pretty lucky to have a friend who lives next door and shares a birthday with her. She can just visit him any old time she wants, but not all the time because sometimes Oliver goes to his dad's house on the weekends.
Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway (HarperCollins / HarperTeen, 2015, p. 1)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: coastal southern California; modern times
  • Circumstances: Emmy and Oliver are best friends until Oliver fails to return home after a long weekend with his father; the police call the disappearance a kidnapping. Over the years, Emmy and her friends still remember Oliver, wishing he would come back. In the meantime, Emmy's parents have become overprotective, and Emmy struggles to find her independence and to follow her passions. Oliver's mother never gives up hope that her boy will be returned, but eventually she remarries and begins a new family. Ten years later, Oliver is found, living in New York City. His father flees, but Oliver is returned to his mother to finish out his senior year. Is it possible to build a bridge between past and present?
  • Characters: Emmy and her parents; Emmy's friends Caro and Drew; Oliver and his parents and stepfamily; various other neighbors and classmates
  • Genre: YA contemporary
  • Themes so far: friendship, family, survival, trauma, finding ways to reach understanding
  • What I like so far: The teens have authentic voices and concerns. The parents' reactions to the presumed kidnapping, the empty years, and the return, also seem realistic. Although I'm sure romance is on at least Emmy's mind, the story (so far) is less on that and more on trying to find a way to recapture what was lost.
  • Two perspectives: There are two sides to this tale, though the story is told through Emmy's eyes. For Emmy and her friends, the crisis is over. They are ready and eager to welcome Oliver home; they remember every little thing of their early childhood and can't wait to pick up where they left off. But for Oliver, a new crisis is starting. He has been taken from his East Coast home and is now living with and among people he barely remembers. He doesn't know how to meet the expectations of friends, family, and the community, not to mention his new stepfamily. The story is played out against these two conflicting perspectives.
  • Things to know: This could be a dark book with very tough themes, but Benway softens the plot with witty dialogue and appropriate humor. My prediction is that Emmy and Oliver help each other grow and prepare for the all the possibilities of their futures. I'm not yet sure if they will leave high school as boyfriend and girlfriend or as BFFs, but either way, I'm enjoying their journey.

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15 June 2015

Bullet Review: The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika JohansenDid you love The Queen of the Tearling? Can't wait to read more about Kelsea? Then what are you waiting for? Erika Johansen's followup book, The Invasion of the Tearling, came out last week and continues to break new ground.

Kelsea's ongoing story is what you expect from Johansen, but Invasion of the Tearling is not without some surprises. We learn more about the Crossing, see how queenship changes Kelsea, discover what makes the Red Queen tick, and meet new people. The action scenes pull you in, and the narrative is engrossing. Kelsea is one tough young woman; I wouldn't want to be on her bad side.

For the purposes of this bullet review, I'm assuming you read The Queen of the Tearling, but I'll do my best not to spoil the story of the second book.

What's happening: Kelsea prepares herself and her kingdom for the inevitable invasion by the Red Queen's army. Kelsea's perspective and duties are multilayered: She is concerned about protecting her people, laying in supplies for a siege, reforming the tax laws, and making alliances. War is coming, and the prospects for the Tearling look grim.

Kelsea: Unlike many fantasy writers, Johansen allows Kelsea to remain believable (within the parameters of the story). For example, the young queen can lose her temper, has moments of insecurity and uncertainty, is not always a good friend, and doesn't always know how to ask for help. Although Kelsea has emotional and physical feelings for some of the men she knows, there is no great romance (yet), which I love and appreciate. I'm so sick of the love triangles and of the fact that every heroine must have a man in her life.

Other characters: There are quite a few characters in these books: people involved in the army, in Kelsea's circle, in the Red Queen's circle, and in the predominant organized religion. In addition, we meet historical figures. Each important character is easy to envision and remember because Johansen developed consistent personalities and motivations. All the side stories, especially the events that happen at the Arvath (think: Vatican), are ongoing and add to the overall direction of the series, even if we haven't yet guessed or learned how everything is going to tie together

Genre: There are things we learn in this book (I don't want to spoil it for you) that are genre twisting. Is this fantasy? Is this speculative? Is it dystopian? You be the judge. Whatever the genre or subgenre, I want more.

