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Guest Writer

Guest Writer Zubs Malik graphic

Zubs J. Malik
Bookstagram Bonanza Edition

Guest Writer Zubs Malik graphic

October 30, 2020

Dear Book Friends,

TGIF!!!! Today is the last day of The Dear Mr. Hemingway Guest Writers~ Bookstagram Bonanza Edition. I can’t believe how fast that went by. I am super excited to introduce you to today’s final writer…Zubs J. Malik.

Zubs is an award winning book blogger based in London and behind the account @zubscovered on Instagram. Over 20K book lovers (including me) are obsessed with her dreamy book account. Gorgeous book covers, cozy blankets, fresh flowers and awe inspiring content grace her Bookstagram page each day. Zubs loves highlighting indie authors, upcoming new releases and all the classic reads you can possibly imagine. When the going gets tough, head on over to Zubs. She is not afraid to have the hard conversations or to help her followers make sense of some of the more complicated issues surrounding us each day. She continues to bring awareness to racism, Black Lives Matter, #ownvoices, diverse reading and Covid-19 with sensitivity, dignity and grace.

Zubs lives in London with her husband and three sons (another boy mama🤗🤗). She initially embarked on a legal career but then decided to be a ‘stay at home’ mom (mum) when her first son was born in 2009. She is currently a High School/Secondary School English teacher and avid reader.

In January 2018 Zubs lost her mother and in a desperate attempt to cope with her loss she turned to books to offer her some form of escapism from her grief. With a gentle nudge from her husband towards Bookstagram, Zubscovered was born. 

“My mum always told me that there was more to me than just being a wife, a mother and a daughter. She wanted me to ‘make waves’ in the world and always encouraged me not to waste myself. When she passed away, I felt like half of my heart died with her. But her passing also pushed me to find ME and I think that was her parting gift to me.” 

When Zubs is not bookstagramming, teaching or raising babies she loves to run and cook delicious foods. In fact, she actually has stated before that she initially wanted to create a food account! She is an advocate for all things books and reading and all things good in this beautiful world. She is a true friend to all and I insist you check out her page and follow her on all of her bookish adventures.

Much Love and Reading,

Kelly

P.S. Zubs is a wicked fast reader. She typically can read a book from start to finish in under 5 hours 😮😮😮


Dear Mr Hemingway, 

It has, in fact, taken me quite some time to finally put pen to paper and write this letter to you. Living in a world with so much uncertainty and fear I needed to really think about the ‘type’ of book that I put forward.

Would I choose a book that is full of humour and offers your readers a sense of escapism? Or would I opt for a narrative that deliciously satisfies the adrenaline one feels when reading a fast-paced thriller?

But, alas, I decided against them both. All seemed somewhat irrelevant and I thought perhaps what people need to read is simply – Hope. 

That despite the improbability of our current situations, there is hope. There is always hope. We must believe it.

In a world where humans tend to make assumptions about race/religion/culture based on old news, media, preconceived notions and prejudice, books like this MUST be read. 

Bianca Marais’ If You Want to Make God Laugh, is a fictitious tale with so much heart, but also educates its readers on a medical epidemic, the thoughts and feelings of its citizens post-apartheid and introducing the reader to the beauty of the country. Not just the beauty of a nation. The beauty of its people and how our very thread is connected without us even knowing. 

I spent hours perusing post-apartheid SA and the Aid/HIV epidemic in the 90s. Did you know, Mr Hemmingway, that South Africa has the biggest HIV epidemic in the world? 7.1 million people living with HIV? Yes, nor did I. I read this book and then I researched. That’s how much it stayed with me.  

I left my heart in South Africa 11 years ago and Bianca, took me back. She opened my eyes, she showed me a world that I did not know existed and more importantly Mr Hemingway, she gave me hope.

I hope she gives you hope too.

Much love, 

Zubs 

P.S. Click on the book pic below to purchase this incredible book from your local bookstore.

If you want to make God Laugh book cover

Author Bianca Marais was also a Guest Writer for Dear Mr. Hemingway. Click Here to check out her letter.

Guest Writer

Guest writer Amanda Benwell graphic

Amanda Benwell
Bookstagram Bonanza Edition

Guest writer Amanda Benwell graphic

October 28, 2020

Dear Book Worms,

Happy Wednesday! I am thrilled to share with you that Amanda Benwell is on the blog today writing to Mr. Hemingway about one of her favorite books of all time. Amanda is the creator of the wonderful Bookstagram account, @lilacsandliterature where she highlights her love of reading and all the books you can possibly imagine. If you need a book recommendation, Amanda will steer you in the right direction. If you don’t believe me, ask one of the 9,000+ followers she has. Amanda is the real deal!

Amanda is a born and raised Mainer, and shares a home with her husband of twelve years and their three sons (see why I like her)! When she is not spending time with all of the men in her life or quietly reading, she enjoys anything and everything true crime: podcasts, documentaries, etc. as well as bad reality TV and cooking! She lives for the nostalgia of growing up a 90s kid and is a huge fan of 70s soft rock, country music and CHRISTMAS! Amanda shared with me that she could never live without caffeine, comfy blankets, sarcasm and pasta! This my friends… is someone I can trust!

