Get in My Kindle: The Next Person You Meet in Heaven by Mitch Albom

Happy Tuesday, fellow shelf-addicts! This week’s Get in My Kindle comes with a bit of a **SPOILER ALERT. THIS IS NOT A TEST OF THE SPOILER ALERT SYSTEM! IT’S A LEGIT SPOILER ALERT WARNING.** If you haven’t read Mitch Albom’s The Five People You Meet in Heaven and you want to (trust me, you want you if you haven’t already), then you might want to skip this post and come back to it after you do. If you just can’t wait to know why I’m so excited about The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, I suggest skipping over the Amazon description and going straight to why I’m excited to read. You’ve been warned. **THIS CONCLUDES A LEGIT WARNING FROM THE SPOILER ALERT SYSTEM**

Title: The Next Person You Meet in Heaven The Next Person You Meet in Heaven

Author: Mitch Albom

Release Date: October 9, 2018

*SPOILER ALERT* Description: In this enchanting sequel to the number one bestseller The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom tells the story of Eddie’s heavenly reunion with Annie—the little girl he saved on earth—in an unforgettable novel of how our lives and losses intersect.
Fifteen years ago, in Mitch Albom’s beloved novel, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, the world fell in love with Eddie, a grizzled war veteran- turned-amusement park mechanic who died saving the life of a young girl named Annie. Eddie’s journey to heaven taught him that every life matters. Now, in this magical sequel, Mitch Albom reveals Annie’s story.

The accident that killed Eddie left an indelible mark on Annie. It took her left hand, which needed to be surgically reattached. Injured, scarred, and unable to remember why, Annie’s life is forever changed by a guilt-ravaged mother who whisks her away from the world she knew. Bullied by her peers and haunted by something she cannot recall, Annie struggles to find acceptance as she grows. When, as a young woman, she reconnects with Paulo, her childhood love, she believes she has finally found happiness.
As the novel opens, Annie is marrying Paulo. But when her wedding night day ends in an unimaginable accident, Annie finds herself on her own heavenly journey—and an inevitable reunion with Eddie, one of the five people who will show her how her life mattered in ways she could not have fathomed.

Poignant and beautiful, filled with unexpected twists, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven reminds us that not only does every life matter, but that every ending is also a beginning—we only need to open our eyes to see it.

Why I Can’t Wait to Read: Over a decade ago, I sat in my aunt and uncle’s sun room and read The Five People You Meet in Heaven in one sitting. I was captivated by the story of Eddie, the “war vet turned amusement park mechanic,” who dies trying to save a little girl and goes to Heaven. During the course of the book, Eddie meets five people who explain his life to him, people who have, whether or not Eddie has known it, changed his life’s path. Eddie, and the reader, is left wondering if Eddie managed to save the little girl until the end. The book’s portrayal of Heaven and the afterlife serves not only the premise, but the story. I remember being spellbound.

As soon as I saw this book’s title while scrolling on Facebook, I knew two things: this was a sequel to a book I loved reading, and I had to read it. Reading the description and finding out who we’re following on this journey only made me want to read it more.

I have to be honest. I am, by nature, immediately suspicious of sequels to things I loved. I don’t mean series books that are all leading to the epic showdown or reveal, but an honest to goodness sequel. I’m plagued by worries that the author, director, or songwriter is going to release a work that will not only be subpar, but take away from my love of the original. I hope for more than a rehashing or remixing of the same ingredients or another lap around the same track, but I brace myself for a carbon copy that doesn’t quite live up to the original. So it’s a big deal that I’m buzzing about a sequel here.

Unlike millions of people, I never read Tuesdays with Morrie or any of Albom’s other books. He’s not on my auto-buy list. But the memories I have of reading and loving the one book of his I have read makes this a can’t miss book for me. I’m keeping my fingers and toes crossed this sequel is worth the wait–and a read.

