Bad Summer People by Emma Rosenblum

Take a look at this summery cover. This is the kind of cover that draws me in. This is one of the things I’m looking for in a summer read.

Fire Island. Only reached by ferry. Summer residents ride bikes around the island. That’s so much fun, most of the time. But, since Hurricane Sandy blew through this community a few years ago, they raised the boardwalk three feet. Wow. Sounds like an accident right around the corner. In fact, right in the beginning of this novel, a body is found under a bike that’s careened off the unstable boardwalk. I found myself trying to guess who the dead body belonged to as well as what happened, throughout the entire story. Rosenblum does not give anything away, just slowly draws you in and keeps you guessing.

With a cast of disreputable characters and busy-bodies, everyone is suspect. Everyone is hiding something. Some secrets much more formidable than others. They all will keep you entertained and wondering what on earth will happen next.

I really felt as if I had been allowed to peer into the lives of these bad summer people. You’ll stay on this island and enjoy your evening cocktails on the deck and at the club. You’ll lunch with the beautiful people and wonder how their lives will play out.

Emma Rosenblum brings a wonderful new novel to this summer’s reading list.

I read my review copy digitally through NetGalley and Flatiron Publishing in exchange for an honest review. What a wonderful edition to my summer reading. Already looking forward to Rosenblum’s next novel.

Summer Reading by Jenn McKinlay

Can a literary guy and a total non-reader girl make a go at a relationship?

Those of you who follow my blog already know I’ve been reading some good rom-coms lately. And this one is very good. Martha’s Vineyard is practically a main character. Books are involved and that’s always good. And food is a big part of this book. Insert an unlikely romance and a sibling relationship and you’ve got my attention.

This novel begins with a trip on the ferry from Woods Hole on Cape Cod to Martha’s Vineyard. This is where Samantha (Sam) meets Ben. Ben’s is reading intently when Sam accidentally knocks his book into the water. She’s not a reader and has no idea how upsetting this is. Not the best introduction. We discover that Sam is on her way to Oak Bluffs to chaperone her half brother for the summer while the parents are doing the European vacation thing. She’s up and quit her chef job and is now unemployed. Ben, on the other hand, has just become the Vineyard’s interim library director. The fact that he is easy on the eyes does not escape Sam’s notice.

Sam is harboring a secret that only one person knows about; her best friend Em who works in the library. She’s dyslexic. Ben has no idea. Can this relationship even get off the ground?

McKinlay quickly pulled me into this summertime novel. She set the tone early to rope me in. So many of my favorite interests right there to enjoy. Sam is a chef and so the food is amazing. Ben is a librarian so the talk of books is great. Add a bratty younger half brother and you’ve got me.

SUMMER READING is a quick and entertaining story at the beach. For me, that is a big part of summer reading; to be light, but well-written. It’s got all the right elements.

My review copy was provided digitally through NetGalley and Berkley, a division of PenguinRandomHouse, in exchange for an honest review. A perfect summer read.

An Evening With Abraham Verghese

It has been fourteen years since I first met Abraham Verghese in Miami while at the Miami Book Fair. We were celebrating his wildly successful first novel, CUTTING FOR STONE.

We made the almost impossible happen on Monday in Miami. We met at Books and Books in Coral Gables before his event with the bookstore. We were able to steal away and talk without interruption, catch up, and my husband, Jack, got to meet the great man, finally. It’s been quite the journey to get to this point. This is why I do what I do. I love helping behind the scenes. The rewards are monumental.

Abraham spoke to a group of close to 80 readers at Books and Books on Monday night. It was one of those amazing events that you only dream of. And, get a load of this. Abraham and I were texting earlier in the evening. Thank God I mentioned the time for the event was seven. His agenda had him there at eight. Dear God. He even told the audience that I had saved the evening. Scary stuff. But the show went on with him reading two entertaining passages in the book. He had everyone in the palm of his hand including my husband.

Abrham Verghese
The Covenant of Water

For those of you who might be thinking THE COVENANT OF WATER is too literary, it’s so readable. My daughter told me this morning that she is reading it now and finding it very easy to read. Yet it’s a great literary novel! Don’t forget you can download the audio. Abraham’s voice is simply perfect.

We crammed in a lot in a 24 hour period. We lunched on Miracle Mile at a little place called Crema. Then enjoyed an amazing dinner at an Argentinian restaurant named Baire’s Grill nearby. Jack was thrilled to discover they were offering half price on all their bottles of wine for Monday nights. The short ribs served Argentine style were simply divine as was the wine.

