Friday, May 30, 2014

Review: The Accident

The Accident
By Chris Pavone
Crown Publishers March 2014
381 pages
From the library

The Accident

Isabel Reed is a literary agent whose days are numbered. She realizes that her years of work will not keep her employed for much longer. When an anonymous manuscript shows up on her desk, she realizes that this story could change everything for her. The book claims that a media mogul has very dark secrets that have been covered up by the government itself. Isabel quickly realizes that this manuscript is very dangerous. There are people who want to ensure the book never reaches a single reader...and they will take out anyone who stands in their way.

The Accident is told from multiple points of view. We follow Isabel, her assistant Alexis, and editor Jeff as they understand the magnitude of the information they hold. The anonymous author fears that he will be discovered and someone sets out to destroy all evidence that such a manuscript ever existed. Mr. Pavone juggles all of these characters admirably. Apparently some of the characters are making a second appearance after his debut novel The Expats, but I had no trouble following along despite not having read the other book. 

This book is the perfect blend of thriller and ode to publishing. Many avid readers love to read tales of libraries, bookstores, and publishing companies, and The Accident looks at the day to day operations of both literary agents and publishing houses. Instead of just focusing on one aspect, we spend time with the assistant looking for a way to move up in the industry and veterans who wonder if there is still a place for them in an increasingly digital culture. One of the things I found really interesting (and accurate) was the ways in which publishing was evolving because it is no longer enough to write an excellent story. The more important issue now is how well your story translates to TV or film. While I doubt that the publishing world is actually as perilous as the world of The Accident, the blend of insider knowledge and edge-of-your-seat thrills is a perfect combination.

The underlying theme of this whole story is desperation. The anonymous author is desperate to get his story out into the world, just as others are determined to keep it hidden. But underneath these very big motivations are the smaller things that we deal with every day - the desperate attempts to find success in our careers or validation from people who matter to us and the insistent hope that we will be able to move past our personal tragedies.

The Accident is a very well-written book. Peeking behind the closed doors of the publishing industry will be irresistible for any bibliophile. Mr. Pavone carefully unveils clue after clue until all of the pieces fall into place with stunning clarity. Find a long weekend and a comfy chair, because this is a story you will want to read straight through! 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Armchair BEA: Beyond the Borders

Beyond the Borders
It’s time to step outside your comfort zone, outside your borders, or outside of your own country or culture. Tell us about the books that transported you to a different world, taught you about a different culture, and/or helped you step into the shoes of someone different from you. What impacted you the most about this book? What books would you recommend to others who are ready or not ready to step over the line? In essence, let’s start the conversation about diversity and keep it going! 


American Dervish
American Dervish
I recently finished this book and haven't written a review yet. American Dervish is the story of a young boy whose world changes forever as a family friend opens his eyes to the beauty and danger of wholeheartedly following a religion.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
I don't know if you all know a lot about the conflict in Chechnya during the 1990s, but I did not. This exquisitely written novel will break your heart as Akhmed tries to save his friend's daughter and we discover the danger and saving grace of loving other people.

No One Is Here Except All of Us

I may be somewhat biased in loving this book, as my father is Romanian and it is one of the few books I know of that takes place in that country. This story is set around the events of WWII as the inhabitants of a small village wonder if they can use the power of story to escape the evil that is approaching their home.

Songs of Willow Frost
Songs of Willow Frost
Willow and her son William are living in San Francisco during the time of the Great Depression. This book is beautifully written and shows readers the discrimination faced by Asian citizens during this time period and the tragic choices they must make to survive.

Pigeon English

Harri has recently moved to London from Ghana with his mother and finds himself smack in the middle of a gang war. Our protagonist is 11 years old and the combination of his hope and the ugly conditions in which he lives is both striking and heartbreaking.

The Madonnas of Echo Park
The Madonnas of Echo Park: A Novel
This collection of stories revolves around an immigrant community in LA. The characters are fascinating and their problems are both specific to racism and immigration and universal to the human experience.

