Give Away! The City Baker’s Guide To Country Living by Louise Miller

Louise Miller

The City Baker’s Guide To Country Living

Just look at this terrific cover.  This fun and witty novel is comforting and easy on the mind.

Take one amazing but overwhelmed pastry chef who makes a whopping boo boo at an exclusive Boston dinner club, and toss her kicking into the country where she goes to heal…

This cozy novel is just perfect to help get you through the  holidays.  I will post my review soon. But, for now, our good friends at Penguin Publishing, are supplying one copy for my giveaway. How cool is that!

Please leave a comment below and tell me why you want to win this book. Only U.S. mailing addresses, please. And, no P.O. boxes. I will choose one winner on Monday, November 27. Then I’ll post my review.

Good luck all!

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Paris In The Present Tense by Mark Helprin

Mark Helprin

Paris In The Present Tense

I’m always interested in book covers like this. After all, it’s Paris. I had not read Helprin before. Didn’t know what to think. Picked the book up on a whim. Sure glad I did.

Written on a page before the first chapter, this paragraph does much to set the tone for the story. But keep in mind that the novel is NOT a Holocaust novel.

Jules Lacour was born in 1940, while his parents were hiding in an attic in Reims. His mother prayed that he would not cry, he seldom did, and in the four years that followed neither he nor they spoke above a whisper. That was the beginning of a long story.

Jules Lacour is 74 years old. He’s led a good life. But lost his wife who was the love of his life a few years ago.  His daughter and her husband live nearby. Jules has a two-year-old  grandson, Luc, who is suffering from a terminal illness. So, in affect, now his life has become complicated and he is looking back and wondering why he didn’t do more with his music career. You see, he’s been teaching at the Paris Sorbonne his entire career. But it’s become a bit of a disappointment as now he does not have the riches needed for treatment for his beloved grandson, and he is feeling somewhat of a failure.

Mark Helprin’s previous books include A Soldier of the Great War, Refiner’s Fire and Winter’s Tale.

Helprin writes like a dream. I so enjoyed the reading.  He knows Paris and has done it justice.  The City of Light has never been more alive. I found myself wishing to be like Dorothy in Wizard of Oz; wanting to click my heels and arrive in Paris.

After a lifetime of discipline, Jules is fabulously fit. From a distance watching him row on the Siene one might think he is a much younger man, maybe even fifty. He prides himself on this. You see, since he was a small child he knew he wanted to be able to defend himself at all costs. His fitness comes into play in a big way in this novel. And so does his sense of humanity.  And, so, when this fine novel takes a big turn, you will be shocked.

With  complex characters that literally leap off the pages with their authenticity,  this novel is staggering in its intensity and its gorgeous prose. It’s such a pleasure to read. Raises the bar for novelists everywhere.

Although I say this is not a Holocaust novel, it does involve The Holocaust.  Of course,  since Jules is a child of The Holocaust, he’s got a lot going on in his head about the past. Of course he does. But what Helprin has done is bring the current prejudice against Jews in Europe to the forefront.  Jews are once again being persecuted as we have seen recently with attacks on journalism in Paris and surrounding areas.  Jewish people are afraid to dress in the custom of their faith and the children are afraid at school. It is absolutely harrowing to see this happening in this day and age.

Jules is determined to save his grandson. So what is he going to do? You are going to love this story. You will not see this coming. It’s brilliant.

I loved this book! It’s one I will reread at some time. For now, I’m taking it to my lectures this season and showing it off.

You can purchase PARIS IN THE PRESENT TENSE by Mark Helprin at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda. From their webite with free shipping to your home, or, in store for 20% off. We’d love to see you!

Books, Books, Books, And Even More Books!

Sanibel Island

Gene’s Books

My friend Kit and I spent the day on Sanibel Island on Saturday. We went specifically to visit Gene’s Books where our friend Donna works.  Any chance to spend time in an Independent Bookstore is always a treat. After all, there aren’t many of those around here.

