Book Club Discussion: The 13th Gift

The 13th Gift Book Club Banner FL2W

The 13th Gift Book Club Banner FL2W

As soon as the Halloween candy has been stashed away, I’m in full holiday mode. I eagerly plan my menu for Thanksgiving, imagining the bliss on my friends’ faces as they taste each dish. That happy feeling continues throughout December. Which brings us to our last October book club selection The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith.

Today is the publication day for Smith’s memoir and join From Left to Write members as we discuss the holidays, loss, grief, and gifts of all kinds:

Learn more about the author and The 13th Gift  on its website. You can even see photos of Smith’s family and pictures of the cards she and her family received from their “True Friends.”

Have you ever secretly given gifts?

Review: First Impressions by Charlie Lovett + Giveaway

First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

First Impressions by Charlie Lovett

I’m the book nerd that loves to read stories that revolve around books. I binge read First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett and enjoyed every word. I wasn’t sure about the novel at first because I’m not (gasp) a Jane Austen fan. First Impressions will appeal to anyone who loves a literary mystery.

In present day Oxfordshire, we meet Sophie Collingwood, a book lover and an Austen devotee. Feeling lost after graduating from Oxford, she takes a job at an antiquarian bookshop in London. During her first week on the job, she receives two requests for an obscure book the second edition of Little Book of Allegories by Richard Mansfield. Intrigued, Sophie digs deeper into the title to discover it may cast doubt on the true authorship of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Soon her discoveries put her life in danger. In between Sophie’s adventures, the novel imagines Jane Austen’s inspiration and writing process for Pride and Prejudice.

The novel has all the elements to keep you on your toes: mystery, adventure, and even romance. As someone who’s not familiar with Jane Austen’s biography, I especially enjoy the author’s depiction of her life with the imaginary Richard Mansfield. I’m sure I missed plenty of references to Austen’s books, but I didn’t feel like I missed out at all. My only issue is that I felt that the conclusion seemed rushed and too tidy.

If you like literary mysteries, I also recommend Charlie Lovett’s The Bookman’s Tale: A Novel of Obsession,  mystery about one of Shakespeare’s well-known works. You can read my review of The Bookman’s Tale here. Lovett draws upon his background as a rare book collector for both novel. Reading about book antiquarians and rare, old books lets me live vicariously as my budget and space constraints don’t allow for rare book collecting.

First Impressions would make a great book club read, especially if you want to read it in tandem with Pride and Prejudice. The publisher put together a First Impressions Book Club Kit with recipes, author Q&A, and Jane Austen resources.

Giveaway: Win a copy of First Impressions: A Novel of Old Books, Unexpected Love, and Jane Austen by Charlie Lovett. Leave a comment below and tell me who your favorite British author is. I’ll draw a winner on on November 2. (U.S. addresses only please).

I received a review copy of the book.

October Book Club Feature: The 13th Gift

The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith

The 13th Gift Book Club Banner FL2W

We’re finishing up the month with The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith for our next October book club selection. With the upcoming holiday season, it’s easy to become sucked into the materialist frenzy. Smith’s memoir reminds us what is the most important gift should be:

After the unexpected death of her husband, Joanne Huist Smith had no idea how she would keep herself together and be strong for her three children–especially with the holiday season approaching. But 12 days before Christmas, presents begin appearing on her doorstep with notes from their “True Friends.” As the Smiths came together to solve the mystery of who the gifts were from, they began to thaw out from their grief and come together again as a family. This true story about the power of random acts of kindness will warm the heart, a beautiful reminder of the miracles of Christmas and the gift of family during the holiday season.

After reading the book, you might even be inspired to give someone the pleasure of these 13 gifts.

The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith

Learn more about the author and The 13th Gift  on its website. You can even see photos of Smith’s family and pictures of the cards she and her family received from their “True Friends.”

Pre-order the book now and join us on October 28 as From Left to Write members discuss the book!

Book Club Discussion: The Goddess of Small Victories

Goddess of Small Victories FL2W Book Club Banner

Goddess of Small Victories FL2W Book Club Banner

Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have dinner with Albert Einstein? In the novel The Goddess of Small Victories (Other Press) by Yannick Grannec, we get a glimpse into mathematician Kurt Gödel who was good friends with Albert Einstein. Gödel’s colleagues are immortalized in the history books, but Grannec gives the scientists and mathematician humanity through the eyes of Adele, Gödel’s wife.

