Monday, March 2, 2015

2015 Goodreads Reading Challenge

Well I achieved my goal last year of reading at least thirty books, and since I have not been requesting as many this year, I decided to set my goal for only 20 books.  I mostly wanted to post this so I can keep a running tally throughout the year of what I have read.  Eventually, you should be able to click on the book title to see the review. I know it's kind of late to post this, but do you have any reading goals this year?

1.  Christmas Jars by Jason Wright--completed 1/07/2015
2.  The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie--completed 2/04/2015
3.  Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson--Completed 2/20/2015

Monday, February 23, 2015

What Are You Reading?

Sheila over at Book Journey hosts this meme that gives you the opportunity to share the books that you have been losing yourself in lately and also the ones that you are looking forward to picking up next.

What I finished:
Our last book club selection was The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie by Muriel Spark.  I will be preparing my review for this one, but don't expect much as no-one in my book club enjoyed it, including myself!

What I'm reading now:
Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson has been sitting on one of my piles for over year.  When one of my friends told me she just picked up the audio, I decided to open this one myself.  Jackson is spot on with this one.

What's next:
Our next book club selection is The Saturday Big Tent Wedding Party by Alexander McCall Smith.  These books are always enjoyable and I am looking forward to kicking back with a cup of tea to enjoy the Botswana atmosphere.

I can't believe I haven't posted a review in two weeks!  Life has definitely been getting crazy for me.  I thought people slow down as they get older, but I seem to be doing the opposite!  With as busy as things have been I've only been able to read during my lunch hour at work, but it's better than nothing.  So pages have you been turning lately?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Audiobook Review: All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner

Title:  All Fall Down

Author:  Jennifer Weiner

Narrator:  Tracee Chimo

Unabridged Length:  12 hrs, 44 mn.

Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website:
Allison Weiss got her happy ending: a handsome husband, an adorable daughter, a job she loves, and the big house in the suburbs. But while waiting in the pediatrician's office, she opens a magazine to a quiz about addiction and starts to wonder: Is a Percocet at the end of the day really different from a glass of wine? Is it such a bad thing to pop a Vicodin after a brutal Jump & Pump class, or if your husband ignores you? 

She tells herself that the pills help her make it through her days; but what if her increasing drug use, a habit that's becoming expensive and hard to hide, is turning into her biggest problem of all?

My Review:
Do you ever pick a book without knowing anything about it?  That's what happened with this one, and it turned out to be a winner in my book!  I've always liked rollercoasters so maybe that is what attracted me to this novel.  This audiobook turned out to be a rollercoaster ride of Allison's life that was non-stop, from beginning to end.

As the book opens I thought Allison to be your average mother/housewife, taking her daughter to the pediatrician.  It doesn't take long to catch on to her abuse of prescription painkillers, as with every little crisis in her day, she finds herself needing to pop a pill to get her through the next couple of hours.

Wiener did a wonderful job of of relaying the thought process of someone addicted to painkillers.  I've heard of people seeking prescriptions from various doctors, and this method is explored in this novel.  She even goes so far to cover up her abuse that she opens another bank account to transfer funds, allowing her to keep an ample supply through the mail.

It's easy to see Allison's life spinning out of control as she makes her downward spiral.  When she no longer can complete daily tasks it doesn't take her family long to figure out what is transpiring.  When they confront her with their discoveries, of course she tries to pass it off as if no problem exists, but finally, she concludes that her daughter deserves more than this.  This decision starts Allison on a new rollercoaster ride as she is admitted into a treatment center.

This book turned out to be so much more than I expected and Tracee Chimo did a great job of narrating Allison's character.  There was no doubt of Allison's need and desire of her painkillers with Chimo's narration.  With themes of addiction, family, and perseverance, you may enjoy this book as much as I did.  I don't hesitate in recommending this book for personal leisure or as a book club selection.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Audiobook Review: The Women of Duck Commander by Kay, Korie, Missy, Jessica, and Lisa Robertson

Title:  The Women of Duck Commander

Authors:  Kay, Korie, Missy, Jessica, and Lisa Robertson

Narrators: Kay, Korie, Missy, Jessica, and Lisa Robertson, Alex Robertson Mancuso

Unabridged Length: 6 hrs, 22 mn.

Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website:
In the pages of this book, you'll find both fun and inspirational stories . . .

