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!

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- rearight 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 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 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.

 

Universe of Two by Stephen P. Kiernan

Universe of Two

UNIVERSE OF TWO is a novel based on the life of one of the brilliant young physicists who designed and built the atomic bomb, Charlie Fisk. Since this week marks the 75th  anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945, and then ending WW11 by dropping  a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki on the 9th, I think the pub date is pretty important. But, this novel was due out in May. Pushed back to August by the pandemic, sometimes things are just meant to be.

Hiroshima

Stephen P. Kiernan is the author of four novels. I was first introduced to him with THE BAKER’S SECRET. I ve since gone on to sell dozens of copies of that book.

Charlie Fish meets Brenda who will become his wife one day when he wanders into her family’s organ shop. Brenda is a very accomplished organist with a promising career.  It’s not love at first sight, though.  However…..

When Charlie is whisked off to Los Alamos, New Mexico to work on a top secret affair, their relationship becomes more concrete.  Charlie doesn’t know he’s being injected into The Manhattan Project. He stays  very unknowing almost until the end.  With Brenda’s urging, Charlie becomes the “trigger” man for the project. Brenda has no idea what Charlie’s working on, she just knows he needs to be a man and get this project over with.   She has no idea….

The scenes at The Hill where Charlie works on the “gadget” seem quite authentic. The black kitty named Midnight who favored Charlie and slept on his bed worried me.  And when Midnight’s lovely black fur began changing color I became almost sick. It made this project very real. I even wonder now how many of the people who worked on this project actually perished later in life because of all that they were subjected to up so close.  The reality of this project gleams through in the telling.

Jenna Blum, NYT bestselling of THOSE WHO SAVE US says: ” Stephen Kiernan has pulled off the nearly impossible, reminding us by wrapping a war story in a love story that although we hold the power for our own extinction, we also have the power to redeem, heal, and save.  The most tender, terrifying, relevant book you’ll read this year.”

Yes, this is a love story, and at times it seemed almost old fashioned. But that goes with the times, I think. It’s also a story of conscience and redemption.  With that being said, I think for a lot of people, this story might make some of this clearer.  It’s very timely.

I thank William Morris of Harper Collins for supplying my review copy in exchange for an honest review. It’s a good one to add to your bookclub pile.

Copies of UNIVERSE OF TWO will be available soon at Copperfish books. They’ll be discounted 20%.

 

The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis

The Lions of Fifth Avenue

Good Morning America has already chosen THE LIONS OF FIFTH AVENUE by Fiona Davis as their book of the month for August. How smart is that! I loved this novel and just know it’s going to be on every book lovers list for reading this year. And rightly so. After all, it takes place mostly in The New York Public Library.

Fiona Davis

Fiona Davis has done her homework. She’s managed to bring us a marvelous novel that’s rife with great behind the scenes information about one of the most iconic buildings in our country. She also ties in big women’s issues and adds a complicated plot.  And along with this she’s filled the story with strong women and a mystery that promises to keep you up at night.

The story begins in 1913 with the superintendent of The New York Public Library and his wife and their two children moving into an apartment within the stacks of the actual library. My thoughts upon first reading this were that surely this was not true. After all, this is a novel. However, there really was an apartment deep within the library and the superintendent lived there. Boom! Laura, Lyons, the wife, seems to have a perfect life. But, she’s discontent and as her husband spends all his spare time writing his novel, Laura wants to also pursue her career. And so she returns to school: Columbia School of Journalism, no less. There she realizes that she is meant for far more than being a wife and mother. And you begin to see where this is going. When Laura hooks up with a radical group of women in Greenwich Village, she asks herself who she really is. And then the books begin mysteriously disappearing from the library…..

Eighty years later, we meet Sadie Donovan, who is Laura’s grandmother.  We find that Laura became an award winning essayist but her life was filled with drama and complications. Sadie is working at the same library and is a curator. And then, once again, books and manuscripts begin disappearing.

NIC Public Library Lions Masked

I couldn’t help myself. I had to post this photo of one of the actual lions outside the New York Public Library with his mask on.

So, this novel is perfect for book lovers. Perfect for readers who love great historical fiction. It’s brilliant.

I loved reading more about the apartments within the libraries. You will too. Just google them and up will pop lots of info.

