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#DEARBASICBUDDYREADS JUNE SELECTION

Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo (Flatiron Books)

May 23, 2022

Dear Reading Friends,

Katie @basicbsguide and I are so excited to announce our June Book Selection…𝘕𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘩 𝘏𝘰𝘶𝘴𝘦 🐍by Leigh Bardugo. I have been wanting to read this for SO LONG and my dreams are finally coming true 😃. Does an Ivy League School, secret societies, dead bodies, and some dark magic sound good to you???? Sounds magnificent to me! Check out the synopsis below AND JOIN US! ⁣
⁣🐍
This is a read at your own pace situation during the month of June followed by an EPIC private chat on Instagram with me, Katie, and the whole 𝐃𝐄𝐀𝐑𝐁𝐀𝐒𝐈𝐂𝐁𝐔𝐃𝐃𝐘𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐃𝐒 crew. The chat date will be announced shortly! DM me over at @dearmrhemingway to join. You need to have an Instagram account to participate.
⁣🐍
𝐀𝐋𝐒𝐎..If you need a push to read 𝘕𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘩 𝘏𝘰𝘶𝘴𝘦, let me tell you this… the sequel to this tale is called 𝘏𝘦𝘭𝘭 𝘉𝘦𝘯𝘵 and it comes out in January 2023. Join us and you will be ready to take on book two when it makes its way into the world 😍!⁣

xoxo,⁣
Kelly

⁣🐍
𝐒𝐲𝐧𝐨𝐩𝐬𝐢𝐬:⁣
“Galaxy “Alex” Stern is the most unlikely member of Yale’s freshman class. Raised in the Los Angeles hinterlands by a hippie mom, Alex dropped out of school early and into a world of shady drug-dealer boyfriends, dead-end jobs, and much, much worse. In fact, by age twenty, she is the sole survivor of a horrific, unsolved multiple homicides. Some might say she’s thrown her life away. But at her hospital bed, Alex is offered a second chance: to attend one of the world’s most prestigious universities on a full ride. What’s the catch, and why her?⁣

Still searching for answers, Alex arrives in New Haven tasked by her mysterious benefactors with monitoring the activities of Yale’s secret societies. Their eight windowless “tombs” are the well-known haunts of the rich and powerful, from high-ranking politicos to Wall Street’s biggest players. But their occult activities are more sinister and more extraordinary than any paranoid imagination might conceive. They tamper with forbidden magic. They raise the dead. And, sometimes, they prey on the living.”

Cleopatra’s Dagger & An Honest Lie

April 26, 2022

Hello Gorgeous Readers!

Today I am sharing two books that couldn’t be more different from one another. On tap is a psychological thriller that will knock your socks off and a slow-burn historical mystery with a few dead bodies floating around. Let’s take a peek at these spring 2022 releases, shall we?

Cleopatra’s Dagger by Carole Lawrence (Thomas  & Mercer)

Cleopatra’s Dagger was a delight to read.  Lawrence immediately transported me to New York City circa 1880.  Her writing is rich in detail and showcases a feminist journalist way ahead of her time. A serial killer, mysterious dead bodies, and an Egyptian flair fill the pages of this book. I went into this novel anticipating gruesome details and an unsettling storyline; however, I found her writing more intriguing than disturbing.  There were twists along the way that kept me guessing and a “whodunnit vibe” present throughout the book.  I believe that historical fiction and mystery lovers will equally enjoy this slow-burn historical mystery.

Synopsis:

“New York, 1880. Elizabeth van den Broek is the only female reporter at the Herald, the city’s most popular newspaper. Then she and her bohemian friend Carlotta Ackerman find a woman’s body wrapped like a mummy in a freshly dug hole in Central Park–the intended site of an obelisk called Cleopatra’s Needle. The macabre discovery takes Elizabeth away from the society pages to follow an investigation into New York City’s darkest shadows.

When more bodies turn up, each tied to Egyptian lore, Elizabeth is onto a headline-making scoop more sinister than she could have imagined. Her reporting has readers spellbound, and each new clue implicates New York’s richest and most powerful citizens. And a serial killer is watching every headline.

