What I Read this Year


Not enough! So many books, not enough time. But perhaps there are a couple of books on my list that didn’t make it onto yours, and maybe you’ll want to add them to your TBR pile:

fire and fury Fire and Fury – Inside the Trump White House by Michael Wolff lived up to its hype. I don’t know that there was anything startling in it, because this administration has been reported on every day. And by now, there’s just so much more…

Galway Stories Galway Stories by Kevin Barry and Mary Costello really helped me understand more about Galway, the setting for my most recent novel. Sometimes gritty, sometimes delightful.

No Excuses No Excuses by Yolanda Alvarez. Let yourself be uncomfortable as you read this stark memoir. My bet is that your upbringing was very different from the author’s. Still, in spite of all the negatives that can be associated with Alvarez’s childhood, she survived. And thrived. And succeeded. Her story will fill your heart.

The Paris Wife The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. This book is about Ernest Hemingway’s wife Hadley Richardson. Written mostly from her perspective, this is a must-read.

This Unfamiliar Road This Unfamiliar Road by Jill Fague. Fague’s first-person account of her battle with breast cancer will move you. With clear and honest writing, she details not only the procedures but all of her emotions.

Thirteenth Star Under the Thirteenth Star – an anthology of writing by Rhode Island authors is the Association of Rhode Island Authors’ second annual anthology. Inside you’ll find a variety of selections from some of Rhode Island’s best.

corey I’m Still Here by Corey Calligano. Another young woman who battled breast cancer. Calligano writes in an honest voice, holding nothing back. A brave and compelling journey.

Damiani Il Bel Centro by Michelle Damiani details her family’s year abroad in the small town of Spello, Italy. Written with humor and introspection, you’ll follow the Damiani family from their home in Virginia to their new home in Italy.

Whitman Have Mercy by Barbara Ann Whitman. Using her extensive knowledge as a family support counselor, Whitman created a novel based on a young girl in the foster system. You’ll feel as if you know Mercy as she navigates the complex road to adulthood.

Matilda Messing with Matilda by Cat Lavoie. Lavoie is one of my favorite romantic comedy authors, and for a sweet escape, pick up this one. Actually, read everything Cat has written!

How to Walk Away How to Walk Away by Katherine Center. Give me a book about hope and despair and I’m hooked. This one ticks all the boxes, with wit, raw emotion, pain, heartache, and ultimately, love and acceptance. Probably the best book I read this year.

North Haven North Haven by Sarah Moriarty. I’ll admit, I picked up this book because I lived in North Haven (Connecticut) for a short time as a small child. This story, however, has nothing to do with Connecticut and everything to do with an island in Maine and a family vacation home. It’s a great summer read.

Hood The Book that Matters Most by Ann Hood. Hood’s early works are magnificent, but like The Obituary Writer and An Italian Wife, this one left me less than thrilled. It’s somewhat autobiographical, and the ending was so far-fetched I was left disappointed.

Stranger Stranger or Friend by Silvia Villalobos. This thriller will grip you from the beginning. The writer uses tension skillfully in her scenes, and if you’re a murder-mystery reader, grab this one.

Mai Crossing the Bamboo Bridge – Memoirs of a Bad Luck Girl by Mai Donohue. You’ll find it difficult to pause your reading of this riveting memoir. From her forced marriage in a Vietnamese village to her escape and survival, against extreme adversity, you’ll come to admire this remarkable woman.

truth The Pendulum’s Truth by Leigh Brown and Victoria Corliss. The writing team of Brown and Corliss make team-writing work so well, you’d think they were just one person. They convey emotion with excellence and tell a great story that you’ll truly enjoy.

How Hard How Hard Can it Be? by Allison Pearson is a laugh out loud funny, brutally honest account of how women of ‘a certain age’ find themselves being pulled from both directions. So relatable to women dealing with work, kids, aging parents, and marriage.

