Sunday Post

Book arrivals:

Not one book in my mailbox last week. That’s ok. I have plenty on my stack to keep me reading for weeks years. I’m taking a Fall break from posting and will be back on Nov. 2. See you then!

One of the main reasons for taking two weeks off:

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Our new granddaughter, Harper.

She was born just before midnight Friday.

Last week on Bookfan:

the assassination of marg. thatcher (sept)  Mr. Miracle (Vine Oct7)  that summer (CD)

Currently reading:

I hope to catch up on some review books.

Happy reading!

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That Summer by Lauren Willig (audiobook)

  • that summer (CD)Title:  That Summer
  • Author:  Lauren Willig
  • Narrator:  Nicola Barber
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction
  • Published:  June 2014 – Macmillan Audio
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  2009: When Julia Conley leads that she has inherited a house outside London from an unknown great-aunt, she assumes it’s a joke. When she arrives at Herne Hill to sort through the house she discovers a Pre-Raphaelite painting, hidden behind the false back of an old wardrobe, and a window onto the house’s shrouded history begins to open.

1849: Imogen Grantham has spent nearly a decade trapped in a loveless marriage to a much older man, Arthur. But everything changes when three young painters come to see Arthur’s collection of medieval artifacts. When Arthur hires one of the artists to paint her portrait, no one can guess the outcome of events that the hands of fate have set in motion.  (publisher)

My take:  Lauren Willig had me from the synopsis with the dual-storylines (1800s and 2009).  I’m a fan of historical fiction especially when it involves art. At first I wasn’t sure listening would be as good an experience, in terms of distinguishing between the two eras, as reading a print copy but it wasn’t a problem.

Although Julia is the one trying to solve the mystery of the painting it is the reader who comes to know most of the details from Imogen’s story. Lucky for Julia that she is introduced to Nick, a dealer in antiques and friend of Julia’s cousins. From the start Julia (as well as the reader) is not sure of his motivation so there’s a trust issue. Julia has trust issues with a lot of people in her life so that isn’t surprising. That conflict worked well with the plot.

Not only is Julia looking for answers about the painting but she’s also seeking answers about people in her immediate family. Living at Herne Hill brings past experiences to the forefront in her memory. She needs to figure out if the memories are true or not.

I enjoyed the flow of the story. The resolution was satisfying if not a little surprising in how it came about. If you enjoy historical fiction (with light romance) and dual-storylines having to do with art I recommend That Summer.

Nicola Barber’s narration is wonderful. Her voicing of both female and male voices was easy to listen to and I wouldn’t hesitate to select any book she’s narrated. My thanks to Macmillan Audio for providing the review copy.

Mr. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

  • Mr. Miracle (Vine Oct7)Title:  Mr. Miracle: A Christmas Novel
  • Author:  Debbie Macomber
  • Genre:  Christmas; Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  October 2014 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  With a nod to Dickens, Debbie Macomber’s new Christmas novel is about the possibilities of new beginnings. Harry Mills (an angel) gets his chance to help some humans going in the right direction. To nudge them along, if you will. He’s a teacher at the community college and chooses A Christmas Carol as the class novel.

First up is Addie who has moved home after being gone for six years. She’ll live at her mom’s house while taking the last class needed to get her GED. Then she’ll go to college. What Addie doesn’t expect is the boy next door still being next door. Circumstances have made it so Erich must be there over the holidays. He’s not happy about that and even less thrilled that Addie is going to be involved in his life. Both Addie and Erich have regrets but can they help each other learn from those regrets and move forward?

Others who will find themselves getting attention from Harry are Danny who is on parole and must take a class and Andrew, a veteran, and his service dog. Harry has his work cut out for him with his students and his fellow faculty and staff.

I thought this was a sweet Christmas story but it’s not my favorite by the author. At the end of the book there’s an excerpt from last year’s Christmas book. After you read Mr. Miracle I recommend you read Starry Night. I really liked that one! However, if all you want is a new and fast read (that can be important at this busy time of year) you should look for Mr. Miracle. I don’t think you can go wrong with Debbie Macomber.

