Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday

I am a super excited for Wally Lamb's October 22nd release, We Are Water!  I LOVED She's Come Undone and I Know this Much is True and have heard nothing but good things about his newest book.  If you have never read Wally Lamb, run, don't walk, to your nearest bookstore or library or grab your Kindle and start downloading ASAP!  You won't be disappointed!

After 27 years of marriage and three children, Anna Oh—wife, mother, outsider artist—has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her success. They plan to wed in the Oh family’s hometown of Three Rivers in Connecticut. But the wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora’s Box of toxic secrets—dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs’ lives.
We Are Water is a layered portrait of marriage, family, and the inexorable need for understanding and connection, told in the alternating voices of the Ohs—nonconformist, Anna; her ex-husband, Orion, a psychologist; Ariane, the do-gooder daughter, and her twin, Andrew, the rebellious only son; and free-spirited Marissa, the youngest. It is also a portrait of modern America, exploring issues of class, changing social mores, the legacy of racial violence, and the nature of creativity and art

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

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Summer Reading Blog Hop from BookHounds! $15 Barnes & Noble Gift Card

Fun summer reading Blog Hop from Books Hounds - Enter today! Hosted by BookHounds & I am A Reader This give away is available in the US only with a viable email and postal address a Rafflecopter giveaway The rules: This contest is only opened to the US. (Too broke to send it anywhere else.) The giveaway will run from August 1 to August 7, 2013. You must be 13 years (with your parent’s permission) or older. You will be disqualified if you pick up entries you haven’t done. If the winner does not respond to my e-mail within 48 hours, I will have to choose another winner. I am not responsible for any items lost in the mail.

The Solitude of Prime Numbers Paolo Giordano

Paperback, 271 pages
Published March 29th 2011 by Penguin Books (first published July 1st 2008)
original title
La solitudine dei numeri primi
0143118595 (ISBN13: 9780143118596)
edition language

literary awards
Mattia and Alice are scarred by incidents that happened as young children, Alice from a ski accident that left her crippled and Mattia from the dissappearance of his sister.  Yet they find each other, two prime numbers, "kindred damaged spirits."  A meeting later in life forces them to face all of their emotions, but can they find a way to be together.  
I have know about this book since it first debuted but something about it never quite caught my attention, until recently when I found it on a bargain book pile at Barnes and Noble,  for $3.98 I will read it.   I flew to Washington DC over the weekend and thought my time in the airports and on the plane would be the perfect time to immerse myself into this book.  I may have been wrong.  I didn't dislike this novel but I was not affected by it in the way I had hoped to be.  It is beautifully written, the translation from Italian to English is flawless and the characters are unique and fascinating in their own ways.  However, I never felt a real connection between Alice and Mattia, they seemed to only be friends cause neither one had anyone else.  
I also would have liked to have had more background into their tragedies, more details as those events shaped them more than anything that happened in the novel. 
I did find the writers characterization of Alice to be very authentic, his ability to write as a women was impressive and the stories of Alice and the mean girls was very realistic and some of the more moving parts of the book.  
Overall, I enjoyed this book, it didn't leave me with any strong feelings but was a worthwhile read.  I rated it four stars on good reads.  

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Light Between Oceans M.L. Stedman

Hardcover, 343 pages
 Published July 31st 2012 by Scribner (first published April 9th 2012)
original title
The Light Between Oceans
1451681739 (ISBN13: 9781451681734)
edition language
Australia 1926
literary awards

 "Sometimes life turns out hard, Isabel. Sometimes it just bites right through you. And sometimes, just when you think it's done its worst, it comes back and takes another chunk."

Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia after World War I and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. This isolated island rarely see visitors, a supply boat once a season and Tom only receives biannual shore leave. Tom meets and marries Isabel in the town closest to the island and brings his bold young wife to the island shortly after he begins his tenure there. Tom and Isabel suffer several miscarriages and a still birth and years later a grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries while tending her garden. A is on the shore with an infant a deceased man.

Tom is a meticulous record keeper with incredibly strong moral principles and he wants to report their findings immediately,  while Isabel, still grieving their latest loss, begins to feed the baby her own breast milk. Tom, torn between making his wife happy and his better judgement reluctantly agrees to name the baby Lucy. Two years later while on shore leave they are reminded that other people exist and how their choices have affected them.