Fear Fear by Bob Woodward. I probably didn’t need to read another book about the chaos in the White House, by the chief chaos creator, but it’s Bob Woodward. This account of the Trump presidency is spot-on, but it’s not like you’re going to feel any better after reading it.

print A Printer’s Choice by W.L. Patenaude. I’m not typically a reader of science fiction, but I was thoroughly engrossed in this well-written novel about the classic battle between good and evil.

A Place of Springs A Place of Springs by Hannah Colby. Colby’s big book was years in the making, and her dedication to scene and detail is evident. An epic tale of love and loss, despair and hope, against a backdrop of the horrific Bosnian War.

Alternate Side by Anna Quindlen. How I missed this one is beyond me. No wonder she’s one of my favorite authors.

Well, that’s it! How about you? What was the best book you read in 2018? What book are you looking forward to?

It is the heat. And it is the humidity.


Nearly September. 95 degrees today. Heat index 104. Just like yesterday.

So who else is cranky? I know (at least) three people who live without air conditioning. I don’t know how they live, though. Our thermostat is set at 74 and I’m hot. But I’m grateful for A/C, especially at night.

I’ve never liked summer best. Fall is my favorite. How about you? Depending on where you live, you might not experience four distinct seasons. But by September, the sun rises later and it’s dark by 8:00 now, so I want that cool air to follow.

Meanwhile, I’ve finished the second round of edits for my new novel, so now it’s off to my trusted readers, who give me honest feedback. I sometimes can’t see a plot hole or a character who uses repetitive language, but they can! I’m still on track to have this book ready by December 1 – the day I’ll be at the Rhode Island Authors Expo!

Until then, I’m reading a lot (what are you reading?). I loved How to Walk Away by Katherine Center and Crossing the Bamboo Bridge by Mai Donohue (her memoir of growing up in Vietnam – you won’t be the same after reading it). I’m almost done with How Hard Can It Be? by the hilarious Allison Pearson, just started Alternate Side by the wonderful Anna Quindlen, and The Pendulum’s Truth by the very talented writing team of Leigh Brown and Vikki Corliss. Vacation next week means lots of reading!

Autumn will get here, eventually. You won’t hear me complain about the cold. Not me.

November is RI Authors Month! (well, at least on my blog)


Again this year, as a lead-up to the Fifth Annual Rhode Island Authors Expo, I’ll be featuring a different RI author on this blog. (The Year of Living Minimally posts will continue on Fridays, too.)

Here’s an opportunity to learn more about an author you may or may not know. Many of the authors are also giving away a book, and all you need to do to enter is comment on the post! Here in tiny Rhode Island we have hundreds of authors – some with one book written, some with many. Genres include romance, history, horror, literary, memoir. There’s something for everyone.

So I hope you enjoy the coming month’s posts and get to know some fabulous authors!

Book-a-Day #Giveaway! Bosom Buddies by Mary Jane Condon Bohlen


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The author writes:

In the spring of 1993, I was drawn to a magnificent tree over 400 years old, standing 90 feet high, with a circumference of 26 feet. It had been declared dead in 1969 due to damage by gypsy moths. In its younger days it was a sacred place where Native Americans would come to decide tribal issues. Taking many photographs, I returned home to develop and print my images. I began seeing a one breasted figure that inspired me to create an etching titled “BOSOM BUDDY.” Although gnarled and broken, I discovered the soul that lived on in this timeless beauty. In 2009, a new oak was planted in its shadow as the old lady needed to be taken down, her life having been an inspiration for all those who chanced to meet her.

In the spring of 1992, I too, had found myself gnarled and broken when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer and treated with a radical mastectomy. The Ledyard Oak became my “Bosom Buddy.” After being cancer free for sixteen years, I discovered in May of 2008 that cancer had returned and I again went through surgery to remove my remaining breast.

For over twenty years I have had the dream of creating a book of photos and essays showing the scars and reconstructions, the thoughts, fears, inner spirit, and especially the hopes of those brave enough to bare their bodies and show their beauty, all inspired by this magnificent tree.

