Tuesday, July 31, 2012

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros

 
I'm semi-unplugged for a few weeks, but  as host of First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, I will still be posting on Tuesdays the intros of a book I am reading or thinking about reading. 

Feel free to join in by posting the opening paragraph (sometimes maybe a few ) of a book you decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Grab the banner and play along. I am actually listening to the audio of this one, but have the eGalley as well.


 Heading Out to Wonderful; Robert Goolrick

"The thing is, all memory is fiction. You have to remember that. Of course, there are things that actually, certifiably happened, things you can pinpoint the day, the hour, the minute. When you think about it, though, those things, mostly seem to happen to other people. 

This story actually happened, and it happened pretty much the way I am going to tell it to you.  It's a true story as much as six decades or telling and remembering can allow it to be true.  Time changes things, and you don't always get everything right. You remember a little thing clear as a bell, the weather, say, or the splash of light on the river's ripples as the sun was going down into the black pines. things not even connected to anything in particular, while other things, big things even, come completely disconnected and no longer have any shape or sound. The little things seem more real than the big things."

So what's your opinion? Would you keep on reading?  I've read about 25% and so far so good.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Sunday Salon and an Early July in Review


Hello Blog Readers! Can I say I am feeling good about my decision to post less frequently from now until Labor Day, and the Sunday Salon seems like the perfect way to catch up on how my week went. You can find out more about Sunday Salon HERE.

New Books -
Books Read ( 2-3 weeks) - ( a few mini reviews)
  • The Healing; Jonathan O'Dell - 4.5/5 (loved this book and fabulous on audio as well)
  • Snow Angels; Stewart O'Nan (3.5/5 stars - story, especially on audio, is very depressing)
  • Drop Dead Healthy; A.D. Jacobs (3.5/5 stars - fun at times, but I had some issues with this one)
  • The Stand; Stephen King (4.5/5 stars - haven't done a post for the Stand-along but I have finished the book and liked it a lot) 
  • So Cold the River; Michael Koryta - 4/5 (audio)- no review yet
  • Translation of the Bones; Francesca Kay - 4.5/5 (no review yet)
On the Home Front -
  • Our little granddaughter is (3) months old already. Babbling; cutest expressions when you speak to her; great head control; strong legs (likes to stand and sit with support). Watched her twice for (9) hours over the last month --- I know why young women have babies -- tiring -- I had a (2.5 hour nap the day after).
  • Friends from PA are visiting this weekend. They arrived late, but did go out to dinner and have some plans for tomorrow with them as well.
  • Work -- my favorite part is my (1) hour lunch for reading and (30 min) break for walking, and my favorite day is Friday..... enough said about that.
Plans for this week
July in Review - July was my best month in a long time for most books read.  I attribute that to the fact that I started listening to audio books at work and while walking. Less time on the computer helped as well.

Favorite Book for July
  1. Big Cat, Small Cat; Ami Rubinger - 4/5 (eBook)
  2. Six-Dinner Sid; Inga Moore - 5/5 (Library)
  3. Sneakers, the Seaside Cat;  Margaret Wise Brown - 4/5 (Library)
  4. One Foot Two Feet: An Exceptional Counting Book; Maloney and Zekaukaus - 5/5
  5. The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye; Yalon  - 5/5 (Library)
  6. Northwest Corner; John Burnham Schwartz - 4/5 -  (HC - my shelf)
  7. The Stand; Stephen King - 4/5 (eBook) (eBook)
  8. In One Person; John Irving - 4/5 
  9. A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty; Joshilyn Jackson - 5/5 
  10. Gold; Chris Cleave - 4.5/5 (eGalley)  
  11. The Healing; Jonathan O'Dell - 4.5/5 (audio and eGalley)
  12. Snow Angels; Stewart O'Nan - 3.5/5 (audio) 
  13. Drop Dead Healthy; A.J. Jacobs - 3.5/5 (audio) 
  14. Translation of the Bones; Francesca Kay -4.5/5  (eBook) no review yet
  15. So Cold the River; Michael Koryta - 4/5 (audio) no review yet
 2012 - Update
  • I joined (7) challenges for 2012 and have completed (4) -- the other (3) seem on track for completion as well.
Have a good week everyone.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Drop Dead Healthy: One Man's Humble Quest for Bodily Perfection; A.J. Jacobs


Author:  A.J Jacobs
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Audio
Edition: audiobook 
Reader: read by author (good)
Source: publisher
Date Completed: July/2012
Rating: 3.5/5
Recommend: yes- with reservations


This was the first book I've read / listened to by this author. To me, it sounded like a book that would deal with healthy eating and exercising in a humorous way.  Although some parts were interesting and other parts made my chuckle, overall I was left with the impression that there was not much in this book that I could walk away with or try as I felt most of what I read couldn't be given much weight or merit.

