Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore

Valentine

VALENTINE first caught my attention when I saw a review copy on the shelf at Copperfish Books.  It was the week before Valentine’s Day. Perfect, I thought. I plucked it off the shelf thinking I would blog about it for the big romantic day. Not so much. You see, VALENTINE is just about the last novel you would want to read to celebrate. But it’s an amazing debut novel written by an author who is going to become very well known.

Gloria Ramirez is looking for trouble. Her mom has gone to work for the evening. Here it is the night before Valentine’s Day, 1976, in Odessa, Texas. Gloria is bored. So she heads out to the Sonic Drive Thru hoping for adventure.  Her adventure drives up in a dusty, dinged-up old pick up truck driven by a good looking oil rigger who is also looking for trouble. It doesn’t take long before Gloria climbs into the truck and off they go. Into the dessert where Gloria’s world will forever be left behind.

Texas oil rig

The morning after the “attack” Gloria turns up on the doorstep of Mary Rose Whitehead’s ranch house which is literally out in the middle of nowhere. Mary Rose is shaken to her core at the condition of the young girl before her. And I will now say Gloria is fourteen. Almost beaten to death and raped. Her spirit as well as her body broken.

Told in alternative points of view, VALENTINE is the story of a young girl wronged in the very worst way, then threatened by the unbelievers and forced from her home. Mary Rose is determined to testify as the prime witness for the prosecution.  But half the town believes the act of violence was brought on by the young girl.

This cast of strong women are unforgettable. And I’m sure you will find yourself routing for them just as I did.

Ann Patchett calls VALENTINE a stunning debut. I could not agree with her more.

You might just find yourself rereading the beginning of the story more than once, just like I did. You might ask yourself questions about the assault. I did. But in the end you will want justice to prevail.

Elizabeth Wetmore is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. That alone tells me a lot. Her writing is so darn good. It’s some of the best writing I’ve come across in a long time. She was born in Texas and she truly knows the area she writes about. As well as the people.

This extraordinary novel seared my soul and has me longing for Wetmore’s next one.

VALENTINE  is published TODAY by the great publishing company of Harper Collins. I am very thankful for my review copy that came through Copperfish Books.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

We will have copies of VALENTINE in our store.  And they will also be available to order from our online store. You do NOT want to miss this important novel! Get your copy TODAY. We hope you get it from us: help an Indy Bookstore! We appreciate your business more than you can know.

A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe

A Hundred Suns

Look closely at the photo on the cover of A HUNDRED SUNS. It appears to be dreamy. It perfectly captures the ambience of this rich, atmospheric new novel by Karin Tanabe.

It was easy to get involved in this story.  I was all in from the first page. And, Indochine, a mysterious place for sure. Now known as Vietnam, I knew very little of this country in the 30’s.  This is the kind of novel I’m always on the hunt for. Unique, edgy, complicated characters, and great writing.

Jessie Holland Lasage is an American woman who moved to Paris with an agenda. To say Jessie came from humble beginnings is a gross understatement. Jessie escapes the horror of her childhood and goes searching for a way out. She meets and marries Victor Michelin Lasage and moves way up in the world. He is just what she is looking for. In Victor, Jessie finds the money and prestige she needs. But at what price?

When Jessie and Victor move to Indochine it’s the early 1930’s and Victor has been sent to keep a close watch on the family plantations near Saigon. The colony has had its share of uprisings and the last thing they want or need is more trouble.  So we enter the oppulent over-the-top way of life in the colonies.  We also quickly realize that champagne flows constantly, opium dens are the norm, and moral fortitude is a passing fancy.

Then meet the ex-pats. When Jessie is befriended by Marcelle who is a seemingly bored housewife, this story quickly heats up and becomes a real page-turner as well as a mystery.  Marcelle might be married but, she has a Vietnamese boyfriend, Khoi Nguyen,  from a filthy rich family who makes their money through silk.  Marcelle and Khoi have an agenda of their own. They have hooked up with communist rebels and are trying to undermine the Michelin family.

When Jessie begins suffering from bouts of memory loss and fits of rage, the mystery deepens. And widens.  And the fragile world surrounding these complicated characters begins to show itself to the readers.

At times throughout the story Jessie seems like an unreliable narrator. Not to give anything away, but that will resolve itself near the end.