Though Amanda and I both live in Maine, we have never met in person (unless you count ZOOM). Did I mention that Maine is a really big state with slow moving “highways” and country roads? The minimum time it takes to get anywhere feels like 25 minutes, and Amanda and I live miles away from one another. I look forward to enjoying a cup of coffee or fabulous cocktail with this Bookstagram Treasure one of these days. I hope you enjoy her letter to the big guy and check out all of her bookish love over on instagram.

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S. The book Amanda eagerly chose to share today started from one small article in the New York Times in 1959 and resulted in an Edgar Award in1966 for best fact-crime novel and a Pulitzer Prize nomination that same year, not to mention multiple film adaptations as well (hmmm…have you guessed yet?)

___________________________

Dear Mr. H.,

Fall is here in Maine and as a lifelong resident I can easily say this is my favorite time of year. The leaves are changing, the weather is much cooler, the sky turns darker earlier, and there is nothing that says “reading time” to me more than a blanket and a cup of tea. In case you were wondering, decaf chai spice is my go to right now. And as I contemplated what book I would want to chat with you about, it really wasn’t very difficult to choose. When I was a high school student (I won’t date myself but it was roughly two decades ago – keep this between us?) I read a book that would forever change me. Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood shocked me and instantly made me a fanatic of all things true crime – documentaries, books, tv specials – you name it and I devoured it. And even now, in the age of podcasts and Netflix where true crime is a thriving brand, I’m still taken back to years ago when I first read the story of the Clutter family from Holcomb, Kansas.

I am by definition, not a re-reader. I can probably count on one hand the number of times I have read a book more than once. I’m not sure exactly why that is. Part of it is because there are so many good books out there that I hesitate to choose something I’ve already read over the adventure of a new story. I am also a staunch anti-synopsis/spoiler reader which means I do not read the synopsis of a book before I dive in, as I do not even want the generic plot revealed. This is for a few reasons – I read many thrillers where there is often a “twist” in the book and even reading a synopsis has me guessing it all the way through and can easily ruin the excitement for myself. But there are a few books I’ve read over the course of my life as a reader – and one could argue I’ve been a reader since birth as books have always been my escape – that have been so powerful that I would read all over again. And this brings me to this amazing book. 

A note to readers: In Cold Blood is not for the faint of heart and deals with four savage murders so please continue reading with caution. 

In 1959 in the small town of Holcomb, Kansas lived four members of the Clutter Family – Herb, the patriarch, Bonnie, the timid “afflicted” mother, Kenyon, the high school son, and the teenage sweetheart Nancy, who was the town’s pride and joy. One Sunday morning, Nancy’s friend arrives at the Clutter’s house and finds it silent which is highly unusual. What follows is the discovery that the entire family has been murdered – and worst of all there is no apparent motive or any suspects to name. The Clutter family was widely known, very well liked, and not an overly wealthy family, although they did just fine on their sprawling ranch. But it doesn’t appear much was stolen from the house, and everyone knew Mr. Clutter never carried cash, choosing to pay for everything by check. So what happened here? Why did this horrific crime – shotgun blasts in close range to the entire family – happen? Was it personal? But why?

Capote’s writing is unlike anything that came before or after, and broke the true crime genre wide open. He interviewed absolutely everyone he could – from friends and family of the Clutters to people who knew the eventual suspects – and who of course turned out to be the perpetrators. But the most important aspect of the novel is not how much time and research was spent on the information, but how it was presented. In Cold Blood reads like a titillating crime novel, fictional in its appearance, but every word of it true. Capote was able to put you inside the Clutter home on the night of November 15, 1959 with the wind whistling across the plains and the silence of the country roads. You can taste the fear of the family, the shock and terror as they realize this isn’t your run of the mill robbery and that evilhad entered their home. 

As the entire town scrambles to understand this horrific crime, Capote not only takes us through the journey of law enforcement, but also takes us along for a ride with the two men who committed the crime. We learn everything about them, including their childhoods, what they ate after the brutal murders, and everything in between. It is an unprecedented look at both the victims and perpetrators that was unheard of at the time. No one writes with such amazing detail as Capote. He captured the emotions of all those around, not only the family, but the murderers as well. 

I cannot recommend this book enough, even for those who would not consider themselves interested in the true crime genre. This was written well before “click-bait” and the obsession with serial killers and every sensationalized detail. Capote wrote the truth, and it was more chilling than any horror movie or fictional verse. He also takes an approach to the death penalty that has much validity in the conversation even now. 

So here we are, Mr. H. I hope you take my suggestion into consideration and pour yourself a cup of chai, wrap up in a nice cozy blanket and meet the Clutter family with me. Herb, Bonnie, Kenyon, and Nancy will stay with you. And you might just meet your new obsession: true crime and the desire to understand the darkest parts of humanity. It’s been 20 years and I’m still in deep.

Your true crime bookworm friend,

Amanda

P.S. Click on the book pic below to purchase!

