Wednesday, December 18, 2013

A Wilder Rose Susan Wittig Albert

A Wilder RoseA Wilder Rose by Susan Wittig Albert
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book through Net-Galley in exchange for a fair review.

I read all of the Little House books as a kid and loved them, but as I grew older I wondered how it was that Laura came to be a published author, especially once I learned that Rose had become a well know author. However, I knew nothing about the Little House books history until I read this book.

I enjoyed and was frustrated by this book all at the same time and towards the end found myself skimming through all of Rose's various financial problems and details regarding the stories she wrote while living at Rocky Ridge. I found Rose to be very unlikable and was frustrated by her constant self-serving generosity and her semi-bizarre friendships and relationships.

The most enjoyable part of the story was her relationship with her mother and how the Little House books came to be. Unfortunately, this was the least fleshed out part of the book and left me wanting more. I felt like we never really got to know Laura and Almanzo in this book, they were just characters that stopped by occasionally and we never learned the true motivation behind any of their relationships or the books, and maybe that is totally an unknown. But certainly in a book written as a novel we could have had a bit more of the story, even if it was just the authors idea of what took place.

This book did not ruin my feelings about the Little House of the Prairie series, I think I assumed all along that they were edited and that others had a hand in there process and to have it be Rose I think is a perfect fit. It also fit Rose's personality of being exceptionally generous to do this for her mother and not want the depth of her involvement known.

Overall, this book was interesting and I liked to insight into the stock market and its eventual crash as well as the glimpse of life prior to and during the depression. I knew very little about Rose Wilder Lane and plan on reading some of her works in the future, particularly, Hurricane.

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Sunday, December 1, 2013

ARC Review The Tilted World by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly

The Tilted World: A NovelThe Tilted World: A Novel by Tom Franklin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book through first-reads in exchange for a fair review.
Sadly, I am not familiar with the flood of 1927. Very sad when you consider I have a masters degree in American History - I cannot recall ever discussing one of the largest natural disasters even in American history and one that had a profound impact on the migration of African-Americans to northern cities. My lack of knowledge of this pivotal event made me very interested in in this novel and I was not disappointed.

Dixie Clay is the wife of a bootlegger, lonely, mourning the loss of her only child and doing what it takes to keep her husband happy. Jessie, her husband is a charming, violent, philanderer who is suspected of killing two federal revenue agents. Ted Ingersoll, a revenue agent, and his partner Ham Johnson are sent by Commerce Secretary Herbert Hoover to investigate the disappearance of the two agents while posing as engineers monitoring the levee in Hobnob, Mississippi. On their way to Hobnob the two agents come across a burglary gone wrong, in which a baby is orphaned. Ingersoll, an orphan himself, is charged with taking the baby to a local orphanage but instead he finds Dixie Clay and she cannot resist the chance to be a mother again. The levees at Hobnob are about to burst and word comes from Hoover that saboteurs have stolen dynamite and plan to blow the levees in an attempt to save New Orleans. As the levees breach there banks secrets are revealed and everybody's lives are on the brink of great change.

This is a beautifully written book that has all the components of great fiction, action, mystery, romance, moral dilemmas, rich characters and a great plot. Written by a husband and wife team, a fiction writer and poet, respectively, this novel flows beautifully and contains descriptions that make you feel as though you are there witnessing the stills, flood and relationship development between characters.

This is a novel that is hard to put down and once you finish leaves you wanting more. I recommend that anyone with an interest in natural disasters, prohibition, and 1920s history check this novel out, well really everyone should check this novel out - its a great entertaining read.

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Monday, November 18, 2013

We Are Water - Wally Lamb

We Are WaterWe Are Water by Wally Lamb
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I didn't love We Are Water, I didn't hate We Are Water - in fact I just feel ambivalent about it. Annie Oh, a prominent artist, is days away from marrying gallery owner Viveca. She has recently ended a 27 year marriage to Orion Oh, with whom she has three grown children. Told in a stream of consciousness style by alternating characters, this book mainly takes place over a three day period - however, you throughly learn the back grounds of both Annie, Orion and their children. I did not care for this style of writing and would have enjoyed more dialogue and interaction between the characters. That being said the flow of the novel was good, it didn't lag or bore me, this is a testament to Wally Lamb's ability to craft a story.
Character development was strong and each character had their own voice. I really hated Annie and I hated Orion for having a relationship with her - I never felt the connection between them even as they recalled their courtship. Annie's relationship with Viveca also felt unreal and odd, she had no business being in a relationship with a man or a women until she healed herself. I liked Orion the best, he was not perfect but possibly I liked him because he felt the most real, less cliche then other characters in the book.
My favorite two chapters in We Are Water were the first one by Gualtiero Agnello and Part II Mercy by Ruth Fletcher, these chapters are where Lamb shined with gave us the story telling we have come to love in She's Come Undone and I Know this Much is True, I would enjoy a whole novel of Josephus Jones his murder.
Part IV A Wedding was my least favorite part of the book. Kent Kelly was a fascinating and memorable character, one who was essential to Annie's story -but the way in which he was introduced into the story line felt forced and rushed, too convenient. I think Lamb needed a way to create a climax, action and reveal Annie's secrets but it all was a bit soapy and overly dramatic. As much as I disliked Annie I hated that he ruined her wedding, Kelly's exit from the novel and the secrets that created was also a bit too soapy.
And now what I hated about We Are Water - Lamb's constant attempt to cram popular culture and current events down our throats, this novel felt to much like a political statement on everything and ultimately this distracted from the overall story. Lamb covered every trendy news topic from the past decade, 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palin, Fort Hood shooting, Lindsey Lohan, Lady Gaga, health care, gay rights, PTSD, Bush, Obama, Evangelical Christians, conservatives, Clinton, etc. It was exhausting and as I went through each characters chapters, I found my self thinking, do people really think like this. Lamb's ability to tie in current events and popular culture into his novels was part of what I loved about his first two, but this just felt to forced to crammed down your throat. Maybe because these stories are still apart of our news coverage or are just to recent - I really didn't like these references through. Maybe some day this novel will be a classic novel representing American life at the start of the 21st century but for now it felt to fresh.
A day out from completing Lamb's latest novel my feelings remain mixed - thus my three star rating. I liked the stories of each family member, I liked most the people and Lamb is still a master story teller, but this novel fell short of his first two and left something to be desired. This is not a novel that will stick with me but ultimately one I enjoyed reading and would recommend to fans of Wally Lamb.

