Monday, December 16, 2013

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:
Our last book club selection was The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey and I absolutely loved this book!  Unfortunately, because of the snow we had to reschedule our book club night, putting it on an evening that I was to be out of town.  I will have to catch up with the ladies next month to see how everyone enjoyed it.

What I'm reading now:
A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve is our next book club selection so I decided to get started on this one right away.  Shreve is one of my favorite authors.

What's next:
I wanted to read The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore after my last book club book, but I ran out of time!  We will see how that works out this month!

You may have noticed that I haven't been able to post much lately, so my apologies!  Life gets in the way and I guess there isn't much I can do about that.  I know I didn't post any reviews last week but I am going to try to continue to post at least one a week.  Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Review: In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord


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

The author speaks the local language and has interviewed and conversed with hundreds of Afghans, both men and women. She listened to their stories and lived among them. And in the midst of all of that, she found Kingdom responses to the beliefs Afghani Muslims hold to be true.

Riveting and fast paced, In the Land of Blue Burqas depicts sharing the love and truth of Christ with women living in Afghanistan which has been called "the world's most dangerous country in which to be born a woman." These stories are honest and true. The harsh reality of their lives is not sugar-coated and that adds to the impact of the book. Through storytelling the author shows how people who don't know Christ come to see Him, His truth and His beauty. The stories provide insight into how a Jesus-follower brought Jesus' teachings of the Kingdom of God to Afghanistan. They reveal the splendor of Christ, the desire of human hearts, and that precious instance where the two meet.

This is a collection of vignettes tethered together by the real danger that muslim women face in Afghanistan. These are firsthand accounts from the authors experience drawn from living among these women. The reader will see just how revolutionary Christ's message is today, and how radical it was during Christ's lifetime - the present day Afghan cultural attitudes are not unlike they were 2000 years ago.  All of the names of those involved - including Kate's - plus the locations have been changed to protect the participants. Just take a few minutes and read the opening pages. You'll be hooked.


My Review:
What would it be like to be immersed in a society where everyone has different values and beliefs than you?  The author of In the Land of Blue Burqas shares her experience with us.  In an effort to protect herself and anyone who may have helped her she has taken on the pseudonym of Kate McCord.

As a christian I hear  so many negative things about Muslims.  I do understand that they have different ideals and goals than we do, but I struggle to think that every Muslim in the world wants me dead.  As McCord has conversations with Muslims about them praying for her demise, she confronts them in a logical way that does not make them defensive.  Although many admitted to the truth of their violent prayers, she also developed close friendships with many others.

While McCord lived in Afganistan working for a NPO, she had to learn about the Muslim way of life.  She found a way to do this that allowed her to share her faith at the same time.  It was interesting to finally hear some facts about the Muslim way of life.  Did you know that they actually believe that Jesus is a prophet?  There is quite a difference as to what they believe Jesus will accomplish when he does return.

I enjoyed this book that documents McCord's non-judgmental journey.    My book club consists of mostly christian ladies so the book was enjoyed by everyone.  With themes of faith and cultural differences I believe that many of you would enjoy this book as much as I did.  I highly recommend this book for either personal leisure or as a book club selection.

My Rating:  5/5

Disclosure:     This book is from my personal library and I read it for my own entertainment and as a book club discussion. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay


Title:  The Sea of Tranquility

Author:  Katja Millay

Narrators:  Kirby Heyborne, Candace Thaxton

Unabridged Length:  13 hrs, 13 mn.

Here is a summary of the novel from the Goodreads website:
Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

The Sea of Tranquility is a rich, intense, and brilliantly imagined story about a lonely boy, an emotionally fragile girl, and the miracle of second chances.


My Review:
I wasn't sure what to think of this book when I first started listening to it.  This was my first experience with Millay and at first I thought it was going to be just another young adult romance, with boy meets girl, struggling through their relationship, but end up together in the end.  Thankfully, the story went much deeper than this, allowing me to get to know these characters that were lost from the people they truly were.

Something happened to Nastya that turned her into a withdrawn and bitter individual.  One day she just quit talking and put up a brick wall, not allowing anyone into her heart.  All of this changed the day she met Josh.  I think she saw something in Josh's eyes telling her that he was just as lost and hurt as she was.  

Josh is a lonely, young man who lives alone in a home left by his grandfather.  Money isn't a problem for Josh so he doesn't have to worry about moving even though he is still in high school.  He doesn't have many friends in school, as he's been flagged as an outcast, so naturally he and Nastya are drawn to each other.

Josh and Nastya find refuge in each other, but they have many problems to overcome.  As the novel goes on we learn what exactly happened to Nastya that turned her into the exact opposite type of person she once was.  Although I appreciated Nastya's character, my heart went out to Josh as I felt I could easily relate to his problems.  The heartache and loneliness that comes with being alone in the world is hard to explain, but Millay did a wonderful job of this.

I'm sure the narrators of this audiobook helped my appreciation of the story.  Chapters alternated between Josh's and Nastya's stories, and Heyborne and Thaxton narrated, depending upon whose chapter was being read.  Both of these narrators embraced their characters, bringing them to life for me and even bringing tears to my eyes a couple of times.

I enjoyed this audiobook more than I thought I would and with themes of love, loss, and forgiveness I'm sure many of you would enjoy this book as much as I did.  I don't hesitate in recommending this book for personal leisure or even 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. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

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:
Last month my book group read In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord and it was enjoyed by every member.  I'm hoping to have my review of this gem ready for you next week.

What I'm reading on my Kindle:
 The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey is our next book club selection so I decided to get started on this one right away.  So far I am enjoying this novel set in the remote wild of Alaska.

