Hang The Moon by Jeannette Walls

I can hardly believe it’s been eighteen years since Jeannette Wall’s wildly popular memoir, THE GLASS CASTLE ,bounded upon the literary scene. I so loved it and hand sold dozens upon dozens of copies of it to every single soul I could. It was amazing and TRUE. Walls has written a couple novels since then but I’ve been waiting for just the perfect novel. Here it is: HANG THE MOON is just what I’ve been looking for. It’s unique and edgy with crazy, larger than life characters filled with pepper and salt.

The time period is early 20’s. The setting is a small rural county in Virginia where most of the people are poor. One family, however, the Kincaids, are wealthy. The Duke is the patriarch and he struts around the small town as if he owns the place. Well, he really does! He has a young daughter named Sallie who has no idea what pop does for a living. She’s a real pistol. She’s got a younger brother who is totally opposite of her, shy and introverted. When Sallie’s mother is killed in a fight with her dad, Sallie finds herself with a stepmother. One who wants her out of the way. So Sallie is sent off to the hills to live with her aunt Faye. That story in itself is worth the price of admission. Several years down the pike Sallie is almost grown up. She’s beckoned back home by the Duke when her stepmother dies suddenly. Hm, seems like a lot of unexplained deaths around here …

So, what is it that has this family is making fist’s full of money while others are down and out? You have heard of prohibition, right? It’s all about bootlegging…

This novel has everything: so many secrets, love children, murders, action and more than enough drama for any two novels. As well as characters with personalities both sour and sweet.

When Sallie finally figures out how her family makes a living, the story takes on yet another stage of development and intrigue. Sallie will become known as the Queen of Kincaid County. And all bets are off.

Looking for a real page-turner? A novel that grabs you from the get-go? Something with shock value? This is your book. Great for bookclub discussion.

My review copy was provided by the generous people at Scribner Publishing in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, it’s super!

Photo by John Taylor

Beyond that, the sea by Laura Spence-Ash

This is exactly the kind of cover that calls to me. I opened the pages of this fine debut novel from Spence-Ash with great expectations. Boy-oh-boy was I not disappointed. It’s such a wonderful story, unique and poignant, and filled with crystal clear characters I will never forget.

Beatrix Thompson is being sent to America to live with a strange family. Her parents, torn apart, with apprehension, did not make this decision lightly. It was, however, they felt, to save her life. But Beatrix is only eleven and she’s angry and confused. Then you realize it’s 1940 and bombs are falling nightly on the city. Surely she will be safer in America. The trip across the ocean is fraught with sea sickness, grief, and unknowing.

Upon landing in Boston, the boisterous Gregory clan greets Bea at the port and she is immediately brought into the fold. The Gregorys have two sons a bit older than Bea and she is the daughter Mrs.G has always longed for. It doesn’t take long for the thoughts of Bea’s blood family to begin to fade. It sure doesn’t hurt that the Gregorys are well- off financially. I know I fell in love with the island off the coast of Maine that they called their summer home. An entire island to themselves….

As the war rages on in Europe, Bea is falling for her new family and home. Lingering in the back of her mind she knows that when the war is over she must make her way back to her “other” home across the ocean.

The formative years Bea is with the Thompson family are those tender years of coming of age. The two brothers were both fond of Bea. And I could feel a flicker of feelings that both brothers have for Bea. How complicated can this possibly get? Very.

I think you are going to love this novel as much as I do! I feel so lucky that Celadon Books was able to send me a physical review copy in exchange for an honest review. OMG! It’s absolutely wonderful. Just buy it.

Wait until you see the blurbs inside the cover. Meg Wolitzer; Ann Napolitano; Claire Messud; Ann Packer; and on and on. Glowing blurbs.

A Tribute To Great Aunt Tiny

Our Siena, better known in our household as Great Aunt Tiny, passed away on Saturday. We had known for two years that she suffered from a heart condition. The week before, we had visited our animal Dr and received medication to help her heart. Those of you who have ever attempted to medicate a cat know how stressful this is on all involved. Siena was sixteen years old. She had a great life. She is missed and loved. Her special friend, Mimi, is especially sad as they often hung out together. The dynamic of our home has changed.