Ending and plotting: Oh, Johansen, I hate you. (Of course, not really.) The Invasion of the Tearling doesn't end on a cliffhanger, but, but, but . . . I want to know what happens next right.this.minute. I wasn't quite sure how it was all going to play out, and although I had some pretty solid theories, Johansen still surprised me. And not just at the end. I wonder how others are going to react to what Kelsea learns about herself, her powers, and her world. I'll go on record this way: I loved the way Johansen mixed history with the present, and I couldn't get enough of what we discover about Kelsea's past and the Crossing.

Violence: As I mentioned in my review of The Queen of the Tearling, Kelsea's world is one of violence. Not only is the kingdom heading for war but those who cross the wrong people can't expect a pleasant end. Sometimes innocent victims find the power to strike back; sometimes they don't.

Recommendations: Erika Johansen's strong second outing in The Ivasion of the Tearling secures her a place on the same shelf as other great fantasy authors. The uniqueness of both the Tearling series in general and Kelsea in particular breathes new life into a genre that was becoming formulaic. With its heart-pounding action and complex emotional landscape, Invasion of the Tearling is destined to be one of the most talked-about summer reads.

Published by HarperCollins / Harper, 2015
ISBN-13: 9780062290397
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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13 June 2015

Weekend Cooking: Honey & Co.: The Cookbook by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

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Honey & Co. The Cookbook by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit PackerDon't you just love the fresh, simple cover to this cookbook? The colors and composition call to me. And because I grew up in a city with a large Middle Eastern community, the recipes within bring back memories of family dinners at our favorite Lebanese restaurant.

Honey & Co.: The Cookbook contains recipes and stories from husband-wife team Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer, Israeli natives who now own the Honey & Co. restaurant in London. Their small cafe has put down solid roots, becoming a neighborhood favorite and destination.

I enjoyed the story of how Srulovich and Packer met and eventually decided on London as the city of their cooking dreams. In Honey & Co. they share the dishes that have given them success, including the meals that are their personal favorites.

You might not be familiar with all the dishes, but have no fear, you will be (for the most part) familiar with the ingredients. Only those of us who are land-locked or living in a small town will find some of the fish difficult to get. Fortunately, the vast majority of these fragrant and warm-seasoned dishes are within reach for everyone.

I really like the casual way the recipe directions are written. The chatty style makes me feel as if Srulovich and Packer were right beside me in the kitchen, talking me through the recipe. Their personalities--and humor--shine through. Here's a line from a bread recipe:
With a pair of sharp scissors, go all Edward Scissorhands on it--holding the scissors perpendicular to the dough, start snipping it every inch or so into little peaks. (p. 28)
So much fun, it makes me smile. And, by the way, the bread chapter is one of my favorites. I want to make everything: pita, bukhari, grilled bread, lavoush, and more. They all look easy and delicious.

The photography is stunning pulls you in to almost every page, whether you're learning how to make hummus, tabbouleh, shawarma, or lemon syrup cake. The recipes run the range from cool casual appetizers to more complicated lamb dumplings, but I promise nothing is too difficult to tackle.

Whether you're new to Middle Eastern food or dreaming of your favorite take-out, Honey & Co.: The Cookbook deserves a place on your kitchen bookshelf. I'm looking forward to cooking my way through the lamb dishes, the breads, the salads, and the little dishes. Thanks to Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer for teaching me how to cook some of my favorite meals.

Special diets: Vegetarians will find plenty to fit their needs, but people who are avoiding wheat may want to check the book out of the library before buying.

The recipe I'm sharing is, according to the book, Packer's favorite salad. I can't wait for peaches to come into season. I have a feeling I'll be eating this a lot. Note that you can use regular peaches or nectarines in this recipe if the white ones are hard to find.

