Man books – books with “man” in the title

We see our fair share of books with “woman” in the title, so I thought it would be fun to see what “man” books are out there. Turns out plenty! I’ve only read one of these, but many of the books listed here are from bestselling authors. I included one steamy one, so read that one at your own risk 😉

Here are 10 “man” books and there are many more! All links and descriptions are from Goodreads, Amazon or my blog.

A Better Man by Louise Penny – I’ve read a few Louise Penny books, but not this one. Book 15 in the Armand Gamache series. Catastrophic spring flooding, blistering attacks in the media, and a mysterious disappearance greet Chief Inspector Armand Gamache as he returns to the Sûreté du Québec in the latest novel by #1 New York Times bestselling author Louise Penny.

A Gambling Man by David Baldacci – Book 2 in the Archer series. Aloysius Archer, the straight-talking World War II veteran fresh out of prison, returns in this riveting #1 New York Times bestselling thriller from David Baldacci.

The Gray Man by Mark Greaney – Book 1 in the Gray Man series. To those who lurk in the shadows, he’s known as the Gray Man. He is a legend in the covert realm, moving silently from job to job, accomplishing the impossible and then fading away. And he always hits his target. Always.

The Innocent Man by John Grisham – John Grisham’s first work of nonfiction: a true crime story that will terrify anyone who believes in the presumption of innocence. “Both an American tragedy and [Grisham’s] strongest legal thriller yet, all the more gripping because it happens to be true.”—Entertainment Weekly

The Lost Man by Jane Harper – This is the one I’ve read: Nathan and Bub Bright were shocked when their middle brother, Cameron died in the outback’s unrelenting heat. It didn’t make sense that he’d had gone out on foot to the legendary Stockman’s Grave, miles from his truck and the family’s cattle ranch. At forty, Cam was a successful and capable rancher and ran the family’s business. And he knew the dangers of the desert heat. Despite signs that Cam was desperate to find shade, investigators suggest that Cam took his own life.

The Memory Man by David Baldacci – Book 1 in the Amos Decker series. Amos Decker’s life changed forever–twice. The first time was on the gridiron. A big, towering athlete, he was the only person from his hometown of Burlington ever to go pro. But his career ended before it had a chance to begin. On his very first play, a violent helmet-to-helmet collision knocked him off the field for good, and left him with an improbable side effect–he can never forget anything.

Rich Man, Poor Man by Irwin Shaw – I’d forgotten about this one! This New York Times–bestselling saga of two brothers in postwar America, the basis for the classic miniseries, is “a book you can’t put down” (The New York Times).

This Man by Jodi Ellen Malpas  – Steam warning!! Named one of “The 20 Greatest Ever Romance Novels According to Goodreads Reviews” by O, The Oprah Magazine. Young interior designer Ava O’Shea has no idea what awaits her at the Manor. A run-of-the-mill consultation with a stodgy country gent seems likely, but what Ava finds instead is Jesse Ward—a devastatingly handsome, utterly confident, pleasure-seeking playboy who knows no boundaries…

Have you read any of these “man” books? Leave a comment!

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Book Review: The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins

The Woman in White
by
Wilkie Collins

Rating: 5 out of 5.

If you’re looking for an excellent classic mystery, I highly recommend The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. It was first published in serial form in 1859-60, in Charles Dickens’ magazine All Year Round and in Harper’s Weekly and in book form in 1860. So it’s an old book, set in Victorian England, but don’t be put off by that because the plot is so clever and varied and the characters surprisingly relevant and modern, I never felt bogged down. I should mention that the book is also very long: the print version is 720 pages.

We’ve gotten away from reading long books, don’t you think? We live in a world in which there’s too much content to absorb and talk about. I feel like it all has to be done in the fastest time possible so we can move to the next book, show, movie, song, etc. I’m just as much a victim of that mentality as everyone else, but I also feel myself shifting to a different reading attitude. When readers were first enjoying The Woman in White, they were reading it a chapter at a time and looking forward to the next installment. Just like TV shows that used to be weekly and gave us time between to look forward to what might happen next. Now everything is a binge. Okay, rant over, time to talk about the book!