I adopted Siena when she was about eight weeks old. She immediately fit right into our household. Cute as a button and feisty. I have a soft spot for seal point Siamese cats. She quickly became Jack’s cat. She knew just how to wind his heart around her paws. She loved being petted and scratched behind the ears. And she loved her food. She also loved lying spread out on the back porch in a ray of sunshine.

Siena, rest in peace, sweet girl. We love you!

Young Siena.

Hello, Beautiful by Ann Napolitano

Ann Napolitano swept onto my reading radar a few years ago with her wildly popular novel, DEAR EDWARD. At the time I had to be practically beat over the head with the book to get me to read it. Two co-workers shamed me into reading it. I am so thankful that I did. It was far more than a book about a plane crash….

A few months ago I noticed that Napolitano was coming out with a new novel. I could feel the excitement in my reading mind. I was not disappointed. I’ve been presenting this novel for three months now at my speaking engagements. It’s not a thriller. It’s not a romance. It’s a quiet book filled with wonderful character development. It’s character driven. And these characters will keep you hostage until the last page and beyond.

William Waters is born into a family that shows him no love. His older sister died suddenly when he was just days old. He never knew her. His parents lost their capacity for love. He honestly did not know what he was missing. His love for the game of basketball afforded his escape. He earned an athletic scholarship to Northwestern University in 1978. And this totally new environment showed William a side of life he had been missing. Here he meets Julia Padavano. Julia introduces William to her boisterous family, all six of them. She has three sisters who are each totally different. Sylvie is a romantic book-lover. Cecelia is an aspiring artist. Emeline is Cecelia’s twin but is the quiet and more subdued of the sisters. Julia’s mother and father fall for William immediately.

William and Julia get married shortly after graduation from University. They are very much in love. Meanwhile, each sister is evolving into the adults they soon will be. They are experiencing life in different ways. One of them is coming undone. One of them is questioning who she really is. And one is wondering how to fix the mistake she’s made.

As this story moves forward we slowly begin to understand that maybe, just maybe, William has married the wrong sister.

To say anything more would give too much of the story away. Just know that this is a very important story. One you will quietly remember for a long time.

Now, Oprah has chosen HELLO, BEAUTIFUL for her book club. It’s her 100th pick. She very carefully chose a book that would appeal to a vast group of readers, so she says. Ann Napolitano got the call from Oprah herself five months ago. She was going about the daily business of taking out the trash. Out of the blue, Oprah called to tell her she’d chosen the book. Talk about a life-changing moment. Good for her. But good for all the readers out there that will now be able to read HELLO, BEAUTIFUL. You will want to share the story.

I read my review copy digitally in exchange for an honest opinion. It is a truly remarkable story, and beautifully told. I can’t wait for all of you to read it! Dial Press is the publisher. Thanks so much. And thanks to NetGalley for the digital copy.

The Book Spy by Alan Hlad

Just when I think I can’t possibly find anything new in a WW11 novel, here comes Alan Hlad to prove me wrong.

It’s 1942 and Maria Alves is working with microfilm in the New York Public Library. She’s fluent in six languages and is anxious to do something vitally important to help the war effort in Europe. She is determined to serve in the OSS (Office of Strategic Services)

Maria is sent to Lisbon, Portugal and poses as an American official where she collects materials for the Library of Congress. She’s definitely become a spy. Exciting and yet oh-so dangerous.

Scanning the shelves of a local bookstore in Lisbon, she meets bookstore owner, Tiago Soares, who has an agenda of his own. His family is part Jewish and he’s risking life and limb to provide Jewish refugees with forged passports and visas. Then they can sail away to freedom in the U.S.

The character of Maria is based on a real double agent. The story comes from the real-life librarians recruited by the OSS.

The author’s note at the end of the novel will definitely supply you with juicy information that actually happened. This story kept me on the edge of my seat, feeling as if I were just a heartbeat away from destruction. Unputdownable.

Portugal was not the only country that stayed neutral during WW11. Add to the mix: Switzerland; Sweden; Ireland; Liechtenstein; Afghanistan; Latvia; Andorra; Lithuania; Yemen; and Estonia. And I’m sure I’ve missed one or two. What a list!

My physical review copy was provided by the Kensington Publishing Corporation in exchange for an honest review. I truly loved it! WW11 readers, you will rejoice.

