Because We Are Bad: A Review

By the age of thirteen, Lily Bailey was convinced she was bad. She had killed someone with a thought, spread untold disease, and ogled the bodies of other children. Only by performing an exhausting series of secret routines could she make up for what she’d done. But no matter how intricate or repetitive, no act of penance was ever enough.

Beautifully written and astonishingly intimate, Because We Are Bad recounts a childhood consumed by obsessive compulsive disorder. As a child, Bailey created a second personality inside herself—”I” became “we”—to help manifest compulsions that drove every minute of every day of her young life. Now she writes about the forces beneath her skin, and how they ordered, organized, and urged her forward. Lily charts her journey, from checking on her younger sister dozens of times a night, to “normalizing” herself at school among new friends as she grew older, and finally to her young adult years, learning—indeed, breaking through—to make a way for herself in a big, wide world that refuses to stay in check.

Charming and raw, harrowing and redemptive, Because We Are Bad is an illuminating and uplifting look into the mind and soul of an extraordinary young woman, and a startling portrait of OCD that allows us to see and understand this condition as never before.

-Description via Goodreads

Let me first begin by saying that I had to read this memoir in small doses because it triggered my own anxiety.  Mental illness is no joke.  It is a very real entity that has the ability and power to consume a person.  While I do not have experience with OCD personally, I related to the constant battle of intrusive thoughts.  Lily’s account of growing up with OCD is one of the most truthful accounts that I have encountered.

A statement in the memoir that truly resonated with me and I feel best describes the state of Lily’s mind is this:

“Mindfulness is the fucking problem: my mind is too full”

There are clearly two narrators to this story.  One is Lily and the other is “She”.  The separation of Lily into two distinct personalities was important in conveying the battle that never ceased in Lily’s mind.  She was constantly convinced that every action she made was offending someone.  She was paranoid that she smelled unpleasantly, that people found her disgusting, that a lingering glance could be interpreted as perverted.  There were countless examples in this memoir that I found to be exhaustive.  My heart broke for Lily because all of this was occurring when she was just a child.  She did not find it abnormal that she would check to make sure that her sister was alive and breathing while sleeping.  With every check on her sister she would have to go through her normal OCD bedtime routine of checking doors and such.  She would function on a few hours of sleep if she were lucky.  As exhaustive as my own brain can be I cannot fathom what a life like that would be like.  It sends me into a panic just thinking about it.

Because We Are Bad covers Lily’s life from an early age up to college age.  In that time you are privy to the exhausting actions that are result of her compulsions, her treatment and how Lily overcomes her compulsions.  I was fascinated to learn more about OCD through Lily’s experience with her therapist.  If you are interested in learning more about OCD and overcoming it this is a perfect choice because it is incredibly honest.  If you have suffered from mental illness yourself this memoir will connect with you.  I  was able to relate to several descriptions of Lily’s intrusive thoughts.  Intrusive thoughts are all consuming.  Intrusive thoughts are truly invasive and they do not make one bit of sense.  While I was reading Because We Are Bad I could not help but think of myself as two distinct personalities.  Their is my ‘logical self’ and my ‘illogical self’.  Every day I struggle with those two entities; just as Lily did with ‘She’.

If you are searching for an honest depiction of mental illness Because We Are Bad fulfills that need.  If you are struggling with OCD and other forms of mental illness you will find someone to relate to with Lily.  I was glad to receive this galley copy of Because We Are Bad by Harper Books in exchange for an honest review.  I highly recommend this book.  Even if you cannot relate to the depiction of mental illness it will still provide invaluable insight to the struggle that so many people experience on a continuous basis.

 

 

 

 

 

Big Bookish Disappointments

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Nothing is worse in a bookish life then to be looking forward to reading a book for a really long time only to be disappointed once you have completed it.  That recently happened to me and I have to say…..I was pretty pissed to have wasted my time.  Here is the story of Jamie and The Hazel Wood.

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Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

So this book promised me the dark side of fairy tales.  I was so incredibly pumped to read this that I put it on hold at my local library long before it was going to be available.  I wanted to read this one as soon as I could.  I was so excited when I got the email notice that it was waiting for me.  I had been seeing everyone loving it on Bookstagram.  I was ready to dive right in.  I got half way through it and….

