Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Teaser Tuesday-Jan. 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 Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern:
Dessert consists mainly of a gargantuan tiered cake shaped to resemble circus tents and frosted in stripes, the filling within a bright shock of raspberry cream.  There are also miniature chocolate leopards, and strawberries coated in looping patterns of dark and white chocolates.

pg. 228
Does this just not sound luscious???

Monday, January 30, 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 recently finished listening to:
I absolutely loved listening to The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings.  This was such a touching story that reached into a man's heart as he deals with his dying wife's indiscretions.  You will have to watch for my review later.
I was able to get back to reading:

The Kindle library book of The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern became available again so I'm enjoying getting lost in this one.  I have to admit the silly thing that I did.  When I first checked out this book I only had it for 7 days.  When I went to check out the book this time I noticed a little arrow right by where it shows the borrowing period of 7 days.  Surprise...I had the option to check out the book for 7, 14, or 21 days!!!  How silly I am!

And here is what I may read next:
I've had a copy of Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos on my ARC pile for a couple of months now, so this may be my next pick.  I haven't read anything by this author yet but I've been looking forward to her for quite some time!

Friday, January 27, 2012

What's in a Name Challenge 5

Although I failed the What's in a Name Challenge for 2011, I have decided to give it a shot once again for 2012.    Beth Fish Reads is gracious enough to host this challenge for us once again and I appreciate the fact that this is a flexible challenge. You can view the entire rules and sign up yourself here if you are interested.

Here are the categories for this year:

A book with a topographical feature (land formation) in the title:
Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons--Completed 2/11/12

A book with something you'd see in the sky in the title:
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran--Completed 4/2/12

A book with a creepy crawly in the title:

A book with a type of house in the title:
The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay--Completed 4/17/12

A book with something you'd carry in your pocket, purse, or backpack in the title: 
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins--Completed 3/8/12

A book with a something you'd find on a calendar in the title:
The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker--Completed 6/6/12

I will add the titles of books to this post as I read them for this challenge.  So are you a glutton for punishment yourself?  Go ahead and sign up...you know you want to!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Review: Room by Emma Donaghue

Here is a summary of Room from the Hachette website:

To five-year-old-Jack, Room is the world. . . . It's where he was born, it's where he and his Ma eat and sleep and play and learn. At night, his Ma shuts him safely in the wardrobe, where he is meant to be asleep when Old Nick visits.

Room is home to Jack, but to Ma it's the prison where she has been held for seven years. Through her fierce love for her son, she has created a life for him in this eleven-by-eleven-foot space. But with Jack's curiosity building alongside her own desperation, she knows that Room cannot contain either much longer.
Room is a tale at once shocking, riveting, exhilarating--a story of unconquerable love in harrowing circumstances, and of the diamond-hard bond between a mother and her child.

My Review:
This is the first book that I have read by Donaghue and let me tell you that it was amazing!  I love it when an author can take a character and a situation and bring it to life to me on the page.  This is exactly what happened to me with young Jack.

Jack is the little boy that was born in Room and has never had any exposure to the outside world.  He doesn't know what he is missing outside, because he has never experienced it.  All he knows is the house that his Ma made for him in the small room that contains all of the necessities for someone to stay alive in solitude.

Jack's Ma remembers her life in the outside world before she  was abducted and locked away from society.  She loves her son Jack, but she also longs to have her old life back.  Although she appreciates the companionship with her son, she also desires relationships with other adults, and often when she can't handle life in Room any longer she will mentally retreat to a place that will not allow her to return until she is ready.

I am not going to give any more of this story away as I don't want to ruin it for anyone that hasn't read it yet.  This is a story that could very possibly be pulled right of current headlines and even when people are rescued from these conditions, their lives are never the same.  They must find a way to learn the rules of our society once again and even harder still, is being able to offer trust to any individual who comes in their lives.

This was an amazing story with themes of love, comfort, safety, abduction, and perseverance.  I think this book would make an excellent book club selection, but it also is great for leisure reading on your own.  I highly recommend this novel.

