Monday, May 22, 2017

Review: Little Girl Gone

Summary: On a frozen night in an affluent Minneapolis neighborhood, a baby is abducted from her home after her teenage babysitter is violently assaulted. The parents are frantic, the police are baffled, and, with the perpetrator already in the wind, the trail is getting colder by the second.

As family liaison officer with the Minneapolis P.D., it’s Afton Tangler’s job to deal with the emotional aftermath of terrible crimes—but she’s never faced a case quite as brutal as this. Each development is more heartbreaking than the last and the only lead is a collection of seemingly unrelated clues. But, most disturbing of all, Afton begins to suspect that this case is not isolated. Whoever did this has taken babies before—and if Afton doesn’t solve this crime soon, more children are sure to go missing . . . -- Berkley

I am a big fan of the cozy writer Laura Childs and have reviewed many of her books here on Booking Mama. Many of you might not know this, but Laura Childs is actually a pen name for Gerry Schmitt. Ms. Schmitt has taken a departure from her cozy series to write a mystery/suspense novel titled LITTLE GIRL GONE. This book is the first in a new series starring Afton Tangler.

LITTLE GIRL GONE begins one cold night when a teenage girl is babysitting a little baby. Things take a dangerous turn when the babysitter is assaulted and the baby is kidnapped, and the Minneapolis police department is left with little, if any, clues about the violent crime.

Afton Tangler is a family liaison officer with the police department, and she has been assigned to work with the grieving parents. Afton, a single mother of two, is desperate to prove herself to her superiors in the hopes that she can one day move up to an officer position in the department. However, this case is proving to be rather challenging with little clues that make any sense.

As Afton becomes more involved with this disturbing case, she realizes that this incident might only be one kidnapping in a much larger crime spree. Time is of the essence before something happens to this baby as well as additional ones!

I enjoyed LITTLE GIRL GONE quite a bit. I definitely thought the mystery was disturbing, and I liked that it was more complex than I first guessed. I also enjoyed the character of Afton and how the author balanced her personal and professional lives. She is definitely a very likable character and one that I wouldn't mind seeing more of in the future.

I guess because I'm used to reading Ms. Schmitt's cozy novels, I wasn't exactly expecting this book to be so dark and even gruesome. I don't mean that the entire book is scary, but there is a violent crime to begin the novel and the characters responsible are more than a little disturbing. Ms. Schmitt has also included a side story of doll making and taxidermy which I admit I found a little creepy... but also a little interesting.

I do think my favorite thing about LITTLE GIRL GONE was the character of Afton. I guess that's a good thing because this novel is the first in a series starring her! I definitely liked Afton and how persistent she was at solving the crime; however, I also enjoyed the scenes with her family, her co-workers, and even her potential love interest. I will admit that I was impressed with her crime-solving capabilities, especially as she figured out connections that weren't necessarily apparent to others.

The next book in the Afton Tangler thriller will be out in August and I'll be sure you let you know what I think closer to the book's publication date. In the meantime, make sure you check out LITTLE GIRL GONE. It's a suspenseful mystery with more than a few twists and turn, and I definitely recommend it to fans of mysteries!

Thanks to the author for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Kid Konnection: Fun (but Educational) Books!

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you two instructional (but still entertaining!) kids' books.

Summary: Ready for a road trip? Get the scoop on the nifty fifty from North to South and coast to coast.

Through the pages of this book you can travel to all 50 states, from Alabama to Wyoming, to discover the history, geography, and culture that make each one great. With more than 100 kid-friendly maps by illustrator Aaron Meshon, full-color photographs, and fun facts galore, this state-by-state guide is perfect for exploring your own state, uncovering new places, and digging into the history of the United States of America.

A great resource for school reports and general curiosity, kids will learn the story of the people who lived on the land before European settlement; how each state joined the Union; the natural resources and people that make it unique; and the industry and agriculture that drive it today. 50 States supports cross-discipline learning in U.S. history, geography, natural history, and cultural studies. -- Liberty Street

When Booking Son first saw 50 STATES (TIME FOR KIDS), his eyes lit up. This compact little guide is right up his alley with its interesting tidbits about the 50 states. As a mom, I love that the information is presented in such a way that makes learning fun!

