My Kindle is loaded!

Hi Everyone! I’m going to have a lot of time to read during the next five days so I loaded up my Kindle with potential books. It’s such a fun feeling to know I can pick any one of these, depending on my mood! I even threw a spooky read – I hope I can handle it 👻

I haven’t been on the blog much this month because my off-blog schedule has been crazy! Things will settle down next week and I look forward to getting back into my routine and visiting all of you!

Thanks so much for visiting – come back soon!

Book cover eye candy – similar, very similar, confusing, pretty and more book covers

Happy Sunday Everyone! I’m being very superficial today and sharing book covers that caught my eye for different reasons. Sometimes, and I’ve said this before, I think I’ve already read a book because the cover is so much like another cover!

Similar Covers

These are both pretty and similar. A bit hard to read because they’re so busy and colorful, but I do like looking at them.

Very Similar Covers

The handwritten slanted font, often in all caps, is very popular these days. And look at all the ones that feature a rocky coast!

Sunglasses Covers

Yes, summer is over but the sunglasses stay.

Confusing Covers

Honestly, these books might be great, but these covers are too hard to look at.

Prettiest Covers

You may have figured out that I like colorful book covers! These are also a bit similar to each other, but that’s okay with me because I like looking at them!

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Book Review: Love Marriage by Monica Ali

Love Marriage
by
Monica Ali

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I could not stop reading this book in which two families struggle to understand themselves and their relationships with each other. Set in London, Yasmin Ghorami is a doctor-in-training and her fiancé, Joe Sangster, is a practicing obstetrician. The story begins as Yasmin and Joe bring their parents together for the first time. Yasmin worries about the cultural divide between her parents, Anisah and Shaokat, and Joe’s mother, Harriet, an upper class liberal and outspoken feminist and writer. And Joe can only hope that Harriet will behave around Yasmin’s Muslim parents. Their dinner together unfolds nicely, but soon Harriet has taken over the wedding preparations, with Anisah’s full and enthusiastic approval, and much to Yasmin’s shock at the idea of a now-large and complicated religious ceremony. Readers may think they are settling in for a bit of a romantic comedy, but will soon discover a host of serious and complicated problems. Ali’s characters must undergo important and often painful transformations before they can find happiness.

The first problem: Joe and Yasmin. Joe tells her he wants to settle down, but he has secrets and must work through complex issues about sex and his unusually close relationship with Harriet. Yasmin loves Joe, but is there enough passion? Her limited dating experience is of no help. I like the way the author shows how the couple’s genuine love and affection for each other makes this problem all-the-more painful.

The second problem: Shaokat’s stubborn pride. Yasmin’s father became a doctor against all odds, but at a cost. Now, above everything, he wants Yasmin and her brother, Arif to succeed and his intense expectations work against him. Although Yasmin is on her way, she questions whether she really wants to be a doctor. Arif, unemployed and angry, locks horns with Shaokat who berates him about his lack of motivation. I was incredibly drawn into these simmering conflicts between fathers and their adult children. There are some powerful scenes between Shaokat and his children.

The third problem: Anisah and Shaokat’s marriage. Anisah seems satisfied in her role as wife, mother and homemaker, but when she meets Harriet, she sees a wider world and a chance at happiness she never considered. She shocks her family when she grabs it and Yasmin will learn hard truths about her parents’ early days.

I think the best part of the book is how what seems to be a simple story develops and reveals complex problems within and between its characters. All of Ali’s characters undergo major, often painful transformations. I liked how the author made me feel like I was getting to know the characters, just as if I had met them for the first time, and how my early impressions of them changed over time. Likewise, was my understanding of their relationships with each other, something you don’t understand until you know a person longer. The author does an especially great job portraying the Ghorami family, Arif in particular, and the unique problems they face as Muslims in London. I thought Arif’s transformation was one of the most interesting storylines in the book.

Love Marriage portrays a specific culture and relates it to how everyone experiences similar personal and family conflicts. This is both an entertaining and serious book and I recommend it to all readers who like stories about family and marriage.