The women depicted in this book  are representative of the many thousands of brave warriors who battle this dread disease called breast cancer. They have taken their bravery one step further by allowing themselves to be photographed in subtle and delicate settings. Meet these women, read their stories. They are survivors.

“I wanted you to know just how beautiful and meaningful I found the book. Indeed, it is a masterpiece.” ~ Sr. Joan Rohan, DW

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Like the Bosom Buddies Facebook page here and find out where to purchase the book at this link https://books.google.com/books/about/Bosom_Buddies.html?id=6YAUswEACAAJ

You can WIN a copy of this book! Just leave a comment below. One winner will be chosen at random and the author will contact you directly. Contest ends one week after publication.

November is Book-a-Day Month!


win-books

Each day in November, I’ll be featuring a different book by a Rhode Island author, all leading up to the  4th Annual Rhode Island Authors Expo on Saturday, December 3 (11:00am – 5:00pm) at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet.

There are hundreds of authors located in little Rhode Island, and this is a way for me to showcase some real talent. Each author will showcase one book, and, in nearly every case, there’s a chance to win that book just by commenting on the blog post. Easy-peasy! And just in time for some holiday gift-giving (because we all know books make the best gift).

So be sure you’re following this blog and each day in November you’ll have a chance to win. The contest for each post will run for a week before I let the computer randomly select a winner.

For more info about the Expo, follow this link http://www.riauthors.org/riexpo/

Happy Book-iversary (to me)!


99centsMy first novel, Chocolate for Breakfast, was published on August 12, 2012 – nearly four years ago! (It was republished with a new cover in April 2013.) In those four years, I’ve written and published six novels, all of which have given me tremendous pride and a sense of accomplishment. I’m doing what I’ve always dreamed of doing, and that is sufficient. Well, pretty much.

New novels can trigger a sales flurry, but sales drop off after a time, even for beloved best-sellers.

So….for the coming week, every one of my six novels will be discounted to 99 cents for the e-book (Kindle version). I have no control over the print price, but if you come to the RI Authors Book Expo on December 3, 2016 http://www.riauthors.org/riexpo/ , I’ll have print copies available for a great price.

You can grab a three-book series, described by one reader as “writing (that) draws wonderful pictures of the characters and allows you to really ‘fall into’ the book ~ which is one of my favorite things about reading.” Or read about a group of classmates readying for their 25-year high school reunion and visiting old grievances. A novel about a young woman pursuing her dream of becoming a best-selling author, only to face a harsh reality check. And finally, a lighter story involving two friends who gamble on a dream of turning a rundown farm into a premier wedding venue. If you’ve already read these books, here’s a chance to give some gifts. In any event, I’m grateful – so very grateful – for all the positive feedback and encouragement I’ve received, from friends and strangers new friends, over the past four years.

The 5 Best Books I Read This Year


Only five? I read so many good books this year! I’m sometimes late to the party, so not all of these were new releases. In no particular order:
  
The Goldfinch. No wonder Donna Tartt was awarded the Pulitzer Prize; this is a masterpiece. 

  
Orphan Train – heartbreaking and hopeful, funny and desperate. Christina Baker Kline is brilliant. P.S. Looking forward to the movie!
  

Hausfrau. I love a well-written, dark novel. And this one, set in Switzerland, hooked me from the beginning. Essbaum writes beautifully.
  
The Girl on the Train. Lots of girls and trains, it seems! This book was compared to Gone Girl, which I also read (I liked this one more).

  
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street. I had bought this book in 2014, but didn’t begin reading it until this past summer. Then I couldn’t put it down! Absolutely delightful.

MORE GREAT BOOKS:

Still Life with Bread Crumbs, by Anna Quindlen

Let’s Be Real, by Brea Brown 

The Man I Love, by Suanne Laqueur

Still Alice, by Lisa Genova

The Other Wife, by Kathleen Irene Paterka

What books did you absolutely love this past year?

Happy 2016!