Set outside and in London, the story begins with drawing instructor Walter Hartright who accepts a position to tutor two young women at their estate (Limmeridge House). Marian Halcombe and Laura Fairlie are half sisters and they live with Laura’s reclusive and uncle, Frederick Fairlie. The night before Walter leaves for Limmeridge House, he meets a mysterious woman in white who has escaped from an asylum. She asks him to help her and he agrees.

At Limmeridge and as predicted, Walter falls in love with the beautiful Laura and she with him, but the relationship cannot be acknowledged because Laura is betrothed to Sir Percival Glyde, an arranged marriage. Meanwhile, the mysterious woman in white, Anne Catherick, who looks a lot like Laura, is seen around Limmeridge. While that’s one of the mysteries readers will need to be patient about, we learn early on that Anne had local connections and was taken under Marian’s mother’s wing for a short period of time. Now it’s getting complicated, but wait! In a plot to get Laura’s money, Sir Percival and his closest friend, the slick-talking Count Isidor Ottavio Baldassare Fosco from Italy, concoct a scheme with shocking results. I don’t want to give anything away, so I’ll leave the rest out. There are plenty of twists, close calls, and dramatic scenes to keep you wanting more.

I do need to note that Marian Halcombe is one of the best and most likable characters in the story. No surprise that one of the book’s major themes is about women’s rights, as Marian is a strong woman with a smart mind. I also enjoyed Fosco’s character. You can’t trust him, but he’s extremely accommodating and pleasant and so fun to observe.

Besides being about women and their rights during the mid-1800s, the story is also about class, titles, money, inheritances, land rights, deception, suspicion of foreigners, international intrigue, love and friendship. The book begins and ends with Walter Hartright’s narration, but Collins includes substantial testimonials by Marian Halcombe, Frederick Fairlie, Fosco, solicitors, housekeepers and other minor characters. The last section reads like a detective novel and helps solve the mystery.

I highly recommend The Woman in White. If you don’t have time for the book, there are plenty of adaptations to enjoy.

Have you read this classic? Are you interested now? What’s your opinion of long books and the rush to consume content? Leave a comment.

Interested in more books by Wilkie Collins? Read my review of The Moonstone here.

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🆕On YouTube today: all-new Read React Decide!

Hi Everyone,

I’m on YouTube today doing an all-new Read React Decide. I grabbed three books from the library, picked random passages and chose one book to read. Something silly happened in the middle – I hope you’ll get a chance to watch! 😅

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Who’s That Indie Author? Leon Stevens

Author Name: Leon Stevens

Genre: Poetry and Science Fiction

Books: Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures, A Wonder of Words, The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories, The View from Here, Journeys: Eight Original Pieces for Classical Guitar

Bio: I am a Canadian multi-genre author, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and artist with a Bachelor of Music and Education.

What got you started as a writer? I became a writer out of necessity. Along with songwriting, poetry was therapeutic and allowed me to accept and make sense of events and situations in my life. I decided that what I wrote could help and entertain others, so I decided to publish my first book of poetry.

What is your writing routine? I don’t have a set routine. However, most of my blog posts are written in the morning, so often, I’ll write a few things down after that. I’m a slow writer and will often write when inspiration strikes. I do try to write each day.

What route did you take to get your books published? I made a mistake that many new authors have made and used a vanity press to publish. I had no idea what to do, so it seemed to be the quickest and easiest way. They did provide a lot of invaluable publishing and marketing information and took care of the distribution. All my other books have been through KDP.

