Monday, April 30, 2012

Mailbox Monday-April 30

Mailbox Monday is a great meme that has us list the books that we receive.  Different bloggers now have the opportunity to host this meme for a month at a time.  This month you can see what everyone received over at Cindy's Love of Books.

Here is what I received last week:
 Come Home by Lisa Scottoline (audiobook)

State of Wonder by Ann Patchett

I am very proud of myself for refraining from requesting too many review copies.  But I honestly tell you that I was so thrilled to have just these couple of books in the mail last week!  How about you?  Did you have anything fun arrive in your mailbox?

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: Cross Currents by John Shors

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

Thailand’s pristine and remote Ko Phi Phi island attracts tourists from around the world, offering a haven to people from all walks of life. Yet even paradise has its perils. Struggling to make ends meet, resort owners Lek and Sarai are happy to give an American named Patch room and board in exchange for his help. But trouble looms when Patch’s brother, Ryan, arrives, accompanied by his beautiful girlfriend, Brooke. Lek learns that Patch is running from the law, and his mere presence puts Lek’s family at risk. Meanwhile, Brooke begins to doubt her love for Ryan, while her feelings for Patch blossom. The two brothers, once inseparable, clash over a choice that could alter their lives.

In a glorious landscape of sea and sky, where nature’s bounty seems endless, these two families are caught in the cross currents of conflict and change – and swept up in an approaching cataclysm that will require all their strength of heart and soul to survive.

My Review:
Let me start off by saying that I loved the writing in this novel!  Shors portrayed the beauty of Thailand so wonderfully that I would love to take my next vacation there.  We have the opportunity to be given this story through several different viewpoints, which helps the story unfold in a way that makes you want to stay up late into the night reading.

Lek and Sarai are happy Thailand residents that own a small resort right on the beach.  They love the life they have with their children in the small tourist community, but struggle daily to cover the costs of daily needs.  Could the upkeep of the resort and the basic financial needs be more than they expected?  Throughout the novel they consider uprooting their family to move to the city to give them more financial options.

Patch is a carefree man who seems to live one day at a time.  After getting into trouble in Bangkok, he fleas to the remote Island of Ko Phi Phi, hoping to hide from the authorities.   He turns out to be an answered prayer when he arrives at the Rainbow Resort, being able to help Lek and Sarai with maintenance issues they couldn't otherwise afford.  Not only does this family let him into their resort, but they also open their home and hearts to him and treat him like a member of the family.  Patch knows this can only last so long as he is hiding from the law.

Things start to change for Patch when his brother, Ryan, shows up to help him sort out his legal dilemma.  Ryan brought his girlfriend Brooke along with him, hoping they will have a chance to strengthen their relationship while they are in paradise.  He's not sure if they can strengthen a romance that never sparked in the first place.

I loved this novel that not only had me wrapped up in the lives and emotions of the characters, but had me holding my breath several times as I felt that something was about to shatter their lives as they knew it.  I'm not going to give any more of this novel away, but this book will sweep you away with it's themes of love, forgiveness, familial obligations, and survival.  I think it would also make a great book club selection and don't hesitate in recommending it.

My Rating:  4/5

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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday-April 25

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!

Lately I've been learning some new words as I've been reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne:

Prate:  to talk excessively and pointlessly; babble.

Here is how prate was used on page 1:
But, as thoughts are frozen and utterance benumbed, unless the speaker stand in some true relation with his audience, it may be pardonable to imagine that a friend, a kind and apprehensive, though not the closest friend, is listening to our talk; and then, a native reserve being thawed by this genial consciousness, we may prate of the circumstances that lie around us, and even of ourself but still keep the inmost Me behind its veil.

Emolument:   profit, salary, or fees from office or employment.

Here is how emolument was used on page 3:
The besom of reform hath swept him out of office, and a worthier successor wears his dignity and pockets his emoluments

Alacrity:  cheerful readiness, promptness, or willingness

Here is how alacrity was used on page 6: 
Whenever such a mischance occurred--when a waggon-load of valuable merchandise had been smuggled ashore, at noonday, perhaps, and directly beneath their unsuspicious noses--nothing could exceed the vigilance and alacrity with which they proceeded to lock, and double-lock, and secure with tape and sealing-wax, all the avenues of the delinquent vessel. 

Gourmandism:  a person who is fond of good eating, often indiscriminatingly and to excess.

Here is how gourmandism was used on page 7:
His gourmandism was a highly agreeable trait; and to hear him talk of roast meat was as appetizing as a pickle or an oyster.

I'm telling you, I could go on and on with new words that I've come across while reading this book, but I think I've given you enough.  This should be enough to give you a taste of the writing.  It has been a tough book to read and I think a few of the ladies in my book group have given up on it.  

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Teaser Tuesday-April 24

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 Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne:
My eyes fastened themselves upon the old scarlet letter, and would not be turned aside.  Certainly there was some deep meaning in it most worthy of interpretation, and which, as it were, streamed forth from the mystic symbol, subtly communicating itself to my sensibilities, but evading the analysis of my mind.

pg. 13

Monday, April 23, 2012

Mailbox Monday-April 23

Mailbox Monday is a great meme that has us list the books that we receive.  Different bloggers now have the opportunity to host this meme for a month at a time.  This month you can see what everyone received over at Cindy's Love of Books.

