Wednesday, July 21, 2021

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner


Last year's Big Summer was the first Jennifer Weiner book I'd read and I enjoyed it very much. That Summer has completely different characters, but Cape Cod plays a big role in this novel, too. 

Diana Scalzi is fifteen years old and has the world ahead of her the summer she spends on Cape Cod, nannying for her mom's friend Dr. Levy. She even meets a boy named Poe who just graduated from Emlen, a private boy's school that is the place to send the sons of the wealthy and powerful. They spend time on the beaches, getting to know one another. Diana is smitten, and believes Poe is, too. 

Until one night, at the end of the summer, when Poe gets her drunk, and rapes her. It changes Diana forever. Revenge comes back years later, just when she thinks she's able to let go and move on. However, Diana finds out revenge isn't that easy.

Diana "Daisy" Shoemaker is married to Hal, an older, handsome lawyer. Their daughter Beatrice is a teenager who recently was kicked out of Hal's alma mater, Emlen. Daisy is the woman who keeps the family running--always putting Hal's needs before her own. She keeps getting the wrong emails-emails for another Diana. Soon they form a friendship and begin meeting each other for lunch and dinner. Who is this new friend, and what does she want from Daisy?

Yes, you guessed it--Daisy's friend is none other than Diana Scalzi. Whatever Diana has planned, she never planned on actually liking Daisy and Beatrice. Does she continue on her path of revenge, or walk away before confronting Hal?

So I've got to admit I was not expecting a story about a teenage rape and the drive to avenge. I didn't really read any blurbs about the novel, so that was surprising. I much preferred Big Summer--it was a much more solid plot This plot seemed a bit thin and there wasn't much driving it forward. I was hoping Daisy would stand up to Hal in a really big way, but had to wait a long time for any kind of tough Daisy. 

It wasn't a bad story; I was just underwhelmed and had hoped for more. Warning there is a rape scene in this novel (it is not graphic) so if this is a sensitive subject for you this may be a tough read. 

I'll keep reading Jennifer Weiner and hope her next novel is a bit different than That Summer. 

Rating: 3/6 for a novel about a woman who is haunted by her tragic past and cannot move forward until she confronts her rapist. In doing so, she finds innocent casualties in her drive for revenge. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Saturday, July 17, 2021

My Lemon Grove Summer by Jo Thomas


Click here to order from Amazon
This was a fun, quick read. Jo Thomas is an English author who reminds me of Katie Fforde novels--contemporary women's fiction with a dash of romance and usually featuring a woman in her 30's-40's.

This novel takes place in Sicily, Italy and involves lemons--which I adore so much. I love everything lemon. Lennie and Zelda are friends who have come to the conclusion that life in England is not going to get better. Neither of them are happy with their humdrum lives. Lennie tells Zelda about an opportunity to move to Italy and live in a small town where they will pay for you to stay and help grow the community. Sounds like a win-win, right? And that pesky part about not finding love? 

Lennie and Zelda made a pact years ago that if they reached age forty without finding true love, they would get married. What could possibly go wrong with marrying your best friend?

Off they go to Italy, and meet a few other people who have also taken the leap and moved in the hope of starting fresh. Only problem is the town folks don't want outsiders moving in, and the houses they were promised are falling down disasters. Someone in the village of Citta d'Ora is pulling all the strings to push Lennie, Zelda, and their new friends out. 

There's also the local legend that says if a marriage doesn't happen in the village every ten years, Etna (volcano!) will show it's displeasure. And wouldn't you know, but that volcano is doing some rumbling...will Lennie and Zelda say "I do", even though it's quite clear they are firmly in the friend zone? Especially when Zelda sees Luca and feels the zip of instant connection...what's a woman to do?

This was a fun, quick read that took me away to Italy. Lemons abound in this novel, and I couldn't help but smell them the whole time I was reading this novel. There are even recipes in the back of the book for lemon-flavored treats. My only annoyance was with Zelda continually talking herself into keeping her promise to Lennie even when it was so very obvious they were not attracted to each other. 

I'll be reading more of Jo Thomas--she's an entertaining writer; romance is part of the story, but it's pretty clean--lots of longing looks and maybe a kiss or two.This novel was all about being true to yourself, taking chances, and using your talents to carve out a new life. 

Rating: 3/6 for a lovely novel set in Sicily, full of lemon groves and a sad, dying town that just needs some loving care to come back to life. Characters are enjoyable and just enough side stories to keep it all interesting and moving towards a satisfying conclusion. 

Available in ebook and paperback. 

Thursday, July 15, 2021

Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner


Click here to purchase from Amazon
This memoir has gotten a lot of buzz in the book industry the past few months, but that didn't make me want to read it. I happened to watch CBS' Sunday morning news and they interviewed Michelle Zauner. That did the trick. Then I had to read it, and luckily it was 50% off at B&N so I snagged it. 

Michelle's mother is Korean, and Michelle's father is white. She grew up feeling a bit lost in between, but absolutely loved all of the Korean foods, stories, and family history her mother shared with her. Very rocky teen years full of rebellion and depression created a wedge between Michelle and her mother that was hard to overcome. 

The news that her mother had cancer rocked Michelle's world, and she promptly packed her bags and flew back to Eugene, Oregon to help care for her during treatment. 

This memoir is about Michelle's grief, and how she climbed out of it with the help of her boyfriend Peter, her Korean family, and her memories of her mother. So many regrets, to be sure. But also gratitude for all her mother taught her about her Korean roots, resilience, and the importance of family-whether it's the one you are born into, or the one you make. 

I absolutely loved all of the Korean food descriptions and how many memories came from those special dishes. Michelle's grief is heartbreaking and anyone who has gone through losing a parent understands completely her highs and lows. 

Michelle Zauner is also well known for her musical abilities--she's the lead singer in the band Japanese Breakfast, which is getting a lot of buzz, too. 

I found this a thoughtful and touching memoir from a woman who takes ownership  for her part in a loving but oftentimes difficult mother-daughter relationship. 

Rating: 4/6 for a memoir about loving and losing a parent, and the gifts they leave behind. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. Michelle's band Japanese Breakfast has albums available on iTunes, Amazon, and other music stores.

Thursday, July 8, 2021

The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict & Victoria Christopher Murray


Click here to buy from Amazon
I picked this book up not knowing a whole lot about the subject matter and under a deadline to read it in ten days before returning it to the library. Add in a very busy  July 4th weekend and I only had a few days to read it.  I wasn't sure I'd make it, but happily the story grabbed my attention and I've spent the last few nights reading about an amazing librarian: Belle da Costa Greene.  

