It's only 192 pages but reviewers and readers are anxiously awaiting Jamaica Kincaid's powerful new release titled, See Now Then. It's been ten years since Kincaid has written a novel and this one sounds like it was worth the wait.

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Marriage is always a provocative subject and See Now Then  focuses on a New England family in all their glory...or not. It's a novel of the past and present and as one reviewer stated, "Kincaid is trying to make clear what is unclear, and to make unclear what we assumed is clear."

Kincaid's characters are multi faceted and intriguing and her writing style is bluntly compelling. The story runs the gamut of emotions (like any marriage...) and humor and compassion intersect. Kincaid's last book was on gardening..what a departure!

See Now Then by Jamaica Kincaid will be released on February 5th.




SO WHAT'S NEW? (01/30/2013)

I'm half way through The Art Forger by B. A. Shapiro, the story based on an unsolved art heist at a Boston museum. The author weaves a fascinating tale, but I think you'll enjoy it even more if you have an interest in art. You'll certainly gain an appreciation about "how paintings are made."

So what else is new in books?
For starters, I've weeded out two that look interesting and to quote the NY Times, these are definetly "New and Noteworthy."

Click on the book image for more information.

HABITS Of THE HOUSE by Faye Weldon

If you're hooked on Downton Abbey, author Faye Weldon wrote the pilot for the iconic series, Upstairs, Downstairs. In Habits of the House, British aristocracy and a mansion full of maids and butlers contribute to a story of manners and morals with a dash of mystery and mischief, British style.

NEWS FROM HEAVEN by Jennifer Haigh

This is a collection of short stories "that rove across time and cultures." Characters are vivid and inner most feelings are deftly revealed. These interconnected stories are inspired by the people living in a Pennsylvania coal-mining town. 

Jennifer Haigh is the author of four critically acclaimed novels and  the recipient of many prestigious awards. 


To Order Click on the Amazon Search Box in the Sidebar

Twice a month I send out a blog update. Some blog readers may press "delete"( You know who you are!) and others thankfully occasionally respond! 

This week JOANN B from Boston responded and recommended Far From the Tree by Andrew Solomon

JOANN B wrote "No one should pass through life without reading this book. It's wise as it is painful."

The premise in Far From The Tree, written by award winning author, Andrew Solomon is "How do we raise children who are profoundly different than we are?" Solomon began researching
this book twelve years ago when he realized that disabilities are actually "unique gifts."

He focuses on his own personal background as well as including a multitude of moving stories about families faced with raising children different than they expected them to be.


At 700 pages, (that go by very quickly) reviewers called it a "compelling read and a personal examination of the role of parenthood."



BEV G along with J.B. of the West Hartford Bookies emailed the following opinions regarding the novel, SWIMMING HOME by Deborah Levy.

Here's a segment of their comments:

J. B.
.....We get intimate (too much so in the opinion of some bookies) portrayals of mental illness, painful Holocaust echoes, the indignities of aging and the bravado of confused adolescence.
Even the minor characters in this theatrical book, though less fully developed, are rendered sympathetically and are funny and sad at the same time.
We all think SWIMMING HOME would make a good movie.

We had a fantastic discussion. Several of our members did not like the characters. Others simply didn't understand it and those of us who really appreciated the book, read it twice and felt that it was well worth the effort. It is a great book club selection as it leads to many discussion possibilities........

Here are my comments from (12/23/12)
SWIMMING HOME by Deborah Levy

I felt like a detached observer throughout this small novel. It's a convoluted story of people on holiday when a stranger unexpectedly joins them...complications can imagine the rest..

Written by British playwright, Deborah Levy, SWIMMING HOME was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. I couldn't wait to read this novel but found it disappointing and predictable in spite of its well written prose. (Yes, it is definetly film-worthy.)


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For the mystery lovers out there, many new releases are debuting. Everything from James Patterson, Brad Meltzer to Ruth Rendell are sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.  They're all suspense filled, historical, or psychological...take your pick!