Now a madman with an indecipherable motive is coming after Elizabeth and everyone she loves. She wants a good story? She may have to die to get it.”

An Honest Lie by Tarryn Fisher (Graydon House)

An Honest Lie is my second Tarryn Fisher book, and what can I say…I am a fan.  This novel is a story of survival, redemption, and everything in-between. It is written in two different timelines with a horrific cult as the backdrop. I adored the complexity of Fisher’s characters and was captivated by each messy layer that was slowly unpeeled. I was pulled in many directions, which kept me briskly turning the pages to see what happened next.  One minute I was lingering in sadness, and the next minute I felt like I was on an over-the-top roller coaster ride. Most importantly, though, Fisher kept me wildly entertained while I basked in the sun poolside over spring break.

Synopsis:

“Lorraine–“Rainy”–lives at the top of Tiger Mountain. Remote, moody, cloistered in pine trees and fog, it’s a sanctuary, a new life. She can hide from the disturbing past she wants to forget.

If she’s allowed to.

When Rainy reluctantly agrees to a girls’ weekend in Vegas, she’s prepared for an exhausting parade of shots and slot machines. But after a wild night, her friend Braithe doesn’t come back to the hotel room.

And then Rainy gets the text message, sent from Braithe’s phone: someone has her. But Rainy is who they really want, and Rainy knows why.

What follows is a twisted, shocking journey on the knife-edge of life and death. If she wants to save Braithe–and herself–the only way is to step back into the past.”

Happy Reading my friends!

xoxo,

Kelly

Click on the book pic to purchase.
Click on the book pic to purchase.

May #DEARBASICBUDDYREADS SELECTION

Necessary People by Anna Pitoniak (Little, Brown & Company)

April 25, 2022

Hello Beautiful Readers,

The month of May is just around the corner, and Katie @basicbsguide and I have selected 𝘕𝘦𝘤𝘦𝘴𝘴𝘢𝘳𝘺 𝘗𝘦𝘰𝘱𝘭𝘦 by Anna Pitoniak for our next Buddy Read! ⁣

It’s time to dive into something with chills, drama, ambition, and intensity and we anticipate Pitoniak’s 2019 book will deliver.⁣

As always, this is is read at your own pace situation with a killer private chat at the end of May!⁣

DM me over on Instagram to join in the madness!⁣

xoxo,⁣
Kelly⁣

𝐒𝐲𝐧𝐨𝐩𝐬𝐢𝐬:⁣

“𝐀 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐮𝐥𝐬𝐢𝐯𝐞, “𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐠” 𝐧𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐥 𝐞𝐱𝐩𝐥𝐨𝐫𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐝𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐫𝐨𝐮𝐬 𝐟𝐚𝐮𝐥𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐞𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐟𝐞𝐦𝐚𝐥𝐞 𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩𝐬 (𝐋𝐞𝐞 𝐂𝐡𝐢𝐥𝐝), 𝐍𝐞𝐜𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐚𝐫𝐲 𝐏𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐝𝐞𝐟𝐭𝐥𝐲 𝐩𝐥𝐮𝐦𝐛𝐬 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐥𝐢𝐦𝐢𝐭𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐚𝐦𝐛𝐢𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧, 𝐥𝐨𝐲𝐚𝐥𝐭𝐲, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞. ⁣
𝐎𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐡𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐥𝐥. 𝐎𝐧𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐦 𝐰𝐚𝐧𝐭𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐥𝐥. 𝐁𝐮𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐲 𝐜𝐚𝐧’𝐭 𝐛𝐨𝐭𝐡 𝐰𝐢𝐧.⁣

Stella and Violet are best friends, and from the moment they met in college, they knew their roles. Beautiful, privileged, and reckless Stella lives in the spotlight. Hardworking, laser-focused Violet stays behind the scenes, always ready to clean up the mess that Stella inevitably leaves in her wake.⁣


After graduation, Violet moves to New York and lands a job in cable news, where she works her way up from intern to assistant to producer, and to a life where she’s finally free from Stella’s shadow. In this fast-paced world, Violet thrives, and her ambitions grow — but everything is jeopardized when Stella, envious of Violet’s new life, uses her connections, beauty, and charisma to get hired at the same network. Stella soon moves in front of the camera, becoming the public face of the stories that Violet has worked tirelessly to produce — and taking all the credit. ⁣


Stella might be the one with the rich family and the right friends, but Violet isn’t giving up so easily. As she and Stella strive for success, each reveals just how far she’ll go to get what she wants — even if it means destroying the other person along the way.”

