Thursday, October 30, 2014

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - The Voices; F. R. Tallis

 Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think about this novel -- would you try it?
The Voices; F.R. Tallis
Pegasus - December 2014

From Edgar nominee F.R. Tallis, a new novel of psychological suspense that reinvents the classic haunted-house tale
In the scorching summer of 1976—the hottest since records began—Christopher Norton, his wife Laura and their young daughter Faye settle into their new home in north London.

The faded glory of the Victorian house is the perfect place for Norton, a composer of film soundtracks, to build a recording studio of his own. But soon in the long, oppressively hot nights, Laura begins to hear something through the crackle of the baby monitor. First, a knocking sound. Then come the voices.

For Norton, the voices mark an exciting opportunity. Putting his work to one side, he begins the project of a lifetime—a grand symphony incorporating the voices—and becomes increasingly obsessed with one voice in particular. Someone who is determined to make themselves heard . . .

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How To Be a Good Wife; Emma Chapman

How To Be a Good Wife; Emma Chapman
Picador - 2014
In this story Marta Bjornstad, is a married woman living in an unnamed Scandinavian county. She and her husband Hector, have an adult son named Kylan who lives away from home.  Marta never leaves the house, and it's clear from the very beginning of the novel that she suffers from some type of mental health issues, or at the very least something disturbing is going on in her life. She begins smoking and doesn't even know where the cigarettes came from. She also begins having visions of a young girl with blonde hair. 

Hector who is some 20 years older than Marta is always asking his wife if she has taken her medication. She tells him she has, but in truth she has not.  When her anxiety is running high she smokes.  Her mother-in-law is an annoying piece of work, always reminding her how important keeping a fine house and pleasing her husband is. On Marta and Hector's wedding day, the MIL gave her a book called, "How To Be a Good Wife", which Marta has long memorized, frequently reciting the things a "good wife" is expected to do.

So is Marta a reliable narrator?  How did she and Hector meet way back when? Are these visions Marta is having significant to something that may have happened early on in her life? 

This is a very good debut novel. The writing is edgy and driven by Marta's thoughts, feelings and actions. It is easy to feel sympathy for Marta as well.  There are very few characters in the story and not a lot happens, at least not until a dinner party for her son and his soon-to-be-wife. The evening throws Marta's fragile mental state even more off kilter.  This isn't a very long novel, but it's one that will be remembered. In some ways this novel reminded me of The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane -- not sure why, except that the protagonist in both stories led a very isolated life, that in some ways affected her well being.  I liked How To Be a Good Wife, even though felt a little disappointed by the ending.  It's a quick read a page turner as well - try it and see what you think.

4/5 stars
(sent by publisher)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

First Chapter First Paragraph ~ Tuesday Intros -The Remedy for Love; Bill Roorbach


Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.

The Remedy for Love; Bill Roorbach
Algonquin - 2014
Part One

One
"The young woman ahead of him in line at the Hannaford Superstore was unusually fragrant, smelled like wood smoke and dirty clothes and cough drops or maybe Ben Gay, eucalyptus anyway.  She was all but mummified in an enormous coat leaking feathers, some kind of army-issue garment from another era, huge hood pulled over her head.  Homeless, obviously, or as homeless as people were in this frosty part of the world--maybe living in an aunt's garage or on her old roommate's couch, common around Woodchuck (actually Woodchurch, though the nickname was use more often), population six thousand, more when college was in session, just your average Maine town, rural and self-sufficient."
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What do you think?


Feel free to join in and post the Intro from one of your reads by linking below.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Blatherings ~ Books and Movies


I love Sundays - especially those when I can throw on some sweats and never leave the house -- like today. A relaxing breakfast, a few cups of coffee, a crock pot full of chicken soup starting to smell wonderful, and a cookbook opened to desserts made from apples.  Life is good.

Movies - 

I've been on a bit of winning streak with picking great movies, so much so that my husband has told me he'll let me pick the next one as well.  Last week it was Gone Girl and this week The Judge (Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall (just awesome).  Have you seen  it?  Next pick will be Birdman (Michael Keaton and Ed Norton), provided it gets a full release as it's only in select cities right now.

Books - 

I've got a few books going right now and have been switching off depending on how tired I am.  Edge of Eternity (audio/eGalley) Ken Follett (very good), The Girl Who Fell From the Sky; Heidi Durrow (very good) and Nora Webster; Colm Toibin (very good) (audio/eGalley).

New Books - 
I added (4) books to my shelves last week, but gave away about (30) that I never read so I guess I am ahead of the game (in my mind).
Enjoy Your Day!

Friday, October 24, 2014

2014 Kids Books ~ Candlewick Press - I'm My Own Dog; David Ezra Stein and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole; Mac Barnett (Jon Klassen, Illus)

I'm My Own Dog; David Ezra Stein
Candlewick Press - 2014

I'm My Own Dog is an adorable story about a dog who seemed quite content being "his own dog" and not needing anyone in his life.  

One day all that changes when he has an itch that is driving him crazy and that he cannot reach no matter how hard he tries.  He let's a human scratch his back for him and it felt good. Soon the human followed him home and the dog began to show the human all the things he liked to do alone.  Before long each has a new best friend.

My granddaughter loved this book and so did I. It's one of those books that will be read over and over again. It's a keeper.  The drawings are so cute and colorful, the typeface is fun and bold, with just the right amount of words on each page. Be sure to add this one to your bookshelves; a perfect preschool choice.

