2021 Book 3: THE FORTUNATE ONES by Ed Tarkington

The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington

ISBN: 9781616206802 (hardcover)

ISBN: 9781643751078 (ebook)

ISBN: 9781649040237 (audiobook)

ISBN: 9781664709461 (audiobook on CD)

ASIN: B08QXZMS9Q (Audible audiobook)

ASIN: B08519FF6Z (Kindle edition)

Publisher: Algonquin Books

Release Date: January 5, 2021

The Fortunate Ones feels like a fresh and remarkably sure-footed take on The Great Gatsby, examining the complex costs of attempting to transcend or exchange your given class for a more gilded one. Tarkington’s understanding of the human heart and mind is deep, wise, and uncommonly empathetic. As a novelist, he is the real deal. I can’t wait to see this story reach a wide audience, and to see what he does next.” —Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife

When Charlie Boykin was young, he thought his life with his single mother on the working-class side of Nashville was perfectly fine. But when his mother arranges for him to be admitted as a scholarship student to an elite private school, he is suddenly introduced to what the world can feel like to someone cushioned by money. That world, he discovers, is an almost irresistible place where one can bend—and break—rules and still end up untarnished. As he gets drawn into a friendship with a charismatic upperclassman, Archer Creigh, and an affluent family that treats him like an adopted son, Charlie quickly adapts to life in the upper echelons of Nashville society. Under their charming and alcohol-soaked spell, how can he not relax and enjoy it all—the lack of anxiety over money, the easy summers spent poolside at perfectly appointed mansions, the lavish parties, the freedom to make mistakes knowing that everything can be glossed over or fixed?

But over time, Charlie is increasingly pulled into covering for Archer’s constant deceits and his casual bigotry. At what point will the attraction of wealth and prestige wear off enough for Charlie to take a stand—and will he?

The Fortunate Ones is an immersive, elegantly written story that conveys both the seductiveness of this world and the corruption of the people who see their ascent to the top as their birthright.

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The Fortunate Ones by Ed Tarkington has been called a contemporary The Great Gatsby, and I can definitely see the similarities. Charlie Boykin is definitely from the “have nots” and the wrong-side of town according to those in the know in Nashville society. His life changes, possibly for the better and then again maybe not, when he is provided a scholarship to an elite all-boys school and is befriended by Archer Creigh. Over the course of Charlie’s high school career, he eventually moves away from the wrong-side of town when his mother is offered a job as a personal assistant to a wealthy society matron. That move changes Charlie’s life forever. It isn’t just the disparity between the haves and the have-nots that shakes Charlie up, it’s the “affluenza” and, for lack of a better phrase, “white privilege” that he bears witness to that finally pushes him away from his family and friends permanently.

I’m going to go out a limb here and say that I didn’t really like The Great Gatsby, but I thoroughly enjoyed The Fortunate Ones. I liked the way Mr. Tarkington told the story, in almost a flashback mode, by taking us from Charlie’s present life to his past and then brought us back to the present. Although Charlie is the focal point of the story, the reader gets to know all of the secondary characters through Charlie’s eyes. I enjoyed reading about his friendships in high school, his return to Nashville in his late 20s, and his final departure from the life he knew but grew to despise. There’s a lot to take in with this story, including: class, racism, closeted homosexuality, mental illness, suicide, marital infidelity, affluenza/white privilege, love, the psychological toll of trying to be something and someone you’re not, loyalty, and more. Mr. Tarkington has crafted a coming-of-age story that pulled this reader in from the first chapter until the very end. For those of you that actually enjoyed reading The Great Gatsby and are interested in a modern retelling, then I highly recommend The Fortunate Ones. For those that are like me and didn’t exactly care for The Great Gatsby or didn’t read it, I still encourage you to grab a copy of The Fortunate Ones to read. This is my first #mustread recommendation for the year, folks. Now, go grab yourself a copy!

Happy Reading, y’all!