What's next:
I received a copy of The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore from Librarything, so I think this will be next on my reading list.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Silver Star by Jeannette Walls




Title:  The Silver Star

Author:  Jeannette Walls

Narrator:  Jeannette Walls

Unabridged Length:  7 hrs, 48 mn.


Here is a summary of The Silver Star from the publisher's website:

The Silver Star, Jeannette Walls has written a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about an intrepid girl who challenges the injustice of the adult world—a triumph of imagination and storytelling.

It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, a woman who “found something wrong with every place she ever lived,” takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations.

An impetuous optimist, Bean soon discovers who her father was, and hears many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Because money is tight, Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town—a big man who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister—inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz.

Jeannette Walls, supremely alert to abuse of adult power, has written a deeply moving novel about triumph over adversity and about people who find a way to love each other and the world, despite its flaws and injustices. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Silver-Star/Jeannette-Walls/9781451661507#sthash.hPnCBFUD.dpuf
The Silver Star, Jeannette Walls has written a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about an intrepid girl who challenges the injustice of the adult world—a triumph of imagination and storytelling.

It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, a woman who “found something wrong with every place she ever lived,” takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations.

An impetuous optimist, Bean soon discovers who her father was, and hears many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Because money is tight, Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town—a big man who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister—inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz.

Jeannette Walls, supremely alert to abuse of adult power, has written a deeply moving novel about triumph over adversity and about people who find a way to love each other and the world, despite its flaws and injustices.


My Review: 
This is not my first experience with Walls' work, as I read both The Glass Castle and Half-Broke Horses and loved both of these non-fiction works.  I wasn't sure how her fictional story would go with me, but I had positive thoughts knowing that Walls narrated the story herself.  Any previous books I listened to narrated by the author I just loved!  Unfortunately, this wasn't the case with The Silver Star.

If you have read Walls previous books it is obvious she comes from a highly dysfunctional family.   She draws on her personal experiences once again to create Bean and Liz's story.  Although Bean is our main character, I felt the story belonged as much to Liz as she is the one who faces the crisis head on.  

Liz and Bean live with their single mother in California, never in one place too long.  It isn't uncommon for their mother to not show up at home for long periods of time, but this time the girls are worried.  Since the girls don't have jobs, they can't pay bills or buy food so they have to come up with a plan for survival.  Recalling that their mother comes from Virginia and still has family there, they decide to embark on a journey across the country to stay with their family until their mother gets her life in order.  So they leave a note for their mother, hoping she finds it when she returns, scrape enough money together to purchase two one-way tickets to Virginia.

The girls are surprised upon meeting their family in Virginia, to learn that her mother comes from a seemingly wealthy heritage. Since all that is left of the family fortune seems to be the original Holladay home, the girls decide to take jobs to help pay for their school clothes and personal expenses.  Against their Uncle Tinsley's wishes, they gain employment with long-time family nemesis, Jerry Maddox.  This decision sets a whole new set of events in motion.

I did enjoy Liz and Bean's story of perseverance.  They didn't have a family life until they took control of the situation and moved to Virginia.  This finally gave them the opportunity to be part of a family that takes care of each other.  This novel could be an instance where I may have enjoyed it more had I actually read it rather than listening to it.  I just feel that Walls could have put more emotion and passion into her narration, I mean she created the characters!  With themes of family, secrets, and perseverance, you may enjoy this story more than I did.  Although I didn't love listening to the book I feel that it would make an interesting book club selection.

My Rating: 3/5

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


The Silver Star, Jeannette Walls has written a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about an intrepid girl who challenges the injustice of the adult world—a triumph of imagination and storytelling.

It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, a woman who “found something wrong with every place she ever lived,” takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations.

An impetuous optimist, Bean soon discovers who her father was, and hears many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Because money is tight, Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town—a big man who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister—inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz.

Jeannette Walls, supremely alert to abuse of adult power, has written a deeply moving novel about triumph over adversity and about people who find a way to love each other and the world, despite its flaws and injustices. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Silver-Star/Jeannette-Walls/9781451661507#sthash.hPnCBFUD.dpuf
The Silver Star, Jeannette Walls has written a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about an intrepid girl who challenges the injustice of the adult world—a triumph of imagination and storytelling.

It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, a woman who “found something wrong with every place she ever lived,” takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations.

An impetuous optimist, Bean soon discovers who her father was, and hears many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Because money is tight, Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town—a big man who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister—inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz.

Jeannette Walls, supremely alert to abuse of adult power, has written a deeply moving novel about triumph over adversity and about people who find a way to love each other and the world, despite its flaws and injustices. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Silver-Star/Jeannette-Walls/9781451661507#sthash.hPnCBFUD.dpuf
The Silver Star, Jeannette Walls has written a heartbreaking and redemptive novel about an intrepid girl who challenges the injustice of the adult world—a triumph of imagination and storytelling.

It is 1970 in a small town in California. “Bean” Holladay is twelve and her sister, Liz, is fifteen when their artistic mother, Charlotte, a woman who “found something wrong with every place she ever lived,” takes off to find herself, leaving her girls enough money to last a month or two. When Bean returns from school one day and sees a police car outside the house, she and Liz decide to take the bus to Virginia, where their Uncle Tinsley lives in the decaying mansion that’s been in Charlotte’s family for generations.

An impetuous optimist, Bean soon discovers who her father was, and hears many stories about why their mother left Virginia in the first place. Because money is tight, Liz and Bean start babysitting and doing office work for Jerry Maddox, foreman of the mill in town—a big man who bullies his workers, his tenants, his children, and his wife. Bean adores her whip-smart older sister—inventor of word games, reader of Edgar Allan Poe, nonconformist. But when school starts in the fall, it’s Bean who easily adjusts and makes friends, and Liz who becomes increasingly withdrawn. And then something happens to Liz.

Jeannette Walls, supremely alert to abuse of adult power, has written a deeply moving novel about triumph over adversity and about people who find a way to love each other and the world, despite its flaws and injustices. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Silver-Star/Jeannette-Walls/9781451661507#sthash.hPnCBFUD.dpu

Monday, November 4, 2013

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:
I listened to The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay and ended up enjoying it much more than I thought I would.  But you will have to wait for a couple of weeks for my review.

I'm reading now:
Our current book club selection is In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord.  This is a very eye-opening memoir and I'm sure we will have a fabulous discussion on Wednesday night about this one.

What's next:
Our next book club selection is The Snow Child by Eowyn Evey so I think I will get started on that right away.  I remember seeing all the reviews out there when this book came out so I am looking forward to it.  Did any of you read this one? 

Have a great week of reading everyone!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Audiobook Review: A Place at the Table by Susan Rebecca White

Title:  A Place at the Table

Author:  Susan Rebecca White

Narrators:  Robin Miles, George Newbern, Katherine Powell

Unabridged Length:  9 hrs, 1 mn.

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

A Place at the Table tells the story of three richly nuanced characters whose paths converge in a chic Manhattan café: Bobby, a gay Southern boy who has been ostracized by his family; Amelia, a wealthy Connecticut woman whose life is upended when a family secret finally comes to light; and Alice, an African-American chef whose heritage is the basis of a famous cookbook but whose past is a mystery to those who know her.

As it sweeps from a freed-slave settlement in 1920s North Carolina to the Manhattan of the deadly AIDs epidemic of the 1980s to today’s wealthy suburbs, A Place at the Table celebrates the healing power of food and the magic of New York as three seekers come together in the understanding that when you embrace the thing that makes you different, you become whole.


My Review:
I found this to be a very enjoyable novel narrated by different people, depending upon whose perspective is being told.   The summary above indicates we are given the stories from three different characters, and although this is true, it seemed like the story belonged more to Bobby than any of the others.

I loved Bobby's character and the narrator only helped my appreciation of his presence in the novel.  We follow Bobby from the time he is a young boy until he is a famous chef in New York City.  At a young age Bobby is confused about who he is.  He feels out of place quite often because he just doesn't find enjoyment from the things other boys do.  As he grows older he learns the reason for his differences and embraces it, while his mother finds she can no longer look him in  the eye.  When Bobby moves to New York he feels at home as his way of life is accepted more readily and he finds himself excelling in his dreams and endeavors.  

Amelia enters the story as she says good-bye to her marriage.  In an attempt to find the woman she used to be she spends some time with her aunt in New York City.  During this time she uncovers secrets about her family that she never would have guessed.  The long-kept secret brings her in the path of Alice, a woman who found success as a chef years ago and also published a cookbook.   

Alice doesn't work in the restaurant business any longer, but she takes Bobby under her wing, as they test recipes and work on another cookbook together.  Although our main characters lead different lives, they are intertwined and by the end of the novel they offer a friendship to each other that is needed to help them through to the next phase of their lives.

I enjoyed listening to this book and although Bobby's narrator was my favorite, they all did a great job.  With themes of secrets, honesty, and friendship, you may enjoy this book as much as I did.  I don't hesitate in recommending this novel for either 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.

In this magnificent, sweeping novel from “first rate talent” (New York Times bestselling author Joshilyn Jackson) Susan Rebecca White, three unforgettable characters bond over their passion for food, hunger for love, and one explosive family secret.

Celebrating the healing power of food and the magic of New York City, A Place at the Table tells the story of three richly nuanced people—Alice Stone, Bobby Banks, and Amelia Brighton—whose paths converge in a chic Manhattan café. What follows their meeting is just as revealing as everything leading up to that moment, as each seeker takes a different, winding path to embracing life and becoming whole.

In the prologue set in North Carolina in 1929, we meet Alice, a young African-American girl who will go on to become a chef. Her heritage is the basis for a renowned cookbook, yet her past is a mystery to everyone who knows her. Born two generations after Alice, Bobby is a young gay man from Georgia who has been ostracized by his family. Realizing he's no longer safe in his own home, he escapes to New York City, where he finds a job as a cook. Amelia, a wealthy Connecticut woman, finds her life upended when a family secret comes to light, and flees to her aunt’s Manhattan apartment to recuperate. While these characters—all exiles from different walks of life—find companionship and careers through cooking, they hunger for the deeper nourishment of communion. The narrative sweeps from a freed-slave settlement in 1920s North Carolina to Manhattan during the deadly AIDS epidemic of the 1980s to the well-heeled hamlet of contemporary Old Greenwich, Connecticut, as Alice, Bobby, and Amelia are asked to sacrifice everything they ever knew or cared about to find authenticity, fulfillment, and love.

Susan Rebecca White’s first two novels were widely praised for her “wit and graceful prose” (Publishers Weekly), her “deeply sympathetic characters” (Mountain Express), and her sharp insights into their inner lives. A Place at the Table reveals a remarkable talent brimming with wisdom, joy, and heart. - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Place-at-the-Table/Susan-Rebecca-White/9781451608892#sthash.pDU1Z5yQ.dpuf

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Teaser Tuesday-Oct. 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 In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord:
In Afghanistan, virtually every aspect of the culture finds its support in some Islamic teaching.  Religion and culture are intertwined; the first justifies and defends the second.

pg. 164

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Audiobook Review: Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

Title:  Golden Boy

Author:  Abigail Tarttelin

Narrators:  Christian Coulson, James Langton, Abigail Tarttelin, Keith Nobbs, Kate Reading, Anita Sabherwal

Unabridged Length:  12 hrs, 40 mn.



Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website:
The Walker family is good at keeping secrets from the world. They are even better at keeping them from each other.

Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he's the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush for the girls in his school. He's even really nice to his little brother. Karen, Max's mother, is a highly successful criminal lawyer, determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years. Now that the boys are getting older, now that she won’t have as much control, she worries that the façade might soon begin to crumble. Adding to the tension, her husband, Steve, has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encircle their lives.

The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. Why won't his parents talk about it? What else are they hiding from Max about his condition and from each other? The deeper Max goes, the more questions emerge about where it all leaves him and what his future holds, especially now that he's starting to fall head over heels for someone for the first time in his life. Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Will anyone ever want him — desire him — once they know? And the biggest one of all, the question he has to look inside himself to answer: Who is Max Walker, really?


My Review:
I have to start this review by saying this is probably one of the best audiobooks I ever listened to.  I am sure the fact that the book is pretty amazing also had something to do with that.  I must admit I was a little cautious with the intersex subject because it seems that other authors that have taken on this theme turned it into something dirty or racy.  Tarttelin did the opposite.  We get an up close look into young Max's heart as he comes to terms with his oddity.

The chapters of this book are told from various perspectives, including Max's younger brother Daniel, both his mother and father, his friend Sylvie from school, and even a Dr. who suddenly comes into his life.  One of my favorite things about this book was that there were different narrators for each of our main characters, depending upon whose perspective that particular chapter belonged to.  Could any of these narrators have possibly done a better job?  I don't think so as I felt that each of the narrators embraced their character in such a way that it seemed each character was brought to life for me.

One of my favorite parts of this book was that even though Max knew he was different from everyone, he never felt insecure about who he was until one life-changing moment.  When a friend violates their friendship, Max finds himself questioning everything about himself.  What will happen with the other boys start getting muscular and growing facial hair?  How could he possibly ever have a family of his own?  These are just a couple of the problems Max must face in the near future.

Although I listened to most of this book, I did have to read the last 50 pages due to technical difficulties with my iPod.  I think I can safely say I would have enjoyed this book just as much had I actually read it.  Can you tell that I really loved this novel?  With themes of secrets, family, truth, and personal identity, I think many of you would love this book as much as I do.  I highly recommend this novel for either personal leisure or as a book club selection.

My Rating:  5/5

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



 
The Walker family is good at keeping secrets from the world. They are even better at keeping them from each other.

Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he’s the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush for the girls in his school. He’s even really nice to his little brother. Karen, Max’s mother, is a highly successful criminal lawyer, determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years. Now that the boys are getting older, now that she won’t have as much control, she worries that the façade might soon begin to crumble. Adding to the tension, her husband, Steve, has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encircle their lives.

The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. Why won’t his parents talk about it? What else are they hiding from Max about his condition and from each other? The deeper Max goes, the more questions emerge about where it all leaves him and what his future holds, especially now that he’s starting to fall head over heels for someone for the first time in his life. Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Will anyone ever want him—desire him— once they know? And the biggest one of all, the question he has to look inside himself to answer: Who is Max Walker, really? - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Golden-Boy/Abigail-Tarttelin/9781476705804#sthash.QBn5SQrm.dpuf
The Walker family is good at keeping secrets from the world. They are even better at keeping them from each other.

Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he’s the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush for the girls in his school. He’s even really nice to his little brother. Karen, Max’s mother, is a highly successful criminal lawyer, determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years. Now that the boys are getting older, now that she won’t have as much control, she worries that the façade might soon begin to crumble. Adding to the tension, her husband, Steve, has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encircle their lives.

The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. Why won’t his parents talk about it? What else are they hiding from Max about his condition and from each other? The deeper Max goes, the more questions emerge about where it all leaves him and what his future holds, especially now that he’s starting to fall head over heels for someone for the first time in his life. Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Will anyone ever want him—desire him— once they know? And the biggest one of all, the question he has to look inside himself to answer: Who is Max Walker, really? - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Golden-Boy/Abigail-Tarttelin/9781476705804#sthash.QBn5SQrm.dpuf
The Walker family is good at keeping secrets from the world. They are even better at keeping them from each other.

Max Walker is a golden boy. Attractive, intelligent, and athletic, he’s the perfect son, the perfect friend, and the perfect crush for the girls in his school. He’s even really nice to his little brother. Karen, Max’s mother, is a highly successful criminal lawyer, determined to maintain the façade of effortless excellence she has constructed through the years. Now that the boys are getting older, now that she won’t have as much control, she worries that the façade might soon begin to crumble. Adding to the tension, her husband, Steve, has chosen this moment to stand for election to Parliament. The spotlight of the media is about to encircle their lives.

The Walkers are hiding something, you see. Max is special. Max is different. Max is intersex. When an enigmatic childhood friend named Hunter steps out of his past and abuses his trust in the worst possible way, Max is forced to consider the nature of his well-kept secret. Why won’t his parents talk about it? What else are they hiding from Max about his condition and from each other? The deeper Max goes, the more questions emerge about where it all leaves him and what his future holds, especially now that he’s starting to fall head over heels for someone for the first time in his life. Will his friends accept him if he is no longer the Golden Boy? Will anyone ever want him—desire him— once they know? And the biggest one of all, the question he has to look inside himself to answer: Who is Max Walker, really? - See more at: http://books.simonandschuster.com/Golden-Boy/Abigail-Tarttelin/9781476705804#sthash.QBn5SQrm.dpuf

Monday, October 21, 2013

Mailbox Monday-Oct. 21

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 check out what everyone received over at Book Dragon's Lair.

Here is what showed up at my house:
The Rosie Project by GraemeSimsion (audiobook)

Red Hill by Jamie McGuire (audiobook)

Well last week was exhausting for me, but I think I was able to rest up this last weekend and I am hopefully back in the groove of things.  I am excited to listen to both of these books so we will see how they turn out!  Have a great week of reading everyone!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Review: Rescue by Anita Shreve

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

 A rookie paramedic pulls a young woman alive from her totaled car, a first rescue that begins a lifelong tangle of love and wreckage. Sheila Arsenault is a gorgeous enigma--streetwise and tough-talking, with haunted eyes, fierce desires, and a never-look-back determination. Peter Webster, as straight an arrow as they come, falls for her instantly and entirely. Soon Sheila and Peter are embroiled in an intense love affair, married, and parents to a baby daughter. Like the crash that brought them together, it all happened so fast.

Can you ever really save another person? Eighteen years later, Sheila is long gone and Peter is raising their daughter, Rowan, alone. But Rowan is veering dangerously off track, and for the first time in their ordered existence together, Webster fears for her future. His work shows him daily every danger the world contains, how wrong everything can go in a second. All the love a father can give a daughter is suddenly not enough.

Sheila's sudden return may be a godsend--or it may be exactly the wrong moment for a lifetime of questions and anger and longing to surface anew. What tore a young family apart? Is there even worse damage ahead? The questions lifted up in Anita Shreve's utterly enthralling new novel are deep and lasting, and this is a novel that could only have been written by a master of the human heart.


My Review:   
I think one of the reasons that I enjoy Shreve's writing so much, is she can take a situation that could happen to anyone, and delve into the hearts of all involved.  Her characters are real, and even when you don't like them, or some of the things they do, I believe events unfold in a way that they probably would in real life.

Webster is our main character in Rescue.  He is a young man with hopes and dreams ahead of him.  He fell in love with a piece of land not far from where he lives now, and he plans to build a home there, hopefully for the family he will have one day.  As an EMT worker he knows he will never be rich, but should be able to support a family somewhat comfortably.

Everything changes for Webster one day when he is called to the scene of a car accident.  When he rescues Sheila from the wreckage of her car, his life takes off in a new direction.  He finds himself drawn to Sheila, overlooking all the warning signs that come along with her lifestyle.  Before too long he finds himself with the family he dreamt of, but not yet being able to provide all the things he wanted.
  
When I think back to this novel, I fell that it truly went full circle.  As we follow Webster and Sheila's lives together and watch Webster's hopes and dreams fizzle and then evolve again.  Many parts of this story were not happy, but honestly, that is what happens when you try to take someone under your wing with demons that will not be contained.

I'm not going to give away any more of this novel but I can tell you I thoroughly enjoyed it.  With themes of love, anger, addictions, and forgiveness, this book would be great for a book club discussion or read for personal leisure.  I don't hesitate in recommending this novel.

My Rating:  4/5

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

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Teaser Tuesday-Oct. 8

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 Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin:
Maybe they thought by introducing him to it at a young age he'd grow up okay with it.  But you can start out with all the good intentions you like and still everything can go wrong.

pg. 291

Monday, October 7, 2013

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:
Rescue by Anita Shreve has been on my shelf for the last two years so I finally decided to read this one.  Shreve is one of my favorite authors so I don't know why it took so long!  I enjoyed this novel and I will try to have my review up this week.

What I'm reading now:
I started listening to Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin on my iPod, but for some reason the book did not download in it's entirety.  So I decided to find the physical book to be able to finish it.  This was an awesome book and I can't wait to write my review for it.  Amazing!

What's next?
Our next book club selection is In the Land of Blue Burqas by Kate McCord.  Our group only reads one non-fiction book a year and I have a feeling this one is going to be a winner!

So what's been keeping you busy lately?  I've had so much going on in my life it has been kind of crazy.  One book I didn't list in this post is The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  This was our latest book club selection and although I didn't finish the book in its entirety before our meeting I have read it before.  I found that I loved more about that novel than the first time I read it.  I was surprised at our meeting to find that most of the ladies did not appreciate this gem as much as I did.  That is one of the great things about our book club though, how we all have different tastes and preferences.  You can read my review here if you are interested.

Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Third Son by Julie Wu


Title:  The Third Son

Author:  Julie Wu

Narrator:  David Shih

Unabridged Length:  aprox. 10.5 hrs

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

It’s 1943 as air-raid sirens blare in Japanese-occupied Taiwan, eight-year-old Saburo is in no hurry to go home to the abuse he suffers at the hands of his parents and older brother. In the peach forests of Taoyuan, he encounters Yoshiko, whose loving family is like a glimpse of paradise for him. Their brief meeting is a memory he cherishes from that moment forward, and for years after he tries to locate her again. But when he finally does, she is by the side of his eldest brother and greatest rival.

As the Chinese Nationalist Army lays claim to the island after the war, Saburo bravely struggles to break free of the future assigned him by heritage and circumstance and to go in search of new frontiers.


My Review:
I love reading books that give me a glimpse into another time and place and with Julie Wu's first novel, she did a pretty good job.  She introduces us to Saburo, a young Chinese boy living in Japanese-occupied Taiwan.  We follow Saburo through his life triumphs and struggles as he strives for a better life.

I think the beginning of the book was my favorite part as we look at life through young Saburo's eyes.  Everyone is struggling to put food on the table and the air raids keep children close to home, not knowing when they will strike or who could be wounded.  Children are taught to run for cover holding their backpacks over their heads, no matter how bulky they are and how much this can slow them down.  The day Saburo meets Yoshiko he finally realizes how silly this action is, knowing a schoolbook will not offer protection from a bomb.