Click on the book pic to purchase.

Listen Up

Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier (Berkley Publishing + Penguin Random House Audio)
In the Shadow of the Mountain:  A Memoir of Courage by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado (Henry Holt & Co + Macmillan Audio)

March 24, 2022

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Spring is officially in the air, and my reading life feels wonderfully on point.  I constantly switch up genres to keep up with my ever-changing mood, and it’s the #1 reason I hardly ever get bored with my books.  Today I am sharing two books that could not possibly be more different from one another, yet both were captivating in their unique way.  A memoir about healing from trauma while climbing Mount Everest and a work of spectacular fiction that involves dead bodies and over-the-top rich people is what I am talking about today, so listen up.

In the Shadow of the Mountain:  A Memoir of Courage by Silvia Vasquez-Lavado was phenomenal.  I had the pleasure of listening to this book on audio read by the author.  Vasquez-Lavado leads a group of sexual assault survivors on a trek to Mount Everest basecamp as part of their healing process. Her journey was far from over after reaching base camp, though.  She then joined up with another climbing group and took a shot at summitting the highest mountain on Earth.  Vasquez-Lavado shares her story alternating between her traumatic past and her epic climb.  I was moved to tears by the intimate details of the sexual abuse she experienced as a child and the fallout from these horrific events.  On the flip side, my heart was pounding out of my chest as she climbed for weeks and weeks in unfathomable conditions. Charged with brutal honesty, rich in unique culture, and filled with hope, Vasquez-Lavado’s memoir is a must-read/listen.

After immersing myself in Vasquez-Lavado’s profound journey, it was refreshing to switch it up with an over-the-top read about bored rich people who lie, scheme, and kill for entertainment.  Good Rich People by Eliza Jane Brazier is dripping in cash AND blood and I loved every second of it. Lyla and Graham are incredibly wealthy and enjoy playing games with people.  I’m not talking monopoly or a spicy pickleball competition, mind you.  Nooooo, I am talking about recruiting innocent self-made successful people to live in the guest house that they can destroy financially and maybe even kill if the spirit moves them. How fun is that??? Brazier’s story is a fast-paced, mannerless tale that had me wildly entertained.  Her writing is striking and razor-sharp. Her cast of characters is a spectacular melody of stunning and loopy all in the same breath and I had no problem gobbling up this juicy delight. I listened to Good Rich People on audio, and I must shout out the fabulous narrators who brought this wicked fun story to life.  Karissa Vacker and Sophie Amoss crushed the narration 100%!!!!

Well, my friend…I hope you enjoy experiencing these two incredible books one way or the other. 

Until next time!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly


P.S. I enjoy listening to my audiobooks via Libro.fm.  My audio purchases support an independent bookstore of my choice, which is something to cheer about.  Please feel free to use my member link to get started.

Click on the book pic to purchase!
Click on the book pic to purchase!

@freethetruth

Truth and Other Lies by Maggie Smith (Ten16press)

March 10, 2022

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

I am so thrilled to be writing to you about a brilliant debut novel that completely captivated me.  Truth and Other Lies by Maggie Smith is Women’s Fiction at its finest.  Politics, journalism, and family dynamics line the pages of Smith’s book and I happily read every word.  Let’s take a peek, shall we?

