This is my monthly roundup of books that were added to my shelves in the last month. I also share an update with you on other things going on in my life.
Family and Life Update
September was full and I can’t believe October is rolling along as well. Just 3 months until 2022! I’ve been subbing a lot which breaks into my reading and reviewing time. I’ve had to rework my posting schedule several times already because there just aren’t enough hours in the day to get it all done. Can you relate?
Fall is my favorite season and I’m loving the gorgeous 70-80 degree days in Iowa right now. Can it just stay like this all the time? I hope you can find some time to enjoy all the fun of the fall season and some time for reading as well.
Be sure to follow me on Instagram, HERE to see snippets of what I’m reading or what’s going on in my daily life.
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Adult Fiction and Non-Fiction
Life and Love and Six Generations in California Wine
By: Steven Kent Mirassou
Published: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Val de Grace
This coffee-table-style of book is the perfect gift for the wine-lover in your family.
With his decades of winemaking expertise, and with his extraordinary gift for evocative writing, Steven takes us straight into the heart of his calling: how it looks and feels to be in a vineyard heavy with grapes, awaiting the dawn and the throbbing pulse of a harvest about to begin. It’s a magical moment, and it’s the beginning of a journey deep into the art, the craft, the passion, and the 8,000 years of history that lie inside the finest of wines.
This is not glossy PR copy. This is raw truth, dirty jeans, arms deep in crushed grapes, heart pounding, dust in your nose, spirit in your mouth writing, flowing from a winemaker who sees crafting beautiful wines and combining them with healthy food as a way to serve others, to bring people together in joy and common cause, a noble calling that Steven Mirassou aptly terms “the true north” of our civilization.
And every step of the way, Steven helps us feel his connection to the six generations that the Mirassou family has been growing grapes and crafting wines in California, the last thirty years in the Livermore Valley. It’s a region that struggles, image-wise, in the shadow of the Napa Valley but holds fast to its belief in the virtues of its hills and valleys and fertile soils, and to its unshakable faith that crafting beautiful wines and sharing them with others is, at its core, good for the heart and pure tonic for the soul.
There is high drama too. Like all family-owned wineries, Steven’s faces a mountain of challenges: rough growing seasons, business mistakes, the loss of cherished vineyards and more. And Steven loses something larger too: his beloved wife, from a terrible illness. But as Steven shows us, with the proper attitude every loss can be a new beginning, an opportunity to live more deeply, and, with luck, to improve the character of the wines you craft and the enduring wisdom you can pass along to the next generation.
In the literature of American wine, there is nothing quite like what Steven Kent Mirassou has brought us. Come feel the spirit, come share the wine.
MY READING LIFE
A Book Journal
By: Anne Bogel
Published: September 21, 2021
Publisher: Ten Peaks Press
I love everything Anne Bogel of the blog, Modern Mrs. Darcy, and the podcast, What Should I Read Next? puts out. I can’t wait to start using this journal in January. But, you can start it anytime. I just want to wait to use it for a specific time period.
Designed by a book lover for book lovers, My Reading Life is the ideal companion for all your literary adventures.
Anne Bogel, creator of the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog, provides you with insightful reading lists for every popular genre and each season. She even helps you determine the kinds of books you’d most like to read based on your interests. You’ll also appreciate the sleek, compact design, perfect for taking on the go to the library, bookstore, or your next book club gathering.
So much more than just a journal, this book is a joyful celebration of the written word, one that will significantly enrich every day of your reading life.
THE BALLAD OF LAUREL SPRINGS
By: Janet Beard
Published: October 19, 2021
Publisher: Gallery Books
Ten-year-old Grace is in search of a subject for her fifth-grade history project when she learns that her four times great-grandfather once stabbed his lover to death. His grisly act was memorialized in a murder ballad, her aunt tells her, so it must be true. But the lessons of that revelation—to be careful of men, and desire—are not just Grace’s to learn. Her family’s tangled past is part of a dark legacy in which the lives of generations of women are affected by the violence immortalized in folksongs like “Knoxville Girl” and “Pretty Polly” reminding them always to know their place—or risk the wages of sin.
Janet Beard’s stirring novel, informed by her love of these haunting ballads, vividly imagines these women, defined by the secrets they keep, the surprises they uncover, and the lurking sense of menace that follows them throughout their lives.
EVERYTHING WE DIDN’T SAY
By: Nicole Baart
Published: November 2, 2021
Publisher: Atria Books
I received the eBook of this one last month and this month received a physical copy, which I prefer. Baart is an Iowa author that I have been wanting to read for several years. This book is also an October Book of the Month choice which is super exciting for Baart!
