Thursday, March 7, 2019

audiobook thoughts: The Winter People by Jennifer McMahon

The backstory: I bought this audiobook in 2014 when it was a Daily Deal, but like so many of the Daily Deals I buy, it never rose to the top of my audiobook TBR. On Litsy, CareBear hosted a low stakes read-a-long: read the book in February and discuss it at the end of the month. I'm so glad that I read this book but also that I had people to discuss it with because there is SO MUCH to discuss.

The basics: This novel is set in a country house West Hall, Vermont in 1908 and the present day. The town has had quite a few strange disappearances and deaths over the years. In 1908, Sarah Harrison Shea, who is struggling with the death of her daughter, Gertie, and writing in a diary. Her husband and doctor confuse her grief with psychosis. In present day, 19-year-old Ruthie and her little sister Fawn live in Sarah's house, and their mother is missing. When looking for clues, they find Sarah's diary.

My thoughts: If I'm being honest, if I knew I was reading a paranormal ghost story, I might not have picked it up. But I thought I was listening to mysterious historical fiction. And I was. While there are paranormal elements, it's a paranormal that feels very real and very grounded in emotion. McMahon builds the world and characters beautifully. I giddily described this novel to Mr. Nomadreader as "delightfully creepy," which is not a phrase I use often. But it is delightful and creepy. I love that McMahon made me understand the actions of her characters as normal and easy to relate to. Both timelines are compelling, and McMahon deftly discloses different things during each part that provide layers and context.

Audiobook thoughts: Cassandra Campbell is one of my favorite narrators, and she was excellent with this book. I did start this over about an hour in because I felt like I wasn't sure what was going on. I think that had more to do with my wandering mind than the novel, but there is a lot of world-building early on, and it's important to pay close attention to what is happening in the novel and what is happening in the passage's from Sarah's diary. Once I got into the book, however, I had no problems following the different elements.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Length: 10 hours 45 minutes (336 pages)
Publication date: February 11, 2014
Source: personal copy

Want to read for yourself? Buy The Winter People from Amazon (it's only $2.99 on Kindle today!)

Challenges: Around the Year in 52 Books (dual timeline), Litsy A to Z, Pop Sugar (ghost story)

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

A Love Letter to Daisy Jones & the Six

Dear Taylor Jenkins Reid,

I'm so glad Daisy's publication day is here and the world will get to enjoy it. I was lucky enough to get a galley of it last June and instead of saving it, I read it compulsively in a single day. I had high expectations, as The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo was my favorite read of 2017. I've been recommending it to a lot of people the past two years. And since June, I've been saying, "you read Evelyn Hugo, right? Her new book is even better. Pre-order it." I did too. I pre-ordered the audiobook because the cast is incredible: Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, Judy Greer, Pablo Schreiber, and more. I also chose it as my Book of the Month because I want a hardcover copy. I'm in good company, as Reese Witherspoon picked it for the Hello Sunshine book club this month. Plus she's making my dreams come true and making it a tv show. Daisy Jones & the Six is a book I want to read and listen to over and over and over. In fact, I'm officially bestowing my highest honor on it: for only the eighth time in my twelve years of blogging about books, I rated a book six stars out of 5. Welcome to my Hall of Fame, Daisy.

Favorite passages: "I had absolutely no interest in being somebody else's muse.
I am not a muse.
I am the somebody.
End of fucking story."

"It is what I have always loved about music. Not the sounds or the crowds or the good times as much as the words--the emotions, and the stories, the truth--that you can let flow right out of your mouth. Music can dig, you know? It can take a shovel to your chest and just start digging until it hits something."

Rating: 6 out of 5
Length: 368 pages
Publication date: March 5, 2019
Source: publisher

Want to read for yourself? Buy Daisy Jones & the Six from Amazon (Kindle edition.)

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!

Monday, March 4, 2019

The 2019 Women's Prize for Fiction Longlist: A U.S. Reader's Guide

After writing this post for seven years in a row, apparently I took last year off, but I'm back with my thoughts on a very U.S.-friendly and number of pages-friendly 16-book longlist filled with many novels from my TBR and a few I hadn't heard of that sound really interesting. The hardest part: deciding which one to read first.

The Ones Available in the U.S. Now


The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker
My Sister, The Serial Killer by Oyinkan Braithwaite
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
Milkman by Anna Burns
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi
Ordinary People by Diana Evans
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
Number One Chinese Restaurant by Lillian Li
Bottled Goods by Sophie van Llewyn
Lost Children Archive by Valeria Luiselli
Praise Songs for the Butterflies by Bernice L. McFadden
Circe by Madeline Miller
Ghost Wall by Sarah Moss

The One Coming to the U.S. Soon


Normal People by Sally Rooney (coming April 16, 2019)

The Ones We Hope Make Their Way to the U.S. (But I ordered them from The Book Depository)


Swan Song by Kelleigh Greenberg-Jephcott
Remembered by Yvonee Battle-Felton

I promised myself I wouldn't commit to reading all sixteen, but I realized I actually want to read all of them. And this year's longlist is doable. It's only 4762 pages, which means if I read 86 page a day, I can read the entire longlist before the shortlist is announced. I have very little faith I will, but I can.

