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This Week's Review

A Proposal They Can't Refuse has a wonderful selection of themes I adore in a book: food, family, culture (in this case hispanic), and two main characters impossible not to love. Oh, and some Irish Whiskey!

Kamilah Vega is a fiery Puerto Rican chef determined to make her family's restaurant, El Coquí, succeed. She is hopeful that entering the Fall Foodie Tour will help put the restaurant on the map for good. Convincing her family however is a struggle, they are not too keen on the changes that would be necessary for a win. And even worse, they don't trust her to succeed. 

The restaurant shares a building with a Distillery. 

Liam Kane and his grandfather have turned their family Irish Distillery into a successful business and are hoping to win a national competition with their secret and new whisky blend. But just as they are about to get things going, his grandfather hits him with some horrible news: he has cancer, is not looking for treatment, and has his heart set on marrying Liam before his time is up.

He also just so happens to be best friends with Kamilah's grandfather and when these two meddling grandfathers get together there is always some disaster ahead. I am sure you can guess what these two get up to... Kamilha's grandfather promises to help her with the Fall Foodie Tour, and Liam's grandfather promises to look into treatment IF the two give a relationship between them a go. If they refuse, their grandfathers will sell the building that houses both their business. With their future on the line the two agree. Or at least they pretend to agree. Surely faking a relationship for a while is not that hard... 

Kamilah's passionate attitude and Liam's great mind for business turns out to be the perfect pairing. But these childhood friends have a lot of baggage and getting through that while pretending not to actually have feelings for each other is difficult.

My favorite characters were no doubt the mischievous and meddling grandparents. It all seems a bit odd at first, but when you find out about Liams's and Kamilah's past it slowly starts to make sense.  

The book has some great Puerto Rican and Irish Folklore references and the constant food and whisky descriptions will leave you hungry and thirsty. 

Natalie Caña has been recognized by Hip Latina, as one of the 10 Latinx Romance Authors to keep on your radar and the book itself can be found in a few anticipated reads for 2022, including Oprah Daily.

Summer Chapter Books

 

Ask an elementary or middle school teacher what they would like to see their students do to keep learning during the summer. The resounding answers would be:  READ!  KEEP READING!  READ SOME MORE!  READ EVERY DAY! 

But summer is also for fun. How do you make reading fun for those who don’t enjoy it?  Reading is a skill and we humans have more fun with a skill when we are successful. And how does one master a skill? Through practice, of course. As skills improve, so does the satisfaction of success. Remember learning to ride a bike? Pretty scary at first, but through practice came success and increased enjoyment. We need to provide opportunities for reading practice while maintaining the essence of a child’s summer: sun, fun, and family.

Review: Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Review by Sue Domis

Where the Crawdads Sing was originally published in 2018. It was on the bestseller list for over a year.  The book was very popular with both women and men because of Owens' universal themes.  The book takes place beginning in the 1960s, in a small North Carolina coastal town named Barkley Cove.  The central character is named Kya Clark.  Because she lives alone in a marsh, the town's people call her Marsh Girl.     

Maybe you have already seen the trailers for the soon to be released movie of the book.  The trailers I've seen are about a murder mystery and a trial in a marsh land.  There is so much more in the book.  It is a story of a very young Kya who is abandoned. by her mother who is fleeing an abusive and drunkard husband.   Kya's older siblings have already left the home, leaving six-year old Kya with their father, in a shack, in the North Carolina swamplands..  She cleans and cooks for her often absent father. Eventually, he doesn't return at all and she is left alone to raise herself.  

This Week's Review

Review by Samwise McGinn and Ray Iveson

Happy Pride Month! To kick off this June off on the right foot, Ray and I have reviewed four LGBTQIA+ novels. There are two nonfiction and two fiction titles. All are informative, exciting, and definitely engrossing! I can’t imagine a more fun way to learn about the LGBTQIA+ community than by reading a book. Without further ado, here are the titles! 

 

Fine: A Comic about Gender by Rhea Ewing

Fine is an anthology of interviews with people about how they relate to gender and how it fits in with their identity as a whole. This also includes the author’s own experience exploring and figuring out their gender identity. I found Fine eye opening to how experiences influence our gender expression and how we choose to identify ourselves. A memoir for anyone curious about gender identity, gender expression, and how this impacts our lives. 

Coming Back by Jessi Zabarsky Random House Graphic 

Review: The Nineties by Chuck Klostermann

Review by Tony Hoffart

When I started reading The Nineties, a simple white book with a ridiculous looking clear corded telephone on the cover, I was struck with how well researched it was.  It felt like a history book and so I was surprised to find out that it was firmly embedded in our social sciences section.  I then spent the rest of the book trying to understand why this was a Social Science genre instead of History.  

The Nineties starts out explaining the standard complaints an older generation has towards the younger.  In one of its many very concise and pithy statements it explains how the older generation inevitably sees the younger as “soft” and that this is a good thing.  That if younger generations weren’t being viewed this way, it was because progress had stalled and life had become measurably harder for everyone.  This is a book about Generation X.  The smallest of the modern generations, the generation that was entering into adulthood in the nineties.  It is about that generation and attempts to understand it objectively.  The nineties also examines how that decade impacts the two decades we’ve had since.  

Review: Booth by Karen Joy Fowler

Review by Amy Stoothoff

A few years ago, I enjoyed reading Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves. So when Booth came out, I immediately picked it up.