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Hardcover:

Kindle:

EVENT ALERT: If you are in the Orlando/Winter Park, FL area on Oct 11, independent bookstore The Writer’s Block will be hosting The Orlando Sentinel’s Unscripted event, a Celebratory Evening with Mitch Albom, at Rollin’s College.

Your Turn: Do you like reading sequels? What’s your favorite sequel or “return” to a specific world or character’s life after a long hiatus? 

Get in My Kindle: Becoming by Michelle Obama

Happy Thursday, Shelfies! It’s been a grueling week here after a fun but chaotic weekend of reading, editing, exploring with my dad to celebrate his birthday, and a series of flat tires. I finished I’d Rather be Reading this weekend before getting ensnared by Maggie O’Farrell’s beautifully written and well structured memoir I Am, I Am, I Am. I am 65% done and still turning the pages as fast as possible. In the spirit of sharing what promises to be a great memoir in its own right, I give you this week’s Get in My Kindle featured book (and a promise to start posting regularly again). 

Title: BecomingBecoming Michelle Obama

Author: Michelle Obama

Release Date: November 13, 2018

Description: In a life filled with meaning and accomplishment, Michelle Obama has emerged as one of the most iconic and compelling women of our era. As First Lady of the United States of America—the first African American to serve in that role—she helped create the most welcoming and inclusive White House in history, while also establishing herself as a powerful advocate for women and girls in the U.S. and around the world, dramatically changing the ways that families pursue healthier and more active lives, and standing with her husband as he led America through some of its most harrowing moments. Along the way, she showed us a few dance moves, crushed Carpool Karaoke, and raised two down-to-earth daughters under an unforgiving media glare.

In her memoir, a work of deep reflection and mesmerizing storytelling, Michelle Obama invites readers into her world, chronicling the experiences that have shaped her—from her childhood on the South Side of Chicago to her years as an executive balancing the demands of motherhood and work, to her time spent at the world’s most famous address. With unerring honesty and lively wit, she describes her triumphs and her disappointments, both public and private, telling her full story as she has lived it—in her own words and on her own terms. Warm, wise, and revelatory, Becoming is the deeply personal reckoning of a woman of soul and substance who has steadily defied expectations—and whose story inspires us to do the same.

Why I Can’t Wait to Read: Michelle Obama has become many things to me since I first saw her standing beside her husband at different campaign events, but perhaps the most important has been as a role model, an example of what’s possible, for young black women. She’s been poised under scrutiny, exhibiting class and refusing to be cast as another angry black woman while speaking out on issues and speaking up for those who have been marginalized. An intelligent woman, a gifted orator, and a woman who seemed to balance career and family well in what’s perhaps the world’s strongest spotlight, I can’t help but be interested in her story as a whole.

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of origin stories. Whether it’s the idea for a novel, a career defining decision, or the minute choices and steps taken to evolve into a world leader, I’m fascinated by stories that take me back to the beginning and show me how people and things came to be. To hear the tale in the person’s own words is even better. I want to know how Michelle became Michelle Obama, the first African-American woman to become FLOTUS, and what she’s evolving into in her post-White House life.

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Hardcover

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Are you looking forward to Becoming? Any other memoirs coming soon you can’t wait to read? Let me know in the comments below. 

Return Reads: The Blue Willow Brides Series by Maggie Brendan


Once upon a time, there was a lovely young woman who fell in love with her father’s humble assistant. This love affair angered the young woman’s father because of the difference in their backgrounds. To keep his daughter from continuing the relationship, the father dismissed the assistant and built a huge fence around his property to keep the young lovers apart. He arranged for his daughter to marry a powerful Duke instead. When the Duke arrived to marry the young woman, he presented her with a box of jewels. On the eve of the wedding, the young assistant disguised himself as a servant, slipped into the house, and escaped with the jewels and the woman he loved. Using the Duke’s ship, the young couple escaped to a secluded island where they lived happily for many years. When the Duke learned of their location, he sent soldiers to capture the couple and put them to death. The gods, touched by their unfortunate situation and the power of their loved, transformed the couple into doves, thus returning them to freedom.