Peaches & Goats' Cheese with Roasted Almonds
Serves 3-4 as a starter
  • 1 round lettuce (the soft-leaved one), broken into leaves and washed
  • 3 flat white peaches (such as doughnut or Saturn peach), each cut into 8 segments
  • 4 oz/120g soft rindless goats' cheese
  • 1/3 cup/50g roasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 4-5 sprigs of cilantro, picked
  • a touch of sea salt
  • a pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Dressing
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp orange blossom water
  • 1/2 tsp Demerara sugar
  • a pinch of salt
Arrange the soft lettuce leaves as a base on a serving plate, then top with the peaches, goats' cheese, almonds, and cilantro leaves. Sprinkle with a touch of sea salt and grind a little black pepper over the top.

Shake the dressing ingredients around in a small jar or airtight container, then spoon over the entire salad. Serve and watch it disappear.

Note on photos: The photos were scanned from the cookbook and re-cropped by me to fit the post. All rights remain with the original copyright holder (Patricia Niven).

Published by Little, Brown, 2015
ISBN-13: 9780316284301
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


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11 June 2015

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts: Catching Up

Stacked-Up Book Thoughts are my random notes about books I've read or listened to, movies and TV I've watched, books I'm looking forward to, and events I hope to get to.

Reading. My reading wish list is overflowing with all the books I learned about at BEA this year. Fantasies, mysteries, literary fiction, middle grade fiction, short stories, audiobooks . . . . I want to read them all RIGHT NOW. I'll do my best to get to everything great.

I'm currently reading The Invasion of the Tearling by Erika Johansen. If you haven't yet met Kelsea--one tough, intelligent woman--then you must first pick up Queen of the Tearling and be introduced to a refreshing fantasy series with great characters, mysteries, and vivid action. I'm a little more than halfway through the second book and love the surprises, the continued world building, the new characters, and the changing personalities of some of the principals.


I'm also reading Susan Loomis's In a French Kitchen. It's been wonderful to meet her French friends and make some their meals. The timing is absolutely perfect because our local outdoor farmers markets are in full swing now, and I'm lucky enough to live in an area that has a market almost every day--all within easy driving distance. I've been a fan of Loomis's for years, and I'm happy that her latest book is filled with both personal stories and delicious-sounding recipes.

Finally, I finished Bill Willingham's latest Fables volume: Happily Ever After, which means I have only one more left. The story lines in this collection are almost all subtitled with the words the last: the last story about Jack of Fables, the last tale of Briar Rose, the last, the final . . . the sadness! I'm so glad Mark Buckingham was onboard for this issue. Only a few weeks now and Fables will be finished. Of course, I have a few spin-offs to look forward to, but still!

Listening. I recently reread Kate Atkinson's Life after Life in audio, which was narrated by Fenella Woolgar. She did a super job keeping her performance fresh throughout. Not an easy job considering how much of the material was repeated as we learn of Ursula's life/lives.


I also finished Anne Enright's The Green Road. This one is read by Alana Kerr, Lloyd James, and Gerard Doyle. The three narrators worked well together, and the choice of using different readers fit the nature of this very Irish tale. Although there are consistent plot points throughout the novel, it reads like a series of interconnected short stories. I'm still putting together my thoughts.

Next up? I think it's going to be If You Find This by Matthew Baker and read by Bryan Kennedy and Robert Petkoff. Mysteries, adventures, magic, and family -- I'm expecting a fun, quirky middle grade story.

Watching. We seem to be in TV limbo. We are finishing up The Game of Thrones, despite the controversy and calls for boycotting. *shrug* We recently watched the Robert Duvall film The Judge, which was very well acted and worth watching, despite some predictability. Oh and we finally started Broadchurch. So much fun to try to tease out the real bad guys from the red herrings. And I love the main characters: flawed, real, and growing and changing. I hope the rest of the series holds up to the promise of the first four episodes.


We are looking forward to the next seasons of Orange Is the New Black and True Detective. Wishing for more Longmire and impatiently waiting for Justified to be free on our streaming services. And, of course, counting the weeks for more Outlander.

What's on your reading, listening, or watching list?

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10 June 2015

Wordless Wednesday 345

Rose and Bud, 2015


Click image to enlarge. For more Wordless Wednesday, click here.