Saburo creates an instant friendship with Yoshiko and even when they seem to disappear from each others lives, she is always in his thoughts.  When he ponders his future he learns that he desires more for his life than his parents expect from him.  Since he is not the first-born son, he is not given priority for better schooling and other opportunities.  So Saburo quickly learns that if he is going to find any success for himself, he is going to have to work hard and make it happen on his own.

This is a story about a young man with the odds stacked against him.  Saburo does not accept his fate as he studies harder than any other family member setting him on a track that will allow him to escape the turmoil that has been cast upon Taiwan.  It was a heart-wrenching and difficult journey for Saburo but he does persevere, allowing him to achieve his dreams.

I don't want to give any more of this book away, but it was enjoyable.  David Shih brought Saburo's character to life for me and I thoroughly enjoyed listening to his narration.  As much as I enjoyed this book, I have to admit that I didn't love it, but I do think Wu is off to a great start with this novel and I definitely look forward to her next book.  With themes of love, war, family obligations, and perseverance, you may enjoy this book just as much as I did, or even more!  I recommend this novel as a book club selection or for personal leisure.

My Rating:  3/5

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

Monday, September 30, 2013

Mailbox Monday-September 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 check out what everyone received over at Notorious Spinks Talks Books.

Here is what I found in my mailbox:
Lookaway, Lookaway by Wilton Barnhardt (audiobook)

The Funeral Dress by Susan Gregg Gilmore

I also got a bunch of books last weekend at a book sale, but I'm not even going to try to start listing those!  These sure look like goodies to me though.  So was there anything new in your mailbox?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

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

Born mute, speaking only in sign, Edgar Sawtelle leads an idyllic life with his parents on their farm in remote northern Wisconsin. For generations, the Sawtelles have raised and trained a fictional breed of dog whose remarkable gift for companionship is epitomized by Almondine, Edgar's lifelong friend and ally. Edgar seems poised to carry on his family's traditions, but when catastrophe strikes, he finds his once-peaceful home engulfed in turmoil.

Forced to flee into the vast wilderness lying beyond the Sawtelle farm, Edgar comes of age in the wild, fighting for his survival and that of the three yearling dogs who accompany him, until the day he is forced to choose between leaving forever or returning home to confront the mysteries he has left unsolved.

Filled with breathtaking scenes—the elemental north woods, the sweep of seasons, an iconic American barn, a fateful vision rendered in the falling rain—The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is a meditation on the limits of language and what lies beyond, a brilliantly inventive retelling of an ancient story, and an epic tale of devotion, betrayal, and courage in the American heartland.


My Review:
This book created a lot of hype in our area as it takes place in a little town called Mellen, which is about 30 miles from where I live.  I have had this title on my "must read" list since Oprah selected it as one of her picks.  Now that I work in Mellen, I've been even more drawn to this book than before.  It's taken a couple of years to convince my book club to read this one, but perseverance won out, and we read this for our summer selection.

This book really had many themes to it, so please bear with me as I write this review.  The one thing that follows through the entire novel, is the Sawtelle's love for dogs, and the quest for an animal that is a breed unlike any other.  Since Edgar's grandfather started the family business of dog-breeding, Gar, Edgar's father, worked diligently to perfect the process.  From selecting the parents for breeding, intensive training, to placing the dogs with the right owners, the Sawtelle's found their business to be both rewarding and fulfilling.

One day Edgar witnesses an event that will change his life forever.  He uncovers one of many secrets within this novel that start him on a journey into the wilderness.  I enjoyed so many aspects of this novel, but my book club had an opposite take on it.  Most of the ladies were frustrated as they felt there were too many unresolved issues within the novel.  Things that were just left out there and never explained.  One example is the conflict between Gar and Claude.  If you've read the book, maybe you could tell me what the point of contension was between these two brothers?  We couldn't figure it out.  I thought that possibly there was a romance between Trudy and Claude in the past that created some hurt feelings, but I don't recall reading anything to substantiate that.

Within the discussion questions it was mentioned several times that this novel is considered to be a parody of Hamlet.  Most of my group has never read or studied Hamlet, so this fact was certainly lost on us.  So if you are a fan of Hamlet, you should probably pick up this book.

I enjoyed this novel overall, as we follow Edgar on his journey through life.  Since Edgar was not able to speak since he was born, I enjoyed the various communication used in this book.  The amazing communication method between Edgar and the dogs, and even the special sign language that developed with his parents.  With themes of survival, family, and obligations, I found this to be a very enjoyable novel.  If you do not like books that leave too many unanswered questions this one may not be for you.  I still can't help but highly recommend this novel, especially if you love dogs as much as I do.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:     This book is from my personal library and I read it for my own entertainment and as a book club discussion. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Audiobook Review: The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory



Title:  The Red Queen

Author:  Philippa Gregory

Narrator:  Bianca Amata

Unabridged Length:  12 hrs, 23 mn.







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

Believing that her piety and lineage has destined her for greatness beyond her ordinary looks and expedient marriage, Margaret Beaufort is determined to see her son Henry on the throne of England—regardless of the cost. And after constant battles kill any other claimants, the little boy is the last Lancaster male to bear a claim to the throne.

Sending her son out of the country to keep him safe and betrothing him to her enemy Queen Elizabeth Woodville’s daughter, Margaret feigns loyalty to King Richard III and marries one of his faithful supporters—all while laying secret plans for the battle between the houses of York and Lancaster that will see her son the King of England.

When King Richard’s only son dies, Margaret launches her plan with a deadly command that strikes to the heart of the White Queen. Henry Tudor invades from France and with the support of Margaret’s husband, defeats the King’s army, gaining the throne and sealing his marriage to the White Rose princess. The ultimate triumph belongs to Lady Margaret; she has founded the greatest dynasty that England will ever know: the Tudors.


