My February Reads Wrap-Up #reviews #5starreads #februaryreads

It has been a sad month around here. On February 6 my 10 year old boxer passed away unexpectedly. She was my walking partner, my reading buddy and an all around good dog!

R.I.P. Ginger!

Now on to the February Wrap-Up! BOY IT WAS A FANTASTIC MONTH IN READING!

https://reecaspieces.com/2019/02/07/the-girls-at-17-swann-street-by-yara-zgheib-review-fiction/

https://reecaspieces.com/2019/02/05/forget-you-know-me-by-jessica-strawser-review-fiction/

https://reecaspieces.com/2019/02/11/the-curiosities-by-susan-gloss-fiction-review-womensfiction-tallpoppyauthor-tallpoppyblogger/

https://reecaspieces.com/2019/02/10/the-night-olivia-fell-by-christina-mcdonald-review-suspense-fiction/

https://reecaspieces.com/2019/02/20/my-sister-is-missing-by-carissa-ann-lynch-review-thriller/

Reviews for these three will be coming soon. So, stay tuned!

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February Audible Reads #audible #audiblebooks

Some of these are new authors and some are old favorites. I have never read a Walter Mosley book. I loved Devil in a Blue Dress. The narrator was over the top with different voices and such.

I have only read one previous book by Diane Chamberlain and LOVED IT! I can not wait to read all her books. Keeper of the Light did not disappoint. The setting and the characters are really special.

Molly Harper is an author I adore. She is funny and quirky and just an all around fun read. The Changeling is a little different for me. It’s about witches and witchcraft. Not my favorite genre, but not a bad read at all! I found myself enjoying it very much.

The Tuscan Child was better than I expected. I have read one of Rhys Bowen books and it was just a so-so read for me. The setting of Italy and the mystery surrounding a murder was intriguing.

Carolyn Brown is an old favorite. I love all her books. Great SOUTHERN characters surrounding a great story. Small Town Rumors is classic Carolyn Brown.

Purchase here

Devil in a Blue Dress

The Tuscan Child

Small Town Rumors

Keeper of the Light

Changeling

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We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet #historicalfiction #review

Overview

Spanning the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave explores the fierce love that we feel for our children and the power of that love to endure. Beyond distance, beyond time, beyond life itself.

“This stirring debut will work its way indelibly into your heart.” –Georgia Hunter, author of We Were the Lucky Ones

One woman. One little girl. The war that changed everything.

December 1940. In the disorderly evacuation of Southampton, England, newly married Ellen Parr finds a small child asleep on the backseat of an empty bus. No one knows who little Pamela is.

Ellen professed not to want children with her older husband, and when she takes Pamela into her home and rapidly into her heart, she discovers that this is true: Ellen doesn’t want children. She wants only Pamela. Three golden years pass as the Second World War rages on. Then one day Pamela is taken away, screaming. Ellen is no stranger to sorrow, but when she returns to the quiet village life she’s long lived, she finds herself asking: In a world changed by war, is it fair to wish for an unchanged heart?

In the spirit of We Were the Lucky Ones and The Nightingale, here is a novel about courage and kindness, hardship and friendship, and the astonishing power of love.

Review

This story begins with a little lost girl named Pamela. Pamela is about 4 years old. She is placed on a bus during confusion after a bombing. She is found by a sweet lady, Ellen. Ellen and her husband have no children and they take Pamela into their home.

As most of you know, WWII is my favorite time period. The time period is what drew me to this book plus, the cover is very intriguing. But, that is where it ends for me. The story is extremely slow paced and actually was a real struggle for me to finish. I did not feel a real connection to the characters and the slowness of the story just did not maintain my interest. Now, this may be all because of me. There are lots of good reviews for this book out there. Give it a try…you just never know!

I received this novel from Netgalley for a honest review.

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My Sister is Missing by Carissa Ann Lynch #review #thriller

Overview

Reminiscent of Gillian Flynn’s Sharp Objects” Christina Kaye, award-winning author of Presumed Dead

A twenty-year-old local mystery that has never been solved.

A bone-chilling VHS tape depicting a horrific crime.

Neighbors with something to hide.

And a sister who is missing.

Emily has to find out the truth. But is her sister Madeline the victim…or the one to blame?

A creepy and chilling thriller that you won’t be able to put down. MY SISTER IS MISSING is the most grippingread of 2019. 

