Speaking With Elaine Newton At The Pelican Bay Women’s League

Pelican Bay Women's League

Jean with Elaine Newton

What an exciting day yesterday was! I spoke with my friend Elaine Newton at the Pelican Bay Women’s League.  The house was packed with a delightful group who arrived with their sense of humor in tact.

The topic was books, books, and so many more books.  And about what I do with all these books.  I shared what I do for book clubs in the tri-county area.  I also shared some fun tidbits of meeting big authors and working with Elaine on that amazing summer reading list for Artis-Naples over the years.

Pelican Bay Women’s League

Was truly a fun day meeting new friends and discovering even more avid readers. Sending a big thanks out to Nancy for all her hard work preparing for the event. And to Beverly for sending me copies of the  photos she took. Thank you both!





Announcing A Winner!

Everything Here Is Beautiful

I have my winner! Congratulations to Pat I. You’re my winner this morning. I will send you an email asking for your mailing address. Your beautiful finished copy of EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL will come straight from Penguin/RandomHouse.

I want to thank those of you who took the time to enter my giveaway! There will be more to come.

Giveaway! Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee

Everything Here Is Beautiful

Miranda and Lucia arrived in New York with their mother on a flight from China. Miranda was a  young child, her sister Lucia still residing in their mother’s belly.  Their father died suddenly, turning their lives upside down.  Life in America looks good.

This beautiful debut novel begins with one of those startling first sentences that draws you right in with:  Lucia said she was going to marry a one-armed Russian Jew.  How can you not continue?  Little did I know what a journey I was about to begin.

Moving from America to Ecuador to Switzerland, then back to America, EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL, keeps you on your toes.  There is really no one theme to this novel. It’s about sisters, parenting, immigration, love, empathy, courage. I could go on and on…mental illness.

Lucia is in her twenties when she marries Yonah, who is from Israel. He lost his arm at a young age while fighting in the war. He is full of life and Lucia falls madly in love with this older man who owns a health food store in the East Village in NYC.  They live happily in tiny rooms next door. All is well until Lucia’s latent mental illness roars its ugly head. Thinking herself cured, she’s on no medication. Soon, she’s out of control. Miranda steps in to help, as she always has done.  Lucia’s madness is finally under control again.  But not for long. She begins longing for a child. One day she leaves Yonah for a much younger undocumented immigrant. Manny is from Ecuador. He’s charming and handsome and has no idea that his life is about to change forever.

Told in varying points of view, we get great insight to these characters.  Miranda, always the older sister. Constantly feeling guilty and responsible for Lucia. Never feeling she can do enough. Trying to understand the cause and effects of psychosis.  Putting her own life on hold. Miranda marries and moves to Switzerland. She is hoping Lucia is finally taking her medication regularly.

Lucia and Manny have a beautiful baby daughter and it throws Lucia into the depths of madness once again.  Lucia spends time in the hospital and gets herself back up to par, but it’s taken its toll. Once out of the hospital she persuades Manny to move back to Ecuador with her and the baby in tow. They have visions of opening their own business close to Manny’s family. Yes, they are close to his family, but, once at home, he slides into the cultural ways. Everything is different. Though Lucia is welcomed into the family and the baby is loved and adored, everything about family life in Ecuador is opposite of family life in America and soon Lucia feels stifled and misses her job.


Mira T. Lee

Lee does a stellar job of showing us both sides of the story. We learn how Manny feels living outside his home country.  He is also illegal in America and lives with that over his head constantly.  But Lucia has different issues. She is in Ecuador legally. But she has no work outside the home. And the home is little more than a hut with mud floors in the middle of nowhere. Nowhere but a stone’s throw from Manny’s mother.  No modern conveniences. They actually wash their clothes in the river with stones and dry them on the bank.  For the women, the days are filled with cleaning, washing, and cooking the meals. It takes all day to do these, every day.

I know very little of mental illness. At times, I felt worn out reading through the bouts of ups and downs. Loved ones feel helpless and sometimes hopeless. This is genetic. And the cure is medicine to help keep it at bay. Mostly, the meds have adverse side affects that are not nice. And often the patients stop taking them because they either feel they no longer need them, or, they can’t stand the awful affects.

Lee brings us a timely and sensitive story full of characters you will not soon forget. This novel made me think. It has helped make me more aware of the affects of mental illness. And it’s beautifully written by an author I look forward to reading again soon.

I have one beautiful trade paperback copy of EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL by Mira T. Lee for giveaway. The very generous publishing house at Penguin/RandhomHouse are furnishing this book for you. Please comment below to enter the contest. I will choose a winner on Monday, January  14. No P.O. boxes, please, and only U.S. addresses, as per usual.  Good luck!!

