Spring Fever

Hello, Dear Readers!! Happy Spring! I am so glad the sun is shining and we FINALLY have warmer weather. We are now getting ready for summer vacations and arranging schedules with activities so our sweet children won’t drive us to tears by asking every five minutes, “What is there to do? What is there to eat? Can we go somewhere?” While I can’t help with summer scheduling, what I CAN help with is summer reading lists for the whole family. Oh yes, my friends, I am making my child read an hour a day this summer. It is happening. This isn’t one of those, “I will think it, but won’t actually do it.” I refuse to let her brain melt by allowing her to stare at screens 12 plus hours a day. I’ve picked out books, podcasts, audio books and the list keeps on going. I am here to help and you can always e-mail me your suggestions and/or questions @ brittanyschick23@gmail.com. I would love to hear your ideas on books for summer!

One idea is to check your local library for summer reading programs by visiting their website or calling. Librarians are there to answer your questions, so never be afraid to ask! Sometimes public libraries will have reading programs where your child is able to earn prizes based on the amount they have read over the summer. Ella and I are joining Colleyville Public Library’s reading program for adults, teens and children. Yes, all ages are eligible to earn prizes, even you Mom! The program begins May 24th. For Quirky Bookworm readers that live in my area of FW and would like to participate, click here.
Please note: Books read for the Colleyville Public Library Summer Program must be checked out at CPL. Keep copies of your library receipt to show proof when claiming a prize. You are able to participate even if you are not a resident. Register your home library card at the CPL front desk.

Need lists of books based on age for summer 2021? Visit Imagination Soup, a blog created by Melissa Taylor, a former elementary school teacher, literacy trainer and award winning writer. Book lists are arranged by age and genre.

I will also be posting kids podcasts to my FB page. I recently posted Julie Andrew’s Library and my daughter has been listening on the way to school. Download these selections wherever you listen to podcasts.

Ladies, when you get a chance, scroll down to the end of this blog post for one of my most favorite book lists to date that is just for you!!!! I’ve got new book information on some of your favorites-Riley Sager, Grady Hendrix, Megan Miranda, Mary Kubica and more!!! Yay for summer reading!!! Quirky Bookworm tip-visit your local online library catalog and if a book has not yet been released, but already ordered by the library, you can sometimes place a hold in advance. Call your local library for additional details.

Quirky Bookworm Has Been Reading…

I have been hearing about Jenny Lawson for the past several years now via friends, college students, TV, etc. and so, I was very fortunate and thankful to receive a free copy of Lawson’s most recent book release, Broken (in the best possible way), through NetGalley. Many of you may know Jenny as The Bloggess.

Title: Broken (in the best possible way)
Author: Jenny Lawson
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Publication Date: April 6, 2021

Length: 304 pages
I didn’t know what to expect when reading Broken. Would I like her sense of humor? Would it be too harsh? Not only was I surprised by how much I loved her, but also surprised at how much I learned about her life and her struggle with anxiety. Lawson’s anxiety is so intense that there are many times where she is unable to leave her home. She hides in bed unable to face the world around her. She writes of hosting her book signing in NYC, and unable to leave the hotel after her engagement due to being overwhelmed. She watched people go by outside the window. Lawson writes “Becoming my own friend is hard and a struggle, but it’s one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself,” (Lawson, 2021, Broken).
I found her writing to be relatable for those that struggle with anxiety and depression, which I myself do. I know what it is like to want to hide away and not leave a room, to practically pass out before needing to speak before a large group of people and the anxiety of having to talk to a stranger on the phone. This is a must read if you struggle yourself with anxiety and/or depression, or know a loved a loved one who does. Purchase a copy here. Want to hear more about Jenny Lawson? Click here to read her blog and for additional book titles.

How May I Offend You Today?: Rants and Revelations from a Not-So-Proper Southern Lady by [Susannah B. Lewis]

Title: How May I Offend You Today: Rants and Revelations from a Not-So-Proper Southern Lady
Author: Susannah B. Lewis
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: October 2020
Length: 224 pages

Oh Susannah, you’ve done it again! I love her writing and have been following her FB page for years. She talks so openly and honestly about her life. Her writings do include Biblical passages and she is honest about her faith, but not from a judgmental, preachy way that is off putting. I started following her shortly after having Ella. I saw a funny video on FB and clicked over to her page. I really liked how she not only saw humor in everyday life and situations, but also at her ability to laugh at herself. In her most recent book release, How May I Offend You Today, she writes about how we take ourselves too seriously at times. Reading her books is like chatting with a close friend. Click here to visit Susannah Lewis’ website.

HOT AUTHORS, HOT SUMMER: QUIRKY BOOKWORM PICKS FOR SUMMER 2021

HOT, NEW THRILLERS FROM YOUR FAVORITES!

Hostage: A Locked-Room Thriller by [Clare Mackintosh]

The Hostage by Clare Mackintosh will be available June 22, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

A Slow Fire Burning: A Novel by [Paula Hawkins]

A Slow Fire Burning by Paula Hawkins will be available August 31, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Such a Quiet Place: A Novel by [Megan Miranda]

Such A Quiet Place by Megan Miranda will be available July 13, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Local Woman Missing: A Novel by [Mary Kubica]

Local Woman Missing by Mary Kubica will be available May 18, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Not a Happy Family: A Novel by [Shari Lapena]

Not A Happy Family by Shari Lapena will be available July 27, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Guilt Trip: A Novel by [Sandie Jones]

The Guilt Trip by Sandie Jones will be available August 17, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Survive the Night: A Novel by [Riley Sager]

Survive the Night by Riley Sager will be available June 29, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Final Girl Support Group by [Grady Hendrix]

The Final Girl Support Group by Grady Hendrix (The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires) will be available July 13, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Drowning Kind by [Jennifer McMahon]

The Drowning Kind by Jennifer McMahon is out now and is an Amazon Editor’s Choice for Best Mystery, Thriller and Suspense! Click here to purchase and read a summary.

