Fiction at its best: The Guest Book (Blake)

The Guest Book: A Novel

I read and enjoyed this author’s first novel, The Postmistress, so was thrilled to receive an e galley of her second novel, The Guest Book. The Guest Book was chosen as a Barnes and Noble book club read and it is easy to see why. This is the sort of novel that the reader wants to talk about with others who spent time getting to know the Miltons, their circle, and those who are on the outside of it.

The story covers three generations in a narrative that moves back and forth in time, beginning with Ogden and Kitty. They appear to literally own all that they could ever want, even including an island in Maine that is central to the book. The next generation includes Moss, Evelyn and Joan. Children who grew up with so much and who each make decisions about how they want to live in the world. Their children form the book’s third generation. Other important characters are Leonard, who is Jewish and Reg who is African American.

The world of these characters resembles the dance on the island late in the book. People dance with “their own” and occasionally with “others.” These interactions fuel the plot and thinking of the novel.

This is a story about those with power who casually dislike those who are not like them. So…can Leonard, who is Jewish, ever truly be with Joan? Is there a reason that Reg, who is African American does not sign the guest book of the title?

The reader spends much time with Kitty. No spoilers but several of her decisions, one casual and without awareness of the tragedy that will befall and one with knowledge of that but still a particular decision. The reader will be immersed in Kitty’s thoughts about the choices that she has made.

It can be easy to dislike some of the characters for their choices. The author tries to show that life and decisions are complex, made for reasons that are not always clear and may or may not be regretted. Ms. Blake has a message that she would like readers to take away. Around it, she creates a novel of considerable depth.

I highly recommend this one. Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for an e galley in exchange for an honest review.

Now out: Bedtime (van Genechten)

BedtimeThis is an adorable bedtime read for toddlers. The illustrations are bold and appealing while the simple text pairs well with the pictures.

In the story, a group of creatures tell what they need to do before going to bed. By the end of the book, a young child tells their routine for what must happen before going to sleep. In a sweet way that ties the book together, each critter that was previously featured in the story then is shown within the child’s room (for example, as part of a mobile). Young readers are then asked what they need before going to sleep.

This storybook has an appealing concept; reluctant toddlers will undoubtedly love to see how each featured player finds ways to avoid bedtime. The book will then, hopefully, send them off to the land of Nod.

Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for this book which I was given in return for an honest review.

A Cat-alog of Art: A History of Art in 21 Cats (Gould) #AHistoryOfArtIn21Cats #NetGalley

This book is very clever, funny and yet full of art history. It is a wonderful way to learn about or review art movements. The facts are well researched while the art reflects each period. Covering everything from Ancient Egypt, the Renaissance, Fauvism, De Stijl to Abstract Impressionism and more, the book provides a thorough introduction to art movements. I even learned about several art periods that I did not know including CoBrA and the Young British Artists.

For each era, there is one large and other smaller illustrations. There are sections of the painting techniques and the artists of each movement. For example, the Fauves use of bright colors and collage are noted. For this section the illustration is of a cat that could have been painted by Matisse. For on Pop Art there are cat food cans that are recognizable as being in Warhol’s style. At the end of the book there is a timeline which provides a helpful additional reference.

I will enjoy going back to this book time and again. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the fun and informative read.

Here is the publisher’s description for readers’ additional a-mews-ment:

Become litter-ate in the basics of important art movements through a host of beautifully illustrated cats, each one inspired by a specific period in art hiss-tory: Surrealism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism, Ancient Egyptian (of course), and many more. From Claude Meow-net to Jackson Paw-llock, these creative cats will introduce you to key themes and artists you won’t soon fur-get. Purr-haps even inspiring you to make your own version!

Out now: The Artist Who Loved Cats (Bernardo)

This is an extraordinarily charming book. The illustrations are delightful and evocative. The text is rhyming. Young readers or listeners will learn about Steinlen, the artist who made the iconic Le Chat Noir posters. He studied textiles but realized that fine art was his calling. Steinlen encountered many other famous artists during this exciting time in French art.

At the end of the book, there is additional biographical information on the artist. There is also a section on objects that young readers can go back and search for in the text.

I enjoyed this lovely trip to France. Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley. All opinions are my own.

For toddlers with a favorite food: Herbert Loves Sherbet (Leopold) #HerbertLovesSherbet #NetGalley

This colorfully illustrated story will appeal to young children and their adults. In it, Herbert only wants to eat his favorite food; will he ever tire of it? See what happens when Herbert’s parents go away and his grandmother accedes to his wishes. This is a cute read on a typical toddler-preschool food issue.

Thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for this read in exchange for an honest review. I’m off to my freeezer now!