Lovely tale, isn’t it? This is the story, behind the Blue Willow china pattern that became popular in 18th century England.

Blue Willow China

It’s also the inspiration behind a series of books I recently rediscovered buried deep in my kindle library.

The Blue Willow Brides series by Maggie Brendan follows three sisters as they immigrate from Holland to the wilds of the western territory of America to become mail order brides. Each sister has a love of blue willow china, its meaning held deep in their hearts. That love surrounds each of the three books in the series and is enough to make anyone want to start collecting the delicate pattern.

Maggie Brendan writes genuinely vivid characters and journeys that leave readers feeling satisfied with the happy ending they crave. Her stories deal with the trials – and sometimes humor – that comes from navigating romantic relationships without succumbing to traditional romance tropes. It’s no wonder her novels have won many awards.

Rediscovering her series and rereading them much later into the night than I expected reminded me how much I love her writing! I’ve since downloaded several of her other books that I plan to read this autumn when the weather gives me a perfect excuse to curl up with a good book. Check out Maggie’s Blue Willow Brides series and I promise you’ll be reading it (and rereading it) late into the night, too!

We’d love to hear your views on rereading. Are you a re-reader? Why or why not?

Get in My Kindle: Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty

Title: Nine Perfect StrangersNine Perfect Strangers

Author: Liane Moriarty

Release Date: November 6, 2018

Description:

Could ten days at a health resort really change you forever? In Liane Moriarty’s latest page-turner, nine perfect strangers are about to find out…

Nine people gather at a remote health resort. Some are here to lose weight, some are here to get a reboot on life, some are here for reasons they can’t even admit to themselves. Amidst all of the luxury and pampering, the mindfulness and meditation, they know these ten days might involve some real work. But none of them could imagine just how challenging the next ten days are going to be.

Frances Welty, the formerly best-selling romantic novelist, arrives at Tranquillum House nursing a bad back, a broken heart, and an exquisitely painful paper cut. She’s immediately intrigued by her fellow guests. Most of them don’t look to be in need of a health resort at all. But the person that intrigues her most is the strange and charismatic owner/director of Tranquillum House. Could this person really have the answers Frances didn’t even know she was seeking? Should Frances put aside her doubts and immerse herself in everything Tranquillum House has to offer – or should she run while she still can?

It’s not long before every guest at Tranquillum House is asking exactly the same question.

Combining all of the hallmarks that have made her writing a go-to for anyone looking for wickedly smart, page-turning fiction that will make you laugh and gasp, Liane Moriarty’s Nine Perfect Strangers once again shows why she is a master of her craft.

Why I Can’t Wait to Read: I have a confession to make. I haven’t read or watched Big Little Lies. This oversight is probably worth a FOMO book post where I invite you to tell me whether or not it’s worth it, but at the moment I’m simply establishing the fact I am not a Liane Moriarty fan. I’ve heard the name, but to be honest, I think of the arch nemesis of Sherlock Holmes before the #1 New York Times Bestselling author.

What intrigues me about this book isn’t name recognition or a particularly well thought out title (Although the title is reminiscent of the original title of an Agatha Christie mystery that was renamed, and the prospect of reading a book like that is exciting. Perhaps the title is ironic and the characters are either not strangers or not as perfect as they seem. Operating on the book’s description, I can’t be sure. However, I reserve the right to a smug, knowing smile if either guess proves correct). The draw for me is the description.