50 STATES is a terrific resource for children (and adults) who want to learn a bit about the United States of America. It begins with a few pages explaining the United States pre-European settlement. It outlines the various tribal nations with a little bit of history about each one. Then, the book teaches kids about European settlement and Westward Expansion before delving into specifics about each of the 50 states.

The book has separate pages for each of the 50 states but also includes fun facts about Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories and commonwealths. In addition, the end of the book has some interesting information about the various sections of states (i.e. the northeast, the south, the midwest, etc.) And finally, there are some suggestions for additional resources for those kids who still want more!

One thing that really makes 50 STATES special is how the information is presented. There are loads of maps/illustrations by Aaron Meshon that complement the text in addition to full-color photos and fact-filled sidebars. There are also a few paragraphs for each state about its history as well as the natural resources, geography, and special events. Basically, it's a handy guide for summer travels!

I learned quite a bit from 50 STATES and I highly recommend it to kids who want to learn more about the U.S.A.

Summary: The fourth book in the fan-favorite Rookie Book series, Sports Illustrated Kids explains the most popular sport in the world to its youngest fans.

The ref blows the whistle, the striker approaches for kickoff, feet fly-a soccer match is underway! With a fun mix of Sports Illustrated action photography, simple text, a full glossary of terms, and awesome graphics, My First Book of Soccer introduces readers to the world's favorite game. Kids (and probably a few adults, too) will learn how the clock counts "up" and never stops, what an offside means, what's up with those yellow cards, and how kicks become a gooooaaaallll!

Illustrated "rookie" characters appears on every page, guiding the reader moment by moment, and helping to make My First Book of Soccer an ideal shared reading experience between parents and their little rookies before, during, and after the game. -- Liberty Street

MY FIRST BOOK OF SOCCER (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED KIDS) is the fourth book in the hilarious Rookie Book series, and it is certain to appeal to fans of these books. Like the first three books in the series, MY FIRST BOOK OF SOCCER teachs kids (and possibly some adults!) about the most popular sport in the world -- soccer.

I absolutely adore MY FIRST BOOK OF SOCCER and I think it's a terrific way to introduce the sport to little ones. I know when my kids started playing soccer at five years old, they had no idea what they were doing. I am pretty sure this book would have helped... at least a little!

For those of you not familiar with these books, MY FIRST BOOK OF SOCCER uses full-color photographs along with a little bit of cartoons to explain the sport in the simplest of terms. The book is so much fun to fun to read with the characters and their speech balloons. It's both educational and very entertaining. Plus it's actually really funny!

I loved the Rookie Books and especially MY FIRST BOOK OF SOCCER!

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing review copies of these books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Friday, May 19, 2017

Review: All the Best People

Summary: An intricately crafted story of madness, magic and misfortune across three generations from the author of The Middle of Somewhere and House Broken…

Vermont, 1972. Carole LaPorte has a satisfying, ordinary life. She cares for her children, balances the books for the family’s auto shop and laughs when her husband slow dances her across the kitchen floor. Her tragic childhood might have happened to someone else.

But now her mind is playing tricks on her. The accounts won’t reconcile and the murmuring she hears isn’t the television. She ought to seek help, but she’s terrified of being locked away in a mental hospital like her mother, Solange. So Carole hides her symptoms, withdraws from her family and unwittingly sets her eleven-year-old daughter Alison on a desperate search for meaning and power: in Tarot cards, in omens from a nearby river and in a mysterious blue glass box belonging to her grandmother.

An exploration of the power of courage and love to overcome a damning legacy, All the Best People celebrates the search for identity and grace in the most ordinary lives. -- Berkley

I'll admit that I was a bit reluctant to pick up ALL THE BEST PEOPLE by Sonja Yoerg. I actually really like this author and her writing style, but I was concerned about the subject matter of the novel. It deals with mental illness and I had a grandmother who suffered from Alzheimers. I was worried that I wouldn't be able to handle a story about a mother gradually losing her mind, nevertheless one where that same character was concerned about inheriting her mother's illness.

