I wish I could say that I spent more time in Mexico overthe years. Warm sandy beaches, unique landscapes, and scrumptious cuisine continue to call my name during this time of literally no frivolous travel (at least for me). My only recollection of this country is of me sipping lethal cocktails from a three-foot-long plastic cup in Cancun and wandering the bustling streets of Tijuana in search of some bottled water and a pharmacy. Not exactly my classiest moments, but oh…to be young again. I was lucky enough this fall to be transported to the Mexican countryside circa the 1950s in Silvia Moreno-Garcia’s latest book, Mexican Gothic. Gothic horror with a touch of glamour and mystique makes this book an essential fall read. Sink into the depths of your couch with a warm bevy and cozy blanket. Let’s go visit High Place, the Manderley of Mexico!
Noemi receives an urgent letter from her newly married cousin, Catalina. Catalina is begging to be rescued from her new home at High Place claiming it’s filled with doom. Something is simply not right with this deranged letter. Noemi travels to the Mexican countryside to suss out the situation and rescue Catalina from whatever nonsense is causing such strain. Alarm bells sound upon arrival to this old and creepy estate. Catalina is in poor health with no understanding of why, while her mental state is in utter shambles. Her new husband and his family are disturbingly odd, and the strict rules of the house do not accommodate Noemi or any other socialite visiting. As she probes the family for more insight, she uncovers unsettling family secrets and a presence that literally resides in the walls of High Place. Freakish dreams, hallucinations, and a whole lot of gore begin to surface, leaving Noemi not only feeling completely anguished for answers but afraid to go to sleep. Will Francais, the only somewhat likable member of the family befriend her, or will Noemi have to go it alone getting Catalina out of this terrorizing home?
It is difficult not to mention Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca while writing this. Yes, I can see why at first glance one may notion that Mexican Gothic is the “Mexican Rebecca”. Mysterious houses in the countryside (Manderley and High Point), bewitching love, eerie staff, hair-raising secrets galore…how could one not postulate that reasoning. I am certainly guilty of this AND for naturally comparing the two throughout reading Mexican Gothic. I guess that is what we readers do. However, Moreno-Garcia and du Maurier wrote two entirely different books which, I believe, have precisely hidden themes throughout their respective stories. A topic to explore for another day. I digress.
Mexican Gothic released in June 2020. While the book world devoured this new release immediately, I patiently waited. For me, this book fits the bill for a seasonal tale to be consumed during the haunted months that fall bestows on us (because it is fabulous, you can of course enjoy this any time of year). Moreno-Garcia’s writing entailed a sublime amount of sinister vibes while captivating a darkly seductive atmosphere. One thing I will say is that I surprisingly reveled in all the gory details Moreno-Garcia put forward in her book. I am not typically a horror reader, but Mexican Gothic had just the right amount of imagery and fright for me while offering a satisfying backstory and mystery that kept me on my toes until the very end.
If fall reading is your jam, then grab yourself a copy of this spine-chilling treasure. Keep the lights on while reading this at night and DO NOT stare at the wall for too long…it could be overrun with gloom.
Until next time my friend!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. If you have never read Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier, now is the time. It is another quintessential fall read to have on your shelf. Hauntingly gorgeous and utterly gripping, Rebecca is a timeless read. Visit Manderley, smell the salt water air and feel the shadows lingering all around you. You will not regret. You will not forget! A new TV version of this book is coming to NETFLIX this month 🤗.
I have written to you about my love of audiobooks before. In my days, they were actually referred to as “books on tape”. I still catch myself saying that from time to time…especially when my kids look at me like I am speaking a foreign language. Anyway, do you know how many times I have fallen asleep listening to your book, The Old Man and the Sea? Well, it feels like a thousand. As much as I adore that particular book of yours, it is my darling husband that plays it over and over again as he drifts off to sleep. Every now and then he throws on the audio version of your book, A Moveable Feast. I have no problem listening to that book over and over again. Falling asleep to your words from this story ensures my dreams will be filled with Parisian streets, salty oysters, and crisp white wine. Anyway, I digress. Today I am sharing some books that I found to be quite entertaining on audio. A little bit of romance, friendship, mystery, memoir, and time travel is coming your way today. Grab your headphones and hit play! Let the listening begin!
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. If you are looking for a way to listen to your books while supporting ANY participating local bookstore, check out Libro.FM. Feel free you use my REFERRAL LINK to get your first month free. Any member can share their referral code. Click on the book pics below to take you directly to their info page.
Abby Jimenez’s book, The Friend Zone, came out last year, and I JUST recently listened to it. I am actually pumped that I was was fashionably late to this fabulous book party. This book was the perfect feel good, pick me up during this uncertain time. Not only did I get to spend the night in bed reading this warm and fuzzy tale, I acquired a new book boyfriend who goes by the name of Josh. Married or not, you can never have too many book boyfriends 😂😂😂. Also, if you end up liking this book, the sequel just came out. It’s called The Happily Ever Playlist.