The author's goal with his undertaking was to improve his body -- in a period of (2) years with the goal of "being the healthiest man in the world."  The problem as I see it was that he never tried any one thing long enough, be it eating or exercise plans, to be able to really evaluate the results.  Some of the things he tried were only tried for a few days or a week: juice fasts, veganism, raw food diets.

Although I was was hoping for more substance, I did like the message I took away once I finished listening -- don't miss out on what life has to offer in the process of attempting to be "the healthiest man alive."

Snow Angels; Stewart O'Nan

Title: Snow Angels
Author:  Stewart O'Nan
Publication Year: book-1994 / audio-2008
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Edition:  audiobook
Reader: Malcom Hillgartner
Source: library
Setting: Pennsylvania 
Date Completed: July/2012
Rating: 3.5/5 
Recommend: not on audio

Snow Angels, was a very dark novel of small town life in Pennsylvania in the mid-1970s.  It's a tragic story that involves two families, and as the tragedy is introduced early on the story then flashes back so that the reader gets the full picture of events leading up to the tragedy.

In the story, Arthur Parkinson, now a grown man returns to his childhood community in PA, where he reflects on the events which attributed to his unhappy childhood.  His parents were not nurturing parents, rather selfish and self-centered.  After some irresponsible acts, their marriage dissolves, and 15 year-old Arthur now moves with his mother to a rundown apartment. He becomes aloof, and he copes by smoking pot, listening to loud music and pretending not to care, about his new situation or the lives his parents are now leading.

The other story involves Arthur's former babysitter, Annie Marchand, another selfish, self-centered woman, who puts her own desires ahead of her daughter Tara. She leaves her husband, a man who soon begins to lose his grip and spirals out of control.

Without giving away too much of this short novel, I must say that I found all of the characters, with the exception of Arthur, to be their own worst enemies. I felt for Arthur, as his life growing up was what it was because of the irresponsible acts of those who were responsible for him.  Although this was not a favorite O'Nan book of mine, it's probably the most depressing of any that I've read or listened to, it was still a good story.  This is one book that I DO NOT recommend listening to the audio. Although the reader was good, the tone made the story seem all the more bleak.

The Stand; Stephen King


As many of you know Trish (Love, Laughter and a Touch of Insanity), graciously hosted the (9 week long) Standalong which gave many readers the opportunity to read and discuss and post about this massive tome (my copy 1,100+ pages -- thank goodness I had the eBook).  Not feeling my bloggy-best over the last 9 weeks, I wasn't much of any active participant...sorry...but I did manage to finish the book.

My rambling thoughts....what an intense story that caused me to flinch every time a coworker, friend or family member coughed or sneezed nearby. In a nutshell, an accident at an Army lab doing experiments in biological warfare, causes a virus to break through its isolation confinements. Everyone working at the facility dies rather quickly, except one worker, a security guard, Charlie Champion, who manages to rush home, grab his family and head out of town -- rather out of state, but not before contaminating them.  Along the way they contaminate others who cross their paths, and those people infect others and so on and so on until over 99% of the world's population is exterminated. Of course, Charlies family dies an awful death as exhibited by their bloated smelly corpses.

Fast forward -- The survivors begin to have vivid dreams which draw and divide them into (2) camps -- good versus evil -- a 108 year-old black woman in Nebraska, Mother Abagail representing the "good",  and the Dark Man, Randall Flagg, an evil force in Las Vegas rallying the "bad". Not everyone mentally equipped or ready to be lone survivors on Earth, but each group recognizing that the opposing group is threatening the other's survival.

