🅰️Have you read the classic, ‘The Scarlet Letter’, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne in 1850? Did you read it on your own or as a school assignment? I read it several yrs ago & I can honestly say, ‘Hester’—released earlier this month & a BOTM pick—is SO much better!
📖‘Hester’ by Laurie Lico Albanese is a stunning, poignant, masterfully created work of art! It’s a reimagining of the tragic heroine that inspired ‘The Scarlet Letter’ & from her point of view. I absolutely loved it! It’s very well narrated on audiobook as well! Thank you to St Martins Press for my autographed gift copy of the book along with the handkerchief seen in the photo.
🅰️Who is the real Hester Pryne? Isobel Gamble is a young seamstress carrying generations of secrets when she sets sail from Scotland in the early 1800s w/ her husband, Edward. An apothecary who has fallen under the spell of opium, his pile of debts have forced them to flee Glasgow for a fresh start in the New World. But only days after they’ve arrived in Salem, Edward abruptly joins a departing ship as a medic––leaving Isobel penniless & alone in a strange country, forced to make her way by any means possible.
🅰️When she meets a young Nathaniel Hawthorne, the two are instantly drawn to each other: he is a man haunted by his ancestors, who sent innocent women to the gallows––while she is an unusually gifted needleworker, troubled by her own strange talents. As the weeks pass & Edward’s safe return grows increasingly unlikely, Nathaniel & Isobel grow closer & closer. Together, they are a muse & a dark storyteller; the enchanter & the enchanted. But which is which?
🅰️In this sensuous & hypnotizing tale, a young immigrant woman grapples w/ our country’s complicated past, & learns that America’s ideas of freedom & liberty often fall short of their promise. Interwoven w/ Isobel & Nathaniel’s story is a vivid interrogation of who gets to be a “real” American in the first half of the 19th century, a depiction of the early days of the Underground Railroad in New England, & atmospheric interstitials that capture the long history of “unusual” women being accused of witchcraft.
💁🏼♀️Meticulously researched yet evocatively imagined, Laurie Lico Albanese’s ‘Hester’ is a timeless tale of art, ambition, & desire that examines the roots of female creative power & the men who try to shut it down.
Click HERE to visit my Instagram post & give it a LIKE❤️ (please & thank you!).
Click HERE to add ‘Hester’ to your Goodreads list.
Click HERE to find ‘Hester’ at a local or online independent bookstore using BookStoreLink
This week went by super fast for me as usual but, boy oh boy, did I get to listen to & read some fantastic books while I was on the go. Right now I am currently finishing up listening to ‘Who is Maud Dixon?‘ by Alexandra Andrews (Little, Brown & Co, 3/2/21) & it is really good!
Florence Darrow is a small-town striver who believes that she’s destined to become a celebrated writer. When she stumbles into the opportunity to become the assistant to “Maud Dixon,” a celebrated-but anonymous-novelist (think: Elena Ferrante), she believes that the universe is finally providing her big chance. The arrangement feels idyllic; Helen can be prickly, but she is full of pointed wisdom on both writing and living. She even invites Florence along on a research trip to Morocco, where her new novel is set. Florence has never been out of the country before; maybe, she imagines, she’ll finally have something exciting to write about herself.
But when Florence wakes up in the hospital after a terrible car crash, and Helen is dead, she begins to imagine what it might be like to ‘upgrade’ into not only Helen’s life, but also that of Helen’s bestselling pseudonym, Maud Dixon…
The narrators do such a fantastic job of bringing this story to life & it’s very engaging. The cover is kind of boring, but that single squiggly line that makes the shape of two women’s faces kind of grew on me as I listened to the story. Definitely recommend it! (Click HERE to add it to your Goodreads.)
On Tuesday I posted about the new release, ‘Maybe One Day‘ by Debbie Johnson (William Morrow, 3/2/21). A poignant, heartbreaking, yet heartwarming story that will give you all the emotions.
In the spirit of Ruth Hogan and Adriana Trigiani, bestselling British author Debbie Johnson brings us the ultimate in “happy tears”: a heartfelt story about a woman seizing the chance to reconnect with her lost love.
