The Book Mark

Books that make the grade.

Tag Archives: Joshilyn Jackson

Four for the New Year


Happy New Year Everyone!!! I am glad to be back and able to share with you what I have been reading lately. Honestly, I expected to read many books post surgery but found it took me a long time to be able to concentrate again. However, in the past several weeks I have been catching up. I’d like to share some of the titles that I have found interesting.


Currently, I am reading Mercer Girls (B) by Libbie Hawker. As the Civil War rages on in the east a somewhat new city in the West, Seattle is struggling to establish itself. The population consists of mostly men who’d like to be able to find a respectable woman to marry, start a family and build a home. A S Mercer calls Seattle home. Based on the true story, Mercer Girls retells how one man establishes a program to bring marriageable young women to his city with the hope of providing opportunity to both men and women to meet someone they can begin a family with. Once again historical fiction delivers an informative story that might otherwise have gone untold.


Continuing in the same genre, The Muse (A) by Jessie Burton spans two time periods. In the 1930s, just before the onset of WWII, Spain underwent it’s own war. A wealthy Jewish family flees to Spain hoping to secure them safely out of the way of Hitler. While there, their artistic daughter falls in love with a rebel who inspires her to masterful artistry. Then 30 years later, a young man who has no idea of its history inherits one of her paintings. As the tale unfolds the painting tells the story of love won and lost both in the past and the present. I found this book extremely well done and it kept me interested till the very last page.


The following book was a Christmas gift. I have read everything written by Joshilyn Jackson and The Opposite of Everyone (A) did not disappoint. Paula Vauss may have had a very dysfunctional life as a child. Surviving her childhood has empowered Paula to become a dynamite lawyer fighting unfairness and abuse. One day her past comes back to her delivering to her siblings she was unaware existed. Her fight becomes real and personal now as she addresses her demons and creates a life she never expected. As always, she writes an extremely well done page-turner.


Last but not least, a genre that is not my usual. Salt to Sea (A) by Ruta Sepetys is a Young Adult (YA) historical fiction novel that once again introduced me to an historical event I was unaware of. As thousands of Prussians are fleeing through German to safety they constantly risk their lives from Russian soldiers who are determined to kill them all. Salt to Sea has four main characters who each share their story. Ultimately, they all board the ship Wilhelm Gustloff thinking they are safe. They are not. As historical events unravel, Salt to Sea proves to be not just a YA story but one for everyone to read.


I encourage you to try any of the above books to help you pass the cold winter days. For me, they were equally entertaining and fun reads and the best way to begin a new year.


Double the Fun


Being sick has some advantages and being able to just sit and read and read and read is one of them. So today, I bring you two books that helped me recover from bronchitis.

This book has been on my “to read” shelf for a number of years. I purchased it in an independent bookstore that I discovered while walking through downtown Boston. Up at the Villa (A+) by W. Somersett Maugham literally took me two hours to read. Those two hours went way too fast with this immensely pleasing little novel.

Mary Leonard’s husband died leaving her with a little money and a lot of freedom. Married to a man that she loved but who destroyed her financially and spiritually, she heads to Florence, Italy to recover. While there, a long time friend asks her to marry him. As she contemplates her answer, she meets an enchanting stranger inviting him home for what she planned to be an impetuous night of fun. What actually happens changes her life forever.

I have always been a fan of Maugham but this blew my mind away. Certainly everyone can find two hours to read this amazing novel. Like me, you want it to never end.


Someone Else’s Love Story (A) by Joshilyn Jackson has been sitting in my Kindle for a long time too. I am a big fan of Jackson and have read most of her books enjoying them all equally.

This time, Jackson’s book opens with a convenience store robbery. Shandi and her son are moving to her Dad’s condo in Atlanta. She will be closer to school and Natty will be able to attend the best nursery schools available to him. Her best friend Wallcott, as always, is right by her side to help but he’s not in the convenience store when the robbery occurs and what he comes to realize while waiting for the outcome changes everything. His isn’t the only life that changes though. Shandi, too, realizes that she must face her own demons if she is ever going to be able to protect Natty.

