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?