Book cover of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood

Guest Writer

Holly Berfield Guest Writer Graphic

Holly Berfield
Bookstagram Bonanza Edition

Guest Writer Holly Berfield Graphic

October 23, 2020

Dear Book Friends,

I have such a mouthwatering treat for you this Friday. Today’s Guest Writer is the ever so talented Holly Berfield, creator of the Blog, BookCookLook and Instagram account @bookcooklook. Who doesn’t love a fabulous book paired with something absolutely scrumptious to eat. BookCookLook features book reviews and delicious food inspired by the story. How perfect is that! If you have never visited Holly’s Blog or Instagram account…now is the time. Detailed book reviews, delectable food pairings and drool worthy photos will have you hooked in no time.

Holly is a photographer of families and food, and was formerly a lawyer and marketing exec until her love for her camera made it feel impossible to do anything else! She is married to her college sweetheart, and lives in New York with her husband, two boys and mini Australian labradoodle puppy. When she’s not behind the camera, you can find her in the kitchen baking something new (lately challah!), traveling to new adventuresome locations (less of this lately …) or between the pages of a great novel (lots of this)! Her favorite books of 2020 so far have been This Tender Land, The Book of Longings, Here For It and The Girl With The Louding Voice.

I hope you enjoy her letter to Mr. H. It’s a tasty one!

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

________________________

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Did you ever finish reading a book, then hold it close in farewell before selecting a perfect spot on the bookshelf, to be reminded of it always? This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger was one of those books for me. It was one of my first quarantine purchases, made on a quick curbside trip to a semi-closed local bookshop, in a gloved and masked exchange with the owner. I just knew from the first chapter it would be special. In fact, it reminds me a lot of your Nick Adams stories. Your other works garner so much attention but the Nick Adams stories stayed with me, especially the power of nature to heal emotional wounds. This magnificent novel centers on the Depression-era journey of four orphans on the run from violence and despair at a tyrannical boarding school. Their makeshift family with nothing but a canoe winds its way down a river in Minnesota, and as their adventures along the way bring them closer together, others threaten to tear them apart. The narrator, Odie O’Banion, tells this coming of age story with a beauty that is immersive, and the descriptions of the setting fairly shimmer off the pages. It feels like a new American classic, filled with characters who shape the course of the orphans’ odyssey. The story is gently paced, but also filled with suspense as these young vagabonds avoid the pursuit of their would-be captors. With its transporting, captivating writing, and moving depiction of adventure and human connection, this book was an unforgettably perfect “mood read” for hunkering down at home.

Mr. Hemingway, I think you’d be so impressed with the author’s note. Krueger kayaked and canoed the same Minnesota waterways that Odie and his companions traveled. Every spot in the book was visited by the author and it shows in his descriptive writing, just as your time in northern Michigan inspired the Nick Adams stories. In my bookcooklook project, I cook something inspired by every book I read. Given the Depression-era timing of the story, there is lots of soup in this book. Lentil, chicken, beef and bean – but at the time of my reading, I was making matzo ball soup for Passover. It occurred to me how fitting this is for This Tender Land, which is all about freedom, family and to a degree, faith. There is a daring escape from bondage, many days and nights wandering in search of freedom, and even a character named Moses. It seemed a perfect, satisfying pairing for a memorable novel like this one.

I hope you love this book as much as I did, Mr. H.

Holly

P.S. Click on my book pic below to purchase.

This Tender Land cover

Photo Credit~Holly Berfield

Guest Writer

Selina A. Guest Writer Graphic

Selina A.
Bookstagram Bonanza

Selina A. Guest Writer Graphic

October 21, 2020

Dear Lovely Readers,

Today is a wonderful day! The Dear Mr. Hemingway Guest Writer is Selina A. I have been chatting with Selina for a few years now. Even though she is literally half a world away, we still have wonderful conversations about books and writing. I adore how we can bounce ideas off of one another even if I am having my evening cocktail while Selina is brewing her morning coffee (the internet is pretty amazing sometimes). This beautiful girl from the “land down under” is the creator of the extremely successful Book Blog, Check Your Shelf and Bookstagram account, @checkyourshelf_. Selina is constantly devouring and reviewing books for her page. Contemporary romance, thrillers, historical fiction, fantasy and YA are all her jam. If you are looking for some new authors to read, Selina has got you covered. Be sure to visit her BLOG to get an inside scoop on some fabulous Australian authors.

Selina lives in beautiful sunny Sydney, Australia with her husband and two young girls. When not reading you can find her baking, going for long walks, recreating TikTok dances (in her head) or obsessing over her growing collection of succulents (which do not want to stay alive). Her usual day job is as a digital marketing manager, so you could say all her time spent online is ‘research’.

I hope you enjoy her letter to Mr. H. I now have ANOTHER book to add to my very own TBR!

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S. According to Selina, you really need to Check Your Shelf before you Wreck Yourself 😂!

___________________________

Dear Mr Hemingway, 

Do you know what an alphahole is? Well grab a stiff drink and strap yourself in, because you’re about to find out! 

