Murder In Chianti by Camilla Trinchieri

Look at this gorgeous cover! It immediately drew me in. Nothing quite like a scene from Tuscany to draw my attention. I was all in from the getgo.

MURDER IN CHIANTI is the first in a new series called A TUSCAN MYSTERY. I can’t tell you how excited I am. My friend Karen at Copperfish turned me onto this book. Karen, I can’t thank you enough.

Nico Doyle is a retired homicide detective from New York City. After his wife died about a year ago, he decided to get away from it all and start over in his wife’s hometown of Gravigna in Tuscany, Italy. There he has her entire family to help him get through the pain. So he’s rented a rundown farmhouse just outside the small town of Gravigna. He helps out at his wife’s cousin’s restaurant and spends time cooking and settling into his new life. Then, one day, he hears a gunshot near his home and heads out into the woods to explore. There he comes upon a little white dog with blood on its paws. And then there is the dead body with a face that’s been blown away. And the gold running shoes that suggest the victim is American.

OneWay is the smart little dog he adopts. This name comes from the way he only wags his tail one time, no matter what. Fell for the dog right away.

Camilla Trinchieri

When the local maresciallo has trouble with the investigation and finds out Nico’s background, Nico finds himself up to his last hair in the murder mystery.

There’s plenty of family drama all over this story which is great because it gives the reader a lot of background for the future.

Stone cottage in Panzano

I am especially interested in this series because my husband and I have spent time in this region. In fact, we stayed in a stone house in Panzano and had dinner with the infamous Butcher of Panzano: Dario Cecchini. Some of the scenes in this book bring back so many memories. When we visited the Butcher’s famous shop, we had our first experience with lardo which was loaded like fluffy whipped potatoes in a silver bowl on a serving table right inside the door. It was to be spread on top of the local crostini fanned out on a platter next to it. A man in an apron served us each glasses of the local red to go with. We were so entranced that we made reservations to attend one of the meat dinners later in the week. We almost got thrown out of the shop, though, as my husband whipped out his video camera and proceeded to film the counter with the Butcher……But all ended well.

The luscious food of this region and the lovely Tuscan wines feature broadly in this mystery. I think you will love it. And, the good news is that the next in the series, THE BITTER TASTE OF MURDER, will be available in August. I was thrilled to know this.

I hope you’ll add this winner to your beach bag for summer. And you can always stop by Copperfish Books and talk to Karen about the book. She loved it, too

MURDER IN CHIANTI was published by Soho Crime, a division of Soho Publishing. I read this amazing book from a copy I borrowed from our library. Amazing.

Blush by Jamie Brenner

Blush

I’m always eager to get my greedy fingers on Jamie Brenner’s newest novel. Each summer she brings us perfect beach reads. Most of her novels are set in Provincetown, Mass. When I found that this new one is set on Long Island, I was intrigued.

My husband and I enjoy wine. We have even traveled halfway across the world and all across this country to visit wineries. This novel is a family saga within a winery. Lush countryside, delicious foods to delight your palette and books. What a grouping.

The Hollander Estates winery is in trouble; no money. What happened? Mismanaged and stubbornness are the two stumbling blocks. The patriarch will not listen to anyone’s advise especially from the women. Big mistake.

Three very strong women make this wonderful novel a delight to read. Vivian is the matriarch and is devastated to know they may have to sell the winery including the big house. Her daughter, Leah, is livid because she was never allowed to work in the winery because her inept brother was put in charge. And Sadie is Leah’s daughter who is not doing as well in school as the family thinks she is. And she’s become very interested in the family business.

Throw in a trashy bookclub from Vivian’s younger years and a library to die for….. Bring the book club back to life.

Throw in a mystery from the past that shows back up.

They all really want the same thing: to save the family business. A must-read summer novel that you will enjoy with a glass of wine, a glass of iced tea, or an ice cold beer.

Jamie Brenner

My review copy came from the generous publishing people at Putnam, a division of Penguin Random House, in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, I loved it!!

Copperfish Books can’t wait to hand sell this book. They have them ready to sell on Tuesday, June 22. Discounted 20%, of course. These will not last long.

The Last Bookshop In London by Madeline Martin

Look what I found! An absolutely wonderful book about a bookshop in London during The Second World War. I know, I know, it’s WW11. It’s not like any other books of WW11 I’ve read, though. I devoured it.

The year is 1939 and Grace Bennett is finally moving to the city. She’s been living with her uncle and aunt since her mum died and she is moving on. London offers so much. And her mum’s best friend, Mrs. Weatherford, is happy to take Grace and her best friend Viv in. Mrs. Weatherford is a widow who lives alone with her adult son who works at Harrods. But when the girls arrive they don’t find the bright lights and excitement they had expected. The city is preparing for war with black outs and bunkers and it’s pretty grim.

