Sunday, November 28, 2021

Life: It Goes On - November 28

Happy Sunday! As always happens, this four-day weekend has flown by. It always seems like there will be plenty of time for relaxation or big projects but I always forget that half of it is already spoken for what with the actual holiday celebrations. So yesterday was about getting the usual weekend cleaning done and today will be about getting the Christmas bins brought up so I can start decorating. 

This whole decorating thing would go much more quickly if I would cut back on the amount of stuff I have or just do things the same way from year to year. But I don't. This year I got inspiration from a picture on Instagram, found that I had a scarf that would be a great launching off spot to create my own version of the picture and then I ordered a bunch of new ornaments. At least I'll be able to use all of them in other ways if I don't ever create this look again. We'll be having company next weekend so I can't drag this decorating thing out as long as I often do!

Last Week I: 

 Listened To: Still listening to Richard Powers' Bewilderment. I haven't listened at all this weekend so may end up having to speed it up to get it finished before it needs to go back. 

Watched: Last night The Big Guy and I went to the symphony to see Harry Potter and The Goblet of Fire  while the symphony performed the soundtrack. Not something we would normally go see but Mini-him had tickets he ended up not being able to use to we used them. Getting to our seats was something of a Keystone Cops event but once we settled in, we enjoyed it very much. Except for the part where people came who clearly had no idea how to behave when you go to the symphony. 

Read: I haven't read much this past week and I'm bouncing between books, not getting far in any of them. Not sure I'll have much time for much reading this week either. 

Our littlest helper
 I have always appreciated all of the work my mom put into getting holiday meals on the table but I have a newfound appreciation for it after having to step into her shoes this year. My sister-in-law and I split things and still it was a lot of work. I made three pies, sweet potatoes, my great-grandmother's beans, and another dessert that's a family tradition. 

Enjoyed: Being with my family as we made it through Thanksgiving, which was maybe my mom's favorite holiday. We did all of the traditional foods (my sister-in-law even made the scalloped corn with oysters that my mom loved), set the table the way my mom would have, threw in some new versions of traditional activities, and everyone stepped up to fill in the gaps. 

This Week I’m:  

Planning: See above. It will be all about decorating, cleaning for company, and making food for Saturday. 

This little one was a great help!
Thinking About:
Before all of the holidays now we get the messages about how to handle the holidays when you're with family you don't necessarily get along with or agree with. My nephew and I could not be more different in our political views; we know this and have long ago agreed that we will not discuss those things. Friday, when he was up with his mom's side of the family and busy with them, I got a text from him. In part it said, "I haven't ever told you how much I appreciate the way you treat my family...You could easily let how different we are affect our relationship...but your investment in my family is awesome." Love him and his family so much and I'm so grateful that we have not let our differences keep us from each other. 

Feeling: Blessed. I know that to be true every day but it's always good to have the annual reminder to give thanks for all that we have. More than plenty to eat, warm homes and clothing, access to good health care, family who loves us and friends who have gotten us through this difficult year. 

Looking forward to: An evening with great friends. 

Question of the week: Of course we only put foods on the Thanksgiving table that we like but somehow some of those leftovers are much less appreciated than others. What leftover would you just as soon throw away than eat again after Thanksgiving dinner? 

Thursday, November 25, 2021

Happy Thanksgiving!

May we all take this day to count our blessings!

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey

The Snow Child
by Eowyn Ivey
Published February 2012 by Little, Brown and Company
386 pages

Publisher's Summary:

Alaska, 1920: a brutal place to homestead, and especially tough for recent arrivals Jack and Mabel. Childless, they are drifting apart — he breaking under the weight of the work of the farm; she crumbling from loneliness and despair. In a moment of levity during the season's first snowfall, they build a child out of snow. The next morning the snow child is gone — but they glimpse a young, blonde-haired girl running through the trees. 

This little girl, who calls herself Faina, seems to be a child of the woods. She hunts with a red fox at her side, skims lightly across the snow, and somehow survives alone in the Alaskan wilderness. As Jack and Mabel struggle to understand this child who could have stepped from the pages of a fairy tale, they come to love her as their own daughter. But in this beautiful, violent place things are rarely as they appear, and what they eventually learn about Faina will transform all of them.