My Rating:  5/5

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

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Teaser Tuesday-Jan. 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 Night Road by Kristin Hannah:
There was nothing inside of her but pain; she kept it trapped inside, behind pursed lips.  God help her if she started screaming.

pg. 157

Unfortunately I did not have internet in my home all weekend!  Not so bad, but then my blogging gets even more behind.  The Night Circus Kindle book is finally available through my library again, so now I can get that one finished....jeez, that was almost two weeks I had to wait! 

I have to admit that I read Night Road almost a year ago, but this month it is our book club selection so I'm reading it again.  Can you believe that it is making me cry even though I am reading it for the second time?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Review: House Rules by Jodi Picoult

Here is a summary of House Rules from Jodi Picoult's website:

HOUSE RULES is about Jacob Hunt, a teenage boy with Asperger’s Syndrome. He’s hopeless at reading social cues or expressing himself well to others, and like many kids with AS, Jacob has a special focus on one subject – in his case, forensic analysis. 

He’s always showing up at crime scenes, thanks to the police scanner he keeps in his room, and telling the cops what they need to do…and he’s usually right. But then one day his tutor is found dead, and the police come to question him. All of the hallmark behaviors of Asperger’s – not looking someone in the eye, stimulatory tics and twitches, inappropriate affect – can look a heck of a lot like guilt to law enforcement personnel -- and suddenly, Jacob finds himself accused of murder. HOUSE RULES looks at what it means to be different in our society, how autism affects a family, and how our legal system works well for people who communicate a certain way – but lousy for those who don’t. 

My Review:
Picoult does it once again for me, by taking another controversial subject to view from different perspectives.  Jacob Hunt is the young man with Aspberger's Syndrome in the story and we get a glimpse as to how this disease has affected his family as different chapters are narrated by various characters within the novel.

I loved the chapters that were narrated by Jacob.  All that I really know about Aspberger's is what I have learned on television, so it was fascinating to see things from Jacob's logical viewpoint.  I think because of the disease I found myself looking at Jacob as if he were a child, but at eighteen years old he is more of a young man.  Jacob's lack of social skills obviously keep him in a childlike state and although he will be able to minimally function in society, he will more than likely need care for the rest of his life.

Currently, the care provider role falls upon his mother Emma's shoulders.  When Jacob was diagnosed with Aspberger's at an early age, his father admitted defeat and walked out on his family, leaving Emma with all the responsibilities of raising two young boys, one needing exceptional care.  After much research about the disease, Emma hones her schedules and menus to keep things as smoothly flowing for Jacob as possible.   Being a single parent, you can only imagine how difficult it would be under these circumstances to be sure that you are offering adequate parental love and guidance to the child that does not have any medical issues.

Theo is Jacob's younger brother who longs to live a normal family life.  He doesn't want to worry about eating certain colored foods on specific days, or making sure that Jacob is home at 4:30 to watch his favorite television show.  While Theo acts out in his own way in search of the perfect family life, he also worries about when the day will come when he will be expected to be his brothers care provider.

Everything within this novel spins out of control when Jacob's social skills tutor is found dead.  When suspicion is turned towards Jacob, the organized world that he knows comes to an end.  While Emma knows how these changes will negatively affect Jacob, she finds herself having to think of ways to keep some order and logic to his world.

I truly enjoyed this novel that had us take a close look at how the legal system would deal with a similar situation under such unfortunate circumstances.  With themes of honesty, justice, Aspberger's, and family this book made a great book club selection and I'm sure it would be a great novel to pick up for leisure reading also.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  I purchased this book on my Kindle for my own entertainment and as a book club selection.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

New Author Challenge 2012

This is one of the challenges that I have successfully completed over the last couple of years, so why stop now?  Literary Escapism is hosting this challenge once again and you can sign up yourself an review all the guidelines here if you want to give it a shot!  I love it when a new author is revealed to me through the pages of a book!  This year I am going to sign up to read 25 new authors again and I will list them on this post as I read them.  Good luck to you if you decide to try this one also!