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2020 Book 143: SIMON THE FIDDLER by Paulette Jiles

Simon The Fiddler by Paulette Jiles
ISBN: 9780062966742 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062966766 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062966773 (digital audiobook)
ASIN: B07VCVLNB9   (Audible audiobook)
ASIN: B07V9HHT9H   (Kindle edition)
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: April 14, 2020


The critically acclaimed, bestselling author of News of the World and Enemy Women returns to Texas in this atmospheric story, set at the end of the Civil War, about an itinerant fiddle player, a ragtag band of musicians with whom he travels trying to make a living, and the charming young Irish lass who steals his heart.

This story is set at the end of the Civil War, about an itinerant fiddle player, a ragtag band of musicians with whom he travels trying to make a living, and the charming young Irish lass who steals his heart.

In March 1865, the long and bitter War between the States is winding down. Till now, twenty-three-year-old Simon Boudlin has evaded military duty but following a barroom brawl in Victoria, Texas, Simon finds himself conscripted into the Confederate Army. Luckily his talent with a fiddle gets him a comparatively easy position in a regimental band.

Weeks later, on the eve of the Confederate surrender, Simon and his bandmates are called to play for officers and their families from both sides of the conflict. There the fiddler can’t help but notice Doris Mary Aherne, an indentured girl from Ireland, who is governess to a Union colonel’s daughter.

After the surrender, Simon and Doris go their separate ways. But Simon cannot forget the fair Irish maiden and vows that someday he will find her again.

Incandescent in its beauty, told in Paulette Jiles’s trademark spare yet lilting style, Simon the Fiddler is a captivating, bittersweet tale of the chances a devoted man will take, and the lengths he will go to fulfill his heart’s yearning.






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Simon Boudlin knows how to play the fiddle and he knows horses. He was raised by his maternal great-uncle, David Anderson, in Paducah, Kentucky, and was set to inherit a well-known horse business until the onset of the Civil War. Sadly, another one of his uncles decided to burn the horse business down rather than sell to the Union Army. With no business to fall back on and not wanting to be conscripted into the army, Simon heads South and West thinking to move far enough away from the fighting. He made it through early 1865 without being caught by either side but is then conscripted into the Confederate Army to play for a military band. Thankfully, his “military duty” isn’t long and he is fortunate enough to meet up with several other musicians. He even meets the woman of his dreams, Doris Dillon. Simon’s brief military duty sets him off on a journey that will take him and his musician friends traveling across Texas. He will search for a place to build his perfect home. And despite all obstacles placed not only in his path but also in Doris’s path, he will do everything possible to court her via mail initially and then in person. As the country struggles to right itself and rebuilt after a war that turned neighbor-against-neighbor and sometimes brother-against-brother, Simon must find a way to restructure and rebuild his life into that matching his dreams.

For those of you that have been following me for some time now, you may remember that I read and reviewed News of the World back in 2017. I was so enamored with that book that I talked every local book group I was involved with into reading that book. So when I heard that Paulette Jiles was coming out with a new book, I jumped at the opportunity to read it before I even knew what it was about and I’m incredibly pleased I did. Although there are similarities between Simon the Fiddler and News of the World, namely both take place after the Civil War and are set in Texas, the primary characters and action are completely different. I can say that Captain Jefferson Kidd from News of the World does make a minor reappearance in Simon the Fiddler and it is as he is beginning his journey as a newsreader. I found Simon the Fiddler to be a riveting read about Simon’s coming-of-age ordeals, from his Kentucky memories to his fist fights and attempts to keep his band of music makers going. Ms. Jiles provided considerable drama with the Yellow fever epidemics, to the sexual harassment of Doris, and more. There’s enough in this historical saga to keep any reader fully engrossed and turning pages. I enjoyed the multiple storylines, the action, the settings, and the characters even the bad guys (and yes, there are bad guys!). For those of you that read News of the World, I strongly encourage you to grab a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. For those of you that enjoy historical fiction, I also encourage you to grab yourself a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. For those of you that have neither read News of the World nor are into historical fiction, I beg of you to rethink your position and start with Simon the Fiddler and then go grab a copy of News of the World to read. You can thank me later. For now, I’ll be ordering a copy of Simon the Fiddler to be shipped to my mother since we’re still in quarantine and I can’t take her my copy (bonus, I get to keep my copy). Seriously, go grab a copy of Simon the Fiddler to read. This one is going on my #mustreadfiction list for 2020! 

