Thursday, March 31, 2011

Current Giveaways!!!

Life has been super busy with my new work hours and trying to fit time in for blogging and still having time to get a decent amount of cooking and cleaning done!   I actually did come across a few contests that might interest you:

Peeking Between the Pages  is having a Blogiversary Giveaway--Contest ends 4/2.

Laura's Reviews is giving away To Defy a King by Elizabeth Chadwick--Contest ends 4/8.

Books and Movies is giving away The Postmistress by Sarah Blake--Contest ends 4/8.

Peeking Between the Pages is giving away The Postmistress by Sarah Blake--Contest ends 4/9.

Well that's it for now...good luck everyone!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday-March 30

Bermudaonion asks you to share new words that you have learned during your reading adventures in the last week. Feel free to join in the fun!

Here are a couple of new words that I have learned while reading The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Mary ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows:

Elocution:  a person's manner of speaking or reading aloud in public.

Here is how elocution was used on page 6:
P.S.  I did not throw "The Shepherd Boy Sings in the Valley of Humiliation" at the audience, I threw it at the elocution mistress.

Inveigle:  to entice, lure, or ensnare by flattery or artful talk or inducements.

Here is how inveigle was used on page 33:
I seized him and threatened him until he confessed your address-you see, Mr. Reynolds, you are not the only one who can inveigle innocent employees.

Vociferous: crying out noisily; clamorous.

Here is how vociferous was used on page 48:
The response was so vociferous Isola Pribby, our Sergeant-at-Arms, was forced to bang her hammer for order (I admit that Isola needs little enouragement to bang her hammer).

So those are the new words that I have learned while reading this fabulous book!  I can't wait to discuss this one with my book club next week!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Teaser Tuesday-March 29

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 Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows:
That new secretary of his is a fiend.  To every one of my questions, she said, "I really can't divulge information of a personal nature, Miss Ashton."

pg. 59

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Blog Tour and Review: The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry

I am thankful once again to Trish from TLC Book Tours for introducing another author to me that allows me to savor every written word.  Here is a summary of The Map of True Places from the Harper Collins website:

Zee Finch has come a long way from a motherless childhood spent stealing boats—a talent that earned her the nickname Trouble. She's now a respected psychotherapist working with the world-famous Dr. Liz Mattei. She's also about to marry one of Boston's most eligible bachelors. But the suicide of Zee's patient Lilly Braedon throws Zee into emotional chaos and takes her back to places she though she'd left behind. 

What starts as a brief visit home to Salem after Lilly's funeral becomes the beginning of a larger journey for Zee. Her father, Finch, long ago diagnosed with Parkinson's disease, has been hiding how sick he really is. His longtime companion, Melville, has moved out, and it now falls to Zee to help her father through this difficult time. Their relationship, marked by half-truths and the untimely death of her mother, is strained and awkward. 

Overwhelmed by her new role, and uncertain about her future, Zee destroys the existing map of her life and begins a new journey, one that will take her not only into her future but into her past as well. Like the sailors of old Salem who navigated by looking at the stars, Zee has to learn to find her way through uncharted waters to the place she will ultimately call home. 

My Review:
This is my first book by Brunonia Barry and I can guarantee you that I will not hesitate to open one of her novels in the future.  Barry did a great job of delivering a novel that deals with some serious issues while also including a bit of a mysterious 'unknown' element.  The mystical element was just the right amount for me as it didn't take over the novel or seem unbelievable.

Zee is a young psychiatrist engaged to a wonderful man but doesn't seem to know the path that her life is taking.  Zee is haunted by a childhood memory of seeing her mother die after convulsions from self-induced strychnine poisoning.  Her mother was a very depressed woman and Zee takes special interest in her patient Lilly who seems to have similar traits to her mother.  Zee's life is impacted once again when Lilly commits suicide.

After Lilly's suicide Zee returns home to her father who has been suffering with Parkinson's disease.  Upon her arrival she is surprised at the rapid decline of the disease.  He has been fortunate for so long to have lived with minimal symptoms, but all of a sudden the disease seems to be taking its toll on him.  This was such a touching part of the story for me as Zee puts her life on hold to care for her father who is frustrated with his medical condition.  Her job becomes harder as his disease advances to the Altzheimer's stage.  Because of the disease she finds that she needs to have some medical equipment installed in the home, and that is when Hawk is introduced in the story.  Zee feels that she has seen Hawk somewhere before but cannot place it instantly.  When she does finally recall how she knows this handsome man it brings back helpless feelings but that mysterious element that I mentioned earlier also surrounds his character.

