snapshot 9.9

recently finished: Nothing new, but I still have a few I haven't written up yet. 

currently reading: Leave No Trace, by Mindy Mejia. She wrote last year's Everything You Want Me to Be, which I loved, and this one is drawing me in as well. A speech therapist in a psychiatric institute is tasked with communicating with the young man who was arrested for breaking into a camping store. He refuses to talk to anyone since he was picked up, but they know who he is. He and his father disappeared ten years ago in the woods. Now she has to figure out how to get this newly found young man to speak, to open up, and to trust her so that she can find out what has been happening to him for the last ten years. I'm not very far in yet, but it's crazy good. It just came out last week, so snatch it up soon while it's still hot! 

up next: A bunch of middle grade books that I have been looking forward to! Playing Atari with Saddam Hussein, Born Scared, and Merci Suarez Changes Gears. Excited! 

go in peace and giggles

Adrian Plass is back. I first discovered him in college, when my roommate somehow found The Sacred Diary of Adrian Plass, Aged 37 3/4, on her mother's bookshelf in Florida. We both read it and laughed until we cried. I recently found that there are more books about Adrian and the gang, and I am excited to report that I have read Adrian Plass and the Church Weekend. 

This is one of the few books in his Diary series available in Kindle format, something I hope that they will change in the near future, But for now, I can at least take this one with me everywhere, so any time I need to check in with Adrian, Anne, and Gerald and the rest of the gang. 

Like all the Diary books, Adrian Plass and the Church Weekend takes it in turn to mock the frustrating things about today's church, the people who take their religion a little too seriously, modern life, relationships, family, and all our personal misunderstandings and foibles that make us laugh and cry. And he does it all with a sense of grace, compassion, and forgiveness. 

While I have yet to think of any of Plass's books as laugh-out-loud funny as his original sacred diary, there are some moments of true joy in the Church Weekend that only Plass can bring us. Adrian has been asked by his church leader to organize a church weekend for their members. He consults with his wife Anne and his son Gerald, now a vicar himself with a lovely wife and a son who shares his disruptive sense of humor, and they decide that Adrian's church and Gerald's church should share the weekend. 

They head to Scarleeswanvale Deep Peace Retreat Centre for a long weekend of fellowship, anagrams, Scripture, restoration, hymns, talks, tears, and lots of laughter. In between calls from Leonard Thynn and his wife Angels trying to understand what the woman in their SatNav (GPS) is attempting to tell them, Adrian manages to entertain, anger, offend, and minister to a motley group of believers in his usual confused but well-meaning way. 

Anyone familiar with Adrian Plass and his unique blend of humor (slightly blasphemous at times), his knack for writing complicated characters, and his warm-hearted love for everyone, even those (especially those?) who are the most difficult to love will find Adrian Plass and the Chuch Weekend yet another heart-warming entry in his beloved Diary series. Anyone not yet familiar with Adrian Plass should start with his Sacred Diary as soon as possible and read the whole crazy series! 

opposites attack

When twin sisters Rose and Bel Enright found themselves orphaned and being shipped off to live with their grandmother, the distance that had always been between them grew. Raised by an artistic single mother in Californa, Bel grew up with the wild spirit within her being nurtured while Rose's quiet nature made her feel a little left out at times. As the teenagers struggled with their mother's cancer, Rose stepped up to be a caregiver, letting her natural maturity take over. Now their mother is gone and their grandmother wants to send them to a boarding school to finish high school. 

Odell Academy is everything that Rose has ever dreamed of. Small classes with lots of intimate discussions. Strong academics as well as lots of extracurricular options. She feels like she's found her people at last. But for Bel, it's a different story. 

Bel, with her wilder nature, struggles to find a place at Odell. She quickly makes friends with some senior girls, almost unheard of for a sophomore like herself, But being friends with the popular senior girls comes with a price. For Bel, that price is her sister. Her new besties put her in the position to betray Rose, more than once, and Bel has to chose between her new friends that make her feel accepted in a strange land, or the sister who has always made Bel feel a little uncomfortable in her own skin. 

