On virtual book hauling

So last week I went to a virtual conference sponsored by Library Journal. I attended in a webinar on Editors’ Picks and got a chance to learn about a lot of new books coming out. I didn’t know what to expect, but I have to tell you it was a lot of fun visiting all of the publishers’ virtual booths and seeing so many new books!

I also came away with a lot of ARCs, many via NetGalley and some PDFs. All titles will be released this summer, into the fall and a couple in 2021.

I’m looking forward to reading these books, despite the problem of already having too many books in my pile.

Here’s what I got and hope to read this summer:

Waiting approval, but I got a special NetGalley widget from Library Journal so I think they’re a go.

Don’t these book covers look nice? What’s on your summer reading list?

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Pretty, colorful and unique book covers

Don’t listen to the old saying because book covers are everything. They are often the sole reason we pick up one book, and pass on another. Today, I’m sharing some pretty, colorful and unique book covers.

Pretty covers (also colorful, by the way)

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett – Published in 2019. Did you know that The Dutch House  was a finalist for this year’s Pulitzer Prize for Fiction? I loved this book! You can read my review here. (FYI: The winner of the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction was The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead.)

If You Leave Me by Crystal Hana Kim – Published in 2018. From Goodreads:  “debut novel about war, family, and forbidden love, the unforgettable saga of two ill-fated lovers in Korea and the heartbreaking choices theyre forced to make in the years surrounding the civil war that continues to haunt us today.”

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin – Published in 2018. In 1969, four siblings sneak through their New York neighborhood to visit a mysterious woman. They hear she’s a fortune teller and that she will tell them the dates of their deaths. Varya is thirteen. Daniel is eleven. Klara is nine and Simon is seven. Should they believe? Read my review here.

The Moment of Tenderness by Madeline L’Engle – Published in 2020. From Goodreads: “This powerful collection of short stories traces an emotional arc inspired by Madeleine L’Engle’s early life and career, from her lonely childhood in New York to her life as a mother in small-town Connecticut.”

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali – Published in 2019. From Goodreads: “A novel set in 1953 Tehran against the backdrop of the Iranian Coup about a young couple in love who are separated on the eve of their marriage, and who are reunited sixty years later, after having moved on to live independent lives in America, to discover the truth about what happened on that fateful day in the town square.”

Colorful covers (also pretty, by the way)

All Adults Here by Emma Straub – Published in 2020. From Goodreads: “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?”

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner – Published in 2020. From Goodreads: “The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Mrs. Everything returns with an unforgettable novel about friendship and forgiveness set during a disastrous wedding on picturesque Cape Cod.”

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano – Published in 2020. From Goodreads: “One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.” Definitely want to read this.

The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich – Published in 2020. From Goodreads: “Based on the extraordinary life of National Book Award-winning author Louise Erdrich’s grandfather who worked as a night watchman and carried the fight against Native dispossession from rural North Dakota all the way to Washington, D.C.”

Red at the Bone by Jacqueline Woodson – Published in 2019. From Goodreads: “Moving forward and backward in time, Jacqueline Woodson’s taut and powerful new novel uncovers the role that history and community have played in the experiences, decisions, and relationships of these families, and in the life of the new child.”

Unique covers

Almond by Won-pyung Sohn and Joosun Lee – Published in 2017. From Goodreads: “Yunjae was born with a brain condition called Alexithymia that makes it hard for him to feel emotions like fear or anger. He does not have friends—the two almond-shaped neurons located deep in his brain have seen to that—but his devoted mother and grandmother aren’t fazed by his condition.”

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid – Published in 2019. If you like stories about bands in the 60s and 70s, I think you will like this novel. The author was inspired by the band Fleetwood Mac and the relationships between its members, and her character Daisy Jones closely resembles Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac. Read my review here.

Educated by Tara Westover –  Imagine growing up in isolation, with a father who regarded the government with paranoid distrust, who prepared the family for an impending apocalypse by stockpiling food, fuel and ammunition and “head for the hills” bags. Who made his children work with him in a dangerous scrap yard, where they were often severely injured. This and much more. Read my review here.

Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson – Published in 2019. From Goodreads: “Kevin Wilson’s best book yet a moving and uproarious novel about a woman who finds meaning in her life when she begins caring for two children with remarkable and disturbing abilities.”

There There by Tommy Orange – Published in 2018. From Goodreads: “Tommy Orange’s wondrous and shattering novel follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize.” Want to read this one, too.

What covers have caught your eye?

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Book Club Mom’s March recap

I don’t think it’s possible to write a light recap of March. Or to write anything that we don’t already know. We’re all going through, or are about to, some version of stay-at-home restrictions, as well as the fear of getting sick. So I’ll just say that I’m working to find new ways to spend my time, inside our house.

