Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Teaser Tuesday-July 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 World We Found by Thrity Umrigar:
Could time really alter things so much?  If so, the devil that every religion taught people to fear and loathe was simply the passage of time.

pg. 113

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

Monday, July 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 finished reading on my Kindle:
I found myself loving the family dynamics in The World Without You by Joshua Henkin.  I don't know if it was because I have been dealing with my own grief and sorrow after my Grandma's passing, but I really connected with this novel.  I thought the writing was simply beautiful and I plan on posting my review on Wednesday.

What I'm reading now:
I have to post a review as part of a blog tour for The World We Found by Thrity Umrigar, so I decided to read this one next.  The blog tour stops here on August 8th, so stay tuned!

What's up next:
Our summer book club selection is Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.  I can't wait to finally read this novel that I've heard so many people talk about! 

So what books have been keeping you busy this week?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sweet Connections 2012-2013 Book Picks

It's hard to believe that the Sweet Connections book club will be starting our Ninth year together!  I am thrilled to belong to this group that is full of such special gals.  Besides sharing books that we loved and hated, we also share each others joys and heartaches.

Our group only meets one time during the summer and that is to watch a movie and have a potluck.  We haven't done this yet, but I think we have to choose between This Means War and The Vow.

Here is the list of books we selected to read for the next year:

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghase
Half-Broke Horses by Jeannette Walls
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger
Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore
The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson
Between Shades of Grey by Ruta Sepetys
Tea Time for the Traditionally Built by Alexander McCall Smith
The Sisters by Nancy Jensen
Wonder by R.J. Palacio

We have been reading one book every year in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, and Tea Time is the next book up.  We've really enjoyed reading this series together.  I'm not sure which one of these I am looking forward to most, as there are a couple of titles listed that I have been wanting to read for awhile.  Have you read any of these yourself?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Winner of The Winters in Bloom

I'm pleased to announce that the winner of The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker is.....................

Congratulations Tiffany!  I will be emailing you shortly to get your mailing address so I can send your book out right away.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Mailbox Monday-July 23rd

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 Mrs. Q: Book Addict.

Here is what surprised me in my mailbox:
True Believers by Kurt Andersen

True Believers was a complete surprise to me and since I freely admit that I am a cover judger, this book did not initially appeal to me.  After reading the description I did develop a change of heart.  It does sound interesting!

Last week turned out to be emotionally draining, so I'm hoping to get things back on track this week.  My Grandma passed away Wednesday morning and that lady has been such an important part of my life.  I do plan to post more about her this week, once I've had a chance to compile my thoughts.  This morning I am going to head out to the solitude of my garden and ponder how to transform my thoughts into words.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Blog Tour and Guest Post: The Siren of Paris by David Leroy

First of all I would like to thank Stephanie from Promo 101 Promotional Services for inviting me to be a part of this tour!

This sounds like an action packed novel set in World War II that will take your breath away.  You can read more about the novel and buy the e-book from Amazon.

I knew Leroy did extensive research for this novel so I asked him to share with us how this research effected him emotionally.  Here is what he had to say:

The research behind The Siren of Paris had a deep impact upon me emotionally.  After reading a few books on World War II, I came to the conclusion that I really did not know much about this war, which I had heard about all my life.  I knew about the war on a large-scale political and military level, but I did now know what it was like on the ground, as a civilian.  It was an odd experience, because I have a college education, and I am well versed in history.  Plus, on a personal level, I had known many World War II veterans as well as civilians who experienced the war or were victims of the Holocaust.  Now I realize that what they shared was only a fraction of what they had experienced. 

Once I got past the clich├ęs and well known aspects of the war, and down to personal stories, I was even more shocked.  The main image I’d had of the French Resistance was blowing up trains and smuggling things, and I had the impression that it was a well organized underground movement.  However, this was not accurate.  In the early days of the resistance, it was nothing more than everyday people, who were taking extraordinary risks to pass out papers, or smuggle downed airmen.  Many of these people did not survive the war.  None of them were trained by a secret British Intelligence group or working spies.  They were students, teachers, ministers, housewives, and retired people.  Yes, people in retirement, engaging in smuggling downed airmen out of Paris and running back and forth to the border.  Not some handsome, slick and sexy 23-year old-man from Hollywood, but two women in their mid-60’s with three dogs and a black Renault taking hand-offs from a Catholic priest in the north.  At least until they were caught.  The American woman was traded back to America as a spy, the Catholic priest went to Mauthausen Concentration Camp where he died, and the British woman was shot. 