My Thoughts:
I think I may have owned this book since 2012 so when one of my book club's selections for 2021 was a fairy tale book, I opted to go with this fairy tale retelling. And why had I put it off for almost 10 years? Because it has "snow" in its title and in the winter I don't want to read about snow and cold and when summer arrives I don't want to read about snow and cold. Yeah, I know, a silly reason to put off a reading a book I clearly had wanted to read because I'd paid actually money for it. 
"It was beautiful, Mabel knew, but it was a beauty that ripped you open and scoured you clean so that you were left helpless and exposed if you lived at all."
Now I'm finding myself wondering which other books on my shelves have I put off reading for equally silly reasons, depriving myself of enjoyable reading experiences. Because, despite my fears, especially when this book began, that this was going to be dreary, depressing book, it was very much an enjoyable reading experience. 

Author Robert Goolrick said of The Snow Child, "If Willa Cather and Gabriel Garcia Marquez had collaborated on a book, THE SNOW CHILD would be it. It is a remarkable accomplishment -- a combination of the most delicate, ethereal, fairytale magic and the harsh realities of homesteading in the Alaskan wilderness in 1918." It's a perfect description of this book but there is also so much more to The Snow Child. It's also a book about marriage, communication, friendship, love, what it means to be a parent, and what family means. 

Jack and Martha are both grieving the loss of their stillborn child but they have never talked to each other about their pain and it's the coldness that has developed in their marriage that I felt almost as much as the coldness of the setting. When winter, new friendships, and Faina arrive, things begin to change between them. When an injury sidelines Jack and Martha must step up to help save what they have built, they finally become a partnership that might be able to survive life in Alaska. I like them both and so wanted them to find each other and what they wanted so desperately. 

Here is another book where an element of magical realism is at play, a thing you know I've struggled with in the past, but again it was done just perfectly for me. Maybe because throughout the book we're never really sure whether magic is at play or if the truth of Faina lies in reality. 
"We never know what's going to happen, do we? Life is always thrown us this way and that. That's where the adventure is. Not knowing where you'll end up or how you'll fare. It's all a mystery and when we say any different, we're just lying to ourselves. Tell me, when have you felt most alive?"
And that is what this book is about at its core - the adventure, the mystery of knowing how things will end up for its characters. For me, this book ended up just perfectly. 

Sunday, November 21, 2021

Life: It Goes On - November 21

Happy Sunday! I got my Covid booster late yesterday so I am really dragging as today rolls on. This is not the time of year to spend five hours on the sofa but it's worth it to keep myself safe, especially as the Covid numbers around here are spiking again. At least I was productive yesterday and got my parents' house decorated for Thanksgiving today. 

Last Week I: 

 Listened To: I started Richard Powers' Bewilderment when it suddenly became available weeks before I was expecting to be able to listen to it. 

 The Big Guy and I joined friends in going to see Kenneth Branagh's Belfast last night and think we would all highly recommend it. It's the story of Branagh's life just before his family moved from Belfast to England. It is funny, and tense, and warm and the acting is so good. 

Read: I've been bouncing around between books this week, trying to finish things that will be coming due at the library. I'm racing to finish Piranesi but I think I'm going to end up having to check that out again. I'm also reading Anderson Cooper's Vanderbilt

Made: Lots of fried apples this week, lamb chops, baked chicken, tacos. This week will be a busy week of prepping for Thanksgiving so we may be eating take out for the first part of the week. 

Enjoyed: There were only three of us at book club last week. It made it hard to discuss the book but left us lots of time to catch up with each other. 

This Week I’m:  

Planning: My mom has insisted, all the years of my adult life, that she had more time to cook ahead for holidays (and I think she loved doing it) so I've never done all that much to prepare for the big family get together. This year, though, we've split it up between my sister-in-law, myself, and my dad. So I'm taking a first stab at ham and beans the way my great-grandma made them, making sweet potatoes, pies, and a special family dessert. I'm confident in my ability to make all of it but those beans have been a part of family meals for decades and I'm so afraid I'll do them wrong! 

Thinking About: My mom loved Christmas and giving people gifts but she loved Thanksgiving even more. I've talked to you before about all of the things my parents have done over the years to make the day special. It will be hard this year to not have her directing traffic (the day of she did turn over all of the cooking to my sister, sister-in-law and me), watching with delight as the grandchildren try to solve some puzzle she and my dad have created to make them earn a treasure, and sit in her spot soaking in time with her family. 

Feeling: See first paragraph. The good news is that I'm confident that I'll be feeling much better tomorrow. 

Looking forward to: Being with my family, although we'll miss having my sister and her family with us. She is getting to spend Thanksgiving with her two-week-old grandson! 