Juniper Baker had just graduated from high school and was deep in the throes of a summer romance when Cal and Beth Murphy, a childless couple who lived on a neighboring farm, were brutally murdered. When her younger brother became the prime suspect, June’s world collapsed and everything she loved that summer fell away. She left, promising never to return to tiny Jericho, Iowa.
Until now. Officially, she’s back in town to help an ill friend manage the local library. But really, she’s returned to repair her relationship with her teenage daughter, who’s been raised by Juniper’s mother and stepfather since birth—and to solve the infamous Murphy murders once and for all. She knows the key to both lies in the darkest secret of that long-ago summer night, one that’s haunted her for nearly fifteen years.
As history begins to repeat itself and a dogged local true crime podcaster starts delving into the murders, the race to the truth puts past and present on a dangerous collision course. Juniper lands back in an all-too-familiar place with the answers to everything finally in her sights, but this time it’s her daughter’s life that hangs in the balance. Will revealing what really happened mean a fresh start? Or will the truth destroy everything Juniper loves for a second time? Baart once again brilliantly weaves mystery into family drama in this expertly-crafted novel for fans of Lisa Jewell and Megan Miranda.
THE GUEST LIST
By: Lucy Foley
Published: June 2, 2020 – Paperback August 3, 2021
Publisher: William Morrow
I decided to join the Jen Hatmaker book club because I needed another book to read….NOT! But, I do like her community of women and readers and wanted to check it out. This book by Lucy Foley is EVERYWHERE and people in the book club can’t even stay with the weekly reading guidelines because they HAVE to finish it.
The bride ‧ The plus one ‧ The best man ‧ The wedding planner ‧ The bridesmaid ‧ The body
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.
And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?
FALL TO GRACE
By: Kerry Casey
Published: January 1, 2005
Publisher: Five Friends Books
I purchased this to read with my cousin. She heard about it from her mother-in-law and suggested we read it together. It’s a hefty one at 520 pages and from 2005, but one I had never heard of. It has a rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars on Amazon which definitely is a good sign.
Where was God on the morning of October 15th as two 13-year-olds knelt beside their dead fathers?
Fall to Grace opens unforgettably when Joseph, an Ojibwe farm boy, stands at the car wreck that killed his father. Sixty miles away, Cory, a city kid on a fishing trip, survives a boating accident that takes his father’s life. Now two boys the same age have lost their fathers on the same day.
The story bends and twists through eight years, revealing the true impact of this tragic coincidence. For the hard-luck young priest who brings the boys together, it takes beating alcoholism and re-examining his calling to discover true love and grace. For the reclusive widow trapped between emptiness and forbidden love, grace proves to be elusive. And for the boys who grow to become best friends and star teammates in college, the very existence of grace is something they couldn’t have disagreed on more.
Fall to Grace is picturesque, spiritual, and reflective—while never forgetting its first obligation: to be a flat-out page-turner. The story takes you to the far edges of loss where love can do surprising things for those willing to reach again. And it reminds us, none too gently, that only angels fall from grace. The rest of us fall toward it.
THE STOLEN BABY
By: Diney Costeloe
Published: October 11, 2021
Publisher: Head of Zeus
WWII stories always get my attention. This one was featured as an audiobook on Netgalley. I’ll be listening soon!
Plymouth, 1941. As sirens blare all around, the Shawbrook family take refuge in a packed shelter. Bombs have already begun to fall through the night sky when they realise their infant son, Freddie, has been forgotten in the rush, left to sleep in his crib. Terrified, Vera, his young mother races to find him and bring him to safety.
The next morning, air raid warden David Shawbrook returns from his watch to find the shelter pulverised, and his family seemingly all dead. Dirty footprints inside their home betray the looters who have rifled through the house.
Meanwhile, Maggie waits alone for her husband. Since the death of her infant son, she passes her days at home with neither joy nor aim. But not this morning. For this morning her husband has brought home a child, found abandoned in the aftermath of the terrible raid – a child she is sure is the one she held in her arms so many months before.
Children’s Fiction and Non-Fiction
MY JOURNAL ABOUT LIFE
Awesome Quizzes, Listicles, and Writing Activities to Explore the Real You
Pippa Park #2
By: Erin Yun
Published: September 7, 2021
Publisher: Fabled Films Press
I previously reviewed PIPPA PARK RAISES HER GAME by Yun and so I was thrilled to check out this new journal for middle-grade readers as well.
Celebrate the Real You with the Companion Fill-In Journal for Pippa Park Raises Her Game!
Keep tweens entertained for hours with My Journal About Life; an interactive journal of awesome quizzes, listicles and writing prompts inspired by Pippa Park that helps tweens celebrate their individuality and create a time capsule of their lives.
The book is packed with over a dozen different writing activities that are inspired by tween obsessions including family, friends, school, and themselves. Journaling helps tweens increase communication skills, self-esteem, and emotional vocabulary.