The truth changes everything. For years Jess believed that Joe—the father of her child and the only man she ever loved—had abandoned her during her greatest time of need. That belief nearly destroyed her. Seventeen years later, when cleaning out her mother’s house, Jess unpacks a box of cards and letters hidden in the attic and makes a discovery that changes everything about life as she knows it.
Shaken but empowered, Jess—and her two stalwart best friends—set out on a remarkable journey to follow a set of faded postmarks around the world. Is Joe still alive? Does he know that Jess never forgot him? Maybe their love story isn’t over. Maybe one day they’ll find each other again… (Click HERE for my Instagram post & HERE to add the book on Goodreads.)
Thursday’s post posted sort of late in the day & was a more personal one, giving a bit of an explanation as to why I am currently still in so much physical pain today. The post photo also features some of my lettering that I enjoy doing in the evening as a way to decompress & wind down my day. Handwriting has always been something I have enjoyed doing & I am a total “font-nerd” or typophile (a lover of printed matter or typography). I am not even sure how many different pens I own, but I would venture to say the number is around 500-600. And Lord have mercy, but I’m in a couple of “pen obsessed” groups on Facebook & they are quite a motley group of enablers, but I love it! (Click HERE for that post on Instagram.)
Friday’s post is what I like to call #ForeverFriday when I post a book review for a Forever Publishing recent release, & this weeks book is ‘Sandcastle Beach’ by Jenny Holiday, book #3 in Holiday’s Matchmaker Bay series. This beach read is sassy, witty, sweet & sexy! All three books in the series are like $5 on Amazon & would make great additions to your seaside (or poolside) reading. You can click HERE to see the post on Instagram & for those that may ask, the cup featured in the post is by Kate Spade & was bought a couple years ago at T J Maxx (aka: the GREATEST store ever!).
About the book: From the USA Today bestselling “master of witty banter” (Entertainment Weekly) comes a hilarious and heartwarming romance about two enemies whose feud turns red-hot. Maya Mehta will do anything to save her tiny, beloved community theater. Put on musicals she hates? Check. Hire an arrogant former-pop-star-turned-actor? Done. But what Maya really needs to save her theater is Matchmaker Bay’s new business grant. She’s got some serious competition, though: Benjamin “Law” Lawson, local bar owner, Jerk Extraordinaire, and Maya’s annoyingly hot arch nemesis. Let the games begin.
Law loves nothing more than getting under Maya’s skin, and making those gorgeous eyes dance with irritation. But when he discovers the ex-pop star has a thing for Maya, too, Law decides he’s done waiting in the wings-starting with a scorching-hot kiss. Turns out there’s a thin line between hate and irresistible desire, and Maya and Law are really good at crossing it. But when things heat up, will they allow their long-standing feud to get in the way of their growing feelings? Click HERE to add the book to your Goodreads.
Yesterday’s post was about one of my favorite books so far this year, ‘The Lost Apothecary‘ by Sarah Penner (Park Row, 3/2/21). I hadn’t planned to post about it until next week, but I wanted to encourage anyone who hadn’t made their Book of the Month selections yet to grab this one, since it was one of the March choices. ‘The Lost Apothecary‘ is such a fabulous book! I literally didn’t want it to end, that’s how much I loved it!
A female apothecary secretly dispenses poisons to liberate women from the men who have wronged them—setting three lives across centuries on a dangerous collision course. Rule #1: The poison must never be used to harm another woman. Rule #2: The names of the murderer and her victim must be recorded in the apothecary’s register.
One cold February evening in 1791, at the back of a dark London alley in a hidden apothecary shop, Nella awaits her newest customer. Once a respected healer, Nella now uses her knowledge for a darker purpose—selling well-disguised poisons to desperate women who would kill to be free of the men in their lives. But when her new patron turns out to be a precocious twelve-year-old named Eliza Fanning, an unexpected friendship sets in motion a string of events that jeopardizes Nella’s world and threatens to expose the many women whose names are written in her register.