 I really enjoyed this book and the moral and emotional dilemmas presented.  Each character was struggling with right or wrong, hope or despair, forgiveness or hate.  I plowed through the book in just a couple sittings and could not wait to see how it ended or what choices the characters made.  The end was very moving, I was crying so hard I could barely see the pages! I give this book five Good Reads stars and highly recommend it!  And it was only $4.99 on my Kindle - bonus good cheap read!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Friday Blog Hop on Wednesday

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I love to read outside in the summer months, with the cornfields as my view, curled up in the warm sun on my deck with a tasty drink at my side.  Where is your favorite summer reading spot!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Horsey Books - A Love Hate Relationship

I am obsessed with horses, always have been, always will be.  I have been very fortunate to have owned and ridden horses most of my life, competing in various disciplines from barrel racing, goat tying to hunter under saddle and more.  Currently, I own Ima Cool Tater, a four year old American Paint Horse. 
Here he is, the handsome fellow!

I frequently try and combine my obsession with horses with my obsession for books often with mixed feelings.

As a kid I read and re-read The Black Stallion, Black Beauty, and My Friend Flicka.  Naturally, I wanted a wild black horse and a magical relationship where my love for this animal would conquer all.  Ha!  Was I in for a huge disappointment.  My first horse (that was solely mine) was big grey quarter horse, he was and is a gentle giant of sorts.  However, I spoiled him with my love and he became a naughty, herd bound, stiff horse.  When he misbehaved I couldn't understand - I loved him so he should be the worlds greatest barrel horse.  Of course this is overly simplified, I spent hours riding and training him to the best of my ability, but my ability was clouded by the idea that love would conquer all!

Fast forward twenty or so years and I still gobble up horsey books, however, I am not so easily persuaded by the romantic ideals of the horse and rider relationship.  In fact, I down right hate it books that perpetuate this idea.  This winter I read Riding Lessons and Flying Changes by Sara Gruen, I loved Water for Elephants so I figured these had to be decent at least.  Many of the reviews I read stated you could tell the author was a horse person so I was anxious for a realistic read.  Hmmm, not so much, again, overly romanticized relationships with horses.  The main character is a former Olympic level rider who leaves the sport after a horrific accident but later in life is forced back to her families barn to manage it.  Here she rescues a horse that looks just like the horse she lost however, this horse has been abused, is missing an eye and was on his way to a slaughter house.  Of course this has a happy ending, her daughter ends up being a riding progeny and their love saves the abused horse.  Then I read Spirit Horses by Alan S. Evans, I am not sure if this author has ever ridden a horse.  Spirit Horses is the overly stereotypical tale of a "horse whisperer" who faces a great personal tragedy and decides he must release a mustang he owns back to her herd.  In the process he saves a entire Indian reservation and makes the mustang happy by allowing her to live her natural life.  I am now, after reading these and others, thoroughly disillusioned with the whole horsey genre.

Currently, I like books that incorporate horses but where horses are not necessarily the main theme. I can tolerate inaccuracies and fairy tales in small doses.  So I enjoyed The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton D,Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls, and Work of Wolves by Kent Meyers and other books with horses incorporated somewhat into the story. 

I am in search of a good horsey book, one that is realistic and accuratly portrays the dedication, frustration, the highs and lows of horse owner ship, training and riding - -if you know of something comment and share your horsey book gem!

My favorite Horsey books
The Horse Whisperer     Nicholas Evans
Seabiscuit: An American Legend     Laura Hillenbrand
The Complete Guide to Hunter Seat Training, Showing, and Judging: On the Flat and Over Fences
Anna Jane White-Mullin
Clinton Anderson's Downunder Horsemanship:  Establishing Respect and Control for English and Western Riders        Clinton Anderson
Charmayne James on Barrel Racing    Charmayne James

And check out my to read shelf on Good Reads, there are some horsey books waiting to be critiqued!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Book Review: The Sixes by Kate White