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Monday, October 28, 2013

ARC Review The Scent of Pine Lara Vapnyer

The Scent of PineThe Scent of Pine by Lara Vapnyar
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

I went into this book very intrigued about the main characters past and was excited to learn why her summer as a camp counselor bothered her as much as it did. Lena is in the midst of a mid-life crisis, her career isn't where she thought it would be, her relationship with her husband is falling apart and she feels lost. During an academic conference she meets Ben and is oddly drawn to him, the pair share a ride home and embark on a weekend long affair at his cabin in the woods of Maine. Lena begins to share the story of her summer as a camp counselor during their drive and once at the remote cabin the woods help her to share her story. Ben helps her to reconcile her memories and bring about a new awareness of what happened.
And here is my biggest issue with this book, nothing really happened. Lena alludes at the beginning that she was a femme fatele, she was anything but that. The mysterious disappearances were never that mysterious and the spooky stories the kids shared, not that spooky. This camp sounded boring and awful. Lena's revelation to Ben regarding her husband was also no mystery - she knew the truth all along. The graphic novel that Ben shared that brought about all the revelations was also to much of a coincidence.
My other issue was the relationship between Lena and Ben, I didn't feel the connection and the way it unfolded felt sort of forced. Once at the cabin the drawings they made disgusted me. Ben came off like a dirty greasy old man, sort of a predator, I doubt their relationship will continue.
I found this book to be pointless, when I finished I felt like there really was no story at all.

I received a copy from Netgalley in exchange for a fair reveiw

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Monday, October 21, 2013

ARC Review I Shall Be Near to You Erin Lindsay McCabe

This is a really quick review of a really fantastic novel - I seriously have MAJOR book hangover and will be mulling this novel over for a long time, I will probably even re-read it. Thus the short review, I wanted to share my love of I Shall Be Near to You as soon as possible and my thoughts and emotions are still all over after finishing this novel last night! Read it!! I Shall Be Near To YouI Shall Be Near To You by Erin Lindsay McCabe
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Amazing, I loved this book and I couldn't put it down, finished it in two days! Rosetta isn't your typical women, and when her husband leaves to fight in the Civil War she doesn't want to stay behind and do her mother in laws mending. Disguised as a man, she joins her husbands regiment, and fights with him and her childhood friends. Based on letters and research of real women who fought in the Civil War this is a entertaining, informative and heart wrenching novel. The love story between Rosetta and her husband Jeremiah is beautiful and real and I loved the flash backs to their younger years. Fighting together only makes their bond stronger and the author does a fantastic job showing this growth - you really become invested in the characters!
If you read one book in 2014 read this one - its fantastic. And I rarely say this but I really want their to be a movie version as long as it stays true to the book! This story will stay with me for a long time!

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

ARC Review: The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden

The Wedding GiftThe Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I enjoyed this story, it was an entertaining read, however, I had some real issues with how the plot played out and the big revelations at the end, which dropped my rating.
Sarah Campbell is a slave in Alabama, she is also the half sister of her mistress, Clarissa. They are raised together, playing and learning along with each other but when Clarissa marries Sarah and other slaves are given to her husbands family as part of her dowery, with Sarah remaining as Clarissa's maid. Once Clarissa and Sarah leave their home plantation things take a turn and secrets are revealed.
My main issues with this book include the dialogue, which was hard to follow and confusing often times. It was also inconsistent, some times the slaves and others used a local dialect, sometimes they didn't. The novel lacked continuity in that regard.
Additionally, the treatment of the slaves was sort of puzzling. The reader was often times reminded of how harsh plantation life was and all the do's and don'ts yet the slaves all seemed to have an unusual amount of freedom.
The scandal at the end really threw me, to many things were alluded to when they could have been explained earlier in the plot and it was all summed up to neatly and things that were done seemed out of character for many of the players involved.
Overall, it was a good entertaining read just be prepared to sort of shocked at the ending.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for a fair review.

