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What Do You See When You Look Out Your Window???

The Woman in the Window book cover

September 25, 2018

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

Can you see your neighbors when you look out your window? I can, but it is not particularly entertaining. They mow their lawns, start their grills, play with their dogs, and shoot hoops with their kids. Imagine if one day when you glanced out your window, you saw someone being murdered in your neighbor’s house! Keep that thought in mind while I set you up for your next big read.

Suspense and thrill-seekers are going to enjoy A.J. Finn’s debut novel, The Woman in the Window.  Without giving too much away, Anna Fox is a child psychologist living alone in her New York City brownstone (not counting her tenant who rents out her basement).  She suffers from extreme agoraphobia and hasn’t left her home in TEN MONTHS. She spends her days washing down her prescribed medications with a bottle or two of wine, watching old movies, and casually spying on her neighbors through her window (I mean, what else is she going to do?).  One night, while peeking out of her window, Anna sees someone stabbed inside her neighbor’s house. What should she do? How can she help (remember, she doesn’t leave her house)? Who should she call? Was this real or just a figment of her drunk imagination? Will anyone believe her? Can she trust her own memory?  Beware, the atmosphere of this story is thick with anxiety.

Anna’s daily struggle with mental illness doesn’t leave much to the imagination.  With each page read, however, there is a strong desire to want to know how this all came about.  Anna keeps herself and readers guessing whether her memories are real or imagined. This isn’t hard for her to do while under the influence of a concoction of pills and wine throughout the majority of the book.  The story starts off at a leisurely pace. Once you get the lay of the land, it starts to unravel into quite the suspenseful and gripping read. Do not be alarmed if your head is spinning and you feel like your mind is playing tricks on you while reading.  It is merely a reflection of how magnificent a writer A.J. Finn really is. My final warning…plan on staying up until the wee hours of the night with this little gem. It will not disappoint.

Until Next time Sir!

Your Biggest Fan,

 Kelly

P.S.  I kid you not, this is being adapted for the big screen starring Amy Adams, Julianne Moore and Gary Oldman.

*click here to buy book*

Quirky Lead Ladies I Just Want to Hug!

eleanor Oliphant book cover
Convenience store woman book cover
Cover of Britt Marie Was Here

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

Convenience Store Woman by Sayak Murata

Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman

September 18, 2018

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

I feel lucky to have connected with many characters on my reading adventures. Characters come and go as fast as books are finished, and new ones started. Every now and then, though, I come across someone in a book that I can’t stop wondering about long after I’ve finished reading their story. How are they doing? What have they been up to? I want just to pick up the phone and give them a quick call.

I share with you today three extraordinary ladies who have struggled to navigate life in a society that doesn’t always embrace the unique and quirky.  The one thing these gals have in common is that they are perceived as misfits to themselves and the people around them. Their journeys are all rocky in their own way.  They are inspiring and lovable; I hope you adore them as much as I do. Mr. Hemingway, I would like to introduce to you………….. Keiko, Eleanor, and Britt-Marie.

Keiko Furukura is a 36-year-old woman from Convenience Store Woman by Sayak Murata.  Keiko has worked at the Convenience store in Japan since she was 18.  She carries out her days mimicking her co-workers’ mannerisms and lingo and thrives on her day’s predictability in the store’s written manual.  She even goes as far as consuming the majority of her food intake from this particular store only. She is literally “one with the store.” Keiko is a dependable and hard worker who lives an independent life.  She is beyond socially awkward, has very few friends, has zero interest in any type of romantic relationship, has no advanced goals, and finds all of her joy only… you guessed it, at the convenience store. Even though Keiko is content with her life, the people around her find it socially appalling.

My next gal pal is Eleanor Oliphant from Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman. Eleanor is a young girl who lives in an apartment, works a Monday-Friday office job, and enjoys her weekend routine of vodka and pizza in her Glasgow flat.  Eleanor’s social behavior makes the people around her anything but comfortable. She has no friends and only a literal understanding of the world around her. As her highly dark past continues to haunt her, Eleanor lives her life on autopilot until, one day, she decides she wants more.