Happy Reading, y’all! 
Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+ as well as a print copy via TLC Book Tours. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


Meet the Author

Photo by Jill Gann
Paulette Jiles is a novelist, poet, and memoirist. She is the author of Cousins, a memoir, and the novels Enemy Women, Stormy Weather, The Color of Lightning, Lighthouse Island, and News of the World, which was a finalist for the 2016 National Book Award.  She lives on a ranch near San Antonio, Texas.



Find out more about Paulette at her website.




Follow the Blog Tour


Tuesday, April 14th: Into the Hall of Books
Wednesday, April 15th: Lit and Life
Thursday, April 16th: Lesa’s Book Critiques
Friday, April 17th: A Bookish Affair
Saturday, April 18th: BookNAround
Wednesday, April 22nd: A Bookish Way of Life
Thursday, April 23rd: Broken Teepee
Thursday, April 23rd: No More Grumpy Bookseller
Friday, April 24th: The Book Diva’s Reads
Friday, April 24th: View from the Birdhouse
Tuesday, April 28th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom
Wednesday, April 29th: Books and Bindings
Thursday, April 30th: Instagram: @shelovesthepages
Friday, May 1st: Staircase Wit
Monday, May 4th: Book by Book
Tuesday, May 5th: Laura’s Reviews
Thursday, May 7th: Jathan & Heather
Friday, May 8th: Kahakai Kitchen




This review and tour brought to you by TLC Book Tours

2019 Book 392: SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid

Such a Fun Age  by Kiley Reid 
ISBN: 9780525541905 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780525541929 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780593107065 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07RLSB7QV  (Audible edition)
ASIN: B07QLJ7VTN (Kindle edition)
Publication date: December 31, 2019 
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons


A striking and surprising debut novel from an exhilarating new voice, Such a Fun Age is a page-turning and big-hearted story about race and privilege, set around a young black babysitter, her well-intentioned employer, and a surprising connection that threatens to undo them both.

Alix Chamberlain is a woman who gets what she wants and has made a living showing other women how to do the same. A mother to two small girls, she started out as a blogger and has quickly built herself into a confidence-driven brand. So she is shocked when her babysitter, Emira Tucker, is confronted while watching the Chamberlains’ toddler one night. Seeing a young black woman out late with a white child, a security guard at their local high-end supermarket accuses Emira of kidnapping two-year-old Briar. A small crowd gathers, a bystander films everything, and Emira is furious and humiliated. Alix resolves to make it right.

But Emira herself is aimless, broke, and wary of Alix’s desire to help. At twenty-five, she is about to lose her health insurance and has no idea what to do with her life. When the video of Emira unearths someone from Alix’s past, both women find themselves on a crash course that will upend everything they think they know about themselves, and each other.

With empathy and piercing social commentary, Such a Fun Age explores the stickiness of transactional relationships, what it means to make someone “family,” the complicated reality of being a grown-up, and the consequences of doing the right thing for the wrong reason.





