On YouTube today – love of reading can come at any age!

Hi Everybody,

Image: Pixabay

Today on YouTube I’m talking about when I developed a love of reading. It was not when I was a kid – it came a lot later than that! It wasn’t until I got to college when I realized I could major in something that let me read novels! Now I always have a book nearby! Pop over to see how that happened:


Have you always been a reader? Tell me your story in the comments!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!



Books with double titles – am I seeing things?

While walking through the library last week I thought I might be seeing things. In one lap through the stacks, I spotted four books with double titles. What’s going on?

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke
Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin
Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
There There by Tommy Orange

It’s fun to think about how random coincidences relate to us. I have a copy of Bluebird, Bluebird (2017) at home because I’m reading it for our library’s mystery book club. Our group read Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter (2011) last year and I thought it was great! (You can read my review here.)

Everything, Everything (2015) is a Young Adult novel and became an instant New York Times bestseller. It’s now a major motion picture. Yoon’s other book, The Sun Is Also A Star (2016) was a #1 New York Times bestseller, a National Book Award Finalist, and is soon to be a motion picture.

There There (2018) is a New York Times bestseller and was named one of the best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, NPR, Time, and many other publications. It is also the winner of the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.

Here are some quick synopses, copied from Amazon (and edited for space by me). Click on the Amazon links for the full descriptions.

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules–a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

Two murders–a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman–have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Bluebird, Bluebird is a rural noir suffused with the unique music, color, and nuance of East Texas.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin

In the 1970s, Larry Ott and Silas Jones were boyhood pals in a small town in rural Mississippi. Their worlds were as different as night and day: Larry was the child of lower-middle-class white parents, and Silas, the son of a poor, black single mother. But then Larry took a girl to a drive-in movie and she was never seen or heard from again. He never confessed . . . and was never charged.

More than twenty years have passed. Larry lives a solitary, shunned existence, never able to rise above the whispers of suspicion. Silas has become the town constable. And now another girl has disappeared, forcing two men who once called each other “friend” to confront a past they’ve buried for decades.

Everything Everything by Nicola Yoon

What if you couldn’t touch anything in the outside world? Never breathe in the fresh air, feel the sun warm your face . . . or kiss the boy next door? In Everything, Everything, Maddy is a girl who’s literally allergic to the outside world, and Olly is the boy who moves in next door . . . and becomes the greatest risk she’s ever taken.

Maybe we can’t predict the future, but we can predict some things. For example, I am certainly going to fall in love with Olly. It’s almost certainly going to be a disaster.

There There by Tommy Orange

A story of twelve unforgettable characters, Urban Indians living in Oakland, California, who converge and collide on one fateful day.

As we learn the reasons that each person is attending the Big Oakland Powwow, momentum builds toward a shocking yet inevitable conclusion that changes everything. There will be glorious communion, and a spectacle of sacred tradition and pageantry. And there will be sacrifice, and heroism, and loss.

A wondrous and shattering portrait of an America few of us have ever seen.

Have you read these books? Can you name other books with double titles? Leave a comment below!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

What’s That Book? Leaving the Beach by Mary Rowen

Hi, Happy Tuesday! I’m reblogging yesterday’s post because I have new information. I was so pleased to receive a message from Mary Rowen, author of Leaving the Beach. She wanted to let readers know that, although her book is currently out of print, a newly edited version of the book should be available again in June 2019.

Learn more about Mary at MaryRowen.com and on Goodreads and Amazon.

Book Club Mom

TitleLeaving the Beach

Author:  Mary Rowen

Genre: Fiction

Rating:  4 stars

What’s it about?  The story of Erin Reardon and her search for happiness. Told in the first person and set in the working class town of Winthrop, Massachusetts, readers get to know Erin in alternating time periods—in the 1970s and ‘80s as an awkward teenager and college student, and in the 1990s as a young adult. As a slightly overweight teenager, Erin struggles to fit in, but finds comfort in music, to the point of obsession, as she latches on to a string of rock stars, certain that they are the only ones who understand her: Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and the fictional grunge rocker, Lenny Weir, Erin’s main obsession. But Erin has major problems. Trouble at home and feelings of guilt and inadequacy lead to an eating disorder, alcohol…

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What’s That Book? Leaving the Beach by Mary Rowen