However, I am happy to say that I did pick up ALL THE BEST PEOPLE, and I thought it was a very well written novel. That's not to say that I wasn't a bit uncomfortable at times with what was taking place, but the writing and character development were very well done... and it was worthwhile read.

ALL THE BEST PEOPLE tells the story of three generations of women. It takes place in 1972 in Vermont when Carole LaPorte is a mother of three who also helps her husband run their auto shop. She gradually realizes that her mind isn't what it used to be -- she's even hearing voices; and she's terrified that she's going to be locked into a mental hospital just like her mother Solange was many years ago. Carole's eleven year old daughter Alison is also extremely worried about her mother, and she ends up turning to some unconventional methods to help her cope.

ALL THE BEST PEOPLE is an insightful look into these three characters' lives that is guaranteed to touch reader's hearts... and make them think. The novel mainly goes back and forth between Carole's and Solange's stories, but there is also some focus on how Alison is handling everything. All in all, I felt as if the author did a good job in transitioning effortless between the characters' stories as well as the different time periods.

I was a bit surprised with how much these characters affected me. Of course, I couldn't help but be reminded at times of my grandmother, but Carole (and even Solange) were extremely real to me. And even little Alison made a way into my heart. I found the mother/daughter relationships in the story to be very real and very touching, and I loved the over-arching themes in the novel.

Another aspect of the novel that I really appreciated was how the secrets in the story were revealed. There were some moments of surprise in the book that caught me off guard (and also broke my heart); and I loved how I was so caught off-guard. However, as sad as this novel was for me, I did feel a sense of hope upon finishing the book... and maybe that's what I loved the most.

ALL THE BEST PEOPLE would make a terrific book club selection. There is a discussion guide in the back of the book, but I wasn't able to find a link to the questions. Some of the themes you might want to explore include the symbolism of water, secrets, mother/daughter relationships, class conflict, marriage, nature vs. nurture, magic, and more.

I truly enjoyed ALL THE BEST PEOPLE and I recommend it to fans of women's fiction.

Thanks to the author and publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Review: Before the Rain Falls

Summary: After serving seventy years in prison for the murder of her sister, Eula, Della Lee has finally returned home to the Texas town of Puerto Pesar. She’s free from confinement—and ready to tell her secrets before it’s too late.

She finds a willing audience in journalist Mick Anders, who is reeling after his suspension from a Boston newspaper and in town, reluctantly, to investigate a mysterious portrait of Eula that reportedly sheds tears. He crosses paths with Dr. Paloma Vega, who’s visiting Puerto Pesar with her own mission: to take care of her ailing grandmother and to rescue her rebellious younger sister before something terrible happens. Paloma and Mick have their reasons to be in the hot, parched border town whose name translates as “Port of Regret.” But they don’t anticipate how their lives will be changed forever.

Moving and engrossing, this dual story alternates between Della’s dark ordeals of the 1940s and Paloma and Mick’s present-day search for answers―about roots, family, love, and what is truly important in life. -- Lake Union

With seventeen days and counting until my daughter's high school graduation, reading and writing reviews isn't exactly the same priority it's been for me for almost a decade. When I'm not getting ready for the parties and many events, I do try to read. Notice the word "try." I'm not having much luck focusing on books right now... or finding time to write reviews, but I did want to take the time to share with you a book that came out yesterday called BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS by Camille De Maio.

BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS tells the story of three complex individuals whose lives intersect in a small Texas town. First, there's Della Lee, an elderly woman who has served 70 years for the murder of her sister Eula. She is now a free woman and wants to set the record straight about all of the secrets she's been keeping for almost her entire life. Then there's Mick. Mick is a big city newspaper writer who has recently been suspended and sent away to Puerto Pesar to look into the story of a painting of Eula that appears to be crying. And finally, there's Paloma, a doctor who grew up in Puerto Pesar who has returned to take care of her ailing grandmother and teenage sister.