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Monday, October 7, 2013

Review - Help for the Haunted by John Searles

Help for the HauntedHelp for the Haunted by John Searles
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Wow, I have major book hangover after reading John Searles's Help for the Haunted!
"Most people, they are afraid to believe in ghosts. Me, I am afraid not to believe. Because, well, what then? If there really is nothing else-nowhere to go after this, no way to linger on this plan to finish unsettled business if we must, then that means each moment, each breath, each passing second, is as ethereal as the wind. It means all we do here on earth-the going and coming, the loving and hating-it is all for naught. So, no. Ghosts don't scare me. But no ghosts-that terrifies me.
Sylvie Mason awakes one night to hear her parents on the phone. This wan't unusual, because her parents were in an unusual business. That snowy night they packed Sylvie in the car and headed for their local church where they are murdered violently.
A year later Sylvie, living under her sisters care and an outcast in high school begins to search for the truth about her parents murders and their profession as she seeks to help investigators solve the crime.
Help for the Haunted is a creepy, thought provoking book about our deepest beliefs and family. At times I found this book a bit disjointed in the way the author moved from past to present but by the end I found it to be masterful writing, Searles weaves an amazing tale. The novels last two chapters are its finest and Sylvie was a fantastic main character, the end of her story, left me shocked, shaking and in tears. I loved this book! Pick up this creepy thriller this halloween season!
"Why do the same people who believe in these deities doubt the existence of darker spirits? I ask all of you, how can a person believe in the light but not the dark? How, when all the evidence points to the basic facts of dualities?"

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Review - Stuck in Downward Dog Chantel Guertin

Stuck in Downward DogStuck in Downward Dog by Chantel Guertin
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Mara is stuck in a rut. At twenty-eight she is working a dead end job at a plastic surgeons office, has just been dumped and is watching her friends live their seemingly perfect lives. She had one thing going for her and that was her weekly yoga session with her lifelong best friends, Olivia and Mitz, but that too falls apart. In attempt to get out of her rut she creates her OM List, a list of things she wants to improve in her life. Get a better job, a better body, become well read, learn to cook and decorate and host a dinner party. Things go from bad to worse for Mara as she attempts to be perfect like her friends and check things on her OM list, in the end though, she learns to embrace who she is and slowly begins to get herself out of her rut.

Stuck In Downward Dog, is light chic lit - entertaining and an easy read but not much more. Mara is about the only likable character and I kept questioning why she was even friends with Olivia and Mitz, they were horrible selfish people. Bradford, her other friend, was much more likable and I enjoyed his role in the novel. Mara's sister, Victoria, is just as horrible as her friends, swooping in to save Mara but really filling her own selfish needs. Mara's OM list was ridiculous in that she gave herself and extremely short amount of time to complete her goals, a perfect body in 6 weeks - ha - good luck with that. I also hated that the author constantly made Mara sound like a whale, despite that she was a size ten. It was a little bit Bridget Jones, just not as well done. Despite, everything I did find the book relatable - Mara was struggling with things many twenty-somethings struggle with and that I could identify with. Overall this book was just ok, however, I did think the ending sort of redeemed it and I found Mara to be much more likable and realistic, even her friends became just a tish more likable.

I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley in exchange for a fair review.

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

TBR Tuesday - The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden

I won, I won I won I won! I won a Goodreads first reads give away today - I tend to get overly excited about these! So today's TBR Tuesday will highlight The Wedding Gift by Marlen Suyapa Bodden - a Goodreads first reads giveaway! I will read this right after receiving it so watch for a review soon!
When prestigious plantation owner Cornelius Allen gives his daughter Clarissa’s hand in marriage, she takes with her a gift: Sarah—her slave and her half-sister. Raised by an educated mother, Clarissa is not a proper southern belle she appears to be with ambitions of loving who she chooses and Sarah equally hides behind the façade of being a docile house slave as she plots to escape. Both women bring these tumultuous secrets and desires with them to their new home, igniting events that spiral into a tale beyond what you ever imagined possible and it will leave you enraptured until the very end. Told through alternating viewpoints of Sarah and Theodora Allen, Cornelius’ wife, Marlen Suyapa Bodden's The Wedding Gift is an intimate portrait that will leave readers breathless. (taken from Goodreads)

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Feature & Follow - Favorite Childrens Books

I had lots of favorite books as a child - I remember my dad reading one to us at night, but have no idea what it even was any more but I loved it! I also had an Adventures of Black Beauty set that I read over and over and over - I have always loved horsey books! Berenstein Bears were a staple! I got excited every time the Troll Book Order form was handed out at school and still have many of the books I got from them - two of my favorites were The Ordinary Princess and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Review Keeping Score by Jami Deise

Keeping ScoreKeeping Score by Jami Deise
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Sports brings out the best and the worst in people and Shannon Stevens sees it all as her son Sam plays his first season on a travel baseball team. This book isn't something I would typically pick up, however, I found it to be an entertaining and decently written novel. Even if you don't know baseball this novel, explains plays and how the game works in way that is not to technical or to dumbed down, it was just right. The conflicts between the women were realistic without being over the top or to cliche. Obviously, the author has spent time following traveling teams! Towards the middle and end the novel began to lag and the author gave too much detail about individual games and plays, I found myself quickly skimming the play by plays to get to the real action between Shannon, her friends, family and potential boyfriends - I found that to be the real story. Overall I enjoyed this book and think if you are a parent with children on traveling teams you would really enjoy Keeping Score.
I received a copy of this book from Chick Lit Central in exchange for a fair review.

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To Be Read Tuesday Help for the Haunted By John Searles

Today you can get to your local bookseller, library or get on your Kindle or Nook and purchase this to be read feature.  Today is Help for the Haunted's release date and I wish I was running out to buy it but it is going to have to sure how long I can hold out though!
Help for the Haunted has been highly recommended by Wally Lamb and Gillian Flynn, two of my favorite authors, so it has to be good, right!  Hailed as a creepy, unique, suspenseful and compelling read, I can't wait to get my hands on it!

