The Air You Breathe by Frances De Pontes Peebles

Frances De Pontes Peebles

The Air You Breathe

I fell in love with a novel called THE SEAMSTRESS in 2008. Written with a unique sense of style and characters I quickly fell in love with, the book became an all-time favorite.   I have waited ten years for this new one.

Such atmospheric and lyrical prose. More unique and quirky characters. THE AIR YOU BREATHE has been worth the wait.

We are back in Brazil. Look at the cover. It oozes atmosphere. Makes you ache to open it and begin reading. Danielle, this one’s for you, girl.

Two young girls become unlikely friends on a sugar plantation in the 1930’s.  Nine-year-old Dores works in the kitchen.   Graca is the spoiled daughter of the sugar baron, everything that Dores is not. What do they have in common? Their love of music. While Graca is graced with the singing voice of an angel, Dores has the  uncanny ability to write lyrical songs. Together they are a dynamic duo. But, first, they must escape from the plantation where they are both being held back.  No father is going to allow his daughter to just run off and make “music” in Rio. Not in the 30’s.

author

Frances De Pontes Peebles

Neither girl is prepared for the excess of the hedonistic life in the Lapa neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro.  Sex, drugs, alcohol. All there for the taking. They dive right in. Soon they’re making music and moving up in the world.  This is not a nice little book about friendship. It’s a novel filled with jealousy and even mystery.  At times, quite shocking. As Graca slowly becomes the famous super star Sophia Salvador the rivalry between the two friends becomes so intense that it sizzles.  You’ll feel the beat of the Samba and sweat your way through the heat of Rio. Mostly, you’ll  be so immersed in the culture and the music and the madness that you will keep turning the pages making your way through the streets of Rio and then on toward Los Angeles and the Golden Age of Hollywood and then home again. What a ride. Hold on.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

My review copy came to Copperfish Books via Riverhead Publisher.  I found it fascinating. I think you will too.  We will have them on sale at Copperfish Books at 20% off beginning the on sale date of August 21. Come on down….

 

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Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Delia Owens

Where The Crawdads Sing

Some books call out to me the minute I set my eyes on the cover. WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING is one of those novels!

The opening scenes drew me in. The characters and moving writing kept me going. And going. I loved this book!!

This novel can not be compartmentalized. It’s got so many dimensions that make it so very important. What a story.

Delia Owens has written other books, all non fiction nature books. She’s got a background that oozes with uniqueness and screams to be read.  In fact, I think you all will be very interested to hear more about her. So I will post a conversation with her at some point.

The prologue begins in the swamp within the marsh along the coast of North Carolina. The year is 1969.  The body of Chase Andrews is found lying in the muck.  Was he murdered? That’s the mystery.

Back up to 1952. Here begins the story of a young girl who’s suddenly abandoned by her mother, left with her siblings and alcoholic father. Mom just packed a blue train case with a scant amount of personal items and left the hovel they lived in without a backward glance. It’s a heartbreaking scene and you are left to wonder how she could do it. Soon, you will  see all too well.

One by one Kya’s sisters and brothers all leave until only dear old dad is left. He comes and mostly goes until Kya is ten.  Then where does he go?

Kya  Clark is the “Marsh Girl.”  She’s been raising her own self since the age of six.  She lives alone in Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. She’s barefoot and wild.  When Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya. He was known to have a relationship with her when they were in their teens…

Delia Owens’ lyrical and gripping debut novel, is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising account of a murder investigation. Fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell will admire this stunning novel as Owens, a New York Times-bestselling nature writer, masterfully reveals the intricate  beauties of nature through the eyes of a young girl abandoned by her family in the North Carolina Marshland. 

I am still marveling at the depth and scope of the life that Kya slowly and quietly builds for herself in an area of the country that was wild and mostly unknown at this time period. I can’t imagine living a life of such solitude as an adult let alone as a vulnerable child.  She’s learned to use Nature as her bible.

Delia Owens says, ” The coastal marsh of North Carolina, and Nature in general, is definitely a character of the novel. As one line of the story reads, …Kya laid her hand upon the breathing, wet earth, and the marsh became her mother. After her family left her, Kya had no one but Nature to teach her about life, and there is no better teacher if we take the time to observe and listen to the wild. Kya honed her skills of harvesting mussels by watching the crows; she learned about dishonest signals from the fireflies; she learned about loyalty and friends from the seagulls.”

WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING is written by an author who  knows about surviving in the wild. Delia Owens has spent more than twenty years living in Africa while studying brown hyenas, elephants, and most primates.  She did not live among other humans but with the wild animals themselves. She points out how the females bond and live in social groups.  In her novel Kya has lost her group.

Yes, this novel is a murder mystery. And yet it’s so much more than that. So much more.  I found myself feeling so compelled to learn more about Delia Owens and her life in Africa.  I was shelving a book  in the nature section at Copperfish Books last week. I noticed a beat up used copy of CRY OF THE KALAHARI

Owens

Cry of the Kalahari

by Delia and Mark Owens. I felt like I had won the jackpot. Bought the book, took it home, put all else aside, and began to read. I quickly found myself lost in the no-man’s land of Africa, a place no humans but Delia and Mark had been. And I was a lost soul.  I had deadlines to meet, places to go, people to be in touch with. But I did nothing but read this book. The writing is amazing and the true story is nothing short of fascinating.

Where the Crawdad's Sing

author

Delia has co-authored three non fiction nature books. One I just mentioned.  Then comes THE EYE OF THE ELEPHANT and finally SECRETS OF THE SAVANNAH.  You may want to plow right through them once you read WHERE THE CRAWDAD’S SING.

I will tell you this, I don’t know how she did it, but Owens kept the suspense building and I did not see the end coming. It kept me riveted to the page all along.

This amazing novel is coming with me to all my lectures this season! I can’t wait to tell everyone about this story. And I will be screaming to the rooftops how much I love Delia Owens!

My gorgeous finished hardcopy arrived form G.P. Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. I totally LOVED it!

You can pick up your own copy of WHERE THE CRAWDAD’S SING at Copperfish Books.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

They are discounted 20% off. You NEED this book. It’s what I call an important book.

Announcing A New Winner!

Louise Miller

The Late Bloomer’s Club

Just look at this fun cover!  A very successful giveaway. Thanks for entering.  I have one winner. Congratulations go out to Jane Serio! Jane, I’m sending out an email right now to get your mailing address. Your lovely book will come straight from Pamela Dorman Books, a division of Viking publishing.

Sending out a big thank you to Viking for providing this great summer read!

Giveaway! The Late Bloomer’s Club by Louise Miller

Louise Miller

The Late Bloomer’s Club

THE LATE BLOOMERS’ CLUB– Pamela Dorman Books | On Sale July 17, 2018 | 9781101981238

Novelist Louise Miller returns to the sleepy fictional town of Guthrie, Vermont (the setting of her critically acclaimed debut The City Bakers’ Guide to Country Living 2016) to tell the story of two headstrong sisters, Nora and Kit Huckleberry. Nora, the older and more “responsible” sister has remained in Guthrie her entire life, taking over the family business after their parents passed away at a young age. Her sister, Kit, left Guthrie behind years ago to pursue her dreams as an aspiring filmmaker. After a tragic accident, the two sisters find out they stand to inherit the home and land of Peggy Johnson, the town’s beloved cake lady. When it comes to light that Peggy was in the process of selling her land to a big-box developer before her death, the two sisters find themselves at odds

As with her debut, Miller has yet again treated us to stunning visions of Vermont landscapes and mouthwatering descriptions of freshly baked goods and delicious desserts. Perfect for anyone charmed by the small town magic of Gilmore Girls.

I absolutely adored Miller’s first novel THE CITY BAKER’S GUIDE TO COUNTRY LIVING. It was witty and fun and filled with amazing baked goods. Now she’s back with yet another novel set in rural Vermont and filled with cakes and coffee.

Pamela Dorman Books/Viking publishing is providing my giveaway copy. This is just right for ending your summer reading. Please leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win a copy. I will choose one winner on Saturday, August 11. Cheers and good luck. No P.O. boxes and only U.S. addresses, please.

Announcing A Winner!

Louise Candlish

Our House

Anne, you are my winner today! Congratulations. I will send you an email right now asking for your mailing address. Your book will come straight from Berkley which is a division of Penguin Random House publishing. They are very generously providing your book for my giveaway.

Thanks go out to those of you who took the time to enter my giveaway. More will come.