I'm currently reading The Child's Child by Barbara Vine, the pseudonym for prizewinning British mystery writer, Ruth Rendell. It's slow moving but absorbing and I find myself engrossed in this "novel within a novel."

Private Berlin by James Patterson received mixed reviews. One critic felt "the quality of writing is not the same since he started collaborating with other authors." However, Patterson's fans will love the twists and turns so typical of a Patterson suspense thriller.

Jonathan Kellerman is debuting a dark pschological thriller called Guilt. A series of shocking events occur in an upscale L.A. neighborhood and of course brilliant psychologist, Alex Delaware
is on the scene. I read an excerpt and can't wait for the February release. ( L. A. Neighborhoods always pique my interest..)

The Fifth Assassin by Brad Meltzer asks the question "What if all four of the presidents who were assasinated in office were part of an ongoing conspiracy?" This novel combines U. S. history mixed with fictional intrigue and a stunning plot. However be prepared to commit to 600 pages...

For More Info: Click on the Book in the Slideshow Above



I tend not to read books that will sadden me or throw me into a depression. (I don't need books for that!) The Swan family image above makes me happy, as opposed to the title of THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB by Will Schwalbe.  

Recently a friend, J from Dedham, sent an email titled "A very interesting read." referring to the above book. I trust her opinion as she is a constant reader and we seem to agree on book choices.

In THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB, Will Schwalbe writes about his truly heroic and accomplished mother who is diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer.

The time spent with her as she received treatments is focused on reading and discussing books...a secret book club for two.  It's a memoir of sorts, and Schwalbe is able to show readers, through the varied book choices, the impact of his mother's life on himself and so many others.

You know the ending, but some readers felt it wasn't a sad story. They stated it was a "book about books"..and "feelings expressed through books" shared by a mother and son. Every review I read was excellent and it's already a best seller. 

I'm not going to read THE END OF YOUR LIFE BOOK CLUB, but many of you probably should.  One reviewer summed it up when she said, "It's a wonderful book about wonderful books and mothers and sons and the enduring braid between them."

J of Dedham sent the following comment:

A true gem of a read for book lovers, The End of Your Life Book Club by Will Schwalbe satisfies the readers need on many levels. Multi level facets of family relationships combine with sheer admiration for the main character and her determined efforts to go forward no matter what may get in the way. The number of books discussed in this story was amazing ! I have already begun to read one of the books and plan to read several others.


Will Schwalbe and his mother, Mary Anne Schwalbe


LOVE IS A CANOE (01/18/2013)


"A good marriage is a canoe — it needs care and isn’t meant to hold too much—no more than two adults and a few kids."

LOVE IS A CANOE by Ben Schrank was labeled by The New York Times Book Review as "one to watch." 

One blog reader called it a witty novel about publishing, a big hearted story with "zippy dialogue" and just plain fun.

The main character, Peter Herman wrote a successful self-help book on marriage which made him a folk hero. An ambitious young editor wants to celebrate the book's fiftieth anniversary with a contest for struggling young couples.

This leads to a "smart, romantic, funny and hugely satisfying" storyline. Unpredictable and slightly cynical, two blog readers gave LOVE IS A CANOE a strong thumbs up.




 Access the NY Times Review: 

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Also be sure to check Look What's Trending located at the top of the blog for upcoming releases.




Many readers are awaiting new releases in "historical fiction."  As one of the most popular genres, it takes the reader back in history mixing historical figures with fictional characters. It lets us experience the unknown.

Hilary Mantel, the only historical fiction author to win the Man Booker Prize twice, is the most successful author in this genre, but many more authors are now entering the fray. (Yes, fray, a word or an event in historical fiction....)   

Here's what's trending in historical fiction:

THE PAINTED GIRLS by Cathy Marie Buchanan

Set in Paris in the 1880's, this is a story of sisters trying to make their way through difficult circumstances. It's been called the "back story behind a subject in Degas' artwork."