I’m a big fan of character driven works. Having an attention grabbing premise is a good hook, but if you want to reel in a reader like me, you’re going to need to get me on the side of at least one character quickly. From the brief description of the main character, Frances, I think I’d love to follow her. She’s a former bestseller, which makes me wonder why she isn’t a bestseller now. She’s nursing a bad back (how old is she) and a broken heart (who broke her heart? Does that factor into the story). Then we’re given the curious detail of the “exquisitely painful paper cut,” when her back and broken heart aren’t given such descriptors. It’s not surprising that a writer would be intrigued by the other people at the health resort, but the teasing hint of danger at the end, should she run while she still can?, well, that is surprising.

If Ms. Moriarty is as skilled a writer as the internet says she is, this may be a page turner I can’t put down until I know what happened and who’s behind it. It’s times like this I wish I had enough of a following to be sent ARCs of books like this for review, or be granted interviews with well known authors, because I would love to be ahead of the curve on this one.

If a potentially witty page turner with an interesting protagonist and a good bit of mystery thrown in strikes your fancy, pre-order your copy from Amazon using my affiliate links below:

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Have you read anything by Liane Moriarity? Are you looking forward to Nine Perfect Strangers? Let me know your thoughts on this week’s pick in the comments

Get in My Kindle: Remember God by Annie F. Downs

Title: Remember God Remember God

Author: Annie F. Downs

Release Date: October 2, 2018

Description: 

I know God is loving; I know He is good; I believe He is big and powerful. But sometimes I wonder if He is really kind— really deeply always kind.

Is He?

Christians love to talk about how God is in control, but that’s harder to grasp when things aren’t going like you thought they would, when your life looks quite different than you imagined.

For centuries, God’s people have been building altars to Him—to remind themselves and the people around them of His work. His goodness. His kindness. Stacks of stones. Altars. Temples. Cathedrals. Why? Because they believed God and wanted to remember Him.

In the back of my mind, God reminds me that He is the same trustworthy God—the One who always finishes the stories he starts. And this is my story—of wrestling with our God who gives a limp and a blessing. A God who is always kind even when my circumstances feel the opposite. God is who He says He is. He is kinder than you imagine. In a world where it is easy to forget who He is, we will not. We will remember God.

Why I Can’t Wait to Read: I’ve been following Annie for years and have read Let’s All Be Brave and Looking for Lovely. What I love about Annie’s writing is its honesty. Annie shares a lot of her life in her stories. Annie doesn’t lecture; she simply shares what she has learned by telling her story.

If you’ve read any of my Get in My Kindle picks, you know that I love a memoir or story of someone’s life, and all of Annie’s books are deeply personal. I’ve followed her journey of writing and editing this book, and as with Dani Shapiro’s forthcoming Inheritance, I feel invested in this story because I’ve seen what it cost the author to write it.

Annie is my friend in my head. We are both single Christian women in our thirties trying to make sense of a life that hasn’t turned out like we expected. God is still refining and teaching, and sometimes it’s hard to remember there’s a God behind what’s happening, and He has a purpose for it all. From what I’ve heard, Annie shares the story of her struggle to remember God through a particularly trying season. I can’t wait to see what she learns.

If you’re interested in Annie’s book, pre-order it right away! Annie is giving the first five thousand people to pre-order a free copy of the audio book! Go to anniefdowns.com to redeem your pre-order. You can order using my affiliate link below or use the links for other retailers on Annie’s site. The offer will disappear once all the audiobooks have been claimed. 

Grab It. Affiliate Links: 

Paperback:

Kindle: This wasn’t available when I checked. I’ll post it as soon as I find it.

 

Writing Wednesday: Diary of a Submission

Previously on By Her Shelf…

…“How Pleasure and Pain Became Friends.” I started it as a teenager… Over the years, their backgrounds and relationship has changed but the idea has always been there. I even entered a version of it in So You Think You Can Write. My CPs have read a large chunk of it, and one in particular always asks me when I’m going to finish it, but I haven’t… If I can get out of my own head, I might be able to have a finished story worth submitting. -Erica D. Hearns

