Maurice’s March Madness

We have three important birthdays in our family during March. Emerson, my Asheville granddaughter, is the first. Her big birthday was yesterday. I love this happy picture of her taken on the middle deck at their home. Nice background. My grandson Lucas will be five at the end of the month and my husband Jack will be celebrating his birthday the day after Lucas. More about those guys later this month.

Today is a big day for Copperfish Books and for me at Maurice on Books. Erika Robuck is joining us this afternoon for bookclub. We will be discussing THE INVISIBLE WOMAN. It’s Erika’s newest novel and it’s unbelievably good!

Erika Robuck

Some amazing books coming this month. Today we have VERA by Carol Edgarian. Set in the San Francisco of 1906, complete with the devastating earthquake and consequent fires that destroyed the city. Toss in a brothel and two girls on the run…and you’ve got a sure hit.

Coming next week is the highly anticipated SURVIVING SAVANNAH by Patti Callahan. I am soooo excited.

I’m busy zooming these days and creating lists for commentary for book groups. And the upcoming books keep on coming…

Surviving Savannah

Kiki is pictured above on the top of the cat tree here in my office. We call her the little snorer because, yes, she actually snores. The smallest cat who snores. It’s unusual to be able to snap a photo of elusive Miss Kiki, so this is a treat. She’s great company while working.

The biggest thing I’m looking forward to this month is the time change. I am so excited about it. Longer days. I’m loving watching each evening come later and later. And the mornings are coming earlier. YES!

Vera by Carol Edgarian

Vera

Look closely at this magnificent cover and you’ll see San Francisco, burning. The year is 1906 and the big earthquake has come and gone and left the entire city in flames. People are displaced. Everyone is in turmoil. Some have fled the city and the left- behind are scratching through the rubble and searching for a new way of life.

Vera is the illegitimate daughter of Rose, the most notorious madam in San Francisco. Rose tried unsuccessfully to raise Vera but once the toddler was able to walk and talk even Rose knew a brothel was no place for a child. So she found a nice widow woman with a child Vera’s age to raise her. Then we discover that the nice widow lady is not so nice, is actually mean and has a drinking problem along with a tendency to gamble. So there is that.

The early morning hours of the earthquake that pretty much ended up destroying San Francisco finds Vera wandering the streets of the great city with her so-called sister, trying to make sense of the tragedy and looking for a way out. It dawned on Vera that she must find Rose. Rose could help them. Save them.

The scenes of the devastation are uncanny and seem very realistic and frightening. Rose is nowhere to be found. But then Vera remembers that Rose has a big house on the hill and surely they would be safe there as it was farther from the fires.

Everyone is thrown together as they all flow away from the fires that threaten to destroy everything and everyone in their path. Immigration issues are addressed as we find the Chinese people who were living in the area were struggling to survive even before the disasters.

This is an amazing story of survival and humanity. Great for bookclubs. Wonderful characters to explore. Not to be missed.

My review copy arrived from Scribner in exchange for an honest review. I loved it! You can order your copy from Copperfish Books and receive 20% off. Cheers.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Lost Apothecary

This is a wonderfully colorful and alluring cover. I love it!

“One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden-apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose-selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives.”

“In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity.”

Back to the 1700’s we meet twelve-year old Eliza who arrives at Nella’s secret shop because her mistress has sent her to pick up the potion she ordered. And she becomes embroiled in murder and mystery up to her last hair.

Forward to present-day, again, and we find Caroline walking along the Thames River, feeling very much alone and betrayed. She decides to join a group of people wading around in the river. They are mudlarking, something I had never heard of. Actually, they are looking for something antique and valuable, or perhaps just interesting. This is where she comes upon a small blue vial with a bear logo. The leader of the group tells her it’s got to be very old. And so the historian in her kicks in. She decides to find out where it came from and what its history means. And now we have not only a story but a great mystery.

