Pack Up the Car and Keep an Eye on ‘The Desert Sky Before Us’ [REVIEW]

brown desert road between green leafed plants under gray cloudy sky during daytime

Following their mother’s death, two sisters must take a road trip cross country in Anne Valente’s The Desert Sky Before Us. (Photo by Flickr on

Estranged sisters. One with a penchant for speed. Another with a track record that landed her in prison. As different as they are, what will it take to break down the walls which divide them and make them a family again? Find out in Anne Valente’s new literary family drama, The Desert Sky Before Us. 
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Cultures Clash With Comic Results in Linda Nielsen’s ‘Because I’m Worth It’ [REVIEW]

Post Ranch Inn

Can marriage survive when Big Sur life meets country club values? Find out in Linda Nielsen’s Because I’m Worth It. (Photo by Steve Jurvetson, Flickr)

It isn’t very often that we encounter a book that is as insightful as it is satirical, but that is what Linda Nielsen has done with her sophomore novel, Because I’m Worth It, a story that makes us take a look at what we are willing to do for power and prominence by juxtaposing two very different lifestyles: Bohemian Big Sur and the genteel South.  Read more of this post

Forgiveness Doesn’t Come Easily With ‘A Mother Like Mine’ [REVIEW]

Mother and daughter at the beach

Tensions flare when a mother and daughter reunite at the beach in Kate Hewitt’s A MOTHER LIKE MINE. (Photo by Lorrie McClanahan, Flickr)

Left behind as a toddler to be raised by her grandmother, a young woman works hard to build a life of her own with her young son in a picturesque seaside village. Just when she thinks she’s finally happy, her mother suddenly returns. Will she be able to forgive and bridge the chasm between them? Find out in Kate Hewitt’s emotion-packed new novel, A Mother Like Mine. 
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Five Quarters of the Orange

Finally, it’s time for our new book club selection! I’ve loved this novel since the first time I read it, and I am thrilled to share it with you now. Please let me know if it touches you as profoundly as it did me.

Heather reading Five Quarters of the Orange

Heather reads Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, a novel about childhood betrayal.

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris is a story about the betrayals one can experience in childhood and the effects they have upon one’s life. This is the situation that Framboise finds herself in during the course of this novel. She lives in a small village in France with her brother, sister, and mother. Her father died when she was very young and her mother doesn’t know how to be a parent. Because of this, Framboise has difficulty falling in love, forging friendships, and trusting other people. Eventually, all members of the family go their separate ways, but they are all haunted by what wasn’t supplied to them in their youth. Only Framboise is able to put her past behind her and move on to a better future with her own family and develops a close relationship with her daughters. Therefore, the cycle of the past is then closed forever to the betterment of all involved.

Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris

In Five Quarters of the Orange by Joanne Harris, a young woman refuses to accept the hand fate dealt her.

This novel truly touched me on many levels. Those who have experienced a lack of human compassion will truly appreciate this book. Devoid of emotion, various passages will tug at your heartstrings and may remind you of your own childhood memories. I clearly identified with Framboise and came to truly understand her. She refuses to accept the hand that fate has dealt her, and yet she keeps a part of her locked away. Will you ever be able to see the real Framboise? Or does she not want you to see what she has become? You will find Framboise to be both childlike and astute. You may see yourself in her expressions and reasoning. It is for this reason that you will continue reading this delightful, hopeful, and yet dark tale of the inner workings of Framboise’s life.

I know that in reading Five Quarters of the Orange, you too will likely have many questions and opinions about the decisions of this novel’s many colorful characters. Below are the questions I’ve come up with for the book club. Submit your answers and they will be posted in the Book Talk section as they are received.

  • How is the title Five Quarters of the Orange manifested in the structure of the novel?
  • How do you feel about the relationship between Framboise and her mother and between Framboise’s own daughters?
  • Why do you think Framboise returned to the small village in France where she grew up?
  • What motivates Framboise to use an orange to bring on her mother’s migraines?
  • Food plays a vital role within this novel. Discuss the different roles that food plays in each characters life.

Happy reading!


Joanne Harris lives in England with her husband and daughter. She has written several books including Chocolat, Blackberry Wine, and Coastliners. Her newest novel, Runelight, will be published October 6. Visit her website or click here to buy the book.