THE ORCHARD by David Hopen

January 15, 2021

THE ORCHARD by David Hopen. Ecco (November 17, 2020). ISBN 978-0062974747. 480 pages.





October 23, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

Anne of Green Gables was one of my favorite books as a child, and I re-read it while taking “History of Children’s Lit” class in library school and loved it even more. So when I heard about this book, a prequel to the classic but written for adults, I was very excited.

The book didn’t quite meet my expectations but it wasn’t a disappointment, either. We meet Marilla when she was about the same age that we meet Anne, so that was interesting. I thought the character was a bit one dimensional though, and I didn’t always understand her motivation. I did enjoy meeting her family, besides her brother Matthew, especially her aunt. I thought I would learn about the start of the bad blood with Gilbert Blythe’s family but that plot line was plodding at times and it seemed forced.

There was quite a bit of politics throughout the book, about slavery and U.S. and Lincoln and more. It often felt like filler to me but it was interesting for the most part. I was not aware of the role that Canada played in the Civil War and with the Underground Railroad.

If you haven’t read Anne of Green Gables, I’m not sure why you would want to read this. I understood the impetus to write it for adults, although it certainly would be fine for young adults as well. While I much preferred BEFORE GREEN GABLES by Budge Wilson, which is a prequel about Anne’s early life, ultimately I did enjoy my visit back to Green Gables.

10/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

MARILLA OF GREEN GABLES by Sarah McCoy. William Morrow (October 23, 2018). ISBN 978-0062697714. 320p.




September 7, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

From the publisher:

A delightful novel about two headstrong sisters, a small town’s efforts to do right by the community, and the power of a lost dog to summon true love

Nora, the owner of the Miss Guthrie Diner, is perfectly happy serving up apple cider donuts, coffee, and eggs-any-way-you-like-em to her regulars, and she takes great pleasure in knowing exactly what’s “the usual.” But her life is soon shaken when she discovers she and her free-spirited, younger sister Kit stand to inherit the home and land of the town’s beloved cake lady, Peggy Johnson.

Kit, an aspiring–and broke–filmmaker thinks her problems are solved when she and Nora find out Peggy was in the process of selling the land to a big-box developer before her death. The people of Guthrie are divided–some want the opportunities the development will bring, while others are staunchly against any change–and they aren’t afraid to leave their opinions with their tips.

Time is running out, and the sisters need to make a decision soon. But Nora isn’t quite ready to let go of the land, complete with a charming farmhouse, an ancient apple orchard and the clues to a secret life that no one knew Peggy had. Troubled by the conflicting needs of the town, and confused by her growing feelings towards Elliot, the big-box developer’s rep, Nora throws herself into solving the one problem that everyone in town can agree on–finding Peggy’s missing dog, Freckles.

When a disaster strikes the diner, the community of Guthrie bands together to help her, and Nora discovers that doing the right thing doesn’t always mean giving up your dreams.

There are a couple of editors that I read regularly, and Pamela Dorman is one of them. Some of her authors are Jojo Moyes, Shari Lepena, Gail Honeyman, Nicci French, J. Ryan Stradal, all of whom I enjoy. Louise Miller is another. I loved her first book, The City Baker’s Guide to Country Living, and this is another charmer. Plus there is a recipe in the back of the book that I am definitely going to make (Burnt Sugar Cake with Maple Icing!) despite the havoc that cake causes in the story.

I loved these characters, from the taciturn Nora to her free spirit sister Kit, Kit’s boyfriend, the zen-master Max, and all the townsfolk of this quirky, alluring town. If only small town life were so! We see this world through somewhat rose colored glasses, and that is not a bad thing. Miller really knows how to bring her characters and her setting to life, and I loved spending time with them all.

It is easy to see why People Magazine picked it for their “best new books” feature. If you are looking for an entrancing, entertaining and easy read, this is your book – it was certainly mine.

9/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LATE BLOOMERS’ CLUB by Louise Miller. Pamela Dorman Books (July 17, 2018).  ISBN 978-1101981238. 336p.



SOLD ON A MONDAY by Kristina McMorris

September 3, 2018

Click book cover to purchase

From the publisher:

From New York Times bestselling author Kristina McMorris comes another unforgettable novel inspired by a stunning piece of history. 


The sign is a last resort. It sits on a farmhouse porch in 1931, but could be found anywhere in an era of breadlines, bank runs and broken dreams. It could have been written by any mother facing impossible choices.