What things do you do to promote your books? Like most indie authors, money is a concern. Advertising costs vary greatly, and it’s a lot of work and research to decide where the investment will be the most effective. I also use BookFunnel and StoryOrigin to connect with other authors to promote to their readership. I have been interviewing authors as well, which is a great way to not only help promote their work but to introduce mine to others.

What is your favorite genre to read and why? I try to read a variety of genres, but I am very picky, so many books get left unfinished. Science fiction and historical fiction is what I prefer.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? I used to struggle with dialogue. Often, if I am getting stuck with descriptions, I’ll just write dialogue to get things moving. Also, I’m not one for writing lengthy descriptions, which is probably why when I set out to write my first novel, it wound up being a novella.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Did this change the plot of your book?
Nah. They’re pretty open to dealing with the situations I put them in. I haven’t heard any complaints. Yet.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life?  Probably getting my degrees. 

What events or people have most influenced how you live your life? I think my father has had the most influence. He was the one who instilled the love of science fiction in me at a young age. He is such a hard worker, and I’ve never seen him get mad or complain. When people say, “You’re just like your dad.” I know I’m doing something right.

What would you tell your younger self? Funny you should ask. In my latest poetry book, I wrote about just that.

What I Want to be When I’m Young

I want to listen more. To the people who know better. To the people who say, “Don’t make the same mistakes that I did.” Learning from mistakes? Sure, we do have to make errors in life sometimes, but what’s wrong with looking up how to spell a word or use spell-check…? Nothing.

I want to set goals. Obtainable ones. Despite what people say, you can’t be anything you want to be. That’s a lie. There are some things that you just won’t be able to do. Although, by trying and failing, you will find out what you are good at.

I want to be a better student. I didn’t try my best. I think that I needed glasses. I didn’t understand the importance of learning—the importance of wanting to learn.

I want to not be a quitter. Piano, guitar, sports. I should have tried harder. Much harder.

I want to save 10% of all my earnings. I shudder to do the calculations. I never made a lot, but my father-in-law always said that compound interest was the eighth wonder of the world. He was right.

I want to be brave. Not reckless, just not so afraid.

I want to stay awake so that I can see Halley’s comet.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? I have. Sort of. We could hear the bear just around the corner. There was a tree moving, so it was probably scratching it. We turned around and headed back to the tent. The next day we successfully completed the hike with no encounters. Except for the angry squirrel.

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? No contest. Snickers. It’s a delicious meal. But those Doritos are looking pretty tasty. Just my luck, whatever I buy will get stuck.

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? Interesting question. Had I known I’d be asked this later in my life, I might have kept a record. It’s funny how people gravitate to kitchens during get-togethers. Closer to the food and beer I suppose.

Closing thoughts: Thank you for having me here. Any opportunity to get the word out about my books is appreciated.  

Website and social media links: I have recently discovered linktree, so all my links can be found in one handy place: https://linktr.ee/leonstevens


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.

Book Review: Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish by Nancy Dingman Watson

Hi Everyone! In honor of Mother’s Day, I’m sharing this updated post from 2014 about a book that was a favorite with my kids and made me sentimental about my own childhood. It was published in 1996, but you can still get it online and maybe at your library!

Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish
by
Nancy Dingman Watson

Illustrated by Thomas Aldren Wingman Watson

Rating: 5 out of 5.

When my kids were little, we found this book at our local library. It was on display and there was something that pulled us to it. We loved the cover picture of a young boy on the beach, holding a fishing rod, dog at his side.

In this special story, Tommy lives with his family on the ocean beach and he wants to give his mother a birthday present, all from him. His older brother and sisters are busy making their own gifts for their mother. Cammie is making a bayberry candle, Caitlin is making beach-plum jelly and Peter is cutting a pile of locust logs to fit the fireplace. They let him help. “You can help me, and we can give it to her together,” Caitlin offers. Cammie and Peter make similar offers, but Tommy says no, “I wanted it to be a present all from me,” he tells us.