I chose to read this novel because of the unique and exotic locale. I became compelled to continue to  read because of the richness of the prose and the complexity of the story.   A HUNDRED SUNS is being published by St. Martin’s Press on April 7. Don’t miss out on this one. I predict it’s going to be big this spring and summer.

Karin Tanabe

Karin Tanabe has published four other novels: THE DIPLOMAT’S DAUGHTER; THE GILDED YEARS; THE PRICE OF INHERITANCE; THE LIST.

Even though Copperfish Books is closed for foot traffic for now, we still have curbside pick up and we can order and send to your home. We’d love to put this amazing novel into your hands after pub date: April 7. Shop local.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

What’s On My Reading Radar Right Now?

Top of my reading list today.

These three books are at the top of my TBR list right this moment. But that can and probably will change at the drop of a bookmark. I am, however, halfway through THE STAR-CROSSED SISTERS OF TUSCANY by Lori Nelson Spielman. I’ve had my eye on this one because of the title. The cover’s not too shabby either. It’s light and very good. Perfect for right now. It’s taking me back to my last trip to Tuscany and that’s a very good memory.

Current review books waiting to be chosen.

People ask me how I choose what to read when there are so many books begging for me to crack them open. Well, if something sounds interesting, I will pick it up and read a chapter. Sometimes that chapter immediately turns into half the book. But I usually read a chapter or so of each book. Then the one that is the most compelling is the one I go back to and finish. Okay, for instance. A little over a week ago I received a review copy of Mary Alice Monroe’s upcoming novel

On Ocean Boulevard

ON OCEAN BOULEVARD. Well, I just could not put it down. It was wonderful. Comes out May 19. We, at Copperfish, were scheduled to have a luncheon with Mary Alice in Punta Gorda  just before the new book comes out. But, alas, all of Mary Alice’s book engagements have been cancelled or postponed due to the corona virus.  Bummer. I do want to mention that her last novel, THE SUMMER GUESTS

The Summer Guests

 

will  be available in paperback on March 31.  I am so excited. If you haven’t read it yet, PLEASE do yourself a big favor and buy a copy. It is a must-read. I loved it. We will have copies  for sale at Copperfish and online.

Mary Kay Andrews is another of my summer favorites. Her new novel, HELLO SUMMER, will be available on May 5. Copperfish Books will have copies for sale at that time.

The news is very unsettling. I’m thinking most of you are looking for lighter reading material. I will be putting up my reviews earlier than normal during these times. We all need something fun to look forward to.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

Please keep Copperfish Books in mind while doing your book ordering. And remember you can call us at 941-205-2560 and take advantage of our curbside pick up.  We have a great website where you can order and we can ship to your home. Our hours are Monday through Saturday: 10-4.

Be safe and relax with a great book.

Ten Of My Favorite Books To Read Right Now

The books on this list are some of my all-time favorites. I promise that these are all amazing. I have heard that people are having a difficult time concentrating on reading right now. I get that. Still, maybe you just need the right books. And here are some of the greats and most of these are in paperback.

Beach Music

I read BEACH MUSIC for the first time in June of 1995 just after it was published. That’s exactly 25 years ago. Wow. I reread it about ten years ago while we were traveling through Italy. It is the Best book I’ve ever read.

Cutting For Stone

Cutting For Stone

Abraham Verghese’s CUTTING FOR STONE is another of the greats. Amazing writing with unforgettable characters that are still living in my mind.

The Invisible Bridge

Invisible Bridge

Julie Orringer’s THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE is the best WWII novel ever. Period.

Amanda Coplin

The Orchardist

 

THE ORCHARDIST by Amanda Coplin is pure genius. It’s so unique and so unputdownable. Just read it.

paperback

Pachinko

 

I fell in love with PACHINKO because the writing and story reminded me of THE GOOD EARTH by Pearl S. Buck. You will too.

Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone

 

 

THE GREAT ALONE is one of those novels that holds you captive. Amazing story in Alaska.

Kristin Harmel

When We Meet Again

 

WHEN WE MEET AGAIN is set mostly in Florida after WWII and holds little known information. Harmel is an Orlando author who we just love at Copperfish Books.

Chanel Cleeton

Next Year In Havana

You will fall in love with NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA and the lovely cover. Based on the author’s grandmother’s escape from Cuba. Wonderful.