Jackson’s writing is always engaging and she does an excellent job here too crafting a novel filled with twists and turns. Once again, you can’t always take things at face value. What you think you know might be completely something else.

So here you go, two for the price of one. Both are absolutely worth reading even when you are not sick and a captive audience.

Wish List



I bet everyone is as busy as me with getting ready to celebrate Christmas and the New Year. My little pup is now 5 months old and our days are getting easier.  Soon, I’ll be able to read whenever I like.  Though I am enjoying him so very much, right now I am still way behind. Meanwhile, my books pile up ready and waiting.

If you are reading this then you are a book lover and book lovers gift books.  I am sharing my Wish List and hope that it might help you along the way.  Here we go:

The Supreme Macaroni Company by Adriana Trigiani makes the list as the sequel to The Shoemaker’s Wife a book I read and enjoyed this year. The story continues to follow the lives of the characters we have come to love in the previous novels.

The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson has sparked my interest. Set in Korea, love, honor, hunger and corruption all set the stage for a promising read.

The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan in true Tan fashion follows two women from Shanghai to remote villages in China. Mothers and daughters play key rolls. The novel promises to delight those that enjoyed The Joy Luck Club, which is one of my all time favorites.

Someone Else’s Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson is another one of her beautifully crafted love stories.  I’m a big fan of hers and she never fails to please me. Remember her from A Grown-Up Kinda Pretty and Gods in Alabama?

Sarah Jio once again grabs my attention with Morning Glory. Many years ago, I had the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of The Violets of March and since then I am a committed fan.

Bellman and Black by Diane Setterfield made my list too. Years ago, my book club read The Thirteenth Tale and that book has stood out as one of our best reads. I am hoping for the same here with her latest about a boy who kills a bird and years later as an adult some revenge is taken.  This definitely sounds like one of her books!!

Well this is what I hope to be reading in 2014. Maybe you will find some that you can add to your wish list too and we can read them together. Happy shopping and look for my best and worst list in the next blog. I hope all the above make next years “best” list.




Baby, Baby

I read a lot of books every year, probably well over 100.  Some I like; some I don’t and occasionally I find one that is heads above the rest.  Today, I’d like to introduce you to Joshilyn Jackson’s, a grown-up kind of pretty (A).

Several years ago, I read her first novel, gods in Alabama (B). My book club discussed it and everyone agreed;  it was well written and interesting. Last summer, I read Backseat Saints (B+) and with book number two; I became a Jackson fan.  Just last week, I found a grown-up kind of pretty in the library and instantly grabbed it.  I think I inhaled it.  I read it in about 8 hours.

Every 15 years, the Slocumb family of women encounters trouble. Trouble comes in many forms but most often with unexpected pregnancies.  First, Ginny, also known as Big, becomes pregnant at 15 and leaves her strict Baptist family home to raise her unborn daughter in a more accepting environment. Fifteen years later that daughter, Liza, also called Little, becomes pregnant as well.  Big does not want history to repeat itself and is accepting and open about Little’s pregnancy. Little has been a defiant and rebellious teen but decides that raising a child is something to become serious about.  She plans with the help of her mother to be a good parent. She wakes one evening to discover that her newborn daughter is dead.  Fearing that she will be considered a bad mother and a murderer she flees in the middle of the night. No one knows the child has died.  Big only knows that Little and the baby are gone. When Little returns, she is a drug addict in need of a place to raise her “daughter” Mosey. 15 years more and the remains of an infant are discovered buried under the Slocumb willow tree and so begins the mystery.  Is Mosey Little’s baby?  If not, who is she and did Little kidnap her?

Written in alternating character chapters, the story unfolds, the mystery deepens and the reader is hooked solid and fast. Literally, I did nothing for no one while reading this story.  I, along with Mosey and Roger, sought out the truth. I encourage everyone to read a grown-up kind of pretty. It’s time to put up your “gone reading” sign up, sit back and enjoy.