A HISTORY OF WILD PLACES by Shea Ernshaw

I was opening my Book of the Month box just as my dad called yesterday. I told him what I was doing and he (84 years old) immediately said he remembered the first Book of the Month they ever received: Silent Spring by Rachel Carson (1962) He also said he remembered ordering To Kill a Mockingbird through BOTM. Can you imagine?! My parents’ neighbors told them about the iconic book club when they were a young couple and as a kid, I remember looking through the (magical!) catalog they received each month.

(This sounds like a commercial, doesn’t it? I promise it’s not. I’m just a fan.)

A History of Wild Places by Shea Ernshaw was my selection for December. Magical realism is a genre I didn’t know I enjoyed until a few years ago. And oddly enough, I enjoy reading it the most in the winter months. This month’s selection sounds like a thrilling one.

Everything I have read about this book mentions the brilliance of the atmospheric experience you go through while reading it. You are completely immersed in the reclusive community of Pastoral as Travis – someone who has the uncanny gift of finding missing people by touching an object of theirs – dares to enter where he isn’t permitted. When he goes missing too, the plot thickens. 

I’m excited to jump in with Travis and see what we discover!

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ROCK PAPER SCISSORS by Alice Feeney

“Shhhhhhut UP!”

That is what I yelled into my empty home. It was just me, alone, reading the twists in this fast-paced thriller. 

“Wait. What?!”, I continue my one-sided conversation as I rapidly flipped back to the earlier chapters.

I still have questions. I’ve never googled, so quickly, to compare plot ending explanations online. 

1. Main character has prosopagnosia, the inability to recognize faces.
2. Old, secluded chapel turned into a home (complete with church pews, iron keys and a crypt!)
3. Takes place between London and the Scottish Highlands, for pete’s sake.

Quick read (seriously – put away all responsibilities.) Few characters. Multiple plot twists. 

I’m going to fix me a stiff holiday elixir and catch my breath. 

“Most people see the writing on the walls, even if they can’t read what it says.”

Have you read it? Let’s compare notes! 

fines are no longer fine

I started a new jigsaw puzzle and am in that never-mind-it’s-too-hard-put-it-all-back-in-the-box stage. It’s a puzzle of classic paperback book covers.

USA Today published an article recently about library fines and how much they impact those who can least afford the fines or the punishment of no longer being able to check out books. Library fines are an insignificant amount of a library’s annual budget. In San Francisco, for example, they collected $300,000 in fines for a $138 million dollar budget. As a result, they did away with the fine system. 160 other libraries have since opted out.

In an increasingly volatile world, libraries offer so much more than books. Whether it’s free WiFi or resume help, patrons turn to the library as a source of information on many levels. As well as a familiar place of community.

“Sometimes going back to an old book is like going back to an old friend.”

library love.

Feeling very…sentimental…today about all the trips to the library I’ve made in my lifetime. The excitement never changes. I am so deeply appreciative that libraries have coped and adapted so that we can still sail to other lands while huddled safely in our homes.


Thank you from the bottom of my heart, library systems. Your work is enormously essential.

The French Open

I am ALWAYS thrilled when I receive a book to be reviewed before it’s released to the public. I feel like I’ve received a huge gift every time and I am immensely grateful.

But sometimes the publishers do it up extra. Such was the case with this book. Opening this package was a Parisian delight…

Honestly, while opening this special package I realized all the Corona stress was just under the surface for me because I immediately teared up at the special care and beauty the publisher took to promote this book. Thank you, Atria Books. It was a wonderful relief to see beauty in the midst of so much uncertainty.

The Paris Library, by Janet Skeslien Charles, (releases in June 2020) is one of my favorite themes: a book about the love of books. During World War II in Paris, librarians joined the Resistance armed with the best weapons they had: the truth found nestled in the pages of a book.

The main character, Odile, is a librarian at the American Library in Paris in 1939 as the Nazis march in. Risking her life and her library, she makes difficult decisions that will redirect her life.

Years later, in 1983, she befriends a lonely teenager in small-town Montana over their shared love of language and a dark secret that connects them both.

Atria Books included macarons from Epicerie Boulud in New York City. What a lovely touch.

I am excited to learn more about this significant battle being waged within World War II and the heroic librarians who paved the way.

Thank you, again, Atria Books, for bringing delight to your readers and an extra-needed moment of clarity to me, during an uneasy time in the world.

MIDNIGHT AT THE BLACKBIRD CAFE by Heather Webber

It was a nice…quiet…weekend. I participated in the Instagram book challenge from @thebookishglow and @catebutler. We read Midnight at the Blackbird Cafe by Heather Webber. #TheCozyBookishWeekend⠀

What an easy, enjoyable read laced with the magic of family and hometown and enduring friendships. (Imagine the undercurrent of Sweet Home Alabama but with pie.)⠀⠀

Anna Kate returned to bury her beloved Granny Zee, owner of the Blackbird Café. She intends for it to be a quick trip home to Alabama before she begins medical school in the fall, but the ties that bind begin to unravel as they simultaneously grow stronger. Anna Kate learns about her own heritage and as a result, grows into the person she was always meant to be; the past making its impact on the future. (Are they ever not intricately and gloriously tied??) ⠀

This was a cozy, heart-warming book that could easily explode into an ongoing series. I enjoy reading a story touched with unexplained whimsy and magic. It makes me more aware of it in my own everyday life. ⠀

Also – because I try to be an authentic and all-in #bookstagrammer, I felt it was necessary to eat pie after finishing the book. I mean. I’m JUST that dedicated, folks.