The picture above is from the bird feeder we put out on our deck. All winter, there was no activity, but now it’s a hot spot for a few different kinds of small birds. It’s perfect timing to have something like that to look out at.

Here’s a rundown of what happened on my blog in March:

Book Reviews

Howard Hughes: The Untold Story by Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske

No Place Like Home by Rebecca Muddiman

All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque

Maid by Stephanie Land

The Guest Room by Chris Bohjalian

Short reviews from 2013

Fahrenheit 451, The Art of Racing in the Rain and The Weird Sisters

Rebecca, Little Bird of Heaven and The Sun Also Rises

Who’s That Indie Author?

Stevie Turner

David Ruggerio

Gary D. Hillard

Michael J Moore

Author Update

Oskar’s Quest by Annika Perry

What’s That Movie?

The Aviator – a Martin Scorsese picture starring
Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett

Blog Views and other obsessions

Free Photo Library on WordPress

Coping with the Coronavirus

Miscellaneous Posts

Books to Pen – Book Club Mom’s creative writing blog

Books to make you laugh

How are you all doing? I hope everyone is healthy and able to manage at home, whether you are working or not working, and that you are finding the groceries and other things you need. Leave a note in the comments section and tell us how you are managing.

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Books to make you laugh

We need an escape from the bad news out there, so today I’m sharing some books I thought were very funny!

Have a Nice Day by Billy Crystal and Quinton Peeples

Have a Nice Day is a play, but this version is a live script-reading in New York from 2018. In addition to the headliners, the cast is full of stars, including Rachel Dratch and Darrell Hammond. Funny and moving, with a feel-good finish, it’s a quick listen and is currently available on Amazon Audible.

Joy in the Morning  from Just Enough Jeeves and My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

Pure entertainment and a great escape into the frivolous upper crust world of a lovable good chap who gets himself into the wildest predicaments. As in all of Wodehouse’s books, everyone counts on the ever-wise Jeeves for a solution and he does not disappoint.

Less by Andrew Sean Greer

Arthur Less is turning 50 and he’s at the edge of a crisis: his writing career has stalled and his former younger lover, Freddy Pelu, is getting married. To guarantee he’ll be out of the country on the day of the wedding, Less accepts a string of unusual writerly engagements that take him around the world. His goal? Forget Freddy and rework the novel his publisher has taken a pass on.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Great story about being different and making it anyway. Through a rambling, often irreverent and always hilarious “where is this story going?” narration, with plenty of colorful vocabulary, Lawson tells you about her childhood, depression, anxiety and illness, her family, early jobs, marriage, motherhood and how she became a blogger and writer.

I also found a list from npr.org of 100 funny books. Some of these are on their list too and you can check out the rest in this linked article:  August 20, 2019 article: “We Did It For The LOLs: 100 Favorite Funny Books” by Petra Mayer

What funny books do you recommend?

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Visit museums from home!

What’s That Movie? The Aviator – a Martin Scorsese picture starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett

I recently read a Howard Hughes biography – Howard Hughes: The Untold Story by Peter Harry Brown and Pat H. Broeske (you can read my review here) and knew I had to follow up with the highly recommended movie about this unique historical figure.

The biography of Howard Hughes is very good and covers more years than the movie.

The Aviator was made in 2004 and has an impressive cast of stars: Leonardo DiCaprio as Howard Hughes, Cate Blanchett as Katherine Hepburn, and Kate Beckinsale as Ava Gardner. Other stars include Ian Holm, John C. Reilly, Alec Baldwin, Jude Law, Gwen Stefani, Kelli Garner, Matt Ross, Willem Dafoe, Alan Alda, and Edward Herrmann.

The film covers Hughes’s life from 1927 – 1947. It begins with the making of the film Hell’s Angels and continues with the pioneering years of TWA and Hughes Aircraft, as Hughes broke flight records and secured government contracts during World War II. The later part of the film highlights how Hughes unravels due to his obsessive-compulsive disorder.

I thought the movie was great. DiCaprio’s portrayal of Hughes is excellent from beginning to end and Cate Blanchett is terrific as Katherine Hepburn. I also enjoyed seeing familiar actors, especially Alec Baldwin who plays the head of Pan America and Alan Alda who plays a U.S. Senator with close links to Pan Am and who is also bent on bringing Hughes down.

Can I say that the cinematography was great without sounding like I’m trying to be a film expert? It did win for that and I found the whole movie exciting to watch, from the Hollywood scenes to the plane scenes, including one dramatic crash that really took me there.