Belle became the personal librarian of JP Morgan in 1906. JP Morgan had built an impressive private library to house his already impressive collection of manuscripts and rare books. Belle was hired to organize and develop his collection. What JP and everyone around Belle didn't know was that Belle was an African American woman who passed as white. Her secret would drive her career and personal choices for the rest of her life. 

Belle's family history was definitely one that kept her conflicted about her choice to follow her mother's wish to pass as white in a city and country where African Americans were being lynched, denied rights, and only hired for menial, low paying jobs. Belle's job had her dining with the Vanderbilts, attending the opera with well known New York socialites, and most importantly, garnering JP Morgan's admiration and trust. Belle traveled to Europe to spend millions of JP's money at auctions, all the while building his private collection into one that rivaled most museums. 

Belle was an amazing woman--brilliant, hard working, and self-taught. She gave up a lot to keep her secret, and her place as librarian. I was curious enough to google her, and there's a lot out there about her. The Morgan Library and Museum will have a exhibition on Belle in 2024.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel about a woman who blazed a trail during a time when women were struggling to be heard and respected. She was the ultimate career woman and remarkable for her time. 

Both authors have notes in the back of the book detailing their experience writing this novel during the 2020 Pandemic. This would make an interesting discussion for a book club. I'd like to read more about Belle. 

Rating: 4/6 for a fascinating novel about JP Morgan's personal librarian. She was an incredibly smart, talented woman who defied societal norms while creating one of the most important collections of manuscripts, art, and books in the United States. Anyone with a love of libraries, art, or books will find this novel hard to put down. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

July is Starting Off With a Bang! Summer Reads Continued...

 I don't know about all of you, but I'm finding the re-entry into society to be a bit exhausting. While I'm enjoying seeing people again, I realize I got used to my very small circle of peeps, and just going home from work most nights. I'm squeezing my reading in here and there (lunch is always a good time to read) and making a dent in my stack at home. When I check a "quick-pick" out from the library it makes me either read it right away or take it back. Quick-picks are books that only check out for ten days instead of the usual twenty-one and you can't renew them. So you either read it quickly or not. It's a way to get books into people's hands when other copies may have a long hold list. 

July is already here and I've got family over this weekend for July 4th. That means a lot of yard and house tidying up! I'm happy to say I've taken July 5th off of work so I can recover from a weekend full of people and places. 

Here's what I'm reading in July- you guessed it, I'm firmly in summer fun reading mode:

Summer in Italy. What's not to love?

Reading this on my Nook. A woman ditches her bad marriage and stays in a small town in France to start her life all over. Can she make a new family out of strangers?

I've been intrigued by this memoir and watched a story about the author on a Sunday morning news show. A young woman mourns her mother in a most unusual place. 

Historical novel about a young black woman who passes as white in 1905 New York City. She becomes the personal librarian of JP Morgan.

I discovered Jennifer Weiner last summer and couldn't resist this tale of two strangers brought together by a mistaken email. Seems life isn't so random after all. 

A young black woman thinks a new employee is going to be her ally, but oh, she's wrong...a look at the white world of publishing houses.

Happy July! Watch for reviews coming soon.

The Bookalicious Babe

Sunday, June 27, 2021

Blush by Jamie Brenner


Click here to purchase from Amazon
I spotted this novel a few months ago as I was ordering books for my library and thought "Hmmm" this may be an interesting read. 

I was correct.

 I will confess to drinking a glass of wine Friday night as I was reading the last 50 pages, but it wasn't a rose. I kid you not, if you're not a wine drinker, this novel will certainly tempt you to try a few. If you are a wine drinker, just settle back, pop the cork, and pour yourself a glass while you enjoy this novel about a family winery, 80's glam novels, and cheese. Yes, cheese. You'll want some cheese and crackers, too. 

The Hollander Estates Winery has been a hot spot for parties, day trips, and a big tourist attraction on the North Fork of Long Island for decades. What were once potato fields is now a gorgeous winery, complete with an equally gorgeous home to the Hollander duo of Leonard and Vivian. Newly married, the couple created the winery through years of hard work and effort. Their son Asher--who does not want to work at the winery, helps runs it. Their daughter Leah Hollander Bailey runs a successful cheese shop in New York City. Leah was, sadly, not given the chance to help run the winery with her father. He is not about to have a woman make the big decisions. Leah's cheese shop is not her passion and now her lease is up and she's got to make a decision to find another location or close shop. 

Leah, Steve (her husband), and Sadie her college age daughter arrive at the winery for a week of rest and relaxation. Instead, they hear the news that Leonard must sell the winery--the whole kit and caboodle, due to big losses. Vivian is beyond bereft--she had no idea. Again, Leonard not sharing. Leah wants to do whatever she can to save the winery, even if it means angering her father by pushing the idea of creating a Hollander Rose--the one thing Leonard refuses to do. 

Oh, there's a whole lot going on here! Sadie is in a college thesis crisis; Steve wants to move the cheese shop and is not happy Leah keeps putting off returning to NYC; Vivian is crushed she will lose her home. Asher just doesn't seem to care, and his much younger girlfriend rubs Vivian the wrong way. 

Enter Jackie Collins, Judith Krantz, and a few other big authors from the 1980's when glamorous women's fiction was all the rage. Sadie begins reading it, Leah follows (remembering how she would sneak the books as a kid), and some of that magic 80's tough heroine fiction rubs off. The show isn't over, not by a long shot. 

I so enjoyed this novel that I'm probably going to read Jamie Brenner's other novels, too. I didn't read Jackie Collins or Judith Krantz back in my teen years, but I was certainly aware of them--and can't forget those glam covers, either. It's pretty interesting how the characters they wrote about influence these women of 2021. Some call it trash fiction, but really, if it speaks to you, entertains, and years later still makes an impact, why would you call it trash? Sounds like darn good storytelling to me. 

This would make a great book club choice--head out to a winery with your friends to sip, nibble, and discuss. There is a lot to talk about! Probably enough for at least one bottle of wine...

Rating: 4/6 for a swiftly moving family novel with plenty of strong women who are just not going to take being in the back seat anymore. Plenty of information about how a winery operates, the magic of growing grapes, and oh, plenty of drama, too. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

How Lucky by Will Leitch


Click here to purchase from Amazon
I saw this last month in my BOTM selections and decided to take a chance. After finishing it, I think this is a novel that is a "word of mouth" kind of novel. It's touching, funny, suspenseful, and has an incredible main character. 

