The Wonder Boy of Whistle Stop by Fannie Flagg

I love love love Fannie Flagg’s books and have read them all. Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe is probably my favorite, so I was thrilled to see this new title come up on Net Galley, telling more of Buddy’s story and the story of the people of Whistle Stop. Ms. Flagg’s books are like wrapping yourself in a cozy comforter and are reminiscent of Jan Karon’s Mitford series. You love the place, you love the people, you don’t want it to end.

Thank you for the gift of another story about these characters, Ms. Flagg!

(And yes, this is the same Fannie Flagg as from Match Game in the 70’s!).

Description

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A heartwarming novel about secrets of youth rediscovered, hometown memories, and the magical moments in ordinary lives, from the beloved author of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe

“A gift, a blessing and a triumph . . . celebrates the bonds of family and friends—and the possibilities of recovery and renewal.”—The Free Lance–Star

Bud Threadgoode grew up in the bustling little railroad town of Whistle Stop with his mother, Ruth, church-going and proper, and his Aunt Idgie, the fun-loving hell-raiser. Together they ran the town’s popular Whistle Stop Cafe, known far and wide for its fun and famous fried green tomatoes. And as Bud often said of his childhood to his daughter Ruthie, “How lucky can you get?”

But sadly, as the railroad yards shut down and Whistle Stop became a ghost town, nothing was left but boarded-up buildings and memories of a happier time.

Then one day, Bud decides to take one last trip, just to see what has become of his beloved Whistle Stop. In so doing, he discovers new friends, as well as surprises about Idgie’s life, about Ninny Threadgoode and other beloved Fannie Flagg characters, and about the town itself. He also sets off a series of events, both touching and inspiring, which change his life and the lives of his daughter and many others. Could these events all be just coincidences? Or something else? And can you really go home again?

Blog Tour for: The Kensington Kidnap by Katie Gayle

I’m thrilled to take part in the Bookouture Books-on-Tour blog tour for The Kensington Kidnap. This was a great cozy mystery that I really enjoyed. I love the main character Pip, and I be thrilled to read more mysteries featuring her. She reminded me a bit of my favorite sleuth Agatha Raisin — sometimes fumbling, always intrepid, and laugh out loud funny!

This book was written by two authors, but the final product is seamless.

Highly recommended if you enjoy cozy mysteries! Thank you for making me part of the tour and for my kindle copy!

Here’s the overview:

A missing teenager, a mysterious cult and a case of mistaken identity – just another day’s work for Epiphany Bloom.

Epiphany ‘Pip’ Bloom is down on her luck. She can barely afford cat food, and just because Most has three legs doesn’t mean he eats any less. So she absolutely can’t afford to mess up her latest temp job. But when she walks through the door of the private investigation firm, her new boss mistakes her for a missing persons expert. He then charges her with finding Matty Price – the teenage son of two A-list celebrities – who has mysteriously disappeared from his home in Kensington.

It ought to be a disaster, but Pip reckons it’s actually an opportunity. She’s always been curious (nosy, her mother calls it) and has an uncanny knack for being at the wrong place at the right time (she doesn’t want to know what her mother thinks of that). After years of trying to find something she’s good at, has Pip managed to walk straight into the job she was born to do?

She owes it to herself and poor missing Matty to find out.

But searching for Matty takes Pip into the strange, intimidating world of the rich and famous. And it soon becomes clear that some of these people’s love for themselves doesn’t extend to their fellow humans.

As Pip investigates further, she realises the question isn’t whether Matty ran away – it’s whether Pip will find him alive and make it home safely herself…

An absolutely brilliant, light-hearted cozy mystery for fans of M.C. Beaton, T E Kinsey, Lauren Elliott and Joanne Fluke, featuring an irresistible new heroine.