Eventually, I became rather haunted by these stories and felt compelled to write a novel that would really give someone a sense of what it would be like to be trapped in Europe , as a civilian, during the war.  I did not want to write about some cocky spy or a hero who always escapes at the last minute. I worked to avoid stereotypes of both the resistance and of the Germans.  Instead, I wanted to write a story that leaned towards the reality of the war, rather than the fictionalized ideas we might have about it.  Some have questioned the betrayal story in this book, finding it rather unlikely; however I tamed it down quite a bit.  I had read detailed stories of betrayal so horrible I did not believe I should repeat them.  

Several of the characters in the book, such as the Belgian boy and girl with the two dogs, are real people.  They are without names, because even though many people remembered them boarding the Lancastria, no one ever knew their names.  Jean is a real historical character, a friend of Jacques Lusseyran, and he did actually die in a rail car going to Buchenwald.  In fact, I am rather careful not to give detailed descriptions of deaths, but instead to give them a context and meaning -- through my main character, Marc -- out of respect for these people’s final moments. 

I attempted, as an author, to guide the reader through an experience of World War II that’s as realistic as possible, from the point of view of Marc Tolbert, who is a very unlikely person to get swept up in a war. 

On a political and military level, the winners of World War II were the allies, and the losers were Italy, Germany and Japan.  However, when you look at this war on a very personal level, the winners of the war were the survivors, and the losers were over 69 million solders and civilians, including women, children, and older people, who died.  I wanted readers to experience the fear, uncertainly, and doubt that the war brought into the lives of my characters.  I also wanted them to feel the psychological and emotional scars that were left upon the survivors.

Ultimately, I wanted readers to see the ghosts of this war, because my experience with survivors is that they do feel and know those ghosts quite well.  They were very often loved ones, family members or friends who live, to this very day, in their mind’s eye just as they last saw them before they died.

Wow.  I have not read this book myself yet, but this post makes me want to download  the novel from Amazon now.  Those that enjoy reading the historical novels set in World War II will not want to miss this story.  You can read more about this book and David Leroy at The Siren of Paris.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Audiobook Review: Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel

Title:  Bring Up the Bodies

Author:  Hilary Mantel

Narrator:  Simon Vance

Unabridged Length: 14 hrs,35 mn.

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

Though he battled for seven years to marry her, Henry is disenchanted with Anne Boleyn. She has failed to give him a son and her sharp intelligence and audacious will alienate his old friends and the noble families of England. When the discarded Katherine dies in exile from the court, Anne stands starkly exposed, the focus of gossip and malice. 

At a word from Henry, Thomas Cromwell is ready to bring her down. Over three terrifying weeks, Anne is ensnared in a web of conspiracy, while the demure Jane Seymour stands waiting her turn for the poisoned wedding ring. But Anne and her powerful family will not yield without a ferocious struggle. Hilary Mantel's Bring Up the Bodies follows the dramatic trial of the queen and her suitors for adultery and treason. To defeat the Boleyns, Cromwell must ally with his natural enemies, the papist aristocracy. What price will he pay for Anne's head?

My Review:
I've always enjoyed historical fiction that gives us a glimpse into another place and time.  The politics surrounding Anne Boleyn and her rise to power made for a most interesting storyline that is told to us through several viewpoints.

Henry has pushed Katherine aside and left her alone to die, while Anne has eased herself into the role of queen.  It does not take Henry long to tire of Anne, allowing him to wonder if she used her feminine wiles to give herself more power.  When he starts to question her loyalty he finds a new attraction to Jane Seymour.

Knowing that his country would frown if he discarded Anne as he did Katherine, he enlists the help of his assistant, Thomas Cromwell.  They must find, or create, some evidence that would make the King's disposal of Anne acceptable to the public.  Once Henry is free from the grasp of Anne, he will be able to pursue the young and innocent Jane Seymour.

As I indicated earlier, I really enjoy historical fiction, but I did not listen to the first book in this series, Wolf Hall, before listening to this one.  It makes me wonder if I would have enjoyed this one more if I had listened to Wolf Hall first.  Or possibly I should just stick with "reading" historical fiction rather than "listening" to it.  As much as I enjoyed listening to Simon Vance narrate this novel, I couldn't keep my mind from wandering throughout most of it.  Although I am not going to highly recommend this novel, I am not going to write it off.  I think I am going to try to get my hands on an audio version of Wolf Hall and  see if that turns out any better for me.  If it does, I may have to give this one a go once again!