Question of the week: What dishes does your family have at Thanksgiving that are tradition for your family but maybe not the traditional dishes the rest of us enjoy? And do you experiment with new versions of the traditional things or do you always adhere to the way you've always done things? 

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Matrix by Lauren Groff

by Lauren Groff
Read by Adjoa Andoh
Published September 2021 by Penguin Publishing Group

Publisher's Summary: 
Cast out of the royal court by Eleanor of Aquitaine, deemed too coarse and rough-hewn for marriage or courtly life, seventeen-year-old Marie de France is sent to England to be the new prioress of an impoverished abbey, its nuns on the brink of starvation and beset by disease.

At first taken aback by the severity of her new life, Marie finds focus and love in collective life with her singular and mercurial sisters. In this crucible, Marie steadily supplants her desire for family, for her homeland, for the passions of her youth with something new to her: devotion to her sisters, and a conviction in her own divine visions. Marie, born the last in a long line of women warriors and crusaders, is determined to chart a bold new course for the women she now leads and protects. But in a world that is shifting and corroding in frightening ways, one that can never reconcile itself with her existence, will the sheer force of Marie’s vision be bulwark enough?

My Thoughts: 
Desperately in love with Eleanor, a woman with whom she will spend the rest of her life in a battle of wits with, Marie is desolate when Eleanor sends her away. Not just away but to a desperately poor abbey in England where there is a better than average chance that she will perish from disease or starvation. Far taller than any other woman in the abbey, clothes have to be cobbled together for Marie, the other nuns mock her, and she struggles to find her way. Until she remembers that she is the prioress of the abbey and, as such, holds some power. Taking matters into her own hands, she soon has the people living on the land of the abbey paying their dues to the abbey, saving the women from starvation. She further convinces the women of the abbey to believe in her power by reallocating jobs, assigning each woman to the task she is best suited for, not the least which had been the way before she arrived. 

As the abbey begins to thrive, so does Marie. She gains greater and greater power and is better and better able to manipulate the people in charge so that she can protect the women in her charge. Over the decades Marie will become the venerated Abbess of a community she is surprised to find herself caring very much about, to the point she would defy the church. 

I didn't even look to see what this book was about when I checked it out from the library. I had been so impressed with Groff's Fates and Furies that I was eager to read more of her work. While I had no idea what this book was about, going in, I certainly was not expecting historical fiction set in the Middle Ages. But in Groff's hands, the line between the Middle Ages and current time was blurred considerably. This is a book about a group of women who take their lives into their own hands, who rule themselves, who demand more from the men who would oversee them. It is a book about friendship, courage, faith, hubris, and love in so many forms. As Marie grows to find love for each of her charges, so do readers, as we grow to understand each of the many women who have devoted their lives to the abbey and, eventually, their abbess. She is a complicated woman, a woman who is strong, intelligent, fierce, and devoted but also often judgmental and arrogant and mean. 

Here is a book that I am certain I would have liked a great deal had I read it in print. But I cannot recommend the audiobook version highly enough; Adjoa Andoh takes the story to an entirely different level. Her voice is wonderful; but, more importantly, her ability to give each of the dozens of female characters unique voices is masterful. What's more, she is able to "age" Marie's voice in a way that I didn't even realize was happening it was so organic. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson

A God In Ruins by Kate Atkinson
Read by Alex Jennings
Published May 2015 by Litte, Brown and Company

Publisher's Summary:
"He had been reconciled to death during the war and then suddenly the war was over and there was a next day and a next day. Part of him never adjusted to having a future." 

Kate Atkinson's dazzling Life After Life explored the possibility of infinite chances and the power of choices, following Ursula Todd as she lived through the turbulent events of the last century over and over again. A God in Ruins tells the dramatic story of the 20th Century through Ursula's beloved younger brother Teddy — would-be poet, heroic pilot, husband, father, and grandfather — as he navigates the perils and progress of a rapidly changing world.

After all that Teddy endures in battle, his greatest challenge is living in a future he never expected to have.

My Thoughts: 
In a year of great books, Life After Life, was one of my favorites. It went without saying that I would read A God In Ruins; I couldn't wait to see what Atkinson had in store for readers after the ride she took us on in Life After Life

Life After Life is written in a way that very much reflects its very vital protagonist, with its unique format and vivid settings. A God In Ruins is written in very much the same way, except that in this book, we are following the life of a very quiet man (the god of the title) who has lived a very quiet life after his service as a pilot during World War II. He marries the girl he's expected to marry, the girl next door, even though while he loves her, he is certain that he is not in love with her. His career path is unspectacular, his only child is a disappointment who seems not to care very much about him, and his one claim to fame seems to be the books that his aunt wrote that were based on him for their title character. 