Author Bio:
Katie Gayle is the writing partnership of best-selling South African writers, Kate Sidley and Gail Schimmel. Kate and Gail have, between them, written over ten books of various genres, but with Katie Gayle, they both make their debut in the cozy mystery genre. Both Gail and Kate live in Johannesburg, with husbands, children, dogs and cats. Unlike their sleuth Epiphany Bloom, neither of them have ever stolen a cat from the vet. 
https://twitter.com/KatieGayleBooks

Buy Links : These are not affiliated with BBNB Amazon: https://bit.ly/396HfGhApple: https://apple.co/33eKAi1Kobo: https://bit.ly/35pAIF0Google: https://bit.ly/2FobH1R

I’ll Be Seeing You by Elizabeth Berg

Description

The beloved New York Times bestselling author tells the poignant love story of caring for her parents in their final years in this beautifully written memoir.

I’ll Be Seeing You moved me and broadened my understanding of the human condition.”—Wally Lamb, author of I Know This Much Is True

Elizabeth Berg’s father was an Army veteran who was a tough man in every way but one: He showed a great deal of love and tenderness to his wife. Berg describes her parents’ marriage as a romance that lasted for nearly seventy years; she grew up watching her father kiss her mother upon leaving home, and kiss her again the instant he came back. His idea of when he should spend time away from her was never.

But then Berg’s father developed Alzheimer’s disease, and her parents were forced to leave the home they loved and move into a facility that could offer them help. It was time for the couple’s children to offer, to the best of their abilities, practical advice, emotional support, and direction—to, in effect, parent the people who had for so long parented them. It was a hard transition, mitigated at least by flashes of humor and joy. The mix of emotions on everyone’s part could make every day feel like walking through a minefield. Then came redemption.

I’ll Be Seeing You charts the passage from the anguish of loss to the understanding that even in the most fractious times, love can heal, transform, and lead to graceful—and grateful—acceptance.

I LOVE Elizabeth Berg’s writing and have read all her books (seriously!). This was a bit of a departure as it’s a memoir about her parents and their care as they became elderly. This is a touching and heartfelt story, and one that sure to resonate with those who have experienced their own parents’ aging and needs. In some way, this story is a story many of us share, those of us who were raised by WWII parents, who saw them live out their years together and then have one become not able to continue to live independently, who struggled with seeing them adjust to the changes that aging brings, who came to see their parents in a whole new light.

Touching and honest, I highly recommend it for those facing a similar situation.

Thank you for my review copy.

Audiobook Review: A Little Rebellion Is a Good Thing by Duncan Clarke

Mr. Clarke’s publicist and Mr. Clarke himself kindly reached out to me about his book/audiobook A Little Rebellion Is a Good Thing: Troubles at Traymore College.

This was a great listen during my commute, with a story that sometimes had me laughing out loud. The narrator is somewhat naive and definitely a bit sardonic in his views of life as a college professor. I had to wonder if this story could be based in truth. Definitely it had the college teaching part down right!

Here’s the overview:

When David Pritchard is hired to teach political science at a remote women’s college in 1969, he anticipates a quiet year before moving on to bigger things. However, it soon becomes apparent that all is not well at Traymore College. President Barton and his administration curtail basic academic freedoms, harass tenured professors, and impose tight constraints on students’ personal lives.

Appalled, David engages in intimate alliances with sympathetic faculty and several members of student leadership to stand up to the school’s administration. Together, they aim to ignite the press and spark far-reaching legal action. But Barton will not go down without a fight.

Charlie Boswell as the narrator does an excellent job of imbuing a bit of disbelief and ironic humor when appropriate. He was the perfect choice!

Thank you for reaching out and sharing your novel with me, Mr. Clarke!

Spotlight on The Cat that Changed America by Tony Lee Moral

Mr. Moral reached out to me about his forthcoming book for children about P22 – a mountain lion who comes to LA from the St. Monica Mountains.

Written from the cat’s point of view, but based in truth, P22 faces all sorts of challenges as he seeks a new territory in which to live.

Young children will enjoy P22’s story and there is information about conservation efforts included. P22 was also the subject of a short film.

Thank you for reaching out to share P22’s story!

The Doctor of Aleppo by Dan Mayland

This past summer, the very pleasant Dan Mayland reached out to me about his novel The Doctor of Aleppo. This is a gripping and vividly told story, at times heart-breaking, at times edge-of-your-seat, of a Syrian doctor who crosses paths during wartime with a young couple.