I wrote this last month about my white whale story, an inspirational romance at the same time Harlequin was running the Romance Includes You submission blitz to find diverse stories from underrepresented groups. Sunday night at 11:59PM EST. The first chapter and synopsis of the above story was submitted at 9:53PM. This is the story. *insert Law and Order chimes*

Two weeks ago, I told my critique partner and fellow By Her Shelf blogger Christina I was thinking of submitting Pleasure’s Paine to this blitz. She urged me to do it, even offering to beta read and critique my entry that weekend. I didn’t get to it. She told me she was ready to do it anytime I needed her to. Flash forward to Sunday morning. After staying in bed the day before with a headache, I woke up pain free and energized. I decided to take the plunge and submit. I printed off the first chapter to edit on paper, saved my document, and treated myself to a decaf caramel latté. I knew many of the things I wanted to address, and editing flew by. When I returned to my computer, I realized I’d somehow erased the first chapter from the document. *cue panic attack*

But after the panic came…freedom. All of a sudden, I was back in the driver’s seat. I didn’t have to try and rework what was on the page because nothing was on the page. I didn’t even have to stick with the changes I’d made earlier that morning. Staring at the a blank page that shouldn’t have been blank broke the chains that tied me to what I’d already written.

In less than 12 hours, I rewrote the first chapter and created the entire synopsis from scratch. I sent pages to Christina in between writing sessions, received her feedback, and made adjustments. Then I uploaded my document, crafted a cover letter on the spot, and hit submit for the first time in three years.

I believe I was able to turn this submission around so quickly because I’ve lived with these characters for well over a decade, know their voices/POVs, and wasn’t afraid to kill any darlings that didn’t fit the story I was crafting. The reality of the deadline kept me plowing forward and forced me to figure out fixes on the fly. All of that is true. But the one thing I would point to above all those factors is the fact I was tired of letting golden opportunities pass me by without making any effort to grab them.

This year, I’ve committed myself to the concept of sowing. My only goal has been to say yes, take the opportunity, make the attempt, and see what happened. This blog is one of the seeds I sowed. I enjoy seeing that people are reading, liking, and commenting, but my commitment is to showing up and sharing my views on books and all things pertaining to the reading life.

Even though  I’ve made significant progress on my goal, I’ve allowed myself to watch potentially life-changing opportunities pass me by. These opportunities would have cost me nothing but the time, effort and courage to try. Sowing those seeds could have led to a new career, meeting new people, and getting to see more of the world I live in. I didn’t want this to be another thing I wished I had the courage to reach for.

All I’m guaranteed is feedback by October 1st. Whether the feedback is good or bad, whether they request more of the manuscript or not, the feeling of accomplishment that came over me when I took the time to acknowledge I’d done the thing I set out to do is reward enough for me to keep working on this story. I hope this seed will grow into something, but I’ve done my part for now. I’ll continue doing it.

Good luck to everyone with a story on submission?

What leaps have you made to move closer to your dreams/goals? Which leap are you preparing to make? Any book recommendations on taking leaps?

If you’re thinking of taking a creative leap, you might want to check out the kindle version of bestselling author and creativity expert Jeff Goins’ #1 bestseller, Real Artists Don’t Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age. It’s on sale right now for $1.99! I just snagged my copy. Click the affiliate link in the photo to snag yours.

Get in My Kindle: She Would Be King by Wayétu Moore

Hello, book lovers! I’m actually off from my day job today (yay!), but instead of deep diving into the new book I started yesterday (The Outsider by Stephen King), I’m at the library attempting to bang out formatting and editing work for some authors I work with (although I’m almost done with the first section of The Outsider and my brain is already churning at the skillful structure, the characterization, and the way he’s fleshed out this fictional area in Oklahoma despite the tight focus. I can’t wait to figure out what in the world is going on). I missed Monday’s usual Get in My Kindle, but there are so many great books coming out, I couldn’t miss sharing a new one with you this week. Today, in keeping with the little dip we took into Magical Realism yesterday, I’m sharing a novel described as having “an exhilarating range, magical realism, and history.”