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Emira Tucker is a twenty-five-year-old Black female struggling to determine what she wants from life. She has successfully completed college and has her undergraduate degree, but she’s at a stage in her life where she simply can’t decide what comes next other than it should be a full-time job with benefits. She’s currently biding her time by babysitting for one family and typing at a political party office. Although she’s able to pay her bills, she’s struggling to make it from month-to-month. The one overriding joy in her life is her three-year-old charge, Briar Chamberlain. Briar is inquisitive in a very unique manner and a toddler that seems to be struggling with the notion that she’s no longer the light of her mother’s life since her baby sister arrived. One night while out celebrating a girlfriend’s birthday, Emira receives a somewhat frantic call from Alix Chamberlain to please come over and take Briar out of the home while the police arrive to investigate an incident of vandalism. Emira takes young Briar to a local market so that Briar can spend time looking at the nuts, teas, and displays. All is well until a market security officer approaches Emira and questions her authority to be out with Briar. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on one’s perspective, another shopper witnesses this so-called “intervention” and records the episode on his phone. One phone call later, Peter Chamberlain arrives at the store, confirms that Emira is their childcare provider, and yes she had permission to take Briar out of the home. Emira doesn’t want the video released and presumably receives the only copy of the recording as the gentleman in the store deletes it from his phone. After a serendipitous meeting on the train a few days later, Emira reconnects with this gentleman and they begin dating. Fast forward a few months and Emira learns that her new boyfriend, Kelley Copeland, had actually dated her boss, Alix Chamberlain, back in high school. Their relationship did not end well. Kelley warns Emira about Alix. Alix warns Emira about Kelley. And then the video is released and Emira’s life is forever changed. Who released the video and what was their motivation? Is Kelley as bad as Alix suggested or perhaps it’s Alix that has major issues?

You know you’re reading a really good book when you don’t want to put it down for any reason. I began reading Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid early in the day and was very upset when life interrupted my reading. Okay, not life necessarily, it was a bad migraine and an asthma attack necessitating a visit to my local urgent care, but I digress. In an era when overt racism is on the rise and we hear way too many stories about people being assaulted (verbally and otherwise) because of “living while Black” (driving while Black, studying while Black, shopping while Black, reading while Black, napping while Black, eating out while Black, etc.) in the news and on social media, Such a Fun Age touched a nerve. As an older Black female, I empathized with Emira and wanted to shield her from the overwhelming notion of “I know what’s best for you” advice she received from both Alix and Kelley. Alix seemed to go out of her way trying to insinuate herself into Emira’s life, even spying on her via checking her text messages and emails. (Side note, just in case you couldn’t tell, both Kelley and Alix are white.) This isn’t a lighthearted read, although there are moments that are touching and brought a smile to this reader’s face. I loved reading about Emira and Briar’s interactions and those were often the most touching. I enjoyed meeting Emira’s friends and support system, but wish I could have learned more about Zara, Shaunie, and Josefina. Such a Fun Age touches on so many issues that it would be impossible to discuss them all but privilege, race, racism, friendship, family and interpersonal relationships, interracial relationships, self-awareness, and self-development are some of the major themes. I found this story to be both heart-warming and thought-provoking and I highly recommend it to readers of all genres. I enjoyed Such a Fun Age and look forward to reading more from this author in the future. (Seriously, add this book to your TBR list then grab a copy ASAP!)



Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2019 Book 233: A PURE HEART by Rajia Hassib

A Pure Heart by Rajia Hassib  
ISBN: 9780525560050 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780525560067 (ebook)
ISBN: 9781984889621 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07KDYDDY3 (Kindle edition)
Publication date: August 6, 2019 
Publisher: Viking Books


A powerful novel about two Egyptian sisters–their divergent fates and the secrets of one family

Sisters Rose and Gameela Gubran could not have been more different. Rose, an Egyptologist, married an American journalist and immigrated to New York City, where she works in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Gameela, a devout Muslim since her teenage years, stayed in Cairo. During the aftermath of Egypt’s revolution, Gameela is killed in a suicide bombing. When Rose returns to Egypt after the bombing, she sifts through the artifacts Gameela left behind, desperate to understand how her sister came to die, and who she truly was. Soon, Rose realizes that Gameela has left many questions unanswered. Why had she quit her job just a few months before her death and not told her family? Who was she romantically involved with? And how did the religious Gameela manage to keep so many secrets?