As Zee continues to care for her father she seems to accept the path that her life has taken.  She realizes that she can make subtle changes for a more fulfilling outcome for both her and her loved ones.  She also comes to accept that the suicides of both her mother and Lilly are not her fault.  She learns that by charting the stars properly on the open sea that you can always find your way home.  With the help of all who love Zee, this is exactly what she does.

I really enjoyed this story and I think even more than I had expected.  With themes of love,  mystical elements, life choices, and both mental and terminal illnesses this is a great story and would also make a wonderful book club selection.  This is one that I highly recommend.

My Rating:  4/5

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

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Review: Sweetie by Kathryn Magendie

Here is a summary of Sweetie from Kathryn Magendie's website:

Friendship, Courage, Hope . . .

Lyrical and poignant gothic southern storytelling. Sweetie is a wild girl, rough, almost feral, yet brave and endlessly honest. When Melissa, a shy, stuttering town girl, befriends her, the two enrich each other's lonely lives. But there are some in the Appalachian community who regard Sweetie and her peculiar heritage as sinister...

For shy, stuttering Melissa, the wild mountain girl named Sweetie was a symbol of pride and strength. But to many in the Smoky Mountain town, Sweetie was an outcast, a sinister force, or worse.

My Review:
I just loved this coming of age story of two young girls from different walks of life that develop a friendship that will get them through a life changing summer.  Sweetie and Melissa grow to depend upon one another through both of their strengths and weaknesses.  In the opening of the book Melissa is a grown woman and she returns to the mountain town and finds herself recalling the special friendship that these girls had.

When Melissa was a young, overweight girl her family moved from town to town quite often, never really giving Melissa a chance to settle in and make real friends.  That is about to change when her parents move them to a small town in the mountains of North Carolina before the start of her sixth grade year.  As Melissa is teased by the more popular kids for her stuttering and weight, Sweetie is there to accept her as she is.

While Melissa lives in a modern home on the side of town, Sweetie lives in a secluded cabin in the mountains.  Even though these girls are complete opposites, they form an unlikely bond of friendship.  Once school lets out for the summer they take advantage of every waking moment to learn everything about each other and the mountains where they live.  Melissa's mother disapproves of the friendship that she has with Sweetie, while her father always seems withdrawn in his own world.

Sweetie and Melissa deal with a lot of serious issues and changes during this summer.  From puberty, secrets, and deaths, their friendship is tested.   As the summer was coming to and end it really wasn't clear to me if the friendship would really last that much longer.  I think that although Melissa still longed for the carefree days of exploring and youthful friendship, she secretly wanted a wider variety of friends that may have even included boys.

I just loved this story that gave me a good reminder of the innocence that children still have at this young age.  With themes of friendship, coming of age, and loss of loved ones I can't help but think this would make a great book club selection and I don't hesitate to recommend it.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:  This e-book was provided to me by the publisher through the Net Galley program in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Wondrous Words Wednesday-March 16

Bermudaonion asks you to share new words that you have learned during your reading adventures in the last week. Feel free to join in the fun!

I have recently learned a couple of new words while reading The Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry:

Esplanade: any open, level space, especially one serving for public walks or drives.

Here is how esplanade was used on page 21:
The condo Zee shared with Michael had one of the best views in Boston, the perfect place to see the light show, though you couldn't hear the Pops from here-you'd have to be on the esplanade for that.

Verdigris:  a green or bluish patina formed on copper, brass, or bronze surfaces exposed to the atmosphere for long periods of time, consisting principally of basic copper sulfate.

Here is how verdigris was used on page 95: 
The second-floor condo was windowed, sunny, and historically perfect, with the same green-over-gray shade of verdigris that had been used in the sitting room of the House of the Seven Gables. 

So have you learned anything new in your reading adventures this week? 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Audiobook Review: The Brave by Nicholas Evans

Here is a summary of The Brave from the Hachette website:

Tom Bedford is living alone in the isolated wilds of Montana. Having distanced himself from his own troubled past, he rarely sees his ex-wife, and his son, Danny, is away in Iraq and hasn't spoken to him for years. Tom hasn't always been so removed from society. As a boy, his mother was a meteoric rising star in the glitzy, enchanted world of 1960s Hollywood. There, she fell in love with the suave Ray Montane, who played young Tom's courageous onscreen hero, Red McGraw, the fastest draw around. Tommy and his mother lived in a glamorous, Hollywood version of the Wild West.

Everything was perfect, until the gold flaking on their magical life began to chip away, revealing an uglier truth beneath. Ray was not who he seemed. Tommy and his mother fell into a deadly confrontation with him, and they fled Hollywood forever, into the wilderness of the real West.

