Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reading Meme

I've been feeling like I'm fight off something nasty and have been sleeping a lot lately day and night.  So since I have not been doing much reading, I thought I might give my 2-cents on one of these memes that have been going around for the last week so. Jane's Post, inspired me, so here are the (11) questions posed by Jane:

1. Which is your favorite genre, and has that changed over time?
When I started reading as an adult, it was mostly romance (Danielle Steel) or horror (Stephen King, Peter Staub)While I still like Stephen King, my favorite genre is literary  or contemporary fiction (no romance please).

2. Do you create a reading list for the year and if so, how well do you stick to it?

I don't create a reading list as I never seem to stick with it when I tried that. I am more of a mood reader.

3. Do you have a reading goal for the year, such as xxx books? Why or why not?

I do have a goal -- It's (125) for 2012.  At one time I read over (200) books a year, but that was when I only worked 3 days a week.

4. Who is your favorite living author?
I actually have too many favorite authors -- have long been a fan of: Stephen King, Anita Shreve, Chris Bohjalian, I also like Margaret Atwood, Hilary Mantel and many others.

5. What's your experience with reading challenges?
I love to participate, but always feel compelled to finish what I start, so I try and keep my challenges to a manageable number -- (5) this year I think.

6. How do your organize your books on shelves--alphabetically (by author or title), by genre, by publication date, or some other method? 

No particular science here -- I do tend to keep all books by a particular author together, and the same is true for favorite imprints, such as Europa and Persephone books I own I also have a few shelves of books I hope to read sooner than later.

7. Do you read e-books or audio books?
Love both eBooks and audio books, and preferring eBooks to print books lately.

8. How do you choose what to read next?
Sometimes it's a book i feel compelled to read, because I've committed to review it -- try to make fewer commitments though. As I mentioned I am a mood reader and need to read what I want when I want.

9. Do you read books in parallel or strictly serial?
Hmmm- not quite clear on this question??

10. Which books have had the biggest impact on your life?
Mostly Classics like - To Kill a Mockingbird, Death Be Not Proud , A Separate Peace -- books I read early in life that made a huge impression on me.

11. Which characters have you felt are the most real or believable? 
I tend to gravitate to books with a first-person narrator, as they seem the most realistic to me.

No tagging or new questions from me, but feel free to play along.

February in Review

Happy Leap Month
(where did February go?)

Two months of 2012 -- gone --how did that happen?
I've been feeling a bit stressed lately, and feel like my reading has slowed.  I did get some reading done, but would have liked to accomplish more.  Here is what my month looked like:

  1. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother; Amy Chua (NF-audio) - 1/5
  2. Catch Me; Lisa Gardner - 4/5 (psychological thriller) 
  3. No Buddy Left Behind; Terri Crisp and Cindy Hurn - 5/5 (non fiction)
  4. Fairy Tale Interrupted; Rose Marie Terenzio - 1/5 (eBook) 
  5. We the Animals; Justin Torres (contemporary fiction - audio book) 
  6. A Moveable Feast; Ernest Hemingway (memoir) - 4.5/5
  7. Lone Wolf; Jodi Picoult (contemporary fiction - 5/5)
Books in Progress  
  1. Horns; Joe Hill (audio book)


  1. It's Complicated ( 4th time seeing this one)
  2. Blind Side (2nd time seeing this one)
 March Plans

March is going to be a very busy month for me, so I am thinking that I probably will not be getting a lot of reading done.  I am participating in a 3-month long read-a-thon of Bleak House by Charles Dickens (this may be a huge mistake given what the month ahead looks like.  In addition, I plan to finish the audio book, Horns - Joe Hill (a really good audio). I also want to read: The Beginner's Goodbye; Anne Tyler, Dirt; David Vann, The Professor's Assassin, Matthew Pearl, the prequel to his latest release, The Technologists.

How did your month go? Any plans for March?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Lone Wolf; Jodi Picoult

Title:  Lone Wolf
Author:  Jodi Picoult
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Atria
Edition: Hardcover
Setting: New Hampshire
Source: sent by publisher
Date Completed: 2/26/2012
Rating: 5/5
Recommend: yes

Jodi Picoult, is an author known for her novels dealing with complex and controversial issues,  Her 19th novel, Lone Wolf,  just released.  The story for the most part takes place in Beresford, New Hampshire, and once again, it's a story which packs a punch.

When Cara Warren, age 17, calls her father, Luke to pick her up after being out with friends who have had a bit too much to drink, father and daughter are involved in a serious automobile accident.  Where Cara recovers from her injuries after surgery, her father is not so lucky. Luke has suffered a TMI (traumatic brain injury) and has only a 10% chance of recovery.  He is being kept alive by life support -- a ventilator and feeding tube.