In present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, reeling from the discovery of her husband’s infidelity. When she finds an old apothecary vial near the river Thames, she can’t resist investigating, only to realize she’s found a link to the unsolved “apothecary murders” that haunted London over two centuries ago. As she deepens her search, Caroline’s life collides with Nella’s and Eliza’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive. (Click HERE to add the book to your Goodreads & HERE to see my Instagram post.)
Last, but certainly not least, today’s post features a fab new book, ‘When We Were Young’ by Jaclyn Goldis (Forever Pub, 2/6/21) & a splendid dose of serendipity! Have you ever discovered something you bought at a thrift store actually belonged to a family member long ago? That happened to me today!
Today began w/ me starting a new book (as mentioned above). I was really looking forward to starting this book after reading many fantastic reviews & having just finished (& loved!) ‘The Lost Apothecary’ which also has 3 amazing female protagonists & takes place in the past & present day.
As I was getting my props together, I decided to use two of my vintage luggage pieces that I bought on 2 separate shopping trips last year at a local Goodwill. The luggage belonged to the same person as was evident by personalization inside both pieces via an inked address stamper. Since this sort of stamper is meant for paper, not the silky material inside of the cases, it was very blurry, & the lettering bled so much that I never really bothered to get a closer look at the name. I could only see a nearby city fairly well & really the name didn’t matter to me that much…until today.
Today I put on my readers, used my camera’s magnifying glass, & I was absolutely flabbergasted. Now I know why the first piece appealed to me so much & why there was a second piece at the shop a week later, as if waiting for me to reunite it w/ it’s partner at home: the luggage belonged to my Grandfather’s brother, my great Uncle! Holy serendipity! My great uncle passed away at the age of 97 in 2014. All this time & I had no idea they had belonged to him.
The book, ‘When We Were Young’, spans 3 generations & is a page-turner of a debut full of family secrets, heart-wrenching drama, & second chances. My vintage luggage, now heirloom, also spans 3 generations & is all about family, too! I’m loving this book so far & think you all would, too! (Click HERE to read more about it on Goodreads & HERE to go to my Instagram post.)
Well, that’s my reading week in a nutshell. Hope you are all having a wonderful weekend & best wishes in your weeks to come! I leave you with my Friday evening lettering project, which may be hard to tell from the poor quality pic, but it’s on a shimmery pink cardstock & was done with Mildliner Clickart Pens by Zebra & Micron’s. (Ahhh, pens!💕)
Today is Read Across America Day & World Teen Mental Wellness Day & yes, it’s Dr Seuss’s birthday. He would have been blowing out 117 candles today since he was born in 1904, but passed away in 1991. I will let you take it upon yourselves to Google the controversy surrounding some of Seuss’s books & why cancel culture has thrown him to the proverbial lions in recent years.
Controversy aside, above is my husband, twin sons & me on Halloween several years ago in costumes I handmade (including my sons somewhat heavy “wigs”, that were actually winter hats & a bajillion strips of hand cut felt glued on with a hot glue gun, thus adding to the overall weight of the hats. But the boys sure loved those hats & the kept them in their play dress-up & costumes trunk.) I love this picture of the four of us! We haven’t done trick or treating for 2 years now & the boys miss it…but I. Do. Not. Ugh…always so cold & our town has the worst sidewalks ever.)
This past week I posted the above pic on Instagram featuring some of my favorite suspense/thriller arcs that I have received over the years, including my first arc ever & the one I am holding, ‘All is Not Forgotten‘ by Wendy Walker. Click HERE to go to that post & read more about some more of my bookish first’s since beginning my “bookstagram” journey. Speaking of journey (no, not the band), one of my favorite sayings since becoming a fan of ‘Schitt’s Creek’ is from Alexis Rose (Boop!) & I hand lettered & framed that saying for a friend as she is a huge fan as well. You can see that at the end of this post. 😉
On Wednesday & posted about an awesome new release, sci-fi/speculative fiction/apocalyptic debut novel by Claire Holroyde, ‘The Effort’. The post photo also included one of my favorite Rae Dunn mugs (yes, I collect them, but only certain ones) that fit well with the books theme that says ‘Chaos Coordinator’. It always gets the Instagram love when I post it because isn’t that what most of us mom’s really are? I know I am! Click HERE to go to that post.