It begins with a call in the middle of snowy February evening. Lying in her bed, young Sylvie Mason overhears her parents on the phone across the hall. This is not the first late-night call they have received, since her mother and father have an uncommon occupation, helping "haunted souls" find peace. And yet, something in Sylvie senses that this call is different than the rest, especially when they are lured to the old church on the outskirts of town. Once there, her parents disappear, one after the other, behind the church's red door, leaving Sylvie alone in the car. Not long after, she drifts off to sleep only to wake to the sound of gunfire.

Nearly a year later, we meet Sylvie again struggling with the loss of her parents, and living in the care of her older sister, who may be to blame for what happened the previous winter.

As the story moves back and forth in time, through the years leading up to the crime and the months following, the ever inquisitive and tender-hearted Sylvie pursues the mystery, moving closer to the knowledge of what occurred that night, as she comes to terms with her family's past and uncovers secrets that have haunted them for years. (taken from Goodreads)

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

To Be Read Tuesday Riders by Jilly Cooper & a Giveaway!

I love horsey books and today's featured book has been on my TBR list for way to long for any horsey book, but my library doesn't have it and I haven't found it in any discount bins!  It's an oldie, first published in 1985, but based on reviews its a fun read that includes, horses, 80s fashion, sex, scandals and romance!  Any one have a copy of Riders by Jilly Cooper they want to part with!

Also - don't forget to enter my Blogiversary GIVEAWAY, click HERE to enter! 

Set against the glorious Cotswold countryside and the playgrounds of the world, Jilly Cooper's Rutshire Chronicles, Riders, Rivals, Polo, The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous, Appassionata and Score!, offer an intoxicating blend of skulduggery, swooning romance, sexual adventure and hilarious high jinks.

Riders, the first and steamiest in the series, takes the lid off international showjumping, a sport where the brave horses are almost human, but the humans behave like animals.

The brooding hero, gypsy Jake Lovell, under whose magic hands the most difficult horse or woman becomes biddable, is driven to the top by his loathing of the beautiful bounder and darling of the show ring, Rupert Campbell-Black. Having filched each other's horses, and fought and fornicated their way around the capitals of Europe, the feud between the two men finally erupts with devastating consequences during the Los Angeles Olympics. 

(taken from Goodreads)

Monday, September 9, 2013

The After Wife Gigi Levangie Grazer

The After WifeThe After Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Hannah Bernal is a forty-something producer, mother and recent widow - a title no one is Santa Monica, California knows how to deal with. Luckily, Hannah has her grief team, her gay best friend and producing partner Jay, Chloe, the organic dog toting neighbor and Amiee, an over the hill actress still waiting for her big break.
This novel is light romp through the first year of widowhood, don't expect a tear jerker, do expect lots of quirky characters and lots of pop culture references. The writing was solid, it kept my interest and it had a few unexpected moments that added to its appeal. If you are looking for a fun, light read check out this novel.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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Its My Blogiversary and a Giveaway!

Two months ago this blog began and to celebrate I am giving away a copy of  The After Wife
(watch for my review later today) by Gigi Levangie Grazer.  Giveaway opens at 12:00 September 10th and closes at mid-night September 16th!  Good Luck!

The After Wife 


Gigi Levangie Grazer, the New York Times bestselling author of The Starter Wife, returns with a hilarious and spirited tale of love—both lost and found.

L.A. is no place for widows. This is what forty-four-year-old Hannah Bernal quickly discovers after the tragic death of her handsome and loving husband, John. Misery and red-rimmed eyes are little tolerated in the land of the beautiful. But life stumbles on: Hannah’s sweet three-year-old daughter, Ellie, needs to be dropped off at her overpriced preschool, while Hannah herself must get back to work in order to pay the bills on “Casa Sugar,” the charming Spanish-styled bungalow they call home.

Fortunately, Hannah has her “Grief Team” for emotional support: earth mother and fanatical animal lover Chloe, who finds a potential blog post in every moment; aspiring actress Aimee, who has her cosmetic surgeon on speed dial; and Jay, Hannah’s TV producing partner, who has a penchant for Mr. Wrong. But after a series of mishaps and bizarre occurrences, one of which finds Hannah in a posh Santa Monica jail cell, her friends start to fear for her sanity. To make matters worse, John left their financial affairs in a disastrous state. And when Hannah is dramatically fired from her latest producing gig, she finds herself in danger of losing her house, her daughter, and her mind.

One night, standing in her backyard under a majestic avocado tree, in the throes of grief, Hannah breaks down and asks, “Why?” The answer that comes back—Why not?—begins an astounding journey of discovery and transformation that leads Hannah to her own truly extraordinary life after death.

 (taken from Goodreads) 

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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

To-Be-Read Tuesday - on Wednesday this week!

Ahhhh, I know it is Wednesday!  The long weekend has totally screwed me up and I meant to post this last week and didn't get to and this week is seriously messed up so just to get this started its going to be To Be Read Tuesday on Wednesday!  But I promise, it will be on Tuesday from now on!

This is my first weekly meme! I even made a sticker (thanks to picmonkey)! On Tuesdays I will highlight books I am excited to read, but due to an overly long to be read list and a pile of ARCs they have to wait, sadly.  These books could be new releases, oldies but goodies or ARCs, the sky is the limit!  I invite you to join me in highlighting books on your TBR as well!  

Hannah Kent's debut novel, inspired by a true story: the final days of a young woman accused of murder in Iceland in 1829.
Kent brings to vivid life the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution.