Summer of 69

 

 

 

 

SUMMER OF 69 is now available in a paperback version making it just right for now. Let’s bring back that fateful summer that most of us remember well.

A Good Neighborhood

Last and brand spanking new comes A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD. It’s wonderful. Can you tell I loved it? It’s a slip of a book but pulls a powerful punch.

All these books are available at Copperfish Books. Nine are available in trade paperback. We have many used copies.  Our store is still open with reduced hours. You can call and reserve your book or have it sent directly to  your house.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

This is a great time to pick up that perfect book that you’ve been meaning to read. And the books on this page are sure to please.

As always, I wish you all a great book. Be safe my reading friends. Be safe.

Unexpected Mid- March Madness

What a difference one week makes. This time last week I was speaking to groups of avid readers and showing off wonderful books. This week most everyone is staying in and wondering what on earth has happened to the world we once knew.

I have been lax on reviewing books for a couple months.  That means I’ve been on the move traveling the tri-state area with a rolling case filled with the best books of the season as well as the amazing books coming later this spring and into the summer. Now that those talks are over for this year, I can get on with the business of reviewing again.  Of course you already know I read far ahead. Right this moment I am reading PARIS NEVER LEAVES YOU by Ellen Feldman.

Paris Never Leaves You

This one is coming June 2. I have been cautious about reading WWII books since there have been a glut of them. But, this one is worth the read. I love the understated cover. It sets the tone. Paris, a young woman working in a bookstore, Nazi occupation. A good one to look forward to this summer.

Sea Wife

Another one to look forward to in May is SEA WIFE by Amity Gaige.  A heart-stopping sailing adventure that goes horribly awry. What happens when a young husband and father decides the family needs to purchase a sailboat and sail for one year. Keep in mind this couple have two small kids and one is a toddler. The writing is superb and the characters are unforgettable. The scenes pop and sparkle.

Both those novels are for the future. But I will be bringing you up to speed with books as they come out and just before so you don’t fall behind or lack a great book to read while we experience this virus together.

I am not working at Copperfish while this craziness is going on. But the store is still open and we are doing everything possible to stay open. You can call us and find out what books we recommend. You can order to be shipped to your home. If your order is $35 or more the shipping fees will be waived. In store, the new hardcovers are discounted 20% as always. We are now offering curbside delivery for your shopping convenience. Just give us a call at 941-205-2560. We are here for you. Of all the times you need a great book to read, it sure is now.

I am working on a list of great books to read while hunkering down.  Will be posted asap.

Everyone can rest assured that the Artis-Naples Critic’s Choice summer reading list is prepared and ready to go. Elaine and Jess and I have been working on it and it is a wrap. Some great stuff there. I’m not sure when Artis will be releasing it. I’m sure it will be on their site when up.

Siena

Siena who we affectionately call “Tiny” is showing how stressed out over the virus she is. She’s relaxing on the back porch and preparing for one of her ongoing naps of the day.  She is not bothered by worry. She knows we have plenty of her favorite food and plenty of cat litter. All she needs. She is, however, very happy to have both our laps available almost 24/7 while we are home.

I am finding some humor in all this, although not a whole lot. When I was at our Publix the other morning, there were two manager-types “guarding” the toilet paper aisle. Never thought I’d see the day.

I’m hoping everyone will be staying safe and doing the right thing.  I think we are in for the long haul. Try to relax and I wish you many amazing books. List to come soon.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

A Good Neighborhood by Therese Anne Fowler

A Good Neighborhood

Coming in at just under 300 pages this new novel by Therese Anne Fowler packs a helluva punch. Fowler leaves very few issues untouched. And does a bang- up job.

The novel begins in a simple old neighborhood where an upscale new house has been built where once existed a perfectly fine home. But that’s what happens when the wealthy move into this North Carolina community. Tear down the old, put up newer and supposedly better…

This wonderful novel delves deeply into the lives of two families brought together in a most unlikely way. When the wealthy Whitman family moves into the newly built McMansion next to the humble  abode and property of Valerie Holt and her son Xavier you get the feeling that all is not well.  The Whitman’s are white and entitled. Valerie Holt is African American. Xavier is mixed race. You can see where this is going, right?

Fowler takes her time building this story. She says she did tireless research. After all, her usual genre is historical fiction. This new book is contemporary and edgy. And wonderful.