On Thriller Thursday I posted a giveaway for an arc of one of the most anticipated thrillers of 2021 & what will surely be one of my favorite thrillers of the year, too, ‘Every Last Fear‘ by Alex Finlay. That giveaway ended on 3/1/21, but I am still working on verifying all of the entries & bonus entries, so I will most likely post the winners name sometime tomorrow, on 3/3. That giveaway also included a super cute mini Happy Planner that has a bookish theme & says “The world was hers for the reading!” (well, I guess if a male wins he can give it away or give a Sharpie makeover.) Click HERE to go to that post (keep in mind the comments will be closed now due to the giveaway, but you can give it a LIKE to show your support.)
On Friday I posted with the hashtag #foreverfriday since I am a book influencer for Forever publishing. I really liked my post pic that day because of the color scheme, which honestly, pastels (💕especially pink, gray, & white) is the majority of my pages aesthetic theme & pretty much the color scheme of my home & wardrobe, too. I’m fair haired & fair skinned so the lighter the colors the better. Dark colors make me look splotchy & ill.😆
Anyhow, the book featured is a super cute one & a nice reading palette cleanser since I have been inhaling thrillers lately on audio book. And come on…look at that adorable cover! ‘Dream a Little Dream’ by Melinda Curtis takes place in a small town & just like Journey says (yes, the band this time), I’m 🎶 “Just a small town girl, living in a lonely world…“🎶 (God, I LOVE that song & I will sing right along with it as loud as I can when it comes on the radio in my van, & I truly do not care who see’s me singing. Life’s too short to not sing along to your favorite songs when they come on!) You can click HERE to go to that Insta-post & give it some LIKE love!
Saturday’s Instagram post was about a book that is all kinds of cray-cray, but in a good way (way). That book is ‘The Electric Kingdom‘ by David Arnold. This is geared towards the YA crowd, but Penguin Random House Teen saw that, even though I am well past being a YA, I still love reading many books in that genre, & they sent the book my way…& I am so glad they did! I think we all enjoy some YA books from time to time. I mean, I AM raising two YA’s so I can totally justify my wanting to read books geared towards their age group, so, yeah…💁🏼♀️ I’ll be sharing this book with my older kids for sure so we can discuss it. To read more about it, click HERE to go to my Insta-post.
On Sunday, the March Book of the Month selections went live, & my post includes my monthly spiel about how great BOTM is (because it REALLY is!) & how you can use my link in my Instagram bio to join Book of the Month (US only) & get your first book at a huge discount. Click HERE to go to that post & read more about that.
I will save today’s post (which you can go see by clicking HERE) for my next blog post since this one is long enough. In the meantime, would you guys do me a solid & LIKE my Facebook page Mom_Loves_Reading? (link in blog side bar or click HERE) Facebook is the big sister to Instagram & you know how their whole algorithm nightmare goes where you can have hundreds of followers, but they only let your posts be seen by like FIVE of them? Arghhh. So annoying. So help a sister out, (please & thank you!) & go LIKE my page, some posts, etc & if you have a bookish Facebook page, drop me a comment & I will LIKE your page & do the same for you! (Quid pro Quo, bro…😉)
☀️I hope everyone’s weather has been better lately wherever you live. Last week was sunny nearly every day for my neck of the woods, & it felt amazing! This weeks forecast shows a lot of sun once again, but temps will still be in the 40s & 30s, with some 50s on horizon for next week. I’m still feeding the 9000 birds that are visiting our yard daily, along with 4 squirrels who have become regulars (which I have named Farley, Spade, Jim & Pam), the neighbors dog (who steals suet blocks I put out for the woodpeckers), the deer (who have been somewhat MIA lately) & last night a raccoon decided he was going to get in on the action nocturnally. It’s a proverbial zoo out back some days!🐿🦝🐦🦌
🌈Stay safe out there, friends, & I hope you all have a fantastic week!😊
GIVEAWAY time! (I actually meant to post this to my blog a couple days ago, but then I ended up sick & forgot. So better late than never & you have until the end of the day to enter. Sorry, US residents only per the publisher.)