For struggling reporter Ellis Reed, the gut-wrenching scene evokes memories of his family’s dark past. He snaps a photograph of the children, not meant for publication. But when it leads to his big break, the consequences are more devastating than he ever imagined.

At the paper, Lillian Palmer is haunted by her role in all that happened. She is far too familiar with the heartbreak of children deemed unwanted. As the bonds of motherhood are tested, she and Ellis must decide how much they are willing to risk to mend a fractured family.

Inspired by an actual newspaper photograph that stunned the nation, Sold on a Monday is a powerful novel of love, redemption, and the unexpected paths that bring us home.

I read about this book and thought it might make for a good book discussion, except that while based on an actual photograph (right) that was taken in 1948, the author changed the time frame to more than a decade earlier, at the height of the depression. I understand that she was inspired by the photo to write fiction, and her notes in the back of the book make it very clear how and why she changed it, but to me it lessened the impact of the story.

I would have appreciated more character development. The main characters were fully realized, but I didn’t really understand many of the secondary characters and their motivations and I would have liked to. The back stories on most of the characters were merely eluded to or glossed over and could have used some fleshing out.

The time period was interesting for sure, especially because it seems like most of the books set in the late 40’s deal with the aftermath of the war, and this really didn’t.  I liked the newsroom setting and the interactions of the reporters, and especially the hierarchy of the organizations. The culture of the time was also very well done and enlightening. Despite a few misgivings, it was a compelling and interesting read.

9/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SOLD ON A MONDAY by Kristina McMorris. Sourcebooks Landmark (August 28, 2018). ISBN 978-1492663997. 352p.



GOOD LUCK WITH THAT by Kristan Higgins

August 7, 2018

Click to purchase

I love Kristan Higgins, but I didn’t love this book. It is a bit of a departure for her, tackling a pretty serious subject, the plight and discrimination that fat women face in this country.  I admire her for tackling such a tough subject, but I missed her usual humor for sure. Or maybe I didn’t like it that much because it hits a bit close to home for me.

Emerson is one of those women who is so obese that she can barely get out of bed. She has a cousin who is her caretaker, and a boyfriend who brings her food. When she dies, she leaves a letter for her two best friends, Georgia and Marley.

They all met in fat camp as teenagers and remained friends over the years. Georgia and Marley share a house in New York and haven’t seen Emerson in years, so they are shocked at how large she had become and at her death. She leaves them a list that they all made together when they were in fat camp, and asks her friends to complete the list. This is a “when we are thin” list – tuck in a shirt, get a piggy back ride, eat dessert in public, and so forth.

The women tackle the list and learn a lot about themselves in the process. We are never told Georgia and Marley’s actual weight, just the body issues each of them faces. There is romance, too, but that wasn’t enough to save this book for me. I’m really curious as to what other people think of it.

3/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

GOOD LUCK WITH THAT by Kristan Higgins.  Berkley (August 7, 2018).  ISBN 978-0451489395. 480p.


LOVE AND OTHER WORDS by Christina Lauren

April 11, 2018

Click to purchase

This is a lovely book that moves back and forth in time. Macy Sorensen was a young girl when her mother died of cancer.  She left behind letters and instructions for her husband, to help him raise their daughter, and Macy and her dad are very close.

One of the things her mother suggests is that they get a vacation home, and they find a small house not too far away in the wine country area where they can spend weekends and vacations. Macy is a big reader, a girl after my own heart, and one of the reasons they buy the house is because the closet off of her bedroom is large enough to create a library, and they do. But the day they move in, Macy finds a boy her own age, Elliot Petropoulos, reading in the closet. They quickly become friends, then best friends, and eventually more.

Macy in present day is a pediatric resident in a Berkeley hospital, working crazy hours. She lives with a man, an artist, and his daughter. They don’t see each other much but it is a comfortable relationship for both of them. In fact, they are engaged.

We know something catastrophic happens with Elliot, because they haven’t seen each other for eleven years. As the story unfurls, we learn more about each of them and their relationship until the back and forth catches up to present day.

I loved this book. I loved getting to know these characters and cared about what happened and why. A terrific, heartwarming read!

3/18 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

LOVE AND OTHER WORDS by Christina Lauren.  Gallery Books (April 10, 2018).  ISBN 978-1501128011. 432p.