Luke is divorced from Cara's mom Georgie, and has been estranged from their son Edward for the last six years.  Edward, left home at age 18, after an incident involving his father Luke.  He left a note for his mother, but never bothered to said goodbye to his father.  When Edward receives a frantic call from his mother, Georgie, informing him about his sister and father's accident, Edward takes a 24 hour flight home from Bangkok, Thailand where he has been living and teaching.

With no legal advance directives in place for Luke, the siblings find themselves at odds over whether or not to end their father's life, and a legal battle ensues.  To complicate matters, Edward locates a handwritten note of his fathers, giving him the authority to make decisions for him if he were ever unable to make them for himself. Edward was just 15 at the time that both parties signed the note.  It was signed at a time when Luke, a man with a Zoology degree who loved the great outdoors, had decided to leave his family to spend (2) years in the Canadian forest living among the wolves and studying wolf migration.  The same man who use to tell his children that if he could have chosen to never interact with humans again he would have. ---According to Luke, "animals don't disappoint as humans do."

----" A wolf pack is like the Mafia, everyone has a position in it; everyone is expected to pull it's own weight."

---"My father taught me wolves can read emotion and illnesses the way humans read headlines."

The story is told in alternating chapters by the characters.  Luke, Georgie, Cara, Edward, and Georgie's new husband Joe, an attorney.  All of the characters were developed, most were sympathetic, and each interesting and complex in their own way. Some of the characters have baggage and secrets, each has a story to tell. I enjoyed all of their stories however, in my opinion, it was with Luke's character that the author outdid herself  with some powerful characterization -- simply fantastic.

As I read the chapters from Luke's POV, I was moved by all that I read about the world of wolves, and interesting dynamics between pack behaviors, and human behavior.  Throughout the story Luke compares how wolves versus humans might have reacted in a particular situation. It is obvious that Picoult did her homework while researching the behaviors of wolves with experts in the field. Luke's childhood and young adulthood, his life as a husband and father, is ever-so-interesting, as is the in-depth account about his life spent among the wolves.  A man who many people thought of as a genius, while others thought of as insane.  The writing in this area is riveting!  I loved how the author was able to demonstrate Luke's less than perfect parenting skills, but yet his unquestionable love for his children.

---"People assumed that the reason I walked away from the pack that day was because of the harsh conditions had finally become overwhelming -- the weather, the cold, the near starvation, the constant threat of predators.  But the real reason I came back is much simpler.  -- If I hadn't left at that moment, I know I would have stayed forever".

As you can probably tell, I really loved Lone Wolf. It was at times both thought-provoking and emotional.  Especially heartfelt was watching what Georgie had to endure, as she witnessed her two children battling over their father's fate.  This page-turner should make for some lively book club discussions. Highly Recommended.

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (sometimes two) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.  This week's selection is from a book by an author I've enjoyed in the past, Anne Tyler.  Her latest book is scheduled to release on April 3rd -- Knopf Publishers.


"The strangest thing about my wife's return from the dead was how other people reacted."
"We were strolling through Belvedere Square, for instance, on an early-spring afternoon when we met our old next-door neighbor, Jim Rust.  'Well, what do you know,' he said to me. 'Aron!'  Then he noticed Dorothy beside me.  She stood peering up at him with one hand shielding her forehead from the sun.  His eyes widened and he turned to me again."

What do you think of this intro? Would you keep on reading?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. February's host is Kim of Metroreader.

Did you get some new books last week? Here's what I received:

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Saturday Snapshots - Motherhood

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.

My brain has been on overload lately because of so much going on in the next month: (2) baby showers - co-hosting one, a trip to. I haven't been snapping any photos, and was actually running out of ideas for Saturday posts, until the wonderful, gave me an idea recently. She featured a post about some of her favorite art she's collected.

I have also always loved meaningful pieces of art as well. Every item hung on our home has some meaning to me.  So although the lighting wasn't perfect when I took these, (we have lots of windows and sun glare), I decided to feature (3) of about (15) this week.