More rambling thoughts - I liked the book, but after the first 1/3, it became easier to put the book down, and read other books in between. There were just so many characters in this cautionary tale, but I did like I was able to get good feeling about the psyche of several of the characters. As a reader I felt like I understood what motivated them to act the way they did. I also liked the way King positioned them to come together later in the novel. I can understand why it is considered probably one of King's best works, but after I was finished I had a hard time deciding how to rate this book.  It's very well written, but it's not my favorite Stephen King book -- the ending wasn't a surprise for either.
Overall rating - 4/5 stars

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Healing; Jonathan O'Dell


Title: The Healing
Author:  Jonathan O'Dell
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Random House Audio
Edition: audiobook and eGalley
Reader: Adenrele Ojo - excellent job
Setting: Mississippi
Source: Library and NetGalley
Date Completed: July/2012
Rating: 4.5/5
Recommend: yes
 
What did I think about "The Healing", by Jonathan O'Dell? 
 
What a great story! -- strong memorable characters, beautiful writing and rich in period detail.
 
The story begins in 1933 with an old woman named Granada  (called Gran-Gran in her later years) thinking back on her childhood when she lived on a plantation back in the mid-1800s. She was born to a slave woman, and was taken from her mother as a newborn by the Satterfield plantation mistress, Amanda after the couple had lost their own baby to cholera. The mental state of the mistress had changed after the death of her own child, and she became somewhat of a laughing stock to those around her. She dressed Granada in the fancy clothes of her dead child and showed her off to visitors by parading her around in the same way she handled her pet monkey, Daniel Webster.
 
When Granada was about 12 years-old,  a woman by the name of Polly Schine joined the Satterfields after a plague has taken the lives of many of the plantation's slaves. Part Indian and part Black, Polly is a mystical woman who is not only a midwife but believed to have the power to "heal" as well.  Mr. Satterfield acquired her from the same slave owner as Granada, and pays $5,000 for Polly, hoping that her "healing" powers will help the family fend off further loss of life. 
 
For the previous 12 years prior to Polly's arrival, Granada had been sheltered and becomes a bit of a snob as a result of her mistresses ways. Polly sees something special in Granada and believes she has special healing powers as well, and she wants to teach her not only about healing, but also about freedom, and having and using the power within ourselves in a way that will help others.  Understandably, Granada was torn between remaining at the big house where she had been comfortable and going off with Polly to the hospital which is being built on the plantation.
 
Polly Shine was an amazing character -- powerful, caring, respected by some and feared by others. Her relationship with Granada developed into something special.  Although the story wasn't perfect (the ending seemed a bit rushed), it was one of those books where the characters remain vivid even several weeks after finishing the book.  It's a beautiful example of individuals rising above their difficult circumstances and "healing" despite what they may have endured. I was totally captivated by this beautiful story.  The audio version is terrific -- such a wonderful reader.
 
4.5/5 stars

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros



I'm semi-unplugged for a few weeks, but  as host of First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, I will still be posting on Tuesdays the intros of a book I am reading or thinking about reading. 

Feel free to join in by posting the opening paragraph (sometimes maybe a few ) of a book you decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Grab the banner and play along. I am actually listening to the audio of this one, but have the eGalley as well. (Holter Graham is a the audio reader and he is fantastic. It is an addictive read).


"FIRST I'LL TELL YOU ABOUT THE ROBBERY OUR PARENTS COMMITTED. Then about the murders which happened later. The robbery is the more important part, as it served to set my and my sister's lives on the courses they eventually followed. Nothing would make sense without that being told first.

Our parents were the least likely two people in the world to rob a bank. They weren't strange people, not obviously criminals. No one would have thought they were destined to end up like they did. They were just regular --although, that kind of thinking became null and void the moment they did rob a bank."

Would you read on?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Unwinding ~ Relaxing ~ Unplugging


I've been spending way too much time on the computer this summer, so I decided to relax, refresh, and spend time enjoying other things for the remainder of the summer.  Hope to post some periodic updates now and then through Labor Day.  (I hope you understand)

Hope you enjoy the rest of your summer as well.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Saturday Snapshot




Saturday Snapshot

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.

I think the squirrels are planning for a severe winter.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty; Joshilyn Jackson



Author:  Joshilyn Jackson 
Publication Year: 2012 
Publisher: Hachette Audio Books 
Edition: audiobook / ARC
Reader: (author) - excellent job 
Source: Library 
Date Completed: July/2012
Rating: 5/5
Recommend: yes

By looking at the cover of this novel and the title for that matter, a reader not familiar with Joshilyn Jackson's previous novels might imagine that this book is a light, fluff-filled southern tale --- but that reader would be wrong. 

