Posts Tagged ‘The Shiniest Jewel’

TGIF!  It has been a long week here, with plenty of rain to keep us climbing the walls inside the house.  I’d like to say that I’ve been able to spend that time curled in a cozy chair with a good book (or two!), but, there was that wall-climbing going on …  Without further ado, I’ll report that I did find time to open several packages that UPS, USPS and FedEx were kind enough to deliver.  MizB at Should be Reading asks, and here are my Friday Finds:

I received House and Home by Kathleen McCleary.  I’m going to read and review this novel in preparation for an author blog tour coordinated by Lisa at TLC Book Tours; this is the first book/author I’ve promoted with TLC Book Tours and I’m looking forward to working with them – the tour stops at SheIsTooFondOfBooks on September 15!. 

We moved about a year ago and I understand the angst of having strangers assess your house and ultimately make it their home; what makes a house a home?  Read on:  The story of a woman who loves her house so much that she’ll do just about anything to keep it.

Ellen Flanagan has two precious girls to raise, a cozy neighborhood coffee shop to run, terrific friends, and a sexy husband. She adores her house, a yellow Cape Cod filled with quirky antiques, beloved nooks and dents, and a million memories. But now, at forty-four, she’s about to lose it all.

After eighteen roller-coaster years of marriage, Ellen’s husband, Sam–who’s charismatic, spontaneous, and utterly irresponsible–has disappointed her in more ways than she can live with, and they’re getting divorced. Her daughters are miserable about losing their daddy. Worst of all, the house that Ellen loves with all her heart must now be sold.

Ellen’s life is further complicated by a lovely and unexpected relationship with the husband of the shrewish, social-climbing woman who has purchased the house. Add to that the confusion over how she really feels about her almost-ex-husband, and you have the makings of a delicious novel about what matters most in the end . . .

Set in the gorgeous surroundings of Portland, Oregon, Kathleen McCleary’s funny, poignant, curl-up-and-read debut strikes a deep emotional chord and explores the very notion of what makes a house a home.

Cheryl Jarvis’ The Necklace: Thirteen Women and the Experiment that Changed Their Lives will be published September 9.  The premise of this non-fiction book is very interesting:

Four years ago, in Ventura, California, Jonell McLain saw a diamond necklace in a local jewelry store display window. The necklace aroused desire first, then a provocative question: Why are personal luxuries so plentiful yet accessible to so few? What if we shared what we desired? Several weeks, dozens of phone calls, and a leap of faith later, Jonell bought the necklace with twelve other women, with the goal of sharing it.

I received my first “graphic” book, The Shiniest Jewel: A Family Love Story by Marian Henley.  This is a memoir written in graphic format, complete with dialogue bubbles and whimsical drawings.  I loved this book and have already posted my reviewThe Shiniest Jewel will be released for sale on September 15.  Here’s what the publisher has to say:

At 49, cartoonist Marian Henley hasn’t committed to marrying the man with whom she has been dating for seven years. But as the Big 5-0 looms, she realizes that above all else she wants a child. Her story follows the heartbreaking ups and downs of going through the international adoption process; deciding when it’s time to grow up and maybe even get married; and in the end, it’s the story of a daughter’s relationship with her father, and how becoming a mother finally led her to understand him. THE SHINIEST JEWEL is a touching narrative, accompanied by Marian’s winsome drawings, that beautifully weaves together her realizations about the joy, and sometimes heartbreak, of building a family.

I enjoyed The Shiniest Jewel so much that I’m ready to take on a few more books in the graphic format … any suggestions?

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  • The Shiniest Jewel: A Family Love Story by Marian Henley
  • Publisher: Springboard Press (September 15, 2008 )
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • ISBN-10: 0446199311
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446199315
  • For the past few months I’ve been conducting an informal poll of my book-blogging friends; I hadn’t yet read a graphic novel, and wanted to get their recommendations of where to start.  It had to be a successful trial, or I was likely to continue to shun the genre.  Marian Henley’s graphic memoir, The Shiniest Jewel: A Family Love Story, was the perfect place to start, and I won’t hesitate to suggest it to anyone interested in trying the graphic format.

    The Shiniest Jewel is indeed a love story; to Henley’s adopted son, her husband, and her father.  The book begins as Henley approaches age 50, and follows her life for the next year or so.  In the opening pages, Henley realizes that although she is unsure about committing to marrying her long-term love interest (geographical distance and a 13-year age difference are her concerns), she is certain that she wishes to become a mother.

    In her memoir, Henley shares the joys and disappointments that she encounters along the way to the international adoption of her son, William.  She meets setbacks and stonewalls, yet she perseveres.  In tandem to the story of William’s adoption is the tale of the declining health of her father, Bill.  Henley recalls the sacrifices her father has made throughout his life, for his friends and for his family.  Bill is a man of few words, but “still waters run deep”, as deep as his love for Henley and her growing family.  Sitting by his sickbed, Henley recalls “We didn’t talk much, but then again … we never had.  It had taken me years to understand that his silence was not condemnation.”

    Henley shares her memoir in the graphic format with narration, dialogue bubbles and clever asides.  The accompanying drawings are sweet and poignant, illustrating the emotional rollercoaster Henley rode as she journeyed to complete her family.  I enjoyed my first foray into reading full-length graphic works!  The Shiniest Jewel is a jewel itself, and would be an appropriate and appreciated gift for an adoptive family.

    Marian Henley is the creator of the Maxine! syndicated weekly comic strips.  She previously published the graphic novel Maxine! and a collection of comic strips called Laughing Gas: The Best of Maxine.  More information about Henley and her work can be found at her website

    Springboard Press is part of the Hachette Book Group; their mission is “to publish quality prescriptive and narrative nonfiction books for … Baby Boomers who are in search of inspiration, entertainment, and reinvention in their lives. … [T]hese books … range from memoir and popular culture to beauty, well-being, inspiration, relationships, and career.”  General non-fiction appeals to me, I have a strong interest in personal memoir, and who can argue with well-being, inspiration and healthy relationships?!?  I’ll look forward to reading other quality books from Springboard (although I’ll stamp my feet and say I was born six months too late to be considered a baby boomer!)

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