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Page to Screens I want to watch

Here are three excellent books that have been adapted to film. The first two were released in 2022 and the third comes out in 2023.

Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens: Kya Clark is six years old when her mother walks out of the shack they call home. The falling-down structure is hidden in the marshes of North Carolina, outside the fictional coastal town of Barkley Cove, a place where racial tension and small-town prejudices are firmly in place. The shack is the only place the Clark family knows, where her father’s abusive rages have terrified Kya, her mother and her siblings. Soon her older siblings run, leaving only Kya and her father, who provides her with nothing but fear. And then one day it’s just Kya, known in town and shunned as the wild Marsh Girl.

The story begins in 1952 and jumps to 1969, when a young man named Chase Andrews has died. In alternating chapters, readers learn Kya’s story of survival and how she becomes part of the investigation into Chase’s death.

The 2022 film, directed by Olivia Newman, stars Daisy Edgar-Jones, Taylor John Smith and Harris Dickinson. Screenplay by Lucy Alibar. It’s currently in theaters is available on Prime Video.


All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque: This is the story of World War I trench warfare and of Paul Baumer, a nineteen-year-old German soldier who has enlisted in the army. He and his schoolmates joined up at the recommendation of their schoolmaster and in short time must face the reality of a ruthless war. The novel mostly takes place on the front, where Paul and his comrades are fired upon and shelled and do the same to their French enemies in what becomes one of the most famous stalemates in history. Paul narrates his experiences and the deep bonds he develops with the men in his platoon, including the already close friendships with his boyhood friends and Albert Kropp, their superior.

The 2022 Netflix film, directed by Edward Berger, stars Daniel Brühl, Albrecht Schuch and Sebastian Hülk. Screenplay by Ian Stokell.


Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann: a true-crime account of a shameful period of American history in which members of the Osage tribe were murdered for the headrights to oil-rich land on their reservation in Oklahoma. David Grann tells this shocking story, including the investigation of the murders led by J. Edgar Hoover’s newly-formed Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The events in Killers of the Flower Moon depict a deep-seated racism against the Osage, in which the white business leaders and citizens of Gray Horse, Oklahoma pretended to befriend and help the Osage, only to kill them for their money. Killers of the Flower Moon is a thorough historical account of the Osage murders, but this is one story you won’t see in school history books.

This upcoming 2023 film, directed by Martin Scorsese, stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro and Lily Gladstone. Screenplay by Eric Roth.

Have you watched Where the Crawdads Sing and/or All Quiet on the Western Front? Do you want to watch Killers of the Flower Moon? All three are on my list. Leave a comment and tell me what you think!

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On YouTube – new episode of Read React Decide!

Hi Everyone,

I’m over on YouTube with a new fall episode of Read React Decide. I’m reading random selections from five random books and deciding which to read!

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Who’s That Indie Author? J.Q. Rose

J.Q. Rose

Author Name: J.Q. Rose

Genre: Mystery, Nonfiction, Memoir

Books: Your Words, Your Life Story; Girls Succeed! Stories Behind the Careers of Successful Women; Arranging a Dream: A Memoir; Deadly Undertaking; Dangerous Sanctuary; Terror on Sunshine Boulevard; Quick Tips on Vegetable Gardening

Bio: I’ve always been a writer in my heart, but being a mom and making an income were top priorities. I taught third graders until my husband and I decided to pursue our dream of being entrepreneurs in the floral and greenhouse operation. After we sold the shop, I had time to pursue another dream, writing as we traveled full-time in our fifth-wheel camper. 

What got you started as a writer? My mom. She was my second-grade teacher. When I finished my assignment, I’d visit my classmates. My mother was not happy with me for interrupting them in getting their assignments done. She told me to stay at my desk and write stories. So I did. And I guess I never stopped.

What is your writing routine? I set aside time to write every day after lunch. Sometimes it’s research when necessary. At first, it was difficult to sit down and write instead of finishing the laundry or reading a book. Now, if I have to miss my writing time due to an appointment or a meeting, etc., I resent it.