Here’s the overview:

Description

Dan Mayland, author of the bestselling Mark Sava spy novel series, pairs a thriller writer’s sensibilities with a gripping story of hope and redemption against the backdrop of war.

While working in the ancient Silk Road city of Aleppo, American Hannah Johnson and her Swedish lover Oskar are drawn into the mounting turbulence of the impending Syrian civil war.

After Oskar is wounded at a street protest one evening, he and Hannah cross paths with Dr. Samir Hasan, a renowned surgeon. As the protests swell into all-out war, Dr. Hasan tends not only to Oskar, but also risks his life, his practice, and his family to tend to a nephew the government has branded an insurgent.

Dr. Hasan’s humanitarian activities come to the attention of a vengeful, Javert-like secret police officer whose son’s death on Dr. Hasan’s watch triggers a series of events that will drag Hannah and Oskar deeper into the war and put Hannah and Dr. Hasan in the officer’s crosshairs.

Both intimate and sweeping in scope, The Doctor of Aleppo lends insight into how the most brutal, devastating war of the twenty-first century is mirrored on the personal scale, leaving scars that can never be healed.

I have to say – this was a incredibly well-written book, as I have vivid memories of scenes from it (and I read it in Aug/Sept). I haven’t read many novels taking place in Syria, to be honest, but this one really stayed with me. At the end, I had mixed feelings (where’s my tidy bow to tie up everything??) but the author has offered to send an epilogue and recipe (!!) from a reader to those who are interested, so look up Mr. Mayland at danmayland.com if you are interested!

I love stories of redemption and courage and, as Mr. Mayland reminded me I once wrote on my blog “ordinary people doing extraordinary things”, so I loved this book. You will, too. It’s definitely on my holiday list for gifting!

Thanks for sending me your novel (via Net Galley), Mr. Mayland!

About the author:

Dan Mayland is an author and professional geopolitical forecaster, helping nonprofit, private, and government organizations navigate a changing world. His Mark Sava spy series was informed by his experiences in the Caspian region and Middle East. Raised in New Jersey, Mayland now lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and two children, in an old stone farmhouse he and his wife have restored.

White Ivy by Susie Yang

Wow — this was an incredible read. White Ivy is the story of a young Chinese-American girl who grows into a selfish and amibitous young woman. It is a fascinating look at race and social class, with an emphasis on white privilege and what it means to be privileged and why that privilege is so alluring. I wanted to like Ivy as a character, but I honestly didn’t, as I felt she was incredibly self-centered and self-serving. Don’t look for redemption or pureness of heart in this novel — it is somewhat dark, at times almost gritty, and yet so true in its depictions and story that you can’t help but be awed by it. An incredible first novel, Yang has a way or presenting action in a paragraph and then ending with a sentence or two of analysis that gets right to the core of the emotion and motives of the characters.

Unforgettable — definitely will be on my top reads list of 2020.

Thank you for my review copy!

Description

***LONGLISTED FOR THE CENTER FOR FICTION’S FIRST NOVEL PRIZE***

From prizewinning Chinese American author Susie Yang, this dazzling coming-of-age novel about a young woman’s dark obsession with her privileged classmate offers sharp insights into the immigrant experience.

Ivy Lin is a thief and a liar—but you’d never know it by looking at her.

Raised outside of Boston, Ivy’s immigrant grandmother relies on Ivy’s mild appearance for cover as she teaches her granddaughter how to pilfer items from yard sales and second-hand shops. Thieving allows Ivy to accumulate the trappings of a suburban teen—and, most importantly, to attract the attention of Gideon Speyer, the golden boy of a wealthy political family. But when Ivy’s mother discovers her trespasses, punishment is swift and Ivy is sent to China, and her dream instantly evaporates.

Years later, Ivy has grown into a poised yet restless young woman, haunted by her conflicting feelings about her upbringing and her family. Back in Boston, when Ivy bumps into Sylvia Speyer, Gideon’s sister, a reconnection with Gideon seems not only inevitable—it feels like fate.