White Teeth 
White Teeth
Archie, Clara, Samad, and Alsana are the bridge generation who were born and raised in different countries but are raising their children in London. This powerful story looks at cultural differences amid the shared hope of parents that their children will have better lives than they did.

People of the Book 
People of the Book
This is one of my favorite books ever. Geraldine Brooks moves deftly through time and nations as she imagines the creation and preservation of one of Judaism's sacred texts.


Mighty Be Our Powers

This book tells Gbowee's story of surviving during the conflict in Liberia as she gathered her fellow women to fight for peace in their land.

Outcasts United
Outcasts United: A Refugee Team, an American Town
Outcasts United is about a Jordanian woman who almost accidentally becomes the coach of a youth soccer team comprised entirely of refugees. This story gives great insight into the lives of people who have immigrated to the US and the challenges they face.

Have you read any of these books? Which books transported you to a different country or culture?

Review: The Qualities of Wood

The Qualities of Wood
By Mary Vensel White
Authonomy June 2014
312 pages
Received for review from TLC Book Tours and the publisher

The Qualities of Wood

Vivian and Nowell Gardner are moving to the country. They leave big city life and Vivian's job behind to sort through and fix up the Gardner family home, which has fallen into disrepair. Nowell plans to use the peace and quiet to finish writing his second novel. Their new home is not quiet for long, though. The body of a young woman is found in the woods behind their house. The mystery remains unsolved and tension builds as Vivian finds herself surrounded by peculiar neighbors, a creepy forest, and an increasingly distant husband. 

While the synopsis reveals a mysterious death, this story is not your typical murder mystery. While the circumstances behind the death will be revealed before the book ends, this story is less about the thrills and more about a slow build. The tension that increases throughout this story seems almost tangible. Vivians thought the quiet would be a time to strengthen her marriage and to figure out what she wanted to do next. Instead, she discovers that the isolation can be dangerous - there is no one to talk with, no one to confide in, and no one around when you need help. 

The Qualities of Wood is perhaps best described as meandering. White introduces a lot of red herrings throughout the story. As Vivian becomes increasingly nervous about the mysterious death and distant from her husband, she begins to suspect everyone's motives. Nowell's brother Lonnie and sister-in-law Dot come to stay with the couple and Vivian wonders why they stay for so long and why there is so much tension between the brothers. Their home is supposed to be secluded, but it is suddenly inundated by their neighbor Mr. Stokes, people from the nearby town, and even a road crew. This approach has its merits - Vivian (and the readers) are never sure who is doing what and who has Vivian's best interests at heart. But it also feels at times that too many characters and plot lines are introduced without being fully utilized.

This is a perfect pick for the reader who really appreciates atmosphere. While this is not a thrilling page-turner, it is the kind of book that will make you think about your own relationships and perhaps peer into the shadows behind you. People who enjoyed Charles Frazier's novel Nightwoods or the classic film Rear Window will happily settle in with this debut novel. 

Do you want to see what other readers thought of The Qualities of Wood? Read some of these other reviews!

Wednesday, May 21st: The Ludic Reader
Thursday, May 22nd: Every Free Chance Book Reviews
Monday, May 26th: Reader Her Like an Open Book
Tuesday, May 27th: Chaotic Compendiums
Wednesday, May 28th: Sincerely Stacie
Monday, June 2nd: Books on the Table
Tuesday, June 3rd: Patricia’s Wisdom
Tuesday, June 10th: Mel’s Shelves
Wednesday, June 11th: A Book Geek
Thursday, June 12th: Karen’s Korner

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Armchair BEA 2014 - Author Interaction

I have to confess that my experience with attending author readings and events is pretty abysmal. This is a combination of several factors - young kids, being somewhat shy, and the inevitability that I will get lost if I am driving to a new place.