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09 June 2015

Today's Read & Giveaway: Privy to the Dead by Sheila Connolly

Privy to the Dead by Sheila Connolly
Imagine you were president of a prestigious nonprofit Philadelphia historical society, juggling money issues, maintaining the organization's reputation, and playing nice to the board of directors and the patrons. Nell Pratt can handle all of that like a pro, but things threaten to fall apart when a man is killed one night right in front of the building. Here are Nell's thoughts, before the trouble begins:
As I looked around the long table, I realized it was the first time I had ever seen the board members of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society look happy all at once. I was tempted to take a picture, just to remind myself of the moment when darker days returned, as no doubt they would.
Privy to the Dead by Sheila Connolly (Penguin USA / Berkley Prime Crime, 2015, p. 1)

Quick Facts
  • Setting: Philadelphia area; modern times
  • Circumstances: At the start of a major renovation of the Pennsylvania Antiquarian Society's museum, one of the construction workers is hit by a car, at night and in front of the building. The police investigation reveals that Cornell Scruggs had pocketed an artifact from an old privy pit located inside the building, although the item was not found on the body. Now there are two questions: Did Scruggs die by accident or murder and what is the significance of the brass escutcheon he stole?
  • Characters: Nell Pratt, president of the society; James Morrison, her live-in FBI agent boyfriend; Marty Terwilliger, board member, friend, and descendant of an old Philly family; various board members, assistants, police, contractors, museum staff, and construction workers
  • Genre: serious cozy mystery (I just made up that genre)
  • What I liked: The mystery was more of a puzzle than a standard, light whodunnit. I loved the Philadelphia setting, the information about antique furniture, and the historical aspects of the case. The characters are terrific, smart, and generally capable. I also liked the relationships among the characters: there were working relationships, friendships, and some romance, offering a nice balance.
  • What I didn't like: At the beginning of the book, we learn that Nell and James have just bought an old Victorian house and have moved in together. They seem a bit more befuddled at homeownership and homemaking than I would have expected from two professional adults who have been living on their own.
  • Things to know: This is the sixth in Connolly's Museum Mystery series, but I didn't feel at all lost. Of course, I would like to know more about how Nell and James met and got together, but I can always go to the backlist to learn that. I can understand why Connolly has such a strong fan base; she's a good writer and takes cozy mysteries to a new level.
The Giveaway

Thanks to Berkley Prime Crime, I can offer one of my readers a copy of Sheila Connolly's Privy to the Dead. All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form. The giveaway is restricted to those with a U.S. mailing address. I'll pick a winner using a random number generator on June 15. Once the winner has been confirmed, I'll erase all personal information from my computer. Good luck!

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08 June 2015

Bullet Review: Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina GeorgeA lovely bookish novel you won't want to miss. Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop is going to be everyone's favorite summer read.

What's It About? Jean Perdu, owner of a bookstore barge docked in Paris on the Seine, can prescribe a book for whatever is ailing his customers. He just can't seem to heal himself. When a new friend insists he read a decades-old letter from his former lover, Perdu impulsively unanchors his barge to seek answers in the south of France. Swept up for the ride are a young French author who has run out of ideas and a lonely Italian chef.

What I Loved. The Little Paris Bookshop is a book lover's book, filled with fun literary references from both contemporary and classic reads. I loved Perdu's gift for discerning his patrons' problems and then finding just the right book to help them. I was caught up in the developing friendships among the three men on the barge and their adventures on the river. I loved the perfect mix of humor and poignancy and especially the blossoming of Perdu.

Recommendation. I found Nina George's The Little Paris Bookshop to be utterly charming and emotionally strong. Yes, the general plot may be predictable and light, but the French setting, the backdrop of books, and the vulnerable Perdu will win you over. Open your heart to love and possibilities, and who knows what can happen.

Audiobook. The unabridged audiobook (Random House Audio; 10 hr, 55 min) has three narrators. Steve West, who is the primary performer, reads the narrative in his native British accent, reserving his well-rendered French accent for the dialogue. As I said in AudioFile magazine, this was a wise choice that provides the right atmosphere without overwhelming the listener. Emma Bering and Cassandra Campbell had minor parts in this highly recommended audiobook.


