Friday, September 30, 2011

Featured Book (1): Violets of March by Sarah Jio


The Violets of March by Sarah Jio


The Story: (from back cover)

In her twenties, Emily Wilson was on top of the world: she had a bestselling novel, a husband plucked from the pages of GQ, and a one-way ticket to happily ever after.

Ten years later, the tide has turned on Emily's good fortune. So when her great-aunt Bee invites her to spend the month of March on Bainbridge Island in Washington State, Emily accepts, longing to be helped by the sea. Researching her next book, Emily discovers a red velvet diary, dated 1943, whose contents reveal startling connections to her own life.
A mesmerizing debut with an idyllic setting and an intriguing dual story line. The Violets of March announces Sarah Jio as a writer to watch.

Why I wanted to read it:

Layered familial dramas intrigue me. I like books with secrets and hidden things in old houses. I like imaging living by the sea. I like mysteries and discovering things. This book had it all and was ripe for my reading but unfortunately time ran out for me and I made the mistake of reading too many books that were similar in nature around the time I received this one. This book will certainly be given its time in my hands with my nose buried in it but perhaps, not this year. My purpose of my new Featured Book posts is to shine a little light on these books that I have fallen behind in. I have read so many wonderful reviews of this book and now she has another novel out as well. Below I will list her website. She has a lot of info on there including an Ultra Violet Challenge!

The Details:
Publisher (Penguin) ISBN ( 978-0-452-29703-6) Price ($15.00) Genre (Fiction) Format (Paperback) Author Website (Sarah Jio)

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sworn to Silence by Linda Castillo (Review #136)

Title:

Sworn to Silence
Author:
Linda Castillo
Series:
Kate Burkholder #1
Genre:
Thriller/Suspense

Format:
Libary Loan


I love it when I pick something at random and end up loving it. That's what reading is all about, right?

I was discharging books at my library job and this came across the desk. I've always been really fascinated with the Amish way of life so when you through a murder and some suspense with that all, you have me hooked. The whole peaceful existence of the Amish existence is completely shattered when a killer is in their midst. It makes you think that no matter how good and simple you try to live your life, evil always as a way of finding its way in.

Here is a description from Goodreads:

In the sleepy rural town of Painters Mill, Ohio, the Amish and “English” residents have lived side by side for two centuries. But sixteen years ago, a series of brutal murders shattered the peaceful farming community. In the aftermath of the violence, the town was left with a sense of fragility, a loss of innocence. Kate Burkholder, a young Amish girl, survived the terror of the Slaughterhouse Killer but came away from its brutality with the realization that she no longer belonged with the Amish.

Now, a wealth of experience later, Kate has been asked to return to Painters Mill as Chief of Police. Her Amish roots and big city law enforcement background make her the perfect candidate. She’s certain she’s come to terms with her past—until the first body is discovered in a snowy field. Kate vows to stop the killer before he strikes again. But to do so, she must betray both her family and her Amish past—and expose a dark secret that could destroy her.

I thought this had the perfect blend of mystery and suspense. I really liked Kate's character and how she was tied to the Amish community. Her experience growing up Amish gave her an edge to the community and the crime that she was working on. Though she had left that life she still respected the values and the way in which they lived. I liked her wit and her tough exterior. Though emotional and hiding demons from her own past, she was still a tough police chief and had respect from her team.

The writing was quick and sharp and definitely kept my attention. This was the first in the series and there were a few moments where it showed but overall, she kept the pace going and tied it up in the end. Some parts were pretty gruesome but they were brief. I can handle a little bit of blood and guts when it comes to describing crime scenes and victims and whatnot but it can get too much at times. In this case it was a serial killer so the details of the crime scenes were necessary to depict the similarities between the murders.

I'm definitely going to keep reading this series. There is a love interest that pops up throughout this and I'm sure it will continue to some way, shape or form. I liked their dynamic and I look forward to reading more about him. And i liked the location and the side characters. Painters Mill was the name of the fictional town in Ohio and I got a good sense of it from the author's good descriptions.