Daniel is twenty-six and lives by himself in Athens, Georgia. He is wheelchair bound with SMA (spinal muscular atrophy); a degenerative neuromuscular disorder. It will kill him at a young age. The fact that he's made it to twenty-six is a testament to his strength, support, and just good luck. 

Daniels spends his days as an online customer service rep for a regional airline. He's limited to just using his left hand to work his iPad, but he makes it work and has adapted as he has slowly lost his ability to speak and the use of his right hand and arms. He's got his friend Travis who visits weekly and helps take care of him and treats him as a normal person; Marjani is his caregiver who comes every morning to get him dressed, fed, and in his chair. He has two helpers who come in the middle of the night to turn him in his bed so he doesn't choke. 

I know. It sounds horrible. But Daniel is not a pity party at all. He's always looking on the bright side, and grateful for everyday he wakes up. 

One morning, Daniel is sitting on his front porch, and observes a young Chinese college student walking along the street. She's been regularly doing this, and Daniel knows her schedule. This one day, a car approaches and stops. She bends down, smiles, then gets in the car. Strange, thought Daniel. 

He was right. Ai-Chin has disappeared, and across the college campus, alarms are raised and search parties are formed. A hotline is set up with the police. No one knows what happened. Except Daniel. 

He enlists Travis' help, but the police are slow to respond, and just being in Daniel's company makes them very uncomfortable. What could Daniel possibly know to help them? 

Daniel persists and posts online--and he gets a response that sends this tale off in another direction. Is he playing with fire? Is he in danger?

The kidnapping is just part of the story. Daniel's life and how he lives it is another. He always says he is lucky. Lucky to have lived. He also says he is lucky because he knows he'll die before he will have to experience losing loved ones, and he won't have to grieve. He'll go first.  Oh, that got me in the heart. He's a funny, thoughtful, smart character. 

I'd recommend this novel for anyone who is looking for disability focused characters and plot. It's also just a good story; one that will keep you engaged as Daniel races to help find Ai-Chin, and puts himself in danger doing so. He's no scaredy cat! 

Rating: 5/6 for a strong central character who sees no limits in his life; a twist at the end, and a loveable cast of characters. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Last Summer at the Golden Hotel by Elyssa Friedland

Click here to purchase
    Oh, I've been in a bit of a reading slump the past few weeks. I have oodles of books here at home, but I just can't seem to sit still long enough to make a dent in any of them. So frustrating! 

I picked this novel from June's BOTM choices because it looked fun. You know sometimes you get in a slump and keep reading the same type of book over and over, and you just don't realize it. Well, that was me. Reading Last Summer at the Golden Hotel kicked me out of my routine and it was the perfect summer book for me. 

Nostalgia is HUGE in this novel about two families: the Goldmans and the Weingolds. Benny and Louise Goldman, and Amos and Fanny Weingold owned the famous Golden Hotel in the Catskills of New York State. For sixty years, it was a classic summer getaway for Jewish families living in the big city. A week or two spent at the Golden Hotel meant plenty of time for swimming, dancing, endless food, class A entertainment, and plenty of gossip. The Golden was a family tradition for thousands of people over the decades-something very special. 

Now, however, the Catskills are no longer a big draw, and the Golden Hotel is the last remaining resort. Others went out of business or were bought out and turned into casinos or golf courses. The Golden is teetering on the brink of closing. Guest counts are way down; the place needs serious renovation, and now a company wants to buy it and turn it into a casino. Brian Weingold has struggled to keep it afloat, but now must call in both families to spend one last week at the Golden and decide if they want to keep it or sell it. Amos and Fanny, and Louise arrive. Sadly, Benny died a few years before. Louise's daughter Aimee arrives with two of her adult children. Her husband, a doctor, is in serious trouble with the law, and Aimee came to the Golden to get away and figure out what to do with her troubled marriage. Amos and Fanny's grandchildren Phoebe and Michael arrive as well. Phoebe is an Instagram influencer, and Michael has a secret he is afraid to share with his family. Peter, Brian's twin, stayed home with his wife. Peter is a super successful lawyer who is only concerned about making money. 

Aimee, Brian, and Peter grew up at the Golden. They have so many memories, just being there brings back so many wonderful memories. It may be run down, but the Golden still has some magic. Will the family decide to sell or to keep it, and try to bring it back to life? Over the course of one week, you'll get to know both families and understand the dynamics between the two. The staff who work at the Golden are a treat, and you can't turn a page without grinning. This novel is truly a nostalgic read--even for those of us who have never been to the Catskills. 

I so enjoyed reading this book. It was delightful, even if a bit sad in parts. If anything, it is a gentle reminder of days gone by full of happy memories and people we love who have passed on. It's also a reminder that in our busy world, sometimes the best vacation is to unplug and return to simple pleasures in life, spent with the people who matter the most to us. 

Rating: 5/6 for an absolutely satisfying read about days gone by, the intrusion of today's high speed world, and reconnecting to family and what is important. A part of Americana that has slowly faded away, but remains a golden memory. 

Available in paperback, ebook, and audio.

Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse G. Sutanto


Click here to buy from Amazon
Well, i spent some time this weekend creating an impromptu video where I talked about a whole lot (no shelf control, folks) of books I wanted to read for the summer. However, it was too darn long to load into a post and I finally gave up posting it on Facebook after what felt like a zillion tries. 

So, I'm a bit late posting and I'm going to try another, shorter video and get that up Friday. 

Meanwhile, I have been reading a few books, and I finally finished this novel that's a bit romance, a bit screwball comedy, and well, a slight murder mystery. 

Meddelin Chan has three aunts and a mom who run a successful wedding company. They do it all: flowers, cake, makeup & hair, and Meddy is the photographer. Their biggest wedding is coming up: two wealthy families joining together on a posh island hotel resort. It's huge for Meddy and her family, and they can't screw it up. 

Meddy's mother sets her up on a blind date, and things go terribly, terribly wrong. As in dead body wrong the morning they are to leave for the wedding. What's a girl to do? Call her aunts! And what's wonderful about Meddy's aunts and her mom is that they believe her without question, and throw themselves into solving the pickle Meddy has created (accidentally). 

At the hotel resort, Meddy runs into Nathan, now part-owner of the luxury hotel. He is Meddy's true love, and she broke up with him in college because she couldn't leave her family in California. The heat is still there between the two, and Nathan makes it clear he's missed Meddy and still has feelings for her. Now, to just explain about the dead body in the cooler...