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I was annoyed that I was not liking it.  I was wondering if all the hype made me have huge expectations.  Luckily another fellow Jamie (who is also a book lover) was reading it too.  She was having the exact same reaction that I was!  Hurrah!  In the end, it did not get better for me.  It had all of the right ingredients for an amazing story but did not deliver for me. The characters were weak, the story came across as more cheesy then scary. While there were glimmers of awesome story telling there were not enough to save it for me in the end.

This is just the opinion of a couple of Jamies.  That’s right book buddy Jamie. I am including you in this opinion.  I always include in every negative review I give “No two people read the same book.”  Plenty of other readers have loved and raved about this book.  So with that being said if you read the description of this book and are intrigued by all means PLEASE READ IT.  After you finish then come back to this post and let me know your thoughts!

 

Women in the Sunlight: A Review

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Kit Raine, an American writer living in Tuscany, is working on a biography of her close friend, a complex woman who continues to cast a shadow on Kit’s own life. Her work is waylaid by the arrival of three women–Julia, Camille, and Susan–all of whom have launched a recent and spontaneous friendship that will uproot them completely and redirect their lives. Susan, the most adventurous of the three, has enticed them to subvert expectations of staid retirement by taking a lease on a big, beautiful house in Tuscany. Though novices in a foreign culture, their renewed sense of adventure imbues each of them with a bright sense of bravery, a gusto for life, and a fierce determination to thrive. But how? With Kit’s friendship and guidance, the three friends launch themselves into Italian life, pursuing passions long-forgotten–and with drastic and unforeseeable results.

I won Women In Sunlight by Frances Mayes in a Goodreads giveaway.  I was drawn to this title because I read Under the Tuscan Sun and loved the movie adaptation starring Diane Lane.  Frances Mayes has written several books revolving around Tuscany Italy.  It is obvious how much she loves the area, the culture and the food.  What I appreciate most about Mayes’ take on Tuscany is the transformative power that it has.  It is clear that Tuscany has shaped Frances Mayes and I cannot say no to story that details how a cultural experience changes an individual to their core.

I found this to be a lovely story revolving around the power of female friendship.  Camille, Susan and Julia decide to take charge of their lives after being widowed and experiencing a upheaval in the family.  Each lady is contemplating purchasing space at a senior living complex but instead decide to become friends and reside in Italy for a year.  Clearly they made the right decision.  Neither woman would ever think that this experience was going to transform their life.  I absolutely loved that female friendship is at the heart of this novel.  I absolutely loved that angle.  The reader gets to travel along with the ladies for their year in Italy.  We get to visit different cities, eat delicious food, see gorgeous gardens, and view breathtaking art.  The reader gets to drink a a cappacunio on the piazza with the locals nodding their greetings.  Violetta will even bring you a biscotti to enjoy your coffee.  Frances Mayes has a knack for bringing Italy to life for you….so much so that you really do get a realistic experience just by reading her books.

The last sentence of the book perfectly demonstrates the writing style of Frances Mayes

“Where this story stops, they look into a mirror reflecting a mirror where the story begins and reflects a mirror where the story continues.”

If you are not familiar with Mayes’ writing already I will caution that you need to give it time to get acquainted.  It is flowery, flowing and includes a variety of vocabulary.  She constructs the sort of sentences that  require you to sit on them a bit and let the language sink in.  While this form of writing does not normally appeal to me; I am the sort of reader who likes to get to the point of the story and loathes unnecessary words.  However that is not the case with Mayes.  Her unique ability to compile words is necessary in bringing Tuscany to life.

So if you are looking for a novel that details Italy, the transformative power of female friendship and includes delicious food descriptions then look no further.  Women in Sunlight has all of that and so much heart.

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*SIDE NOTE*

This uncorrected proof of Women in Sunlight was provided by Crown Publishing with the hopes of an honest review.  As a member of the Bookstagram community on the social media outlet Instagram I do my part in sharing what I am reading.  By tagging the publisher’s Instagram account I am letting them know that I am sharing.  For the first time the publisher shared my picture on their Instagram account as a means of promoting Women in Sunlight!

