The Curiosities by Susan Gloss #fiction #review #womensfiction #tallpoppyauthor #tallpoppyblogger

Overview

The follow-up to Susan Gloss’s successful debut, Vintage,is a charming mid-western story of artists, inspiration, and how to reinvent your life with purpose and flair.

Nell Parker has a PhD in Art History, a loving husband named Josh, and a Craftsman bungalow in the charming university town of Madison, Wisconsin. But in secret, Nell’s heart is still reeling from the tragic way in which they lost the one baby they managed to conceive. Rather than pausing to grieve, she pushes harder for testing and fertility treatments, hiding the high cost from her husband. Although he’s in the dark about their mounting debt, Josh urges Nell to apply for jobs, believing his wife needs something else to focus on other than a baby that may never be.

Finding a job turns out to be difficult for an art historian. . . until Nell sees the ad seeking a director for a new nonprofit called the Mansion Hill Artists’ Colony. The colony is the brainchild of the late, unconventional society dame Betsy Barrett, who left behind her vast fortune and a killer collection of modern art to establish an artist-in-residency program to be run out of her lakeside mansion. The executor of Betsy’s estate simply hands Nell a set of house keys and wishes her luck, leaving her to manage the mansion and the eccentric personalities of the artists who live there on her own.

Soon one of the artists, a young metal sculptor named Odin, is keeping the other residents awake with his late-night welding projects. Nell is pretty sure that Annie, a dreadlocked granny known for her avant garde performance pieces, is dealing drugs out of the basement “studio.” Meanwhile Paige, an art student from the university, takes up residence in the third-floor turret, experimenting with new printing and design techniques, as well as leading a string of bad boyfriends upstairs when she stumbles home late at night. 

Despite all the drama, Nell finds something akin to a family among the members of the creative community that she’s brought together. And when her attraction to Odin begins to heat up, Nell is forced to decide what will bring her greater joy–the creative, inspired world she’s created, or the familiar but increasingly fragile one of her marriage.

Review

Nell has struggled for years to get pregnant. This has left her drained and in deep debt, which she has kept hidden from her husband. When her last chance to become pregnant fails, Nell decides it is time to focus on something else. She takes a job as Director of Mansion Hill Artist’s Colony. This turns out to be a little more challenging than she expected.

I love the eccentric characters in this read. Paige is working on different painting techniques. She is also a little promiscuous, introverted and attached to her phone. Odin is a metal sculptor. He is very kind but he has an attraction to Nell. Then there is Annie. She is documenting the opioid crisis by photographing addicts. She is offering the addicts a little something on the side. All these artists together under one roof creates a unique environment for all involved.

I also enjoyed learning about the works of art scattered throughout the mansion. Betsy, the founder of the colony, amassed a large amount of eclectic art work. The author did a fabulous job weaving the history of these works into this story.

This uncommon mix of characters and this mansion as a backdrop really creates a delicious story. Get your copy today!

I received this novel from Tall Poppy Authors for a honest review.

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Vincent Van Gogh – The Ambiguity of Insanity by Giuseppe Cafiero – Book Spotlight

Vincent Van Gogh – The Ambiguity of Insanity

By Giuseppe Cafiero

Genre: Meta Literature      

Format: Audiobook

                   

My main interest in the life of Vincent Van Gogh is in his humanity. In attempting to understand the man and his art, I have focused on the women and the places which played an essential part in his development. In my opinion, no previous biography has concentrated so specifically on these two factors, which I have used to provide the framework for my account.  

The women are presented as women of flesh and blood, certainly, but also in the roles of spiritual guides (Mrs Jones), mother figures (Kee Voss, Sien Hornik, Margot Begemann), or subjects for portraits (Mme Roulin and Mme Ginoux). Places, too, played a decisive part in the development of his character and art. Isleworth, Amsterdam, the Borinange, Arles, St. Remy, Auvers-sur-Oise witnessed and influenced Vincent’s attempts to capture colours, atmosphere and the effects of light.

Anyone interested in the tormented life of this extraordinary man is therefore bound to be fascinated by this account, which also draws out a further vital factor: Vincent’s obsessive determination to become a painter. It is impossible to understand the man without investigating the nature of his obessions.

Obsession was the subtle, tragic malady which slowly but inexorably consumed the man: the obsessive determination to express himself in colour and symbol; an obsession with redemption (seen in his mission to the Belgian miners of the Borinage and his relationship with Sien), an obsession with friendship (the failure of his relationship with Gauguin), his obsession with a self-tormenting spirituality (the relationship with his pastor father), with brotherly love (his relationship with Theo, which touches on the morbid), with the sun of the southern France (Arles and Auvers), and with death itself.

