Dear Mr. Hemingway Logo

read what you love • love what you read

Guest Writer~Lisa Barr

Author Edition

 

Guest Writer, Author Lisa Barr

January 22, 2020

Dear Book Loving Friends,

Wednesday is officially my favorite day of the week. Another fabulous guest writer has written into Mr. H., and this time it is Author, Lisa Barr. Lisa’s most recent novel, The Unbreakables (Harper), came out this past summer, and guess what…it was a five star read for me. In addition to this widely popular summer read, Lisa also wrote the award-winning novel, Fugitive Colors (Arcade). This novel won the IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Award) gold medal for “Best Literary Fiction 2014” and was named on “HEEB” Magazine’s “Top 10” best book list. It also won first prize at the Hollywood Film Festival (Opus Magnum Discovery Award). But did you also know that this well-known author worked in the world of journalism, too? She served as the managing editor for Today’s Chicago Woman and Moment Magazine, editor for The Jerusalem Post, and editor/reporter for the Chicago-Sun Times. Not too shabby!!!!!!! I am so excited to have Lisa on the blog today. She is an inspiring woman to girls and women everywhere. I want to thank her for taking time out of her busy schedule to participate in the series. She is an absolute pleasure to work with. So…without further ado…

Happy Reading Friends,

Kelly

P.S. Did you know that in 1993, Lisa covered the famous “handshake” between the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat, and President Bill Clinton at the White House? Oh my gosh, she is sooooo cool!🥰🥰🥰🥰🥰

_________________________

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

It’s a lazy/not lazy Sunday, the first real fall day here in Chicago. I’ve got a fire going strong, a good glass of vino (of course), my dog at my side, and my husband splayed on the couch in the near distance watching football and yelling at the television. Something about a missed field goal. My three daughters are all grown and flown – two are away in college and my eldest baby is officially a working woman in Manhattan – her first job in the real world. It’s just me, my laptop, and my edits that are due. As in yesterday.

But I digress … Earlier this morning, I received one of those pop-up ads on Instagram. A new Nancy Drew TV series debuted this week. And I smiled, thinking about the brilliant teen sleuth who was not doing selfies (back in the day), rather she was developing her sense of self, which came from solving mysteries in her fictional hometown of River Heights. Of all literary characters that came my way, Nancy was my hands-down idol – her life (outside of losing her mother at a young age) was the one I wanted … if only. Childhood was not an easy ride for me and her adventures transported me Elsewhere and inspired both my curiosity to seek the truth and my lifelong love of suspense novels.

I was gifted my first copy nearly forty years ago (where does the time go?), and from that page-turner onward, I devoured the entire series (in order – Hello, Anal-retentive Me). I began, of course, with the author Mildred Wirt Benson’s (pen-named Carolyn Keene) first Nancy Drew mystery, “The Secret of the Old Clock”.

It’s no secret in my house that I credit the feisty young Miss Drew for turning me into a journalist, my life-long job before I became an author.

You can take the girl out of journalism, but not the journalism out of the girl. For me, both careers have worked hand-in-hand and have helped me become a better writer, by providing me with an in-depth understanding of all kinds of characters, all sorts of shenanigans. Forget graduate school, forget professors, forget internships — the hard truth is that Nancy Drew and her courageous posse George and Bess (the original #GirlPower trio) for giving me the goods at a young age. And of course … who didn’t have a crush on Nancy’s boyfriend Nick Nickerson (the name alone …).

Nancy Drew is always with me. 

I’m an avid reader with a revolving door of books on a weekly basis. But on my nightstand, there is a permanent place for her. I treasure my vintage copy of The Clue in the Old Album, lucky #24 in the series, originally penned in 1947. This novel shares a permanent home with four other beauties that have each impacted my life and my work in very different ways: The Diary of Anne Frank, S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, and Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying.