It really is a screwball comedy in that we have a group of women preparing for a major wedding, dragging a cooler around with a body in it-trying to hide it but constantly being interrupted and having to change course. Toss in a developing second plot involving the maid of honor, theft, and a whole fleet of really, really hungover groomsmen, and this wedding will take a miracle to pull off! 

I wasn't sure what to expect and actually enjoyed this novel very much. I wouldn't say it's a mystery, nor a straight romance, either. Kind of a little bit of both, with plenty of Chinese-Indonesian culture and family dynamics. Will Meddy have a happy ending? Happy news! This novel has been optioned for a Netflix movie!

Rating: 3/6 for a fun read about a wedding where everything that can go wrong, goes wrong-and how having a meddling ma in your romantic life can lead to a really, really bad blind date. Enjoyable, full of loveable characters and a demonstration of what families will do for each other in times of crisis. 

Available in hardcover, trade paperback, audio, and ebook. 

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

The Break-Up Book Club by Wendy Wax

Click here to purchase from Amazon

I had to start my summer reading in May when I purchased this novel and couldn't be disciplined enough to wait for June. 

I've read a number of Wendy Wax novels and am never disappointed. Her latest, The Break-Up Book Club was the perfect read to finish up on a holiday weekend and darn it all, gave me a few book recommendations, too. 

There are quite a few characters telling their stories in alternating chapters: Jazmine, Judith, Erin, and Sara are the main characters. There's also Dorothy and Meena, and Annell.  It may seem like a lot of characters to keep straight, but it's really pretty easy. Annell owns the Between the Covers bookstore where their monthly book club meets. It sounds like a dream place (for me, it certainly is!) and the book club sounds pretty wonderful, too. It is the landing space for all of these women who live around Atlanta, Georgia and at first don't have much in common except this book shop and book club. However, friendships form and the book club becomes a support group, too--in the best possible way. 

Jazmine is a sports agent, and wildly successful, too. Judith is in a long marriage and has found out her husband is bored but sticking with the marriage because it's comfortable. Erin is engaged to her childhood sweetheart, who has been signed to the Atlanta Braves baseball team and is having second thoughts about marriage to Erin. 

Sara, oh, poor Sara. She's married, but her husband has taken an out of town job that keeps him away for weeks at a time. His mother Dorothy lives with Sara after having surgery. They have a frosty relationship. When Sara finds out the truth about her husband, it flips her life in ways she never imagined. And it changes her relationship with Dorothy, too. 

Each chapter is told in the alternating voices of Jazmine, Erin, Sara, and Judith. Over the course of many months, the women all experience highs and lows as their lives change and they empower themselves to take control of their happiness. There are some sad moments, but a whole lot of happy moments, too. The monthly book club meetings keep everyone connected and the friendships formed are what help each women navigate big life changes. 

If you're like me, you'll also take note of the books they read and add a few to your TBR list. I've been part of book clubs for over 20 years, and it's always fun to pick out reads and get together to discuss. And yes, books help bring people together. That's just part of their magic. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this read and just as a warning if you read the author note at the beginning you may get a little weepy. My heart goes out to Wendy Wax. Bless her. 

Add this to your summer read list! I find novels about books, libraries, bookstores and book clubs irresistible. I'd love to craft a post about all the titles I've read that fit this particular sub-genre. Add that to my summer to-do list!

Rating: 4/6 for an enjoyable novel about friendship, a book club, and women coming into their own power. I gulped it down! 

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

The Music of Bees by Eileen Garvin


Click here to order from Amazon
I love novels about bees. Of course, when I'm outside and a bee is around, I'm always nervous I'll be stung! However, I'm on Team Bee and will grow as many flowers as I can for them to thrive and survive. 

This book had me up and down a few times. It started slow--or maybe it was me reading other books and picking this one up every once in awhile and reading a few pages. I was having a hard time connecting, and then when I properly dove in and read a chunk, I thought "hmmm, okay this is interesting". 

Then I hit a high note on my reading, and it all clicked in and I absolutely loved it. Every bit of it. Bees for the win!

This is a novel about three people who are all a bit lost, and beekeeping brings them together to heal. Alice, Jake, and Harry would never have known each other even though they all lived in the same smallish town of Hood River, Oregon. A place of stunning beauty, where nature is overwhelmingly present. 

Jake is nineteen, and stuck at his parent's home after becoming paralyzed in a stupid accident his senior year. His father is a horrible jackass, and his mother quietly goes about her business. Jake is lost. He spends his days in his wheelchair, fixing his mohawk and pushing his wheelchair down roads to get away from the empty house. He feels his life is over. 

Alice is a recent widow who is overwhelmed by her grief. So much so that she goes out of her way to interact with as few people as possible. She lives outside of town on a small acreage and keeps bees. 

Harry, oh, poor Harry. He's wandered around the country and is now staying at his great Uncle's run down mobile home out in the woods. He has no job and walks everywhere. He struggles to make sense of where life has led him and choices he's made. 

Everything is set in motion one night as Alice is driving back from Portland after picking up her order of bees to start her season of beekeeping. She swerves to avoid hitting Jake, who is wheeling along on the side of the road. The two meet, and circumstances lead to Jake staying at Alice's house to help her with the bees. And that is where the story kicks in and Jake blossoms. 

Harry sees an ad in the local job listings for part-time work and applies. That job is at Alice's place, doing light construction and clean up. 

The relationship between the three starts off a bit slow, but eventually they are a powerhouse together--Jake finds his purpose in beekeeping, and has an almost mystical ability to understand the bees. Harry and Jake become friends and help each other be brave. Alice slowly begins to put aside her grief and regrets. A pesticide company that is known to decimate bee populations has come to town, and a fight is lit in Alice. She finds her purpose, too. 

This was a novel that surprised me and left me with so many feelings at the end! I felt like I'd been on a journey with these characters and was just thrilled at their healing and moving forward. It was a joy to finish this book. Not at all what I expected--I guess I thought it would be a lighter story and a fun read. It wasn't dark, but definitely touched on dark issues: suicidal thoughts, devastating grief, an abusive parent, overcoming physical limitations, mental health. However, these issues were presented in a thoughtful way that added to the story and understanding characters. 

The bees!! I learned a lot about bees, too. They are amazing, and yes, magical. You'll understand the music of the bees.

Rating: 5/6 for a wonderfully uplifting novel about the healing power of nature and our deep connection to all things wild and wonderful. A moving story of unlikely friendships and connections, and the unlimited potential in all of us. 