Twenty-five-year-old Megan Barnes is the leading lady of Smith’s debut tale. After losing her job at an NYC newspaper and finding her boyfriend in bed with another woman, she heads back to Chicago and reunites with her mother who surprisingly is running for congress. Because Megan and her mom have opposing political views, supporting her campaign is not only frustrating but hinders her from getting a job at virtually any newspaper during election season. However, once in Chicago, Megan meets her professional idol, Jocelyn Jones, an award-winning journalist.  This twist of fate encounter lands her a job working for Jones and promoting her upcoming memoir.  A job like this may not exactly be in Megan’s wheelhouse, but this connection to the world of high-stakes journalism is just what she needs to move forward with her career. Things take a wild turn when an anonymous TWEET is exposed jeopardizing Jone’s reputation.  Megan’s investigation into this allegation reveals more than she bargained for and before she can catch her breath, she finds herself in a snarled mess of lies, secrets, and scandal involving her mentor and her mother’s campaign.  Can she discover the real truth and will it, in the end, set everyone free? 

Smith’s debut novel was an absolute delight to read. I loved how this story was simultaneously dripping in ambition and soiled with secrets. With each page I turned, a new layer was slowly peeled away leaving me happily swimming in muddy water questioning everything.  Truth and Other Lies is a relevant story that showcases highly driven women and hot topics galore. Abortion, political views, sexual assault, and feminism are all touched upon with dignity and grace. As a daughter, wife, mother, and friend (who is in her late forties), it was refreshing that I could relate to the different generations of women represented in Smith’s book. In addition to being progressive women with agendas to finalize, Smith’s characters were carriers of complicated pasts that were difficult to outrun.  As the story unfolds, I enjoyed watching Megan and her mom develop and blossom as women while their relationship matured.  I adored Megan’s loyalty to her best friend and her ability to make toilsome decisions in order to protect her. Most of all, I love how the ending of this book left me with a craving for a deep conversation about what the future holds for these characters.  To me…that is perfection!   Cheers to a fabulous book!

Until next time my friend!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. Check out Maggie Smith and all her fabulousness RIGHT HERE!

Click on the book pic to purchase!

A Trio of Books Just For You

The Selfless Act of Breathing by JJ Bola (Atria Books)

The Prynne Viper by Bianca Marais (Audible Original)

Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr (Harper Perennial)


March 7, 2022

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

I have three books for you today and they are all so very different from one another. These three works of fiction each have their own unique vibe and I am thrilled to share them with you. I am offering up a man in search of his soul, a courtroom drama set way into the future, and a mystery around some Nazi stolen artwork. I can honestly say that I was swept away by all three of the books below. I was shocked, entertained, made to think, and above all…simply wowed by these three authors. I do believe there is something for everyone in today’s round-up. Happy reading and listening!

Until next time dear friend!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

Click on the book pic to purchase.

First up is The Selfless Act of Breathing by JJ Bola. All I can say is that I absolutely LOVED this book.  Bola’s writing knocked my socks off, that is for sure.  His main character Michael truly lost his way and my soul literally ached for him.  His journey is beyond profound and left me with a feeling of sadness that was hard to shed.  I was mesmerized by his introspection and oftentimes found myself drifting off into my own world of ruminating and reflecting on life, love, and loneliness.  The connections with the people he met along the way truly highlighted his internal needs and fears and I was in absolute awe of how Bola could take on the heavy themes of suicidal thoughts, race, culture, and family using a poetic tone.  The Selfless Act of Breathing is a raw and powerful read and I highly recommend it.

Synopsis:

“Michael Kabongo is a British-Congolese teacher living in London on the cusp of two identities. On paper, he seems to have it all: He’s beloved by his students, popular with his coworkers, and the pride and joy of a mother who emigrated from the Congo to the UK in search of a better life. But behind closed doors, he’s been struggling with the overwhelming sense that he can’t address the injustices he sees raging before him—from his relentless efforts to change the lives of his students for the better to his attempts to transcend the violence and brutality that marginalizes young Black men around the world.

Then one day he suffers a devastating loss, and his life is thrown into a tailspin. As he struggles to find a way forward, memories of his father’s violent death, the weight of refugeehood, and an increasing sense of dread threaten everything he’s worked so hard to achieve. Longing to escape the shadows in his mind and start anew, Michael decides to spontaneously pack up and go to America, the mythical “land of the free,” where he imagines everything will be better, easier—a place where he can become someone new, someone without a past filled with pain.