Rating: 5/6

I recommend this new series for fans of thrillers with an edge. It has a unique twist because of the tie to the Amish community. i think the parallel worlds of the Amish and the English would appeal to a lot of readers. My mom is reading this now and she is loving it.

Author Website:

Linda Castillo

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child






Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tales of my Literary Life: Midwest Booksellers Association Trade Show

It's taken me years of traveling around and working with many different people to realize that the Twin Cities and the Midwest are really wonderful places to be if you are of the literary kind. Not only does it have many small independent bookstores, it also has many award winning local publishers. I had the pleasure and honor to work at the largest book trade show in the Midwest just this past week. It is its own mini BEA, I thought.

Here is a description from its website:

The 2011 Midwest Booksellers Association trade show is a conference that gathers booksellers, publishers, distributors, reps, vendors, authors, librarians, teachers, and other book business colleagues in the heart of the literary Midwest.

Last year’s trade show show was a big success. Over 700 people attended, including 300 booksellers representing close to 90 bookstores and 230 publishing personnel representing nearly 500 publishers, distributors, and sales groups. Author participation was high, as well. Publishers sponsored 153 authors, who are always one of the highlights of our show.

Following is an abbreviated list of the highlights of the schedule.

Wednesday, September 21: Pre-show Event

Killer cocktails, Sponsored by Sisters in Crime and the Twin Cities Crime Writers Co-op, held at Open Book.

Thursday, September 22:
Education Day/Exhibit Set-Up

  • 7:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Registration desk open.
  • Noon to 5:00 p.m. Exhibitor set-up.
  • Educational sessions and Rep Pick of the Lists run throughout the day.
  • Adult Author Breakfast: 7:30 a.m. to 8:55 a.m. Approximately 150 attendees.
    Features Naomi Benaron, Running the Rift (Algonquin Books), Christopher Moore, Sacre Bleu (HarperCollins), Theresa Weir, The Orchard (Hachette), and Jeffrey Zaslow, The Magic Room (Gotham Books/Penguin).
  • Moveable Feast Authors Lunch: 12:00 p.m. to 1:50 p.m. Features two keynote authors plus up to 38 additional authors, both adult and children’s. Approximately 100-125 attendees. Features Cheryl Strayed,Wild (Random House) and Larry Watson, American Boy (Milkweed Editions).
  • Midwest Booksellers Choice Awards Reception: 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Showcases our five award-winning authors. Free event open to all trade show attendees.

Friday, September 23: Exhibit Day.
Show floor open between 9:15 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

  • 6:30 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Registration desk open.
  • 7:30 a.m.-9:00 a.m. Final exhibitor set-up.
  • Childrens Author Breakfast: 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. Four keynote authors speak for 12 minutes each. Approximately 250 attendees. Features Bonny Becker, The Sniffles for Bear (Candlewick), Heather Brewer, The Slayer Chronicles: First Kill (Dial/Penguin), Gordon Korman, Show Off and The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers; Book One (final title TBD) (Scholastic), and Scott Westerfeld, Goliath (Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster).
    Bonny Becker, The Sniffles for Bear, Candlewick
    Heather Brewer, The Slayer Chronicles: First Kill, Dial/Penguin
    Gordon Korman, Show Off and The 39 Clues: Cahills vs. Vespers; Book One (final title TBD)
    Scott Westerfeld, Goliath, Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster
  • Formal Book Signing/Wine and Cheese Reception: 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Three 30-minute rounds of signing sessions.
  • In-Booth Book Signings during Exhibit Hours: 9:15 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Host author signings at your booth at your discretion during exhibit hours. Be sure to give us a schedule of these signings for distribution at the show
I had so much fun, though I am sore from the two twelve hour days. I was able to meet a lot of wonderful authors while flapping their books and prepping them for their signings! I also got a chance to mingle with many publishing and literary folk that I have seen on and off through the years. Overall, it was an amazing time to be with so many like minded individuals. I had a chance to work with my good friend Dawn, a literary agent and build some connections that hopefully will bring me back next year.