(click on photo to get more detail)

(this one reminds me of my wonderful days as a young mother)

(more memories of when my (2) children were young)

(this one is above a landing half way above 
a winding staircase so it was really tough to capture)

Friday, February 24, 2012

A Moveable Feast; Hemingway ~ Read-a-Long - Weeks (1) (2) and (3) and Wrap Up

A Moveable Feast
Overall Rating - 4.5/5

Final Thoughts 
(possible spoilers)
  • The fact that this book was published after Ernest Hemingway's death, makes me wonder, what if anything was embellished.  I liked the writing style  -- it was easy reading and held my interest. Not sure the style would have worked as well, had it been a longer book.
  • I loved Hemingway's reflections about his earlier days and happier times as a young writer.  His first wife Hadley seemed to be the love of his life. She really seemed to love him.  I was amazed that Hemingway did not feel he was to blame for the break-up of his marriage to Hadley, but that it was instead his second wife Pauline's fault that he was unfaithful!! Really???
  • It was engaging to travel with Hemingway as he spent time in cafes bookshops, and just traveling in and around Paris.  It was interesting to learn about his relationships with, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, and especially with F. Scott Fitzgerald.
  • However, for an obviously intelligent man, at times I found him incredibly naive. His story about his trip with Fitzgerald to pick up his car and drive from Switzerland to Paris had me laughing out loud.
  • I thought it was so sad to see his downward spiral -- too much alcohol and bouts of depression which seemed to make him very bitter, and the likely cause of his ultimate suicide.
  • Overall rating - 4.5/5
In Week # 3 - I was fascinated by what I read about F. Scott Fitzgerald, and his wife Zelda (one crazy lady).

(Hemingway about Fitzgerald)
"...If he could write a book as fine as The Great Gatsby, I was sure he could write an even better one.  I did not know Zelda yet, and so I did not know the terrible odds that were against him. But we were to find out soon enough."

Zelda was a big drinker often drinking more than her husband. When F. Scott did not join her, she called him a "spoilsport" or even ridiculed him publicly.  She was jealous of Scott's writing, so when he sat down to do some serious writing, she'd claim she was bored and get him to leave his writing and go and party and get drunk.  As jealous as Zelda was of Scott's writing, Scott was equally as jealous about Zelda and other men.  She was good at making him feel insecure about his manhood and his ability to please her sexually.

Hemingway had a deep affection for Fitzgerald, nursed him when he was sick, encouraged him, and detested Zelda for the way she treated her husband.

"Scott did not write anything any more that was good until after he knew she was insane".  (We later learn that Zelda had at least one nervous breakdown)

I found a few interesting links I wanted to share about Hemingway, and also about the nickname "Tatie" that Hemingway's wife Hadley gave him.
Paula McLain, author of Paris Wife states that "tatie" was a name they called each other,  but I'm still not sure why?.
For more feedback of this week's reading visit, Unputdownables.

In Week # 2 - participants were asked to read through Chapter 17, (50 pages), and although chapters still held my interest, I did not enjoy these chapters quite as much as much as I did last week's reading.

"In those days we did not trust anyone who had not been in the war, but we did not completely trust anyone...."

In these chapters the reader was introduced to Ezra Pound and he wife Dorothy (both seemed to be struggling a bit financially at that time, by the way their studio was described.  Hemingway teaches Pound to box.  There seemed like a lot of interest in gambling related activities: poker playing, horse racing, boxing.

We also see Hemingway's friendship with Gertrude Stein slip away, but in these chapters he gets to spend time with F. Scott Fitzgerald.  This author seemed like a piece of work. He was also one who seemed to enjoy alcohol a bit too much.

At one point F. Scott asks Hemingway to meet him in the morning to take the train to Lyon to pick up his car, and then they could drive back together. Hemingway was looking forward to spending time with the older and more experienced writer. F. Scott, however, was not at the train station in the morning.  Hemingway was annoyed and had a temper, but by the time the (2) of them eventually hooked up, he got his anger out of his system but, he "demoted him from F. Scott to Fitzgerald".

(I liked this passage) -- "I rang for the waiter.  He didn't come and I rang again and then went down the hall to look for him.  Scott was lying with his eyes closed, breathing slowly and carefully and, with his waxy color and his perfect features, he looked like a little dead crusader.  I was getting tired of the literary life that I was leading, and already I missed not working and I felt the death of loneliness that comes at the end of every day that is wasted in your life......"

Probably the thing I noticed most about Hemingway in last week's chapters was, how very sexist he seemed. I realize it was the 1920's but he really seemed to enjoy writing about the way the women he met were built!

(p. 84 - Hemingway's description of the (2) models posing for the painter Pascin)...."The two models were young and pretty.  One was very dark, small, beautifully built with a falsely fragile depravity.  She was a lesbian who also liked men.  The other was child-like and dull but very pretty in a childish way.  She was not as well built as her sister, but neither was anyone else that spring."

(p.86 - Hemingway's description of Pound's wife Dorothy) "Dorothy's paintings I liked very much and I thought Dorothy was very beautiful and built wonderfully."

(p. 121 --There was a wonderful German girl who skied with us.  She was a great mountain skier, small and beautifully built...."

In Week # 1 of the "A Moveable Feast"  Read-A-Long, participants were asked to read through Chapter 7 (oops -- it was suppose to be to Chapter 9 -- I goofed).  Despite that, I admit that isn't a lot to expect of readers, but with several books going at once and a very busy busy weekend with no time for reading, I found myself starting and reading all the chapters required in one sitting one Friday during a long lunch.

