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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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?

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My NetGalley hauls

Hey readers! You probably already know about NetGalley because I was a late joiner. Not really a trendsetter here! But I signed up about a year ago and it has been great. Since I already write book reviews, having an early look at new titles is a lot of fun, with not too much of an extra commitment. I wasn’t sure how well I would do with turnaround, though, so I limited the number of books I requested and held off on new requests until I read the ones NetGalley approved.

I finally finished the last book from my first haul so this week I went on a NetGalley binge and loaded my digital shelf with some new ones!

Here’s what I picked:



The Last Cruise by Kate Christensen (pub. 7/10/18)
No Place Like Home by Rebecca Muddiman (pub. 8/6/2019)
Be Still the Water by Karen Emilson (pub. 7/28/2016)
The Space Within the Silence by Bre Woods (pub. 7/24/2018)
Tap: A Love Story by Tracy Ewens (pub. 7/10/2018)

Just like everyone else, I have a huge TBR pile, so I’ll be mixing these in with books already in the queue.

And here are the NetGalley books I’ve already read and reviewed:



The Flight Attendant by Chris Bohjalian – suspense – 4 bookmarks
The Surrogate by Louise Jensen – suspense – 3 bookmarks
Bunny Mellon by Meryl Gordon – biography – 4 bookmarks
Last Stop in Brooklyn by Lawrence H. Levy – mystery – 4 bookmarks
Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage – suspense – 3.5 bookmarks
The Bone Curse by Carrie Rubin – science thriller – 4 bookmarks
David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones – biography – 4 bookmarks

And if you’re wondering about my bookmark system, here’s a quick run-down:

5 bookmarks – best of the best
4 bookmarks – excellent
3 bookmarks – very good
2 bookmarks – okay
1 bookmark- didn’t enjoy it

For more information about NetGalley, visit their website at netgalley.com. Are you already on NetGalley? How many books on your shelf?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book on my radar – Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Sometimes you miss hearing about big things. I often pay attention to who wins the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, but this year, I forgot to check.

Last week, I saw who won: Andrew Sean Greer for Less. I read The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Greer a few years ago and thought it was great, so I know I’m going to have to fit this one in!

Here’s Amazon’s description:

Who says you can’t run away from your problems? You are a failed novelist about to turn fifty. A wedding invitation arrives in the mail: your boyfriend of the past nine years is engaged to someone else. You can’t say yes–it would be too awkward–and you can’t say no–it would look like defeat. On your desk are a series of invitations to half-baked literary events around the world.

QUESTION: How do you arrange to skip town?

ANSWER: You accept them all.

What would possibly go wrong? Arthur Less will almost fall in love in Paris, almost fall to his death in Berlin, barely escape to a Moroccan ski chalet from a Saharan sandstorm, accidentally book himself as the (only) writer-in-residence at a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India, and encounter, on a desert island in the Arabian Sea, the last person on Earth he wants to face. Somewhere in there: he will turn fifty. Through it all, there is his first love. And there is his last.

Because, despite all these mishaps, missteps, misunderstandings and mistakes, Less is, above all, a love story.

A scintillating satire of the American abroad, a rumination on time and the human heart, a bittersweet romance of chances lost, by an author The New York Times has hailed as “inspired, lyrical,” “elegiac,” “ingenious,” as well as “too sappy by half,” Less shows a writer at the peak of his talents raising the curtain on our shared human comedy.

Will this one be going on your TBR list?

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Five books in my near future – what about you?

May has been busy and I’m looking forward to more reading time in June. I usually store the books I’ve already read on my bookshelf and put the new ones in a pile next to the kitchen phone. Here’s what’s on top of my pile!

The Swans of Fifth Avenue
by Melanie Benjamin – My mom just finished this one and passed it along to me. Truman Capote was such an interesting person. I want to read this historical novel about him and the movers in high society New York, one of my favorite subjects!

A Long Way Gone – Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ismael Beah – My college son read this at school and when he brought it home this month, it immediately caught my eye. It’s the story of a boy fighter in the Sierra Leone and how he was rescued from this violent life.

The Lincoln Lawyer by Michael Connelly – This one’s up next for my Whodunits book club at my library job. Also a popular movie starring Matthew McConaughey. I’m sure I’ll check out the movie after I read the book!

When Breath Becomes Air
by Paul Kalanithi – This neurosurgeon author confronts his devastating diagnosis with stage IV lung cancer and asks what makes life worth living in the face of death.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
by Swedish author Fredrik Backman – I’m reading this one for my local book club. Backman also wrote the very popular A Man Called Ove and Britt-Marie Was Here. I don’t usually jump on the popular book bandwagon but if I like this one I’ll read A Man Called Ove.