Lastly, there is the lovely Britt-Marie from Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman.  Britt-Marie is a 63-year-old woman who leaves her cheating husband to live on her own in a small town in Sweden called Borg.  Her OCD, atypical social skills, lack of humor, and over-the-top cleaning behaviors make Britt-Marie supremely odd to the people around her.  In Borg, Britt-Marie lives an alien life running the small town’s dying recreational center while forming surprising relationships with the new people around her.  Living by herself as an independent woman for the first time allows her to process the sadness from her past finally and discover her self-worth. It isn’t a smooth journey, but one that will reshape her life forever.

I encourage you to read these three books to feel happy and sad, to observe the impact of loneliness, to have compassion, and to see the power of love in all shapes and sizes. You can speculate about how these women came to be, but most people do not want to be defined by their past alone but by the journey as a whole.  With common themes of loneliness, humor, acceptance, and love that float through these stories, it is not a chore to chuckle and cry while reading the same page. Once immersed in these three books, any sorrow you feel will turn to pom poms cheering these ladies on. You will no longer be sitting in the stands watching their lives unfold.  Instead, you will be standing on the turf and rooting them on with all your heart and soul. I mean, who doesn’t want an underdog to win??????

Enjoy!!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S.  Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is going to be a movie. Sayaka Murata was selected to be Woman of the Year in 2016 by Vogue Japan. I’m calling Britt-Marie to see if she can come over and get my son’s white baseball pants cleaned!!!!!!!

*Click here to buy Convenience Store Woman by Sayak Murata*

*Click here to buy Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman*

*Click here to buy Britt-Marie Was Here by Fredrik Backman*

*Book links provided in today’s post are affiliate links. Dear Mr. Hemingway makes a tiny commission through books purchased in our storefront. Even better, 20% of purchases made through the Dear Mr. Hemingway storefront go towards an independent bookstore. Thank you so much for all of your support!

Wicked Fast Reads

Sunburn by Laura Lippman & Ghosted by Rosie Walsh

Sunburn book cover
Book cover of Ghosted

September 11, 2018

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

The number of books on my ever-growing “To Be Read” list can seem completely overwhelming at times.  There is nothing more satisfying than gobbling up a few super-fast reads while enjoying my morning cup of Joe or a cocktail on my front porch on a warm fall evening. I am not always looking for a book that is a literary work of art, just quick, entertaining, and a little bit mysterious to keep me on my toes.

Well today Mr. H., I am sharing two really fun reads with all my friends. Both books are way more intriguing than any synopsis could ever provide. Because of this, I am not telling you a whole lot about each book, just a little sip to wet your whistle. I certainly do not want to be a book spoiler!

My first book is Sunburn by Laura Lippman. Why in the world would a young mother up and leave her husband and young daughter in the middle of their family beach vacation?  Too much sunburn perhaps????? So the mystery begins of why Polly disappeared during her vacation and what happens next. I will tell you that Lippman’s story is an absolute seductive treat.  The characters are all mysterious with secrets I was dying to know. A suspenseful read that keeps you guessing and a hint of dark small-town charm will keep you whipping through the pages. The book cover is pretty cool too! READ IT !

My second book is Ghosted by Rosie Walsh. Here is how this book sets up.  Sarah meets a man named Eddie by chance, and the two of them fall madly in love in the week that they spend together.   Eddie then leaves on an already planned vacation with promises of calling Sarah and maybe getting something more serious started when he returns.  Well, lo and behold, Eddie doesn’t call EVER! He disappears…”Ghosted”. The storyline starts off a little cheesy, but hang in there. The mystery starts to slowly unravel with plenty of twists and turns that totally caught me off guard.  Walsh was super clever with how she laid out the clues throughout the book. The overall story turned out to be completely unexpected and a very pleasant surprise.

Enjoy these two delightful reads this weekend!

Till next time my friend!

Your Biggest Fan,

Kelly

P.S.  My early autumn night Cocktail (while it is still seasonably warm) on my front porch has been a slightly modified version of the famous Moscow Mule.  This lighter version was concocted by my one of my girlfriends. She refers to it as a Moscow Mule Light. I simply refer to it as My Mule!

Enjoy!!

8-10 oz glass of choice

Fill your glass with TONS of ice

Pour in one big shot of vodka (your choice)

Squeeze an entire lime into the glass (really SQUEEZE it)

Finish off with a splash or two of good ginger beer (I personally use one that is crafted in Maine)

Throw a lime slice in to make it PRETTY!!!!!!!

Bottoms up!

