The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg

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Having grown up in the Napa Valley, I was quite excited to find this novel on Net Galley. I love reading about the wives of famous authors (e.g. Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, etc.), and since I was familiar with Jack London’s home in Glen Ellen, I couldn’t wait to get this one!

Here’s the overview:

Description

A Note From the Publisher

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Before reading this novel, I knew next to nothing about Charmian London. What an interesting woman (who was very talented herself)! She was the glue that held Jack London together. London, probably not surprisingly, is portrayed as a struggling, somewhat tortured, weak in spirit but genius in mind, individual, and the story leads up to the end of his life. There were so many details in here that I did not know, and they are all based on fact and Rosenberg’s research. And let’s just say that I will never think about Houdini and his wife the same way again!
The descriptions of the Sonoma Valley are evocative of the real thing and the story flows easily, while building to a crescendo. I so enjoyed reading this novel and learning more about London’s life and his very interesting wife, Charmian.
Thank you for my review copy!

Saturday Snapshot: Authors at the Concord Bookshop!


 What a great evening at the Concord Bookshop this Thursday!  Sarah McCoy  and Erika Robuck were there to promote their new releases THE MAPMAKER’S CHILDREN and THE HOUSE OF HAWTHORNE. It was a fun “chatty” evening with lots of laughs and interesting info on their writing processes. I loved both these books (they came out 5/5) and reviewed them this week on my blog – here https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2015/05/02/review-the-mapmakers-children-by-sarah-mccoy/ and here https://drbethnolan.wordpress.com/2015/05/01/review-the-house-of-hawthorne-by-erika-robuck/

In the pictures Sarah and Erika chat with bookshop owner Dawn (on left) and also pose together (Sarah on left).

I have to say it — Sarah’s cowboy boots were the cutest thing ever!

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Melinda at http://www.westmetromommyreads.com. Check her site for participation details!

Review: THE DREAM LOVER by Elizabeth Berg

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I love Elizabeth Berg’s writing. I’ve read just about all her books (JOY SCHOOL, DREAM WHEN YOU’RE FEELING BLUE, HOME SAFE, THE YEAR OF PLEASURES, DURABLE GOODS, and more). She’s a fantastic writer, so I was quite excited when I saw she had written a new novel: a historical biography of the author George Sands.

Told in differing points in time, this novel traces George Sand’s life from her parents’ courtship to her rise as a respected author. However, most of the focus is on her love life – who she is in love with and what happens between them. And I should mention that George Sand had a lot of loves in her life. Jumping through time, we find George (whose real name was Aurore) struggling to be a writer, George meeting her husband,  George as a young girl, George and her lovers, George and her children, etc. until the story lines converge and the plot moves forward towards the end of the book.  I struggled to keep the chronology intact while I read. To be honest, I found the parts about her childhood and her family quite interesting. I found her laundry list of lovers rather boring. A large part of this novel is George hopping in and out of bed with just about anyone who catches her eye. For 368 pages, that was a lot of hopping.

At the end of this novel, which is beautifully written, I pondered the question: what was the author’s purpose here? I think I was expecting a biography. But the title really says it all, when you think about it: “The Dream Lover”. George Sand was constantly seeking to feel love and to be loved, in part because that was when her creativity blossomed. She couldn’t write when she felt stagnant. Loving and being loved opened her up to the creative spark that lived within her. She was a genius, and she struggled against the mores that held her, as a woman, firmly in place and stifled her. Constantly seeking for the perfect love brought George into her creative realm and made her the author she was.

Interesting – well-written – but one you may need to stick with until the end, I found THE DREAM LOVER an intriguing read.

Thank you, Net Galley and Random House, for my copy!

Book Expo America 2014 – Highlights for Me (Part 1)

So last week I travelled to NYC for the biggest publishing industry event: Book Expo America (BEA).

I have attended the bloggers’ conference at BEA twice before, but this year decided to attend the actual BEA conference as well. It was exciting, but huge and overwhelming at the same time. I had planned to attend several sessions, especially those highlighting what was new and forthcoming in different genres, but I actually spent all my time in the exhibit halls, gathering info and books or waiting in lines to get a signed book from an author.

