Monday, August 31, 2009

August Reading in Review

August was a hot humid month here, but it was a good month for reading for me. I read (16) books. The quality of my reads: excellent --- (2) books were perfect 5/5 ratings using my system. (9) books I rated a 4 or 4.5/5; (4) books were rated a 3 or 3.5/5. I had (1) DNF (did not finish): Rapture; Liz Jensen --maybe the timing just wasn't right, as I know some other bloggers did enjoy this book. Of the (16) books I did read, (6) were review books . I also read (2) non fiction books and listened to (4) audio books. 11/16 were my books and 5/16 came from the library (a bit too many still).

Here is a summary for August:

118. Loving Frank; Nancy Horan - 4/5 (audio)
119. Promise of the Wolves; Dorothy Hearst - 4.5/5 (review)
120. Life Sentences; Laura Lippman - 3/5 (audio)
121. Song of Renewal; Sue Harvey - 4/5 (review)
122. Firefly Cloak; Sheri Reynolds - 3.5/5
123. Harmless; Dana Reinhardt - 4/5 (audio)
124. The Idea of Love; Louise Dean - 3/5 (review)
125. The Day the Falls Stood Still; Cathy Buchanan - 4.5/5 (review)
126. That Old Cape Magic; Richard Russo - 5/5
127. Daddy's Girl; Lisa Scottoline - 3.5/5 (audio)
128. Julie and Julia; Julie Powell - 5/5
129. Heroic Measures; Jill Ciment - 4.5/5
130. Sheer Abandon; Penny Vincenzi - 4/5
131. Homer's Odyssey; Gwen Cooper - 4.5/5 (review)
132. After You; Julie Buxbaum - 4/5 (review)
133. Revolutionary Road; Richard Yates - 4.5/5

I completed (1) challenge : What An Animal II.

Open Challenges
  • 100+ Challenge - 133/100
  • A-Z Challenge - 22/26
  • Read Your Own Books Challenge - 71/100
  • John Steinbeck Mini Challenge - 1/2
  • War Through the Generations WWII - 2/5
  • R.I.P. IV Challenge - 0/4

    Hope you had a great month too!

Mailbox Monday - August 31

A fun week for me book-wise. I was lucky to win a few giveaways too.

- The Moon Looked Down; Garlock (giveaway win/Hachette)

- The Woodstock Story Book; Sackett (shelf awareness)

- The Sari Shop Widow; Bantwal (sent by author)

- The Hidden Life of Deer; Thomas (Amazon Vine)

- The Shimmer; Morrell (Anna/Hachette)

- The Blue Star; Earley (giveaway)

- The Private Papers of an Eastern Jewel; Lindley (shelf awareness/Bloomsbury & Walker)

- The Paperchase; Theroux (purchase)

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marica at the Printed Page. Be sure to visit her blog.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Sunday Salon - 8-30-09

Well, we have one more holiday weekend to enjoy before summer is over. For me summer is not over on 9/21 (first day of fall), summer has always been over when the tourists go home. If you live near the beach in New England, some of the best beach weather can be found in the next 5 weeks. The beaches are not crowded, and the weather is usually glorious.

As I've gotten older, I don't spend time baking in the sun anymore (been there done that from age 13 up until a few years ago). Anyone remember using iodine and baby oil to fry yourself like a lobster when you were young? Fortunately, I am not fair skinned, so although my body has seen sun damage caused by 35 years of sun over exposure, it could be a lot worse if I had burned instead of tanned. --why didn't i listen to my mother back then?

Now about books....I bought (4) new books by Richard Russo: Straight Man, Mohawk, Risk Pool and Nobody's Fool. I mentioning them today because, I have a large amount to post about for Mailbox Monday, so I thought I'd mention the purchase and then tuck them away (like I do with other purchases, when I buy too much at one time and feel guilty :)

While I'm talking about books, I'll mention my plans to try a new book review rating system beginning September 1st. For years, I've been using a (1-5) rating system, including (.5) where appropriate. I know when a book is a perfect (5) for me, but then it gets a bit fuzzy and subjective. Here's what I had in mind:
  • Green Face - I loved the book! (GO read it)
  • Yellow Face -Average - (Proceed with caution)
  • Red Face - Disappointing (Stop - you've been warned)
Have a great Sunday everyone!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

133 - Revolutionary Road; Richard Yates

I was amazed to read that Revolutionary Road was the first published novel of Richard Yates. Set in the 1950's, Revolutionary Road introduces the the reader to the not so perfect lives of Frank and April Wheeler.
To outsiders, the Wheelers seemed like a couple who has everything going for them. They were living the "perceived American Dream" in the suburbs of Connecticut on Revolutionary Road. April was beautiful, and social. Frank was more reserved, but according to their real estate agent Mrs Givings, "I think that boy must do something very brilliant in town".