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Needless to say I was pretty excited to see that notification!  As a lover of books…as someone who loves to talk books….that was pretty damn awesome and I hope it happens more and more!

Women in Sunlight is out April 3rd.  I hope you give it a chance!

The Italian Teacher: A Review

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Rome, 1955

The artists are gathering together for a photograph. In one of Rome’s historic villas, a party is bright with near-genius, shaded by the socialite patrons of their art. Bear Bavinsky, creator of vast, masculine, meaty canvases, is their god. Larger than life, muscular in both figure and opinion, he blazes at art criticism and burns half his paintings. He is at the centre of the picture. His wife, Natalie, edges out of the shot.

From the side of the room watches little Pinch – their son. At five years old he loves Bear almost as much as he fears him. After Bear abandons their family, Pinch will still worship him, striving to live up to the Bavinsky name; while Natalie, a ceramicist, cannot hope to be more than a forgotten muse. Trying to burn brightly under his father’s shadow – one of the twentieth century’s fiercest and most controversial painters – Pinch’s attempts flicker and die. Yet by the end of a career of twists and compromises, Pinch will enact an unexpected rebellion that will leave forever his mark upon the Bear Bavinsky legacy.

What makes an artist? In The Italian Teacher, Tom Rachman displays a nuanced understanding of twentieth-century art and its demons, vultures and chimeras. Moreover, in Pinch he achieves a portrait of painful vulnerability and realism: talent made irrelevant by personality. Stripped of egotism, authenticity or genius, Pinch forces us to face the deep held fear of a life lived in vain.

Admittedly, I entered this particular Goodreads Giveaway strictly because of the cover.

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How could you not want to know more about this book?  I did not read the first book by Tom Rachman entitled The Imperfectionists. Nor have I read anything else by Rachman so this is my only experience with his work.  I must admit.  I am intrigued.  What I am intrigued most by was the description of art and the characters.  Oh the characters were so amazingly developed.  I could not decide if I liked, hated or was completely ambivalent of the characters.  The main character is Charles, Pinch, Bavinsky.  I still cannot decide if I feel sorry for Pinch or welcome the Hell that he created for himself.  Pinch admires his father Bear Bavinsky far more than is deserved. Artist Bear Bavinsky is a complete asshole which is not hard to imagine as he is the stereotypical narcissistic artist. It comes as no surprise that Bear consistently lets down his son.  No matter what Pinch does.  No matter how hard he tries.  No matter how much love and praise he lays at the feet of his father it is never good enough.  The relationship of Pinch and Bear is the focus of this novel.  The reader accompanies Pinch as he navigates his life and makes continuous attempts to make his father proud.   It is easy for the readers to see that this is clearly a recipe for disappointment and heartbreak.

I cannot go into too many details because throughout this novel little snippets of the man that Pinch will ultimately become are sprinkled about.  What I will say is that I was pleased with how Pinch is able to get one over on his father.  Midway through this novel I put down the book and thought to myself, “I really hope there is some redemption for at least one of these character”.  As is always true with great character development we readers become invested in the actions of the characters.   You hate the jerks.  You become frustrated with the stupidity of some.  You care about what happens and want them to overcome their obstacles.  In this case you want Pinch to stop caring about what his asshole father thinks.

This is a well written and developed story.  Again,  the characters were the selling point for me (along with the gorgeously vibrant cover).  This is the sort of novel that you slowly sink into and let it take over.  That is exactly what happened for me.  I was seeing the side streets of Rome, riding the Tube in London and feeling insignificant with Pinch.  I am glad I had the opportunity to read this and review it.  It is available March 20th!  I truly hope you seek it out!

 

You Should Read California Dreamin

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One of my favorite bookish things is discovering something at my library or book store.  I keep myself well-versed on what books are being highly talked about, what trends are happening….I have a list in my planner of what books I am anticipating publication each month.  So coming across something that I have never heard of and never knew existed is always the absolute best thing ever.

