Friday, November 30, 2012

Books That Make Me Go....Ahhhh

I know it's been awhile since I posted my notable excerpt for the week, but really, I will try to post every Friday!  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 one from Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen put a big old smile on my face:
Every preacher must need a place where he can hide from his flock, and that garden must have been my granddaddy's spot.  He probably felt closer to God hidden among those stalks of corn than anywhere else on this earth, probably the way I felt sitting on that picnic table at the Dairy Queen.

Kindle location:  180 of 3173

Monday, November 26, 2012

What Are You Reading?

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

I finished listening to:
I decided that I have put off listening to Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins long enough and took the plunge.  I have to say that it was a great ending to a terrific series.  Hopefully I will have my review ready next week.

What I'm reading now:
I started to read The Linen Queen by Patricia Falvey, but it has been slow going for me.  I don't usually do this, but since my book club meets next week I may have to set this one aside to get my book club selection read.

What's next:
 Looking for Salvation at the Dairy Queen by Susan Gregg Gilmore is our current book club selection, and yes, it is the one I need to read by next Wednesday.  So I plan to start this one right away.  Salvation at the Dairy Queen?  Sounds good to me!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Audiobook Review: Summer Island by Kristin Hannah

Title:  Summer Island

Author:  Kristin Hannah

Narrator:  Joyce Bean

Unabridged Length:  Aprox. 10 hrs

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

Years ago, Nora Bridge walked out on her marriage and left her daughters behind. She has since become a famous radio talk-show host and newspaper columnist beloved for her moral advice. Her youngest daughter, Ruby, is a struggling comedienne who uses her famous mother as fuel for her bitter, cynical humor. When the tabloids unearth a scandalous secret from Nora's past, their estrangement suddenly becomes dramatic: Nora is injured in an accident and a glossy magazine offers Ruby a fortune to write a tell-all about her mother. Under false pretenses, Ruby returns home to take care of the woman she hasn't spoken to for almost a decade.

Nora insists they retreat to Summer Island in the San Juans, to the lovely old house on the water where Ruby grew up, a place filled with childhood memories of love and joy and belonging. There Ruby is also reunited with her first love and his brother. Once, the three of them had been best friends, inseparable. Until the summer that Nora had left and everyone's hearts had been broken. . . .

What began as an expose evolves, as Ruby writes, into an exploration of her family's past. Nora is not the woman Ruby has hated all these years. Witty, wise, and vulnerable, she is desperate to reconcile with her daughter. As the magazine deadline draws near and Ruby finishes what has begun to seem to her an act of brutal betrayal, she is forced to grow up and at last to look at her mother--and herself--through the eyes of a woman. And she must, finally, allow herself to love.

My Review:
I was in desperate need of an audiobook so I stopped at the library one evening on my way home and was urged to pick up Summer Island by Kristin Hannah.  A few of the ladies in my book club have read a bunch of Hannah's books, while I've only read a couple, so I thought I would try another.  I did find enjoyment from the audioversion, but I can't say I am going to go on a quest tomorrow to read more of her books.

A rift was created between Nora and Ruby the day Nora walked out on her family many years ago.  Ruby retreated to San Francisco in hopes of starting her career as a comedy writer.  That became pretty much hopeless once her reputation was established, whereas no-one would even contact her for small one-line acting jobs.

Nora is a successful radio talk-show host known for giving knowledgeable advice.  Things go awry for her career when photographs are revealed of her in compromising positions during the time she would have been married.  Her fans can't help but wonder who they are getting advice from if she was having an affair while she was married.

In an effort to steer clear of the media, Nora heads to the family cottage on Summer Island.  But after her accident she can't stay there alone, so she pleads with Ruby to join her on the island to offer her assistance when needed.  Surprisingly, Ruby agrees, which puts them on a path to understanding each other and the decisions they made that have left wounded hearts along the way.

Besides the family drama in this novel, there is also a love story weaved into the storyline.  This part was predictable to me and may be why I didn't like the book as much as others may have.  I can't say I was overly impressed with Bean's narration of the novel either.   With themes of love, forgiveness, family, and illness, this book does have a lot to offer.  Although I didn't love it, the audio was entertaining and I do recommend it for those that are looking for a lighter read or fans of Kristin Hannah.

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  I borrowed this book from the public library for my own entertainment.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Mailbox Monday-November 19

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 BermudaOnion's Weblog.