That being the case, the ability to interact with authors online is both wonderful and sort of intimidating. I love being able to chat with writers and am really pleased and humbled when someone says that they appreciated my review. But I also feel a tiny twinge of panic when I realize that the author will definitely read my review, either because they follow me on Twitter or because I am reviewing their book as part of a tour. Even before I start reading the book, I desperately hope that I will love their book. When I have finished it, I give special care to making sure my criticism is constructive and not cruel. Who wants to write a really negative review with the knowledge that the author will read it? Not this girl! 

Does anyone else feel this way? 

Monday, May 26, 2014

Armchair BEA 2014 - Introduction Post

Please tell us a little bit about yourself: Who are you? How long have you been blogging? Why did you get into blogging? Where in the world are you blogging from?

I'm Lindsey and I have been blogging here at Literary Lindsey since July of 2011. I started blogging because it looked like fun and because I thought it would be a good thing to have on my resume as I tried to nab a job in publishing. Since then, I have rethought my career goals a bit and now work as a freelance editor.
I live in the lovely state of New Jersey. 

Describe your blog in just one sentence. Then, list your social details -- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc. -- so we can connect more online.
Literary Lindsey is a place to read about all of the books you should be reading, as well as musings about publishing, family, and life in general. You can also find me on Twitter @LiteraryLindsey. 

What was your favorite book read last year? What’s your favorite book so far this year?  
Don't you know what an impossible question this is?!? For 2013, I would say my favorite piece of fiction was A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and my non-fiction pick would be This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage. In 2014, so far, the top contenders are The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry/Found/I Shall Be Near to You/Hild/Astonish Me.

Share your favorite book or reading related quote. 

“Story makes us more alive, more human, more courageous, more loving. Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose to say or do matters, matters cosmically…Our truest response to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find truth.”
Walking on Water, Madeleine L'Engle

"We have no time to waste on insignificant books, hollow books, books that are here to please.
We have no time for those sloppy, hurried books of the ‘Go on, I need it for July, and in September we’ll give you a proper launch and sell one hundred thousand copies, it’s in the bag’ variety.
We want books that are written for those of us who doubt everything, who cry over the least little thing, who are startled by the slightest noise.
We want books that cost their authors a great deal, books where you can feel the years of work, the backache, the writer’s block, the author’s panic at the thought that the might be lost: his discouragement, his courage, his anguish, his stubbornness, the risk of failure he has taken.
We want splendid books, books that immerse us in the splendor of reality and keep us there; books that prove to us that love is at work in the world next to evil, right up against it, at times indistinctly, and that it always will be, just the way that suffering will always ravage hearts. We want good novels.
We want books that leave nothing out: neither human tragedy nor everyday wonders, books that bring fresh air to our lungs.
And even if there is only one such book per decade...that would be enough. We want nothing else.”
A Novel Bookstore, Laurence Cosse 

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what 3 books would you bring? Why? What 3 non-book items would you bring? Why? 

I think the best book to bring would be something about surviving on an island. My other two choices would be a really long classic like War and Peace or Anna Karenina and A Wrinkle in Time. 

My snarky response is that I would bring a working cellphone, so someone could come and pick me up. Otherwise, I would bring my family, sun tan lotion (this is a tropical island, right?) and lots of chocolate. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

It's Monday and I'm doing Armchair BEA!

I'm trying out Armchair BEA for the first time, starting tomorrow. Is anyone else taking part? Any tips for this newbie? If you want to join in, I think you can still sign up here.

Read This Week:
Astonish Me
Astonish Me
By Maggie Shipstead

The Qualities of Wood
The Qualities of Wood
By Mary Vensel White

Posts from this Past Week:
It's Monday
Reviews of Maybe One Day, A Circle of Quiet, and Then Came You

Reading Now:
Chasing God
By Angie Smith

Up Next:

By Jerry Ludwig

What are you reading this week?