For those who are not familiar with this book, it is a memoir of Ernest Hemingway's time spent in Paris in the 1920s  The writing style is very casual, readable and at times tender and affection. I found his accounts of his very poor beginnings starting out as a writer, both interesting and engaging.

"It was wonderful to walk down the long flight of stairs knowing that I'd had good luck working.  I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped when I knew what was going to happen next.  That way I could be sure of going on the next day.  But sometimes when I was starting a new story and I could not get it going, I would sit in front of the fire ans squeeze the peel of the little oranges into the edge of the flame and watch the sputter of blue that they made.  I would stand and look over the roofs of Paris and think, Do not worry. You have always written before and you will write again now. All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence you now."

The chapter are very short and the way they flow makes it each chapter flow into the next quite well.  I especially liked the introduction and description of Gertrude Stein and her companion. It made me chuckle.

Miss Stein was "very big but not tall and was heavily built like a peasant woman. She had beautiful eyes and a strong German-Jewish face.........." Her companion (Alice) had a very pleasant voice, was small, very dark, with a haircut like "Joan of Arc in the Boutet de Monvel illustrations and had a very hooked nose........"

Hemingway and his wife Hadley (who called her husband Tatie), developed a friendship with the couple while in Paris. Stein, as I'm sure many of you know was an influential writer, and art collector of post-impressionist art. Even though Stein is extremely opinionated, I did enjoy their discussions about books and authors.  And speaking of books, I also loved reading about the rental library of Shakespeare and Company, a library and book store owned  by Sylvia Beach. Beach was a sweet, charming and welcoming sort of person who was always delighted to see Hemingway.

I'll continue my post about book next Sunday, but I already can tell I'm going to enjoy it very much.   I know some of my readers have also enjoyed this one.  Have you read it? Loved it? Hated it?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Literary Giveaway Winner is.......

Thank you to the (90) individuals who took the time to enter my literary giveaway.  Your response was overwhelming.  It was so much fun to visit some new blogs in the process. Unfortunately, there can be just (1) winner.

 It's  Debbie Rodgers/Exurbanis, and the book she selected was:

Congratulations Debbie!

We the Animals; Justin Torres

Title:  We the Animals
Author:  Justin Torres
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Edition: audio
Reader: Frankie Alvarez (very good)
Source: Library
Date Completed: 2/21/2012
Rating: 4.5/5
Recommend: yes

 We the Animals is a coming-of-age story about (3) young brothers of mixed-race parents, growing up in a poor, and abusive home in upstate New York.  It's one of those rare stories that was just so well written, it is sure to stay with me for a long while.  Unabridged on just (3) cds, or under (150) pages in print, this story packs a punch. 

The story is narrated by the youngest brother, just 7, whose name is never revealed, a boy who seems to adore his older brothers just  9, and 10, when the story begins.  Told over a period of (6) years,the novel covers significant childhood experiences, often jaw-dropping, that the brothers witnessed or experienced while living with their mixed-race parents, "Ma and Paps". Parents who married and became parents when they were still in their teens.

Paps is often unemployed and takes his anger out on his family.  Ma works nights at a brewery, is often depressed and distant.  The parents fight, kiss and make up, fight, over and over again while the boys witness it all. The house is often without food, so the brothers scrounge for scraps and run around wild and unsupervised. The title seems so appropriate -- We the Animals, is brief, but intense. 

" And when our Paps came home, we got spankings. Our little round butt cheeks were tore up: red, raw, leather-whipped. We knew there was something on the other side of pain, on the other side of the sting. Prickly heat radiated upward from our thighs and backsides, fire consumed our brains, but we knew that there was something more, someplace our Paps was taking us with all this. We knew, because he was meticulous, because he was precise, because he took his time. He was awakening us; he was leading us somewhere beyond burning and ripping, and you couldn’t get there in a hurry."
 It seems so inappropriate to say I enjoyed this book, because it left me with a feeling of sadness.  It made me think of just how many children grow up with this level of dysfunction in their lives.  Readers who gravitate toward coming of age stories, especially ones about children growing up in an abusive and highly dysfunctional home, should appreciate the writing talents of this new author.  The only reason that I gave this book a 4.5/5 instead of a 5/5 was because I was not thrilled with the ending.

