I have been in a total book slump. Life is busy and so it was easier for me to play Scrabble or Words with Friends in the random spare minutes I had versus reading a book. I have several nonfiction books going right now, but none of them are pulling me to read them. I have turned to them when I have a half hour or during a car ride to a track meet, but again, they aren’t “page-turners”. I also don’t like starting a new fiction book unless I can devote a full hour or more to get it started. I want to be sure I can get a good understanding of the characters and the story in case I don’t get back to it right away. Which, with my current schedule, is happening a lot right now. But, then, last week, I had some open blocks of time and I decided to start a new fiction book and thankfully, it keep me interested to the very last page. I can’t wait to tell you about THE ONES WHO MATTER MOST by Rachael Herron because I think it’ll be one of my favorites of the year. I also have a nonfiction review coming up next week that I think you’ll love as well.
I’ve been reading and reviewing a lot of children’s books lately because it’s easier to find the time for them. I’m trying to feature a children’s/middle grade/YA book every week as part of Julie at Booking Mama’s Kid Konnection feature every Saturday. I’ve got several lined up, so hope I can stay on schedule with that.
I read nine books last month, but six of them were children’s books, so not a great month of reading. But, I am excited to participate in Bout of Books next week and hoping to knock out at least three books, if not more. Soon summer will be here and my schedule is pretty open. I can’t wait to sit on my porch with a book in my hand for hours at a time!
I’m only going to read books that I am interested in. If it isn’t working for me I’ll move on. I can’t get to every book that comes my way, but at least I can share them with you here. I hope to review them just as soon as I can.
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to share our stacks of books for April.
To see her Stack of Books as well as other bloggers’ Book Stacks, click HERE.
BOOKS FOR REVIEW
GLORY OVER EVERYTHING
Beyond The Kitchen House
By: Kathleen Grissom
Published: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
I loved THE KITCHEN HOUSE (see my review, HERE
) and was thrilled to hear there was a follow-up story.
Jamie Pyke, son of both a slave and master of Tall Oakes, has a deadly secret that compels him to take a treacherous journey through the Underground Railroad.
Published in 2010, The Kitchen House became a grassroots bestseller. Fans connected so deeply to the book’s characters that the author, Kathleen Grissom, found herself being asked over and over “what happens next?” The wait is finally over.
This new, stand-alone novel opens in 1830, and Jamie, who fled from the Virginian plantation he once called home, is passing in Philadelphia society as a wealthy white silversmith. After many years of striving, Jamie has achieved acclaim and security, only to discover that his aristocratic lover Caroline is pregnant. Before he can reveal his real identity to her, he learns that his beloved servant Pan has been captured and sold into slavery in the South. Pan’s father, to whom Jamie owes a great debt, pleads for Jamie’s help, and Jamie agrees, knowing the journey will take him perilously close to Tall Oakes and the ruthless slave hunter who is still searching for him. Meanwhile, Caroline’s father learns and exposes Jamie’s secret, and Jamie loses his home, his business, and finally Caroline.
Heartbroken and with nothing to lose, Jamie embarks on a trip to a North Carolina plantation where Pan is being held with a former Tall Oakes slave named Sukey, who is intent on getting Pan to the Underground Railroad. Soon the three of them are running through the Great Dismal Swamp, the notoriously deadly hiding place for escaped slaves. Though they have help from those in the Underground Railroad, not all of them will make it out alive.
A Taste of the Gulf Coast Good Life
By: Lucy Buffet
Published: April 26, 2016
Publisher: Grand Central Life & Style
This best-selling cookbook has been updated with photography and amazing recipes from Buffet’s Gulf Coast restaurants. When I read that Lucy Buffet has restaurants in Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Destin, Florida, I was interested. We love visiting Pensacola Beach, which is located right between the two. Even though I haven’t visited her restaurant, my mouth waters as I read the pages of her cookbook. Stay tuned. I’ll be reviewing it very soon!
Updated for 2016, the bestselling, self-published cookbook by Lucy Buffett (chef sister of Jimmy Buffett) includes amazing recipes from her destination restaurant in Gulf Shores, Alabama.
Like her brother, Jimmy, Lucy Buffett celebrates freedom, relaxation, and seaside decadence in her own art–cooking. This previously self-published book (formerly titled Crazy Sista Cooking) has sold over 70,000 copies without marketing or much trade distribution. Packed with more than 120 signature recipes from Lucy’s famous Gulf Coast restaurant, LuLu’s, WITH LOVE FROM LULU’S KITCHEN is the next best thing to being there. Tucked inside are humorous stories and plenty of wit and wisdom from Lucy’s own kitchen. The book features party menus, Buffett Family favorites, and lots of telling it like it is. Renowned novelist Tom McGuane contributes engaging essays that blend smoothly with the spicy dishes and distinctive drinks.
