The Lost And Found Bookshop by Susan Wiggs

The Lost and Found Bookshop

I love finding a great novel about a bookstore. THE LOST AND FOUND BOOKSHOP by Susan Wiggs sure does fit the bill. 

I know I’ve read Wiggs years ago. I even remember really liking the book but the title is not coming to me. And I have no idea why I’ve waited so darn long to read more…..

Not only did I enjoy this story, I truly enjoyed the experience of the read. Took my time. Let it get under my skin. Since I’m a book lover and a bookseller it makes sense I would like this book. It’s quite accurate, too. Owning a bookstore is not for the faint of heart. It’s hard work. If it’s not your passion then it’s not for you.

Natalie Harper has just received a promotion. She’s been made vice president of digital inventory at a Sonoma winery. The job is not her passion but it brings financial stability which is her passion. She never had it growing up with her mother and so it’s all she can think about as an adult. Then tragedy strikes and she inherits her mother’s bookshop and all the instability that it brings including caring for the grandfather she loves dearly who is suffering from early dementia along with some other mysterious illness. 

Natalie discovers that her mother may have been a very experienced and passionate bookseller, but, she was not a good businesswoman in any sense of the word. So there is that. Plus, the building that houses their home and the business is in dire need of all sort of expensive repairs. 

Enter Peach Gallagher, “hired hammer” extraordinaire.  And his daughter Dorothy. What an amazing little girl. I instantly fell for this child. And throw in a very popular children’s author who is no slouch in the charming department. 

I loved the historical aspect of the city and mostly of the building. It’s sustained earthquakes and great fires. Houses hidden artifacts and secrets. Was once a saloon and a brothel. Oh my.  Chinese immigration issues come up. Interracial marriage. And Natalie’s difficult relationship with her mother. Her mother, Blythe, was never able to sustain a relationship. Never cared to. And this definitely carried over into Natalie’s own ability to love. 

I found this delightful novel just right for now. It’s well-written. It’s got a helluva story. The characters are fun but not too light. There’s a lot of meat between the lines. And, yes, there is romance, but it’s not silly. 

I think you’ll find yourself rooting for this woman, her bookshop, her granddad, and all the charming characters she’s surrounded by. 

I borrowed this book from the library and not indebted to the publisher for a review of any kind. But, I loved it. And I intend to let the nice publishing people at Harper Collins and William Morrow know how much I loved it. 

Plus, if you liked this book, you’re sure to want to try more of Susan Wigg’s novels. And there are a lot. She’s just super. 

Susan Wiggs

We have copies of THE LOST AND FOUND BOOKSHOP at Copperfish Books right this very minute. Your copy is just a visit away. Of course they are discounted 20% and ready for pick up now.

Pale Morning Light With Violet Swan by Deborah Reed

Pale Morning Light With Violet Swan by Deborah Reed

There is nothing more exciting to me than to discover a wonderful new novel written by an extraordinary author. In this case, Deborah Reed is that author and PALE MORNING LIGHT WITH VIOLET SWAN is the amazing new novel I’m excited about. In fact, I’ve already decided this novel is coing along on my lecture tour for fall and winter.

The setting for most of this story is along the gorgeous Oregon coast. Reed shows us the amazing natural beauty of this part of the country in prose that sparkles and pops and colors that show off the abstract loveliness of Violet’s paintings. By the time I was deeply into this wonderful novel I was yearning to be right there on the coast listening to the ocean and enjoying the briny scents in the air.

The story begins when Violet is ninety-three. She’s become a famous abstract artist and now lives comfortably in the loft of the home she and her husband built. Now she shares it with her son and his wife, Penny. Her husband passed some years ago. Not a day goes past that she doesn’t miss him dearly. At first it appears that Violet is living a charmed life. Well, she pretty much is presently. But as we begin seeing flashbacks we find her childhood has been anything but charmed. In fact, traumatizing would be a better word.

At a young age Violet was involved in a horrific accident that killed both her younger sister and her father. It changed her mother forever and as she became closely involved with a religious group we see this is not a good place for young Violet to be. And so Violet runs away from her home in rural Georgia at the age of fourteen. She’s on a mission to make it across the country to the Pacific coast. She has an address in Oregon, given to her by a young man who meant well. Her trials and tribulations during this cross country trek are some of the harshest I’ve ever read. She hops trains, lives with strangers, works at odd jobs, and meets good and bad people. Honestly, I don’t know how she lived through it.

