Friday, January 19, 2018

Madonna In A Fur Coat by Sabahattin Ali

(Thank you to the Other Press for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Available in English in the United States for the first time, this best-selling Turkish classic of love and alienation in a changing world captures Berlin between the two world wars.
A shy young man leaves his home in rural Turkey to learn a trade and discover life in 1920s Berlin. There, in the city’s bustling streets, elegant museums, charged politics, and notorious cabarets, a chance meeting with a beautiful half-Jewish artist transforms him forever. Caught between his desire for freedom from tradition and his yearning to belong, he struggles to hold on to the new life he has found with the woman he loves.

Emotionally powerful, intensely atmospheric, and touchingly profound, Madonna in a Fur Coat is a novel about new beginnings, the relentless pull of family ties, and the unfathomable nature of the human soul. First published in 1943, this unforgettable tale, with its quiet yet insistent defiance of social norms, has been topping best-seller lists in Turkey since 2013.

my thoughts:

A Turkish classic that is finally available in English - you know its a must-read!  Thanks to Other Press, I was able to get my hands on a copy and dive right in.

This is a love story and it is quiet, sad, and beautiful.  Our narrator gets a job in the Turkish Republic's capital, Ankara.  It is there that he meets Raif, a man he soon befriends.  One day, he learns that Raif has a black leather notebook filled with his writings hidden in the shop where they clerk.  It is through this notebook that we get our love story.  When Raif was younger, he was sent to Berlin to learn about the soap business (his family's business).  Once there he finds himself spending his time wandering the streets, taking in the sights, reading book after book, and enjoying himself.  He goes to an art gallery one day and finds himself transfixed by a self-portrait painting - soon he is returning to the gallery every day for a chance to look at this painting.  He winds up meeting the artist, Maria, and the two become enraptured with one another.  They are polar opposites, Maris is headstrong and assertive, while Raif is quiet, anxious, and unsure of himself.  Their friendship blossoms and borders on true love.  However, circumstances arise that prevent them from truly becoming a great love story.  Instead, their story becomes one of missed opportunity, which makes for a heartbreaking and relatable read.  I found myself thinking back to my own missed opportunities, which made the emotional aspects of this book even more powerful.  Ali has written a wonderful story about love, loss, heartbreak, and wistfulness - filled with unforgettable characters. I truly enjoyed reading Madonna in a Fur Coat

I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone and everyone looking for their next great read - you will fall in love with the writing, the characters, and their story - Madonna in a Fur Coat is a must-read!!

Thank you to the Other Press for providing me with a copy of this book!

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Everything Here is Beautiful: A Novel by Mira T. Lee

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL is a tale of two sisters—as different as night and day, but tethered by an unshakable bond, even when they are half a world apart. Miranda, the older, is straitlaced and serious, responsible because she has to be; Lucia, the younger, is headstrong and impulsive, and struggles with schizophrenia. Their connection, and the ways in which it is tested, is at the heart of EVERYTHING HERE IS BEAUTIFUL, an unforgettable debut novel from a breakout new literary voice, and a dazzling, deeply felt tale about the lengths we go to for those we love. When Lucia’s lucidity begins to falter and she starts hearing voices, Miranda must find a way to save her sister without losing herself in the process. The push-and-pull between the sisters, as they struggle to do the right thing for themselves and for each other, yields an intimate and powerful family drama. But Lee also deftly tackles the big issues they face: mental illness and its treatment; immigration and cultural displacement; interracial relationships; marriage; parenthood; and more—all with compassion and realism.

my thoughts:

Wow. What a book! Everything Here is Beautiful is compelling, unputdownable, and a must-read.  This beautiful story explores the complexities involved with someone living with mental illness and the impact it has on them and their loved ones. Talk about food for thought.

Lucia has dreams and wants to live her life, but her schizophrenia makes it rather difficult at times.  She struggles with the ups and downs, voices in her head, and desire to get help.  Her older sister, Miranda, tries hard (above and beyond) to help her.  She puts her life on hold and tries to get Lucia the right medical help and medications - anything to help try and control the schizophrenia.  Of course, this type of relationship is combative at times and makes for a rather strained sisterhood.  Life is definitely not easy for either sister.