TitleLeaving the Beach

Author:  Mary Rowen

Genre: Fiction

Rating:  4 stars

What’s it about?  The story of Erin Reardon and her search for happiness. Told in the first person and set in the working class town of Winthrop, Massachusetts, readers get to know Erin in alternating time periods—in the 1970s and ‘80s as an awkward teenager and college student, and in the 1990s as a young adult. As a slightly overweight teenager, Erin struggles to fit in, but finds comfort in music, to the point of obsession, as she latches on to a string of rock stars, certain that they are the only ones who understand her: Jim Morrison, Freddie Mercury, David Bowie, Bruce Springsteen and the fictional grunge rocker, Lenny Weir, Erin’s main obsession. But Erin has major problems. Trouble at home and feelings of guilt and inadequacy lead to an eating disorder, alcohol abuse and a series of bad decisions.

Readers will enjoy reliving many classic teen and young adult moments as they relate to rock music, concerts and playing albums over and over. I like how Rowen describes the powerful one-on-one connection that can occur when you listen to music by yourself. Rowen also realistically shows the more painful times of rejection, not fitting in and the lonely moments suffered when everyone else seems to have life figured out.

How did you hear about it?  I saw Leaving the Beach reviewed by a few of my blogging friends and decided to read it myself.

Closing comments:  I thoroughly enjoyed this unique and fast read. Erin Reardon is both typical and remarkable, flawed but likable. Readers need to hold on to hope as she makes mistakes. I didn’t see the author’s truly original finish coming, and that made the book an even better read!

Contributor:  Book Club Mom

P.S. I was pleased to receive a message from Mary Rowen, who asked me to tell readers that, while Leaving the Beach is currently out of print, a newly edited version will be available in the summer of 2019. Learn more about Mary Rowen at MaryRowen.com.

Have you read something good?  Want to talk about it?
Consider being a contributor to What’s That Book.

Email Book Club Mom at bvitelli2009@gmail.com for information.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Who’s That Indie Author? Kathleen Jowitt

Author name: Kathleen Jowitt

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Books: Speak Its Name (2016); A Spoke In The Wheel (2018)

When did you begin your writing career? I started writing Speak Its Name in autumn 2007; it took me six years to produce a draft that I was happy with, another year to try and fail to interest agents and publishers, and a further six months to prepare the book for publication myself.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner? I used to think I was a “pantser,” but the more I write, the less comfortable I am not knowing where I’m going, or how the scene I’m currently writing fits into the plot. I discovered quite early on that I needed to know what would constitute a satisfactory ending, and to write in that general direction, but now I seem to know more of what’s going to go in the middle, as well.

What’s your working style – morning or late-night writer? For preference, late morning, after I’ve been out for a long walk. But I have a full-time job, so in practice I write in spare moments. My most productive time is my hour’s commute to work – on the way home again I’m often too tired to write much!

Do you work at a computer or write long-hand? Both! I write long-hand on the train, and then type it up in the evenings. I often find that the process of typing the work up results in the addition of another couple of hundred words along the way, as I remember things that I meant to put in.

What gets those words flowing, coffee or tea? I start with coffee, and then switch to tea after the first cup. A couple of squares of dark chocolate also help!

Favorite book: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. Long, complicated, and satisfying.

Favorite movie: The Titfield Thunderbolt – it’s an Ealing comedy about a group of villagers trying to save their railway line.

Favorite musician: Varies! At the moment I’m very into Rhiannon Giddens and Vienna Teng.

Social media links:
Facebook: @KathleenJowitt
Twitter: @KathleenJowitt
Instagram:  Kathleen Jowitt

Awards/special recognition: Speak Its Name was the first self-published novel ever to be shortlisted for the prestigious Betty Trask Prize, which is awarded to the best debut by an author under the age of 35.

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

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

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Book Talk – Dreyer’s English by Benjamin Dreyer

Welcome to an occasional feature on Book Club Mom called Book Talk, home to quick previews of books that catch my eye.

I don’t always have time to see what new books are coming out, but I have friends who do, so I’m excited to share what I know about Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style. Thanks to my work friend for showing it to me! I’m on the hold list at the library, but I’m 24th in line, so it will be a while before I get to read it!