The truth about the Wheelers was that they were: miserable. Frank has a boring job he loathes at the same company his father had worked for all his life. April detests being a housewife. She dreads the thought of each new day: cleaning, cooking, and caring for children. To her motherhood and marriage are thankless jobs, and suburbia is her private hell.
April tells Frank about a plan she has for them to move to Paris and start a new life. When Frank buys in to the idea, they put the house on the market, tell the children and their neighbors--who are shocked. But, just about as quickly as the plans were made, they begin to fall apart--to say any more would be a major spoiler.
I initially started listening to the audio version of this one, but the reader's voice was extremely depressing (though appropriate for the plot). I then switched to the print version, and I thought Yates did an amazing job letting the reader into the Wheeler's world. A place that I can only describe as what happens to you sometimes when you drive by a horrific traffic accident -- you don't want to look, but once it's there in front of you, you just can't turn your back. Frank and April were not likable characters; they were extremely self-absorbed. Even though I did not like the major characters, I did think the book was terrific. (I have not seen the movie, and do not plan to either. Once around the block with this gut-wrenching story was more than enough for me, but I do recommend it--if that makes sense).
RATING - 4.5/5 stars; Completed - 8/28/09; My Stacks

Friday, August 28, 2009

132 - After You; Julie Buxbaum

Lucy, Ellie Lerner's best friend of 30 years, is stabbed to death while walking her eight year old daughter Sophie to school. Ellie is so devastated that she leaves her job and her husband in Boston, and travels to Notting Hill, England to help Sophie and her Greg through this difficult time.

Greg deals with his grief by escaping to local pubs, and little Sophie is so traumatized by witnessing her mother's stabbing, has stopped speaking. Ellie desperate to help Sophie, turns to the book, The Secret Garden, as a tool for helping Sophie through her grief. Night after night she reads the book to her, and gradually the healing begins.

Ellie, at first seemed self-centered to me. She left her job, and her husband Phillip to fly to England for an indefinite period of time. The truth is, Ellie too was grieving, not only for the loss of her friend Lucy, but she was also mourning the loss of her baby "Oliver", that she lost during her eighth month of pregnancy. In addition, her marriage now seems doomed, and she is not quite sure how to save it.

After You, is a believable story, and despite the ending being somewhat open-ended, it was a satisfying read. The author skillfully portrays a touching relationship between Ellie and Sophie, and shows the reader that although hearts can break, they can also heal given time.

RECOMMENDED - 4/5 stars; Review Copy; 8/27/09

Friday Finds

Mathilda Savitch

By: Victor Lodatao

Pub Date: 9/15/09

Product Description

I have a sister who died. Did I tell you this already? I did but you don’t remember, you didn’t understand the code . . . She died a year ago, but in my mind sometimes it’s five minutes. In the morning sometimes it hasn’t even happened yet. For a second I’m confused, but then it all comes back. It happens again.

Fear doesn’t come naturally to Mathilda Savitch. She prefers to look right at the things nobody else can bring themselves to mention: for example, the fact that her beloved older sister is dead, pushed in front of a train by a man still on the loose. Her grief-stricken parents have basically been sleepwalking ever since, and it is Mathilda’s sworn mission to shock them back to life. Her strategy? Being bad.

Mathilda decides she’s going to figure out what lies behind the catastrophe. She starts sleuthing through her sister’s most secret possessions—e-mails, clothes, notebooks, whatever her determination and craftiness can ferret out. More troubling, she begins to apply some of her older sister’s magical charisma and powers of seduction to the unraveling situations around her. In a storyline that thrums with hints of ancient myth, Mathilda has to risk a great deal—in fact, has to leave behind everything she loves—in order to discover the truth.

Mathilda Savitch bursts with unforgettably imagined details: impossible crushes, devastating humiliations, the way you can hate and love your family at the same moment, the times when you and your best friend are so weak with laughter that you can’t breathe. Startling, funny, touching, odd, truthful, page-turning, and, in the end, heartbreaking, Mathilda Savitch is an extraordinary debut. Once you make the acquaintance of Mathilda Savitch, you will never forget her.