The time line begins at the start of World War Two. But the war has very little to do with it. This is not a WW11 novel. I want to make that very clear. This is the story of a woman’s life. How she was born and raised, what made her who she is. How she became a great artist. And the unbelievable secrets she manages to keep from her family all her life.

The many layers of this beautiful novel are exposed bit by bit as they are peeled back to reveal the parts of Violet’s past that made her the artist and woman she is at age 93. The story begins early on with a powerful earthquake hitting the coast and jogging Violet’s memory. She’s been such a secretive person, never sharing the harsh moments of her youth with her loving family. But something about the earthquake causes Violet to rethink this. And now that there are serious health issues to face, she is having a change of heart….

PALE MORNING LIGHT WITH VIOLET SWAN is rife with strained relationships. Father and son. Son and mother. Grandson and entire family. Son and wife. This is real life. It’s filled with heartache and seething emotions. Written in stunning prose, this new novel is both tragic and epic. The earthquake shook more than just the earth, it shook up the entire foundation of this woman’s secret life.

Deborah Reed

Deborah Reed is the author of several novels. She owns the Cloud & Leaf Bookstore , an Indy bookstore, in Manzanita, Oregon. My review copy arrived from Mariner’s books via Houghton Mifflin Books in exchange for an honest review. I am especially grateful to Emily Keough of Mindbuck Media Book Publicity for telling me about this amazing novel and arranging the book to be sent to me.

I absolutely adored the book, the entire reading experience was superb. Put this one at the top of your toberead list.

What Is October Looking Like Here In SW Florida?

October 1. Wow. September truly did right by.  Some big changes are in the air for October.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

The biggest news by far is that Copperfish Books is moving. Yes, we are! We’ve been in the current location in the center of Punta Gorda for four and a half great years. We’ve met so many wonderful readers and acquired many new and very loyal customers who we love.  The new building will be two blocks from the old location.  The address is 212 W. Virginia Ave. #112. Not far. Still in town.  And it’s on the first floor with a great parking area and very convenient in and out access. And just a short walk from great  coffee and eateries. The space is being renovated right now and will be ready for our move later this month. By November we’ll be settled into our new nest and ready to greet all you great readers for the holidays. We are all excited. It’s going to be a bit smaller but, it’s going to be full of all our unique stuff and most importantly of all, all of us!

I’ve been reading like a lunatic lately. Hooked up with a new marketing company out of Oregon. Discovered a couple wonderful literary novels that I will soon be blogging about.

Pale Morning Light With Violet Swan

One, PALE MORNING LIGHT WITH VIOGET SWAN  is written by Deborah Reed who owns an Indy on the Pacific coast called Cloud & Leaf  Bookstore.

I spent five days attending  our SIBA convention last week as it went virtual like all other book gatherings this year. Heard about dozens of upcoming novels and listened to what’s happening in the world of books during this unprecedented and challenging time. Everything was very upbeat and positive. We have all learned to adapt.

I’ve noticed  roads are becoming a bit more congested as some of our winter residents begin trickling back. The library is getting busier. People are beginning to come out of their bunkers. Restaurants are now free to open at full capacity. Not sure how I feel about that yet. I want more than anything for us all to be safe and stay well.

Received an email from our animal  hospital sending a big Happy Birthday to our Mimi who turns 6 this month. Here she was as a kitten. Strikingly lovely.

Young Mimi

 

Wish I had a picture of a flowering plant but not much is blooming right now. We have had some cooler mornings lately, and for these I am grateful, and I suspect plants will be much happier soon.

I’ve cut way back on the baking and cooking in hopes that some of the extra weight I have retained will go away…….And now that the mornings are not so God awfully hot I have begun walking again. All good.

I will keep you updated on the bookstore’s move and we so look forward to seeing you all at the new locale.  We are having a moving sale at the current location right this minute. Good time to pick up some gifts for the upcoming holidays at a great price.

