Asheville-Chocolate-Asheville-Mountains-Asheville-BACON

I was in Asheville, North Carolina last week helping my daughter out with the grandkids while her husband was in California on business. What a hardship. Ha Ha. I flew Allegiant because it flies nonstop into Asheville from Punta Gorda which is practically in my backyard.  Flying Allegiant can be tricky; they are frequently not on time, and sometimes cancel flights with very little notice. Nevertheless, everything went swimmingly this time.

I was prepared for a break from the scalding heat of summer here in S.W. Florida. What a treat I had. I did not break a sweat once during the week. Not once. And we walked in the mountains and I walked up and down steps every day. The weather was delightful. I enjoyed scenic views of the mountains from the middle deck each morning as I sipped my freshly brewed coffee. In the evening we lounged on the deck as the sun set and enjoyed the colors of the sky change and the fire flies buzz around the yard. What a rush.

The family recently adopted two gorgeous kittens: Ruby and Stella. Here’s Ruby on her new blanket. It was fun playing with these two cuties. Their fat tails tell the story of how fluffy they will be when grown:)

Ruby

My daughter celebrated her birthday while I was visiting. We made it an entire week of celebration. Started at Sunny Point Cafe in the west end of Asheville. A fabulous breakfast with BACON as only that area can provide. Big, thick, juicy bacon. Yes, we have bacon in Florida, if you can call it that. But nothing like this.

We visited two great bookstores in town. Malaprops

bookstore

Malaprops

is known throughout the Independent Bookshop System as one of the greats. Just wandering around the stacks you can almost feel the shadows of the famous authors who’ve signed their books here. A must-visit store. My daughter purchased the new Minecraft novel for my grandson Liam.

hammock

Liam on his deck, reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

My personal favorite is The Battery Champagne Bookstore.

used books

Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar

This place is becoming well-known. You can come in, sit at the bar and order a glass of champagne or, have a cup of their amazing coffee. They also have treats. But the big draw are the books. They’re all gently used, and some are antique.

bar

Battery Park Book exchange bar

As you wander the floors and make your way up and down the stairs you’ll be pleased to find nooks and crannies tucked away where you can hide and read and sip your beverage.  It’s a book lover’s paradise. I never, ever miss this place. Neither should you.

My trip downtown is not complete without a stop at Mast General Store. It’s a wonderful general store that’s become a monument in this town. They have everything from great clothes to books and souvenirs and hats and even those old fashioned penny candies and more. A truly fun spot for everyone!

Our visit to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge

French Broad

 

 

 

was by far the most fun event all week. We planned strategically. Ate a light dinner before making our way downtown knowing we would be diving into the best chocolate anywhere.  We chose a couple of things to share.

French Broad

Before

They did not last long. So, I made a mom mom decision to return to the counter and order MORE! Kids almost ran over me to get there. We chose the flourless chocolate cake and the divine chocolate and coconut milk mousse. We chose well. And not one lick was left on a plate.

Chocolate

French Broad (after)

One early evening we made a trip to visit the sunflowers at the Biltmore’s Antler Village.  Rows upon rows of majestic yellow beauties.

Biltmore

Sunflowers

 

 

The real objective of any visit to Asheville is to spend valuable time with my family. The kids enjoyed cuddling and learning to play a new game: Monopoly.  The real board version.  I got to spend time with my daughter talking about food, our blogs, and books!

Now that I’m back home it’s time to start to get serious about the upcoming reading season. Already, books are piling in for the next  six months. It’s both exciting and overwhelming. I look forward to sharing with you the best of the best of them in the coming months. And seeing a lot of you at this season’s lectures. Cheers!

 

 

 

A Mother Like Mine by Kate Hewitt

Kate Hewitt

A Mother Like Mine

What a lovely cover. Set in England’s gorgeous lake district, A MOTHER LIKE MINE, is a testament  to strained mother/daughter relationships everywhere.

Abby Rhodes  comes home to help her grandmother who’s ailing,  run the cafe on the beach at Hartley-by-the-Sea.  Her grandmother raised her when her own mother up and left her as a toddler.  But Abby is not coming home alone. You see, she’s got a small child now herself.  Her fiance died unexpectedly and she’s on her own.

But the drama really begins when Abby’s mom Laura shows up without any notice whatsoever.  Laura has been away for twenty years with only a couple short visits to her credit. Now she’s lost her posh job in America and wants to renew her life by the beach; get to know her daughter and grandson… But Abby and Laura are at each other’s throats from the get-go.

A MOTHER LIKE MINE has a lot going for it. It’s by the sea. Has strong characters. And deals with tragedy and forgiveness. It’s a great book to toss in your beach bag this summer. I read my review copy digitally and have Berkley Publishers to thank for it.