5/5 stars
(sent by publisher)

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole; Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (illustrator)
Candlewick Press - 2014

Sam and Dave decide to dig a hole and they are determined to keep digging until the find something "spectacular."  They dig down deep, deeper --nothing. They dig side ways --nothing, they even split up in different directions --still nothing.  Each illustration shows them digging themselves into deeper and deeper trouble; exhausted by all of the digging, Sam and Dave fall asleep.

When they wake up what has happened made me scratch my head and think...what the heck? It's one of those stories where different readers will have different opinions on what has happened. Personally, I feel like I was left in the dust.

The illustrations are cute and very well done in earth tones on a matte finish. This is probably not a good choice for preschool children in my opinion as there isn't much to discuss other than to point out how big the hole is getting as they dig.  I haven't been asked to reread this one yet.

3/5 stars
(sent by publisher)

We did love Extra Yarn (2012) by this author/illustrator team though.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Purr Therapy: What Timmy & Marina Taught Me About Life, Love and Loss; Kathy McCoy PhD

 
  Kathy McCoy PhD - HCI -2014

As a cat lover, I was immediately drawn to the title "Purr Therapy", and curious about how cats, who tend to have a mind of their own, could be used as a therapy pet.  The book, which I guess you could say is part memoir was written by a psychotherapist who shares with readers how two of her cats were successfully used as pet therapy in her private practice.  She explains how the cats helped some of her clients to deal with anger, family/marital issues, loss and to lessen one's grief.

The two therapy cat's were Timmy, a Burmese and red-tabby mix, and after Timmy's needless death by way of tainted cat food, Marina, a flame-point Siamese became the next therapy cat. Sadly, Marina's life was cut short as well due to feline leukemia. Each cat had different personalities, but both could seem to sense when a client in distress needed them on their lap or close by. A therapy cat helped relax some patients and helped therapy progress.

The author shares some details of her sessions with clients and how the therapy cat would react to different types of clients. She also shares some of her personal life challenges and tells how her cats helped her and her husband in trying times, and also gives some lessons to be learned about loss and grieving.

For the most part I thought the book and photos were good, but there was some repetition, and (3) of the cats do die. One thing that really bothered me and it happened right at the beginning of the book, making me almost close it for good, was the story she told about another cat of hers - a 17 year-old cat named Freddie, who was dying from cancer and kidney failure.  According to the author , "the cancer came back, and it spread with vengeance, destroying Freddie's nose, upper lip, and palate." Devastated by the thought of losing him they gave him saline treatments at home, and yet allowed him to roam the neighborhood even when he was sick (seemed like inhumane treatment IMO)  I was really bothered by this and if it's true, it probably would have been better to leave this information out of the book.


3/5 stars
(eGalley)

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - The Boston Girl; Anita Diamant


 Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think about this novel -- would you try it? 

The Boston Girl; Anita Diamant
Scribner - December -2014

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.

 Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

 Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Five Days Left; Julie Lawson Timmer

Five Days Left; Julie Lawson Timmer
Putnam - 2014

Five Days Left - How would you spend the if you knew someone that you loved was going away for good or that you had five days left to live?  Mara Nichols and Scott Coffman are the individuals for who "five days left" is reality.  The two don't know one another other than interactions in an on-line chat room for individuals with non-traditional families.

Mara is a lawyer, a wife and a mother of a child who was adopted from India and is now in kindergarten.  Adopted herself and unfamiliar with her genetic background, she receives some shocking news, a diagnosis of Huntington's disease, a disease that is always fatal, but not before the neurological impact destroys the body by way of physical, cognitive and psychological changes; There is no cure for this disease. Now as she approaches 42, Mara is seeing some of the effects of this disease.  She is planning to end her life before her body and mind are completely compromised.

Scott is a middle school teacher and foster parent to an eight-year old boy named Curtis (Little Man), a child he has fallen in love with. The child's mother is in jail, but is about to be released, and the child is to be returned to her. Scott and his wife have had the boy for one year and are pleased with his progress. Scott should be thrilled that he and his wife are expecting a baby of their own, but instead he is filled with sadness over his impending loss.

The story is told in alternating voices over the "five days left".  It is a heart wrenching story for very different reasons. It touches on many different areas -  love, sacrifice, letting go, the right to end one's life etc.  I thought Mara's character felt very real given her situation. Scott's situation was compelling as well.  This is a very good debut novel, but definitely not a book for everyone. It is an emotional read, but I do think it would make a good choice for book club discussions.

4.5/5 stars
(review copy)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - What Nora Knew; Linda Yellin


Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon. This one sounds light and fun.

What Nora Knew; Linda Yellin
Gallery Books - 2014
Prologue

Ten minutes after saying "I do" at The Garden City Hotel in Long Island, I was already having my doubts.  But how do you say "I don't" to a man who's considered quite the catch.  Everyone was constantly telling me--even strangers--that Evan Naboshek, of the firm Naboshek, Halla, and Weiss, was a fabulous hell of a prize.
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What do you think?
Feel free to join in and post the Intro from one of your reads by linking below.
 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Blatherings - and New Books

Sunday has slipped by and it's almost bedtime but thought I'd do a quick post.  Did you have a good weekend?

I was not a huge fan of the novel, Gone Girl, but everyone had been raving about the movie, and heck Ben Affleck is easy on my eyes, so yesterday I convinced my husband to go see the movie. WOW WOW WOW - 2 hours and 40 minutes and it just flew by. We both LOVED the movie, so much we will be sure to see this one again multiple times when it's mass released. Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

I didn't get much reading done this weekend or review writing either for that matter. No excuses, it just wasn't in the cards.  I did get some new books in the mail over the last few weeks that look rather good.

Have a Good Week All and Happy Reading