The Therapist: A Novel by [B. A. Paris]

The Therapist by B.A. Paris will be available July 13, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

For Your Own Good by [Samantha Downing]

For Your Own Good by Samantha Downing will be available July 20, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Good Sister by Sally Hepworth is available now and an Amazon’s Editor Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller and Suspense! Click here to order and read a summary.

The Turnout by [Megan Abbott]

The Turnout by Megan Abbott will be available August 3, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Maidens: A Novel by [Alex Michaelides]

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides (The Silent Patient) will be available June 15, 2021. Click here to pre-order and to read a summary.

Dark Roads: A Novel by [Chevy Stevens]

Dark Roads by Chevy Stevens will be available August 3, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Stranger in the Mirror: A Novel by [Liv Constantine]

The Stranger in the Mirror by Liv Constantine will be available July 6, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Malibu Rising: A Novel by [Taylor Jenkins Reid]

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid will be available June 1, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Lost Apothecary: A Novel by [Sarah Penner]

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner was named #1 Most Anticipated Book of 2021 by Oprah, Bustle, PopSugar, Betches, Sweet July, Good Housekeeping, HELLO! Magazine and Newsweek. It was a #1 Indie Next Pick and #1 Library ReadsPick. Click here to purchase and read a summary.

OUR ALL TIME FAVORITE CLASSIC BEACH AUTHORS

Where the Grass Is Green and the Girls Are Pretty: A Novel by [Lauren Weisberger]

Where the Grass is Green and the Girls Are Pretty by Lauren Weisberger (The Devil Wears Prada) will be available May 18, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

That Summer: A Novel by [Jennifer Weiner]

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner will be available May 11, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Newcomer: A Novel by [Mary Kay Andrews]

The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews will be available May 4, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Golden Girl by [Elin Hilderbrand]

Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand will be available June 1, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Family Reunion: A Novel by [Nancy Thayer]

Family Reunion by Nancy Thayer will be available May 4, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Summer of Lost and Found (The Beach House Book 7) by [Mary Alice Monroe]

The Summer of Lost and Found (The Beach House Book 7) by Mary Alice Monroe will be available May 11, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Stepsisters: A Novel by [Susan Mallery]

The Stepsisters by Susan Mallery will be available May 25, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

No Way Out: A Gripping Novel of Suspense by [Fern Michaels]

No Way Out by Fern Michaels is available now! Click here to order and read a summary.

Meant to Be: A Novel by [Jude Deveraux]

Meant to Be by Jude Deveraux is available now! Click here to order and read a summary.

The Path to Sunshine Cove: A Novel by [RaeAnne Thayne]

The Path to Sunshine Cove by RaeAnne Thayne is available now! Click here to order and read a summary.

Blush by [Jamie Brenner]

Blush by Jamie Brenner will be available June 22, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

The Break-Up Book Club by [Wendy Wax]

The Break-Up Book Club by Wendy Wax will be available May 18, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

If you liked Where The Crawdads Sing…

The Girls in the Stilt House: A Novel by [Kelly Mustian ]

The Girls in the Stilt House by Kelly Mustian is available now! Click here to order and read a summary.

Learning to Speak Southern: A Novel by [Lindsey Rogers Cook]

Learning to Speak Southern by Lindsey Rogers Cook is available June 1, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

All the Little Hopes: A Novel by [Leah Weiss]

All The Little Hopes is Leah Weiss’s second novel, which debuts July 27, 2021. Click here to pre-order and read a summary.

Call Your Daughter Home: A Novel by [Deb Spera]

Call Your Daughter Home by Deb Spera is available now and was featured on Oprah’s Summer Reading List for 2019. Click here to order and read a summary.

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger was published in May 2020. Click here to order and read a summary.

What to read during a pandemic and a crazy election?

Hello, dear readers! It has been a long time since I’ve posted on my blog. I’ve made a few posts on my FB page, if you follow me there. Thanks to COVID, this past summer was one of the longest summers my family has ever experienced. I am relieved to say that our lives are somewhat back to normal, or should I say a new normal for living in a pandemic. My daughter is back to school and she was thrilled to go. I was at home several months with her working from home, which was an unexpected blessing. She is back to church activities twice a week and I am now back to work on campus every other week. The family member most excited about all of us being home together was our dog, Sophie. She is now completely spoiled. I took her to the groomer a few months ago and she had a separation anxiety attack because she wasn’t used to being away from all 3 of us for more than 5 minutes. I got a call from them soon after dropping her off that she was done and ready to be picked up.

I, like so many other dear readers, had a difficult time focusing on reading during the height of the pandemic. I was busy with helping my daughter do school from home and had my own anxiety from feeling trapped inside. Once I felt less trapped, I could read more with ease. I did have a difficult time writing. It felt like temporary writers block. However, the good news is that I am back and ready to share some of my favorite reads with you. I have been keeping track still on my Goodreads page.

Title: The Kitchen House
Author: Kathleen Grissom
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: February 2010
Format: Paperback
Length: 369 pages

The Kitchen House is one of my favorite novels I’ve read this year. I had this book on my shelf for several months because I was not sure I would like it, but I’m so glad I gave the book a chance. Lavinia, the main character, arrives as a young Irish orphan to work on a tobacco plantation in the kitchen house. Lavinia eventually finds herself torn between the family of the plantation and the slaves she works with.

The Kitchen House gave me, the reader, an idea of what it would have been like to be working on the plantation and the pressures faced from the master’s family. I could sense the awkwardness and strain Lavinia felt being in the two very separate worlds. She doesn’t want to abandon the slaves that raised and cared for her. Her love for the slaves on the plantation is palpable in the novel.

Kathleen Grissom does an excellent job in writing historical fiction. Fans of southern fiction will enjoy this novel. Her inspiration for her work came from the plantation her family purchased and restored in Virginia. For more information on the author, visit her website here.

Title: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry
Author: Fredrik Backman
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: September 2013
Format: Hardcover
Length: 372 pages

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is Fredrik Backman’s second novel, after A Man Called Ove. The novel is not fast paced or full of action. Instead, it is a beautiful story of a young girl dealing with grief for the first time. Elsa feels different from her friends and is tormented by bullies at her school on a regular basis. Elsa’s grandmother is her whole word and is to Elsa, a superhero that tells her magical stories and takes her on crazy adventures. When Elsa’s grandmother dies, Elsa goes on a treasure hunt that reveals to her the true magic of her grandmother, and the power of healing and forgiveness.

Fredrik Backman’s My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is a perfect read during this time in our country. Many of us feel grief as we are losing our old way of life and for some of us, people that we love due to COVID. Our children are experiencing grief as some of their normal childhood is lost, and I think Backman expertly depicts what that is like in the novel.

For more information about Fredrik Backman, click here.

A little bit of family drama mixed with a little bit of mystery

My two latest reads I have to share with you today are perfect if you are into family dramas and cozy mysteries. I’m also going to be sharing with you where I go to read about books online. I love to learn about what other people are reading.

Title: The House We Grew Up In
Author: Lisa Jewell
Publisher: Atria Books
Publication Date: 2014
Format: Hardcover
Length: 388 pages

I have heard so much about Lisa Jewell from other readers that I decided to grab a copy of her book at Half Price. The family in this book is a little quirky, but it’s what makes for good drama. The mom is very eccentric and is hiding secrets of her past. Secrets that spill over to the next generation until all four children are carrying the burden of their mom’s past as well as their own. Jewell writes from the perspective of the mom and grown children. I don’t think this is the most popular out of Jewell’s writings, but it was enough to keep me interested to read more of her works. This read is perfect if you are into family drama with idiosyncratic characters.

Photo Credit: Jascha Gordon

About the author

From the publisher’s page:
Lisa Jewell is the internationally bestselling author of eighteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller Then She Was Gone, as well as I Found YouThe Girls in the Garden, and The House We Grew Up In. In total, her novels have sold more than two million copies across the English-speaking world and her work has also been translated into sixteen languages so far. Lisa lives in London with her husband and their two daughters. Connect with her on Twitter @LisaJewellUK and on Facebook @LisaJewellOfficial.
https://www.simonandschuster.com/authors/Lisa-Jewell/75656043

Title: Because You’re Mine
Author: Colleen Coble
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: 2017
Format: Paperback
Length: 336 pages

I didn’t know Colleen Coble was a Christian writer until I was halfway into the book. I am a believer myself and will confess I don’t read much Christian fiction. I was surprised by how much I loved this book. I thought it was a worthwhile read. I loved Alanna, the main character. I wouldn’t say the book is an edge of your seat thriller, it’s more like a cozy mystery. I recommend if you love Agatha Christie, Rhys Brown, and Lillian Jackson Braun.

About the author

From the author’s website:
Best-selling romantic suspense author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has nearly 4 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana. Visit her website at www.colleencoble.com.

Where do I read about books?

On FB:
Women Reading Great Books It’s a private group so you will have to request to join.
The Fussy Librarian Book reviews

Anytime I find a new author, I follow their FB page to keep with new works and also to read what others are saying about them.

Online:
Book Browse book blog with reviews and find additional books that match your interests by typing in one of your favorite authors or titles.
Book Riot book blog that keeps up with the latest publishing news. I also follow their FB page.
P

Across the Pond

Hi readers! I hope your holidays were fabulous. I spent mine with family, friends, good food, received many nice gifts and of course, made time for reading. This year my goal as a reader is to actually start and FINISH a series. If you’ve been on my blog before, you know how bad I am at this. We will see how this goes. I’ve chosen the Outlander series and have completed reading the first book. New Year’s goals are usually something I break, but this year I am determined to follow several of mine through. I will let you know at the end of the year how I did.

I have to brag on my Doxie for a minute. I spend so much time playing and walking with her. She’s only six months so she doesn’t sit still enough to be a reading buddy yet. I’ve wanted a tiny dog my whole life to take care of so the fact I have one now is just bliss. How can you say no to this innocent face???? You just can’t.

I subscribed to PBS Masterpiece, Lifetime Movie Club and BritBox on Amazon Prime over the break. Here is what I have found so far that I recommend…

Sense and Sensibility by the BBC is just SO GOOD. It was my favorite series that I watched over the holidays. The acting was superb. The series stars Hattie Morahan, Charity Wakefield, and Dan Stevens.

VERA is about a witty British detective created by author Ann Cleeves. A few seasons are available through BritBox. If you are a fan of Agatha Christie, you will love VERA.

Cranford is a Masterpiece drama about two spinster sisters and their young female houseguest living in a small England town. The series stars Judi Dench and Eileen Atkins.

The Durells in Corfu is a comedy series about a young widow who moves her family from England to the Greek island of Corfu. The series is based on memoirs written by Gerald Durrell.

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. This classic is a must.

I read three books over the holidays and am going to write about two today that are popular.

Title: Outlander
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Dell
Date: 1992
Format: Paperback
Length: 850 pages

Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander is a perfect read for those that love history, fantasy and romance. It is a perfect escape read. I love the characters of Claire Randall and James Fraser. It is obvious to me as a reader that Gabaldon spent hours studying Scottish history. There is so much detail in her novel. The romance scenes were beautiful without being too cheesy and overdone. I loved the bravery of Claire’s character. Picture of Outlander’s James Fraser below because it’s Monday. You’re welcome.



About the Author

From the author’s website:
Diana Gabaldon is the author of the award-winning, #1 NYT-bestselling OUTLANDER novels, described by Salon magazine as “the smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting ‘Scrooge McDuck’ comics.”

Dr. Gabaldon holds three degrees in science: Zoology, Marine Biology, and a Ph.D. in Quantitative Behavioral Ecology.

http://www.dianagabaldon.com/

Title: Sense and Sensibility
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Thomas Egerton
Publication Date: 1811
Format: Hardcover

Jane Austen’s classic, Sense and Sensibility, is about two sisters who experience the perils of love-heartbreak, betrayal, and abandonment. As much heartbreak and anguish is to be found, the story ends on a happy note which is the trademark all Austen fans love.

About the Author

Jane Austen is the beloved English novelist that wrote Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and Emma. Her work is best known for satire and social commentary of 19th century England.

The Prince of Tides

Is it just me or is this holiday season flying by? I have accomplished ZERO Christmas shopping, the Elf on the Shelf was four days late at our house, I still have to plan my daughter’s Christmas party for her class and decide what we are eating when my parents come over for Christmas morning. On the bright side, our carpet is going to be cleaned this Saturday, which for those of you that have seen it will understand how truly excited I am about this. Between the previous owners and our new puppy, it looks quite…ummm…decorated. Speaking of decorations, our Christmas decor is up so that is one thing I have accomplished for the holiday season.

Title: The Prince of Tides
Author: Pat Conroy
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Company
Publication Date: 1986
Format: Hardcover
Length: 567 pages

I finally have finished Prince of Tides. I have been wanting to read a Pat Conroy novel for years. I wasn’t sure what to expect from Prince of Tides. In some ways, I was hesitant to read it because it’s one of those books everyone talks about it, which sometimes means it won’t live up to my expectations. I was pleasantly surprised by his writing. I think if I were ever to have met Pat Conroy I would have truly liked him.

Conroy had a really complicated relationship with his physically and verbally abusive Marine dad. If you have ever read about Conroy, you know this relationship is the focus of the majority of his writings. The Prince of Tides is about a dysfunctional family, the Wingos, who reside in South Carolina. The mother is what many would describe as a Southern Belle and the father is a shrimper. They have three children-two boys and a girl. The father is abusive and spends his hard earned money on ideas for business, truly believing he is an entrepreneur, which leads to poverty for the family. Viewed as outcasts by the town, the children must learn to cope with their father and everyday life. The book moves between past and present. Tom Wingo, the narrator, will be forced to make peace with his past as an adult when his sister attempts suicide. Tom visits New York City to see Savannah in the hospital in hopes of helping her and while there he develops a relationship with her counselor.

Conroy eventually heals the relationship with his father. More can be read about this relationship in Conroy’s memoir, The Death of Santini. If you read Conroy’s works, you will see that the fathers depicted in his novels are never pure saints or pure evil. They come across as real, as human, with their own scars from the past. In The Prince of Tides, Conroy writes, “If Henry Wingo had not been a violent man, I think he would have made a splendid father.” One has to wonder if that is how Conroy views his own father.

About the Author

Photo Credit: Jennifer Hitchcock

Pat Conroy (1945 – 2016) was the New York Times bestselling author of two memoirs and seven novels, including The Prince of TidesThe Great Santini, and The Lords of Discipline. Born the eldest of seven children in a rigidly disciplined military household, he attended the Citadel, the military college of South Carolina. He briefly became a schoolteacher (which he chronicled in his memoir The Water Is Wide) before publishing his first novel, The Boo. Conroy lived on Fripp Island, South Carolina until his death in 2016.
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6942.Pat_Conroy

Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

This is my first blog post in awhile as our life has been crazy. We moved into a new home and have been trying to get settled. I have also been reading some here and there. I’m in the middle of two Pat Conroy books that I can’t wait to write reviews on. Right before we started moving, I started Where’d You Go, Bernadette?

Title: Where’d You Go, Bernadette
Author: Maria Semple
Publisher: Little Brown and Company
Publication Date: August 2012
Format: Hardcover
Length: 335 pages

Bernadette Fox was previously an architect who quit her successful career when her husband moved to Seattle for his job at Microsoft. Bee, her daughter, is attending a local school by their home, but plans on attending boarding school. This leaves Bernadette wondering what she will do with all her time. She finds herself beginning to go crazy and disappears on a family trip. Bee tries to find her mother by going over her e-mails, documents and correspondence.

I really loved Where’d You Go, Bernadette? The story is quirky and full of humor, while also being relatable. I think everyone goes through a time in their life where they question what they should be doing and how their past has affected the present. The reader goes with Bernadette on her own journey that is a pleasure to read.

About the author

Maria Semple previously wrote for the televisions shows Mad About You, Ellen and Arrested Development. She currently lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and daughter. For more about Maria Semple, visit www.mariasemple.com

The Postmistress by Sarah Blake

Title: The Postmistress
Author: Sarah Blake
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Format: Hardcover
Publication Date: February 1, 2011
Page Length: 371 pages

The Postmistress is a novel that allows a reader an easy escape. A journalist is assigned to cover the beginning of World War II in Europe. Her journey leads her to cross paths with citizens of Franklin, Massachusetts. There is a postal worker questioning whether she should deliver a letter to a grieving, expecting wife. The journalist, Frankie Bard, records stories of victims of war and reports via radio broadcast in the early morning hours which bothers the postmistresses conscious. The Postmistress is a beautiful novel on relationships and the choices made in them.

From the author’s website:

Sarah Blake is the author of Full Turn, a chapbook of poems, Runaway Girls, an artist book in collaboration with the artist, Robin Kahn, and three novels: Grange House; and the New York Times Bestsellers, The Postmistress, and The Guest Book. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, the poet Joshua Weiner, and their two sons.

sarahblakewrites.com

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Title: The Art of Racing in the Rain
Author: Garth Stein
Published by: Harper Collins

Publication Date: May 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Length: 321 pages

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein is one of my favorite books, which tells you it must be good because I am not a huge fan of dogs. I was honestly skeptical when I read this book several years ago. The only reason I read the book is because the library where I am employed has a copy and I decided one afternoon to read it after reading good reviews. The Art of Racing in the Rain is a charming novel that will bring you to tears. The point of view is told from the dog’s perspective which is what makes the book so entertaining. Since it has been several years since I’ve read the book, I’ve included a summary below from Goodreads.