Friday, May 23, 2014

Review: Then Came You

Then Came You
By Jennifer Weiner
Atria Books July 2011
336 pages
From the library

Then Came You

People say that motherhood changes a woman forever. Sometimes that change takes different forms - Jules sells her eggs to a fertility clinic, Annie becomes a surrogate, and India hopes to finally have a happy family. But happy endings don't come easily for everyone. When India's stepdaughter Bettina hires a private investigator to look into India's past, the hopes of all four women could come crashing down. 

Weiner writes from the point of view of four very different women. Jules is a young woman whose life has been thrown into shambles by her father's addiction. She tries to blend in with her Princeton classmates, but her pretty face and good grades can't disguise her desperation for a stable home life. Annie is a young mother of two whose husband is barely making enough money to pay the bills. India is living in the lap of luxury as the trophy wife of a wealthy older husband. She is the scorn of her stepdaughter Bettina, who cannot understand what her father sees in India. Unfortunately, these characters often feel like stereotypes. I was especially frustrated by India. She seemed like such a cliche of the gold digger and when we finally get some of her background story, it feels an information dump and much too late to redeem the rest of her story.

That being said, there are some positives about this book. There are several moments of genuine emotion as the women navigate love and family. One of my favorite bonds in this story is the one between Annie and India. While it is perhaps normal for a woman to take an interest in the surrogate carrying her child and pay for her expenses, India and Annie really become friends. India sees how Annie is struggling with her husband and their inability to pay the bills. She hires a cleaning lady for her, takes Annie on a vacation, and lends a listening ear when Annie needs to vent. In return, India feels like she has actually met someone who cares about her, and not just about her fortune.

Then Came You is an engaging read. The action moves quickly and it is a well-written book. I just found myself wanting more. I wanted characters who seemed like they could be real people. And I suppose, as someone who recently had her second child, I wanted Weiner to really tap into the awe and wonder of parenthood. Unfortunately, I think there are other books that will resonate better with readers living through the pain and joy of parenting. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review: A Circle of Quiet

A Circle of Quiet
By Madeleine L'Engle
Farrar, Strauss and Giroux 1972
246 pages
From my shelves

A Circle of Quiet (Crosswicks Journals, Book 1)

Beloved author Madeleine L'Engle reflects on her life as she balances being a writer and a mother, faith and family, and living in a small town. I realize that the synopsis I just typed sounds terribly boring. That's really not the case. While this book may be slow and meandering, L'Engle keeps our attention with her strong opinions and insightful observations about life. The incredible thing about this book is that it was published more than 40 years ago. But her musings on so many things feel incredibly relevant to today.

When I read a book, I tend to treat it very nicely. I don't usually dog ear pages or underline passages. However, I broke all of my rules while reading this book. I couldn't help but fold the corners of so many pages because I wanted to read them again and again.

Let me give you some examples:

On language: "I love anything that is going to make language richer and stronger. But when words are used in a way that is going to weaken language, it has nothing to do with the beautiful way that they can wriggle and wiggle and develop and enrich our speech, but instead it is impoverishing, diminishing. If our language is watered down, then mankind becomes less human and less free..."

On the artist and originality: "Of course. It's all been said better before. If I thought I had to say it better than anybody else, I'd never start. Better or worse is immaterial. The thing is that it has to be said; by me; ontologically. We each have to say it, to say it our own way. Not of our own will, but as it comes out through us. Good or bad, great or little: that isn't what human creation is about. It is that we have to try; to put it down in pigment, or words, or musical notations, or we die."

On technology (four decades ago!): "We can't absorb it all. We know too much, too quickly, and one of the worst effects of this avalanche of technology is the loss of compassion."

On literature: "Juvenile or adult, War and Peace or Treasure Island, Pride and Prejudice or Beauty and the Beast, a great work of the imagination is one of the highest forms of communication of truth that mankind has reached. But a great piece of literature does not try to coerce you to believe it or agree with it. A great piece of literature simply is."

