Tomorrow Will Be Better [Book Review] #classics

December 11, 2020

Tomorrow Will Be Better by Betty Smith

Tomorrow Will Be Better by Betty Smith (cover) Image: a sepia tone picture of a row of Brooklyn apartments

Genre/Categories: Classic Literary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Vintage, Young Adult

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Thanks #HarperPerennial @HarperPerennial for a complimentary copy. All opinions are my own.

Written 70 years ago and set in Brooklyn 100 years ago, Tomorrow Will Be Better is a timeless, coming-of-age story of love and a young marriage, of poverty and hardship, of hope and second chances. Margy Shannon hopes optimistically for a better life than her parents. Weary of living a life of hardship with her quarreling parents, she dreams about landing a well paying job, finding a loving husband, and establishing her own home.

My Thoughts:


Hamnet [Book Review]

September 25, 2020

Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell

Hamnet by Maggie O'Farrell (cover) Image: portrait of a young boy in a felt hat....a quill lies horizontally over his eyes

Genre/Categories: Historical and Biographical Literary Fiction, Family Life, Magical Realism

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

TW: Review mentions the death of a child.


Hamnet is set in 1580s Warwickshire, England and is the highly imagined story of William Shakespeare’s family, especially his son, Hamnet, and his wife, Agnes (Anne). It’s the story of a marriage and family. Shakespeare and Agnes had three children. It’s also a story of grief as we know from history that Hamnet dies. O’Farrell imagines that he might have died as a result of the 1550s plague. William Shakespeare is “off-stage” for the majority of the story and is never mentioned by name (referred to as husband, father, etc.). This centers Agnes (and the children) as the main character of the story and grief as the main theme. Agnes is a beautiful woman who has some supernatural gifts of healing with herbs, is entirely devoted to family, and frequently experiences glimpses into the future.

My Thoughts:


Transcendent Kingdom [Book Review]

September 18, 2020

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi (cover) Image: gold text over a light pink (top) and black (bottom) background

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Literary Fiction, Faith and Science, Drug Addiction, Ghana-American, Immigrant

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


While Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi is the multi-generational big picture of a family over three hundred years, Transcendent Kingdom is a microscopic look at one Ghanaian family in Alabama. Their son, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died from a heroin overdose as a result of being addicted to pain meds after an accident. Dad returns to Ghana and Mom becomes severely depressed. The beginning of the story finds the daughter, Gifty, at Standford Medical School studying depression and addiction as she desperately hopes to find answers that will help others in similar situations. At the same time Gifty studies the hard sciences she also questions her faith and the religious experiences of her childhood. This is a story of immigration, faith, science, questions, and family devotion.

My Thoughts:


Anxious People [Book Review]

September 11, 2020

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman (cover) Image: a man and woman stand with backs to the camera on a balcony looking into the distance

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Literary Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Anxious People is the story of a bank robber and a group of hostages at an open house…a bunch of idiots, really (in the most endearing sense of the word). But the real story behind the circumstances is about a bridge and so much more.

My Thoughts:


Ordinary Grace [Book Review]

August 28, 2020

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger (cover) Image: a wooden railroad trellis over a river underneath a partially cloudy sky

Genre/Categories: Adult Literary Fiction, Coming of Age, Faith

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


The summer of 1961 should have been another ordinary summer for thirteen-year-old Frank Drum, but it was a summer of hardships, tragedy, grief, adult problems, and questions of faith. Told from Frank’s perspective forty years later, Ordinary Grace is a poignant coming-of-age story with elements of mystery and suspense.

My Thoughts:


This Must Be the Place [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

July 9, 2020

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of This Must Be the Place by Maggie O’Farrell….a complicated and multilayered family drama.

This Must Be the Place by Maggie O'Farrell (cover) Image: a home with a person walking toward it fills a circle surrounded by a blue cloud filled sky

Genre/Categories: Literary Fiction, Complicated Families

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

Are you a fan of literary fiction?