Enzo knows he is different from other dogs: a philosopher with a nearly human soul (and an obsession with opposable thumbs), he has educated himself by watching television extensively, and by listening very closely to the words of his master, Denny Swift, an up-and-coming race car driver.

Through Denny, Enzo has gained tremendous insight into the human condition, and he sees that life, like racing, isn’t simply about going fast. On the eve of his death, Enzo takes stock of his life, recalling all that he and his family have been through.

A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love, loyalty, and hope, The Art of Racing in the Rain is a beautifully crafted and captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life … as only a dog could tell it.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3153910-the-art-of-racing-in-the-rain?from_search=true

Five Bookworms (Excellent Read)

Purchase the book here.

The movie adaptation is out in theaters now starring Milo Ventimiglia (Gilmore Girl’s and This Is Us) Amanda Seyfried, and Kevin Costner (voice of Enzo the dog).


From the author’s website:

Born in Los Angeles and raised in Seattle, Garth’s ancestry is diverse: his mother, a native of Alaska, is of Tlingit Indian and Irish descent; his father, a Brooklyn native, is the child of Jewish emigrants from Austria. Garth lives in Seattle with his wife and three sons. He got involved with “high performance driver education” in 2001, received his racing license with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), and went on to win the points championship in the Northwest Region Spec Miata class in 2004. He left racing after a serious crash—while racing in the rain.

https://www.garthstein.com/

*BOOKS TO FILM 2020*
What books are being adapted into film? CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT.

What I’m Listening to Right Now…

The Dateline podcast was just released this year featuring current and classic episodes.

Oprah’s Super Soul Conversations podcast featuring selected interviews from the leaders of today.

What I’m Watching Right Now…

Jason Bateman and Laura Linney star in Ozark, a Netflix series about a man who is a financial planner that is involved in a money laundering scheme gone wrong and has to move his family to make amends to a Mexican drug cartel.

Mindhunter is a Netflix series based on the true crime book, Mindhunter: Inside the FBI’s Serial Crime Unit, by John E. Douglas and Mark Olshaker. Two FBI agents delve into the minds of serial killers from the 1970’s and 1980’s.

AUGUST SHELF OF BOOKS…

I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie

“You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” C.S. Lewis

Summer is here and I’m ready for a trip to the beach. A perfect day to me is sitting by the beach reading a book. Instead of doing my own written reviews today, I’m listing my favorite long novels perfect for summer vacation. I’m also including online lists below. What are your favorite long novels? List them below in the comments.

Book lists online…

20 absorbing door stop novels for your summer reading list
https://modernmrsdarcy.com/long-novels/
Big Fat Books Worth the Effort: Goodreads List
https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/3153.Big_Fat_Books_Worth_the_Effort
26 Very Long Books Worth Your Time
https://www.vulture.com/2016/11/long-books-worth-your-time.html
50 Must-Read Books of More Than 500 Pages
https://bookriot.com/2019/02/25/must-read-big-books/

My Favorite Long Books I’ve Read So Far…

Title: American Wife
Author Curtis Sittenfeld
Publisher: Random House
Publication Date: September 2nd, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Length: 555 pages

From the publisher:

On what might become one of the most significant days in her husband’s presidency, Alice Blackwell considers the strange and unlikely path that has led her to the White House–and the repercussions of a life lived, as she puts it, “almost in opposition to itself.”

A kind, bookish only child born in the 1940s, Alice learned the virtues of politeness early on from her stolid parents and small Wisconsin hometown. But a tragic accident when she was seventeen shattered her identity and made her understand the fragility of life and the tenuousness of luck. So more than a decade later, when she met boisterous, charismatic Charlie Blackwell, she hardly gave him a second look: She was serious and thoughtful, and he would rather crack a joke than offer a real insight; he was the wealthy son of a bastion family of the Republican party, and she was a school librarian and registered Democrat. Comfortable in her quiet and unassuming life, she felt inured to his charms. And then, much to her surprise, Alice fell for Charlie.

As Alice learns to make her way amid the clannish energy and smug confidence of the Blackwell family, navigating the strange rituals of their country club and summer estate, she remains uneasy with her newfound good fortune. And when Charlie eventually becomes President, Alice is thrust into a position she did not seek–one of power and influence, privilege and responsibility. As Charlie’s tumultuous and controversial second term in the White House wears on, Alice must face contradictions years in the making: How can she both love and fundamentally disagree with her husband? How complicit has she been in the trajectory of her own life? What should she do when her private beliefs run against her public persona?

In Alice Blackwell, New York Times bestselling author Curtis Sittenfeld has created her most dynamic and complex heroine yet. American Wife is a gorgeously written novel that weaves class, wealth, race, and the exigencies of fate into a brilliant tapestry–a novel in which the unexpected becomes inevitable, and the pleasures and pain of intimacy and love are laid bare.

From the publisher:

Curtis Sittenfeld is the author of the new novel Eligible, a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice (due out April 2016) as well as the bestselling novels Sisterland, American Wife, Prep, and The Man of My Dreams, which have been translated into twenty-five languages. Curtis’s writing has appeared in many publications, including The Atlantic, The New York Times, Vanity Fair,Time, Slate, Glamour, and on public radio’s This American Life. A graduate of Stanford University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she currently lives in St. Louis, MO.

Title: Fall of Giants
Author: Ken Follett
Publisher: Berkley
Publication Date: September 28th, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Length: 985 pages

From the publisher:

It is 1911. The Coronation Day of King George V. The Williams, a Welsh coal-mining family is linked by romance and enmity to the Fitzherberts, aristocratic coal-mine owners. Lady Maud Fitzherbert falls in love with Walter von Ulrich, a spy at the German Embassy in London. Their destiny is entangled with that of an ambitious young aide to U.S. President Woodrow Wilson and to two orphaned Russian brothers, whose plans to emigrate to America fall foul of war, conscription and revolution. In a plot of unfolding drama and intriguing complexity, “Fall Of Giants” moves seamlessly from Washington to St Petersburg, from the dirt and danger of a coal mine to the glittering chandeliers of a palace, from the corridors of power to the bedrooms of the mighty.