Meanwhile, Sarah and Heath Donovan are the newest dorm coheads, for Moreland Hall, which is known for housing some troubled female students. Sarah, a math teacher, and Heath, an English teacher, met while they were students at Odell, and after some shaky early years in their marriage, they are back on track to build a successful run at Odell. If they can just keep the students of Moreland Hall in check. But of course, Rose and Bel are both in Moreland, along with Bel's senior friends. And Bel's friends think that Heath is way too handsome to be with mousy Sarah and set up a contest to try to seduce him. 

The secrets that each character carries with them, the lies they tell, the choices they make all come together to end one young woman's life. But piecing together exactly how it happened will take patience, as the clues drop slowly throughout Michele Campbell's She Was the Quiet One. 

With compelling writing and interesting characters, Michele Campbell has crafted a story that could happen at any school, in any neighborhood, anywhere. The tension between the characters is so universal and so real that you just may have that dream of showing up to high school naked while reading this book. The family relationships, the marriage, the teenagers' ideas of themselves and their futures are so genuine that it gets difficult to remember that She Was the Quiet One is a novel. This book is a definite read, and Michele Campbell is without question one to watch! 

 

Galleys for She Was the Quiet One were provided by St. Martin's Press through NetGalley, with many thanks. 

snapshot 9.2

recently finished: Sheets, a new graphic novel that it seems like everyone is talking about this fall. And also Michele Campbell's She Was the Quiet One, a follow up to her It's Always the Husband. There are things to be said about these. This week, I was able to read but not write. I am hoping this week to be able to get some words written down about all these great books. I'm relying on this three-day weekend to recharge me and help me get some things done. 

currently reading: I finally started A.J. Finn's The Woman in the Window. It's fantastic! I am listening to the audiobook, and I am enjoying this one so much! An agoraphobic therapist loves old movies and spies on her neighbors. What's not to love? 

up next: Leave No Trace, Mindy Mejia's follow-up to last year's Everything You Want Me To Be. I can't wait! 

snapshot 8.26

recently finished: The Shakespeare Requirement by Julie Shumacher. It's so fantastic! I am hoping this week will be less busy, so I have a chance to write about these books I'm finishing! At least next weekend is a 3-day weekend, so maybe I can get a little bit ahead on my posts. That will help me out immensely. 

currently reading: A graphic novel that comes out this week, Sheets. I mean, who doesn't love a story that mixes laundry and ghosts? 

up next: I haven't decided yet, but Audible has a killer sale on right now, so I am going to be doing some damage there this week. If you're an audiobook lover too, be sure to check it out and pick out some tasty books of your own! 

a mother of a book

Emily thinks she has found "the one" in Adam. He's smart, charming, handsome, and he loves her. She's wondering if she is going to spend the rest of her life with him. Their relationship is so good, she's so happy, and then it's time to meet his mother. 

Emily can't understand it, but Pammie, Adam's mother, seems to take an instant dislike to her. While Emily tries to be considerate, Pammie goes out of her way to make Emily feel uncomfortable. While Emily tries to be kind, Pammie makes comments to make Emily feel insecure. While Emily tries to rise above, Pammie digs deep down low. And when Emily tries to talk to Adam about it, he deflects her, believing her mother when Pammie says that Emily just doesn't like her. 

As Adam and Emily move closer to marriage, Pammie and Emily just grow in enmity and hostility. Pammie goes so far as to tell Emily that she'll never marry her son. But as the day grows closer, will Emily figure out a way into the family, or will Pammie make sure that Emily stays far away from her son? 

The Other Woman is a debut thriller from journalist Sandie Jones, and it's worth the hype. With secrets, lies, and twists, This novel takes you on a journey from happiness to hostility to horror as Emily's relationship with the man she loves is threatened by the other woman, his mother. 

The Other Woman is a fun roller coaster ride of a story that's perfect for the last days of summer. It's fast, fierce, and full of surprises, and it's one that you'll be talking about for days and weeks to come. 