My Rating:  3/5

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

Friday, July 13, 2012

Books That Make Me Go.....Ahhhh

Once a week I am going to post a notable excerpt from either a book I am currently reading or have read in the past.  These gems that catch my eye deserve much more notoriety besides being written down on a little sticky note in the front of the novel.

This week my notable excerpt is from The World Without You by Joshua Henkin:
Because she didn't- she doesn't- want to be beholden to her, and because she didn't wish to pretend she's doing anything but dabbling.  She hates being terrible at something she was once so good at.  Not that she's terrible, really, not by most lights, but by her own lights, by the lights of what she once was, she is terrible and it pains her.

Kindle location 1579 4678

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Wondrous Words Wednesday

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

A few new words were introduced to me as I've been reading The World Without You by Joshua Henkin on my Kindle:

Scatology:   the study of or preoccupation with excrement or obscenity.

Here is how scatology was used at location 327 of 4678:
Arthur was always turning scatology into philosophy.

Insouciantly:    free from concern, worry, or anxiety; carefree; nonchalant.

Here is how insouciantly was used at location 529 of 4678:
Noelle knows these words, having taken Ms. Picken's vocabulary-building class, the boys in the hallway staring up at her from their Barron's books as she walks insouciantly by.

Trichotillomania:  This definition is included in the sentence found at location 626 of 4678:
As a teenager, she developed trichotillomania; she pulled out clumps of her own hair.

Hubris:  excessive pride or self-confidence; arrogance.

Here is how hubris was used at location 628 of 4678:
Always the baby, as if it were hubris to give him a name.

Obdurate:  unmoved by persuasion, pity, or tender feelings; stubborn; unyielding.

Here is how obdurate was used at location 1413 of 4678:
Lily remains the most obdurate, most bullheaded, most unyielding person he knows.

Well I think that is enough new words to share with you all today.  Did you come across anything new in your reading adventures this week?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Scavenger Hunt Blog Tour and Review: An American Family by Peter Lefcourt

First of all I want to thank Kate from BookTrib for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour!  Here is a summary of An American Family from Peter Lefcourt's website:

The sprawling narrative of five siblings, born in the 1940’s, beginning on the day John Kennedy was shot and ending on 9/11. Between these two iconic dates, we follow the fortunes, love affairs, marriages, divorces, successes and failures of the Pearls, an immigrant Polish-Jewish family, from the Lower East Side of New York, to Long Island and beyond.

The oldest, Jackie — a charming, womanizing attorney — drifts into politics with help from the Nassau County mob. His younger brother, Michael, a gambler and entrepreneur, makes and loses fortunes riding the ebb and flow of high-risk business decisions. Their sister, Elaine, marries young and raises two children before realizing that she wants more from life than being merely a wife and mother and embarking on a new life in her forties. Their sensitive and brilliant half-brother, Stephen, deals with the growing consciousness that he is gay in an era that was not gay friendly. Stephen goes to Vietnam as a medic, comes home, becomes a writer, and survives the AIDS epidemic of the eighties. The baby of the family, Bobbie, high-strung and rebellious, gets pregnant at Woodstock, moves to San Francisco as a single mother during the “Summer of Love,” then winds up in Los Angeles as a highly-successful record producer.

In a larger sense this book is not merely the story of one family, but the story of most immigrant families – Jewish, Italian, Irish, African-American – as they enter the melting pot and emerge as a new generation, as well as the story of the tumultuous years of the second half of the twentieth century.

Here is the excerpt for the day from this novel:

It was the same thing every year. Nathan would tell everyone how thankful they should be because they didn’t eat meals like this in Poland when he was a boy. After dessert, which was always a pecan pie that Lillian bought at the Safeway—she wasn’t allowed to bake because of Ida’s sacred memory—they would loosen their belts and go into the den to watch football.

To Steven, celebrating Thanksgiving was a sham. It was an American holiday, and they weren’t a real American family. They were Jews, and either they should act like Jews and go to synagogue and celebrate the holidays, or they should stop calling themselves Jews.
When he had turned thirteen, Steven had asked  his father why he wasn’t having a bar mitzvah, and Nathan had said it was a big expense that they didn’t need right now.
Here is a link if you would like to follow along on this tour:   http://booktrib.com/blog-tour-an-american-family-by-peter-lefcourt/

My Review:
I love a novel that brings me into the heart of family drama, and An American Family does this for not just a short period of time, but spans at least a fifty year period.  We follow the triumphs and trials of this Jewish family taking special note of happenings on the Thanksgiving and Passover Holidays.