Atkinson mostly alternates between Teddy's years in service and his life in post-World War II England but the book begins with a look back at Teddy's childhood years and then jumps forward 45 years to his daughter's life as commune-living hippie who is married to an unsuccessful painter. It quickly becomes apparent that this book, like life After Life, will not have a traditional narrative although it will have a much quieter one. Teddy, like his wife, Nancy, when she discovers she has cancer, and his daughter, Violet, when she tries of writing successful novels, has resigned himself to his life. He is fine, has always been fine, with letting life play out as it will. 
“Now it was settled, now there were no more possibilities.”
Teddy's life is something of a reflection of all of England, post-war. It feels muted. Even when Teddy becomes convinced that his wife is having an affair, there is no real explosion of emotion. Which is not to say that Teddy is without emotion, he just seems incapable of truly expressing it and sometimes, it seems, that is for the best. Teddy is at his best as a pilot because of this and those scenes are the most vivid and alive of the book. 
"He had been reconciled to death during the war and then suddenly the war was over and there was a next day and a next day. Part of him never adjusted to having a future." 
Just when I was certain that the book would end as quietly as Teddy's live has been lived, Atkinson made me gasp. And that was exactly what made the rest of the book feel entirely different. One of my favorite book endings in a long while. 

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Life: It Goes On - November 14

Happy Sunday! As I type, I'm looking outside at a sunny day and I can almost pretend that it's a warm and sunny day...except for the fact that the wind is blowing and I can see the neighbor children playing outside all bundled up. It's supposed to warm up and I'm hoping they're right because I still need to finish that sewing machine project (yeah, yeah - I know I've been saying that for a couple of weeks!). 

It's the last week for this picture - after four days of strong winds there are very few leaves left on most of the trees. And this is when my winter blues start to set in, especially with the end of daylight savings time, so it's time to try to find ways to make these next few months more tolerable. First up, I've decided to give myself permission to leave lights on in rooms I'm not in so the evenings are not so dark. Hit me up with your best suggestions!

Last Week I: 

Listened To:
 I finished Lauren Groff's Matrix but I'm weeks away from getting my next scheduled audiobook so I listened to a lot of music and some podcasts, including Glennon Doyle's We Can Do Hard Things

Watched: I haven't been home a lot this week so not much, besides football and our usual Sunday morning cooking shows.

Read: I'm racing to finish Eowyn Ivey's The Snow Child for book club on Tuesday. I've had entirely too many library books became available at the same time so I'm basically racing to finish ALL of the books lately.

Made: Again, I haven't been home much so I haven't cooked much. I did make penne alfredo to take to a friend for her family's dinner. 

 I won lottery tickets to Hamilton for last night's performance! My sister-in-law and I went to dinner then off to the show where we had front row seats. Not the best for a full view of the stage but it was so fun to be that close to the performers and the music director. 

Also, a five-hour Happy Hour with the ladies I call my Tier Ones. Four bottles of wine, loads of food, even more catching up and laughing. These ladies recharge my soul.

This Week I’m:  

Planning: On getting my Covid vaccine booster so, knowing the way I've reacted to the vaccine before, also planning on a day of being really tired right after it. 

Thinking About: Christmas decorating. The Tier Ones settled on a December 4 progressive dinner which means that my house can't be in its usual state of Christmas decorating chaos on that date this year. Which also means that I can't wait until after Thanksgiving to start the process. Normally, I'm a stickler for waiting but this year I've got some new ideas that I'm eager to put together. 

Feeling: Relaxed, which, as you've probably figured out by now, is rare for me. 

Looking forward to: Book club Tuesday.

Question of the week: Besides the turkey, what's your favorite Thanksgiving food?

Monday, November 8, 2021

The Cartographer's Secret by Tea Cooper

The Cartographer's Secret
by Tea Cooper
400 Pages
Published November 2021
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher, through TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review

Publisher's Summary:

The Hunter Valley, 1880—Evie Ludgrove loves to chart the landscape around her home—hardly surprising since she grew up in the shadow of her father’s obsession with the great Australian explorer Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt. So when an advertisement appears in The Bulletin magazine offering a thousand-pound reward for proof of where Leichhardt met his fate, Evie is determined to use her father’s papers to unravel the secret. But when Evie sets out to prove her theory, she vanishes without a trace, leaving behind a mystery that haunts her family for thirty years. 