 

Galleys for The Other Woman were provided by Minotaur Books, with many thanks. 

snapshot 8.19

recently finished: I am so excited that I actually have books that I finished! I just finished The Other Woman, which comes out Tuesday and  is a crazy family thriller that will leave your head spinning. I finished The Glitch, a comedic novel about a woman CEO in tech. And I finished Ritz and Escoffier, about the team who brought London's Savoy Hotel to greatness back in the 1890s. It's by Luke Barr, who also brought us Provence, 1970 (a book I will always recommend) about the start of American cuisine as being equal to European cuisines (particularly French, which had previously been the standard, even over here). 

currently reading: Brian Grazer's A Curious Mind, which I've been wanting to read for so long.  

up next: I have no idea. But there are some amazing kids' books coming out in September, and I have been lucky enough to have several on my TBR. More about those soon! 

snapshot 8.12

recently finished: Nothing. Expect the rest of August to be slow around here. I hate that I don't have much time to read, but sometimes life works out that way. 

currently reading: I've been working on The Glitch for awhile. I'm hoping to finish it off this week, along with Ritz and Escoffier. Both really good, in such different ways. But I am greatly enjoying both and look forward to talking about why very soon. 

up next: I don't know. Maybe a nap? :)

one cheesy cookbook

I have been a fan of Eric Greenspan for years. I don't even remember the first time I came across him on some random Food Network show, but ever since I first saw him, I was hooked. He has intelligence, a great sense of humor, a relaxed manner that is completely inviting, and a personality that makes you wish he was at every boring party you'd ever have to go to, because suddenly the party wouldn't be the slightest bit boring and the food would be crazy good. 

He's taken all that intelligence and mixed it with a strong French culinary education to make grilled cheese sandwiches. What's not to like about this guy? 

And finally, FINALLY!, he's come out with a cookbook of his grilled genius so that all of us can get a taste of his innovation with everyone's favorite comfort food. The Great Grilled Cheese Book is the Greenspan cookbook I've been waiting for, but so much better than I thought it would be. 

Chef Greeny breaks it down by cheeses. There are chapters on American; Mozzarella and Provolone; Cheddar; Blue; Bloomy and Washed Rinds; Gouda, Gruyere, and Swiss; Goat; and Wild Cards. He offers several elevated grilled cheese sandwiches for each type of cheese, from his Cuban Reuben to the Morning Monte (based on the Monte Cristo), from the Monterey Melt (a tuna melt) to The Greek to The Gobbler (the most grilled cheese way of using up your Thanksgiving leftovers). 

He bases his recipes on classic flavor combinations--steak and blue cheese, the Cobb salad, a patty melt, beer and pretzels, bananas and Nutella--and adds creative ideas for extra flavor and texture to make these the best grilled cheese sandwiches you've ever eaten. And while he includes recipes for everything so you can make your own (foccacia, jams, giardiniera, pickles, chutneys, even vegan Worcestershire sauce), he also notes often that there is no shame in using store-bought to same time and energy. Greenspan wants us to take his recipes and use them in ways that work for us, to open us up to new ideas for comfort foods, to find the flavors that both take us around the world and bring us home. 

And he even includes recipes for making your own American cheese. Like I said, what's not to like about this guy? 

the eyes have it

Brother and sister P.I. team Adrian and Zooey Kimrean are on the case. Dealing with femme fatales and neckless thugs is just Tuesday for them, which is why the police are calling them in to help with the drug war that is exploding in town. Because their undercover guy, Danny Mojave, needs help before he ends up as collateral damage in the hostile takeover of the top drug cartel. Danny asks for the Kimreans, and his superiors decide to go along so as not to destroy the 18-month undercover investigation and everything that they've uncovered so far. 

Pretty typical private eye story so far, right? 

Nope. 

Zooey and Adrian work together because they have to, not because they want to. Adrian is the scientific one, depending on facts and figures, rational and unemotional. Zooey is a wild child, excited by food, alcohol, sex, and driving like a banshee. It would seem like they have nothing in common, but they actually have a lot in common--their body. Both Adrian and Zooey occupy the same body, and they spend their time fighting against each other at least as much as they fight criminals. 