Maurice Is Marching Right Through March

A few of the great readers in the Palmira Book Group in Bonita Spring, Florida along with their fearless leader, Diane. I visited their group in February. Diane is showing off a review copy of Abraham Verghese’s upcoming new novel, THE COVENANT OF WATER. Lucky readers.

I’ve been zooming around SW Florida with my case filled with new books the past few months. February was a particularly amazing month. I’m so happy to be showing and telling all you readers about THE COVENANT OF WATER. It sure is being well-received. Hip hip hurray.

I’ve met many new reading friends this year. It’s a banner year. There’s something awfully special about people who love reading. It’s joyous. And I get to talk to people about the books I love. What a job.

Susie and the readers of Verandah Community in Fort Myers, Florida

Susan and Cathy with the great readers at Vistas bookclub in Bonita Bay of Bonita Spring, Florida.

Abraham Verghese in the recording studio. Recording the audio for THE COVENANT OF WATER.

I really do have a dream job. I love meeting new readers. I love sharing book information with the people who care the most. It’s so rewarding. Today I visited a club that is new to me. The readers of Wyndemere invited me into their beautiful community to talk about wonderful books. We all had a book blast. I love being able to give a few good books away. Always fun. These past couple months have quite literally flown by as I knew they would. I’m already booking heavily for next year. A blessing.

I love spring. I received a special surprise from my daughter. She’s flying down to stay with us next week. She’s bringing our grand daughter Emerson. We will get to spend some quality time together. I am almost wild with excitement.

Meanwhile, books keep arriving digitally and physically and they are begging to be read. I am dying to read them.

I have promised to post more on the blog. Now that the season will be winding down, I will be making more time for writing and communicating with you readers.

It was so warm this morning that we didn’t even open the doors and windows. No breeze to enjoy. Cats were unhappy. I can’t help but wonder how hot the summer will be. Scary. The visitors are all happy with the weather. So there is that.

So many of you have asked how my house is coming along. You’ve faithfully followed our journey during and after hurricane Ian blew through our home. My husband has just now finished painting the outside of our home; freshening it up. We are waiting on custom made hurricane proof sliders and one bathroom window. It’s all about the permitting here in Cape Coral. So we wait. We are very lucky to have gotten this far so quickly. We know there are still many people not yet living in their homes. Our hearts go out to them.

And along comes this gorgeous yellow rose; perfectly formed and complete with lovely aroma. Back from the ashes!

I will post more photos of readers with Abraham’s amazing book in the near future.

Until next time, go forth and read!

The Sweet Spot by Amy Poeppel is Perfect For Valentine’s Day

Happy Valentine’s Day to all you readers out there. I have a great book for you. I picked up this little gem and almost swallowed it whole. It’s really hard to write humorously. And it’s really challenging to keep readers engaged and laughing in every chapter. And still keep a great story evolving into a real page-turning romantic comedy. Welcome to THE SWEET SPOT.

Greenwich Village, NYC. Most of this charming novel takes place in an outdated brownstone and inside the neighborhood bar that lives in its basement that is called THE SWEET SPOT.

A vast cast of unique and quirky characters that you will not soon forget. Lauren and her husband and children live in the upstairs of the brownstone. Lauren is a potter who is just coming into her own and about to become famous with her newest job. They have recently adopted a dog. They are a mess. Olivia is a young woman who thinks she’s on the track to success in an upscale boutique. But what she actually is is caught in the middle of a big mess. And then there is Melinda. She’s just lost her husband of thirty years to a much younger woman and believe me she is LIVID and not thinking straight. She craves revenge. And she’s out to get it in a messy way.

Greenwich Village comes sparklingly to life in the hands of Amy Poeppel who manages to make tragedy seem like one big romp of foolishness as she takes the reader through love and loss, hatred and revenge, and even forgiveness.

THE SWEET SPOT is the sort of novel I’ve been looking for. It’s wise and funny, smart and well-written, and it kept me laughing throughout the entire book. This is just the thing to get you in the mood for Valentine’s Day!

I read my review copy digitally in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, I loved it! NetGalley provided the digital content from the publisher: Atria.

Amy Poeppel

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.


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.