Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Audiobook Review: Summerland by Elin Hilderbrand

Title:  Summerland

Author:  Elin Hilderbrand

Narrator:  Erin Bennett

Unabridged Length:  13 hrs, 21 mn.

Here is a summary of the boo from the Goodreads website

It's June 15th, the night of Nantucket High School graduation. Four juniors are driving home from a party when something goes horribly wrong and there is a crash. The driver of the car, Penny Alistair, is killed, and her twin brother, Hobby Alistair, is left in a coma. Penny's boyfriend, Jake Randolph, and Penny's friend Demeter Castle are unhurt--but suffer tremendous emotional damage. Jake and his family move to the other side of the globe--to the west coast of Australia--in order to escape the horrors of the accident. Demeter falls prey to alcohol abuse and other self-destructive behaviors that nearly lead to her destroying her own life.

SUMMERLAND delves into the circumstances surrounding this accident, the roots of which lie deep in the past, with the first interactions between these four friends and their parents. It's a novel about how tragedy affects individuals, families, and the island community as a whole, and how healing can happen, in even the most devastating circumstances.


My Review:
I started listening to this audiobook in an attempt to escape this never-ending winter that has enveloped Northern Wisconsin.   I thought a trip to Nantucket would fit the bill, but little did I know how much sadness would come along with this story.  There are several main characters in this story that are affected by Penny's death and we watch them all try to continue on with their lives as different chapters are dedicated to different character's viewpoints.

Penny was a beautiful young girl with her whole life ahead of her.  Everyone expected her voice to open many doors for her professionally in the future.  No-one can understand what would cause this girl with such a bright future to cause the fatal accident that would end in her own demise.  How could her actions be so irrational with her brother, boyfriend, and a good friend, riding as passengers in the vehicle?

All of our characters struggle with the loss of Penny, but they also have their own secrets.  Throughout the book they let their secrets fester, many thinking they alone are responsible for Penny acting the way she did.  The sadness they all feel seems to take over the tone of the book, making me feel we would never learn what caused Penny to crash the car.  Finally, after receiving tidbits from a few of the characters, enough is revealed to help us understand her actions.

Bennett did a great job narrating this story of sadness and loss.  I'm sure her narration helped to heighten my emotions, bringing me to tears several times.  As sad as this book was, I did still enjoy it, and you may also with it's themes of love, secrets, and loss.  I don't hesitate in recommending this novel for either personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook is from my personal library and I listened to it for my own entertainment.
 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Mailbox Monday-April 21

Mailbox Monday is a great meme that has us list the books that we receive. You can check out the Mailbox Monday blog to see what everyone else found in their mailboxes.

Here is what showed up at my front door:
The Women of Duck Commander by Kay, Korie, Missy, Jessica, and Lisa Robertson(audiobook)
Love Life by Rob Lowe (audiobook)

I loved Lowe's first book, Stories I Only Tell My Friends, so I can't wait to listen to this one!  So what interesting items showed up in your mailbox?


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Review: The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore

Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website

Emmalee Bullard and her new baby are on their own. Or so she thinks, until Leona Lane, the older seamstress who sat by her side at the local shirt factory where both women worked as collar makers, insists Emmalee come and live with her.  Just as Emmalee prepares to escape her hardscrabble life in Red Chert holler, Leona dies tragically.  Grief-stricken, Emmalee decides she’ll make Leona’s burying dress, but there are plenty of people who don't think the unmarried Emmalee should design a dress for a Christian woman - or care for a child on her own. But with every stitch, Emmalee struggles to do what is right for her daughter and to honor Leona the best way she can, finding unlikely support among an indomitable group of seamstresses and the town’s funeral director. In a moving tale exploring Southern spirit and camaraderie among working women, a young mother will compel a town to become a community.

My Review:
This was a lovely story that is told between two women and also two different time periods.  It starts out in 1970s Tennessee while also giving glimpses of 1950s Tennessee.  Although the story is mostly about young Emmalee we also get to know what made Leona the woman she was.

Emmalee didn't have much of a life living in Red Chert with her father who spent most of his days in a drunken state.  Her life was cast in a new direction when she took a job at the Tennewa Shirt Factory.  Most of the women worked there for years, but they took Emmalee under their wings, teaching her the ropes and becoming one of them.  She needed to earn money to support her new baby because her father certainly wasn't any help in that department.  She didn't expect to develop such close friendships with her co-workers, but working side-by-side next to Leona created a relationship similar to a mother and daughter.

Leona has lived a hard life up on Old Lick mountain and has had more than her share of heartache.  She and her husband, Curtis, live in a small trailer on the mountain, nothing fancy but they get by fine with their love of the Lord and each other.  They don't have much, but never having children of their own they decide to take Emmalee and her new baby into their home.  They know Emmalee doesn't receive any form of support at home and they have enough love to help both of them get a start in life.

A turn of event puts a crimp in the plans to move Emmalee into Leona's home, setting Emmalee on a new path of self-discovery.  Emmalee doesn't know much about mothering, but expects Leona to help her in this area.  I have to tell you that Emmalee is not a good mother throughout the book and that was quite disturbing for me.  I know she was young, but I do believe that some things just come natural for mothers.  But I also know that if there isn't anyone to offer assistance parents can make big mistakes.

