Friday, November 29, 2013

November Reading Wrap Up

Except for going to the library to pick up a few audiobooks today, I totally vegged out.  Feeling stuffed like that big bird we feasted on yesterday, but we still ate and enjoyed more turkey leftovers tonight.  I started a new book today, but don't plan on finishing anything else this month so thought I'd post my November reads.

(13) books completed - mostly 2013 fiction releases (arcs or eGalley)
(4) arc/audiobook combinations
(2) kids books (eBooks)
(1) non fiction (eGalley) 
  1. The Rosie Project; Graeme Simsion - 3.5/5 - (audiobook and arc) (Nov-2013)  
  2. The Night Guest; Fiona McFarlane - 4.5/5 - arc - (Nov-2013)
  3. The Last Winter of Dani Lancing; P.D. Viner - 2/5 -arc- Nov - 2013)
  4. The Runaway Hug; Nick Bland 3.5/5 - eGalley (Nov-2013)
  5. The Bad Birthday Idea; Madeline Valentine - 4.5/5 - eGalley (Nov-2013)
  6. I Am Pusheen the Cat; Clare Belton - 4/5 - eGalley (Nov-2013)
  7. My Own Miraculous; Joshilyn Jackson - 4.5/5 (eBook) (Nov-2013) 
  8. Someone Else's Love Story; Joshilyn Jackson - 4/5 (arc) (Nov-2013)
  9. We Are Water; Wally Lamb - 4/5 (eGalley & audio) (Nov 2013) 
  10. Someday This Pain Will be Useful to You; Peter Cameron 5/5 (audio) Nov 2013 - Favorite of the Month
  11. Survival Lessons; Alice Hoffman - 4/5 (eGalley) - Nov 2013 
  12. Enon; Paul Harding - 3.5/5 stars - (arc/audio) - Nov 2013
  13. Claire of the Sea Light; Edwidge Danticat - 4/5 (arc/eGalley) - Nov 2013
2013 YTD -  145
December Plans -  Even though December is busy month, I expect to fave plenty of free time for reading since I'm off work from December 20th through January 5th. 

I really want to read these (7) books for sure:
Other possibilities - 
How was your month? Do you have any year end plans? 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving - Reasons to Be Thankful

Thanksgiving Wishes to All Who Celebrate

I love celebrating Thanksgiving and, honestly, I think it is my favorite holiday. No gifts to buy, and just a wonderful time to remember how lucky we are.  I look forward to being with family: yes, my mom and dad and both siblings (brothers) have passed away, but I still have a wonderful husband, awesome son, awesome daughter, special daughter-in-law and great son-in-law, and adorable granddaughter to be thankful for.  We have a nice warm house, 2 cars, plenty of food and although we are not wealthy, we do have everything we need to be happy.

Just yesterday I watched a 60 minute documentary on "happiness" and what makes people, even very poor people, happy. The documentary warmed my heart.  I'd hope you can watch it,  unless of course, if you have already seen it. It's called: HAPPY.

(It'll remind you take pleasure in the little things)

Thank you loyal readers for your support over the years. Hope to post over the weekend.  For now I've got plenty to do to get ready for our dinner tomorrow.  Enjoy your time with your loved ones.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros ~ The Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga; Sylvain Tesson

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. Care to join us?  

This week I'm choosing a non fiction book. It seems like the perfect book for me to read and unwind with after Thanksgiving festivities have come and gone.

 Sylvain Tesson ~Rizzoli ex Libris - 2013


"I'D PROMISED MYSELF that before I turned forty I would live as a hermit deep in the woods.

I went to spend six months in a Siberian cabin on the shores of Lake Baikal, on the tip of North Cedar Cape.  Seventy-five miles from the nearest village, no neighbors, no access roads, and every now and then, a visit.  Wintertime temperatures in the minus twenties Fahrenheit; the summer brought bears out into the open.  In short: paradise."

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What do you think? Would you keep reading? Feel free to join us by linking your First Chapter post below


Sunday, November 24, 2013

Week in Review

I've spent the day indoors since it's windy and cold outside. With Thanksgiving Days away,  I've been flipping through cookbooks and recipes online looking for some new things to try.  My DIL brings her delicious apple pie, my daughter is making a new roasted veggie dish, the 18+lb bird has been purchased, so it's pretty much the stuffing and a few side dishes and of course in this family desserts are almost as important as the turkey! 