1911—Letitia Rawlings arrives at the family estate in her Ford Model T to inform her great-aunt Olivia of a loss in their family. But Letitia is also escaping her own problems—her brother’s sudden death, her mother’s scheming, and her dissatisfaction with the life planned out for her. So when Letitia discovers a beautifully illustrated map that might hold a clue to the fate of her missing aunt, Evie Ludgrove, she sets out to discover the truth. But all is not as it seems, and Letitia begins to realize that solving the mystery of her family’s past could offer as much peril as redemption.

My Thoughts: 
Earlier this year I read and reviewed Cooper's The Girl In The Painting and enjoyed it so much that I didn't need to know anything more about this one than the author's name to know that I would read and review it. 

I've told you before that I'm not very good about reading Afterwards and Author's Notes when I've finished a book but recently I've been finding that I'm gaining a greater appreciation for the story by doing so. Cooper reveals that she's always had a interest in maps, especially after she found out that many early cartographers were women. Liking to set her books in Australia led her to the true story of Dr. Ludwig Leichhardt. And thus began her story of a how a young woman, interested in mapmaking, resolves to find the truth between Leichhardt's disappearance. 

Like The Girl In The Painting, Cooper sets her story primarily in the Australian outback and the setting comes alive in her hands. Even before I looked up Yellow Rock to see if there was such a place, I pictured it very much as it's seen here. It's not the only similarity these books have - both have mysteries to be solved, young women who won't be stopped by the conventions of the day, and family at the core of the story. It is the story of love, grief, loss, guilt, secrets, and the things that bind a family together and those that tear a family apart. It's also the story of three women who defy expectations to live their lives in ways that they choose. 

Unlike most dual story lines set in different time periods, there is a direct link between the two stories and not a lot of time between them. It feels much more natural that these stories should tie together then the usual dual storylines and I find that much more enjoyable in a book than when a modern day storyline is used simply as a means to tell an historical story from a modern perspective. 

My only quibbles with the book were that sometimes it could feel repetitive, occasionally it got a bit unnecessarily confusing, and there is a romance that I didn't feel was necessary. Otherwise, it was a book that pulled me through, made me care about the characters, and feel like I was immersed in the setting. 

Thanks to the ladies of TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. 

About the Author Tea Cooper is an established Australian author of historical fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist, and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling. She is the winner of two Daphne du Maurier Awards and the bestselling author of several novels, including The Horse Thief, The Cedar Cutter, The Currency Lass, and The Naturalist’s Daughter.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Life: It Goes On - November 7

Happy Sunday! We've had a glorious weekend here, by Nebraska November standards, at least. We've gotten a lot a yard work done, enjoyed the fall foliage in our yard, even as it was falling to the ground, and gotten to eat some final patio meals before it's too cold to do that for the next few months. 

As nice as it was to be outside, it was also a reminder of why it's hard for me to be excited about autumn. It's not really autumn until the leaves start to turn, sometime in October, and it's more or less over once the leaves have all fallen, which will be in the next week or two. So, it's essentially a six-week season, during which I have to spend a good deal of time and effort making my yard look barren. And then today arrives and I lose an hour of sunlight on the end of the day I need it the most. **Sigh**
Last Week I: 

 Listened To: Lauren Groff's latest, Matrix. It being by Lauren Groff, I didn't even look to see what Matrix was about before I checked it out. It isn't at all what I was expecting but I'm really enjoying it and I'm really happy that I'm listening to this one. 

Watched: Nothing you don't already know that I watched. 

Read: I've got so many books that have come in from the library and that I need to read for review that I've been reading like a maniac this week. Tonight I'll race to finish Tea Cooper's latest, The Cartographer's Secret, so that I can write a review for a TLC Book Tours review tomorrow. I always enjoy her books because they are all set in Australia. 

Made: Lasagna, spinach and ricotta stuffed jumbo shells, taco salads, grilled cheese. Not exactly health food!

 Another weekend with Miss H. She came up so she and The Big Guy could go to Hamilton, the first time either of them has seen it. She has been wanting to see it since the first time she listened to the soundtrack. I wish I could have gone with her so I could have seen her reactions (I know tears were shed!) but I'm so glad that she and her daddy got to have that time together, just the two of them. 

This Week I’m:  

Planning: It's going to be a busy week, so no major projects will get worked on during the week. Hoping to find the time next weekend to finish up my sewing cabinet project, though. 