Available in hardcover ebook, and audio.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Libertie by Kaitlyn Greenidge


Click here to order from Amazon
I've got mixed feelings about Libertie. I was excited to read it and was looking for a good historical novel. It delivered in some ways, and fell flat in others. 

Libertie is about a young woman who is the daughter of a light skinned female doctor living near New York City in the mid-late 19th century. Libertie's mother often passes for white, but Libertie, on the other hand, is very dark-so much so that people comment on her skin often. Her mother's deepest wish is to have Libertie become a doctor and join in her practice. Libertie, for a long time, also believes in this dream, but as she grows older, her enthusiasm fades. 

Libertie witnesses her mother bring a man back to life after he's escape slavery by being drugged and put in a coffin. That episode leaves Ben Daisy mentally fragile, as does his inability to come to peace with his escape from slavery. 

Libertie sees first hand her mother's attempts to cure Ben--and they all fail. It sets in motion Libertie's growing awareness of her mother as a human capable of failure. Once her mother accepts white female patients, Libertie's views take another blow. These patients refuse to have Libertie touch them, and her mother doesn't stand up for her. Libertie is sent away to college to become a doctor, and there is where she finally realizes she does not want to follow in her mother's footsteps. 

This is where the book takes a shift. Libertie's college experience involves meeting The Graces, two young women who sing. Libertie befriends them, and decides music is her love, not medicine. Yet she's afraid to confess to her mother, and this leads to a big break between mother and daughter, and a life changing course for Libertie. 

This is a novel that is about relationships and the drive for freedom: freedom from slavery, freedom from society, freedom to be who you want to be. Libertie struggles to figure out not only who she wants to be, but where she wants to be. How much does the color of her skin define her choices? Will she ever be free from her mother's expectations and disappointments?

I found the first half of the novel very interesting and I dove right in; however the second half slowed considerably and took kind of a strange turn into Haiti. I got a little lost and it kind of dragged for me. But, I was still invested in Libertie's story, and while the ending may not be satisfactory for some readers, I thought it left  readers with the opportunity to finish Libertie's story for themselves. 

If you're looking for a novel big on self-reflection, relationships, and the black experience in post-Civil War America, this is for you. It is a coming of age story that will resonate with readers. 

Rating: 3/6 for a novel that examines the many ways women choose to be free. Mother-daughter relationships, marital relationships, expectations gone awry, and living with choices. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Maggie Finds Her Muse by Dee Ernst


Click here to purchase from Amazon
After reading We Begin at the End I had to reach for something a little lighter to bring me out of my reading funk (funk as in dwelling on a haunting read). I also had my second vaccine shot, and was feeling a bit ick on Saturday. Maggie Finds Her Muse was the perfect antidote for both. 

Maggie is a successful romance novelist who is having trouble finishing her third in a trilogy novel and her deadline is looming. She just can't seem to find the inspiration to get writing. When her agent Lee suggest she come to Paris with Lee and his partner, she jumps at the chance. Maggie's broken up with her live in boyfriend--after he confesses her career is just not important to him, but he's willing to continue living in her cool condo and have her pay all the bills. A successful man, he's quite simply a jerk when it comes to his relationship with Maggie. 

Maggie's on the cusp of breakout success, if she can finish this novel. A potential cable deal is in the works, too, and if that happens, she can finally write full-time and buy her dream beach house. 

Off to Paris, Maggie falls deeply in love with the famous city immediately. Staying in Lee's apartment with Solange, Lee's housekeeper, she's feeling energized. And who is that man she finds lounging in the bath? Why it's Solange's son, Max. A French banker, he's stopped by to visit his mother before flying off on business. 

Maggie's daughter is living in France, and to Maggie's surprise, her ex-husband Alan has also arrived in France on a post-retirement trip. What started as a work trip is slowly becoming more of a vacation. Maggie finds her muse in Max. He's one good looking man, and they get along perfectly well. Writer's block no more! Maggie is churning out pages of her manuscript, all driven by Max's presence. It's some of her best work, for sure. Maggie looks to finish her manuscript before the deadline!

Now if only she can keep her hands off Max...

This was such a fun novel. It was refreshing to read about a romance between two people in their late 40's--still looking for love, but knowing now just what they wanted. Of course their love story doesn't run smoothly--there are some obstacles in the way-but happily ever after always comes after a bit of work. 

Scenes around Paris are divine; food, of course, is amazing. Maggie is a very likable character, as are all of the characters. You'll fly through this novel with a smile on your face. Pack it into your beach tote. 

Rating: 4/6 for a delightful armchair trip to Paris featuring a woman who knows what she wants and won't compromise, a charmingly stinky dog, and one hot Frenchman. Sometimes love arrives when you least expect it! 

Available in paperback, audio, and ebook. 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker


Click here to buy from Amazon
Well this book took me a bit to get through to the end. Mostly because it broke my heart over and over and I had to read it in bits and pieces. 

I've heard so much about this book--tons of rave reviews, and even a few friends telling me about it. So I bought it last month and have been reading it since May 1st. Some books I can sail through; others take me a bit. This was a "take me a bit" kind of book. It's heavy. It's not a happy ever after. And even for the first 100 pages, I was wondering if I'd made a mistake and it wasn't a book for me. 

But I kept with it, and wow, what a powerful, haunting novel. It's a bit of a thriller, murder mystery, and a family drama all rolled into one. It reminded me of Jane Harper's novels-the desolate feeling I get when I read them. 

In a nutshell: Duchess and Robin Radley are two young kids who live with their mother, Star, in the small town of Cape Haven, California. They are dirt poor. Walker is the town Chief of Police, and he's a childhood friend of Star. He watches over her and the kids and tries to ease their burden as best he can. Vincent is, after 30 years, being released from prison for the murder of Star's younger sister, Sissy. He struck her with his car and drove off, unaware he'd killed Sissy. Vincent was only fifteen at the time. Now he's 45 and being released from prison, back to the town where he grew up. Star, Vincent, and Walker were fast friends and had a special bond. 

Duchess is a fierce 13 year old--she's sassy as hell, tough as nails, and protective of her mom and brother. But she is only a child, and it's exhausting to read about Duchess constantly working to keep Robin cared for, and food on the table. 

Vincent returns home, and shortly thereafter, tragedy strikes again with devastating shockwaves felt by Walker, Duchess, and Vincent. Nothing but tragedy in this novel, over and over. Just when you get slightly comfortable that Duchess will find some peace, wham! fate strikes. 

I can't tell you anymore. You'll have to read it yourself. It was such a good story; it will remain with me for a long time. I don't even know what else to say. Read it, if you can!