WHO IS A SCIENTIST?
By: Laura Gehl
Published: October 5, 2021
Publisher: Millbrook Press
I’ve reviewed several fictional children’s books by Gehl, but this will be my first non-fiction. Check out her other books, HERE.
Scientists work hard in the lab and in the field to make important discoveries. But who are they really?
It turns out they are just like us! Scientists can be any race. And any gender. They can wear lab coats, jeans, or even tutus. And they are people who love to fly drones, make art, and even eat French fries!
Meet fourteen phenomenal scientists who might just change the way you think about who a scientist is. They share their scientific work in fields like entomology, meteorology, paleontology, and engineering as well as other interesting facts about themselves and their hobbies. An if you like this, you’ll like that flowchart in the back of the book helps students identify science careers they might be interested in. Scan a QR code at the end of the book for a video of the scientists introducing themselves!
THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF AFRICAN ANIMALS
Your Guide to Animals that Roar, Race, and Totally Rule
By: Dereck Joubert and Beverly Joubert with Suzanne Zimbler
Published: August 17, 2021
Publisher: National Geographic Kids
My favorite section of a zoo is the African animal section. I love elephants, monkeys, giraffes, and tigers. I could seriously watch them all day long. They fascinate me so much. I’m sure kids will love this book too!
Join this amazing team to learn all about Africa’s unique wildlife, including lions, elephants, cheetahs, zebras, giraffes, hippos, gorillas, rhinos, and so many more!
With so many species showcased, this book leaves no grain of sand unturned and no jungle unexplored! Inside you’ll find animals of all behaviors, shapes ,and sizes, from the tiny bombardier beetle to the sneaky desert viper to mischievous monkeys and elusive Ethiopian wolves.
JACK HORNER, DINOSAUR HUNTER!
By: Sophia Gholz
Illustrated by: Dave Shephard
Published: August 15, 2021
Publisher: Sleeping Bear Press
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
I know nothing about Jack Horner, but he is certainly an inspiration to kids with dyslexia and those who love dinosaurs.
When Jack Horner was a child, nothing fascinated him more than fossils. Dinosaur fossils to be exact. He hunted for them at every chance he got and dreamed of being a great paleontologist. But school was hard, reading was even harder, and he struggled to succeed like the other kids in his classes. Jack perservered, finding his own way to success, until he became one of the world’s most famous paleontologist, immortalized in Hollywood movies and known as Jack Horner: Dinosaur Hunter!
THE LONGEST LETSGOBOY
By: Derick Wilder
Illustrated by: Cátia Chien
Published: October 26, 2021
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
A book to recommend to kids dealing with grief, loss, and fear.
Poignant, hopeful, and lovingly told, this dog’s journey—told by the dog himself in his own unique words—proves that love abides beyond a lifetime, out of sight but never far away.
As a dog and his little girl go on their final walk together, he experiences the sights, smells, and wonders of this world one last time before peacefully passing on. But for such a good boy (oh yes, he is!) and his foreverfriend, that doesn’t mean it’s the end.
Offering a unique and noteworthy take on death, this book balances the somber topic with a dog’s ever-optimistic viewpoint, all woven together with its unconventional yet fitting approach to language.
A HOME AGAIN
By: Colleen Rowan Kosinski
Illustrated by: Valeria Docampo
Published: November 1, 2021
Publisher: Two Lions
Format: Hardcover Picture Book
This story reminds me of THE LITTLE HOUSE, one of my favorite children’s books.
After the last brick is laid, a family moves into a brand-new house. As the family grows, the house delights in the sound of laughter echoing in its halls and the pitter-patter of little feet traversing its floors and realizes it is no longer just a house. It has become a home—their home. One day, the family packs up, and with tears in their eyes, they say goodbye. The house doesn’t know if it can ever be happy again until a special couple appears and it begins to feel a sliver of hope. Perhaps it can become a home once more…
Told from the perspective of a house, this story’s heartfelt text and beautiful illustrations convey a warmth of feeling as two families change and grow at different times within the same four walls.
Which one (or two or three) of these books will you be adding to your list?
To see all the posts featuring new books on my shelves, click HERE.
So many books, so little time!
Posted Under Anne Bogel, Beverly Joubert, Book Review, Cátia Chien, Children's books, Colleen Rowan Kosinski, Dave Shephard, Dereck Joubert, Derick Wilder, Diney Costeloe, Erin Yun, fiction, historical fiction, Janet Beard, Kerry Casey, Laura Gehl, Lucy Foley, mystery, National Geographic, New on the Stack, Nicole Baart, non-fiction, Sophia Gholz, Steven Kent Mirassou, suspense, Suzanne Zimbler, Valeria DoCampo