A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty, is a story about three generations of southern women, but there is a mystery element that is introduced early on --- a box containing tiny bones and a small dress is unearthed by a contractor hired to remove an old willow tree.  Immediately, I was drawn in and was listening almost non-stop; it's that addictive.

The women in this novel are 45 year-old Ginny (aka...Big) Slocumb, her 30 year-old daughter Liza and 15-year old Mosey, daughter of Liza.  The women believe they have been cursed because ever 15 years, something seems to happen to one of them, and now Mosey is 15.

When Big was 15, she was raped by her date, impregnated and later gave birth to Liza who she raised on her own.  Daughter Liza was a wild-child --her interests were men and drugs.  She too, became pregnant at age 15.  Now Mosey, 15 (that unlucky number again), so Big makes sure she is sent to private school, hoping to avoid having something similar happen to her.

Not wanting to spoil the story for any potential readers, I'll just say read this one, I doubt you will be disappointed.  The writing is terrific, the characters are ones you will care about, and if your are like me, you'll appreciate the humor infused at times as well.  The family dynamics and mystery element added to whole audio book experience.  Normally, I tend to avoid audio books read by the author, but Ms. Jackson is the exception -- she is fabulous -- pitch perfect.

Read this One!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

In One Person; John Irving


Title: In One Person 
Author:  John Irving 
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Edition:  audiobook and eGalley
Reader: John Benjamin Hickey
Source: publisher
Setting: VT (mostly)
Date Completed: July/2012
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

First impressions of In One Person? It's definitely not a book for every reader. It's sexually explicit and deals with individuals of various sexual orientations, as well as the AIDS epidemic.  However, if that doesn't bother you, it's an Irving novel that is well written and that held my interest.

The story for the most, as with other Irving novels, takes place in a fictional small New England town.  The story begins as Billy Abbot, now approaching the age of 70, begins to reflect of his early sexual urges when he was about the age of 13, living in First Sister, Vermont.  It was a time when he found himself attracted to Miss Frost, the town librarian, and more specifically he was fascinated by her small breasts.  Miss Frost is pleasant and helpful to Billy, and he finds excuses to talk to her and visit often, but there is more to Miss Frost than meets the eye early on.

As Billy's grows older the reader sees how Billy had a way of always falling for the wrong person, and he is never quite satisfied with just one individual in his life. He is always searching for the person who can satisfy both his emotional and sexual needs.  The story also covers quite a bit of ground regarding the 1980's AIDS epidemic.  For Billy, it was a period in time that took the lives of many individuals Billy had crossed paths with in life.

Irving does a really good job, in my opinion, of covering the AIDS topic with dignity, but this part was powerful stuff and tough to read at times.  What I liked most about this story is that it sent an important message, I felt, about not judging people before you really get to know them --at least that is what I took out of this.

The audio book was well done - read by John Benjamin Hickey, and although I had a few issues with the story itself, in the end, I was still glad that I read this one.

Waiting on Wednesday - American Ghost; Janis Owens


"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases readers are waiting for. This one sounds really good to me.


American Ghost; Janis Owens
Scribner - October 23rd

An engrossing novel inspired by a true event about unresolved family history and racial tensions that threaten a Florida community.

With American Ghost, Janis Owens offers an evocative southern novel continuing in the tradition originally established by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and brought into the new millennium by writers like Karen Russell and Kathryn Stockett. Inspired by Owens’s extensive research on a real lynching that occurred in the 1930s, American Ghost is a richly woven exploration of how the events of our past can haunt our present.

Jolie Hoyt is the daughter of a Pentecostal preacher living in small-town Florida. Disregarding her family’s closet full of secrets and distrust of outsiders, she throws caution to the wind when she falls in love with Sam Lense, a Jewish anthropology student from Miami in town to study the region. But their affair ends abruptly when Sam is discovered to have pried too deeply into the town’s dark racial past and he becomes the latest victim of violence. Years later, Sam and Jolie are brought together again, and as they resolve the mistakes of their early love, they finally shed light on the ugly history of Jolie’s hometown.