Rating: 5/6 for a haunting exploration of family, actions and consequences, love, and paying for past sins. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Friday, May 7, 2021

The Siren by Katherine St. John

Click here to order from Amazon
I looked at Katherine St. John's previous summer thriller The Lion's Den but I just never had my interest peaked enough to grab it and read it. Now that I've devoured her second novel, The Siren, I'm going to have to go back and read it. This is a novel that surprised me completely.

The cover certainly gives it a certain, shall we say, Jackie Collins vibe? So I was expecting something frothy and over the top. Instead, I got a novel about the underside of fame and a whole lot of surprises, all taking place on a jewel of a tropical island. 

Hollywood has come to the island of St. Genesius to film The Siren, a thriller of a movie that reunites ex-spouses Cole Power and Stella Rivers. Cole is a HUGE Hollywood power star, while Stella is seen as a has-been. A child star who became famous for her short marriage to Cole and her public meltdowns after, Stella is desperate for a job. 

Cole's son Jackson is the director of the film, but Cole holds the purse strings. Also on the island is Taylor, the producer, and Felicity Fox, Stella's new assistant. Each woman has a reason why this film is so very important to them, and as everyone gathers, you start to uncover the motives behind each of them. 

Let's make it clear: Cole is a major league asshole. A handsome leading man who has gotten away with an awful lot of awful things, he owns the island and knows just how to manipulate Stella and Taylor. 

As filming begins, you get to know each of the ladies, and you slowly start to put the pieces together. As a hurricane threatens to disrupt filming, things really start to heat up, and wow! the action really kicks in. I found myself so immersed in the last 1/4 of the book that I completely lost track of time and realized it was much later than I thought when I finished the book. It's definitely one of those "What?! What?!" kind of books--I was talking to myself a lot! 

I've been reading a lot of what could be termed "domestic thrillers" but this is definitely not a domestic thriller. I'm not sure what exactly I'd call it. Dang it was good! I'd take this on a vacation without hesitation. And now I'm heading to the bookstore to buy her first novel. There is drug use and rape (off scene) in the novel, so be aware of that if you are sensitive to those topics. 

This is definitely one of those books that I had no idea what to expect and was blown away by it and so surprised in a very good way. A huge thanks to Grand Central Publishing for sending me an ARC. This novel just was released in hardcover on May 4th, so run out and grab it!

Rating: 5/6 for a novel about Hollywood, dirty secrets, and a reckoning that is long overdue. In a bigger sense, it's also about hiding your true self, the evils of social media, and survival. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Monday, May 3, 2021

Finding Freedom: A Cook's Story; Remaking a Life from Scratch by Erin French


Click here to Order from Amazon
I'll admit I'm a little bit obsessed with Erin French and The Lost Kitchen. I first saw the show streaming on Discovery Plus but didn't pay any attention to it; then somehow I read a review of it and decided it might be worth checking out. 

Well I checked out the show, alright, and binged watched all eight episodes over a few weekends (yes, that is binge-watching in my world). I was captivated by Erin's Lost Kitchen and her life in Maine. So of course I quickly found out she had a memoir coming out in April, and I checked it out of the library. 

This woman has been through some stuff. BIG stuff. She's a prime example of what a parent does or does not do sticking with their child through adulthood. A father who showed no affection, no support. A mother whom she loved (and still does!), but who didn't stand up to her husband. Those two examples in her childhood lead her down a really dark path as a young woman, and it took a lot of guts and grit to get out of that hole. 

I don't want to talk too much about Erin's life struggles, because I think they are worth you reading about them, and seeing how easy it is to slip down into a deep, dark place. What I want to concentrate on is Erin's love of food. Her absolute adoration of it, and her desire to provide meaningful meals to people. Meals remembered years later for the emotional gift those meals gave to people. 

Erin is not a classically trained chef. She never went to school for cooking; she learned working in her father's diner, and also learned by instinct. She appreciates the bounty that surrounds her in Maine, and works with local farmers to bring the best of the best to her customers. What began as a dream has blossomed into The Lost Kitchen, a special place in an old mill in the very small town of Freedom, Maine. 

What makes The Lost Kitchen unique is that it is only open 4 nights a week, May through September. One sitting, one unforgettable meal. You can't make a reservation; hopeful diners send postcards in April, hoping to be picked to dine at The Lost Kitchen that season. Tens of thousands of postcards flood little Freedom, Maine each year, and what began as a small supper club for friends and family has become something unique, spectacular, and deeply personal to Erin and her crew. 

I actually got a bit sad while watching her show, realizing that I will probably never have the chance to dine at The Lost Kitchen. It's an experience people wait years for, and when they finally arrive, they know it's something unforgettable. The food, oh the food. Erin has a way with cooking and writing about food that will make your mouth water. Food rooted in family, childhood memories, and most of all, feelings. Some people have a gift, and Erin's gift is her magical way with food. There's nothing a cooking school could ever teach her that she doesn't already instinctually know.

I'll just say for those who may be sensitive to certain life experiences, this memoir contains prescription drug abuse, alcoholism, custody battles, divorce, and suicidal thoughts. But to read Erin's journey, warts and all, is uplifting and worth the read. 

I enjoy food memoirs so much but this one was extra special. Bravo Erin for sticking to your dreams and fighting you way through all the crap to find your bliss. 

Rating: 5/6 for a memoir about a woman's journey from a troubled past to a future of fulfillment and happiness with cooking. A powerful story! 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio.


Saturday, May 1, 2021

May Reads: So Hard to Choose, So I Picked Too Many!

 I'm always happy at the end of the month, because I get to craft my next month's reading list. It's usually swirling around in my head for at least a week before, but when I sit down to write my blog post, something always pops in that I forgot about. 

May is going to be such a busy month I am pretty sure it will go by in a blink. Graduation parties (two nephews graduating high school), yard work, lots going on at my job. And I've been super slow in Spring cleaning and organizing. Even my gym has a packed schedule for May and I daresay a few of the upcoming big workouts we do in May will probably leave me hobbling around like a fool. I'm also getting my second vaccine shot, so I had to work that in between some things I absolutely have to do--just in case I have any of the 24 hour blahs people have been talking about. Fingers crossed I get through it with no side effects. 

My reading list is once again ambitious and it's simply because I can't decide what can wait until June. So we'll see how much I can get done. I hope all of them, because I want to dig into every book right now and all at once. 

Here's my list for May:

May promises to be an eventful month, and these books promise to be some great reading! You can click on the blurbs under the cover art of each book to order through Amazon. Happy May everyone! 