What route did you take to get your books published? After receiving 22 rejections from publishers, I self-published an eBook on Smashwords. I thought I would pull out all my hair before I accomplished this chore in 2010. For my first mystery, I decided to find a publisher after going through the frustration of self-publishing. I queried one who turned me down. I sent the second query to a startup eBook publisher who accepted the book. The publisher said they “liked my voice.” I’ll never forget that. Now I am a hybrid author with self-published nonfiction books and with mysteries and a memoir published by a traditional publisher.

What things do you do to promote your books? Virtual book/ blog tour, book signings and presentations, social media, an author website for blogging, hosting authors and being a guest at their blogs and podcasts. Plus, I publish a quarterly newsletter.

What is your favorite genre to read and why? Historical fiction to learn about 19th and 20th-century history.

Do you prefer to write dialogue or description? I love to write dialogue when the characters banter back and forth.

Have any of your characters ever surprised you? Yes, I thought I was writing a character who was so kind and helpful until it turned out she was a manipulator only looking out for herself. Did this change the plot of your book? Yes, she did. For the best, I might add.

What is the most difficult thing you have accomplished in your life? I haven’t really accomplished the job of being a mother, but it IS the most difficult challenge I’ve ever had and can still be today! I think one is always a mother even if the kid is old enough to collect social security. Grandmothering is so much more fun…

What three events or people have most influenced how you live your life? My Grandmother, Maw, really encouraged me to be a writer. My husband, Ted, has led us on a life of adventure and worldwide experiences. My friend, Bernie, instilled in me to be the best floral designer I could be and a businesswoman of integrity.

What would you tell your younger self? Stop spinning my wheels. Realize there are times when there is nothing I can do about a situation.

Have you ever met up with a bear on a hike? If so, what did you do? If not, are you looking up what to do right now? I have never met a bear on a hike; however, I have been in places with warnings that bears are in the area and read the posted signs that say “do not run.” To follow their advice seems impossible to me. I love to see bears but from the inside of the tour bus. 

You’re locked in your local library for the night with no dinner. Thank goodness you have water, but you only have enough change to buy one item from the vending machine. Choices are limited to: Fudge Pop Tarts, Snickers or Doritos. Which would you choose and why? Snickers! What a treat to have loads of library books to read while munching a Snickers bar!

What’s the largest number of people you’ve had in your kitchen at one time? Actually helping in the kitchen? Probably 3. But sitting at the breakfast counter or standing in the way e.g. in front of the refrigerator? Probably 10.

Closing thoughts: Thank you for the opportunity to be a guest on your series, Who’s That Indie Author? To the readers, thank you for stopping in today. I look forward to reading your comments and answering questions you have about writing. Please, keep in touch via the links below.

Website and social media links: 
Blog: Focused on Story
Facebook: J. Q. Rose, Author
Amazon Author: JQ Rose


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

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

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Book Review: How Beautiful We Were by Imbolo Mbue

How Beautiful We Were
by
Imbolo Mbue

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Here’s an example of a book that got a lot of hype, but fell short for me. So get ready for a mini rant! I highlighted How Beautiful We Were last December after I watched a livestream of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times. Because of the praise, the novel made my list of books I wanted to read. I mean, look at the cover! It’s beautiful, although I’m also sharing the alternate cover below, which does not appeal to me.

What other hype did it get? In addition to The New York Times’ praise, How Beautiful We Were was named one of the ten best books of the year by People, The Washington Post, Esquire, Good Housekeeping, The Christian Science Monitor, Marie Claire, Ms. magazine, BookPage and Kirkus Reviews. NPR also gave the book high marks: “Mbue reaches for the moon and, by the novel’s end, has it firmly held in her hand.”

Alternate cover – not appealing to me!

What’s it about? It’s the story of a fictional African farming village, Kosawa, and their fight against Pexton, an American oil company. Thula, a young woman from the village, becomes her people’s leader as they wage battle against the company which, in collusion with His Excellency’s government, has poisoned their waters, killed their villagers and made their land inhabitable, all for profit.