Thinking About: Christmas decorating. I absolutely will not actually decorate until after Thanksgiving and I'll be ready to take it all down right after Christmas. But right now, I'm excited to think about what I'm going to do differently this year. 

Feeling: Excited. My sister became a grandma for the first time yesterday. I'm so happy for her (and, of course, my brother-in-law and the new parents!). 

Looking forward to: Celebrating birthdays with the friends I call my tier ones on Tuesday!

Question of the week: The coffee places have brought in the Christmas flavors; I had a peppermint mocha the other day. Are you hanging on to pumpkin spice or are you ready for the Christmas flavors? 

Monday, November 1, 2021

How I'm Spending My Afterlife by Spencer Fleury

How I'm Spending My Afterlife
by Spencer Fleury
Published September 2021 by Woodhall Press
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher, through TLC Book Tours, in exchange for an honest review

Publisher's Summary:

After you’re gone, what will they say about you? Alton Carver is about to find out. Alton’s got a problem: he’s under federal investigation for embezzling and securities fraud. Instead of spending the next three to five years behind bars, he’s got a plan: stage his own death, take the money he stole and light out for Central America, leaving behind wife Nicole and daughter Clara. But when he sticks around town long enough to watch his own funeral, he makes the unpleasant discovery that the life he’s leaving behind isn’t the life he thought he had. When he overhears the way his former colleagues talk about him now that he’s “gone,” Alton is forced to reconsider his self-image as a respected and admired pillar of the legal community. Then the shock of seeing Nicole in the arms of another man leads Alton to postpone his plan to run for the border. What comes next is a slow-burn train wreck, a tale of self-deception, revenge and bad decisions.

My Thoughts: 
Somewhere I read this book described as a thriller. I definitely wouldn't define it as a thriller. To my way of thinking, How I'm Spending My Afterlife is a dark comedy. 

As a debut, this book shows a lot of promise. Fleury's writing is clever and humorous and he somehow manages to make you like Alton who is, truth be told, a very unlikable chap. He's the kind of guy who drives a Porsche then feels entitled to park it in two spaces. He buys the best bicycle and the gear for it then never puts more than a mile on it. He buys a vintage sport car but tires of the idea of fixing it up before he's done a thing to it. And he definitely, stole three million dollars and committed insurance fraud to cover it up. All of this might add up to a guy you can't stand but Alton is so lacking in self-awareness that you begin to feel a little bit sorry for him, especially when you find out that his wife's been cheating on him with a complete sleaze ball. Yes, he'd been a terrible husband but she wasn't that great a wife or mother. And Alton is a really great dad who always made time for his daughter even when he didn't do that for his wife. He adores his daughter and she adores him; kids are great judges of character, right? 

What didn't work as well for me was the pacing of the book. While the book moves back and forth between Alton's narration and Nicole's, we spend a good majority of the book in Alton's head. Unfortunately, while we're there, not much more happens than Alton feeling sorry for himself while he justifies what he's doing. I would have liked to see more fleshing out of the characters, more action instead - something that moved the story forward. 

That said, I raced through the parts that dragged because I just knew that this was going to end badly and I wanted to know just how. We know that both Alton and Nicole are "talking" to someone as we read their sides of the story and I really wanted to see who that was and why they were talking to those people. I couldn't help but hope that some kindly grandparent would show up at the last second to rescue little Clara   just as her parents were hauled off to jail. Forty pages from the end, I still wasn't sure how this was going to play out and I loved that Fleury could keep me guessing. 

As I said, a promising, if flawed debut that has enough going for it to convince me to read Fleury's followup. 

Thanks to the ladies at TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. For other opinions about this book, check out the full tour: 

Monday, October 11th: Books and Bindings

Tuesday, October 12th: @books_and_biceps9155

Thursday, October 14th: @shopcoffeekids

Friday, October 15th: @oomilyreads

Monday, October 18th: @annoying_sidekick_thoughts

Wednesday, October 20th: @whimsyreadswithshelby

Friday, October 22nd: @thebookishalix

Monday, October 15th: @bluntscissorsbookreviews

Wednesday, October 27th: @bathtubbookworm

Monday, November 1st: @jessicamap

Wednesday, November 3rd: Girl Who Reads

Thursday, November 4th:

About the author: 
Spencer Fleury has worked as a sailor, copywriter, record store clerk and economics professor, among other disreputable professions. His work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and has previously appeared in outlets including Utne Reader, Ascent, and the anthology City by City: Dispatches from the American Metropolis. This is his first novel. He lives in San Francisco.