With the sharp eye of Sherlock Holmes and the snarky wit of an entire writer's room full of comedians, Zooey and Adrian fight crime with intensity, intelligence, and more than a little insanity as they try to figure out who is trying to start a war so they can make sure their friend Danny can get out alive. 

Edgar Cantero follows up last year's incredibly clever Meddling Kids with this intense lunacy disguised as a hard-boiled P.I. story. This Body's Not Big Enough for Both of Us is another brilliant send-up filled with unexpected one-liners, gigantic action sequences, and sarcasm to spare. If you're needing a high-octane, blow-soda-out-of-your-nose funny novel teeming with pop culture references flying faster than bullets, then this is the book for you. Huge fun and very highly recommended! 

 

Galleys for This Body's Not Big Enough for Both of Us were provided by Doubleday Books through NetGalley, with many thanks. 

snapshot 8.5

recently finished: nothing. I'm having trouble reading these days. It's partly my dry eyes, made worse by seasonal allergies, the cold/bronchitis I've been fighting, and too much time staring at screens. And it's partly that I'm tired (having trouble breathing translates into trouble sleeping, which makes me cranky and distracted) and partly that I'm thinking about writing a new project. So expect me to continue blogging but not as much as I had been. And expect me to stay distracted for awhile. But in the best possible way. 

currently reading: I'm still reading The Glitch, which is crazy funny, and Edgar Cantero's latest, This Body's Not Big Enough for Both of Us, which is completely bonkers, and I'm enjoying it immensely. 

up next: The Quiet Side of Passion, the lastest Isabel Dalhousie novel by Alexander McCall Smith. And probably some shorter books, cozy mysteries, children's books, and graphic novels so that I can feel like I'm making progress on my goodreads currently reading shelf, which has been sitting at 50+ for too long. 

sink your teeth into this

The Jensens are not your typical family. Alex is a respected architect with a prestigious firm. He prides himself on creating spaces that are warm and inviting as well as good for the environment, designing the space and using recycled materials to build homes that are filled with light, hope, and love. His wife Suzette, before the birth of their daughter Hanna, was an interior designer whose thoughtful use of interior space and creative balance of light and color could infuse a home with comfort, inspiration, and intimacy. They were a perfect team, working and living in harmony. 

They were ecstatic when Hanna was born. Suzette had struggled for many years with Crohn's disease and worried that her body wouldn't allow her to be a proper mother. But instead, she was able to give birth to a beautiful baby girl, and both Suzette and Alex couldn't be happier. But Hanna was not an easy baby. She wasn't an easy toddler. And now she's not an easy 7-year-old, and Suzette is struggling. 

After Hanna gets kicked out of several schools, Suzette decides to homeschool her. But that is difficult too. Hanna refuses to talk, communicating by grunting and pointing and being very happy to make her unhappiness known in loud and demonstrative ways, even in public. Suzette divides her worries between her daughter's well-being and her own digestive health, constantly wondering if she has done something to make Hanna so oppositional. Meanwhile, Alex gets along with Hanna with an unspoken language that Suzette is left out of 

As Suzette and Hanna's relationship grows increasingly difficult, Suzette has to figure out how far she'll go to try to hold her family together. Alex has to navigate the minefield that is growing in his home. And Hanna needs to come up with a new plan to achieve her ultimate goal. 

Baby Teeth is a wild ride, a novel told in alternating points of view between a mother struggling to do what's best for her family and a 7-year-old girl who just wants to be understood. Not for the feint of heart, this psychological thriller will take you to the extremes of family love and make you question everything you thought you knew about being a parent. 

Zoje Stage is a filmmaker and playwright who knows how to bring the drama. From the first scene between Suzette and Hanna, you can sense the tension, and it just keeps rising as mother and daughter find new ways to engage in their battle of wills. The question of who will win, and how, makes this as compelling a read as anything I've seen lately. Dark and twisty, thoughtful and provocative, nerve-wracking and creepy, Baby Teeth is the book you'll be talking about for months to come. 

P.S. Bring wine. You'll need it. 

 

Galleys for Baby Teeth were provided by St. Martin's Press through NetGalley, with many thanks.