Powerless to intervene, we witness the long and painful progress towards his final suicide, heralded by the longing for extinction once madness (undoubtedly desired and loved as a means to silence his anguish) had proved a grievous companion and certainly not the source of hoped-for peace.

The work consists of ten chapters, each featuring a place and a woman who played an important part in Vincent’s life.

 

About the Author

Giuseppe Cafiero lives in the Tuscan countryside, in Lucignano, in the province of Arezzo, Italy.

Born in Naples, he spent his childhood in several Italian cities. In Bologna he began to attend intellectual circles at Roberto Roversi ‘s renowned bookstore, “Palma Verde”.

It was in one of the magazines published by this cultural center, that the first part of “James Joyce – Rome and other stories” was first published.

He later worked for various radio producers, especially Radio Capodistria and the Italian Swiss Radio so he moved to Tuscany. Finally he was able to devote himself to reading and to pursue his literary work.

His main literary influence was Calvin, author of extraordinary literary intellectual subtlety and intelligence. Giuseppe Cafiero continuously reads Borges, another great sublime, inimitable author who also worshiped Joyce.

Giuseppe Cafiero has written renditions, free adaptations, reductions for the radio, translations from French. The spectrum of names is extensive, from Shakespeare to O’Neill, from Raspe to Daudet, from Toller to Brecht. He has written for thaetre and radio, collaborating also with the RAI, Radio Sveringes and the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

But his strongest point is the “bio-fiction” as his book about Joyce in Rome, another published in 2008 about Vincent van Gogh, and one about Monsieur Gustave Flaubert in 2010. The three characters were revolutionary in their own field. Van Gogh, with his extraordinarily beautiful explosion of colors. Joyce, who broke with the literary realism of the 1800′s.

Due to his experience writing for radio, his books have a great handling of the language of his characters. This is the case of the program Giuseppe Cafiero wrote called ‘James Joyce in una notte in Valpurga’, in 1990, after which he ended the narrative fiction of Joyce’s stay in Rome in 1906 and 1907.

Visit http://www.giuseppecafiero.com

 

Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/Vincent-Van-Gogh-Ambiguity-Insanity/dp/B07M65GX3V

Audible.com – https://www.audible.com/pd/Vincent-Van-Gogh-The-Ambiguity-of-Insanity-Audiobook/B07MDHN94P

iTunes – https://itunes.apple.com/audiobook/vincent-van-gogh-the-ambiguity-of-insanity-unabridged/id1448055688

 

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The Night Olivia Fell by Christina McDonald #review #suspense #fiction

Overview

In the vein of Big Little Lies and Reconstructing Amelia comes an emotionally charged domestic suspense novel about a mother unraveling the truth behind how her daughter became brain dead. And pregnant.

A search for the truth. A lifetime of lies.

In the small hours of the morning, Abi Knight is startled awake by the phone call no mother ever wants to get: her teenage daughter Olivia has fallen off a bridge. Not only is Olivia brain dead, she’s pregnant and must remain on life support to keep her baby alive. And then Abi sees the angry bruises circling Olivia’s wrists.

When the police unexpectedly rule Olivia’s fall an accident, Abi decides to find out what really happened that night. Heartbroken and grieving, she unravels the threads of her daughter’s life. Was Olivia’s fall an accident? Or something far more sinister?

Christina McDonald weaves a suspenseful and heartwrenching tale of hidden relationships, devastating lies, and the power of a mother’s love. With flashbacks of Olivia’s own resolve to uncover family secrets, this taut and emotional novel asks: how well do you know your children? And how well do they know you?

Review

Abi Knight is awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call informing her that her only daughter has fallen off a bridge. When Abi arrives at the hospital, she is informed that Olivia is brain dead and pregnant. Abi finds clues which leads her to believe her daughter did not just fall from the bridge. She moves heaven and earth to discover exactly what happened the night Olivia fell.

There is so much I want to say about Abi. First off, her emotions radiate off the pages. I was trapped by her feelings. Her hurt and her anger are such powerful forces. She is the perfect, imperfect character. When she is mean to her sister…I wanted to pinch her…HARD. But, she is such a splendid fit for this story.

This story follows two time lines, before the fall and after. It also has two narrators, Abi and Olivia. Think it is going to be confusing? No way! It is so superbly written with so many twists and turns. I must have guessed the perpetrator 10 times.

What a read! This book captured me from the get go! It is masterfully done with some of the best complex characters I have read about in a long time. Do not miss this one! Grab it today!

I received this novel from Gallery Books via Netgalley for a honest review.