We always celebrate my son's birthday on Thanksgiving, as it always falls in the same week, so there will be a cake.  Since carrot cake is his favorite. I plan to try my first carrot cake ever. It doesn't seem too complicated. This one is from Martha Stewart, but I was surprised by the "ginger", which my SIL's recipe does not have.Anyway, I wish I had a piece now with some good coffee:)  I also plan to make some cream cheese bars.

Martha Stewart Carrot Cake Recipe
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, melted plus more for pans
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 1 cup (3 ounces) pecan halves
  • 1 pound large carrots, peeled
  • 3 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup nonfat buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
  • Candied Carrot Strips

Directions

  1. Step 1

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Dust with flour, and tap out any excess. Set aside. Spread pecans in a single layer on an ungreased baking pan, and toast in oven until lightly golden, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand until completely cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Finely chop pecans and set aside.
  2. Step 2

    Using the smallest holes (less than 1/4-inch in diameter) of a box grater, grate carrots, yielding 2 1/2 cups. Place carrots, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, sugar, and ginger in a large bowl; mix until well combined.
  3. Step 3

    Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Using a rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture until combined. Fold in the butter and toasted pecans.
  4. Step 4

    Divide batter between the two cake pans, and bake until a cake tester inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Remove pans from oven, and transfer to a wire rack to cool, about 15 minutes. Turn cakes out onto rack; let stand until completely cool.
  5. Step 5

    Using a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes so surfaces are level. Slice each layer in half crosswise. Place a layer on a cake stand or cardboard round, and spread 3/4 cup frosting over top. Place a second cake layer on top, and spread with another 3/4 cup frosting. Repeat with third layer and another 3/4 cup frosting. Place last cake layer on top, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of assembled cake. Transfer to refrigerator, and chill 3 to 4 hours.
  6. Step 6

    If using the candied carrot strips, set a wire rack over a baking pan. Using fingers, lift one candied carrot strip from the sugar syrup, holding it over the container. With the thumb and forefinger of second hand, gently squeeze the carrot strip and slide fingers along its length, removing as much excess syrup as possible; lay the carrot strip on the wire rack. Repeat with remaining carrot strips.
  7. Step 7

    Gently place tapered end of drained carrot strip in center of cake, and gently press it down the side; place a second strip next to it. Continue applying strips around entire cake every 2 inches. Form 2 or 3 strips into a decorative bow, and place on top. Cut cake, and serve.
    Past Week in Books - I did something ODD this past week. I actually read the (3) books I said I was going to read last week! (I only reviewed (1) of them so far, but hope to get to the others this week.  Not sure I knew this going in, but all probably should have realized they were ALL going to be depressing in some way:
    • Survival Lessons; Alice Hoffman - 4/5 stars (eGalley) - review here
    • Enon; Paul Harding - 3.5/5 stars (arc/eGalley)  --- If you have read Tinkers, Harding's previous novel, you will notice that Enon, takes place in the same New England town. In fact the narrator, Charlie Crosby, is the grandson of George from Tinkers. The reader knows this book is going to be sad in some way as the story opens with this paragraph --- “Most men in my family make widows of their wives and orphans of their children. I am the exception. My only child, Kate, was struck and killed by a car while riding her bicycle home from the beach one afternoon in September, a year ago.” What follows is the story of Charlie's life, the year following his daughter's death. It's a well-written story, but an extremely depressing account of "how not to grieve for a lost child."
    • Claire of the Sea Light; Edwidge Danticat - 4/5 (arc/audio) Set in the Haitian village of Ville Rose, on little Claire's seventh birthday, also known as her, "death day" since her mother died giving birth to her.  It's a day that includes a visit to the place where her mother is buried.  Since her father is a poor fisherman, struggling to care for her, he thinks about giving her away the a wealthy family, but on the day it looked like that might happen, Claire disappears.

      Just when I started to fall in love with Claire, she literally disappeared from the novel. Each new chapter introduced lot's of new characters whose lives in some way have crossed paths with Claire and her father.  The story goes back and forth in time and some of the chapters which follow Claire's disappearance felt almost like short novellas, instead of a continuation of the original story.  Although I loved the writing, it was hard for me to connect with some of the new characters.  However, as with Danticat's previous work, the writing is addictive, words you'll savor and the interconnected stories tugged at the heartstrings as well. I was left with even a bleaker picture of life in Haiti for many, but I do not regret my time invested. It deserves to be read.

