Southernmost by Silas House

Silas House


I didn’t know what to expect when I chose to read SOUTHERNMOST. I would have picked it up way sooner!  It begins with a jolt and takes the reins and keeps on getting better and better. I kept waiting for it to lose momentum, but it didn’t…

“The rain had been falling with a pounding meanness, without ceasing for two days, and then the water rose all at once in the middle of the night, a brutal rush so fast Asher thought at first a dam might have broken somewhere upstream. The ground had simply become so saturated it could not hold any  more water. All creeks were conspiring down the ridges until they washed out in the Cumberland. There was no use in anyone going to bed because they all knew what was going to happen. They only had to wait.” 

The paragraph above is the first one in the book. What an introduction!  My heart was pounding and I hadn’t even turned the first page.


Silas House

Asher Sharp is a  Pentecostal Preacher in a small town in Tennessee.  He is looking for his 8-year-old son Justin who disappeared after the flood. He figures Justin took off to find his dog who’s been missing.  What he discovers is the raging waters of the Cumberland River have devastated the area. He watches as a neighbor’s  house is swept down the river with three humans hollering in terror. When he sees Justin he is with two men who help save two of the people. It’s a harrowing scene that will stay with me forever.

Who are these two men? The two men are a gay couple new to the area who lost their own home in the flood.  The faith of the parishioners does not abide a gay couple. And Asher’s wife coldly denies them aid when they need it most. This is the beginning of the end of Asher’s marriage and he begins to question  his faith. Some things are just wrong.

Written with courageous strength, told in spare prose, SOUTHERNMOST is one of the most powerful novels I’ve ever read. It’s important. It’s honest, and it’s a story that runs away with itself. I could not put the book down.  And yet I did NOT want it to end.

While we watch Asher’s marriage unravel and then quickly crumble, we find that Asher has a brother who he’s been estranged from for many years. Why?  Luke is gay. And years ago Asher and his mother denounced Luke. Luke disappeared. Yet he periodically sent post cards to Asher with no actual address. Then one came from Key West…

Asher’s wife is so embedded in the church that she truly does not see the forest for the trees.  Her faith  has gotten the best of her. She’s a very conflicted person and Asher does not see her as a fit mother for Justin. Yet, she is awarded full custody of Justin after a video of Asher is made public. Asher has invited the two gay men into the community of his church; a big no-no. The parish is not having it.  Their religion has become toxic.  Asher has already decided to leave his church when the parishioners who had been his loyal followers toss him out.

Change of scenery: Asher snatches his young son and off they go on the road trip of a lifetime. Boy, does the pace begin to thunder. I’m getting excited just writing this down.

Key West looms way ahead of them.  A father’s love pushing him to do the very thing he knows is wrong. But it’s the only thing he can do.  And so he does. And the heart pounding begins anew.  I want them to get away even though I know this can not end well.


Key West Beach

The chapters that take place in the paradise that is Key West are like a love letter to that southernmost city. I have visited the “rock” often in years past and fallen in love with it.  The beauty of the gardens,  the fellowship of the people, and the downright decency humbles me still. And the beauty of St. Paul’s is not to be missed as it’s smack dab in the middle of Duval Street and has a cameo in this novel.

Key West garden

Key West Florida

St. Paul’s episcopal church

The South is a complex area of our country.  Rural America has earned a reputation that precedes it. Even faith is perceived in a different light.

This new novel dissects love between fathers and sons and brothers and lovers. It does it in a way that sheds light on issues not often looked at in the light of day. Men keep their feelings close. House explores the depths of feelings in a way that is quiet and just.

While reading this book it brought back memories of my own road trip many years ago, from Toronto to Fort Myers. Maybe I’ll write about it one day.

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

We have copies of SOUTHERNMOST on our new fiction table at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda, Florida. They’re discounted 20% as are all new hardcovers.  Come on in and purchase your copy. Don’t miss this one. I will be shouting the wonder of this story for a long time!!