There are books that are simply good for the soul, books that confirm your thoughts about love and relationships, work and art. This is the sort of book you can read again and again, a chapter here or a snippet here. The language, as always, is beautiful. Best of all, L'Engle's tales of her life are recognizable to us as writers, artists, believers, mothers, spouses, and human beings.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review: Maybe One Day

Maybe One Day
By Melissa Kantor
HarperTeen February 2014
384 pages
From the library

Maybe One Day

When Zoe and Olivia are cut from their prestigious dance company, they are sure it is the worst thing that could ever happen to them. But then Olivia gets sick. Zoe does her best to stay strong for her friend. She visits her in the hospital, takes over teaching her dance class, and tells Olivia of all of the ridiculous exploits of their fellow students. When she finds herself falling for Olivia's crush, she can't decide if telling her will help or hurt. Underneath it all, Zoe fears the unthinkable - that Olivia will never get better and her life will never be the same.

Reading YA novels is sometimes difficult for me. I find the whining and nonsensical decisions that seem inherent to their characters to be obnoxious and cliche. This story does not entirely escape those problems. It's tough to feel too much sympathy for Zoe as she whines about her life while her best friend is fighting for hers. There are also moments when she makes decisions that you know can only end badly and wonder how she can miss the inevitable results.

But this story really shines in its portrayal of best friends. The kind of everyday relationship that is only possible during high school and college is on full display in this story. Reading about Zoe and Olivia's sister-like relationship reminds all of us of the days when we saw each other after every class, went to each other's houses after school, and talked on the phone before bed. In a genre that is over-saturated with love triangles, it is nice to see a story with a focus on friendship instead of a dreamy boy or unattainable girl.

Maybe One Day and its characters recognize that the major issues of life are intertwined with the small. People we love become very sick on the same day that we get a good grade in a class. We fall in love right after a fender-bender. It's never one or the other. Just like each one of us, Zoe must learn to live through the mundane and the life-changing. 

Sunday, May 18, 2014

It's Monday and it has been quite the weekend!

Ok, let us see what has happened in the past few days. My amazing sister graduated with honors from the University of the Arts. I saw my best friend for a few minutes as she drove through NJ and we ate cupcakes. I went to the library's spring book sale and came home a happy reader. We celebrated some family birthdays. Now I would like to climb in bed and sleep for a few days. Here are some pictures from our whirlwind weekend:

By the way, if you would like to enter to win the book Outside In by Doug Cooper, today is your last chance! You can read all about it here

Read This Week:

The Accident
By Chris Pavone

American Dervish
By Ayad Akhtar

Posts from this Past Week:
It's Monday
Reviews of Passing and Invisible City

Reading Now:

Astonish Me
By Maggie Shipstead

Up Next:

The Qualities of Wood
By Mary Vensel White

What are you reading this week?

Saturday, May 17, 2014


A picture of each of the kids, once a week, every week in 2014.
Pictures 17 and 18 this week!

Becca Grace #1 - "What are these flower things and can I eat them?"
#2 - "Don't look at my cake. That's my cake."

David #1 - The selfie thing starts oh so young these days....
#2 - Big brother is so sweet to read to his sister, even when she snatches the book before he is done!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Review: Invisible City

Invisible City
By Julia Dahl
Minotaur Book May 2014
304 pages
Read via Netgalley

Invisible City

Rebekah Roberts is a journalist who is sent all over New York City to find the best stories. When she is assigned a story on the murder of a Hassidic woman, it strikes close to home. When she was a baby, Rebekah's mother left her and her father to go back home to her Hasidic community. Rebekah hasn't heard from her since. She  is moved by the woman's brutal death and wants to find answers, even among the secretive Orthodox community. With help from an unlikely source, she ventures into the practices and secrets of her mother's world.