On this transformative journey, Michael travels everywhere from New York City to San Francisco, partying with new friends, sparking fleeting romances, and splurging on big adventures, with the intention of living the life of his dreams until the money in his bank account runs out.”

Click on the book pic to purchase.

Next up is Woman on Fire by Lisa Barr. Run, don’t walk to grab yourself a copy of this literary gem.  The dazzling art world, high-stakes journalism, and the history of Nazi stolen artwork during the Second World War are well framed in this remarkable literary mystery. Barr’s story is teeming with intricate details and a chic background that pairs well with her multi-layered and quite juicy characters that undeniably lit up the pages of this book.  The combination of unparalleled research weaved into modern-day fiction was THE creme de la creme for me.  Every luscious page I read made me more ravenous for the next because I simply had to know what happened next. I refused to cease my reading adventure until I reached the wicked satisfying ending the Barr so meticulously delivered.  At the end of the day, there is nothing better than being immersed in a world where the past meant everything and secrets kept everyone in the game.  Woman on Fire was an absolute pleasure to read. 

Lisa Barr’s stunning creation is the true work of art here and SHE is… The Ultimate Woman on Fire!

Synopsis:

“After talking her way into a job with Dan Mansfield, the leading investigative reporter in Chicago, rising young journalist Jules Roth is given an unusual—and very secret—assignment. Dan needs her to locate a painting stolen by the Nazis more than 75 years earlier: legendary Expressionist artist Ernst Engel’s most famous work, Woman on Fire. World-renowned shoe designer Ellis Baum wants this portrait of a beautiful, mysterious woman for deeply personal reasons, and has enlisted Dan’s help to find it. But Jules doesn’t have much time; the famous designer is dying.

Meanwhile, in Europe, provocative and powerful Margaux de Laurent also searches for the painting. Heir to her art collector family’s millions, Margaux is a cunning gallerist who gets everything she wants. The only thing standing in her way is Jules. Yet the passionate and determined Jules has unexpected resources of her own, including Adam Baum, Ellis’s grandson. A recovering addict and brilliant artist in his own right, Adam was once in Margaux’s clutches. He knows how ruthless she is, and he’ll do anything to help Jules locate the painting before Margaux gets to it first.”

Click on the book pic to purchase.

Last but never ever least is The Prynne Viper by Bianca Marais. Marais, author of Hum if You Don’t Know the Words and If You Want to Make God Laugh is back with something 100% fresh.  This time around she is not writing about South Africa, the Apartheid, or the Soweto Uprising.  Instead, she wowed me with a short story offered as an Audible Original. The Prynne Viper is a futuristic tale (yes, you heard me correctly) that left me thinking long and hard about the fate of humanity if left in the hands of some crazy predictive software. I was transfixed by this terrifying world and the idea that mankind could be predetermined by a courtroom jury haunted me for days.  Don’t let the length of this story fool you though.  Marais’ magnificent storytelling, the full cast of narrators, and an extremely pleasing ending all neatly fit into a unique two-hour listen. Marais’ ability to switch writing gears by seamlessly transitioning to a completely different genre was wicked impressive and she will forever be an auto-buy author for me.

Synopsis:

“In a futuristic world where predictive software can map out the lives of every living person and their descendants, Naomi Prynne is on trial. The charge: endangerment by way of a pregnancy.

Thirteen jurors will determine whether Naomi is allowed to carry the pregnancy to term, but the jurors are also all plaintiffs, the software having predicted how Naomi Prynne’s child will affect each of them in life-changing ways. Among them: a history professor who has given up on her own dreams for the sake of the greater good; a student participating in his first-ever trial who’s about to discover an earth-shattering truth; and a former mathematician, who knows all too well the dark machinations of the state, but is prohibited from speaking out against them. The future of the Prynne Viper – an acronym for “viable person” – is in their hands.

But this Prynne Viper is unlike Naomi’s other pregnancies. This time, Naomi Prynne is carrying a secret, one with the power to alter the future into something incalculable, and therefore, unpredictable.”

#DEARBASICBUDDYREADS MARCH SELECTION

Musical Chairs by Amy Poeppel (Atria Books)

February 21, 2022

Dear Fabulous Readers,

The moment you have all been waiting for 🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁🥁 𝐓𝐡𝐞 #𝐝𝐞𝐚𝐫𝐛𝐚𝐬𝐢𝐜𝐛𝐮𝐝𝐝𝐲𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐬 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐜𝐡 𝐒𝐞𝐥𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧 is 𝘔𝘶𝘴𝘪𝘤𝘢𝘭 𝘊𝘩𝘢𝘪𝘳𝘴 by Amy Poeppel  🎶🎶🎶⁣.

Katie @basicbsguide and I are so excited to lighten up the reading vibe in March with a book that PEOPLE MAGAZINE calls, “𝐀 𝐟𝐢𝐞𝐫𝐜𝐞𝐥𝐲 𝐟𝐮𝐧𝐧𝐲 𝐭𝐚𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐟𝐚𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐲, 𝐟𝐫𝐢𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐬𝐡𝐢𝐩, 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐥𝐚𝐭𝐞𝐫-𝐢𝐧-𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐥𝐨𝐯𝐞.”⁣

I love that we have been focusing on backlist reads in our group. Lord knows we all have stacks and lists of books that we hope to get to one day. Backlist reads have so many benefits. For one, it gives us the opportunity to check books off our never-ending TBRs. They also have been out a while and are easier to get your hands on. They tend to be more accessible at your local library, they are less expensive to buy if they are out in paperback, and you are more apt to find a deal on them via e-readers and audio options. Not too shabby! ⁣

If you would like to join our fabulous group this March you do need to be on INSTAGRAM. Please reach out to me there @dearmrhemingway. As always, this is a read at your own pace situation with a spectacular chat at the end of the month via a private Instagram chat. Date TBA!⁣

Check out the SYNOPSIS:

“Bridget and Will have the kind of relationship that people envy: they’re loving, compatible, and completely devoted to each other. The fact that they’re strictly friends seems to get lost on nearly everyone. For three decades, they’ve nurtured their baby, the Forsyth Trio—a chamber group they created as students with their Juilliard classmate Gavin Glantz. In the intervening years, Gavin has gone on to become one of the classical music world’s reigning stars, while Bridget and Will have learned to embrace the warm reviews and smaller venues that accompany modest success.

Bridget has been dreaming of spending the summer at her well-worn Connecticut country home with her boyfriend Sterling. But her plans are upended when Sterling breaks up with her over email, her twin twenty-somethings arrive unexpectedly, and her elderly father announces he’s getting married. She concocts a plan to host her dad’s wedding on her ramshackle property while putting the Forsyth Trio back into the spotlight. But to catch the attention of the music world, she and Will place their bets on luring back Gavin, whom they’ve both avoided ever since their stormy parting.”

Look forward to chatting about this book with you!

Kelly

Click on the book pic to purchase!

February Book Selection

#DEARBASICBUDDYREADS FEBRUARY SELECTION Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner Books)

January 31, 2022

Dear Gorgeous Readers,

Katie @basicbsguide and I cordially invite you to join in our February Book Selection for #𝐃𝐄𝐀𝐑𝐁𝐀𝐒𝐈𝐂𝐁𝐔𝐃𝐃𝐘𝐑𝐄𝐀𝐃𝐒. We will be reading the 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐚𝐥 𝐁𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐀𝐰𝐚𝐫𝐝 𝗪𝐢𝐧𝐧𝐞𝐫 and 𝐍𝐞𝐰 𝐘𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐓𝐢𝐦𝐞𝐬 𝐁𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐬𝐞𝐥𝐥𝐞𝐫, 𝘚𝘪𝘯𝘨, 𝘜𝘯𝘣𝘶𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘥, 𝘚𝘪𝘯𝘨 by Jesmyn Ward.