1.  Kaui Hart Hemmings--The Descendants--Completed 1/26/12
2.  Erin Morgenstern--The Night Circus--Completed 2/5/12
3.  Anne Rivers Siddons--Burnt Mountain--Completed 2/11/12
4.  Marisa de los Santos--Falling Together--Completed 2/26/12
5.  Suzanne Collins--The Hunger Games--Completed 3/8/12
6.  Jaretta Carleton--Clair de Lune--Completed 3/21/12
7.  Dorothy Garlock--Come a Little Closer--Completed 4/2/12
8.  John Shors--Cross Currents--Completed 4/16/12
9.  Nathaniel Hawthorne--The Scarlet Letter--Completed 5/1/12
10.Lisa Scottoline--Come Home--Completed 5/24/12
11.Emily Giffin--Heart of the Matter--Completed 5/28/12
12. Lisa Tucker--The Winters in Bloom--Completed 6/6/12
13. Peter Lefcourt--An American Family--Completed 6/29/12
14. Hilary Mantel--Bring Up the Bodies--Completed 7/6/12
15. Thrity Umrigar--The World We Found--Completed 8/4/12
16. Penny Vincenzi--More Than You Know--Completed 8/18/12
17. Abraham Verghese--Cutting for Stone--Completed 9/5/12
18. Philippa Gregory--The Kingmaker's Daughter--Completed 9/11/12
19. Andrea Warren--Surviving Hitler--Completed 9/13/12
20. Vanessa Diffenbaugh--The Language of Flowers--Completed 9/23/12
21. Jamie McGuire--Beautiful Diaster--Completed 9/26/12
22. Lisa Genova--Love Anthony--Completed 10/19/12
23. Gail Tsukiyama--A Hundred Flowers--Completed 10/26/12
24. Rob Lowe--Stories I Only Tell My Friends--Completed 11/27/12
25. Susan Gregg Gilmore--Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen--Completed 12/4/12
26. Patricia Falvey--The Linen Queen--Completed 12/16/12

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Winner of Madame Tussaud!

I'm thrilled to announce that the winner of Madame Tussaud by Michelle Moran is................

Congratulations Rebecca!  I will be emailing you shortly to get your mailing information so your book can be sent out right away.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Snow Angel by Glenn Beck

Title:  The Snow Angel

Author:  Glenn Beck and Nicole Baart

Narrators:  January LaVoy and Ron McLarty

Unabridged Length:  Aprox. 6 hrs

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

The woman in the picture was so young she looked like a child. Her hair was loose, eyes wide, blue T-shirt stark against the pale lines of arching collarbones. I felt the air leave me in a quiet rush. Not because of the way the photo captured her fleeting youth, but because of the way it highlighted the bruise.

It was a photo of me.

Rachel Price has just one happy memory from her childhood: the moment her father took her hands while playing outside on a cold, snowy day and called her his angel. It was a rare and sacred moment in her young life, one in which she finally felt safe, loved, and protected.

But it didn’t last long.

Years later, Rachel’s daughter is the only light in what has become a dark life. Rachel repeats the patterns she learned as a child and exposes her own daughter to those same destructive behaviors. Consumed by an abusive marriage, but secure in the safety of the familiar, she is too afraid to escape.

Rachel accepts what her life has become, even as she makes excuses for those who keep her in a constant state of despair and regret. But then, an unexpected phone call from an old friend changes everything. Her ordered world is turned upside down as she’s set on a journey that might be her last chance to salvage the life she’d given up on long ago.

While new friendships tentatively blossom, Rachel realizes that everything she once believed may be nothing but lies and misunderstandings. But knowing the truth is not as easy as it seems. Sometimes ignorance truly is bliss. As the snow falls and the promise of Christmas redemption nears, Rachel begins to see her entire childhood in a brand-new light and must now decide what her future holds—and what her past really means. Will knowing the truth set her free, or will it condemn her to a life full of regret and “what ifs”? 

