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read what you love • love what you read

GUEST WRITER ~ Claire Lombardo

Author Edition


Guest Writer, Author Claire Lombardo

January 15, 2020

Dear Book Lovers,

I am beyond excited to introduce you to today’s guest writer…Claire Lombardo. If you do not know who this gorgeous writer is, let me fill you in. Claire’s debut novel, The Most Fun We Ever Had (Doubleday), was released in June 2019 (you know, the thick book with all of the ginkgo leaves on the cover). This family drama was an instant New York Times bestseller. Not only did it win the heart of book lovers everywhere, but it was one of my favorite books of 2019 ❤️❤️❤️. In addition to her stunning first novel, Claire’s writing has been published in numerous publications including Barrelhouse Magazine, Little Fiction and Playboy. Currently, Claire lives in Philadelphia and is working on her second novel (Hurry Claire, Hurry!!!).

Claire’s letter to Mr. H. delighted me. Her first paragraph was an unexpected treat. You would think I choreographed it myself……… (nope, pleasantly surprised). Before I go, I want to thank Claire for taking part in this project. As a book lover and avid reader myself, it is an absolute pleasure to connect with authors as writers, but most importantly, as fellow readers.

Happy Reading Everyone!

All the Best,


P.S. Rumor has it that The Most Fun We Ever Had is currently be adapted for television. When I say television, I mean a series on HBO with Laura Dern and Amy Adams co-producing and Claire writing 😮😮😮. I wasn’t kidding when I said her book was good!!!!


January 15, 2020

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Apologies in advance for my longwindedness. Our lives started out quite similarly, as it were–I, too, was born in Oak Park, Illinois, and grew up about 2 blocks from where you did; I, too, spent many summers in Michigan; I, too, attended Oak Park and River Forest High School and wrote for the newspaper, Trapeze. But somewhere along the way, I discovered adverbs, and from there our paths diverged. Such as it goes!

The book I can’t stop thinking about, though, isn’t especially adverb-laden: it’s spare and corporeal, with emotional substance that sneaks up to punch you in the gut. I think you might’ve enjoyed it. Last week, on New Year’s Day, I took a break from my own writing and committed to full-on idle coziness: I would do nothing, I decided, but read under a blanket with my dog. My text of choice? The Innocents by Michael Crummey.

Within the first few pages of this book, young siblings Ada and Everett lose their parents and their baby sister and are left utterly alone on a remote and atmospherically inclement cove off the coast of Newfoundland. Thenceforth we sit back and watch as they figure out how to survive literally and otherwise, navigating the sparse landscape of their home for sustenance while also figuring out, with only each other as points of reference, how to understand the world emotionally.

What to say about this book? It’s dark and exhilarating and endearing and, in moments, surprisingly sexy. It’s my favorite thing I’ve read all year. It’s the most unique exploration of siblings I’ve ever encountered. It gutted me, repeatedly. I spent moments on the edge of my seat (scaring the dog–sorry, Renee!), but also burrowing deeply and vicariously in the unique pains of young adulthood. Go and get your hands on it immediately–you won’t regret it.

With flowery admiration of your contributions to canons both literary and feline,


ps–Lest I’ve left you wanting more, my own book, set in Oak Park, arrived this summer, covered in ginkgo leaves. Order The Most Fun We Ever Had today from your favorite indie bookstore! I’d suggest snagging a hardcover from my beloved Prairie Lights Books in Iowa City and/or grabbing a paperback on April 28th from the soon-to-open and sure-to-please Madison Street Books in Chicago

pps–Seeking instant adverb gratification? I have a new story out in Playboy this month–go check out “Francophile”!

Click here to Purchase The Innocents by Michael Crummey

Claire’s pup likes to snuggle with her books❤️❤️❤️!!!

The Best Books of 2019!!!

Collage for Best Books of 2019

December 31, 2019

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Can you believe that today is the last day of 2019? The last day of this DECADE???? This year has turned out some tremendous reads. Today I am sharing my top nine reads of 2019. Whether I was excited, crying, horrified, or genuinely scared, these nine books delivered the feels!!!! My reading motto is and always will be READ WHAT YOU LOVE~LOVE WHAT YOU READ! If you follow this way of thinking…your reading life will be stellar! So without further ado…My top nine of 2019 (in no particular order)!

1. The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo (Doubleday)~This is the ultimate family drama/saga. It stole my heart ❤️❤️❤️!!

2. The Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware (Gallery Books)~Smart homes, technology and keyholes officially terrify me 😱.

3. The Testaments by Margaret Attwood (Doubleday)~This book was absolutely BRILLIANT! Click here for my blog post!

4. The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves (St. Martin’s Press)~I ran out of tissues reading this love story. My heart melted…….is a good way!!! Click here to read my blog post.

5. The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides (Celadon Books)~This book absolutely lived up to the hype. Clever, sharp and impossible to put down.