I came across this one on Amazon. I loved the cover, and I thought the story sounded pretty good as well.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Disobedient Girl; Ru Freeman - Blog Tour Stop

A Disobedient Girl
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Atria (July 21, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-13: 978-1439101957


In one of the most impressive debuts of the year, Ru Freeman delivers an epic, searing novel about betrayal and salvation, the strength of the human spirit, and the boundlessness and limits of love.

Set against the volatile events of the last forty years of Sri Lankan history, A Disobedient Girl traces the lives of three characters whose interwoven fates and histories force them to answer life's most difficult questions. Beautiful, haunting, alive, and brimming with truth, it is, above all, a novel about extraordinary circumstances that change life in an instant and the power of love to transcend time and place.

The story begins with two little girls, mistress and servant, one with every luxury and opportunity that money can buy and the other with nothing but her yearning for a better life. Together, they grow up bound by love, betrayal, resentment, and an impossible secret.

Then there is Biso, a devoted mother of three, who risks everything to escape from the hands of her tyrannical husband. But her journey, which begins with such hope, takes her on a disastrous path that ultimately leads her to give her life over to strangers she never imagined she would have reason to know, binding her story with that of the girls in the most unexpected and heartbreaking of ways.

A Disobedient Girl is a compelling exploration of personal desire set against the volatile backdrop of class and prejudice, as three women journey toward their future, united by a shared history but separated by different fates. A bold and deeply moving account that spans three decades of love and loss, it is a tale about the will to survive and the incredible power of the human spirit to transcend the unforgiving sweep of tragedy.

About the Author

Ru Freeman is a Sri Lankan writer whose political journalism and fiction has been published internationally. She lives in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Her debut novel, A Disobedient Girl, will also be published in Dutch, Italian, Chinese, Portuguese and Hebrew. She calls both Sri Lanka and America home and writes about the people and countries underneath her skin. (You can visit her website here).

You can read my review here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Top 10 Books with Stellar Reviews

According to here is theTop Ten list of books which are both by well-known authors and receiving stellar reviews:Have you read any, or do you plan to? If so what are your thoughts?

I plan to read Love and Summer, Nocturnes, and possibly The Coral Thief.

Waiting of Wednesday: Bloodroot

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, and was created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Title: Bloodroot
Author: Bill Loehfelm
Pub. Date: September 3, 2009 (Putnam)

Product Description

The brilliantly ambitious thriller- frightening, twisted, and filled with secrets and heartbreak-from the author of Fresh Kills.
Kevin Curran wants to unite his family, but he's ready to give up on his younger brother, Danny-three years lost to heroin addiction and hard, desperate living on the streets of New York.

When Danny shows up on Kevin's Staten Island doorstep, looking clean, fit, and prosperous, Kevin can't help but be overjoyed that his brother has escaped his past life. But at what price? Not even Kevin's worst nightmares could have prepared him for the horrors he'll discover about his brother's dark history.

After a brief reunion, Danny offers Kevin a role in an underworld plot revolving around the Bloodroot Children's Hospital, an abandoned juvenile asylum with a nefarious past. Hoping to rescue Danny from his criminal life after years ago failing to save him from his addiction, Kevin accepts.

While Danny's plan unfolds, Kevin is drawn into a world of murder, Mafia hit men and dangerous espionage. The halls of Bloodroot reveal one horrifying secret after another: about the building's history, about Danny's life of addiction and crime, and about the true roots of the Curran family. At the end of the maze of monsters, the brothers make a discovery so horrific it may force them to destroy each other.

What's your pick this week?

Wordless Wednesday

Now if only I had a space like this all for me -- I'd never have a reason to visit another book store would I ?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

131 - Homer's Odyssey; Gwen Cooper

As a cat lover (we have 4) I had a soft spot for Homer long before this book arrived for me to read and review. As soon as I heard there was a new memoir coming out about a blind cat, I had a lump in my throat, and knew I had to read this book based on the review I had read:
Once in nine lives, something extraordinary happens...

The last thing Gwen Cooper wanted was another cat. She already had two, not to mention a phenomenally underpaying job and a recently broken heart. Then Gwen’s veterinarian called with a story about a three-week-old eyeless kitten who’d been abandoned. It was love at first sight.