If you enjoy collecting book bags then BEA is the place for you! I only take things I really want, and I still ended up with five book bags. This is a picture of my favorite one:

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I was SO very excited to see the South Dakota State Historical Press at BEA as they are publishing Laura Ingalls Wilder’s original manuscript entitled “Pioneer Girl”. This is the memoir from whence the Little House books came. Now if you know me, you know that when I’m not obsessing over Louisa May Alcott, I’m obsessing over Laura Ingalls Wilder. I’ve been WAITING for “Pioneer Girl” to publish and it’s been a loooong wait. The gentleman in the booth said they are looking at this year at holiday time now. We had a nice chat about how when it does publish, perhaps it will put to bed these notions that Laura was not the author of the Little House books, but Rose was. Anyway, I can’t wait to get it! And this bag is so beautiful, too – the picture is the forthcoming cover of “Pioneer Girl”. (If you want to read more about the Pioneer Girl project, check out this site: http://pioneergirlproject.org/.

I received MANY wonderful books at BEA, but here’s a picture of some of my faves:

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If you read me, you know I loved ORPHAN TRAIN and WE WERE LIARS. I was able to get paper copies of both signed by the authors – so exciting! I got a signed copy of MADAME TUSSAUD’S APPRENTICE, which I look forward to reading, too. My pick of the week, though, was CONVERSION. I really, really, REALLY want to read this book and have not been able to get it through my usual channels. Now I have a signed copy! And I will be starting it today.

The Wimpy Kid Planner was given out at the Children’s Author Breakfast, which I attended. Jeff Kinney was a great speaker – very funny as you would imagine. Mem Fox also spoke. I just love her (I’ve seen her before at Internat’l Reading). We got a copy of her BABY BEDTIME book. Carl Hiaasen spoke, and we received his new book, and the whole things was chaired by Jason Segel of Muppet Movie fame (he’s written a book for kids, too). It was a pretty fun time, though I had to hunt for two of the books as my table didn’t have them.

The day before I had attended the Adult Author Breakfast, which was chaired by Neil Patrick Harris. This was major for me as I’m a total theater nut. I was soooo excited to just be in the same room with NPH. His autobiography, which is based on a “choose your own adventure” – remember those?, is coming out in the fall. Angelica Huston spoke beautifully, too, about her life and her memoirs (which was apparently given to attendees, though my table didn’t have it — boo!). I have to say, though, that I really enjoyed Tavis Smiley, the NPR host and PBS show host, most of all as he talked about his life and Dr. Martin Luther King and his new book on him (which we received). Tavis was such an engaging speaker; I just loved him. I missed the last speaker, Lisa Scottoline.

As you can imagine, between the amazing books and authors and all the things to see in the exhibit halls, I was a bit overwhelmed in the two days I was at BEA!

My next post will follow up on the Bloggers’ Conference and what we discussed there, books we received, new friends, etc.

Book Expo America 2014

This week I’ve been in NYC to attend Book Expo America (BEA) and the Bloggers’ Con. Today is the last day of events, so soon I will have a full report on what I did, who I saw, and what great books I got.

Just a few highlights:

  • Four days in NYC – one of my favorite places!
  • Meeting lots of new blogging friends and seeing “old timers”!
  • Interesting sessions!
  • Networking!
  • Exhibits – Exhibits – Exhibits!
  • Lots of FREE books that I will be reading and reviewing and also maybe holding a few giveaways! (I managed to meet the authors of and get signed copies of both “Convergence” and “We Were Liars” – major squee! – sorry, but I have to keep those)
  • Wonderful authors that I got to meet in person!
  • Theater friends take note: Author Breakfast hosted by Neil Patrick Harris!! (that warrants two exclamation points)
  • Timing that coincided with “Manhattenhenge”!
  • All in all, a great few days!

Look to this space in the near future to see what I learned and what I came home with this year.

Also I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with Marybeth Zeman, author of TALES OF A JAILHOUSE LIBRARIAN, which I finished shortly before leaving for NYC. I’ll be reviewing her book and writing about our chat together.

Nothing like a few days away to rejuvenate this blogger!