Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Teaser Tuesday-May 31

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 Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein:
I cannot speak, so I listen very well.  I never interrupt, I never deflect the course of the conversation with a comment of my own.

pg. 101

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Audiobook Review: Gods in Alabama by Joshilyn Jackson

Here is a summary of Gods in Alabama from the Hachette website:

For 10 years Arlene has kept her promises, and God has kept His end of the bargain. Until now. When an old schoolmate from Possett turns up at Arlene's door in Chicago asking questions about Jim Beverly, former quarterback and god of Possett High, Arlene's break with her former hometown is forced to an end. At the same time, Burr, her long-time boyfriend, has raised an ultimatum: introduce him to her family or consider him gone. Arlene loves him dearly but knows her lily white (not to mention deeply racist)Southern Baptist family will not understand her relationship with an African American boyfriend.

My Review:
Gods in Alabama includes characters from Jackson's book, Backseat Saints, but after listening to both books on audio now, I really don't think it matters what order the books are read in.  I think I may have actually enjoyed Backseat Saints more by reading this book later.  If you are interested you can also check out my review of Backseat Saints here.

Arlene has spent the last ten years of her life in Chicago as she tries to forget the events that led up to her departure of her childhood home in Possett, Alabama.  She has changed her life around as she no longer will sleep with any man that walks through the door and has received a great education that will give her a stable future.  Things are about to change for Arlene when her boyfriend Burr is ready to take their relationship to a new level.  To make things more complicated, Arlene is caught off-guard when Rose Mae Lolly happens to show up at her door inquiring about the whereabouts of Jim Beverly, since Arlene was probably the last one to see him.

Arlene's aunt Flo has been hounding her for the last ten years to come back home to visit, but she vowed she would not step on Alabama soil again.  Now that Rose Mae is on a quest to find Jim Beverly and will be heading to Alabama herself she finds that she must face her fears and go back home to where all of the secrets are kept.  This will give her the opportunity to introduce her African American boyfriend to her traditional Southern family and also keep Rose Mae at bay.

I really don't want to go into too much of the story as it really is a story that should be revealed as you are reading it.  The secrets are uncovered as Arlene faces her past and confides in Burr and her family.  She learns how important her family really is and the lengths they will go to protect her.

This audiobook was read by Catherine Taber and I think she did a wonderful job of narrating this novel.  With themes of family, love, and mistakes, this book has so much to offer.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and don't hesitate in recommending this one for leisure or a book club selection.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from my local library and listened to it for my own entertainment.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Giveaway: Blood Trust and First Daughter by Eric Van Lustbader

Thanks to Tara from Zeitghost Media I am able to give away both of these books!   I know it's been a long time since I've had a giveaway so I thought it would be great to give this two-pack of books away.  Find out more about First Daughter and Blood Trust, otherwise just sign up to win a copy of the both of these books here!

Now for the giveaway!
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 June 10th to enter and I will draw for a winner on or after June 11th.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mailbox Monday-May 23

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 MariReads 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:
          The Soldier's Wife by Margaret Leroy

                      A Tiger in the Kitchen by Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan

I was expecting The Soldier's Wife but A Tiger in the Kitchen was a nice surprise!  I don't read much non-fiction but this seems like one that will keep my attention.              

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Review: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

Here is a summary of the book from the Reading Group Guides website:

January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she’s never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb….

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends --- and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society --- born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island --- boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society’s members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises, and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

My Review:
I loved this novel that is delivered to us in series of letters during the aftermath of WWII.  Most of the WWII books that I have read thus far have usually been pretty graphic as you are brought into the lives of Jewish families and concentration camps.  Please do not think that I am downplaying the importance of these books, as they are some of my very favorite books that I have ever read.  But The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society takes us into an area that is Occupied by Germany, so we get a glimpse of what life was like during the war for these citizens who are just victims of circumstance.

Juliet Ashton is an author whose life changes the day she receives a letter in the mail from Dawsey Adams who happens to live in Guernsey.  Dawsey felt compelled to write to Juliet when he found himself in possession of a Charles Lamb book that once belonged to her.  Juliet finds herself mesmerized by Dawsey's letter as he describes what life was like in Guernsey during the Occupation.  She can't help but ask Dawsey if he has any friends that would be interested in writing her also, in hopes that she may get an idea for a writing project.  