The Bookalicious Babe

Thursday, April 29, 2021

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala


Click here to purchase on Amazon
I love cozy mysteries. Never thought I would, but they are my go to when I want a comfort read, or something light. That goes against the fact that there is a murder or two in each mystery, I know. But if you read cozy mysteries, you know what I mean! It's the small communities, the cast of characters, and in this case--the food. 

I haven't had the pleasure of trying Filipino food, but I'm pretty sure I would love it if given a chance to try it. Food is a big part of Arsenic and Adobo, the first in the Tita Rosie's Kitchen Mysteries. Lila Macapagal has returned to her hometown of Shady Palms, Illinois to help out at her Tita Rosie's restaurant. She's really not happy to be back, but is escaping a just ended relationship in Chicago. 

Her high school ex-boyfriend, Derek, arrives in the restaurant and is obnoxious and a jerk. He's been visiting the restaurant every day, ordering lots of food, and then writes terrible reviews in the newspaper. He's been doing this to all the restaurants in town, causing some to close permanently. This day, however, he drops dead at the table after eating some of Tita Rosie's dishes--served by Lila. She quickly becomes the number one suspect, and the restaurant is closed down until the case is resolved. 

Lila decides she's got to figure out who killed Derek, and why. There are plenty of suspects: Derek's stepfather, and all of the restaurant owners he's angered. Can she figure it out before she's charged with murder?

I've been waiting for this book to be published for months, and I enjoyed it so much. The Filipino-American culture, the FOOD!, the family dynamics are all big players in this mystery. Lila's definitely torn between wanting to do what makes her happy, and staying to help her family. Toss in a few potential romances, and you will gobble this up! 

Available in trade paperback, ebook, and audio. 

Rating: 5/6 for a new culinary cozy mystery that is centered on the Filipino-American culture of the Midwest. Chock full of tasty food, characters you'd like to know, and a mystery that does take a bit to figure out-you'll love this mystery. 

Monday, April 26, 2021

The Portrait by Ilaria Bernardini


Order Here from Amazon
It's taken me a bit to finish this novel, but that's okay because it's not a novel to rush through. The Portrait a character driven story about two women, one man, and a lifetime of love. 

Valeria Costa is a famous writer who has had a decades-long affair with Martin Acla. Now Martin has had a stroke and is in a coma in his London home. His wife, Isla, is a famous portrait artist, and she, along with their three children, are at their home in London with Martin as his days wind down. 

Valeria is bereft and is desperate to see Martin again. She writes Isla, asking to have her portrait painted. This way, she can get into the house, and hopefully see Martin. Isla agrees, and Valeria temporarily moves to London to have her portrait painted. 

Valeria goes to a lot of trouble to see Martin! But he is her love, and their relationship goes back decades; they've been secret lovers almost as long as Martin and Isla have been married. Flying around the world, meeting each other for nights and weekends, Valeria and Martin had a deep connection and love for each other. Valeria knows everything about Isla's life with Martin. 

As Valeria visits the home, and sits for her portrait, she's drawn deeper into the lives of Isla and her children. Martin is only a few floors up, on a ventilator, being monitored by nurses; completely unaware his two lives have now come together. 

I kept looking at the cover; intrigued by the portrait. It's haunting, to be sure. Valeria is one complex character, as is Isla. The novel moves back and forth between the portrait sitting, Valeria's youth and her troubled relationship with her mother, to her times with Martin. She is constantly framing her life and observations into short stories (which she is famous for)-which, if you look closely, tell the tale of her love affair with Martin. 

Throughout the novel, I kept asking myself if Isla knew who Valeria was-did she know about the affair? You don't know for sure until the end, and oh my, that's a pretty good ending. It takes a bit to digest and understand how the story all comes together. You will spend time thinking about these two complex women.

A big thank you to Pegasus Books for a review copy. This is not my typical novel, but I'm so glad I had the chance to read something so character driven and complex. Author Ilaria Bernardini is a well-known Italian author, this is her first American debut. 

Rating: 4/6 for a character driven novel about grief, love, death, art, aging, life, and forgiveness. A slow build that grips you and doesn't let go. An ending that takes your breath away. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

The Restoration of Celia Fairchild by Marie Bostwick


Click here to order from Amazon
This was another book I saw at B&N and the cover grabbed me right away. It didn't look like a romantic comedy (it isn't), and when I read the blurb on the back cover, well, seeing it was set in Charleston had me adding it to my stack of books. I left B&N that day with a hefty bag of books and zero regret. Which, to be honest, is how I always leave B&N. 

I'll be honest again and say I started reading it and thought, uh oh, I don't think I'm prepared to read a novel about a woman who is seeking to adopt a baby. It just wasn't what I was looking to read about. However, I kept reading (it was a welcome break from The Sanatorium!) and sure enough I got past the first 50 pages and settled into a charming novel about creating a family and finding a new beginning when it seems that all is lost. 

Celia Fairchild is newly divorced and working in New York City as the popular newspaper advice columnist Dear Calpurnia. She's decided the only way to have the family she desires is to adopt a baby on her own. Marching into her boss' office, she's prepared to ask for a raise in order to help finance a new place to live-a place to raise a baby. 

However, Celia finds herself unemployed and devastated by the sudden turn of events. Soon after, she receives a phone call from a lawyer in Charleston, telling her she is the sole heir to her Aunt Calpurnia's home and she must come down to take care of it. Celia hadn't spoken to her Aunt in years, and feels horrible Calpurnia died without Celia making her peace. With no job on the horizon, she heads to Charleston.

What Celia finds is a big surprise, and the beginning of a brand new life-one that Celia isn't sure she wants. However, she's a potential match for a baby, and has twelve weeks to get the house in shape for a visit by the birth mother. And the house is a DISASTER. A host of characters enter the picture-neighbors, an ex-con contractor, a delightfully sunny young man who works at a local coffee shop; even an old high school friend. And yes, the lawyer who wears ill-fitting suits even shows up to help Celia. Little does Celia know it, but her family is taking shape and changing her life. 

As I said before, this was a charming novel. I am always up for a novel where people are starting over, changing their life in big and small ways, and discovering what makes them truly happy. Time and time again, what we think we want and what we actually need are usually two different things-and it can take big changes to recognize the difference. For Celia, it's a big change in both her attitude and her idea of a picture perfect life that generate her happily ever after. 

There are some interesting issues throughout this book: most importantly, the issues of loneliness and isolation. Family, forgiveness, doing what's right versus doing what society thinks is proper. Understanding we have a family we are born into, and a family we create from those around us who support, nurture, and love us through all the crap. 