She Would Be King Title: She Would Be King

Author: Wayétu Moore

Release Date: September 11, 2018

Description: Wayétu Moore’s powerful debut novel, She Would Be King, reimagines the dramatic story of Liberia’s early years through three unforgettable characters who share an uncommon bond. Gbessa, exiled from the West African village of Lai, is starved, bitten by a viper, and left for dead, but still she survives. June Dey, raised on a plantation in Virginia, hides his unusual strength until a confrontation with the overseer forces him to flee. Norman Aragon, the child of a white British colonizer and a Maroon slave from Jamaica, can fade from sight when the earth calls him. When the three meet in the settlement of Monrovia, their gifts help them salvage the tense relationship between the African American settlers and the indigenous tribes, as a new nation forms around them.

Moore’s intermingling of history and magical realism finds voice not just in these three characters but also in the fleeting spirit of the wind, who embodies an ancient wisdom. “If she was not a woman,” the wind says of Gbessa, “she would be king.” In this vibrant story of the African diaspora, Moore, a talented storyteller and a daring writer, illuminates with radiant and exacting prose the tumultuous roots of a country inextricably bound to the United States. She Would Be King is a novel of profound depth set against a vast canvas and a transcendent debut from a major new author.

Why I Can’t Wait to Read: As you might have learned yesterday, I’m not very familiar with magical realism. When anyone said those words to me, the only book I could possibly name was 100 Years of Solitude, which I haven’t read. I’m also not a big fan of historical fiction. It’s not historical fiction’s fault; I just feel like I have to KNOW the history in order to appreciate the fiction, and unless it’s a well-known, interesting event or period in history, chances are I don’t know enough about it to suit me. Nothing about this book’s genres screams “Put me in your kindle, Erica Denise!” So why is it here?

Simply put, the story sounds fascinating. A novel sweeping three countries, with three extraordinary people who possess extraordinary gifts, who meet in a land and somehow bring disparate people together to form a new nation? Intriguing. The fact it pulls together Africans and people of the diaspora and talks about a history I’ve always found myself wondering about raises my interest level.

If you’re playing book bingo or part of a challenge, it’s a perfect storm of checkmarks: diversity, magical realism, historical fiction, a debut novel, a woman writer of color, etc.

I’m a reader who loves to discover a new voice. I’m always looking for debut authors and their works. I search out their interviews to see what they’re passionate about and how they tell a story well before I investigate their books. Through the wonders of the internet, I somehow found myself following Wayétu Moore on Instagram. Her feed is full of posts from her recent trip to visit family in Africa, meeting with people whose ancestors owned her ancestors, and even her recent wedding. She’s shown herself to be a thoughtful writer who knows how to tell a story even in a concise space. I’m looking forward to reading what she does in a longer form.

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Are you a fan of debut novels? Looking to read in a new to you genre? What book outside of your usual reading zone has you intrigued? 

Gateway Books: Magical Realism

If you’ve always wanted to know what magical realism is or get a few book recommendations in this genre, read on. Click on the book covers to find the books on Amazon. 

A few years ago, I read a book that introduced me to a genre of books I hadn’t experienced before: Magical Realism. It was one of those reading experiences I remember so fiercely. It challenged many of the usual pictures I create in my mind’s eye when reading and replaced them with curiosities I could question as abstracts yet accept as completely real.

Considered to stem from Latin American Literature, magical realism is not only a genre of narrative fiction, but also a concept seen in paintings, films, and a variety of different areas of art. It’s one of those genres that leaves most readers confused because they often can’t quite identify what it is about a piece, but know something is strangely well, magical. These elements of magic and the supernatural tend to exist in an otherwise ordinary world. The balance is difficult to achieve yet perfectly splendid when it does because it refuses to reveal everything to the reader.