Check out the website, Even if you are not from the Midwest, it is full of wonderful information about independent bookstores, authors and literary websites.


Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Learning to Breathe by Priscilla Warner (TOUR and Giveaway)


I am very pleased to be able to participate on this blog tour for Learning to Breathe by Priscilla Warner. Many of you may know that she was one of the co-authors of the Faith Club, a very popular bestseller from a few years back. My mother read and loved it!

I am giving away a copy along with a very special additional prize mentioned below.


Book Description:

Priscilla Warner has had a great life: a supportive husband, a flourishing marriage, two loving sons, and a bestselling book, The Faith Club.Despite all her good fortune and success, she suffers from anxiety and panic attacks so debilitating that they leave her unable to breathe. She’s tried self-medicating—in high school, with a hidden flask of vodka—and later, with prescription medications—daily doses of Klonopin with a dark-chocolate chaser. After forty years of hyperventilating, and an overwhelming panic attack that’s the ultimate wake-up call, Warner’s mantra becomes “Neurotic, Heal Thyself.” A spirited New Yorker, she sets out to find her inner Tibetan monk by meditating every day, aiming to rewire her brain and her body and mend her frayed nerves. On this winding path from panic to peace, with its hairpin emotional curves and breathtaking drops, she also delves into a wide range of spiritual and alternative health practices, some serious and some . . . not so much.

Warner tries spiritual chanting, meditative painting, immersion in a Jewish ritual bath, and quasi-hallucinogenic Ayurvedic oil treatments. She encounters mystical rabbis who teach her Kabbalistic lessons, attends silent retreats with compassionate Buddhist mentors, and gains insights from the spiritual leaders, healers, and therapists she meets. Meditating in malls instead of monasteries, Warner becomes a monk in a minivan and calms down long enough to examine her colorful, sometimes frightening family history in a new light, ultimately making peace with her past. And she receives corroboration that she’s healing from a neuroscientist who scans her brain for signs of progress and change.

Written with lively wit and humor, Learning to Breathe is a serious attempt to heal from a painful condition. It’s also a life raft of compassion and hope for people similarly adrift or secretly fearful, as well as an entertaining and inspiring guidebook for anyone facing daily challenges large and small, anyone who is also longing for a sense of peace, self-acceptance, and understanding.

Book Trailer:

Learning to Breathe

Additional Prize to Giveaway:
One of Priscilla’s handmade Buddha bracelets
(pictured below)

Priscilla has collected tribal and vintage beads from all over the world, stringing them together with a Buddha pendant on Tibetan mala cord.

Contest Rules:
Runs September 24- October 1
* You must leave a comment in order to be entered.
* Please be a follower
* Please leave your email


Author Info:

Check out this Facebook link for other giveaways!


Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Wrong Mother by Sophie Hannah (review #135)


Title: The Wrong Mother
Author: Sophie Hannah
Genre: Mystery/Thriller
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Library Loan

I think I have mentioned by now that I joined another book club. It's true. I am officially crazy.
And not just for books. I don't care. I'm going with it.
It's for the love of books so why the hell not. right?!
We met tonight for the first time and it was really, really lovely!
We have picked our 6 books for the next year and are meeting every other month. Much easier than meeting once a month like the Ladies. I don't think I could do two every month.
We are called B.Y.O.B-Bring Your Own Books, Bottle or Bars.
Clever, huh?
We have a graphic designer in our group so she designed our logo above and even made bookmarks for the whole year with our schedule on it.
Impressive indeed.

Our first book was The Wrong Mother by Sophie Hannah.

The response? Well, not so hot. First off, here is a description for you all to get a taste of what it's all about.


Sally Thorning is watching the news with her husband when she hears an unexpected name-Mark Bretherick. It's a name she shouldn't know, but last year Sally treated herself to a secret vacation-away from her hectic family life-and met a man. After their brief affair, the two planned to never meet again. But now, Mark's wife and daughter are dead-and the safety of Sally's own family is in doubt. Sophie Hannah established herself as a new master of psychological suspense with her previous novel, Little Face. Now with accomplished prose and a plot guaranteed to keep readers guessing, The Wrong Mother is Hannah's most captivating work yet.

