We have four novels and one memoir added to our “to be reviewed” list; here are some brief previews.
A note on our previews: They are publisher’s blurb, author info and contacts, as well as purchasing links, all in one place so less work linking for you, just in case you’re interested in one of these books. There are no opinions (except perhaps a small comment). Our complete thoughts will be coming in a personal review.
Books included in this preview for Fiction and Memoir:
- Where are the Cocoa Puffs? ~ by Karen Winters Schwartz
- The Love Goddess’ Cooking School: ~ by Melisa Senate
- Daring To Eat A Peach ~ Joseph Zappetello
- Mr. Toppit ~ by Charles Elton
- Postmortem: a memoir ~ by Laurel Saville
Where are the Cocoa Puffs: a novel ~ by Karen Winters Schwartz
About: As eighteen-year-old Amanda spirals into mania, her father, psychiatrist Dr. Jerry Benson, sees the realization of his worst fears: his daughter is not just moody, but truly ill. With his words, his diagnosis -- manic depressive illness -- his world and that of his family is forever altered. Carol, Amanda's mother, struggles with the guilt and shame of having raised a "crazy" daughter. Christy, Amanda's fifteen-year-old sister, denies the illness; after all, my sister's a bitch is so much easier to accept.
Meanwhile, the Bensons' extended family offers up everything from unconditional support to uncomfortable scrutiny as Amanda careens between bouts of frightening violence, cosmic euphoria, and suicidal despair. Then there's Ryan, an architecture student who is initially ensnared by Amanda's manic sexuality, but is ultimately captured and held throughout the chaos by the force of love and strength of family.
Where Are the Cocoa Puffs?: A Family's Journey Through Bipolar Disorder follows a family through the tragedy of bipolar disorder, but it's not tragic. It's funny, sad, and thought provoking -- and as real and as raw as mental illness itself.
- Paperback: 270 pages
- Publisher: Goodman Beck Publishing; First edition (September 21, 2010)
Author Bio: Karen Winters Schwartz was born and raised in Mansfield, Ohio. She received her undergraduate degree in microbiology, her Master of Science in Immunology, and a Doctorate in Optometry. Winters Schwartz is an active board member of NAMI Syracuse (National Alliance on Mental Illness) and an advocate for mental illness awareness. This is her debut novel. To find out more about or to contact Karen see her website, her blog, and Goodread’s page.
Layers of Thought: I have started the first chapters and know that it’s easy to read with an accessible style, and suspect that it will be darkly funny.
The Love Goddess’ Cooking School: a novel ~ by Melisa Senate
About: Holly Maguire’s grandmother Camilla was the Love Goddess of Blue Crab Island, Maine—a Milanese fortune-teller who could predict the right man for you, and whose Italian cooking was rumored to save marriages. Holly has been waiting years for her unlikely fortune: her true love will like sa cordula, an unappetizing old-world delicacy. But Holly can’t make a decent marinara sauce, let alone sa cordula. Maybe that’s why the man she hopes to marry breaks her heart. So when Holly inherits Camilla’s Cucinotta, she’s determined to forget about fortunes and love and become an Italian cooking teacher worthy of her grandmother’s legacy.
As the class gathers each week, adding Camilla’s essential ingredients of wishes and memories in every pot and pan, unexpected friendships and romances are formed—and tested. Especially when Holly falls hard for Liam . . . and learns a thing or two about finding her own recipe for happiness.
- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Gallery; Original edition (October 26, 2010)
Author Bio: Melissa Senate is the author of eight novels, including the bestselling See Jane Date. A former romance and young adult editor from New York, she now lives on the southern coast of Maine with her son. For more information link to her Goodread’s author page, and her website.
Daring To Eat A Peach ~ Joseph Zappetello
About: Denton Pike, a divorced translator, is stuck, stalled in a moment of inertia until the reappearance of Peter, an old friend and roving journalist, sets into motion a series of watershed events. Denton and his handful of thirty-something friends each face a choice: seize the day and change your surroundings or bite your lip and perpetuate the status quo.
Daring to Eat a Peach investigates the multiple and often conflicting forces that shape our lives by exploring the motivations and mettle of a divorced translator and his handful of friends, all of whom stand perched at a crossroads, struggling to break the force of inertia in their lives and search for a better path.
- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Atticus Books (November 28, 2010)
Layers of Thought: After skimming the first several chapters this promises to be a hilarious and satirical literary read.
Mr. Toppit ~ by Charles Elton
About: When Arthur Hayman, an unsuccessful screenwriter turned children’s book author, is accidentally hit by a cement truck in London, his dying moments are spent with a passing American tourist, Laurie Clow, who is fated to bring posthumous fame to his obscure series, The Hayseed Chronicles, and the enigmatic and sinister Mr. Toppit who is at the center of the books. While Arthur doesn’t live to reap the benefits of his books’ success, his legacy falls to his widow, Martha, and their children—the fragile Rachel, and Luke, reluctantly immortalized as the fictional Luke Hayseed, hero of his father’s books. But others want their share of the Hayseed phenomenon, particularly Laurie, who has a mysterious agenda of her own that changes all of their lives as Martha, Rachel, and Luke begin to crumble under the heavy burden of their inheritance.
- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Other Press; Reprint edition (November 9, 2010)
Author Bio: Charles Elton worked as a designer and editor in publishing before becoming a literary agent. Since 1991 he has worked in television and for the past ten years has been an executive producer in drama.
Layers of Thought: First printed by Viking in the UK (2009), this is the first US publication, by Other Press specifically edited with US readers in mind.
Postmortem ~ by Laurel Saville
About: Sadly, some lives cannot be understood until after death. So it was with Anne Ford. A charming beauty queen, model, and fashion designer during the 1950s, this glamour girl was poisoned by internal demons and the permissive Southern California culture of the 1960s and 70s. She ended her life as an alcoholic street person, stabbed and strangled in a burned-out building in West Hollywood. Years later, her daughter, the writer Laurel Saville, began the long process of unraveling the twin trajectories of this unusual life.
Postmortem takes the reader on an emotionally charged journey that ranges from her eccentric West Hollywood childhood to a top-secret, Depression-era airplane design. Whether describing the artists of the seminal Sunset Strip gallery where Andy Warhol got his start or the hippie parties at Barney's Beanery, Saville's distinctive prose lends insight into events and emotions. This candid exploration of one woman's life and death ends up exposing unexpected and highly-charged truths about both mother and daughter.
- Hardcover: 196 pages
- Publisher: iUniverse.com (September 25, 2009)
Author Bio: Laurel Saville is the author of numerous books, articles, essays, and short fiction. She is also a well-known design writer, corporate communications consultant, and an adjunct professor at the College of St. Rose. For more information and writing samples, including essays, short stories, and chapters from Postmortem, go to to her website, or Goodread’s author page.
Layers of Thought: One of the publicist’s favorite reads this year, it is purportedly heart wrenching and literary in style, akin to The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.
That's all for general fiction for this year, have a great Tuesday!