Rich in depth and feeling, A Pure Heart is a brilliant portrait of two Muslim women in the twenty-first century, and the decisions they make in work and love that determine their destinies. As Rose is struggling to reconcile her identities as an Egyptian and as a new American, she investigates Gameela’s devotion to her religion and her country. The more Rose uncovers about her sister’s life, the more she must reconcile their two fates, their inextricable bond as sisters, and who should and should not be held responsible for Gameela’s death. Rajia Hassib’s A Pure Heart is a stirring and deeply textured novel that asks what it means to forgive, and considers how faith, family, and love can unite and divide us.




Purchase Links:  IndieBound  |  Amazon  |  Amazon Kindle  |  Audible  |  Barnes and Noble  |  B&N Nook  |  BookDepository  |  Books-A-Million  |  Downpour Audiobook  |  eBooks  |  !ndigo Books  |  Kobo eBook  |  Kobo Audiobook


Fayrouz “Rose” Gubran has had what many may perceive as an idyllic life. She and her sister, Gameela, were raised by loving parents, Nora and Ahmad. Both daughters have received advanced educational studies, Rose in Egyptology/Archeology and Gameela in Engineering. And then when Rose was in her mid-twenties, she met an American reporter, Mark Hatfield. Mark was different from the other men she had met, they fell in love, he converted to Islam so they could get married (Muslim women aren’t allowed to marry non-Muslim men in Egypt), and eventually she was accepted in a doctoral program in the US. She and Mark moved to the States where Rose studied, became a naturalized citizen, changed her name from Fayrouz Gubran to Rose Gubran Hatfield, and eventually became a postdoctoral fellow at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City. Mark became a reporter with assigned articles at the New York Times but longed for the days when he was reporting on social issues from the Middle East. Gameela, several years younger than Rose, lives through Arab Spring, is no longer as idealistic as she once was, and is possibly in a relationship with a man almost 30 years her senior. After a brief return to Egypt to do a series of freelance articles, Mark returns to the States and weeks later the young man he interviewed (Saaber) is jailed for the simple act of being interviewed by a foreign journalist and attacking one of the arresting officers. Several months later, Gameela is killed in a suicide bomber attack and Mark is feeling guilty that he may have inadvertently had a part to play in her death, Rose is angry at Mark because he may have inadvertently had a part to play in her death (Gameela introduced Mark to the man that introduced him to the young interview subject), and their lives are turned upside down. The only thing Rose can think of doing is trying to uncover the secrets, if any, to her sister’s life in Egypt. Will the answers she finds to bring her peace or simply cause more pain? 

I had the pleasure of reading In the Language of Miracles by Rajia Hassib a few years ago and was blown away by the storyline and characters. I knew that I had to get my hands on a copy of her latest book, A Pure Heart after hearing about it and I’m incredibly grateful to the publisher for supplying me with a print review copy. A Pure Heart is an amazing story for so many reasons, not just because it is well written (although it is). This story asks and answers what makes a good Muslimah (Muslim female) as well as a good daughter/sister/wife/friend. Is it possible to be good at any of these roles and have secrets or change our opinions on what it means to be righteous or pious without being sanctimonious? Is it possible to love someone and still be angry with them for a prolonged period of time? Can we ever be assured that we know someone when we don’t know their deepest, darkest secrets? Do we even need to know those secrets in order to be a good friend/spouse/sibling? There are a lot of issues presented in A Pure Heart and there’s no way too many for me to touch on all of them without revealing too much about this wonderful story. This reader enjoyed getting to know all of the characters, especially Rose, Gameela, Mark, Ingrid, Nora, Ahmad, and Fouad, as well as Saaber. I loved reading about the neighborhoods in Egypt and learning about the poverty-stricken neighborhoods that tourists never see or hear about. I’m hard-pressed to find anything that I didn’t like about this story. As an American Muslimah, it is refreshing to read stories written by Muslims about Muslims and although Islam isn’t front and center in this story, it does play a pivotal role in the lives of the main characters. I encourage you all to grab a copy of A Pure Heart to read, and I’m not just saying that as a Muslim or because the author is a fellow West Virginia resident. I’m recommending this book because it is an outstanding read and one that I think every reader will be able to appreciate. Happy Reading y’all! 


Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy from the publisher, Viking Books. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2019 Book 145: THE PRINTED LETTER BOOKSHOP by Katherine Reay

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay
ISBN: 9780785222002 (trade paperback)
ISBN: 9780785222019 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780785222033 (audiobook)
ASIN: B07DT45N19 (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Publication Date: May 14, 2019


Love, friendship, and family find a home at the Printed Letter Bookshop

One of Madeline Cullen’s happiest childhood memories is of working with her Aunt Maddie in the quaint and cozy Printed Letter Bookshop. But by the time Madeline inherits the shop nearly twenty years later, family troubles and her own bitter losses have hardened Madeline’s heart toward her once-treasured aunt—and the now struggling bookshop left in her care.

While Madeline intends to sell the shop as quickly as possible, the Printed Letter’s two employees have other ideas. Reeling from a recent divorce, Janet finds sanctuary within the books and within the decadent window displays she creates. Claire, though quieter than the acerbic Janet, feels equally drawn to the daily rhythms of the shop and its loyal clientele, finding a renewed purpose within its walls. When Madeline’s professional life takes an unexpected turn, and when a handsome gardener upends all her preconceived notions, she questions her plans and her heart. She begins to envision a new path for herself and for her aunt’s beloved shop—provided the women’s best combined efforts are not too little, too late.

The Printed Letter Bookshop is a captivating story of good books, a testament to the beauty of new beginnings, and a sweet reminder of the power of friendship.






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Madeline Cullen is an only child. She’s currently working as a lawyer for a firm in Chicago and vying for partnership. She has fond memories of her namesake aunt, her father’s sister, but also recalls a family schism that occurred during her early teens. She always thought that her aunt and her husband blamed her father for the loss of monies during the tech market crash 20 years ago. Loyalty to her parents meant that after her father severed ties to his sister, Madeline also severed ties with her beloved aunt. Over the past few years, it didn’t matter that she was less than 50 miles away from her aunt, she always found some excuse to postpone a visit. Her aunt had even called her a few months before her death and Madeleine once again put her off. Sadly, her aunt’s death means no chance of repairing this familial relationship. On top of losing her aunt, Madeline is informed that she hasn’t been chosen for partnership at her law firm. Unsure of what to do with her life, Madeline grabs hold of the lifeline left to her by her aunt and takes over the ownership of The Printed Letter Bookshop miles away in Winsome. Little does Madeline know that ownership of a bookstore will come with a huge learning curve, built-in friends (if she’s only willing to accept their offers of friendship), and the possibility of a new start in life. Just when things are heading in the right direction, store sales are up, Madeline is getting along well with Janet and Claire – the two store employees, and she’s begun to date, she’s hit with a massive blow and this is one loss neither she nor the store may recover from.

I’ve always enjoyed reading books written by Katherine Reay and The Printed Letter Bookshop was no different. Okay, it was a little different. First, I read this book in one afternoon while sitting with my elderly mother. I read it cover to cover in less than five hours. I could not put it down. Second, I enjoyed all of the characters, the settings, the storyline, the action…basically, I enjoyed everything about this story! I enjoyed the complexity of each character, Madeline, Janet, Claire, Claire’s daughter Brittany, Chris, and Drew, and the struggles they face. I even enjoyed discovering more about Madeline’s deceased aunt Maddy (we learn a lot about her throughout the story from the viewpoint of various characters). I was initially intrigued about this story because it featured a bookstore, pardon me, a bookshop. But The Printed Letter Bookshop is much more than story about a bookshop, it’s about second chances, relationships, family, forgiveness, friendships, and being true to one’s self. It’s also about faith in one’s self, family, friendships, relationships, and learning to live in the present rather than wallow in the past. The Printed Letter Bookshop was a story that filled me with emotions as a read it, because I could empathize with all of the characters as well as the struggles and choices they faced. The Printed Letter Bookshop isn’t Women’s fiction, although it does have some aspects of Women’s fiction. It isn’t just Inspirational fiction although it includes an inspirational message. This story isn’t just a romance, but it does include romance. I don’t want to classify The Printed Letter Bookshop because I feel any classification other than contemporary fiction would be too limiting. I can say this, if you’re looking for a well-written story with realistic and well-developed characters dealing with realistic issues then you’ll definitely want to grab a copy of The Printed Letter Bookshop. If you’ve read anything by Ms. Reay in the past, then you probably already have The Printed Letter Bookshop on your TBR list. The Printed Letter Bookshop is going on my must read list for this year. I’ll be recommending it to all of my local fiction book groups with hopes that at least one of them will choose it so I can reread it. (Yeah, you already know I’m going to reread it whether a bookgroup chooses to read it or not. And yes, it is just that good! 😉)