Sounds pretty thrilling, right? A real page turner?

Well, in some ways it was but in a lot of ways it was not. We mainly agreed that the author had way too much going on with the multiple characters and back and forth story lines. We had a rating scale of 1-5; 5 Great- 1 Not so Great. Overall, the response of 11 of us was low, in the 2s but we had a few 3s. 3 was the final rating of " middle of the road".

I have been curious about Sophie Hannah for a few years now. I attempted to read Little Face, one of her earlier books, and could not get into it. But I blamed it on the fact that I was a new mom and it was all about a baby getting abducted. Not good for the roller coaster of emotions that I was on at that time.

All of her books sound incredibly intriguing, however, this one fell really flat. It appears that she enjoys the complicated topic of mothers and children. She also appears to enjoy putting them in an extreme danger and portraying them, mostly mothers, in a horrible light. Though I have read my fair share of psychological thrillers with plenty of horrific things going on in them, this particular book had a malicious tone to it. I just felt that the author some how just did not like women or mothers, for that matter. That made it hard to read.

There were also many story line threads that did not go anywhere, leaving the reader wonder why they were even mentioned in the first place. I can take a complicated web but it needs to be well executed and come together in the end. This book did not have that.

The police detectives involved in this case are apparently characters that are in her other books and their back story was not well explained. Many of us skimmed their parts because they were wordy and didn't make sense to us.

I haven't quite decided whether or not to continue with Sophie Hannah. This was a good first book club pick because it certainly generated a lot of discussion. Unfortunately it left a sour taste in my mouth for her as an author. I think she has potential to become a good mystery writer but perhaps with a bit more editing and polishing, her books would become easier to read.

Thanks to my new club for being so much fun and lively in their discussion! I look forward to meeting again and discussing our next book!

Next Book Up:
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Meet up Time:
November

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Challenging myself

If you've read my last post you will know that I am taking a break from review requests and focusing on reading more of what I own (or see at my library). My main goal is to get back on track for my Mystery Challenge. I've been picking the shelves (at my library) and my own for the books I want to read. I discovered Linda Castillo's Amish Mystery Series while working at the library this week and picked it up right away.
She will be my "C" pick and review should come up next week!

I have also come across The White Devil by Justin Evans ( I think he is going to be my "E" pick) and Absent Friends by S.J Rozan (my potential "R" pick).

I'm glad I finally decided to refocus because I am really jazzed about these books.
Ahh, now just to keep focus going and NOT get distracted. :)

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Featured Books

Hello, my name is Michelle and I am a Book Worm.

This is a joy and a concern these days. My list of books to read and review has gotten to be, in my opinion, a bit too large. I have been very honest with my timelines when accepting books to review but lately I feel a bit behind. In an effort to give these books attention they deserve, I have decided to showcase these books in a Featured Post. They will not be reviewed by me because I have not read them fully. I will simply share with you all what they are about, why I was interested in reading them and if possible, links to other reviews.

My goal this fall is to simplify my reading and focus on reading what's on my shelves and completing challenges, mainly my very own A-Z Mystery Challenge. I am horribly behind on that! (Bad Michelle, BAD!) It is getting close to the season I love the most and I really want to hunker down and read some gothic scary novels and creepy mystery/thrillers.

I hope you will all stop by and check out my Featured Posts.

Thanks for being such great readers and supporters of my blog, as I tweak here and there.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Saturday, September 10, 2011

THRILL WEEK Winner!

CONGRATULATIONS TO RYAN FROM WORDSMITHONIA!

He is the winner of CREEP by Jennifer Hillier.

Thanks to everyone who entered and stopped by my blog and the other Featured Hosts of Thrill Week. I hope you all found some amazing authors and books to add your list.