Through the various letters that she receives from the Guernsey residents, she develops friendships before even meeting them.  She can't help but be drawn to visit Guernsey to meet all of these new friends in person.  Once she arrives on the island she finds a warm welcome that makes it seem like she is one of them and that she truly belongs there.  Who wouldn't fall in love with a town that accepts you in this way?  

The one thing that she finds in common among her new group of friends is the deep love and respect they all have for a young lady named Elizabeth, who was taken away by the Germans during the Occupation.  They do not know what became of Elizabeth as they haven't heard from her since the end of the war, but she did leave her daughter Kit in her neighbors care.   Even though Juliet has never had the opportunity to meet Elizabeth, she grows to love her as much as everyone else just from helping to take care of her beautiful and strong-willed daughter Kit.

We get to love all of the residents of Guernsey just as much as Juliet had, as we learn how the war has left it's imprint on everyone's lives.  I must admit that I really did not understand or comprehend the extent of damage that Occupied areas endured during WWII before reading this novel.   

Through all of the letters, the good and bad, secrets, and answers to questions are revealed.  We are also given the opportunity to see a romantic relationship bloom as it blossoms into a beautiful reality.  I can't help but highly recommend this novel for both personal fulfillment and as a book club selection.  I read this as a book club selection and it was loved by all in my group.

My Rating:  5/5

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

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Teaser Tuesday-May 17

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 Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin:
He turned and saw the monster's face, knowing it immediately for the mask it was, that he'd owned since he was a kid, that his mother had hated, his father ridiculed, a gray zombie with bloody gashes and fuzzy patches of hair and one plastic eye that dangled from strands of gore.  Whoever wore it now must have found the mask French never had, hidden in Larry's closet.

pg. 6

My apologies if you have already read this teaser of mine.  I thought that I posted it last week but then with the problems that Blogger was having I realized that it wasn't there anymore!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Audiobook Review: A Secret Kept by Tatiana de Rosnay

Here is a summary of A Secret Kept from the Macmillan website:

This stunning new novel from Tatiana de Rosnay, author of the acclaimedNew York Times bestseller Sarah’s Key, plumbs the depths of complex family relationships and the power of a past secret to change everything in the present.

It all began with a simple seaside vacation, a brother and sister recapturing their childhood.  Antoine Rey thought he had the perfect surprise for his sister Mélanie’s birthday: a weekend by the sea at Noirmoutier Island, where the pair spent many happy childhood summers playing on the beach.  It had been too long, Antoine thought, since they’d returned to the island—over thirty years, since their mother died and the family holidays ceased.  But the island’s haunting beauty triggers more than happy memories; it reminds Mélanie of something unexpected and deeply disturbing about their last island summer.  When, on the drive home to Paris, she finally summons the courage to reveal what she knows to Antoine, her emotions overcome her and she loses control of the car.

Recovering from the accident in a nearby hospital, Mélanie tries to recall what caused her to crash.  Antoine encounters an unexpected ally: sexy, streetwise Angèle, a mortician who will teach him new meanings for the words life, love and death.  Suddenly, however, the past comes swinging back at both siblings, burdened with a dark truth about their mother, Clarisse.  

Trapped in the wake of a shocking family secret shrouded by taboo, Antoine must confront his past and also his troubled relationships with his own children.  How well does he really know his mother, his children, even himself?  Suddenly fragile on all fronts as a son, a husband, a brother and a father, Antoine Rey will learn the truth about his family and himself the hard way. By turns thrilling, seductive and destructive, with a lingering effect that is bittersweet and redeeming, A Secret Kept is the story of a modern family, the invisible ties that hold it together, and the impact it has throughout life.

My Review:
I was very excited to have a copy of this audiobook in my possession that was read by Simon Vance.  I've heard such wonderful things about his narration but have yet to listen to one of his stories.  Although this isn't a suspenseful audiobook, it is quite emotional as we journey with Antoine to his past as he recalls what life was like when his mother was alive and how it changed after she died.  This event obviously impacted him in a way that would affect how he cares for his own family and children.