First of all, the drive across the causeway to get to the island is spellbinding. It put us totally in the mood to play tourist for the day. How lucky are we to have Sanibel Island in our backyard!

Gene’s is on the main drag: Periwinkle Way.  It’s charming.  It’s eclectic. We put our body- transmission in idle and slowed way down.  Upon entering you immediately get the feel for the place. Someone has put a lot of love into this store. Heart and soul. Stacks of new books greeted us as we took our first steps inside. I felt heaven embrace me from that moment on. Florida books were shelved and stacked to our right and so we began our visit right there. We did not want to miss one darn book.

Gene, who is the owner of this amazing bookselling haven, approached us and introduced himself. He is absolutely charming and we had a delightful time getting to know him. He told us about first thinking the store would be strictly mystery. That is why he has nooks and shelves packed with wonderful mysteries from around the world. And they are marked accordingly. Makes it easy to discover new and exciting authors from unique places.  He told us about himself and we told him that we are both booksellers. We had a lot in common.

Bookstore

Gene’s Books

We perused the music and video area and enjoyed seeing the piano in the middle of the store. Often, patrons sit and play their favorite tunes. How very cool!

John D. Macdonald is featured in the back of the first house. One of my favorite mystery writers who has a great character named  Travis McGee who lives on an old houseboat  named the Busted Flush that he won in a card game.  Most of this wonderful series takes place in a marina south of Miami.

Then, you go out back. Out back on  rolling carts and tables are MORE books.  Then, when you think that’s it, well, it’s NOT. There’s another building.

Another house

Second House

Just look at this pretty pink building. It beckons to come in. And, so we did. We strolled around and picked over the stacks, carefully. Didn’t want any tumbling.

wall

Wall of books within the stacks

 

 

We found the literary section at the end of the line. I felt like I had hit the jackpot.

books

Lit Section

For a true book lover, this novel place is a real find. There is nothing like it anywhere close. The closest I’ve ever come is in Key West and the books were not new and not in great condition. And that was years ago. If you want a great book experience you have to visit Gene’s Books on Sanibel Island, Florida. End of story.

I want to mention that Gene is expanding. He’s adding another house across the street from the current store. They are shooting to open in the spring. All the literature will be moving to the new location. That will certainly alleviate a lot of the floor stacks. And will make the store a bit easier to shop.  But we loved it the way it is.

 

Winner! I See You

Clare Mackintosh

I See You

I have my winner! Diane, you’ve won my copy of I SEE YOU by Clare Mackintosh. I know you are going to enjoy this one. A real page-turner.

Thanks to all of you who took the time to enter my contest. I think you and  Berkely, Penguin Random House thanks you.

The Rules Of Magic by Alice Hoffman (Happy Halloween)

Alice Hoffman

The Rules of Magic

Well, Happy Halloween to all my readers! How divinely cool the weather has turned out to be. Perfect for trick or treating. And a good night for haunting.

THE RULES OF MAGIC by Alice Hoffman is a prequel to her wildly popular novel many years ago titled PRACTICAL MAGIC. It was even made into a movie starring Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman. Many of you will remember the Owens family.  Witches, all.

I was probably one of a very few who did not read PRACTICAL MAGIC. But, I am here to tell you that you can easily read THE RULES OF MAGIC without missing a beat. Go ahead, dive right in. Hoffman will guide you through.

I always say I don’t read magical realism or fantasy. And, I don’t. But there’s something about Hoffman’s writing that is so much more than any of that. She’s once again outdone herself bringing back some of the characters from before. And even adding one: a brother for Jet and Franny.

These people have the sight. Vincent, the  brother, can make things move, open doors, and hear what people are thinking, even dead people. Franny has a thing for birds and I kept thinking she would just fly away. Jet reads thoughts and looks witchy with her long black hair and gray eyes.

