Tag Archives: historical fiction

Everything I read in August (my TBR challenge)

In August, I set myself a challenge to only read the books languishing on my TBR bookshelf. And to read as many as possible.

What’s a TBR bookshelf you ask? Well, I have a bit of a book buying habit. I pick up books all the time with no real plan of when I’ll get to them. Those books go to live on a small two-shelf white bookcase that lives in my office. Meanwhile, I get books from the library and buy other books that I read right away. Leaving some books unread, sometimes for years.

I needed to make a dent in the shelves on this little bookshelf before I ran out of space…and so I could continue buying more books, let’s be honest.

Here’s what I was able to clear off my TBR bookshelf this August:

The Switch by Beth O’Leary
Rom-Com
Ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, Leena escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some overdue rest. Newly single and about to turn eighty, Eileen would like a second chance at love. But her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen… So Leena proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love, and Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire.

My Review:
4 stars
A genuine and absolute delight! This book follows Eileen Cotton and her granddaughter Leena as they switch places for two months – Eileen moves into Leena’s posh warehouse flat in London and Leena takes up residence at Eileen’s cottage in the Yorkshire Dales. The story is told in dual POVs and because of that we have two whole casts of characters to fall in love with – each of them unique and fully realized. If you like found family, Gilmore Girls vibes, or wacky British village shenanigans – pick this one up!

Girl in Snow by Danya Kukafka
Mystery
When a beloved high schooler named Lucinda Hayes is found murdered, no one in her sleepy Colorado suburb is untouched—not the boy who loved her too much; not the girl who wanted her perfect life; not the officer assigned to investigate her murder. In the aftermath of the tragedy, these three indelible characters—Cameron, Jade, and Russ—must each confront their darkest secrets in an effort to find solace, the truth, or both.

My Review:
2 stars
Danya Kukafka writes beautifully. Unfortunately, for me, this particular story was just super slow and not that memorable.

The Round House Louise Erdrich
Literary Fiction
One of the most revered novelists of our time – a brilliant chronicler of Native-American life – Louise Erdrich returns to the territory of her bestselling, Pulitzer Prize finalist The Plague of Doves with The Round House, transporting readers to the Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota. It is an exquisitely told story of a boy on the cusp of manhood who seeks justice and understanding in the wake of a terrible crime that upends and forever transforms his family.

My Review:
5 stars
It’s 1988 on an Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota and 13-year-old Joe’s world is turned upside down when his mother is sexually assaulted. Sadly, she doesn’t know exactly where she was when the attack occurred, making it difficult to determine whose jurisdiction the case falls under – state, federal, or tribal. This sets up the mystery at the heart of the novel. Joe and his friends, as well as his father, are trying to figure out the perpetrator – and once they do, they grapple with how justice will be served and by whom.

While the book is set in the 80s, Erdrich notes in the afterword that, at the time of writing, a third of Native women will be raped in her lifetime; 86% of sexual assaults upon Native women are perpetrated by non-Native men; few are prosecuted. The story is a commentary on the need to restore sovereign justice and ensure safety for Native women, and it is beautifully done.

The plot is exciting and well-developed. The characters are well-drawn. But my favorite part was the strong sense of place. I highly recommend this to any literary fiction lovers, especially if you like books about family dynamics or are interested in reading about Native issues from an own voices perspective.

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri
Short Stories
Navigating between the Indian traditions they’ve inherited and the baffling new world, the characters in Jhumpa Lahiri’s elegant, touching stories seek love beyond the barriers of culture and generations. In “A Temporary Matter,” published in The New Yorker, a young Indian-American couple faces the heartbreak of a stillborn birth while their Boston neighborhood copes with a nightly blackout. In the title story, an interpreter guides an American family through the India of their ancestors and hears an astonishing confession. Lahiri writes with deft cultural insight reminiscent of Anita Desai and a nuanced depth that recalls Mavis Gallant.

My Review:
4 stars
This collection of short stories is beautifully written. Lahiri is a master of her craft. Her book ‘The Namesake’ is one of my favorites so I was excited to give her short form prose a go – and it did not disappoint! Most of her stories focus on the Indian immigrant experience, and even more specifically – the experience of immigrating shortly after an arranged marriage to work at a university in the Greater Boston area. Even with this niche subject matter, each of the stories holds universal appeal. Lahiri shows us a lighthearted and hopeful side of the human spirit, even as her characters face challenges, which makes for a very readable little book. Pick this one up!