Antoine is a divorced father who decides to take his sister Melanie on a special birthday vacation.  How could he know that the vacation would spur Melanie's memory to recall something about their mother that would cause a serious accident?  The accident would put Melanie on a long path of recuperation and also introduce Angele into Antione's life, who becomes a welcome love interest to him.  He finally can stop pining after his ex-wife as he now has the sexy and exciting Angele to look forward to spending time with.

When Melanie and Antoine were quite young their mother died, and it doesn't seem that either of them were given the opportunity to properly grieve for her.  As the emotions finally have a chance to surface, memories and questions about her death follow closely behind.  As Antoine surveys his mothers medical records he seems to have more questions, but will the answers bring him resolution or only create more heartache?  As Antoine deals with his feelings about his mother he finds that helps him to become a better father to the children that he seems to be growing apart from.

I must admit that this wasn't an audiobook that I found much enjoyment from.  I did enjoy parts of the story but I don't think I would have liked it more had I actually read it either.  With themes of secrets and parenting it was an interesting book to listen to, but you may enjoy it more than I did.

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  This audiobook was from my personal collection and I listened to it for my own entertainment.

You can check out more great book reviews over at Cym Lowell's Book Review Party Wednesday!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mailbox Monday-May 9

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 MariReads so head on over there to see what everyone else received or to play along!

Man, it has been a long time since I had a Mailbox Monday post and it is because I haven't been receiving any books...which can be a good thing!  Here is what was in my mailbox last week though:

When this book came in the mail last week I had to rearrange my reading schedule a bit as this one is for a blog tour that I will be participating in next month.  So was there anything interesting in your mailbox?

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Audiobook Review: An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin

Here is a summary of An Object of Beauty from the Hachette website:

Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby's and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring heights--and, at times, the dark lows--of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today.

My Review:
This is my first experience with Steve Martin's writing and I'm hoping it will not be my last.  This audiobook was narrated by Campbell Scott and he really seemed to capture the essence and the voice of Steve Martin for me.  Martin drops us right in the middle of the retail art world and brings to surface events that I wouldn't even have considered.

Daniel Franks realizes early on that he could never have a lasting and realistic relationship with Lacey Yeager.  When Lacey becomes a critical element to the Sotheby's Art Gallery she will basically do anything for anyone if the action will give her a step up the ladder in the art world.  Daniel is a nice young man who really is not looking for the additional stress in his life that this kind of person can bring.

As the story goes on, Lacey does become quite successful and actually does open her own gallery that flourishes with her touch.  It seems that Lacey may be about to lose everything from some illegal art dealings that have taken place in the past so now she must figure out what can be done so this does not happen.

This was a pretty good story but one part that did create a bit of confusion for me was the narration.  The book was supposedly narrated by Lacey's friend Daniel, but only a small portion of the book seemed to take on his voice.  Most of the novel seemed to be told in third person to me, which I really don't have a problem with, but it just didn't seem to flow well as it bounced between the voice of Daniel and the third person narration.

Besides my problem with the narration of the novel I did find some enjoyment of the story.  Although I didn't love the book, I did enjoy the story overall and would definitely suggest it to those that are interested in the art world.  I think I may have mentioned in the past that I am not a big 'lover of art', and that may have helped my appreciation of this book.

My Rating:  3/5

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

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Teaser Tuesday-May 3

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 They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti:
"Maybe I'm just dehydrated," she says.  "It's hard to remember to drink enough when drinking means straining bugs through our teeth."

Kindle Version pg. 122

Monday, May 2, 2011

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 recently finished:
I just loved The Girl in the Garden by Kamala Nair.  Stay tuned for my review!

What I'm reading now:
They Almost Always Come Home by Cynthia Ruchti is my current book club selection.  I had better get a move on because I'm only halfway through with it and we meet on Wednesday to discuss this one!

I haven't fully decided on my next book to read but the following book is one I have had for review for quite some time so I'm leaning towards that one:
I've read mixed reviews of The Transformation of Bartholomew Fortuno so I must admit that I am a bit leary to get started on this one. 

So what have you been up to lately?