Lefcourt did a wonderful job of taking us on a journey with this family, that will help you recall specific things during this time yourself.  From a 17" Magnavox television to a cut and a perm costing only six dollars this book is a feast for your memory.  Not only are the symbols of the time appreciated, but also the events.  We get an up close view of this family as they deal with life-changing events like the Kennedy assassination, Vietnam war, Israeli conflict, and the heart-stopping act of terrorism against our country on 9/11.

I really enjoy how this story was delivered.  At the beginning of each chapter we are told what year it is, and then every section within that chapter we are given a personal look at each of the siblings lives.  We see Jackie rising to power with his legal career, Michael about to go bankrupt unless his new idea catches on, Elaine getting lost in the life of her marriage, Stephen struggling between who he thinks he should be and who he wants to be, and finally, the free-spirited Bobbi who is continually striving to make it big in the music business. 

There is so much for everyone to enjoy in this novel that I know I am only touching on a small portion of how wonderful it is.  I also enjoyed the Jewish element of the story as each of the family members struggle with their Jewish ancestry.  Nathan, the father, especially battling the demons that remind him how he should have done more to get his family out of Lodz before it was too late.

I enjoyed this book so much with themes of family, love, power, Jewish traditions, and even a touch of Woodstock.  I was born in the late 60's, but I believe that someone that was born in the 50's or early 60's would have been even more appreciative of the content.  I think this would make a great selection for a book club or even personal leisure.  I don't hesitate in recommending this novel.

My Rating:  4/5

Disclosure:   This book was provided to me by the  media firm that organized this blog tour to provide an honest review.

Note:  This book is currently only available to purchase at a very reasonable price as a Kindle e-book at the following link: An American Family

Monday, July 9, 2012

What Are You Reading?

Sheila over at Book Journey hosts this meme that gives you the opportunity to share the books that you have been losing yourself in lately and also the ones that you are looking forward to picking up next.

Here is what I finished listening to:
I haven't read any historical fiction for awhile so I thought I would listen to Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel.  I didn't like this one as much as I thought I would, but maybe I should have listened to Wolf Hall first.

I'm reading on my Kindle:
I received The World Without You by Joshua Henkin through Netgalley and I'm really liking it so far.  I figured this was an appropriate book to read around the Fourth of July.

The next audio for me is:
More Than You Know by Penny Vincenzi is going to take me awhile since it has nineteen discs!  I just love the cover and I can't wait to get lost in the world of 1960's fashion in London.

So that's what has been keeping me busy!  Have you been reading anything notable?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Books That Make Me Go.....Ahhhh

So often when I am reading a book, I have to stop to write down a page number of a beautiful passage I just read.  So I decided once a week I am going to post a notable excerpt from either a book I am currently reading or have read in the past.  These gems that catch my eye deserve much more notoriety besides being written down on a little sticky note in the front of the novel.

I was sitting on my deck last week reading An American Family by Peter Lefcourt when the following excerpt overtook my emotional side:

And as Bobbie said that, she realized exactly what Elaine needed at that moment.  They'd come full circle, and now it was Bobbie's turn.  Stretching out beside her on the bed, Bobbie put her arms around her, and stayed there holding her big sister until she cried herself to sleep.
pg. 248

The simpleness and honesty in this little passage just reached out to me, and made me recall moments with my own sister.

If you have an excerpt you would like to share please feel free to leave it in the comment section below.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Teaser Tuesday-July 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 The World Without You by Joshua Henkin:
There he is, her husband, and she feels a momentary heartbreak, knowing she's not supposed to be looking at him, that somehow she's not entitled.  But she continues to stand there, tears falling down her face.

Kindle Location:  165 of 4678

Monday, July 2, 2012

Mailbox Monday-July 2

Mailbox Monday is a great meme that has us list the books that we receive.  Different bloggers now have the opportunity to host this meme for a month at a time.  This month you can check out what everyone received over at Mrs. Q: Book Addict.

This is what came in my mailbox last week:
Surviving Hitler by Andrea Warren (audiobook)

The Flight of Gemma Hardy by Margot Livesey (audiobook)

I was very surprised when Surviving Hitler showed up at my door because I've been waiting for this one for about two months.  I had given up on it!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend, because I sure did!  My son's wedding was wonderful and as soon as some pictures are available I will be sure to share them with you all.