I can’t thank the wonderful people at Algonquin Publishers enough for sending me a finished hardcover. All this in exchange for an honest review. Guys, I LOVED it!!


Elaine Newton-Critic’s Choice 2018/2019

Critic’s Choice 2018:19

It’s here. This is what you’ve been waiting for. The upcoming 2018/2019 book selections have been announced at Artis-Naples. Just click on the link above and you will find the list complete with dates and appearances. You may have to click more than once to get through.  This is going to be a very special season for Elaine and Critic’s Choice. Plus, Artis-Naples presents “A conversation with Michael Ondaatje” on March 9.  Ondaatje will appear with Elaine.  This is a big deal! Tickets for the upcoming season go on sale in August. Check  Artis-Naples  website.

Lisa Halliday


ASYMMETRY by Lisa Halliday( Thursday, November 15 and Saturday, November 17.)

Meg W.

The Female Persuasion

THE FEMALE PERSUASION by Meg Wolitzer ( Thursday, December 13 and Saturday, December 15). * The author will be appearing on stage with Elaine.

The Maze at Windermere

THE ITALIAN TEACHER by Tom Rachman ( Thursday, January 3 and Saturday, January 5)

Tom Rachman

The Italian Teacher

THE MAZE AT WINDERMERE by Gregory Blake Smith ( Thursday, January 24 and Saturday, January 26)

AN AMERICAN MARRIAGE by Tayari Jones * ( Thursday, February 14 and Saturday, February 16) The author will appear on stage with Elaine.

Tayari Jones

An American Marriage

Remembering Roth  ( A tribute to the man and his writing) ( Thursday, March 28 and Saturday, March 30)

Somebody’s Daughter by David Bell

David Bell

Somebody’s Daughter

I just read David Bell’s SOMEBODY’S DAUGHTER.  It’s a real nail-biter and I can attest to that by the looks of my cuticles. Yikes.

Feed the pets, turn off the phone, and cancel your todo list. And please LOCK your doors.  You’ll read this one in no time flat. I don’t read many books like this. My heart could not take it for one thing. But it’s  a quick read. A good summer book.


When Michael Frazier’s  ex-wife, Erica, shows up on his doorstep, she drops a bombshell that threatens to rip his family apart: her nine-year-old daughter is missing–and Michael is the father. Unsure if this is true but unwilling to leave the little girl’s fate to chance, Michael follows the elusive trail of the child he’s always wanted but never knew he had. 

Over the course of one night, lies that span a decade come to the surface, putting his marriage and whole family into jeopardy. As the window for a girl’s safe return closes, Michael will have to decide who can be trusted and who is hiding the truth…

I had not read David Bell before reading SOMEBODY’S DAUGHTER.  To tell you the truth this is not my usual cup of tea. Having said that, I took the bait and ran with it. For those of you who love a fast-paced thriller, this is your book.

My review copy arrived from Berkley a division of Random House in exchange for an honest review. Honestly, it’s just super.

Winner Announcement!

Veronica Henry

How To Find Love In A Bookshop

Alice McKann, you are my lucky winner this morning. A copy of HOW TO FIND LOVE IN A BOOKSHOP will be on the way to your mailbox soon. I will be in contact to get your mailing info!

Thanks go out to all of you for making this giveaway so successful. This is a great book for those of us who love to read and love books.

This all happened because the publishing people at Penguin were so generous. Thanks, Penguin.

Cheers and happy reading.

The Other Woman by Daniel Silva

Daniel Silva

The Other Woman

It’s July and Daniel Silva has brought Gabriel Allon  back for another daring and intriguing segment. Hold onto your hat and your seat. You’re about to take part in one helluva ride through espionage, murder, mayhem, and a tour of many of the high-powered countries of the world.

For those of us who follow Daniel Silva on Facebook and other social media we’ve been thrown tidbits for months now. We get a photo. We guess a location. It’s fun and helps get us even more worked up about the actual pub date of the upcoming book.

