New fiction in 2020 – on my list!

Image: Pixabay

I don’t like to overcommit to reading lists, because then where’s the fun of picking up a book on a whim? But I like to see what’s ahead by authors of books I’ve liked and pick a couple new ones. Here are two I’m excited to read:


The Glass Hotel – Emily St. John Mandel

Due out March 2020

From Mandel’s website:

“My fifth novel is a ghost story that’s also about white collar crime and container shipping.”

Knopf’s jacket copy:

“Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star glass and cedar palace on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. New York financier Jonathan Alkaitis owns the hotel. When he passes Vincent his card with a tip, it’s the beginning of their life together. That same day, Vincent’s half-brother, Paul, scrawls a note on the windowed wall of the hotel: “Why don’t you swallow broken glass.” Leon Prevant, a shipping executive for a company called Neptune-Avramidis, sees the note from the hotel bar and is shaken to his core. Thirteen years later Vincent mysteriously disappears from the deck of a Neptune-Avramidis ship.

Weaving together the lives of these characters, The Glass Hotel moves between the ship, the towers of Manhattan, and the wilderness of remote British Columbia, painting a breathtaking picture of greed and guilt, fantasy and delusion, art and the ghosts of our pasts.”

I have only read Station Eleven, but I enjoyed it very much. You can check out my review here.


All Adults Here – Emma Straub

Due out May 2020

From Straub’s website

A warm, funny, and keenly perceptive novel about the life cycle of one family–as the kids become parents, grandchildren become teenagers, and a matriarch confronts the legacy of her mistakes. From the New York Times bestselling author of Modern Lovers and The Vacationers.

When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus accident in the center of town, it jostles loose a repressed memory from her young parenting days decades earlier. Suddenly, Astrid realizes she was not quite the parent she thought she’d been to her three, now-grown children. But to what consequence?

Astrid’s youngest son is drifting and unfocused, making parenting mistakes of his own. Her daughter is pregnant yet struggling to give up her own adolescence. And her eldest seems to measure his adult life according to standards no one else shares. But who gets to decide, so many years later, which long-ago lapses were the ones that mattered? Who decides which apologies really count? It might be that only Astrid’s thirteen-year-old granddaughter and her new friend really understand the courage it takes to tell the truth to the people you love the most.

In All Adults Here, Emma Straub’s unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.

This is Straub’s third book. I had a lot of fun reading The Vacationers (read my review here), and I’m looking forward to this one!


Have you read any books by these authors? Do you line up books for the coming year? What reads are in your future?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Club Mom’s November recap

Well Thanksgiving week threw me for a blogging loop and, while I did read a book during that time, I didn’t get on my blog much!

But I had a good November, so here’s a rundown in case you missed anything:


Just three books this month, but sometimes that’s how it goes.

Back of Beyond by C. J. Box – we read this for my mystery book club at the library where I work. Our whole group gave it high ratings. C. J. Box writes a lot of books and he knows what he’s doing!

Fool Me Once by Harlan Coben – I like Harlan Coben’s books, but this one was a little disappointing. Still, I’m sure I’ll read more by him.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer – By far one of the best books I’ve read all year. Less won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2017. I highly recommend it.


BC Mom’s Author Update:
Author Roberta Eaton Cheadle announces
publication of Through the Nethergate

BC Mom’s Author Update is open to all authors who have news to share.
Email me at bvitelli2009@gmail.com for more information.

I introduced two indie authors this month, Cage Dunn and Chloe Helton. Be sure to visit these posts and say hello:

Who’s That Indie Author? Cage Dunn
Who’s That Indie Author? Chloe Helton

If you are a self-published or indie author and would like to be profiled on Book Club Mom,
email me at bvitelli2009@gmail.com and I’ll send you a template.

I love thinking about book trends and here’s one I discovered:

Books with commanding titles – a new trend?


Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres. Here are the top 20 on my list:

Book Club Mom’s top 20 historical fiction books


Source: brainsonfire.com

I’m always thinking about blogging and the news that Instagram has been considering permanently doing away with “likes” got me talking. I’m not an Instagrammer, and I don’t care much about Facebook, but I think WordPress bloggers want to see the likes.

Blog views and other obsessions – followers, views, likes and comments


Images: Pixabay

We all make grammar mistakes, so it’s good to review some of the rules:

Grammar check – past tenses of dream, learn, dive,
loan and lend – what are they?