Mrs. Weatherford helps Grace get a job at a dusty old bookshop called Primrose Hill Books, owned by a cranky old man named Mr. Evans who has allowed his shop to drop almost into ruin. Mess. Neglect. The relationship between these two is worth the price of the book. But there is so much more.

As many of you know, I’ve read a lot of WW11 books. A lot. But they do keep on coming. And some are just so darn good you have to read them. This is one of them. I did not expect to find so much detail in this novel. It is as if Martin has lived through these bombings, the rationing, the angst of the times. Nothing is missed in these pages. And I gobbled it all up. Is there a romance? Yes, but it’s far from the focus.

The story is compelling. The characters captured my heart. Of course I loved how much the books met to people during the war. There are scenes during blackouts where Grace reads to groups of people huddling in the bomb shelters that were just wonderful. The tenacity of the English people throughout the bombings is not exploited, but truly shows what humans can do when pushed to the limit. People worked throughout the day and then volunteered at night to guard the city streets.

I loved how Martin introduced the reader to the escalation of the German bombing. She began slowly, then let us know what was being rationed next. There is death and hardship in this story. How could there not be. But it’s a wonderful and powerful story of how literature can literally save lives.

A lot of the novel takes place in a real area of the city called Pastornoster Row. This was once the centre of publishing in London during WW11 and was devastated by aerial bombing in The Blitz. Many of the bookstores in the novel were actually on Pastornoser Row. One that is mentioned is Foyles and I discovered an old photo….

This wonderful gem of a book begins with a cast of characters who do not all get along. But by the end of the novel, that has evolved. And there is a cat. Of course there is.

Grace goes from someone who never reads a book to one of the most enthusiastic readers ever!!! Classics are mentioned. People are discussing books. Reading books. Reading is something that can be done when so much can not.

THE LAST BOOKSHOP IN LONDON is available in a trade paperback edition. I urge you to read it. Do yourself a favor. We do have a few copies left at Copperfish Books. We’ve sold stacks of them.

I read my copy of THE LAST BOOKSHOP IN LONDON from a library copy and had to wait weeks upon weeks for it. Totally worth the wait!

Morningside Heights by Joshua Henkin

You’ll understand the meaning of this unusual cover once you get into the book. There is deep meaning. Someone is disappearing….

Well over one year ago, Joshua Henkin contacted me through email. He asked if I’d read his book. He would send me a review copy through the mail. Henkin is a novelist who lives in Brooklyn, New York. I took a chance and said I would read it. I almost never take unsolicited works. The book arrived and I read it. It was very good. MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS is written with a lot of heart and soul. Written with great feeling, this novel deserves the positive attention it is now receiving. The pandemic came to town and so the publication date was pushed forward to June, 2021. What a long time to wait when you’re an author with a new book. But it’s all good in this case. Waiting was smart.

Joshua Henkin

So, what’s it about? It’s about a marriage and a family. It takes place in Brooklyn. It’s contemporary. Prudence is a student in a Shakespeare class taught by Spence at Columbia University. She’s six years younger than Spence and he is married with a son. The two fall crazy in love. Older professor falls for younger student. Not a new story. However, move forward thirty years and their story begins to change, slowly but surely. You see, Spence is not doing so well. He’s slowed down. Not himself. Pru is noticing things that have to be addressed. And then comes the dreaded diagnosis: early onset Alzheimer’s. Everything about their lives change drastically when Pru becomes Spence’s caregiver. Their daughter Sarah has just gone off to medical school way out in California. The tension mounts and the difference is in the air, it’s palpable now.

This could have been a very sad and depressing story. But Henkin pulls it off beautifully. His prose is distinctive and lovely. The story is beautiful. He knows Brooklyn. And it shows.

Spence’s first wife has always been in the picture. She and Spence and Prudence have cultivated a special relationship that is certainly unique. I think it adds so much to this story. And Arlo, their son, is a character with a lot of baggage but becomes an important part of the story toward the culmination.

Henkin does a super job of giving us Prudence in all her angst. After all, being a caregiver to an Alzheimer patient who used to be a brilliant and vital partner, has got to be a daunting task, at best. Where’s that man I married? What’s happening? I’m feeling betrayed. And she is not old. The part of the book where Prudence is attracted to another man is, I think, very well executed.

I was so pleased when Indy Next chose Joshua’s book, MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS for the June cover. That’s a big deal and well deserved!

MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS by Joshua Henkin will be available for purchase Tuesday, June 15th. We will have them on sale at Copperfish Books for 20% off for your reading pleasure. My review copy arrived from the publisher, Pantheon. This new novel is going to push Henkin up to yet another level as a literary author. Do not miss it!

One Two Three by Laurie Frankel

One Two Three

My first time reading Frankel but it won’t be my last. She tackles environmental issues that would break a normal person down after years and years. She uses voices and gets into the heads of the triplets born to the main character who are damaged in ways most of us do not even want to think of. Instead of this being a depressing novel, it’s very uplifting. I came to care deeply for all of these characters. And especially for Mirabel who is the most physically challenged of all while being the most brilliant.

Seventeen years ago the tiny town of Bourne was experiencing green water. The run-off from the local factory is poisoning the water and it’s affecting the health of the people. This story delves deeply into the lives of the three Mitchel sisters and their mom. We watch as mom continues to strive for justice for all the affected people in the town. She has gotten nowhere so far. But that may change soon.

Meet Mirabel: she’s the smartest person anyone in town has ever met, and she can’t speak.

Meet Monday: she’s all about the books and is running a library from her home now that the local library closed.

Meet Mab: she’s the most normal one who is expected to get good grades, get into college, and get out of town.

Bourne is a town lost to the environmental issues that is killing it. People have fled the area and it’s dying a slow death. No jobs, scary health issues. You name it. And then along comes a family moving into what used to be the library. Who are they? What’s up? And how are these people connected to the “factory?”

One moment I found myself LOL while the next I was reaching for a tissue. I stepped outside my comfort zone to read this book. It was recommended by someone I trust: Amy Einhorn, who is working with the publishing company of Henry Holt. Amy, thanks so much for sending the early copy. This is truly a masterpiece of a novel.

Copperfish Books is offering 20% off and has copies of ONE TWO THREE in stock and ready to go.

Laurie Frankel is a New York Times bestselling author and has been a Reeses’ bookclub pick with her HELLO SUNSHINE.

Laurie Frankel

Fifty Words For Rain by Asha Lemmie

Fifty Words For Rain

It’s not often I find a novel  that actually takes my  breath  away. FIFTY WORDS FOR RAIN did just that. And then some.

The novel is set in Japan and begins in 1948 in Kyoto.  Nori is eight years old when her mother drops her off in front of an estate, then takes off down the street at breakneck speed.  Nori is left standing in front of a gate with a letter in her hand. The letter is supposed to introduce her to her grandparents. She’s officially been abandoned. And so this remarkable debut novel begins.

Nori is a half black child born illegitimately to a mother who was Japanese royalty.  Nori’s mother left her husband and young son to be with her American born black GI father. They never married. And now Nori is in the clutches of her evil grandmother who is determined to keep her hidden away in the attic and away from public eyes. Nori is subjected to excruciatingly painful bleach baths in hopes of lightening her dark skin. She’s routinely beaten by a grandmother who is only interested in saving “face.” Saving her royal family name from disgrace. It is utterly unnerving to read.

When Akira, Nori’s half brother, comes to live with the family, Nori finds a kindred soul and finally begins to come alive. Akira is going to be the heir to all the family owns. He is so beautifully talented and his skills with the violin are becoming legendary.  Nori begins to learn about music . And grandmother becomes incensed to watch this closeness. It must end.

I knew next to nothing of this remarkable story when I began this novel. I’m so glad that is how I read it. I feel it will take away too much to go into any detail about the story. So my review will be short.

The gorgeousness of the story and the beauty of the prose only enhance the experience. You will find yourself turning the pages at the speed of light only to slow yourself to prolong the story.

Nori will live in my mind forever. What she endures is beyond the limits of reality.  Living with the knowledge that everything bad that happens to you and your loved ones is your fault was her fate.

I love novels that truly move me. FIFTY WORDS FOR RAIN by Asha Lemmie

Asha Lemmie

is one of those novels. You simply must add it to your must-read list. Right now.

FIFTY WORDS FOR RAIN is now available in a trade paperback version. Perfect for your upcoming summertime reading enjoyment.

Lizzie And Dante by Mary Bly

Lizzie & Dante

This oh-so-atmospheric cover drew me in. What’s not to like about people enjoying this beautiful beach that looks like it’s surely set on some exotic island. That island paradise is Elba and the characters are beautiful people with incredible stories to tell. Beautiful people have angst in their lives too.

Most of the people that arrive on the island of Elba have arrived on sleek yachts. Most of the people are wealthy beyond reason. They are usually as sleekly groomed as their yachts. And then some fly in from all over the world.