Atonement by Ian McEwan
Historical Fiction
On a summer day in 1935, thirteen-year-old Briony Tallis witnesses a moment’s flirtation between her older sister, Cecilia, and Robbie Turner, the son of a servant. But Briony’s incomplete grasp of adult motives and her precocious imagination bring about a crime that will change all their lives, a crime whose repercussions Atonement follows through the chaos and carnage of World War II and into the close of the twentieth century.

My Review:
4 stars
I found the middle third to be a bit slow-going, but well worth pushing through to get to the latter part of the book. Really enjoyed this one!

Someday, Someday, Maybe by Lauren Graham
Rom-Com
Franny Banks is a struggling actress in New York City, with just six months left of the three-year deadline she gave herself to succeed. But so far, all she has to show for her efforts is a single line in an ad for ugly Christmas sweaters and a degrading waitressing job. She lives in Brooklyn with two roommates – Jane, her best friend from college, and Dan, a sci-fi writer, who is very definitely not boyfriend material – and is struggling with her feelings for a suspiciously charming guy in her acting class, all while trying to find a hair-product cocktail that actually works.

My Review:
4 stars
I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. It’s a sweet rom-com full of the smart, fast-paced dialogue style Lauren Graham is known for in her shows (Gilmore Girls, Parenthood) and lots of fun NYC settings. I also have a weird love of books that take place in 1995. It’s just a great year

Throughout the book, we get to see pages from our main character’s Filofax. I love seeing other people’s planners (even fictional people) so I thought this was a fun element. My nitpick is that the handwriting the pages are written in is really hard to read! Cool that the pages are realistic (I’m guessing it’s Lauren Graham’s actual writing?) but I was sad I couldn’t enjoy them more.

The Flamethrowers by Rachel Kushner
Historical Fiction
The year is 1975 and Reno—so-called because of the place of her birth—has come to New York intent on turning her fascination with motorcycles and speed into art. Her arrival coincides with an explosion of activity in the art world—artists have colonized a deserted and industrial SoHo, are staging actions in the East Village, and are blurring the line between life and art. Reno meets a group of dreamers and raconteurs who submit her to a sentimental education of sorts. Ardent, vulnerable, and bold, she begins an affair with an artist named Sandro Valera, the semi-estranged scion of an Italian tire and motorcycle empire. When they visit Sandro’s family home in Italy, Reno falls in with members of the radical movement that overtook Italy in the seventies. Betrayal sends her reeling into a clandestine undertow.

My Review:
2 stars
This may have been a me thing… This book just did NOT hold my attention! I am a self-proclaimed know-it-all so it pains me to say this, but I just didn’t “get it,” and the plot didn’t do enough to make up for the fact that I wasn’t vibing with the subject matter. On a sentence level, the writing is very nice. However, I’m happy to be done reading it.

Since She Went Away by David Bell
Thriller
Three months earlier, Jenna Barton was supposed to meet her lifelong best friend Celia. But when Jenna arrived late, she found that Celia had disappeared—and hasn’t been seen again. Jenna has blamed herself for her friend’s disappearance every single day since then.

My Review:
3.5 stars
I knew this book was written by a Western Kentucky University professor but had no idea going in that it was actually SET in Kentucky. That was a welcome and fun surprise. Not a mind-blowing thriller but an enjoyable read with a couple unexpected moments/twists. Definitely want to pick up some of Bell’s newer titles now that I’ve read this one!

Commonwealth by Ann Patchett
Literary Fiction
The acclaimed, bestselling author—winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Orange Prize—tells the enthralling story of how an unexpected romantic encounter irrevocably changes two families’ lives. One Sunday afternoon in Southern California, Bert Cousins shows up at Franny Keating’s christening party uninvited. Before evening falls, he has kissed Franny’s mother, Beverly—thus setting in motion the dissolution of their marriages and the joining of two families.

My Review:
5 stars
I love this book so much. We follow the Cousins and Keating children from childhood to adulthood, starting with a kiss between the mother of one set of siblings and the father of another that sets into motion all the ways these two families will blend and disperse over the coming decades.