Join our The Goddess of Small Victories book club discussion by taking a look at what From Left to Write members had to say about the novel:

Learn more about  The Goddess of Small Victories the book and author in this great interview about the novelYannick Grannec is a graphic designer, freelance art director, professor of fine arts, and enthusiast of mathematics. The Goddess of Small Victories is her first novel. She lives in Saint-Paul de Vence, France.

Have you entered to win a copy of the book? Hurry, giveaway ends soon–just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: The Wonder of All Things

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

The Wonder of All Things by Jason Mott

I loved Jason Mott’s debut novel The Returned so much that I hunted down an elusive galley of his second  at Book Expo America. The Wonder of All Things has been sitting patiently on my shelf until closer to its release date, when I released it from my self-imposed ban. I even cleared my schedule in order to read it so I could write a timely review of The Wonder of All Things for you.

Unfortunately, The Wonder of All Things lacked the intensity and magic of Mott’s debut novel. I’m not saying the novel wasn’t good, but it felt flat. It’s my fault having such high expectations.

During an air show in a small town, a plane crashes into the spectators. Many are injured and some even killed. Thirteen-year-old Ava and her friend Wash are trapped under the debris of a silo. Wash is bleeding and severely injured, but rescuers are not yet able to free the two. In this moment of distress, the world discovers Ava’s gift: she lays her hands on her best friend and heals his injury.

A video of the miraculous act goes viral and the world rushes to the small mountain town for a touch, a glimpse of the miracle healer. Entire churches move their gathering place to be near her. Neighbors beg for her help. Everyone around her demands that Ava to heal them. Many believed that it was her duty to lay hands on their wounds and make them whole. However, with each healing, Ava becomes weaker and weaker, as if she is pouring herself into each living thing she saves. While her father and Wash attempt to save her, Ava believes there is only one way she can save herself.

Death and rebirth seems to be an underlying theme for Mott’s writing. The Returned was inspired by a dream about Mott’s deceased mother. No doubt The Wonder of All Things had similar beginnings. With the introduction of Reverend Brown, I expected a deeper look into the meaning of Ava’s gift with its Christian implications. I was disappointed that the novel mostly focused on the action and ignored the provenance of Ava’s powers.

What I enjoyed most about The Returned were its underlying themes about how humanity deals with what it cannot understand, but in The Wonder of All Things merely flitted over the opportunity to expound upon similar themes.

I hope that this is just a sophomoric slump. I will definitely read Jason Mott’s next novel.

Have you read The Wonder of All Things? What did you think?

Book Club Feature: The Goddess of Small Victories + Giveaway

Goddess of Small Victories by Yannick Grannec

Goddess of Small Victories FL2W Book Club Banner

Staying in theme with our first book club selection, our second pick for October is also about numbers.

The Goddess of Small Victories (Other Press) by Yannick Grannec (translated by  Willard Wood) is a fictional account about brilliant mathematician Kurt Gödel as told from his wife’s perspective. Adele, a former cabaret dancer, was shunned by the scientific community, but as Gödel’s widow, she refuses to relinquish his papers over to the scientific community. The novel alternates between flashbacks to their relationships and to 1980 where young Anna is tasked with the job of obtaining the papers from Adele.

More about the book:

Princeton University 1980. Kurt Gödel, the most fascinating, though hermetic, mathematician of the twentieth century, has just died of anorexia. His widow, Adele, a fierce woman shunned by her husband’s colleagues because she had been a cabaret dancer, is now consigned to a nursing home. To the great annoyance of the Institute of Advanced Studies, she refuses to hand over Gödel’s precious records. Anna Roth, the timid daughter of two mathematicians who are part of the Princeton clique, is given the difficult task of befriending Adele and retrieving the documents from her. As Adele begins to notice Anna’s own estrangement from her milieu and starts to trust her, she opens the gates of her memory and together they travel back to Vienna during the Nazi era, Princeton right after the war, the pressures of McCarthyism, the end of the positivist ideal, and the advent of nuclear weapons. It is this epic story of a genius who could never quite find his place in the world, and the determination of the woman who loved him, that will eventually give Anna the courage to change her own life.

The Goddess of Small Victories  will be released on October 14, but pre-order the book now so you can join us on October 16th for our From Left to Write book club discussion. Learn more about the book and author in a recent interview about the novel.

Yannick Grannec is a graphic designer, freelance art director, professor of fine arts, and enthusiast of mathematics. The Goddess of Small Victories is her first novel. She lives in Saint-Paul de Vence, France.

Goddess of Small Victories by Yannick Grannec

Giveaway:  Win a copy of  The Goddess of Small Victories! Enter using the Rafflecopter form below (US and Canadian addresses only).

a Rafflecopter giveaway