My Summary:

This Must Be the Place is a story of a collapsing and reawakening marriage.  Daniel, a young American professor, travels to Ireland on holiday and family business and to stabilize his life after a failed marriage and a difficult custody battle. By chance, he meets Claudette, a world-famous actress who dramatically left the public eye for a reclusive life in a rural Irish village. Daniel and Claudette fall in love and create an idyllic life in the country and have two children of their own. A secret from Daniel’s past threatens to destroy their carefully constructed and quiet, happy life. As Daniel leaves to make peace with his past and himself, he also reunites with the American son and daughter he has not seen for several years. His story is told from his own voice and other multiple voices as he wrestles with the complexities of loyalty and devotion, family, and extraordinary love.

Continue here for my full review of This Must Be the Place

QOTD: Have you read This Must Be the Place or is it on your TBR?

The Deal of a Lifetime [Book Review] #throwbackthursday

June 11, 2020

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

This year as part of Blog Audit Challenge 2020 I’m going back to update older review posts. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads, and today I’m sharing my review of a favorite adult fairy tale, The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman….poignant, thought-provoking, and reflective.

Fredrik Backman is an auto-buy author for me, and I’m a Backman completist!

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

The Deal of a Lifetime by Fredrik Backman (cover) Image: a blue suitcase sits against a wall on a wooden floor, a straw hat is propped on one corner of the suitcase and a white bunny (stuffed) lies on the floor in front of the suitcase

Genre/Categories:  literary fiction, contemporary fiction, adult fairy tale, ambition, self-reflection, end of life

My Summary:

“In true Backman style, The Deal of a Lifetime is an intricately woven story (novella) of an unlovable, complex, and flawed character whom we begin to understand and care about as he faces the end of his life. Written as the last message from father to son and told like a fairy tale for adults, it’s a story of a legacy, ambition and success at all costs, fear of failure, the meaning of life, the commodity of time, an accounting of one’s life, and a father/son relationship. I hesitate to give details of the plot in this summary because I don’t want to spoil your read. Briefly, it’s the story of a successful and famous man in the mid-years of his life counting the personal cost of his achievements and striking a last deal to make things right.”

For those who collect opening lines….these are stellar!

“…I’ve killed a person. That’s not how fairy tales usually begin, I know. But I took a life. Does it make a difference if you know whose it was…..Does it make a difference if I killed a good person? A loved person? A valuable life?”  ~Backman’s opening lines

A reflective read for those who appreciate the beauty of short stories and for readers who might enjoy a thoughtful adult fairy tale about the purpose and meaning of life …..

Continue here for my full review of The Deal of a Lifetime which includes a set of discussion questions for your book club!

QOTD: Have you read The Deal of a Lifetime or is it on your TBR?

Bookish Themed Hanukkah: Fifth Candle: Five-Day Work Week #eightcandlebooktag

December 26, 2019

 Celebrating a Bookish Hanukkah With Our Jewish Friends: Fifth Candle–Five-Day Work Week


*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’m linking up today and for the next few days with Davida at The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog (information on the meme link up here) to celebrate a bookish Hanukkah with our Jewish friends.  #eightcandlebooktag  Join us! (find my first candle here, find my second candle here, third candle here, fourth here)

Happy Hanukkah to my friends, followers, and book buddies who are celebrating!



1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

1 candle

Fifth Candle: Five-Day Work Week

A book that you felt reading it was hard work, but you were glad you kept at it and finished reading it.

I read a great deal of historical fiction, and some books feel hard to read for me because of their length and/or the amount of dense historical details. Some examples are Prairie Fires, Ribbons of Scarlet, Resistance Women, and Island of Sea Women. (titles are links to my reviews)

For today’s post, I’m choosing to highlight A Gentleman in Moscow.

  A Gentleman in Moscow felt like work to read, but when I finished, I was glad I read it. I know some readers who bailed on it. For me the quality of the masterful writing, the thoughtful themes, and the character of the Count encouraged me to hang in for the duration. I’m especially glad I stuck with it because the end was quite satisfying! Whenever I read books like this, I break the reading up into chunks and set it aside for a while to read other more engaging titles.