Patchett has written a pitch perfect family saga that explores divorce in full – beginning to end, an entire cast of blended family characters represented and fully realized. Each character in this tender narrative searches for connection while grappling with the damages of loss. They all share a bond that’s simultaneously painful and powerful. This is a truly brilliant, touching story.

The Round House and Commonwealth were real stand outs this month and I’m so happy that this challenge brought them to me!

I can’t wait to do this challenge again in the future. (I think I’ve decided that I’m going to make it a biannual occurrence.) But for now, it’s on to my FALL TBR!

What was the best book you read in August? xoxo

P.S. If you’re planning your “spooky season” reading, check out – 3 Spooking Books to Read this Halloween.


Recommending Your Next Read [Based on Overly Specific Genres] Pt. 1

Welcome back to Finding Delight! I’m here today to give you some options for your next read. I put together a collection of some of the most popular overly specific book genres. Then, I scoured my shelves and the internet to find the perfect books that fit these categories. (If you don’t see a good fit here – do leave a common below with an overly specific book genre you love and I’ll be sure to reply with some choices!)

So, let’s get right into it…

Book set in a creepy house…

My pick: The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

Others to check out: 

Crooked House by Agatha Christie

The Good House by Tananarive Due

The 7 ½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton

Magical realism in the American south…

My pick: Sing Unburied Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Others to check out: 

The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead

Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris

Southern Mystical Moments by Patricia H. Graham 

A book that follows a family through different periods of life…

My pick: The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver 

Others to check out…

Pachinko by Min Jin Lee

The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Science Fiction featuring characters you can fall in love with…

My pick: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

Others to check out…

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

Kindred by Octavia Butler

Historical Fiction about a female artist…

My pick: The Painter From Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Others to check out…

Rodin’s Lover by Heather Webb

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland

Isadora by Amelia Gray

A book to help you feel happy…

My pick: The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin

Others to check out…

The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha

The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero

Teens battling it out in a dark game (similar to The Hunger Games)…

My pick: Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin

Others to check out: 

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Final Six by Alexandra Monir

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Thriller that tackles social issues…

My pick: When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole

Others to check out:

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine

Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke

A Science Fiction with a spreading sickness…

My pick: Blindness by Jose Saramago

Others to check out:

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

The Book of M by Peng Shepherd

Severance by Ling Ma

Book set in the circus…

My pick: Water for Elephants by Sarah Gruen

Others to check out: 

Death of a Circus by Chadra Pasad

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Pantomime by Laura Lam

So there you have it! I hope you found an absolutely perfect book for your next read! If any of these overly specific genres are your fave, do leave me a comment below and let me know if you think these suggestions might work for you.

For more bookish content, make sure you’re following me on Instagram HERE.

Book Club: The True Memoirs of Little K Pt. 2

Let’s learn a bit more about the author of our current book club book, shall we? Adrienne Sharp is a critically acclaimed author and national bestseller.

Her work often immerses readers in the world of ballet. She knows it well. She began her ballet career at the age of seven. Sharp trained at the prestigious Harkness Ballet in New York.

But in the midst of her grueling and rigorous training, Sharp began to question her life’s path.

“One day, while doing grands battements at the barre, I had a traitorous thought, which was simply: I’m sick of doing this. So I left ballet and began the task of assembling a regular life – a difficult task when you don’t have the glamorous discipline of tooling the body. I began to write to help me get through it. And when I started to write about ballet, the two halves of my life came together.” 

She received her M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University and was awarded a Henry Hoyns Fellowship at the University of Virginia.

Her other books include The Magnificent Esme Wells, First Love, The Sleeping Beauty, and White Swan, Black Swan

The True Memoirs of Little K was a finalist for the California Book Award, an Oprah Book Club selection, and has been translated into six languages.

More from Adrienne Sharp —
Read:
On The Magnificent Esme Wells
On historical ballet
Listen:
On Old Hollywood
Watch:
On Mathilde Kschessinska – Pt. 1 and Pt. 2

📚📚📚

Got any thoughts? Leave ’em below! 

Part 3, coming soon! 

Book Club: The True Memoirs of Little K Pt. 1

Hello, fellow bookworms! Today I’m unveiling Book #5 in the Finding Delight Book Club. Can you believe we’re already this far into the year?! If you’re new to this series, I’m reading books and sharing about them with you here. I plan to post 4 times for each book. This month’s pick is The True Memoirs of Little K by Adrienne Sharp.