Waiting on Wednesday - The Beginner's Goodbye; Anne Tyler

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WOW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine. My pick is by an author I've enjoyed in the past:

The Beginner's Goodbye; Anne Tyler
Knopf - April 3

(Description) - Anne Tyler gives us a wise, haunting, and deeply moving new novel in which she explores how a middle-aged man, ripped apart by the death of his wife, is gradually restored by her frequent appearances--in their house, on the roadway, in the market. — Crippled in his right arm and leg, Aaron has spent his childhood fending off a sister who wants to manage him. So when he meets Dorothy, a plain, outspoken, independent young woman, she is like a breath of fresh air. Unhesitatingly, he marries her, and they have a relatively happy, unremarkable marriage.

But when a tree crashes into their house and Dorothy is killed, Aaron feels as though he has been erased forever. Only Dorothy's unexpected appearances from the dead help him to live in the moment and to find some peace.

Gradually he discovers, as he works in the family's vanity-publishing business, turning out titles that presume to guide beginners through the trials of life, that maybe for this beginner there is a way of saying goodbye.

A beautiful, subtle exploration of loss and recovery, pierced throughout with Anne Tyler's humor, wisdom, and always penetrating look at human foibles.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (sometimes two) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.  This week's selection is from a book I just had to buy in hard cover when it was first released in ( 2003 ), and yet I still haven't read it.  Do you do this as well?

The Hills at Home; Nancy Clark
(2003 - Pantheon)

"Outside, the night blew perfectly foul and all of the Hills had stayed home.  Rain flung itself by the fistful against the clapboards, rain spangled the windowpanes, and the rain bore down so hard against the roof that shots bounced up from the slates and rained down again in shattery shards and splinters.  The wind wheeled round and the started rain skidded sideways.  The rain sought, the rain battered, the rain invaded.  This was an extravagant rain, as if somewhere, somehow, someone, miserly and profligate in turn, had been amassing rain until he possessed enough to hurl down fiercely and decisively upon the helplessly spinning earth."

I don't know about you, but I was totally turned off by this intro/ first paragraph, and the (10) times the word "rain" was used. -- I get it, the weather was terrible!  

I won't be reading this one as I actually need to finish a few other (in progress) books before starting anything else new. So sadly, after (9) years, this book gets plopped into my "donate" bag unread.  Has anyone read this book, and enjoyed it?  I know I bought it because (1) I loved the cover and (2) it was set in New England, but despite that, I don't  think it's for me.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. February's host is Kim of Metroreader. This week's new books:

The Receptionist: An Education at the New Yorker
Far From Here
The House of Velvet and Glass
Defending Jacob: A Novel
A Walk Across the Sun

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop Begins Today!

The Literary Giveaway Blog Hop  is hosted by Judith of Leeswammes Blog.  It runs from Saturday, February 18th through  Wednesday, February 22nd.  (58) bloggers are participating, each will be giving away some literary selections in the process.

If you are a new visitor to my blog, I'd describe it as a mixture of book reviews generally, literary or contemporary fiction, with some non fiction, with an occasional review of a children's book I may find delightful.  I also like to showcase soon to be released books that appeal to me and, I've been known to post occasional photos I take, hoping that some readers might enjoy a change from just books now and then

For first time visitors, I hope you will become regular visitors after today. If you are an old friend, THANK YOU, as you all make blogging worthwhile. I LOVE COMMENTS, and will try to visit your blog as often as time allows in return.

Here's what the winner will receive:

Winner will select (1) Literary Fiction Title from Amazon.Com 

DETAILS for a Chance to Win
  • Open to US and International residents
  • One entry per person 
  • If you are new to my blog and have never commented here before today, you MUST become a follower to be entered in the giveaway. 
  • Leave a comment telling me which Literary fiction book you would like me to send you if you win, and a way to contact you
  • Current friends and followers - I know who you are): What literary fiction title would you like to win?
  • You need not have a blog to enter
  • GOOD LUCK to EVERYONE who gets entered.
  • Winners will be selected after 8PM on the East coast on Wednesday - February 22nd
  • THANKS so much for stopping by. I hope you visit again sometime.
  • Now I'm off to visit other participating blogs.
Below is a complete list of the blogs participating in this giveaway:
  1. Leeswammes
  2. Curiosity Killed The Bookworm
  3. Lit Endeavors (US)
  4. The Book Whisperer
  5. Rikki's Teleidoscope
  6. 2606 Books and Counting
  7. The Parrish Lantern
  8. Sam Still Reading
  9. Bookworm with a view
  10. Breieninpeking (Dutch readers)
  11. Seaside Book Nook
  12. Elle Lit (US)
  13. Nishita's Rants and Raves
  14. Tell Me A Story
  15. Living, Learning, and Loving Life (US)
  16. Book'd Out
  17. Uniflame Creates
  18. Tiny Library (UK)
  19. An Armchair by the Sea (UK)
  20. bibliosue
  21. Lena Sledge's Blog (US)
  22. Roof Beam Reader
  23. Misprinted Pages
  24. Mevrouw Kinderboek (Dutch readers)
  25. Under My Apple Tree (US)
  26. Indie Reader Houston
  27. Book Clutter
  28. I Am A Reader, Not A Writer (US)
  29. Lizzy's Literary Life
  30. Sweeping Me
  31. Caribousmom (US)
  32. Minding Spot (US)
  33. Curled Up With a Good Book and a Cup of Tea
  34. The Book Diva's Reads
  35. The Blue Bookcase
  36. Thinking About Loud!
  37. write meg! (US)
  38. Devouring Texts
  39. Thirty Creative Studio (US)
  40. The Book Stop
  41. Dolce Bellezza (US)
  42. Simple Clockwork
  43. Chocolate and Croissants
  44. The Scarlet Letter (US)
  45. Reflections from the Hinterland (N. America)
  46. De Boekblogger (Europe, Dutch readers)
  47. Readerbuzz (US)
  48. Must Read Faster (N. America)
  50. carolinareti
  51. MaeGal
  52. Ephemeral Digest
  53. Scattered Figments (UK)
  54. Bibliophile By the Sea
  55. The Blog of Litwits (US)
  56. Kate Austin
  57. Alice Anderson (US)
  58. Always Cooking up Something


