Where’d You Go, Bernadette

By Maria Semple

Book Blurb

A compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she’s a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she’s a disgrace; to design mavens, she’s a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette’s intensifying allergy to Seattle – and people in general – has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence – creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter’s role in an absurd world.  (Blurb is from Goodreads)

My Review

Bernadette Fox had many idiosyncrasies and was too unbelievable to keep my interest.  When she disappeared, leaving her teenaged daughter and husband without knowledge of her whereabouts, I totally disliked her, never mind that she had tried and failed.  She should have done better.

I know this book has had a lot of rave reviews, but it just fell short for me.  I couldn’t abide Bee’s mother and father raising a child in the mess of the house they called home.  Plants coming up through the floors, mold in abundance, structural issues are unacceptable for a family who had the know-how and the money to do something about it.  Bernadette should have pulled herself together and used her education and resources to correct the major issues.  Elgie, her husband, should have put his foot down instead of escaping by working late and pretty much being an absent parent.  I had many more issues with this book.

On the positive side, I loved Bee.  She did her best in her circumstances, generally more adult than either of her parents.  Then there was Audrey.  At first, I disliked her, but she showed her true colors in the end and they were beautiful.  She saw her own faults for what they were and owned up to them.

If the author intended this book for a younger audience, perhaps 40’s and younger, she probably hit her mark.  My book club read Where’d You Go, Bernadette and all of the ladies agreed it is not meant for the older age group.

This honest review reflects my own thoughts and feelings about the book.

About the Author

Maria Semple is the author of the novels Today Will Be Different (2016), Where’d You Go, Bernadette (2012) and This One is Mine (2008), all published by Little, Brown and Co.  Before writing fiction, she wrote for the TV shows  90210, Mad About You, Arrested Development and others.

Where’d You Go, Bernadette, an international bestseller, has been translated into 30 languages.  It spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list and made over a dozen year-end best lists.  It was short-listed for the Women’s Prize and received the Alex Award from the American Library Association.  It’s currently being made into a film starring Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig and Billy Crudup.  Richard Linklater writes and directs.  The movie is slated to open in 2018.  Today Will Be Different was an instant international bestseller and was featured on the cover of the New York Times book review.  It, too, made over a dozen year-end best lists.  It’s currently in development with Annapurna pictures as a limited TV series with Maria writing and executive producing.

Maria loves to teach.  She’s taught her popular writing workshop at Hugo House and the Cloud Room in Seattle, the Aspen Writers Conference, and Wordstock in Portland.

Maria spent her early years traveling around Europe with her bohemian parents, but that ended abruptly when her father, Lorenzo Semple, Jr., finished a pilot for Batman while living in Torremolinos, Spain. He airmailed it in, they shot it, and the family moved to LA.  After the Batman TV series and feature, Lorenzo went on to write a bunch of movies. Once he was established, the family moved to Aspen, Colorado.  Maria attended boarding school at Choate Rosemary and college at Barnard, where she majored in English.  She moved to LA shortly after graduating Barnard and wrote screenplays which never got made, and TV shows which did.   In 2008 Maria, George Meyer and their little daughter moved to Seattle just because. It was a difficult adjustment for Maria, which became the basis for Where’d You Go, Bernadette. The novel came out in 2012 and became an instant bestseller. (Author Bio from Author’s Website)

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In the Land of Gold

By Angela Christina Archer

In the Land of Gold

My Review:

When Cora Colton travels from her home in Seattle to Tacoma in response to a letter from her father’s widow Anne Colton, she leaves behind her mother and her fiancé, the very wealthy and much sought-after Christopher Payton.  What she never imagined was that she would break her engagement and turn her back on her past.

As Cora departs Tacoma to claim her inheritance in the wilds of western Canada, she is unprepared for the hardships and danger she will face.  In the Klondike Gold Rush of the late 1800’s, she convinces guide Flynn O’Neill to take her to Dawson City, Canada to stake her claim.