A Gentleman in Moscow

I haven’t written a full review of Gentleman in Moscow, but I’ll include a few bullet points here:

What I loved:

  • beautifully written literary fiction
  • well-researched, Russian history
  • thoughtful themes, including how to live a good life despite our circumstances
  • a heartwarming story of found family
  • well-developed characters
  • a charming, likable, sophisticated, kind, gracious, and honorable main character
  • a unique premise

What You Need to Know

  • character-driven narrative (for some readers this is most desirable)
  • lack of plot (with the exception of the ending which involves some excitement!)
  • not for speed readers (this is one to savor line by line)

A Gentleman in Moscow is definitely worth the read and a book I would recommend to the right reader:

  • someone who is a fan of beautifully written character-driven literary fiction
  • someone who enjoys Russian history
  • someone who appreciates thoughtful themes, reflective writing, and a wonderful main character

My Rating: 4 stars


A Gentleman in Moscow

A Gentleman in Moscow Information

Meet the Author, Amor Towles

Amor TowlesBorn and raised in the Boston area, Amor Towles graduated from Yale College and received an MA in English from Stanford University. Having worked as an investment professional in Manhattan for over twenty years, he now devotes himself full time to writing. His first novel, Rules of Civility, published in 2011, was a New York Times bestseller in both hardcover and paperback and was ranked by the Wall Street Journal as one of the best books of 2011. The book was optioned by Lionsgate to be made into a feature film and its French translation received the 2012 Prix Fitzgerald. His second novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, published in 2016, was also a New York Times bestseller and was ranked as one of the best books of 2016 by the Chicago Tribune, the Miami Herald, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the St. Louis Dispatch, and NPR. Both novels have been translated into over fifteen languages.

Mr. Towles, who lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children, is an ardent fan of early 20th century painting, 1950’s jazz, 1970’s cop shows, rock & roll on vinyl, obsolete accessories, manifestoes, breakfast pastries, pasta, liquor, snow-days, Tuscany, Provence, Disneyland, Hollywood, the cast of Casablanca, 007, Captain Kirk, Bob Dylan (early, mid, and late phases), the wee hours, card games, cafés, and the cookies made by both of his grandmothers.


Have you read A Gentleman in Moscow or is it on your TBR?

Have you read his first book, Rules of Civility?


I have finished my Fall TBR!
(just in time to begin my Winter TBR!)

Winter 2019 TBR

My Nonfiction November Posts:
2019 Nonfiction Reads
Nonfiction and Racial Injustice
Nonfiction/Fiction Pairings
Favorite Nonfiction Books
2020 Nonfiction TBR
Finding Chika by Mitch Albom

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photo are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

The Dutch House: A Review

November 8, 2019

 The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Dutch House Review

Genre/Categories: Complicated Family Drama, Literary Fiction

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

***Recommending the audio book for this read!


Siblings Danny and Maeve are living in The Dutch House when their mother abandons the family. Their father remarries, but after he dies, their stepmother kicks Danny and Maeve out of her life and out of the house. Suddenly, all Danny and Maeve have is each other. This story explores their complicated lives and relationships.

Amazon Rating: 4.4 Stars

My Thoughts:


The Dearly Beloved: A Review

September 19, 2019

A thoughtful story of faith and doubt, hope and disappointment, friendship and marriage, career and family….

The Dearly Beloved by Cara Wall

The Dearly Beloved Review

Genre/Categories: Literary Fiction, Faith, Marriage and Family

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


Four very different individuals (two couples) navigate relationships, marriage, children, faith, career, ministry, crisis, joy, friendship, forgiveness, uncertainty, understanding, and heartbreak. The couples meet in the 1960s when the men, Charles and James, accept positions as co-pastors of the Third Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. The relationship between the couples is strained because the wives are polar opposites: Lily is a loner and an atheist and Nan values connection and is a devout Christian. In this tender character-driven story that covers decades of life, we also learn the backstory of each individual.

My Thoughts: