Kiss Carlo by Adriana Trigiani

Adriana Trigiani

Kiss Carlo

I fell in love with ” The Shoemaker’s Wife” a few years ago.  Adriana Trigiani incorporated her personal family story into this wonderful novel.  Now she’s brought us another big family saga with “Kiss Carlo.”

The time period is 1949. The war’s over and businesses are once again beginning to flourish here in the U.S..  One family is doing well for itself in South Philadelphia. Dominick Palazzini owns a thriving cab company in the city. He lives in a large house with his three sons, his wife, and  his elderly mother-in-law. This makes several families living under one roof. This is how it used to work. And it did work.  There was always someone around to help with the babies, the meals, and taking care of the old folks.  There is also Nicky who was adopted by Dominick and Jo when his parents died. He’s been treated as one of their own.

Of course nothing is cut and dried, and certainly not here. You see, Dominick and his brother Mike have not seen each other in years. It’s a real family feud. So even though the two families live only blocks apart in the same city, they refuse to speak. This, of course, means the children grow up apart as well. Or so we think.

Nicky has been engaged to Peachy DePino for seven long years; through his stint fighting overseas during the war, and then some. It’s time Nick steps up. And so they set the date even though there seems to be quite a lack of, well,  love. But when Peachy discovers that Nicky has been secretly working part- time with a small theater group she freaks out and tells him he can no longer do that once they are married. And he begins to rethink his entire life.

This is an epic story of family, love, and becoming who you really need to be. It’s a story filled with quirky characters and situations that prove Trigiani’s story-telling ability.  The voices of her characters ring strong and true. She adds wit to the page as she brings forth matters of the heart and the home.


Adriani Trigiani

My favorite character is Hortense Mooney and her routine. Hortense is the “colored” dispatcher at the cab company. She’s been watching out for Nicky since he was a youngster. Mrs. Mooney tells it like it is.  She’s got a lot of flair and a lot of heart. You’re going to love her.  Of course nowadays we could not call her “colored” but she refers to herself as such in the book therefore it’s okay.

I love a big juicy family saga. Throw in Italy and I’m all in. I think you will be too. Great for summer. Add this one to your beach bag and go. Just do it!

My review copy arrived from the great publishing  house of Harper Collins. Thanks guys. I loved it.


The Perfect Beach Read and Winner

Mary Alice Monroe

Beach House for Rent

It all began years ago with a little book called “The Beach House.”   I am a huge Mary Alice Monroe fan.  It was the first book of hers I’d read. And I fell for it hook, line and sinker.  Isle of Palms, South Carolina, beaches, marine life, mother-daughter drama. Perfect.  Over the years Mary Alice has brought us more of this story and it became a series. She’s wrapping that series up with “Beach House for Rent.”

“Beach House for Rent” is the story of two strangers and the power of the places we call home. Cara Rutledge, 50, and Heather Wyatt, 26, are at two very different stages of their lives. Cara rents her quaint beach house on Isle of Palms to Heather for the summer to paint birds for postage stamps. Yet Heather’s anxiety keeps her indoors with her caged canaries. Once at the beach the shore birds–and a man who rescues them–lure Heather outside. As the summer progresses and Heather’s confidence begins to blossom, Cara’s life reels with sudden tragedy. Cara wants only to return home to her beach house where she’d felt safe–but Heather refuses to budge from her sanctuary. Can the two women come together to help each other and share the healing power of the beach house?”

Mary Alice

Mary Alice Monroe

is the queen of environmental fiction. She always incorporates nature into her novels. This time she’s chosen to feature the drastically declining shorebird populations and the loggerhead sea turtle.

I never tire of reading about the beaches of South Carolina.  Mary Alice has managed to bring the lushness of the area not only to the page but right into your senses. I sat on that dune facing the ocean and watched the sea turtle lay her eggs. I cried as she dragged herself back out to sea afterward. And I found myself wanting to learn even more about those amazing shorebirds. Yes, the people in the story are people I cared about, but I love the animal aspect even more.

For those of us who love The Beach House I think this is a good culmination. Amen.

My review copy arrived from Gallery Books in exchange for an honest review. Great job!

Hardcover: 416 pages: Pub date, June 20

I am happy to announce the winner of “Beach House For Rent.” My winner is Lyn Blinkhorn! Congrats Lyn. You sure are in for a treat!!!

Nantucket or Martha’s Vineyard?

Elin Hilderbrand

The Identicals

With nineteen novels under her belt, you’d think Elin Hilderbrand would have written everything under the sun about Nantucket. But, nope. She’s back again. Thank God! This time she’s brought identical adult twins Tabitha and Harper along with her.

Tabitha and Harper Frost’s lives were split asunder the year their mother and father divorced. Eleanor, the mom, had always wanted to live on the more swanky Nantucket, while Billy, the dad, called Martha’s Vineyard home. The twins were asked to choose who they would live with. Eleanor whined and said they both could not leave her. You see, Eleanor is a very difficult and narcissistic person and both girls chose to go with their dad.  So the girls used a childhood game of Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide how their lives would go forward. When Harper won the game and thus went with her dad, Tabitha never, ever got over it.