Here on the SW coast of Florida we lack a certain measure of culture. Yes, we have a few bookstores. Not many Indys anymore. And Barnes & Noble stores have changed so much. They used to have large book signings with big name authors. Not so much now. We have Artis-Naples. And there are literary societies in some communities. But nothing like in Miami. I would love to be able to attend more of these events. Mostly, they are without cost unless you purchase a book to support the store and the authors. The drive getting into Miami is treacherous. That’s the only way to put it. But it was worth it to meet up with Abraham and hear him talk about his journey…

I see that Elaine Newton has posted her summer reading list and of course she has THE COVENANT OF WATER on it. It’s a great list, the best in years. You can check it out by clicking above highlighted area.

I’m working on finishing my own summer reading list as we speak. Soon!

The Tiffany Girls by Shelley Noble

THE TIFFANY GIRLS is off and running right from the start. My kind of book! And when I say running, I’m not kidding. A young woman in Paris is literally climbing out the window of the flat she shared with her infamous father, just as the police are banging on the door. They are looking for him. He’s long gone and she’s high- tailing it to the seaport to escape to America.

The time period is 1899. Emilie Pascal is the young woman who is fleeing Paris. Her good -for-nothing art forging father has ruined her reputation and has actually fled the scene of the crimes leaving her behind to take the heat. All Emilie wants is to work with Louis Comfort Tiffany, the great glassworks artist. After breeching the Atlantic ocean with barely a dime left, she arrives in NYC and immediately finds her way to the Tiffany studio on Fourth Avenue.

Way back in this time period women’s work was not thought as important as mens, and, so, the Women’s Division of Tiffany’s separated the men from the women. Of course they did. But these artists are all so gifted. Artists all. When Emilie shows up unannounced at the door, she had a forged letter of recommendation in hand. She finagles her way in…. There she meets Grace Griffith who is the best copyist ever and is living a double life. And Clara is the manager here and her job is to make sure they all work like clockwork.

The Women’s Division is working so diligently because their deadline is the Paris World’s Fair where Tiffany will be presenting the largest expo ever. Did you hear where this is? Paris, the very city Emilie is fleeing from.

In this entertaining and provocative new novel from Shelley Noble, you’ll be entranced with art and you’ll be thrilled to watch as the glass ceiling is broken again and again.

I read THE TIFFANY GIRLS digitally. It was provided through NetGalley and William Morrow publishers in exchange for an honest review. What a fascinating story based on real historical events. It’s a real powerhouse. Great for bookclubs.

The Half Moon by Mary Beth Keane

I love the cover of this new novel. For me, it signifies a somewhat broken marriage. Let’s go inside this book and find out what’s going on.

Malcolm and Jess were the golden couple, the beautiful people who graced the halls of their high school. Then Jess went away to law school and Malcolm worked at his favorite place on earth, THE HALF MOON which is a bar. They became a couple when Jess returned home during break. When she became pregnant they got married. Seemed like the right thing to do at the time. But she suffered a miscarriage and so there was that.

As Jess and Malcolm arrive at middle age we find Jess living with the disappointment in her job and the fact that NOW she is not able to get pregnant, and, of course, that is all she wants.

Malcolm has always only worked in the Half Moon bar. He has become the manager after years of menial work. He loves what he does. His dream is to own a bar of his own. So when the owner of the bar offers to sell it to him, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what’s going to happen. But, wait, there is more. Jess knows how much Malcolm wants to buy this bar. She breaks down and goes along with it. And then, just as the deal is being done, the owner offers Malcolm a little something extra, to purchase the land and building as well as the business. Without discussing this with his wife, he agrees to it. Then all holy hell breaks out. I knew I never liked this guy. I know that in our household neither of us would even think of making a decision this huge alone.

The marriage is falling apart. This novel takes place in a one week period where the town is basically paralyzed with the aftermath of life-threatening blizzard of epic proportions. Can the marriage be saved?

Keane is an amazing author. Her characters are deeply fleshed out and deal with issues we can recognize.

Mary Beth Keane is the NYT bestselling author of ASK AGAIN, YES. which I adored. I read this novel digitally. It was provided by Simon and Schuster through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. What a great book for discussion. I loved it!

May Musings

The best thing about May is that there are several amazing novels that will be entering the publishing world. It goes without saying that I am over the moon about THE COVENANT OF WATER by Abraham Verghese.

What a wonderful surprise that Oprah also believes in Abraham Verghese and his magnificent new novel, THE COVENANT OF WATER. Oprah, you are so darn smart. LOL.

I have fallen behind in writing and posting reviews. I will try hard to catch up. I am still reading way ahead. I need a deep breath and the resolve to just put my butt in my writing chair here at my desk, and just do it.

