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5 On My TBR: Halloween

5 On My TBR is a weekly meme that gets you digging into your massive TBRs to find five special books. Created by E@LocalBeeHuntersNook this meme centers on a new prompt each Monday. This week’s theme is Halloween. I chose books from my physical shelf that spoke of monsters and hauntings. The books are arranged based on the date that they were added to my TBR. If you are interested in participating you can find additional info and future prompts here.

#1 – Ill Will

From GoodReads: Two sensational unsolved crimes—one in the past, another in the present—are linked by one man’s memory and self-deception in this chilling novel of literary suspense from National Book Award finalist Dan Chaon.

“We are always telling a story to ourselves, about ourselves,” Dustin Tillman likes to say. It’s one of the little mantras he shares with his patients, and it’s meant to be reassuring. But what if that story is a lie?

A psychologist in suburban Cleveland, Dustin is drifting through his forties when he hears the news: His adopted brother, Rusty, is being released from prison. Thirty years ago, Rusty received a life sentence for the massacre of Dustin’s parents, aunt, and uncle. The trial came to symbolize the 1980s hysteria over Satanic cults; despite the lack of physical evidence, the jury believed the outlandish accusations Dustin and his cousin made against Rusty. Now, after DNA analysis has overturned the conviction, Dustin braces for a reckoning.

Meanwhile, one of Dustin’s patients gets him deeply engaged in a string of drowning deaths involving drunk college boys. At first Dustin dismisses talk of a serial killer as paranoid thinking, but as he gets wrapped up in their amateur investigation, Dustin starts to believe that there’s more to the deaths than coincidence. Soon he becomes obsessed, crossing all professional boundaries—and putting his own family in harm’s way.

From one of today’s most renowned practitioners of literary suspense, Ill Will is an intimate thriller about the failures of memory and the perils of self-deception. In Dan Chaon’s nimble, chilling prose, the past looms over the present, turning each into a haunted place.


#2 – A Monster Calls

From GoodReads: An unflinching, darkly funny, and deeply moving story of a boy, his seriously ill mother, and an unexpected monstrous visitor.

At seven minutes past midnight, thirteen-year-old Conor wakes to find a monster outside his bedroom window. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting – he’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments. The monster in his backyard is different. It’s ancient. And wild. And it wants something from Conor. Something terrible and dangerous. It wants the truth.

From the final idea of award-winning author Siobhan Dowd – whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself – Patrick Ness has spun a haunting and darkly funny novel of mischief, loss, and monsters both real and imagined.


#3 – My Favorite Thing is Monsters

From GoodReads: Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late ’60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen’s investigation takes us back to Anka’s life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge. Full-color illustrations throughout.


#4 – Unbury Carol

From GoodReads: Carol Evers is a woman with a dark secret. She has died many times . . . but her many deaths are not final: They are comas, a waking slumber indistinguishable from death, each lasting days.

Only two people know of Carol’s eerie condition. One is her husband, Dwight, who married Carol for her fortune, and—when she lapses into another coma—plots to seize it by proclaiming her dead and quickly burying her . . . alive. The other is her lost love, the infamous outlaw James Moxie. When word of Carol’s dreadful fate reaches him, Moxie rides the Trail again to save his beloved from an early, unnatural grave.

And all the while, awake and aware, Carol fights to free herself from the crippling darkness that binds her—summoning her own fierce will to survive. As the players in this drama of life and death fight to decide her fate, Carol must in the end battle to save herself.


#5 – The Year of the Witching

From GoodReads: The Handmaid’s Tale for a new generation . . .

In the lands of Bethel, where the Prophet’s word is law, Immanuelle Moore’s very existence is blasphemy.

The daughter of a union with an outsider that cast her once-proud family into disgrace, Immanuelle does her best to worship the Father, follow Holy Protocol and lead a life of submission, devotion and absolute conformity, like all the women in the settlement.

But a chance mishap lures her into the forbidden Darkwood that surrounds Bethel – a place where the first prophet once pursued and killed four powerful witches. Their spirits are still walking there, and they bestow a gift on Immanuelle: the diary of her dead mother, who Immanuelle is shocked to learn once sought sanctuary in the wood.

Fascinated by secrets in the diary, Immanuelle finds herself struggling to understand how her mother could have consorted with the witches. But when she begins to learn grim truths about the Church and its history, she realises the true threat to Bethel is its own darkness. And if Bethel is to change, it must begin with her . . .


Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? To whom would you recommend them?