When I think about fall reading I think cozy blankets, a steaming hot mug of tea, some chocolate and…hunky fae, merman, fallen angels and werewolves? 

Sarah J Maas really needs no introduction. Well actually, perhaps you may need one. She’s the queen of young adult fantasy, intricate world building, books that get thicker as the series continues, repetitive uses of the same word (sorry couldn’t resist)  and the writer behind #bookstagram favourite Rhysand from the infamous ACOTAR (A Court of Thorns and Roses) series. Sorry, what? Oh, I can explain #bookstagram another time…

Her ACOTAR series was one I picked up last year after I saw rave reviews. And I’m so glad I did! I used to enjoy reading fantasy as a teen, but hadn’t really read a proper series since then. After loving ACOTAR I knew I had to pick up her first adult fantasy offering, House of Earth & Blood…and I wasn’t disappointed.

Ernie (may I call you that?), don’t be fooled by the size of this one! It’s one of those books that make you abandon all your responsibilities (children included), furiously turning the pages, when, before you know it, you’ve finished a whole block of chocolate, the kids are in bed (how did they get there?) and you’re wondering whether you should dye your hair red a la the main character Bryce. There’s a lot of detail in these pages, however in the hands of the skilled Maas, it all comes together as it needs to. 

Bryce and her best friend Danika are living their best lives in the pulsing Crescent City. By day she’s an assistant to a prominent arts dealer. By night, she parties hard with her friends, club and boy hopping like no tomorrow. Until tragedy strikes. 

Becoming quickly embroiled in a mystery that could shake up the very fabric of Crescent City, Bryce teams up with the infamous Umbra Mortis, Hunt Athalar to solve the crime. I really enjoyed the mystery aspect here, and found it a refreshing twist on the usual fantasy set up. 

Speaking of Bryce, can I be her when I grow up? On the surface she’s a bit of a party girl, but she’s multi layered and a total badass pocket rocket too…she may be small but she can definitely hold her own!  Packed with action, intrigue and alphaholes galore, this is one to definitely add to your fall reading list! 

Happy reading! 

Selina 

P.S. alphahole = an alpha male who takes their controlling/ demanding ways a little too far. Get it??

Click on the book pic below to purchase.

Crescent City Book Cover

Guest Writer

Kylie Sebert Guest Writer Graphic

Kylie Sebert
Bookstagram Bonanza

Kylie Sebert Guest Writer Graphic

October 16, 2020

Dear Book Worms!

TGIF! I am so happy to introduce you to today’s Guest Writer, Kylie Sebert. This fellow Mainer is the creator of the wicked inspirational Bookstagram page, @notsotwentysomething. The beautiful pictures on her account are a testament to her passion for all things books and writing and miles and miles of gorgeous trails to hike. With over 7,000 followers, this book lover is one to follow. In addition to running a highly successful Bookstagram account, Kylie writes a monthly column called Kylie’s Book Nook for a local magazine in Iowa (her hometown ) called Lake Life AND works as an Event Planner/Writer in Portland, Maine.

Kylie lives in Yarmouth, Maine with her boyfriend and newly adopted kitties. I have had the pleasure of meeting Kylie several times and can personally vouch for her fabulousness.

I hope you enjoy her letter to Mr. H. I know I did!

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S. Kylie has a Master’s Degree of Fine Arts in Writing, with an emphasis in Fiction. She is hoping to start her first novel one of these days. I will be first in line to read it 🥰🥰🥰!

_________________________________

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

It was very difficult to decide which book to recommend to you, especially after reading so many great books this year. Do I recommend a book from my favorite genre, some crazy thriller that keeps you on the edge of your seat? Do I recommend a war-time historical fiction novel full of hardship and emotional scenes? No, I think the current state of the world calls for a different type of recommendation. I’m recommending a book from an author I turn to for the ultimate feel-good read. A little contemporary romance for you, Mr. H. Can you get into it? If anyone can get you there, it’s Elin Hilderbrand. 

I started reading Elin when I was 19 years old, working in my hometown at a bar on Lake Okoboji in the summertime. My mom gave me The Blue Bistro to read and I fell in love. I’m from a touristy town, and while it’s certainly no Nantucket, I could always relate so much to her characters living for the summers and taking full advantage of every bit of sunshine. While I could recommend every one of her books to you, Mr. H., I will start with 28 Summers. 28 Summers is the story of Mallory and Jake and their “Same Time Next Year” affair based on the classic film. They spend one weekend each year together and escape their real lives/worries. The story flashes back to the summers leading up to the present day, in such an original way of telling this love story that spans so many decades.⠀Each chapter actually starts with “What are we talking about in…” and then preps us on the big events of that particular year. Not only does she mention those events, but then weaves them into the story, adding in a unique historical fiction element to the piece. From 1993 to today, from 9/11 to the Me Too movement, she explores so much history, making this rise above your typical beach read.⠀⠀

I love Elin’s books for so many reasons but her characters are the reason I keep coming back. She dives in deep, especially in this one as you see such a large span of time with them. I loved Mallory’s character, a teacher who inherited her aunt’s house on Nantucket and totally falls in love with the island. She’s so independent and strong, men are her only vice which so many readers can relate to. There are so many other side characters you will love also. This one is full of strong female characters.⠀⠀

Elin writes Island life like no one else. Her books areunique in that once you enter her Nantucket world in her first book, you keep coming back in all subsequent books, meeting new characters, and adding to the charming community. You will see old characters pop up in new novels and it feels like old friends coming for a visit. I’m telling you Mr. H., you need to dive into this Hilderbrand summertime paradise for a little escape! I hope you love them as much as I do. 