As a Mom of three daughters, Nancy Drew, a teen who relies on her instincts and intelligence, is truly a role model for girls of this generation to aim higher than the Bachelor and the Kardashians (although both are, admittedly, guilty pleasures in our household). Nancy hasn’t aged a day and her appeal is timeless (hence, the new TV series). But more importantly, so is her message: Follow the hunch. Write it down. Life is full of sticky situations – learn how to detangle them. Count on yourself – there are no handouts in life. These are all elements I utilize in my own work and my own life. Oh, and did I mention, Mr. Hemingway, that Carson Drew, Nancy’s beloved father – a top-notch criminal attorney – now seen through a middle-aged lens — is super hot? Just sayin’.

Looking out the window, near my fireplace, I can’t help but think that as the leaves begin to change, setting the stage for yet another Chicago Winter – Nancy Drew and her myriad mysteries have withstood the test of time. A fiercely independent role model, she remains inspirational and unstoppable. A young, motherless woman who thrived despite the obstacles in her path, Nancy Drew – was and still is – badass. My kinda girl.

As always … Much love, laughter & literary bliss, 

xoxo Lisa Barr

P.S. Would love if you’d check out my new novel, The Unbreakables and my award-winning historical thriller Fugitive Colors. Red wine is must while reading — I’m sure, Mr. Hemingway, you will have no problem with that 🙂

Click here to purchase The Unbreakables.

Click here to Purchase Fugitive Colors.

Click here to purchase Nancy Drew The Clue in the Old Album

Post Summer Catch Up With Kelly

A stack of books viewed from the side

September 5, 2019

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

It has been weeks since my last letter to you. Time flies by when you are on vacation, spending time with friends and family, and reading wonderful books! Nevertheless, summer is over 😢😢 and fall is in the air 😁😁. Today, I thought it would be great to recap a bunch of books that I’ve read recently. Now is the time to get everyone’s fall TBR piles stacked and ready to go. I look forward to writing to you often this fall Mr. H.

Until Next time!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S. I am looking forward to everyone’s comments on this post. I would love to know what everyone is reading!


The Perfect Wife
by JP Delaney is a fantastic read. What started off as a thriller, quickly turned into so much more. Abby, a mother, surfer, and artist wakes up one day dazed and confused. She has no idea who she is or where she is. Her husband gently informs her of an accident that happened many years ago. Before I go any further, The Perfect Wife is the kind of book to read without knowing too much going into it. I was pleasantly greeted with surprises, twists, and sharp turns along the way. Without divulging too much information, I will say that this book is filled to the brim with mystery surrounding Abby and her tech-savvy husband. Delaney’s story is so intriguing that you will be hooked from page one. It is the perfect blend of domestic noir with a splash of sci-fi and the unconditional love of a mother. I had an extremely difficult time putting this fast-paced novel down. I highly recommend this read. It is crazy different and crazy good! Thank you to Random House (Ballantine Books) via Netgalley for an early look at this book. It is out now!!!!!

P.S. Click here to purchase The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney

Wow!!!!!! The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr was an amazing read for me this summer. First of all, the cover alone had me at “Hello”! In addition to my cover love, Barr’s book was overflowing with passion, betrayal, and self-discovery (this is my jam). The story follows Sophie Bloom, a 42-year-old mother who discovers on her birthday that her husband has been having multiple (and I mean multiple) affairs. So what does she do??????? Sophie takes off for France to rediscover who she really is and what her life is now going to look like. Cheating husbands and marriages falling to pieces are not new themes in the world of fiction (or nonfiction). Barr manages to take it a step further by untangling the roles of infidelity, love, and friendship with her characters. Mt recommendation is to jump right on in with this book. It is fast, engaging, and “unputdownable”. Go grab it now!!!!

P.S. Click here to purchase The Unbreakables by Lisa Barr.