Now tell me: which title are you most excited to see on the longlist? 

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!

Monday, February 18, 2019

book thoughts: The Wedding Party and The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

Last spring I read Jasmine Guillory's debut novel, The Wedding Date, mostly because the bookternet was so excited about it. I don't typically read romance, but body-positive interracial romance with smart people intrigued me. And I liked the book. When I reviewed it on Litsy, I said, "A fun, sexy, mostly smart romp. Both main characters are annoyingly insecure at times, but part of that may have been the audio performance, which was okay but distractingly breathy at times. I finished it in print and actually preferred that." Clearly my opinion about the audio performance is unpopular, as it was nominated for an Audie. Last summer, at ALA, I saw Guillory speak as part of a romance panel (that added more than one title to my TBR) and was excited to learn The Proposal features one of the supporting character from The Wedding Date, Carlos, as a main character. (The third book, The Wedding Party, will feature Maddie and Theo, Alexa's best friends.)

Despite getting a copy of The Proposal at ALA last June, I didn't move it to the top of my pile until Reese Witherspoon picked it for the February Hello Sunshine pick. Once I started it, I devoured it in less than 24 hours. I was instantly drawn to Nik, the main character, and I want her to be my friend. While The Proposal is definitely a romance novel, it's also a wonderful portrait of female friendship. Nik is close with her two best friends from college, and both their in person and group text scenes remind me of my own best friends from high school.

As a novel, The Proposal is more accomplished. I appreciated its fast-paced storytelling, but I also was deeply emotionally invested in the characters. I laughed out loud. I sobbed. I loved this book so much, and now that I have an egalley of The Wedding Party (out July 16, 2019), I'm debating how long I can wait to dive in and spend more time with these characters.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (The Wedding Date) and 4.5 out of 5 (The Proposal)
Length: 335 pages
Publication date: January 30, 2018 & October 30, 2018
Source:  library

Want to read for yourself? Buy The Wedding Date (Kindle edition) and The Proposal (Kindle edition).

Challenges: Reading Women (romance or love story), Pop Sugar (should be turned into a movie), Litsy A to Z, and Hello Sunshine.

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Sunday Salon: A Booksih Spring to Celebrate in Des Moines

The Sunday Salon.comI love living in Des Moines, but one of the things I miss most about Atlanta is the literary community. I absolutely adore the bookternet and the connections with readers and writers I've made through this blog, Twitter, Instagram, and Litsy, but I do miss that in-person bookish community. Authors don't come to Des Moines on book tours (some go to Iowa City, home of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, but that's two hours away.) We do have an excellent public library, and they sponsor an annual series of events called AViD: Authors Visiting in Des Moines. There's usually one or two authors I'm interested in seeing, and it's wonderful. This week, the 2019 line-up was announced, and it's a great one. It's also the first year of the DSM Book Festival, which is really exciting. Without leaving Des Moines, these are the authors I plan to see this spring (in chronological order):


Nnedi Okorafor and Susan Orlean, Saturday March 30 
I reviewed The Library Book last week, and I'm excited to see her speak having already read it. I saw Okorafor speak at a library conference a few years ago, and she's an author I've been meaning to read ever since. I plan to get to at least one of her books before March 30th.

Laurie Frankel, Thursday, April 18
I've been meaning to read This Is How It Always Is since I first heard about it. It was also picked for the Hello Sunshine book club, so it's on my definite TBR list for 2019. Now I'll make time to read it before April.

Sarah Smarsh, Thursday, May 2
I bought Heartland from Audible and already planned to listen to it because it's about Kansas and was nominated for the National Book Award. I'm a sixth-generation Kansan with complicated feelings about the state, but I'm also drawn to the exploration of poverty, even without the Kansas connection.

Madeline Miller, Thursday, May 16
I read Song of Achilles when it was nominated for the Women's Prize (which it went on to win.) I've been meaning to read her new novel, Circe, and this event will give me a great deadline to do so. I also expect to see it longlisted for the Women's Prize (the longlist will be announced March 4.)

What a wonderful bookish spring it will be in Des Moines! If you want to see more, the full AViD lineup is here, and the DSM Book Festival website is here (full line-up to come.) If you're not in Des Moines, I do plan to post about each event I make it to. If you're in Des Moines and also plan to attend any of these, please say hi!

As an affiliate, I receive a small commission when you make a purchase through any of the above links. Thank you for helping to support my book habits that bring more content to this blog!