About ten years ago my daughter and I went to NYC for a week to a conference for bloggers. One of the things on our to-see list was a visit to The New York Public Library, the very one this book is about. It’s quite daunting. Silly me, I kept looking for the fiction stacks. But discovered that this library is a research library and not a library like we have here at home. It’s huge and quiet and wonderful. And very, very beautiful.

If you belong to a book club you have to know this amazing book should be on your list for this season. I know I’ll be talking about it for a long time to come. My review copy was provided digitally through Netgalley by Penguin Random House. It was a joy to be able to be a first reader. Loved it!

Fiona Davis is the internationally best selling author of several books  set in famous buildings in NYC. You’re also going to want to read CHELSEA GIRLS and THE DOLLHOUSE.  And there’s even more….

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

We have copies of THE LIONS OF FIFTH AVENUE at Copperfish Books right now. They are discounted 20%. Run, do not walk, to get your copy now. Or, order online from us. Still discounted. If you’re a big reader you are going to want this book. Just get it! Tell them Maurice made you do it 😺

 

Book Of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel

The Book of Lost Names

Eva Traube Abrams, a semi-retired librarian in Florida, is shelving books one morning when her eyes lock on a photograph in a magazine lying open nearby. She freezes; it’s an image of a book she hasn’t seen in sixty-five years—a book she recognizes as The Book of Lost Names.

The accompanying article discusses the looting of libraries by the Nazis across Europe during World War II—an experience Eva remembers well—and the search to reunite people with the texts taken from them so long ago. The book in the photograph, an eighteenth-century religious text thought to have been taken from France in the waning days of the war, is one of the most fascinating cases. Now housed in Berlin’s Zentral- und Landesbibliothek , it appears to contain some sort of code, but researchers don’t know where it came from—or what the code means. Only Eva holds the answer—but will she have the strength to revisit old memories and help reunite those lost during the war?

As a graduate student in 1942, Eva was forced to flee Paris after the arrest of her father, a Polish Jew. Finding refuge in a small  town in the Free Zone, she begins forging identity documents for Jewish children fleeing to neutral Switzerland. But erasing people comes with a price, and along with a mysterious, handsome forger named Rémy, Eva decides she must find a way to preserve the real names of the children who are too young to remember who they really are. The records they keep in The Book of Lost Names will become even more vital when the resistance cell they work for is betrayed and Rémy disappears.

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The above synopsis of THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES is taken from Goodreads and does a great job of introducing this amazing novel based on real historic events during WW11. Those of you who follow my blog already know I’m a big fan of Kristin Harmel. I’ve been reading her wonderful historical novels for years and love them all. Kristin puts her heart and soul into each book. She also is the queen of research. THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES  is no  exception.

There really is an old religious text called Epities et Evangiles that Kristin used as the basis for THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES.  It does not include code like she used in  THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES, though. Kristin has a copy of this 1732 text. She was kind enough to show it  to me through the magic of the internet. Kristin also has a copy of the Journal Officiel from 1944 which is in THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES.  Great inspiration.

I’ve read a lot of fiction set during WW11. I still love reading about it. And I especially love finding new stuff.  I love that this book is based on a true story. That enhances the experience for me. It’s continual learning.  And I’m finding that I am even more of a sponge now than ever.  I learned an awful lot about the intricacy of forgery in this new novel. At times, when Eva was working on a document, knowing how critical it was for it to be perfect, I could actually hear my own heart pounding in my chest.

This novel of courage, survival, and endurance is such an inspiration to all women everywhere.  The sense of place is superb. The roundups in Paris were very real. The losses were profound. The scenes in the tiny town of Aurigon in the safe zone way atop the mountains were breathtaking and perfectly set the tone for the story. I still close my eyes and see the inside of the book room within the church . And I can almost hear the voice of the priest as he’s going about the business of safekeeping.

Raves from PW

My review copy of THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES came from Gallery Books  in exchange for an honest review. Yes, Yes, I loved it!

Kristin Harmel

Kristin Harmel is the internationally bestselling of WHEN WE MEET AGAIN, THE SWEETNESS OF FORGETTING, and most recently THE WINEMAKER’S WIFE, as well as other novels.  She lives in Florida with her husband and young son. We’ve been so fortunate to have her visit Copperfish Books and sign her books in years past. I can tell you firsthand that Kristin Harmel is an absolute delight!

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

You can purchase copies of THE BOOK OF LOST NAMES at Copperfish Books on July 21. They will be discounted 20%. Don’t miss out on this amazing book. And, you can sign up for a virtual event with Kristin tomorrow from our website. How cool is this.

