Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Delia Owens

Where The Crawdads Sing

Some books call out to me the minute I set my eyes on the cover. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING is one of those novels!

The opening scenes drew me in. The characters and moving writing kept me going. And going. I loved this book!!

This novel can not be compartmentalized. It’s got so many dimensions that make it so very important. What a story.

Delia Owens has written other books, all non fiction nature books. She’s got a background that oozes with uniqueness and screams to be read.  In fact, I think you all will be very interested to hear more about her. So I will post a conversation with her at some point.

The prologue begins in the swamp within the marsh along the coast of North Carolina. The year is 1969.  The body of Chase Andrews is found lying in the muck.  Was he murdered? That’s the mystery.

Back up to 1952. Here begins the story of a young girl who’s suddenly abandoned by her mother, left with her siblings and alcoholic father. Mom just packed a blue train case with a scant amount of personal items and left the hovel they lived in without a backward glance. It’s a heartbreaking scene and you are left to wonder how she could do it. Soon, you will  see all too well.

One by one Kya’s sisters and brothers all leave until only dear old dad is left. He comes and mostly goes until Kya is ten.  Then where does he go?

Kya  Clark is the “Marsh Girl.”  She’s been raising her own self since the age of six.  She lives alone in Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild.  When Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya. He was known to have a relationship with her when they were in their teens…

Delia Owens’ lyrical and gripping debut novel, is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising account of a murder investigation. Fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell will admire this stunning novel as Owens, a New York Times-bestselling nature writer, masterfully reveals the intricate  beauties of nature through the eyes of a young girl abandoned by her family in the North Carolina Marshland. 

I am still marveling at the depth and scope of the life that Kya slowly and quietly builds for herself in an area of the country that was wild and mostly unknown at this time period. I can’t imagine living a life of such solitude as an adult let alone as a vulnerable child.  She’s learned to use Nature as her bible.

Delia Owens says, ” The coastal marsh of North Carolina, and Nature in general, is definitely a character of the novel. As one line of the story reads, …Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother. After her family left her, Kya had no one but Nature to teach her about life, and there is no better teacher if we take the time to observe and listen to the wild. Kya honed her skills of harvesting mussels by watching the crows; she learned about dishonest signals from the fireflies; she learned about loyalty and friends from the seagulls.”

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING is written by an author who  knows about surviving in the wild. Delia Owens has spent more than twenty years living in Africa while studying brown hyenas, elephants, and most primates.  She did not live among other humans but with the wild animals themselves. She points out how the females bond and live in social groups.  In her novel Kya has lost her group.

Yes, this novel is a murder mystery. And yet it’s so much more than that. So much more.  I found myself feeling so compelled to learn more about Delia Owens and her life in Africa.  I was shelving a book  in the nature section at Copperfish Books last week. I noticed a beat up used copy of CRY OF THE KALAHARI

Owens

Cry of the Kalahari

by Delia and Mark Owens. I felt like I had won the jackpot. Bought the book, took it home, put all else aside, and began to read. I quickly found myself lost in the no-man’s land of Africa, a place no humans but Delia and Mark had been. And I was a lost soul.  I had deadlines to meet, places to go, people to be in touch with. But I did nothing but read this book. The writing is amazing and the true story is nothing short of fascinating.

Where the Crawdad's Sing

author

Delia has co-authored three non fiction nature books. One I just mentioned.  Then comes THE EYE OF THE ELEPHANT and finally SECRETS OF THE SAVANNAH.  You may want to plow right through them once you read WHERE THE CRAWDAD’S SING.

I will tell you this, I don’t know how she did it, but Owens kept the suspense building and I did not see the end coming. It kept me riveted to the page all along.

This amazing novel is coming with me to all my lectures this season! I can’t wait to tell everyone about this story. And I will be screaming to the rooftops how much I love Delia Owens!

My gorgeous finished hardcopy arrived form G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. I totally LOVED it!

You can pick up your own copy of WHERE THE CRAWDAD’S SING at Copperfish Books.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

They are discounted 20% off. You NEED this book. It’s what I call an important book.

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Announcing A New Winner!

Louise Miller

The Late Bloomer’s Club

Just look at this fun cover!  A very successful giveaway. Thanks for entering.  I have one winner. Congratulations go out to Jane Serio! Jane, I’m sending out an email right now to get your mailing address. Your lovely book will come straight from Pamela Dorman Books, a division of Viking publishing.

Sending out a big thank you to Viking for providing this great summer read!