Mick isn't exactly excited to be assigned this story; however, he quickly realizes that Puerto Pesar does have its advantages -- namely, the beautiful and smart Paloma. He also discovers that Della's life story might be the story he's really supposed to cover. Paloma is torn between starting her new life in New York and taking care of her loved ones when they need her the most. As Mick and Paloma become closer, they both realize important things about each other and, more importantly, what they value in life.

I was pleasantly surprised by BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS. I don't know exactly what I was expecting, but I enjoyed the characters and the story. I also was very impressed with Ms. De Maio's writing. I especially appreciated how she wove the story between the three main characters and also went back and forth between the present and the past. All in all, it was an entertaining and compelling novel.

There were quite a few things that I enjoyed about this novel. First and foremost were the characters. I truly liked all Della, Mick and Paloma; and I found myself rooting for all of them. I also definitely wanted Mick and Paloma's romance to develop! I thought the author did a terrific job in making them multi-dimensional, and their interactions with each other were interesting. I also liked how each one of them evolved by the end of the story.

As a lover of mysteries, I admit that I did enjoy the mystery angle of the novel. I wouldn't classify this novel as a mystery; however, there were definitely some secrets surrounding Eula's death. (And I guess the crying portrait was a mystery too... in a way!) It wasn't a mystery that I spent time trying to figure out -- it was more like secrets were eventually revealed, but I did find the resolution to be satisfying.

Another aspect of the book that I appreciated was how the author brought the setting of a small Texas town to life. In addition, I thought she did a good job of making the earlier time period come alive. I think that the details she incorporated into the novel definitely contributed to my enjoyment of BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS as well as making the characters and their lives more real.

I believe BEFORE THE RAIN FALLS is a special story that will warm the hearts of fans of women's fiction.

Thanks to Get Red PR for providing a review copy of this novel.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Kid Konnection: Cute Picture Books!

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week I'm going to share with you two adorable picture books!

Summary: Reginald’s a T. Rex just as fierce and ferocious as the rest: he’s got a mighty roar, gnashing teeth, and all the speed a dino could need. But when it comes to mealtime, Reg would rather chow down on broccoli, beans, and greens than the juicy steaks his paleo pals prefer. When Reginald realizes how different he is from the others, he hopes to find a place to fit in among the herbivores. He excitedly strikes out in search of a new herd, only to scare away the other dinosaurs as he charges to greet them. But when a falling boulder threatens the safety of Reg’s old T. Rex clan, he’ll show everyone what only a strong, vegetarian Tyrannosaurs rex can do. A celebration of vegetarianism, T. Veg is a rollicking laugh-out-loud tale about being unapologetically yourself. -- Abrams

T. VEG: THE STORY OF A CARROT-CRUNCHING DINOSAUR by Smriti Prasadam-Halls and illustrated by Katherina Manolessou is extremely cute. It's a bright picture book that tells the story of a T. Rex who chooses to be a vegetarian! While other dinosaurs prefer meat, Reginald likes broccoli, greens and carrot cake. It's a cute book that celebrates differences, staying true to one's self, and acceptance!

I thought T. VEG was just precious. I loved the illustrations which were absolutely gorgeous in bright oranges, pinks, greens, and purples; and they fit perfectly with the rhyming text. The entire book had a fun, whimsical feel to it; however, there were also some fantastic messages. Even though Reginald was different than the other T. Rexes and tried to fit in, he realized who he really was and even proved his value to his friends.

The book ends with the cutest page spread which was a celebration of sorts. I especially loved the text:

And then they danced the night away,
Because they KNOW it's true... 
The Best Thing in the World is Being Happy Being YOU!

All in all, T. VEG is a great way to celebrate healthy eating eating as well as diversity` and acceptance!

Summary: The Big Adventures of Tiny House is a story about an old farmhouse that gets recycled into something new: TINY, a little house with a big heart – and WHEELS!

Yes, Tiny may be small, but he lives a BIG life. With the help of Big Truck, he travels thousands of miles across America, seeing the sights and attending the Tiny House Jamboree (yes, that’s a real thing – and it’s AWESOME!). Along the way, he and Big Truck make lots of new friends — like Shiny (an Airstream), Waverly (the houseboat) and Buster (a converted school bus). And Tiny and his friends were printed on recycled paper at a printer here in the USA!