Just a sentimental memory as we gear up for the holidays:

Thanksgiving Memories When You’re Small


And this post got a lot of discussion. Most of you think the classic editor is the way to go. Someday we will all have to move to the new WordPress block editor. Despite the negative comments, I’m still considering the switch.

Blogging with the new WordPress Editor – are you using the blocks?

That was my month – how was yours?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

The Passengers by John Marrs

The Passengers
by
John Marrs

Rating:

When eight self-driving cars suddenly change course, counter to their pre-programmed destinations, their passengers don’t know what to think. Soon, they are told that “it is highly likely” they will be dead in two and a half hours: their cars are set to meet in a fiery crash.

What to do? They have no control. No steering wheels, no brakes. They can’t open the windows or doors and their Internet has been hacked. Cell service is out and their only communication is with the hacker.

Meanwhile, Claire Arden has been called for jury duty, of sorts. She’s the only civilian member of the Vehicle Inquest Jury, formed to decide who’s at fault in a fatal crash involving driverless cars. “Either man or machine is to blame, and you will decide,” she is told. As the debate unfolds, the jury is suddenly alerted to the situation on the roads, which has gone wild, first on social media and quickly picked up by all news organizations. Camera feeds from each car reveal the hostages inside, and their images are plastered for the world to see, and comment on, of course. And it isn’t long until the jury is charged with a new task, an impossible decision.

Set in London, sometime in the near future, citizens are living in the time of a Road Revolution, in which there will be a ban on non-autonomous vehicles within ten years. But there is something more sinister going on, slowly revealed as the story develops.

In addition to his commentary on social media and the overreaching role of government (for this is a dystopian story), Marrs covers many themes, including religion, racism, mental health, sexuality, marriage and parenthood.

Although far-fetched and a little preachy, I enjoyed the original and modern premise of The Passengers. Marrs writes a fast-paced story, matching the frantic efforts to avert disaster. There are many shocks and several interesting sub-plots, including a possible romance, which kept me interested in the story’s outcome. Characters are slightly one-dimensional and stereotypical, however, and Marrs seems to include one from every category. The finish is wild and implausible, but maybe that’s part of the genre. All-in-all, I enjoyed reading The Passengers, which is an easy read and escape when the rest of your life is busy.

While I thought it was a pretty good read, lots of book bloggers loved The Passengers, so be sure to also check out these selected reviews.

The BiblioSanctum
Book Reviews | Jack’s Bedtime Reading
Dee’s Rad Reads and Reviews
Diary of a Book Fiend
Stephen Writes

Have you read The Passengers? Leave a comment and tell me what you thought.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Blogging with the new WordPress Editor – are you using the blocks?

Have you made the switch to the new WordPress Editor? I’ve seen and ignored the prompt for a long time. I’d heard it was hard to use and that once you switched you couldn’t go back to the Classic Editor.  But after my blogging friend Lisa at Bookshelf Fantasies told me that her new star ratings graphic was an option with the WordPress Editor, I think I’m going to make the switch.

The Learn More link provides a lot of good information about the new block editing feature.

Here are a few facts:

  • Each section of your post is a separate block, for headings, text, quotes, images and more. It lets you move things around more easily. And you can customize the format of each block.
  • If you switch, your existing content will not change. Your previous posts will all be put in what they call a Classic Block.
  • If you use the Business Plan version, you will have more customizing options with plugins than with the free version.
  • You can switch back to the Classic Editor if you don’t like the block editing. This wording makes me think that eventually all sites will need to use the new WordPress Editor, though, so don’t count on this always being an option: “At this time, as we’re introducing the WordPress Editor you’ll be able to switch between the WordPress Editor and the Classic Editor for posts and pages…”
  • The new WordPress Editor works with all themes, but only some may support certain layout features.

Now that I know more about it, and since I’m planning a blog overhaul in 2020, I think I’ll make the switch. Also, it sounds a lot like Constant Contact, a website/program I use at work to create our email newsletter. So I don’t think it will be a big adjustment.

