What I Read in July


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Even though I’m still not finished with rewriting and revising my new novel (I know, I know! But it will be ready for late November, I promise), I’ve been reading as much as I can this summer. So here’s what I’ve read in July:

Just Keep Going I worked with Judy Davis, and when I discovered she’d written a book about her cross-country bike journey, I grabbed a copy. You can get a copy HERE.

Starting at the Pacific coast in Oregon, Judy rode all the way to Providence, Rhode Island, and raised over $70,000 to fund a swimming program for children. Along the way, she kept journal entries and took photographs, which make for a most interesting book.

MAID I was attracted to this book by the cover, and I thought it was terrific. Stephanie Land writes a true-life depiction of poverty in America. It’s real and it’s difficult. And the author is remarkable – through determination and willpower, she does everything she can to keep her daughter. You can buy it at your local bookstore (do that first!) or here.

Crawdads My husband picked this one up at one of our favorite bookstores, Stillwater Books in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. And while he was reading it, he’d say “Martha, you’re going to love this book.” My reply? “Well, then, hurry up and finish it!” He did. I did. We both loved it – all of it, even the ending! Can’t wait for the movie.

Perfect Couple There’s a reason Elin Hilderbrand is called the “Queen of the Beach Read.” Here Hilderbrand ventures into murder mystery, but still set on the island of Nantucket, and still with a cast of memorable characters. I haven’t yet read all of her books, but I’m working on it! Pick up a copy here.

a piece of the world Did you love Orphan Train? I did, and it introduced me to the marvelous Christina Baker Kline. I also read Sweetwater and grabbed this book when I found it. If you’re familiar with Andrew Wyeth’s painting “Christina’s World,” then this is the book for you. Described as “stunning and atmospheric,” A Piece of the World is a fictionalized tale of Christina, the subject, and Andy, the painter. Meticulously researched and written so beautifully, I loved this book. You can purchase it here.

Cliff Walk This one was fun. As a native Rhode Islander, I could relate to the names and places DeSilva sprinkles throughout his story. But even if you’re not familiar with Little Rhody, you’ll enjoy this ‘hard-boiled mystery.’ I picked up the hardcover at Stillwater Books.

The Identicals More Hilderbrand! And why not, I’ve been slathered up with SPF50 and reading on the beach (when I’m not jumping waves or walking the coastline). Loved this one, too. Reminiscent (slightly) of “The Parent Trap,” this book visits both Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard (locals have strong ideas about their favorite island!). Although you can buy it online or at  your favorite indie bookstore, I actually downloaded this one from my library (shout out to the West Warwick Public Library!)

pumpkin Yes, it’s summer, and you may not be ready to think about autumn. But this book was a true delight! Set in New Hampshire and smack in the middle of fall, Beth Labonte has written a sweet and endearing romance. Loved it. Get yours here.

Islanders To finish out the month of July, I visited my other favorite Rhode Island bookstore, Ink Fish Books in the lovely small town of Warren, Rhode Island. Have you been there yet? Don’t you LOVE it? I picked up this one on the recommendation of a woman who was in the store, and I’m so glad I did! Set on Block Island (Nantucket and the Vineyard may belong to Massachusetts, but we have Block Island), Meg Mitchell Moore has woven together the stories of three individuals. I couldn’t put this one down, it was so good. Looking forward to reading more by MMM.

So, how about you? I’ve got six hardcovers and tons of digital books in my ‘to-be-read’ pile, but edits are calling to me. So, it’s back to my work-in-progress for now, but I always make time for reading in the afternoon.

See you soon for updates! Keep reading!

Celebrate It All


What would a birthday be without a blog post? After all, I wrote my first eight years ago, on my 53rd birthday.

When I turned 30, an old college friend convinced me to do it up big, stating, “No one cares when you turn 31.” True. So for most of us, these ‘milestone’ birthdays tend to be momentous.

Last year, when I told my soon-to-be-retired ophthalmologist that I was nearly 60, he chuckled and remarked that once you hit 60, those ‘milestones’ are every five years instead of every ten years. Yikes, I thought.

But he was (partially) right. There are fewer decades left. I’ve seen too many friends die too soon, dammit.

My pal Christine DePetrillo asks every Friday online, “What are you celebrating?” Some Fridays I don’t have an answer, but it’s not because I’m a pessimist. Yesterday I thought, well, I’m celebrating my birthday this weekend. Sixty-one is as much a celebration as sixty, maybe even more so.

So, I jumped waves at the beach today with my husband, sang along to songs on the radio, accepted lots of well wishes (thank you!) and will indulge in something sweet after dinner tonight. It’s all worth celebrating.

$500 July Giveaway Extravaganza!


July

With my new novel in the works (and still on track for a late November release), I’m participating in The Kindle Book Review’s giant event all month, and featuring A Jingle Valley Wedding (since the new novel is a sequel to my 2015 novel).

Click here to go right to the Giveaway page, where you could win (1) a 10″ Kindle Fire, an Amazon Prime membership, and a $50 Amazon gift card, or (2) a $100 Amazon gift card and an 8″ Kindle Fire!

This contest runs from July 1 – 29, 2019, so be sure to enter!

What I’ve Read So Far – June 2019


As usual, I’ve been spending a good part of this year writing, not reading. That’s what happens when you hold yourself to releasing a new novel every December! But reading is important, too. I’ve managed to get through a few books since the beginning of the year. Here’s what I’ve read so far:

Fly

Hurt by the people closest to her, Julia decided long ago love isn’t worth the pain. When she meets Will, she fights her attraction to him, unwilling to risk her heart, but is unable to resist their passionate connection – until a ghost from Will’s past surfaces and forces them apart. Two hearts shattered, Julia and Will’s paths diverge – until fate steps in one sunny September morning, offering them a second chance at true love. But is love enough? Can they break free of their painful past and allow their love to take flight?