Try not to think too hard about politics, the weather, the pandemic, or life in general. Stay focused and look toward the future. It’s surely going to be better. Cheers!

 

 

Special Guest Post: Alicia Lewis Murray From Balancing Motherhood

Meet my daughter Alicia Lewis Murray.  Alicia writes the wildly  popular BALANCING MOTHERHOOD blog where she bakes up a storm, provides valuable parenting tips, and offers her readers titles of really, really good books.

Alicia Lewis Murray

 Alicia: This season has been difficult for so many people and there were times when I didn’t want to read at all. Then I’d stare at the big box of books my mother sent me at the beginning of the summer. I always read what  my mom tells me. She knows books. 

My friends often ask me what my mom is saying to read. They know her recommendations are gold. My mom is Maurice on Books.

These books helped me escape into other worlds and forget, even for a bit, about all that’s going on right now. 

Every single book was excellent. These are the four best books I’m now telling, begging, my friends to read.

The Girl With The Louding Voice

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Dare

My family set a goal for the summer to each read a book by a black author. With my mother’s help, The Girl With the Louding Voice was my choice. I’m so grateful I didn’t miss this book. The Girl With the Louding Voice is my number one pick this year. 

Don’t let the cover dissuade you – it’s an excellent story voiced from a strong female character. Adunni, is a Nigerian teenage girl whose father sells her off to be married to an old man who already has two wives. The book takes you through her journey of doing everything she can to escape poverty and to help other girls do the same. 

Along the way, there’s terrible hardship and abuse, but it’s written in a way that there’s always hope. And, young Adunni meets other strong characters who help change her life forever. 

We all need to be the girl with the louding voice. This book is memorable and will stick with you long after you’ve finished reading it. It is an absolute must read. 

The Book of Lost Names

The Book of Lost Names

This is a WWII book like no other. Kristin Harmel is a brilliant writer that makes reading easy. The pages unfold with ease as you learn how the main character and her mother escape Paris during the Nazi regime. 

Eva, the young main character uses her artistic talents to become a document forger, helping children escape to safety. She creates a book with secret codes so the children can remember their true identities. The Book of Lost Names follows Eva’s life as an old woman in present day, back to when she was in Paris as a young woman trying to rescue her father and help those who need her special talents. 

There’s history, love, family, and mystery as her story unfolds. You won’t be able to put this book down. 

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany

The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman

I thought this book would be a sleeper, but I read it in just 3 days. I couldn’t put it down. There is something magical about the story that makes you want to keep turning the page. 

If you read the jacket description it might not be enough to capture you, but trust me, this is worth reading. It’s about strong women, decisions, and family. 

Set in Brooklyn, the book quickly migrates to Italy and you feel as if you are there with the women. There are life lessons from old and young women who are all learning to be who they are meant to be. 

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

28 Summers

The cover of 28 Summers makes you want to pick it up and read it. It pulls you right into summer in Nantucket. This is a moving love story told over 28 summers, subtly based on the movie Same Time Next Year, but with a modern-day twist. 

Will the couple who spend every Labor Day weekend together for 28 years end up together? It’s what keeps you turning pages. 

If you need to escape to the beach and love romance, this book has your name written all over it. 

*****************************************

I wanted to show you how the power of great books can span generations. I am thrilled Alicia enjoyed these books as much as I did.  So happy! How fun has it been to share these books. And it’s great for you to hear her take on each one. I think you’ll also enjoy some of her recipes from BALANCING MOTHERHOOD. It’s officially fall and her recipe for iced pumpkin latte is out of this world. The photo alone will take your breath away. You just might want to go take a peek.

Thanks, Alicia, for sharing your thoughts on your favorite books!

 

A Week At Surfside Beach by Pierce Koslosky Jr.

A Week At Surfside Beach

This cover is a total WOW. It totally drew me in. In fact, since this is a book of short stories, I would probably never have  opened it if not for this great cover.