Sincerely,

Kylie 

P.S. Click on the book pic below to purchase!

Guest Writer

Bree Hill Guest Writer Graphic

Bree Hill
Bookstagram Bonanza Edition

Guest Writer Bree Hill Graphic

October 14, 2020

Dear Book Friends,

If you are looking for love, you have come to the right place. Today’s Guest Writer is a retired Air Force police officer turned stay at home mom turned successful book lover/influencer. Bree Hill is the queen of romance reading! She is the creator of the very successful Bookstagram page, @falling4romance. If you are looking to read something from this genre, then Bree is the girl for you. I tend to visit her page quite often when I need a little more love in my life. In addition to all the work she does for her own page, she also is a contributing writer for Reading Women and Frolic and has been featured on the What To Read Next podcast and Shelf Love podcast. WOW!

Bree is a full time college student, wrapping up her degree in History, hoping to teach middle school one day. She picked up her first romance novel in 2017 and has been an avid reader of the genre ever since. When not reading, or chasing after one of her kids, Bree can typically be found having coffee at a local coffee shop or out for her morning run.

I hope you enjoy Bree’s letter to Mr. H. Romance is in the air everyone…….take a deep breath and enjoy!

P.S. This past summer, Bree was named one of the top 24 Black Bookstagrammers to put on your radar by BuzzFeed (can you say…the real deal?).

______________________________

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

One thing 2020 has shown me, is that the world can use a little more (or a lot more) romance. We need more love stories, more happy ever afters. Romance has been my go-to genre since I picked my first romance novel up back in 2017. I remember checking out a Debbie Macomber Christmas romance novel from my local library, and the genre instantly became a new life companion. Through dark mental health moments, retiring from the job I’d been doing since I was 18 and constant hits, we’ve been experiencing in 2020, I have always been able to depend on romance. 

A favorite romance from this year, that I recommend every chance I get is, The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel. Here’s the thing: I read and finished this book back in July, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it yet! When you look at the cover of this book, you see this gorgeous yellow cover with the beautiful illustrated version of our heroine, Liya Thakkar and our hero, Jay Shaw. You see the cover and immediately think, “This is going to be a good time.” It is a good time, and so much more. This book is genius. Liya is a successful bioengineer in Houston, Texas who goes to her parent’s house for dinner one night. Unbeknownst to her, her parents have invited over Jay Shaw and his Mother, as a setup, hoping Liya and Jay will marry. As any 2020 woman would do, Liya bolts it out of there! When she goes to work the next day, she runs into Jay again because he is the lawyer her struggling company has hired to help them out. 

I love a good workplace romance. I love a not-so friendly to lovers romance too but what I love even more is how romance authors weave in serious issues women face into their stories, all with the promise of a happy ever after at the end. Liya is a sexual assault survivor and because of who her assaulter was, she’s basically been alienated from her community and by members of her own family. She is tough and maintains control at all times after having survived a situation where she didn’t have control. There is a scene in this book that still makes my blood boil every time I think of it and that I remember physically experiencing along with Liya when it happened; it was heartbreaking but the moment I think she and I as the reader, realized it was time to let go and move on. Romance authors are putting in work! Don’t let the pretty illustrated covers or promise of a happy ever after fool you; their stories include some hard hitting, real life issues. The happy ever after is the gift for making it through.

The Trouble With Hating You by Sajni Patel should absolutely be on your to be read list.

Remember, Kindness is Free

Bree

P.S. Click on the book pic below to purchase.

The Trouble Hating You book cover

 

Guest Writer

Graphic for guest writer Chase Waskey

Chase Waskey
Bookstagram Bonanza Edition

Guest Writer graphic for Chase Waskey

October 9, 2020

Dear Book Lovers,

Happy Friday everyone! I am so happy to introduce you to today’s Guest Writer, Chase Waskey. I met Chase online a few years ago when I was starting up Dear Mr. Hemingway. Through the years, we have managed to chat all things books and writing, while never even meeting in person. Chase is the creator of the very successful BLOG, The Bookend Diner, and Bookstagram page, @thebookend.diner (over 28,000 followers 😮). If you have never visited her blog or Instagram page…MAKE IT HAPPEN. You will not be disappointed.

Chase started her account in April of 2019 as a creative outlet for discussing the books she was reading and the different cookbooks she was sampling recipes from. The name “Bookend Diner” stemmed from her combination of books and cookbooks but also from her desire to open up her own bookshop diner one day. Chase’s account highlights all of her favorite reads and cookbooks. She does a phenomenal job creating a “buzz” around upcoming titles and her photography is absolutely lovely to look at.