If there was every a person I never thought would be depicted in a graphic novel it would be Cass Elliot of The Mamas & the Papas.  However that is exactly the very book that I stumbled across at my public library.  One day I just needed something to quickly read as a palate cleanser so I picked it up.  I had it finished at the end of the day.  Admittedly I knew next to nothing about Cass Elliot and her group.  This graphic novel biography covers her early life up to the release of the hit song California Dreamin.

What I loved most about this book, aside from the illustrations, was the manner in which the story was told.  Each bit of her life is told from the perspective of a person in her life.  Her family, school mates, her voice teacher, and fellow band members.  Each individual offers interesting insight into her life, personality and rebellious actions.  It was a very interesting method of relating someone’s life.

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As I was reading this I realized that with the last two graphic novels I have read are from the same imprint!   First Second Books is an imprint through Roaring Book Press that publishes only graphic novels.  It is my new obsession.  I am following them on social media because I already know that I will want to read everything from them!

So you should give this one a try.  I promise that you will become fascinated by Cass, will need to instantly listen to some of their music and will have California Dreamin stuck in your head.

My March Reading Goals

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Spring is on the horizon.  I am dreaming of lovely Spring breezes, flowers blooming and reading outside in sunshine.  I normally do not set reading goals because I am a lady who likes to freely read what I want.  However, I realized that I was mentally planning out my future reading selections.  There are two reasons for this.  1.) I have been given advanced reader copies that I need to provide honest reviews for 2.) Library holds

Let me walk you through my plans with this ambitious stack.

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Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes is the book that I need to provide an honest review for.  I won this copy via a Goodreads Giveaway.  I am familiar with Frances Mayes from Under the Tuscan Sun.  That book was adapted into a movie starring Diane Lane.  I loved the movie and immediately entered the drawing when I saw her name.  Women in Sunlight comes out in April so I will be starting it in the next few days.

Kit Raine, an American writer living in Tuscany, is working on a biography of her close friend, a complex woman who continues to cast a shadow on Kit’s own life. Her work is waylaid by the arrival of three women–Julia, Camille, and Susan–all of whom have launched a recent and spontaneous friendship that will uproot them completely and redirect their lives. Susan, the most adventurous of the three, has enticed them to subvert expectations of staid retirement by taking a lease on a big, beautiful house in Tuscany. Though novices in a foreign culture, their renewed sense of adventure imbues each of them with a bright sense of bravery, a gusto for life, and a fierce determination to thrive. But how? With Kit’s friendship and guidance, the three friends launch themselves into Italian life, pursuing passions long-forgotten–and with drastic and unforeseeable results.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is a novel that has been getting tons of chatter and praise.  I am incredibly intrigued by the premise and I am always trying to slowly expose myself to “light fantasy” novels.  This novel seems like a safe foray into the fantasy world because it revolves around fairy tales.  I am very excited to read this one.  It is the first in a series.  It was released January 30th so I have been PATIENTLY waiting on the hold list at my library.  I will be reading this one as I read Women in Sunlight.  I have a feeling I will most likely binge read this one and get it done in a few days.

Seventeen-year-old Alice and her mother have spent most of Alice’s life on the road, always a step ahead of the uncanny bad luck biting at their heels. But when Alice’s grandmother, the reclusive author of a cult-classic book of pitch-dark fairy tales, dies alone on her estate, the Hazel Wood, Alice learns how bad her luck can really get: her mother is stolen away―by a figure who claims to come from the Hinterland, the cruel supernatural world where her grandmother’s stories are set. Alice’s only lead is the message her mother left behind: “Stay away from the Hazel Wood.”

I have been slowly making headway in my Female Voices Reading Challenge.  I previously wrote that I gave up on Joan Didion’s collection of The White Album.  If you missed that post here is the LINK

I decided to swap that one for her newest collection of essays South and West.  I am hopeful that I will make it through this one.  It is pretty short so I will finish this one no matter what!

Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann was a hugely hyped and praised true crime book from 2017.  Being a true crime fan I knew that I was going to read it.  I decided to save it for 2018 because I really thought it was going to make the top five lists of someone in my reading group but then it did not make their top five so it is not going to count toward my reading group requirements.  C’est la vie!  The copy in the picture is actually my personal copy.  One of my top thrift store finds was this copy for $3…on half-off day so I got for $1.50.  It is in pristine condition so that was a no brainer purchase.  I believe I hugged it for the remainder of my browsing with a smile on my face! Book Description

The final two fiction books in the picture are Hannah Who Fell from the Sky and The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living.  City Baker’s Guide is one I started in mid February but I had another reading commitment for a book I needed to review so it has fallen to the wayside. It is still sitting in my living room waiting for me to pick it back up.  I was enjoying it but now I feel the pressure to read other books now but I still hope to finish it.   Hannah is one that I remembered reading a description of.  It has been on my Goodreads to read shelf before it was released.  I was browsing my library’s new fiction shelf and came across it.  I want to read this one this month because I am trying to maintain a balance with my reading stack.  I don’t want everything to be something I have promised to review, part of my Female Voices Reading Challenge or a requirement of my reading group.  I still want to have some semblance of reading freedom!

Lastly is the enormous black book at the bottom of the stack! My required reading for my book group is a graphic novel.  Mind you I have already read…I think three graphic novels this year…however this is normal for me.  I love graphic novels!  So I needed to make it a challenge for myself.  I found Alone by Chaboute on the new graphic novel shelf at my library.  This is a translation which is not something I normally read so I think that this is the perfect fit for my challenge!

On a tiny lighthouse island far from the rest of the world, a hermit lives out his existence. Every week a supply boat leaves provisions, yet the fishermen never leave their boat, and never meet him.
Years spent on this deserted rock, with imagination his sole companion, has made the lighthouse keeper something more than alone, something else entirely. For him, what lies beyond the horizon might be… nothing. And so, why would you ever want to leave? But, one day, as curiosity gets the better of him, a new boatman steps onto the island.
Intertwining tenderness, despair, and humour, Alone captures how someone can be an everyman, and every man is someone.

Phew so there is my reading goals for the month of March!  Of course this is all open to interpretation and could easily change at the drop of a hat. I am a stubborn and mood driven reader so….who knows what I may read next!

 

My First Joan Didion Reading Experience

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This post is connected to my Female Voices Reading Challenge.  If you are not familiar with my personal reading challenge then follow this LINK

I decided to read Joan Didion because I was tired of having no idea what her brilliance is all about it.  For the challenge I planned on reading The White Album and The Year of magical Thinking.  I wanted to read her earlier work and her memoir because I thought it would provide insight into what made her such a well-loved writer.  I got about half way through The White Album and had to give up.  I really hated giving up.  I truly did.  I was suffering through the book which was not long to begin with.  I comfortably arrived at the decision that I needed to read a different Didion work.

So why was I suffering through it?  It was a dreary account of California life during the late 60s and early 70s told from the perspective of a person who was depressed at the time.  While the time period was a bit of a rough spot historically….the end of the Summer of Love, Manson Murders, etc. I could sense the lifelessness emanating from every word Didion wrote.  I just could not go there.  The writing style felt foreign.  The tone was melancholic.  I just kept thinking to myself, “why are you doing this to yourself?”  I did not want to kill every bit of the drive and excitement for my challenge with this one book.  As the creator of the challenge I have decided I get a freebie.

I will admit there was one part that I did enjoy reading.  It gave me a short-lived glimpse of hope that maybe I would get through it.  The section was about the Governor’s mansion.  It was land gifted to the Reagans in order to build a home worthy of the role they were currently playing.  It was left unfinished and abandoned.  The land was inconveniently located which prevented close quarters to Sacramento.  The style in which the mansion was decorated was incredibly dated and did not fit the environment.  It was almost like Nancy Reagan was trying to make Ronnie the president of California with that house but to no avail.  Future governors chose not to use the property and actually viewed it as an eyesore on the California lifestyle.  It was quite amusing to read.  That was the only high point for me.

So Jamie.  What will you be reading in place of this drab book of essay collections? I will still be reading The Year of Magical Thinking.  I have decided that my best bet is to keep with Didion’s newer work.  I am going to pick up her recent essay collection South and West: From a Notebook.  The appeal of this particular collection is that it is a collection of her work as a whole so I will really get a glimpse into her collective journalistic writing.