The story begins in 1980 when Thula is a young girl and spans forty years. During this time, many of the village’s children fall sick and die because of the poisoned water. Their long struggle against corporate America begins when Konga, the village madman, stands up against Pexton’s visiting representatives who then become Kosawa’s prisoners. The situation becomes violent, inciting the village’s younger men to get revenge. Years later, Thula becomes the group’s leader and works with American lawyers to make things right.

Told from several points of view, representing Thula, her mother, uncle, brother and the children, in a collective voice, readers learn the history of the ancestral village, its beliefs and its spirituality, as well as the legal battle with Pexton.

I was disappointed I didn’t like it.

It’s a weird feeling when you don’t like a book that has received so much praise, especially a book that talks about a fight I absolutely agree with. What I don’t like is that because of its themes and backings, the book becomes untouchable. I mean, how can I say a book that has an important theme isn’t good?

In my view, there were a couple problems with it. First, the author reminded me of evil corporate America and His Excellency’s corrupt government too much, almost on every page. I felt that this approach left little room for character development and resulted in a boring and overly long book. I’m reviewing it because I took the time to read it and I’m giving it three stars. Here’s why: I agree we need to do something about government and big business ruining land and wrecking its citizens lives, so this book serves a purpose. In addition, I liked how the author showed the opposing and strong opinions about using violence. And I liked how some characters resisted dedicating their lives to protesting, preferring to just live their lives. Both of those things seemed real to me. But my other issues with the book cap my rating at three. So there you have it!

Here’s what other readers think:

Bookread2day
The Pine-Scented Chronicles
Liz from Goodreads
Katie from Goodreads

Have you read How Beautiful We Were? What did you think? Leave a comment!

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Book Review: The Girls of August by Anne Rivers Siddons

The Girls of August
by
Anne Rivers Siddons

Rating: 3 out of 5.

I’m working on my library’s summer reading Bingo card and picked The Girls of August to fill one of the squares, to read an eBook from the library’s staff picks.

The Girls of August is a beach read about four southern women, Madison, Rachel, Barbara and Melinda, who become best friends when their husbands are in medical school. Every August since, they’ve rented a beach house for an all-girls week of sun, wine, food and gossip. The story, narrated by Madison, opens when the women are in their forties. After a three-year lapse, plans are underway to meet again, but this time it will be without their beloved Melinda, who died in a tragic accident.

After much discussion, the women agree to meet at a new place, but there’s a catch. Melinda’s husband has remarried and his new wife has volunteered to host. Problem is, the new wife, appropriately named Baby, is a free spirit and twenty years younger. She’ll never be able to fill Melinda’s shoes.

Baby’s house is located on the remote fictional Tiger Island where Baby grew up, among the Sea Islands of South Carolina. The women will be all alone, for two weeks this time, except for the Gullah people who live on the other side of the island. The house is gorgeous and fully equipped and Baby shows it off with pride. Madison, Rachel and Barbara settle in, but they can’t let go of Melinda’s memory. To ease their pain, they target Baby with snide remarks and eye rolls. To be fair, Baby is a puzzle. On the surface, she’s immature, acts erratically and prances around the rooms and on the beach half-naked and sometimes naked! Is she reacting to the women or are the women reacting to Baby? In addition Madison senses trouble with her dear friends. Barbara hasn’t stopped drinking since they arrived and Rachel’s dark mood frightens her.

Small calamities, storms and plenty of drama frame this story about friendship and acceptance. To be honest, these weren’t my kind of women. The older friends are selfish and petty, the kind who wield power from inside their clique. Readers will learn more about Baby’s life and why she acts mysteriously. That makes her the most relatable, but none of the characters are fully developed. Siddons also brings the culture of the Gullah people into the story to tie together some of the plot lines. I thought this was the most interesting part of the book.