Here are five books to add to your reading list if the appeal of the imaginary blending with the ordinary is to your tastes. I encourage you to explore this genre and discover for yourself if magic really is real.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton
Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava — in all other ways a normal girl — is born with the wings of a bird. In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naive to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the summer solstice celebration. That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo. First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris
In tiny Lansquenet, where nothing much has changed in a hundred years, beautiful newcomer Vianne Rocher and her exquisite chocolate shop arrive and instantly begin to play havoc with Lenten vows. Each box of luscious bonbons comes with a free gift: Vianne’s uncanny perception of its buyer’s private discontents and a clever, caring cure for them. Is she a witch? Soon the parish no longer cares, as it abandons itself to temptation, happiness, and a dramatic face-off between Easter solemnity and the pagan gaiety of a chocolate festival. Chocolat’s every page offers a description of chocolate to melt in the mouths of chocoholics, francophiles, armchair gourmets, cookbook readers, and lovers of passion everywhere. It’s a must for anyone who craves an escapist read, and is a bewitching gift for any holiday.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
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.

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez (considered one of the first books using Magical Realism)
One of the twentieth century’s most beloved and acclaimed novels, One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the story of the rise and fall, birth and death of the mythical town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family. Inventive, amusing, magnetic, sad, and alive with unforgettable men and women—brimming with truth, compassion, and a lyrical magic that strikes the soul—this novel is a masterpiece in the art of fiction.

The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind by Meg Medina
Sixteen-year-old Sonia Ocampo was born on the night of the worst storm Tres Montes had ever seen. And when the winds mercifully stopped, an unshakable belief in the girl’s protective powers began. All her life, Sonia has been asked to pray for sick mothers or missing sons, as worried parents and friends press silver milagros in her hands. Sonia knows she has no special powers, but how can she disappoint those who look to her for solace? Still, her conscience is heavy, so when she gets a chance to travel to the city and work in the home of a wealthy woman, she seizes it. At first, Sonia feels freedom in being treated like all the other girls. But when news arrives that her beloved brother has disappeared while looking for work, she learns to her sorrow that she can never truly leave the past or her family behind. With deeply realized characters, a keen sense of place, a hint of magical realism, and a flush of young romance, Meg Medina tells the tale of a strong willed, warmhearted girl who dares to face life’s harsh truths as she finds her real power.

Shelf talk: Have you read any of these books? Have other recommendations? Let us know in the comments section. 

#ReadWhatYouOwn September

Hola, fellow book lovers! This week has been super busy for me, and it’s not over yet! While I’m finishing this month helping two independent authors publish their books and sneaking in a few pages of my current read here and there, I’m already thinking about what I will be able to read with a less rigorous schedule next month. While perusing some #bookstagram pics, I came across a challenge that might peak your readerly interest. It certainly has my vote!

If you’re an avid reader, chances are, like me, you have several books in your house that you haven’t read yet (even though you’re probably chomping at the bit for that new book at the bookstore, or the one coming to your doorstep or kindle soon!). Despite my best intentions, and my desire to read them, many of these books fall by the wayside in favorite of a hot new release of find. Whether it’s because the book requires more thought than I can give it right now or I’m just not in the right mood, many books in my house have gone unread.

If this sounds like you, Instagram user @anovelfamily has a challenge you might want to try next month. #readwhatyouown is a challenge to, well, read books you already own. There are two ways to participate: commit to reading 2 books you already own in September or commit to reading only books you already own in September. Use the hashtag #readwhatyouown to join other participants. Be sure to follow @anovelfamily and give this account credit for the challenge. Easy peasy.

I believe I have over 50 books I already own that I could read this month (o_O), so I’m going to participate. I am also counting books I pre-ordered that I’ll get in September. Once I choose those I want to read, I’ll post a pretty picture here and on Instagram so you can see what I (and my co-contributors, if they’re game!) will attempt to read in September.

Your turn: Are you participating in #readwhatyouown? What books would you read for this challenge?