I am hopeful that I will be on the right path with this change.  My next planned reading for Female Voices will be Roxane Gay’s Hunger.  I hope to start that in a few weeks.

I Am a Book Hoarder

My name is Jamie and I am a bookoholic.  My TBR list is getting out of control.  The season is winter.  One of my greatest fears is to be snowed in without a pile of books to choose from.  I do not want just my own personal library which is admittedly growing but library books.  Sure I have a great collection at home but there is just something about going to the library, choosing some books and bringing them home to “read”.  Don’t get me wrong.  I do read…some of them.

I guess I am the kind of reader who dreams big and has reading ambitions that are far outside the realm of possibility.  Just as is true with food….my eyes are bigger than my stomach.

I do not read just one book at a time.  At most I am reading four books at a time.  My usual pattern is one fiction, one non fiction, an audio book and a wild card (graphic novel, YA, etc).  I am also a mood reader which means if I am not in the mood to read something it will not be read.  For a good three months I wanted to read suspense/thrillers.  I could not get enough of the stuff but now that is the last thing I want to read. So I need a wide variety of books in my possession because who knows what I will want to read tomorrow.  So if I am going to get trapped indoors due to a snow storm….I want  OPTIONS.

Yay for Book Mail!

 

I have been getting some fantastic book mail recently.  As a thirty something I cannot tell you how exciting it is to go the mailbox for change…because who knows what goodies will be waiting for me inside!  I am actually excited to go check the mail for once as an adult.  It does not matter that a majority of the time it is just bills, bills and more bills but there is that sliver of possibility that a book will be waiting for me.  My bookish heart always waits for the sliver of hope.

You may be asking yourself how are you getting this book mail?  Well it has alot to do with luck.  The following books were won through Goodreads:

  • Girl Unknown by Karen Perry
  • Women in Sunlight by Frances May
  • The Italian Teacher by Tom Rachman

Goodreads has an option for publishing companies to provide copies of books (mostly advanced copies).  The goal is for the reading community to provide honest reviews in exchange for copies.  Depending on the titles listed in the giveaways will determine how many people are trying to get their hands on a copy.  Some giveaways have 50 to 100 copies while others have 1 to 5.  It really all depends on your odds.  However, if you follow through on providing reviews of the book then your odds are better to be future winners of giveaways.

I follow several publishers on Instagram.  Sometimes they host their own giveaways.  I won The Wife by Alafair Burke through a giveaway hosted by Harpercollins.  I got an early copy about a week before the book was released on January 23rd.  I enjoyed this book way more then I expected to.  This was all made possible through social media.  Read all about The Wife in a past post .

Curious about the other books I have won?  Here is more information.  I am super excited to read and review them.  They all seem like great reads!

Women in Sunlight by Frances Mayes

Kit Raine, an American writer living in Tuscany, is working on a biography of her close friend, a complex woman who continues to cast a shadow on Kit’s own life. Her work is waylaid by the arrival of three women–Julia, Camille, and Susan–all of whom have launched a recent and spontaneous friendship that will uproot them completely and redirect their lives. Susan, the most adventurous of the three, has enticed them to subvert expectations of staid retirement by taking a lease on a big, beautiful house in Tuscany. Though novices in a foreign culture, their renewed sense of adventure imbues each of them with a bright sense of bravery, a gusto for life, and a fierce determination to thrive. But how? With Kit’s friendship and guidance, the three friends launch themselves into Italian life, pursuing passions long-forgotten–and with drastic and unforeseeable results. 

This book comes out on April 3, 2018. I was drawn to enter the giveaway because I am familar with Frances Mayes’s past work Under the Tuscan Sun.  I love the movie and did read the book.  I am very curious to read her fictional work. I plan on starting this one in March.