Dreyer is the copy chief at Random House and now he’s written a book to keep us straight on all the rules of writing and punctuation. Here’s a quick blurb from Amazon:

As authoritative as it is amusing, Dreyer’s English offers lessons on punctuation, from the underloved semicolon to the enigmatic en dash; the rules and nonrules of grammar, including why it’s OK to begin a sentence with “And” or “But” and to confidently split an infinitive; and why it’s best to avoid the doldrums of the Wan Intensifiers and Throat Clearers, including “very,” “rather,” “of course,” and the dreaded “actually.” Dreyer will let you know whether “alright” is all right (sometimes) and even help you brush up on your spelling—though, as he notes, “The problem with mnemonic devices is that I can never remember them.”

And yes: “Only godless savages eschew the series comma.”

Chockful of advice, insider wisdom, and fun facts, this book will prove to be invaluable to everyone who wants to shore up their writing skills, mandatory for people who spend their time editing and shaping other people’s prose, and—perhaps best of all—an utter treat for anyone who simply revels in language.

I’m really looking forward to reading this one and, after I do, I’ll need to go back and correct all the mistakes in my blog posts!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

New York Books – the list is growing!

photo: pd4pic.com
photo: pd4pic.com

I didn’t realize until now just how many books I’ve read
that are set in New York.  If you’re in “a New York state of mind,”
take a look at some of my favorite Big Apple books!

Just added a new one:
Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan
Great 5-star read!

The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin  – light 1800s historical fiction about billionaire American families who match up their daughters with poor European dukes and princes.


Billy Bathgate by E. L. Doctorow – intelligent and well-written historical fiction about 1930s organized crime in New York City


Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote – a character sketch of a lonely nineteen-year-old girl trying to escape a sad past


Brooklyn by Colm Toíbín – moving love story in which a young Irish woman leaves home for a better life in Brooklyn


Brooklyn on Fire by Lawrence H. Levy – second book in the entertaining Mary Handley Mystery series about New York’s first female detective


The Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout – story about a buried secret and painful family dynamics between adult siblings


The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott – historical fiction about a young English maid and seamstress who survives the Titanic


Empty Mansions by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. – fascinating biography of Huguette Clark, a reclusive heiress who spent the last twenty years of her life in a hospital bed and gave away huge amounts of money to her caretakers and advisers


The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – terrific story about a talented New York architect who refuses to collaborate



The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – classic love story about a mysterious tycoon during the wild party atmosphere of the Roaring Twenties


The Hours Count by Jillian Cantor – great historical fiction about Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, who were the only civilian Americans to be killed for spying for the Russians


The Immortals by Jordanna Max Brodsky – a modern-day Artemis solves a murder in New York in a world of mortals, gods and goddesses


The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells by Andrew Sean Greer – Time traveling love story about finding happiness in an alternate life


The Inquisitor’s Mark by Diane K. Salerni – second book in an exciting Young Adult series about a secret eighth day where allies and adversaries abound


The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer – a look at the lives of six talented teenagers who meet at a summer camp for the arts in 1974

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan – fantastic historical fiction during the Depression and World War II. Egan’s characters try their best to navigate between right and wrong.

My Name Is Lucy Barton by Elizabeth Strout – How do you put the hushed experiences of your childhood into words?  Character reflections on family, marriage and friendships.


Reconstructing Amelia by Kimberly McCreight – debut novel about the secret life of teenagers at an elite private school in Brooklyn


Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – working class girl meets a handsome banker and climbs the social ladder in Post Depression New York.


Second Street Station by Lawrence H. Levy – first book in an entertaining historical fiction murder mystery series about New York’s first female police detective


The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin – great book about Truman Capote and his relationship with high society socialites in New York.

Tell No One by Harlan Coben – fast-moving, highly entertaining crime thriller set in the suburbs with a wild chase scene in New York

The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland – interesting a story about an emotionally unsettled newspaper woman and a commentary on the business of reporting news


We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas – a look inside a family struggling with Alzheimer’s disease


Youngblood Hawke by Herman Wouk – terrific story of a young author from Kentucky who arrives in New York and becomes a hugely successful and prolific novelist – Book Club Mom’s All-Time Favorite! (Click here to view Book Club Mom’s Top 10 Faves.)

I think it’s fun to sort my books by different categories.
Do you often read about the same place?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Manhattan Beach
Jennifer Egan


How exciting to choose a book you know nothing about and immediately love it! I had seen Manhattan Beach on display at the library where I work, and the other library book club had already read it, but I never asked my work friend what it was about. And I blindly selected it for my own book club. Talk about being a pantser!