A page-turning blend of romance and historical Gothic, American Ghost is a triumph—the novel that this outstanding Southern author was born to write.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph ~ Tuesday Intros

Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (sometimes maybe a few ) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along.Hope to start this one later today.



"It's beyond belief what you find between the pews, Mrs. Armitage was saying.  Coins and gloves you might expect, but socks and underwear?  Hair clips, buttons, handkerchiefs, and now look at these, these peculiar white pills.  She held out her hand to Father Diamond, who looked at it carefully and shook his head.  Mrs. Armitage, brushed the pills into the plastic rubbish sack beside her and went on: d'you know, the other day there was an old chap in here who was looking for his teeth? I said to him, I said I think you need a dentist not a church.  But no, he swore he'd left them here and we had to have a good luck round....."

Would you read on?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Mailbox Monday - July 16th

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Mrs. Q: Book Addict during the month of July. 

Gone Missing; Linda Castillo
(A win from Kaye and Minotaur Books - thanks so much)

Building a baby's library book by book
Purchases over the last (2) months
 

Where is Baby's Birthday Cake?; Karen Katz ~ Someday; Alison McGhee ~The Giving Tree (40th Anniversary); Shel Silverstein ~ and The Pop-Up Mice of Mr. Brice; Dr. Seuss

Hope everyone had a nice week in books!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

SIX -------- it's all about BOOKS


Saw this on Jo  and JoAnn's blog, and thought it would be fun to take a closer look at what my first six (6) months of reading looked like as well. 

Six Books, Six months, Six categories
 

Six books for little kids I think you should buy
  1. Old Bear; Kevin Henkes  
  2. The Busy Beaver; Nicholas Oldland
  3. A House in the Woods' Inga Moore 
  4.  The Day Tiger Rose Said Goodbye; Yalon
  5. One Foot Two Feet: An Exceptional Counting Book; Maloney and Zekaukaus
  6. The Chicken Problem; Oxley and Aronson
Six authors I have read before and will read again
  1. Stewart O'Nan
  2. Stephen King
  3. Anne Tyler
  4. John Steinbeck
  5. Joshilyn Jackson
  6.  Chris Cleave
Six new bookish things I discovered through blogging
  1. Net Galley
  2. Edelweiss
  3. Shelf Awareness
  4. Saturday Snapshot Meme
  5. More books I want to read
  6. New blogs which mirror my taste in books
Six audiobooks I really enjoyed  
  1. Defending Jacob; William Landay
  2. Bringing Up Bebe; Pamala Druckerman
  3. Quiet; Susan Cain
  4. East of Eden; John Steinbeck
  5. Say You're One of Them; Uwem Akpan
  6. A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty; Joshilyn Jackson
Six books adults I think you should read
  1. Heft; Liz Moore
  2. East of Eden; John Steinbeck
  3. The Beginner's Goodbye; Anne Tyler
  4. Lots of Candles Plenty of Cake; Anna Quindlen (if you are over 50)
  5.  A Sense of an Ending; Julian Barnes
  6. The Underside of Joy; Sere Prince Halverson
Six books I was disappointed with
.
  1. Home Front; Kristin Hannah
  2. Fairy Tale Interrupted; Rose Marie Terenzio
  3. An Uncommon Education; Elizabeth Percer
  4. Blue Monday; Nicci French
  5.  The Good Father; Noah Hawley
  6. The Gingerbread Girl; Stephen King

What would your six in the last six months look like?

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Saturday Snapshot



Saturday Snapshot

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.

 What a difference (12) weeks makes

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Northwest Corner; John Burnham Schwartz


Title: Northwest Corner 
Author:  John Burnham Schwartz
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Random House
Edition:  hardcover
Setting: CT and CA
Date Completed: July/2012
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

Northwest Corner  is a follow up novel to Reservation Road (1998); it was also made into a movie.  In the earlier novel Dwight Arno was an attorney in Connecticut who was involved in a fatal hit and run accident which resulted in the death of 10 year-old Josh Learner.  The boy a second grader was the classmate of  Dwight's son Sam.

In this follow-up novel it is now 2006 and some 12 years have passed since the horrible accident. Since that time Dwight has spent 2.5 years in prison, is divorced and now lives in California. He has gone from attorney to shoe store manager and is dating a literature professor who isn't aware of his past.  Dwight hasn't seen his son Sam since he was sent off to prison either.