Here is what was in my mailbox:
American Dervish by Ayad Akhtar (audiobook)

For World Book Night:
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

I can't tell you how excited I am to have been selected as a book giver in my area!  And to be giving out one of my most favorite books of all amazing!  Seriously, if you are an American citizen and have not read this wonderful novel yet, I can only ask you, "What are you waiting for?"  Every American should read this book!  Hopefully I have a chance to post about my World Book Night experience later in the week.

So was there anything fun in your mailbox this week?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Audiobook Review: Come a Little Closer by Dorothy Garlock

Title:  Come a Little Closer

Author:  Dorothy Garlock

Narrator:  Susan Boyce

Unabridged Length:  aprox. 10 hrs

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

It’s 1946, after the end of WWII, and Christina Tucker decides to take a nursing job in the small town of Longstock, Wisconsin and to pursue the life she had wanted before the war’s outbreak. Dr. Samuel Barlow was born and raised in Longview and has been serving as the town’s physician for almost thirty years. He’s a stubborn sort, but has a good heart. Unbeknownst to his new nurse, Dr. Barlow is hiding demons from his time in World War I, as are his nephews—both of whom are eagerly vying for Christina’s affections. Dr. Barlow is well-regarded by the people of Longview, except for one man: Morris Doyle. Morris believes that his younger brother Jimmy died as a result of Barlow’s shoddy care and he is determined to punish the doctor for what he’s done—even if it means hurting those the doctor loves most, including Christina Tucker.

My Review:
This was my first experience with Garlock and although I did find some enjoyment through this novel, it fell short for me somewhere along the way.  We follow Christina as she starts a new life in a small Wisconsin town.

Since Christina grew up in a rural Minnesota town, life in Longstock, Wisconsin is not too much of a shock to her.  She sees many similarities that range from the area business, the townspeople, and even the people that have been affected by the war.  The last thing that Christina expects is to fall in love while she is helping a war veteran conquer his fears.

Holden Tucker is the man that served in the war who Christina helps to face his demons.  When Christina is not spending time with Holden she usually can be found with his brother Tyler.  While she develops a protective affection towards Holden, a deeper emotion is sparked with Tyler.  This, of course, will create an unsavory love triangle.

Many events are brought to Christina's attention within this novel.  An obsessed woman sets Christina as a target, while a town drunk is finally ready to fulfill his act of revenge.  One of the most endearing storylines involved the doctor that had a morphine addiction.  Christina helped him deal with his addiction as she helped Holden confront his fears.

This book caught my eye because I liked the cover and noticed it was a post WWII novel.  I enjoy books from this time period, but this one didn't hit home for me.  I did enjoy most of the story, but I have to warn you that there is a sex scene towards the end that made me feel that I was listening to an erotic novel.  I did not enjoy that part at all.  While I didn't find much enjoyment from this book, I do think that those of you that enjoy romance novels would want to give this one a try.

My Rating:  2/5

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

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Teaser Tuesday-April 10

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 Cross Currents by John Shors:
"One day, when I'm gone, and when a tall tree stands before you, remember how I climbed up this one.  If I climb this one, you can do anything."

Pg. 241

I will hopefully have my review done by next week, so please come back and check it out.

Monday, April 16, 2012

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.

I finished listening to:
I finished listening to  Come a Little Closer by Dorothy Garlock.  I have to admit that I really didn't care for this audiobook, but you can read all the details when I post my review later this week.

I'm reading now:
I've had the ARC of Cross Currents by John Shors since last fall, so I finally decided to finally get this one read.  I'm about halfway through it and I love it!  I love tropical vacations and the vivid descriptions make me want to go to Thailand now.

Next audiobook:
Yup, I've listened to The Hunger Games and seen the movie.  Loved them both so now I am on to Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins.  I am officially caught up in the craze!

So what has been keeping you busy?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran

Here is a summary of The Heretic Queen from Michelle Moran's website:

In ancient Egypt, a forgotten princess must overcome her family’s past, and remake history.

The winds of change are blowing through Thebes. A devastating palace fire has killed the 18th dynasty’s royal family— all with the exception of Nefertari, niece of the reviled former queen Nefertiti. The girl’s deceased family has been branded as heretical, and no one in Egypt will speak their names. A relic of a previous reign, Nefertari is pushed aside, an unimportant princess left to run wild in the palace. But all of this changes when she is taken under the wing of pharaoh’s aunt, and brought to the Temple of Hathor where she is educated in a manner befitting a future queen.

Soon Nefertari catches the eye of the crown prince, and despite her family’s history, they fall in love and wish to marry. Yet all of Egypt opposes this union between the rising star of a new dynasty and the fading star of an old, heretical one. While political adversity sets the country on edge, Nefertari becomes the wife of Ramesses the Great. Destined to be the most powerful pharaoh in Egypt, he is also the man who must confront the most famous exodus in history.