“So whatever you think of me, don’t pity me. I had a beautiful life. I was loved, admired, feted, copied, mocked, treasured, and feared. I am one hundred years old and I am no longer afraid of anything.” 

Synopsis

The year is 1971 in Paris, France and ninety-nine year old Mathilde Kschessinska begins to recant the story of her life. In what feels like a different world, she was the self-centered, flirtatious, determined “prima ballerina assoluta” of the Russian Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg. She remembers a time when the Russian court was inextricably linked to the ballet. And vice versa.

As she carefully reconstructs each chapter of her life, her conquests and failures, we are given box seats to view the very stories that would change the course of history, both for Russia and the world. We witness how Russia evolves as she progresses from girlhood to “tsar-crossed lover” to old woman.

Expertly researched, The True Memoirs of Little K is based on real events and real people. But it reads like a fairy-tale narrated by a woman who has seen it all: the greatest love, heart-breaking loss, and the crumbling of the Romanov empire she so desperately wanted to belong to.

Initial thoughts 

Determined to a fault, Mathilde Kschessinska jetés her way out of the wings and finds herself smack-dab in the middle of the Romanov stage. As a popular ballerina she steals the hearts of THREE members of the imperial family, including the future Tsar himself, Nicholas II. Her life, written as a dictated memoir, opens with the splendor of imperial life as seen through the eyes of someone close enough to taste it. A famous ballerina. As years pass, she sees Russia go from full of lavish traditions to full of upheaval.

I’ve been going through quite the historical fiction phase as of late, so I’m finding Sharp’s novel fascinating and powerful. The portrayal of Mathilde as a woman whose links to “scandal” will forever overshadow her abilities as a dancer is one too easily recognized in our society. I’m excited to see how her character evolves as the book unfolds and the imperial court deteriorates.

While I do think the style is very effective (and makes me truly believe Kschessinska was speaking!), the book’s lack of dialogue could be annoying for some. This absence doesn’t upset me, but I do sort of miss it as a way to build out details within the narrative. Without it, the narrator relies a lot on introspection and long-winded asides to explain historical detail. However, the latter is where Sharp’s research really shines through!

I feel like I’m learning a HUGE chunk of Russian history, but the medicine is going down with a spoonful of sugar because I also get a ballerina’s love story.

Read this if you’re interested in: Russian history, ballet and the lives of Russian prima ballerinas, the Romanovs

Read this if you loved: Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy, Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak, The Romanovs by Robert K. Massie, Russian Winter by Daphne Kalotay

Keep a lookout for Part 2! It’ll be hitting this site next week.

Book Review: Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures by Emma Straub

Laura Lamont’s Life in Pictures 
by Emma Straub

When Elsa Emerson, the youngest of three sisters, is cast in one of her father’s plays at their family’s Cherry County Playhouse in Wisconsin, she is given her first taste of the limelight. This sets into motion her life’s trajectory — shooting like a rocket out of Wisconsin and into the warm allure of Hollywood. Here, she begins her transformation from small-town blonde to a sultry brunette named Laura Lamont — an Academy award-winning movie star.

What I loved most about this book was how authentic it felt. Elsa/Laura was largely fictitious (based loosely on this actress), her story an invention of Straub’s mind and careful historical research. However, having recently read a few memoirs of Hollywood starlets from this same era (Katharine Hepburn’s “Me: Stories of My Life” a couple years ago and Esther Williams “Million Dollar Mermaid” a couple months ago), I felt as though Miss Lamont could have been shooting on a sound stage just down the hall from either of these real-life ladies!

An interesting similarity I found in reading about Hepburn and Williams was the loss of a beloved sibling early in their lives. Both women experienced the death of a brother and in turn felt a heightened sense of responsibility and drive. Esther Williams explains in her book how her brother was the one who was supposed to “make it” in life and in Hollywood. After his death, she felt as though she was two people in one body — her brother Stanton and herself. Hepburn threw herself into her studies after losing her brother and even celebrated her brother’s birthday as her own.