    Coming Week's Reading Plans - 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You; Peter Cameron


 2007 - Farrar, Straus and Giroux 
(audio - Listening Library - Lincoln Hoppe, reader)


In Someday This Pain Will Be Useful To You, the "pained" individual is eighteen year old James Sveck. His parents are in their own little worlds, divorced from each other. His mother recently ran off to Las Vegas to marry husband number 3, and has just as quickly left him after less than a week of marriage. James also has an older sister Gillian, who is self-involved. His saving grace seems to be a sweet grandmother who really cares about him. Their time together is special for both of them, and he looks forward to their discussions about life.
 
James is smart, very smart, but is somewhat of a misfit or at least socially-awkward. He's never been on a date, and although he has just been accepted at Brown University, he's not sure he wants to go to college.  He can't relate to others his age and would prefer to get out of NY and spend the college money to buy an old house somewhere in the Midwest. Maybe the move would get him out of therapy as well. Dr. Adler, his therapist is driving him crazy. An incident on a school field trip to Washington, D.C. is what gets him sent to a therapist. There is also an incident with an individual who manages the small, NY art gallery, that his mother owns as well.

I fell in love with James as he navigates life. I loved that he was both cynical and sympathetic, a young man who feels everything much more deeply than most people. Is James that off beat? I mean really, is it so bad to be anti-social and prefer your own company to that of self involved people --- people that you have nothing in common with anyways?
 
Told from the first person POV, the reader learns a lot about the sensitive, deep thinking James when he visits his grandmother and talks to her about life.  In this story, I had no expectations as to how it would end for James, and instead, I just enjoyed the ride along the way. The author did an amazing job of getting inside of James' head. The story made me laugh and tear up as well. It's an amazing story about growing up when you beat to a different drummer. 
 
There were so many great passages. Here are some quotes I had to share, and I must say, although I never considered myself a misfit, there were different times when I was younger, that I have felt socially awkward.  

Can any of you relate to some of these quotes from the novel?

--“I felt this awful obligation to be charming or at least have something to say, and the pressure of having to be charming (or merely verbal) incapacitates me.”
 
--“I found the idea of being a librarian very appealing--working in a place where people had to whisper and only speak when necessary. If only the world were like that!”
---“I’m not a sociopath or a freak (although I don’t suppose people who are sociopaths or freaks self-identify as such); I just don’t enjoy being with people. People, at least in my experience, rarely say anything interesting to each other. They always talk about their lives and they don’t have very interesting lives. So I get impatient. For some reason I think you should only say something if it’s interesting or absolutely has to be said.” 

The audio version of this book is read by Lincoln Hoppe who did an excellent job. This is definitely a novel that is going to make my Top 5 list for 2013. It moved me deeply - Read It!

5/5 stars

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

We Are Water; Wally Lamb

Harper & Harper Audio - 2013

Wally Lamb's latest novel, We are Water, is a story about marriage, about family, about emotional pain of the past and moving beyond it all. Anna and Orion Oh were married 27 years and the couple have three grown children: twins Andrew and Ariane are the oldest and Marissa is the youngest.
 
Anna has divorced her husband Orion and is about to marry a woman named Viveca, a wealthy Manhattan art dealer who has helped Anna professionally. As the wedding approaches and the family prepares for and gathers together for the event,  painful secrets involving the various family members are revealed in the form of alternating chapters. 

All of the characters are extremely well drawn.  I liked that each of the children had issues of their own and varying views and concerns about the upcoming wedding. As more and more of the past is revealed about each character, I began to feel like I knew at least a few of these people most of my life. 

Although it took a while, I loved how all of the threads seemed to fall into place about half way through the novel. The author has real talent for creating a controversial story and expertly covering sensitive topics like: child rearing, mental illness, the early death of a parent, alcoholism, life in foster homes and more. Readers need to be aware that there are some graphic depictions of both physical and sexual abuse of minors. There was also sporadic political commentary that might turn off some readers as well.

We Are Water, is very well written, and although it digs deep into the darker side of humans, it's a story that is uplifting as well at times. I was happy to see that the author was able to demonstrates how it is possible to move forward after a painful past. 