Although I was often frustrated with Emmalee, I also couldn't help wanting her to come out on top.   I enjoyed reading this story and couldn't help but read certain parts over again that made me smile.  With themes of motherhood, friendship, and losses, I'm sure many of you will enjoy this book as much as I did.  I don't hesitate in recommending this novel for personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  4/5


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

Monday, April 14, 2014

Mailbox Monday-April 14

Mailbox Monday is a great meme that has us list the books that we receive. You can check out the Mailbox Monday blog to see what everyone else found in their mailboxes.

Here is what showed up at my door recently:
China Dolls by Lisa See


Since I haven't been doing much reading lately I have been refraining from requesting books.  That all went to the wayside when I caught of Lisa See's new book.  I was jumping for joy when I was notified from Librarything that I was receiving an advance copy.  

So did you receive some interesting books in your mailbox?

Friday, April 11, 2014

Review: The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:

When Truly Plaice's mother was pregnant, the town of Aberdeen joined together in betting how recordbreakingly huge the baby boy would ultimately be. The girl who proved to be Truly paid the price of her enormity; her father blamed her for her mother's death in childbirth, and was totally ill equipped to raise either this giant child or her polar opposite sister Serena Jane, the epitome of femine perfection. When he, too, relinquished his increasingly tenuous grip on life, Truly and Serena Jane are separated--Serena Jane to live a life of privilege as the future May Queen and Truly to live on the outskirts of town on the farm of the town sadsack, the subject of constant abuse and humiliation at the hands of her peers.

Serena Jane's beauty proves to be her greatest blessing and her biggest curse, for it makes her the obsession of classmate Bob Bob Morgan, the youngest in a line of Robert Morgans who have been doctors in Aberdeen for generations. Though they have long been the pillars of the community, the earliest Robert Morgan married the town witch, Tabitha Dyerson, and the location of her fabled shadow book--containing mysterious secrets for healing and darker powers--has been the subject of town gossip ever since. Bob Bob Morgan, one of Truly's biggest tormentors, does the unthinkable to claim the prize of Serena Jane, and changes the destiny of all Aberdeen from there on.

When Serena Jane flees town and a loveless marriage to Bob Bob, it is Truly who must become the woman of a house that she did not choose and mother to her eight-year-old nephew Bobbie. Truly's brother-in-law is relentless and brutal; he criticizes her physique and the limitations of her health as a result, and degrades her more than any one human could bear. It is only when Truly finds her calling--the ability to heal illness with herbs and naturopathic techniques--hidden within the folds of Robert Morgan's family quilt, that she begins to regain control over her life and herself. Unearthed family secrets, however, will lead to the kind of betrayal that eventually break the Morgan family apart forever, but Truly's reckoning with her own demons allows for both an uprooting of Aberdeen County, and the possibility of love in unexpected places.


My Review:
Baker created a beautiful story for us about young Truly, who is born as an outcast and looked down upon her entire life.  When her mother dies giving birth to Truly, the entire town seems to blame the girl for her existence.

Life is hard for Truly, having to deal with her enormous difficulties without a mother, but at least she has her older sister Serena Jane to help her through some of it.  Disaster will strike their family once again, sending the girls in different directions. Although they will be living in the same town, circumstances will keep them apart, causing a rift between their relationship.

Truly becomes the butt of many jokes as she continues growing throughout her life.  When she does not get any taller her body just grows in other directions.  Her proportions are so unreal she does not have any choice but to have clothing specially tailored for her.   Through all of Truly's trials and tribulations she longs for Serena Jane to be a part of her life again.  Remembering Serena Jane's dreams and goals she knows their relationship is in the past as Serena Jane will be leaving this small town the first chance she gets.
  
As hard as Truly's life was, she never really had a pity party for herself.  She accepted the hand that life dealt her and embraced the things in life that gave her happiness.  One day she stumbles upon a secret that the whole town considered a myth.  This secret made people look upon her more favorable giving her a higher standing within the community.

A few of the ladies in my book club thought this book had a dark theme to it, so they didn't enjoy it as much as I did.  With themes of secrets, family, and forgiveness, you may love this book also.  I highly recommend this novel for either 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 discussion.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Teaser Tuesday-April 8

Check out Teaser Tuesdays from Should Be Reading. TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

Grab your current read.

Let the book fall open to a random page.

Share with us two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

This week my teaser is from Fallout by Sadie Jones:
People were happy to watch now; now that she was captive.  Stopping and staring, talking about her.

pg. 128
***Please note that this is from an Advanced Reading Copy so the final printing may change.

I was on vacation in Mexico last week and was able to get through most of this novel.  The writing in this book is awesome!

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Teaser Tuesday-March 25

Check out Teaser Tuesdays from Should Be Reading. TEASER TUESDAYS asks you to:

Grab your current read.

Let the book fall open to a random page.

Share with us two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.

You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

This week my teaser is from The Promise of Stardust by Priscille Sibley:
She loved to shoot with a long lens, catching me unaware.  She said that's when you find a person's spirit, their truth.

pg. 133