“Kristen Peterson doesn’t do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don’t get her. She’s also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.
Planning her best friend’s wedding is bittersweet for Kristen — especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He’s funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he’d be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it’s harder and harder to keep him at arm’s length.”
WOW! I’m embarrassed to say that I did not know who Mikel Jollett was or for that matter, who his band, The Airborne Toxic Event was. Well, after listening to his brand new memoir, Hollywood Park I have a pretty good sense of who this writer and musician is! Mikel Jollett narrates his profound journey from his early childhood In the 70’s to present day with an honesty that spares no details! From his early days living in a cult with his family to his unsettled adolescence and young adulthood, Jollett’s journey was rocky to say the very least. He effortlessly brings his readers into his world of family love, loyalty and survival by exploring the intimate most details from his relationship with his parents and older brother. His writing is stunning and his story is absolutely unforgettable. His emotional memoir will no doubt stir your soul and fill your heart with love. Bonus……Jollett narrates his audio book.
“So begins Hollywood Park,Mikel Jollett’s remarkable memoir. His story opens in an experimental commune in California, which later morphed into the Church of Synanon, one of the country’s most infamous and dangerous cults. Per the leader’s mandate, all children, including Jollett and his older brother, were separated from their parents when they were six months old, and handed over to the cult’s “School.” After spending years in what was essentially an orphanage, Mikel escaped the cult one morning with his mother and older brother. But in many ways, life outside Synanon was even harder and more erratic.
In his raw, poetic and powerful voice, Jollett portrays a childhood filled with abject poverty, trauma, emotional abuse, delinquency and the lure of drugs and alcohol. Raised by a clinically depressed mother, tormented by his angry older brother, subjected to the unpredictability of troubled step-fathers and longing for contact with his father, a former heroin addict and ex-con, Jollett slowly, often painfully, builds a life that leads him to Stanford University and, eventually, to finding his voice as a writer and musician.”
The Guest List by Lucy Foley is absolutely wonderful on audio. Who wouldn’t want to attend a wedding with friends and family on a small Irish island? The privacy from the outside world, the weekend escape from everyday life, one big hurrah with friends and family to tide you over until someone else’s big day. Sounds like the perfect weekend. The narrators’ Irish accents and the icy cold ocean air will make you feel like you are actually on this Emerald Island. There is a creepy vibe while the bride and groom and all their guests get ready for the ceremony. Family drama and dark secrets from their pasts give this wedding day a very unsettling vibe. Throw in some blood and a dead body and you have one heck of celebration. Foley’s slow burn mystery is an atmospheric treat.
“The bride – The plus one – The best man – The wedding planner – The bridesmaid – The body
On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.
But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.
And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?”
When I think about time travel, my mind instantly goes to The Magic Treehouse or Outlander. In Margarita Montimore’s new book, Oona Lockhart travels to a different time in her life every New Year’s Eve for one year. Can you even imagine revisiting yourself in the past or for that matter, meeting yourself in the future? If given the chance, would you alter your past knowing that in turn, it could change the future? Montimore offers her readers this, and so much more in her unique tale. Oona Out of Order definitely made me think. Between the pages of this compelling read are funny and light hearted moments coupled with self reflection and a giant splash of pop culture (80s and 90s anyone?). Do not think too deeply about the ins and outs of time travel. Simply enjoy Oona’s wild ride!
“It’s New Year’s Eve 1982, and Oona Lockhart has her whole life before her. At the stroke of midnight she will turn nineteen, and the year ahead promises to be one of consequence. Should she go to London to study economics, or remain at home in Brooklyn to pursue her passion for music and be with her boyfriend? As the countdown to the New Year begins, Oona faints and awakens thirty-two years in the future in her fifty-one-year-old body. Greeted by a friendly stranger in a beautiful house she’s told is her own, Oona learns that with each passing year she will leap to another age at random. And so begins Oona Out of Order...
Hopping through decades, pop culture fads, and much-needed stock tips, Oona is still a young woman on the inside but ever-changing on the outside. Who will she be next year? Philanthropist? Club Kid? World traveler? Wife to a man she’s never met? Surprising, magical, and heart-wrenching, Margarita Montimore has crafted an unforgettable story about the burdens of time, the endurance of love, and the power of family.”
The Boyfriend Project by Farrah Rochon is an all-star treat. Here is my favorite quote….“If sexy and adorable had a baby together, the result would be Daniel Collins.” SOLD! Farrah’s book is filled with sass, class, and a whole lot of smarts… did I mention Daniel Collins??? Women lifting each other up, staying true to yourself, and a tall, dark and handsome man lingering in the background….sign yourself up for this one. Such a perfect summertime listen.
