Monday, June 22, 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.

Here is what I finished listening to:
Sisters of Shiloh by Kathy and Becky Hepinstall turned out to be a fascinating book to listen to.  I'm going to try to get this review done soon, so stay tuned!

What I'm reading now:
I walked in our school library one day and saw a co-worker reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.  She generously offered to borrow me the book when she was done after telling me how much she was enjoying it.  I'm not quite halfway through it yet, but this could be my favorite by Kristin Hannah so far.

What's next:
Every summer our book club picks a longer book to read and this year it is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.  It has been tough not being able to watch the movie as I really want to read the book first. 

So those are the books that have been keeping me busy lately.  If only I didn't have other things going on in my life, I could read so many more!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Review: Someone Else's Love Story by Joshilyn Jackson

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

At twenty-one, Shandi Pierce is juggling finishing college, raising her delightful three-year-old genius son Natty, and keeping the peace between her eternally warring, long-divorced Catholic mother and Jewish father. She’s got enough complications without getting caught in the middle of a stick-up in a gas station mini-mart and falling in love with a great wall of a man named William Ashe, who willingly steps between the armed robber and her son.

Shandi doesn’t know that her blond god Thor has his own complications. When he looked down the barrel of that gun he believed it was destiny: It’s been one year to the day since a tragic act of physics shattered his universe. But William doesn’t define destiny the way other people do. A brilliant geneticist who believes in science and numbers, destiny to him is about choice.

Now, he and Shandi are about to meet their so-called destinies head on, in a funny, charming, and poignant novel about science and miracles, secrets and truths, faith and forgiveness,; about a virgin birth, a sacrifice, and a resurrection; about falling in love, and learning that things aren’t always what they seem—or what we hope they will be. It’s a novel about discovering what we want and ultimately finding what we need.

My Review: 
Shandi's life as a young, single mom is changing, as she loads all of her belongings to move her and her young son to a new life.  Once she gets there, she will be able to finish college and actually make a living to support herself and her son, Natty.  But, when they make a normal pitstop for gas, snacks, and potty, her life changes in ways she could never imagine.  

There is a robbery in the gas station, bringing people from all walks of life together, making them count on each other to survive.  Shandi has always been drawn to older men, so when William Ashe, a fellow victim, with his muscular, solid body, is forced to get very close to Shandi, she doesn't push him away.  She accepts William's help, as his actions may be needed to keep her and Natty alive, but does she feel another kind of bond with this man?

Once the hold-up is over, Shandi finds herself as a part of William's everyday life.  She learns that William was trying to deal with the loss of his wife and daughter, that happened exactly one year before the robbery.  She can't help think that fate drew them together on that anniversary, putting her in his path to help him get on with his life.  

This was an enjoyable novel to read as new friendships flourished and mysteries were solved.  Many characters found themselves physically attracted to characters that did not return those feelings.  We just had to wait for events to play out leading our characters to the individuals they were truly in love with.  The title was very fitting in that respect.

Jackson once again created a novel keeping me on the edge of my seat with the suspense of the robbery and the mystery that I will not even start to describe.  You can read the book for that!  With themes of love, family. and friendship, you may enjoy this novel as much as I did.  I don't hesitate in recommending this book for either 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, June 8, 2015

Mailbox Monday-June 8

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.

This showed up in my mailbox:
 Those Girls by Chevy Stevens

This was from the bargain shelf at the bookstore:
The Son by Philipp Meyer

Those are the newest additions to my bookshelves.  What new books came your way?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Audiobook Review: We Are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas

Title:  We Are Not Ourselves

Author:  Matthew Thomas

Narrator:  Mare Winningham

Unabridged Length:  20 hrs, 51 mn

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

Born in 1941, Eileen Tumulty is raised by her Irish immigrant parents in Woodside, Queens, in an apartment where the mood swings between heartbreak and hilarity, depending on whether guests are over and how much alcohol has been consumed.

When Eileen meets Ed Leary, a scientist whose bearing is nothing like those of the men she grew up with, she thinks she’s found the perfect partner to deliver her to the cosmopolitan world she longs to inhabit. They marry, and Eileen quickly discovers Ed doesn’t aspire to the same, ever bigger, stakes in the American Dream.

Eileen encourages her husband to want more: a better job, better friends, a better house, but as years pass it becomes clear that his growing reluctance is part of a deeper psychological shift. An inescapable darkness enters their lives, and Eileen and Ed and their son Connell try desperately to hold together a semblance of the reality they have known, and to preserve, against long odds, an idea they have cherished of the future.

Through the Learys, novelist Matthew Thomas charts the story of the American Century, particularly the promise of domestic bliss and economic prosperity that captured hearts and minds after WWII. The result is a riveting and affecting work of art; one that reminds us that life is more than a tally of victories and defeats, that we live to love and be loved, and that we should tell each other so before the moment slips away.

Epic in scope, heroic in character, masterful in prose, We Are Not Ourselves heralds the arrival of a major new talent in contemporary fiction.

My Review: 
Let me tell you that this sweeping novel narrated by Mare Winningham was an amazing listening experience.  We are able to follow all of young Eileen's hopes, dreams, fears, and losses throughout her life.  You can't help but want more for her as she struggles from day to day.  Nothing will stop Eileen from acquiring her American Dream.

As a young girl living in a small apartment in Queens with her immigrant family, she watches her parents struggle to get by.  As Eileen gets older she does everything she needs to find success.  Eileen finishes nursing school, but throughout her career eventually decides to pursue medical administration.