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Ladies' Book Club: August 2011



Book Read:
The Bolero of Andi Rowe by Toni Margarita plummer

Ladies in Attendance:
5 members

Treats shared:
Ice Cream Pie (oh my!), 5 cheese plate with bread (yum!), Chocolate Chip cookies, Wine and Lemonade.

To Read or Not to Read:
5 ladies read it, 1 did not. 1 lady not in attendance read it.

My Reaction:
This was an unique choice because first, it was a book of short stories and second, the author was a friend of one of our members. This made the discussion even more interesting, knowing a little more about the author and the inspiration behind it all.

I did not read it in time for the book club meeting but I did read parts of it afterwards. I am not normally a fan of short stories. I'm more of a meaty novel kind of gal. But I appreciate the skilled writing of an author who can pack a punch in a story so short. Plummer certainly did that with these stories. She captured the voice of the characters and the community. It reminded me of The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse, a novel I loved from last year.

Here is a description from Amazon:
Largely set in Los Angeles’s San Gabriel Valley, this prize-winning collection of interlinked stories centers on the Rowe family. Olivia Real, originally from Mexico, marries Charles Rowe in the 1970s. They have two daughters: Andi takes after her mother, Maura is blonde, blue-eyed, and fair-skinned. Olivia and Charles get divorced a few years later, but Olivia, whose parents died when she was a child, continues to have a special relationship with her Irish-born mother-in-law.

Plummer’s characters share a keen sense of the loss that comes from distance both figurative and literal. In “Happy Hour,” Olivia grapples with her mother-in-law’s death, and in “To Visit the Cemetery,” she visits her parents’ grave in Mexico City, where she seeks reconciliation with her sister, who has remained in their native land. Andi, an architecture student in New York, struggles to connect to the friends and neighbors she’s left behind, including her best friend, a Filipina bent on finding love in the club scene, and Andi’s almost-sweetheart, a musician doctor-to-be torn between affections. When distances are closed between characters, the emotion and passion is explosive and honest.

Plummer has written an evocative, sometimes surprisingly sexy collection that, when taken as a whole, shows an incredibly rich picture of a place and a way of life. The Bolero of Andi Rowe marks the arrival of a truly original voice in Latina fiction.

Ladies' Reaction:
My post is a tad late due to a hectic month and unfortunately, I lost the notes that I took from this club meeting. The only reactions I have are from one of our ladies who could not attend but did read it. I do remember that everyone that did read it that came to the meet up enjoyed it and good discussion was had. Here are the exact words from the lady I did not misplace:

I really liked this book. I LOVE collections of short stories and often times find myself reading those more than actual novels. So this book was kind of like the best of both worlds; short stories that all inter-link. I found that the characters were pretty well developed, considering she is still a newer author. I also enjoyed the main, underlying theme of the whole book. It seemed like everyone was looking for love, of some sort, but not all the same kind of love. Olivia seemed to be trying to fill the void of losing her parents by keeping her relationship with her mother-in-law even after she and Charles divorced. Inez, seems to associate relationships with sex, and is "looking for love in all the wrong places"; something almost all women can relate to at one time or another. And Andi, who more or less seems to just wants to be able to balance her life, in more ways than one. School and home, her two very cultural backgrounds. And that's just scratching the surface. All in all I found this a pretty quick and enjoyable read!


Good Book Club Pick?
Yes. I think it was a different choice for us but the personal connection to one of our members made it interesting to read and discuss. I am a fan of discovering new authors and a book club setting is the perfect place for that.