The buildup is slow and you begin getting a creepy feeling about Mr. Whitman.  Who are these people. Really?  What is their background? And then we find out.

Where is Xavier’s father?  Why is Valerie so enamored with the massive oak tree in their backyard? The tension begins to ooze into the story when Valerie discovers the root system of her beloved oak has been compromised.  And she’s enraged and saddened beyond comprehension. So what does she do?

The publisher sent me this amazing card with pop up tree. I’ve been taking it along on my speaking engagements this season and it never ceases to emit gasps from the audiences. It is a great marketing device.

Oak Tree Card

Of course there is much more to this amazing story than this. One of the Whitman’s daughter’s, Juniper, is a lovely seventeen-year-old teenager.  She’s very close in age to Xavier.  They are, of course, attracted to one another.  You have to know this is not going to end well.

Watching the build- up will have you reading far into the night. It’s a quick read.  But it’s a deep novel filled with people who are dealing with life issues.  It’s being called a tragedy and it is that.

I’ve read more than one novel lately about neighborhoods.  Tranquility in a community can be breached with one problematic neighbor. It all can turn on a dime. In this case, that is exactly what happens.

Therese Anna Fowler is the New York Times bestselling author of  and A WELL DRESSED WOMAN and Z a novel of Zelda Fitzgerald that I loved.  This new novel addresses issues of race, class, and heartbreaking star-crossed love. It’s certainly provocative like the back of the book says. And it’s stunningly powerful!

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

Pick up your copy of A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD at Copperfish Books. It’s discounted 20%. Copperfish is also able to send you a copy through the mail.  This is one of the most anticipated novels of the year and rightly so. This is a must-have novel!!

Therese Anne Fowler

My review copy of A GOOD NEIGHBORHOOD arrived from the generous publishers at St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review. I absolutely LOVED it!

Maurice’s March Musings

Miss Mimi hard at work.

Miss Mimi is hard at work, well maybe hardly working would be more like it. But her job is very important. She’s just simply gorgeous and inspirational and brings pure joy to the writing table.

January and February have blown past like dry leaves in a wind storm.  I have visited so many of my yearly book groups and added several brand new ones. It’s delightful to see all the familiar faces and catch up on goings on and new books that everyone is reading. Time seems to be literally flying this year. And the books keep on coming.

On Ocean Boulevard

Mary Alice Monroe’s just announced the title and cover of her upcoming novel. This cover screams summer.  I am excited to read the review copy that is coming my way soon.

The Last Train To Key West

Another great cover, coming soon. THE LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST by Chanel Cleeton is sure to please. A great must-read for summer. I loved it.

The Splendid and the Vile

The non-fiction book I’m raving about right now. Just out this week, THE SPLENDID AND THE VILE by Erik Larson. Stay tuned for my upcoming review of this amazing history of Churchill’s first year as Prime Minister.

What have I been doing with my spare time? Well, not much spare time around here. I should be spending every waking moment reading. However, once in a while, when my husband and I have time off together, we’ve been haunting the local garden centers and boy oh boy have we hit the jackpot lately.

Maurice’s Mr. Purple

We’ve been searching for just the right little tree to plant in commemoration of our beloved Maurice, Diego, Isis, and Syeed.  When we found this little tree with the lovely purple flowers we just knew it was the right one. The ashes of our kitties that have passed have already contributed to the flourishing of this mighty little tree. I think it’s just super.

Miss Iris

I found this beauty at the Saturday Farmer’s Market here on the Cape. It’s perfect for this area as this bird is an Ibis. See the rounded orange bill. I am a huge fan of the Ibis and love watching them scour the yard for goodies. They are also great walking companions early in the morning. Often they have landed at my feet and walked along on my morning walks. We name most everything here at our house so we named our new bird Miss Iris.

I’m really looking forward to the time change. I am not a fan of early darkness. Don’t forget to set your clocks ahead on Saturday night before you go to bed. Spring forward.  And spring into your next great read. Cheers!

Suzanne Schwartz, you’ve won the giveaway of THE GIRL IN THE WHITE GLOVES. I will send out an email to let you know. Will ask for your mailing address so the publisher can get your book in the mail. Congrats. As always, I thank all of you for making this giveaway so successful!