Nella hasn’t always concocted poisons. There is a secret hidden in the story that will come to the surface in time. The research here is impressive. And the story really heats up.

The men who are in danger are all men who have done despicable things. They’ve abused or harmed women in awful ways. You might say they are deserving of being served a dose of poison….

THE LOST APOTHECARY is Sarah Penner’s debut novel. She’s done a bang-up job and I look forward to her next book. She lives here in my own backyard in St. Petersburg, Florida. And this novel is published by Park Row Books. I have them to thank for my review copy as I plucked it off the office shelves at Copperfish Books where you will be able to purchase THE LOST APOTHECARY this coming week. It will be discounted 20%. By the way, I loved the book!

Good Neighbors by Sarah Langan

Good Neighbors

I just finished this new novel and the first thing that came to my mind was, “This was bat-shit crazy.” I know, kinda harsh coming from little ole me. But it really is bizarre. So how did this crazy novel get into my hands anyhow? I read something about it somewhere and requested it from my library.

“Welcome to Maple Street a picture-perfect slice of suburban Long Island, it’s residents bound by their children, their work, and their illusions of safety in a rapidly changing world.” This taken from GoodReads online. It’s a good way to start.

I should mention that the time frame of this novel begins in 2027. Not far into the future. But far enough for some environmental changes to already be occurring. There is a big cast of characters because the entire neighborhood is involved in one way or other. But, two families are the focus. Arlo Wilde and his wife and two children and then Rhea Schroeder and her husband and children. Arlo and his pregnant wife Gertie are not the normal everyday couple you expect to find residing on Long Island. Arlo’s body is covered in tattoo’s and track marks from his early days as a rock star and drug user. Gertie is a beautiful woman but with her background and her loud ways of dressing and sloppy housekeeping, well, they were pretty much shunned in the community until Rhea decided to befriend Gertie. All was good until one evening of spilling her life story during wine hour when she went too far. And nothing is ever the same.

And the kids. Kids can be the meanest humans on earth. There are some mean kids in this book. But there are always reasons why kids are mean. And there are plenty of reasons here.

Dark and compulsive, I read this novel in a horrifyingly quick gulp because I had to know what the heck was going to happen. I’m always on the hunt to find novels that are unique. I want well-written. I want a story that’s a runaway train. This is all here.

I know about bullying. We hear of it, unfortunately, too often. I know a family whose lives were disrupted for several years because of twin bullies in their neighborhood. The mother figure was mentally incompetent and yet prone to wild accusations and the children were allowed to run amok. Finally, all the parents in this area realized what was going on. Thank God those people moved away. But this scenario can happen at any time in any community.

Sarah Langan goes well over-the-top with these families. You can not even guess where this novel will take you. She could have named it THE MAPLE STREET MURDERS and that title would have been apt. There are wild happenings. You will root for your favorite family and then wonder if this is the right thing to do. You might even think you know where the story is going only to find you are so wrong.

Every so often a book like this comes along that is written well and oh-so compelling and I have to talk about it. This is that book. It will take you away from your troubles as you delve into the Maple Street Murders.

When Harry Met Minnie by Martha Teichner

Interview with Martha Teichner

My Valentine book. This is for those of us like Martha who have special relationships with very special animals. This is a story that was begging for telling.

Just look at these two faces. The look of love definitely shows on the cover of this wonderful new memoir by Martha Teichner who is a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning News.

Anyone who reads my blog already knows I’m a big cat lover. But, really, I am a huge animal lover. Once in a while a book about a relationship with dogs comes down the pike that I simply go gaga about. This is that book!

For those of you who love New York City, you will love rediscovering Martha’s NYC. This is the city as we knew it just a few years ago. I found myself smiling as Martha walked the dogs to the Union Square market on Saturday mornings. I wanted to wave to the vendors and see the dogs get treats. And sometimes, one of the dogs would filth an apple. I loved the strolls by the river. And I enjoyed learning about a place called The Barking Zoo. Who knew.