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Throwback Thursday #1

I discovered Throwback Thursday on my friend Carla Loves To Read page.

Throwback Thursday meme is hosted by Renee@It’s Book Talk and is a way to share some of your old favorites as well as sharing books that you’re FINALLY getting around to reading that were published over a year ago. You know, the ones waiting patiently on your TBR list while you continue to pile more titles on top of them! These older books are usually much easier than new releases to get a hold of at libraries and elsewhere. If you have your own Throwback Thursday recommendation feel free to jump on board and connect back to Renee’s blog.


I have to admit that it was kind of fun going through my old reviews and visiting some of the books I enjoyed in the past. It was tough to pick one so I let GoodReads list sort it out for me. Sarah Winman’s Tin Man was a gem of a book. I hope you get the chance to read it. You can find the following review and more on my GoodReads page.

My Review

Although I read this short novel in just one sitting it has taken me some time to come to grips with how I feel. The blurb on the back of this book states:
“This is almost a love story. But it’s not as simple as that.”
I feel this sums up Sarah Winman’s Tin Man accurately. There is certainly nothing simple about how this book moves you. And I am not sure that any words I put to paper can accurately capture its essence. Tin Man is about first and lasting loves. It is about friendships that endure. It is about grief. Tin Man is a story rendered with beautiful prose that manages as novelist Matt Haig so astutely observed, to “break your heart and warm it all at once”. 

Throwback Pic

I’ll leave you with this throwback image of Madonna taken by Herb Ritts in 1990.

Signing off. Hope we get to talk books soon !

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Blog Tour: The Last Story of Mina Lee

Buy Links

Synopsis

THE LAST STORY OF MINA LEE (on sale: September 1, 2020; Park Row Books; Hardcover; $27.99 US/ $34.99 CAN). opens when Margot Lee’s mother, Mina, doesn’t return her calls. It’s a mystery to twenty-six-year-old Margot, until she visits her childhood apartment in Koreatown, Los Angeles, and finds that her mother has suspiciously died. The discovery sends Margot digging through the past, unraveling the tenuous and invisible strings that held together her single mother’s life as a Korean War orphan and an undocumented immigrant, only to realize how little she truly knew about her mother.

Interwoven with Margot’s present-day search is Mina’s story of her first year in Los Angeles as she navigates the promises and perils of the American myth of reinvention. While she’s barely earning a living by stocking shelves at a Korean grocery store, the last thing Mina ever expects is to fall in love. But that love story sets in motion a series of events that have consequences for years to come, leading up to the truth of what happened the night of her death.


Review

The first time I heard about this book was by Russell on Ink and Paper blog. So when I got offered the chance to read it for the blog tour I was super excited. Indeed, I had very good reason. This book was an emotional tug that gave me insight into immigrant life.

Margot returns home after a long absence to find her mother dead. As she makes arrangements for her mother’s funeral she tries to sort out the pieces of her mother’s life. She soon comes to realize that a child never really knows the whole of their parents.

As a mother, Mina has had to make sacrifices and put aside pieces of herself in order to guarantee the best for her child. As the child, Margot was oblivious to her mother’s struggles and the secrets she kept to protect her. As a child, she judges her mother for her otherness and blamed her for her own insecurities of not fitting in.

As a woman looking back over that time, she realizes how strong her mother was and how much she must have loved her to make the decisions she did. Margot comes to understand how hard it must have been for her mother to survive as an immigrant in America.

“What did this country ask us all to sacrifice? Was it possible to feel anything while we were all trying to get ahead of everyone else, including ourself?”

Margot learns what it meant for Mina to be held at arm’s length from the American dream. Separated through poverty, by language and living in insular neighborhoods formed from common threats and fears.

In her mother’s death Margot learns not only the pieces that made her mother, but her heritage and herself.

Although The Last Story of Mina Lee may be considered a mystery, I was drawn to the characterization and the process by which Margot comes to know her mother.

There were so many powerful passages that stayed with me and kept me thinking not only of Mina and Margot but of immigrants, women and mothers and daughters.

Did stories keep us alive or kill us with false expectations? It depended on who wrote them perhaps.

With The Last Story of Mina Lee, Nancy Jooyun Kim has written an intimate, richly layered and moving portrayal of Korean immigrant experience. I look forward to reading more of her stories and cannot wait to see what she comes up with next.