Published by Penguin Random House / Crown Publishing, 2015
ISBN-13: 9780553418774
Source: Review--audiobook (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)

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06 June 2015

Weekend Cooking: Learning about Wine

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page. For more information, see the welcome post.

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The Everyday Guide to Wine / Great Courses It's no secret that Mr. BFR and I have a glass of wine almost every night. So you'd think that would have learned a little something about wine through the years Well, you'd be mostly wrong.

Well, let me rephrase that. We have learned a little something; we just haven't learned a lot. My father was fairly knowledgeable, and I counted on him to answer my questions and to make recommendations.

Thus when I saw that The Great Courses was having a huge sale, I jumped at the chance to get their "Everyday Guide to Wine" class for a rock-bottom price.

If you haven't heard of The Great Courses, you should take a moment to explore their site. I've listened to and watched a handful of their classes over the years, and I've never been disappointed. There are sixteen programs related to food, drink, and nutrition and there are hundreds of others covering history, culture, art, music, literature . . . you name it. I recommend them.

Now, back to "The Everyday Guide to Wine." The host of this 24-lecture course is Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, who is one of the few Masters of Wine in the world (there are only 26 in the United States). Not only does she know her stuff but she is well spoken and not even a little bit snobby. She is equally at home talking about the necessary vocabulary and the particulars of winemaking as she is describing the distinct characteristics of specific wines.

I've already watched the first two videos (the introduction to the course and an introduction to wine tasting). This weekend's video is titled "Winemaking from Vineyard to Harvest." According to the course guide (a downloadable booklet), I'll be learning about the various factors that affect the vines (climate, altitude, latitude, diseases) and other aspects of growing wine grapes.

As part of the third lesson, I'll be tasting and comparing two wines made with the same grapes but grown in different environments. The first is a Chablis Appellation Controlee and the second is a South Australian Chardonnay. Oh darn, I have to open wine to get the most out of this class! Next time it'll be both whites and reds.

Sound fun? It does to me. I've been taking notes and enjoying putting what I've learned to use. Although I'll buy many of the suggested wines to taste, I'm not sure I'll get them all (for example the fortified wines). I'll let you know in a few months if I've stuck with the class.

Have you ever taken a wine class? Do you consider yourself knowledgeable about wine?

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05 June 2015

BEA 2015: Book Group Speed Dating Session Part 2

Yesterday I featured some of my favorite books from the Book Group Speed Dating session, presented by Reading Group Guides. Today I'm going to finish up my recap of that session with book club choices from four more publishers. I'm leaving off the presentation from William Morrow because I discussed their books on Monday. Ready? Here we go!

Picador USA

  • Black Man in White Coat by Damon Tweedy: the subtitle of this memoir says it all: "A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine"
  • 'Til the Well Runs Dry by Lauren Francis Sharma: fiction; spanning the mid-20th century, an assimilation story that takes place in Trinidad and the United States
Black Chalk by Christopher J. YatesBlack Chalk by Christopher J. Yates: a contemporary psychological thriller set in Oxford; a game played among a group of college freshmen spins out of control; the author is a crossword puzzle editor:
A compulsively readable psychological thriller set in New York and at Oxford University in which a group of six students play an elaborate game of dares and consequences with tragic result