How To Find Love In A Bookshop by Veronica Henry

Veronica Henry

How To Find Love in a Bookshop

Oh, look! A delightful new novel about love and a bookshop. HOW TO FIND LOVE IN A BOOKSHOP by Veronica Henry is just what you need to finish off your summer.  Tucked away in the cozy little Cotswold village of Peasebrook is the most charming literary bookshop called Nightingale Books. Owned by Julius Nightingale and visited by loyal customers who are great characters, Nightingale’s is much more than just a store that sells books. Julius quaint shop has been a haven for the townspeople for more than twenty years. And his story begins at the end…

Emilia Nightingale has arrived from Hong Kong where she’s been working. She’s come back to Peasebrook to be with her father Julius who is dying of cancer.  So what’s to become of his beloved bookshop?  Emilia makes a deathbed promise to keep Nightingale Books alive not knowing what’s ahead.

It’s not easy running a small Independent bookshop even under the best of circumstances. But when Emilia discovers that the finances are deep in the red she begins to see what she’s gotten herself into. Her father always said he didn’t “do” numbers.  As if things aren’t difficult enough, the big bad wolf is trying to beat the door down. His name is Ian Mendip and he is pressuring Emilia to sell to him. He needs the land> You can see where this is going.

There are a lot of characters in this novel. Almost too many. However, they each fit nicely into the story and have tales of their own that are all about love and keeping it together. And books. They are all about books.

I love the scenes at Peasebrook Manor House. This is the big house where a lot of action happens. (Shades of Downton Abbey) The lady of the Manor is Sarah and she has a secret concerning her relationship with Julius. Then there’s Alice, Sarah’s daughter, who is slated to marry a very bad fellow named Hugh. And Dillon who is the gardener.  He’s handsome and perfect for Alice, but she’s already taken.

There’s a renown chef who is cooking small dinners for two in her cottage. And a father of a young boy who manages to get closer to his son through books recommended by Emilia. And an aging bookseller who remembers the love of her life and gets the chance of a lifetime.

So many people, so many books. So much love. So many stories. And Emilia is in the midst of them all. Will she stay and run the bookshop? Will she find love? Will Alice marry Hugh? I think you are going to fall in love with this sweet little book filled with eclectic characters and love and books.

This book will have legs. It all culminates on Christmas. So this is your gift for the booklover in your life this holiday season!

I’ve been working at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda for a year now. Working in an Independent Bookshop is so unlike working for a large big box store. In almost every way. I relate to the customers in Nightingale Books. I relate to the owners.  This store reminds me of our little store more than any I’ve read about before. Readers come into small bookshops for many reasons. They are all happy ones.  The store is a community haven where people feel safe and somewhat sound. They are looking for that special book. And booksellers in small shops pride themselves on putting just this perfect book in their hands. They also enjoy talking about their books with other people who obviously love them as much as they do. And they appreciate the personal treatment they receive from small stores. We love our customers and love showing them books we love!

My wonderful finished copy of HOW TO FIND LOVE IN A BOOKSHOP by

author

Veronica Henry

Veronica Henry came from the generous publishing house of Pamela Dorman Books, a division of Viking. Thank you so much. I absolutely adored this book!!

Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

Gabrielle Zevin

Young Jane Young

Gabrielle Zevin is the author of “The Storied Life of A.J. Fikrey.  What a wild ride that great book had three years ago. I loved it. What’s not to love? Story about a bookstore on an island filled with great characters! Well, Zevin has done it again, this time with “Young Jane Young.” Honestly, I didn’t know what to think when  I heard the title. But, believe me, you’re going to love it.

Zevin has a unique voice that shines whether she’s writing as a man or woman. Not easy to accomplish.  Beautiful job here. She’s also writing the story in several points of view. Another not so easy task.

“Following three generations of women, “Young Jane Young”  is a smart, funny, and prescient novel, capturing not just the mood of our recent highly charged political season but also the double standards alive and well in every aspect of a woman’s life, at any age.”

Aviva Grossman is a young Jewish congressional intern in South Florida. Boy does she make a mistake. One others before her have already made. She has an affair with a married congressman but, she goes live with it on her blog. She’s an instant celebrity; not in a good way.  Slut-shaming is a new tagline for me. But this is appropriately said. Now that her good name is not good anymore, Aviva aka Jane Young now that she’s changed her name, moves lock, stock, and barrel to Maine to begin her life anew. Oh, by the way, she’s pregnant and has not named the father. Ugh.  She manages to raise her daughter Ruby without anyone knowing the true nature of their background. And Ruby believes her father died before she was born. Of course this is nonsense. And, yes, Ruby gets wind of the truth. Shit hits the fan.

Yes, this novel brings to mind the Monica Lewinsky scandal.  But it’s really nothing like it. This story resonates with the voices of the women. Viva’s mom is hilarious. Her grandmother is witty. And even the congressman’s wife is outrageously funny.  Zevin has a message here. A message about the double standards put on women versus men when scandal abounds. The woman is always shamed. The guy not so much. What happened to Aviva? She could not get a job in Florida. It was impossible. Too much exposure. And women were the worst of the shamers. Shame on them.  But, did the congressman suffer? Nope. His life continued on. He stayed in politics. And won and won and won. Double standard.

I found this book a joy to read. A quick read, too. But really meaningful. I like Zevin’s writing and look forward to her next novel!