It explores a complex family of Shakespearean actors in 19th century America. The family supported abolition, animal rights to the point of violence, intellectualism, and weLord Byron and the promise adventure. They run off and end up in rural Bel Air, Maryland. Junius left a pregnant Mary Ann while he went on tour for nine months out of the year. Nearly all of his life he’ll spend on tour. Alcoholism derails Junius’ career at various points in his life. His passion onstage was an asset but proved to be a liability throughout his life. Drunken brawls occur often so his friends and even his son act as almost his guardians.

Review: Spring Meditation by Kevin Miller

Review by Sue Domis

Kevin Miller is a Tacoma Wa., poet. He taught in Washing State public schools for 39 years. He has appeared in numerous poetry publications.  Spring Meditation is his sixth volume  of poetry. He was a Fulbright Exchange teacher in Denmark.  Miller is well known among the Yakima area poets and has many close friends in Yakima.

Miller was scheduled to give a reading at Inklings Bookshop in 2020 just as the pandemic lockdown happened. So, a lot of us missed out on knowing about the collection, Vanish, published by Aegus Press.  Vanish is a poetry collection of poems covering subjects like family, marriage, children.and our past. The poems are about our personal history, and what has vanished.

Now, two years later,  Miller's latest collection, Spring Meditations, has been published.  Miller will have an overdue poetry reading at Inklings Bookshop on  Saturday, May 21, at 1:00.  He'll be reading from  Spring Meditation, which is a collection of baseball poems.  MoonPath Press approached Miller with the suggestion that they publish a poetry volume of his baseball poems that were part of his previous collections.

If you enjoy fine poetry, and, or, if you like baseball, then you will enjoy Miller's latest book.  Miller's poems are about his life as a young catcher on school teams and  on local baseball leagues.There are poems about playing with his father, other family members, and playing with his friends. There are poems about famous players from the past.  The Mariners and their players are mentioned in a few of the poems.  I think there is much for fans to enjoy.  I was asked personally, which was my favorite poem in the book.  I'm not sure, can I pick ten?

 Come to enjoy a special afternoon at Inklings on  Saturday, May 21, at 1:00 for Kevin Miller's reading.

Winter Bestsellers at Inklings

Wondering what to read next? Go through our Bestseller list for these last few months and see if anything catches our eye!
Here are our 10 Bestsellers this past winter, 8 from in-store sales, and 2 from online sales:


- The Luke McCain Mysteries by Rod Phillips  (Latah Books, $16.75 and $17.75) 
This series has been a Bestseller at Inklings since the day the first book was released. Everyone that has read it only had great things to say about it. To use my own past words: "If you haven't gotten to it yet, the Luke McCain Mystery series is set in the Cascade Mountains and you will recognize many of its settings. The first book, Cascade Killer, has sold over 1000 copies just here at Inklings. This mystery series is entertaining, fast paced, and therefore a delight to read."


- Atlas of the Heart: Mapping Meaningful Connection and the Language of Human Experience by Brene Brown (Random House, $30)

Prolific author Brene Brown is once again a bestseller at Inklings. Atlas of the Heart is not like her other books, it is heavy, big, full of images and diagrams, and it will look lovely on just about anyone's coffee table. It reads like a dictionary on human emotions and experiences, a whole 87 of them! Atlas of the Heart is also a five-part HBO Max docuseries. 

Review: The Ogress and the Orphans by Kelly Barnhill

By Luanne Clark

Kelly Barnhill is an award-winning author of children’s chapter books. In 2017 she won the prestigious Newbery Award with The Girl Who Drank the Moon. She’s back with a new book, The Ogress and the Orphans. It looks to be an instant children’s fantasy classic. And it’s one that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

The Ogress and the Orphans would make a great bedtime story for 6-9 year olds. It’s got dragons and villagers and bad guys and good guys and trouble and adventure and fire and castles and crows and a blind dog.  And, of course, it’s got an ogress and 15 beloved orphans. Something for everyone! On the simplest level it’s a well-written, captivating story to be enjoyed by the listener and the reader. 

Review: French Braid by Anne Tyler

Review by Sue Domis

Anne Tyler has just written her 24th novel.  Each of  her books are about families in Baltimore and each story is different, because each family is separate.  Tyler remains popular after all these years because each novel is unique and each is a new adventure in reading.  We, the readers, can never predict what will happen.

French Braid, Tyler's latest novel is about the Garrett family.  The mother, Mercy, is an aspiring artist. The  father, Robin, runs the family plumbing supply store.  In the course of  the story we meet the three Garrett children; Alice, Lily and David and watch them mature and eventually become parents themselves.    Near the start of the book, the Garretts take their first and only family vacation.  This vacation demonstrates the family dynamics and  shows us each member's personalities.  Their trip is to a lake. At the lake, Mercy swims briefly and then returns to their cabin to paint.  Robin stays at the water's edge, visiting with another vacationing father.  Alice swims a while and then unpacks their things and starts fixing a meal. Lily, who  is a young teen, meets a teen-aged boy and spends most of the week hanging out with him and his friends.  David, the youngest child is fearful and afraid of the water.  He refuses to let his father teach him to swim.  He spends the trip by himself, playing with the sand at the water's edge.   They are all separate, while being together.

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