Monday, December 15, 2014

Mailbox Monday-Dec. 15

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 is what I found:
The Day We Met by Rowan Coleman

I haven't requested many books lately so I was surprised to find this one on my doorstep.  Did anything new show up at your door?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Here is a summary of the book from the Goodreads website:
The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness -- in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

My Review: 
Let me start this review by saying this is a classic that every American citizen should read.  It brings you back to a time when life was much harder than it is today-people actually had to work hard and sometimes fight for every single piece of bread being put on the table.  Our society has evolved into something allowing people to just get what they want, so it was refreshing to read a book about people who worked hard for their earnings.

The Nolan family has definitely had their fair share of hardships, but that doesn't stop Katie, Francie's mother, from trying to create the best home for her family that they can afford.  They go out of their way to make every penny stretch.  From going to different butchers for better cuts of meat, to walking an extra couple of blocks for a less expensive bread at a bakery, this family knew how to save money.  And with Johnny, Francie's father, spending all of his extra earnings at the local tavern, Katie found her way of saving a necessary way of life.

We follow Francie through her daily life and sometimes wonder how she and her young brother can make it another day when they are cold and hungry.  They look forward to school knowing they at least will not be cold for the day.  Francie has high expectations early on in life when she sets her eyes on a school in another District that would offer her a better education.  Her father may have been the local drunk, but he helped Francie do what she needed to attend that school.

There were moments in this book making me giggle with delight, while others had me gasping with astonishment.  I can't help but consider this book a great American novel that should be read by everyone, especially young kids that have everything given to them.  With themes of family, struggles, and America, I'm sure you all would enjoy this novel as much as I did.  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 to it for my own entertainment and as a book club selection.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Audiobook Review: Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King




Title:  Mr. Mercedes

Author:  Mr. Mercedes

Narrator:  Will Patton

Unabridged Length:  14 hrs, 25 mn.





Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website:
In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands. 

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes. In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the perp; and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy. 

Brady Hartfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady's next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands. 

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable.

My Review:
Although there is no way I would have "read" this book, I have to admit the audio version was wonderful!  This book kept me interested the entire time, gripping my steering wheel some days, and I found myself wanting to get in my car to listen to it.  I've always had a problem reading King's novels, but I thought I would try an audio this time, and that proved to be a great experience!

Hodges is an overweight, retired cop who seems to have lost his zest for life.  He starts every miserable day alone, mindlessly completing his daily tasks.  A couple of unsolved cases bother him, but one day the case of the Mercedes Killer is opened up all over again.  He knows when he receives a letter from someone identifying himself as the Mercedes Killer, that he should contact the police, but he decides to take matters into his own hands.

As Hodges follows clues he becomes rejuvenated.  He feels better than he has felt in years and can't help but keep this case to himself, rather than contacting the police, just a little longer.  He recruits a couple of unlikely characters from the book to help him with his investigation.  We grow to care about the welfare of these characters, not wanting them to be hurt by this wackjob throughout the story.

Patton did a great job of bringing these characters to life for me.  I honestly don't know if I would have enjoyed "reading" this book as much as listening to it, so I have to thank Patton for his narration skills.  Since this is a book from the mystery genre, I'm not going to give any more away.  With themes of friendship, suspense, and murder you may enjoy this book as much as I did.  I highly recommend this audiobook for personal leisure or even for book clubs that enjoy the murder/mystery genre.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was provided to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands.

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Mr-Mercedes/Stephen-King/9781476754451#sthash.Q9aFpPS2.dpuf
In a mega-stakes, high-suspense race against time, three of the most unlikely and winning heroes Stephen King has ever created try to stop a lone killer from blowing up thousands.

In the frigid pre-dawn hours, in a distressed Midwestern city, hundreds of desperate unemployed folks are lined up for a spot at a job fair. Without warning, a lone driver plows through the crowd in a stolen Mercedes, running over the innocent, backing up, and charging again. Eight people are killed; fifteen are wounded. The killer escapes.

In another part of town, months later, a retired cop named Bill Hodges is still haunted by the unsolved crime. When he gets a crazed letter from someone who self-identifies as the “perk” and threatens an even more diabolical attack, Hodges wakes up from his depressed and vacant retirement, hell-bent on preventing another tragedy.