I am an absolute sucker for the classic frenemies turn lovers romance story. Nina Bocci’s new book, On the Corner of Love and Hate, met my romance reading needs this summer. Emmanuelle and Cooper have been friends since they were kids. Now that they are back in their childhood hometown and working in the same office, Emmanuelle realizes just how much of a grudge she holds against Cooper. When Cooper decides to run for town Mayor, Emmanuelle takes on the difficult job of managing his campaign and his personal life. Bocci’s story follows these two bickering “friends” as they both navigate the campaign trail and their feelings towards one another. As it gets closer to voting time, Emmanuelle needs to make some personal decisions that will have an impact on moving forward with Cooper and the race to a campaign victory.

I absolutely adored On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci. I loved all the characters in this small town romance story. The political backdrop was the perfect setup for Emmanuelle to figure out her true feelings for Cooper. Their relationship had the exact amount of wit, charm, and sarcasm to keep the pages turning. The romance was sweet and the steam level was extremely mild. Bocci’s story is an easy-breezy read that will leave you grinning from ear to ear. I look forward to future books from this author. Thank you to Gallery Books via Netgalley for the advanced read of this book in exchange for an honest review.

P.S. Click here to purchase On the Corner of Love and Hate by Nina Bocci

All you Great Gatsby Lovers out there are going to devour Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald. I am so amazed that the letters between F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda Fitzgerald were found and preserved. Even more impressive is that these letters were pieced together to form an intimate look at the personal life of this literary couple. On the outside, Scott and Zelda appeared glamorous and put together. Cocktails, great food, and artistic friends were only a small part of the equation though. Their attractive lifestyle was filled with alcoholism, health issues, mental illness, and financial struggles. I didn’t realize until I read this book, that Scott and Zelda lived a good portion of their lives apart. With Zelda in and out of mental health institutions and Scott traveling for work, caring for their daughter, and managing his own health issues, their relationship truly depended on their letters to one another. Even though their life together was filled with heartbreak, Scott and Zelda managed to hold on to hope and dreams for a better tomorrow.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a lover of literature and the works of great American writers from the 20th century. It was an honor to get an inside peek into the once private letters of such an iconic couple. Thank you to Scribner via Netgalley for the advanced read of this book in exchange for an honest review.

P.S. Click here to purchase Dear Scott, Dearest Zelda: The Love Letters of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Fitzgerald

If you are looking for an intimate read with unlimited depth, then On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong is the book for you. Vuong’s main character and speaker in the story is named Little Dog. In his twenties, Little Dog tells his life story and his family history through letters he has written to his mom (who can’t read). He holds absolutely nothing back in what he has to say. In addition to talking about his mother’s past living in Vietnam during the war, he also describes their complex relationship and how it impacted his life. He also dives deep into his own sexuality and coming of age as a Vietnamese boy growing up in Connecticut. Vuong’s writing is extremely raw and profoundly tender. Not surprising considering he is also a published poet. I had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Ocean Vuong at Print Bookstore in Portland, Maine this summer. It was a beautiful evening filled with words, passion, and wonderful people. His new book, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is beyond stunning. His writing is lyrical, poetic, and breathtaking. When I finished Vuong’s book, I was completely speechless. I highly recommend picking up this book. It is truly a work of literary art.

P.S. Click here to purchase On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

If you have read anything by Blake Crouch, then you have a pretty good idea of how his books flow. If this is your first Crouch book…buckle up, it is a wild ride. The premise of his new book revolves around something the media is calling, False Memory Syndrome. Basically, individuals are having vivid memories of a former life they never lived. The memories are so strong and disturbing, that the victims of this syndrome are literally going mad, even resorting to suicide to escape the insanity. In comes Barry Sutton, a NYC cop who is investigating this phenomenon, and neuroscientist Helena Smith, who is working on developing technology to preserve one’s most important memories. Memories, the physics of time, and many twists and turns will have you on the edge of your seat! Warning…this book moves fast. Once you start, you are in it to win it. Crouch’s Dark Matter rocked my world, and Recursion rocked it again! Happy reading!

P.S. Click here to purchase Recursion by Blake Crouch

Join my mailing list!

and never miss a blog post