6. The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead (Doubleday)~ Whitehead does a fantastic job depicting the south in the early 1960s while getting his point across without overly graphic descriptions of the unimaginable.

7. On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong (Penguin Press)~ A poetic, thought provoking and stunning read.

8. Good Girls Lie by J.T. Ellison (Harlequin)~ An elite all girl boarding school, a murder and a couple of mean girls……..this was great!

9. If You Want To Make God Laugh by Bianca Marais (G. P. Putnam’s Sons)~. This South African story tugged at my heart strings. A truly beautiful story! Click here to read my blog post.

Well Mr. H…………..That is a wrap! Cheers to another decade of reading!!!!

Your Biggest Fan,


P.S. Did you know that the most read book in the world is The Bible and according to PBS “The Great American Read”, Harper Lee’s To Kill a MockingBird is America’s most loved novel.

A Small But Mighty Stack

Small but mighty stack of books

September 23, 2019

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

I cannot for the life of me believe that today is the first day of fall. Here in Maine, we are waking up to crisp mornings, orange leaves on the trees, and pumpkin spice EVERYWHERE!  My September reading is off to a great start. From a quintessential Maine novel to a love story that had me at “Hello”, to a sequel 34 years in the making…… mini book stack is a mighty one. Let’s dive in!

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout anyone?  A few quick notes about this book.  First, it takes place in the fictional town of Crosby, Maine.  Second, this book was an Emmy Award winning HBO mini series. Lastly, in 2009, Elizabeth Strout won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  Not too shabby. So why all the fuss? Strout masterfully captures the essence of small town living in Maine. Though Olive Kitteridge  is one novel, it is composed of thirteen short stories starring ordinary people.  All of the stories link back in some way to Olive Kitteridge, a retired school teacher.  Olive is not the easiest of characters to know or like. She will no doubt bother you, frustrate you and just plain drive you crazy.  However, as you get to know her throughout the book, you will find glimmers of her sensitivity much stronger than she lets on. With this said, it is the cast of colorful characters and their stories that paint the different shades of Olive.  Readers will experience Olive through many decades. There is no shortage of grief, loneliness and aging. Raw emotions are abundant, leaving readers vulnerable to their own feelings. Though this is not the most uplifting book I have read, it’s subtleties are extraordinary.  If you look hard enough, you will find love. I thought this book was brilliant. Give it a go! If you have already read this, guess what?????? The sequel entitled Olive Again, comes out this October.

Moving on, if you are looking for a novel that will keep you glued to the couch, try The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves.  This book has all the feels.  Annika and Jonathan have a unique love story, unlike any I have ever read.  Plan to fall in love with Annika from page one. She is quiet. She is awkward. She is completely lost in social situations.  She is about to throw in the towel with her whole college experience when she joins the chess team. Annika thrives playing this complex and ever changing game.  As she blooms in this setting, the feeling of finally belonging somewhere sets in. It is here where she meets Jonathan, the soon to be the love of her life. Let me just tell you this………… I LOVE THEM TOGETHER!!!!! Their relationship is filled with an innocence that will leave you speechless.  However, there is a catch. Something leads to their breakup. A decade later though, they end up running into each other. As they gingerly unpack their feelings for one another, new discoveries are made, leading them down a whole new path of love. Sorry, but that is all I can say without spoiling this.  Tender moments and harsh realities will keep you hooked. Believe me when I say, you won’t put this book down until the very end.

Last but not least, I devoured the highly anticipated sequel to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale..The Testaments.  First let me say…….. I LOVED IT.  But here’s the scoop. I read The Handmaid’s Tale a few years ago and enjoyed it, but was frustrated with the ending.  I simply wanted more!!! I then proceeded to watch all three seasons of the TV show, which really quenched my curiosity. Recently, I read The Testaments.  Without giving too much away, The Testaments takes place 15 years later.  It most certainly has more meat to it than The Handmaid’s Tale.  It is told by three narrators, one of them being Aunt Lydia. The perspectives have a much different tone in this story.  We know from the first book the basics of Gilead and its “purpose”. It set readers up with a dystopia that would be any woman’s worst nightmare.   The Testaments gives readers a deeper look into the Aunts of Gilead, what growing up in this twisted Republic really looked like and the perspective of the people living outside of this regine.  This book was much different than I expected (like many of us, I am not sure what I was expecting). Because I have seen the show, I had my visuals established and had a pretty good foundation going in.  I was pumped to get back to Gilead, get some more dirt from the people living there, and figure out once and for all a way to eradicate this absolute hell hole. The Testaments did reference a few things that occurred only on the TV show.  Because of this, I wonder if the book would have been more difficult to understand if I hadn’t watched the show.  I will never know! Nevertheless, if you are a fan………read this. It did not disappoint.

Your Biggest Fan,


P.S. Click on the books below to purchase! Happy reading!!!!!

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout

The Girl He Used To Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

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