Tommy is determined to give his mother something special and decides to catch her a fish, “And it isn’t going to be any little old sand dabber or a funny-looking thing like a goosefish or a sea robin. It’s going to be a STRIPED BASS.”

Tommy stands at the surf with his pole and waits. Gulls pass, the sunlight fades, the moon makes a “bright golden path over the water.” Tommy knows that patience is best when he finally hooks a big fat silver bass, but who will win the battle in the surf?

My kids loved this picture of the fish. The artwork in this book is terrific!

tommy's fish
Little boys love pictures that are a little bit scary!

I love this book for a couple reasons. First, the story is just plain nice. I love family stories with dynamics between brothers and sisters. I love how these kids aren’t buying their mother anything, they are thinking of things to make, things that she will like. The second thing I like is the hard-to-explain, but very real way the book makes me feel, especially when Tommy faces the big fish. I don’t want to spoil the story, but I love Tommy’s narration of this moment.

So if you’re looking for a nice “old-school” kind of book, with a warm family feel, check this out, even if there aren’t any little ones around!

Nancy Dingman Watson
Nancy Dingman Watson

Nancy Dingman Watson (1933-2001) was an American author of more than 25 children’s books, novels and poetry books, including Blueberries Lavender, When Is Tomorrow and Tommy’s Mommy’s Fish, which was illustrated by her son and re-released in 1996.

Ms. Watson was born in Paterson, New Jersey and grew up in Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. She attended Wheaton College and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Smith College. She married Aldren Watson in 1941 and made a home in Putney, Vermont where she spent thirty years raising eight children. In the sixties, Ms. Watson wrote for the column “One Woman’s View.” She was a two-time finalist in the Allen Ginsburg poetry competition, and wrote an award-winning musical, Princess! Later in her life, she sailed across the Atlantic with her second husband, Dutch sailor Fokke Van Bekkum, in their 32-foot sailboat.

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Book Review: Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! I originally posted this review in 2014 and I’m sharing an updated version today. Such a terrific children’s book!

Make Way for Ducklings
Written and illustrated
by
Robert McCloskey

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Here’s a simple story about Mr. and Mrs. Mallard, who settle in Boston to raise a family. Mrs. Mallard causes quite a stir when she leads her eight ducklings through the streets of Boston, across town to meet Mr. Mallard on the pond in the Public Garden!

This is a wonderful picture book for little children and for young elementary school kids. The illustrations are great, and they complement McCloskey’s warm and humorous story. Mr. and Mrs. Mallard aptly name their cute ducklings Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and, of course, Quack and the way they scamper through the pages will make you smile.

Here’s one of my favorite pictures from the book, but they’re all great!

Ducks_2
How cute!

Make Way for Ducklings was published in 1941 and received the Caldecott Medal in the same year. Despite the years, I think the appeal of this book is timeless.

Robert McCloskey
Robert McCloskey

Robert McCloskey (1914-2003)

Robert McCloskey was an American writer and illustrator of children’s books. He was the first person to be awarded the Caldecott Medal twice, once in 1941 for Make Way for Ducklings, and also in 1957 for Time of Wonder.

McCloskey was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio. Before becoming an artist, he had a great many interests. He studied music and played the piano, harmonica, drums and oboe. He loved mechanics and electronics and spent a lot of time as a child inventing different gadgets, including elaborate lightings for the family Christmas tree. He discovered art in high school and won a scholarship at the Vesper George School of Design in Boston. McCloskey also studied art at the National Academy of Design in New York. McCloskey wrote and illustrated eight of his own books, and illustrated twelve additional children’s books.

He married Peggy Durand, daughter of the children’s author, Ruth Sawyer. They settled in upstate New York and spent summers in Maine and raised two daughters.