THE PLUM TREE by Ellen Marie Wiseman

This debut novel gives the reader a glimpse into the life of a German teenager and her family in World War 2 torn Germany. It is based on the author's own mother's experiences and is a story of love, survival and hope.(Just out in paperback)

THE LAST RUNAWAY by Tracy Chevalier

The author of Girl With a Pearl Earring focuses on a young woman who leaves her homeland, England to travel to America. Tragedy befalls her and she becomes drawn into the clandestine activities of the Underground Railroad, a network that aids runaway slaves. A powerful story, accurately told...



Here's a sampling of some well known acclaimed authors of historical fiction.

Geraldine Brooks

Alice Hoffman

Ken Follett           www.ken-follett/com/en

Philipa Gregory



KINSEY AND ME (01/13/2013)

Are you a Sue Grafton fan? Yes, the author who writes about private investigator, Kinsey Millhone and each title uses a letter of the alphabet. I've taken one of her books on most of my travels and find them a great lighthearted escape, well written, humorous and engaging.

Sue Grafton is back, but this time has penned a collection of short stories featuring the character, Kinsey Millhone along with separate stories about Grafton's own mother who died in 1960. Is their a parallel?

"Kinsey and Me" is "the perfect appetizer" for the 23rd installment of the series beginning with W. Maybe the W is for Waiting or Witness or Wishing....or Whatever....


BEST BAD BOOK REVIEWS OF 2012 (01/10/2013)

Did you know an award is given to the reviewer who writes the nastiest, meanest, scathing review of a book? The article appeared in the Huffington Post and to read more, click on the link below. 

LONDON — "A mauling of Martin Amis and a savaging of Salman Rushdie are in the running for the best bad book review of 2012.

Eight finalists were announced Tuesday for the Hatchet Job of the Year Award, a prize set up to reward scathing works of literary journalism.".........

For details click on this link:

BOOK SPOTLIGHT 2013 (01/10/2012)


2013 welcomes a variety of highly anticipated new releases. I've compiled a sampling of some that are sure to be bestsellers.

TENTH OF DECEMBER by George Saunders
Included on every list, featured in the New York Times, this collection of short stories is receiving raves everywhere.

SEE NOW THEN by Jamaica Kincaid
A family in Vermont struggles...moving between the past and the present.

THE CITY OF DEVI by Manil Suri
Award winning author of The Death Of Vishnu focuses on Mumbai after a nuclear attack. A thriller with a "touch of Bollywood."

"A detailed wartime tale of betrayal, secrets and tragedy that is historically accurate"

THE AVIATOR'S WIFE by Melanie Benjamin
The story of Charles Lindbergh and Anne Morrow Lindbergh told by Anne Morrow. Revealingly honest and remarkable story.

Click on the book for more details...

INTO THIN AIR (01/07/13)

I've had my eye on "The Art Forger" by B.A. Shapiro since October, but was awaiting more detailed reviews and feedback from friends. (Literary reviews had been mixed.)

This morning Marlene P., a reliable source and committed reader raved about this book...and so I'm ready to share her views.

Her first comment was "It's great to finally read a really good book, well written, well plotted, and as a bonus, is art related."

For those who live near Boston or remember this infamous unsolved art heist, "The Art Forger" will hit home. It's presented as a fictionalized thriller, based on the 500 million dollar heist from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

Marlene P. described "The Art Forger" by B.A. Shapiro as a view of the art world, blended  with history and intrigue. It helps if you have an interest in art, but if you like a fast paced authentic thriller "The Art Forger" is for you. (And you may discover your hidden artistic side.)

I received an email in regard to the review of "The Art Forger" from EVELYN K. an art historian, author and blog reader...

She suggested reading "Provenance" by Laney Salisbury and Aly Sujo. "The book tells a fastpaced and audacious story of art fraud on a grand scale that even reached the Tate Museum." 
"Provenance" is a well researched exciting story of the criminal mastermind, John Drewe and his accomplice, artist John Myatt. The book was released in 2010 and has received excellent reviews.

