Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Teaser Tuesday-Sept. 16

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.

This week my teaser is from The Bully of Order by Brian Hart:
He knew that what makes a boy lonesome makes a boy mean.  Hide what you can and destroy what you can't hide.

pg. 71
***Please note that this is from an Advanced Reading Copy so the final printing may change.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Audiobook Review: Kicking the Sky by Anthony De Sa

Title:  Kicking the Sky

Author:  Anthony De Sa

Narrator:  Tomas Marsh

Unabridged Length:  Approx. 9.75 hrs

Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website:
In 1977 a shoeshine boy, Emanuel Jacques, is brutally raped and murdered in Toronto. In the aftermath of the crime, twelve-year-old Antonio Rebelo and his rapscallion friends explore their Portuguese neighborhood’s dark garages and labyrinthine back alleys. The boys develop a curious relationship with a charismatic, modern-day Fagin who is master over an amoral world of hustlers, thieves, and drug dealers.

As the media unravels the truth behind the shoeshine-boy murder, Antonio starts to see his family—and his neighborhood—as never before. He becomes aware of the dashed hopes of immigrants, of the influence of faith and the role of church, and of the frightening reality that no one is really taking care of him. So intent are his parents and his neighbors on keeping the old traditions alive that they act as if they still live in a small Portuguese village, not in a big city that puts their kids in the kind of danger they would not dare imagine.

Antonio learns about bravery and cowardice, life and death, and the heart’s capacity for both love and unrelenting hatred in this stunning coming-of-age novel set against the backdrop of a true crime that shook the city.

My Review:
Listening to this audiobook brought me back to a time when the world is just being revealed to this young person.  I was close to Antonio's age in 1977 and I can recall the feelings of protection from my parents, but yet wanting to venture on my own as new things are experienced.  Listening to this novel brought many memories back for me.

Antonio is our twelve-year-old main character who lives with his parents in a predominantly Portuguese neighborhood in Canada.  Life seems pretty normal for Antonio and his friends, but things take a drastic turn as events unfold throughout the novel.  Antonio certainly didn't expect to become a religious icon just from eating a meal at the dinner table.  This seemed to be more of a burden than a blessing to Antonio, and luckily the faith the neighbors placed in him stopped abruptly.

When James moves into a garage in Antonio's neighborhood, all the young boys become intrigued by him.  He is an older boy, living on his own, who can do basically anything he wants and also has dirty pictures hanging on the garage walls.  The boys are drawn to James because he enjoys spending time with Antonio and his friends, and doesn't treat them like children.  James has a dark side that he tries to keep hidden from Antonio, but unfortunately some of Antonio's friends become corrupted by James charms.

A murder takes place in the beginning of the novel, setting the tone for discord and danger.  Marsh did a great job of narrating this book, bringing to life Antonio's character while allowing me to recall precious memories from my own childhood.  With themes of murder, faith, and friendship, you may enjoy this book as much as I did.  Even though this is considered a Young Adult novel I don't hesitate in recommending this book to anyone for either personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  4/5

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

Monday, September 8, 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.

Here is what I finished:
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith was my book club's summer selection so I finished reading this one just before we met to discuss it last Wednesday.  What a marvelous book this was!  Stay tuned for my review.

What I'm listening to now:
I have been listening to Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King and boy has it been an intense ride!

What's next:
Our next book club selection is Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, so I plan to start this one soon.

So what have you been reading lately?


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Review: Carrie and Me: A Mother-Daughter Love Story by Carol Burnett

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

You are about to meet an extraordinary young woman, Carrie Hamilton. The daughter of one of television’s most recognizable and beloved stars, Carol Burnett, Carrie won the hearts of everyone she met with her kindness, quirky sense of humor, and wonderfully unconventional approach to life. Living in the spotlight of celebrity, but in an era when personal troubles were kept private, Carrie and Carol made a brave display of honesty and love by going public with teenager Carrie’s drug addiction and recovery. Carrie lived her adult life of sobriety to the fullest, enjoying happy and determined independence and achieving a successful artistic career as an actress, writer, musician, and director. Carrie’s passion for life and her humorist’s view of the world never wavered as she aggressively battled cancer. Carrie died at the age of 38.

Carrie and Me is Carol Burnett’s poignant tribute to her late daughter and a funny and moving memoir about mothering an extraordinary young woman through the struggles and triumphs of her life. Sharing her personal diary entries, photographs, and correspondence, Carol traces the journey she and Carrie took through some of life’s toughest challenges and sweetest miracles. Authentic, intimate, and full of love, Carrie and Me is a story of hope and joy that only a mother could write.