Brady Hartsfield lives with his alcoholic mother in the house where he was born. He loved the feel of death under the wheels of the Mercedes, and he wants that rush again. Only Bill Hodges, with a couple of highly unlikely allies, can apprehend the killer before he strikes again. And they have no time to lose, because Brady’s next mission, if it succeeds, will kill or maim thousands.

Mr. Mercedes is a war between good and evil, from the master of suspense whose insight into the mind of this obsessed, insane killer is chilling and unforgettable. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Mr-Mercedes/Stephen-King/9781476754451#sthash.Q9aFpPS2.dpuf

Monday, November 17, 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:
An Unexpected Grace by Kristin von Kreisler was our last book club selection.  I still have to get my review ready, but I can tell you that most of my book club (including me) did not care for this one.

What I'm listening to now:
When I requested All Fall Down by Jennifer Weiner, I must not have realized that it was about a woman struggling with an addiction to pain killers.  This is a great story that has my attention every step of the way.

What's next:
Our book club won copies of And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini from ReadingGroupGuides.com, so that is what I will be picking up next.  I'm so excited to read Hosseini's next novel.

So that is what has been keeping me busy, how about you?  Life has been pretty crazy, obviously limiting my time available for blogging.  So please know if I don't stop by, that I'm thinking of you!  Between working full-time, and keeping a handle on my home and other activities, it's all I can handle.  I remember when I would try to post something every day, now I'm lucky to post a review once a week.  But that's ok!  There is just too much of life that I want to enjoy, I guess!





Thursday, November 6, 2014

Audiobook Review: Love Life by Rob Lowe

Title:  Love Life

Author:  Rob Lowe

Narrator:  Rob Lowe

Unabridged Length: 7 hrs, 35 mn.

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

When Rob Lowe's first book was published in 2011, he received the kind of rapturous reviews that writers dream of and rocketed to the top of the bestseller list. Now, in Love Life, he expands his scope, using stories and observations from his life in a poignant and humorous series of true tales about men and women, art and commerce, fathers and sons, addiction and recovery, and sex and love.

In Love Life, you will find stories about:

• Kissing Unexpectedly
• The secrets they don't teach you in acting school
• His great, great, great, great, great-grandfather's role in the American revolution
Parks and Recreation, Behind the Candelabra, and Californication
• Trying to coach a kids' basketball team dominated by helicopter parents
• The hot tub at the Playboy mansion
• Starring in and producing a flop tv series
• Camping at Sea World
• Playing saxophone for president Bill Clinton
• The first journey to college with his son
• Warren Beatty
• The benefits of marriage

Throughout this entertaining book, you will find yourself in the presence of a master raconteur, a multi-talented performer whose love for life is as intriguing as his love life.


My Review:
Let me start by saying how much I appreciated this audiobook narrated by Rob Lowe.  When I listened to Stories I Only Tell My Friends, I found myself laughing quite often.   This book still had a few humorous moments, but overall it carried more of a serious tone.  Lowe didn't hold back with his life experiences once again and my heart just melts as he proclaims his love for his wife.  

When I think back on the book, it is hard to pick just one story that stuck with me more than any other.  One instance that brought tears to my eyes is when he shared with us about his stint in rehab.  This was obviously a turning point in his life as he came to accept how drugs and alcohol were controlling his life.  The part that really got to me was the therapy session about the NFL player.  How the entire group came together to support and comfort this man when no-one else would was beautiful.

The other "Holy Smokes" moment for me was when he was telling us about his experience with the Nip/Tuck television series.  I absolutely loved this show, clearing my calendar once a week so as not to miss an episode.  I won't say any more about this in case you are a Nip/Tuck fan too!

I truly enjoyed all Lowe's stories in this book and having him narrate just enhanced my listening experience.  I was able to pick up on the love and emotions regarding the subjects he was talking about.  With themes of love, family, career, and opportunities, you may enjoy this book as much as I did.  I highly recommend this book for personal leisure or as a book club selection, especially if you are a fan of Rob Lowe.

My Rating:  5/5

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

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Teaser Tuesday-Nov. 4

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 An Unexpected Grace by Kristin von Kreisler:
"Because he seemed like he was trying to look prosperous.  Janitors don't usually wear sports coats and ties."

pg. 39

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Audiobook Review: Safe With Me by Amy Hatvany

Title:  Safe With Me

Author:  Amy Hatvany

Narrators:  Cassandra Campbell, Joy Osmanski, Rebekkah Ross

Unabridged Length:  10 hrs, 23 mn.



Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website:
The screech of tires brought Hannah Scott’s world as she knew it to a devastating end. Even a year after she signed the papers to donate her daughter’s organs, Hannah is still reeling with grief when she unexpectedly stumbles into the life of the Bell family, whose child, Maddie, survived only because hers had died. Mesmerized by this fragile connection to her own daughter and afraid to reveal who she actually is, Hannah develops a surprising friendship with Maddie’s mother, Olivia.

The Bells, however, have problems of their own. Once on the verge of leaving her wealthy but abusive husband, Olivia now finds herself bound to him as never before in the wake of the successful transplant that saved their fifteen-year-old daughter’s life. Meanwhile Maddie, tired of the limits her poor health puts upon her and fearful of her father’s increasing rage, regularly escapes into the one place where she can be anyone she wants: the Internet. But when she is finally healthy enough to return to school, the real world proves to be just as complicated as the isolated bubble she had been so eager to escape.

A masterful narrative, shaped by nuanced characters whose fragile bonds are on a collision course with the truth, Safe with Me is a triumph.


My Review: 
This was a beautifully crafted story that puts us in the lives of those personally effected by a tragedy.  The story is told from three different perspectives in alternating chapters and Hatvany did a great job of bringing these characters to life for us.  The narrators in the audioversion were equally exceptional.

Maddie is the young girl who has spent the majority of her life in and out of hospitals because of her illness.  Had it not been for an organ transplant she received a year ago, she would probably be dead today.  She finds herself struggling with her identity and even goes as far to create a Facebook page with an entirely different persona.  The name on her secret Facebook page is Sierra and she looks like a twenty-year-old supermodel.  Sierra possesses all the looks and qualities that Maddie does not.

Olivia is Maddie's mom, and is thankful for every day that her daughter breathes life.  Olivia has been keeping a secret throughout her married life that is about to unravel.  She has been able to protect Maddie so far and believes if she stays under the radar she can continue with her escapade.  But this becomes nearly impossible when she meets Hannah, who is the first woman to offer her true friendship in years.

Hannah is a single, independent woman whose daughter, Emily, was killed a year earlier.  Emily was the light of Hannah's world and when Emily was taken from her, that light was extinguished, and she has been floundering day to day trying to live a normal life.  When Maddie and Olivia walk into her life, she feels a closeness with Maddie she can't explain.  She develops a bond with both the mother and daughter and can't stop the friendship from developing.  Suspicions of who these people really are creep into her mind and she knows she will have to reveal her true identity eventually.

I truly enjoyed this story that takes the lives of these three wounded individuals and forces them into a hurtful situation that allows them to heal.  And let me tell you, the tension mounted towards the end of the book taking my breath away.  Since I had technical difficulties with my iPod, I was only able to listen to about two-thirds of the book, then had to request the physical book from my library.  I can tell you I thoroughly enjoyed both versions.  With themes of family, friendship, secrets,  and organ donation, you would probably enjoy this book as much as I did.  I don't hesitate to recommend 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.
The screech of tires brought Hannah Scott’s world as she knew it to a devastating end. A year after she signed the papers to donate her daughter’s organs, Hannah is still reeling with grief when she unexpectedly stumbles into the life of the Bell family, whose fifteen-year-old daughter, Maddie, survived only because Hannah’s daughter had died. Mesmerized by this fragile connection to her own daughter and afraid to reveal who she actually is, Hannah develops a surprising friendship with Maddie’s mother, Olivia.

The Bells, however, have problems of their own. Once on the verge of leaving her wealthy but abusive husband, Olivia now finds herself bound to him in the wake of the transplant that saved their daughter’s life. Meanwhile, Maddie, tired of the limits her poor health puts upon her and fearful of her father’s increasing rage, regularly escapes into the one place where she can be anyone she wants: the Internet. But when she is finally healthy enough to return to school, the real world proves to be just as complicated as the isolated bubble she had been so eager to escape.

A masterful narrative shaped by nuanced characters whose delicate bonds are on a collision course with the truth, Safe with Me is a riveting triumph. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Safe-with-Me/Amy-Hatvany/9781476704418#sthash.pfcU8VZu.dpuf