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The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib #review #fiction

Overview

Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting portrait of a young woman’s struggle with anorexia on an intimate journey to reclaim her life.  

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Every bite causes anxiety.  Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

About the author

Yara Zgheib is a Fulbright scholar with a Masters degree in Security Studies from Georgetown University and a PhD in International Affairs in Diplomacy from Centre D’études Diplomatiques et Stratégiques in Paris. She is fluent in English, Arabic, French, and Spanish. Yara is a writer for several US and European magazines, including The Huffington Post, The Four Seasons Magazine, A Woman’s Paris, The Idea List, and Holiday Magazine. She writes on culture, art, travel, and philosophy on her blog, “Aristotle at Afternoon Tea” (http://www.aristotleatafternoontea.com/).

Review

Anna has had several changes in her life. She was injured and could not dance. As a matter of fact, she lost her place in the dance company. Then her husband received a job offer in St. Louis which he could not turn down. So, they moved from her beloved home in Paris and away from her family. Anna goes into a deep depression. She basically quits eating almost all of the foods she loves. She ends up weighing 88 pounds.

Anna is admitted to 17 Swann Street, a home for women with eating disorders. This is extremely difficult for Anna to adjust. The rules and the treatment are a little more than she can tolerate. But with the support of her husband and all the girls of 17 Swann Street she SLOWLY starts on the road to recovery.

The way Anna’s relationship with food changes her life is really astounding. I have been around anorexics but I have never really discussed their thoughts. Anna’s anxiety about food is above and beyond. After she spent a little time at 17 Swann Street she is allowed to go out to eat with her husband. Her approach to her dinner that night really opened my eyes to how this disease works.

I know this book is not going to work for everyone. It is traumatic in places and it is hard to read because of the subject matter. Not only is it well written and well researched, it is also an emotional ride. You do not want to miss this.

I received this novel from St. Martin’s Press for a honest review.

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The Military Wife by Laura Trentham #review #fiction #romance #giveaway

Overview

A young widow embraces a second chance at life when she reconnects with those who understand the sacrifices made by American soldiers and their families in award-winning author Laura Trentham’s The Military Wife.

Harper Lee Wilcox has been marking time in her hometown of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina since her husband, Noah Wilcox’s death, nearly five years earlier. With her son Ben turning five and living at home with her mother, Harper fights a growing restlessness, worried that moving on means leaving the memory of her husband behind.

Her best friend, Allison Teague, is dealing with struggles of her own. Her husband, a former SEAL that served with Noah, was injured while deployed and has come home physically healed but fighting PTSD. With three children underfoot and unable to help her husband, Allison is at her wit’s end.

In an effort to reenergize her own life, Harper sees an opportunity to help not only Allison but a network of other military wives eager to support her idea of starting a string of coffee houses close to military bases around the country.

In her pursuit of her dream, Harper crosses paths with Bennett Caldwell, Noah’s best friend and SEAL brother. A man who has a promise to keep, entangling their lives in ways neither of them can foresee. As her business grows so does an unexpected relationship with Bennett. Can Harper let go of her grief and build a future with Bennett even as the man they both loved haunts their pasts?

About the Author

LAURA TRENTHAM is an award-winning author of contemporary and historical romance. She is a member of RWA, and has been a finalist multiple times in the Golden Heart competition. A chemical engineer by training and a lover of books by nature, she lives in South Carolina.

Review

Harper is struggling to over come the death of her husband, a Navy Seal. She really has no idea where her life is headed. She is afraid to move forward in fear she will leave her husband behind. Then she touches base with her friend Allison. Allison is dealing with 3 kids and a husband which is suffering from PTSD. Harper heads to the rescue only to realize she is the one being rescued.

Harper understands Allison’s predicament better than most. Being the widow of a Navy Seal, she knows spouses of the Military servers have their own set of problems. Harper recognizes a need and she is bound and determined to fix it. Enter Bennett! Wow! He is one perfect, hot shot! He and Allison really struggle in the beginning of their relationship. Bennett was a best friend with her husband, so there is a little bit of guilt undermining their relationship. But when these two decide to throw caution to the wind….oooolala!

What a perfect palate cleanser! I enjoyed so many aspects of this novel, Especially, my all time favorite character…Allison’s mother. She cracked me up. NAKED PAINTING. You must read this story to find out.

I adore a book which has a serious side and is interwoven with a not so serious side. Just makes it all work!

I received this novel from St. Martin’s Press for a honest review.

Head over to my instagram….I HAVE THIS BOOK TO GIVEAWAY.