Readers can’t get enough of this book:

‘An unnerving, creepy, hair-raising novel, one that will have readers sleeping with one eye open’ David Bell, USA Today bestselling author of LAYOVER

‘Lynch has a knack for storytelling that not only captivates, but leaves one aching for the next page’ Bradon Nave, USA Today bestselling author

‘A craftsman of the novel world. This book is a fine example of why reading is the perfect form of escapism. Edge of your seat thriller action’ 5* Karen Whittard, Netgalley

‘Had me on the edge of my seat’ 5* Tracy Cavanah, Netgalley 

‘The most gripping novel with the perfect amount of mystery and thrill…the ending is great!’ 5* Cloud of Thoughts Blog

‘A well-written, fast-paced thriller that is packed full of twists and turns, mystery and suspense. I was hooked from the very first page … Worth far more than five stars Nicki’s Life of Crime Blog

‘Takes a heavily used plot line and puts a fresh spin on it’ Rosemary Smith, Netgalley

‘Gritty, engrossing, and impossible to put down it will haunt you for a long time after the last page is turned’ Ellie Midwood, international bestselling author of the Indigo Rebels series. 

‘The thriller of 2019!’ – Chelsi Davis, author of Domestic Disturbance

Review

Emily’s sister Madeline has asked Emily to return home. These two sisters have not been on the best of terms lately. Emily has not even met Madeline’s children. But they are sisters, so Emily returns to her family home and the mystery surrounding her accident.

Emily and Madeline have a nice catch up session on Emily’s first night home. But, when Emily wakes up the next morning, Madeline is no where to be found. She thinks Madeline just went to the store. When Madeline stays gone for over 24 hours Emily becomes obsessed with finding her.

I really don’t know what I think about Emily. I started out not liking her very much. But she becomes a better person as the tale moves along. And move along it does! Just when I had it figured out the story twisted, NOT ONCE BUT SEVERAL TIMES. Emily’s past accident, Paul, Emily’s ex-boyfriend, is the cop assigned to the case, a cryptic message for Madeline, a VHS tape, all lead to a gripping conclusion.

This is a lightening fast read. This would be a great book for traveling. And for $2.99, I would snatch this up! It is captivating, suspenseful and very engaging. There were places I forgot to breathe!

I received this novel from Harper Impulse and Killer Reads via Netgalley for a honest review.

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Not for Nothing by Kathy Curtis #bookspotlight #authorinterview #memoir

An Interview with Kathy Curto

Author of NOT FOR NOTHING: Glimpses Into a Jersey Girlhood

There are some pretty personal insights in the pages of Not For Nothing. Did you seek your siblings’ permission to tell some of these stories? Did you feel you needed their approval before publishing the book?

A few days after Bordighera Press contacted me to say they wanted to publish my collection, I sent the manuscript, along with a letter, to my sisters and my brother. It was my hope that they’d read it and then we’d have some time to digest any pieces that warranted more discussion. I wasn’t really asking for approval but more for open dialogue and a chance to recollect together. And we’ve done that. And we’ve laughed and cried a lot, too. I do think that step has opened some doors that may have been closed a little too tight. Family dynamics are ever-changing and filled with lots of idiosyncrasies, aren’t they? And sometimes we’re all not ready at the same time for doors to open. But, at least for me, what matters is that we hold the door or carry the person we love through it or just stand on the other side when and if it closes again and wait for the knock when it comes. And sure, there’s always the option of kicking the door down. Patience. Forgiveness. Acceptance. A nice trifecta but one that takes lots of hard work.

 

Do you think you could’ve written and published this book while your parents were still alive?

I can’t really answer that definitively, but I can say that if they were alive my life would be very different. So, if I did write this book or any other one and they were still here with us, that would be different, too. Losing my mother, quite suddenly back in 1998, rocked my whole world. I remember thinking at the time: Everything is different now. Everything. Like the plates of the Earth shifting. And then when my dad passed away a few years after that, the change intensified because it was weird feeling like I was nobody’s child anymore. And my husband and I were raising small kids at the time so that magnified everything, too. That said, these recollections, these glimpses, offered a chance to go back and see my parents, to hear them and touch them. The memories are not always pretty pictures but sometimes they are and, either way, they were with me the whole time I wrote the book. And still are.

 

As you set out to work on this book, did you end up remembering more than you thought you might about your childhood? Did additional memories make themselves known the more you reflected on your past?

Absolutely. And getting a little more in touch with the senses helped with this.

 

Your dad was a classic blue-collar guy who owned a local gas station and body shop. How did the work he did for a living shape your life and perceptions?