Giveaway! The Late Bloomer’s Club by Louise Miller

Louise Miller

The Late Bloomer’s Club

THE LATE BLOOMERS’ CLUB– Pamela Dorman Books | On Sale July 17, 2018 | 9781101981238

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

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

I absolutely adored Miller’s first novel THE CITY BAKER’S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING. It was witty and fun and filled with amazing baked goods. Now she’s back with yet another novel set in rural Vermont and filled with cakes and coffee.

Pamela Dorman Books/Viking publishing is providing my giveaway copy. This is just right for ending your summer reading. Please leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a copy. I will choose one winner on Saturday, August 11. Cheers and good luck. No P.O. boxes and only U.S. addresses, please.

Announcing A Winner!

Louise Candlish

Our House

Anne, you are my winner today! Congratulations. I will send you an email right now asking for your mailing address. Your book will come straight from Berkley which is a division of Penguin Random House publishing. They are very generously providing your book for my giveaway.

Thanks go out to those of you who took the time to enter my giveaway. More will come.

Our House by Louise Candlish Review And Giveaway

Louise Candlish

Our House

You live in the lovely well-to-do London Suburbs. One day, you arrive home to find strangers are moving into your house. Just imagine! I know I can’t. Just thinking about it makes me wild. But that is exactly what happens to Fiona Lawson one January day.

What a heart-pounding start.  I like a story that grabs you right off. No problem with that here.  The story is told in two voices: Fiona’s and her estranged husband Bram’s.  They’ve been living a very civil separation for a few months now. It’s been working well for them.  They’ve even a name for it: bird’s nest custody.  They take turns living in the big house with their two young sons.  It’s all about making it easy on the kids. But why are they separated? He cheated on her for the second time. Good reason if you ask me. But there is much more to this story than meets the eye. Even more than his escalating drinking problem and his mounting traffic tickets. And, oh, the lies.

I didn’t expect the sense of urgency with this novel.  Had no idea. It will blow you away to discover the truth.  And then I found out the story is based on an article of property fraud in a London newspaper.

No one is whom they seem to be.  And the pace keeps the pages flying.  You absolutely will not be able to figure this out. For those of you who truly enjoy a literary thriller, well, this is your book!n  The climax is monumental.  A real killer.  It’s pub date is Tuesday, August 7.

The generous people at Berkley are providing one copy of OUR HOUSE for giveaway. So, you know the drill. Please leave a comment below. I will choose one winner on Monday, August 6. Only U.S. addresses, and no P.O. boxes, please. Good luck!

The people at Berkley Publishing sent me my review copy in exchange for an honest review. Another winner. I loved it!

Autumn In Venice by Andrea di Robilant

Andrea di Robilant

Autumn in Venice

AUTUMN IN VENICE is a must-have for Hemingway fans everywhere.   You need this non-fiction account of Ernest Hemingway  and his last muse to complete your library.

I’ve read pretty extensively about Hemingway. I can’t say I  even like the guy but, I am drawn to his life like a moth to the flame. So when I discovered this book had information I did not know, I knew I had to have it.

Years ago I read a book called A VENETIAN AFFAIR by Andrea di Robilant. I loved it. So I knew the author is a really good one.

I’ve found that more is written about Hemingway’s first two wives. I didn’t know much about Mary at all.  Mary was Hemingway’s fourth and last wife. Theirs was not a very happy marriage. But this trip to Venice about tore the roof off what was left of it.

In 1948 Hemingway and Mary decided to visit Venice.  Their marriage was not so happy and they thought they could jump-start it in this fabulously romantic city. Not so much. It wasn’t long before Hemingway became enchanted and then infatuated with an   18-year-old girl thirty years his junior. He was almost fifty at the time.

4th wife

Mary Welsh and Ernest Hemingway

The author got a lot of his information from Adriana’s journals and Hemingway’s letters. Plus, it seems di Robilant’s uncle was included in Hemingway’s inner circle back in the day. Reports were given of Hemingway drooling unashamedly over this young girl. Mary tolerated the fawning at the time because the relationship continued to be platonic. It made Hemingway happy and lifted him from depression. But the quarreling between husband and wife became vicious.  This was not going to be the getting back together trip they had hoped it would be.

Adriana and her family were encouraged to visit Mary and Ernest in their home in Cuba. Oh boy.  I can’t even imagine.  Adriana became Hemingway’s muse while he was writing ACROSS THE RIVER AND INTO THE TREES, a book about an older man and a young woman. Adriana was also the muse for THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA.

Adriana and Hemingway

I found myself leafing through copies of several of Hemingway’s novels while reading AUTUMN IN VENICE.  So much of his real-life was embedded in his fiction. I felt like I was getting a chance to peek into this very famous man’s world.

Much of this book takes place in Cuba.  And I will sound a warning. This is not a book about Venice. So those of you who might pick this book up because it appears to be all about Venice, well, it’s not.

We know that Ernest Hemingway was a very troubled soul.  He took his own life.  And he so disrupted Adriana’s life that she eventually took her own life as well. Sad endings for both.

We are currently sold out at Copperfish Books, however, we are getting more in by the end of this week.  On sale for 20% off. Come and get em.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

My beautiful finished hardcopy was provided by Knopf  in exchange for an honest review. I loved it. It’s not a novel. It’s all documented.  I am going to be bringing it to my lectures this coming season and will enjoy discussing it. Thanks go out to the generous publishing publishing people at Knopf. Cheers!

Southernmost by Silas House

Silas House

Southernmost

I didn’t know what to expect when I chose to read SOUTHERNMOST. I would have picked it up way sooner!  It begins with a jolt and takes the reins and keeps on getting better and better. I kept waiting for it to lose momentum, but it didn’t…

“The rain had been falling with a pounding meanness, without ceasing for two days, and then the water rose all at once in the middle of the night, a brutal rush so fast Asher thought at first a dam might have broken somewhere upstream. The ground had simply become so saturated it could not hold any  more water. All creeks were conspiring down the ridges until they washed out in the Cumberland. There was no use in anyone going to bed because they all knew what was going to happen. They only had to wait.” 

The paragraph above is the first one in the book. What an introduction!  My heart was pounding and I hadn’t even turned the first page.

author

Silas House

Asher Sharp is a  Pentecostal Preacher in a small town in Tennessee.  He is looking for his 8-year-old son Justin who disappeared after the flood. He figures Justin took off to find his dog who’s been missing.  What he discovers is the raging waters of the Cumberland River have devastated the area. He watches as a neighbor’s  house is swept down the river with three humans hollering in terror. When he sees Justin he is with two men who help save two of the people. It’s a harrowing scene that will stay with me forever.

Who are these two men? The two men are a gay couple new to the area who lost their own home in the flood.  The faith of the parishioners does not abide a gay couple. And Asher’s wife coldly denies them aid when they need it most. This is the beginning of the end of Asher’s marriage and he begins to question  his faith. Some things are just wrong.

Written with courageous strength, told in spare prose, SOUTHERNMOST is one of the most powerful novels I’ve ever read. It’s important. It’s honest, and it’s a story that runs away with itself. I could not put the book down.  And yet I did NOT want it to end.

While we watch Asher’s marriage unravel and then quickly crumble, we find that Asher has a brother who he’s been estranged from for many years. Why?  Luke is gay. And years ago Asher and his mother denounced Luke. Luke disappeared. Yet he periodically sent post cards to Asher with no actual address. Then one came from Key West…

Asher’s wife is so embedded in the church that she truly does not see the forest for the trees.  Her faith  has gotten the best of her. She’s a very conflicted person and Asher does not see her as a fit mother for Justin. Yet, she is awarded full custody of Justin after a video of Asher is made public. Asher has invited the two gay men into the community of his church; a big no-no. The parish is not having it.  Their religion has become toxic.  Asher has already decided to leave his church when the parishioners who had been his loyal followers toss him out.

Change of scenery: Asher snatches his young son and off they go on the road trip of a lifetime. Boy, does the pace begin to thunder. I’m getting excited just writing this down.

Key West looms way ahead of them.  A father’s love pushing him to do the very thing he knows is wrong. But it’s the only thing he can do.  And so he does. And the heart pounding begins anew.  I want them to get away even though I know this can not end well.

smathers

Key West Beach

The chapters that take place in the paradise that is Key West are like a love letter to that southernmost city. I have visited the “rock” often in years past and fallen in love with it.  The beauty of the gardens,  the fellowship of the people, and the downright decency humbles me still. And the beauty of St. Paul’s is not to be missed as it’s smack dab in the middle of Duval Street and has a cameo in this novel.

Key West garden

Key West Florida

St. Paul’s episcopal church

The South is a complex area of our country.  Rural America has earned a reputation that precedes it. Even faith is perceived in a different light.

This new novel dissects love between fathers and sons and brothers and lovers. It does it in a way that sheds light on issues not often looked at in the light of day. Men keep their feelings close. House explores the depths of feelings in a way that is quiet and just.

While reading this book it brought back memories of my own road trip many years ago, from Toronto to Fort Myers. Maybe I’ll write about it one day.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

We have copies of SOUTHERNMOST on our new fiction table at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida. They’re discounted 20% as are all new hardcovers.  Come on in and purchase your copy. Don’t miss this one. I will be shouting the wonder of this story for a long time!!

I can’t thank the wonderful people at Algonquin Publishers enough for sending me a finished hardcover. All this in exchange for an honest review. Guys, I LOVED it!!