Slowly, Ivy sinks her claws into Gideon and the entire Speyer clan by attending fancy dinners, and weekend getaways to the cape. But just as Ivy is about to have everything she’s ever wanted, a ghost from her past resurfaces, threatening the nearly perfect life she’s worked so hard to build.

Filled with surprising twists and a nuanced exploration of class and race, White Ivy is a glimpse into the dark side of a woman who yearns for success at any cost.

Harlequin Blog Tour for THE FORGOTTEN SISTER by Nicola Cormick

I so happy to be part of the blog tour for this engaging new novel that bridges between Tudor times and current day. The Fogotten Sister tells parallel stories that deftly weave together into one novel of intrigue, romance, and mystery.

BOOK SUMMARY: 

In the tradition of the spellbinding historical novels of Philippa Gregory and Kate Morton comes a stunning story based on a real-life Tudor mystery, of a curse that echoes through the centuries and shapes two women’s destinies…

1560: Amy Robsart is trapped in a loveless marriage to Robert Dudley, a member of the court of Queen Elizabeth I. Surrounded by enemies and with nowhere left to turn, Amy hatches a desperate scheme to escape—one with devastating consequences that will echo through the centuries…

Present Day: When Lizzie Kingdom is forced to withdraw from the public eye in a blaze of scandal, it seems her life is over. But she’s about to encounter a young man, Johnny Robsart, whose fate will interlace with hers in the most unexpected of ways. For Johnny is certain that Lizzie is linked to a terrible secret dating back to Tudor times. If Lizzie is brave enough to go in search of the truth, then what she discovers will change the course of their lives forever.

BIO: 

USA Today bestselling author Nicola Cornick has written over thirty historical romances for Harlequin and HQN Books. She has been nominated twice for a RWA RITA Award and twice for the UK RNA Award. She works as a historian and guide in a seventeenth century house. In 2006 she was awarded a Masters degree with distinction from Ruskin College, Oxford, where she wrote her dissertation on heroes.

This was a great read! I am a HUGE Tudor fan, and I thought it was quite clever the author blended and paralleled history with present. The mystery kept me guessing and the romance was fun as well.

A fun and satisfying read, especially if you a bit past-obsessed as I am!

Thank you for my review e-copy and making me part of the tour!

Here’s some links for more info:

SOCIAL:

Author Website: https://www.nicolacornick.co.uk/

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/NicolaCornick

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nicola.cornick/ 

Insta: https://www.instagram.com/nicolacornick/ 

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/63843.Nicola_Cornick 

BUY LINKS: (not affiliated with BBNB)

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Google

iBooks

Kobo

Blog Tour for: Prospects of a Woman by Wendy Voorsanger

My friends at PR by the Book invited me to join in the blog tour for this new historical fiction novel: Prospects of a Woman by Wendy Voorsanger, and I couldn’t say no. This story takes place during the Gold Rush in California, and you all know I love a story with strong women, historical context, and that takes place in my home state! And somehow I had missed (until I started reading) that her best friend is Louisa May Alcott! The protagonist is from Concord (my favorite place nearby) and writes letters to my favorite author (LMA). This book was made for me!

Here’s the overview:

The story of one woman’s passionate quest to carve out a place for herself in the liberal and bewildering society that emerged during the California gold rush frenzy

Prospects of a Woman

By Wendy Voorsanger

Elisabeth Parker comes to California from Massachusetts in 1849 with her new husband, Nate, to reunite with her father, who’s struck gold on the American River. She soon realizes her husband is not the man she thought—and neither is her father, who abandons them shortly after they arrive. As Nate struggles with his sexuality, Elisabeth is forced to confront her preconceived notions of family, love, and opportunity.

She finds comfort in corresponding with her childhood friend back home, writer Louisa May Alcott, and spending time in the company of a mysterious Californio Don. Armed with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s Self-Reliance, she sets out to determine her role in building the West, even as she comes to terms with the sacrifices she must make to achieve independence and happiness.

Prospects of a Woman is a fresh, authentic retelling of the West that explores women’s contributions in California and shatters the stereotypes of the typical hard-boiled novel of the West that has captured the American imagination for over a century.