Just because identical twins look, well, identical, doesn’t mean they act that way. Two different people do not exist. Harper is the laid back one who prefers a beer and a  shot. Tabitha is the sleek one sipping vintage champagne.  Eleanor has ruined her.

Harper has been in and out, mostly in, trouble on multiple occasions. She can’t keep  a job even though she hales from Tulane University. Not uneducated, just uninterested.  Now she’s gotten herself into big trouble by having an affair with a married man.

Tabitha is struggling to keep her composure while raising a teenage daughter. No husband involved. Never was. And she’s not over the death of her infant son fourteen years ago. She is, however, doing a  pretty good job of running her mother’s boutique on Nantucket into the ground.

The sun’s shining, the ferry’s are running, and the tourists are arriving. It’s summertime on the islands of Massachusetts. Gossip is king, sunburn is queen, and ice cold oysters are the toast of the day.

Nantucket is only a two and a half hour ferry-ride from Martha’s Vineyard. However, it may as well be on the moon. These twins have not even seen each other for years.  What could cause such a rift? Not just the initial game. It’s much more complicated than that. And it takes the death of their dad to bring them back together…

Elin Hilderbrand

Affairs, lies, jaded women, island secrets, sophisticated shops, amazing restaurants. These and more pepper the pages of Hilderbrand’s newest summer beach read. It’s a winner. I read it in one day!

I’ve read all nineteen of Hilderbrand’s novels. I have never set foot on Nantucket. But, in my mind, I know the beaches and the shops and the restaurants. I understand the traffic problems because I live in S.W. Florida where the traffic is abysmal during high season.  And I love the women’s issues that are tackled each year.

I thank Little Brown publishers for my gorgeous finished copy in exchange for an honest review. I loved it!

Mischling by Affinity Konar

Affinity Konar


I’ve put off reading ” Mischling” because of the content. You must be in the right frame of mind for a novel of this magnitude and harshness. I bring you a synopsis along with a short conversation with Affinity Konar. You can make the decision to read or not to read.

During The Holocaust there was a horrific bad guy named Dr. Josef Mengele. For those of us who’ve read extensively of The Holocaust this name means something.  Something we can not imagine. Dr. Mengele specialized in twins. Children brought to Auschwitz who were twins were taken aside for special treatment.  Some lost limbs, some lost eyesight, and some lost their lives during the atrocious experiments the Dr. designed. He was trying to figure out how to reproduce the perfect aryan. Most times surgery was performed without anesthesia. Barbaric and inhumane. Very difficult to read.

This is the story of Pearl and Stasha who at the tender ages of 12 were separated from their mother and grandfather in Auschwitz.  They were subjected to unspeakable and terrifying atrocities.  This is their story.

The following interview was conducted by Michael Silverblatt.

Questions for Affinity:  Affinity was raised in California and received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University.


Affinity Konar

Q: What does mischling mean?

A: Mischling  is a very charged term. It means mixed blood. It was used by the Third Reich to classify people. It’s a very terrifying word, yet it sounds so innocent and lilting. I tried to confront that world throughout the novel, and its meaning changes over the course of the novel. In the end, Stasha rejects it entirely.

Q;  What difficulties did you face writing this novel? You worked on it for ten years.

A: I feel as if writing this book wasn’t so much writing as it was a constant self-interrogation and negotiation. I couldn’t shake the subject matter. It has been haunting me for years. It’s hard to feel drawn to something that you also feel that you can’t possibly do justice to.

Q: It’s a book that can’t help but be written in a heightened language, and the language is often extremely poetic. There are pages where I found myself saying that if Sylvia Plath were taking on this subject matter it might sound something like this. In other words, intensity is the job of the prose. Also, to stay calm would do injury to the subject, yes?

A: Oh, I believe so. I felt so very deeply early on that if I were to write this book, the language was going to be my entry point.

Q: Many people left the camps unable to retrieve what had happened to them. You have created two girls who are giving us the gift of their recollection. It is a book of memory, yet? Why did you decide on that?

A: To me, one of the chapter titles, “World After World,” alludes to the fact that Stasha keeps moving through this terrible world of Auschwitz while always imagining another one.  And so it felt very natural to me that she be this collector of memories, that she needed to leap from world to world in order to endure.


There’s a very good reading guide in the back of this novel. You will want to use it.  This powerful and harrowing story will haunt you forever. But you already suspect that. Nevertheless, it’s a must-read for book clubs and Holocaust aficionados.

My trade paper edition of “Mischling” came from LeeBoudreauxBooks. I can’t thank them enough.

Sunday, June 18, It’s All About Dad!