4/5 stars

(eGalley provide by publisher and Edelweiss)
(audio download provided by publisher)

Someone Else's Love Story; Joshilyn Jackson

 
 William Morrow - Harper Collins-2013

In Someone Else's Love Story, Shandi Pierce, is a young mother who believes that her brilliant son Natty, is the product of a miracle virgin birth. Shandi's best friend Walcott has been there for her through thick and thin and is very protective of her. Wanting to give her son Natty a better life, Shandi decides to move to Atlanta and begin college there. Walcott helps Shandi and Natty with the move.

On the road trip to Atlanta, Natty becomes carsick so they make stop at the Circle K convenience store for ginger ale to settle his stomach.  Mother and son walk in on a holdup, and when a handsome man, Shandi calls Thor, saves their lives, she believes it was fate that brought them together. Thor (real name William Ashe) is wounded in the hold up and Shandi feels she must nurse him back to health.  William has issues of his own and doesn't quite read the signals being sent by Shandi.

The story is told in alternating chapters where the reader learns more about William Ashe's own sad story. Joshilyn Jackson weaves an intricate story that touches on some tough issues.  I loved some of the characters and disliked others, and I was thrilled with how it ended. I did think too much time was spent on the holdup scene, which made the story drag a bit for me.  Although this was not my favorite Jackson novel, it is still a story worth reading.  

4/5 stars  (review copy provided by publisher)

You can read my review for the prequel to this novel, My Own Miraculous, HERE.

 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros ~ Claire of the Sea Light; Edwidge Danticat

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. Care to join us?  I haven't begun this book yet, but, I hope to within a few days.

Knopf - 2013

"The morning Claire Limye Lanme Faustin turned seven, a freak wave, measuring between ten and twelve feet high, was seen in the ocean outside of Ville Rose.  Claire's father. Nozias, a fisherman, was one of the many who saw it in the distance as he walked toward the sloop.  He first heard a low rumbling, like that of distant thunder, then saw a wall of water rise from the depths of the ocean, a giant blue-green tongue, trying, it seemed, to lick a pink sky."

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What do you think? Would you keep reading? Feel free to join us by linking your First Chapter post below

 



Monday, November 18, 2013

Survival Lessons; Alice Hoffman

Algonquin - 2013

I've enjoyed many of Alice Hoffman's works of fiction in the past, but I wasn't sure what to make of her most recent book, Survival Lessons, which is non fiction.  I was surprised to learn that 15 years ago, the author was diagnosed with breast cancer.

In this slim book, just 81 pages, Ms Hoffman shares bits of wisdom about how she coped with her diagnosis and subsequent treatment. She reflects on what helped her get through an extremely difficult time in her life,  stressing how important it was to focus on the positive and to do the things we love. 

Her past experience reinforces how important it is to enjoy time spent with friends and family, but only those who are truly concerned and supportive of our difficult situation. She gives us permission to let go of the people who are dragging us down and those who are not there for us when  the going gets rough and you need them the most.

Although the author shares some personal elements about her somewhat sad childhood, an absent father and depressed mother, I found the book to be more life affirming than depressing. We all experience bad times in our life, and we all heal in different ways. For each of our sorrows, most of us find equal amounts of joy in our life as well -- look for the little things and reasons to be happy.

One of my favorite passages was: "There is always a before and an after.  My advice, travel light. Choose only what you need most to see you through."

Much of the advice gives are things that we already know, yet the book is just so inspirational. I do think this book would make a thoughtful gift for a sister, a woman friend, or a coworker who is going through a difficult time in their life.  

4/5 stars

(eGalley received through NetGalley)

Mailbox Monday - Nov 18th

I haven't participated in Mailbox Monday for a few weeks, but as my stack of new books continued to grow, I thought I better catch up and share. Here are the new books that arrived by mail over the last 2 weeks. This month's host is Crystal of I totally paused.
 
Audiobooks were sent to me by Simon & Schuster, Hachette  and a paperback Swap member - thanks so much.
 