Do you use the new WordPress Editor? Leave a comment and tell me what you think of it!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Club Mom’s top 20 historical fiction books

Image: Pixabay

Historical fiction is one of my favorite reading genres, and I know I’m not alone! Here’s a list of my top 20 historical fiction books:

A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr


The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Brooklyn by Colm Tóibín
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent


Days Without End by Sebastian Barry
Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson
Girl with a Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier


The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor
Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck


Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan


Mary Coin by Marisa Silver
Refugee by Alan Gratz
The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy


Some definitions of historical fiction state that the book needs to be set 25-50 years prior to when it is published and that most of the novel’s concept and background should be based on the author’s research of the time period. There is some debate over certain books, like To Kill a Mockingbird, which was published 24 years after the time period and The Grapes of Wrath, in which the characters represent “nameless thousands.” I have always considered both historical fiction. What do you think? Are there any books on my list that don’t fit the definition? Check out the links below for further discussion.

bookriot.com
study.com on To Kill a Mockingbird
study.com on The Grapes of Wrath
wikipedia.org
What is historical fiction and does it have to be totally accurate?

What are your favorite historical fiction books?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Who’s That Indie Author? Chloe Helton

Author name:  Chloe Helton

Genre:  Historical fiction

BooksThe Red Pearl, Culpa, Sanguis (and more)

What’s your story and how did you become a writer?  At age 10, my first novel about Queen Elizabeth I was published on Wattpad and became popular after it was featured. Since then, I’ve written five additional historical novels from various time periods – the Civil War, the Revolutionary War, and a duet about Ancient Rome.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  I also work full-time in real estate. I get up early before work every morning to write, and on nights and weekends. I’ve found that small, consistent steps can work wonders – so the fact that I write every day, even if it’s not always a lot, allows me to finish things quickly.

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  I sat in the front row of a Paul McCartney concert!

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  Both. I usually “pants” the first draft and then use it as a basis to plot the second draft. It can be difficult to plot without having a sense of the character’s voice, which is why I usually wing it the first time to get into the character before using the second draft as an opportunity to lock in the structure of the story.

Could you write in a café with people around?  That’s how I do it every morning! My local Peet’s knows to put extra whipped cream on my drink.

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it?  Not much, but I’ll throw in words. For example, my characters in Culpa and Sanguis would have spoken Latin, so I peppered their speech with some Latin words when appropriate.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  Mm! Right now, I’m reading The Alchemy of Noise by a fellow indie author Lorraine Devon Wilke. Normally, I stick with historical fiction: Philippa Gregory, Kate Quinn, and Michelle Moran were the ones who got me started, so anything by them is a favorite.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  Kindle. I spent a lot of money on Kindle books.

Do you think print books will always be around?  Yes.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  I have done so – I prefer a Kindle because, even though I can see the book fine on my phone, it just feels wrong somehow. I try to use my phone only for texts and calls as much as possible, and not use it as a “smartphone.” It’s difficult!

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, Android or something else?  Android. I’ve had a few Android phones in a row now and I prefer them.

How long could you go without checking your phone?  I often shove my phone to the bottom of my purse and won’t check it for several hours. My friends love it when they’re trying to get a hold of me.

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening?  Yes! Podcasts, too. Usually while driving, because I do a fair amount of driving for work.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  I love my email newsletter! (You can join it on my website). But blogs have been a great source of attention. Goodreads and Bookbub are also great.

Website and social media links:
Book and newsletter sign-up: chloeheltonbooks.com
Facebook: @chloeheltonbooks
Twitter: @heltonbooks


Are you an indie or self-published author?  Do you want to build your author network? Get your name out on Who’s That Indie Author!

Email bvitelli2009@gmail.com for a bio template and other details.

Links I’ve Enjoyed This Week – 24/11/19 #WeeklyRoundUpPost 🔗📆 🔗 #SecretLibraryBookBlog

I visited nickimags @ the Secret Library Book Blog today and found this terrific list of bloggers. What a great way to connect – Take a look and you will see that I’m right and you will find more quality blogs to follow. Thank you nickimags, for putting together these links!

Secret Library Book Blog

Good morning and welcome to my weekly round up inspired by Novels and Nonfiction. It’s time to grab yourself a cosy spot and a hot drink and have a browse at all the lovely links I have for you this week.

rain

Recent Reviews

Cosy Books – The Glittering Hour
Bookidote – Hawkeye (Vol. 2) & The Colour of Magic
Jill’s Book Cafe – The Giver of Stars
Always Need More Books – My Dark Vanessa
FromBelgiumWithBookLove – The Six
Anne Bonny Book Reviews – Before I Let You Go
Book After Book – 17 Church Row & Love Songs for Sceptics & Messy Wonderful Us
Bee Books Beauty – The First Time I Saw You
Jennifer~Tar Heel Reader – History at a Glance
Sarah’s Vignettes – Magic Under the Mistletoe
Chocolate’n’Waffles – 17 Church Row
For winter nights – The Seven Sisters
Over The Rainbow Book Blog – Furious…

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Grammar check – past tenses of dream, learn, dive, loan and lend – what are they?