Our House by Louise Candlish Review And Giveaway

Louise Candlish

Our House

You live in the lovely well-to-do London Suburbs. One day, you arrive home to find strangers are moving into your house. Just imagine! I know I can’t. Just thinking about it makes me wild. But that is exactly what happens to Fiona Lawson one January day.

What a heart-pounding start.  I like a story that grabs you right off. No problem with that here.  The story is told in two voices: Fiona’s and her estranged husband Bram’s.  They’ve been living a very civil separation for a few months now. It’s been working well for them.  They’ve even a name for it: bird’s nest custody.  They take turns living in the big house with their two young sons.  It’s all about making it easy on the kids. But why are they separated? He cheated on her for the second time. Good reason if you ask me. But there is much more to this story than meets the eye. Even more than his escalating drinking problem and his mounting traffic tickets. And, oh, the lies.

I didn’t expect the sense of urgency with this novel.  Had no idea. It will blow you away to discover the truth.  And then I found out the story is based on an article of property fraud in a London newspaper.

No one is whom they seem to be.  And the pace keeps the pages flying.  You absolutely will not be able to figure this out. For those of you who truly enjoy a literary thriller, well, this is your book!n  The climax is monumental.  A real killer.  It’s pub date is Tuesday, August 7.

The generous people at Berkley are providing one copy of OUR HOUSE for giveaway. So, you know the drill. Please leave a comment below. I will choose one winner on Monday, August 6. Only U.S. addresses, and no P.O. boxes, please. Good luck!

The people at Berkley Publishing sent me my review copy in exchange for an honest review. Another winner. I loved it!

Autumn In Venice by Andrea di Robilant

Andrea di Robilant

Autumn in Venice

AUTUMN IN VENICE is a must-have for Hemingway fans everywhere.   You need this non-fiction account of Ernest Hemingway  and his last muse to complete your library.

I’ve read pretty extensively about Hemingway. I can’t say I  even like the guy but, I am drawn to his life like a moth to the flame. So when I discovered this book had information I did not know, I knew I had to have it.

Years ago I read a book called A VENETIAN AFFAIR by Andrea di Robilant. I loved it. So I knew the author is a really good one.

I’ve found that more is written about Hemingway’s first two wives. I didn’t know much about Mary at all.  Mary was Hemingway’s fourth and last wife. Theirs was not a very happy marriage. But this trip to Venice about tore the roof off what was left of it.

In 1948 Hemingway and Mary decided to visit Venice.  Their marriage was not so happy and they thought they could jump-start it in this fabulously romantic city. Not so much. It wasn’t long before Hemingway became enchanted and then infatuated with an   18-year-old girl thirty years his junior. He was almost fifty at the time.

4th wife

Mary Welsh and Ernest Hemingway

The author got a lot of his information from Adriana’s journals and Hemingway’s letters. Plus, it seems di Robilant’s uncle was included in Hemingway’s inner circle back in the day. Reports were given of Hemingway drooling unashamedly over this young girl. Mary tolerated the fawning at the time because the relationship continued to be platonic. It made Hemingway happy and lifted him from depression. But the quarreling between husband and wife became vicious.  This was not going to be the getting back together trip they had hoped it would be.

Adriana and her family were encouraged to visit Mary and Ernest in their home in Cuba. Oh boy.  I can’t even imagine.  Adriana became Hemingway’s muse while he was writing ACROSS THE RIVER AND INTO THE TREES, a book about an older man and a young woman. Adriana was also the muse for THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA.

Adriana and Hemingway

I found myself leafing through copies of several of Hemingway’s novels while reading AUTUMN IN VENICE.  So much of his real-life was embedded in his fiction. I felt like I was getting a chance to peek into this very famous man’s world.

Much of this book takes place in Cuba.  And I will sound a warning. This is not a book about Venice. So those of you who might pick this book up because it appears to be all about Venice, well, it’s not.

We know that Ernest Hemingway was a very troubled soul.  He took his own life.  And he so disrupted Adriana’s life that she eventually took her own life as well. Sad endings for both.

We are currently sold out at Copperfish Books, however, we are getting more in by the end of this week.  On sale for 20% off. Come and get em.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

My beautiful finished hardcopy was provided by Knopf  in exchange for an honest review. I loved it. It’s not a novel. It’s all documented.  I am going to be bringing it to my lectures this coming season and will enjoy discussing it. Thanks go out to the generous publishing publishing people at Knopf. Cheers!