Horrified at the prospect of housing a convicted murderer, the family at first avoids Agnes. Only Tóti, a priest Agnes has mysteriously chosen to be her spiritual guardian, seeks to understand her. But as Agnes's death looms, the farmer's wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they've heard.

Riveting and rich with lyricism, BURIAL RITES evokes a dramatic existence in a distant time and place, and asks the question, how can one woman hope to endure when her life   depends upon the stories told by others?
(taken from Goodreads)

I read an interview with the author recently and learned that this book was researched as part of her doctoral dissertation (if I remember correctly) and it does sound like it was researched very very thoroughly.   I love historical fiction (history nerd here) and hate reading a book that is not authentic or poorly researched, Burial Rites sounds like it will satisfy my requirements!  Currently, the novel has 4.22 rating on Goodreads and the reviews are great, I can't wait to pick this up from the library.  I should probably reserve it now! 

Have you read this book? What are your thoughts?  

Thursday, August 29, 2013

ARC Review The Tulip Eaters Antoinette van Heugten

The Tulip EatersThe Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Nora de Jong returns home to find her mother murdered and her baby missing. Frustrated with the lack of developments from the police department Nora decides to find her baby on her own. In doing so she discovers family secrets that change everything she thinks she knows.
I loved Those that Save Us by Jenna Bloom and Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay and was really hoping for a similar read with a World War II theme. Unfortunately, this book fell far short and I struggled to get through it.
My main issue with the novel was the writing, I found it to be very juvenile and it did not convey the emotion or depth the novel should have had.
Immediately, in the first chapter when Nora discovered her deceased mother the writing threw me off. Passages like, "Nora tried to push the gray lumps back into her mother's skull. They felt like buttery worms and smelled like spoiled eggs." Often times, through out the novel the author became very descriptive but it did nothing to convey emotion or depth in a character, it seemed like she was trying to hard.
In other instances the dialogue between characters and inner dialogue was forced and very simplistic or stereotypical.
Nora de Jong was not a fully fleshed out character. She never seemed to be a grieving or distraught mother of a missing child. She was certainly frantic and very focused on her research of her family secrets but she seemed too focused on that. Her reaction to finding her dead mother and eventually her missing baby was odd and once the investigator came it got even worse. Nora and her friend were allowed to remain in the home and meander through the crime scene repeatedly, eventually having tea in the kitchen while the investigation continued. I found this highly unlikely. Later when the detective comes back for a follow up, he and Nora have coffee in the living room where the mother died, a blue blanket thrown over the blood and brains on the carpet. Again, who would stay in a home after that "awful day" as it was often referred to.
When Nora went to Amsterdam to search for the kidnapper she became even more unbelievable as a mother of a missing child, focused on her research and family secrets and eventually her former lover. At one point she is sipping wine in a bar thinking about how relaxed she is, totally unrealistic.
Then there is Nico, her former lover and as it turns out the child's father. Conveniently, he is the director of the historical society Nora needs to do her research at. She left Nico after he refused to move to the U.S. with her where she had a neuro surgery fellowship and soon after arriving in Houston she found out she was pregnant and decided to not reveal this to Nico. He has since remarried but that doesn't stop the feelings between the two and neither does her confession of a shared child. I found their relationship to be very shallow and Nico unbelievable as a father denied his baby.
The supporting characters Amarissa, Ariel and Dirk were very one dimensional and stereo typical as well and did little to improve the story. I really hated Amarissa not just because she was a horrible person but also because she was a very very cliche character.
The premise of this book was very interesting, the title interesting and the preface got my hopes up, the actual story disappointed. I would like to give this story idea to other authors and see how differently it could have played out, to see it reach its potential.

I received a copy of this novel from Net Galley in exchange for a fair review

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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

I Have Been A Bad Reader but a Great Pickler!

It is sooooo hot.  I should be laying in the air conditioning, on the pool deck or beach reading my heart out.  But I am not.  Instead, I am trapped in my kitchen hovering over boiling pots of water, pickling, making jam and blanching.
I had this great idea that we were going to save money, eat healthier and know where our food came from.  I had visions of our pantry packed full of homemade tomato sauces, salsa, pickles and jam and our freezer full of green beans, corn and peas, homemade pesto and a cabinet full of dried herbs from our own garden.
I did not envision how much time this would take.  So 16 quarts of pickles, 2 gallons of frozen green beans, 4 pints of dilled green beads, 12 pints of blackberry jam and 10 ears of corn later I am exhausted, and I still have lots of tomato's that need to be taken care of and a raspberry patch that will be ripe in a week or two. 
I have to admit I abandoned my herbs a while back, let them go to seed and cut them totally out of the garden over the weekend - I need to scale back!
But I did make delish German Dill Pickles, Polish Dills, Refrigerator pickles, bread and butter pickles and pickled green beans - I need to figure out what else I can pickle!!  Labor day weekend I plan to can salsa, my green peppers and Serrano peppers should be ready and I did hold on to some home grown cilantro.
And, I promise to read!  I am nearly finished with my first ARC, The Tulip Eaters, watch for my review soon!.  It helps that it is baseball season I can read in the late evenings while my husband watches the St Louis Cardinals.