April was a month of birthdays and anniversaries in our family. My youngest son, Mike, and his beautiful wife, Ana, took the trip of a lifetime. They flew to the land down under, Australia, for a two week visit with friends.

Mike and Ana are showing off in front of the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia.

To the right are the soaps Ana hand picked for me in Sydney and managed to carry them all the way across the world back to SW Florida just for me. They smell divine.

While Mike and Ana were so far away, The twins, Tatiana and Yahaira, had birthdays and prom.

The twins going to prom.

Beautiful Alana with a bag filled with new dresses. Such a girlie. And ten years old.

I’m working on reviews of THE HALF MOON and THE SECRET BOOK OF FLORA LEA. Coming soon.

We’re enjoying a bit of seriously cool mornings this week. Savoring them as we know what’s coming. Heat and humidity. Close up the house and read!

Oprah Picks THE COVENANT OF WATER by Abraham Verghese

Lordy, Lordy, look what just happened. Oprah Winfrey chose Abraham Verghese’s THE COVENANT OF WATER for her next bookclub pick. I am so excited. I have been such a champion of this amazing novel for many months now, waiting for it to become available to the reading public. The publisher, Grove/Atlantic, has been so generous with review copies so I could supply many of my readers with early reads of this wonderful book! Makes me feel as if I do know what I am doing. Oprah followed my lead, says John from Grove. LOL

The Bird Hotel by Joyce Maynard

I’ve long been a fan of Joyce Maynard. She has written some powerful fiction over the years. Having said that, I will say I think THE BIRD HOTEL is her best novel yet.

Maynard knows the shock value of a great first sentence. She has nailed it here with “I was twenty-seven years old when I decided to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge”. Yes indeedy, count me all-in.

After a riveting beginning, Maynard goes back in time to when Irene was actually Joan. One day her mother is involved in a national tragedy and she and her grandmother are on the run with changed names. What a start.

Back and forth in time, Maynard gives us snippets of Irene’s early life and we eventually learn what caused the dramatic change in her life.

I loved the travels that take Irene from The United States, through Mexico, and coming to land in a small village in Guatemala. What a wild ride. I enjoyed every moment of it. The hotel Irene stays at is a beautiful but crumbling old building at the base of a volcano and facing a huge lake. Gardens needing attention but with great potential. Birdsong in the air. And an owner who has become somewhat of a recluse over the years. Irene is the only person staying at the small hotel. Quite an eerie feeling.

Told in short, snappy chapters, THE BIRD HOTEL is just delightful. It’s filled with so many twists and turns that I could not see where the story was going to end. Good. Dealing with drought, then floods, a horrendous cyclone, and a volcanic eruption, you ask yourself what else can happen? Prepare yourself.

One of the most resilient characters I’ve come across in years, Irene must make her way in this new world. She arrived with nothing but the clothes on her back. But now this new, strange world looms large in front of her. She meets a host of unique and quirky characters that totally make the story swell and become even more of a real page-turner.

Joyce Maynard has written dozens of books and hundreds of essays. She’s an amazing writer who just keeps getting better. Joyce lives part of the year in a small village in Guatemala. She hosts classes for writers and they get to stay on the gorgeous grounds of her home.

I found it totally fascinating that Joyce was close to J.D. Salinger as a young girl. Very Close. He definitely saw the wonderful potential she had from a young age.

My physical review copy arrived from the nice publishing people at Skyhorse Publishing Company in exchange for an honest review. This is one of those colorful novels I will reread again and again. I loved it!

The Covenant Of Water by Abraham Verghese

Here it is, the eagerly awaited new novel by one of the best literary writers living today! Dive into THE COVENANT OF WATER quietly and make sure to savor the reading experience. I promise you that you will come away from this important piece of literature knowing you are in the midst of greatness.

Kerala, South India, is brought vividly to life through the lyrical writing of Abraham Verghese. In a framework of lush surroundings, right from the onset of the story, we are introduced to our young protagonist, who will later become Big Ammachi, as she floats through strange canals in a boat, being taken to meet her husband-to-be. She is twelve years old to his forty. He is a widower with a young son. It is even sadder than the saddest day of her life, when her beloved father died, recently.

THE COVENANT OF WATER takes place between 1900 and 1970. Three generations of her new family suffer from a strange and unknown affliction that they have named “The Condition.” In each generation at least one person dies from drowning. Through heartbreak and then progress you will find yourself opening your mind and experiencing hope as the determination of these people carry them through both tragedy and the secrets they keep.