My Review:
Amato brings to life yet another of Gregory's characters as we follow the life of Margaret Beaufort.  Ever since Margaret was a young girl she felt that the Lord has given her a special calling.  Her plans are thrown into turmoil when her hand is promised in marriage to a Tudor.  This puts Margaret on a new path as she fulfills her wifely duties, resulting in the birth of young Henry.

Margaret barely survives the experience of childbirth, but after Henry is born she feels the Lord has given her a new calling--To raise and prepare young Henry for the throne.  Even when she finds herself a widow at an early age, she must make decisions that will advance her son Henry to the throne, even if her personal life must suffer.

I love that this novel takes place during the same time period as The White Queen, but from another perspective.  This makes you think back to the first installment, recalling who was blamed for specific attacks, realizing who truly was responsible.

Besides Amato narrating the majority of the book, there was also a male narrator reading the war scenes.  I found this a very nice change and brought these parts of the story more to life for me.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure who the male narrator was, as I found multiple names on-line listing male narrators.

I'm glad I listened to this segment before starting to watch The White Queen on Starz.  The series is based on The White Queen, The Red Queen, and The Kingmaker's Daughters.  Luckily these are the only ones in the series I have listened to so far, but I do plan on completing the series.  I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook and with themes of war, royalty, and destiny, you may enjoy this one as much as I did.  I highly recommend this novel for either personal leisure or as a book club selection.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this audiobook from the local library to listen for my own entertainment. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Teaser Tuesday-Sept. 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 Rescue by Anita Shreve:
He longed to get Sheila out of that porch room with the creepy landlords who ate Devil Dogs.  He couldn't imagine what they looked like, and he hoped he'd never have to meet them.

pg. 56

***Please note that this is from an Advanced Reading Copy so the final printing may have changed.

Monday, September 9, 2013

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:
My book club read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski this summer, and although I enjoyed it, most of my book club did not.  You will have to watch for my review to come soon.

What I'm reading now:
I decided to read Rescue by Anita Shreve since I don't have any blog tours coming up any time soon and she is one of my favorite authors.  I am definitely curious to see what kind of twist this novel is about to take.

What's next?
Our September book club selection is The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood.  I read this book about three years ago and absolutely loved it.  I enjoyed it so much that this is the book that I chose to give out on World Book Night earlier this year.  If you haven't read this novel, please add it to your list!  If interested, you can read my complete review here

Man, life has been getting busier and busier for me!  I didn't even get to post a review last week, but don't worry, I'm not going anywhere!  Unless I go on vacation that is...  The weather turned a little cooler here in Northern Wisconsin this weekend.  I turned off the central air on Saturday and I lounged in my house wearing a sweater on Sunday.  So I hope that those of you with the warm weather are savoring every moment!

What has been filling your reading time lately?



Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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

In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write "something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned." That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald's finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--" Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.

It's also a love story, of sorts, the narrative of Gatsby's quixotic passion for Daisy Buchanan. The pair meet five years before the novel begins, when Daisy is a legendary young Louisville beauty and Gatsby an impoverished officer. They fall in love, but while Gatsby serves overseas, Daisy marries the brutal, bullying, but extremely rich Tom Buchanan. After the war, Gatsby devotes himself blindly to the pursuit of wealth by whatever means--and to the pursuit of Daisy, which amounts to the same thing. "Her voice is full of money," Gatsby says admiringly, in one of the novel's more famous descriptions. His millions made, Gatsby buys a mansion across Long Island Sound from Daisy's patrician East Egg address, throws lavish parties, and waits for her to appear. When she does, events unfold with all the tragic inevitability of a Greek drama, with detached, cynical neighbor Nick Carraway acting as chorus throughout. Spare, elegantly plotted, and written in crystalline prose, The Great Gatsby is as perfectly satisfying as the best kind of poem.


My Review: 
Since the latest version of The Great Gatsby will hopefully be coming out on dvd soon, I decided it was time for me to finally read this classic novel.  I'm sure many of you have already read this gem, but if you haven't I suggest that you do.

Nick is actually the narrator of the novel and we see events unfold before his eyes.  We watch as the mysterious Gatsby moves into a spectacular mansion next to Nick's average home.  Nick couldn't predict the events that would take place once he walks through Gatsby's front door to attend one of his famous late-night parties.  

As we follow Nick and his circle of friends throughout Long Island, it is interesting to learn the fronts that his acquaintances put on.  He learns that married couples really are not in love with each other, but are really having secret affairs with others within their own circle.  He is even more surprised to learn that everything Gatsby himself has done, is all to catch the attention and love of a woman.

This was a beautiful story trying to underscore the greediness of the human heart.  Even when we have it all, many of us still are not happy so find ourselves pursuing dreams that are out of our grasp.  With themes of love, deception, and friendship I don't hesitate in recommending this novel for personal leisure or as a book club discussion.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from a friend to read for my own entertainment. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Teaser Tuesday-Aug. 13

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 Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski:
"I think it's just as likely that someone could say that this place, right here, is heaven, hell, and earth all at the same time.  And we still wouldn't know what to do differently."

pg. 256

Monday, August 12, 2013

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:
I have never read The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald so I figured it was about time.  I did enjoy this classic and may post my review this week.  Now I am ready to see the movie!

What I'm Reading Now:
I decided to read The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski as this is our summer book club pick.  This is a longer novel and I have been savoring every page as I've only been able to read during my lunch-hour.  This novel takes place in the area where I live so I'm really enjoying the familiarity it has to offer.

What's next:
I think the next audiobook I listen to will be The Third Son by Julie Wu.  It seems like this will be one to give me a good glimpse into another culture.