Kay shares the honest story of her relationship with Phil-and his wild and philandering years-and the challenges of being a teenage mother. Even more amazing, she shares the forgiveness she offered Phil and how they have now celebrated forty-eight years of marriage.

Korie tells of her first encounter with Phil when she was in just the fifth grade. At that first meeting Phil came right out and told her what good husbands his boys would make and that she should keep an eye on them. She also shares the reaction her parents had when she told them that she and Willie were getting married when she was only eighteen.

Missy tells the story of their daughter, Mia, who was born with a cleft palate, and their adjustments to this condition and Mia's joyful spirit that inspires them all.

Jessica recounts her first conversation with Jep and how unimpressed she was when Jep bragged that his dad was the Duck Commander Phil Robertson. She told him she'd heard of Daffy Duck, Donald Duck, and Duck, Duck, Goose-but not the Duck Commander.

Lisa reveals the serious marriage problems she and Al had problems that almost ended their marriage for good and how they worked through those issues to have a more stable and loving marriage than she ever imagined possible.

My Review:
If you are a fan of Duck Dynasty this is one book you will not want to miss.  I listened to Happy, Happy, Happy on audio and new that I had to follow that up with the women's story.  All of the women give little tidbits of their lives as they open their hearts to us.

The one thing that resonates loudly for me from this book is the relationship Miss Kay has with all of her daughters-in-law.  She takes each of them under her wings and accepts them for who they are.  And in return, these ladies treat Miss Kay with the respect she so well deserves.

The Robertson clan has obviously come a long way, but life wasn't always full of roses and butterflies for this family.  Before Phil became a man of God, he led a life that is not suitable for a young family.  But Miss Kay did not have an alternative, she raised her boys the best she could, even when Phil was not around.  I knew Phil was not a good man in the early days of their life together, but Kay did not sugarcoat it.  I have to admit that while listening to this book, I actually became quite angry with Phil, but thankful that he found the Lord and changed his ways.

I think one of the most powerful stories in this book is when Lisa shared her story.  I'm sure it was hard for her to confide in us about her tragic past, and I can't help but appreciate her as a woman.  I don't want to give away anything about her story as I feel it should only be told by her.  She also shares with us the ups and downs of her marriage to Alan, taking full responsibility for any wrongdoing she may have caused.

Although I enjoyed listening to Lisa's story the most, all of these christian women have plenty to contribute with their personal tidbits.  Each of the women narrate their own segments, and I have to admit that as much as I respect these ladies, I did not care for their narration at all.  That honestly is my only criticism of this book, and had I physically read the book I'm sure I wouldn't have a negative word to say.

With themes of family, love, and forgiveness, I'm sure many of you will enjoy this book as much as I did.  I recommend this book for either personal leisure or as a book club selection, especially for the christian readers.  And please keep in mind that my rating is specifically for the audio version.

My Rating: 3/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review: Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:
The author of Bird in Hand and The Way Life Should Be delivers her most ambitious and powerful novel to date: a captivating story of two very different women who build an unexpected friendship: a 91-year-old woman with a hidden past as an orphan-train rider and the teenage girl whose own troubled adolescence leads her to seek answers to questions no one has ever thought to ask.

Nearly eighteen, Molly Ayer knows she has one last chance. Just months from "aging out" of the child welfare system, and close to being kicked out of her foster home, a community service position helping an elderly woman clean out her home is the only thing keeping her out of juvie and worse.

Vivian Daly has lived a quiet life on the coast of Maine. But in her attic, hidden in trunks, are vestiges of a turbulent past. As she helps Vivian sort through her possessions and memories, Molly discovers that she and Vivian aren't as different as they seem to be. A young Irish immigrant orphaned in New York City, Vivian was put on a train to the Midwest with hundreds of other children whose destinies would be determined by luck and chance.

The closer Molly grows to Vivian, the more she discovers parallels to her own life. A Penobscot Indian, she, too, is an outsider being raised by strangers, and she, too, has unanswered questions about the past. As her emotional barriers begin to crumble, Molly discovers that she has the power to help Vivian find answers to mysteries that have haunted her for her entire life - answers that will ultimately free them both.

Rich in detail and epic in scope, Orphan Train is a powerful novel of upheaval and resilience, of second chances, of unexpected friendship, and of the secrets we carry that keep us from finding out who we are.

My Review:
This is a wonderful story that plunges us into the lives of two people on completely different roads of their lives.  On the outside they appear to be complete opposites, but through their companionship they find a common bond.  There are two parallel stories being told.  Vivian's story takes places years ago, while we hear Molly's story in the present tense.  This method does not always work for me, but the Orphan Train had me hooked from page one.