I adored following Ammachi as she blossoms into the wife and mother she becomes. I found myself totally immersed in this world of Southern India on the Malabar Coast. Verghese has brought this part of India sparklingly to life. I absolutely feel as if I know this land and these people like family. Only a brilliant author can manage this. And I treasure the addition of the elephant named Damo who makes several visits to the family home at Parambil.

The condition wasn’t known to Ammachi until the first tragedy. And then we see a family tree filled with the names who drowned over the generations. And we are invited into the secret life of Ammachi’s husband. Fear of water at all costs. Later in this novel one of the characters, Mariamma, becomes a neurosurgeon in order to figure out the origins of the mysterious affliction.

In Abraham’s capable hands, talk of medicine and even in- depth surgeries, become amazing to read. There are plenty of medical issues going on in THE COVENANT OF WATER. I would say anything to do with leprosy or small pox would be severe issues. These are covered and then some. In one scene, a Scottish doctor, new to India, is plunged into performing a surgery he was not ready for. Digby was living the recurring nightmare of every surgeon when he found himself in the midst of the procedure, the patient is opened up, but the anatomy is not recognizable. OMG!

This story is very much the story of how medicine changed over the years. Often going from the stark reality of the unknown to the more modern day findings. Even though some of this story is harsh, one gains a feeling of hope. And there are wonderful sentences filled with wit that will have you smiling.

I’m in the process of listening to THE COVENANT OF WATER through an early audio copy. Abraham is reading the story. It’s his voice shining through. It’s perfection. Those of you who might be feeling a little standoffish because of the length of the book, well, the audio is amazing. Abraham spent two and a half weeks recording the novel. He said it was like performing the book. Not easy but very rewarding. All that work paid off. Also, it will be available in digital form so you can read on your device. Not as hard on the wrists. You know. ..

Anyone who follows my blog knows that I’ve long been a fan of Abraham Verghese. His amazing first novel, CUTTING FOR STONE, will always be a favorite of mine. I have been talking a blue streak about this new novel and Abraham for months now. I was so fortunate to receive a bound copy of the manuscript, early on. I could immediately feel that I was in the presence of greatness. I decided to add this little video about the audio book complete with some atmospheric music to help get you in the mood.

So much about this amazing novel comes from Abraham’s background. For instance, he remembers his five-year-old niece asking his mother what it was like when she was a girl. She didn’t just answer that question. She wrote a manuscript detailing her life. Abraham was able to use some of this in THE COVENANT OF WATER. It actually brings so much more to the table when you know this. Bravo.

Abraham Verghese was born in Ethiopia, to Indian parents. He began studying medicine in Ethiopia, and completed studies at Madras Medical College in India. He’s a graduate of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2016, has received five honorary degrees, and is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He currently lives in Southern California where he is Provostial Professor and Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

My physical review copy and manuscript of THE COVENANT OF WATER were so generously provided by the publisher, Grove/Atlantic in exchange for an honest review. It’s absolutely brilliant! My review audio book was provided by Recorded Books. I kindly thank them for this.

Homecoming by Kate Morton


I discovered Kate Morton many years ago when I read THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN. I immediately knew Morton was an amazing author. THE FORGOTTEN GARDEN is set in Australia as is Morton’s newest novel, HOMECOMING. I do love reading books set in the Land Down Under. Always have.

The above video sets up this superb tale perfectly.

This amazing novel begins in 1959, Christmas Eve, in the Adelaide Hills of Australia. Percy Summers is the deliveryman who discovers a scene so outrageous we can hardly believe it’s real. A crime scene complete with the dead bodies of a young woman and three of her four children. They actually appear to just be sleeping. The baby is missing. And thus begins one of the most shocking mystery tales I’ve read in years.

It’s so uncanny that my youngest son and his wife just returned from a two week visit to this very part of Australia. My interest was even more piqued.

I had to think about the difference in the seasons while reading the beginning. Christmas Eve, a scorching hot day. Oh, right, they are opposite us. And then I settled into this vast story, this wild tale that I could not put down.

I’ve read a lot of books about family secrets. A lot of them. They always seem to attract me. I truly believe most of us have more than one secret in our family. But this family takes the cake. No one is who they appear to be. I love it. I spent most of the book paying attention and trying to figure it out. Just when I thought I had, nope.

The house itself is a big character in this novel. Morton has nailed the scenery in this part of the world. She’s brought it all vividly to life. I imagined myself in the gardens and watching the birds and reading the journals that helped solve the puzzle of this family.

I am still thinking about these characters and this novel. This is a real keeper. I loved it. My digital review copy was made available through NetGalley and Harper Collins publisher in exchange for an honest review.