Forward Into February!

February is in danger of being swallowed whole. Here one minute, gone the next. The days have been flying by. My first month of book events is already behind me. All very successful! Seeing old friends and making new book friends has been so rewarding. I’m going to visit many communities this month and show off some exciting new books.

Abraham Verghese…………………………………………….THE COVENANT OF WATER

THE COVENANT OF WATER by Abraham Verghese is the most anticipated novel of the year. I’ve been in touch with Abraham and am so happy to announce that right this moment in time he’s in Palo Alto recording his amazing new novel. What an experience. He is telling his story. A great way to read it is by listening in his very special voice. THE COVENANT OF WATER will be available in May. When I know the on-sale date for the audio I will announce it on this blog.

Our house is almost where we want it to be. Waiting on custom made hurricane proof slider and bathroom window. Looking at mid March. We did get our dishwasher last week and what a difference it makes. So happy.

We finally watched WHERE THE CRAWDADS SING this past week. I was nervous about the movie. The book was so amazing. Well, not to worry. The movie closely followed the book. And the characters were spot on. Loved it.

I am seeing and hearing good things about the barrier islands that got so devastated during hurricane Ian in September. Many of the restaurants are back open, some even using food trucks. We are grateful for this miracle as it’s been quite challenging around here.

If you haven’t already been to one of the amazing wine dinners at Cafe You here on the Cape, you really should. I attended the Australian Wine Dinner on Saturday night. A fun night with amazing food and great wine. Not to mention the great service. It’s a fun time to meet up with old friends and even meet new ones. Dessert was provided by Ana Lewis who is the pastry chef extraordinaire. Pavlovas because…..Australian.

Pavlovas

Well readers, the books are piling up and need to be read. They do not read themselves. And I’m reading THE BOOK SPY by Alan Hlad. Loving it.

I look forward to seeing those of you who will be attending my book events this month. I wish you all a good book!

Ana Lewis hard at work creating one of her amazing desserts!

The Night Travelers by Armando Lucas Correa

Four generations of women struggle to keep their daughters safe in the midst of war and revolution.

From the rise of Nazism in Germany to the Cuban Revolution and then the fall of the Berlin Wall, one family of women and all their baggage, persevere through loss with a strong sense of survival against all odds.

Who is Ally Keller? It’s 1931 and she’s a beautiful white German woman who falls in love with a black musician.

Who is Lilith? She’s Ally’s daughter who is living in Havana in 1958. Now a grown woman who hardly remembers her mom or dad who was a Cuban pilot

Who is Nadine? Lilith’s daughter. Now an adult woman living in Berlin and working as a scientist.

Who is Luna? Nadine’s daughter who is determined to shine light on all the family secrets.

This novel spans many years and addresses several moral issues. I love the sweeping scenery that gives life to the island of Cuba and the city of Berlin. A great read for bookclub.

My review copy was read through NetGalley via Atria publishing, in a digital form. All in exchange for an honest opinion. A unique aspect of WW11 and the aftermath. The scenes in Cuba are transporting.

The Dream Builders by Oindrila Mukherjee

I was immediately drawn to THE DREAM BUILDERS because it takes place in modern India. In THE DREAM BUILDERS we get a glimpse behind the scenes in this generation.

Maneka Roy has been living in the United States and working for twelve years. But when her mother dies unexpectedly she returns to India to help her now widowed father make decisions about his future. Maneka’s parents sold their home in Calcutta to move to a northern city so her mother could pursue a teaching career. They plowed their modest nest egg into a bad investment: a condominium that goes bust before it’s even built. Now with his wife gone, Maneka’s father has to decide what he’s going to do going forward. He’s never liked the new home and just does not feel as if he fits in. Feels out of place in this new world of richness and excess.

Maneka hooks up with friends she hasn’t seen in many years. Everyone seems so happy. One friend especially seems to have it all. New, handsome husband, beautiful home, and wealth beyond mention. But what’s the underlying issue? Something is just not right.

Issues of loneliness, classism, jealousy, and economic frustration hang heavily over this city and its people. No one is who they appear to be. Secrets are around every corner. Throughout we get such a sense that it’s all just too big to be true.

In the midst of richness is truly tragedy.

My physical review copy was provided by Tin House in exchange for an honest review. An up and coming new novelist with a keen eye for what’s going on in India today. I look forward to her next novel.

January Update

Ground orchid.

This beautiful ground orchid has small delicate flowers that pop with color. We planted one in the ground in summer and it wasn’t long before the heat and sun killed it. I’m trying again, this time keeping it on the porch or in a bright window. Fingers crossed.