As I was reading this book, I was reminded of the mystery Gone Missing. Both stories feature a protagonist with ties to a closed community - the Orthodox Jews or the Amish - and both involve mysteries. My hesitation was the same with both books. When we read a fictional account of a community that is relatively unknown to us, I think it is all too easy to assume that fiction is fact. In Invisible City, Rebekah discovers that the police stay out of the business of the Hasidic community because of their hefty donations. Do I believe that could happen? Sure, but I worry that we blur the lines between truth and storyline when our protagonists find entry points into these closed cultures. However, my worry was unfounded with this book - Ms. Dahl is careful to make her characters realistic and not caricatures. She delves into some of the darker issues that haunt insular communities like this one, but she also shows the tradition and beauty of their way of life.

The mystery plot of this story is well handled. It is difficult to tell who might be behind the murder when Dahl introduces so many interesting characters. I was impressed by Rebekah as a character too. It is all too easy to begin the story with someone who has no experience in investigation, but somehow ends up solving the case effortlessly. Rebekah is unsure of her abilities as a journalist and very wary of poking her nose into this situation. While she starts off doing it for her job, she follows through because she comes to care for the people involved. She makes many mistakes along the way, which makes this plot believable.

Invisible City is a novel with many different layers. At its most basic, it is a mystery. But underneath that, this is the story of woman without the security of a mother finding her way and her voice in her profession and in her personal life. It is is a glimpse into the hidden danger and small joys of living separately, either as an individual or as a community. It's a story that will keep you turning pages into the small hours of the morning so you can solve the mystery and see a compelling character win the day. 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Review: Passing

By Nella Larsen
Penguin 1997, Originally published by Alfred A. Knopf 1929
114 pages
From the library


Irene Redfield is leading a calm and ordered life. She cares for her two sons and oversees the social obligations of her doctor husband. Irene has much lighter skin than her husband and occasionally passes for a white woman in order to make her day a bit easier. She is uncomfortable, however, when she runs into her childhood friend Clare and discovers that Clare passes everyday as the wife of a white man. Despite her discomfort, Irene and Clare's lives begin to intertwine with consequences that will change everything.

A great deal of this book obviously has to do with "passing," which was the term for light-skinned African Americans pretending to be white, either implicitly or explicitly. There were many levels of passing, as exemplified by Irene's occasional pretending in order to get a cab or go to certain restaurants and Clare's complete life change. Racism is still very evident in 1920s America, but it is not as overt among the upper class where Irene and her husband live.

Passing is a tiny novel. The action moves slowly as events happen in Irene's life and then she spends large portions of the book thinking about those moments and her reactions to them. This is a story where much of what is happening is happening in the silence of our character's minds. The writing almost has a dreamlike quality to it, which is compounded by Irene's unreliable narration. How much does she imagine and how much is real?

The great strength of this novel is that it is both specific and universal. It is about the particular injustice of racism, but it is about the incredibly common tragedy of wanting what we cannot have. It details the choices of Clare and Irene, but it will ring true for any reader who has made a difficult decision that they hoped would be the right one. Passing is one of those books you can read again and again. This slim novel will unearth new revelations each time as we see the tension between Irene and Clare's lives.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

It's Monday and it's been a happy weekend!

Two of my favorite people celebrated their birthdays this Saturday. We had a brunch with our family. Becca Grace was a little overwhelmed by all of the presents and finally decided to carry around a gift bag for the day. We celebrated Mother's Day with a quiet evening at home. After a crazy week, it was nice to finish my book and then eat dinner while trying to clean up our DVR.

The birthday boy and girl are to the right. Big brother was ready to help blow out the candles though!

How was your week? Did you have a happy Mother's Day?