These books will keep me busy! Do you have a bookshelf system? What books are on top of your pile?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!


Three books in my near future

Photo: theguardian.com

I’m looking forward to reading these three very soon:

Winter of the Gods by Jordanna Max Brodsky

Selene DiSilva returns as the modern-day Artemis in
Brodsky’s second crime mystery in Manhattan.

Click here to read all about Brodsky’s debut novel, The Immortals.

At the Water’s Edge by Sara Gruen

Historical fiction – a post-World War II love story set in Scotland. My book club enjoyed Water for Elephants and we’re looking forward to this one too!

In the Woods by Tana French

Our library Whodunits group will be discussing this Dublin crime story in April.  In the Woods is Book 1 of 5 in the Dublin Murder Squad Series.

That’s what is on top of my pile.
What books are in  your future?

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Books I want to read in 2017 – What’s on your list?

The end of the calendar year is always a time to look back, but it’s also a fun time to look forward.  While I don’t always stick to a reading list, I do like to make one.  Here’s what is looking good to me.  What books are in your reading future?

(All summaries provided by individual publishers.  I have edited for space.)

At the Edge of the Orchard
by Tracy Chevalier

James Goodenough, whose family had originally settled in Connecticut from England brings his family to Ohio to carve out a new life for them in the Black Swamp in 1838, but as swamp fever gradually picks off their children and they wrestle daily with survival, this course will see their family engulfed in tragedy. Fifteen years later we pick up with their youngest son, Robert, who has been running west since then trying to escape his memories of what happened, taking solace in a very different kind of tree–the redwoods and sequoias of California. But Robert’s past catches up with him and he’s forced to confront what he’s running from and work out for himself that you can’t run for ever.

Born To Run
by Bruce Springsteen

Over the past seven years, Bruce Springsteen has privately devoted himself to writing the story of his life, bringing to these pages the same honesty, humor, and originality found in his songs. He describes growing up Catholic in Freehold, New Jersey, amid the poetry, danger, and darkness that fueled his imagination.  He vividly recounts his relentless drive to become a musician, his early days as a bar band king in Asbury Park, and the rise of the E Street Band. With disarming candor, he also tells for the first time the story of the personal struggles that inspired his best work, and shows us why the song “Born to Run” reveals more than we previously realized.

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
by Susannah Cahalan

A gripping memoir and medical suspense story about a young New York Post reporter’s struggle with a rare and terrifying disease, opening a new window into the fascinating world of brain science.

In this swift and breathtaking narrative, Susannah tells the astonishing true story of her inexplicable descent into madness and the brilliant, lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn’t happen.

by Ann Patchett

The enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives. Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved.   A story of love and marriage, death and divorce, and a dark secret from childhood that lies underneath it all.

Provenance: How a Con Man and a Forger Rewrote the History of Modern Art
by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo

The extraordinary narrative of one of the most far-reaching and elaborate deceptions in art history. Investigative reporters Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo brilliantly recount the tale of a great con man and unforgettable villain, John Drewe, and his sometimes unwitting accomplices. His story stretches from London to Paris to New York, from Manhattan art galleries to the archives of the Tate Gallery. Provenance reads like a well-plotted thriller, filled with unforgettable characters and told at a break-neck pace.

still-aliceStill Alice by Lisa Genova         

Alice Howland is proud of the life she worked so hard to build. At fifty years old, she’s a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard and a world-renowned expert in linguistics with a successful husband and three grown children. When she becomes increasingly disoriented and forgetful, a tragic diagnosis changes her life—and her relationship with her family and the world—forever. As she struggles to cope with Alzheimer’s, she learns that her worth is comprised of far more than her ability to remember.

the-memory-palaceThe Memory Palace by Mira Bartok

In the tradition of The Glass Castle, two sisters confront schizophrenia in this poignant literary memoir about family and mental illness. Through stunning prose and original art, The Memory Palace captures the love between mother and daughter, the complex meaning of truth, and family’s capacity for forgiveness

the-swans-of-fifth-avenueThe Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

When Truman Capote gains access to New York high society, he builds an unlikely friendship with socialite Babe Paley.