Recipes include soul-satisfying Southern delights like West Indies Salad, Perfect Fried Shrimp, Blackened Grouper Sandwich, Garlic Cheese Grits, Silver Queen Succotash, and Heavenly Fried Crab Claws. And there’s a whole chapter on 25 specialty drinks, including “Bama Breeze” and “LuLu’s Painkiller.
By: Carole P. Roman
Illustrated by: Mateya Arkova
Published: March 13, 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
I love bedtime stories and all of Roman’s books.
Carole P. Roman travels to the stars, orbiting the moon and rocketing past planets in this adorable journey to the far reaches of the galaxy. A beautiful bedtime poem, this verse is sure to delight any child before they go to sleep.
CAN A PRINCESS BE A FIREFIGHTER?
By: Carole P. Roman
Illustrated by: Mateya Arkova
Published: March 25, 2016
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Two little girls pepper their father with questions about whether or not they can be a profession and still be a princess. Motivated by her granddaughter’s fascination with all things ‘princess, ‘ Carole P. Roman penned this adorable poem celebrating all the wonderful possibilities waiting ahead for them.
By: Stacey Ballis
Published: May 3, 2016
When I saw this was a cross between “You’ve Got Mail” and “Julie & Julia”, I was curious to see what this book was all about.
Top pastry chef Sophie Bernstein and her sommelier fiancé were set to have Chicago’s culinary wedding of the year…until the groom eloped with someone else in a very public debacle, leaving Sophie splashed across the tabloids—fifty grand in debt on her dream wedding and one-hundred percent screwed on her dream life. The icing on the cake was when she lost her job and her home.
Laying low, Sophie moves in with her grandmother, Bubbles. That way, she can keep Bubbles and her sweater-wearing pug company and nurse her broken heart. But when Sophie gets a part-time job at the old-fashioned neighborhood bakery, she finds herself up to her elbows in dough and reluctantly giving a wedding cake customer advice on everything from gift bags to guest accommodations. Before she knows it, she’s an online wedding planner. It’s not mousse and macarons, but it pays the bills. But with the arrival of unexpected personal and professional twists, Sophie wonders if she’s really moving forward—or starting over from scratch.
By: Sarah-Jane Stratford
To Be Published: June 14, 2016
Another piece of our history that I wasn’t aware of. I’m anxious to read this one.
The Great War is over, and change is in the air, in this novel that brings to life the exciting days of early British radio…and one woman who finds her voice while working alongside the brilliant women and men of the BBC.
London, 1926. American-raised Maisie Musgrave is thrilled to land a job as a secretary at the upstart British Broadcasting Corporation, whose use of radio—still new, strange, and electrifying—is captivating the nation. But the hectic pace, smart young staff, and intimidating bosses only add to Maisie’s insecurity.
Soon, she is seduced by the work—gaining confidence as she arranges broadcasts by the most famous writers, scientists, and politicians in Britain. She is also caught up in a growing conflict between her two bosses, John Reith, the formidable Director-General of the BBC, and Hilda Matheson, the extraordinary director of the hugely popular Talks programming, who each have very different visions of what radio should be. Under Hilda’s tutelage, Maisie discovers her talent, passion, and ambition. But when she unearths a shocking conspiracy, she and Hilda join forces to make their voices heard both on and off the air…and then face the dangerous consequences of telling the truth for a living.
By: Roger Pulvers
Published: May 1, 2016
The unique set up to this novel has me curious.
In 1958, a diary is found in a cave on the small Japanese island of Hatoma. Alongside it are the remains of three people.
The journal reveals the story of Hiromi, a sixteen-year-old girl who’d grown up in the United States before living in Japan in the midst of World War II. One day, while collecting star sand—tiny star-shaped fossils—Hiromi finds two army deserters hiding in the seaside cavern—one American, one Japanese. The soldiers don’t speak the same language, but they’ve reached an agreement based on a shared hope: to cause no more harm and survive. Hiromi resolves to care for the men—feeding them and nursing their ailments—despite the risk that, if caught, she’ll die alongside them as a traitor. But when a fourth person joins in on their secret, they must face a threat from within. The diary abruptly ends, leaving everyone’s fate a mystery.
Decades later, in 2011, a young female university student decides to finally determine who died in that cave and who lived. Her search will lead her to the lone survivor—and bring closure to a gripping tale of heroism at a time when committing to peace was the most dangerous act of all.
BOOKS I PURCHASED
EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES
By: Laura Dave
Published: June 2, 2015
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
I’ve been wanting to read this since it came out last summer. It was part of a Kindle deal for just $1.99, so I snagged it. Wine, secrets, and family drama sound right up my alley.