Here is what came to my house:

This is the only book that showed up on my doorstep last week!  I ordered this one for one of my book club members since this is our current selection.  I'll be buying the Kindle version for myself.  I love the cover!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama

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

A powerful new novel about an ordinary family facing extraordinary times at the start of the Chinese Cultural Revolution
China, 1957. Chairman Mao has declared a new openness in society: “Let a hundred flowers bloom; let a hundred schools of thought contend.” Many intellectuals fear it is only a trick, and Kai Ying’s husband, Sheng, a teacher, has promised not to jeopardize their safety or that of their young son, Tao. But one July morning, just before his sixth birthday, Tao watches helplessly as Sheng is dragged away for writing a letter criticizing the Communist Party and sent to a labor camp for “reeducation.” 

A year later, still missing his father desperately, Tao climbs to the top of the hundred-year-old kapok tree in front of their home, wanting to see the mountain peaks in the distance. But Tao slips and tumbles thirty feet to the courtyard below, badly breaking his leg. 

As Kai Ying struggles to hold her small family together in the face of this shattering reminder of her husband’s absence, other members of the household must face their own guilty secrets and strive to find peace in a world where the old sense of order is falling. Once again, Tsukiyama brings us a powerfully moving story of ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances with grace and courage.

My Review:
Tsukiyama takes us into China when communism is in full force.  We are given a glimpse into the lives of one particular family, whose home once would have been considered luxurious, but now after the new laws have been put in place, they struggle to keep food on the table.  The chapters alternate between the various characters being told in third person.

I usually enjoy stories from this time period when the author takes us into the characters everyday struggles.  Something was missing from this novel for me though.  I can't say that I particularly enjoyed any of the characters or felt a special closesness or bond with them.  I also don't think the plot within the story itself was strong enough to want me to come back for more after I just closed my book for the day.

Life for everyone living within the villa became a hardship after Sheng, the breadwinner of the household, was taken away as a prisoner of the new Republic of China.  Everyone had new responsibilities and duties that were easily performed by Sheng in the past.  Young Tao has his own struggles after he falls out of a tree and breaks his leg.  This becomes a changing point for his life as he realizes things at home are not as they seem and life at school will never be the same.

All the characters in this novel carry their own burdens, but the one that I sympathize with most would probably be Wei.  Wei is Sheng's father and has held a secret deep in his heart since the day they took his son away.  One day Wei can no longer take the shame he feels that he has placed on his son's shoulders, and embarks on a journey to set things right.

As I indicated earlier, all the characters have their own crosses to bear, but I just didn't feel a connection to any of them.  Maybe I just missed something or was in the wrong frame of mind when reading this novel.  With themes of communism, China, family, and honor, you may enjoy this book more than I did.  

My Rating:  3/5

Disclosure:  This ebook was provided to me by the publisher through the Netgalley program in exchange for an honest review.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Teaser Tuesday-Nov. 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 Linen Queen by Patricia Falvey:
Because of the rationing we could not buy nylons in the shops, but the tea gave our legs a bit of color.  Then I took a black eyebrow pencil and carefully drew a line down the center of my calves to resemble a stocking seam.

pg. 30

Monday, November 12, 2012

Mailbox Monday-November 12

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 BermudaOnion's Weblog.

Here is what came to my house:
In Sunlight and in Shadow by Marki Helprin(audiobook)

When I requested In Sunlight and in Shadow, I didn't realize how long of an audiobook this is.  At 24 discs this will be the longest one I've listened to yet! 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Audiobook Review: Deliver Us From Evil by David Baldacci

Title:  Deliver Us From Evil

Author:  David Baldacci

Narrator:  Ron McLarty

Unabridged Length:  14hrs, 21 mn

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

In South America a 96-year-old man of great wealth reads a book late one night and an hour later he lies dead in his bed, the secrets of his past starkly revealed. Six months later another mystery man lies dead at the bottom of his pool in a villa in Provence. This time, however, there's a witness at the scene: Shaw, the shadowy operative from The Whole Truth, who barely escapes with his life. Meanwhile, a half a world away, photojournalist Katie James is working on a story of international importance. But shortly after her meeting with a potential inside source, she is smuggled unconscious onto an airplane headed to an undisclosed destination. In the days to come, Katie and Shaw will be reunited in a deadly duel of nerve and wits against a surprising, secretive enemy and led around the world at a breakneck pace. Filled with the kind of breathtaking plot turns and remarkable characters that only David Baldacci can deliver, it will be the most explosive thriller of the year. 

My Review:
This was an awesome book to listen to and it had me hooked from the opening scene.  McClarty does  a great job of narrating this action packed story that takes us through another of Shaw's assignments.  Little does Shaw know that another organization is tracking the same villain, but for a totally different purpose.

I enjoyed this audio so much that I went to see if I missed any other books that are part of the series.  At this time, the only other book with Shaw is The Whole Truth, which I also listened too, but enjoyed Deliver Us From Evil much more.  You can also read my review of The Whole Truth here if you are interested.

