BC Mom’s Author Update: The Reflections of Queen Snow White (Audiobook) by David Meredith

Welcome to Book Club Mom’s Author Update. Open to all authors who want to share news with readers. I recently caught up with David Meredith, who has news about the new audiobook version of The Reflections of Queen Snow White. Here’s what David has to say:


David Meredith

I’d like to announce The Reflections of Queen Snow White has been released in audiobook format through Audible and Amazon.com (click here to view), expertly narrated by Robin Waters. The #1 Kindle Best Seller for Fantasy and Futuristic Romance is also available in paperback as an e-book – FREE to Kindle Unlimited (KU) users!

Dr. David Meredith is a writer and educator originally from Knoxville, Tennessee. He received both a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts from East Tennessee State University and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership (Ed.D.) from Trevecca Nazarene University in Nashville. On and off, he spent nearly a decade, from 1999-2010 teaching English in Northern Japan, but currently lives with his wife and three children in the Nashville Area where he continues to write and teach English.

Find out more about David and his books at these links:

Facebook: @DavidMeredithWriting
Amazon Author Page: David Meredith
Twitter: @DMeredith2013
Who’s That Indie Author? – David Meredith


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email bvitelli2009@gmail.com.

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New York Public Library’s Top 10 Checkouts of All Time

Image: Pixabay

Did you see the New York Public Library’s Top 10 Checkouts of All Time? They published the list this month to mark their 125th anniversary. I bet you know all ten of these books. Six of them are children’s books, but what about Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown? It didn’t make the list, but it made Honorable Mention and here is how the library explains it:

By all measures, this book should be a top checkout (in fact, it might be the top checkout) if not for an odd piece of history: extremely influential New York Public Library children’s librarian Anne Carroll Moore hated Goodnight Moon when it first came out. As a result, the Library didn’t carry it until 1972. That lost time bumped the book off the top 10 list for now. But give it time.

Years ago, libraries weren’t even open to children and, as explained in this recent Washington Post article, Anne Carroll is credited with “introducing an entire generation of children to libraries in the early 20th century.” She just wasn’t a fan of Goodnight Moon and a couple others.

Here are the Top 10 Checkouts:

  1. The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  2. The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss
  3. 1984 by George Orwell
  4. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  6. Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White
  7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  8. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  9. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling
  10. The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Thanks very much to K. for sending me this article!

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Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk – still my favorite!

One of the best things about looking back at your all-time favorite books is reliving the great feelings you had when you read them. And no matter how many new great books I read, I’ll always go back to my number one all-time favorite book, Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk.  Last year, I was excited to learn that a couple of my blogging friends (Annika Perry’s Writing Blog and Pamela Wight at RoughWighting) had added it to their 2019 reading lists. How fun to see that people are still reading this book that first hit the scene in 1962!

Youngblood Hawke is the story of a young author from the coal mines of Kentucky who arrives in New York and becomes a hugely successful and prolific novelist. Publishers, agents, Broadway producers, filmmakers, real estate developers and, of course, women, all want a piece of this larger-than-life, good-natured and ambitious personality. Hawke’s goal all along is to make enough money so that he can really get down to business and write his most serious work, something he calls his American Comedy. There are lots of ups and downs and many detours. At 800 pages, it’s not exactly a fast read, but it’s lots of fun and well worth the commitment.

Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who’s read Youngblood Hawke, but there are lots of fans out there. Check out these reviews and maybe you’ll add it to your list!

The average rating on Goodreads is 4.04
Amazon rates it at 4.5
This review from the LA Times says “’Youngblood Hawke’ Is No Turkey”

Are you tempted?

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Click here to see Book Club Mom’s Top 15 Faves.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone
by
Wilkie Collins

Rating:

Serious mystery readers may already know that The Moonstone is considered “the first and greatest of English detective novels.” Those are the words of T. S. Eliot, poet, playwright, literary critic and winner of the 1948 Nobel Prize for Literature. I read The Moonstone, which was first published in 1868, for the Whodunits mystery book club at the library where I work.