Author Website:
Here is a You Tube video of the author reading from her work.
Toni Margarita Plummer

Next Book Up:

Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Thrill Week: CREEP by Jennifer Hillier Giveaway


Title: Creep
Author: Jennifer Hillier
Publisher: Gallery Books (Simon and Schuster)
Genre: Thriller
When Marce asked me to be a featured host for her Thrill Week, it was a no brainer that I would say yes. When she left it up to me about what to post about, my mind flooded with ideas. How could I reign in all that I love about the genre of mystery into one tiny little post?
Well, luckily the book Creep fell in my lap right around the time I was stressing about what to post about. Creep is a brand new debut thriller written by Jennifer Hillier.
First, it rocked. Second, I realized I LOVE reading debut mysteries. I love discovering a new voice, a new edge, a new angle. It's one of the reasons why I don't read a lot of mystery series. Some authors can pull it off and remain fresh but others, not so much.
Anyway, BAM, there was my idea for my post. Letting you all know about a fantastic
new debut thriller!
I enjoy picking up a new mystery and just getting hit with action, suspense, thrills, horror, and everything else a good mystery book should have. Reading Creep I could tell that Jennifer Hillier was a fan of this genre. She kept me on my toes. She had me unsure of the characters. She sent me twisting and turning and then dropped a big bomb at the end. I did NOT see it coming. And I love being caught by a surprise ending. It just adds to the suspense. It did so much with this book that it is obviously going to be a series now...which I will give a shot. I am not opposed to them, no worries. I just hope she can keep it equally as intense as this one was.
Here is the description from the author's website:

Dr. Sheila Tao is a professor of psychology. An expert in human behaviour. And when she began an affair with sexy, charming graduate student Ethan Wolfe, she knew she was playing with fire. Consumed by lust when they were together, riddled with guilt when they weren't, she knows the three-month fling with her teaching assistant has to end. After all, she's engaged to a kind and loving investment banker who adores her, and she's taking control of her life. But when she attempts to end the affair, Ethan Wolfe won't let her walk away.

. . . NOBODY ELSE CAN.

Ethan has plans for Sheila, plans that involve posting a sex video that would surely get her fired and destroy her prestigious career. Plans to make her pay for rejecting him. And as she attempts to counter his every threatening move without her colleagues or her fiancé discovering her most intimate secrets, a shattering crime rocks Puget Sound State University: a female student, a star athlete, is found stabbed to death. Someone is raising the stakes of violence, sex, and blackmail . . . and before she knows it, Sheila is caught in a terrifying cat-and-mouse game with the lover she couldn't resist—who is now the monster who won't let her go.
Author Website:
Creepy, right? And now you have to link to the song by Radiohead,
which is referenced several times in the book.
Here you go.
I am so happy to have a copy to give away of this thrilling read.
CONTEST RULES:
* Please be a follower of my blog
* Please leave an email
* Please reside in the United States
* Please stop by Tea Time with Marce and check out the other featured hosts and
other mystery lovers. Let's build us up!!!!
Contest ends September 8, the end of Thrill Week.
Here is the rest of the schedule for Thrill Week.
Thursday, Sept 1 - Thrill Ride/Blog Hop (participate by linking your post!)

Friday, Sept 2 - http://teawithmarce.blogspot.com - Tea Time with Marce

Saturday, Sept 3 - http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/ - Mental Foodie - A Book and Food Lover

Monday, Sept 5 - http://thebestobooks.blogspot.com/ - Best O'Books

Tuesday, Sept 6 - http://boofsbookshelf.com/ - The Book Whisperer

Wednesday, Sept 7 - http://www.cafeofdreamsbookreviews.com/ - Cafe of Dreams

Thursday, Sept 8 - http://cat-bookmagic.blogspot.com/ - Tell Me a Story
Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!
red headed book child

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness by Alexandra Fuller (GUEST REVIEW) BLOG TOUR

Title: Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness
Author: Alexandra Fuller
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Penguin
Format: Review copy for TLC Book Tours

I don't think there is a bookseller from the past decade that hasn't heard of Alexandra Fuller's first memoir, Don't Lets Go to the Dogs Tonight. It was one of those sleeper hit sellers that catches us bookselling folks by surprise. No one ever knew what the correct title was and continued to screw it up for years to come. But it sold like hotcakes, to lovers of memoirs, literary fiction and to a whole host of book clubs. Her newest memoir has another uniquely fumbled upon title which, if backed by another well told story, should cement it in readers minds again.