Images: Pixabay

Ever use the past tense of one of these words and wonder, “Did I get that right?” And have you wondered if there’s a difference between loan and lend?

The answer is technically no, with a couple explanations. Here’s a rundown of the past tenses of these words, plus a quick explanation of loan and lend.

Dreamed and dreamt – they’re both right, but dreamed is more common in both American and British English. It’s okay to use dreamt, though, especially if you’re a poet or songwriter and need something to rhyme with exempt. Check out the full explanation on writingexplained.org.

Learned and learnt – also both right, but most Americans and Canadians use learned and, according to Grammarly, the rest of the world uses learnt.

Dived and dove – both are correct. Dived is more traditional choice and dove is the more modern usage (from the 1800s though). This, all according to merriam-webster.com.

Loan and loaned vs lend and lent – guess what? Loan and lend mean the same thing when they refer to supplying someone with something. Loaned is the past tense of loan and lent is the past tense of lend. So either word, in present or past is fine in this context. But the word lend has a lot of other definitions. Check out the explanation on dictionary.com.

Me? I say dreamed, learned, dove and loaned. What do you say? Leave a comment and let me know!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Back of Beyond by C. J. Box

Back of Beyond
by
C. J. Box

Rating:

Cody Hoyt is a rogue investigator for Montana’s Lewis and Clark County Sheriff’s Department, returning to his home town after the job and more went wrong in Colorado. He’s thirty-eight, divorced, and a recovering alcoholic. When his AA sponsor dies in a suspicious cabin fire, Cody is sure it’s murder. A clue points to a wilderness adventure outfitter and an upcoming trip to Yellowstone National Park. Is this the same trip his teenage son, Justin is about to take?

Cody is determined to stay on the wagon and avenge his sponsor’s death and he will do anything to protect his son. But how can he find Justin and the group which is traveling by horseback in the park’s back of beyond? It’s not long before he has broken too many rules to count and is forced to turn in his badge and weapon. As he goes off on his own, Cody’s only help comes from his ally in the department, Larry Olson.

In an exciting story that alternates between Cody’s investigation and the group’s trip, readers will try to assemble the clues and facts. Meantime, the power struggles and dynamics between the group and its guides is a fascinating study of human behavior. Several characters act suspiciously, some are downright unlikable, and some are fools or just plain weak. Justin is indeed on the trip, as well as two sisters from another family. One has sharp insight and the other has eyes for Justin, giving the story a nice balance of the teenage point of view.

As members dissent and others disappear, readers know it is only a matter of time before the killer is identified. But whether Cody can find the group in time is another matter. Good luck even trying to figure it out. You will need to read to the wild finish to learn all the connections!

Back of Beyond is a highly entertaining mystery adventure. This is the first C. J. Box book I have read and I’m sure I will read more. Of course, there is the required suspension of disbelief during certain developments, but I think that is part of the package in this genre.

What I liked best about the story is the way Box describes Yellowstone because it made me want to book a trip. An avid outdoorsman, Box takes pride in writing about things he knows. I’d say it shows.

C.J. Box is the author of twenty-seven novels, including the popular Joe Pickett series. Back of Beyond is a standalone novel and he has several others, including Blue Heaven (2009), which won the Edgar Alan Poe Award for Best Novel.

You can learn more about C. J. Box from this short interview from the 2016 ThirllerFest.

Have you read anything by C. J. Box? Are you a Joe Pickett fan? Leave a comment and let me know!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

 

Books with commanding titles – a new trend?

Nobody Move. Do Not Become Alarmed. Find Me. Give Me Your Hand. You Don’t Know Me. Forget You Know Me. Don’t worry, I’m not ordering you around – these are book titles!

I like thinking about book publishing trends and how important covers and titles are in grabbing the reader. I don’t about you, but these commanding titles certainly make me want to read what’s inside! Some of these books are new this year, one is from 2017 and one is due out next year.