Books by Robert McCloskey:

Lentil (1940)
Make Way for Ducklings (1941) Caldecott Medal
Homer Price (1943)
Blueberries for Sal (1948) Caldecott Honor
Centerburg Tales (1951)
One Morning in Maine (1952) Caldecott Honor
Time of Wonder (1957) Caldecott Medal
Burt Dow, Deep Water Man (1963)

Thanks to Wikipedia and the The New York Times for this information.

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Book Review – The Songs of Trees: Stories from Nature’s Great Connectors by David George Haskell

The Songs of Trees
by
David George Haskell

I enjoyed this book that explores the deep connection between trees, nature and humans. Haskell studies twelve trees from around the world and explains in descriptive detail how the trees grow, adapt, sense, and provide living space for a multitude of living things.

From the Ceibo in the Amazon, to the Redwoods and Ponderosa Pines in Colorado, to the Japanese White Pine, we learn about these and other regional trees, their chemistry, their leaves and adaptive roots, the fungi that help them grow, how the trees protect themselves, and the effects of climate change over millions of years. In addition, we learn about regional cultures and their relationships to specific species. Haskell also describes the spiritual, economic and political connections with the trees.

While I enjoyed learning about all the trees he described, I particularly enjoyed reading about the Ceibo in Ecuador. Haskell ascended a structure through the canopy of this part of the forest and was able to see and experience the vast network of creatures living within the branches, animals that never visit the ground. That includes the bullet ant, known for its intensely painful sting! I also liked learning about how humans and the Hazel tree arrived in Scotland at the same time, during the Mesolithic Age. These civilizations had a deep dependency on the Hazel, used its wood for fuel and ate hazelnuts to survive. Haskell also studies several urban trees, including the Cottonwood in Denver and the Callery Pear in Manhattan. Both of these species have become gathering places for people, in Denver, to enjoy shade along the Cheery Creek and the South Platte River and in New York, as a place to step away for a bit from the busy sidewalk traffic. In Jerusalem, he looks at the olive tree, how it adapts to dry conditions and the effects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on its farmers and their families.

To say that Haskell is descriptive is a major understatement! He packs every sentence with a multitude of adjectives and scientific detail. That makes for a slower read, perhaps the author’s deliberate attempt to make readers truly understand and experience the atmosphere he describes. At 252 pages, you may think you can read this quickly, but I’d recommend taking it at about ten to twenty pages at time. I was under pressure to read it for my library job and had to commit to fifty pages a day to get it done. That was a little tough, time-wise. I’d recommend this book to readers who like books about natural history and enjoy the connection between nature and civilization.

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Who knew there were so many Rebecca covers?

I’ve always had an image in my mind of what Rebecca, Maxim and Mrs. Danvers look like in Daphne du Maurier’s classic Gothic novel about a young woman who tries to overcome the memory of her husband’s first wife. After looking at all these book covers, I can see that other people had their own ideas!

Here are thirty-seven covers to show you what I mean. Some of these are audiobooks and editions in other languages. I have a couple favorites. Which ones are yours?

If you’re interested, you can read my five-star review of Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier here and my post about the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock movie here.

And by the way, here are my top three favorites!

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Recognize any of these publishing trends?

What’s happening in the publishing world in 2022 and what does that mean for indie authors and small publishers? I found this interesting article about what to expect in the future.

Written Word Media, a book marketing business, listed the following trends. While I’m not promoting their services, I think they make some great observations! Maybe you already know about some of them.