Meet the Author

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Nancy Jooyoun Kim is a graduate of UCLA and the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Washington, Seattle. Her work has appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, The Rumpus, Electric Literature, Asian American Writers’ Workshop’s The Margins, The Offing, the blogs of Prairie Schooner and Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Her essay, “Love (or Live Cargo),” was performed for NPR/PRI’s Selected Shorts in 2017 with stories by Viet Thanh Nguyen, Phil Klay, and Etgar Keret. THE LAST STORY OF MINA LEE is her first novel.

Where You Can Find Nancy

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Blog Tour: When I Was You

BUY LINKS:

Thank you to MIRA/ Harlequin Press for including me on this tour. I apologize for this post being so late. Between e-learning and getting sick I have fallen behind on nearly everything. But I really enjoyed this book and still wanted to give it the attention it deserved.

Synopsis

YOU meets FATAL ATTRACTION in this up-all-night psychological thriller about a lonely empty-nester’s growing obsession with a young mother who shares her name.

It all begins on an ordinary fall morning, when Kelly Medina gets a call from her son’s pediatrician to confirm her upcoming “well-baby” appointment. It’s a cruel mistake; her son left for college a year ago, and Kelly has never felt so alone. The receptionist quickly apologizes: there’s another mother in town named Kelly Medina, and she must have gotten their numbers switched.

But Kelly can’t stop thinking about the woman who shares her name. Lives in her same town. Has a son she can still hold, and her whole life ahead of her. She can’t help looking for her: at the grocery store, at the gym, on social media. When Kelly just happens to bump into the single mother outside that pediatrician’s office, it’s simple curiosity getting the better of her.

Their unlikely friendship brings Kelly a renewed sense of purpose, taking care of this young woman and her adorable baby boy. But that friendship quickly turns to obsession, and when one Kelly disappears, well, the other one may know why.


Review

Kelly Medina is lonely. An empty-nester, she has time on her hands particularly since her husband spends so much time away for work. Her only reprieves are her outings with her best friend Christine. So when she gets a call from her son’s pediatrician to remind her about her upcoming appointment she is intrigued by the prospect of another Kelly Medina. A younger woman with an infant son. She seeks her out. Stalks her even as she becomes obsessed with this other Kelly’s life.

This part of the book did not really spark my curiosity. My name is rather common and although I grew up in a relatively small town there was another young lady who shared my name. I was always having to sort people out between me and the other Michelle. So the very premise of this story was not as intriguing for me as it may have been for other readers.

What did pique my interest was learning about the emotional strain the older Kelly was going through. I kept trying to figure out just how mentally unstable she was and to determine whether the younger Kelly was real or a figment of her delusional mind. Either way the story played out When I Was You was shaping up to be a rather pulse-pounding dangerous ride.

Will our Kelly make it out alive and mentally sound? Garza serves up plenty of twists and turns to keep us guessing until the final moments. And oh how I LOVED that ending!

When I Was You was my first Amber Garza book but I am really looking forward to delving into her other novels. First up – the Prowl Trilogy.


Meet the Author

Amber Garza has had a passion for the written word since she was a child making books out of notebook paper and staples. Her hobbies include reading and singing. Coffee and wine are her drinks of choice (not necessarily in that order). She writes while blaring music, and talks about her characters like they’re real people. She lives with her husband and two kids in Folsom, California, which is—no joke—home to another Amber Garza.


Where You Can Find Amber

Author Website: http://www.ambergarza.com/

TWITTER: @ambermg1

FB: @ambergarzaauthor

Instagram: @ambergarzaauthor

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5582891.Amber_Garza

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WWW Wednesdays! — July 15, 2020

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was created by Miz B formerly of shouldbereading and currently hosted by Sam at Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

My Current Read

Published June 2nd 2020 by Riverhead Books

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it’s not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it’s everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Ten years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other secretly passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters’ storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passingLooking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person’s decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

As with her New York Times-bestselling debut The Mothers, Brit Bennett offers an engrossing page-turner about family and relationships that is immersive and provocative, compassionate and wise. 


What I Just Read

Published July 14th 2020 by Gallery / Saga Press

The creeping horror of Paul Tremblay meets Tommy Orange’s There There in a dark novel of revenge, cultural identity, and the cost of breaking from tradition in this latest novel from the Jordan Peele of horror literature, Stephen Graham Jones.

Seamlessly blending classic horror and a dramatic narrative with sharp social commentary, The Only Good Indians follows four American Indian men after a disturbing event from their youth puts them in a desperate struggle for their lives. Tracked by an entity bent on revenge, these childhood friends are helpless as the culture and traditions they left behind catch up to them in a violent, vengeful way.