Chase lives in Lexington, Kentucky with her two dogs, cat, and husband. Two of her favorite books are Where the Crawdads Sing and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo. Chase is a coffee lover, has a serious sweet tooth, and, rumor has it…wants to raise chickens (just like me ❤️).

I hope you enjoy her letter to Mr. H. The book she recommends today is officially on my TBR. Thanks Chase!

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S. Chase just celebrated her birthday yesterday. If you pop on her page, be sure to wish her well 🎉!

_______________________

Dear Mr. Hemingway, 

Do you ever feel like you’ve taken on too much at one time? 

In a world that is filled with things to do, places to be, and people to meet, I often find myself saying “time needs to slow down”, “where has the day gone?” or “there’s just not enough time in the day.” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that this is the case and, to be completely honest, I don’t like it. I find myself aching to have more time to sit back and enjoy the beautiful fall day and to have the opportunity to take my dogs on an extra-long walk. 

I recently received a book that made time stand still for me because I genuinely felt as if the author reached into my mind and extracted these thoughts that I had tried, and failed, on multiple occasions to formulate. Once she had pulled these thoughts from my mind, she then sat down and wrote a book. I’ve not encountered a book that was so eloquently written and able to portray such pure, heartfelt emotion. But, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue did just that. 

Right as I finished reading this book, I read that it took the author, V.E. Schwab, nine years to put this book together. It shows. This incredible, breathtaking, heartbreaking, resonating story reflects all of those years of research, note-taking, formulating, and creating. 

It took me a solid week to read about Addie LaRue because as much as I wanted to know her story, I also didn’t want her story to end. I didn’t want to miss a piece of her beautiful life and the world that she saw. I felt as if I were walking along beside her through this three hundred year journey of loneliness. Can you imagine? Three hundred years of being alone, of no one remembering your name, and not being able to leave so much as a footprint in the snow behind. But, yet, she did, and she became stronger with each year that passed. 

While reading The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue, I kept thinking that this would make a remarkable movie, but then I would think that there is no way that a movie could ever do this story justice. I’m still torn on my feelings, but I do know one thing; I want Addie LaRue’s story to live on, and I want to read it and live it over. It is not a book that should be read once but read again and again. 

Nine years was what it took to put this beautiful book together and, in my opinion, it was nine years well spent. 

My dear Mr. Hemingway, I hope that you will take the time to read this beautiful story. 

Sincerely, 

Chase

P.S. Click on my book pic below to purchase.

The Invisible Live of Addie LaRue Graphic
photo credit Chase Waskey

Guest Writer

Graphic for guest writer Carrie Torrisi

Carrie Torrisi

Bookstagram Bonanza Edition

Guest Writer, Carrie Torisi graphic

October 7, 2020

Dear Lovely Readers,

I am so excited to introduce you to today’s Guest Writer…Carrie Torrisi. Carrie is the mastermind behind the ever so popular Bookstagram (fancy name for Instagram for book lovers) page, @bostonbookfanatic. If you have never visited Carrie’s Instagram page, then HOP TO IT! She loves reading family dramas, particularly multigenerational and nonlinear/dual timeline stories. She does an impressive job highlighting the latest books, promoting authors, and featuring debut novels. Carrie is one of the creators of #thesixspotlight and a co-creator of the @mystery.book.club on Instagram.

Carrie’s book recommendations are a slam dunk. If you are looking for something to read, look no further. With over 42,000 followers (I am most definitely one of them), it is safe to say that this Boston Book Fanatic has got you covered. And guess what…this isn’t even her day job! A successful lawyer by day 😮 and respected book lover/book influencer by night, Carrie is awe-inspiring!!! How on earth she has time to ride her deeply loved Peloton bike is beyond me. I hope you enjoy her stellar letter to Mr. H. Its a keeper!

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S. Carrie’s coolness doesn’t stop there… she even has a cat named RBG. Can you say GIRL POWER!

______________________

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Perhaps a book that’s comprised of individuals sharing the darkest moments in their lives isn’t the best to recommend to someone whose tumultuous life was filled with mental health struggles and ended in suicide.  However, given that the biggest takeaway from everyone I’ve talked to about this book is that the stories made them feel less alone in their struggles, perhaps you would have found some comfort in it, as well.

I know not everyone wants to read an emotional book, but if you’re going to read just one this fall (hell, even this year), then make that one be Craigslist Confessional by Helena Dea Bala. Are you going to be sad?  Oh, most definitely.  But are you also going to feel connected to strangers and fellow readers in a way that you didn’t know possible?  Also yes.

Helena gave up her law career to follow her passion. That passion?  Listening to strangers share their problems.  What started as a conversation with a homeless man who panhandled near her office led Helena to place an ad on Craigslist (hm, how to explain Craigslist to you… or the internet…  This letter will be far too long so just imagine a huge billboard in the city square that anyone can see.) offering to meet with strangers and listen anonymously to them as they shared whatever they felt they couldn’t tell anyone else.  An offer to allow them to unburden themselves and ideally walk always feeling a bit emotionally lighter. She got thousands of responses, and Craigslist Confessional was born.

