February Book Suggestions

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We have two novels and a novella on the Tomatoes’ bookshelf this month. The first is Water for Elephants which is coming to Broadway as a musical this spring. Foster is a beautifully crafted novella, that’s just 62 pages, perfect for those with short attention spans. And if you love mysteries, check out A Discerning Eye.

Water for Elephants” is Coming to Broadway

One of my favorite books, “Water for Elephants” by Sara Gruen, is coming to Broadway this spring as a musical. I plan to re-read the book, and if you have never read it,  is a captivating novel that transports readers to the world of a struggling circus during the Great Depression. When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and adrift, hops onto a passing train, he enters a realm of freaks, drifters, and misfits. As a veterinary student, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie, where he meets Marlena, the beautiful star of the equestrian act, and Rosie, an untrainable elephant. The novel beautifully weaves together love, survival, and the magic of the circus. Gruen’s vivid descriptions and well-researched historical backdrop make this a memorable read.  GET THE BOOK.

~Cheryl Benton, aka, “The Head Tomato”

A Poignant and Beautifully Crafted Novella

Foster” by Claire Keegan explores the themes of family, identity, and the transformative power of love. Set in rural Ireland during the 1980s, the story revolves around a young girl who is temporarily fostered by a family in the countryside.

In spare and evocative prose, Keegan creates a vivid sense of time and place. She skillfully captures the nuances of Irish culture, portraying the tight-knit community and the dynamics of familial relationships. Through her time with the foster family, the girl learns about the importance of belonging.

The contrast between the girl’s own family and the foster family serves as a significant thematic element in this coming-of-age story. Keegan explores the impact of love and empathy on a child who has been previously neglected, delving into the complexities of belonging and acceptance.

The girl’s own family is characterized by neglect and poverty. Caught in a cycle of hardship, focusing on basic survival, her biological family struggles to provide a nurturing and stable environment. Her mother is overwhelmed with caring for the other children and running the household. Her father is a drunk who gambles at cards.

In contrast, the foster family provides an environment of warmth and stability. The physical setting of the foster home in the countryside, surrounded by nature and meticulously tended fields, stands in stark contrast to the girl’s urban upbringing. The farmhouse becomes a symbol of safety and comfort.

The foster family members are depicted as caring and nurturing. They enjoy indulging their young visitor with special treats and they buy her nice clothes. She is seamlessly incorporated into the daily routines and chores that make the household hum. They teach her important life lessons, such as “where there are secrets there is shame” and “never miss an opportunity to say nothing.”

The novella unfolds with a sense of quiet tension, building towards a poignant and emotionally resonant climax. Keegan masterfully navigates the emotional terrain of the narrative, leaving readers with a deep sense of reflection and contemplation. This is a beautiful gem, 62 pages long! GET THE BOOK.

~Joan Pagano, NYC, Joan Pagano Fitness

A Fast Moving and Gripping Mystery

A Discerning Eye,” by Carol Orange, is a mystery.  As I like to call this kind of book a “who done it?”  I don’t think it will just appeal to mystery book fans, but will also appeal to artists, art lovers and collectors.  This art heist took place at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in March 1990.  Now coming up on thirty- four years since this theft happened.  Thirteen pieces of art were stolen, unlike in the book the pieces have never been recovered.

Portia Malatesta, an art dealer has just lost her brother, Antonio, an artist.  They both have loved studying the paintings at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.  One of their very favorite pieces is Vermeer’s The Concert.  When Portia learns their favorite piece has been stolen, she is heartbroken.  She decides she must do something to try and help in recovering the stolen art pieces.

Portia decides she wants to create a profile of the thief.  The FBI enlists her help in trying to find the stolen art.  By agreeing to help the FBI she will have to travel to Columbia.  She will need to make friends with and earn the trust of a drug lord’s married daughter.  She knows she is up for the challenge and is willing to leave her behind her daughter.  Portia must navigate the underworld of Medellin-a complicated web of politics, pride, and ugly crimes-where on single misstep could have deadly consequences.

A beautifully written debut novel by Carol Orange.  This is a fast moving and gripping story you will not be able to put down.  I had the incredible honor of speaking to the author, Carol Orange about her book, her writing process and how long it took her to write this story.  I found it all so fascinating. She makes you feel like you are on the page with the characters.  I loved this book so much.  I highly recommend this book. It was five stars for me. GET THE BOOK.

~Francene Katzen, Richmond, Virginia, advocate for parents who have children with drug addictions.


Here's what's on the Tomatoes' bookshelves. Discover books that our Tomato reviewers recommend.

Book Reviews

Here's what's on the Tomatoes' bookshelves. Discover books that our Tomato reviewers recommend.

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