Friday, August 23, 2013

My first ARC: The Tulip Eaters by Antoinette van Heugten

In a riveting exploration of the power the past wields over the present, critically acclaimed author Antoinette van Heugten writes the story of a woman whose child's life hangs in the balance, forcing her to confront the roots of her family's troubled history in the dark days of World War II.
It's the stuff of nightmares: Nora de Jong returns home from work one ordinary day to find her mother has been murdered. Her infant daughter is missing. And the only clue is the body of an unknown man on the living-room floor, clutching a Luger in his cold, dead hand.
Frantic to find Rose, Nora puts aside her grief and frustration with the local police to start her own search. But the contents of a locked metal box she finds in her parents' attic leave her with as many questions as answers;and suggest the killer was not a stranger. Saving her daughter means delving deeper into her family's darkest history, leading Nora half a world away to Amsterdam, where her own unsettled past and memories of painful heartbreak rush back to haunt her.
As Nora feverishly pieces together the truth from an old family diary, she's drawn back to a city under Nazi occupation, where her mother's alliances may have long ago sealed her own and Rose's fate. (taken from Goodreads)

First Impressions:  The premise of this book sounds very interesting, however; my initial thoughts are that the writing is weak and this novel will fall short of its potential.  53 of 368 pages read.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Review Sharp Objects Gillian Flynn

Sharp ObjectsSharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have read Gillian Flynn completely backwards! I started with Gone Girl., which was the first time I had even heard of Flynn. Gone Girl blew my mind, it was probably one of the most exciting books I had read in a long time. It took me nearly year to pick up Dark Places mind blown again, I loved it! Two months after I finished Dark Places I got my hands on Sharp Objects - I was really excited to read another exciting, dark, mind blowing book. Sharp Objects is dark, gritty and disturbing, however, I didn't blow my mind.
Camille Preaker is a mediocre reporter working the police beat for a mediocre newspaper in Chicago when her boss gives her an assignment in her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri. One young girl has been murdered and another is missing. Camille is forced to reconnect with her estranged mother, step father and her half sister she barely knows as well as confront some nasty family secrets as she works to get a scoop.
Sharp Objects started out slow and I had trouble connecting initially, Camille's reintroduction to Wind Gap was really lack luster despite our introduction to her bizarre family. And they truly are bizarre. Adora is cold, calculating and extremely wealthy. Alan is one strange cat, totally dominated by Adora. Amma, the step-sister, is creepy, manipulative, sick and just plain scary.
About half-way through, it picks up speed and I couldn't put it down - I had to figure out who was the killer. I found this book to be a bit more predictable than Flynn's follow up works - not totally predictable but I had it narrowed down to a couple options, and I was right.
I liked Camille and rooted for her, despite her flaws, and there were many. Scarily, I could see bits of myself in Camille, she was searching for acceptance, love, respect and because she searched desperately for those thing she acted out in some destructive ways.
"Sometimes when you let people do things to you, you're really doing it to them."
Sharp Objects explores some really dark areas Munchausen by Proxy, cutting, murder, sex, abuse and the relationships women have with one another. This is not an outright exploration of bullying but the way the women's relationships and power struggles played out was very insightful and real writing.
"They were women not strong enough or smart enough to leave. Women with out imagination. So they stayed in Wind Gap and played their teenage lives on an endless loop. And now I was stuck with them, unable to pull myself out."
Having grown up in a small town I related to her descriptions and the characters of Wind Gap as well as her insight as to the type of damage living in that environment can do.
"A town so suffocating and small, you tripped over people you hated every day. People who knew things about you. It’s the kind of place that leaves a mark."
Had I read Sharp Objects, Flynn's debut novel first it may have changed my view of it, but having read her subsequent works I have to say this one just isn't as good. It's good, a great first novel but it did not blow my mind like the other two. I recommend it if you are a Flynn fan or enjoy a dark, creepy, twisted read.

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Librarian suggests turning the page on longtime reading club winner

Librarian suggests turning the page on longtime reading club winner

This is just crazy!  How many times in all our lives have we had to compete against somebody we were never going to beat.   In everything I have ever done there has always been some body better than me.  I have worked my tail of to be competitive in equestrian competitions, and though I won sometimes (maybe because the good people didn't show up that day) and I knew that there was always going to be some one better than me. 
Let this boy shine in the area he excels at and let the other kids learn you can't always be the winner and if you do want to win you need to work harder, not just quit.
Kudos to Tyler for being an avid reader and hopefully he will be for a lifetime, cause reading rocks!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Review Silver Linings Playbook Matthew Quick

The Silver Linings PlaybookThe Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am behind the 8 ball when it comes to the hype surrounding Silver Linings Playbook. When the movie came out and Oscar season created all the buzz surrounding it, I had no interest in seeing it. Finally, this summer after hearing from numerous friends that I should read the book, I caved. And, I really enjoyed it and then I saw the movie and I really didn't enjoy it. The movie differs from the book in to many ways that make the characters not as fully fleshed out and his relationship with Nikki seem even crazier, I just didn't care for it after reading the book.
Pat Peoples is a real relatable person - he has his highs and lows and his oddities, but it makes him fully fleshed out and relatable. Parts of his story were sad and heartbreaking and other parts were really funny, like his fear of Kenny G. His relationships were complex and real, I enjoyed how he related to his parents and how his parents related to one another. His brother, his friends, his doctor and Tiffany all had very real reactions to his disease and his dealings with it.
Pat People's believes everyone deserves a happy ending and he believes that if he changes his life and and improves himself he will win back his wife Nikki and get his happy ending. He loses weight, exercising constantly, he begins reading all the books his wife recommends to her English classes and he works on being a stand up man. He doesn't remember why he and Nikki are having apart time or why his family gets so weird when he talks about her - he just knows he will get his happy ending.
Tiffany has her own struggles but sees someone like herself in Pat, she offers him a trade, dance with her and she will coordinate communication between Nikki and him, in this all Pat sort of gets his happy ending, its just not what he expected.
This a quirky, fun, real read that I highly recommend.