I just ripped through THE OTHER WOMAN. I know that I have to wait another year for more Allon. But I can’t help myself. Silva brings back some of the group we love, but not all.  Only what he needs to move the story along. This particular spy novel has a lot of dialog. That’s what pushes the story so quickly. Silva is the master of dialog.  And Allon is so witty. Such dry humor. Silva knows how to perfectly insert the wit just where it needs to be.

Who is the other woman? That’s the question? Of course. Will you be able to guess?  You’ll be taken on a wild ride around the world and given many pieces of the puzzle.  He waited many chapters before introducing a pivotal character. You must pay attention to the details.  With so much information on the table you might think it would be difficult to keep track of who’s who. It’s really not. But you can’t skip around.

Peeks are given of Chiara and the children.  Shamron has a cameo. The usual spies mostly show up. But absolutely no art restoration. So those of you who look forward to that part of the story will once again be disappointed. However, I found myself okay with it. There is so much to the story. And, now Allon is the Office Chief with even less time for anything outside the Office….

There’s a mole somewhere.  The mole must be stopped. Many people are being killed. Russians and Brits and Americans are involved. But who is the mole and where is it?

Silva is so exciting to read. I found my heart pounding crazily more than once. And my mind was all wound up trying to figure it out. Who is the mole?


Daniel Silva

You won’t be disappointed. Allon is back. With a vengeance.

Some months ago I discovered that they will be making a movie of one of the Allon books.  My choice for Allon is the obvious choice, Daniel Silva. When I’m reading these Gabriel Allon books I have always pictured Allon as Silva. Can’t help it. Love it.

I actually read a digital review copy of THE OTHER WOMAN provided by the publishing company of Harper Collins in exchange for an honest review. I loved it, of course!!

Giveaway! How To Find Love In A Bookshop by Veronica Henry

Veronica Henry

How To Find Love In A Bookshop

Oh, look! A delightful new novel just out in a trade paperback edition about love and a bookshop. HOW TO FIND LOVE IN A BOOKSHOP by Veronica Henry is just what you need to add to your summer reading.  Tucked away in the cozy little Cotswold village of Peasebrook is the most charming literary bookshop called Nightingale Books. Owned by Julius Nightingale and visited by loyal customers who are great characters, Nightingale’s is much more than just a store that sells books. Julius’s quaint shop has been a haven for the townspeople for more than twenty years. And his story begins at the end…

Emilia Nightingale has arrived from Hong Kong where she’s been working. She’s come back to Peasebrook to be with her father Julius who is dying of cancer.  So what’s to become of his beloved bookshop?  Emilia makes a deathbed promise to keep Nightingale Books alive not knowing what’s ahead.

It’s not easy running a small Independent bookshop even under the best of circumstances. But when Emilia discovers that the finances are deep in the red she begins to see what she’s gotten herself into. Her father always said he didn’t “do” numbers.  As if things aren’t difficult enough, the big bad wolf is trying to beat the door down. His name is Ian Mendip and he is pressuring Emilia to sell to him. He needs the land> You can see where this is going.

There are a lot of characters in this novel. Almost too many. However, they each fit nicely into the story and have tales of their own that are all about love and keeping it together. And books. They are all about books.

I love the scenes at Peasebrook Manor House. This is the big house where a lot of action happens. (Shades of Downton Abbey) The lady of the Manor is Sarah and she has a secret concerning her relationship with Julius. Then there’s Alice, Sarah’s daughter, who is slated to marry a very bad fellow named Hugh. And Dillon who is the gardener.  He’s handsome and perfect for Alice, but she’s already taken.

There’s a renown chef who is cooking small dinners for two in her cottage. And a father of a young boy who manages to get closer to his son through books recommended by Emilia. And an aging bookseller who remembers the love of her life and gets the chance of a lifetime.