It was only ever meant to be a game played by six best friends in their first year at Oxford University; a game of consequences, silly forfeits, and childish dares. But then the game changed: The stakes grew higher and the dares more personal and more humiliating, finally evolving into a vicious struggle with unpredictable and tragic results. Now, fourteen years later, the remaining players must meet again for the final round. Who knows better than your best friends what would break you? A gripping psychological thriller partly inspired by the author's own time at Oxford University, Black Chalk is perfect for fans of the high tension and expert pacing of The Secret History and The Bellwether Revivals. Christopher J. Yates' background in puzzle writing and setting can clearly be seen in the plotting of this clever, tricky book that will keep you guessing to the very end.
Ballantine Books
  • The Scent of Secrets by Jane Thynne: a paperback original; World War II-era crime novel featuring a woman who is both actress and spy, British and German; first in a trilogy
All of Us and Everything by Bridget AsherAll of Us and Everything by Bridget Asher: edgy family drama about three sisters coping with newfound information about their absent father; the author is aka Julianna Baggott (who wrote the Pure trilogy)
Life as Augusta Rockwell knows it changes once she unearths a box of old letters written by her estranged husband, Nick Flemming, the love of her life and the father her three children have never known. She's told her daughters that their absent father was actually a spy, which is why he couldn't be part of their lives. But the letters reveal that Nick has secretly been keeping tabs on his family all these years from afar-a discovery that, while shocking, has the potential to mend the fractured and wayward lives of the three Rockwell sisters.
Simon & Schuster
  • Did You Ever Have a Family by Bill Clegg: a small town copes with a local tragedy; told from multiple points of view; emotionally strong
  • The Incarnations by Susan Barker: contemporary and historical fiction; reincarnation; has elements of Chinese folk tales and literary classics
Marriage of Opposites by Alice HoffmanMarriage of Opposites by Alice Hoffman: strong characters; set in the Caribbean; involves Pissarro and art; Jewish themes:
. . . [A] forbidden love story set on the tropical island of St. Thomas about the extraordinary woman who gave birth to painter Camille Pissarro--the Father of Impressionism.

Growing up on idyllic St. Thomas in the early 1800s, Rachel dreams of life in faraway Paris. Rachel's mother, a pillar of their small refugee community of Jews who escaped the Inquisition, has never forgiven her daughter for being a difficult girl who refuses to live by the rules. Growing up, Rachel's salvation is their maid Adelle's belief in her strengths, and her deep, life-long friendship with Jestine, Adelle's daughter. But Rachel's life is not her own. She is married off to a widower with three children to save her father's business. When her husband dies suddenly and his handsome, much younger nephew, Frederick, arrives from France to settle the estate, Rachel seizes her own life story, beginning a defiant, passionate love affair that sparks a scandal that affects all of her family, including her favorite son, who will become one of the greatest artists of France.
Viking
  • The Expatriates by Janice Y. K. Lee: contemporary story of three women who immigrated from the United States to Hong Kong; themes include motherhood, friendship, and choices
  • Love in Lowercase by Francesc Miralles: a translation from the French; an introverted, bookish man finds his place in the greater world after he takes in a stray cat; charming
A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie CopletonA Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton: a Japanese woman living in Philadelphia is confronted by a young man who claims to be her grandson; set in the mid-1980s; family secrets:
When Amaterasu Takahashi opens the door of her Philadelphia home to a badly scarred man claiming to be her grandson, she doesn't believe him. Her grandson and her daughter, Yuko, perished nearly forty years ago during the bombing of Nagasaki. But the man carries with him a collection of sealed private letters that open a Pandora's Box of family secrets Ama had sworn to leave behind when she fled Japan. She is forced to confront her memories of the years before the war: of the daughter she tried too hard to protect and the love affair that would drive them apart, and even further back, to the long, sake-pouring nights at a hostess bar where Ama first learned that a soft heart was a dangerous thing. Will Ama allow herself to believe in a miracle?

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04 June 2015

BEA 2015: Book Group Speed Dating Session Part 1

As many of you know, last week I was in New York to attend Book Expo America, the major annual publishing industry conference. Every year I remind you that my favorite panel is the one geared to book clubs: Book Group Speed Dating, presented by Reading Group Guides.

During the session, representatives from the major publishing companies and imprints present their top recommendations for readers looking for the perfect book club selection. Here are just some of the books I learned about (with my summary) and my top pick from each presentation (with the publisher's summary). Stop back tomorrow for book club suggestions from four more publishers.

