The Whalebone Theatre

“For a fortunate few, war allows us to rise in ways that would otherwise be impossible. We can bring the very best of us to bear.”― Joanna Quinn, The Whalebone Theatre Cristabel Seagrave loses her mother during childbirth, and her father, Jasper, who remarries when she is four, passes away shortly thereafter. This leaves Cristabel in the care of her disinterested stepmother, Rosalind, who later marries Jasper’s aviation-obsessed brother, Willoughby. One stormy night in 1928, a whale washes up on the shores of the English Channel near Devon. By law, the whale belongs to the King, but twelve-year-old orphan Cristabel, along with her half-sister Flossie, cousin Digby, kitchen maid Maudie Kitcat, and […]

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Good Enough

“Blessed are you who realize there is simply not enough—time, money, resources. Blessed are you who are tired of pretending that raw effort is the secret to perfection. It’s not. And you know that now. Blessed are you who need a gentle reminder that even now, even today, God is here, and somehow, that is good enough,”—Kate Bowler and Jessica Richier, Good Enough. In their illuminating book Good Enough, authors Kate Bowler and Jessica Richie present a series of insightful spiritual reflections designed to guide readers through the intricate maze of modern life. A New York Times bestseller, it shatters the persistent myth of relentless self-improvement, instead framing life as […]

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What the Fireflies Knew

  “The house is silent and smells like a mix between the old people that kiss my cheeks at church, and the tiny storage unit where all our stuff lives now.”—Kai Harris, What the Fireflies Knew. After her father dies of an overdose and the debts incurred from his addiction cause the loss of the family home in Detroit, almost-eleven-year-old Kenyatta Bernice (KB) and her teenage sister, Nia, are dropped off by their overwhelmed mother to live with their estranged grandfather in Lansing. The kids don’t know where she’s gone or if she’ll ever come get them. Over that sweltering summer, KB’s entire world is upended. Even her sister, always her […]

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My Favorite Reads of 2022

  I read 106 books in 2022, so narrowing it down to my very favorites was a challenge. The list below comprises my crème de la crème in a great year of reading. You’ll find a variety of genres set in the United States, Mexico, Ghana, Ukraine, China, England, Poland, Austria, Germany, France, Czechoslovakia, and Vietnam. Most of these were 5-star reads for me, but one was a 4.5 rounded up to 5. I hope you find something you love! Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid “We live in a world where exceptional women have to sit around waiting for mediocre men.”—Taylor Jenkins Reid, Carrie Soto is Back. […]

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Amy’s December 2022 Picks and Pans

  One December not that long ago, I read some terrific books. They were different genres set in different places—Florida, England, Colorado, Maine, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Mexico, Connecticut, and Texas—but most had one thing in common: great writing. Enjoy my reviews; I hope you find something to add to your TBR list!   Once Upon a Wardrobe Patti Callahan “No matter your age, may you never, ever grow too old for fairy tales.”—Pattie Callahan, Once Upon a Wardrobe. I couldn’t have loved this book more. It started and ended with a flourish in moving, heartwarming, and magical prose. I loved learning about Jack Lewis’s life (you probably know him as […]

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The Madness of Crowd

  Louise Penny just keeps getting better. The Madness of Crowds is number seventeen in her Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, and I am now just one book away from being caught up. So many books to read, too little time! As always, she’s composed a multilayered novel with the diverse, well-drawn characters I’ve come to love. It’s best to read her books in order, but she does a fine job referencing events from previous books to keep new readers in the loop. The Madness of Crowds is about man’s inhumanity to man (or woman’s inhumanity to woman, whatever the case may be). Chief Inspector Gamache’s winter holiday is interrupted […]

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Fox Creek

  Another fabulous novel by Edgar winner William Kent Krueger! Fox Creek is the nineteenth installment of the Cork O’Connor series and my twenty-first book by this talented writer. Do I enjoy his work… you bet as we sat here in Minnesota! In Fox Creek, Cork races against time to save his wife Rainy, Ojibwe healer Henry Meloux, and a mysterious woman from violent mercenaries. Dolores Morriseau has come to Henry for guidance. When men fill the woods trying to capture her, Meloux leads them to safety deep in his beloved Boundary Waters Canoe Area. Well over 100 years old, he must do his best to outwit the mercenaries who […]

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Overkill

Former Super Bowl MVP quarterback Zach Bridger is shocked to receive a call from the hospital about his ex-wife, Rebecca Pratt, who is on life-support following a violent assault. He hasn’t seen her since their volatile marriage fell apart five years earlier—why does he still have medical power-of-attorney? Zach must make an impossible choice: keep her on life support or pull the plug. Unable to decide, he walks away, and her vegetative state continues. Two years later, Rebecca’s attacker gets an early release from prison. State prosecutor Kate Lennon is determined to put him back behind bars. But that would take a murder charge, and the only way to do […]

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September 2022 Picks and Pans

No five-star reads this month, but The Happiest Man on Earth was definitely life-changing. I gave one novel a 2-star rating, which is rare for me. I read two books set in the Philippines, which is totally random. I’ll be curious to hear what you have to say. Circle back to Facebook and let me know!   The Happiest Man on Earth By Eddie Jaku “Life can be beautiful if you make it beautiful. It is up to you.” Eddie Jaku, The Happiest Man on Earth. In this uplifting memoir in the vein of The Last Lecture and Man’s Search for Meaning, a Holocaust survivor pays tribute to those who […]

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Mercury Pictures Presents Review

This family saga follows Maria Lagana from Mussolini’s Italy to 1940s Los Angeles. As a child in Rome, her father takes her to the cinema instead of church and she develops a lifelong passion for films. When Giuseppe is arrested and imprisoned by for subversive activities against the fascist regime, Maria and her mother Maria immigrate to safety in Los Angeles. Maria rises from the typing pool to associate producer at Mercury Pictures, a creator of B-movies. The studio is always on the verge of bankruptcy and under the thumb of the Production Code for affronting the sensibilities of the movie-going public. “I can’t show a husband and wife faithfully […]

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