Thank you to @grandcentralpub for my gift copy of ‘This Close to Okay‘ by Leesa Cross-Smith!
Q: What did you read this weekend? I started & finished ‘Finlay Donovan is Killing It’ & really liked it, & I am this close to finishing the book I am featuring today.
A cathartic novel about the life-changing weekend shared between two strangers: a therapist & the man she prevents from ending his life,
‘This Close to Okay‘ is a vibrant, powerful story of two strangers brought together by wild chance at the moment they needed each other most.
This book was a Dec BOTM choice & my first book by the author, although ‘So We Can Glow’ is on my TBR list. There is some heavy subject matter covered in this beautiful book: mental illness, racism, grief, & suicide; but don’t let that sway you from reading it. (Just maybe have a rom-com or comedy as a follow-up read if those subjects weigh on your emotions; ‘Finlay Donovan is Killing It’ would make a great follow-up, just saying.)
‘This Close to Okay‘ is so well written, emotional, heartfelt, intimately honest & raw, & the characters are richly drawn, complex, & unforgettable. I highly recommend this book & would love to send a copy to (2) of you! (**The following is for information purposes only. You must enter the giveaway on Instagram & you can go to the post HERE.)
To enter to win one: 1- Must be following @mom_loves_reading 2- LIKE this post. (SHARE it in your stories or feed for 5 bonus entries & TAG me.) 3- Tag some bookish pals. (Unlimited entries, up to 3 tags per comm). Giveaway runs 2/6-2/8/21, is not affiliated w/ Instagram, & is open to US residents only. Please don’t UNfollow after giveaway or you will be ineligible for all future MLR giveaways & there are a LOT.
From the award-winning Southern writer who Roxane Gay calls “a consummate storyteller” comes a cathartic novel about the life-changing weekend shared between two strangers: a therapist and the man she prevents from ending his life.
On a rainy October night in Kentucky, recently divorced therapist Tallie Clark is on her way home from work when she spots a man precariously standing on the side of a bridge. Without a second thought, Tallie pulls over and jumps out of the car into the pouring rain. She convinces the man to join her for a cup of coffee, and he eventually agrees to come back to her house, where he finally shares his name: Emmett.
Over the course of the emotionally charged weekend that follows, Tallie makes it her mission to provide a safe space for Emmett, though she hesitates to confess that this is also her day job. But what she doesn’t realize is that he’s not the only one who needs healing — and she’s not the only one with secrets.
Alternating between Tallie and Emmett’s perspectives as they inch closer to the truth of what brought Emmett to the bridge’s edge — as well as the hard truths Tallie has been grappling with in her own life — This Close to Okay is a vibrant, powerful story of two strangers brought together by wild chance at the moment they needed each other most.
Click HERE to add ‘This Close to Okay’ to your Goodreads lists. Click HERE to check out my Instagram post & enter the giveaway. Click HERE to visit Leesa Cross-Smith’s website. Click HERE to find this book & any others at a local or online indie bookstore using BookStoreLink.com. Click HERE to join Book of the Month & get your first months book selection at a discount. (*’This Close to Okay’ was a Dec 2020 BOTM pick & is still available. You don’t have to get this one, however, in order to get the discount.) Click HERE to get this book (or any others) on audio from Libro.fm & support indie bookstores that way. You can also get a BOGO using my code MOMLOVESREADING.
Leesa Cross-Smith is a homemaker and writer from Kentucky. She is the author of SO WE CAN GLOW, WHISKEY & RIBBONS, EVERY KISS A WAR, and the forthcoming novels THIS CLOSE TO OKAY and HALF-BLOWN ROSE from Grand Central Publishing. She is longlisted for the 2021 Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize. SO WE CAN GLOW was listed as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2020. WHISKEY & RIBBONS won the 2019 Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY) Gold Medal in Literary Fiction, was longlisted for the 2018 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, and was one of O Magazine’s 2018 Top Books of Summer. EVERY KISS A WAR was nominated for the PEN Open Book Award (2014) and was a finalist for both the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction (2012) and the Iowa Short Fiction Award (2012). Find more @ LeesaCrossSmith.com
GIVEAWAY TIME! Folks, it’s early in the year, but I’m predicting ‘Black Buck’ by Mateo Askaripour to be one of my Top 5 favorite books of 2021 & I guarantee it’ll be for many of you as well!