What I am Going to Read Next

Expected publication: July 28th 2020 by Graydon House

She wrote the book on escaping a predator… Now one is coming for her.

Faith Finley has it all: she’s a talented psychologist with a flourishing career, a bestselling author and the host of a popular local radio program, Someone’s Listening, with Dr. Faith Finley. She’s married to the perfect man, Liam Finley, a respected food critic.

Until the night everything goes horribly wrong, and Faith’s life is shattered forever.

Liam is missing—gone without a trace—and the police are suspicious of everything Faith says. They either think she has something to hide, or that she’s lost her mind.

And then the notes begin to arrive. Notes that are ripped from Faith’s own book, the one that helps victims leave their abusers. Notes like “Lock your windows. Consider investing in a steel door.”

As the threats escalate, the mystery behind Liam’s disappearance intensifies. And Faith’s very life will depend on finding answers.

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Blog Tour Spotlight: In the Neighborhood of True

Synopsis

A powerful story of love, identity, and the price of fitting in or speaking out.

After her father’s death, Ruth Robb and her family transplant themselves in the summer of 1958 from New York City to Atlanta—the land of debutantes, sweet tea, and the Ku Klux Klan. In her new hometown, Ruth quickly figures out she can be Jewish or she can be popular, but she can’t be both. Eager to fit in with the blond girls in the “pastel posse,” Ruth decides to hide her religion. Before she knows it, she is falling for the handsome and charming Davis and sipping Cokes with him and his friends at the all-white, all-Christian Club.

Does it matter that Ruth’s mother makes her attend services at the local synagogue every week? Not as long as nobody outside her family knows the truth. At temple Ruth meets Max, who is serious and intense about the fight for social justice, and now she is caught between two worlds, two religions, and two boys. But when a violent hate crime brings the different parts of Ruth’s life into sharp conflict, she will have to choose between all she’s come to love about her new life and standing up for what she believes.


Thoughts on the Book

“The story may be set in the past, but it couldn’t be a more timely reminder that true courage comes not from fitting in, but from purposefully standing out . . . and that to find out who you really are, you have to first figure out what you’re not.” —Jodi Picoult, New York Times bestselling author of A Spark of Light and Small Great Things


“gorgeous story about a teenage girl finding her voice in the face of hate, heartbreak, and injustice” —Nova Ren Suma, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Room Away from the Wolves


“Carlton captures the racism, anti-Semitism, and social interactions of the time and place with admirable nuance. The dialogue and setting are meticulously constructed, and readers will feel the humidity and tension rising with each chapter.” — Publisher’s Weekly; starred review

My Thoughts

In the Neighborhood of True is a captivating novel based on the 1958 bombing of Hebrew Benevolent Congregation Temple. As Atlanta’s first official Jewish institution The Temple not only served as a beacon within the Jewish community, but under the leadership of Rabbi Jacob Rothschild it also was a center for social justice and the burgeoning civil rights movement.

Carlton manages to capture this fraughtful time through the eyes of a Jewish girl coming of age in the wake of her father’s death. Ruth is smitten with the debutante scene and the handsome young Davis Jefferson. She is warned by her grandmother that her Jewishness might set her apart from the in-crowd and so at first she “passes” for Christian. But as time goes by she realizes that her lies of omission are a wedge between her and true acceptance by her new friends. Ultimately, she must decide which side she wants to be on — somewhere “in the neighborhood of true” where no one knows who she really is — or on the side of truth and justice and doing what’s right.


Meet the Author

From the author’s website:

“I grew up in San Francisco and its suburbs, went to college in Portland, Oregon and interned in the White House. From there, I got a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University and worked in magazines—Self, Elle, Mademoiselle, and others. That may explain my perennial crush on polka dots, poodles, and vintage stores.

A while ago, my family moved to Atlanta where we became members of a temple not so very different from the one in In the Neighborhood of True. We were welcomed with a hearty “Shabbat shalom, y’all,” but the memories of what happened there still reverberated. Our younger daughter attended Sunday school in one of the classrooms that had been bombed decades before. And the hate has continued to echo. In 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, where our older daughter is in school, white nationalists brandished torches in front of Thomas Jefferson’s rotunda, yelling, “Jews will not replace us.” And then the next year in Pittsburgh, eleven congregants were shot during Saturday morning services. I watched the unfolding horror on TV news with my eighty-eight-year-old father, remembering the bat mitzvah the whole family had attended at a different synagogue nearby. As the names of the dead were read, I kept thinking that my dad could have been one of them. And then I thought, it could have been any of us—over and over, across decades and state lines.