As a man, Tom has put all of that behind him--or so he thinks. Unexpectedly, his ex-wife calls, frantic: Danny has been charged with murder. In the chaos of war, his son has been caught in a violent skirmish gone bloodily awry. The Army needs someone to pay for the mistake. Tom, forced into action, is now suddenly alive again and fighting to save the son he'd let slip away. To succeed, he must confront the violence in his own past, and he finds that these two selves--the past and the present--which he'd fought so long to keep separate, are inextricably connected. As father and son struggle to understand one another, both are compelled to learn the true meaning of bravery.

Beautifully interlacing the past and present, the author of The Horse Whisperer reminds us that we are tied to the glories and mistakes of our own history. The Brave lives up to its name, as one the most courageous and full-hearted novels of our time.

My Review:
The Brave turned out to be a very emotional audiobook that left the reader wondering how things could turn out good in the opening of the story, with a young boy visiting his mother in prison.  The story is read by Michael Emerson who I believe did an outstanding job of bringing to life the character of both young Tommy, and the man he grew to become known as Tom.

Tom is a divorced father living alone in Montana needing to offer support to his son Danny who is facing a military crisis.  Tom has never had a real relationship with his son since Danny was a young boy, and soon starts to revisit the memories of his own childhood as a way to come to terms with the man that he has become.  So the story proceeds to alternate between the present and the events that stand out in Tommy's childhood.

Tommy lived his early years in England and as many young boys at that age were, found himself obsessed with a cowboy show.  He seems to be a boy that is picked on quite often and that only gets worse when he is sent away to the Ashlawn Preparatory School.  That all changes for Tommy when his sister Diane shows up at the school to visit Tommy with his idol from his favorite cowboy show, Ray Montane.  Diane wanted to be an actress for as long as Tommy could remember and it appears that she has had her lucky break.  Ray pledges his love to Diane and offers to take both her and Tommy back to Hollywood with him and hopefully give her a chance at the 'big screen'.

When they arrive in Hollywood, life for Tommy and Diane is more than they ever could have imagined!  There was the glitz and glamour, Hollywood parties where Diane showed up on the handsome Ray's arm, and the opportunity for Diane to make herself known in the world of 'show biz'.  With this wonderful lifestyle how could it not have a happy ending?

As Diane's career seems to be evolving and is making a name for herself, Ray's career seems to be fizzling out as it appears to be the end of the cowboy era.  Diane see's a new side of Ray that is not as appealing as the man she first met.  And as he continues his downward spiral secrets and emotions will come full circle as we follow Tom's journey through his childhood memories.

I must admit that I wasn't really enjoying this audiobook when I first started it, but by the time I was done with the second disc there was no way I couldn't complete it.  It is full of great characters, family secrets, old time Hollywood, and turned out to be quite an emotional ride.  I do not hesitate in recommending this audiobook.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was provided to me from Anna at Hachette in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mailbox Monday-March 14

Thanks to Marcia of The Printed Page for starting the Mailbox Monday Meme that has us list the books that we received last week. Although Marcia isn't going to be hosting Mailbox Monday any longer, she set it up so different bloggers have the opportunity to host this meme for a month at a time. This month the host is I'm Bookin It so head on over there to see what everyone else received or to play along!

Here is what was in my mailbox last week:
The Linen Queen by Patricia Falvey

The Tudor Secret by C.W. Gortner

Well that was what came in my mailbox last week, how about you?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing by Kathy Cano-Murillo

I am very excited to be a part of this Blog Tour for Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing!  Thanks to Brianne from Hachette for inviting me to participate in this tour and to even offer a great giveaway, which will be at the end of this post.

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

Sometimes to find your life's true path, you have to stray outside the lines . . .

Scarlet Santana is never happier than when creating fabulous fashions for women of all shapes and sizes. Now, after years of hard work, she finally has the chance to live her dream and study under the hottest designer in New York. To raise money for her move, Scarlet opens an after-hours sewing school in a local record shop, teaching a type-A working mom whose rigid parenting style is causing her family to unravel and an enigmatic seamstress with a mysterious past.

But as stitches give way to secrets and classmates become friends, the women realize an important truth: There is no single pattern for a good life. Happiness is always a custom fit.

Since I have enjoyed crafts since I've been a little girl, I was curious as to how crafts have impacted Kathy's life and this is what she had to say:
**Sewing and painting. Sewing because my Nana Cano loved to sew and I never took the time to sit and have her teach me. I cried when she passed away, I was so mad at myself. My husband comforted me and told me “All she wanted was for you to sew.” And he went out and bought me a $99. Machine and I haven’t stopped since! Every single time I put my foot on that pedal, I think of my Nana Cano. In Miss Scarlet’s School of Patternless Sewing, Nana Eleanor is named after my Nana Cano!