‘Black Buck‘ is the author’s debut novel that released on 1/5 & I was fortunate enough to receive early copies of it, ultimately choosing to listen to the audiobook version. The narrator did such a fantastic job! It’s already #15 on the NY Times bestseller list this week, a Book of the Month add-on, & the Jan ’21 ‘Reading w/ Jenna‘ pick.
I loved Mateo’s dedication page at the very beginning of the book: “To all of those who have ever been made to feel less than, I see you”. Followed by that are a few pages of Author’s Notes, one of which encourages white readers to consider themselves an honorary black person as you read the book, which I totally get, to better understand the POV from which the situations & scenarios in the book are coming from.
The book is a dram-edy (funny, yet drama filled) & meant to be satirical, meaning some parts are over the top & exaggerated, but the messages in the story are perfectly clear. The description of the book says ‘for fans of ‘Sorry to Bother You’ & ‘The Wolf of Wall Street”, & since I have never seen the 1st movie I don’t get that comparison; however, having seen the 2nd, I do understand that & agree, but it’s only in some ways similar.
You may want a writing instrument handy while reading this book to annotate & underline meaningful quotes & passages. You will love some of the characters like Brian, Wally Cat, Mr. Rawlings & Darren’s mom, & you’ll hate some of them like Clyde (who is total pond scum). You may also catch yourself saying some of the ‘Black Buck’ catch phrases in everyday life like I have been since reading this, such as ‘Every day is deals day’ & ‘Ring ring’. I also cannot help but to think of Darren & Brian every time I go to Starbucks, which is far too often.
I can definitely see this book made into a feature film or 10-episode limited series & I 100% think Jordan Peele should write the script, produce & direct it. I also totally pictured the handsome author as the protagonist, Darren, as I listened to the book. I highly recommend ‘Black Buck‘ in any version (see below for links to get an audiobook deal at Libro.fm or to join Book of the Month & add ‘Black Buck’ to your first months box as an add-on), & I’d like to send an arc to 2 of my followers.
(Please be advised, the following entry info is for information sakes, only. You must enter on Instagram & can do so by clicking HERE to be directed to the giveaway.) To enter giveaway: 1-LIKE this post. 2-Must be following @mom_loves_reading 3-Tag a couple bookish pals (unlimited entries, 2 tags per com). Bonus entries (5 ea) 4-SHARE to your stories & tag me (can do daily) 5-Subscribe to my blog (Hey, you’re already here, so why not sign up to get email notifications when a new post is up, & if you ARE subscribed, why Thank You very much!😉 6-LIKE my Facebook page & this post there. (Click HERE to go there now.) 7-Follow me on Twitter & REtweet post. (Click HERE to go there now.)
Giveaway is US only due to shipping, begins 1/16 & ends 1/19/21, & is not affiliated w/ Instagram. Please don’t UNfollow afterwards because it’s rude & you get added to my ‘excluded from all future MLR giveaways’ list. Plus, you’ll miss out on a TON of really great giveaways coming up, some of which will be International.
Click HERE to use my referral code MOMLOVESREADING at Libro.fm & get a BOGO-free audiobook offer. Click HERE to use my referral link & start a Book of the Month membership. (If you scroll a few posts back you will see more detailed info on all of the great benefits of becoming a BOTM member, & there are no obligations.)
Click HERE to add ‘Black Buck’ to your Goodreads lists. Click HERE to look for ‘Black Buck’ at a local independent bookstore using BookStoreLink.com. Click HERE to go to MomLovesReading on Instagram.
MATEO ASKARIPOUR was a 2018 Rhode Island Writers Colony writer-in-residence, and his writing has appeared in Entrepreneur, Lit Hub, Catapult, The Rumpus, Medium, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn, and his favorite pastimes include bingeing music videos and movie trailers, drinking yerba mate, and dancing in his apartment. BLACK BUCK is his debut novel. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @AskMateo. You can also subscribe to his monthly newsletter here.