Have a great week of reading everyone!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Audiobook Review: Is This Tomorrow by Caroline Leavitt




Title:  Is This Tomorrow

Author:  Caroline Leavitt

Narrator:  Xe Sands

Unabridged Length:  aprox. 11.5 hrs






Here is a summary of the book from the publisher's website
It’s 1956, and working-mother Ava Lark and her son, Lewis, have rented a house in a less-than-welcoming Boston suburb. There, Lewis finds he is only able to befriend the other fatherless kids on the block, Jimmy and Rose. But when Jimmy goes missing, neighborhood paranoia ramps to new heights, further ostracizing Ava and Lewis.

Lewis never recovers from the loss of his childhood friend. In his twenties, he is a failure in love, living without direction, estranged from his mother. When Jimmy’s disappearance is unexpectedly solved, however, Lewis, Rose, and Ava are thrown together once more to try to untangle the remaining pieces of the puzzle and reclaim something of what they have lost.


My Review:
I loved this novel that takes us into a period when times were simple for many people, but an obvious struggle for others.  Ava falls into the category of living with hardships as she is a beautiful, divorced, single mother, doing what needs to be done to provide for herself and her young son.  Her lifestyle does not fit the perfect cookie-cutter appearance of the rest of her neighbors.

The story is really told from the viewpoints of several people.  Ava's son, Lewis, being one of them.  Lewis really is not very comfortable in his skin and not having a father around to help him deal with things doesn't help.  The kids tease him often since Lewis often wears hand-me-downs as Ava can't afford much else.  Since Ava is also Jewish they use that as a point of teasing too.

Jimmy is Lewis' best friend who happens to be smitten with Ava.  When Jimmy ends up missing one day, we also see the story through his sister Rose's eyes.  When Jimmy is never found, Rose finds that she can't enjoy things the way she used to.  Her mother seems to have forgotten that she is still here, and alive, so Rose starts to question her own worth in the world.

Life continues on for all of the characters even though Jimmy is never found.  As they stumble through their own existence, pieces relating to his disappearance come to light.  I don't want to give any more of this audiobook away as I found it a very enjoyable to experience the way events unfolded.  I think Sands did a good job of narrating and especially brought Ava's character to life for me.  I will admit that I found it annoying when she narrated the dialogue of male characters, especially the young boys.  She made them sound as if they were on drugs or half asleep all the time.  So if it weren't for that, I would have given this audiobook a perfect rating of 5!

I found myself always looking forward to listening to this book and thoroughly enjoyed the combination of drama and mystery.  With themes of perseverance, truth, love, and mystery, I think many of you would enjoy this book as much as I did.  I don't hesitate in recommending this book for personal leisure or as a book club selection.

My rating:  4/5

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

Monday, July 29, 2013

Mailbox Monday-July 29

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 check out what everyone received over at Book Obsessed.

Here is what showed up at my door:


A Dual Inheritance by Joanna Hershow

So I did actually expect the first two books, but A Dual Inheritance was a total surprise!  I have decided that I am out of control and need to cut myself off for awhile.  Today is my husband's birthday so I will be making him his favorite chicken dinner tonight rather than focusing on books to read. 


Monday, July 22, 2013

Blog Tour and Review: The Queen's Vow by C.W. Gortner

Here is a summary of the novel from the author's website

Young Isabella is barely a teenager when she is thrust into danger. Suspected of treason and held captive, she treads a perilous path, until, at age seventeen, she finds herself heiress of Castile, the largest kingdom in Spain. Plunged into a deadly conflict to secure her crown, she is determined to wed the one man whom she has vowed to love yet is forbidden to her—Fernando, prince of Aragón.

As together they unite their two realms under "one crown, one country, one faith," Isabella and Fernando face an impoverished Spain beset by enemies. With the future of her throne at stake, Isabella resists the zealous demands of the inquisitor, Torquemada, even as she is seduced by the dreams of an enigmatic navigator named Columbus. But when a violent, treacherous battle against an ancient adversary erupts, it will test Isabella’s resolve, her courage, and her tenacious belief in her destiny . . . .

From the glorious palaces of Segovia to the battlefields of Granada and intrigue-laden gardens of Seville, The Queen’s Vow sweeps us into the tumultuous forging of a nation and the complex, fascinating heart of the woman who overcame all odds to become Isabella of Castile. 

My Review:
Another hit by Mr. Gortner as he captures the heart and soul of Queen Isabella.  After reading this novel I couldn't help but ask myself why I don't read more historical fiction.  Gortner does a wonderful job of depicting not only the time period, but bringing to life the character of young Isabella.

After the death of her father, Isabella is whisked away from Castile at a very young age for her safety.  She grows up without the privileges that come with royalty as she doesn't own beautiful gowns or even attend court on a regular basis.  When the country is struggling from poverty, her stomach also aches from hunger.

Isabella lives a normal childhood away from the politics and treason of court, until one day her presence is requested at Castile.  She has no idea why her half-brother, the king, would want to see her, but his request cannot be denied.  This first trip to the court opens a new world to Isabella, not only for her destiny of eventually becoming the queen, but also sparking feelings within her heart that are new to her.

It is quite a journey to the crown for Isabella as she fights for what is best for the people of Castile.  It is hard to imagine the stress that these women of power and influence must endure, but Gortner does a great job of giving a glimpse of the trials that Isabella went through.  We not only see her fight for her crown, but we also see the struggles within her own marriage created by politics.

I think you can tell that I enjoyed this novel of historical fiction.  With themes of honor, destiny, treason, and royalty, I think many of you would enjoy this one also.  Whether you are reading this book for personal leisure or as a book club discussion I don't think you will be disappointed.  I don't hesitate in recommending this novel.

My Rating:  4/5

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