LIzzie and her best friend Grey and his famous boyfriend, Rohan, have flown in from California and NYC. Lizzie is the NYC citizen and her story is the sad one. You see, she’s trying to make the best of her life now that she’s been diagnosed with stage 3 cancer. She’s on a huge regimen of medications but at least they can be taken in pill form, for now. She and Grey were once a couple, in every sense of the word. But then he told her he preferred having sex with men. Heartbroken and feeling betrayed, their friendship took a dive. But as things happen, they have recently become fast friends again and he is helping her through this awful diagnosis. Grey is a pretty famous writer and is working on a horror story. Meanwhile, the reason Rohan is on Elba is to do research. He’s supposed to be writing a screen play: about Romeo and Juliet. You see, he expects to turn it all around…. And since Lizzie is a Shakespeare scholar, he needs her help.

We can sniff out a romance. After all, this is an exotic island. And a very special chef shows up on the public beach with his shaggy dog. His name is Dante and he has a young daughter who is motherless. Etta is twelve going on thirty. She’s a delightful addition to this story.

The scenery, the food, and the colorful characters all add up to a great beach read. Be sure to toss this on in that beach bag this summer.

Mary Bly AKA Eloisa James

Mary Bly is the pen name for Eloisa James who is a New York Times bestselling author. She lives with her family in NYC but can often be found in Paris or Italy. She’s married to a genuine Italian knight. Golly!

I borrowed my copy of LIZZIE & DANTE from our local library but want to give a shout out to the publisher: Dial Press. What a great summer read!

Copperfish Books has copies of LIZZIE & DANTE on their shelves right now but they’re going quickly. They are discounting them at 20% for now.

June Is Looking Somewhat Normal Here In SW Florida

June is most definitely the official start of summer all over our country. Time to begin anew. I have an announcement. The 21st of June will be my last day working at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda. It’s been an amazing run. I love the store. I love the people I work with and for. But my big picture is broadening and it’s time for me to work for ME. Work more on my blog and work more with you great readers who make my reading and writing so very rewarding. I have some new ideas for projects and will be expanding my horizons for the coming book season. I am excited. For those of you who are involved in book clubs I visit during the upcoming season, I look forward to seeing all of your smiling faces. For those of you who do not belong to one of the clubs I visit, this might be the time to sign up. I am happy to visit small and large clubs. Small fee. Big rewards. To book me just click on the Book Me Now button on this blog. I will get back to you asap.

Mary Kay Andrews at Copperfish Book with Maurice On Books

Mary Kay Andrews stopped by Copperfish last month and signed copies of her new novel, THE NEWCOMER. It was our first in person event and everyone was socially distanced and very safe. It was wonderful to see everyone’s beautiful smiles.

The last masked event!!

This summer we have some amazing books coming our way. You’ve seen my summer reading list so you know some of them. I will be blogging about even more over the next few weeks. Right now I’m over the moon about MALIBU RISING by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I’m also very excited about AMONG THE BEAUTIFUL BEASTS by Lori McMullen; it’s a wonderful novel in trade paper about the early life of Marjory Stoneman Douglas. All of us here in SW Florida will be adding it to our library. On the fifteenth of June a book I’ve been championing since before the pandemic raised its ugly head, is finally coming out so your readers can feast your eyes on it:

Morningside Heights

MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS by Joshua Henkin is an amazing upcoming novel that takes place in Brooklyn, New York. It’s about family and challenges and is heartbreaking yet compelling as all get-out. My review will post closer to pub date.

I’ve been babying a small frangipani tree for two years. It needs to be planted in the ground. It’s made it through this winter and has finally flowered. I love that it’s a delicate pink shade. The other trees like it in my community are all yellow. Planting will happen soon. Roses are budding and will soon be blooming. They love sun and lots of rain. Orchids have seen their prime and will rest this summer. Anything green is going crazy. Plus, the mango trees are heavy-laden with fruit and soon will give them up.

Pink frangipani

I will have pictures to share of my upcoming Asheville visit on my July musing post. The excitement grows.

I hope you all are in your happy place for this summer and surrounded with great books to read and family to visit. Cheers!

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu Rising

I absolutely loved Reid’s last novel, DAISEY JONES AND THE SIX. I’ve been waiting anxiously for her next book. And, here it is: MALIBU RISING took my breath away right from the very first page. My attention was caught. I was totally in Malibu. I was so ready for this story.

Taylor Jenkins Reid

“Malibu catches fire.” That’s your first sentence. I’m all in.

“The Malibu fire of 1983 started not in the dry hills but on the coastline.