Similarly, the eponymous Lamont loses the sister she deems to be the most talented and beautiful of the Emerson brood. I think this is a fascinating look at the sacrifice and loss that sometimes sits lurking behind a person’s fame and success. How many of Hollywood’s elite might point to a dark cloud they used to buoy themselves? How many have a tragedy that compelled them to succeed in place of, because of, or in spite of this missing piece?

The book also delves into intergenerational mental illness and suicidality as multiple branches sprouting from Laura’s family tree find themselves facing loss and depression. It’s no secret that mental illness, addiction, and all sorts of family problems (divorce, death, MONEY) have gone hand in hand with Hollywood since film started rolling. But looking at these issues over the course of an entire life, and within multiple generations of a family, is a more fitting lens for exploring the effects of our favorite tabloid fodder.

Who should read this book – Anyone interested in The Golden Age of Hollywood, film making during the studio system era, and intergenerational mental illness.

Add to your list if you loved – Any memoirs of Hollywood stars; like Me: Stories of My Life  by Katharine Hepburn and Million Dollar Mermaid by Esther Williams.

Other books by Emma Straub – Modern Lovers and Vacationers !

Book Review: The Binding Chair or, A Visit from the Foot Emancipation Society by Kathryn Harrison

The Binding Chair or A Visit from the Foot Emancipation Society
by Kathryn Harrison

In this historical fiction novel, we meet our main character May-Li at the turn of the last century in China. Early on in the book she experiences the trauma of foot binding at the hands of her grandmother. From here, the book charts May’s path from abusive marriage to her escape to Shanghai. Although she must turn to prostitution as a means of income, her astonishing beauty, bound feet, and quick study of languages allow for speedy upward mobility. Ultimately landing her a husband from Australia.

May becomes a fixture in her husband’s Jewish family and forges a special bond with his niece Alice. The expertly researched novel covers the pair’s journey from Shanghai to a boarding school in England and back to China. Along the way, readers are introduced to other women who have all, much like May, experienced some sort of physical or mental defacement. While at times I felt like the book was trying to cover too many characters, too many stories that didn’t help move the narrative along; this cast of women did serve as a relatable reflection of May’s bound feet to a Western audience perhaps unable to conceptualize the rituals effects.

Even so, The Binding Chair felt broad, both in setting and emotion, in a way that I thought unnecessary and left the narrative feeling incomplete. However, in reading some reviews and articles about the book, others have argued that the enormity of what Harrison takes on in this novel speaks to feelings of diaspora. In a story charting the path of a Chinese woman in a family of Jews this reading would make sense. Conceptually I applaud it but stylistically I found it challenging. 

At the end of the day, while the story was cluttered and the fetishistic scenes regarding foot binding felt a little gratuitous, Harrison does afford readers an amazing investigation into a different world.

Who should read this book – Anyone interested in Shanghai at the turn of the last century and the Chinese ritual of footbinding.

Add to your list if you loved – Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See or Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende.

Other books by Kathryn Harrison – The bestselling memoir The Kiss about her incestuous love affair with her father.

Books to Read This Fall

Mourning those Summer months? Me either! I’m too excited about wrapping up, burrito-style, in a fluffy blanket with a good book and something pumpkin spice close at hand.

But for real, what better reason than a temperature turn-down to share a few favorite books I think would be perfect for your Fall reading list.

So, in the midst of all your other autumnal activities (Think: swapping out all your flip flops for riding boots and Snapchatting from the pumpkin patch.) — here are 5 books to read this Fall…

bossypantsBossypants by Tina Fey

Tina Fey’s book is short, messy, and impossibly funny (an apt description of the comedian herself). From her humble roots growing up in Pennsylvania to her days doing amateur improv in Chicago to her early sketches on SNL, Fey gives us a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain of modern comedy with equal doses of wit, candor, and self-deprecation.

There’s always something to be learned from the life experiences of fascinating (and funny!) people. This book provides a peek into the worlds of improv, SNL, and 30 Rock–all with Fey’s famous humor.

 

the-painter-from-shanghaiThe Painter from Shanghai by Jennifer Cody Epstein

Down the muddy waters of the Yangtze River, through the raucous glamour of prewar Shanghai and the bohemian splendor of 1920s Paris, and back to a China teetering on the brink of revolution: this is the epic story of Pan Yuliang, one of the most talented—and provocative—Chinese artists of the twentieth century.

