December In Florida

Cooler mornings are helping me feel more festive. I hope you’re enjoying them as well.

Merry Christmas! We are officially beginning the holiday celebration.

I hit the family jackpot on Thanksgiving. My daughter and her family visited from Asheville. My youngest son and his family live near us here on the Cape. And we visited my oldest son and his family on Thanksgiving day. We ate great food and adults and kids played games. It was joyous; just what everyone needed. I hope all you readers had a good holiday. I have to say my turkey was the best one ever and I’ve been roasting turkeys for a long time. The gorgeous drink above was concocted by Mike. It’s called apple cider margarita and was a huge hit with the adults.

I’ve had emails from some of the club leaders for next year’s events, checking in to make sure I am up to the occasions. YES, YES, I am. I am thrilled to announce this is going to be my biggest year coming up. I can’t wait to see everyone’s smiling faces. We’ve all been through so much. I will be in touch with each and every one of you about your event, all in this next week.

What am I reading that I’m excited about? HELLO BEAUTIFUL by Ann Napolitano. Ann is the author of DEAR EDWARD which I totally loved. This new book is written Ann’s style and is fabulous. I can’t wait to talk to you all about it. And I just finished HANG THE MOON by Jeanette Walls. OMG. She’s back.

I’m feeling a lot better. Even though these nasty shingles are still hanging around, they are not as awful. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. My house is looking better every day. We love the floors and new walls. My rose bushes are bursting into glorious bloom. It’s life coming from the rubble. I am thrilled at the amazing resilience of the trees on the Cape. Where the trees were once bare, they have glorious new green growth.

The cats are very happy to be back in their home. Mimi and Tiny have even got used to having strange workers in the house and they don’t run and hide like the younger cats. They know it is all good.

I’m thankful for so much this year. But, honestly, I will be very relieved to leap into the New Year. So many terrific books coming in the first six months of the year. I am finally able to read and concentrate again. And I have the manuscript of Abraham Verghese’s new novel, THE COVENANT OF WATER, to get back to. I was reading it when the storm arrived. I had to put it aside and deal with life events. But look forward to getting back to it. It’s going to be a best seller and then some. Worth waiting for.

So looking forward to seeing all my reader friends and meeting new ones.

What book are you asking for this year? Is there any one that comes to mind?

I am thankful for all of you readers who have taken the time to comment on my blog and wish me well. May you all have the merriest Christmas ever!

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton

I practically ate this novel whole. From the first page all the way through to the very last page, I was completely enraptured.

Here in SW Florida we are right smack-dab in the middle of hurricane season. Not much has been happening storm-wise, yet, and here I have been reading a book that begins with a violent super cyclone that directly hits a small town on the shore near the Florida Keys. I surely have lost what is left of my mind.

Reading this amazing novel was like passing a wreck on the highway and not being able to look away. The writing is wonderful. And I have to say it is somewhat reminiscent of CRAWDADS. I will go out on a limb entirely and say I may even have liked this novel MORE.

Brooks-Dalton manages to give us a frightening peek at what climate change could look like in the not-so-distant future. If you’ve seen any news lately you have to be aware of the freakish trends in our weather these days. Almost daily, news reels roll with horrific scenes of entire towns being flooded and washed away. People displaced. Fires are eating away at the Pacific coast. Hurricanes are not just blowing toward Floridian shores; they are coming on shore all along the Eastern shore and even traveling across the mountainous areas in the Carolinas and Tennessee. Tornadoes are ripping up towns not just in the midwest but in the north and the south. And the storms are no longer mild at all. They are more likely to become super-storms. We also know Miami is sinking. Just like Venice, just different.

So when I began reading this heart-pounding novel about our changing world especially here in Florida, I decided to keep a very open mind. I am not usually one to read anything dystopian. And this novel is in the future. But I absolutely LOVED it even though it scared the bejesus out of me. As well it should.

How ready would you be if THE BIG ONE hit your town? Have you prepped so that you will have food, water, batteries? One woman in the small town of +++++ has enough food and supplies put by to keep her going for a long time. It’s not a fluke. She’s a scientist and has been working on this for years. She can live off the grid if, or I should say, when, the time comes. She lives alone.

Wanda was born during the worst hurricane recorded. The storm was named Wanda. This is her story. A story of survival against all odds. What a wild ride.