Sam has a violent streak  and has recently been expelled from college (UCONN) after he seriously injured another student with a baseball bat after an incident in a bar after a ball game.  Sam flees the area while the other young man fights for his life, and heads to California to seek out his father.

Northwest Corner is an addictive read. It is written is short chapters and it tells a compelling story about how tragedy can tear families apart just when they need each other the most.  It is not a story where I found myself rooting for any of the characters, I did feel invested enough to stay glued to the pages, anxious to see what would happen in the end.  I did enjoy reading this book, but preferred Reservation Road a bit more.

Arcadia; Lauren Groff

Title: Arcadia
Author:  Lauren Groff
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Recorded Books
Edition: audiobook and eGalley
Readers: Andrew Garman
Setting: NY
Source: Library and NetGalley
Date Completed: June/2012
Rating: 3/5
Recommend: not sure

In a nutshell, Arcadia is a story about commune life in upstate new York in the early 70's, and most baby boomers like me know that kind of life rarely goes well long term.  The "Free People" of Arcadia, to insure success of their community believe in: "Equality, Love, Work, and Openness to the needs of Everyone."  The commune is built on a rundown farm and mansion which was acquired by one of the commune's members and later sold to Handy, the commune's cult-like leader and his wife Astra for $1.00. The name found above the door, Arcadia lived on.

The story itself has several parts to it, and begins when "Bit", AKA Ridley Stone was about five years old. Bit was the first child living at the commune was born to Hannah and Abe.  In the final part of the novel we see Bit some 50 years later. Along the way the reader gets a glimpse of commune living as seen through a young child who witnesses much more than any child of that age should have witness, much of which he doesn't understand because of his age.  He loves and cares about his huge extended family.

When the great big family grows too too large, a lack of housing, poor sanitary conditions, lack of food, drugs and laziness on the part of some members become real issues. Eventually members leave the commune life and suddenly children who never experienced life outside of this commune are experiencing something foreign.

What may sound to some as a relatively simplistic story is really not all that simple.  The fact that it covers a period of 50 years of Bit's life from commune child, to adolescence, marriage, fatherhood and life as a university instructor and even caregiver to a sick parent kept the story moving.  Other commune dweller's lives are followed as well, but not to the same extent.

Did I like the book? It was an okay read/listen for me, because I was curious what later life would be like for the characters, especially Bit. 

This book took me forever to review, having completed it in mid-June.  Why? It was hard to get my thoughts sorted out, because the writing is good and the audio book was well done, but something didn't work well for me, and I'm still not totally sure what it was --perhaps the ending.

I'm curious to hear what other readers thought of this book.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gold; Chris Cleave


Title: Gold
Author:  Chris Cleave
Publication Year: 2012
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Edition:  eGalley and ARC
Source: NetGalley and Vine
Date Completed: July/2012
Rating: 4.5/5
Recommend: yes

Gold, was released this month and given it's subject matter, it is a timely novel as the world prepares for the 2012 summer Olympics in London.  The story takes place in Manchester, England  where long time friends and rivals Zoe and Kate, are competitive cyclists, along with Kate's husband Jack.  Kate and Jack have an eight year-old daughter named Sophie who is obsessed with Star Wars and is also battling Leukemia and undergoing treatments.

Zoe and Kate are very different. Zoe's had a troubled childhood, suffering the loss of her younger brother at an early age. She has a tough shell and anger issues; her whole identity and only goal in life is to be a winner.  She's won gold medals in the past, as had Jack, but Kate has not.  Baby Sophie arrived when the (3) were preparing for the Athens Olympics. All (3) are now at an age where this will most likely be their last chance of competing and of walking away with the Gold.

Gold, is a page-turning read with surprised in store for the reader.  It's also an emotionally charged read and although the ending seemed a bit contrived, the story moved me and it's definitely a book I'll be recommending.  Zoe was a character that I disliked early on, but once I got to learn her story, at least I was able to understand why she acted the way she did.  Kate, on the other hand, was a character I liked a lot, she was a young woman who put the needs of others before herself.  She's reserved and less confident that Zoe as well, but a very sympathetic character.  Zoe, was a loveable little girl. She always tried to hide the side effects of her treatments from her parents so they would not worry about her. For a young girl, she carried the weight of the world inside of her and acted much older than she was.  Her constant obsession and references to Star Wars did get tiring at times for me.  Tom, was the coach of both girls and another character I liked. He met the girls in 1999 when he was working for the Elite Prospects Program, and his caring and introspective nature won me over early on.  Jack, was Jack and some of his actions bothered me at times.