Phoebe Hall is a celebrity biographer disgraced by a plagiarism scandal in New York City, fortunately, her best friend Glenda is the President of Lyle University and hires Phoebe to teach journalism.  Lyle is a sleepy New England college that has had some unusual disappearances and shortly after Phoebe's arrival a student is murdered.  Glenda and other school staff are certain a secret society "The Sixes" are behind the crime and she asks Phoebe to research and destroy The Sixes.  Phoebe must face her own demons and endure several terrifying experiences as she solves the murder and uncovers the Sixes.
This is Chic lit at its most mediocre, it's equivalent to watching a Lifetime movie on a snowy Sunday, its not good but not bad enough to take your arms out of the blanket and change channels. You are half asleep but still predicted the ending.  
The plot is weak and the Sixes do not figure into the story as much as you would think.  Of course the story needed the handsome brooding love interest with a mysterious past, Duncan Shaw. Phoebe and Duncan's affair is full of turmoil and you never really feel a connection between them, even though she is frequently weak with desire. 
The Sixes are a pretty lame secret society, the "terrorize" Phoebe by leaving six apples in her kitchen and six spoons wrapped in a Tarot card in her dish washer.  They did leave six live rats in her freezer - that was a decent prank.  Phoebe never calls in the police in any of these incidents, just campus security and Glenda.  If someone broke into my house a left rats in my freezer, I'd call the cops.  The sixes also use Phoebe's past incidents with a secret society and her trouble with plagiarism to scare her.  It's all pretty weak.
The book solves everything very neatly and conveniently, however, it felt odd because the culprits were really strung out. Several people were involved but yet they were not connected.  I felt like the author wanted to make things more complex yet it made the ending seem rushed and lets just place blame on weird characters
I would not recommend this book, its not a guilty pleasure, its not fun, its not original, it barely held my interest, it was just ok.  So if you are in the mood for a bad Lifetime movie and don't have a TV, read this. 

Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 2nd 2011 by Harper (first published August 1st 2011)
006157662X (ISBN13: 9780061576621)
edition language

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The Moment

That moment when you finish a book look around and realize

Why I Hated 50 Shades of Grey.

Anastasia Steele is a naive soon to be college graduate who is volunteered, by her roommate, to interview a young sexy billionaire (Christian Grey), who is an alumni of their university. Christian becomes fascinated by Anastasia and begins to invite her into his world which is shocking yet intriguing to Anastasia.  At first their relationship is more of a business relationship, complete with contracts but slowly (ish) in evolves into a love affair. 
 E.L. James wrote Fifty Shades of Grey as Twilight fan fiction, I have never read Twilight (and never will) so I have no idea how closely these books follow the Twilight storyline.  However, these are erotic novels, which obviously the Twilight series were not.  They are the first erotic novels I have read and quite possibly the last.  
Sadly I wasted $30.00 to read this Fifty Shades on my Kindle and well at least a couple hours.  I hated them.  So, if I hated them so much why did I read them all?  I got sucked into the story, I wanted to see how preposterous it could get and how annoying.  The basic story was entertaining enough, however, the speed in which everything progressed was a bit perplexing.  In the span of about three months or a summer Anastasia and Christian embark on a whirlwind romance(?) and much more.   Lets just say a lot happens.  
Fifty Shades of Grey reads like it was written by a horny teenager, the writing is cliche, repetitive and just plain bad.  I would think that if you wrote erotic novels you would be good at finding new ways to describe sexual acts, E. L. James is not.  And for being fifty shades of #@&*ed up, Christian Grey becomes quite predictable.  Anastasia for her part is shockingly naive for a women in her early 20s.  I was sick of reading how his words became her undoing.   Additionally, you would have to be a billionaire with a full house staff in order to have that much time to have sex, no normal person has that amount of free time on their hands.  
The second most irritating part of the book was Anastasia's inner goddess's constant antics.  Nobody cared if it was doing back flips or stretched out on a chaise lounge or what other stupid things it did.  It needed to take a flying leap off a cliff.  
Ultimately,  what I hated the most about these books was the idea the Ana's love could fix Christian and %*$#'d up ways.  This was not a love story, it was a young girl being manipulated and used by a control freak who had some serious issues.  It makes me sad that women are swooning over Christian Grey and fantasizing about having a lifestyle like this.  I can't wait to read the sequel where there is a bitter divorce and many many years of therapy for Ana.  
If you want a trashy beach read, read Fifty Shades.  If you want to see what not to look for in a boyfriend read Fifty Shades. If you are looking to spice up your marriage buy some sexy undies.   If your looking for a well written engaging novel avoid this like the plague.  I gave the series one star on Good Reads.

Boxed Set, 1664 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Vintage Books (first published January 1st 2012)
034580404X (ISBN13: 9780345804044)
edition language

Monday, July 15, 2013

A few of my favorite books.....