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

"Oh, I Hated that Book!"

Recently, my husband and I had dinner with another couple who are good friends, while eating dessert the wife brought up that she had finally read Fifty Shades of Grey and that she loved them, they were the best books she had read, like ever. 
My response, "Uggg, I hated those books!" I was promptly shot a dirty look by husband, which meant shut up and on our way home I relieved a lecture in tact and being happy that people found things they liked.
I have this problem, I am very passionate about the things I like and dislike and have a very hard time hiding my disdain for things. My facial expressions give me away.  Ask me if I want to eat a carrot and before I even answer you will know from my look of disgust the answer is no.  
I get lots of book recommendations from friends and family, they are always very well meaning, but it is frequently for things I wouldn't read.  I had several older adult relatives that went nuts for the Twilight series and were constantly pushing them on me.  I tried to casually decline the offers to borrow their books and eventually had to flat out say it wasn't something I was interested in.  That didn't stop them from sending me the movies to watch while I recuperated from knee surgery.  And I was right, they weren't my thing...
I don't want to sound like a book snob here, saying boo to Twilight and Fifty Shades, there are plenty of other books I would say no to as well or should have said no to.  I had co-workers who were crazy about The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and kept telling me I had to read the series.  Something about them just didn't appeal to me, but I finally gave in and slogged through the first book, yep, really didn't like it.
Another friend kept raving about how hilarious Tucker Max's book I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell was and how it was the male version of Chelsea Handler's My Horizontal Life (I did giggle all the way through that one).  Max's book was  not funny, not one tiny little bit.  I would like a refund from the author.  Actually, I would like the author to pay me for the time I wasted reading the garbage he wrote.  Yep, not hiding my disdain for that one!
I frequently give recommendations if people ask, and the books I recommend are books I really loved and I do try to consider the persons interests if I know them well enough.  I am never hurt if they don't read what I suggest or if they hate it, I can accept that not every book can please every person.
I recently read a few reviews on Amazon for an up coming release and one guy gave it 5 stars and then proceeded to comment on other reviews and blast them if they didn't give the book five stars.  I don't want to be that guy! I won't think you are an illiterate idiot if you like a book as much as I do. 
How do you decline the offer to read something you won't like?  How do you discuss a book you really hated but most people have really liked.  And how do you handle it if a book you recommend isn't well received?
In the meantime I will try to be a little more tactful. 


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Review The Orchardist Amanda Coplin

The OrchardistThe Orchardist by Amanda Coplin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

"His face was as pitted as the moon." And so begins The Orchardist, the beautiful haunting debut novel by Amanda Coplin. Talmadge lives alone in the orchard his mother brought him and his sister to as young children, he is alone and rather reclusive. During a trip to to sell fruit in a near by town two young girls steal from him but he does not bother to chase them. Later, they turn up in the orchard to learn more about the man who let them get away with theft. The girls arrival in the orchard changes the course of Talmadge's life, and theirs, for better and worse.
Coplin spent eight years writing this book and you feel her dedication and love for these characters in every line of the book. Talmadge, Jane, Della, Angelene, Caroline Midday and Clee are all introverted characters and somehow the author has managed to maintain the relationships and emotion between these charters without a lot of dialogue. The relationship between Talmadge, Della and Angelene is the central story and left me with many mixed emotions. Talmadge is a good man haunted by the disappearance of his sister many years before. In Jane and Della he sees a bit of his sister and strives to save them and keep them in a way he could not do for his sister. Della proves to be difficult, set in her own ways, and always in search of something that Talmadge cannot provide, in her search she hurts him deeply and uses him. Talmadge, blind to Della's abuse, almost loses everything to save her. Angelene, the daughter of Jane, raised by Talmadge with the assistance of Caroline Midday, suffers due to Talmadge's obsession with Della.
These charters are well fleshed out, complicated and real.
The Orchardist does touch on some tough and graphic topics, child prostitution, child birth and suicide, but don't let those topics scare you away, they author does not dwell on them or sensationalize them and the rest of the story overshadows those dark areas.
My only criticism of the work are the lack of quotations around the dialogue, it made it hard to track at times what the conversation was or if it was just inner thoughts. However, this is not a book you read quickly, it is one you savor and linger on every single word, because of this I picked up on characters conversation more quickly.
The end of The Orchardist left me fighting tears, it is a beautiful and fitting ending.
I highly recommend The Orchardist - this is a novel that will stick with me for a long time.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

One month and a few days of blogging and A to Z Survey Fun!

Jamie, aka The Perpetual Page Turner created this old school survey and since I have recently hit one month of book blogging and a successful one at that (over 1,000 hits, 130 or so followers!) I thought this would be a fun way for you to get to know me better! 

 Author You've Read The Most Books From 

Emily Giffin - I have read seven books by her, which I believe are all her books.  I anxiously await anything new, as her books are always an enjoyable read!

Best Sequel Ever 

I don't typically read books that would have a sequel - so going with Something Blue by Emily Giffin, the follow up to Something Borrowed!

Currently Reading  

Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West By Dorothy Wickenden

 Drink of Choice While Reading 

Crystal Light Lemonade or Coke & Malibu Rum in the summer and coffee or Coke in the winter

 E-reader or physical book? 