Little by Edward Carey

Edward Carey


Goodreads says, ” The wry, macabre, unforgettable tale of an ambitious orphan in Revolutionary Paris, befriended by royalty and radicals, who transforms herself into the legendary Madame Tussaud.”

The year is 1761.  Little Marie is born in a village in Switzerland.  Her beginnings are quite humble; but all that is subject to change, and drastically.

Marie is orphaned early in her life. She goes on to apprentice with a very strange wax sculptor  with whom she  bonds with almost immediately.  His laboratory is eerie and freakish. Marie finds it a solace from the reality that has become her life. And thus it begins.

Marie becomes so well known that she is summoned by Marie Antionette to the palace of Versailles where she saves Marie Antoinette during childbirth.  But we all know what’s going on outside the palace. Real heads are beginning to roll…

From these humble beginnings the monumental business of Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museums have gone on to become a very big business, indeed. They now exist all over the world.

Edward Carey worked in the Madame Tussaud Museum in London for a short time. As a child he had been scared of the wax figures, but as an adult he began to have a healthy appreciation.  And look where that has taken him.

This tiny person filled with the determination of a hundred strong humans, managed to create an empire that will live on for eternity.


Edward Carey

I found this odd novel compellingly readable and full of quirky characters who helped change history to be a good fit for book clubs this season. There sure is a lot to talk about. Carey  knows how to draw in his audience and tell a helluva story!

I received a review copy of LITTLE by Edward Carey from Riverhead Books via Copperfish Books.

Happy New Year 2019 Dear Readers

I just wanted to take a minute to let you know what I’m up to. I’m hitting the ground running this new year.  Am preparing paperwork agendas for book lectures for this month.  And since I’m reading six months ahead  it’s challenging to post reviews. Most of the amazing books I’m reading right now can not be reviewed until closer to their pub dates. Bummer! However, for those of you who will be attending my lectures this season, you are in for some real treats.  Even though I will not be reviewing these books yet, I will be discussing them at your talks. You will get a heads’ up on the great upcoming titles.

Paula McClain

Love and Ruin

I will be blogging about our events at Copperfish in the next few months. We have a vast and exciting lineup of splendid authors for you. Check out our website to see who’s coming. Sign up for priority seating for big names such as Paula McClain and Andres Dubus.

Andre Dubus III

Gone So Long

You won’t want to miss out on our literary events of the year.

I am hoping to see most of you this season. I appreciate you reading my blog and commenting.  You are the reason I am reading so many books. I love hearing your feedback. And I wish you a great season filled with reading the BEST books.

The Book Artist by Mark Pryor


The Book Artist

Look at this sparkly photo taken in Paris. Aah.

Hugo Marston is back.  All the books featuring Hugo have been in black and white until this new one. I love how alive the cover is. Good move.

What is a book artist? In this case it’s a young woman who makes art from books. She erects things. And someone is after her. Not in a good way.

THE BOOK ARTIST begins on a rainy and windy winter night in Monmartre, Paris.  Hugo is on his way to an art exhibit featuring books.  He really wasn’t keen on going until he discovered the medium would be books. Right up his alley.

It doesn’t take long to find a dead body and a mystery. After all, this is what Hugo is all about.  Pryor is the master of bringing Paris jumping and leaping high off the page.  The sights, the aromas, and the tastes.. All there for the taking. You will love submerging yourself in the culture of Paris and if you haven’t read Pryor before, well, you are in for a treat.

I am grateful to the publishing house of Seventh Street Books, a division of Prometheus. Thanks again for another stellar Marston novel. It’s a real treat.


Maurice Announces Favorite Books From 2018.

I always tend to put this off until the very end of the year. It is so hard to narrow the list down. But, here it is!

Silas House


  • SOUTHERNMOST by Silas House
  • GONE SO LONG by Andre Dubus 111
    Andre Dubus III

    Gone So Long







Delia Owens

Where The Crawdads Sing

THE GREAT ALONE by Kristin Hannah

Kristin Hannah

The Great Alone






Tayari Jones

An American Marriage


NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA by Chanel Cleeton

Chanel Cleeton

Next Year In Havana





THE IMMORTALISTS by Chloe Benjamin

Chloe Benjamin

The Immortalists


PROMISE by Minrose Gwen







Abby Geni

The Wildlands



Rebecca Makkai

Great Believers





BEACH HOUSE REUNION by Mary Alice Monroe

Mary Alice Monroe

Beach House Reunion


So there you have it and in no certain order.  Some of these novels are literary and some are just really well-written stories that I love.

Looks like 2018 reading is a wrap!