Chris Cleave fans who enjoyed Little Bee (the Other Hand in the UK) should enjoy his latest novel.  I hope you are as impressed as I was.

Waiting on Wednesday - Mountains of the Moon; I.J. Kay


"Waiting On Wednesday" is a weekly event, hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine , that highlights upcoming book releases readers are waiting for.  I love the sound of this one...just released.


Viking - July 2012

A highly original novel about a young woman's journey from shattered youth to self-discovery, After ten years in a London prison, Louise Adler (Lulu) is released with only a new alias to rebuild her life. Working a series of dead-end jobs, she carries a past full of secrets: a childhood marked by the violence and madness of her parents, followed by a reckless adolescence. From abandoned psychiatric hospitals to Edwardian-themed casinos, from a brief first love to the company of criminals, Lulu has spent her youth in an ever-shifting landscape of deceit and survival. But when she?s awarded an unexpected settlement claim after prison, she travels to the landscape of her childhood imagination, the central African range known as the Mountains of the Moon. There, in the region?s stark beauty, she attempts to piece together the fragments of her battered psyche.Told in multilayered, hallucinatory flashbacks, Mountains of the Moon traces a traumatic youth and explores the journey of a young woman trying to transform a broken life into something beautiful. This dazzling novel from a distinctive new voice is sure to garner the attention of critics and readers alike.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Unsaid; Neil Abramson

 
Title: Unsaid
Author:  Neil Abramson
Publication Year: 2011
Publisher: Center Street/Hachette Book Group
Edition:  eGalley
Source: NetGalley
Date Completed: 6/2012
Rating: 4/5
Recommend: yes

In Unsaid former veterinarian Helena Golden, died much too young after losing her battle with breast cancer.  She left behind her grieving husband, David a corporate lawyer and her menagerie of animals which she had rescued over the years.  She was also an advocated against animal experimentation on chimpanzees. She also narrates this story.

Since her death, Helena has been unable to rest peacefully.  Although she is dead, she remains troubled by what she perceives as her unfinished business back on earth.  For example, one particular chimpanzee that she had worked with on language skills is at risk of being placed back other chimps for experimentation.  Her husband David can't seem to move on with his life, and her dogs long for affection, still waiting at the door for her to return each day.  Her spirit is also restless over the animals she was not able to save, as well as her uncompleted advocacy work which is at the heart of the story.

Unsaid is one of those quiet and contemplative stories that will leave most readers, especially animal lovers with a lump in their throats.  It's a story that has a strong focus on animal rights, as well as a story about love, loss and sense of responsibility to those in our lives, regardless if it's a human or animals.

The author is a lawyer and animal rights activist.  This is a debut novel written by the author for his wife, a small town veterinarian who worries about some of the same issues which surface in this novel.

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros


Every Tuesday, I'll be posting the opening paragraph (sometimes maybe a few ) of a book I decided to read based on the opening paragraph (s). Feel free to grab the banner and play along. Haven't started this yet, but plan to this week.
 
The Bellwether Revivals; Benjamin Wood
Viking - June 2012

One
Incidental Music
 
"Oscar Lowe would later tell police that he couldn't remember the exact date he first laid eyes on the Bellwethers, though he knew for sure it had been a Wednesday.  It was one of those late October evenings in Cambridge when the gun-grey light of the afternoon had faded well before six, and the cobbled avenues of the old town were dark and silent.  He had just finished an eight-to-five shift at Cedarbrook, the nursing home on Queen's Road where he was a care assistant, and his mind was slow and heavy, laden with details of his workday: the vacant faces of the older residents, the pallor of their tongues as they took their pills, the give of their skin as he lifted them into the bath. All he wanted was to get home, to fall upon his bed and sleep right through until tomorrow, when he would have to wake up and do the same things over again."

Would you continue reading?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Mailbox Monday - July 9 - 2012

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Mrs. Q: Book Addict during the month of July.  I was too lazy to participate last week, so this week's books represent (2) weeks worth. Have you read any of these?