Love my Kindle and the ease of downloading new books but there is something about holding an actual book that I prefer - oh and the smell of new books - love that!

 Fictional Character You Probably Would Have Actually Dated in High School

Eeeeee.....high school.......I am really drawing a blank!  Maybe an older Alec Ramsey from the Black Stallion series - we both like horses - it could have worked!

 Glad You Gave This Book a Chance  

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks By Rebecca Skloot
I thought this was going to be all about science - I don't really like science, but this book was amazing!  The author wrote it in a way that it read like a novel, was part history, part science and all great story!  I learned a ton and think everyone should read this book.  This fall I am going to see the author and some of the family members at a event through the university where I work - super excited!

 Hidden Gem Book 

The Mill River Recluse By Darcie Chan  It was 99 cents! (For some reason I hear Thrift Shop by Macklemore in my head as I type this) This book is self published and through word of mouth has made it to the New York Times bestseller list and has a 4 star rating on Amazon, slightly less on Goodreads. A widow watches her city from her window - altering lives and showing people you can't judge a book or person by their cover. 

 Important Moment in Your Reading Life  

Reading my first chapter book, I selected and checked out from the library myself (I might have been 7)!  I was dumbfounded that a book could hold so much!  After that I visited the library as often as possible!  Pretty sure the volunteer librarian was glad to see me, I don't a lot of people stopped by (I grew up in a town of 800 people, I think the library was only open 8 hours a week).  She introduced me to a lot of great books while I was growing up. 

 Just Finished 

The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin  One of the best books I have read in a long time!  It was amazing, beautifully written, slow and leisurely, great characters and fantastic story.  It took the author eight years to write this book and her dedication shows in every word and every description.  I highly recommend this book and will have a full review posted soon!

Kinds of Books You Won't Read 

Science Fiction, Erotica, Christian-y romance, Para-Normal, vampires and werewolves type stuff 

Longest Book You've Read 

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell - over 1,000 pages.  I read this book in 8th grade so its been a long time record holder!  And I do love the book!

Major Book Hangover 

Dark Places by Gillian Flynn - I couldn't put it down and read it way to fast, getting to the ending way to fast!  I wasn't prepared for it to end - I was in a daze after wards muttering I can't believe that's how it turned out. 

Number of Bookcases You Own  

2 and they are jam packed full.

 One Book You Have Read Multiple Times 

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb  My copy is falling apart every where, I am surprised the pages are still in order. 

Preferred Place to Read 

There is this corner on my sectional I love to curl up into in the winter and evenings before bed, I get the best dog ever snuggled in with me and we read away.  When the weather is nice I love the deck and I enjoy the occasional soak in the tub with a good book!   

Quote That Inspires You 

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
Oscar Wilde

  Reading Regret 

Reading all of Tucker Max's I Hope they Serve Beer in Hell, this book was not funny.  Tucker Max is not funny or a cool guy - he needs serious help.  I can't believe people read and liked this book and that I wasted my time and money reading it.

 Series You Started and Need to Finish

I don't read many series, not since late elementary or junior high.  I had the goal at one time to read every Baby Sitter Club book, but aged out of them as new ones were still coming out.  Yeah, probably never going to finish those!

 Three of Your All Time Favorite Books 

She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb,  Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand,  In the Spirit of Crazy Horse by Peter Matthiessen 

Unapologetic Fangirl For

Horsey books - if its about a horse, I will probably read it, even if its bad.


 Very Excited for This Release 

We Are Water by Wally Lamb - I will be at Barnes & Noble the day it is out buying it in hardcover!  Can't wait! 

Worst Bookish Habit

Reading the last chapter first - I try so hard not to do it, I just can't help it.

  X Marks the Spot:  Start at the top left of your shelf and pick the 27th book  

Of Mice and Men  John Steinbeck

 Your Latest Book Purchase

The Orchid House by Lucinda Riley

ZZZ-Snatcher Book (last one that kept you up way too late)  

 The Orchardist - it was just so good....

 Enjoy this - create your own list, just link back to Jamie @ perpetualpageturner and thanks for helping to make my first month of blogging such a success!  

Monday, August 12, 2013

Review Dark Places Gillian Flynn

Dark PlacesDark Places by Gillian Flynn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I read Gone Girl about a year ago and LOVED it, ever since then I have been wanting tor read more of Gillian Flynn's work and finally this summer I made it happen! I read this book while on vacation in the Smokey Mountains and it was a GREAT vacation read! All I wanted to do was sit on the porch of my cabin and finish this book - forget site seeing and hiking - I had a fantastic novel to read!
Libby is a well fleshed out character, dark, moody, depressed, lazy and nasty. Despite her fowl personality I wanted her to overcome her past and have some resolution and healing.
I really enjoyed reading the three perspectives of Ben, Patty and Libby and how the day of the murders played out for them. Each was so vastly different, yet how they came together was masterful writing. The book is dark and gritty but full of real characters and real emotions and things the reader can connect with. I remember growing up in the 80's and hearing rumors of devil worship and animal sacrifices in vacant lots and tree rows around where I grew up in the mid-west. I also remember the farm crisis of the 80's and many of the radical ideas that came out of it, as well as the fear.
The ending of this book was unexpected and a great who-done-it - even though I was alert through the whole book trying to find the foreshadowing that would tip me off to the real killer. It's there, the book is so well written though that you pass it by and only realize it when you turn the last page.
Must read book!

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