AFTER SUPERSTORM IAN:

I read this novel months ago, way before hurricane Ian decided to blow into town and spend an entire day blowing houses down and drowning dozens of human beings right here in my world. Right through my house, right through Sanibel and Captiva islands. Right through Pine Island which is just down the road from our house. And right through and over Fort Myers Beach. Yes, it was most certainly a super storm. I had no idea something like this storm was on its way, would change our lives forever, and make people wonder if they truly did lose their minds when the storm stopped and changed direction and part of the eye managed to come right over our house.

I fell in love with this tenacious young woman named after an awful storm. Wanda begins life as her mother’s life disappears. So many tragedies for someone so young. But when she hooks up with Frida the world begins to make more sense and so does everything Frida’s been preparing for. The time has come.

Survival at any rate is the theme of this stellar debut novel from an author who is going places.

I’m glad I read THE LIGHT PIRATE way before the storm because I am not sure I could be persuaded to read it now after going through an actual super storm. Wanda and Frida are a force. Frida shows Wanda how to live off the grid and we learn that this part of the country is slowly wasting away. So much so that most of the people who used to live south of Miami have long gone; moved to somewhere they deem safer, wherever that is…

The dystopian section of bookstores should soon read: Non fiction.

THE LIGHT PIRATE will be available for purchase next week on December 6. Just buy it!

The writing is spectacular. The story is unforgettable. I was transported to Wanda’s world from page one. I think you will be too.

My review copy was provided by Grand Central Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, it’s an amazing story that everyone needs to read!

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver


Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, this is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. In a plot that never pauses for breath, relayed in his own unsparing voice, he braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict sch
ools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities
.

The above paragraph taken from Goodreads sets up this novel perfectly.

I’ve long been a fan of Barbara Kingsolver. She’s one of the most brilliant writers alive today. But when I saw that this novel was taken from parts of Charles Dickens’s DAVID COPPERFIELD, well, I was skeptical. I was never able to enjoy that old classic years and years ago when forced to read it in high school. Why would I want to torture myself? Well, that would be because this is Barbara Kingsolver. So I took a big breath and began reading my digital copy.

Barbara has outdone herself once again. The voice of the main character is astonishingly authentic. How she did this is beyond me. The plight of Damon aka Demon is heartbreaking but told with wit. The story echoes the times. This young man was born into this crazy world to a teen aged mother who was an alcoholic. His father died of suspicious means before he was born. What a start. Where is this? Appalachia of course.

Kingsolver has written about this poverty-stricken area before. She lives there so she knows it well. Addiction, alcoholism, and poverty as well as unemployment. Then there is the foster system that is entirely broken. Once Damon’s mother dies of an overdose he is swept into the system and sent to live with a widower who takes in boys on his farm for a price. And works them hard and practically starves them. It’s humbling and very sad. But through this time Damon continues to move forward and attend school when he can. Until he gets caught up in drugs.

At one point in the book Damon says everyone is taking pills. It does seem like it. In Damon’s case he has a football injury and instead of getting surgery coach gets him another kind of help: oxycontin. Yes, this takes place during the beginnings of the oxy nation. Damon continues on the pills instead of ever getting the surgical help he truly needs. It was so easy to get meds. Pill mills were rampant especially here in the land of the poor and mostly uneducated. Damon’s girlfriend becomes addicted while taking care of her terminally ill father. Of course he was on every sort of pain med available and with real scripts. Her story is especially painful to read.

I have never taken so long to read a book in my life. It was almost torturous at times. I began to wonder if everyone was going to die. Many people do die and in various awful ways. Thankfully, I know only what I’ve read about addiction. I have learned more than I ever wanted to know in this novel. The research must have been staggering and exhausting. To think there are really people who have become dope sick in this country even now…. Crying shame.

My favorite of Kingsolver’s books has to be POISONWOOD BIBLE. It’s become a classic. I am sure DEMON COPPERHEAD will be one too. It’s one of the toughest reads…. But will be on everyone’s lists to read this year.

I read my copy digitally. It was provided by Harper Collins via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. One of the most important books of the year. Brilliantly written.

And as most of you already know the reason it took me so long to read is because of a little storm named Ian blowing through my house in September, then a raging case of Shingles. Who knew?