One of America’s greatest women writers, Willa Cather established her talent and her reputation with this extraordinary novel—the first of her books set on the Nebraska frontier. A tale of the prairie land encountered by America’s Swedish, Czech, Bohemian, and French immigrants, as well as a story of how the land challenged them, changed them, and, in some cases, defeated them, Cather’s novel is a uniquely American epic.

Alexandra Bergson, a young Swedish immigrant girl who inherits her father’s farm and must transform it from raw prairie into a prosperous enterprise, is the first of Cather’s great heroines—all of them women of strong will and an even stronger desire to overcome adversity and succeed. But the wild land itself is an equally important character in Cather’s books, and her descriptions of it are so evocative, lush, and moving that they provoked writer Rebecca West to say of her: “The most sensuous of writers, Willa Cather builds her imagined world almost as solidly as our five senses build the universe around us.”

Willa Cather, perhaps more than any other American writer, was able to re-create the real drama of the pioneers, capturing for later generations a time, a place, and a spirit that has become part of our national heritage.

I first read O Pioneers while in high school, I loved the story and the beauty of Willa Cather's writing, since then I have re-read it several times.  I love it for all the same reasons but have grown to appreciate it on another level.  Alexandra Bergstrom is a fascinating and rare character in early American literature, to have such a strong determined female successfully running a large farm on equal terms terms with the men is exciting and fresh!  The story captures all the beauty, hardship, struggle, joy and heartbreak of life on the early plains.   The characters are bit one dimensional but I think that is by design, the book despite being beautifully written is concise and without unnecessary detail.  The characters themselves represent the changes and opportunity available on the thriving prairie even though they have their own story.  

If you haven't read O Pioneers, I highly recommend it.  It is the rare classic that will not bog you down, it is a light quick enjoyable read.  And when your done check out My Antonia, another very enjoyable Willa Cather novel.  

Friday, July 12, 2013

I can't wait to read Wally Lamb's new book, We Are Water!

I can not wait to read We Are WaterWally Lamb is my favorite author, I will pre-order this book. 
Expected publication: October 22nd 2013 by Harper

We Are Water is a disquieting and ultimately uplifting novel about a marriage, a family, and human resilience in the face of tragedy, from Wally Lamb, the New York Times bestselling author of The Hour I First Believed and I Know This Much Is True.

After 27 years of marriage and three children, Anna Oh—wife, mother, outsider artist—has fallen in love with Viveca, the wealthy Manhattan art dealer who orchestrated her success. They plan to wed in the Oh family’s hometown of Three Rivers in Connecticut. But the wedding provokes some very mixed reactions and opens a Pandora’s Box of toxic secrets—dark and painful truths that have festered below the surface of the Ohs’ lives.

We Are Water is a layered portrait of marriage, family, and the inexorable need for understanding and connection, told in the alternating voices of the Ohs—nonconformist, Anna; her ex-husband, Orion, a psychologist; Ariane, the do-gooder daughter, and her twin, Andrew, the rebellious only son; and free-spirited Marissa, the youngest. It is also a portrait of modern America, exploring issues of class, changing social mores, the legacy of racial violence, and the nature of creativity and art.

With humor and compassion, Wally Lamb brilliantly captures the essence of human experience and the ways in which we search for love and meaning in our lives.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

These are a few of my favorite books.....

I have read a lot of books.  I cannot remember a time that I didn't read or have a love affair with books, even before I could read I loved these big Sesame Street and Peanuts books my mom bought us with coupons from the grocery store and any large glossy coffee table book.  Books were my friends, they accompanied me everywhere I went.  While in junior high school I developed a fondness for R.L Stine's Fear Street series and any other knock off I could buy from the troll book order form our English teacher would hand out.  My mother hated these and tried to ban them.  I never understood her stance, at least I was reading, she was always begging my siblings to read and creating summer programs for us.  For my summer reading program she forced me to challenge myself, so I had to read the classics, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Pride and Prejudice. I was sneaky and threw in a few not so classics, John Jakes North and South trilogy, The Thorn Birds, Gone with the Wind.  For every three classics I read and did a book report on I could get a new R.L. Stine book.  After nine classics in one summer I earned the cheerleader trilogy and devoured them in one night - the disappointment of all my hard work for one night of trashy reading stung.  Oddly enough, I still sort of do what my mom made me do that summer, if I read to much chic lit I have to mix in a classic or a history book, some real reading!
I cannot pick my all time favorite book - all sorts of books have resonated with me for all sorts of different reasons.  Some times a line in a beachy chic lit book can affect me as much as the greatest classic and other times a book perfectly captures my feelings at that moment in time.
In my late high school years Oprah introduced her book club, on the days she announced the new books or host the discussions I would race home from school trying to beat my little brother to the TV so he couldn't tune into Power Rangers first.  This is how I was introduced to one of my favorite books, She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb.