Molly is a young girl who unfortunately is a product of our foster care system.  She has a mother who couldn't handle the responsibility of caring for another person, so early on Molly was removed from her care.  Molly struggles to find both her identity and her place in the world.  When she is faced with the project of helping an old woman clean out her attic, she cannot know that she will finally come to terms with the person she truly is.

As Molly helps Vivian sort through all the items in her attic, the task apparently is going to take longer than anticipated.  Every item has a story that needs to be shared and Vivian can't seem to part with a thing.  So rather than throwing items in the trash or sending to a thrift store, they organize the remnants from Vivian's past, as Molly learns about the life this woman led.  Molly never would have guessed that Vivian was once penniless and orphaned, as she herself is today.

The most important part of this novel was learning about the real orphan trains that brought children of all ages across the country in search of homes for them.  I'm sure there are plenty of good stories, but many experiences seemed to mirror Vivian's, as the children were advertised as cheap labor.  Your heart will probably break, as mine did, just trying to imagine the living conditions these children were placed in.

This truly was a wonderful story bringing to life to me a period of history that was new to me.  With themes of family, secrets, and friendship, I'm sure you will enjoy this book as much as I did.  I highly recommend this book for both personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:  This book is from my personal library and I read it for my own entertainment and as a book club selection.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Audiobook Review: The Innocent by David Baldacci

Title:  The Innocent

Author:  David Baldacci

Narrator:  Orlagh Cassidy

Unabridged Length:  12 hrs, 17 mn.

Here is a summary from the Goodreads website:
It begins with a hit gone wrong. Robie is dispatched to eliminate a target unusually close to home in Washington, D.C. But something about this mission doesn't seem right to Robie, and he does the unthinkable. He refuses to kill. Now, Robie becomes a target himself and must escape from his own people.

Fleeing the scene, Robie crosses paths with a wayward teenage girl, a fourteen-year-old runaway from a foster home. But she isn't an ordinary runaway -- her parents were murdered, and her own life is in danger. Against all of his professional habits, Robie rescues her and finds he can't walk away. He needs to help her.

Even worse, the more Robie learns about the girl, the more he's convinced she is at the center of a vast cover-up, one that may explain her parents' deaths and stretch to unimaginable levels of power.

Now, Robie may have to step out of the shadows in order to save this girl's life... and perhaps his own.

My Review: 
Baldacci does a wonderful job once again of creating an action-packed novel full of intrigue and suspense.  This is the first book in the Will Robie series and he leaves off in a way that makes the reader want more.  We get caught up in Robie's quest to keep himself, and a young girl that crosses his path, alive.  

At the start of the book Robie decides not to finish a job, allowing people to live.  While people are spying on him to verify completion of the job, they realize Robie's hesitance, and decide to finish the kill job for him.  Unfortunately, this also puts Robie's life on the line as he finds himself a new target for the agency he has been employed by for years.

He comes across a young girl who seems to be in quite the predicament of her own.  As the duo flee for safety they find they have something in common, as they are both running from the same assassins.  As they fight to stay alive they learn to work together, solving the clues that could possibly end the madness.

Cassidy did a great job of narrating and there were even some sound effects to keep you on the edge of your seat.  With themes of murder, mystery, and survival, you may enjoy this book as much as I did, especially if you are a Baldacci fan.  I don't hesitate in recommending this book for either personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this audiobook from my local library for my own entertainment.  

Monday, December 29, 2014

What Are You Reading?

Sheila over at Book Journey hosts this meme that gives you the opportunity to share the books that you have been losing yourself in lately and also the ones that you are looking forward to picking up next.

What I finished:
I was able to sneak in The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst because I knew our book club selection would be a quick read.  I have to admit I didn't really know what this book was about, but I've been wanting to read it for the last couple of years.  It had an odd twist to it, but it was well worth the wait.

What I'm reading now:
Our December book club selection is Christmas Jars by Jason Wright.  I've come not to expect much out of the Christmas novels, and although this is a little book, so far I've found it quite powerful.  I'll let you know how it ends up.

What's next?
I've had Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson on my TBR pile for at least a year now.  When my friend told me she just picked up the audiobook I figured it's about time I get this one read and reviewed.  I've loved Jackson's previous work so I'm looking forward to this one.

So what's been keeping you lost in books lately?