snapshot 9.30

recently finished: I finally finished Leave No Trace, and it is bananas! It was a crazy, twisty journey, and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

currently reading: I started listening to The Woman in the Window on audio, but the book is a little slow moving, and the audio felt like it was taking forever. I’ve switched over to ebook, and it’s moving so much faster. I can’t wait to see how it ends!

up next: Rose Levy Beranbaum’s new cookbook, Rose’s Baking Basics. It’s one of the cookbooks I’ve been most looking forward to this fall, so I can’t wait to dig in and see what she has to teach me. And trying to write up the several books I’ve read and haven’t been able to review lately. Let’s see if this is the week I can get back on track!

snapshot 9.23

recently finished: It was another week of family drama and hospitals, but I think (I hope!) that things are starting to calm down. My mother is doing well and is in a Skilled Nursing Facility, so she has people taking good care of her, and I think all the related drama is working itself out. Things are slowing down at work for a bit, so I should be able to catch my breath soon. I haven’t finished any books lately, but yesterday I did read a short story by Jane Corry, The Killing Type, which I greatly enjoyed. If you’re a Kindle reader, it’s free on Amazon.

currently reading: Still in Leave No Trace. I think I’ll finish it this week. I’m still liking it a lot, and I can’t wait to see how it ends. I’ve also been listening to Uncommon Type on audio at work. When things are stressful, why wouldn’t you want Tom Hanks to read you a story? I certainly do, and I don’t want to rush this one at all.

up next: Ummm. I don’t know. There are too many books! (Not really, but I feel so fortunate that I have so many amazing choices!)

snapshot 9.16

recently finished: Nothing. It was a rough week. My mother has been in the hospital, so I haven’t gotten much extra done.

currently reading: Still reading Leave No Trace, and I am enjoying it immensely. I definitely recommend this one!

up next: Fruit of the Drunken Tree, a surprise gift from Doubleday, and one of those books that everyone is talking about right now. I can’t wait to jump in and try it!

feet and friendship

Hugo and Boone are best friends. Their friendship is unique, because Boone is a human and Hugo is a Sasquatch. But when they grow up, they want to be cryptozoologists, which is just a fancy word for someone who is friendly with monsters. So having that in common makes them perfect friends.

When Hugo gets a new Monster Detector in the mail, he is excited to go out and look for monsters, although he’s a little scared too. The unknown can be scary. But then Boone showed up at Hugo’s school, The Academy for Curious Squidges, and they see a real, true, genuine Green Whistler!

Hugo and Boone chase down the Green Whistler, not knowing what they were going to do when they catch it. But together, they weren’t afraid. They realized that they would know what to do when the time was right. Plus, they had each other. Friendship makes any adventure better.

Big Foot and Little Foot: Monster Detector is just as adorable as it sounds. With themes of exploring the meaning of friendship, accepting differences in others, and learning to discern the truth from rumors, Ellen Potter’s charming chapter book for 6-9 year-olds is a fun adventure that can be enjoyed by monster lovers of all ages. And Felicita Sala’s illustrations add even more fun and whimsy to this second book in the series.

I highly recommend this fun little Sasquatch book for early readers and their parents.

Galleys for Big Foot and Little Foot: The Monster Detector were provided by Amulet Books, with many thanks.

a deep dive into the start of hospitality

When the Savoy Hotel opened in London in the late 1800s, it quickly rose to fame as the most luxurious experience in the world. Well known hotelier Cesar Ritz was hand-chosen for his attention to detail and his devotion to his guests to run this largest and most opulent hotel by financier Richard D’Oyly Carte. And Ritz then hand chose the finest chef he knew to accompany him, Auguste Escoffier.

Ritz ran an impeccable hotel, and Escoffier ran the most organized, professional kitchen that existed at that time. In fact, you can still go into any luxury hotel and see the details of perfection that were handed down from Ritz, and you can go into any modern professional kitchen and see the imprint of Escoffier’s pristine attention to detail and organization. Their ideas birthed an industry and brought a level of luxury to the middle class that most people had never been able to experience before.

Luke Barr, author of Provence, 1970, is back with another flawlessly researched book that takes a look at a moment in history that changed everything that came after. In Provence, 1970, he showed how American cuisine came to be, and Ritz and Escoffier shows how two men taught us all how to live our best lives, lives where the details make the difference between an average experience and one that make us feel like royalty.

With stories of history and scandal, royalty and wannabes, romance and betrayal, Ritz and Escoffier shines a light on a time in history where decadence became a lifestyle and modern luxury became a tangible reality for almost anyone. The pages of this book are filled with lavish dinner parties, rumors of love affairs, scandalous spending, backstabbing, double-crossing, stealing, egotism, entitlement, lawsuits and disgrace.

A fascinating look at a unique time in history, Ritz and Escoffier takes you back in time and shows you all the hard work that goes into the extravagance of the hospitality industry from the opening of a hotel to running it like clockwork through all the surprises and challenges that come up during its operation. Luke Barr’s exquisite prose, audiobook melodically narrated by Stephen Rudnicki, brings the city and the time and the hotel to life in a way that makes you feel like you can see the flowers right in front of you and smell the amazing aromas of Escoffier’s kitchen. I know that I will never see the hotel industry the same way.

Galleys for Ritz and Escoffier were provided by Crown Publishing through NetGalley, with many thanks, but I bought the audiobook myself, thanks to Audible.

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!