Book Club Mom’s dream list TBR

I don’t keep an official TBR list, but I always have a dream list of books I want to read. Oh, but if time weren’t such a problem, how many more books I would read! If I had unlimited time (and resources), I’d buy a bunch of the latest books that have caught my eye, load up my bookshelf and settle myself into my favorite chair. What would be on that shelf? Here’s that list:


An American Marriage by Tayari Jones

The Bees by Laline Paull

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Clock Dance by Anne Tyler

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman


Factfulness by Hans Rosling

A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Hillbilly Elegy by J. D. Vance

The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See

Layover by David Bell


Less by Andrew Sean Greer

The Lost Man by Jane Harper

The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth

Mrs. Everything by Jennifer Weiner

Naturally Tan by Tan France


New York 2140 by Kim Stanley Robinson

Our House by Louise Candlish

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

Recursion by Blake Crouch

The Stationery Shop by Marjan Kamali


Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell

There There by Tommy Orange

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead


One of the reasons I don’t make an official TBR list is because I feel pressure to stick to it and that takes the fun out of it. I hope I’m not jinxing it by posting the list! What’s your TBR strategy? Do you make a list? Do you feel obligated once you do?

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BC Mom’s Author Update: new medical thriller by Geoffrey M. Cooper

Welcome to Book Club Mom’s Author Update. Open to all authors who want to share news with readers.


Announcing the release of Nondisclosure

After publishing his award-winning debut medical thriller, The Prize, Geoffrey Cooper has been hard at work. Earlier this month, he announced the release of his second novel, Nondisclosure.

Nondisclosure is a medical thriller dealing with a case of sexual harassment that escalates to rape and murder. When a leading professor at a top-tier medical research institute accuses a colleague of drugging and sexually assaulting a student, department chair Brad Parker and university detective Karen Richmond join forces to investigate, only to be stymied by a victim who can’t remember what happened. But as fragments of memory resurface, she’s brutally attacked and murdered. The conclusion is obvious, but in the absence of forensic evidence, police hit a wall—until Brad and Karen’s inquiries take an unexpected turn that not only threatens their own lives, but exposes a cover-up at the highest levels of the university.

Geoffrey M. Cooper is a retired cancer researcher and scientific administrator, having held positions at Harvard Medical School and Boston University. He is the author of a leading cell biology text, The Cell, as well as several books on cancer, and is now using his background in academic research to write medical fiction.

Learn more about Geoffrey Cooper and his books at geofcooper.com


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

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Books with unlikable characters – can you add to the list?

I don’t know about you, but I love reading books with unlikable characters. Here’s list of some of my favorites:

Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage – Psychological thriller that will make you very uncomfortable. What are Suzette and Alex to do when life with their demonic 7-year-old daughter gets dangerous? What’s their breaking point?

The Dinner by Herman Koch – What would you do if your child committed a horrendous crime? Is it more important to save your child’s future than do the right thing?

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – Psychological thriller in which a stranger may know more about a crime than the people involved. When a woman goes missing, the girl on the train is sure she can help, if she can only dig through her alcohol-clouded memories.

Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – Creepy story about a completely dysfunctional marriage and the extreme lengths to which the wife goes to get the upper hand over her husband. He proves to be an equal match, however, and as the details emerge and opinions form, it’s hard to know whom or what to believe.

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout – Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of thirteen integrated short stories about the people of Crosby, Maine, a seemingly simple town on the New England coast and the town’s most complicated character, Olive.

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn – A nine-year-old girl has been murdered and now a ten-year-old girl is missing. When the second girl’s body is discovered, details of the murder suggest a serial killer. Is the killer a stranger to the town or, more disturbingly, one of them?

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.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – Something bad happens during Cadence Eastman’s fifteenth summer on the family’s private island off Martha’s Vineyard. Cady, her cousins and their friend risk everything to break free from oppressive, greedy and narrow minded family pressures.

There are many more – can you add to the list?

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Those People by Louise Candlish

Those People
by
Louise Candlish

Rating:

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. Straight away, Darren and Jodie annoy the neighbors with dramatic home renovations in a style that doesn’t fit their picture-perfect street. Darren hacks away at walls and uses loud power tools and construction equipment, but that’s only the beginning. The couple also runs a used car business out of their driveway, and the unsightly vehicles soon take up spaces on the street. Tension grows when Darren refuses to move the cars for the street’s weekly Play Out Sunday, when neighbors clear the street of cars and traffic in order to let their children play safely. At night, even louder music and partying keeps the neighborhood awake, especially their direct neighbors, Ant and Em Kendall and their brand new baby.