 

The Last Train To Key West by Chanel Cleeton

The Last Train To Key West

I’ve loved Cleeton’s first two novels: WHEN WE LEFT CUBA and NEXT YEAR IN HAVANA.  Really got excited when I heard the title of this new one. Key West, one of my favorite places and a great place to set this novel.

Years ago Wes Standiford wrote a non fiction book called THE LAST TRAIN TO PARADISE.  ( we have copies on our shelves right now at Copperfish)He told the story of the making of the overseas railroad that traveled through the Keys into Key West. He also told the horrific story of the unknown storm of 1935 that tore down the railroad and slaughtered hundreds of souls.

Now, Cleeton brings us a novel that encapsulates this and she brings this amazing historical event to life through the lives of three women from totally different walks of life.

THE LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST is a  very quick read.  Cleeton’s fictional characters are so alive they practically leap from the page. Part romance, part  suspense, THE LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST introduces you to three courageous women who have survival skills galore.  Helen is nine months pregnant and running away from an abusive husband. Elizabeth is a socialite escaping from , looking for her brother and wondering if she really should marry the man she’s engaged to. Mirta is a newly wed from Havana and on her honeymoon. Will her arranged marriage survive?

The ticking time bomb of eminent terror reaches hair-raising levels as the hurricane takes over the islands. Honestly, I could almost hear the clock ticking as the storm took over.

Next Year in Havana

Chanel Cleeton

Cleeton has certainly done her research but it takes a great storyteller to be able to move people as she does in this novel.  At least 400 people were lost in this devastating storm that was never even named. Civilians as well as WW1 vets who were building the railroad were all killed.  We know now it was a 5 hurricane and we now have the technology to evacuate when a storm of this magnitude is upon us. Thank God.

What begins as a pretty light story quickly becomes a tightly written novel of survival and courage. Not to be missed.

I was lucky enough to read a review copy of THE LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST provided by Berkley an imprint of Penguin Random publishing.  I loved it!

You can pick up your copy of THE LAST TRAIN TO KEY WEST  from Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida. They are currently having an amazing sale through the weekend and this trade paperback book will be 30% off as will most of their inventory. I know I love a great sale and I bet you do too!

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

The Prisoner’s Wife by Maggie Brookes

The Prisoner’s Wife

Just feast your eyes on this magnificent cover.  The fact that this WW11 novel is based on a real story does not change that it is indeed a novel of The Holocaust. I know. We all are fascinated and horrified by it, and, in many ways we are exhausted by the sheer number of  stories. So when I come across something unique I take notice. In the case of THE PRISONER’S WIFE, I’m really glad I did.

Brookes, a British poet and novelist, was moved to write THE PRISONER’S WIFE after hearing a story told by a British POW who survived WW11. Though her characters are fictionalized, Brookes conducted extensive research, including visiting the sites of the former POW camps featured in this story, and driving the length of the Long March, the bitterly cold, miles-long route that soldiers forced their prisoners to trek across Northern territory in snow and severe winter conditions. The author ‘s own father was a POW and her novel sheds light on the treacherous conditions that many prisoners faced, which few people know about today. 

It’s 1944 and Izabela is a Czech teenager left behind with her mother while her father and older brother are fighting with the resistance  against the Nazis. Of course, Izabela is wild to begin her own adventure by joining in the fight. It isn’t long before she falls for a British prisoner, weds him in secret and flees the farm. The story that follows the star-crossed lovers is based on a true story and although it’s quite harsh and even punishing at times to read, it is one to be told.

As Izabela hides her identity as a woman and becomes a “boy” the reality of what this means becomes almost intolerable. But the other prisoners keep the couple’s secret at all costs. After all, her survival is contingent on everyone working together.

Tireless research was done. New facts learned have been woven into this compelling story of courage, endurance, friendship and love. Not to be missed.

Maggie Brooks is a British ex-journalist and BBC television producer turned  novelist.

Maggie Brookes

THE PRISONER’S WIFE by Maggie Brookes is on sale now in a trade paperback edition. Copperfish Books will be able to order this title for  you.

My review copy came from Berkley, a publishing division of Penguin Random in exchange for an honest review. It’s a real winner. You WW11 buffs need this one.