This was a fine first effort by a local (Rhode Island) author. Looking forward to reading more from her.

Robin

Robin— twenty-five, lonely, aimless— is drifting through summer in Providence. It’s the worst recession in generations, but she’s got bigger problems. For starters, her father is losing his mind to dementia. (He also might be falling love, which is nice, but begs the question: is it adultery if you can’t remember you’re married?) 

There’s more, a lot more, and I thoroughly enjoyed this story. Multiple typos distracted me, and I do wish the author had hired a professional copy editor, but the story is very, very good.

German Girl

Berlin, 1939. Before everything changed, Hannah Rosenthal lived a charmed life. But now the streets of Berlin are draped in ominous flags; her family’s fine possessions are hauled away; and they are no longer welcome in the places they once considered home. A glimmer of hope appears in the shape of the St. Louis, a transatlantic ocean liner promising Jews safe passage to Cuba. At first, the liner feels like a luxury, but as they travel, the circumstances of war change, and the ship that was to be their salvation seems likely to become their doom.

This book was released in October 2016, and I’d heard a lot about it. It’s well worth your time, especially if you’re a fan of WWII fiction. I was drawn in to the dual story lines, and the fact that this is based on true events was all I needed. Wonderful!

Im Fine

Wife. Mother. Breadwinner. Penelope Ruiz-Kar is doing it all—and barely keeping it together. Meanwhile, her best friend, Jenny Sweet, appears to be sailing through life. As close as the two women are, Jenny’s passionate marriage, pristine house, and ultra-polite child stand in stark contrast to Penelope’s underemployed husband, Sanjay, their unruly brood, and the daily grind she calls a career.

The title alone grabbed me (right??), and the story inside held me captive. Loved it, all of it. I don’t want to give anything away, but this book grabs you early and keeps you reading.

RoisinBehind the brightly colored doors of Miller’s Avenue live people with very complicated lives…

Do they ever! From possibly my new favorite author (it’s pronounced “Ro-SHEEN”) comes one of her earlier books. I just couldn’t get enough of these characters and can’t wait to read more from Roisin.

becoming Finally! My husband gave me this book for Christmas and I just finished it this past weekend. It’s easy to set aside and easy to pick back up. Kudos to this remarkable, brilliant woman for her honesty and inspiration.

And what I’m in the middle of now:

Far Field My good friend Lisa Valentino of Ink Fish Books recommended this book, and I just started it yesterday. Read the first hundred pages without taking a break. Yes, it’s that good. And how about that gorgeous cover?!

 

So, how about you? Summer’s here – what’s on your must-read list?

#AtoZChallenge Reflections


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The Reflections post is a tradition at the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, so while I’m busy with edits and revisions on my forthcoming new novel, I’m taking a quick break to ‘reflect.’

I’ve done this April Challenge for eight years now, and I’ll keep doing it as long as I’m able. By this point, I worry less about how many people read my posts and comment on them and more about coming up with a good topic.

I thought showcasing Nobel Prize winner Bob Dylan was a good idea. Because these A to Z posts typically (for me) highlight music, food, books, or travel, a Dylan theme fit right in. I always check ahead of time to make sure I can cover the difficult letters, and it seemed that, for the most part, I did. But to make it a little more interesting, I found clips of other people covering Dylan songs. And there were lots of them – at least for the more popular tunes.

I did have a harder time this year following other bloggers – I wanted to, and I’ve subscribed to many, many blogs, but I found myself with less time to read the posts. So, my apologies for not liking and commenting as often as I should have. Maybe next year I’ll do better.

How about you? Did you enjoy the Dylan theme? I have a few ideas for next year already, but you’re always welcome to make suggestions!

I’ll leave you with a fabulous rendition of “Like a Rolling Stone,” performed on the David Letterman Show with a group of all-star backup singers.

#AtoZ Dylan – “Z” is for Robert Zimmerman


“All I can do is be me, whoever that is.” ~ Bob Dylan

Dylan young

 

What better way to end this series than with the man himself? One of the most prolific and talented songwriters of our generation, Bob Dylan has been a major cultural icon for six decades. He has received ten Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and an Academy Award. He’s in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In 2008, the Pulitzer Prize jury awarded him a special citation for “his profound impact on popular music and American culture.” In 2012, President Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and in 2016, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”
When I learned of his Nobel Prize, I wanted to do an A to Z Challenge on Bob Dylan. But then he decided not to accept the prize. There was some controversy (you can read about it here if you want), but he did eventually accept the award.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed these post and videos. I deliberately did not go into a lot of detail about Dylan or his songs, knowing that your time is precious, and you can always read the lyrics at your leisure. The fact that so many of Dylan’s songs have been covered, by so many diverse artists, is testament to his influence, even nearly sixty years later.
So I will conclude with a song by Bob Dylan (how to pick just one??!)

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#AtoZ Dylan – “Y” is for You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere


“All I can do is be me, whoever that is.” ~ Bob Dylan

Dylan young

“You Ain’t Goin’ Nowhere” was written in 1967, during Dylan’s self-imposed exile from public appearances, after his motorcycle accident the previous summer. The first official release of the song was a live version on his album Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits Vol. II.

Click HERE for a link to the song’s lyrics.

“You Ain’t goin’ Nowhere” has been covered by many, including The Byrds, Louson Wainwright III, and Phish, among others. Here is a live performance by Counting Crows with Hootie and the Blowfish (Hootie now known by his given name, Darius Rucker):

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