Of all the glamorous stars of New York high society, none blazes brighter than Babe Paley and her friends, the alluring socialite Swans. But beneath this elegantly composed exterior dwells a passionate woman, desperately longing for true love and connection. Enter Truman Capote. Through Babe, Truman gains unparalleled access to the scandal and gossip of Babe’s powerful circle. Babe never imagines the destruction Truman will leave in his wake– even when the stories aren’t his to tell.

The Woman in Cabin 10
by Ruth Ware

In this tightly wound, enthralling story reminiscent of Agatha Christie’s works, Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo’s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard.

What She Knew
by Gilly Macmillan

Rachel Jenner is walking in a Bristol park with her eight-year-old son Ben when he asks if he can run ahead. It’s an ordinary request on an ordinary Sunday afternoon, and Rachel has no reason to worry–until Ben vanishes. Police are called, search parties go out, and Rachel, already insecure after her recent divorce, feels herself coming undone. As hours and then days pass without a sign of Ben, everyone who knew him is called into question, from Rachel’s newly married ex-husband to her mother-of-the-year sister.

when-breath-becomes-airWhen Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

A profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir by a young neurosurgeon faced with a terminal cancer diagnosis who attempts to answer the question, What makes a life worth living? At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer.

What makes life worth living in the face of death? What do you do when the future, no longer a ladder toward your goals in life, flattens out into a perpetual present? What does it mean to have a child, to nurture a new life as another fades away? These are some of the questions Kalanithi wrestles with in this profoundly moving, exquisitely observed memoir.

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What’s up next? The Good Girl by Mary Kubica

The Good Girl
I’m in the mood for another suspense thriller and The Good Girl is already grabbing me, making me wish I didn’t have so much to do today!  The Good Girl is a fast-paced story about Mia Dennett, a young art teacher from a wealthy family, and her mysterious disappearance from a Chicago bar.  As the investigation continues, I’m having a good time figuring out the Dennett family’s dysfunctional dynamics.

The Good Girl is Mary Kubica’s debut thriller, published in 2014.  Pretty Baby was published in 2015 and her newest book, Don’t You Cry was released this month.

Click here to read more about these books on Amazon.  You can visit Mary Kubica’s website at marycubica.com.

Do you like suspense and psychological thrillers?  Which ones have you read?

Here are a few I’ve already enjoyed:

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train

The Farm by Tom Rob Smith


Eating Bull by Carrie Rubin

Eating Bull
The Dinner by Herman Koch

The Dinner

Check back soon for my review.

Thanks for visiting!

Who were the Twelve Olympians and what were the Eleusinian Mysteries?

I’m more than halfway through The Immortals, Book 1 of Jordanna Max Brodsky’s new fantasy series and I’m excited to read more about her strong heroine, Selene DiSilva, known more than 2,000 years ago as the Greek goddess Artemis.

The Immortals
Here’s the premise of Book I:  Imagine if the Twelve Olympians from ancient Greek mythology were living among us, using modern names and working at modern jobs.  They have observed the passage of time in a way mortal beings cannot comprehend.  But time has taken its toll on these deities and some of their powers are beginning to fade.

When a crime spree resembling the cult of the Eleusinian Mysteries takes over New York, Selene (Artemis) wonders if the crimes have anything to do with the original twelve.  As Selene and a Columbia University professor investigate the death of a female historian, they find themselves caught in a series of mysterious and dangerous situations.

Who were the Twelve Olympians?

Twelve Olympians wikipedia.org.png
Source: wikipedia.org

Right away, I needed to know all about the Twelve Olympians and how they fit into Greek Mythology.  These twelve became leaders of Mount Olympus when they defeated the Titans in a war of the gods.  While its members varied somewhat, the thirteen gods listed below are generally considered the main players and are the ones listed on Wikipedia.  I’ve included a brief description, but you can get the full story and see alternate lists by visiting the links at the bottom of this post.

Zeus:  King of the gods and ruler of Mount Olympus, brother and husband of Hera.  Zeus had many lovers.  Also brother of Poseidon, Hades, Demeter, and Hestia.

Hera:  Queen of the gods, wife of Zeus.  Often tried to get revenge on Zeus’ lovers and children.

Poseidon:  God of the seas, earthquakes and tidal waves.  Brother of Zeus and Hades.

Demeter:  Goddess of fertility, agriculture, nature and the seasons.

Athena:  Goddess of wisdom, reason, intelligent activity, literature, handicrafts and science, defense and strategic warfare.  Daughter of Zeus.  She came out of Zeus’ head fully grown in full battle armor.