These days, I teach writing at Boston University and write young adult novels about complicated girls in complicated times. My husband and I have moved our two amusing and good-natured daughters up and down the East Coast. We now live in Hanover, New Hampshire, where we think we’ll stay.”

Where you can find Susan K. Carlton

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Blog Tour: No One Saw

I am so very grateful for Lia Ferrone and her continued support of this blog. Thank you so much for sending me such wonderful reads!

Synopsis

Detective team A.L. McKittridge and Rena Morgan are back on their beat after solving the brutal Baywood serial killings, but crime doesn’t rest for long in their small Wisconsin town. In book two of Beverly Long’s electrifying A.L. McKittridge series, NO ONE SAW (MIRA Mass Market Paperback; June 30, 2020; $7.99), a child seemingly vanishes from a day care into thin air and A.L. and Rena must race to bring her home before time runs out.

Baywood police department detective A.L. McKittridge is no stranger to tough cases, but when five-year-old Emma Whitman disappears from her day care, there isn’t a single shred of evidence to go on. There are no witnesses, no trace of where she might have gone. There’s only one thing A.L. and his partner, Rena Morgan, are sure of—somebody is lying.

With the clock ticking, A.L. and Rena discover their instincts are correct: all is not as it seems. The Whitmans are a family with many secrets, and A.L. and Rena must untangle a growing web of lies if they’re going to find the thread that leads them to Emma… before it’s too late.


Review

No One Saw opens with the disappearance of a young girl from her daycare center. Her grandmother swears she handed her off to the teacher. Her teacher is adamant that young Emma Whitman never arrived at school. No one seems to have seen her. As far as Rena and A.L. can guess everyone is lying about something. Emma’s parents. Her grandmother. Her teacher. The principal. Everyone has something to hide. Are any of these secrets motive enough to kidnap a 5 year old in broad daylight? Will Morgan and McKittridge find Emma in time? The clock is ticking and the odds of finding her safe and alive diminish with each passing second.

My introduction to Beverly Long came with Ten Days Gone, the first book in this series. I was really taken by both Morgan and McKittridge as characters and loved their dynamic. So I was really excited when Lia Ferrone at Mira Books invited me onto this blog tour. Although the camaraderie and rapport between the two detectives is what brings me back to this series, I do not feel that it is necessary to read the books in order. Long gives enough background to convey the detectives’s relationship and personal lives. With her deft hand this information does not come across as redundant for those of us continuing with the series. All in all, both books are great police procedurals and will leave even the discerning reader satisfied.


Meet the Author

Beverly Long’s writing career has spanned more than two decades and twenty novels, including TEN DAYS GONE, the first book of her A.L. McKittridge series. She writes romantic suspense with sexy heroes and smart heroines. She can often be found with her laptop in a coffee shop with a cafe au lait and anything made with dark chocolate by her side. 

Where You Can Find Beverly

Book review: The Long Call

Synopsis

For the first time in 20 years, Ann Cleeves –international bestselling and award-winning author of the Vera and Shetland series, both of which are hit TV shows– embarks on a gripping new series.
In North Devon, where two rivers converge and run into the sea, Detective Matthew Venn stands outside the church as his father’s funeral takes place. Once loved and cherished, the day Matthew left the strict evangelical community he grew up in, he lost his family too.

Now, as he turns and walks away again, he receives a call from one of his team. A body has been found on the beach nearby: a man with a tattoo of an albatross on his neck, stabbed to death.

The case calls Matthew back into the community he thought he had left behind, as deadly secrets hidden at its heart are revealed, and his past and present collide.

An astonishing new novel told with compassion and searing insight, The Long Call will captivate fans of Vera and Shetland, as well as new readers.


Review

“. . . he could hear the surf on the beach and the cry of a herring gull, the sound naturalists named the long call, the cry which always sounded to him like an inarticulate howl of pain.”

With these words Ann Cleeves sets the scene for her first book in the Two Rivers series. When I read these words I thought myself clever. I thought it was a clue to who the killer was. Silly me. I had duped myself. But these words do foreshadow what is to come. The characters in The Long Call have gone through indescribable pain. — The guilt over having caused the death of an innocent. Rejection and loss of family because of sexual orientation. The list goes on. — Yet in this world most hold their secrets dear. They are not always kept to hide shame or escape retribution. For some secrets represent freedom, independence, being grounded in your own truth. “He was so sympathetic that she was almost tempted to confide in him. To confess. But she’d grown up thinking that secrets were sometimes all she had, so she just shook her head.” “We all need secrets, just to keep sane, to feel that the world doesn’t own us.”