The Italian Teacher by Tom Rochman

Rome, 1955

The artists are gathering together for a photograph. In one of Rome’s historic villas, a party is bright with near-genius, shaded by the socialite patrons of their art. Bear Bavinsky, creator of vast, masculine, meaty canvases, is their god. Larger than life, muscular in both figure and opinion, he blazes at art criticism and burns half his paintings. He is at the centre of the picture. His wife, Natalie, edges out of the shot.

From the side of the room watches little Pinch – their son. At five years old he loves Bear almost as much as he fears him. After Bear abandons their family, Pinch will still worship him, striving to live up to the Bavinsky name; while Natalie, a ceramicist, cannot hope to be more than a forgotten muse. Trying to burn brightly under his father’s shadow – one of the twentieth century’s fiercest and most controversial painters – Pinch’s attempts flicker and die. Yet by the end of a career of twists and compromises, Pinch will enact an unexpected rebellion that will leave forever his mark upon the Bear Bavinsky legacy.

What makes an artist? In The Italian Teacher, Tom Rachman displays a nuanced understanding of twentieth-century art and its demons, vultures and chimeras. Moreover, in Pinch he achieves a portrait of painful vulnerability and realism: talent made irrelevant by personality. Stripped of egotism, authenticity or genius, Pinch forces us to face the deep held fear of a life lived in vain

I was intrigued by the historical aspect to this one as well as the art.  I have been really interested in reading debut authors as well.  I do not know if I am wanting to “discover” someone or I just want to support up and coming authors rather then reading more of the same authors like James Patterson (I have just decided that I will write a future post on my disdain for James Patterson so keep your eyes peeled).  So this one had all the right ingredients for me to try to win and I am very glad that I did. It comes out on March 20th and I plan to start it after I finish my next fiction read.

Girl Unknown by Karen Perry

David Connolly and his wife Caroline were just living life until one day Zoe says to David “you are my father”. The remainder of the book is told in alternating perspectives by the Connollys. From page one you know that someone dies….but who? 

What I loved most about this book was that the story is recounted by husband and wife in a ‘coulda woulda shoulda’ kind of way. It’s an interesting way of storytelling because it helped me connect with the characters. You see that they are human and are thoughtfully thinking back on where it all went wrong. While this is a suspense/thriller of sorts it is really a portrait of tension filled family trying to get by. It is a bit of a slow build but it is worth it….that ENDING!

So that has been my exciting book mail.  I am looking forward to future book mail and sharing them with you all!

 

 

Only Killers and Thieves: A Review

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I received an early copy of this book as Bookperks PageTurner! Bookperks is hosted through Harpercollins publishing.  It is intended to be a way for readers to provide input into the publishing world.  It does have its perks….since all I did was fill out a survey of what books I enjoy reading and then received this in the mail.  No problem Harpercollins.  I shall provide my thoughts to you. Please continue to send me books!

It is 1885 and the McBride family are trying to survive a crippling drought that is slowly eroding their lives and hopes: their cattle are starved, and the family can no longer purchase the supplies they need on their depleted credit. When the rain finally comes, it’s a miracle. For a moment, the scrubland flourishes and the remote swimming hole fills. Returning home from an afternoon swim, fourteen-year-old Tommy and sixteen-year-old Billy McBride discover a scene of heartbreaking carnage.

I have to say that I really enjoyed this debut novel. Harpercollins is really standing behind this one and I totally get why now that I have completed it. I  would not have picked this up on my own.  I found this to be a meaningful and sweeping epic tale of two brothers seeking revenge while learning what it really means to be a man in the Australian Outback of the 1880s.

I was incredibly impressed by the realness of the characters. This is a tale of savagery and race which is in no way sugar-coated. The issues of race in this novel are raw, realistic and potent. The struggle  the main character of Tommy is experiencing especially powerful. Tommy is on the brink of being a man but more importantly he is struggling to understand what it means to be a good man. After a horrific event within his family he is thrust into a potentially transformative experience. Will he follow the expected path or will stay true to himself. The beauty of this novel is that sometimes you really wonder if he going to make it thru.

If you are looking for a sweeping epic tale that contains well-developed characters then this is the perfect book for you. I found myself disgusted with certain characters and heartbroken for others. That is the beauty of a well written novel. When you find yourself hating a fictional character that means you are truly invested in the story.