Read This Week:
A Circle of Quiet (Crosswicks Journals, Book 1)
A Circle of Quiet
By Madeleine L'Engle

Then Came You
Then Came You
By Jennifer Weiner

Posts from this Past Week:
It's Monday
Reviews of Something Rotten and The Supreme Macaroni Company
Joining the Classics Club and The Classics Club Spin

Reading Now:
The Accident
The Accident
By Chris Pavone

Up Next:
American Dervish
American Dervish
By Ayad Akhtar

What are you reading this week?

Classics Club Spin

It's time for a Classics Club Spin. Readers list 20 classics and the administrators pick a random number. Then you read the corresponding book! Any guesses for which book it will be?

1. The Winter’s Tale – William Shakespeare
2. Emma – Jane Austen
3. Moby Dick – Herman Melville
4. The Moonstone – Wilkie Collins
5. The Sun Also Rises - Ernest Hemingway
6. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day - Winifred Watson
7. Excellent Women - Barbara Pym
8. Under the Net - Iris Murdoch 
9. Wide Sargasso Sea - Jean Rhys 
10. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez 
11. If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler - Italo Calvino
12. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving 
13. Kindred - Octavia Butler
14. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - Robert Louis Stevenson 
15. Breakfast at Tiffany’s - Truman Capote 
16. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz - L. Frank Baum
17. The Princess and the Goblin - George MacDonald
18. Doctor Zhivago - Boris Pasternak 
19. Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison 
20. And Then There Were None - Agatha Christie

                                        Will it be Willy Shakespeare or Agatha Christie??

Friday, May 9, 2014

Review: The Supreme Macaroni Company

The Supreme Macaroni Company
By Adriana Trigiani
Harper Collins November 2013
338 pages
Received for review from TLC Book Tours and the publisher

The Supreme Macaroni Company

Beloved author Adriana Trigiana brings Italy and New York City to vibrant life as she looks in on the Roncalli family again. Valentine is passionate about her family and the family business of making gorgeous shoes out of Italian leather. She is surprised to find that she has passion for their Italian tanner Gianluca Vechiarelli too. As they begin their life together, Valentine finds herself constantly battling between being present for her loved ones and being committed to their business. Can she find room in her heart and in her day for both? 

I have seen countless bloggers gush over the books of Adriana Trigiani so when an offer to join the book tour showed up in my inbox, I had to say yes. This was my first time reading anything by Trigiani. It was difficult to really get into this book at first, which I think might have something to do with this actually being the third book featuring Valentine and her crazy/wonderful Italian family. I wonder if it would have been easier for me to fully commit to the Roncalli family if I knew more of their history. 

The Supreme Macaroni Company shines when Trigiani is detailing the beauty of Italian vistas or a snowy day in New York City. With just a few words, she paints gorgeous scenes that you can clearly visualize even if you have never visited Tuscany. It's also wonderful to read about giant and crazy Italian family gatherings where one is never sure if the drama or the food will win the day. Big families seem to make life complicated - there are lots of people who want to make their opinions known on things like your wedding and your style of raising your kids and there is always someone who is glad to remind you of the moment when you failed. While the Roncalli family exploits will make you laugh, they also make you want to hop in the car and go spend some time with your own family. 

The heart of this story though, is the relationship between Valentine and Gianluca. I found it difficult to read about them because Valentine seemed so clueless and stubborn. For a woman who has a big family and has seen both failed and successful relationships, she seems to have no idea how to be in a relationship. I found myself mostly feeling bad for Gianluca who, although he wasn't blameless, seemed to be trying very hard to uphold their relationship. I wanted Valentine to change, to realize that she had to give some time and attention to her relationship, but she just seems to make the same mistakes over and over.

The Supreme Macaroni Company is an insightful look into the ways that family can strengthen and challenge us as well as the incredible work and artistry that goes into the creation of shoes. The romantic storyline can be hard to take, but readers who love the Roncalli family will want to read this conclusion to their story.

Want to see what other readers thought of The Supreme Macaroni Company? Read some of these other reviews!

