Tag Archives: St. Martin’s Press

Review: A Good Neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood

A Good Neighborhood
By Therese Anne Fowler
St. Martin’s Press, 9781250237279, March 10, 2020, 320pp.

The Short of It:

Absolutely riveting.

The Rest of It:

I wanted an excellent book to kick-off 2020 and let me tell you, A Good Neighborhood was just that.

The story is set in a North Carolina neighborhood that has some history behind it but is in the midst of modernization. Old, beautiful homes being razed for sparkly new homes, and the types of residents you’d expect with such flashiness. Two homes, next to each other have their own stories. One, old and beloved by Valerie and her son Xavier. The other, flashy and new, owned by Brad, his wife Julia and their two children, Juniper and Lily.

One black family. One white. Although one has a little more money than the other due to some opportunistic business dealings, the other is well-educated and well-respected in the community. But when Valerie’s grand oak tree begins to show signs  of distress due to all the construction that her neighbor authorized, tensions rise and when Juniper, a white girl, falls in love with Xavier, the tension really ramps up.

This is a timely story of how one thing leads to another and how race can’t help but get in the way. The way the story is told is from an observer’s point of view, so we know early on that something horrible happens to one if these families and although we see hints here and there of how the story will play out, the ending still packs a punch. I finished this book late at night and I was so affected by the storytelling that I had to sit there for many minutes to compose myself.

This is a tragic story and will break your heart in so many ways but it’s so well done. It gives you much to think about. It would make an excellent book club read and I want everyone to read it.

I should note that the book comes out in March, so pre-order it now or request it from your library and once you read it, let me know because you will need to discuss it.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.

Review: The Scent Keeper

The Scent Keeper

The Scent Keeper
By Erica Bauermeister
St. Martin’s Press, 9781250200136, May 2019, 320pp.

The Short of It:

If you’ve ever been fascinated with scent and the memories associated with it, you will enjoy The Scent Keeper.

The Rest of It:

Emmaline and her father live on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest. There, her father collects scents, memories really on little slips of paper that he keeps in wax-sealed bottles. He captures these scents using a special machine of his, one that has always been magical in Emmaline’s eyes.

As Emmaline grows older, she learns that there is more than just life on the island and suddenly finds herself imprisoned by these scents. A collection that holds her father’s attention more than anything else. In a moment of frustration, Emmaline makes a decision that not only affects her place on the island, but her future as well.

I was completely taken with the first half of this novel. I am a scent person. There is always a candle nearby, or a fragrant hand lotion, or perfume or something because certain scents make me happy and I surround myself with them. The first half of this novel was magical to me. The ties between scent and memory really gave me warm, happy feelings. Think about how you feel when you smell warm apple pie or cookies baking in the oven. Lovely, right?

Well, the second half of the novel was quite different. Although it still explored scent, it didn’t do so in the innocent way of memories. It was tied to money and manipulation which for me, was a real turn-off. I realize that the author was probably playing the two experiences off of one another but the story lost its magic when money was brought into it. It added a grittiness that I did not enjoy.

I love this author though. I’ve read three other books by Bauermeister so I am really familiar with her work. The Scent Keeper has a totally different feel than any of her other books so if you are looking for it to be similar you will be disappointed. Personally, I would have liked the second half to go a different way but I am not a bestselling author.

Source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
Disclosure: This post contains Indiebound affiliate links.