Wow. It’s a whopping, 482 pages of dense type, with footnotes, so I had to go hard to get it read by my deadline, but it was totally worth it!

The story begins in India, with the Storming of the Seringapatam by an English Imperialist army, during which a valuable gem is stolen from a religious icon. John Herncastle brings the famous Yellow Diamond back to England and, when he dies, it goes to his niece, Rachel Verinder, on her eighteenth birthday. It’s an act of revenge, though, because the gem is rumored to be cursed and Herncastle’s family hates him. And a mysterious trio of Indians has been lurking in the shadows ever since Rachel’s cousin, Franklin Blake, brought the Diamond, aka The Moonstone, to the family’s home in Yorkshire.

Rachel wears the Diamond for her birthday party and by morning it’s missing. The local police manage to offend the servants and soon, the famous Sergeant Cuff is called from London. He discovers an important clue, and the investigation takes off. Rumors from London suggest the gem been pawned and secured in a bank vault. If true, how did it get from Yorkshire to London?

The narrative is from many points of view, beginning with Lady Verinda’s butler, Gabriel Betteredge. He quickly becomes Cuff’s sidekick as they try to unravel the events that led to the lost Diamond. Other narrators include a poor relation, Miss Clack, who is eager to share her carpetbag full of religious pamphlets and Franklin, who was also Rachel’s love interest before the gem went missing, and is now under suspicion. Many additional characters contribute clues, but they don’t always lead in the right direction: Rosanna Spearman is a plain housemaid (and former thief) with a deformed shoulder, and she knows something. Philanthropist Godfrey Ablewhite is another love interest and “Limping Lucy” Yolland holds a letter that may explain a lot.

The mystery is set in both the coastal region of Yorkshire, where a scary tract of quicksand may have swallowed up some answers, and in London, where shady lender Septimus Luker has an office and family lawyer Matthew Bruff wields an imposing legal influence.

Halfway through the book and you wonder if the mystery will ever be solved. It will, but there’s a lot to discover, through briefly introduced characters in the beginning, and new characters, all leading towards a twisted and spectacular finish.

While not an easy read, I totally recommend The Moonstone as an example of how it’s done. I’m only giving it 4.5 stars, however, because of its difficulty.

And here’s something interesting: the book was originally published in serialized format by Collins’s good friend, Charles Dickens!

Have you read The Moonstone? What did you think?

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BC Mom’s Author Update: Leaving the Beach by Mary Rowen

Welcome to Book Club Mom’s Author Update. Open to all authors who want to share news with readers. I recently caught up with Mary Rowen, who has news about her book Leaving the Beach. Here’s what Mary has to say:


Happy New Year to all, and thanks a million to Book Club Mom for inviting me onto her wonderful site to provide a quick author update. Some of you may recall that Barb kindly reviewed my novel, Leaving the Beach early in 2019 (read her review here). Since then, Leaving the Beach—along with two of my other novels—was acquired by Evolved Publishing. And I couldn’t be happier. I’m now lucky enough to work with amazing editor Jessica West, and cover designer Kabir Shah has given the books a fresh and beautiful new look.

Leaving the Beach tells the story of Erin Reardon, a music-obsessed woman who grows up in the working-class beach town of Winthrop, MA, where I lived during my twenties. Like Erin, I struggled terribly with eating disorders, although I’m grateful to report that I’ve made a full recovery—thanks to great therapy and wonderful support from family and friends. I’m also a huge music fan, and believe wholeheartedly in the power of music to unite people and heal emotional wounds. So even though Leaving the Beach is pure fiction, a lot of the events in the story are based on my memories and experiences.

If you’re interested, Leaving the Beach is available at all the other standard online places, and can be ordered at most bookstores if it’s not in stock when you visit. If you’d like more info, check out this recent review on Publishers Weekly here.