My review copy arrived compliments of Algonquin publishers in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, it’s a great read. Put it on your to-read list for fall! Pub date August 22.

 

The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers

Hollis Robbins

The Portable Nineteenth-Century African American Women Writers

This is without a doubt the most comprehensive anthology of its kind in print today. Hollis Robbins and Henry Louis Gates Jr. have edited this collection from African American women writers. What a force.

This collection by forty-nine women shows how ambitious and diverse they all were. It tackles issues of abolition, women’s suffrage, temperance, and civil rights.

The book is divided into areas of memoir, poetry and essays on feminism and education.  It’s more than a little informative and enlightening.

These strong women of color tell “their” stories as only they can. Some names you will recognize. Some you won’t. But you will never forget their writing.  From Sojourner Truth to Hannah Crafts to Harriet Jacobs, these women deserve to be heard.

If you want to learn more about the African American women’s experience before, during, and after the Civil War, this is your book. A great book to have at hand.

My review copy arrived from Penguin Classics. I decided to present a spotlight. Thanks!

Look What’s Coming Soon!

Susan Wiggs

Map of The Heart

Coming in August which is just around the corner, MAP OF THE HEART, by Susan Wiggs. One of my first readers slapped this one in my hand and told me to read it. She knows I love WW11. We usually think of Susan Wiggs in the same sentence with more of a romance read. But I hear this is above and beyond. Will keep you posted.

Lawrence Osborne

Beautiful Animals

And along comes BEAUTIFUL ANIMALS.  A little bird told me how good this is. I’m just starting it now. But I can already tell you that the writing is superb. And you know what a sucker I am for islands and summertime. Greek Islands in this case. A literary read.

Meg Mitchell Moore

The Captain’s Daughter

Just received this one. Seaside Maine. Just look at this cover. Makes me want to slam everything else aside and read…. THE CAPTAIN’S DAUGHTER is another summer read that screams SUMMER. Can’t wait to start this one.

Cuba history

Havana

Everyone’s talking about Cuba.  Well, here’s a nonfiction book about Cuba’s best known city. It’s crammed with great stuff about the people, the culture, and the food. Loved it. HAVANA by Mark Kurlansky. And boy can this guy write.

Gabrielle Zevin

Young Jane Young

The month of August brings us ,YOUNG JANE YOUNG, by Gabrielle Zevin. I read it in two sittings. Didn’t know what to expect. Absolutely loved it. You will remember her from the wildly popular THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY. And, yes, she’s much more than a flash in the pan. Review to run closer to pub date.

Ken Follett

Column of Fire

And then comes September! And that means Ken Follett’s A COLUMN OF FIRE will be available to purchase. It’s only another 900 plus pages historical novel. It’s the third in the Kingsbridge series that brought you THE PILLARS OF THE EARTH and WORLD WITHOUT END. OMG! Look what you have to look forward to.

I have to tell you that this is but a smattering of the books to come in the next two months. I have stacks for both months. Am wading through them to bring you only the best. But you are in for such a treat. Stay tuned. I will be posting  another summer reading list for your reading pleasure soon.

Winner Announced With Review. What She Ate

six women and what they ate

What She Ate

“A beloved culinary historian’s short take on six famous women through the lens of food.”

Okay, you foodies, and you know who you are, this book is for you. But it’s also for anyone interested in the lives of famous women. After all,  food is personal, so you will learn a lot about someone by paying attention to how they relate to food.

The six women are: Dorothy Wordsworth; Rosa Lewis; Eleanor Roosevelt; Eva Braun; Barbara Pym; and Helen Gurley Brown.  Most of you know of Helen Gurley Brown, Eva Braun, and Eleanor Roosevelt.  And this book will catch you up on the women you are least familiar with.

I was immediately intrigued to find Eva Braun on this list.  Her chapter is a bit chilling and certainly enlightening. I was not surprised to find champagne to be one of her favorite foods.

Eleanor Roosevelt is not known for her culinary acumen.  And it sure shows in this book. Ugh. Laura Shapiro  discovered that Eleanor had a hidden history of enthusiastic eating.  And she loved to bake, even though she was a failure at it.  Everyone in Washington knew enough to eat before you go when invited to the White House for a meal.

But my favorite chapter was on Helen Gurley Brown. She and her husband never even dined together.  Her big splurge was eating diet jello.  She did love brownies and sweets, but rarely ate them. No wonder she stayed so painfully thin.

Barbara Pym was a famous English novelist who loved English food. This long before Jamie Oliver came along.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Laura Shapiro has written on every food topic from champagne to Jell-O for The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Slate, Gourmet, and many other publications. She is the author of three classic books of culinary history.  Her awards include a James Beard Journalism Award and one from the National Women’s Political Caucus.

My finished hardcover was provided by Viking Publishers, a division of PenuinRandomHouse in exchange for an honest review and a giveaway.  Great book!

And the winner is: Pat Olsen. Congratulations Pat!  And thanks to those of you who took the time to enter the giveaway.