The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher by Hilary Mantel

  • the assassination of marg. thatcher (sept)Title:  The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher
  • Author:  Hilary Mantel
  • Genre:  Short Stories
  • Published:  September 2014 – Henry Holt
  • Source:  Publisher

Publishers Description:  One of the most accomplished, acclaimed, and garlanded writers, Hilary Mantel delivers a brilliant collection of contemporary stories

In The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher, Hilary Mantel’s trademark gifts of penetrating characterization, unsparing eye, and rascally intelligence are once again fully on display.

Stories of dislocation and family fracture, of whimsical infidelities and sudden deaths with sinister causes, brilliantly unsettle the reader in that unmistakably Mantel way.

Cutting to the core of human experience, Mantel brutally and acutely writes about marriage, class, family, and sex. Unpredictable, diverse, and sometimes shocking, The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher displays a magnificent writer at the peak of her powers.

My brief take:  I want to begin with a disclaimer: I haven’t read any short story collections that wowed me so I tend to avoid reading them. Why did I accept a review copy of Hilary Mantel’s latest collection? Because I haven’t read her books and wanted to sample her writing. In hindsight, I probably should have read a chapter or two in one of her chunky historical fiction novels. I like historical fiction. At any rate, all of the stories in the collection are immensely readable. If pressed to name a favorite in this collection I’d say it was How Shall I Know You? in which an author honors a commitment to a book group despite being quite ill.

The title story was not included in my review copy (embargoed until publication date) so I can’t speak to that.

I think if you enjoy the author and short stories you’ll probably like this collection.

It is also available in audiobook from Macmillan Audio

 

When We Fall by Emily Liebert

  • when we fall (Sept2)Title:  When We Fall
  • Author:  Emily Liebert
  • Genre:  Women’s Fiction
  • Published:  September 2014 – NAL
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Ready for a fresh start, Allison Parker moves back to her hometown in the suburbs of New York. While she’d once savored the dynamic pace of city life, sadly, it lost its allure after her husband’s untimely death. Now, ready to focus on her art career accompanied by her ten-year-old son, Logan, Allison doesn’t anticipate that her past will resurface. When the wife of her husband’s best friend from summer camp takes her under her wing, things begin to spin out of control.

At one time, Charlotte Crane thought she had it all—a devoted husband, a beautiful little girl, and enough financial security to never have to worry. But behind her “perfect” facade lie a strained marriage and a fractured relationship with her sister. When “new girl” Allison arrives in Wincourt, Charlotte welcomes the chance to build a friendship. Before long, Charlotte begins to see her life through Allison’s eyes, and the cracks in her seemingly flawless existence become impossible to ignore.

As Allison heals from the loss of her husband—even wondering if she might be ready to date again—Charlotte feels more distant from her loved ones than ever before. The emerging friendship between the two women appears to be just the antidote both of them so desperately need…until everything falls apart.  (publisher)

My take:  Emily Liebert’s new novel is about the possibility of friendship – between women and women and men. It’s about forgiveness and having the courage to begin again. Overall, I enjoyed it. I certainly enjoyed how Liebert tells a story! There were times when the grown up “mean girls” got on my last nerve but that didn’t stop me from reading. I’ve heard stories about these mean school moms but I couldn’t relate.

What I liked most was Allison’s story. Her courage and sense of what is truly important in life made her stand apart from some of the women she met in Wincourt. She and Charlotte were so different from each other that I wondered if they’d be friends a year later. Charlotte wanted her husband to see that she could be friends with a quality person like Allison instead of her usual superficial friends. She was so insecure and knew she was losing her husband but couldn’t seem to stop herself from sabotaging her marriage. I also enjoyed the support characters of Elizabeth, Charlotte’s sister and Dempsey, a handsome guy from Allison’s past. They added a lot to the story.

When We Fall would be a perfect book to take on vacation. It’s a page-turner in that I didn’t want to stop reading because I had to see where things would go for Allison and Charlotte. I look forward to see what Emily Liebert writes next.

At the end of the novel there is a conversation with the author as well as discussion questions.