Anne Rivers Siddons was an American writer of nineteen novels, including The House Next Door (1978), Peachtree Road (1988) and Outer Banks (1991). I realized later that I read Peachtree Road years ago! The Girls of August (2014) was her last novel. Reader reviews suggest it wasn’t her best and I’m thinking about going back to her earlier books to get a better taste of her stories, including Peachtree Road because I don’t remember much! Have you read any of Siddons’ books? Which would you recommend? Leave a comment!

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Book Review: Sea Wife by Amity Gaige

Sea Wife
by
Amity Gaige

Rating: 4 out of 5.

You don’t always know what you’re going to get when you pick a random book off the shelf. As a reader, I sometimes feel boxed in by reading lists. So I occasionally like to choose books spontaneously. I picked Sea Wife during my latest Read React Decide YouTube video. It took me a bit of time to get to it, but I’m so happy I did. I also thought it was especially good to read during the summer, since it’s a book about sailing. Good timing, even though I take no credit!

I had never heard of Sea Wife, published in 2021, but it was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. I’d describe it as suspenseful literary fiction that looks at the complexities of marriage and parenthood.

What would you do if your spouse asked you to pick up and embark on a year-long sailing trip in Panama? Michael Partlow had been feeling the itch to get away from suburban life in Connecticut. Restless and distracted at his job, he finds himself hanging around a marina during his lunch hour. There he meets Harry Borawski, a boat dealer, who helps him find a 44-foot sailboat. Harry may be trying to close the deal when he tells Michael, “What you want is a holy human right, and you shouldn’t give it up… to feel the burden of carrying your own life,” but there’s truth in what he says.

Now it’s just a matter of convincing his wife, Juliet that a trip like this with their two young children, seven-year-old Sybil and two-year-old George, is what they desperately need. Michael may be restless, but Juliet suffers from debilitating depression. Motherhood is not what she expected. She’s inches away from earning her PhD in confessional poetry, but can’t seem to finish.

Michael is ultra-prepared but problems are inevitable and the family must rely on each other to get through storms and other difficulties. The children adapt, the family begins to enjoy their life at sea and Juliet emerges from her depression. Michael and Juliet also confront long-simmering serious conflicts in their marriage (many about politics). What they don’t know is if they can overcome everything that happens.

Gaige tells the story from two points of view: Juliet’s first-person account of their trip, told upon the family’s return, and Michael’s sea log which reads more like a diary. Readers sense a tragedy, adding a layer of suspense to the book.

I liked this book very much. It’s a fast read because you’ll want to know what happened. But it’s also a deeper look at marriage and parenthood.

I also made a short video about the book. I surprised myself by something I said!

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Book Clubs – they come and go and now they’re on Zoom!

A couple days ago, I read an excellent post by Donna at Retirement Reflections about the benefits of being in a book club. Donna knows her stuff. She is a book club pro!

Book clubs have changed a lot over the years. And the pandemic has moved a lot of book groups to Zoom and other virtual formats. That hasn’t stopped Donna and her friends from having fun by jazzing things up with drop-off treats (that means snacks and wine) to enjoy together during their Zoom. Way to go, Donna – you guys do things right!

Years ago, I was in three clubs, but life got busy and stressful. My main in-person book club fell apart and my Facebook group has become inactive because it needs a logistical overhaul. Now I’m only in the mystery book club at my library job. It’s a great group and the Zoom format has attracted new people. One friend attends during her lunch hour and that could never have been possible for an in-person meeting. I think people are a lot more comfortable with virtual book clubs now that we’ve ironed out the kinks.

My first book club started in 2001. We were a bunch of new moms and we met every month at each other’s houses for nineteen years, as soon as we got our babies to bed. I often got home well after midnight! Ack – I can’t believe I had that much energy back then!

Last night I looked at the list of books we read. Our first book was The Bonesetter’s Daughter by Amy Tan. You can view the complete list here.

Here are six books I missed that I would like to read now.

A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton

The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane by Katherine Howe

Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates

The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

The World to Come by Dara Horn

Are you in a book club? Do you meet in-person or virtually? Leave a comment!

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