Book Reviews · Fiction

Book Review: “Pale” by Edward A Farmer (pub 5/19)

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Thank you @blackstonepublishing (partner) for my gifted copy of “Pale“, the impressive debut novel by Edward A Farmer! (pub date 5/19).

Some things just don’t keep well inside this house …”

The summer of 1966 burned hot across America but nowhere hotter than the cotton fields of Mississippi. Finding herself in a precarious position as a black woman living alone, Bernice accepts her brother Floyd’s invitation to join him as a servant for a white family & she enters the web of hostility and deception that is the Kern plantation household.

The secrets of the house are plentiful yet the silence that has encompassed it for so many years suddenly breaks with the arrival of the harvest & the appearance of Jesse & Fletcher to the plantation as cotton pickers. These two brothers, the sons of the house servant Silva, awaken a vengeful seed within the Missus of the house as she plots to punish not only her husband but Silva’s family as well. When the Missus starts flirting with Jesse, she sets into motion a dangerous game that could get Jesse killed & destroy the lives of the rest of the servants.

Bernice walks the fine line between emissary & accomplice, as she tries her best to draw secrets from the Missus’s heart, while using their closeness to protect the lives of the people around her. Once the Missus’s plans are complete, families will be severed, loyalties will be shattered, & no one will come out unscathed.

With a dazzling voice & rich emotional tension, “Pale” explores the ties that bind & how quickly humanity can fade & return us to primal ways.

Farmer is such a very talented storyteller & writer, it is hard to believe that this is a debut novel. “Pale” slowly builds tension & suspense with its complex, riveting & emotionally engaging prose. Family secrets, betrayal, lies & a woman hellbent on vindication & revenge, no matter who gets hurt on the way.

Pale” is powerful, gritty, atmospheric & utterly gripping from start to finish. Farmer is definitely a writer that we can expect more great stories from in the future. Kudos on this debut! “Pale” is available now, so add it to your TBR list & get it from your local indie bookseller today! Use BookStoreLink to find this book & others at a local or online independent bookstore. Click HERE to get started. You can also click HERE to add it to your Goodreads list.

What others are saying about “Pale“:

”More than once I had to remind myself to take a deep breathe while reading Pale. It’s a slow walk through a poetic dream, or rather an inescapable nightmare. Edward Farmer deftly portrays characters that are trapped by choices other people made long ago. A beautiful exploration of the tension between choices and circumstances. The evil of intergenerational racism is revealed by the preference to live in a quicksand of hatred, to choose slow vengeance over breaking free.” —Laila Ibrahim, bestselling author of Yellow Crocus

”Edward A. Farmer’s novel, Pale, takes readers on a twisting, turning journey of unexpected passions, forbidden love, and practiced cruelty. His sumptuous prose creates an operatic vision of life on a cotton plantation in 1960s Mississippi, a world on the cusp of great change that many of its characters resist with all their power. Farmer’s debut marks the emergence of an exciting new voice in American fiction.” —May-lee Chai, author of Useful Phrases for Immigrants: Stories and Dragon Chica

”Edward Farmer’s powerful debut, Pale, lures you in with its atmospheric prose, grabbing hold gently and then slowly tightening its emotional grip with each page. His main character, Bernice, must navigate Mississippi plantation life circa 1966 with its deeply embedded racism and well-established patriarchy, as well as the complex tensions between both Mr. and Mrs. Kerns and their servants. It’s a beautifully wrought novel, with each character sensitively drawn, exposing the lasting effects of trauma. Farmer is a writer to watch!” —John Copenhaver, author of the Macavity Award-winning Dodging and Burning

”Edward A. Farmer’s Pale is a novel that surges full force into the power of language. The music of the words builds and builds, rendering tension as thick as the humid Mississippi air. The characters overflow with this music, driven by intense passions, often to the point of madness. They try to make melody of circumstance and loss, but instead find only dissonance. Farmer orchestrates this story with the genius of a maestro, only releasing the reader through a deft and lovely resolution in the novel’s final pages. A striking debut by an author to watch.” —Zach Powers, author of First Cosmic Velocity and Gravity Changes

”Farmer’s debut captures the delicate and dangerous lose-lose reality of a person in Bernice’s position … Farmer opens with cotton imagery and returns to it throughout, disallowing any visions of beautiful, puffy whiteness … The story’s rewards and Bernice’s experience are important.” —Booklist

Edward A. Farmer is a native of Memphis, Tennessee, where he journaled and cultivated stories his entire childhood. He is a graduate of Amherst College with a degree in English and psychology, and recipient of the MacArthur-Leithauser Travel Award for creative writing. He currently lives and writes in Pasadena, California. Pale is his first novel.

Book Reviews · LibroFm

Book Review: “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner

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Thank you @stmartinspress @librofm & @macmillan.audio for my gifted physical & audio copies of “The Jane Austen Society” by Natalie Jenner! (pub date 5/26)

Just after the Second World War, in the small English village of Chawton, an unusual but like-minded group of people band together to attempt something remarkable..One hundred & fifty years ago, Chawton was the final home of Jane Austen, one of England’s finest novelists. Now it’s home to a few distant relatives & their diminishing estate. With the last bit of Austen’s legacy threatened, a group of disparate individuals come together to preserve both Jane Austen’s home & her legacy.

These people—a laborer, a young widow, the local doctor, & a movie star, among others—could not be more different & yet they are united in their love for the works & words of Austen. As each of them endures their own quiet struggle with loss & trauma, some from the recent war, others from more distant tragedies, they rally together to create the Jane Austen Society.

A powerful & moving novel that explores the tragedies & triumphs of life, both large & small, & the universal humanity in us all, Natalie Jenner’s “The Jane Austen Society is destined to resonate with readers for years to come.