Everyone warned that Homer would always be an "underachiever," never as playful or independent as other cats. But the kitten nobody believed in quickly grew into a three-pound dynamo, a tiny daredevil with a giant heart who eagerly made friends with every human who crossed his path. Homer scaled seven-foot bookcases with ease and lept five feet into the air to catch flies in mid-buzz. He survived being trapped alone for days after 9/11 in an apartment near the World Trade Center, and even saved Gwen’s life when he chased off an intruder who broke into their home in the middle of the night.

But it was Homer’s unswerving loyalty, his infinite capacity for love, and his joy in the face of all obstacles that inspired Gwen daily and transformed her life. And by the time she met the man she would marry, she realized Homer had taught her the most important lesson of all: Love isn’t something you see with your eyes.
Homer’s Odyssey is the once-in-a-lifetime story of an extraordinary cat and his human companion. It celebrates the refusal to accept limits—on love, ability, or hope against overwhelming odds. By turns jubilant and moving, it’s a memoir for anybody who’s ever fallen completely and helplessly in love with a pet.
I really loved this memoir, and found it touching that this little feisty blind cat was able to touch Gwen so deeply, and to change her thinking and her life. Although I am hesitant to quote text from a review copy, I just had to cite a few passages that moved me......

"The other thing I realized was, that while he seemed loving, he wasn't scared or desperate to be loved, the way you'd expect a kitten--or even a person--who'd experienced nothing but pain, hunger or fear to be. Nor was he hostile and defensive, a kitten who'd let a hard life stomp all the love right out of him. He was merely curious and affectionate. It was as if there was some innate source of courage within him, some inborn willingness to engage the world openly and joyfully, that even all the suffering and hardship he'd been through hadn't taken away from him."
"It was a staggering concept for me at the time. I had been dumped, forced to move out of my home, and was having financial problems--and I'd consequently developed an unfortunate tendency to approach life as if it were a grim struggle, to allow self-pity to consume me whenever I lost some of those struggles. But here was this cat, whose ordeals made my own worst days seem like a week in Disney World..........."
Homer's Odyssey is so much more than a story about a cat. It is a story about the transformation of a life (really two lives Gwen and Homers). The writing is beautiful, in a way that will leave you thinking about the things that mean most in life. How love comes into our lives oftentimes when we least expect it.
Homer's Odyssey should appeal to not just cat lovers but animal lovers in general. I also enjoyed this video of Gwen and Homer (click here).
Thanks to Random House and Shelf Awareness for sending this to me.
RECOMMENDED - 4.5/5 stars


Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings is hosting this fun challenge again in 2009. It was so much fun last year, I MUST join again. See Full Details HERE.
  • Mystery
  • Suspense
  • Thriller
  • Dark Fantasy
  • Gothic
  • Horror
  • Supernatural
There are two simple goals to the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge:
1. Have fun reading
2. Share that fun with others
There are multiple levels of participation that allow you to be a part of R.I.P. IV without adding the burden of another commitment to your already busy lives.
R.I.P. IV officially runs from September 1st through October 31st. But lets go ahead and break the rules. Lets start today!!!
My List -(completed - 10/21/09)
  1. A Duty to the Dead;Todd - recommended
  2. The Neighbor; Lisa Gardner - recommended
  3. The Broken Window; Jeffery Deaver - recommended
  4. The Brutal Telling; Louise Penny - recommended

Tuesday Teasers

  • Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!
(p. 163)....."Last night, Sophie refused to eat our healthy dinner of fish sticks and ketsoup--two food groups covered: protein and vegetable--because the items were touching the plate. When I insisted she eat it anyway, she used the line I had been waiting to hear since I arrived in London: You are not my mother".

New Book Releases Today

I'm in the process of reading both of these books. They hit the book store shelves today here in the US. They both are very good. (reviews coming soon)

Has anyone else read and reviewed these?

Monday, August 24, 2009

130 - Sheer Abandon; Penny Vincenzi

Martha, Clio, and Jocasta meet by chance at Heathrow airport in 1985. Strangers to each other, but each off on a backpacking adventure, they decide to spend the first few days of their trip together in Thailand. They then go their separate ways, but promise to get together in London the following year, but that never happens. It is many many years before the three meet again. Now when they meet, they are all responsible career women.

One of them harbors a terrible secret. On her return from her pre-college adventure, when the three first met, one of them gave birth to a baby girl in the closet of the airport at Heathrow. The infant now a beautiful teenager is named Kate and has grown up in a loving home with her adoptive family. Kate, she sets out to find her birth mother, and as a result the three women are together again under not so pleasant circumstances. The mystery of which of the women gave birth to Kate is revealed, as well as who her father is.