  • Direct sales for authors will continue to grow. This helps authors make more money and have direct connection with the people who buy their books. That means specific contact information and a good newsletter email list potential.
  • Indie authors will embrace next generation technology. They’re talking about NFTs (which I don’t entirely understand), AI narration for audiobooks and using AI for writing tools. I love technology so I think this is pretty cool!
  • BookTok is mainstream. Who’s on BookTok? I haven’t ventured there yet, but I’m interested. I’m mostly concerned about spreading myself too thin, as a book blogger, that is!
  • Book prices will increase. That’s for print and digital. This article says that promotional discounts will become more attractive to buyers.
  • More success for small presses. The divide between traditional publishing and indie publishing is getting bigger. In addition to being more collaborative, indie and self-published authors are more adaptive and forward-thinking. That’s good news for sales. They note that “traditional publishers aren’t adapting to the growth of audio and eBook formats and instead are struggling with supply chain issues. Smaller publishers are going to fill the void.”
  • Advertising will become more inclusive. They’re talking marketing graphics with more visuals and colors. Everyone seems to be getting better at designing their own graphics, too, although be careful if you use Canva. I know there are stipulations about whether you’re using your design for profit. Ad tracking has been reined in, but social media platforms are out there for anyone to use.
  • Digital ads will be more expensive and difficult to track. They note, “In addition to increased cost to run ads online, the tracking and targeting options that had made digital ads so effective are slowly going away.” What is your experience with paid advertising? Do you recognize this trend? Do you recommend paid advertising?
  • Audiobook market continues to evolve. Spotify just bought a company named Findaway and they’re going to focus more and more on narratives, in addition to music and podcasts.
  • More authors will try publishing serializations via reading apps. Wow this sounds interesting! Have any of you tried that?

Have you noticed any of these trends? Leave a comment below!

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Book Review: House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery by Liz Rosenberg

House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery
by
Liz Rosenberg

Illustrated by Julie Morstad

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

I read about House of Dreams over at Bookshelf Fantasies and was immediately interested in reading about Lucy Maud Montgomery, Canadian author of twenty novels, including Anne of Green Gables and hundreds of short stories and poems. Montgomery was Maud to family and friends and she used L.M. Montgomery as her professional name. I confess I have not read the children’s book Anne of Green Gables, but now I want to. I also knew nothing about Maud Montgomery and her life.

Maud was born in 1874 and grew up in a village called Cavendish on Prince Edward Island in Canada. Her mother died when she was two years old and her father soon moved to Saskatchewan. Maud went to live with her maternal grandparents, Lucy and Alexander Macneill. They were already in their fifties and although they provided Maud with all the material things she needed, they were not affectionate or supportive, leaving Maud to feel sad and alone. Her grandfather was particularly hard on Maud. Despite this upbringing, Maud felt a deep attachment to Cavendish.

Maud was destined to become a writer. From an early age, she kept a journal, made up stories and when she was older submitted them to newspapers and magazines for publication. “I cannot remember the time when I was not writing, or when I did not mean to be an author,” she wrote.

Maud was merry on the outside (merry was one of her favorite words), but inside she battled mood swings and seasonal depression: it was a lifelong struggle. Mental illness was not widely talked about, accepted or treated in Maud’s time and she and others suffering had to tough it out alone. She wrote happier stories to escape the gloom. “Thank God, I can keep the shadows of my life out of my work. I would not wish to darken any other life—I want instead to be a messenger of optimism and sunshine.”

Maud had many suitors, turned down several marriage proposals and broke one engagement after “a year of mad passion” with another man. That relationship was not meant to be, however, and she later married Ewan Macdonald, an aspiring minister. They had two sons, Chester and Stuart. Ewan, however, also struggled with mental illness and their marriage was not happy. To combat their depression and mood swings, they took sleeping pills, tranquilizers, bromides and other medicines. Maud died of an overdose in 1942 at age sixty-seven. In 2008, her granddaughter revealed that her death was a possible suicide.

I knew from the description that this book talked a lot about depression and mental health, but I had no idea that an author as beloved as Montgomery had suffered so much. She endured many losses and heartbreak, but hid these feelings from the public. This book is supposedly geared to readers ages 10-14, and the writing style is definitely simpler. It’s also illustrated, which makes it look like a middle-grade book. In my opinion, the content is more appropriate for an older reader, although I can see it being used as a way of talking with kids about mental health problems.

That said, I found it interesting and easy to read and it has sparked my interest in her books.

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