So come along and get to know Tiny as he explores the country and discovers the true meaning of home. -- Inner Flower Child Books

Tiny houses are all the rage, and now they are front and center in the picture book THE BIG ADVENTURES OF TINY HOUSE by Susan Schaefer Bernardo and illustrated by Courtenay Fletcher. This cute book is about an old farmhouse that turns into a tiny house!

I thought THE BIG ADVENTURES OF TINY HOUSE was extremely fun. The story begins with an old farmhouse that once sat in a field of hay. This farm house gets surrounded by a city, so "clever hands" decided to salvage as much as possible from the farm house and turn it into a tiny house... with wheels!

The picture book shows the new tiny house with all of its nooks and crannies. In addition, the tiny house (because it has wheels!) proves that you can be a home even if you're on the move! This little house visits many places including New Orleans where it sees a parade and Texas where it visits a taqueria. Tiny House even meets some fun friends along the way, and most importantly, realizes that home is wherever your heart is!

The illustrations in THE BIG ADVENTURES OF TINY HOUSE, and there is quite a bit to explore on each page. Even little ones will like to check out pages. Older children will appreciate the clever (and rhyming) text. As a mom, I just thought the entire book was special!

Thanks to the publisher and Get Red PR for providing review copies of these books.

If you'd like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children's books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Guest Review: Bum Luck

Summary: Thirty seconds after the jury announced its verdict, I decided to kill my client.

Second-string linebacker turned trial lawyer Jake Lassiter squares off against his toughest, most unpredictable adversary yet: himself.

The downward spiral begins when Jake's client, NFL superstar Thunder Thurston, is cleared of murdering his wife. Jake didn't expect to win, didn't want to win, since he is sure his client is guilty. When Thurston walks free, Lassiter vows to seek his own kind of justice. Street justice. Vigilante justice.

Law partners Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord can't believe their friend has become so inexplicably obsessed with killing his client. Convinced Jake's unhinged behavior is due to repeated concussions suffered during his pro football career, they beg him to seek treatment. But as Lassiter's raging fixation on vengeance grows, Solomon and Lord wonder if they're too late to help. Is it game over for Jake's career...and his life? -- Thomas & Mercer

Guess who's back? Booking Pap Pap! And this time he's reviewed BUM LUCK by Paul Levine. Here are his thoughts:

BUM LUCK, the twelfth addition to the Jack Lassiter series by author Paul Levine, finds attorney Jack Lassiter regretting the acquittal of his client, an NFL all-pro running back, for the murder of his wife. Jack thought his client was guilty, wanted to lose and now after winning, questions his own morals. He decides to take matters into his own hands and plans to kill or at least frame his client. Jack is so obsessed by this case that his friends, law partners Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord (characters from another Levine series), are concerned that Jack is suffering from brain injuries incurred during his NFL playing days. To reinforce their concerns, Jack suffers from severe headaches and memory problems, but has continually delayed tests that may indicate chronic traumatic encephalopathy (C.T.E.).

To make matters even more interesting, Jack was up against the state’s top homicide trial lawyer who needed a win to accelerate her run to unseat the state’s top attorney, who happens to be Jack’s friend. The consequences of this are interesting as the story plays out.

While pondering his next action regarding the murder case, Jack takes on another case representing a large life insurance company against a mother/ MMA fighter who committed suicide and coincidently may have been suffering from C.T.E. His court room opponents are his friends Solomon and Lord. An expert witness at the trial specializing in C.T.E. influences the case as well as Jack’s attitude about his own health.

Jack Lassiter is an interesting character who walks a fine line in performing his duties as an attorney. He had previously been acquitted of murder, on occasion circumvents the law and has been threatened with disbarment; but, he is tenacious in defending his clients, even one he suspects of murdering his wife. His two lawyer friends, Solomon and Lord add a bit of levity to the story. The inclusion of the C.T.E. issue adds a current theme to the novel and highlights a serious issue the sports world is dealing with.