As a lawyer who sometimes gets caught up in the daily grind (we all know how that goes, right?), I so admire Helena’s decision to leave her unfulfilling legal career behind and choose a path that gave her a sense of purpose. Especially given how wild that path seemed and how it, um, didn’t seem like it could possibly lead to any kind of income. Thankfully, people saw the value in these stories and now not only do we all have an opportunity to read them, but hopefully Helena will have a long and prosperous writing career ahead of her.

This book is made up of 40 individual stories from people going through the gamut of personal problems.  It’s split into five categories:  Love, Regret, Loss, Identity, and Family. Some of the stories will break your heart, some of them will bring you bittersweet joy, some of them will open your eyes to different experiences, and some of them you’ll relate to on a deeply personal level.  ALL of them will make you feel like you’re less alone. And ALL of them will remind you that we can never truly know what is going on behind a person’s façade. 

I’ve listened to people discuss these stories and connect over some of the deepest and darkest moments in their lives.  I’ve watched friends discuss their failed pregnancies and lost babies and rather than being crushed by sorrow, they’re comforted by their solidarity.  I’ve listened to people reference a moment in one story or a particular chapter where they thought, “yes, I’ve been there,” or “whoa, that’s me.” I’ve heard others say that they found their pain and struggles validated within these pages.

If you’re looking for a book with a happy ending where everything is tied up in a neat little bow, then be warned that this isn’t it. These stories are captured from a single conversation that Helena had with these individuals and are focused on whatever they needed or wanted to share to unburden themselves, so we don’t find out how their lives or situations turned out. While that might be hard for some, I found that it allowed me to be hopeful for them even in what seemed like the most hopeless of circumstances.

Reading Craigslist Confessional has reminded me not to be so quick to judge others and that there isn’t a single person whose life is all happy all the time. It’s truly a must read.

All the best,

Carrie – Boston Book Fanatic 

P.S. Click on the pic below to purchase this book!

Author photo of Carrie Torisi
photo credit – Carrie Torrisi

Guest Writer

Guest writer Sol Kelly

Sol Kelly

Bookstagram Bonanza Edition

Guest Writer Graphic for Sol Kelly

October 2, 2020

Dear Book Lovers,

I am so very happy to introduce you to today’s Guest Writer. Sol Kelly lives in Houston, Texas. She is the creator of the gorgeous book blog, The Sol Reader, and the popular Bookstagram (Instagram for book lovers) page, @thesolreader. Sol is an absolute free-spirit who loves to travel and explore new bookstores while learning new cultures and languages along the way. She is currently working on becoming quadrilingual in English, Spanish, French, and Japanese 😮! Sol is a mood reader whose favorite genres include literary and contemporary fiction, social science, gender + sexuality, and poetry. Sunny beaches, cold beer, and good reads give this ray of sunshine life. I hope you enjoy her letter to Mr. H. and follow her around on all of her bookish adventures. I can assure you…this gem will brighten your day ☀️☀️☀️.

Enjoy!

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S. Sol told me she hails from the city where people second-line and throw a party for everything. Can you say New Orleans 🍺🎭🎉!!!

_____________________

Dear Mr. H., 

While 2020 seems to have been written by a fantasy and thriller author who gets a laugh out of that whole “it’s one thing after another” stunt, the one thing they did get right is the amount of amazing books that are coming out this year. I’m not sure how many books you now have on your TBR (to be read) list, but if it is anywhere close to mine, a number we shall not speak of, then I hope All Boys Aren’t Blue by George M. Johnson is somewhere on there. If it is not, you need to add it as soon as possible because this book is a gem and the author is an incredible creative. 

I believe that knowing more about the author helps to elevate the reading experience. There’s something about getting to know them beyond their pages. With George M. Johnson, the more you learn about them, the more you fall in love with their authenticity, creativity, vulnerability, and innovation. I literally fangirl every time I see Johnson on my timeline, and if you’ve checked out their Instagram you will see why. They never disappoint..and I mean NEVER. George M. Johnson is an award winning writer and Bestselling author of All Boys Aren’t Blue who recently invited us in on identifying as nonbinary (pronouns: they/them) and queer. They are constantly and continuously demonstrating the importance of having agency over our lives. 

All Boys Aren’t Blue is an LGBTQIA+ Young Adult read (with a stunning cover for all my cover lovers like myself) that has an overarching theme of agency – being able to control our narrative. Johnson does an incredible job of showing what this has looked like in their life throughout every chapter from discussing their upbringing to their relationship with their family to their college experience in regard to becoming a member of a fraternity to exploring their identity and sexuality. We get a taste of it all, which I know with confidence will not only help younger readers see themselves in these pages, but everyone who cracks open the book, especially those of us who longed for books that gave us the words and convictions to navigate our own identities and sexuality in our respective worlds growing up and even now. Johnson words it perfectly on page 85 when they say, “You sometimes don’t know you exist until you realize someone like you existed before.” Have you ever read a book that made you feel understood and considered, Mr. H.? Maybe your works do that for others. 