Archer uses not only visual portrayals, but also olfactory and auditory descriptions in her writing.  You visualize the majestic mountains and treacherous terrain, Anne’s quaint home in Tacoma, and the dusty, rowdy town of Dawson City. You can to envision the hotel, smell the musty mattresses, and hear the sounds of people snoring beyond the canvas. You easily sense the stench of the mud and perspiration, the aroma of coffee, and the fragrant forest renewed by the rain.  You can hear the crackle of campfires, the waters rushing through the canyon, and the ominous howl of wolves.  Her vivid depiction of the icy cold will make you shiver.

This tremendously engaging story with its history lessons woven into the plot with a bit of mystery, adventure, and romance is captivating.  The accounts of the violent and remote terrain and the folks who journeyed there, the lawlessness of time and place, and the portrayal of the Tlingit tribe who inhabited Southeast Alaska and Western Canada gave credence to this astonishing tale.

I honestly cannot think of anything I did not like about IN THE LAND OF GOLD. It more than fulfilled my expectations. It was impossible for me to put IN THE LAND OF GOLD down.  I got up early and started reading it, hopped on the treadmill with the book in hand, and when my workout was finished, I stood, mesmerized on the now stopped treadmill, unable to stop reading.

Book Blurb:

Cora Colton can’t believe she even doubts saying yes to Christopher Payton’s proposal. From a good family, wealthy, and charming, Christopher is perfect for her. However, seeing his band of gold and diamonds, she hesitates. Something is missing, something is wrong, but she just doesn’t know what that something is.

After her father’s sudden death, Cora travels to Tacoma and learns that she is now the owner of his gold claim in Dawson City, Canada. Throwing caution to the wind, she leaves her engagement ring on the table, and departs for Canada and the adventure of a lifetime.

Arriving in the canvas tent town of Skagway on the Klondike trail, Coral catches the attention of Flynn O’Neill, an Irishman who has lived on the trail, guiding stampeeders for a few years. A bond thrusts them together, but their pasts could be what tears them apart—if they can survive the hardships and death on the trail to the land of gold.

A sample chapter can be found here: http://angelachristinaarcher.com/novels-on-sale/in-the-land-of-gold/

  • Book Type: e-book
  • Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
  • Published Date: November 19, 2014
  • Pages: 201
  • Genre: Historical Romance/Woman’s Adventure


About the Author:Angela Archer

Living in a small town in Oklahoma with my husband and two daughters, I spend my days enjoying the outdoors with my family and chasing around two horses, a goat, six chickens, a dog, and two cats. I live life on a farm, and it is hectic, at times, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Growing up, I always wanted to write a novel. I never believed I could, though, so every time the desire flickered, I shoved the thought from my mind. Burying it deep down and ignoring it until one morning I awoke with the determination to finally follow my dream.

Learn more about Angela Christina Archer at:


To purchase IN THE LAND OF GOLD:  Amazon

Blackberry Winter by Sarah Jio

Blackberry Winter by Sarah JioOn May 2, 1933 Seattle is blanketed with an unexpected snow, a blackberry winter.  Single mother Vera Ray rushes home from the night shift to wake three-year-old Daniel only to find him missing. She finds his teddy bear in the snow, but no clue to what happened to him or where he might be.  A desperate and grieving Vera searches in vain to find her son.

Turn the calendar forward to present day Seattle. Once again on May 2nd, Seattle awakens to an unexpected heavy snowstorm.  Reporter Claire Aldridge is given an assignment by her boss at the Seattle Herald to cover this blackberry winter as well as the earlier one.  While investigating the earlier storm, Claire learns of Daniel’s abduction and is determined to solve this mystery. What Claire never expected to find was a connection to Vera.

The story of BLACKBERRY WINTER by Sarah Jio is well-thought out with a plot that will hold your interest from beginning to end.  The present is woven intricately with the past, blending two stories into one. The characters were true-to-life.   This is definitely a book for your “must read” list.  It is a quick read, but don’t hurry through it. You’ll want to savor each and every page.

More about Sarah Jio and her books can be found at:

Webpage Sarah Jio

FaceBook author page Sarah Jio, Author

Twitter @sarahjio

Goodreads Sarah Jio

Instagram sarahjio



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