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Fairy Tale Interrupted: A Memoir of Life, Love and Loss; Rose Marie Terenzio

Author:  Rose Marie Terenzio
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Gallery Books
Edition: eBook / Kindle
Source: Purchase
Date Completed: 2/13/2012
Rating: 1/5
Recommend: no

I'm one of those people who has long been fascinated by the Kennedy mystique.  Remembering vividly where I was when I learned that President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963, and where I was when I learned that JFK Jr's plane en route to Hyannis had disappeared on the fateful day in July of 1999.  Since I haven't read much about JFK Jr's adult life, I couldn't wait to read this memoir, written by his executive assistant, who worked for him during the last (5) years of his life.

I had a hard time writing this review because, I was very disappointed by this book.  It was very boring, lacked any real depth or insight into the lives JFK Jr or his wife Carolyn Bessette.  The book did not even have any photographs of people, just a few photos with some hand-scratched notes.  I wondered as I read why the author waited over (12 Years) since the couple's death to write this book as well.

The author, Rose Marie Terenzio, had been working for a PR firm in NYC when her boss began a new business venture with JFK Jr, hence, how she landed the job as his executive assistant.  She shares day to day experiences about screening John's calls, keeping his appointments straight and the secrecy required working for such a high-profile individual, and the launching of George magazine.  She writes about when he began dating Carolyn, shortly after his mother died, and how he asked Carolyn to marry him while out on a boat fishing on Martha's Vineyard the following year.  We learn very little about their very small and private wedding on an island in Cumberland, GA, the planning which all had to kept a secret.  The reader does learn that John was a fly by the seat of his pants sort of guy, often disorganized, and known for springing plans last minute on his wife and others.

I guess what annoyed me about this book was the fact that while I was lead to believe, it was about lessons that Rosie might have learned from working for John, but what I was really left with after reading this book was a feeling of a lot of self-promoting by the author. She tells how she was envied because of her job.  How she was included in all of the special functions, getting the best seat to concerts, and how Carolyn took her under her wing, gave her a sense of style and often picked up the tab as well.  Rosie shared Carolyn's unhappiness about being badgered by the media, and photographers trying to snap shots of her every time she walked the dog or went for coffee. To me, those were things that most people already knew about Carolyn already.

Very disappointed I bought this book -- There really wasn't anything interesting or new to be learned about John or Carolyn.

Has anyone else read this book?  I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Waiting on Wednesday; Broken Harbour; Tana French

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WOW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine. My pick is:

(cover is from UK edition)
US Pub - Viking - July 24, 2012

In Broken Harbour, a ghost estate outside Dublin - half-built, half-inhabited, half-abandoned - two children and their father are dead. The mother is on her way to intensive care. Scorcher Kennedy is given the case because he is the Murder squad's star detective. At first he and his rookie partner, Richie, think this is a simple one: Pat Spain was a casualty of the recession, so he killed his children, tried to kill his wife Jenny, and finished off with himself. But there are too many inexplicable details and the evidence is pointing in two directions at once. Scorcher's personal life is tugging for his attention. Seeing the case on the news has sent his sister Dina off the rails again, and she's resurrecting something that Scorcher thought he had tightly under control: what happened to their family, one summer at Broken Harbour, back when they were children. The neat compartments of his life are breaking down, and the sudden tangle of work and family is putting both at risk ...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (sometimes two) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.  This week's selection is from Jodi Picoult's soon to be released novel (2/28/2012),  Lone Wolf.