A Hundred Suns by Karin Tanabe

A Hundred Suns

Look closely at the photo on the cover of A HUNDRED SUNS. It appears to be dreamy. It perfectly captures the ambience of this rich, atmospheric new novel by Karin Tanabe.

It was easy to get involved in this story.  I was all in from the first page. And, Indochine, a mysterious place for sure. Now known as Vietnam, I knew very little of this country in the 30’s.  This is the kind of novel I’m always on the hunt for. Unique, edgy, complicated characters, and great writing.

Jessie Holland Lasage is an American woman who moved to Paris with an agenda. To say Jessie came from humble beginnings is a gross understatement. Jessie escapes the horror of her childhood and goes searching for a way out. She meets and marries Victor Michelin Lasage and moves way up in the world. He is just what she is looking for. In Victor, Jessie finds the money and prestige she needs. But at what price?

When Jessie and Victor move to Indochine it’s the early 1930’s and Victor has been sent to keep a close watch on the family plantations near Saigon. The colony has had its share of uprisings and the last thing they want or need is more trouble.  So we enter the oppulent over-the-top way of life in the colonies.  We also quickly realize that champagne flows constantly, opium dens are the norm, and moral fortitude is a passing fancy.

Then meet the ex-pats. When Jessie is befriended by Marcelle who is a seemingly bored housewife, this story quickly heats up and becomes a real page-turner as well as a mystery.  Marcelle might be married but, she has a Vietnamese boyfriend, Khoi Nguyen,  from a filthy rich family who makes their money through silk.  Marcelle and Khoi have an agenda of their own. They have hooked up with communist rebels and are trying to undermine the Michelin family.

When Jessie begins suffering from bouts of memory loss and fits of rage, the mystery deepens. And widens.  And the fragile world surrounding these complicated characters begins to show itself to the readers.

At times throughout the story Jessie seems like an unreliable narrator. Not to give anything away, but that will resolve itself near the end.

I chose to read this novel because of the unique and exotic locale. I became compelled to continue to  read because of the richness of the prose and the complexity of the story.   A HUNDRED SUNS is being published by St. Martin’s Press on April 7. Don’t miss out on this one. I predict it’s going to be big this spring and summer.

Karin Tanabe

Karin Tanabe has published four other novels: THE DIPLOMAT’S DAUGHTER; THE GILDED YEARS; THE PRICE OF INHERITANCE; THE LIST.

Even though Copperfish Books is closed for foot traffic for now, we still have curbside pick up and we can order and send to your home. We’d love to put this amazing novel into your hands after pub date: April 7. Shop local.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Copy Of THE GIRL IN WHITE GLOVES by Kerri Maher For Giveaway!

The Girl In The White Gloves

Great cover! Great story! I have one copy of THE GIRL IN WHITE GLOVES for giveaway. Please leave a comment below and you’ll be entered to win. I will choose my winner on Monday, March 2. Only U.S. addresses, and no P.O. boxes, please. Good luck!

Grace Kelly encapsulates the Cinderella and American dream. Grace grew up in Philadelphia in a prominent family. But her parents were not keen on her Hollywood ambitions.  Nonetheless, she became one of the most famous actresses of all time.  She was a star in the days of Clark Gable, Ava Gardner, Frank Sinatra, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and on and on. In fact, she went on to win both the Golden Globe and Academy Award for her role in “The Country Girl, ” beating out Judy Garland in her role in “A Star Is Born.” Holy cow.

I became transformed once Grace met and married Prince Ranier of Monaco. Grace became every little girls dream: an American Princess. She definitely paved the way for the most recent actress to princess transition: Meghan Markle’s marriage to Prince Harry.  We all sure do love a royal wedding.  But we must ask ourselves, Was Grace happy? She was a very lonely princess always trying to make everyone else complete.

Grace On Her Wedding Day To Prince Ranier

Kerri Maher traveled to Monaco to do research so she could make her novel as real as possible. She did a great job. I was transformed. She had a conversation with a cab driver that totally helped her understand how the people of Monaco felt about Grace. They absolutely adored her. It took time, and was not overnight though….

We know the ending of this story but not much about the middle. I think you are going to so enjoy reading about Grace. This might be a novel but, it’s got so much reality..

My copy for giveaway is being provided by Berkley which is a division of Penguin Random House publishing. I can’t thank them enough.

We have copies of THE GIRL IN WHITE GLOVES at Copperfish Books. They are 20% off. Come on up and see us.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books