These Dreams of You; Steve Erickson
(Europa Edition - sent by PBS member)
Kindle eBook - Random House - purchase
Toby's Room; Pat Barker
eGalley - Doubleday - Edelweiss
Winter of the World; Ken Follett
(eGalley - Dutton -  Edelweiss)

(eGalley - - Penguin - NetGalley)
Twelve Patients; Eric Manheimer
(eGalley - Hachette - NetGalley)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Blogiversary Giveaway Winner is.....


Congratulations
to
Winner of a $25.00 gift Certificate to  
Amazon or Book Depository

Thanks to all who took the time to send well wishes and entered the Giveaway.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Saturday Snapshot



Saturday Snapshot

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.

Shot through a window screen so quality isn't great.
These birds look like friends to me:)

What our (3) cats do when they get bored watching
the birds at the feeder outside these windows

Have a Great Weekend All!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

(5) Cute Books for young Kids

You may have noticed that I've taken an interest in books for your children over the past year. Actually, I've loved them even before I knew I was going to be a grand mother. Since many of my readers have young children themselves, I wanted to share some awfully cute books I've read over the last few days. Most of these would be for children in the 2 -6  year-old range, and the one about the death of a pet for children around 4 and over.

Big Cat, Small Cat; Ami Rubinger 
(author and illustrator)
Abbeville Kids 2009 - NetGalley

Lovely rhyming story book that teaches children in a fun manner all about opposites.  It also differentiates colors and shapes.  The fill in the blank concept makes this book for very young children a good educational tool as well.  - Rating -  4/5 stars

Six-Dinner Sid; Inga Moore
(author and illustrator)
1991 - Simon and Schuster - Library

Sid is a cat who is has a pretty nice life. He has six dinners a day, has six different beds, gets pet by at least six different people, has six different names and seems to have his owners unaware of all of this since they don't talk to one another.  Each family thinks this charming cat belongs to them until one day when he gets a cough and is taken to the vet -- six times, and his cover is blown when the vet lets his six owners know what's been going on.  Sid is not happy about his (1) dinner a day, but soon Sid finds a way once again to makes things work out for him.

Inga Moore is a children's author whose stories and illustrations I have enjoyed in the past. This book is another winner. Terrific in every way. - 5/5 stars

 Sneakers, the Seaside Cat; Margaret Wise Brown
Anne Mortimore, Illustrator
Harper Collins - 2003 - Library

Written by the author of Goodnight Moon, the story is about a fat little tuxedo cat who goes to the seashore one day with his family -- a place he has never been.  While he is there he encounters many new things to him: ocean, sand shrimp, seagulls, crabs, seashells  and more.  The next day as his family returns home, he has pleasant thoughts about his trip to the seashore.   

This one left me a tad disappointed. The illustrations were FABULOUS, but the story felt lacking.  I also laughed to myself as I've never known a cat who has enjoyed a ride in the car.
Story - 3/5 stars - Illustrations 5/5 stars

Peter Maloney and Felicia Zekauskas
G.P Putnam's Sons - 2011 - Library

This was a great introduction to counting book, and also teaches children the plural versions of several words as well. Each page has a single die-cut object on one page and when the page is turned the other objects are shown. For example, One foot/ Two feet (singular and plural) for each object. Mouse/mice; goose/geese; ox/oxen etc... The artwork and illustrations are cool and quirky and have both tiny and large images.  Children will be asked to search for a tiny airplane on each page as well. This is a fun and unique intro book to counting -- one I will most likely purchase. 5/5 stars

 Jane Yolen; author~Jim LaMarche; illustrator
Random House Children's Books - 2011
This is the most beautiful book I've ever come across to explain the anticipated death of a beloved pet in a non-religious way. It's the story about a cat, Tiger Rose's life from city cat to country cat and what she and her family meant to one another. It slowly eases into the subject of her passing, by celebrating her life as well. Only then do we see that she's gotten older, she's much slower now, has lost her appetite, her legs hurt, her memory is not so good.  Knowing her time left is short, she goes about it in a way only a pet can do. She visits her favorite spots, her outdoor critter friends  and says goodbye to those she loved, eventually passing away peacefully -- leaving her tired body behind and becoming part of the air, earth and sky......

The pastel illustrations are soothing and gorgeous and the story is so tastefully told.  It's a must buy for those who have young children and aging pets. 5/5 stars