Almost There

Well folks, we should be back in the house in another couple days. Not one second too soon. Cats are edgy. Wyatt especially is over the camping life.

Walls inside our home are now painted a lovely rich ivory. Looks amazing with 5 inch baseboards. Everything is dusty and furniture is moved all over house. In other words it’s a wreck.

We are so grateful for Mario and his crew for their hard work. So many people are still looking for a contractor. And without our friend Richard none of this would be happening.

I am anxious to move back into house and get internet hooked back up. And to stop running back and forth.

I’d love to hear what you’re reading and how you feel about it. I’m almost finished with DEMON COPPERHEAD. The final verdict is not yet in. I’m on the fence…

Next time you hear from we will be back in house.

Update

I’m reading DEMON COPPERHEAD by Barbara Kingsolver. Really enjoying it. Taking my time. It’s a big one.

My recovery is very slow with shingles. Exhausting.  Ongoing. This morning I woke with vertigo.  Rough morning.  I did manage a few exercises for vertigo. Hoping to b better tomorrow.

The redoing of our house is excruciatingly slow.  Crews are stretched thin and everything takes longer. Drywall is hung. Next is repainting entire inside of house. Then new floors will b laid. Then baseboards. Then cleaning.  And much more.

Lots of stress. Deep breaths.

I’m not a fan of daylight savings. But here it is. Dark early is depressing.

I hope everyone is reading something special. Something light and fun.

I am without internet again until flooring is in.

Is it really November? Hard to believe.

Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Why haven’t I read this novel before now? I had to almost be beaten over the head to read it. My friend Nanette told me she loved it, this some time ago. My interest was piqued. Elaine Newton chose it for one of her lectures this coming season. Really made me think. I already had a digital edition on my Kindle. Yesterday I started reading it. And I finished it the next day. It’s not a little book. I enjoyed all of it. I think it’s brilliant!

Gaming. Hm. My children grew up with Nintendo. I watched it become a very addictive pass-time. Honestly, I have never played a game. My kids are all grown with kids of their own. But the boys who are now men still play. In fact, both sons have friends who live in Australia that they met through gaming. It’s a great way to meet people. My grandchildren play games. My son-in law worked for Epic Games, the company who made Fortnite …So I am familiar with games. But I have never given them much thought, until now.

The novel opens with Sadie aged eleven meeting Sam, a few years older, in a game room in a hospital in L.A. She was there because her sister was in treatment for cancer. Sam was there after a tragic car accident that had  killed his mother. He had not spoken a word since the accident. His left foot had been mangled and was now held together with a bunch of steel rods. His pain was unbelievable. Sam and Sadie began a friendship that was for life.

Sam and Sadie went through some tough times but they never stopped caring about each other. They were brilliant together. They were video game designers and opened a business that soared to the top. But many things over the years caused friction.

This wonderful novel is about much more than gaming. The relationship that evolves is complex and yet quite simple. It’s about love and friendship against all odds.

My review copy was provided through NetGalley via Knopf in exchange for an honest review. I loved it!

Gabrielle Zevin is the author of THE STORIED LIFE OF A.J. FIKRY and YOUNG JANE YOUNG. I loved them both. Now she’s brought us this amazing compelling novel of work, love and relationships. It is both heartbreaking and wonderful.

Such A Pretty Girl by T. Greenwood

SUCH A PRETTY GIRL by T. Greenwood is the first book I’ve read by this author. It will not be the last. And she’s written fourteen novels. Holy cow.

This novel has something for everyone. And it’s definitely timely. It just goes to show that things might change over the years, but, they also stay the same.

Award-winning author T. Greenwood explores the often-flickering line between woman and girl in this vividly lyrical drama alternating between an West Village artists community in 1970s New York and present day, as a former child actress is forced to confront the darkest secrets of her youth when a controversial photo taken of her as a preteen on the night of the 1977 blackout ignites a media firestorm.

Living peacefully in Vermont, Ryan Flannigan is shocked when a text from her oldest friend alerts her to a devastating news item. A controversial photo of her as a pre-teen has been found in the possession of a wealthy investor recently revealed as a pedophile and a sex trafficker—with an inscription to him from Ryan’s mother on the back.