Find more information about Mary and Leaving the Beach at these links:
Leaving the Beach on Amazon
Mary Rowen Amazon Author page
Mary Rowen blog
Twitter @maryjrowen
Mary Rowen on Goodreads

Reach Mary by email: mary@pocomotech.com


For information about Book Club Mom’s Author Update,
email bvitelli2009@gmail.com.

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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

A Gentleman in Moscow
by
Amor Towles

Rating:

In 1922, Count Alexander Ilyich Rostov appears before Russia’s Emergency Committee of the People’s Commissariat for Internal Affairs. It’s all because of a 1913 revolutionary poem published in Rostov’s name, deeming him a threat to the country. Instead of execution or a trip to Siberia, the Committee orders the Count to serve the rest of his days under house arrest at the famous Metropol Hotel in Moscow, where the new Bolshevik regime has taken over the second floor.

Rostov has lived in luxury at the hotel for four years, but his new chambers are in the hotel’s crowded attic and he must abandon most of his belongings. And so begins the Count’s new life within the walls of the hotel.

Rostov may be accustomed to riches, but that hasn’t made him soft. He knows that “if a man does not master his circumstances then he is bound to be mastered by them.”

In a terrific story that spans over thirty years, Rostov redefines his “citizenship” at the hotel, which is the center of Russian history, culture, politics and international travel. And just as the Metropol is the hub of activity, the Count becomes central to many relationships, both personal and political.

From a charming nine-year-old girl, Nina, to a moody chef, an exacting maître d’, a seamstress, a famous actress, politicians, businessmen, an old friend and many others, these relationships expose Rostov to the country’s great social and political upheaval and the Western world’s reaction to it. Insulated from hardship and persecution, the Count may just be “the luckiest man in all of Russia.”

In 1938, Nina returns to the hotel and asks Rostov a great favor, and this is when the Count’s life’s purpose begins. Story lines and relationships take on new meanings as Rostov, now an older man, plans for the future.

I loved every word of this book because it includes all the things I value in a great story: historical setting, passage of time, strong relationships, loss, big themes, and an interconnected plot that comes together by equal amounts of planning and chance.

What a feat for Towles to create such a relatable character as Rostov. Although the Count’s aristocratic life has made him into one man, it’s his ability to adapt and his empathy for people that makes him so endearing. Towles mixes that in with a proper man’s honor, a sentimental soft spot and adventuresome wile, making Rostov’s character one I will think about for years to come.

I highly recommend A Gentleman in Moscow. I was a little late to the party in reading it, but I’m in good company. It made Bill Gates’s top reads of 2019 (see the list here and read his Goodreads review here).

Have you read A Gentleman in Moscow? What did you think?

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Happy New Year!

Hi Everyone and Happy New Year!

I’ve had fun seeing what all the book bloggers read in 2019 and now it’s time to begin again! I’m not doing any reading challenges this year, but I always like to have a short-term plan for what I’m going to read.

So here’s what’s in store for January:

I just started A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. It’s on loan from the library on my Kindle and due soon, so that’s first. OMG I am tearing through it. I’m already sure I will give it a good review!


Next up is The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. I’m reading it for my mystery book club at work. We decided to return to one of the first of the genre and this one goes way back. The Moonstone was first published in 1868!


I got two books for Christmas and I can’t wait to start them. I’ve been talking about reading a Howard Hughes biography and this one is Howard Hughes – the Untold Story by Petter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske.


I also got You by Caroline Kepnes. If you don’t know about this book, it’s also a series on Netflix and Season 2 just started. I’m going to read this first, watch Season 1, then move on to either the sequel called Hidden Bodies or watch Season 2 first. Can’t decide!


I hope you have some fun things and some good books lined up for 2020. What’s the first book you will read?