I looked at the calendar and was surprised to see that this month is already almost halfway over. Honestly, I would like to slow things down. I haven’t posted since Christmas. What on earth happened? For one thing I’ve been consumed by preparation for January speaking events. My first one in the New Year was on Monday where I visited a small group in a private home in the Quail West community of Naples. Was such a fun time. Finally back to doing what I love: talking about my favorite books to book lovers. Next week I visit a group in Estero and in Bonita Springs. As I drove to Naples I noticed no damage to homes. I do know that some of the homes in Pelican Landing did get water damage. The are on the Gulf side of 41. I hope all of you are getting the help you need with repairs of your homes. We are getting there.

I’m already starting to work on my February event program. So many amazing books coming this spring and summer. Yes, I’m reading summer books right now.

It’s raining off and on and going to be getting cold later today and into the weekend. This works for me. I am having a day of indulgence, something I rarely do. I’m about to enjoy a cup of salted caramel hot tea. I may even have a cookie with it. Treat. Kitties are all snuggled up on various blankets and beds. They know the temps will be changing…

My daughter in Asheville says it’s snowing there today, but not the sort that sticks. Just the kind that makes you want to crawl back into your bed with a good book.

I just had to show you the amaranth plant that came from my son Mike’s garden. The bush began flowering not long ago, totally out of season, brought on by the force of hurricane Ian. Not only is it one of the most gorgeous plants ever, it’s a delicious and healthy grain that you can use on many things. Once dried I sprinkle it in many meals.

I’ll be working on a review of a book that takes place in modern-day India. THE DREAM BUILDERS by Oindrila Mukherjee perfectly gives you a glimpse into the lives of a group of Indian people who are rich, beautiful and estranged.

I started working on this post yesterday and the weather has changed and gotten very chilly since then. The morning temps could be in the thirties. Kitties are snuggling on my bed on a soft blanket.

I just finished reading PETE AND ALICE IN MAINE by Caitlin Shetterly. What an amazing first novel.

So many amazing books coming in the next six months. I look forward to discussing them soon.

I wish all of you readers a great book!

A Downright COLD Christmas Coming Right Up!

I’ve been wishing for a respite from the relentless heat. Well, I didn’t mean via freezing temperatures. Be careful what you wish for.

I treated myself to this Pumpkin Spice Cold Brew from Starbucks, something I rarely do. Business was hopping. Visited my library and was greeted by the jolliest Santa. Guy is security guard but took the time to dress up and greet everyone. He was one of the best Santa’s ever.

I am grateful to have all my shopping done and everything wrapped. Packages were sent earlier to Asheville for the mountain family. They have frost and wind and very cold temps today. I just want everyone to be safe. My friends in New Orleans are preparing for power outages and freezing temps. Plants are covered and pipes wrapped.

We set up a tiny tree this year. It’s perfect for us right now. And kitties aren’t intrigued with it. Just a little something/something to help us feel festive. Publishers have been sending books for review that will be published in the next several months so that is keeping me busy.

Miss Mimi is not fond of the cold.

Jack and I are off to the Cape Coral Farmer’s Market to forage for fresh fish from Captain Gene for dinner. We’ll also pick up some veggies to go with. And since it’s a holiday Jack will indulge his sweet tooth with a slice of cake from the Cake Lady.

I received a review copy of a book coming in February just this morning. When I opened my copy of PW magazine this afternoon, there was a starred review of THE GIRL WHO TOOK WHAT SHE WANTED by David Handler. Looks like a very good mystery coming out in February. Thank you Mysterious Press. My review will run close to pub date in February.

I hope everyone gets at least one great book to read to end this year with. Be safe. It’s crazy on the roads.

I wish each and every one of you the best Christmas ever!

The Four Books I Recommend For Gifts Right Now

Horse
Horse

HORSE is my favorite book of the year. But coming in really close is TOMORROW and TOMORROW and TOMORROW by

Gabrielle Zevin.

Lessons In Chemistry

LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY was delightful and very smart.

MURDER ON THE VINE is perfect for the mystery lover on your list.

It’s also wonderful for the reader you know who loves to travel. A Tuscan murder mystery complete with amazing food!

I usually review a holiday book. This year I did not find one I loved. Last year Mary Kay Andrew presented us with a wonderfully light book called THE SANTA SUIT. So I shall add a link to this review. It’s that good!

The Santa Suit

My shopping is all done. Now I’m busy working on my events for January and reading to try to stay ahead.

Thinking about the really cold holiday we are going to have. Looking forward to it but glad it’s not that cold all the time.

I’ll be back on Christmas Eve with some words of reading wisdom.

December In Florida

Cooler mornings are helping me feel more festive. I hope you’re enjoying them as well.