From the publisher:

Ken Follett is one of the world’s most successful authors. Over 165 million copies of the 31 books he has written have been sold in over 80 countries and in 33 languages. 
Born on June 5th, 1949 in Cardiff, Wales, the son of a tax inspector, Ken was educated at state schools and went on to graduate from University College, London, with an Honours degree in Philosophy – later to be made a Fellow of the College in 1995. 

He started his career as a reporter, first with his hometown newspaper the South Wales Echo and then with the London Evening News. Subsequently, he worked for a small London publishing house, Everest Books, eventually becoming Deputy Managing Director.

Title: Gone Girl
Author: Gillian Flynn
Publisher: Broadway Books
Publication Date: April 22, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Length: 415 pages

From the publisher:

One of the most critically acclaimed suspense writers of our time, New York Times bestseller Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in this unputdownable masterpiece about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong. The Chicago Tribune proclaimed that her work “draws you in and keeps you reading with the force of a pure but nasty addiction.” Gone Girl’s toxic mix of sharp-edged wit and deliciously chilling prose creates a nerve-fraying thriller that confounds you at every turn.

On a warm summer morning in North Carthage, Missouri, it is Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?

As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?

With her razor-sharp writing and trademark psychological insight, Gillian Flynn delivers a fast-paced, devilishly dark, and ingeniously plotted thriller that confirms her status as one of the hottest writers around.

From the publisher:

Gillian Flynn is an American author and television critic for Entertainment Weekly. She has so far written three novels, Sharp Objects, for which she won the 2007 Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for the best thriller; Dark Places; and her best-selling third novel Gone Girl.

Her book has received wide praise, including from authors such as Stephen King. The dark plot revolves around a serial killer in a Missouri town, and the reporter who has returned from Chicago to cover the event. Themes include dysfunctional families,violence and self-harm.

In 2007 the novel was shortlisted for the Mystery Writers of America Edgar for Best First Novel by an American Writer, Crime Writers’ Association Duncan Lawrie, CWA New Blood and Ian Fleming Steel Daggers, winning in the last two categories.

Flynn, who lives in Chicago, grew up in Kansas City, Missouri. She graduated at the University of Kansas, and qualified for a Master’s degree from Northwestern University.

Title: The Distant Hours
Author: Kate Morton
Publisher: Atria
Publication Date: November 9th, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Length: 562 pages

From the publisher:

A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WWII. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941. 

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in ‘the distant hours’ of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it. 

Morton once again enthralls readers with an atmospheric story featuring unforgettable characters beset by love and circumstance and haunted by memory, that reminds us of the rich power of storytelling. 




From the publisher:

A foundling, an old book of dark fairy tales, a secret garden, an aristocratic family, a love denied, and a mystery. The Forgotten Garden is a captivating, atmospheric and compulsively readable story of the past, secrets, family and memory from the international best-selling author Kate Morton.

Cassandra is lost, alone and grieving. Her much loved grandmother, Nell, has just died and Cassandra, her life already shaken by a tragic accident ten years ago, feels like she has lost everything dear to her. But an unexpected and mysterious bequest from Nell turns Cassandra’s life upside down and ends up challenging everything she thought she knew about herself and her family.

Inheriting a book of dark and intriguing fairytales written by Eliza Makepeace—the Victorian authoress who disappeared mysteriously in the early twentieth century—Cassandra takes her courage in both hands to follow in the footsteps of Nell on a quest to find out the truth about their history, their family and their past; little knowing that in the process, she will also discover a new life for herself.

From the publisher:

Kate Morton was born in South Australia, grew up in the mountains of south-east Queensland and now lives with her family in London and Australia. She has degrees in dramatic art and English literature, and harboured dreams of joining the Royal Shakespeare Company until she realised that it was words she loved more than performing. Kate still feels a pang of longing each time she goes to the theatre and the house lights dim.

“I fell deeply in love with books as a child and believe that reading is freedom; that to read is to live a thousand lives in one; that fiction is a magical conversation between two people – you and me – in which our minds meet across time and space. I love books that conjure a world around me, bringing their characters and settings to life, so that the real world disappears and all that matters, from beginning to end, is turning one more page.”

Kate Morton’s five novels – The House at Riverton, The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours, The Secret Keeper and The Lake House – have all been New York Times bestsellers, Sunday Times bestsellers and international number 1 bestsellers; they are published in 34 languages, across 42 countries. 

Title: The Thorn Birds
Author: Colleen McCullough
Publisher: Avon Books

Publication Date: April 1977
Format: Hardcover
Length: 692 pages

From the publisher:

The Thorn Birds is a robust, romantic saga of a singular family, the Clearys. It begins in the early part of this century, when Paddy Cleary moves his wife, Fiona, and their seven children to Drogheda, the vast Australian sheep station owned by his autocratic and childless older sister; and it ends more than half a century later, when the only survivor of the third generation, the brilliant actress Justine O’Neill, sets a course of life and love halfway around the world from her roots.

The central figures in this enthralling story are the indomitable Meggie, the only Cleary daughter, and the one man she truly loves, the stunningly handsome and ambitious priest Ralph de Bricassart. Ralph’s course moves him a long way indeed, from a remote Outback parish to the halls of the Vatican; and Meggie’s except for a brief and miserable marriage elsewhere, is fixed to the Drogheda that is part of her bones – but distance does not dim their feelings though it shapes their lives.

Wonderful characters people this book; strong and gentle, Paddy, hiding a private memory; dutiful Fiona, holding back love because it once betrayed her, violent, tormented Frank, and the other hardworking Cleary sons who give the boundless lands of Drogheda the energy and devotion most men save for women; Meggie; Ralph; and Meggie’s children, Justine and Dane. And the land itself; stark, relentless in its demands, brilliant in its flowering, prey to gigantic cycles of drought and flood, rich when nature is bountiful, surreal like no other place on earth.