They say mom is easier to shop for. What do you think? It all depends.  I will say that dad probably has more ties in his closet than he will EVER wear… Having said that, I believe a book is the most wonderful gift of all. And I have come up with a pretty darn good list if I must say so myself.

Tom Clancy

Point of Contact

First up is Tom Clancy’s “Point of Contact” written by Mike Maden. Yes, Jack Ryan is back. And my husband is reading a review copy right this minute. He’s loving it. It will be available Tuesday. The perfect gift for the dad who has every new book.

John Grisham

Camino Island

A brand new John Grisham book.  What’s not to love.

John Sandford

Golden Prey

Golden Prey is brand spanking new. Perfect for the dad looking for a new Sandford fix.

Greg Iles

Mississippi Blood


“Mississippi Blood” is the third and last installment in the trilogy.  Your dad will eat this one up.

Amor Towles

A Gentleman In Moscow


If your dad hasn’t read “A Gentleman In Moscow” you should run to get this for him. It’s a must-read and is about to be made into a movie. I can’t wait.

Since We Fell


Dennis Lehane’s new novel is already on the bestseller list. I bet dad doesn’t have this one yet.

Ace Atkins

Little White Lies

Ace Atkins is doing a bang-up job writing the new Robert Parker mysteries.  He’s just out with this new one. Another winner sure to be on dad’s list.

American War

For the literary reader comes “American War” by Omar El Akkad.  It’s eerily current.  And wonderfully written.





And some non-fiction books too!

Ryan White

Jimmy Buffett A Good Life All The Way

Who doesn’t like Jimmy Buffett! I bet dad would love to read this behind the scenes true tale of one of America’s music icons. Might even bring back some fond memories..


Prince Charles

I was very impressed with this bio of Prince Charles. I think you’ll enjoy learning some little-known tidbits about the “maybe” future King of England.

Arnold Palmer


And for the sports dad, here’s a new book about one of golf’s greats: Arnold Palmer.

Killers of the Flower Moon

This book is on fire. And with good reason.  I know dad would devour this one. “Killers of the Flower Moon” tells a gruesome but true story that happened right here in U.S.A..


“Havana” comes along at a perfect time. I’ve long been interested in Cuba. Kurlansky brings to the surface a subtropical delirium. It’s elegant and brief, but oh-so gorgeous and vast.

Giveaway! Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe

Mary Alice Monroe

Beach House for Rent

I have one copy of “Beach House for Rent” by Mary Alice Monroe, for giveaway!!! I am so excited to be able to offer this amazing book for giveaway here on my blog.  I have the generous people at Gallery Books, a division of Simon and Schuster, to thank. My review will run next week… But I can already tell you that I absolutely loved it!

To enter please leave a comment below telling me why you should be the winner of Mary Alice’s upcoming book. It’s a winner as always. Actually the last in the series. Done.  I’m calling it the perfect summer read. I can only accept U.S. entries, and no P.O. boxes, please.  I will choose my winner on Thursday, June 15. Good luck!

Mary Alice Monroe

Critic’s Choice-Elaine Newton 2017-18 Lecture Series Announced

Here it is! This is what you’ve been waiting for! Elaine’s chosen the six books for the lectures for the upcoming season. Enjoy!

Great American Novel

The Nix


Nathan Hill ( Michael Lionstar)

“The Nix” by Nathan Hill will be on Thursday, November 30, 2017, 10 am. Saturday, December 2, 2017, 10 am. Published by Knopf.

Author Nathan Hill will join Elaine on-stage both mornings.

Jessica Shattuck

The Women In The Castle

“The Women In The Castle” by Jessica Shattuck , will be on Thursday,  January 4, 2018, 10 am.  Also Saturday, January 6, 10 am. Published by William Morrow.

Colson Whitehead

The Underground Railroad


” The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead, will be on Thursday, January 25, 10 am. Also Saturday, January 27, 10 am. Published by Doubleday.

Amor Towles

A Gentleman In Moscow




Amor Towles

” A Gentleman In Moscow” by Amor Towles,  will be on Thursday, February 15, 10 am. Also on Saturday, February 17, 10am. Published by Viking.

Author Amor Towles will be on-stage with Elaine both mornings. What a treat we are in for. I’m so excited about this one. I have been a huge advocate for this title, as many of you already know,  for a year now!

Ann Patchett


“Commonwealth” by Ann Patchett, will be on Thursday, March 8, 10 am. Also Saturday, March 10, 10 am. Published by Harper Collins.

Elizabeth Strout

Anything Is Possible

Last but certainly not least is “Anything is Possible” by Elizabeth Strout. Thursday, April 12, 10 am. And Saturday, April 14, 10 am. Published by Random House.

Even though the single tickets for the lectures will not go on sale until July, you can pour over this list right now.

Elaine had a hard time narrowing down the list to only six titles this year. She hated passing up ” The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane” by Lisa See,  “An American War” by Omar El Akkad, and “News of The World” by Paulette Jiles.

So mark your calendars, get set, and begin reading if you haven’t already!