Paperback, 465 pages

Published June 28th 1998 by Pocket (first published August 1992)

original title
She's Come Undone

0671021001 (ISBN13: 9780671021009)

literary awards

In this extraordinary coming-of-age odyssey, Wally Lamb invites us to hitch a wild ride on a journey of love, pain, and renewal with the most heartbreakingly comical heroine to come along in years. Meet Dolores Price. She's 13, wise-mouthed but wounded, having bid her childhood goodbye. Stranded in front of her bedroom TV, she spends the next few years nourishing herself with the Mallomars, potato chips, and Pepsi her anxious mother supplies. When she finally orbits into young womanhood at 257 pounds, Dolores is no stronger and life is no kinder. But this time she's determined to rise to the occasion and give herself one more chance before she really goes under.

She's Come Undone introduced me to new genre, contemporary adult literature, it was fresh and exciting in a way that things I had previously read were not and Wally Lamb created compelling realistic characters who were not stereotyped or your typical heroines.  I loved it and took it everywhere I went using any second of free time to cram in a much as possible.  I took the book to Spanish class one day and my teacher was horrified that I was reading it and called my mother to find out if she knew what I was reading.  Oddly enough, my mom heavily censored what I watched on TV (no Beverly Hills 90210) but never what books I read (she let me read The Thorn Birds in 7th grade!)
Due to Senora Bernier's concern my mom read She's Come Undone when I had finished - she loved it! 
Delores resonated with me, we all struggled through adolescents, trying to figure out who we were and what our place was and trying to get the things we thought we wanted. Now as an adult I have probably read this book twenty times and each time Delores's struggles touch me more and more.  My paperback copy is held together with tape and I will never get rid of it. 
I continue to recommend She's Come Undone to people - nearly 20 years after I read it - its that good.  If you haven't read it yet, read it now! 


Tuesday, July 9, 2013

The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls review

My first blogged book review - I had other intentions for my first book blog but I finished this, wrote my Goodreads review and though why not just jump in with a review!    If you need a good vacation read this summer I recommend......
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls 
Anton Disclafani

Hardcover, 400 pages
Published June 4th 2013 by Riverhead Hardcover (first published January 1st 2013)
1594486409 (ISBN13: 9781594486401)
edition language

Thea Atwell is a naive, sheltered, spoiled 15 year old girl sent away from her Florida home after a scandal that shakes up her family. You figure out pretty quickly what the scandal is even though the full details do not emerge until the very end of the book.  The story bounces back and forth between the present and the past and we get the background of the scandal slowly through out the book.  Thea spends one year at Yonahlossee, however nothing much happens and the passage of time can be difficult to understand. One paragraph they are at a dance the next its two months later and Christmas.  The scene near the end of the book where she is preparing to leave and is up looking at a photo and flashing back to home really threw me, even after rereading several times I just didn't get what was happening when and why some of it was important.
Thea's flippant attitude about what happened to her what continues to happen to her was the most irritating thing about the book - she was there and bad stuff happened and she moved on.  She never learned or grew from any of these experiences.  I sort of struggled with what was Thea's role in the scandal - was she a victim or did she know the consequences of her actions and was a willing participant?  I think she knew on some level, but a teenage mind could not understand the far reaching consequences and she was sort of a victim, her cousin understood more than she did and I thought a bit manipulative.  However, Thea learns nothing and repeats her errors while at camp. Up until the end she could never see her part in anything that happened, bad stuff just happened around her.
The riding part of the story was interesting, however, it was unbelievable that she was as an advanced a rider as she was considering she had just been riding around her property in Florida on her pony - she had never had formal lessons etc.  Hard to believe she was the best rider there.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book.  The story stuck with me, the descriptions were lush and beautiful and I couldn't put it down.  I can understand why it is on many must read lists.