“Samiah Brooks never thought she would be “that” girl. But a live tweet of a horrific date just revealed the painful truth: she’s been catfished by a three-timing jerk of a boyfriend. Suddenly Samiah-along with his two other “girlfriends,” London and Taylor-have gone viral online. Now the three new besties are making a pact to spend the next six months investing in themselves. No men and no dating.
For once Samiah is putting herself first, and that includes finally developing the app she’s always dreamed of creating. Which is the exact moment she meets the deliciously sexy Daniel Collins at work.What are the chances?But is Daniel really boyfriend material or is he maybe just a little too good to be true?
Dear Book Lovers! Happy Guest Writer Wednesday! I am so excited to have author Hester Fox on the blog today. Hester is the author of The Witch of Willow Hall and The Widow of Pale Harbor (Graydon House). She is the queen of spooky ghost tales set in New England. Think castles set on a hill surrounded by blankets of fog and ocean mist with a ghost or two lingering in the background. If this sounds like your cup of tea, you will LOVE Hester’s books.
Hester is a full time writer with a background in museum work and historical archaeology. I personally find her Pinterest page amazing. It is filled with pictures of clothing, castles, settings, etc. that inspired her books, settings and characters. When Hester isn’t writing, she is spending time with her husband and son exploring historic cemeteries and hitting up her local bookstores. Her new book, The Orphan of Cemetery Hill comes out September 2020. It is a Gothic story set in 19th century New England. She told me that there is love story, seances, murder and ghosts, ghosts, ghosts. Sign me up please!
I hope you enjoy Hester’s letter to Mr. H. The book she chose couldn’t be more perfect!
Happy Reading everyone!
P.S. Hester wrote her new book while pregnant with her son and while he was just a newborn. Talk about a challenge!!! To keep her energy up while writing, she is always on the quest for the perfect seasonal latte!
Dear Mr. Hemingway,
This might sound silly, but do you know what I dread? I dread that perfectly innocent question that everyone seems to love to ask authors: what’s your favorite book?
It pops up on Twitter, at book signings, and in casual conversations. I have to admit, I’m even guilty of asking it of others as well. It’s really an impossible question to answer. Even whittling down to a top three is a Herculean task. I have a favorite comfort read when I want something familiar and cozy, a world I can easily slip back into (Ten Things I Love About You by Julia Quinn). I have a favorite book from my childhood (Little Women by Louisa May Alcott). I even have a favorite ghost story (The Haunting Of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James).
But there is one book that I can come back to time after time and always find something new. If I could only take one book with me to a desert island, it would probably be this one: Lincoln In The Bardo by George Saunders.
I love historical fiction, and the premise drew me in immediately. In the early days of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln’s beloved son Willie dies. Devastated, Lincoln retreats to the mausoleum where Willie is interred to grieve. The entire book takes place over the course of a single night. And get this, other than Lincoln, almost the entire cast of characters is comprised of ghosts. Be still my Gothic heart.
The spirits in the cemetery observe Lincoln in his grief, and through their narration, we learn of their lives and deaths in a divided America. But more than that, we are faced with brilliant and uncomfortable truths about life, death, and the love that transcends both.
After reading the physical book, I listened to the audiobook which was an equally amazing experience. With 166 narrators lending their voices, it was like listening to a movie.
There are parts that made me laugh out loud, and passages that are so heart-achingly sad and beautiful that I had to reach for the tissue-box. The prose is deceptively simple and elegant (like yours), and at times it feels like walking through a dream. I think you would love it, Mr. H.
p.s.—if you enjoy Gothic fiction (set in a cemetery, no less!), you might want to check out my upcoming book The Orphan of Cemetery Hill
WOW!!!!! That is all I have to say about today’s book. I am always blown away when an author can write something that causes such an intense, visceral reaction. Murder, ghosts, and fear are what’s on tap for today. While my dreams at night were hijacked by my ruminating thoughts, daytime gave my wandering mind no rest. The Sun Down Motel by Simone St. James is a five-star story brilliantly crafted to heighten your senses and shake your soul. Here we go!
“And one night, that woman was on my bed. Sitting on the foot of the bed. I woke up and she was just there, looking at me. The bed didn’t sag or anything-she had no weight. She was there, and then I blinked and she was gone. I could smell her perfume, and something bad. Coppery, like blood.”
Whether or not ghosts are real is for you to decide. Simone St. James brings this paranormal phenomenon to life in her latest book, The Sun Down Motel. In 1982, Viv began to work the night shift at the Sun Down Motel. Young and alone, she takes this job in an effort to make some money and hopefully move on to something bigger and better. Her future is abruptly cut short when one night, she disappears in the middle of her shift…forever!