It’s not based on the book, just on the life of Howard Hughes, and not his early years or his later ones, even though it’s nearly three hours long! What’s left out of this portrayal is how Hughes was obsessed with having and controlling a shocking number of women. There’s a hint of it, though.

The Aviator was nominated for eleven awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Original Screenplay, Best Actor for DiCaprio, and Best Supporting Actor for Alda, winning five: Best Cinematography, Best Film Editing, Best Costume Design, Best Art Direction, and Best Supporting Actress for Cate Blanchett. You can read more about the film on Wikipedia and IMDb.

Have you watched this movie? Since I have some more free time on my hands, I think I may watch it again!

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Book Club Mom’s February recap

Hi Everyone! So the crocuses you see here made an early appearance this month. We got to enjoy them for a week or so until our bunnies had them for breakfast. Oh well, it happens every year. More flowers on the way!

In case you missed anything, here’s a quick rundown of February’s posts:

Book Reviews:

10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World by Elif Shafak – an interesting novel about the last minutes of awareness of a prostitute who is murdered in Istanbul, based on the idea that the mind continues to work in the moments after death. Read my review here.

A Rule Against Murder by Louise Penny – this is my second Louise Penny book in the Inspector Gamache series, set in Canada. You don’t have to read them in order. She’s a very good writer and I’m sure I will read more of her books. Check it out here.

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett – I loved this book about a nearly-adult brother and his sister whose stepmother casts them out of their home after their father dies. There’s so much more to the story than this, though. It came under heavy fire in my Facebook discussion group, but I’m holding firm that Ann Patchett has written another great book. See why here.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb – I’ve been wanting to read this book about psychotherapy for almost a year and I’m so glad I finally got to it. Gottlieb is a best-selling writer, psychotherapist and advice columnist and she writes about her own experiences as both therapist and patient. See my review here.

What’s That Book?


The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper – blogging friend Tammie Painter shared her review of this charming part slice-of-life, part humor, part adventure, and part mystery novel. See what she says here.


Who’s That Indie Author?

Meet Berthold Gambrel, science fiction, horror and fantasy writer and author of The Directorate, The House of Teufelvelt, 1NG4, Vespasian Moon’s Fabulous Autumn Carnival. He’s a combination pantser/planner and the proud owner of a flip-phone. Now that’s something we should all consider! Read his profile here.

Say hello to Deanna King. She writes fictional crime, fantasy romance and children’s stories and is the author of Gracie’s Stories, Twist of Fate – A Jack West Novel  and has a new Jack West novel in the works. Deanna thinks print books will always be around and could go the whole day without checking her phone. Meet Deanna here.

Miscellaneous Posts:

Digital Shelf Shocker! – I have an embarrassing number of TBRs on my Kindle.
10 commonly misused phrases – always fun to see what we get wrong!
Fiction or nonfiction? Twitter reading poll results – which do you prefer?
Meet my top commenters! – a big part of blogging
The happy coincidence of my blog and my job – it’s a great combo

Hope you had a great month. March on to March!

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The happy coincidence of my blog and my job

One of the great things about having a book blog and working in a library is how much those worlds overlap. When I started my blog, I never imagined I’d later become a librarian. But what a happy coincidence! I get a lot of ideas for my blog and what to read at work.

One of my favorite things to do on my blog is create groupings of books with related themes, book covers, book titles, etc. And it’s fun to think about new ways to group them. Sometimes seemingly unrelated books really do belong together, the more you think about it.

Here’s a book display I made at work on Empty Nests. It was fun thinking about what kinds of books people approaching (like me) or in the thick of this stage would be interested in. And it was just as fun going in the back room and finding things to add to the display.

Another fun thing I did with my co-worker M. came about when we discovered our mutual love of playing with Barbie dolls when we were girls. So we reserved the display case in the lobby, brought in our collections and arranged them for all to see. Do I need to say how fun that was?Do your interests and your job ever come together?

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Meet my top commenters!

Every blogger knows how great it feels when someone takes the time to leave a comment on a post. It’s the best part about blogging. So, thank you to these top commenters. I appreciate your loyal support!

I hope you will visit these terrific blogs, because they have some great things going on!

Jill Weatherholt – Jill is a talented author of three Harlequin Love Inspired stories about love, friendship and forgiveness: A Mother for His Twins, A Father for Bella, and Second Chance Romance. Jill is also a faithful blogging friend, making her daily rounds like clockwork, supporting many blogs and inviting bloggers to play her Would You Rather interview game.