So the story begins one summer Saturday when Martha is walking her bull terrier Minnie. Of course they are at the Market. An old friend who she’s never seen at this market appears walking his dog. He asks her where Goose is. Goose was Martha’s male bull terrier who recently passed away. When he heard she was actively looking for an older male bull terrier he immediately told her about a friend of his named Carol who was unfortunately, dying from cancer. She was seeking the right person to take her bull terrier, Harry. And so the story begins. This is most definitely a love story albeit not the usual kind. ,

I knew almost nothing of bull terriers. But now I’m hooked. Although, you won’t find me out looking for one anytime soon. The cats are enough for us. The shenanigans of Harry and Minnie will make you laugh. And if you have a pet you’ll immediately bond with Martha.

Martha Teichner has been a foreign correspondent for years covering wars and events all over the globe. You may know her from Sunday Morning. Once you hear her speak you will be reading the book in her glorious voice and it’s super. She’s a very talented writer and a wonderfully kind and gentle person. I loved the story and I loved the writing. And, of course, I fell head over heels for all the dogs; past and present.

Martha Teichner

Martha and Carol become close friends as Martha begins taking over more and more of Harry’s life. And, believe you me, it’s no small feat. Harry’s medicine and food regimen alone would boggle your mind and wear you out. So the story is also about great friendship. And it’s never too late to make a new friend.

We will have copies of WHEN HARRY MET MINNIE at Copperfish Books very soon. It’s a real keeper.

And how will you be celebrating Valentine’s Day? We plan on keeping it simple. Dinner at home. Lobster tails stuffed with crab. We do it better than any restaurant and since we don’t like going out on holidays like this anyhow, this suits us fine. And, of course, we’ll be enjoying the company of our four loving cats.

Today Is Pub Day For Erika Robuck’s New Book: The Invisible Woman

Erika Robuck

Erika Robuck is an amazing historical fiction writer. She digs deep in her research to bring little known stuff to the surface. She is tenacious, she is smart, and she is a force in her field.

The Invisible Woman

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN is a novel that showcases Erika’s talent. She brings to life a WW2 spy named Virginia Hall. And when I say she brings Virginia to life, I’m serious. Virginia Hall is a name I knew nothing of until reading Erika’s book. I am now a huge fan. I loved reading about her missions and the intricate disguises she used. She totally became different women and infiltrated the war zones saving so many lives along the way.

I hope you’ll purchase the book from us at Copperfish Books. It’s on sale today. Your purchase admits you to my bookclub interview with Erika Robuck on March 2 at 2 o’clock in the afternoon. It will be a virtual bookclub event through zoom as all our events are now. You will receive your link to the event on the day of through email. It’s a win/win to purchase the book from us thus supporting an Indy store, getting to attend the event, and meeting a wonderful historical fiction author who is delightful. You can purchase from Copperfish Books by clicking on the purchase link above.

Erika Robuck is the bestselling author of HEMINGWAY’S GIRL, CALL ME ZELDA, FALLEN BEAUTY, THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE and RECEIVE ME FALLING. You do not want to miss this event.

Meet Me In Bombay by Jenny Ashcroft

Meet Me In Bombay

The cover is even exotic! Love it already. It’s 1913, Maddie Bright has left her home in England after attending school, to join her mother and father in India where her father is stationed. It’s sultry and miserably hot and she is not settling in well. Until New Year’s Eve when she meets a handsome young military officer across the crowded room. Luke Devereaux is that handsome man. He is immediately as smitten as she is. Their love affair is a sweltering ordeal that quickly heads for marriage. But when Luke is called on to serve in the war right after their vows are taken, this story quickly becomes a heart-pounding page-turner.

This novel is so much more than just a romance. Ashcroft has done a bang-up job describing the sensory delights of Bombay. Colonial India. She’s so brought it to life. When Luke leaves a travel guide with Maddie she finally begins poking her nose into the parts of the city that tourists normally shy away from. She becomes enchanted and shares her destinations with us. I felt such a sense of place. You can almost close your eyes and smell the spices in the market.