I don’t read many short stories. Why not? Good question.  I like a big story that I can get into and stay in. But this little book is an exception. I needed it. Did I get to go to the beach lately? Nope. And not a whole lot of people did. This pandemic has kept most of us at home and most of us do not live at the beach . Sadly…

When I was a teenager I lived in Delaware about a forty-five minute drive to Rehoboth Beach .  Each year I could hardly wait for the weather to warm up so my mom and I could spend a Saturday on the beach .  We usually got one entire week at a cottage several blocks from the beach as well. I can still remember the anticipation.  I can smell the salty atmosphere. And I can hear the waves crash to the shore. So you get the picture. I love the beach .

Koslosky brings us sixteen stories all set during a single rental season in a small community in South Carolina. The main characters range from a six-year-old child to an older gentleman who’s escaped his family and a retirement home.  Families come together, couples arrive, and even once in a while it’s just a single person staying for the week. No matter who the tenant, they each have their story. I loved the stories. Each  story is unique and each one  sporting some sort of angst as life tends to throw our way.  But the stories are filled with hope and fulfillment.  And that is one more reason these stories are so darn good.

I think this is a great book to hold close during the upcoming winter months. Coddle it. Care for it. Keep it close and pick it up and read one of these stories each time  you find yourself yearning for the beach .  Next year, maybe we all can go.

My copy of A WEEK AT SURFSIDE BEACH  was sent to me in exchange for an honest review. It’s just super! Thanks for sending. LOBA publishing.

Fifty Words For Rain by Asha Lemmie

Fifty Words For Rain

It’s not often I find a novel  that actually takes my  breath  away. FIFTY WORDS FOR RAIN did just that. And then some.

The novel is set in Japan and begins in 1948 in Kyoto.  Nori is eight years old when her mother drops her off in front of an estate, then takes off down the street at breakneck speed.  Nori is left standing in front of a gate with a letter in her hand. The letter is supposed to introduce her to her grandparents. She’s officially been abandoned. And so this remarkable debut novel begins.

Nori is a half black child born illegitimately to a mother who was Japanese royalty.  Nori’s mother left her husband and young son to be with her American born black GI father. They never married. And now Nori is in the clutches of her evil grandmother who is determined to keep her hidden away in the attic and away from public eyes. Nori is subjected to excruciatingly painful bleach baths in hopes of lightening her dark skin. She’s routinely beaten by a grandmother who is only interested in saving “face.” Saving her royal family name from disgrace. It is utterly unnerving to read.

When Akira, Nori’s half brother, comes to live with the family, Nori finds a kindred soul and finally begins to come alive. Akira is going to be the heir to all the family owns. He is so beautifully talented and his skills with the violin are becoming legendary.  Nori begins to learn about music . And grandmother becomes incensed to watch this closeness. It must end.

I knew next to nothing of this remarkable story when I began this novel. I’m so glad that is how I read it. I feel it will take away too much to go into any detail about the story. So my review will be short.

The gorgeousness of the story and the beauty of the prose only enhance the experience. You will find yourself turning the pages at the speed of light only to slow yourself to prolong the story.

Nori will live in my mind forever. What she endures is beyond the limits of reality.  Living with the knowledge that everything bad that happens to you and your loved ones is your fault was her fate.

I love novels that truly move me. FIFTY WORDS FOR RAIN by Asha Lemmie

Asha Lemmie

is one of those novels. You simply must add it to your must-read list. Right now.

I’m going to suggest to Copperfish that they need to copies, but, as yet, it is not on their shelves. Soon, though.

I borrowed my copy of FIFTY WORDS FOR RAIN from the .  I loved it!

Monogamy by Sue Miller

Monogamy

A new novel from Sue Miller is always a cause for celebration!

MONOGAMY is a sophisticated story of marriage and grief and betrayal and beyond. It’s haunting and  might even make you feel a tad uncomfortable.

Annie meets Graham  one spring evening at his  bookshop  in Cambridge, Massachusetts  when she wanders in to attend an event with another man, someone she sometimes has sex with.  There is an immediate attraction that quickly becomes more.

Graham is a larger than life man who fills every room he enters with his vibrant personality.  He attracts friends like the pied piper and he and Annie often have exuberant  parties after bookstore  events. Everyone loves Graham.  Annie is a quieter soul. She’s a photographer and so her private life is more subdued. They do say opposites attract….

Both Annie and Graham have previously been married. Graham to a woman who, even though she is his ex, is still a good friend and they share a son. Annie’s first marriage was brief with no children.  Graham and Annie have a daughter who lives in San Francisco .  Each character is grappling with an inner dilemma.