Historical fiction so researched and rich in details that you will find yourself completely immersed in another time and place.

 

 

a-secret-kept A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay

Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie’s birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island , where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach. But the island’s haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories.

A French family, a fascinating story, and an unraveling secret at the heart of it all that will keep you reading well past your bedtime. Beware: you may finish de Rosnay’s mystery novel in one go!

 

 

the-namesakeThe Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Namesake takes the Ganguli family from their tradition-bound life in Calcutta through their fraught transformation into Americans. Son, Gogol Ganguli, knows only that he suffers the burden of his heritage as well as his odd name. Lahiri brings great empathy to Gogol as he stumbles along the first-generation path, strewn with conflicting loyalties, comic detours, and wrenching love affairs.’

Rather than follow a plot, this book follows a life. The resulting prose is breathtaking in it’s beauty.

 

behind-the-beautiful-foreversBehind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo

In this book by Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo, a bewildering age is made human through the dramatic story of families striving toward a better life in a makeshift settlement near the Mumbai airport. Based on years of uncompromising reporting, it carries the reader headlong into one of the twenty-first century’s hidden worlds—and into the hearts of families impossible to forget.

True to the style of “embedded journalism,” Boo embedded herself in a slum so readers could see, hear, and understand the residents and their challenges.

 

What are YOU reading this Fall? Share below! 

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Book Review: Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace

diamond rubyI often joke that my fourth favorite film genre is Sports CinemaCall it a guilty pleasure if you like, but I love those rags-to-gold medal movies about teams beating the odds and gaining the glory. And this love is also reflected in my literary leanings. Especially when you throw in a dash of girl power and a sprinkling of American history.

Diamond Ruby by Joseph Wallace seemed to fit this bill perfectly. My mom, knowing that I harbor a strange love for sports-tales, gifted me this novel a few years back and I’ve been saving it for a rainy day. Wallace tells the story of “Diamond” Ruby Thomas, a fictional character based on the real-life Jackie Mitchell who threw a baseball hard enough to strike out two of the greatest sluggers to ever play the game–Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth. Here’s a synopsis–

Seventeen-year-old Ruby Thomas, newly responsible for her two young nieces after a devastating tragedy, is determined to keep her family safe in the vast, swirling world of 1920s New York City. She’s got street smarts, boundless determination, and one unusual skill: the ability to throw a ball as hard as the greatest pitchers in a baseball-mad city.

From Coney Island sideshows to the brand-new Yankee Stadium, “Diamond Ruby” chronicles the extraordinary life and times of a girl who rises from utter poverty to the kind of renown only the Roaring Twenties can bestow. But her fame comes with a price, and Ruby must escape a deadly web of conspiracy and threats from Prohibition rumrunners, the Ku Klux Klan, and the gangster underworld. 

If you too enjoy a good ol’ fashioned coming-of-age Sports film then I highly recommend you give this book a read. Two movies in particular that it called to mind were A League of Their Own and Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. I ADORE those two movies and Diamond Ruby was a perfect mixture of both. There was, of course, the “girls can’t play baseball!….oh wait, YES THEY CAN!” element from A League of Their Own but also some Coney Island side-show elements from Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken. (Ruby even befriends a woman who went blind as a result of a diving accident! Um, HELLO!?)

Not to mention, Laura Lippman says, “Comparisons to A Tree Grows in Brooklyn are not made lightly. Wonderful…memorable…perfect.” And the historical accuracy, especially as it pertains to New York City and it’s infamous love of baseball, can’t be beat. While Diamond Ruby is Joseph Wallace’s first novel he’s written four previous books on baseball history. He certainly knows his stuff!

The book FAR EXCEEDED my expectations and I would recommend it to lovers of baseball and historical fiction alike!

Have you read Diamond Ruby? What did you think?

Manhattan–nuclear. family.

manhattan still

Have you seen this fantastic tv drama about The Manhattan Project? It aired over the summer on WGN but I just plowed through the whole first season on Hulu. I would HIGHLY recommend it. Mad Men-ish. Lost-ish. House of Cards-ish. I can’t believe I had never heard of it until a commercial for it popped up while I was watching something else on Hulu. I seriously think it’s one of the best written and acted series I’ve seen in awhile. So glad they just announced it got picked up for a second season!