This book has been on my radar for years and I am thrilled to finally read it! ⁣

As usual, this is a read at your own pace situation with a lively discussion via Instagram⁣
chats at the end of February!⁣

You must have a private or public Instagram account to join the discussion at the end of the month. If you would like to participate, please DM me over on @dearmrhemingway and I’ll add you to the group.

xoxo,⁣
Kelly⁣

P.S. Meet one of my 9-month-old Pekin ducks…..Lemon!!!!⁣

𝐒𝐲𝐧𝐨𝐩𝐬𝐢𝐬 ⁣
“Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn’t lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won’t acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.⁣

His mother, Leonie, is an inconsistent presence in his and his toddler sister’s lives. She is an imperfect mother in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is Black and her children’s father is White. She wants to be a better mother but can’t put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. Simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she’s high, Leonie is embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances.⁣

When the children’s father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.”

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Nothing Lasts Forever

Vladimir by Julia May Jonas (Avid Reader Press)
Pub Date~February 1, 2022

January 26, 2022

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

There is nothing more thrilling to me than reading a debut novel. Because I have no preconceived notions or backlist titles to compare it to, I have the opportunity to absorb the writing while getting to know the writer one page at a time.  With that said, I just finished Julia May Jonas’ debut novel, Vladimir, and I can honestly say that I was dazzled by her beautiful words. 

The narrator of Vladimir is a female literature professor in her mid-50s.  Her husband John, a professor at the same small liberal college in upstate New York is facing allegations from former students of sexual misconduct.  His relationship with other women has never been an issue within their marriage because they have a mutually agreed upon “open-marriage” and dating students wasn’t as controversial back in the day compared to present times.  As the atmosphere at the college becomes polluted with these affairs, the narrator develops her own fascination with a younger professor named Vladimir that leads her into uncharted territory. 

Here is the scoop on Vladimir. Jonas’ book is not a fast-paced, edge-of-your-seat kind of read. It is a multi-layered character-driven tale.  I absolutely love books with a huge emphasis on character study. Getting a sneak peek into the nitty-gritty crevices of a character’s mind is totally my cup of tea.  Being inside this narrator’s brain was like being lost in the woods somewhere.  Her constant search for validation was like foraging for berries in a snow storm. I was lured into her unconventional marriage and was surprisingly intrigued by this couples’ perpetual need for external approval to feel fulfilled. The dynamics between the narrator and her husband were compulsive and faultlessly showcased the dysfunction they both endured on a regular basis.  Jonas’ story felt heavy at times and even a bit melancholy, but it connected me to the internal turmoil experienced by the characters.  So many times throughout the book I thought I figured out what made this narrator tick, but I was pleasantly surprised by her hidden darkness and eager to see where it would lead her. My thoughts on her younger colleague Vladimir remain complicated and his presence in this story no doubt plays an interesting role in the narrator’s development.  I was curious to find out how this story would end and was satisfied with the conclusion.  

Jonas’ writing is superbly edgy. I was fascinated by how fragile the human spirit can sometimes be and what makes a moral compass waver.  The academic backdrop for this story was wonderfully brainy with a literary flair. Her book worked for me because it opened the door to intimate conversations and analyses that I love to engage in.  Her characters prompted me to think outside the box and examine more closely the idea of “perfect love”, motherhood, unconventional marriages, and the daunting quest for approval.  Let’s not forget the complexities of the #metoo movement and the internal and external power struggles that exist.  

I gobbled up Jonas’ lyrical prose and stimulating story and look forward to more of her writing.

Until next time.

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly 

P.S.  If you are looking for more books with academic vibes, CLICK HERE

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***I received an advance reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  My opinions are 100% my own. If I don’t like it…I don’t share it!

One Letter, Three Books

January 4, 2021

Dear Mr. Hemingway, 

Happy New Year! I don’t know about you, but I love the start of a brand new year.  Clean slate, endless possibilities, and of course…new books.  Today I am sharing one book that came out in September 2021 and two that were published TODAY! Three books for the price of one letter to you is not too shabby.  Let’s see what I’ve got, shall we!

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“Frida Liu is struggling. She doesn’t have a career worthy of her Chinese immigrant parents’ sacrifices. She can’t persuade her husband, Gust, to give up his wellness-obsessed younger mistress. Only with Harriet, their cherubic daughter, does Frida finally attain the perfection expected of her. Harriet may be all she has, but she is just enough.

Until Frida has a very bad day.