Kirkus Review says: A thoughtful and realistic portrait of those golden people who seem to have such enviable lives.  You know who they are talking about. We all do. The grass looks greener on the other side.  From afar Annie and Graham do seem to have an idealistic life together.  But we get to visit the innards and stir it around and see what’s really there. 

Marriage is complicated. Death even more so.  And, when, in the midst of grief an infidelity is discovered posthumously, you can expect to feel undisguised and unmitigated rage and the feeling of never-ending disaster.

Miller takes us behind the scenes in this thirty -year marriage and shows us who these two people really are. So we know what makes them .  They are both really just human beings. I have to say this: if only Graham could have kept “it” in his pants . He was never true to anyone, ever. Even though Annie was the love of his life, this “other” got in the way.  And so Annie has to deal with this betrayal after the fact and figure out if she ever really knew her husband. We, the reader, are shown his feelings. So we know. But Annie, the betrayed, does not know. It’s devastating. Was painful to read. But beautifully told.

Sue Miller writes with such deep empathy and  sharp insight.  MONOGAMY is sure to be on the top of every book club list this season and far into the future.

You can purchase your autographed copy of MONOGAMY at Copperfish Books where it will be discounted 20%.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

I have Harper Collins to thank for sending my review copy in exchange for an honest opinion. MONOGAMY  is honestly one of the finest novels I’ve read this year. I can easily see it climb the NYT bestseller’s list quickly. Very impressive.

 

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Hamnet

Maggie O’Farrell has magnificently  tackled a little-known story. William Shakespeare’s eleven-year-old son Hamnet died of the plague in 1596 in Stratford, England.  He was survived by his mother, twin sister Judith, older sister, and his father, as well as various other members of his family. But nothing was ever spoken of this. Was kept  silent.  Until now, when O’Farrell brings forth with this marvelous new novel that shows the depth of grief and the strength of the human spirit.

The story begins with Hamnet finding his twin sister Judith has suddenly become very ill. He goes for help but his entire family seem to have vanished just when he needs them most. Judith lies on a pallet in an upstairs bedroom falling deeper into the throes of the bubonic plague. But they don’t know this at the time.

O’Farrell manages to introduce us to Hamnet’s mother Agnes ( pronounced Ann-yis ) as she tends to her bees in a field a mile away not knowing her child is desperately ill and needing her attention. She’s well-known as a healer and can even see into a person’s  future ……all the while you, the reader, find yourself tensing up and wishing to God she would hurry even as you know the outcome.

Although William Shakespeare is never named as such in this story, we know it is he who is Hamnet’s father.  And why the name Hamnet? It’s a variation of Hamlet. We are shown the life of the most famous play-right who was first a Latin tutor who married a free spirit and mostly lived in London.

Judith and Hamnet loved playing tricks on their family by swapping identities. This is a pretty common way for twins to have fun with people who think they know them so very well.  So when Judith is lying dying, Hamnet decides to trick the Gods by pretending to be his twin. It’s tragic. It’s heartbreaking.

As Agnes prepares her son’s body for burial any mother can not help but be brought to her knees with grief. And the thoughts that are careening through her head are brought to the page in a way that is so real it hurts. The grief, the guilt, the death.

I try to avoid books that deal with the death of a child. Too painful. And there are those of you who will avoid this book for that reason. But this story is one to wrap yourself up in. It’s important.  I believe this book is one of those that is bound for glory. It’s an OMG book.

About halfway through the book several pages are dedicated to the events that carry the pestilence to England and to the home of Judith and Hamnet.  These colorful pages, a dozen or so, will change the way you think about how disease is passed from person to person and from animal to animal.  Here we are going through a global pandemic of monumental proportions and I’m actually reading about the bubonic plague that took place four hundred years ago. Utterly up front and way too personal. I have read and reread these passages over and over. Amazing.

This is a book that will be widely read and should be on every bookclub list for discussion in the coming months.  I can almost smell a nod for Pulitzer or Man Booker or both.  Be sure to put it on your list.

