Thank you all for the encouragement lately! It’s a rainy school vacation week and we’re all going just a little bit stir-crazy. To top it off, Matthew’s work schedule changed on Monday and Tuesday so I was parenting solo from noon through bedtime. Not ideal but we all survived and things are going back to normal today. I am planning an afternoon library trip for myself to catch my breath and take a break.
And today I get to write about books! We’ve read some really great books this week that I can’t wait to chat about and The Women’s Prize for fiction released their shortlist this morning. There’s so much to talk about!
Finished This Week:
I have been eagerly awaiting Kate Morton’s next novel for five years and was thrilled to bring this home from the library last week. She is such a kindred spirit and I love how she wraps up all of my little obsessions into complex mysteries. Her novels always include the most wonderful details while unraveling family secrets. Homecoming is no exception.
Jess is called back to Sydney when her beloved grandmother falls and is hospitalized. At her bedside, Nora says the strangest things that sends Jess on a mission to discover how she can help ease her grandmother’s spirit. Along the way, Jess uncovers way more of her family’s past than she expected and is challenged by what she thought was true.
Morton, clearly, is a fan of the bookish life. This novel is packed with mentions of notebooks, journals, books, and writing. And any book that expounds upon the virtues of toast and tea in the opening pages is speaking straight into my soul. I am, once again, eagerly anticipating Kate Morton’s next novel!
We read Willodeen for our morning readaloud and it got a giant thumbs up from Bryce (9 years old) and me (39 years old.) Thumbs down from Bronwyn (4 years old) but I think that she will love it in a couple of years. This is a great book for any of us who cares about the environment and feels as though our singular voices aren’t enough.
Willodeen is a young girl with a tragic past who cares deeply about screechers. To envision a screecher, think about combining a warthog and a badger with the aroma of a skunk. They are reviled and hunted and Willodeen tracks their dwindling numbers in the tiny village of Perchance.
But when the village’s precious hummingbears stop nesting in the willow trees and their livelihoods are threatened, Willodeen reckons it has something to do with the disappearance of the screechers. She bravely uses her voice to advocate for the survival of this species in order to save her village.
This was another book full of the coziest details: nature journals, stews bubbling over a fire, and gorgeous gardens surrounding thatched cottages. This is our third readaloud by Katherine Applegate and she’s quickly becoming one of my favorite authors!
Bronwyn has decided to read the Samantha books out of order, so we finished Changes for Samantha recently. I have to admit that shaking things up like that set off some internal twitching but I tried my best to ignore it and go with the flow. And Changes for Samantha was very good! Samantha is now living with her aunt and uncle in New York City. She gets a letter from Nellie saying that her parents died from the flu and she and her sisters have moved in with their uncle in the city. Samantha desperately looks for her friend when she loses contact and discovers that Nellie has moved into a terribly strict orphanage. When Nellie learns that she’s going to be sent west on an orphan train, Samantha knows she has to do something drastic to keep Nellie and her sisters together.
I was skeptical about Samantha after being so enthralled by Addy’s story, but I have to say that Samantha is not totally disappointing. She’s a young girl who speaks up for those around her and that’s an important value that can be hard to instill. We have two more books in the Samantha series and I’m looking forward to reading them!
The Women’s Prize for Fiction has released this year’s shortlist! The finalists are:
✔️ Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
✔️ The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell
✔️ Trespasses by Louise Kennedy
❒ Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks
❒ Pod by Laline Paull
✔️ Black Butterflies by Priscilla Morris
I have two left to read. Neither are currently available to me through my library or Libby but I will be discussing these books with my librarian today! The good thing is that the winner won’t be announced until June 14th, so I have plenty of time to come up with a plan for procuring those two titles.
I wish Wandering Souls and Cursed Bread were on the shortlist! But I am looking forward to Fire Rush– it looks fascinating (set in London and Jamaica in the 80s)! This list is heavy on historical fiction, which I love. I learned so much history from several of these titles and think that historical fiction is underrated. I am most skeptical about Pod (this story is told through the eyes of a dolphin), but will definitely give it a chance.
I wish I could sit at my desk and chat about books with you all day but I am being summoned by waking children! I hope to be back on Friday with a bit more of an update. Take good care!
I’m excited that the shortlist has already been announced! I have only read two of them, but I have two others already, will be ordering Pod from Blackwell’s, and just bought Fire Rush on Kindle (I had some credit, so it was more affordable than ordering a hardback). I am glad that I have already read the longest books on the list!
Have a great day, Katie – and love the recommendations, as always. I’ve used your links and am hoping to keep up with you on the prize-reading front.
Thank you for using my links, Jordy!! I hope your reading is going well so far!
Have a great day, Katie! I have only read one on the shortlist… but I have Demon in my queue, and am on the list for Trespasses!
Thanks, Kat! I’m interested to see what you think about Demon. It gets such mixed reviews!
Samantha was my American Girl. I loved her books SO MUCH! I still have my original Pleasant Company Samantha doll from when I was a little girl. I like to think I learned how to speak out for others from her stories.
That’s so cool! I’m sure you learned a lot from Samantha – these American Girls have taught us all so many things ❤️
I just finished my first Kate Morton (The Forgotten Garden) and I’m a new fan! Things got a little silly at times, but I really appreciated the atmosphere and setting. I am looking forward to reading more of her books. I also just realized that the author of The Pod also wrote The Bees, which is from the perspective of bees. I guess she has a formula!
YES! I think I know what you mean about things getting silly – she can be slightly over the top. But like you, the atmosphere and the settings of her books take them over the top for me. I just love them! And I think you’re right – Paull MUST have a formula!
I’ve been so curious about Homecoming – adding to my library hold list now! I still need to read Fire Rush; it’s next up and sitting next to my chair. and like you, I’ll be figuring out a plan for Pod, too. My library doesn’t have it!!
I hope you love Homecoming, Mary. For some reason I am thinking that you’re not a fan of dual timelines? That is definitely a feature of Homecoming (and, I think, ALL Kate Morton books??), so just something to be aware of. I’m anxious to hear your thoughts on Fire Rush. And Pod is such a quirky pick for the shortlist!
Enjoy your library outing!
Thank you, Laila. It was wonderful!!
LikeLiked by 1 person
Glad you are getting an outing! Enjoy time alone!
Thanks, Linda. It was only a half hour but it made such a huge difference!
I’ve only read one Kate Morton book which was kind of just ‘meh’ for me (I thought the ending wrapped up way too tidily), but I always hear such rave reviews of her work that I’m thinking I probably should give her a second chance.
Torrie — I think I know what you mean about her endings being TOO tidy. Sometimes that bugs me but it never really has for the Kate Morton books. I think there’s just SO MUCH that I love within the pages that it outweighs any beef I might have with the endings. I always feel like she’s speaking my love language!
I’ve read two on the Shortlist – Trespasses and Marriage Portrait. No plans to read Demon Copperhead – I love Kingsolver’s early books, but she has become way too preachy for me. I just started Shrines of Gaiety by Kate Atkinson and so far (20 pages in??), so good.
I have enjoyed several of Kingsolver’s newer books, but Demon Copperhead felt extremely preachy to me… so my guess is that you would feel that way about it too! And it’s LONG, so I can totally understand passing on it.
I LOVED Shrines of Gaiety. I hope you’re still loving it!
You are such an avid thoughtful reader. I am adding Homecoming to my library holds.
I hope you love Homecoming. I am such a Kate Morton fan and thought this was one of her best!