Amy Artisan

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Recent Reads – June 2018

Ah, summertime reading! June was filled with an eclectic assortment of reading. Some NetGalley reads…recent releases…some continuations of favorite series and more.

Fiction Finds

Love and Ruin by Paula McClain – As I previously shared…This recent release returns to Hemingway’s Women – this time, the focus is on Martha Gellhorn. Martha became his third wife and their stormy relationship plays out in the pages. But more than just “a Mrs. Hemingway” we see Gellhorn as a writer in her own right – someone who jumps overseas to be in the midst of the global turmoil unfolding; someone who struggles to find her voice in the stories she tells – both news reporting and fiction storytelling. As I finished this tale, I was definitely interested to learn more about Martha and appreciated the afternote that the author included in the book – and am also intrigued to track down some of her own works.

A Storied Life by Leigh Kramer – The debut novel from a blogger who I follow…in recent years, it has been fun to see Leigh’s journey to finish this novel and the path to publication in June. I saw someone compare this book to Amy E. Reichert novels and that is an apt comparison, especially having the locale be as much of a character in the story as the people (although, sidenote…why do we we always have to compare one author/book to another?!?!). Leigh tells a compelling story of love of self, love of family, finding love and romance all set against a family matriarch’s decline with a terminal cancer diagnosis. Drawing on her experience in hospice social work, her love of Chicagoland and the Chicago White Sox, art, and romance novels Leigh paints a complete and engaging tale that radiates such hope in the midst of a seemingly grim season in family life.

Not That I Could Tell by Jessica Stawser – A recent release that falls squarely into the “woman suddenly vanishes and those left behind are left to unravel a life that isn’t what it seems.” This time, a woman and her preschool twins disappear without a trace from their home in a small Ohio town. This tale didn’t draw me in as much as some – I think it might be time for me to give this genre a rest for a bit.

NetGalley Notes

NetGalley continues to be an interesting source of books. These are recent good fiction reads from my NetGalley bookshelf.

The House at Saltwater Point by Colleen Coble – Set against the backdrop of a picturesque harbor and surrounding lavender fields and forests, The House at Saltwater Point is a rich tale of suspense, mystery, drama, family and love. Families shattered, families trying to come together, a possible terrorist plot, a stolen cache of drugs, a missing (and presumed dead) sister – all of these threads come together in a story that pulls you in and keeps you interested in how it resolves. The characters in the story are filled with depth and emotion beyond what you typically find in a suspense/thriller – Colleen Coble writes so that you are pulled into the characters and their stories…not just rushing to solve the mystery. This is the second book in the Lavender Tides series – while I believe you could read this as a standalone book, I’m glad I sought out the first book in the series before diving into this one – it was probably a richer reading experience with that background. I look forward to what the third book in this series will hold.  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. Book is available July 3rd.

Sold on a Monday by Kristina McMorris – Sold on a Monday transports you back to the Great Depression and takes you on a journey that starts when a struggling Philadelphia reporter sees two children on a porch in front of “kids for sale” sign and snaps a picture. From that simple click of the camera, lives as changed forever – when an editor sees the picture and asks for the story behind the photo wheels are put into motion that are difficult to stop. Along the way you are drawn into the stories of the struggling reporter and the ethics & conscience he experience with the choices he makes; the newspaper secretary with dreams of being a journalist while also raising the son that she has “hidden” from her Philly existence; a widow struggling with her health while raising 2 young children; a banker trying to bring his wife back from the abyss after the tragic death of their young daughter; a New York mobster and glimpses of the NY underworld and more. Reading the description of the photo that Ellis captures on a Sunday afternoon to set this story in motion, I immediately thought of the Depression era images of mothers and children captured by Dorthea Lange. Kristina McMorris does a masterful job of building characters and a construct against the backdrop of the Great Depression and delivers a compelling story that has you engaged to the final pages to see how it resolves and who is able to find happiness. This was my first book by this author and I will definitely look to read more from her.
An e-ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This book is available on August 28th.

In June, I also enjoyed a variety of cookbooks via NetGalley and am queuing up some food related posts to highlight them – some sneak peaks have been popping up in my Instagram feed.

Serial Stories

The Dark Vineyard by Martin Walker – The next investigation to solve with Bruno, the Chief of Police in St. Denis, France. This time, a local vineyard and barn are set on fire and as the fire is extinguished the unmistakable scent of petrol make this an arson investigation. As Bruno solves the case, GMO crops and ecological terror and hippie communes and local wineries vs. international conglomerates weave throughout the tale. Another pleasant visit to St. Denis.

At Risk & Secret Asset by Stella Rimington – As I previously shared, I’m not sure how this thriller series wasn’t even on my radar. As a fan of the show MI-5/Spooks as well as Alias and several others in that vein, this series is definitely my cup of tea! I’m working my way through this series and enjoying every tale, so far.

The Nature of the Beast by Louise Penny – Another great mystery for Inspector Gamanche to solve in Three Pines. This time the tale includes a young boy with a vivid imagination, a seemingly mythical war machine hidden in the woods, intrigue and national intelligence and crimes from long ago. This book continues my view that time in Three Pines is time well spent.

What are you reading these days? 

Linking up with Show Us Your Books, hosted by Stephanie & Jana.


  1. I have rage for Hemingway after the two McLain books.

  2. I had the chance to read A Storied Life as well and following Leigh and her blog beforehand made it even more exciting! I was so glad I liked the book : )

  3. I love when a random NetGalley pick turns about to be a great book.

  4. The House at Saltwater Point sounds so good! I’m going to the beach this weekend so I might have to grab that from the library before I leave!

  5. A Storied Life sounds fantastic!! Thanks for the review of it.

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