 (all 3 above were sent by Paperback Swap members)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Week in Review


(Just over a week to make his escape)

Hi Everyone - Can you believe many of us will be celebrating Thanksgiving in less than 2 weeks?  With Thanksgiving coming later this year, Christmas and New Year's will be right around the corner and in some ways it's overwhelming, and in other ways exciting. I'll be hosting Thanksgiving once again, but I enjoy doing that and DH loves being able to stay home and watch some football as well, and then of course there are the benefits of the leftovers as well.  We have the day after Thanksgiving off so it makes for a great long weekend. NO Black Friday shopping for me, if fact, I stay indoors -- far away from the maddening crowds that day.  It'll be just 6 adults and a sweet 19 month old......but.....guess what?......next year we will have (2) more tiny ones to the Thankful for!!!  Yes....my granddaughter will big a big sister in early April to "little sister", and just as exciting, my son and his wife are expecting their FIRST BABY in early July.  I can hardly believe I'll be a grandmother to 3 in just over 2 years, when just a few years ago I never thought I'd be a grandparent. What are your Thanksgiving plans?

Book Stuff - It was a great reading week for me as I actually finished (3) books that I started over the past few weeks, and the good news was I enjoyed them all (but had a few issues with 2 of them - reviews coming).  I read:
  • Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You; Peter Cameron (audiobook) - 5/5 stars -  this book was just awesome and I plan to write a review as this book really touched me. It's a story about an intelligent 18 year old young man who is a bit of a misfit.  The story was funny and sad. I was moved deeply by this one.
  • Someone Else's Love Story; Joshilyn Jackson (arc) - 4/5 stars - this book tells the story of a young mother named Shadi, who believes that her brilliant son is the product of a miracle virgin birth. Once again, Joshilyn Jackson weaves a intricate story that touches on many different and some touch issues.  Although I enjoyed the story a lot, part of the plot dragged for me. (review coming)
  • We Are Water; Wally Lamb (eGalley) - 4/5 stars - after 27 years of marriage and three children, Anna Oh divorces her husband and is about to marry a woman named Viveca, a wealthy Manhattan art dealer who helped her professionally. As the wedding approaches and the family prepares and gathers for the event,  painful secrets about various family members are revealed in the form of alternating chapters. I really liked this story, but readers should be aware that there are some graphic abuse depictions and well as political commentary that might turn off some readers.
Plans for this Week:
How was your week?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Literary Giveaway Winners

Thanks once again to Judith of Leeswammes' Blog for coordinating this fun even.  It was fun meeting new bloggers and always wonderful having old friends stop by as well.  There were 60 entry  comments for the giveaway.

The Prizes were
 The Winners were:

  • Burial Rites (audiobook) - won by Elisabeth
  • The Night Guest - (arc) - won by Megan ( Leafing Through Life)
Congratulations Winners
 and thanks to everyone who stopped by from Nov 9th-13th

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Some November 2013 Book Releases I'm Anxious to Try

With just (7) weeks left in 2013 ---yes, 7 weeks, I was noticing how many new books on my TBR list were ones that were releasing in this month (November). I hope to work my way through these in the next 7 weeks.  Have you read any of these?

The Valley of AmazementA Permanent Member of the FamilyStella BainThe Dalai Lama's Cat and the Art of PurringA Long Way from VeronaThe Dream MakerThe Pieces We KeepFractures: A NovelThe Second-Chance Dog: A Love StoryOur Picnics in the Sun: A NovelSomeone Else's Love Story

11/12/13 - A Permanent Member of theFamily; Russell Banks (ECCO) - This collection, his sixth, is made up of four never-before-published stories. The first, Former Marine, sets the exhausted, elegiac tone for the book. It features Connie, an aging ex-Marine who refers to himself as the Retiree, even though he was laid off: It's the economy's fault. And the fault of whoever the hell's in charge of it. Connie robs banks, badly, to make ends meet, but they (inevitably) don't. In the fine story Transplant, Howard Blume is recovering from a heart transplant when the deceased donor's wife asks to meet him, to listen (with a stethoscope!) to Blume's new heart. In the most subversive story of the collection, Snowbirds, a man dies of a heart attack in Florida, where he and his wife are spending the winter. Isabel, his widow, is nonplussed; in fact, she appears somewhat delighted at the prospect of a new life in the sun. While these exquisitely crafted stories are highly personal, they are also permeated by a sense of sadness about the death of the American dream, as the country struggles, out of work and seemingly out of hope.

11/26/13Our Picnics inthe Sun; Morag Joss – (Delacorte) - One night, two strangers.
A damage that cannot be undone.
 