This is a street of upwardly mobile families, who are used to getting what they want. They quickly organize a multi-pronged effort to either stop the new neighbors’ low class and unacceptable behavior or drive them out. Surveillance cameras, tough talk and complaints soon spiral out of control. Of added interest is a look at the families on the street, their marriages and relationships to each other. Each is nursing a private beef with a spouse, partner or neighbor and these inner conflicts cause them to make wildly irrational decisions, leading to a shocking fatal accident.

As inspectors investigate the accident, readers begin to wonder whether the author’s title refers more to the new neighbors or the rest of the group. I enjoyed reading their statements and interviews with the police and seeing how they dig themselves deeper into the pit of suspicion. These reckless behaviors lead to a second tragedy, muddled by the neighbors’ escalating dread of being implicated.

This is also a story chock full of unlikable characters, and not just Darren and Jodie. Candlish tells the story from different points of view and I liked trying to understand the neighbors’ thoughts. Some readers may not find that relatable, but I would much rather experience these people in the pages than on my street!

There are many red herrings and an abrupt open-ended finish, leaving the reader to imagine what may happen. I like this kind of ending and think it would be a great book club book. I recommend Those People to those who are looking for a quick read and enjoy vicarious conflicts!

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Who’s That Indie Author? Jennifer S. Alderson

Author name:  Jennifer S. Alderson

Genres:  Mystery / Thriller / Historical Fiction / Travel

Books:  Marked for Revenge, Rituals of the Dead, The Lover’s Portrait, Down and Out in Kathmandu, Holiday Gone Wrong, and Notes of a Naive Traveler

What’s your story and how did you become a writer?  Thanks for inviting me to your blog, Book Club Mom!

I am an American currently residing in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. My passion for travel, history, and art inspires my novels. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, but until my late twenties, it was all non-fiction for newspapers and magazines. After an incredible trip to Nepal, I wrote a fictionalized version of my adventures but didn’t know what to do with it. The sudden death of a close relative was the catalyst to get it published.

How do you balance your work with other demands?  Balancing my roles as writer, business owner, wife, and mother is an enormous challenge! My focus shifts weekly, depending on the current needs of my family and business. However, my writing time is well-guarded!

Name one of the happiest moments in your life:  Aside from meeting my husband or the birth of my child, I think it was receiving my Dutch passport. It has been a long and sometimes difficult transition into expat life, but I am so glad to be in the Netherlands. It feels like I’ve come home.

What’s your approach to writing? Are you a “pantser” or a planner?  Planner all the way. Without a concise outline, I am completely lost! However, once I start writing, I allow myself to listen to the story and follow the path it takes me on, even if that means deviating from the outline.

Could you write in a café with people around?  I love writing in busy cafes! Silence reminds me too much of my former corporate life. I write faster and better when surrounded by fairly loud music that turns surrounding conversations into white noise. Otherwise, I would be eavesdropping instead of writing. J

Have you ever written dialogue in a second language? If so, how did you do it?  I have included Dutch, German, and Italian phrases in my novels. Honestly, I am quite nervous about getting it wrong every time I do. One great advantage of living in such an international city is that I know native speakers who I could double check my translations with.

What’s your favorite book and what are you reading now?  There are so many great books to choose from! I am a huge fan of Donna Leon and just finished rereading By Its Cover. I admire her ability to bring Venice to life in each and every novel.

What’s your favorite way to read a book: hardcover, paperback, eReader?  I used to read exclusively paperbacks but in the last few years I have transitioned to eBooks. I read so many, it makes it a whole lot cheaper to stock up and take them with me!

Do you think print books will always be around?  I hope so. There is nothing more wonderful than holding a paperback in your hand. I do still buy paperbacks of my favorite reads, as well as give them as gifts.

Would you ever read a book on your phone?  I have not. I am not a fan of smart phones and try to use mine as little as possible.

What’s your go-to device? iPhone, android or something else?  I do read eBooks on my iPad and have reading apps installed for iBooks, Kindle, Bol, Kobo, and my local library.