Tuesday, May 6th: More Than Just Magic
Wednesday, May 7th: Bibliotica
Thursday, May 8th: nightlyreading
Monday, May 12th: The Infinite Shelf
Tuesday, May 13th: The Bookmark Blog
Thursday, May 15th: Books, Books Everywhere!
Monday, May 19th: Books on the Table
Thursday, May 22nd: Jo-Jo Loves to Read!
Monday, May 26th: Calico Critic
Thursday, May 29th: Peppermint PhD
Monday, June 2nd: Open Book Society
Monday, June 9th: Patricia’s Wisdom

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Joining the Classics Club

After seeing so many bloggers participate in The Classics Club, I decided that I would join the fun. The goal is to read 50 classics within five years, so I will be aiming to finish this list by May of 2019.

Are you a part of The Classics Club? Which classic should I start with?

Much Ado About Nothing 
The Winter’s Tale 
Henry IV, Part 1 
Taming of the Shrew 
Richard III 
Moby Dick 
The Moonstone 
Anna Karenina
The Sun Also Rises
A Movable Feast
Their Eyes Were Watching God
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
The Big Sleep
Invisible Man
Excellent Women 
Under the Net
Everything That Rises Must Converge
Wide Sargasso Sea
One Hundred Years of Solitude
If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler
Alias Grace
Fahrenheit 451
Tale of Two Cities
Crime and Punishment
North and South
A Prayer for Owen Meaney
East of Eden
The Age of Innocence
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
The House of Mirth
We Have Always Lived In the Castle
The Princess and the Goblin
Dr. Zhivago
Vanity Fair
The Picture of Dorian Grey
The Group 
Song of Solomon
Death Comes for the Archbishop
Murder on the Orient Express
And Then There Were None
A Murder Is Announced

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


A picture of each of the kids, once a week, every week in 2014.

Becca Grace - A beautiful day demands a walk downtown!

David - The first time bowler had a great time!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Review: Something Rotten

Something Rotten
Thursday Next #4
By Jasper Fforde
Viking 2004
383 pages
From the library

Something Rotten (Thursday Next, #4)

Note: This review may contain spoilers for earlier books in the series.

Thursday Next just never seems to catch a break. She is a single mother because the dastardly Goliath Corporation made her husband disappear. She is also in charge of Jurisfiction, where she must maintain the storyline of the books you know and love. Thursday decides to head home to her mother and brother with her son Friday in tow. She hopes to get her beloved husband back by regaining her job with the Literary Detectives. But complications abound when she is also asked to care for the infamous and melancholy prince Hamlet, prevent Danish books from being burned by a power-hungry politician, and ensure that the local (and terrible) croquet team wins the championship.

The Thursday Next series is consistently categorized as fun and this zany cast of characters will leave you chuckling throughout the book. Thursday's young son speaks only in ipsum lorem, the dummy text that is used for the layout of publications. Her father has been erased from time like her husband, but still pops in for the occasional chat. Her mother runs a support group for people whose loved ones have been eradicated and has an ever-revolving group of guests staying in her home. We also encounter an evil space emperor bent on destruction, a familiar Beatrix Potter character, and the cowboys of the Wild West.

This time around, Fforde also jumps into politics and religion. Thursday's nemesis is Yorrick Kane, who has escaped from a book in order to take over England. The politicians engage in a debate during a show called "Evade the Question." The candidates proceed to do just that and are awarded points accordingly. Thursday has returned home just in time to witness the second coming of her hometown's patron saint. While Thomas Zvlkx has an uncanny ability to predict the future, he also seems to have a weakness for cursing and making wagers.

The Thursday Next series is whimsical and clever and downright fun. The story is constantly moving and will give you many opportunities to smile at bad puns or laugh at the ingenious way that Fforde seems to utilize every character, historical event, and idea that you could possibly imagine. If you haven't read this gift to readers, you are missing out!

You can find my reviews of earlier Thursday Next books here.