The book is categorized as a memoir-manifesto with an outstanding amount of vulnerability expressed in every story that is admirable and is home to so much beauty. We are seeing a Black, queer, nonbinary author be an open book (pun intended lol) and give us stories we need – the stories that get buried in headlines, in graves, and in family secrets. Stories that never get told but should. Stories that challenge the gender binary and the heteronormative systems in society. Stories that speak to unconditional love and acceptance, and that give us permission to be our most genuine, authentic, bold, brave, and queer selves.

You should be adding All Boys Aren’t Blue to your cart…right…about…NOW!

Shine Brightly, 

Sol

P.S. Click on the book pic below to purchase this amazing read from an incredible bookstore!

Sol Kelly's bookstack

**Photo credit~Sol Kelly

Guest Writer ~ Ellie Alexander

Foodie Edition

 

June 17, 2020

Dear Book Lovers!

Happy Guest Writer Wednesday! I hope you are hungry today because Guest Writer Ellie Alexander is talking to Mr. Hemingway about the importance of truly listening, passing down recipes from generation to generation, and memories made in the kitchen with those you love. Ellie is the queen of writing cozy mysteries. She wrote The Rose City Mysteries (Kensington Books) about a budding floral artist and the Pacific Northwest Mysteries (Kesington Books) about an aspiring journalist under the name Kate Dyer-Seeley. She also wrote The Sloan Krause Mysteries (St. Martin’s Press) set in the Bavarian-themed paradise of Leavenworth, Washington, and The Bakeshop Mystery Series (St. Martin’s Press), which not only includes murder but fabulous recipes too 🤗🤗. Both of those series were penned under Ellie Alexander. When Ellie isn’t writing, you can find her in her kitchen whipping up something delicious to eat or on a nearby hiking trail, burning off all the wonderful sweets she bakes. I hope you enjoy her letter to Mr. H. I know I did!

❤️❤️❤️

Kelly

P.S. Be sure to check out Ellie’s website for all her books, recipes and more.

_____________________________

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Of the many things one could glean from your writing, I think the most important gift you taught me is summed up in this oh-so-wise quote: “I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.”

There is no greater gift than listening. It’s in the silence and the leaning in that we learn, connect, and begin to gain understanding. 

Listening for me began in the kitchen. The kitchen was a place of happy laughter and banter, whirring mixers, and storytelling. The kitchen was a space for gathering and lingering. While the living room and dining room might have had more seating and comfortable resting spots, the kitchen always took center stage. That was thanks in large part to my mom’s belief in buttercream and her ability to listen. While she slathered homemade chocolate cakes with copious amounts of fluffy buttercream, she would ask leading questions, and hold the space for me to be heard. She imparted her wisdom during baking sessions where she taught me to knead pie crust, cutout sugar cookies, and fold egg whites for the perfect soufflé. 

Her baking style mirrored her personality—easy going and infused with fun. Her cakes were often lopsided. They might not be Pinterest or Instagram-worthy today, but they tasted divine and they were handcrafted with love. The cookbooks of my youth were Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book and Hershey’s 1934 Cookbook, both passed on from her mother. Now they reside on my kitchen counter, splotched with stains from the generation of bakers who came before me. The gift of these cookbooks is so much more than recipes for chocolate cream pie, jam thumbprints, wagon wheels, or coconut lemon bars. Although, those classic gems still find their way into my baking routine. But, the well-worn pages of my mother’s cookbooks serve as a reminder that food is a love language. The important conversations and the everyday conversations take place in the kitchen.

There’s a slowness about spending an afternoon pressing dainty spritz. I didn’t fully understand the magnitude of that magic until after my mother and grandmother died. I’m living their legacy every day. We think of legacies as something grandiose, but I’ve discovered that the most lasting memories come in the form of sweet little packages—my grandmother’s Parker House Rolls, my mom’s almond raspberry shortbread. The women who formed me live on with each cracked egg and stick of butter. 

My cookbook collection has expanded over the years, but I treasure my Betty Crocker and Hershey’s cookbooks the most, especially as my teenage son has started his own journey into baking. We blast Pentatonix as he tackles lemon tarts with Swiss meringue. Now it’s my turn to listen. I ask him leading questions, I lean into the silence, giving him space to speak when he’s ready. I understand the significance of baking together. This time we have in the kitchen is fleeting. Soon he’ll be off to college and stocking his own cupboards with vanilla bean paste and cornmeal. But, that’s okay because we’re continuing the tradition, I’m passing on family stories, and learning his one snickerdoodle at a time. As for the cookbooks, they’ll be waiting for him when he’s ready. 

Wishing you many leisurely days spent listening.

~Ellie 

Click on the updated versions of Ellie’s favorite cookbooks to purchase.

Click on Ellie’s book below to purchase the first book in her Bakeshop Mystery Series!

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