For thirty years, Howard and Deborah Morgan have poured all their energy and modest savings into Stoneyridge, a smallholding deep in the English moors. Howard putters with pottery, Deborah dabbles in weaving, and both struggle to tend sheep and chickens and live off the land. But what began with simple dreams of solitude and sunlit picnics in the hills has given way to a harsher reality.

To help with finances, they decide to turn Stoneyridge into a bed-and-breakfast. But a sudden stroke leaves Howard incapacitated and Deborah overwhelmed. Howard’s world, once so limitless, has shrunk to the confines of their crumbling house; Deborah’s main joy now comes in the form of a brief weekly email from their successful son, who lives abroad.

Then, late one evening, two men arrive needing a room for the night—and set off a chain of events that uncovers the relics of old tragedies. New wounds are cut deep, betrayals and cruelties intermix with tenderness and love. And through it all, Stoneyridge quietly hides the bitter and transformative truth.

Evocative, intimately claustrophobic, and psychologically complex, Our Picnics in the Sun is a novel of stunning prose and knife-sharp insight. Morag Joss crafts a modern masterpiece of rising tension that binds and releases like a beating heart, propelling readers to a final page that resonates and haunts.

11/12/13 - The Second Chance Dog; Jon Katz (Ballentine) - In 2007, a few years after purchasing Bedlam Farm in upstate New York, Jon Katz met Maria Wulf, a quiet, sensitive artist hoping to rekindle her creative spark. Jon, like her, was introspective yet restless, a writer struggling to find his purpose. He felt a connection with her immediately, but a formidable obstacle stood in the way: Maria’s dog, Frieda.

A rottweiler-shepherd mix who had been abandoned by her previous owner in the Adirondacks, where she lived in the wild for several years, Frieda was ferociously protective and barely tamed. She roared and charged at almost anyone who came near. But to Maria, Frieda was sweet and loyal, her beloved guard dog and devoted friend. And so Jon quickly realized that to win over Maria, he’d have to gain Frieda’s affection as well.

While he and Maria grew closer, Jon was having a tougher time charming Frieda to his side. Even after many days spent on Bedlam Farm, Frieda still lunged at the other animals, ran off into the woods, and would not let Jon come near her, even to hook on her leash. Yet armed with a singular determination, unlimited patience, and five hundred dollars’ worth of beef jerky, Jon refused to give up on Frieda—or on his chance with Maria.

Written with stunning emotional clarity and full of warm yet practical wisdom, The Second-Chance Dog is a testament to how animals can make us better people, and how it’s never too late to find love.

11/12/13Fractures; Lamar Herrin – (Thomas Dunne Books) - A Thousand Acres and Empire Falls meet during the present hydrofracking controversy as a beleaguered patriarch must decide the fate of his land and children in this enveloping family drama

The Joyner family sits atop prime Marcellus Shale. When landmen for the natural gas companies begin to lease property all around the family’s hundred acres, the Joyners start to take notice. Undecided on whether or not to lease the family land, Frank Joyner must weigh his heirs’ competing motivations. All of this culminates as a looming history of family tragedy resurfaces.

A sprawling family novel, Fractures follows each Joyner as the controversial hydrofracking issue slowly exacerbates underlying passions and demons. With echoes of Jonathan Franzen’s FreedomFractures takes its reader deep into the beating heart and hearth of a family divided

11/26/13 - The Pieces We Keep;  Kristina McMorris (Kensington ) - In this richly emotional novel, Kristina McMorris evokes the depth of a mother's bond with her child, and the power of personal histories to echo through generations...

Two years have done little to ease veterinarian Audra Hughes's grief over her husband's untimely death. Eager for a fresh start, Audra plans to leave Portland for a new job in Philadelphia. Her seven-year-old son, Jack, seems apprehensive about flying--but it's just the beginning of an anxiety that grows to consume him.

As Jack's fears continue to surface in recurring and violent nightmares, Audra hardly recognizes the introverted boy he has become. Desperate, she traces snippets of information unearthed in Jack's dreams, leading her to Sean Malloy, a struggling US Army veteran wounded in Afghanistan. Together they unravel a mystery dating back to World War II, and uncover old family secrets that still have the strength to wound--and perhaps, at last, to heal.

Intricate and beautifully written, The Pieces We Keep illuminates those moments when life asks us to reach beyond what we know and embrace what was once unthinkable. Deftly weaving together past and present, herein lies a story that is at once poignant and thought-provoking, and as unpredictable as the human heart.