 (Emily Bestler Books/Atria)


" Seconds before our truck slams into the tree, I remember the first time I tried to save a life.

I was just thirteen, and I'd just moved back with my father.  Or, more accurately, my clothes were once again hanging in my former bedroom,  But I was living out of a backpack in a trailer on the north end of Redmond's Trading Post & Dinosaur World.  That's where my father's captive wolf packs were housed, along with gibbons, falcons, an overweight lion, and the animatronic T. rex that roared on the hour.  Since that is where my father spent 99 percent of his time, it was expected that I follow. "

Do you plan to read this one? What do you think of the intro?

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. February's host is Kim of Metroreader.

This week's (by mail arrivals):

How was Your Week for New Books?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Literary Giveaway Blog Hop (Feb. 18-22)

The awesome Judith is once again coordinating a Literary Giveaway Blog Hop.  I've participated in a few of these Literary Giveaways previously, and it was such fun finding new book blogs in the process.  This event is taking place from Saturday February 18th until (and including) Wednesday February 22nd. If you’ve been wanting to give away a book to your readers, maybe to show your appreciation or because you have a special celebration, this is your chance to join up with others.

More details:
  • This event is an opportunity to give away prizes and get more traffic to your blog. You will run your own giveaway, but it will be linked up to all other participants via a links list (which I will give you just before the event). That way, not just your readers, but also the readers from the other participating blogs will stop by your blog.
  • You can offer one or more books, a gift voucher, or anything else related to books and reading. There is no minimum or maximum value that your prize should have.
  • The only restriction is that if you’re giving away a book, that it should have some literary merit. It does not have to be the most difficult classic ever, but please no romance, urban fiction or YA. Thrillers, poetry and non-fiction are fine, as are contemporary fiction, literary fiction and any other genres not in the categories above.
  • Further information on the prizes: a book can be new or “gently read”. Your giveaway can be just for your country, for your continent, or word-wide.
Last day for signing up is February 15th. Only sign up if you intend to have a giveaway post up on your blog on February 18th.

I'm thinking about giving away something similar to that which was well received last time:

 (Specifics Will Be Announced on 2/18)
Watch for more details

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Snapshot ~ Christmas Memories

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by Alyce @ AT Home With Books.

Photos can be old or new, and be of any subject as long as they are clean and appropriate for all eyes to see. How much detail you give in the caption is entirely up to you. Please don't post random photos that you find online.

The quality of this photo/scan isn't great, but this " when is Santa coming?" moment, (photo taken in the late 1970's) remains one of my favorites of when the children were little.  It warms my heart as this brother and sister duo are just as close today as they were when they were little.

Friday, February 10, 2012

No Buddy Left Behind; Terri Crisp and Cindy Hurn

Author:  Terri Crisp and Cindy Hurn
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Edition: audio
Reader: author - Nicole Valencia (very good)
Source: Library
Date Completed: 2/10/2012
Rating: 5/5
Recommend: yes

No Buddy Left Behind: Bringing U.S. Troops' Dogs and Cats Safely Home from the Combat Zone, was such a wonderful audio book experience.  Pet lovers everywhere will be able to relate to the lost, lonely, empty feeling that most likely would hit us if we had to leave the country and also leave behind our animals that have helped us through many sad and uncertain times.

In the midst of a country torn apart by war, American Soldiers forced to leave their families behind in the states, tried to make the best of a very difficult situation.  Loneliness and depression were often commonplace, and although soldiers were forbidden to befriend stray animals they came in contact with while fighting a war, the rules were often bent to give the servicemen something positive, something to care about and look forward to at the end of their long days.

With a genuine concern for what would happen to the soldier's new best friends, when they left Iraq and Afghanistan, several military personnel contacted Terri Crisp, International Program Manager for Operation Baghdad Pups with the SPCA International to plead their case as to what their new companion meant to them, and why their animal should be shipped back to the U.S.

Although there is strict criteria which needs to be met,  if the animal is eligible for the program, the organization provides all of the veterinary care, and makes all the necessary transportation arrangement to make things go as smoothly as possible.  Since 2008, Terri, along with a team of dedicated volunteers rescued and transported some 280+ animals out of  the war zone and eventually into a loving home of a serviceman or their family members.  This book tells not only the personal stories of what the military personnel have endured while at war, but it also tells the stories of what the animals (mostly dogs and some cats) have endured. Despite the conditions the animals endured, they still were able to give something back to those who rescued them. It was a win -- win for man and their 4-legged friend. The stories are very personal, and although for the most part heartwarming, there are sad moments when tears were shed as well.  I loved everything about this book, and I especially enjoyed the afterward, in which we learned a bit about what life was like once the animals had homes in the States. What a wonderful organization! What a wonderful book!