One summer their parents send them to spend the summer with their aunt in Massachusetts.  Now, she’s a real witch. Everyone in town knows who Aunt Isabelle is. And they give her a wide wake. Some people hate her. But they all respect her.  She teaches the kids to make black soap and create spells.  But it’s their cousin April who tells them about the curse made on the family by Maria Owens, who escaped hanging but was spurned by her her lover: And we discover that any man who loves an Owens is doomed.

This novel begins with the words once upon a time.  And that is why I have waited until today, on Samhain, the last night in October, All Hallows’ Eve, the night when one season ends and another begins, to post about THE RULES OF MAGIC.

My beautiful finished copy of  THE RULES OF MAGIC was sent to me by the very generous publishing people at Simon&Schuster in exchance for an honest review. Just like all of Alice Hoffman’s books, it’s perfect.

You can purchase a copy of THE RULES OF MAGIC by Alice Hoffman directly from our online source through Copperfish Books and receive free shipping.  If you come into Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida, we have the book in stock and it is discounted 20%.  If you can, help support an Indy Bookstore. We appreciate your business!

 

 

In The Midst Of Winter by Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende

In The Midst of Winter

There’s a blizzard in Brooklyn  when Richard Bowmaster runs into the back of a car driven by Evelyn Ortega. It seems like such a trivial thing. Just a mere fender bender.  But Miss Ortega is an undocumented immigrant, driving a car not her own…

Why on earth are either of them out in this God- awful weather? Richard was rushing one of his four cats to the vet. Evelyn was  off to the store to fetch diapers for the young boy in her charge.

Later that evening the door bell rings and it’s Evelyn in desperate need of Richard’s help. She speaks very uneven and sparse English so Richard fetches  his tenant Lucia from the basement apartment she leases from him. And the story that pours out becomes the basis for Allende’s novel.

Allende digs deep into the past of all three characters. Why is Evelyn here illegally? And where is she from? Why is she scared? Who is Richard? And who is Lucia?

Richard owns the old brownstone. He got a great deal from an old friend when he moved to Brooklyn from Brazil after a tragic accident involving his child. He’s been living a spartan life and keeping mostly to himself. Lucia is from Chile. She’s sixty and has been hired to lecture at the same school where Richard teaches.  She’s been secretly hoping to become more than friends with Richard.  And we see a winter love story blossoming. But Richard is a tough nut to crack. And there are so many variables.

Suddenly these three most unlikely people are thrown together in the midst of more than winter: a secret in the trunk of the car…

It’s certainly intriguing and yet harrowing to read as Evelyn’s story of risking her life to escape the violence of Guatamala’s gangs, and fleeing north after experiencing the murders of her brothers.  And Lucia has a harrowing story as well. She left her mother behind in Chile as she fled for her own life. Richard, the American-born son of Holocaust survivors, travelled to Brazil, where he found love, but also death and despair. 

This novel is both timely and timeless. Allende does a stellar job of exploring the lives of immigrants and refugees.

author

Isabel Allende

Isabel Allende was born in  Peru and raised in Chile. She’s written more than twenty books.  She is very dedicated to issues of human rights.  You can visit her website https://www.isabelallende.com/

I n 2014 President O’bama awarded Allende the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian honor. She lives in California now.

I enjoyed reading about all the cold weather and the snow since it was still quite hot and muggy here in S.W. Florida.

My gorgeous finished hardcover of IN THE MIDST OF WINTER was very generously sent to me by Atria publishing, a division of Simon and Schuster in exchange for an honest review. Another winner from Allende!

Winning Jojo Moyes!

stories

Paris For One

I have a winner for PARIS FOR ONE by Jojo Moyes. Sherry Swearngin, congratulations! You’ve one my giveaway. You are going to love reading this book.

Thanks go out to everyone who entered.

I am announcing today that Jojo Moyes has a brand new book featuring Louisa Clark coming out in January. How cool is that!  Title is STILL ME.  Will be third in series. I hear it is amazing. Can’t wait to tell you more. Soon….