Although this book is part of an ongoing series it was not necessary to read any of the prior novels to follow the characters and the storyline. BUM LUCK, classified as a legal thriller, is an enjoyable fast paced, easy-to-follow story. Readers of the legal thriller genre will enjoy BUM LUCK.

Thanks to Saicheck Publicity for providing a review copy of this novel.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Review: Commonwealth

Summary: 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.

Spanning five decades, Commonwealth explores how this chance encounter reverberates through the lives of the four parents and six children involved. Spending summers together in Virginia, the Keating and Cousins children forge a lasting bond that is based on a shared disillusionment with their parents and the strange and genuine affection that grows up between them.

When, in her twenties, Franny begins an affair with the legendary author Leon Posen and tells him about her family, the story of her siblings is no longer hers to control. Their childhood becomes the basis for his wildly successful book, ultimately forcing them to come to terms with their losses, their guilt, and the deeply loyal connection they feel for one another.

Told with equal measures of humor and heartbreak, Commonwealth is a meditation on inspiration, interpretation, and the ownership of stories. It is a brilliant and tender tale of the far-reaching ties of love and responsibility that bind us together. -- Harper

I am so late in reviewing COMMONWEALTH by Ann Patchett, and I honestly don't have a good excuse. My book club read this two month's ago for book club, and I liked it... a lot. I think things are just out of control right now with my daughter's high school graduation less that four weeks away -- AHHHHH! I can't keep everything straight and my reading and reviews are definitely reflecting that!

Anyway... back to the book. COMMONWEALTH is a rich story about two families and the effects a chance encounter had on their lives. It all began when Bert Cousins came (uninvited by the way) to Franny Keating's baptism party. Despite being married and a father, Bert falls quickly for Franny's mom, Beverly; and the two share a kiss before the party ends. This kiss ends up breaking up two marriages and forever changing the direction of the lives of everyone involved.

Beverly and Bert marry and moving to Virginia -- far away from their spouses and children who reside in Southern California. All six of the kids end up spending summers together in Virginia and forming long-standing friendships. There are a few normal issues associated with blended families, but for the most part, they all get along and respect each other. However, there is one defining event from their childhood that will forever haunt each one of them.

The book also follows Franny's life, as well as a few of her siblings, and eventually spans almost fifth years. Franny begins an affair with a famous author and shares stories about her family. He ends up writing about the Franny's family and it brings to light many of the family's losses, regrets, and love.

I adored COMMONWEALTH. Of course, what can I really say about Ann Patchett's writing that hasn't already been said. She's nothing short of a genius! What really stood out to me about this novel, though, was how different it was from the other books of hers that I've read. Ms. Patchett's writing skills defy the imagination (or at least mine!) She is just so darn versatile and I'll never cease to be impressed by her prose.

What I loved the most about COMMONWEALTH was how realistically families (and especially blended families) were portrayed. The book begins in the early 1970s and I definitely think Ms. Patchett captured the essence of this time period. She also did a wonderful job in showing how divorce hits these two families. (Remember, this was a time when divorce was relatively rare.) The blending of the families was extremely realistic to me, and I loved the atmosphere she created with the kids all running wild in the summers.

I also really appreciated how the author demonstrated how our childhoods have a lifelong effect on our lives. There is one very important event that occurs in this novel (no spoilers!), and it definitely plays a role in the lives and decisions of the children. As the secrets of these families are revealed (through no fault of their own), each person is forced to face the past and deal with their guilt and regrets.

COMMONWEALTH made a great book club selection; however, I'll admit that we didn't discuss it the way I would have liked. Having said that there are so many things to discuss from the characters and their relationships with each other, to the symbolism of the title. In addition, I think the themes of stories and ownership definitely give some food for thought. There is a terrific reading guide available with seventeen questions. Some of the themes you might want to further explore include divorce, family, love, secrets, loss, grief, regrets, parent/child relationships, the role of stories, and more!

Overall, I found COMMONWEALTH to be an excellent read. Highly recommend for readers who enjoy stories about family dramas as well as fans of Ann Patchett!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.