There are secrets you share, and secrets you hide…
Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands.
But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever.
Georgia does what she’s always done: she returns to the family vineyard, expecting the comfort of her long-married parents, and her brothers, and everything familiar. But it turns out her fiancé is not the only one who’s been keeping secrets.
A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN
By: Betty Smith
Published: First Published in 1943, with many recent reprints
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Somehow I missed reading this modern classic during my childhood. I’ve heard about it a few times lately and then it showed up as a Kindle Deal so I snagged it.
The beloved American classic about a young girl’s coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith’s A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.
A JOURNEY TO AN END
A Daughter Takes Her Father From His Home to Hers, From a Nursing Home to a Funeral Home
By: Anita Dennler Dahlby
Published: December 3, 2015
Publisher: Friesen Press
I heard about this book during a conversation with my aunt and mom. The author grew up in my home area and went to school with my aunt. Her father, whom the book is about, was my grandfather’s best friend. I remember him and that he was such a good friend to my grandpa. As my own parents are aging and know I will have some of Dahlby’s similar feelings, I wanted to check this book out.
I never planned to be among the populous of adult children caring for their aging parents, but when circumstances as abrupt and unwelcome as a tsunami presented themselves, my elderly father came to live with my husband and me. Not only was our coveted retirement lifestyle interrupted, but I was catapulted into a three-year journey that included many a crisis, painful confrontations, encouraging reprieves, and a closure that can only be attributed to divine intervention. Dementia, cancer, and dependency all became facilitators in fostering an understanding and love of my father that finally gave me an inner peace I never thought possible. There are probably millions of stories. This one is mine.
THE ONE-IN-A-MILLION BOY
By: Monica Wood
Published: April 5, 2016
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
I remember hearing about this book when it came out. Within its first month of being published, it was a Kindle Deal and I snagged it. I love that it bridges the generations and I’m hoping I can encourage our kids to read it as well.
Miss Ona Vitkus has – aside from three months in the summer of 1914 – lived unobtrusively, her secrets fiercely protected.
The boy, with his passion for world records, changes all that. He is eleven. She is one hundred and four years, one hundred and thirty-three days old (they are counting). And he makes her feel like she might be really special after all. Better late than never…
Only it’s been two weeks now since he last visited, and she’s starting to think he’s not so different from all the rest.
Then the boy’s father comes, for some reason determined to finish his son’s good deed. And Ona must show this new stranger that not only are there odd jobs to be done, but a life’s ambition to complete .
MOONLIGHT ON BUTTERNUT LAKE
A Novel – Butternut Lake Trilogy #3
By: Mary McNear
Published: May 12, 2015
Publisher: William Morrow
I had already purchased the first two in the trilogy and when this was a Kindle Deal, I decided to purchase it as well. I trust my friends that have said this is a great series even though I haven’t read any of the books yet. Now I can read them all at once!
From the author of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling UP AT BUTTERNUT LAKE comes the third novel in the Butternut Lake series—a dazzling story of two wounded souls seizing a second chance at life and love
Mila Jones, fleeing a dark past, leaves Minneapolis for the safety and serenity of Butternut Lake. Ready to forge a new life, Mila’s position as a home health aide to Reid Ford is more than a job. It’s a chance at a fresh start. Though her sullen patient seems determined to make her quit, she refuses to give up on him.
Haunted by the car accident that nearly killed him, Reid retreats to his brother’s cabin on Butternut Lake and lashes out at anyone who tries to help. Reid wishes Mila would just go away until he notices the strength, and the secrets, behind her sad, brown eyes.
Against all odds, Mila slowly draws Reid out. Soon they form a tentative, yet increasingly deeper, bond as Mila lowers her guard and begins to trust again, and Reid learns how to let this woman who has managed to crack through his protective shell into his life. While the seemingly endless days of summer unfold, Reid and Mila take the first steps to healing as they discover love can be more than just a dream.
THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON
By: Kate Morton
Published: April 22, 2008
Publisher: Atria Books
I didn’t actually purchase this one, but instead was able to get it as a free download. I haven’t read anything by Kate Morton but have heard many wonderful things about her writing.
THE HOUSE AT RIVERTON is a gorgeous debut novel set in England between the wars. Perfect for fans of “Downton Abbey,” it’s the story of an aristocratic family, a house, a mysterious death, and a way of life that vanished forever told in flashback by a woman who witnessed it all.
The novel is full of secrets — some revealed, others hidden forever, reminiscent of the romantic suspense of Daphne du Maurier. It’s also a meditation on memory and the devastation of war and a beautifully rendered window into a fascinating time in history.