The story actually begins with a scene where a man does not know who he is. You quickly find that Luke is that person and he has suffered so during the war. Back and forth in time goes the story giving us a sense of foreboding.

The love story is very strong. I was reminded of several movies. I’ll let you make that decision.

The food, the characters, the city, and the fierceness of Maddie. I will never forget. Loved the story.

It’s February: What Am I Doing?

January came and went in a blink. What was that about? I’ve been keeping busy preparing for upcoming zoom events with book clubs and writing book lists with commentary for clubs that choose lists in lieu of zoom.

Two short stacks! There are many more.

The books in the stacks in the picture above are just a few of the books waiting for consideration. So you can see that when I say I’m busy I really mean it. All in a great way. And I remind myself that there are dozens of digital review copies on my ipad as well. It truly can feel overwhelming some days.

Go Bucs!

This coming Sunday is a big day at our house. My husband is an avid football fan. Super Bowl has long been his favorite sports day of the entire year. He loves everything about it. The food and the excitement of the game permeate his very being. This year I’m excited because my favorite team, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, are playing and in their home stadium at that. Go Bucs!

Valentines Day Fortune Cookies

What better way to say I love you than with a unique gift from Cafe You. Ana is baking her heart out making these amazing fortune cookies. They can even be personalized! Not only are they just gorgeous, they’re delicious as well. You can call Cafe You today to order yours. 239-600-0966

The kitties are not fond of cold or wind. This week has brought both. There’s been lots of cuddling on blankets and jostling for position on laps. Lots of neediness. So I was really happy to find some wheat grass at the Farmer’s market a couple weeks ago.

Wyatt enjoying the cat grass.

I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am about the plethora of great new books coming out this winter, spring, summer, and even through fall. That’s how far ahead we’re reading. Summer reading is going to be dynamite this year!! Don’t worry, I’ll keep you updated.

I’m looking forward to our bookclub with Erika Robuck on March 2 where I’ll be in conversation about her fabulous new book THE INVISIBLE WOMAN. I have so many questions for Erika and we are going to learn so much from this amazing author at the top of her game. Don’t forget. You can purchase your copy from Copperfish and this will save your spot on the zoom bookclub.

The Invisible Woman

For those of you who will be receiving one of my specialized lists with commentary, you are in for such a treat! And for those of you who I will be seeing via zoom, I look forward to seeing all of you. So many books, so little time.

Cheers from Cape Coral and Punta Gorda!

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

The Nature of Fragile Things

This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. A novel that’s unique and compelling as all get-out. Characters so darn real. A villain. A mystery. Murder. Yum!

THE NATURE OF FRAGILE THINGS takes place in San Francisco. Sophie Whalen has just arrived on a train from New York City. The year is 1906. An Irish immigrant, she’s been staying in a tenement that she was desperate to escape. And when she answers an ad for a wife to a widower she suddenly becomes a mail-order bride complete with a child. Wow. Martin Hocking hustles Sophie over to the courthouse as soon as her feet hit the dirt. They are married lickedy split and Boom, she’s his wife. Hm. He’s handsome beyond reason. And seems financially secure. So why the big hurry? She fears something is fishy but needs the position and when she sees the big house he’s bought, well, she’s all in.

The tension rises every time Martin leaves for extended business trips. Sophie is busy caring for Kat, the five-year-old daughter, and so she misses some of the clues. But when a strangle young pregnant woman shows up on her doorstep she can no longer look away. And the story plunges into Hell.

So many questions. You will have so many of them as you read with your heart pounding. Once the earthquake drops the city into darkness and rubble, everything changes on a dime. Meissner has certainly done her homework. The earthquake rises around you as you read and you find yourself in the middle of the great tragedy and its aftermath. I have long been fascinated with this earthquake. As harsh as the telling is it does not disappoint. You will never think of San Francisco in the same light.