When Eileen marries Ed Leary, she hopes all her dreams will materialize quickly, but that does not come to pass.  They both have good jobs, but Ed is comfortable with his routine.  Renting an upstairs apartment is about all of the commitment that Ed is willing to invest in.  After many years Eileen is able to talk Ed into purchasing the building they live in, so they finally have something of their own.

It isn't until decades later that Eileen decides she wants more from this life once again.  Ed is nearing retirement and their son is in high school, getting ready for college soon.  Eileen does all she can to achieve her dreams, and even though she gets everything she wants, their lives start a downward spiral.  She realizes that everything that it has taken her whole life to achieve, she could lose in just a few months.  

Although this wasn't an action-packed novel, I found myself looking forward to listening to it.  With themes of family, love, illness, and immigrants, you may enjoy this book as much as I did.  I don't hesitate in recommending this book for either personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  4/5

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

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Review: And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

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

Khaled Hosseini, the #1 New York Times–bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, has written a new novel about how we love, how we take care of one another, and how the choices we make resonate through generations.

In this tale revolving around not just parents and children but brothers and sisters, cousins and caretakers, Hosseini explores the many ways in which families nurture, wound, betray, honor, and sacrifice for one another; and how often we are surprised by the actions of those closest to us, at the times that matter most.

Following its characters and the ramifications of their lives and choices and loves around the globe—from Kabul to Paris to San Francisco to the Greek island of Tinos—the story expands gradually outward, becoming more emotionally complex and powerful with each turning page.

My Review:
As soon as this book was published, my book club decided this would be added to our reading list.  So when we won a set of books this last year we figured it was meant to be.  Hosseini crafted a creative tale for us once again, this time spanning several generations and from various points throughout the world.

Each chapter of this novel is told from a different character of the book.  I must admit that it was quite confusing at times, because when starting a new chapter it would sometimes go on for many pages until you realize the common thread it has with the rest of the book.  Since we hear from so many different narrators, I don't even think I can give you a favorite character.

The story opens with a young family in Kabul and how they are torn apart, being sent in different directions.  For some children, they were so small that the rest of the family is so faint a memory they don't even know if it is true.  As they grow and become wiser as they have continued on with their lives in various global destinations, they can't help but feel an emptiness within their hearts.

As they struggle with the memories of their youth, they must admit their past in order to be a part of each other's futures.  Like I said earlier, each character in the book had some connection to these children.  Sometimes it may have been only a small connection, but still a very important one that was needed to help them find each other once again.

Considering how much I loved Hosseini's other books, I wanted to enjoy this book much more than I did.  I think because there were so many different narrators it did not allow me to get close to any individual character.  But with themes of family, love, forgiveness, and sacrifice, you may enjoy this book too.  It did make a great book club discussion and I recommend it for your reading group or for personal leisure.

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  This book is from of my personal collection and I read it for personal leisure and as a book club selection.  

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Teaser Tuesday-May 5

Check out Teaser Tuesdays from A Daily Rhythm. 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.

This week my teaser is from Still Life With Bread Crumbs by Anna Quindlen:
Rebecca is unable to tell the difference between the breathing of a man performing rhythmic exercise and one in the throes of coitus.  Which may be the clearest reflection of her sex life during her marriage.

pg. 110

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Review: The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

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

Paul Iverson's life changes in an instant. He returns home one day to find that his wife, Lexy, has died under strange circumstances. The only witness was their dog, Lorelei, whose anguished barking brought help to the scene - but too late. In the days and weeks that follow, Paul begins to notice strange "clues" in their home: books rearranged on their shelves, a mysterious phone call, and other suggestions that nothing about Lexy's last afternoon was quite what it seemed. Reeling from grief, Paul is determined to decipher this evidence and unlock the mystery of her death. But he can't do it alone; he needs Lorelei's help. A linguist by training, Paul embarks on an impossible endeavor: a series of experiments designed to teach Lorelei to communicate what she knows. Perhaps behind her wise and earnest eyes lies the key to what really happened to the woman he loved. As Paul's investigation leads him in unexpected and even perilous directions, he revisits the pivotal moments of his life with Lexy, the brilliant, enigmatic woman whose sparkling passion for life and dark, troubled past he embraced equally.

My Review:
I am not a stranger to Parkhurst's writing, so when I found The Dogs of Babel at a used book sale, I snatched it up!  Plus, add the cover of a woman sleeping with a dog and it's a done deal for me.  We are brought along on a journey with Paul as he strives to uncover the reason for his wife's odd death.  

As Paul uncovers various clues that will hopefully help him figure out the reason for Lexy's death, we learn about their lives together and the darkness that she could not expel from her soul.  It really didn't matter what Paul did to try to make Lexy happy, because the darkness was always there, hovering just below the surface.  

Knowing that their dog Lorelei was with Lexy when she died, he feels that the dog would be able to offer him substantial information.  Paul then sets forth on a quest to try teaching his dog to talk.  Immersing himself in research, he is led to an organization that swears they have made strides in their experiments with dogs.  Paul can't help but have faith in the possibilities that lay ahead, but in the process he puts Lorelei's life in danger.  

This was an interesting story that left me on the edge of my seat quite often.  With themes of love, trust, and depression you may find this book as interesting as me.  I don't hesitate in recommending this novel for either personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This book is from of my personal collection and I read it for my own entertainment.