In the end I did not find myself drawn to the character of Matthew Venn as much as I thought I would. As a married gay police detective who grew up in a fundamental evangelicals sect Venn is a totally original character. I should have been intrigued. But I do not fault the book for this. I found Cleeves to be a skillful and insightful writer. Maybe I have an albatross tattooed on my neck. For the life of me I am struggling to focus. Reading is typically my outlet but in these times my anxiety is ramped up in high gear. A book that would normally take me 6 or 7 hours to read is now taking days. All in all, I would like to revisit Cleeves’s work after this crisis has passed.

Special thanks to Minotaur Books for access to this work.


About the Author

From her webpage: “Ann Cleeve’s books have been translated into twenty languages. She’s a bestseller in Scandinavia and Germany. Her novels sell widely and to critical acclaim in the United States. Raven Black was shortlisted for the Martin Beck award for best translated crime novel in Sweden in 2007. It has been adapted for radio in Germany – and in the UK where it was a Radio Times pick of the day when it was first broadcast Radio adaptations of Raven Black and White Nights have both been repeated. Ten series of Vera, the ITV adaptation starring Brenda Blethyn, have been shown in the UK and worldwide, and series eleven was due to begin filming in April 2020, although this has been delayed because of the coronavirus; there have also been five series of Shetland, based on the characters and settings of her Shetland novels, and another two have been confirmed.”

Corona Chronicles: Day 22

Being under quarantine can make it difficult to connect with people outside your home especially if you are enjoying loving up on your family. But I found that it is still important for me to reach out to the other readers. Although overwhelming at first, some aspects of virtual life have proven to be easier to navigate than I thought. Let’s not talk about BlackBoard and Connect right now. I still have a steep learning curve there but never fear –help is on the way. (If only McGraw Hill had capes for their tech support.) But I digress. Back to the books. This week I have found my sanity in the virtual book world. Purchase links for all books mentioned can be found below.

Here are some of the awesome events I have “attended”:

My VLF Virtual Literary Festival

MyVLF is a free online literary event space. It is more than just your everyday book club. Here readers get to explore small presses, attend genre specific festivals and chat live with authors. This past week I had the chance to watch a live interview with Maggie O’Farrell author of Hamnet. Listed on the 2020 Women’s Prize Longlist, this is the story of Shakespeare’s marriage, his wife Agnes and the loss of their son. It has been speculated that this tragedy is the inspiration for Hamlet, one of the Bard’s most famous plays. After seeing this interview with Maggie O’Farrell I am even more motivated to read this book. Release date in the US is July 21, 2020. But those of you who are anxious like me can purchase your copy now through Book Depository.


Bethlehem Area Public Library

Online Reading

BAPL patrons were giving the opportunity to meet acclaimed author Stephanie Powell Watts from the comfort of their couch. Ms. Watts was open and friendly with the audience. She talked about what inspires her stories and characters and described her writing process. In light of most of us living under self imposed quarantine Ms. Watts read stories about what it means to be home from her short story collection No One is Coming to Save Us. Moderated by librarian Kate Racculia, the question and answer session that followed the reading was upbeat and engaging.

In addition to book readings Bethlehem Area Public Library is offering online ESL and language study groups, exercise classes and writing workshops. Check with your local library to see what virtual activities are on their event calendar.


Reading With Family

It’s Not All Downhill From Here by Terry McMillan

From the Blurb: After a sudden change of plans, a remarkable woman and her loyal group of friends try to figure out what she’s going to do with the rest of her life—from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Waiting to Exhale.

My sisters and I are reading It’s Not All Downhill From Here together and discussing it over the phone. It’s a shame it took something like the Covid 19 to get us to do a Buddy Read but so glad that we can connect in this way.


Piecing Me Together by Renee Watson

From the blurb: A timely and powerful story about a teen girl from a poor neighborhood striving for success.

During the quarantine I have been having my teenage son choose a book to read each week. Each Friday at dinner we discuss the book and go over what he liked about it and what insights he has gained. What he especially liked about Piecing Me Together was that it taught him an aspect of history (Lewis and Clark expedition) from a perspective he never considered before. He learned that sometimes you have to be open give things a chance lest you miss out on an amazing opportunity.

Where to Purchase