You can purchase a copy of HAMNET from Copperfish Books. They are on the shelves right now and discounted 20%.  Just a heads’ up. Elaine Newton has read HAMNET and loved it!

Maggie O’Farrell

Maggie O’Farrell is an Irish born writer who has many a great novel under her , however, this is her best!

The Secret French Recipes Of Sophie Valroux

The Secret Recipes of Sophie Valroux

Six years ago I fell in love with Samantha Vérant when I read her memoir, SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS. Now, she’s married to her sexy rocket scientist and living in France  and cooking.  THE SECRET RECIPES OF SOPHIE VALROUX is Vérant’s fiction debut.

What a great cover! Covers can speak volumes when it comes to enticing readers to open a book. This one calls to me. I think it will also call to you. So, who is Sophie Valroux? She’s a young French chef working in a high-powered NYC  restaurant when she is blindsided  and ruined by false accusations from another chef . She’s devastated.  But off she goes to France when she hears her grandmother has suffered a stroke. She arrives in the village of Champvert where she spent her childhood in the southwest region of France to discover the place has changed: grown into quite an establishment with several starred restaurants.  Her grandmother needs her help and she reluctantly dives in. There’s nothing like hopping right back on the bike. Or in this case hopping into the kitchen.

Toss in Sophie’s old lover who shows up only to keep her at bay.  He’s a real hottie and we can feel the sexual tension begin to rise.  But we don’t know what caused their riff. Once they were so very close.

What a great novel to kick back and relax with at the end of the summer. You’ll enjoy the sweet story and the sense of place is stunning. After all, the author lives there….

Samantha Vérant

Just a warning; you are going to love all the recipes in the book.  And if you haven’t already read Samantha’s memoir, well, you will have to read it. It’s one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read.

I read THE SECRET RECIPES OF SOPHIE  VALROUX digitally through Edelweiss. And I thank them profusely. What a treat.  The book is available now and is published in a trade paperback edition which is a great price value.  We have copies at Copperfish Books, but they are limited so hurry.  You need to add this sweet novel to your TBR pile.

The Exiles by Christina Baker Kline

The Exiles

Love the cover! Love the story! Kline has once again knocked it out of the book park . She did it with THE ORPHAN TRAIN years ago. Now she’s back with this wonderful novel of colonial  Australia and the convicts who made it what it is today.

The prologue introduces us to Mathinna  the 8-year-old orphaned daughter of an Aborigine chief.  Living quite wildly on the island of Flinders in Australia in 1840, she’s been hiding in the bushes for almost two days hoping to avoid the clutches of a visiting governor and his wife who have taken a fancy to her. You see, they plan on taking her back to civilization where she will be treated as a trinket.

Chapter one and we are in London where we meet Evangeline who has also been recently orphaned and is working as a governess in a big where her employer’s son has given her much  more than the “ring” that belongs to his family. When she is wrongly accused of stealing it, she’s  sent off to Newgate Prison and from there on to Van Dieman’s Land ( now known as Tasmania ) in Australia.

Evangeline meets Hazel on the ship. Hazel’s sixteen with plenty of hard-living under her young . Her crime was stealing a silver . And the worst part of it is that her own mother had set her to it. But Hazel has learned midwifery from her mother and even how to use herbs in healing.  The ship is filled with woman convicts and sets sail in a former slave ship. Months and months of horror. Kline’s attention to detail captures every single harrowing moment. I can not even imagine surviving a trip such as this in my wildest dreams.

This epic historical novel brings us a powerful and painful rendering that shows  us what it took to build a new world.  These three women each orphaned in their own way, find opportunity where none existed, and freedom of a challenging sort.

I read and loved THE ORPHAN TRAIN several years ago.

Aurhor

Christina Kline

I’ve been waiting for Kline to show us more of this brilliant I know she is capable of. And here it is. You will not be disappointed. You’ll be deeply moved and find yourself anxious to learn more about the building of Australia. Don’t miss this novel. It will be on every reader’s lips this season.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

Copperfish Books has copies of THE EXILES on sale right now and they’re discounted 20%. You need this book.

My digital review copy of THE EXILES was provided by Edelweiss through Harper Collins.  I am grateful to them both for this opportunity. And what an amazing story. Thanks guys.