The Snow Angel is a poignant tale about family, forgiveness, and the freedom to live a future free of the past.

My Review:
I have to start out by telling you that this audiobook was such an emotional journey for me.  I listened to half of it in one sitting when I had to pick my daughter up for Christmas break.  Ok, that was probably my mistake.   As this book continually tugged at my heart, I also fell in love with the story and characters.

This book alternates between perspectives of both Rachel and Mitch.  Rachel has been living her life in an abusive marriage and trying to protect her daughter from all that comes with this situation in any way she can.  It is a sad and lonely world for Rachel as her husband has basically destroyed any friendship or relationship that she had outside of their home.

Mitch is an elderly man living in an assisted living center that has been diagnosed with Alzheimer;s Disease.  He lives a desolate existence himself as he doesn't have many visitors at the center, except for the nicely dressed gentleman that he meets in the dining hall now and then.  Mitch seems to be losing his grip on reality as he can barely recall the little girl that he so dearly misses.

This was a great Christmas book to listen to and I really don't want to give any more of it away.  If I have a complaint, it would be that it was just so darn sad.  I mean I was practically sobbing as I was going down the highway.  With themes of love, friendship, abuse, and family I think that many of you will enjoy this book.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure: This book was provided to me through the Audiobook Jukebox reviewer program in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, January 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.

I recently finished reading this book on my Kindle:
Last week I met with my book club to discuss A Redbird Christmas by Fannie Flagg.  We usually read a Christmas themed book during the month of December.  From past experience we have learned that Christmas novels are usually pretty light and just for pure entertainment.  This one was not an exception and everyone enjoyed it for what it was.  The best part of our meeting was the gift exchange though!

What I'm reading now on my Kindle:
Since I had the week off after Christmas I finally had a chance to check out the public library option for the Kindle.  The Night Circus is the first book that I was able to get, but since I can only keep it for one week I'm sure I am going to have to request it again.  I can tell you that I am really enjoying it so I will definitely request it right away!

What's next:
While I am waiting for another library copy of The Night Circus, I decided to go ahead and get started on Night Road by Kristin Hannah.  I already read this one about a year ago and really enjoyed it, but I will need a little refresher as our book club will be discussing Night Road next month.

So what has been keeping you busy lately?  I woke up with a horrible cold on New Year's Day so that really slowed me down last week.  I am finally starting to feel like my old self again so this week I'm hoping to get started with my exercise regimen.

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Where Are You Reading Challenge

I've been hesitant about joining this challenge as I didn't even read a total of 50 books this year, but hey, who really cares?  If I don't finish the challenge then that's it.  Sheila from Book Journey is hosting this challenge once again and you can read the complete rules and even sign up for yourself here if you are interested!  I am not savvy enough to create the map as Sheila has, but I will just list the books behind the state after I read it.

Arizona--Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls--Completed 9/30/12
California--The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh--Completed 9/23/12
Georgia--Burnt Mountain by Anne Rivers Siddons--Completed 2/11/12
Hawaii--The Descendants by Kaui Hart Hemmings--Completed 1/26/12
Massachusetts--The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne--Completed 5/1/12
Minnesota--Peace Like a River by Leif Enger--Completed 11/06/12
Missouri--Clair de Lune by Jaretta Carleton--Completed 3/21/12
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York--An American Family by Peter Lefcourt--Completed 6/29/12
North Carolina
North Dakota
Pennsylvania--Falling Together by Marisa de los Santos--Completed 2/26/12
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Washington--Night Road by Kristin Hannah--Completed 1/31/12
West Virginia
Wisconsin--Come a Little Closer by Dorothy Garlock--Completed 4/2/12