In 2017, Carly decides to investigate the unsolved disappearance of her Aunt Viv. She temporarily moves to Fell, NY, and resides at her aunt’s old apartment from the 1980s. In an effort to find some answers, she takes on the night shift at the Sun Down Motel. Except for the difference in time, everything is exactly the same as when her aunt worked there. Seedy transactions smoked stained linens, and a noisy ice machine was to be expected. She had no idea that her nights filled with darkness would soon shine a light on a string of unsolved murder mysteries. Every night at the motel revealed more clues to her aunt’s disappearance and the murdered women of Fell, NY. The closer Carly gets to figuring out this puzzle, the more danger she is in.
St. James’ book alternates between two timelines…Viv’s in 1982 and Carly’s in 2017. As the chapters bounce back and forth between narrations, the truth begins to slowly unfold. This book is a wild ride. Normally, I stay clear of ghost stories. Not with this book though. St. James includes a supernatural aspect to her story that truly fits the bill. Be forewarned….this story is a wee bit disturbing. Be prepared to be scared. Not horror movie scared, but a fear that lingers while you are reading scared. Creepy scenes that are described so vividly, they take up a permanent residence in your mind. A whiff of cigarette smoke, the sound of footsteps close behind you, whispers…the DARK!
The murder investigations in this book were chilling. Backtracking through time to piece together a serial killer’s motives was engrossing and stomach-turning all wrapped up with one big bow. From the secrets it kept, to the sleazy vibe that filled the air, the Sun Down Motel was more than just the backdrop to this story. It is a living, breathing entity that served as the pulse for this mind-blowing tale. The pace was fast and the suspense was gripping. With no stone left unturned, the attention to detail was spot on. Most of all though, the female characters in this book were powerful and completely kicked butt! This book screamed Girl Power and I LOVED it!!!
If this sounds like your cup of tea, take a sip……..it will not disappoint you! The Bates Motel has nothing on Sun Down!!!!!
Sleep tight, all through the night Dear Friends!
Until next time Mr. H.
Your Biggest Fan,
P.S. If you need a breather after reading The Sun Down Motel, check out The Bromance Book Club by Lyssa Kay Adams (Berkley). Men and women alike will enjoy this charming, witty and sexy tale. A husband trying to win his wife back with the help from his buddies and Regency romance books……..absolutely delightful!
October is here and it’s time to shift reading gears. Witches, haunted castles, and dark stormy nights are my jam. I am not talking gore with a side of blood and guts. Just good old fashioned spooky that brings out a few goosebumps. Let’s face it, there is something ghostly about autumn on the rocky coast of Maine. I should know, I live here. Icy blue ocean waves and trees covered in autumn leaves are to be expected. It is the smell of the salty sea air mixed with wood burning in the distance that gives way to its allure. A beautiful and mysterious woman, a castle nestled in the hills and nights covered in blankets of fog make the perfect backdrop for a spooky tale. I just finished Hester Fox’s new book, The Widow of Pale Harbor, and guess what??????? It is reminiscent of all the above. This book met all of my October reading needs. Here we go!!!!
The Widow of Pale Harbor is set in 1846, in the fictional town of Pale Harbor, Maine. Sophronia Carver (love her name) is a widow of four years. She lives at Castle Carver with her maid, a server and a groundskeeper. She spends her days running her late husband’s magazine and wandering her property. Here is her dilema. The people of Pale Harbor despise Sophronia. They believe her to be a witch who murdered her own husband. Things start to get interesting when Gabriel Stone moves into town (swooooon) to become the new Transcendentalist minister. As a romance blooms between Sophronia and Gabrielle, cryptic notes and dead things referencing Edgar Allan Poe’s creepiest stories start popping up. Who is responsible for all of these unfathomable happenings? Is Sophronia the witch that everyone claims her to be? Can Gabrielle save her from the people of Pale Harbor and this mysterious hell?
The Widow of Pale Harbor is filled with mystery, romance and a gothic flare (Hello Robert Smith from The Cure…AKA my favorite band ever!). By cleverly blending some of Edgar Allan Poe’s stories/poems (The Raven, The Devil in the Belfry, The Murders in the Rue Morgue, etc.) into this mystery, Fox’s story is a literary gem. Plan on exploring Poe’s work during and after this book if you need a refresher (I sure did). What I love about her book is that it is not overly gruesome. Dead bodies, a dark romance and picturesque settings fuel this suspenseful read. The atmosphere is a satisfying blend of dark and gloomy with a touch of suspense. Though this story will not likely give you nightmares, it will leave you with an eerie feeling and a thirst for more haunted tales. Fans of Daphne Maurier’s Rebecca will gobble this book up. Happy Reading and Happy Fall!