“The world’s favorite season is the spring. All things seem possible in May.” – Edwin Way Teale

These are some new and recent titles that I plan to review soon. For now, a preview will have to suffice while I catch up on the massive pile of books. Most of my free time has been devoted to writing for Camp NaNoWriMo. But if you’re not trying to finish a novel, then go out and read these books. Don’t be like me.

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool by Peter Turner

from the publisher: 

The golden age of Hollywood, a young British actor, a love affair, and a tragedy, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool is the touching story of the last days of a Hollywood icon.

On September 29, 1981, Peter Turner received a phone call that would change his life. His former lover, Hollywood actress Gloria Grahame, had collapsed in a Lancaster hotel and was refusing medical attention. He took her into his chaotic and often eccentric family’s home in Liverpool to see her through her last days. Though their affair had ended years before, it was to him that she turned in her final hour of need.

I feel like a complete ninny for not getting to this one yet. It sounds amazing. The reviews have called it “uncategorizable” and “terribly funny.”


Paperback: 176 pages
Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (May 2, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250136857
ISBN-13: 978-1250136855

Murder in Matera by Helene Stapinski

from the publisher:

A writer goes deep into the heart of Italy to unravel a century-old family mystery in this spellbinding memoir that blends the suspenseful twists of Making a Murderer and the emotional insight of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels.

Since childhood, Helene Stapinski heard lurid tales about her great-great-grandmother, Vita. In Southern Italy, she was a loose woman who had murdered someone. Immigrating to America with three children, she lost one along the way. Helene’s youthful obsession with Vita deepened as she grew up, eventually propelling the journalist to Italy, where, with her own children in tow, she pursued the story, determined to set the record straight.

Finding answers would take Helene ten years and numerous trips to Basilicata, the rural “instep” of Italy’s boot—a mountainous land rife with criminals, superstitions, old-world customs, and desperate poverty. Though false leads sent her down blind alleys, Helene’s dogged search, aided by a few lucky—even miraculous—breaks and a group of colorful local characters, led her to the truth.

This one comes out in a couple of weeks and I have a feeling it’s going to be a breakout hit. I’m always one for a good family mystery and genealogical history.

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Dey Street Books (May 23, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 006243845X
ISBN-13: 978-0062438454
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches

The Mask of the Sun: The Science, History and Forgotten Lore of Eclipses by John Dvorak

from the publisher:

They have been thought of as harbingers of evil as well as a sign of the divine. Eclipses—one of the rarest and most stunning celestial events we can witness here on Earth—have shaped the course of human history and thought since humans first turned their eyes to the sky.

What do Virginia Woolf, the rotation of hurricanes, Babylonian kings and Einstein’s General Theory Relativity all have in common? Eclipses. Always spectacular and, today, precisely predictable, eclipses have allowed us to know when the first Olympic games were played and, long before the first space probe, that the Moon was covered by dust. Eclipses have stunned, frightened, emboldened and mesmerized people for thousands of years.

Here’s another one I need to put on top of the TBR. I am intrigued by the stories anyway, but this summer we have a total solar eclipse going right over us!

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Pegasus Books; 1 edition (March 7, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1681773309
ISBN-13: 978-1681773308
Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9.3 inches

The Original Black Elite: Daniel Murray and the Story of a Forgotten Era by Elizabeth Dowling Taylor

from the publisher:

In the wake of the Civil War, Daniel Murray, born free and educated in Baltimore, was in the vanguard of Washington, D.C.’s black upper class. Appointed Assistant Librarian at the Library of Congress—at a time when government appointments were the most prestigious positions available for blacks—Murray became wealthy through his business as a construction contractor and married a college-educated socialite. The Murrays’ social circles included some of the first African-American U.S. Senators and Congressmen, and their children went to the best colleges—Harvard and Cornell.

Though Murray and other black elite of his time were primed to assimilate into the cultural fabric as Americans first and people of color second, their prospects were crushed by Jim Crow segregation and the capitulation to white supremacist groups by the government, which turned a blind eye to their unlawful—often murderous—acts.

Elizabeth Dowling Taylor traces the rise, fall, and disillusionment of upper-class African Americans, revealing that they were a representation not of hypothetical achievement but what could be realized by African Americans through education and equal opportunities.

I’ve started – but haven’t finished – this one (it’s over 500 pages). It is one of those amazing historical books that makes you constantly say, “How come I never learned about this? Why have I never heard of that person?”

Hardcover: 512 pages
Publisher: Amistad (January 31, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0062346091
ISBN-13: 978-0062346094
Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches

The Evenings by Gerard Reve

from the publisher:

‘I work in an office. I take cards out of a file. Once I have taken them out, I put them back in again. That is it.’

Twenty-three-year-old Frits – office worker, daydreamer, teller of inappropriate jokes – finds life absurd and inexplicable. He lives with his parents, who drive him mad. He has terrible, disturbing dreams of death and destruction. Sometimes he talks to a toy rabbit.

This is the story of ten evenings in Frits’s life at the end of December, as he drinks, smokes, sees friends, aimlessly wanders the gloomy city streets and tries to make sense of the minutes, hours and days that stretch before him.

Darkly funny and mesmerising, The Evenings takes the tiny, quotidian triumphs and heartbreaks of our everyday lives and turns them into a work of brilliant wit and profound beauty.

I adore everything Pushkin Press publishes and I can only imagine how wonderful this will be when I finally have a chance to submerge myself in it.

Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: Pushkin Press (January 31, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1782271783
ISBN-13: 978-1782271789
Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1 x 8.1 inches