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Book Club Mom’s Top 15 All-Time Favorite Books

The problem with having a Top 10 book list is that over time it’s impossible to keep the number at 10. I’ve left it that way for a few years, but it’s time for an update. So to accommodate some of the great books I’ve recently read, here is my new list, in alphabetical order.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk

Do you have a Top 10 List (or a Top 15 or Top 20)? Leave a link in the comments and I’ll pop over and say hello!

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A great reading year for fiction and nonfiction – check out these recommended reads!

Image: Pixabay

It’s been a great reading year and the perfect time to share the books I’ve enjoyed. I’m ready to curl up with a good book, are you?


Fiction

Leaving the Beach by Mary Rowen

The story of a young woman and her search for happiness. Set in the working class town of Winthrop, Massachusetts, readers get to know her in alternating time periods—in the 1970s and ‘80s as an awkward teenager and college student, and in the 1990s as a young adult.


Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Highly recommend this terrific story of complicated family dynamics. You’ll want to read it all at once to know how it works out!


Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington

Debut collection of 13 coming-of-age stories, set in Houston, and told mainly by one character. An uncensored look at a struggling population with a hopeful finish. One of Barack Obama’s Top Picks of 2019.


Nonfiction

The Beneficiary – Fortune, Misfortune, and the
Story of my Father by Janny Scott

Interesting biography of Robert Montgomery Scott, written by his daughter Janny Scott. A history, spanning four generations of a wealthy family that settled on what’s called the Main Line outside of Philadelphia.


Honor Girl – A Graphic Memoir by Maggie Thrash

Young Adult graphic memoir about the author’s coming-out experience at a summer camp in the mountains of Kentucky.


How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in
Thirteen Animals
by Sy Montgomery

The more Sy Montgomery studies animals and nature, the more she knows that humans have a lot to learn about the creatures that share our world. In this book, she describes her unique relationships with 13 animals and what they have taught her.


What good books did you read in 2019?

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Mysteries and thrillers to keep you guessing

Image: Pixabay

I read some good mysteries and thrillers this year, some debuts and others by established authors. Great for seasoned readers of this genre and everyone in between! Take a look:


Back of Beyond by C. J. Box

Tense murder mystery set in Yellowstone National Park, with a suspended investigator on the heels of a wildnerness adventure tour, sure his son is in danger.


Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

A conflicted Texas Ranger is in hot water with the force for helping out a family friend facing murder charges. Forced to turn in his badge, he goes rogue with a new investigation.


A Duty to the Dead by Charles Todd

Entertaining historical mystery, set in England during World War I. The first book of the Bess Crawford Mysteries, introducing Bess as a highly skilled young nurse aboard the doomed HMHS Britannic.


The Escape Room by Megan Goldin

When Vincent deVries of Stanhope & Sons summons his Wall Street investment banker team to a compulsory meeting, the last thing they expect is to be trapped in an elevator, meant to be the setting for an escape room activity.


Frog Music by Emma Donoghue

Fictionalized account of the 1876 murder of Jenny Bonnet, an enigmatic free spirit in San Francisco, who dressed like a man and earned a living catching frogs for restaurants.


The Glass Room by Ann Cleeves

Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope has another crime to solve when her neighbor, Joanna Tobin, goes missing and an influential professor is murdered. Could Joanna, who is off her meds, be responsible for the professor’s death?


Miracle Creek by Angie Kim

Debut novel and a mystery/courtroom drama in which a young mother stands trial for the murder of her 8-year-old autistic son.


The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

Alicia Berenson does something strange after she kills her husband. She stops talking. The only clue to explain her actions is a self-portrait, painted a few days after the murder.


Those People by Louise Candlish

On the problem of despicable neighbors, here’s a new book about a couple that moves into an idyllic and award-winning neighborhood in South London and drives the families to desperation.


What the Dead Know by Laura Lippman

It’s 1975 when two sisters disappear from a busy mall outside Baltimore, Maryland. They separate at the mall and never come home. Thirty years later, a mysterious woman returns and claims to be one of the missing girls.


Did you read any good mysteries or thrillers this year?

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