Here’s a quick description of each (all from Goodreads):


Nobody Move by Philip Elliott (2019)

“Eddie Vegas made a terrible mistake. Now he has to pay the price. After a botched debt collection turned double murder, Eddie splits, desperate to avoid his employer, notorious L.A. crime boss Saul Benedict, and his men (and Eddie’s ex-partners), Floyd and Sawyer, as well as the police. Soon he becomes entangled with the clever and beautiful Dakota, a Native American woman fresh in the City of Angels to find her missing friend—someone Eddie might know something about. Meanwhile in Texas, ex-assassin Rufus, seeking vengeance for his murdered brother, takes up his beloved daggers one final time and begins the long drive to L.A. When the bodies begin to mount, Detective Alison Lockley’s hunt for the killers becomes increasingly urgent. As paths cross, confusion ensues, and no one’s entirely sure who’s after who. But one thing is clear: They’re not all getting out of this alive.”


Do Not Become Alarmed by Maile Meloy (2017)

“When Liv and Nora decide to take their families on a holiday cruise, everyone is thrilled. The ship’s comforts and possibilities seem infinite. The children – two eleven-year-olds, an eight-year-old, and a six-year-old—love the nonstop buffet and the independence they have at the Kids’ Club. But when they all go ashore in beautiful Central America, a series of minor misfortunes leads the families farther and farther from the ship’s safety. One minute the children are there, and the next they’re gone.

What follows is a riveting, revealing story told from the perspectives of the adults and the children, as the once-happy parents – now turning on one another and blaming themselves – try to recover their children and their lives.”


Find Me by André Aciman (2019)

“A follow-up to Aciman’s 2007 Call Me by Your Name. In Find Me, Aciman shows us Elio’s father, Samuel, on a trip from Florence to Rome to visit Elio, who has become a gifted classical pianist. A chance encounter on the train with a beautiful young woman upends Sami’s plans and changes his life forever.

Elio soon moves to Paris, where he, too, has a consequential affair, while Oliver, now a New England college professor with a family, suddenly finds himself contemplating a return trip across the Atlantic.

Aciman is a master of sensibility, of the intimate details and the emotional nuances that are the substance of passion. Find Me brings us back inside the magic circle of one of our greatest contemporary romances to ask if, in fact, true love ever dies.”


Give Me Your Hand by Megan Abbott (2018)

“You told each other everything. Then she told you too much.

Kit has risen to the top of her profession and is on the brink of achieving everything she wanted. She hasn’t let anything stop her.

But now someone else is standing in her way – Diane. Best friends at seventeen, their shared ambition made them inseparable. Until the day Diane told Kit her secret – the worst thing she’d ever done, the worst thing Kit could imagine – and it blew their friendship apart.

Kit is still the only person who knows what Diane did. And now Diane knows something about Kit that could destroy everything she’s worked so hard for.

How far would Kit go, to make the hard work, the sacrifice, worth it in the end? What wouldn’t she give up? Diane thinks Kit is just like her. Maybe she’s right. Ambition: it’s in the blood . . .”


You Don’t Know Me by Sara Foster (2020)

“Lizzie Burdett was eighteen when she vanished, and Noah Carruso has never forgotten her. She was his first crush, his unrequited love. She was also his brother’s girlfriend.

Tom Carruso hasn’t been home in over a decade. He left soon after Lizzie disappeared, under a darkening cloud of suspicion, and now he’s back for the inquest into Lizzie’s death – intent on telling his side of the story.

As the inquest looms, Noah meets Alice Pryce on holiday. They fall for each other fast and hard, but Noah can’t bear to tell Alice his deepest fears. And Alice is equally stricken – she carries a terrible secret of her own.

Is the truth worth telling if it will destroy everything?”


Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser (2019)

“When a video call between friends captures a shocking incident no one was supposed to see, the secrets it exposes threaten to change their lives forever.

Molly and Liza have always been enviably close. Even after Molly married Daniel, the couple considered Liza an honorary family member. But after Liza moved away, things grew more strained than anyone wanted to admit—in the friendship and the marriage.

When Daniel goes away on business, Molly and Liza plan to reconnect with a nice long video chat after the kids are in bed. But then Molly leaves the room to check on a crying child.

What Liza sees next will change everything.”


I like books that are about relationships and hint at secrets and suspense. There’s some of that in all of these books and I know I’ll be putting them  on my ever-growing list. Have you read any of them? Are any on your list?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!