How long could you go without checking your phone?  Days, possibly weeks! I am not good about checking messages or calling people back straight away. Since becoming an author, I check my email and social media much more often than I used to, but it is still a challenge to stay on top of all of the messages I receive!

Do you listen to audiobooks? If you do, what do you do while you’re listening?  I have recently discovered audiobooks and enjoy listening to them when working on marketing and social media.

Do you like using social media to promote yourself and your book? If so, what’s your favorite platform?  Connecting with readers is one of the most enjoyable things about this job! When you write a book, you have no idea if anyone will be able to relate to the characters, setting, or plot. Publishing a book really is a leap of faith. Chatting with readers who enjoy my work or share the same interests I do, really makes it fun. Facebook is my favorite platform, though I am also often on Twitter and Instagram.

Website and social media links:
Website:  jennifersalderson.com
Twitter: @JSAauthor
Facebook: @JenniferSAldersonauthor
Goodreads Author Page: Jennifer S. Alderson
Amazon Author Page: Jennifer S. Alderson

Awards/special recognition:  My novels have won several readers awards, including 5 star medals from Readers’ Favorite, Chill with a Book, and indieBRAG. They have also been included on several Recommended Reads lists on websites such as The Displaced Nation, TripFiction, and Women Writers, Women’s Books.

About the Author:  Jennifer S. Alderson was born in San Francisco, raised in Seattle, and currently lives in Amsterdam. After traveling extensively around Asia, Oceania, and Central America, she moved to Darwin, Australia, before finally settling in the Netherlands. Jennifer’s love of travel, art, and culture inspires her award-winning, internationally oriented mystery series—the Zelda Richardson Mystery Series—and standalone stories. Her background in journalism, multimedia development, and art history enriches her novels. When not writing, she can be found in a museum, biking around Amsterdam, or enjoying a coffee along the canal while planning her next research trip.


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.

Audiobook review: Orange Is the New Black by Piper Kerman, narrated by Cassandra Campbell

Rating:

In 1994, Piper Kerman, was a recent graduate of Smith College when she became romantically involved with a woman who was deep into a heroin smuggling scheme. Soon, out of a combination of infatuation and boredom, Piper agreed to help with the business. The ugly reality and danger of moving drugs, however, made her nervous, so she eventually broke free, moved across the country and started a new life.

Piper’s old life caught up with her, however, and in 1998 she was indicted for money laundering and drug trafficking. In 2004, after years of delays, due to other pending indictments and sentencings, Piper was ordered to report to the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury where she would serve thirteen months.

Orange Is the New Black is Piper’s memoir about her experience in this minimum security prison. Her story was published in 2010 and was adapted for Netflix in the Emmy award-winning show of the same name. Season 7, its final season, is scheduled for release on July 26.

I listened to the audiobook version, which is narrated by Cassandra Campbell, who does an excellent job adapting her voice to many characters. I thought her voice sounded familiar and that’s because Campbell is an audiobook superstar. She’s narrated over 700 titles, has won four Audie Awards and is in Audible’s Narrator Hall of Fame.

Piper’s engaging story tells of a young a privileged white woman who learns to assimilate herself in a diverse population of women. While life at Danbury is far different from anything she has experienced, she approaches it with a positive attitude and develops strong friendships with her “bunkies” and other women in the prison. Of course, she has many regular visitors from the outside, including her journalist fiancé. And she receives a lot of mail and books and remote support from her family, including plenty of money to get what she needs at the commissary.

Many of the women at Danbury are in far worse shape, serving long sentences, separated from their children, and with few visitors. Piper’s empathy seems genuine, though and, despite the differences, the women find ways to connect and support each other.

I enjoyed listening to this memoir. I’m late to the party in learning about the book and the show, but I’m glad I finally got to it.

Today, Piper Kerman is an outspoken advocate for women in prison. She lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her family and teaches writing in two state prisons as an Affiliate Instructor with Otterbein University.

Have you read or listened to Orange Is the New Black? Have you watched the show? I plan to watch eventually!

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School Days, Reminiscences of Barbara Vitelli

What are your earliest memories of school? What were your favorite subjects? I’m answering these and other questions today Norah Colvin’s blog, as part of her School Days, Reminiscences series. I hope you’ll hop over and take a look!

Norah Colvin

Welcome to the School Days, Reminiscences series in which my champion bloggers and authors share reminiscences of their school days. It’s my small way of thanking them for their support and of letting you know about their services and publications.