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The Military Wife

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Forget You Know Me by Jessica Strawser #review #fiction

Overview

The next “masterful” (Publishers Weekly) novel from “the gifted Jessica Strawser” (Adriana Trigiani), hailed as “immensely satisfying” (Kathleen Barber) and “that book you can’t put down” (Sally Hepworth). A video call between friends captures a shocking incident no one was supposed to see.

The secrets it exposes threaten to change their lives forever.

Molly and Liza have always been enviably close. Even after Molly married Daniel, the couple considered Liza an honorary family member. But after Liza moved away, things grew more strained than anyone wanted to admit—in the friendship and the marriage.

When Daniel goes away on business, Molly and Liza plan to reconnect with a nice long video chat after the kids are in bed. But then Molly leaves the room to check on a crying child.

What Liza sees next will change everything.

Only one thing is certain: Molly needs her. Liza drives all night to be at Molly’s side—but when she arrives, the reception is icy, leaving Liza baffled and hurt. She knows there’s no denying what she saw.

Or is there?

In disbelief that their friendship could really be over, Liza is unaware she’s about to have a near miss of her own.

And Molly, refusing to deal with what’s happened, won’t turn to Daniel, either.

But none of them can go on pretending. Not after this.

Forget You Know Me is a “twisty, emotionally complex, powder keg of a tale” (bestselling author Emily Carpenter) about the wounds of people who’ve grown apart. Best friends, separated by miles. Spouses, hardened by neglect. A mother, isolated by pain.

One moment will change things for them all.

Review

Liza and Molly have been friends since they were children. They have drifted apart in recent years because well, basically life happens. Liza now lives in Chicago and Molly lives in Cincinnati. These two decide to try and rekindle their friendship over a Skype call and a glass of wine. When Molly leaves the call for a few minutes to check on the children, Liza sees a masked intruder enter Molly’s home. After a 911 call and a long drive to Cincinnati, Molly is rude to Liza and this leaves Liza to question exactly what is going on.

This story starts with a bang. Then it begins a slow paced tale about family and friends relationships. Not only is Molly’s relationship with Liza on the brink, so is her relationship with her husband, Daniel. Their marriage has its share of past hurts and damages. I will be honest, I am not a huge fan of Molly. I did not like how she treated Liza at the beginning.

The story itself is much slower than I like. Plus, I felt the characters could have been more in-depth. After the scene with the mask intruder, that is pretty much it for thriller section. This is more about friendship and family.

I received this novel from St. Martin’s Press via Netgalley for a honest review.

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Miraculum by Steph Post #review #historicalfiction

Overview

The year is 1922. The carnival is Pontilliar’s Spectactular Star Light Miraculum, set up on the Texas-Louisiana border. One blazing summer night, a mysterious stranger steps out onto the midway, lights a cigarette and forever changes the world around him. Tattooed snake charmer Ruby has traveled with her father’s carnival for most of her life and, jaded though she is, can’t help but be drawn to the tall man in the immaculate black suit who has joined the carnival as a geek, aman who bites the heads off live chickens. Mercurial and charismatic, Daniel charms everyone he encounters but his manipulation of Ruby becomes complicated when it no longer becomes clear who is holding all the cards. For all of Daniel’s secrets, Ruby has a few of her own. When one tragedy after another strikes the carnival, and it becomes clear that Daniel is somehow at the center of calamity, Ruby takes it upon herself to discover the mystery of the shadowy man pulling all the strings. Joined by Hayden, a roughneck-turned-mural-painter who has recently reentered her life, Ruby enters into a dangerous, eye-opening game with Daniel in which nothing and no one is as it seems and yet everything is at stake.

If WATER FOR ELEPHANTS, “Carnivale”, and Stephen King’s REVIVAL had a book that was then struck by lightning, it would be MIRACULUM. This unforgettable novel is part southern gothic, part noir, part magical realism, and all Steph Post. 

Review

Ruby is a snake charmer in carnival full of strange characters. Another “strange” character has been hired to join the tour. His name is Daniel and he bites heads off chickens…yes…that really is his job. Weird accidents start occurring after Daniel’s arrival. Ruby will not be stopped until she finds out exactly what is going on.

My heart went out to Ruby throughout this read. She had to leave the only home she has ever known to find a father who could care less about her. As a matter of fact, he ships her off to be tattooed. This is actually where the story took and odd turn, as if a man who bites heads off chickens isn’t odd enough.

This is a very unique read. However, as I was reading, I was unsure what genre it actually fell into. It started out as a little romance/murder mystery type story. Then it changed to a little voodoo/mystical tale. So, it is a weird type of novel but it is so very captivating. I loved the 1920’s carnival setting. The characters, and I do mean characters, really capture your imagination and your heart.

This may be an uncommon story but is a fascinating read not soon forgotten.

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