Other Places:
Botswana--The Miracle at Speedy Motors by Alexander McCall Smith--Completed 3/4/12
Panem--The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins--Completed 3/8/12
Egypt--The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran--Completed 4/2/12
Thailand--Cross Currents by John Shors--Completed 4/16/12
France--The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay--Completed 4/17/12
Brazil--State of Wonder by Ann Patchett--Completed 5/15/12
India--The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar--Completed 8/4/12
Ethiopia--Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese--Completed 9/5/11
Poland--Surviving Hitler by Andrea Warren--Completed 9/13/12
Ireland--The Linen Queen by Patricia Falvey--Completed 12/16/12

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012 E-book Challenge

I really enjoyed this challenge in 2011 as it gave me more of an opportunity to read my Kindle books!  This year the challenge is being hosted by Workaday Reads and you can view all the rules and sign up here if you are interested.

I am going to sign up for the CD level, which means that I need to read at least 10 ebooks.  I will list the books as I read them below.
1.  The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern--Completed 2/5/12
2.  Clair de Lune by Jaretta Carleton--Completed 3/21/12
3.  The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne--Completed 5/1/12
4.  Heart of the Matter by Emily Giffin--Completed 5/28/12
5.  The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker--Completed 6/6/12
6. The World Without You by Joshua Henkin--Completed 7/22/12
7. Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese--Completed 9/5/12
8. Half Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls--Completed 9/30/12
9. A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama--Completed 10/24/12
10. Peace Like a River by Leif Enger--Completed 11/06/12
11. Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore--Completed 12/4/12

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Blog Tour and Review: All the Flowers in Shanghai by Duncan Jepson

Thanks to Trish from TLC Book Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour for this debut novel by Duncan Jepson.

Here is a summary of All the Flowers in Shanghai:

For every young Chinese woman in 1930s Shanghai, following the path of duty takes precedence over personal desires.

For Feng, that means becoming the bride of a wealthy businessman in a marriage arranged by her parents. In the enclosed world of the Sang household—a place of public ceremony and private cruelty—fulfilling her duty means bearing a male heir. For every young Chinese woman in 1930s Shanghai, following the path of duty takes precedence over personal desires.

The life that has been forced on her makes Feng bitter and resentful, and she plots a terrible revenge. But with the passing years comes a reckoning, and Feng must reconcile herself with the sacrifices and terrible choices she has made in order to assure her place in the family and society—even as the violent, relentless tide of revolution engulfs her country.

Both a sweeping historical novel and an intimate portrait of one woman’s struggle against tradition, All the Flowers in Shanghai marks the debut of a sensitive and revelatory writer.

My Review:
This was a wonderful debut novel by Duncan Jepson that gives us a glimpse into the life of Feng, a young Chinese girl.   Footbinding is no longer practiced in 1930's Shanghai, but women still do not have many rights.  Feng did not plan on having an eventful life, as the family had arranged for her older sister to reap all of the rewards from society.

Feng seemed to be content living her life as the younger sister in the family, not having any expectations and being able to live her life as she wanted when the time was right.  She had a special relationship with her grandfather who took the time with her almost every day to walk through the vibrant and colorful gardens to introduce her to all of the flowers.

Young Feng has a rude awakening one day when her life takes a drastic change.  For reasons that she doesn't understand, her parents decide to marry her into a wealthy family.  She truly enjoyed her simple life and was not prepared for the stress and responsibility that came along with her upcoming nuptuals.

Having to live her new life without the true love that she had hoped for, Feng becomes a bitter woman, looking out only for herself and finding small ways to punish those around her.  This bitterness seeps into her heart and soul and will leave a mark on her for the rest of her life.

I really enjoyed this novel as it gives me a glimpse into a specific period in China that was so educational.  We watch as the various classes of society change as communism is put into place.  It is through this change that Feng is brought back to the roots of the person that she is and is able to come to terms with the person that she has become.  With themes of China, communism, family, and obligations this was a great novel and I also think it would make a great book club selection.  I do not hesitate in recommending this novel.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:  This book was provided to me by the publisher to participate in this blog tour and provide an honest review.