Apollo:  God of light, prophecy, inspiration, poetry, music and arts, medicine and healing.  Son of Zeus and Leto.  Twin brother of Artemis.

Artemis:  Goddess of the hunt, virginity, archery, the moon, and all animals.  Daughter of Zeus and Leto.  Apollo’s twin.

Ares:  God of war, violence, and bloodshed.  Son of Zeus and Hera.  Hated by all the other gods except Aphrodite.

Aphrodite:  Goddess of love, beauty, and desire.  Daughter of Zeus and possibly the Oceanid Dione.

Hephaestus:  Master blacksmith and craftsman of the gods; god of fire and the forge. Son of Hera, either by Zeus or alone.  Married to Aphrodite.

Hermes:  Messenger of the gods; god of commerce, thieves, eloquence and streets.  Son of Zeus and the nymph Maia.

Hestia:  Goddess of the hearth and of the right ordering of domesticity and the family.  She is sometimes replaced by Dionysus as one of the Twelve, and the story is that she gave her throne to him to keep peace.  She is oldest sister of Hades, Demeter, Poseidon, Hera, and Zeus.

Dionysus: God of wine, celebrations, and ecstasy. Patron god of the art of theater. The youngest Olympian god, as well as the only one to have a mortal mother.

What were the Eleusinian Mysteries?

Source: esotericonline.net
Source: esotericonline.net

The Eleusinian Mysteries were secret religious initiations held yearly for the cult of Demeter and Persephone.  Persephone was Demeter’s daughter and was kidnapped by her uncle, Hades and forced to be his wife.  After the original kidnapping, Zeus ordered Persephone to spend part of the year in the underworld and part of it with her mother, Demeter and the four seasons resulted from this arrangement.  Those initiated into the cult believed they would be rewarded in the afterlife.

You don’t have to do any extra studying to enjoy The Immortals.  Brodsky does a great job explaining all the gods and their myths.  But I always like to know who’s who and what’s what, so a little extra research is making it fun for me!

I’ll be reading for the rest of the weekend.  Check back soon for my review of The Immortals.

You can find out more about the Greek gods and goddesses and the Eleusinian Mysteries by visiting the following links:

Wikipedia article on the Twelve Olympians
Wikipedia article on the Eleusinian Mysteries
Enclclopæadia Britannica
Info Please – Hades Takes a Wife

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Mythology Refresher – Artemis and The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky

The Immortals
I’m busy reading The Immortals, Book 1 of an exciting new series by Jordanna Max Brodsky.  Brodsky’s star character is the Greek goddess Artemis, living in modern New York City.  These days she goes as Selene DiSilva and in her current life she spends her time avenging violence against women.

When Selene discovers a woman’s mutilated body on the rocks of the Hudson River, disturbing signs point to an ancient cult ritual.  As police detectives work to solve the murder, Selene starts her own investigation and calls upon her Greek counterparts for help.

I like this painting of Artemis, artist unknown. medeaslair.net
I like this painting of Artemis, artist unknown. medeaslair.net

It’s been a while since I studied Greek mythology, so I pulled out my copy of Mythology by Edith Hamilton.  Here’s what Hamilton says about Artemis:

She was “Apollo’s twin sister, daughter of Zeus and Leto.  She was one of the three maiden goddesses of Olympus.”

Artemis “was the Lady of Wild Things, Huntsman-in-chief to the gods, an odd office for a woman.  Like a good huntsman, she was careful to preserve the young; she was the ‘the protectress of dewy youth’ everywhere.”

Wikipedia describes Artemis as “the Hellenic goddess of the hunt, wild animals, wilderness, childbirth, virginity and protector of young girls, bringing and relieving disease in women; she often was depicted as a huntress carrying a bow and arrows. The deer and the cypress were sacred to her. In later Hellenistic times, she even assumed the ancient role of Eileithyia in aiding childbirth.”

Wikipedia shares this Roman copy of a Greek sculpture by Leochares, on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.
Wikipedia shares this Roman copy of a Greek sculpture by Leochares, on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Brodsky has chosen a great symbol of female strength.  And it’s fun to imagine that the Greek gods and goddesses are living among us.  I’m about a hundred pages into The Immortals and I can tell you that Selene DiSilva is one tough lady.  I’ll be cheering for her as the story develops.

jordanna max brodsky
Jordanna Max Brodsky

Brodsky has been fascinated by mythology since she was a young girl, so it’s no surprise that the gods and goddesses play prominent roles in her series.  You can read all about Brodsky here.  And stay tuned for my review of Book 1!

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