Painting because every so often I have people put me down and say things like “You just do crafts, you don’t do art, you can’t paint.” Well, I end up thanking them because it fuels my ambition! I challenge myself to learn new techniques, and I practice a lot to help me grow stronger in my skills. I love it so much, it feels wonderful to bring an empty canvas to life!**

Now for the giveaway!  The giveaway is actually for one copy of Miss Scarlet's School of Patternless Sewing and as an added bonus you will also receive a copy of her book, Waking Up in the Land of Glitter.

Winners will be subject to the one copy per household, which means if you win the same title on another blog you will receive only one copy of the title.

To enter this contest you must be at least 18 and live in the U.S. or Canada. No PO Boxes please.

For one entry leave me a comment including your email address below.

For two additional entries, blog about this contest or add the link to your sidebar.

Please include your email so I will have a way to contact you if you win. Use a spam-thwarting format such as myemail.address AT gmail DOT com or myemail.address [at] gmail [dot] com.

You will have until March 26th to enter and I will draw for winners on or after March 27th.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Audiobook Review: Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

Here is a summary of Still Missing from Chevy Stevens website:

On the day she was abducted, Annie O’Sullivan, a thirty-two year old Realtor, had three goals—sell a house, forget about a recent argument with her mother, and be on time for dinner with her ever- patient boyfriend. The open house is slow, but when her last visitor of the day pulls up in a van as she's about to leave, Annie thinks it just might be her lucky day after all. 

Interwoven with the story of the year Annie spent captive of a sadistic psychopath in a remote mountain cabin, which unfolds through sessions with her psychiatrist, is a second narrative recounting events following her escape—her struggle to piece her shattered spirit back together and the ongoing police investigation into the identity of her captor. 

The truth doesn’t always set you free. 

My Review:
This was a suspenseful and heartbreaking novel that brought us along on a journey of a young lady that was kidnapped and held captive for nearly a year.  The audiobook was narrated by Angela Dawe, whom I believe did a wonderful job of capturing the character and emotions of our main character, Annie.

When Annie is found she must go through therapy to learn how to cope with her feelings and basically how to live again.  It is through these therapy sessions that Annie gives a very descriptive account of the events that took place from when she was first abducted at the real estate open house to the day she found her way back to society.

Upon Annie's kidnapping, her captor takes her to a secluded cabin nestled in some mountains.  Annie doesn't have any way of knowing if they are one hour from home or ten hours away from her home.  The 'Freak' has cut themselves off from all communication from the outside world, except for his weekly trips into civilization to get supplies.  He controls all of Annie's actions from when she sleeps, eats, and even relieves herself in the bathroom.  As Annie's body becomes conditioned to this schedule that he has created she finds a way to withdraw into herself so she hopefully doesn't anger him.

Since most of Annie's story is told through her therapy sessions I don't think it's a spoiler to share with you that fortunately Annie is lucky enough to be granted freedom from this monster.  Although she returns home, she finds nearly impossible to live a normal life again.  She is always looking over her shoulder, jumps at any odd noise in her home, and can only get a good nights sleep by hiding in her bedroom closet.

As they try to identify Annie's kidnapper many truths are brought to light that will shock you as a reader.  This was such a heart-wrenching and suspenseful story, but what I found interesting is that the suspense kept building after Annie was found.  There is some language in the book that a more reserved reader may not appreciate, but if that language is taken in the context of the story it seems appropriate to me.  I highly recommend this book, especially in the audio format.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this audiobook from my library because my friend Miranda wouldn't stop hounding me until I did!  I obviously loved it, so thanks for being so persistent Miranda!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Teaser Tuesday-March 7

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 Map of True Places by Brunonia Barry:
It was a statement, not a question, and the only word in the English language to which it was pointless to respond.  If you wanted to end a conversation or an argument, "nevertheless" was your word.

pg. 12

Monday, March 7, 2011

Mailbox Monday-March 7

Thanks to Marcia of The Printed Page for starting the Mailbox Monday Meme that has us list the books that we received last week. Although Marcia isn't going to be hosting Mailbox Monday any longer, she set it up so different bloggers have the opportunity to host this meme for a month at a time. This month the host is I'm Bookin It so head on over there to see what everyone else received or to play along!

So here is what was in my mailbox last week:
Get Energy by Denise Austin

Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna

Well that is all that I received last week, but as you may have noticed I did not have time to post anything on my blog last week!  So a slow mailbox is fine with me!  

I started my new job last week and I really am loving it!  You may have noticed all of the hoopla going on with the State of Wisconsin on the news.  Well, the organization I now work for is a county agency that is of course paid through the state.  So the first week there has been very tense, but by the time the week was over I just decided that the Lord did not put me in this position to just take it away.  There will be changes, but I really don't think those changes will be any worse than what I had to face at my last job.  So that is what my last week has been like and why you haven't heard from me!

So was there anything good in your mailbox last week?