If you're looking for a gentle read, this is it. Marie Bostwick has written many other novels, and I suspect they are also gentle reads, too. There is a letter from the author in the back, as well as reading group questions. This is the kind of novel you finish at night before you go to bed, smile, then get a good night's sleep. 

Available in paperback and ebook. 

Rating: 4/6 for a novel that surprised me with the many lively characters and their back stories, the evolution of Celia's life plans, and the happily ever after that was not a big blow out, but a soft, gentle, satisfying conclusion. Oh-there is knitting, too! 

Sunday, April 18, 2021

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

Order here from Amazon

This was definitely a novel that hooked me from the beginning. I know I'm really into a book when I get annoyed at everyday life getting in the way of me sitting and reading! I had to wait an extra day this weekend to focus on the last hundred pages   this morning and woke up early just to finish. 

I'll warn folks right now that there are some gruesome parts in the story. So if you have a queasy stomach you are forewarned. 

This novel takes place in the Swiss Alps at a new resort called Le Sommet. This resort is unusual in that it was a sanatorium for tuberculosis patients back in the 1920-30's.  Not a place I'd want to stay at, for sure. But  it's been redone at great expense and is upscale luxury for those who want to ski or be pampered in the spa. 

Elin Warner has arrived with her boyfriend Will for an engagement part for her brother Isaac and his fiancĂ© Laure. Elin is a mess. She's a police officer from England who was injured on the job trying to catch a killer. The episode caused Elin to take extended time off the force and she's now got to decide if she's going to go back or leave for good. Flashbacks from her fight with the killer have pretty much paralyzed her ability to do much of anything. Add to that her unanswered questions about her brother Sam's tragic death when they were children (is Isaac to blame?) and she's got a lot of mental anguish keeping her from moving on in life. This is her chance to see Isaac after many years, and hopefully get answers about Sam's death. 

Le Sommet sounds, to me, like a perfectly terrible place to stay for any length of time. A winding mountain road, avalanches, and sudden snow storms make the trip something you're committed to once you get on a launch to take you up the mountain. The sanatorium has been completely redone with a lot of wide windows, cold marble, and minimalist features. It's a perfect setting for what happens there.

As a huge snowstorm pummels the resort, a young resort worker is found dead in an outdoor pool, horribly murdered. Police can't get to the resort, so Elin forces herself to use her police chops to start an investigation. As more people disappear, it's clear something horrible is happening. But why? And who is behind it? Elin's trauma is not helping her think clearly, but she keeps trying to see her way through the investigation. It's definitely one where anyone could be the perpetrator, so who can she trust? Will she reveal the murderer in time to stop them?

The isolation, the intense snowstorm, the avalanches, and oh, the cold! It all is written so well that you can't help but shiver a bit. Elin, oh Elin. I wanted to shake her. I do give her props for forcing herself to continue on, even in the midst of paralyzing fear. The back story of the sanatorium was fascinating, and horrible all at the same time. You truly aren't sure who to trust throughout the story, and revelations just keep popping up as you race towards the ending. The past and the present are like a spider web-so many connections. 

I enjoyed this novel very much and can see why it's a big hit. Definitely a summer vacation read. If you like thrillers with a bit of history and mystery, this will be a sure bet for you. I am hoping that there is another book with Elin in the future. The ending leaves me to certainly want one-I'd like to see her back on the force, and dealing with unresolved issues. 

Thank you to Pamela Dorman/Viking Books for an ebook version to read and review. If you're interested in an interview with author Sarah Pearse, just click on this link to read-it's pretty interesting! 

Rating: 4/6 for a thriller that gave me all the creepy and anxious feels I expect from a great read-I couldn't put it down and raced to the end. Beware of some unpleasant murders but otherwise a darn good read. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Address Book by Deirdre Mask

This book was a holdover from my March list and I'm so glad I finished it tonight. It's a fascinating look at addresses around the world.  Author Deirdre Mask first became interested in addresses and the meanings behind them when she simply mailed a birthday card from Ireland to her father in the U.S. It arrived just four days later, and she wondered how something that traveled such a distance could cost so little to mail, and get there so fast. 

So, she did some digging, and in doing so, became fascinated with addresses and their meaning. By meaning, I don't necessarily mean why they were named a certain name, but what really lies behind that street name, and how not having an address (or having a certain address) can mean a chance at improving your life, or a chance to brag about living in a wealthy area. An address means people can find you, and some people are just fine living "two miles past that gravel road, across from the Mills Family and right by the old gas station". 

Ms. Mask explores ancient Roman addresses--actually, the lack of addresses; how Nazis began a campaign of changing addresses in Jewish towns and cities as another way to wipe Jews out of existence. She looks at William Penn and his desire to create a system of addresses that were neat and orderly (very unlike England, which has a hodgepodge of streets every where--but that is the charm of England!); how the battle of apartheid still rages in South Africa over changing street names. 

There are more interesting people and places to explore in The Address Book.  What I find extremely interesting is how much we tie our identity into our addresses. And really, how much of a disservice we do to homeless people by demanding they have a permanent address in order to qualify for services they desperately need. As Ms. Mask rightly points out, we no longer have land lines--we don't call a place, we call a person-so why should we require a home address on an application for a job, or an application for assistance? People are contacted by phone or email the vast majority of the time, not by mail to a street address. 

Luckily, there are a lot of folks around the world who have made it their mission to solve the address problems that keep so many people helpless in their desire to escape poverty. I found this book so interesting! It will definitely make you stop and think. 

In my city of Cedar Rapids, we have NE, NW, SE, SW attached to most of our addresses. It immediately tells people generally where you live--upper class, middle class, in the flood zone, in the poorer areas of the city--in a new development--which side of the Cedar River. If you live over by Brucemore, most people know you live in what used to be the wealthiest part of town--and still is quite impressive, if you look at the large early 20th century stately homes and the boulevards. They're just not new homes--those are on another side of town now, and they're just as big. 

It's interesting to think about addresses--I'll admit after reading this book I have thought about my address, and what it says about where I live. I think about how Cedar Rapids grew over the decades and engulfed smaller communities and the only way they're remembered are by street names. 

I so enjoyed this book. It definitely would make an excellent book club discussion, or a great gift for history buffs or folks who love maps and urban development. 

Rating: 4/6 for a study on the emotional ties we have to place names; how history has shaped our cultural ties to street names, city designs, and what it all means in the digital age. 

Available in paperback, hardcover, ebook, and audio.