My Review: 
My book club usually reads one non-fiction/memoir every year, and this last year Carrie and Me was the second memoir we read.  Memoirs are either hit or miss for me and this one was a sure fire miss.  The gal in my group that picked this one had just finished reading This Time Together by Burnett, and after loving that one, thought this would be a good pick for our group.

Had Burnett actually shared more about her relationship with Carrie, I think I would have appreciated this book more.  It seemed to me, the majority of the book contained personal e-mails between the mother-daughter team, and I just found that annoying.  I found myself thinking, "Who can't print a bunch of e-mails and arrange them into a book?"  

Burnett obviously was trying to relay to the public what a wonderful heart her daughter had.  She definitely accomplished that through this book.  She may have used the mode of e-mails because writing from her heart may have been too painful.  The photographs that she chose to share with us were incredibly fun though.

The mother-daughter team worked on several projects together and the last section of this book was a story that Carrie was working on herself.  It was unfinished and she asked her mother to complete the project for her.  Burnett was understandably at a loss as to how to complete the project, so she put it at the end of this book as a stand-alone section.  Most of my book group did not like this part of the book, but I read it as if reading a script of some kind and did find some enjoyment from it.  

Although this wasn't one of my favorites, Burnett's love for her daughter definitely shone through the pages.  With themes of parenthood, illness, and addiction, you may enjoy this book more than I did.  I recommend this book for those that are fans of Carol Burnett.

My Rating:  2/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from the local library to read for my own entertainment and as a book club discussion.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Mailbox Monday-Aug. 25th

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 I found in my mailbox:
We are Not Ourselves by Matthew Thomas(audiobook)

I am excited to listen to this epic novel of Irish immigrants chasing the American dream.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Review: China Dolls by Lisa See

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

It’s 1938 in San Francisco: a world’s fair is preparing to open on Treasure Island, a war is brewing overseas, and the city is alive with possibilities. Grace, Helen, and Ruby, three young women from very different backgrounds, meet by chance at the exclusive and glamorous Forbidden City nightclub. Grace Lee, an American-born Chinese girl, has fled the Midwest with nothing but heartache, talent, and a pair of dancing shoes. Helen Fong lives with her extended family in Chinatown, where her traditional parents insist that she guard her reputation like a piece of jade. The stunning Ruby Tom challenges the boundaries of convention at every turn with her defiant attitude and no-holds-barred ambition.

The girls become fast friends, relying on one another through unexpected challenges and shifting fortunes. When their dark secrets are exposed and the invisible thread of fate binds them even tighter, they find the strength and resilience to reach for their dreams. But after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, paranoia and suspicion threaten to destroy their lives, and a shocking act of betrayal changes everything.

My Review:
What a wonderful story Lisa See delivers to us once again.  We follow the lives of these three women who are introduced to us at a young age in San Francisco, as we share in their friendships and heartaches.  The story is told from the perspectives of each of our main characters, Grace, Helen, and Ruby, so we get a glimpse into the reasons for their actions.

Grace is a young and innocent chinese girl that has fled to San Francisco in search of a better life.  Grace is probably the most talented of our characters, but she will not experience success until later in the novel.  Grace is an honorable friend who would do anything for those that she loves, so when her friendships with Helen and Ruby become stressed, her whole world is cast into turmoil.

Helen comes from a noble and wealthy Chinese family and lives with her entire family in a compound in the middle of Chinatown.  Her family's status has given Helen a life of privilege, allowing her to not really want for anything.  There is more to Helen that meets the eye as she fled from Shanghai with her family during the war, so she struggles to start her life over again.

Our third main character is Ruby, whose actions are wild and unpredictable.  Ruby uses her body and beauty to help her advance quickly among the Chinese nightclubs.  Ruby has her own dark secret, that once uncovered, will knock her status rank out from under her.

The main characters are brought together from odd circumstances, and even though they have different roles in various nightclubs, their friendship remains strong.  After the bombing of Pearl Harbor the boundaries of their friendship becomes tested, sending the girls lives in separate directions.  Lies and secrets keep them apart for years afterward leaving them yearning for the lost relationships.

Lisa See does a great job, as she always does, of setting up the time period for us.  I learned several things from this novel about how oriental people were treated during this time, even before the bombing of Pearl Harbor.  With themes of love, friendship, secrets, and forgiveness, I think you would enjoy this book as much as I did.  It would be a great novel to read 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.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Teaser Tuesday-Aug. 19

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.

This week my teaser is from A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith:
She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends.  Books became her friends and there was one for every mood.

pg. 166