A must-read or must-listen to for animal lovers everywhere.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Catch Me; Lisa Gardner

Title: Catch Me
Author:  Lisa Gardner
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Dutton
Edition: eBook
Source: Net Galley
Setting: New England (mostly Mass) 
Date Completed: 2/7/2012
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

In Lisa Gardner's newest novel, released earlier this week, several characters from Gardner's previous novels return, including, Boston Detective DD Warren.  Warren is back to work after the birth of her son, and shes back into action at the scene of a murder.  It is here that she is confronted by a woman who claims that she is going to be murdered in just (4) days. The woman is Charlene Rosalind Carter Grant, and she has reason to believe she is next on a killer's list. Charlene wants to be sure that DD Warren, one of Boston's best investigators will find her killer after she is dead.

Charlene (Charlie) grew up with a psychotic mother, and at an early age she witnessed plenty of violence including the death of (2) siblings.  When her mother is finally put away, Charlie is taken in by an aunt who lives in New Hampshire.  In NH, Charlie has (2) best friends and the girls do everything together. But even with best friends, some secrets are too painful to talk about, so Charlie's friends do not know what she has endured.  After high school the friends start separate lives, but Charlie has no plans for college, so she stays behind to help her aunt run her B&B.  The demons of her childhood, however, are never put to rest. She recalls the vivid details of things she witnessed as a child.

After Charlie learns about the murders of her best friends, (1) year apart, in different states, but on the same day and same time -- 8:00 p.m. on January 21st, she fears she must be the killer's next victim.  There seem to be no clues, no forced entry and no motive.  Not only does Detective DD Warren have this case troubling her and January 21 quickly approaching, but there are pedophiles luring young children via the internet. These pedophiles are turning up dead as well.  As the detective begins to look into Charlies background she has several questions she will need answers to, making DD Warren and the reader wonder if Charlie has something to hide?

This is one of those psychological thrillers that had me guessing until the end, and only toward the very end did I finally figure this one out.  It's the kind of story that if read by parents of young children, it will open their eyes to some of the tactics used by pedophiles to lure young unsuspecting kids, and it might make you think twice about what your children are using the internet for.

Although this book is part of a series, it could be read as a stand alone without confusing the reader. I've read all of this author's work, and Catch Me is certainly a page-turner I think many readers might enjoy.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday ~ The Bellwether Revivals; Benjamin Wood

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we are eagerly anticipating! Want to participate? Post your own WOW entry on your blog, and leave your link at Breaking the Spine. My pick is:

Bright, bookish Oscar Lowe has escaped the urban estate where he was raised and made a new life for himself amid the colleges and spires of Cambridge. He has grown to love the quiet routine of his life as a care assistant at a local nursing home, where he has forged a close friendship with the home's most ill-tempered resident, Dr. Plsen. But when he meets and falls in love with Iris Bellwether, a beautiful and enigmatic medical student at King's College, Oscar is drawn into her world of scholarship and privilege, and soon becomes embroiled in the strange machinations of her brilliant but troubled brother, Eden, who believes he can adapt the theories of a forgotten Baroque composer to heal people with music. Eden's self-belief knows no bounds, and as he draws his sister and closed circle of friends into a series of disturbing experiments to prove himself right, Oscar realizes the extent of the danger facing them all.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (sometimes two) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.  This week's selection is a NYRB  (New York Review Book) - I just love the uniform look of this imprint.

NYRB - New York Review Book Classic

"RALPH WAS TEN AND MOLLY WAS EIGHT WHEN THEY HAD scarlet fever.  It left them with some sort of glandular disorder which was not malignant, but which kept them half poisoned most of the time and caused them, frequently, to have such bad nosebleeds that they had to be sent home from school.  It nearly always happened that their nosebleeds came at the same time.  Ralph, bleeding profusely, would stumble into the corridor to find Molly coming out of the third-grade room, a handkerchief held in a sodden bunch at her nose.  Their mother could not bear the sight of blood and her distress, on seeing them straggle up the driveway, never lessened even when these midday homecomings had become a habit.  Each time, she implored them to telephone her so she could send Miguel, the foreman, in the car.  But they never did, for they liked the walk home, feeling all the way a pleasant superiority to their sisters, Leah and Rachel, who were still cooped up in school with nothing to do but chew paraffin on the sly."

Has anyone read this one? If not, would you continue reading?

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is a gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week and explore great book blogs. February's host is Kim of Metroreader.

This week's (by mail arrivals):

(sent by a paperback swap member)

(sent by Algonquin)

(sent by Algonquin Books)

All Woman and Springtime; Brandon Jones
(sent by Algonquin Books)

(finished copy sent by Harper)
(New eBooks)