Merry Christmas! We are officially beginning the holiday celebration.

I hit the family jackpot on Thanksgiving. My daughter and her family visited from Asheville. My youngest son and his family live near us here on the Cape. And we visited my oldest son and his family on Thanksgiving day. We ate great food and adults and kids played games. It was joyous; just what everyone needed. I hope all you readers had a good holiday. I have to say my turkey was the best one ever and I’ve been roasting turkeys for a long time. The gorgeous drink above was concocted by Mike. It’s called apple cider margarita and was a huge hit with the adults.

I’ve had emails from some of the club leaders for next year’s events, checking in to make sure I am up to the occasions. YES, YES, I am. I am thrilled to announce this is going to be my biggest year coming up. I can’t wait to see everyone’s smiling faces. We’ve all been through so much. I will be in touch with each and every one of you about your event, all in this next week.

What am I reading that I’m excited about? HELLO BEAUTIFUL by Ann Napolitano. Ann is the author of DEAR EDWARD which I totally loved. This new book is written Ann’s style and is fabulous. I can’t wait to talk to you all about it. And I just finished HANG THE MOON by Jeanette Walls. OMG. She’s back.

I’m feeling a lot better. Even though these nasty shingles are still hanging around, they are not as awful. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. My house is looking better every day. We love the floors and new walls. My rose bushes are bursting into glorious bloom. It’s life coming from the rubble. I am thrilled at the amazing resilience of the trees on the Cape. Where the trees were once bare, they have glorious new green growth.

The cats are very happy to be back in their home. Mimi and Tiny have even got used to having strange workers in the house and they don’t run and hide like the younger cats. They know it is all good.

I’m thankful for so much this year. But, honestly, I will be very relieved to leap into the New Year. So many terrific books coming in the first six months of the year. I am finally able to read and concentrate again. And I have the manuscript of Abraham Verghese’s new novel, THE COVENANT OF WATER, to get back to. I was reading it when the storm arrived. I had to put it aside and deal with life events. But look forward to getting back to it. It’s going to be a best seller and then some. Worth waiting for.

So looking forward to seeing all my reader friends and meeting new ones.

What book are you asking for this year? Is there any one that comes to mind?

I am thankful for all of you readers who have taken the time to comment on my blog and wish me well. May you all have the merriest Christmas ever!

The Light Pirate by Lily Brooks-Dalton

I practically ate this novel whole. From the first page all the way through to the very last page, I was completely enraptured.

Here in SW Florida we are right smack-dab in the middle of hurricane season. Not much has been happening storm-wise, yet, and here I have been reading a book that begins with a violent super cyclone that directly hits a small town on the shore near the Florida Keys. I surely have lost what is left of my mind.

Reading this amazing novel was like passing a wreck on the highway and not being able to look away. The writing is wonderful. And I have to say it is somewhat reminiscent of CRAWDADS. I will go out on a limb entirely and say I may even have liked this novel MORE.

Brooks-Dalton manages to give us a frightening peek at what climate change could look like in the not-so-distant future. If you’ve seen any news lately you have to be aware of the freakish trends in our weather these days. Almost daily, news reels roll with horrific scenes of entire towns being flooded and washed away. People displaced. Fires are eating away at the Pacific coast. Hurricanes are not just blowing toward Floridian shores; they are coming on shore all along the Eastern shore and even traveling across the mountainous areas in the Carolinas and Tennessee. Tornadoes are ripping up towns not just in the midwest but in the north and the south. And the storms are no longer mild at all. They are more likely to become super-storms. We also know Miami is sinking. Just like Venice, just different.

So when I began reading this heart-pounding novel about our changing world especially here in Florida, I decided to keep a very open mind. I am not usually one to read anything dystopian. And this novel is in the future. But I absolutely LOVED it even though it scared the bejesus out of me. As well it should.

How ready would you be if THE BIG ONE hit your town? Have you prepped so that you will have food, water, batteries? One woman in the small town of +++++ has enough food and supplies put by to keep her going for a long time. It’s not a fluke. She’s a scientist and has been working on this for years. She can live off the grid if, or I should say, when, the time comes. She lives alone.

Wanda was born during the worst hurricane recorded. The storm was named Wanda. This is her story. A story of survival against all odds. What a wild ride.

AFTER SUPERSTORM IAN:

I read this novel months ago, way before hurricane Ian decided to blow into town and spend an entire day blowing houses down and drowning dozens of human beings right here in my world. Right through my house, right through Sanibel and Captiva islands. Right through Pine Island which is just down the road from our house. And right through and over Fort Myers Beach. Yes, it was most certainly a super storm. I had no idea something like this storm was on its way, would change our lives forever, and make people wonder if they truly did lose their minds when the storm stopped and changed direction and part of the eye managed to come right over our house.