*Click here to buy Sunburn by Laura Lippman*

*Click here to buy Ghosted by Rosie Walsh*

A Memoir That Makes You Go 😱

Educated book cover

September 9, 2018

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

I just read a memoir that I most certainly could not put down. I found the pages of this book practically turn themselves. Readers will absolutely escape their own reality and be transported back to Westover’s childhood where they will be thanking their lucky stars it was not their own. I was beyond captivated by Tara Westover’s story and utterly baffled by her childhood and family dynamics. In her memoir titled Educated, Westover shares her story of growing up on a mountain in Idaho with her parents and siblings. Her father was a survivalist (always preparing for the end of the word…literally) and a religious fanatic. He ran a scrap metal business on his land (basically a dangerous junkyard) with his capable children who provided free labor.  He truly believed in the “will of God”. As someone who was anti-government and western medicine, he raised his family off the grid (no birth certificates, doctors, schools, etc.).  Westover’s mother, a midwife and a self -trained herbalist/healer was the primary “Doctor” to her family no matter the severity. Though her parents claimed to have successfully homeschooled their children, the memoir tells us differently.

Westover grew up with essentially no formal education.  When old enough, she worked in her dad’s scrap metal pile in harm’s way enduring serious injuries.  She was mentally and physically abused by one of her brothers. Wanting more from her life, she challenged her parent’s beliefs and somehow got herself accepted to college where she experienced a classroom and formal education for the first time at age 17.  As the years went by, she continued to struggle with adapting to the mainstream, while battling emotional push and pull with her parents and family. Despite her family drama, Westover goes on to study and earn a Ph.D. from the prestigious Cambridge University.

This story was downright jaw-dropping.  I paused throughout the book many times saying “WHAT?!?!”. I was stunned and mesmerized by Westover’s story and how it’s craziness just kept intensifying.  It no doubt raises questions on what is the definition of “responsible parenting”, who gets to judge, and where/when the line is drawn?

I am hoping my friends enjoy the strangeness of this memoir for what it is.  If anything, it will make them appreciate their own stories!!!!!!!!

Enjoy!!!!!

Your Biggest Fan,

                                                                                              Kelly

P.S. Check out two more books with a similar vibe that I absolutely LOVED…

To purchase each book, simply click on its cover!

The Great Alone book cover

The Great Alone (fiction) by Kristin Hannah

The Glass Castle book cover

The Glass Castle (memoir) by Jeannette Walls

Tangerine…Not Just a Led Zeppelin Song

Tangerine beauty shot with book cover

August 28, 2018

Dear Mr. Hemingway,

I will admit, I picked up the book, Tangerine, by Christine Mangan based on looks alone. It was hard to resist a cover that screamed style, class, and Marilyn Monroe. Though this book does take place during the prime-time Marilyn era (1950’s), it has nothing to do with the lovely Norma Jeane. Instead, it follows fictional characters Alice Shipley and Lucy Mason as they both individually narrate this story in alternating chapters. To me, Tangerine was a light psychological thriller with just the right amount of suspense, mystery, and warped characters that kept the pages turning.

The story primarily took place in Tangier, Morocco (so well described by Mangan) with flashbacks to Vermont where Alice and Lucy were friends/roommates at Bennington College.  I use the term “friends” lightly because to me, the definition of friend does not include the words obsessive, possessive, creepy and deceitful (think Single White Female).

Following college and a “terrible tragedy” that occurs, Alice marries a man named John, and quickly moves to Tangier with him for his job and to escape from Lucy and their past.  Alice is nothing less than stunned when Lucy appears at her door in Tangier (looking for a place to crash mind you) dragging the past with her. With John soon vanishing and nowhere to be found and Lucy’s incredibly sick mind games, I was second guessing my own predictions until the very end.

I will tell you this, Alice and Lucy are extremely unreliable narrators.  My hope is for readers to keep it light and not over analyze this detail. The best thing to do is bask in Alice’s nervous anxiety and Lucy’s twisted behavior.  The story will unfold slowly leaving you glad you finished (and wanting a hot cup of mint tea to sip on).

I really hope my friends enjoy this quick read.  Be on the lookout for my next letter.

Your Biggest Fan,

                                                                                                                                Kelly

P.S.

Rumor has it that Tangerine is being made into a movie starring Scarlett Johansson and George Clooney!!!!!!!!!!!!

Click Here to Buy Tangerine by Christine Mangan!

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