Disclaimer: I received a free print review copy of this book from the author. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

2018 Book 260: BABY TEETH by Zoje Stage


Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage
ISBN: 9781250170750 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781250170774 (ebook)
ASIN: B076ZTC4GQ (Kindle edition)
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: July 17, 2018


Sweetness can be deceptive. 

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette’s husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all. 



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Suzette and Axel had an idyllic relationship. They met, fell in love, married, and looked forward to beginning a family. Even with Suzette’s medical problems, they were excited about having their child and initially Hanna was everything they could have imagined. She was a healthy and happy child. But then she never talked. They took her for various testing to ensure there was nothing physiologically wrong with her and were assured that nothing was wrong. Then Suzette enrolled Hanna in kindergarten. She was asked to leave after only days there. Suzette homeschooled Hanna and saw a side of her daughter than Axel never saw, but she wasn’t afraid of her. Then Hanna turned six and they tried to enroll her in first grade. Hanna was once again asked to leave the school and, once again, Suzette was back to homeschooling her daughter. Suzette knew that Hanna was incredibly intelligent. Her daughter could read, write, and do math beyond her grade level. The only thing Hanna couldn’t do was talk. Now Hanna is seven years old and Suzette is recovering from another surgery to help with her Crohn’s disease. Suzette knows that Axel will never be able to see Hanna the same way she does, but she’s hopeful that perhaps this is the year that Hanna can transition to school. But then Hanna does begin talking only not as Hanna and the things she says can only be taken as threats, threats to Suzette’s welfare. When Hanna is expelled from a third and then a fourth school in less then three years, Suzette takes the advice of specialists at the schools and makes an appointment to see a child psychologist. Her only hope is that this psychologist will be able to provide help before serious injuries occur.

We’re all raised to think that little girls and boys are cute and innocent. Little girls are supposed to be made of “sugar and spice and everything nice.” Hanna is not that child, by any stretch of the imagination, although she presents as sweetness and love to her father. Hanna is a child with a severe case of the Electra complex, meaning she’s in love with her father and wants to kill her mother so she and her father can live happily ever after. If that doesn’t scare you, think about this, a seven-year-old child is devious enough to think of ways to kill her mother and even tries a few. I found Baby Teeth to be an engrossing read but perhaps not one for the faint of heart. This twisted tale is told in the alternating voices of Suzette and Hanna, and I was disheartened reading about everything Hanna did from Suzette’s perspective and downright chilled to read about it from Hanna’s perspective. Ms. Stage has crafted characters and scenarios that are not only plausible but spine-chilling. Once I started reading Baby Teeth I couldn’t put it down (yes, it was just that good). I enjoyed the characters, the action, and the settings. If you’re looking for a thrilling read this summer, look no further and grab a copy of Baby Teeth to read. Baby Teeth is going to be one of my must-read recommendations for this year. I look forward to reading more from Ms. Stage in the future.


Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”


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Baby Teeth

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Baby Teeth

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Baby Teeth : A Novel

2018 Book 76: SPEAK NO EVIL by Uzodinma Iweala

Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala
ISBN: 9780061284922 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780062199096 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780062798961 (audiobook)
ASIN: B071YRW88J (Kindle edition)
Publication date: March 6, 2018 
Publisher: Harper Books


In the long-anticipated novel from the author of the critically acclaimed Beasts of No Nation, a revelation shared between two privileged teenagers from very different backgrounds sets off a chain of events with devastating consequences

On the surface, Niru leads a charmed life. Raised by two attentive parents in Washington, D.C., he’s a top student and a track star at his prestigious private high school. Bound for Harvard in the fall, his prospects are bright. But Niru has a painful secret: he is queer—an abominable sin to his conservative Nigerian parents. No one knows except Meredith, his best friend, the daughter of prominent Washington insiders—and the one person who seems not to judge him.

When his father accidentally discovers Niru is gay, the fallout is brutal and swift. Coping with troubles of her own, however, Meredith finds that she has little left emotionally to offer him. As the two friends struggle to reconcile their desires against the expectations and institutions that seek to define them, they find themselves speeding toward a future more violent and senseless than they can imagine. Neither will escape unscathed.

In the tradition of Junot Diaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, Speak No Evil explores what it means to be different in a fundamentally conformist society and how that difference plays out in our inner and outer struggles. It is a novel about the power of words and self-identification, about who gets to speak and who has the power to speak for other people. As heart-wrenching and timely as his breakout debut, Beasts of No Nation, Uzodinma Iweala’s new novel cuts to the core of our humanity and leaves us reeling in its wake.


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Being a teenager is difficult enough without being the child of immigrant parents with high expectations, being one of the few minorities in an exclusive school, following behind a popular and over-achieving sibling, and being gay. These are exactly the circumstances that Niru finds himself in and he’s unsure of how to handle it all. Niru is introverted whereas his older brother was extroverted and quite popular. Niru is a better athlete, but his brother was captain of his team. Niru has received an early acceptance to Harvard University so his post-high school academic career is set. The only problems are that Niru is attracted to boys and that is taboo in Nigerian culture. When his parents learn of his so-called aberrant predilections, his father beats him, takes him to church for counseling, then takes him back to Nigerian for intensive prayer. Niru knows that he’s a disappointment to his family, so he tries really hard to be what they want when he returns to the US, but it just doesn’t feel right. The only friend he had, Meredith, he pushed away and he’s struggling to find where he belongs. Just when it seems like all hope is lost for Niru, he rekindles his friendship with Meredith. And then tragedy strikes. Meredith is the only true witness to what happened in that alley that horrible night, but will she be allowed to tell the truth? Will it make a difference if she does?

Speak No Evil by Uzodinma Iweala is an amazing read and one that I finished in just a few short hours. The author pulled me into the story after only a few pages and I refused to get up until I finished the story. Although I read this story a few days ago, it took me awhile to sit down and write this review. Not because this wasn’t a good story, but because it was an amazing story and one that packed a powerful punch. It’s been many, many years since I was a teenager, but I empathized with Niru and Meredith’s pain and angst of being a teen. Niru had to deal with impossible cultural standards to live up to and Meredith had to deal with being an only child that was left to her own devices by her parents all too often. The first half of the book is told from the teenage Niru’s perspective and the second half is told from Meredith’s adult perspective. Both stories are emotionally powerful. Speak No Evil touches on current topics that seem to never have any resolution such as #BlackLivesMatter and #MeToo. There are a lot of things happening in this story and if I touched on them all, I’d be revealing too much. What I can say is that this is a phenomenal story and one that I strongly encourage everyone to read. It isn’t often that a book takes my breath away and leaves me speechless, but Speak No Evil is definitely in that category, so I once again simply say read this book.


Read an excerpt from Speak No Evil here.

Disclaimer: I received a free digital review copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss+. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



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Speak No Evil

Speak No Evil

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Speak No Evil