Initially I started reading the physical copy of this book, & although it is well-written & quite interesting, historical fiction isn’t quite in my wheelhouse. But I am trying to branch out. (Baby steps!) Plus, I am super busy and on the go, so I need a book that can be on the go with me. Thankfully I am a fan of audiobooks, & I found that I was more able to connect with the characters & the storyline by listening to it. The narrator did a fantastic job of bringing all of the very charming characters to life. It did take me a a bit to keep track of everyone, but once I got hold of who was who, the story really took off for me.

The Jane Austen Society” is a tip of the literary hat to Miss Austen & her iconic novels & Jenner has sprinkled quotes from those novels throughout this book. This book got me wanting to re-read some of Austen’s novels I read way back when. This was such a lovely, heartfelt, nuanced, uplifting story that many people have said gives them “Guernsey Literary & Potato Peel Pie Society” vibes. This story touches on family, love, loss, second chances, friendship, the importance of literature & so much more. A very impressive debut novel! Highly recommend!

To buy it on audiobook, I encourage you to use Libro.fm. They support independent bookstores with their audiobook sales, unlike other audiobook apps. Independent bookstores need our sales now more than ever, whether it be with physical books or audiobook sales. Click HERE or use use my referral code MOMLOVESREADING to get a 3-for-1 audiobook deal when you start a Libro.fm account & subscription. You can cancel anytime, so there is no long term commitment.

Those of you that entered my big thriller giveaway on Instagram (the post is HERE), stay tuned for the winner announcement in the next 24 hrs or so. I have to go through all the entries still & everyone’s bonus entries & of course make sure all the entry criteria was met. Another giveaway will be coming soon! Hope everyone has had a wonderful week so far! They seem to be going by so quickly for me these days…

Book Reviews

“The Giver of Stars” by JoJo Moyes

My daughter, my friend Jaclyn, and I were lucky enough to meet JoJo Moyes back in October at the Cuyahoga Public Library. We got to listen to her discuss the months of research she put into her latest novel “The Giver of Stars” and she also did some Q&A’s with the audience.

Things I got to hear JoJo Moyes say in person:
•The “F” word twice when she was telling us a story from her time in KY doing research.
•She slipped that “Giver of Stars was already optioned for movie.
•This is also her favorite of all of her books thus far.
•Her dad didn’t think her book “Me Before You” would do very well. (It’s one of my all time faves!)
•Author friend, Sophia Kinsella was the one that convinced her to publish “Me Before You”.
•Her novel “The Last Letter from Her Lover” is being made into a movie.

Me Before Her

She also complimented my blouse and practically choked on her water when I introduced my daughter…
JM: “THAT’S your daughter? (said in her adorable accent) How old is she? You don’t look old enough to be her mother. I thought you were sisters.” (we DO look a lot alike!)
ME:”She’s 22. And thank you..I’m actually 3 mos older than you, also born in the summer of 69.”
(insert gasping while drinking water)
JM:”What?? Oh my goodness! (Big smile!) You look so young! Yay, Generation X!”(then she shook my hand firmly)

JoJo autographing my “The Giver of Stars”

She is just the cutest, sweetest person and quite funny! I would have loved to have taken a posed picture with her, but this event didn’t allow for that due to the time allotment and the amount of people there. So my daughter snapped the quick pics while I was talking to her. It was a lovely event and I am so glad I was able to go.

I took the book photo above back in Oct also, when the sky was so beautiful and tried to line it up just right with the book (nailed it!) I loved this book and learned a lot of cool things from it. It’s fiction, but loosely based on real people. It’s just a really interesting book! Atmospheric, heartfelt, inspiring and just wonderful! I hope to see her in person again someday and I will buy every book she ever writes!

I really want that blouse she is wearing!

You can buy this book here using Book Store Link. With Book Store Link, you type in the book you are looking for, then choose an independent book seller in your area or from the list, and when it comes up on the screen, it will give you a link to the bookstores website (if applicable), a phone number to call and request that it be held or ordered for you, and also the link to get the book on audio (if that’s your thing…I LOVE audio books!) It is so important to buy books from local, independent book sellers, instead of just ordering them on Amazon (and supporting a bajillionaire!) I, for one, do not want to know a world where independent book stores no longer exist. So, please, join me in helping to support them and try Book Store Link today! Or use Libro.fm and my special code MOMLOVESREADING to get your books on audio and get a 3-for-1 deal.

Book synopsis:

Set in Depression-era America, a breathtaking story of five extraordinary women and their remarkable journey through the mountains of Kentucky and beyond.

Alice Wright marries handsome American Bennett Van Cleve hoping to escape her stifling life in England. But small-town Kentucky quickly proves equally claustrophobic, especially living alongside her overbearing father-in-law. So when a call goes out for a team of women to deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt’s new traveling library, Alice signs on enthusiastically.

The leader, and soon Alice’s greatest ally, is Margery, a smart-talking, self-sufficient woman who’s never asked a man’s permission for anything. They will be joined by three other singular women who become known as the Packhorse Librarians of Kentucky.

What happens to them–and to the men they love–becomes an unforgettable drama of loyalty, justice, humanity and passion. These heroic women refuse to be cowed by men or by convention. And though they face all kinds of dangers in a landscape that is at times breathtakingly beautiful, at others brutal, they’re committed to their job: bringing books to people who have never had any, arming them with facts that will change their lives.

Based on a true story rooted in America’s past, The Giver of Stars is unparalleled in its scope and epic in its storytelling. Funny, heartbreaking, enthralling, it is destined to become a modern classic–a richly rewarding novel of women’s friendship, of true love, and of what happens when we reach beyond our grasp for the great beyond.