From the publisher:

Colleen Margaretta McCullough was an Australian author known for her novels, her most well-known being The Thorn Birds and Tim.

Raised by her mother in Wellington and then Sydney, McCullough began writing stories at age 5. She flourished at Catholic schools and earned a physiology degree from the University of New South Wales in 1963. Planning become a doctor, she found that she had a violent allergy to hospital soap and turned instead to neurophysiology – the study of the nervous system’s functions. She found jobs first in London and then at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. 

After her beloved younger brother Carl died in 1965 at age 25 while rescuing two drowning women in the waters off Crete, a shattered McCullough quit writing. She finally returned to her craft in 1974 with Tim, a critically acclaimed novel about the romance between a female executive and a younger, mentally disabled gardener. As always, the author proved her toughest critic: “Actually,” she said, “it was an icky book, saccharine sweet.” 

A year later, while on a paltry $10,000 annual salary as a Yale researcher, McCullough – just “Col” to her friends – began work on the sprawling The Thorn Birds, about the lives and loves of three generations of an Australian family. Many of its details were drawn from her mother’s family’s experience as migrant workers, and one character, Dane, was based on brother Carl. 

Though some reviews were scathing, millions of readers worldwide got caught up in her tales of doomed love and other natural calamities. The paperback rights sold for an astonishing $1.9 million. 

In all, McCullough wrote 11 novels.

Title: The Time Traveler’s Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Publisher: Zola Books
Publication Date: September 23rd, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Length: 500 pages

From the publisher:

A funny, often poignant tale of boy meets girl with a twist: what if one of them couldn’t stop slipping in and out of time? Highly original and imaginative, this debut novel raises questions about life, love, and the effects of time on relationships.

Audrey Niffenegger’s innovative debut, The Time Traveler’s Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry is one of the first people diagnosed with Chrono-Displacement Disorder: periodically his genetic clock resets and he finds himself misplaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity in his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing. 

The Time Traveler’s Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare’s marriage and their passionate love for each other as the story unfolds from both points of view. Clare and Henry attempt to live normal lives, pursuing familiar goals—steady jobs, good friends, children of their own. All of this is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control, making their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

From the publisher:

Audrey Niffenegger (born June 13, 1963 in South Haven, Michigan) is a writer and artist. She is also a professor in the MFA Creative Writing Program at Columbia College Chicago. 

Niffenegger’s debut novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife (2003), was a national bestseller. The Time Traveler’s Wife is an unconventional love story that centers on a man with a strange genetic disorder that causes him to unpredictably time-travel and his wife, an artist, who has to cope with his constant absence. 

Her Fearful Symmetry (2009), Niffenegger’s second novel, is set in London’s Highgate Cemetery where, during research for the book, Niffenegger acted as a tour guide.

Niffenegger has also published graphic and illustrated novels including: The Adventuress (2006), The Three Incestuous Sisters (2005), The Night Bookmobile (2009), and Raven Girl (2013). Raven Girl was adapted into a ballet by Resident Choreographer Wayne McGregor and the Royal Opera House Ballet (London) in 2013. 

A mid-career retrospective entitled “Awake in the Dream World: The Art of Audrey Niffenegger,” was presented by the National Museum of Women in the Arts (Washington D.C.) in 2013. An accompanying exhibition catalogue examines several themes in Niffenegger’s visual art including her explorations of life, mortality, and magic.

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett
Publisher: Amy Einhorn Books
Publication Date: February 10, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Length: 465 pages

From the publisher:

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women, mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends, view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t. 

From the publisher:

Kathryn Stockett was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in English and creative writing, she moved to New York City, where she worked in magazine publishing for nine years. She currently lives in Atlanta with her husband and daughter. She is working on her second novel.

From the publisher:

Against the backdrop of an elegant Cornwall mansion before World War II and a vast continent-spanning canvas during the turbulent war years, this involving story tells of an extraordinary young woman’s coming of age, coming to grips with love and sadness, and in every sense of the term, coming home…

In 1935, Judith Dunbar is left behind at a British boarding school when her mother and baby sister go off to join her father in Singapore. At Saint Ursula’s, her friendship with Loveday Carey-Lewis sweeps her into the privileged, madcap world of the British aristocracy, teaching her about values, friendship, and wealth. But it will be the drama of war, as it wrenches Judith from those she cares about most, that will teach her about courage…and about love.

Teeming with marvelous, memorable characters in a novel that is a true masterpiece, Coming Home is a book to be savored, reread, and cherished forever.

Rosamunde Scott was born on 22 September 1924 in Lelant, Cornwall, England, UK, daughter of Helen and Charles Scott, a British commander. Just before her birth her father was posted in Burma, her mother remained in England. She attended St. Clare’s Polwithen and Howell’s School Llandaff before going on to Miss Kerr-Sanders’ Secretarial College. She began writing when she was seven, and published her first short story when she was 18. From 1943 through 1946, Pilcher served with the Women’s Naval Service. On 7 December 1946, she married Graham Hope Pilcher, a war hero and jute industry executive who died in March 2009. They moved to Dundee, Scotland, where she still lives today with a dog in Perthshire. They had two daughters and two sons, and fourteen grandchildren. Her son, Robin Pilcher, is also a novelist.

In 1949, her first book, a romance novel, was published by Mills & Boon, under the pseudonym Jane Fraser. She published a further ten novels under that name. In 1955, she also began writing under her married name Rosamunde Pilcher, by 1965 she her own name to all of her novels. In 1996, her novel Coming Home won the Romantic Novel of the Year Award by Romantic Novelists’ Association. She retired from writing in 2000. Two years later, she was named an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE).

On my TBR list…

Title: “…And Ladies of the Club”
Author: Helen Hooven Santmyer
Publisher: Berkley Trade
Publication Date: January 1987
Format: Hardcover
Length: 1,184 pages

From the publisher:

A #1 New York Times bestseller–and an American classic–now in trade paperback…

A groundbreaking bestseller with two and a half million copies in print, “…And Ladies of the Club” centers on the members of a book club and their struggles to understand themselves, each other, and the tumultuous world they live in. A true classic, it is sure to enchant, enthrall, and intrigue readers for years to come.