Ritu Bathal from But I Smile Anyway – Ritu is an author and “a working mum of 2, loving wife, daughter, sister, friend to many.” She’s just published her second book, Marriage Unarranged, described as ‘Chickpea Curry’ Lit — Chick Lit with an Indian twist! Her first book, Poetic RITUals, was published in 2016. Ritu’s posts are creative, funny and down to earth, making you feel like you know her well. She always offers an encouraging word.

Robbie’s Inspiration – Robbie is creative in everything she does, from baking and designing fondant figures and scenes, to publishing the Sir Chocolate series of children’s books and writing adult supernatural and horror stories over on Roberta Writes. She’s always up for a writing or photo prompt and is an active supporter on WordPress and Twitter.

Jennifer Kelland Perry – Jennifer is a successful author of two Young Adult books, Calmer Girls and Calmer Secrets. She loves to post pictures of her life in Newfoundland, including her cats who prefer the indoors during the cold Canadian winters. Jennifer is also known for surprising bloggers with her Blogger’s Bouquets.

Annika Perry – Annika is “a versatile writer whose books span across various genres.” Her collection of short fiction, The Storyteller Speaks is all about love and relationships. Annika recently published a children’s book, Oskar’s Quest, a story of adventure and courage. And I’m totally jealous of her new custom bookcase, which she shared on a recent post!

Fiction Favorites – John W. Howell – John is an award-winning author of thriller fiction novels and short stories, including The Contract, My GRL, and Circumstances of Childhood, and is a highly organized humor blogger, sharing top ten lists, views from his neighborhood, personal reflections, haikus and responses to writing prompts. His dogs, Twiggy and Lucy are regular contributors to the fun.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!



Fiction or nonfiction? Twitter reading poll results

The results are in on my small Twitter poll. Eighty-seven percent of those who responded on Twitter prefer fiction over nonfiction. And I had six write-ins on my blog. One for fiction, one for nonfiction and four readers who say it’s kind of even.

Despite these results, I feel as if readers are reading more nonfiction than ever. I’ve always preferred fiction over nonfiction, but I’m reading more nonfiction than I ever did in the past.

Here are some recommended nonfiction books I’ve read since I started my blog.

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin – I wasn’t sure I would enjoy reading this, but I was happily surprised to find Franklin’s memoir a remarkable and amusing record of time in America during the mid- to late 1700s. I also enjoyed refreshing my memory about the colonies before the American Revolution and the steps that led to independence.

Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. – Dedman was intrigued by two vacant but fully maintained mansions and two large apartments on Fifth Avenue in New York, owned by reclusive heiress, Huguette Clark. Clark, by choice, spent the last twenty years of her life in a hospital bed and gave away large amounts of money to her caretakers and advisers. When she died at age 104, who was to inherit her $300 million fortune?

Helen Keller – The Story of My Life – If you grew up in the United States, you very likely learned about Helen Keller in school.  She was an American girl from Alabama who lost her sight and hearing as a baby and determinedly overcame these obstacles to become a writer, a social activist and an advocate for the blind and deaf.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote – Many believe that Truman Capote was the pioneer of the nonfiction novel genre. In a 1966 New York Times interview with George Plimpton, Capote explains his decision to write a book about the brutal 1959 murder of a Kansas family: “The motivating factor in my choice of material—that is, choosing to write a true account of an actual murder case—was altogether literary. The decision was based on a theory I’ve harbored since I first began to write professionally, which is well over 20 years ago. It seemed to me that journalism, reportage, could be forced to yield a serious new art form: the ‘nonfiction novel,’ as I thought of it.”

Lab Girl by Hope Jahren – Here’s a book I resisted reading because there was so much hype that I took a step back. I also avoided it because I am not a science person. But then my book club chose Lab Girl and I committed to reading it. So, wow. This book was excellent. Jahren writes beautifully about her lonely childhood in Minnesota, college life and early years trying to make it as a scientist.

Night by Elie Wiesel – I had read other books about the Holocaust, but never Night, Elie Wiesel’s memoir about being sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland during World War II. The New York Times calls it “a slim volume of terrifying power” and I couldn’t agree more. In 1944, Wiesel was deported by the Germans from his town of Sighet, Transylvania and sent by cattle train to Auschwitz and later Buchenwald. He was just a teenager. His account of this experience is a horrifying reminder of a terrible period of history.

Notes from a Public Typewriter – edited by Michael Gustafson and Oliver Uberti – Here’s a quick book that is guaranteed to put you in a good mood. It’s about the owners of the Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan. When they set up the store, they put out a typewriter and paper for anyone to use. It wasn’t long before customers began to type random, sometimes whimsical and often heartfelt messages for all to see. Notes is a compilation of these messages.

Have you read any of these?  What are your favorite nonfiction books?

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