Shaw and his men are tracking down Waller, hoping to put an end to his part in a human trafficking ring.  During his assignment he crosses paths with Reggie and her crew who are tracking a man named Kuchen, for war crimes he was never convicted for.  Reggie has made a career of this, and cannot anticipate the monster that Kuchen really is.

I feel I should warn you that Kuchen truly is a monster.  There are torture scenes in this novel unlike any I have read previously.  And maybe that is because I don't usually read this genre, but they were very graphic, leaving me gripping my steering wheel and screaming down the highway like a nutjob.

Without giving too much away I will tell you Shaw and Reggie join forces to get their villain.  This book not only contains plenty of action, but even a little bit of romance.  And I think I also have to admit I developed quite a crush on Shaw.  I mean who wouldn't, with a 6'6" package of muscled man that also has a soft side?  I don't hesitate in recommending the audioversion of this novel.

My Rating:  4/5

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

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Teaser Tuesday-Nov. 6

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 Peace Like a River by Leif Enger:
Swede and I had been used to oratory; our former pastor could exhort like everything and owned what Dad said must be a special edition of the Holy Bible, for it contained things omitted from our own-references to card-playing, for example, and rock and roll, and the Russian people.  Our former minister had so much energy that simply pastoring wasn't enough; he also wrote regular editorials for the paper in the county seat of Montrose, which riled up readers and made him a star.

pg. 27

Monday, November 5, 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.

What I finished on my Kindle:
Although I wasn't overly impressed with A Hundred Flowers by Gail Tsukiyama I am still glad I read it.  Not one of my favorites from this time period.

What's on my Kindle now:
 Peace Like a River by Leif Enger is our current book club selection.  We meet on Wednesday night and I'm only halfway through it.....boy I hope I finish on time!

What's next:
I'm not making any promises, but I'm leaning towards The Linen Queen by Patricia Falvey for my next read.  This one has been on my ARC pile for over a year!

So what books will be keeping you busy as you watch the election results tomorrow night?

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Audiobook Review: Love Anthony by Lisa Genova

Title:  Love Anthony

Author:  Lisa Genova

Narrator:  Debra Messing

Unabridged Length:  Approx. 11 hrs

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

Two women, each cast adrift by unforseen events in their lives, meet by accident on a Nantucket beach and are drawn into a friendship.
Olivia is a young mother whose eight-year-old severely autistic son has recently died. Her marriage badly frayed by years of stress, she comes to the island in a trial separation to try and make sense of the tragedy of her Anthony’s short life.

Beth, a stay-at-home mother of three, is also recently separated after discovering her husband’s long-term infidelity. In an attempt to recapture a sense of her pre-married life, she rekindles her passion for writing, determined to find her own voice again. But surprisingly, as she does so, Beth also find herself channeling the voice of an unknown boy, exuberant in his perceptions of the world around him if autistic in his expression—a voice she can share with Olivia—(is it Anthony?)—that brings comfort and meaning to them both.

My Review:
I loved this novel that shows us the perspectives of two very different women that are brought into each others lives for a reason they do not understand.  Although their personal tragedies are different, they are connected by a force that gave me chills as I finished this book. This story is told from both Olivia and Beth in alternating chapters.  I enjoy books that are written in this format and this was no exception.  

After Beth separates from her husband she starts to focus on her life, wondering what happened to the woman she used to be.  She had dreams and desires that were put aside while she focused on her family.  As she assesses her situation, she remembers the joy she had for writing and decides to take up the craft once again.  This is the beginning of a journey, rekindling the person she originally intended too become.

Olivia decides to live alone in her Nantucket summer home year round after the death of her young son.  Not only is her marriage in trouble, but she also struggles with her inner self.  She can't seem to move on with her life, as she reads her old journals daily, describing her usual frustrations with her autistic son.  She is hard on herself as she recalls specific moments, angry she didn't do things differently.

Debra Messing was a wonderful narrator for this novel.  I will go as far to say that I would hate to hear someone else reading this novel.  She brought the characters to life for me, helping to stress the emotional scenes as they arose.  Of course, this wouldn't have been possible without Genova's creation of these characters.  I found it interesting when the writing project Beth was creating, developed into a character of it's own.  Entire chapters were even dedicated to her project.  I have to admit that about halfway through the book, I started to get tired of these chapters, but towards the end when I saw where Genova was going with the storyline, I was amazed.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you the ending of this novel gave me chills.

So much more happens within this novel but I think you should read it yourself to discover its beauty.  With themes of love, friendship, autism, and personal fulfillment, this book is one that shouldn't be missed.  Those reading it for leisure will not be disappointed, but I definitely think it would spark a wonderful book club discussion.  I highly recommend this novel in audiobook form.

My Rating:  5/5

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