So many people, so many books. So much love. So many stories. And Emilia is in the midst of them all. Will she stay and run the bookshop? Will she find love? Will Alice marry Hugh? I think you are going to fall in love with this sweet little book filled with eclectic characters and love and books.

This book will have legs. It all culminates on Christmas. So this is your gift for the booklover in your life this holiday season!

I’ve been working at Copperfish Books in Punta Gorda for two years now. Working in an Independent Bookshop is so unlike working for a  big box store. I relate to the customers in Nightingale Books. I relate to the owners.  This store reminds me of our little store more than any I’ve read about before. Readers come into small bookshops for many reasons. They are all happy ones.  The store is a community haven where people feel safe and somewhat sound. They are looking for that special book. And booksellers in small shops pride themselves on putting just this perfect book in their hands. They also enjoy talking about their books with other people who obviously love them as much as they do. And they appreciate the personal treatment they receive from small stores. We love our customers and love showing them books we love!

My wonderful finished trade paper copy of HOW TO FIND LOVE IN A BOOKSHOP by


Veronica Henry

Veronica Henry came from the generous publishing house of PenguinBooks.  Thank you so much. I absolutely adored this book!!

Copperfish Books

Punta Gorda

Copperfish Books

in Punta Gorda, Florida is featuring  HOW TO FIND LOVE IN  A BOOKSHOP as the bookclub pick in September. I will keep you posted as to the date and times. How fun is this going to be!! This fabulous little book is available now at Copperfish and is discounted 10%. This event is sure to be a big favorite.

Penguin Books is providing one trade paper copy of HOW TO FIND LOVE IN A BOOKSHOP to one very lucky winner. Please leave a comment below to enter my giveaway. I’d love to hear about your local Indy bookshop.  Only U.S. addresses, please, and no P.O. boxes, as usual. I will choose one very lucky winner on Monday, July 16. Good luck everyone!

Anne Tyler Is As American As Apple Pie

Anne TylerWhat on earth is a cactus doing on the cover of an Anne Tyler novel! Well, a very small part of the novel takes place in the desert. Boom.

Willa is just a kid in 1967 when the CLOCK DANCE opens.  Her mother has temporarily flown the coop and her dad is trying to hold down the fort.  We get a really good picture into their family life.

Move forward ten years and Willa brings her boyfriend home for the holidays where he announces their engagement.  Willa is not so keen to marry Derek, but when she sees how much her mother is against the marriage she jumps right into it.

Fast forward  years from then. Derek is killed in an incident of road rage and Willa is left to raise their sons herself.

Part 2. Willa is in her early sixties and has remarried a man named Peter. They are living out west in Arizona.  She gets a call from a stranger that her son’s old girlfriend Denise is in the hospital and her daughter Cheryl needs someone to care for her.  Cheryl  is nine.  Willa drags Peter to Baltimore where they stay in Denise’s house with the dog named airplane  and the girl.  Meanwhile Denise is in the  hospital with a gunshot injury. And where did that come from?

Everything changes. Enter eccentric neighbors. These are all people you would likely meet in a somewhat seedier place.  But these characters truly make this a memorable story. Their stories ring true. They bring a certain normalcy to an otherwise odd story.

Peter eventually becomes tired of this and goes back home to Arizona.  Willa keeps finding more and more reasons to stay on. She is beginning to feel like she really is Cheryl’s grandmother even though we know better. She is feeling needed, and even possibly loved. The bond between the young girl and the grandmotherly woman is refreshing.


Anne Tyler

Anne Tyler is the queen of subtlety. A master of telling the quiet story.  She makes the seemingly mundane sparkle and pop.  And she knows her Baltimore.  She also knows what makes people tick.  This short novel might be small, but it speaks volumes about the human spirit.

I think  you will love the ending. I sure did.

I read my review copy of CLOCK DANCE digitally.  I thank the nice people at Knopf.  It’s another keeper.