My Review:
I was thrilled to travel back to ancient Egypt with Moran leading the way in this beautiful novel.  Nefertari is the narrator in this novel and since her aunt, Nefertiti, was known as the infamous heretic queen, her future in the kingdom is questionable.  It is a joy to watch Nefertari develop from the carefree tomboy she once was, into the respectable woman she becomes.

We learn early on in the novel that Nefertari's mother died in childbirth.  We see how lonely life has been for this young girl, growing up in a royal court without any family left, and very few friends.  The current Pharoah does not discount thE fact of Nefertari's royalty, so even though she comes from a line of heretics, she still is allowed to use the title of Princess.

When Nefertari catches the eye of the young Pharoah, the royal court hesitantly accepts her as a wife, while the people of Egypt take a bit longer to acknowledge her favorably.  The people cannot forget that Nefertari is a descendant of the heretic queen, and they feel that if Nefertari is given power, she will lead their country down the wrong path.

Moran did a beautiful job of depicting the time and place for me, allowing me to create vivid and lucid pictures in my mind.  Greed and power were desired just as much in ancient Egypt as it is in our society today.  All the ladies in my book group loved this novel and is one of the only books that we all gave it the highest possible rating.  With themes of love, power, royalty, this is a book that I highly recommend for both personal leisure and book club discussions.

My Rating:  5/5

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

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Giveaway: The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny

Thanks to Anna from Hachette I am able to give away up to 3 copies of this new novel.  Here is a summary of the book from the Hachette website:

Gabriella Mondini is a rarity in 16th century Venice: a woman who practices medicine. Her father, a renowned physician, has provided her entrée to this all-male profession, and inspired in her a shared mission to understand the secrets of the human body.

Then her father disappears and Gabriella faces a crisis: she is no longer permitted to treat her patients, women who need her desperately, without her father's patronage. She sets out across Europe to find where-and why-he has gone. Following clues from his occasional enigmatic letters, Gabriella crosses Switzerland, Germany and France, entering strange and forbidding cities. She travels to Scotland, the Netherlands, and finally to Morocco. In each new land she probes the mystery of her father's flight, and open new mysteries of her own. Not just mysteries of ailments and treatments, but ultimate mysteries of mortality, love, and the timeless human spirit.

Filled with medical lore and sensuous, vivid details of Renaissance life, The Book of Madness and Cures is an intoxicating and unforgettable debut.

Now for the Giveaway!
I will be giving away one book for every 10 entries with a maximum of three books to give away.

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 May 5th to enter and I will draw for winners on or after May 6th.

Good luck everyone!

**This giveaway is closed**

Monday, April 9, 2012

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:
I read The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran as a book club selection and I can tell you that the entire group loved this one!  I will be posting my review for this historical novel later this week.

What I'm listening to now:
I was lucky enough to receive an audiobook of The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay, so I've been listening to this one in my car.  So far I am enjoying this audio more than A Secrept Kept.

What's next:
I'll be reading The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne on my Kindle for our next book club selection.  A couple of the ladies are a bit nervous about reading a classic, but I am looking forward to this book.

That is what I've been up to lately.  I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend, I sure did!  My kids were home and I didn't turn my computer on throughout the entire weekend.  So what literary works have been filling your time?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Title:  The Hunger Games

Author:  Suzanne Collins

Narrator:  Carolyn McCormick

Unabridged Length:  11 hrs, 14 mn.

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

In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by twelve outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of twelve and eighteen to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV.

Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister Primrose, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before — and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that will weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

My Review:
I am not one to hop on the bandwagon of popular fiction, but my friend Miranda said that I HAVE to listen to this audiobook!  I have to admit that I didn't really know anything about this book when I checked it out at the library, so it turned into a pleasant surprise.  

Collins immerses us into a dystopian society that was formerly North America, but is now known as Panem.  The time of the annual Hunger Games is approaching as everyone prepares to attend the Reaping.  All citizens are required to attend the Reaping, where they will choose each Districts representatives that will participate in the games.

As you can tell from the summary above, young Prim is selected from her District, but that is when Katniss comes forward to take her place in the games.  It takes a courageous girl to step forward knowing that it is very possible she will be murdered because of her decision.  A boy and girl from each District will be chosen to participate, and the games will not be over until there is only one child standing.

When the games actually begin, I think I turned into a nervous wreck as I listened to this audio.  It was very intense as these young people are forced to murder in order to stay alive.  We see how Katniss herself deals with these conflicting feelings that arise as she fights for her own survival.

I am not going to tell you any more about this book, except that it was amazing!  I know that this book is considered a young adult novel, but obviously readers of all ages have found enjoyment from it.  With themes of survival, honor, trust, and family, there really is something that will appeal to just about everyone.  I don't hesitate in recommending this novel to just about anyone I know.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this audiobook from the library for my own listening entertainment. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

Mailbox Monday-April 2

Mailbox Monday is a great meme that has us list the books that we receive.  Different bloggers now have the opportunity to host this meme for a month at a time.  This month you can see what everyone received over at Cindy's Love of Books.

I only received this book in the mail last week:
The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay(audiobook)

I am hoping that I find more enjoyment from this one than A Secret Kept.  The summary sure sounds promising!