EVELYN K. also recommended "Stealing Rembrandts" by Anthony M. Amore and Tom Mashberg. This is an exciting well researched expose of the art world underbelly. Author, Anthony M. Amore is the head of security at the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum and for the past seven years has served as the museum's chief investigator into the 1990 theft.

You do not need an art background to enjoy these books. They read with the flavor of a mystery and are tense, well written, exciting stories.

For more information on B. A Shapiro and updates on the Gardner Art Heist, see below.....



Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA

 Missing Art at the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum

Missing Art




OH CAMELOT! (01/04/13)

Many of us are fascinated by the Kennedys although not so  fascinated with the most talked about commentator in the country, the infamous Bill O'Reilly. However, he's the author of several number one historical bestsellers and knows his stuff.

GARY S. is my go-to reviewer for all things non-fiction. He's a history buff and avid reader. GARY's reviews always attract commentary from blog readers and "Killing Kennedy" is definetly an attention-getter.

KILLING KENNEDY BY Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard
Reviewed by Gary S.

Before I get into what I think of the book (ok, I loved it!), I wish I knew a little more about the world of publishing. I wonder why Bill O’Reilly’s name appears 10 times larger than his co-author, Martin Duggard. Is it because he is more famous, or because he contributed more to the story—or something else?
Bill O'Reilly Admiring His Best Friend!

In any case, Bill O’Reilly is the host of a popular show on Fox News that is more opinion based than hard news. I’m happy to say that the book ‘Killing Kennedy’ is very much fact based without any ‘by the way’ editorial commentary from the conservative author.

The co-author Martin Duggard is an accomplished non-fiction author—and I have enjoyed two of his books which I would highly recommend. The first is ‘Farther Than Any Man’ which tells the story of the British explorer James Cook. The second is ‘The Last Voyage of Columbus’ where we learn about the greatness and tragic failures of the famous explorer.

"Killing Kennedy" was everything I hoped it would be and more. I could not put it down until I was finished. What I loved was that I was actually able to experience what it was like to live in the era of ‘Camelot’. We even get to learn how the phrase ‘Camelot’ was attached to the Kennedy era.

The book does not break any new ground or reveal anything new about the assassination. O’Reilly and Duggard are very respectful to the reader in the opening notes by stating this very clearly. What we get is an elegantly told and well researched story of all the important events, the scandalous activities and of course the horrific assassination of the President.

The book was written in chronological order starting with JFK’s command of the famous PT boat in WWII. The 1960 Presidential campaign was easy to follow and did not dwell on the unimportant. We did learn (or I learned) that Jackie was an addicted cigarette smoker and was determined to keep it a secret. She was so determined that during the 1960 campaign, a staff assistant was hired to make sure a lit cigarette was ready at all times in case the future first lady needed a puff.

We learn a LOT about the scandalous activities—(and who doesn’t love that!!). I had no idea that JFK needed sex EVERY day—(apparently, in part due to the daily medical treatment he was receiving and in part to the Kennedy men being accustomed to open relationships).

It got so bad, that at one point the secret service was concerned that all the ‘activity’ in the white house was a national security risk.

There is a lot of emphasis on Marilyn Monroe, the mafia and his clandestine involvements. Jackie was aware and conveniently left the White House to allow Jack his privacy, while he made sure Jackie never caught him in the act. How thoughtful! Eventually, we learn that they truly did love each other. This was displayed after the stillbirth of their child (This is also when we start to learn a lot about Aristotle Onassis).

Lee Harvey Oswald is introduced into the story in snippets, so we can keep track of his happenings and motivations. The co-authors do a nice job of feeding us lots of ‘sugar’ (JFK, Jackie, Marilyn, sex etc), but the mood quickly changes as the story switches back and forth to Oswald.

Martin Dugard
Eventually, the co-authors give us a countdown (i.e. how many days to Dallas…and death) so we are always reminded of the gruesome outcome—and it does get gruesome. The story also details some bizarre events in the hospital and why the Dallas Police would not allow the secret service to take the dead body.

          A terrific book! Enjoy!



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