Title: The Wheel of Fortune
Author: Susan Howatch
Publisher: Fawcett
Publication Date: April 1985
Format: Hardcover
Length: 1,171 pages

From the publisher:

Oxmoon, the rambling old mansion on a sprawling estate in Wales, has been for generations, the dream, the downfall, and the destiny of the wealthy Godwin family. They are entranced by tales of glittering parties where young lovers waltzed beneath the chandeliers as the orchestra played “The Blue Danube Waltz”. They are ensnared by the family legacy of madness, murder, and doomed romance — the disastrous consequences of 19th-century Gwyneth Godwin’s scandalous affair with sheep farmer Owen Bryn-Davies.



Title: Empire Falls
Author: Richard Russo
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: April 2002
Format: Paperback
Length: 483 pages

From the publisher:

Welcome to Empire Falls, a blue-collar town full of abandoned mills whose citizens surround themselves with the comforts and feuds provided by lifelong friends and neighbors and who find humor and hope in the most unlikely places, in this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Richard Russo.

Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it’s Janine, Miles’ soon-to-be ex-wife, who’s taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it’s the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town–and seems to believe that “everything” includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.

Title: Prince of Tides
Author: Pat Conroy
Publisher: Dial Press Trade Paperback
Publication Date: March 2002
Format: Paperback
Length: 679 pages

From the publisher:

Pat Conroy has created a huge, brash thunderstorm of a novel, stinging with honesty and resounding with drama. Spanning forty years, this is the story of turbulent Tom Wingo, his gifted and troubled twin sister Savannah, and their struggle to triumph over the dark and tragic legacy of the extraordinary family into which they were born.

Filled with the vanishing beauty of the South Carolina low country as well as the dusty glitter of New York City, The Prince of Tides is Pat Conroy at his very best. 

Title: Roots
Author: Alex Haley
Publisher: Dell Publishing Company
Publication Date: November 1st, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Length: 729 pages

From the publisher:

When he was a boy in Henning, Tennessee, Alex Haley’s grandmother used to tell him stories about their family—stories that went back to her grandparents, and their grandparents, down through the generations all the way to a man she called “the African.” She said he had lived across the ocean near what he called the “Kamby Bolongo” and had been out in the forest one day chopping wood to make a drum when he was set upon by four men, beaten, chained and dragged aboard a slave ship bound for Colonial America.

Still vividly remembering the stories after he grew up and became a writer, Haley began to search for documentation that might authenticate the narrative. It took ten years and a half a million miles of travel across three continents to find it, but finally, in an astonishing feat of genealogical detective work, he discovered not only the name of “the African”–Kunta Kinte—but the precise location of Juffure, the very village in The Gambia, West Africa, from which he was abducted in 1767 at the age of sixteen and taken on the Lord Ligonier to Maryland and sold to a Virginia planter.

Haley has talked in Juffure with his own African sixth cousins. On September 29, 1967, he stood on the dock in Annapolis where his great-great-great-great-grandfather was taken ashore on September 29, 1767. Now he has written the monumental two-century drama of Kunta Kinte and the six generations who came after him—slaves and freedmen, farmers and blacksmiths, lumber mill workers and Pullman porters, lawyers and architects—and one author.

But Haley has done more than recapture the history of his own family. As the first black American writer to trace his origins back to their roots, he has told the story of 25,000,000 Americans of African descent. He has rediscovered for an entire people a rich cultural heritage that slavery took away from them, along with their names and their identities. But Roots speaks, finally, not just to blacks, or to whites, but to all people and all races everywhere, for the story it tells is one of the most eloquent testimonials ever written to the indomitability of the human spirit. 



Title: The Way the Crow Flies
Author: Ann-Marie MacDonald
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: August 2004
Format: Paperback
Length: 848 pages

The optimism of the early sixties, infused with the excitement of the space race and the menace of the Cold War, is filtered through the rich imagination of high-spirited, eight-year-old Madeleine, who welcomes her family’s posting to a quiet Air Force base near the Canadian border. Secure in the love of her beautiful mother, she is unaware that her father, Jack, is caught up in a web of secrets. When a very local murder intersects with global forces, Jack must decide where his loyalties lie, and Madeleine will be forced to learn a lesson about the ambiguity of human morality — one she will only begin to understand when she carries her quest for the truth, and the killer, into adulthood twenty years later. 

Title: Sarum
Author: Edward Rutherfurd
Publisher: Ballantine Books
Publication Date: June 23rd, 1997
Format: Paperback
Length: 912 pages

From the publisher:

A masterpiece that is breathtaking in its scope, SARUM is an epic novel that traces the entire turbulent course of English history. This rich tapestry weaves a compelling saga of five families who preserve their own particular characteristics over the centuries, and offer a fascinating glimpse into the future.

Title: The Tea Rose
Author: Jennifer Donnelly
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: May 2nd, 2006
Format: Paperback
Length: 675 pages

From the publisher:

East London, 1888 – a city apart. A place of shadow and light where thieves, whores, and dreamers mingle, where children play in the cobbled streets by day and a killer stalks at night, where bright hopes meet the darkest truths. Here, by the whispering waters of the Thames, Fiona Finnegan, a worker in a tea factory, hopes to own a shop one day, together with her lifelong love, Joe Bristow, a costermonger’s son. With nothing but their faith in each other to spur them on, Fiona and Joe struggle, save, and sacrifice to achieve their dreams.

But Fiona’s life is shattered when the actions of a dark and brutal man take from her nearly everything-and everyone-she holds dear. Fearing her own death, she is forced to flee London for New York. There, her indomitable spirit propels her rise from a modest West Side shop-front to the top of Manhattan’s tea trade. But Fiona’s old ghosts do not rest quietly, and to silence them, she must venture back to the London of her childhood, where a deadly confrontation with her past becomes the key to her future.