What a great time for crooks and thieves to expand their crimes. And anyone looking to hide, well, you can only imagine.

Susan Meissner

Put this amazing novel on your to-read list right now. It’s great for clubs. There is so darn much to talk about. I am a huge fan of Susan Meissner as it is. But this is her best novel yet! You can pick up your copy of this wonderful novel at Copperfish Books where we have them on our shelf today at 20% off. I’m so grateful to Penguin Random House and Edelweiss for allowing me to read a digital review copy of this amazing novel way ahead of pub date in exchange for an honest review. Well, readers, you are in for an amazing reading experience. It’s simply wonderful! I loved it.

The Four Winds By Kristin Hannah

The Four Winds

May be THE most anticipated novel of 2021, here it is: THE FOUR WINDS by Kristin Hannah.

I received a review copy of THE FOUR WINDS in the middle of the summer. Here we were in the midst of a global pandemic and to tell you the truth I was feeling a bit down and somewhat sorry for myself. Boo hoo. Just tired of the whole business of social distancing and not traveling etc. Well, I can tell you one thing: I quickly stopped feeling sorry for myself. This novel is so full of hardship and pain…..

The story begins in a town in the panhandle of Texas where a young woman is trying to break free of a suffocating family environment.  Elsa just wanted to feel love. Told by her mother that she was unattractive and kept under strict surveilance, she really just wants to feel normal.  Since she was fourteen and contracted an illness she was said to be sickly. But she’s an adult now and feels stifled. 

It’s 1934  and we watch as Elsa is thrust into an unlikely relationship that will only cause her pain. Her parents are glad to have a reason to dump her. Her new husband is quite miserable and honestly not fit for fatherhood.  When the Great Depression dries up all the work and the Dust Bowl comes along and dries up all the crops Elsa’s life becomes even more horrific. There comes a time when she has to make a decision. She can stay in Texas and very possibly starve to death, or, she can head out to California where it seems every other Tom, Dick, and Harry are going. Throughout this entire decision-making period we struggle along with Elsa. Should she go? Go where?Will it be for the better? And then we realize there really isn’t any choice. She must go. 

In California, Elsa soon sees that it’s not the land of good and plenty. It’s just a different type of Hell.  Here migrants are living in poverty. The squalor they live in will break your heart. Camps easily flood. Dirt floors. No one ever has enough  to eat. I can’t even imagine the trek to work let alone the actual backbreaking labor. 

THE GRAPES OF WRATH immediately comes to mind as you read. That time period is one we never want to see happen again in this country. But, here we are with thousands of people out of work through no fault of their own. And we’re living in unthinkable conditions.

There are so many scenes that are just incredibly hard to read. This young woman goes through many hells. She is one of those strong characters that I love. But even I have to wonder how much more she can take. 

The story rounds a curve when she meets Jack who’s working for an organization that’s trying to form a union for migrant workers. A lot of research went into this part of the novel and it pays off. I found myself pulling  not only for Elsa but for every migrant worker.  Is this going to make Elsa’s life easier? You’ll find out. 

Kristin Hannah is the NYT bestselling author of thirty novels.  Her last three novels have placed her at the top of the commercial fiction ladder. She’s an amazing story teller. I don’t know what she’s going to pull out of her book hat next, but what I do know is that I can’t wait!

Author
Kristin Hannah

THE FOUR WINDS by Kristin Hannah will be available for purchase at Copperfish Books on Tuesday, Feb. 2. We are offering a 20% discount since it’s a new hardcover book. This is one of the most anticipated books of the year and you are going to want to read it! Every bookclub will be reading it and it will be on the lips of every book person in the world. Do not miss it.

I have to send a big shout out to St. Martin’s publishing for sending me an early copy in exchange for an honest review. What can I say? It’s a blockbuster.