It began at 28150 Cliffside Drive on Saturday, August 27-at the house of Nina Riva-during one of the most notorious parties in Los Angeles history.

The annual party grew wildly out of control sometime around midnight.

By 7 A.M., the coastline of Malibu was engulfed in flames.

Because, just as it is in Malibu’s nature to burn, so was it in one particular person’s nature to set fire and walk away.”

Then comes the back story and what a wild ride it is. This is the story of the Riva family–surfer siblings Nina, Jay, Hud, and Kit, as well as their mother, June, and their father, the famous singer Mick Riva. It takes place over the twenty-four hours leading up to Nina Riva’s infamous Riva Party, but it is also a culmination of generations of secrets and traumas.

The backdrop is Malibu: surfers, models, actresses and screen-writers, tennis pros and TV stars, studio execs and musicians. Reid brings this amazing area in Southern California vividly to life. She’s tossed in sibling rivalry, parenthood, marriage, and the ways we repeat our parents mistakes. So many secrets and traumas. All set along the beauty of the California coast.

This is an absolutely delicious novel that you are going to want to dive right into this summer. Ballantine Publishers provided my review copy in exchange for an honest review. I LOVED it!

Copies of MALIBU RISING are available at Copperfish books and are discounted 20%. One of the BEST reads of the summer.

Among The Beautiful Beasts by Lori McMullen

Among The Beautiful Beasts

This earthy green cover hides some pretty impressive stuff. This cover gives nothing away. You would never guess what or who this novel is about. But I am absolutely delighted to tell you! AMONG THE BEAUTIFUL BEASTS is a novelized version of the life of Florida’s own Marjory Stoneman Douglas, before she arrived in Florida and up until she became embroiled in the dynamics of the Florida Everglades. I was ecstatic to find this novel and that it is being published June 1 from She Writes Press. I think you will be, too.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas

If you live in Florida, especially South Florida, or you vacation here, you probably already have Marjory Stoneman Douglas on your radar. She is most certainly the most famous woman in our state. There is another Marjorie to note and that would be Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings. More about her in another post.

So what do we know of Douglas? We know she is most famous for writing the wildly important THE EVERGLADES RIVER OF GRASS about 75 years ago. This amazing book about our Everglades is a must-read book for every Florida history buff. In order to understand the Everglades you must have this book. In fact, I am highly suggesting you have a copy nearby while reading this novel. Trust me, you will want to reference events.

The Everglades River Of Grass

Yes, this is a novel. We begin with Marjory as a young girl. She’s just six years old when her mother yanks her away from her father and they leave him behind. We get the feeling he may have done something wrong. But Marjory’s mother is taking her to live with her grandmother. And they both live there until mom can no longer struggle with her mental state. That is when Marjory truly begins to live her own life. She makes a very poor choice in men. And then she finally leaves for Miami. And that is when I truly fell in love with this novel. The moment she stepped from the train onto Miami soil, I could almost feel the awful burden of her former life lift from her shoulders.

Marjory’s father runs the Miami Herald. He hires her on as a journalist. Then she becomes an editor. She has an affair with a rival journalist. The Miami of those days was very much the wild, wild, west of the east coast. Miami Beach was a wasteland populated only with the roughest of shelters and no electricity nor running water. Wild beach. Beautiful beach. Pristine beach. And then Marjory is introduced to the Everglades….

Marjory Stoneman Douglas lived in Florida for 83 years and passed away in 1998. She was a journalist, fiction and non-fiction writer, editor, publisher, and crusader for women’s rights, racial justice, and conservation of nature. In other words, she was a force!

There is no other novel like this. It’s great for your bookclub. Great for discussion. Just great, period. And rereading THE RIVER OF GRASS, or reading it for the first time will enhance your story.

We have copies of this amazing novel at Copperfish Books and it will go on sale Tuesday, June 1. I love that it’s in trade paper format which makes it even more enticing for clubs.

Lori McMullen

I am now reading VOICE OF THE RIVER, which is an autobiography written by Douglas. McMullen has done her research and does a fabulous job with her novel. You are going to want to read this autobiography to get even more from the novel. I am loving it.

Voice of the River

Lori McMullen grew up in unincorporated Dade County, outside Miami, so she knows the area well. This is her first novel. I look forward to her next one.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas was awarded The Presidential Medal of Freedom, founded Friends of the Everglades, and named the Everglades the The River of Grass.

I was sent my copy of AMONG THE BEAUTIFUL BEASTS in exchange for an honest review. I am so taken with this novel. I believe it’s going to be an important novel for us here in Florida and I look forward to hand selling it on June 1.