Bloomsbury USA

  • The Blue between Sky and Water by Susan Abulhawa: four generations of Palestinian woman who were separated in exodus and then reunited; political, women's issues, Mideast
Sweet Caress by William BoydSweet Caress by William Boyd: 1920s–1940s, war, a woman photographer; women's issues, sexuality, choices:
Born into Edwardian England, Amory's first memory is of her father standing on his head. She has memories of him returning on leave during the First World War. But his absences, both actual and emotional, are what she chiefly remembers. It is her photographer uncle Greville who supplies the emotional bond she needs, who, when he gives her a camera and some rudimentary lessons in photography, unleashes a passion that will irrevocably shape her future.A spell at boarding school ends abruptly and Amory begins an apprenticeship with Greville in London, photographing socialites for the magazine "Beau Monde." But Amory is hungry for more and her search for life, love, and artistic expression will take her to the "demi monde" of Berlin of the late '20s, to New York of the '30s, to the blackshirt riots in London, and to France in the Second World War where she becomes one of the first women war photographers. Her desire for experience will lead Amory to further wars, to lovers, husbands, and children as she continues to pursue her dreams and battle her demons.

In this enthralling story of a life fully lived, illustrated with "found" period photographs, William Boyd has created a sweeping panorama of some of the most defining moments of modern history, told through the camera lens of one unforgettable woman, Amory Clay. It is his greatest achievement to date.
Grove / Atlantic
  • The Mistake I Made by Paula Daly: British domestic thriller, murder; would you really do anything to get out debt and provide for your children?
  • Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer: gritty, thriller; medical student with Asperger's taking gross anatomy thinks he's uncovered a murder
Coming of Age at the End of Days by Alice LaPlanteComing of Age at the End of Days by Alice LaPlante: suspense; psychology of teen depression; what happens when a young girl finds solace in a questionable place:
Alice LaPlante's acclaimed psychological thrillers are distinguished by their stunning synthesis of family drama and engrossing suspense. Her new novel is an affecting foray deeper into the creases of family life and the light-and-dark battle of faith as LaPlante delves into the barbed psyche of a teenager whose misguided convictions bear irrevocable consequences.

Never one to conform, Anna always had trouble fitting in. Earnest and willful, as a young girl she quickly learned how to hide her quirks from her parents and friends. But when, at sixteen, a sudden melancholia takes hold of her life, she loses her sense of self and purpose. Then the Goldschmidts move in next door. They're active members of a religious cult, and Anna is awestruck by both their son, Lars, and their fervent violent prophecies for the Tribulation at the End of Days. Within months, Anna's life her family, her home, her very identity will undergo profound changes. But when her newfound beliefs threaten to push her over the edge, she must find her way back to center with the help of unlikely friends. An intimate story of destruction and renewal, New York Times bestselling author LaPlante delivers a haunting exploration of family legacies, devotion, and tangled relationships.
Ingram Publisher Services
  • Married Sex by Jessie Kornbluth: a divorce lawyer, who has seen marriage at its worst, makes a decision to change up his own marriage, with broad-reaching consequences
  • Wendy Darling by Colleen OakesRed Eggs and Good Luck by Angela Lam: memoir that explores the author's dual identity as half German and half Chinese; poetic prose
Wendy Darling by Colleen Oakes: a reimagining of Peter Pan; Wendy's story told as a modern urban fantasy; start of a series:
Wendy Darling takes readers far beyond the second star to the right and straight on till morning. It is the story of a girl loved by two men the steady and handsome bookseller's son from London and Peter Pan, dashing, charming, and dangerous. From the cobblestone streets of London to the fantastical world of Neverland's many secrets, readers will love watching Wendy's journey as she grows from a girl into a woman, and realizes that Neverland, like her heart, is a wild place, teaming with dark secrets and dangerous obsessions.
Harlequin Mira
  • Come Away with Me by Karma Brown: debut novel about a woman who loses her baby in a car accident and must find a way to once again embrace life
  • The Gilded Life of Matilda Duplaine by Alex Brunkhorst: contemporary story with a Gatsby-like feel; Hollywood, forbidden love
Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman:Legacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman: debut epic fantasy based on Alexander the Great at age sixteen; this is young adult and the start of a series:
Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains, and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedon's sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world, but finds himself drawn to a newcomer. Katerina must navigate the dark secrets of court life, while keeping hidden her own mission: kill the queen. But she doesn't account for her first love. Jacob will go to unthinkable lengths to win Katerina, even if it means competing with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander's unmet fiancee, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

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All content and photos (except where noted) copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads 2008-2017. All rights reserved.

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