Here is a description from Goodreads:

In this sequel to Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight, Alexandra Fuller returns to Africa and the story of her unforgettable family.

In
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness Alexandra Fuller braids a multilayered narrative around the perfectly lit, Happy Valley-era Africa of her mother's childhood; the boiled cabbage grimness of her father's English childhood; and the darker, civil war- torn Africa of her own childhood. At its heart, this is the story of Fuller's mother, Nicola. Born on the Scottish Isle of Skye and raised in Kenya, Nicola holds dear the kinds of values most likely to get you hurt or killed in Africa: loyalty to blood, passion for land, and a holy belief in the restorative power of all animals. Fuller interviewed her mother at length and has captured her inimitable voice with remarkable precision. Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is as funny, terrifying, exotic, and unselfconscious as Nicola herself.

We see Nicola and Tim Fuller in their lavender-colored honeymoon period, when east Africa lies before them with all the promise of its liquid equatorial light, even as the British empire in which they both believe wanes. But in short order, an accumulation of mishaps and tragedies bump up against history until the couple finds themselves in a world they hardly recognize. We follow the Fullers as they hopscotch the continent, running from war and unspeakable heartbreak, from Kenya to Rhodesia to Zambia, even returning to England briefly. But just when it seems that Nicola has been broken entirely by Africa, it is the African earth itself that revives her.

A story of survival and madness, love and war, loyalty and forgiveness,
Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is an intimate exploration of the author's family. In the end we find Nicola and Tim at a coffee table under their Tree of Forgetfulness on the banana and fish farm where they plan to spend their final days. In local custom, the Tree of Forgetfulness is where villagers meet to resolve disputes and it is here that the Fullers at last find an African kind of peace. Following the ghosts and dreams of memory, Cocktail Hour Under the Tree of Forgetfulness is Alexandra Fuller at her very best.

So, I don't plan on having Guest Reviewers be too frequent on my blog but with my reading being a bit behind and having an interested party, I let my husband have a go at this one first. He was looking for something new and had some down time to fill during his lunch breaks. He is such an insightful reader, I thought this would be a good pick for him.

Here are his thoughts:

Having never read anything about colonial Africa, this book was eye-opening in that it tells the story of day to day life as colored by the recollections of the author's mother "Nicola Fuller of Central Africa"; meaning that the facts are often overshadowed by the stories accompanying. A recurring theme is the mother's near constant reference to "that awful book"(Don't Let's Go To The Dogs Tonight) as a travesty for lacking the glorification she had always assumed book writing entailed. This bittersweet yet humorous tale of family in the face of adversity is refreshing; as many books have been written on the subject, few happen in Kenya, South Africa, Zambia or Zimbabwe. I enjoyed the narrative as being genuine, and representative of an honest memoir. I thought this book was a fun read, despite some of the harsh realities present. A great study of British occupied Africa before Zimbabwean independence, through the eyes of a daughter of one such settler. I would recommend this for any student of African History, or any reader interested in this era of History.

Once again, thank you Sean for your thoughtful review. When the copy of this book finally falls in my lap, I look forward to discussing it further with him.

Here are the other stops on the tour:

Tuesday, August 16th: Jenn’s Bookshelves

Wednesday, August 17th: Luxury Reading

Thursday, August 18th: StephTheBookworm

Monday, August 22nd: Rundpinne

Tuesday, August 23rd: Lit and Life

Wednesday, August 24th: Jenny Loves to Read

Thursday, August 25th: Silver’s Reviews

Friday, August 26th: Hopelessly Devoted Bibliophile

Monday, August 29th: An English Major’s Junk Food

Tuesday, August 30th: Unabridged Chick

Wednesday, August 31st: BookNAround


Author Website:

Alexandra Fuller was born in England in 1969. In 1972, she moved with her family to a farm in southern Africa. She lived in Africa until her midtwenties. In 1994, she moved to Wyoming with her husband. They have three children.

Visit Alexandra at her website.


Happy Reading and as always, thanks for stopping by!

red headed book child