The state has its eyes on mothers like Frida. The ones who check their phones, letting their children get injured on the playground; who let their children walk home alone. Because of one moment of poor judgment, a host of government officials will now determine if Frida is a candidate for a Big Brother-like institution that measures the success or failure of a mother’s devotion.

Faced with the possibility of losing Harriet, Frida must prove that a bad mother can be redeemed. That she can learn to be good.”


Indiebound

The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan is officially out today and has been named Book of the Week by PEOPLE magazine and Read With Jenna’s January pick.  This dystopian tale explores strong themes relating to motherhood, parenting, race, gender, and then some. It is unsettling and a wee bit anxiety-provoking, so if you are a parent, your need to hug your children will be powerful. Because my feelings on this book are truly all over the place,   I believe this to be an excellent selection to discuss and process with other readers.  Whether you love it or hate it, Chan’s book is most definitely…SOMETHING TO TALK ABOUT! 

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“Hadi and Sama are a young Syrian couple flying high on a whirlwind love, dreaming up a life in the country that brought them together. She had come to Boston years before chasing dreams of a bigger life; he’d landed there as a sponsored refugee from a bloody civil war. Now, they are giddily awaiting the birth of their son, a boy whose native language would be freedom and belonging. 

When Sama is five months pregnant, Hadi’s father dies suddenly in Jordan, the night before his visa appointment at the embassy. Hadi flies back for the funeral, promising his wife that he’ll only be gone for a few days. On the day his flight is due to arrive in Boston, Sama is waiting for him at the airport, eager to bring him back home. But as the minutes and then hours pass, she continues to wait, unaware that Hadi has been stopped at the border and detained for questioning, trapped in a timeless, nightmarish limbo.

Worlds apart, suspended between hope and disillusion as hours become days become weeks, Sama and Hadi yearn for a way back to each other, and to the life they’d dreamed up together. But does that life exist anymore, or was it only an illusion?”

Indiebound

Another book that is out TODAY is No Land To Light On by Yara Zgheib.  This fictional story revolves around U.S. President Trump’s real-life Executive Order 13769 titled Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States (AKA… “Muslim Ban”) in 2017.  This story takes a deep dive into the repercussions of this order.  Zgheib’s writing is stunning, and her prose triggers a feeling of longing that lingers with you after the last page is turned. Her main characters Sama and Hadi alternate perspectives throughout the story offering the most intimate look at families divided by borders and the fearfulness and risks they endure all for the chance at freedom and a safe place to call home.  This gorgeous book weighs in around 300 pages, so not only is it an eye-opening read but a quick one too. I can not recommend this book enough!

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“This is the story of a serial killer. A stolen child. Revenge. Death. And an ordinary house at the end of an ordinary street.

All these things are true. And yet they are all lies…

You think you know what’s inside the last house on Needless Street. You think you’ve read this story before. That’s where you’re wrong.

In the dark forest at the end of Needless Street, lies something buried. But it’s not what you think… “

Goodreads


My last recommendation is The Last House on Needless Street by Catriona Ward. It is a tricky book to summarize, so do not put all of your stock in the synopsis above.  Ward’s book is the ultimate jigsaw puzzle, a complete “mind f*ck” if you will.  My brain entered an inescapable nightmare that not only broke my heart but tampered with my soul.  My head was spinning with equal parts terror and fascination, as I frantically turned the pages.  The Last House on Needless Street is storytelling at its finest but please be forewarned, its heaviness is difficult to shake. Trigger warnings are abundant including child abuse, child abduction, mental illness, trauma, serial killers, and a whole lot in-between.  Ward ends her book with a note to the reader that I felt was very helpful in understanding the ins and outs of the story.  It is a must-read AFTER you have read the book.  It contains major spoilers, so no cheating! 

Enjoy all the books you can ever imagine this new year!

Your Biggest Fan!

Kelly


P.S. Are you hungry? If so, be sure to check out some of my most recent cookbook recommendations RIGHT HERE!

***I received an advance reader copy of The School For Good Mothers by Jessamine Chan and
No Land To Light On by Yara Zgheib from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  My opinions are 100% my own. If I don’t like it…I don’t share it!

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