11/12/13A Long Way From Verona;Jane Gardam  (Europa)- I ought to tell you at the beginning that I am not quite normal having had a violent experience at the age of nine'

Jessica Vye's 'violent experience' colors her schooldays and her reaction to the world around her- a confining world of Order Marks, wartime restrictions, viyella dresses, nicely-restrained essays and dusty tea shops. For Jessica she has been told that she is 'beyond all possible doubt', a born writer. With her inability to conform, her absolute compulsion to tell the truth and her dedication to accurately noting her experiences, she knows this anyway. But what she doesn't know is that the experiences that sustain and enrich her burgeoning talent will one day lead to a new- and entirely unexpected- reality.

11/5/13 – The Dream Maker; JeanChristophe Rufin (Europa) - Based on the true story of Jacques Coeur, The Dream Maker is the story of a Steve Jobs of the Middle Ages. Coeur was the King of France’s visionary First Banker who, with his tours of the Far East, his public criticism of the Crusades, and his efforts to develop trade and an operable financial system, contributed to bringing France out of darkness and toward the Renaissance and modernity. An adventure novel, a novel of ideas, and a moving love story. 

11/12/13 Stella Bain; Anita Shreve – (Little Brown & Co) - When an American woman, Stella Bain, is found suffering from severe shell shock in an exclusive garden in London, surgeon August Bridge and his wife selflessly agree to take her in.

A gesture of goodwill turns into something more as Bridge quickly develops a clinical interest in his houseguest. Stella had been working as a nurse's aide near the front, but she can't remember anything prior to four months earlier when she was found wounded on a French battlefield.

In a narrative that takes us from London to America and back again, Shreve has created an engrossing and wrenching tale about love and the meaning of memory, set against the haunting backdrop of a war that destroyed an entire generation.

11/28/13The Dalai Lama’s Cat andthe Art of Purring – (Hay House) - What makes you purr? 

Of all the questions in the world, this is the most important. It is also the great leveler. Because no matter whether you are a playful kitten or a sedentary senior, a scrawny alley Tom or a sleek-coated uptown girl, whatever your circumstances, you just want to be happy. Not the kind of happy that comes and goes like a can of flaked tuna but an enduring happiness. The deep-down happiness that makes you purr from the heart. 

Before leaving for a teaching tour to America, the Dalai Lama poses a challenge to his beloved feline, HHC (His Holiness’s Cat): to discover the true cause of happiness. Little does she know what adventures this task will bring!

A hair-raising chase through the streets of McLeod Ganj leads to an unexpected revelation about the perils of self-obsession. An encounter with the mystical Yogi Tarchen inspires a breakthrough discovery about her past—one with dramatic implications for us all. And overheard conversations between ivy-league psychologists, high-ranking lamas, and famous writers who congregate at the Himalaya Book CafĂ© help her explore the convergence between science and Buddhism on the vital subject of happiness.

Sparkling with wisdom, warmth, and a touch of mischief, The Dalai Lama’s Cat and the Art ofPurring is a charming reminder of why HHC is becoming one of the most-loved cats around the world.

So what is the true cause of purring? The Dalai Lama whispers this secret on his return—only for the ears of HHC and those with whom she has a karmic connection . . . that, dear reader, means you! 

In Progress:11/19/13 - Someone Else’s Love Story; Joshilyn Jackson (William Morrow) – 11/5/13 - The Valley of Amazement; Amy Tan (Ecco)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

First Chapter ~ First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - Enon; Paul Harding

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. Care to join us?  I haven't begun this book yet, but, I hope to within a few days. The reviews made it seem like one I would enjoy.  Have your read it?
Random House - 2013

"Most men in my family make widows of their wives and orphans of their children.  I am the exception.  My only child, Kate, was struck and killed by a car while riding her bicycle home from the beach one afternoon in September, a year ago.  She was thirteen.  My wife, Susan, and I separated soon afterward.

I was walking through the woods when Kate died.  I'd asked her the day before if she wanted to pack a lunch and go to the Enon River to hike around and feed the birds and maybe rent a canoe.  The birds were tame and ate seed from people's hands.  From the first time I'd taken her she'd been enchanted with the chickadees and titmice and nuthatches that pecked seeds from her palm, and when she was younger she'd treated feeding the birds as if they depended on it."
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What do you think? Would you keep reading? Feel free to join us by linking your First Chapter post below