This week, I am pleased to introduce Book Club MomBarbara Vitelli, fellow book lover, librarian, blogger and fiction writer. We’ve been following each other’s blogs for a few years now. I enjoy reading Barbara’s book reviews and have read the occasional book as a result of Barbara’s recommendation. In fact, I’m currently listening to The Other Wes Moore One Name Two Fates, a memoir and New York Times Bestseller that Barbara reviewed. What a fascinating story with a strong theme of ‘that could have been me’ and how circumstances influence life’s outcomes. What makes the audiobook even more special is that Wes reads it. A great…

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The Right Stuff – the book by Tom Wolfe, the 1983 movie and how we got to the moon

Image: Wikipedia

Did you know that we are approaching the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing? On July 20, 1969, the United States Apollo 11 was the first crewed mission to land on the moon. Six hours after the lunar module landed, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to walk on the moon!

The race to space began over a decade earlier, when the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik 1 satellite in 1957. In response, the United States formed the Mercury Seven, a group of seven pilots who began training to be the first Americans in space. They were Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard, and Deke Slayton. This was the beginning of the new astronaut profession and, between 1961 and 1963, all seven flew into space. All this training led to the historic moon landing in 1969.

Tom Wolfe’s book The Right Stuff is about this group and the test pilots that came before them, including Chuck Yeager, the first pilot to break the sound barrier. Wolfe’s critically-praised book was published in 1974 and became the Academy Award-winning film in 1983.

I recently watched the movie, starring Sam Shepard, Barbara Hershey, Ed Harris, Dennis Quaid and even a very young Jeff Goldblum. I enjoyed the movie very much because, even though I knew about the Space Race, I didn’t see the movie back in 1983 and didn’t know much about the Mercury Seven. What is the most impressive is the tremendous risk these men were willing to take to venture into the unknown. They suffered setbacks and failure and Gus Grissom died in a pre-launch test. But the public’s adulation of these men marked the beginning of America’s fascination with space exploration.

The Mercury Seven/Image: Wikipedia

At three hours, it’s a longer film than most, and I had to split it into two nights, but I’d recommend it. Seeing the cast as young actors was also fun!

Have you read The Right Stuff or watched the movie? Maybe you’re too young, but if you’re around my age, you will remember the lunar landing!

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Joy in the Morning by P.G. Wodehouse

From the archives – I always laugh when I read P.G. Wodehouse – if you’ve never read one of his ridiculous stories, try Joy in the Morning. I bet you’ll become a fan!

Book Club Mom

Just Enough Jeeves

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

Rating:
5 book marks

Imagine a scenario in which ridiculous characters bumble through a series of hilarious coincidences and an equal number of snafus, all in the name of love, marriage and a big business deal. That’s the main idea in Joy in the Morning, the first of three short novels included in Just Enough Jeeves, a great introduction to P.G. Wodehouse’s famous characters, a twenty-something Bertie Wooster and his manservant Jeeves.

In this story, Bertie and Jeeves leave London and head for the quiet hamlet of Steeple Bumpleigh. To anyone wishing to escape a hectic metropolis, Steeple Bumpleigh sounds great. Bertie describes it as located “in the midst of smiling fields and leafy woods, hard by a willow-fringed river.” It’s a place where “you couldn’t have thrown a brick in it without hitting a honeysuckle-covered cottage or beaning an…

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Grammar check – is relatable a real word?

Yes, it is, but the meaning has changed. The word relatable used to mean that something could be told or that it was connected to something else. Now, it usually describes a situation in which someone has a personal connection to something.

Merriam-Webster defines relatable as:

  1. able to be shown or established to have a causal or logical connection to something
  2. able to be related to : possible to understand, like, or have sympathy for because of similarities to oneself or one’s own experiences

Relatable is all over the media. Every show, book, movie, news story, tweet or post is relatable to someone. And this isn’t anything new, just something I’ve been thinking about lately.

Professors and high school teachers have bemoaned its overuse and some say that students need to pay attention to things that are not relatable so they can understand them better.

For more information, read Ben Zimmer’s 2010 New York Times article in which he explains the origins of the word, and Rebecca Onion’s 2014 article in Slate, where she says the word’s overuse bothers her. Me? I’m not bothered by it. It may be a lazy way of saying you get something, without explaining why, but it’s an otherwise nice word—and that’s relatable!

What’s your opinion on relatable?

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