Memories crowd in, providing their own distinctive pictures of her mother Fiona, an aspiring actress, and their move to the West Village in 1976. Amid the city’s gritty kaleidoscope of wealth and poverty, high art, and sleazy strip clubs, Ryan is discovered and thrust into the spotlight as a promising young actress with a woman’s face and a child’s body. Suddenly, the safety and comfort Ryan longs for is replaced by auditions, paparazzi, and the hungry eyes of men of all ages.

Forced to reexamine her childhood, Ryan begins to untangle her young fears and her mother’s ambitions, and the role each played in the fraught blackout summer of 1977. Even with her movie career long behind her, Ryan and Fiona are suddenly the object of uncomfortable speculation—and Fiona demands Ryan’s support. To put the past to rest, Ryan will need to face the painful truth of their relationship, and the night when everything changed.

The above paragraphs set up the novel perfectly and are from GoodReads.

Issues of mother/daughter relationships are all over this novel. Reminded me of Brooke Shields and her very dominant mother years ago. But in this case there is much drama from the 1970’s. And the night the lights went out in NYC looms large and shows a big turn around.

I loved reading about the artist colony in Vermont. And the small community in New York City where artistic people came together and held court.

There’s a lot of mystery involved in discovering how Ryan and her mother came to be in the place they are in 2019. And then someone blows the lid off their story and brings it all to a boil all over again.

I can totally see this novel being made into a fabulous movie. Book clubs will love the fact that this novel is being published in trade paperback form which makes it so much more affordable. My review copy arrived from the marking company Spark Point Studios and the publisher Kensington in exchange for an honest review. I think it’s just super. A real page-turner.

Renovation News

It’s good news that Reno is in process for our home. However we are not able to live in our house while walls are torn out and being rebuilt. All flooring is to be replaced. In fact, we purchased gorgeous flooring this morning. It will be installed probably net week. Luckily for us we have amazing friends who set up their big RV next to our home. This way we are on site as house is brought back to it’s pre storm charm.

All this has b LLPeen quite traumatic to our four kitties as you might imagine. But I am happy to say everyone is settling in nicely. Kiki actually brought us several of her favorite stuffed mousies during the night. She was burring and meowing with each gift.

The not great news is that I am unable to hook computer up to internet for the time being. Am hoping this goes swiftly.

I’m grateful to both book clubs who so graciously agreed to reschedule events set for November. They both will be in the New Year. I am very busy just trying to get this house fixed and day to day living.

Shingles has kicked my butt. I am still enjoying the shocking pain of this awful virus but,might be seeing light at end of tunnel.

I will be so happy to see all your smiling readers faces after first of year. Currently reading DEMON COPPERHEAD and loving it.

I wish you all safety and wellness and a really great book!

October Thoughts

We are more than halfway through October. It’s been hot and we were without power for almost two weeks. Our internet was just restored yesterday. I am finally able to begin posting. Of course I am way behind. One day at a time. Books are beginning to arrive on my doorstep once again. Some of them are tomes. I have a lot of reading to do. I’m currently working on the programs for two events in November. It’s exciting to be able to function somewhat normally again. I know there are those of you who might not have been able to concentrate the past several weeks. It sure took me a while.

I’m looking forward to much cooler mornings later this week. We know our version of fall is just around the corner. It can’t come soon enough.

For those of you who have homes here in SW Florida and stayed to weather the storm, I pray you and your families are safe and well. For those of you who own homes here in SW Florida, I hope you will arrive for the winter to find your homes undamaged. We are all in this together. Everyone is doing a super job rebuilding already.

It’s heartbreaking to see pictures of Sanibel Island and Captiva, Pine Island and Matlacha. I have also heard that the author Robert Macomber lost his home in St. James City. I am grateful he is safe. Two bookstores on Sanibel, Gene’s and Macintosh, both sustained extensive damage. But I think they will return. We need them. Copperfish in Punta Gorda came through the storm with almost no damage. So happy for them.

I have been in touch with Abraham Verghese throughout the days before and during the storm. He lives on the California coast. He was very concerned for all of us. I had just received a copy of his manuscript for THE COVENANT OF WATER a week before the storm hit. It is not published until May of next year.

Looking forward to seeing those of you who will be attending my speaking engagements in Estero and in Fort Myers next month. I have a lot of great book stuff to share.

I hope you have some good reading material…. I will have more recommends soon.

Read and be safe.