About the Author:

Born and raised on the American River in Sacramento, Wendy Voorsanger has long held an intense interest in the historical women of California. She started her career in the Silicon Valley, writing about technology trends and innovations for newspapers, magazines, and Fortune 100 companies.

She currently manages SheIsCalifornia.net, a blog dedicated to chronicling the accomplishments of California women through history. Her debut historical novel, Prospects of a Woman will be published in October 2020 (She Writes Press); an excerpt entitled “Shifting in California” won 1st place in the California Writers Club short story contest and is published in the Fault Zone: Shift: An Anthology of Stories.

She earned a B.A. in Journalism from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a member of the Castro Writers’ Cooperative, the Lit Camp Advisory Board, and the San Mateo Public Library Literary Society.

In addition to being an author, Wendy has worked as a lifeguard, ski instructor, and radio disc jockey. Wendy lives in Northern California with her husband and two sons.

I truly loved this book! I loved the history. I loved the intrepidness of the main character, Elisabeth. I loved how it tied Concord, MA in to the storyline with my beloved Alcotts. It was so well-written and truly interesting with all the information on women’s roles and women’s rights back when California was a new state.

Highly recommended and destined to be one of my favorite reads of the year!

Thank you so much for making me part of the tour!

For My Ears: American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins and narrated by Yareli Arizmendi

(from Amazon):

También de este lado hay sueños. On this side, too, there are dreams.

Lydia Quixano Pérez lives in the Mexican city of Acapulco. She runs a bookstore. She has a son, Luca, the love of her life, and a wonderful husband who is a journalist. And while there are cracks beginning to show in Acapulco because of the drug cartels, her life is, by and large, fairly comfortable.

Even though she knows they’ll never sell, Lydia stocks some of her all-time favorite books in her store. And then one day a man enters the shop to browse and comes up to the register with a few books he would like to buy―two of them her favorites. Javier is erudite. He is charming. And, unbeknownst to Lydia, he is the jefe of the newest drug cartel that has gruesomely taken over the city. When Lydia’s husband’s tell-all profile of Javier is published, none of their lives will ever be the same.

Forced to flee, Lydia and eight-year-old Luca soon find themselves miles and worlds away from their comfortable middle-class existence. Instantly transformed into migrants, Lydia and Luca ride la bestia―trains that make their way north toward the United States, which is the only place Javier’s reach doesn’t extend. As they join the countless people trying to reach el norte, Lydia soon sees that everyone is running from something. But what exactly are they running to?

American Dirt will leave readers utterly changed. It is a literary achievement filled with poignancy, drama, and humanity on every page. It is one of the most important books for our times.

Already being hailed as “a Grapes of Wrath for our times” and “a new American classic,” Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt is a rare exploration into the inner hearts of people willing to sacrifice everything for a glimmer of hope.

I had heard a lot about this book, an Oprah pick so everybody was reading it, so at first I stayed away. However, I wanted something compelling for my commute this fall, so I purchased it through Audible.

I have to say – I was hooked into this story from the first page. Lydia and Luca’s story kept me coming back for more and I so wanted them to succeed. I did find the drug cartel story a little extreme – I’m no expert, but I have known numerous people who came from Mexico to California and the ones I knew (both legal and illegal) came for a better life and opportunities (as my own grandparents and great-grandparents came from Europe for the same reasons) and weren’t running because someone was trying to murder them.

Now I know that this novel has been controversial. The author is not from Mexico and this is not her story. Also, some people have pointed out that she is making a lot of money telling this story when there are many Latinx authors who could tell the story with authenticity.

Regardless, I have to say that if someone reads this book (or listens to it, as I did) and it causes them to have some empathy, some understanding, some compassion, then I think that’s a good thing.

At school, we often read La Linea by Ann Jamarillo with the middle school kids – a story of two siblings coming to the US with many similarities (except they aren’t running from a drug cartel). If you are looking for a book for younger readers to tell the story of why some people come to America for a better life, I recommend it.

This is a long listen. While I liked the narration, I didn’t love it. The Spanish words jumped out at me, reminding me of when I watch Giada on television and she mentions Italian dishes.

Have you read American Dirt? If so, let me know what you think.