Told from alternating points of view, we get both sister's perspectives on the situations in their lives, their shared past, and their desires and wants for the future.  Its heartbreaking to read at times, because the author, Mira T. Lee provides a realistic and honest portrayal of someone dealing with mental illness.  We get the good, the bad, and the ugly realities of it all.  Plus, we get to understand how the family feels having to endure watching, living, and helping their loved one suffer with this complex illness.  Its eye-opening and sad at the same time.  The writing is just terrific and these characters are unforgettable - Everything Here is Beautiful is such a fantastic story!

I would most definitely this book to anyone and everyone looking for their next great read - you will LOVE Everything Here is Beautiful!!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Currently reading...

Thanks to the publisher and Edelweiss, I am now in possession of the new Maisie Dobbs book by Jacqueline Winspear - To Die But Once (Book #14 in the series).  It doesn't get released until March 27th, but I just couldn't wait.  I am now midway through and absolutely LOVING it!!

(Thank you to the publisher and Edelweiss for providing me with a copy of this book!)

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Another One Bites the Crust: A Bakeshop Mystery by Ellie Alexander

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Torte―the beloved small-town bakeshop run by Jules Capshaw―is set to hit the stage. But who would have guessed that murder would makes a surprise appearance?

It’s the role of a lifetime for Jules. The Shakespeare Festival has returned to Ashland, Oregon, for the season and Torte has been cast as the supplier of Elizabethan-era treats for the main event. But on the eve of opening night, a brawl between Jules’s friend Lance, the artistic director, and a strapping young thespian named Anthony almost brings down the house. . .and the next morning, Anthony is dead. Jules knows that Lance loves his drama―and his just desserts―but she also knows that murder is way off-script for him. Now it’s up to Jules to cut through a bevy of backstage betrayals and catty co-stars who all have their own secrets―before the curtain drops on someone else. . .

my thoughts:

I am seriously loving cozy mysteries this winter - they are my jam! I especially love when I'm reading a series - the familiar characters and setting always make for a fun read.  So, I was super excited when I received a copy of Ellie Alexander's latest book, Another One Bites the Crust, from her popular series, A Bakeshop Mystery.  Its the seventh book in the series and I think it may just be my favorite one.

The Shakespeare Festival is in town and Jules' bakeshop, Torte, will be providing the yummy treats - get ready for some mouthwatering descriptions of delectable desserts.  Reading about all that delicious food is one of the highlights of these books - I just love that the recipes are included, too.  Jules is a foodie and its obvious how much she enjoys her bakery.  Of course, she is super busy getting ready for the festival and dealing with the renovations on her basement - she's planning on expanding her shop even more.  So, she's a bit surprised to say the least when she notices how weird her BFF, Lance, is behaving.  He's directing the play at the festival - Antony and Cleopatra - but he's not happy with the actor playing Antony.  In fact, the two get into a huge fight on the eve of opening night - DRAMA! Unfortunately for Lance, the actor is found dead the next morning and he is considered to be the "prime suspect" - ack!! Jules knows her friend is innocent and sets out to find the real killer.  Talk about a suspense-filled mystery! I just loved learning more about Jules and her BFF; reading about all of the craziness behind the scenes of the Shakespeare Fetival; and trying to figure out whodunit.  This book is a terrific addition to the series - the characters seem to grow and develop more and you can't help but fall even more in love with Ashland, Oregon.  I absolutely LOVED Another One Bites the Crust.  I would happily recommend it to fans of the series and anyone looking for a new cozy mystery to get lost in - you will LOVE this book!!

Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!

Monday, January 15, 2018

The Good Liar by Catherine McKenzie

(Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

my thoughts:

What a gripping story! I seriously could not stop reading it. I found myself flipping pages long after midnight - I just had to find out who was lying.  Of course they all were, but why, and who was "the good liar"?

This is the story of Cecily, Kate, and Franny - three women whose lives were forever changed following an explosion that destroyed a Chicago building one year ago.  Cecily lost her husband and best friend; Kate fled from Chicago that very day; and Franny lost her birth mother, a woman she had been searching for.  Now Cecily and Franny are being filmed for a documentary about the aftermath of the explosion - their lies and secrets being teased out slowly by the filmmaker, Teo.  Kate is a nanny in Canada, hiding from her past and her self.  All three women's lives are about to intersect in ways they would never have imagined.  Told from alternating points of view, we get to know each woman and learn about their lives, relationships, and truths surrounding the explosion.  Their stories will shock and awe. And that is all I will say about the story  - its just so good and I don't want to give away any details.  Definitely check it out!

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a copy of this book!