Manhattan Beach has a 3.8 star average rating on Amazon, with over half of the reviewers giving it a 4 or 5, but the rest of the reviews are 1-3 stars. This book is a winner with most and not so much with others. Well, it’s a winner with me! It’s full of complex characters, twisting plot lines and overlaid with the conflict between doing the right thing and doing what you have to do, with heavy consequences on both sides.

Set in New York during the Depression and World War II, the story begins in 1937 with Anna Kerrigan as a young girl. In these early years, Anna has a strong bond with her father, Eddie and she shadows him on mysterious work errands. At home, her mother cares full-time for Anna’s crippled younger sister, Lydia, a source of guilt, shame, resentment and love in different measures for each of them. On one errand, Anna meets the powerful Dexter Styles and without knowing why, senses an important connection between the men.

Eight years later, Eddie is missing and Anna has a job measuring parts at the Brooklyn Naval Yard, the hub of wartime repairs and preparations. And then she meets Styles again at one of his nightclubs. Determined to understand his relationship to her father, Anna sets off on a dangerous course in both her personal life and at work, where she has become the first female civilian diver. In this section, Egan includes interesting descriptions of how divers trained and worked, a dangerous activity and much different from resort dives of today!

What I liked best about Manhattan Beach is the way the author allows the reader inside the heads of her characters. I understood them much better, knowing how they made their decisions and I sometimes liked the ones with questionable morals more, because I could see their predicaments. Several of them grapple with the ethics of their work, and a few will do whatever it takes to protect their family. I particularly liked the slow reveal of Eddie’s character, who travels with many of the wrong people, but has a lifelong desire to do what’s right.

I also enjoyed the way Egan describes New York during this time period. It’s loaded with regular people, gangsters, bankers, and laborers, trying to get by in any way they can and, even when they are at cross purposes, there’s a sense of unity to win the war. Who gets by and who has the upper hand can quickly change, and that’s what kept me happily reading to the finish.

I highly recommend Manhattan Beach to readers who like historical fiction and big stories with strong female characters.

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!


The characters you love to hate: the role of the villain in stories

Image: Pixabay

Everyone loves a villain. It’s one of the most popular types of characters in fiction. Why is that? For me, it’s weirdly comforting to watch someone else take such immoral turns. It’s like an affirmation that I would never do what they’re doing! In some cases, the character is so evil it’s a no brainer who you’re cheering for. In other cases, the evil character has a few good qualities that make me think there’s hope for a change-around. But of course, the story is always better if there isn’t.

I found a great villain in my recent binge watch of Bloodline. If you don’t know this Netflix series, it’s the story of a dysfunctional family that runs an inn in the Florida Keys and stars Kyle Chandler, Ben Mendelsohn and Sissy Spacek. Everything goes south when Danny Rayburn, the black sheep son returns to help run the inn. Ben Mendelsohn is fantastic in his role as Danny and Kyle Chandler is excellent as the responsible younger brother. I won’t name the villain in this intense show because it’s a slow reveal. You’ll need to watch for yourself. I tore through all three seasons because I had to know how it would end. Be warned, however: Seasons 1 and 2 are really great. Season 3, its final season, is a little rushed and has some questionable developments, but how can you not watch it? Check it out here.

And for those who prefer to read about their villains, here are a few, but of course, there are endless examples. I’ve read these, so I know!


Dr. Frankenstein in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Since I’ve never read the most classic example, I’ve decided I must put it on my list! Mr. Hyde in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

I found some of these examples in these helpful articles. Take a look and see if you agree!

Literary Hub: 40 of the Best Villains in History by Emily Temple
Publishers Weekly: 11 Most Evil Characters in Books by Koren Zailckas

Who’s your favorite villain? Tell me in the comments section!

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!

On YouTube today – Books my kids loved – I can’t let go of them!

Hi Everybody!

Today on YouTube I’m talking about all the books we read to our kids when they were little. I still remember the lines from many and so does my family! Here are some of them. Come see what were our favorites. Do you have favorite children’s books that you can’t let go of?

Check out the full story below:


I just have one bin of books that I’ve saved, but I have another one full of puzzles! How many bins of books do you have?

Thanks for visiting – come back soon!