I fell in love with this tenacious young woman named after an awful storm. Wanda begins life as her mother’s life disappears. So many tragedies for someone so young. But when she hooks up with Frida the world begins to make more sense and so does everything Frida’s been preparing for. The time has come.

Survival at any rate is the theme of this stellar debut novel from an author who is going places.

I’m glad I read THE LIGHT PIRATE way before the storm because I am not sure I could be persuaded to read it now after going through an actual super storm. Wanda and Phyliss are a force. Phyliss shows Wanda how to live off the grid and we learn that this part of the country is slowly wasting away. So much so that most of the people who used to live south of Miami have long gone; moved to somewhere they deem safer, wherever that is…

The dystopian section of bookstores should soon read: Non fiction.

THE LIGHT PIRATE will be available for purchase next week on December 6. Just buy it!

The writing is spectacular. The story is unforgettable. I was transported to Wanda’s world from page one. I think you will be too.

My review copy was provided by Grand Central Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, it’s an amazing story that everyone needs to read!

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver


Set in the mountains of southern Appalachia, this is the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father’s good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. In a plot that never pauses for breath, relayed in his own unsparing voice, he braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict sch
ools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities
.

The above paragraph taken from Goodreads sets up this novel perfectly.

I’ve long been a fan of Barbara Kingsolver. She’s one of the most brilliant writers alive today. But when I saw that this novel was taken from parts of Charles Dickens’s DAVID COPPERFIELD, well, I was skeptical. I was never able to enjoy that old classic years and years ago when forced to read it in high school. Why would I want to torture myself? Well, that would be because this is Barbara Kingsolver. So I took a big breath and began reading my digital copy.

Barbara has outdone herself once again. The voice of the main character is astonishingly authentic. How she did this is beyond me. The plight of Damon aka Demon is heartbreaking but told with wit. The story echoes the times. This young man was born into this crazy world to a teen aged mother who was an alcoholic. His father died of suspicious means before he was born. What a start. Where is this? Appalachia of course.

Kingsolver has written about this poverty-stricken area before. She lives there so she knows it well. Addiction, alcoholism, and poverty as well as unemployment. Then there is the foster system that is entirely broken. Once Damon’s mother dies of an overdose he is swept into the system and sent to live with a widower who takes in boys on his farm for a price. And works them hard and practically starves them. It’s humbling and very sad. But through this time Damon continues to move forward and attend school when he can. Until he gets caught up in drugs.

At one point in the book Damon says everyone is taking pills. It does seem like it. In Damon’s case he has a football injury and instead of getting surgery coach gets him another kind of help: oxycontin. Yes, this takes place during the beginnings of the oxy nation. Damon continues on the pills instead of ever getting the surgical help he truly needs. It was so easy to get meds. Pill mills were rampant especially here in the land of the poor and mostly uneducated. Damon’s girlfriend becomes addicted while taking care of her terminally ill father. Of course he was on every sort of pain med available and with real scripts. Her story is especially painful to read.

I have never taken so long to read a book in my life. It was almost torturous at times. I began to wonder if everyone was going to die. Many people do die and in various awful ways. Thankfully, I know only what I’ve read about addiction. I have learned more than I ever wanted to know in this novel. The research must have been staggering and exhausting. To think there are really people who have become dope sick in this country even now…. Crying shame.

My favorite of Kingsolver’s books has to be POISONWOOD BIBLE. It’s become a classic. I am sure DEMON COPPERHEAD will be one too. It’s one of the toughest reads…. But will be on everyone’s lists to read this year.

I read my copy digitally. It was provided by Harper Collins via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. One of the most important books of the year. Brilliantly written.

And as most of you already know the reason it took me so long to read is because of a little storm named Ian blowing through my house in September, then a raging case of Shingles. Who knew?

Almost There

Well folks, we should be back in the house in another couple days. Not one second too soon. Cats are edgy. Wyatt especially is over the camping life.

Walls inside our home are now painted a lovely rich ivory. Looks amazing with 5 inch baseboards. Everything is dusty and furniture is moved all over house. In other words it’s a wreck.

We are so grateful for Mario and his crew for their hard work. So many people are still looking for a contractor. And without our friend Richard none of this would be happening.

I am anxious to move back into house and get internet hooked back up. And to stop running back and forth.

I’d love to hear what you’re reading and how you feel about it. I’m almost finished with DEMON COPPERHEAD. The final verdict is not yet in. I’m on the fence…

Next time you hear from we will be back in house.