I think a lot about what the “color of one’s collar” means on a macro and micro level—in society and in our personal lives. Growing up blue-collar definitely influenced my values and my approach to things. But I also think this question poses another one, too: How do we define blue-collar anymore? What does it mean? I also think this writing has made me consider the great value of undervalued work, particularly when the work is dirty in nature. And the stigma attached to it sometimes.

 

How did your parents’ stormy marriage shape your consciousness as a child?

It’s made me consider the significance of self-awareness, forgiveness, change, and the fact that sometimes in life, no matter how hard we may try to look for logic in circumstances and relationships, what rises to the surface is confusion and love. But, at least for me and on the good days, mostly love.

 

Did writing about your brother’s addiction help you come to terms with that experience? How did it influence you in your formative years?

It still does. I don’t mean that to suggest that I’m deserving of or expecting any pity or allowances because of it. And I didn’t write the book to confess this part of our family life. My brother is in recovery and has been for many years. We talk openly about this. In different ways, every day, he and my sisters still teach me about life, perseverance and faith. And again, the pictures are not always pretty, but they are real.

 

Why did you choose to write these essays from the point of view of yourself as a child rather than as your adult self, looking back?

It’s just what felt right. I tried other ways but always landed back there, to that voice and the present tense. I wanted the feel of the book to be immediate. Also, having children of my own did influence this. I recall thinking when they were little, “I remember being the age they are right now.” And that prompted a creative impulse. It prompted memory.

 

Music is mentioned quite a bit in this book and you’ve even developed your own playlist to accompany Not For Nothing. How has music affected your worldview and informed your memories?

In writing the book, I was reminded, in the fiercest of ways, how strong the senses are and also how strong of a hold music has on me, on my memories and on my everyday life. I include songs in the stories because they were part of the texture of those remembered glimpses. And working on the playlist was fun, emotional and just a wild, wild ride. I drive a lot and cars are part of my personal history. So, music and motion…these things are in my bones. Music is a big part of my family life now, too. My husband and my children are music lovers, too, and there’s almost always background music playing in our home or on our back patio when it’s nice outside. Food and music. Music and food.

 

The question “who do you think you are” is a thread in this book. Do you feel you’ve come around to an answer of sorts over the course of your life and through writing this book?

Some days the answer is crystal clear and other days it’s not. It’s funny because I love coming-of-age stories, but I am realizing more and more that we really never stop coming of age. So, maybe it’s not such a bad thing, if we don’t stop asking ourselves some of these bigger questions along the way. Keeps us on our toes, right?

 

Your mother constantly reminded you and your siblings to “stay together.” How have you honored her request and what has honoring it meant to you over the years?

I suppose we honor it by working hard to make it happen. And staying together may look differently along the way, as we grow older, as families change, and life evolves. It’s not really that complicated, I think staying together is more about what we believe inside of us, rather than knowing we are all sitting around at the same table every week, or month or holiday. (That said, the crazy Italian American Christmas Eve experience is pretty hilarious and wonderful and not to be missed!)

 

This book is filled with the true characters of all stripes. How much is the Jersey Shore setting a character of its own? How did growing up at the Shore shape your understanding of the world?

I’ll answer with the lyrics of two songs:

 

I’m from New Jersey
I don’t expect too much
If the world ended today
I would adjust

—John Gorka

 

Tonight I’m gonna take that ride

Across the river to the Jersey side

—Tom Waits

 

Talk about leaving the Jersey Shore. How did you come to the decision to move away? How did your big, tightknit family respond to your leaving? Do you go back often? Is it still “home?”

I left NJ in 1986 when I went to college. It was certainly not the norm, but we adjusted. My children also teach me about this now, the hard work and faith of staying close. My heart stretches with each new decision they make, each new place they long to discover. And it’s made me think a lot about when I said my goodbyes in ’86 and how scary that probably was for my parents, even though I was only two hours away. I go back to Jersey all the time and speak to this in the very last section of the book. I guess it’s kind of like what I said before about my parents being with me now, still, just in a different form. I don’t have a Jersey driver’s license anymore, but I’ll tell you a secret: At the end of the summer, after the countless trips to one of my favorite shorelines in the world, I deliberately pass on vacuuming out my car. (My husband is a very patient man!) I just let the sand linger there until it fades out and gets brushed away on its own. That’s home.

 

Pork roll or Taylor ham?

Pork roll.

 

What exit?

Hands down, it’s 82.

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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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