While reading Sheer Abandon, I listened to the audio as well as read the print copy. This book was 600++ pages. I was hooked right from the beginning, but the story did get bogged down a bit in the middle, and by the end, I had the following thoughts: I'm glad I read this one, but it could have been done just as well with about 200 fewer pages.

If you have not read anything by Penny Vincenzi (she's new for me), give this book a try.

RATING - 4/5 stars - Completed - 8/23/09 - Library

Mailbox Monday - August 24

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page .

Can you ever get too many new books? This week I was thinking --yes, I think you can. (They are here though----so I'm not parting with them now; it's like a pet...each one is now part of the family :)
So here's what arrived:
  1. Songs for the Butcher's Daughter; Manseau (bought it)
  2. The Devil's Company; Liss (giveaway win)
  3. Of Bees and Mist; Setiawan (paperbackswap)
  4. Henry's Sisters; Cathy Lamb (bought it)
  5. Mercury in Retrograde; Froelich (bought it)
  6. Invisible Mountain; De Robertis (ARC)
  7. Repeat After Me; De Woskin (paperback swap)
  8. The Ground Beneath Her Feet; Rushdie (bought it)
  9. A Circle of Souls; Grandhi (author)
  10. White Mary; Salak (audio)
  11. The Weight of Silence; Gudenkauf (paperback swap)
  12. A Map of Home; Jarrar (penguin)
Share with us what treasures you received this week.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

and the WINNER is........

List Randomizer has decided on a winner.

There were 19 items in your list. Here they are in random order:

laughing stars - Congratulations - Laughing Stars
book lady
neas nuttiness
beth f
yvette kelly

Timestamp: 2009-08-23 04:20:51 UTC
Thanks to the (19) bloggers who entered the giveaway.

Sunday Salon - 8-23-09

I can't believe it is Sunday already -- I missed last weeks Sunday Salon, and this week flew by even faster. Here in New England it was the hottest and most humid week of the summer. We walked at 7:30 am and we were drenched by 8:00 am, so most of the week was spent in AC only environments: home, the library, and the movie theatre (Julie and Julia--so great). Looking forward to fall so much, but not winter--hey can't enjoy one without the other right?

My library pile for this week was pretty huge (let's guess how many will be returned unread and they checked out several more times in the future?? )LOL

  1. Netherland; O'Neill
  2. Intervention; Robin Cook
  3. The Consequences of Love; Addonia (check out the cover)
  4. A Better View of Paradise; Coburn (Check out the cover)
  5. Revolutionary Road; Yates (audio - have not seen the movie - I hear it is gut wrenching)
  6. Rifling Paradise; Poster (check out the cover)
  7. The Earth Hums in B Flat; Strachen
  8. In the Heart of the Canyon; Hyde
  9. Sheer Abandon; Vincenzi (current read)
  10. Hold Love Strong; Goodman

This week I finished:

  • That Old Cape Magic; Russo - Library
  • Heroic Measures; Ciment - Library
  • Daddy's Girl; Scottoline (audio) - Library
  • Julie and Julia; Powell (giveaway win)

I'm now reading review copies of:

  • Homer's Odyssey; Gwen Cooper (n/f)
  • After You; Buxbaum
  • Promised World; Tucker (hope to begin reading this week)

That's about it for the book related stuff.

Personal stuff: my son started a new job as a Business Analyst (can't give the name of the company, but family members are thrilled about his 35% discount)....LOL.... My daughter is smoke free still (54 days now); it's very hard for her, but we are cheering her on. My husband and I are over our summer colds --thank goodness. Lastly, unfortunately my brother who has pancreatic cancer had a setback this week, and needed another blood transfusion today. (The chemo has done a number on his red cells). He had a transfusion just 16 days that has been hard on all of us. He was diagnosed 8 months ago.

That's about all she wrote. Have a great week everyone.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Book Blogger Appreciation Week Meme

Somehow I totally missed this Book Blogger Appreciation Meme. This is my first year with BBAW, and I am not sure what I am suppose to do (I voted already for you guys). I was so excited to learn I have been nominated in two categories: Best General Review Blog, and Best Blog Name.

New Blogger Meme questions:

1) What has been one of the highlights of blogging for you?
  • There are really so many reasons I love blogging.
  • Book Blogging feeds my book addiction is so so many ways. Posting about books; adding new books to my lists and reading other bloggers great review.
  • I find it a great creative outlet, to express my opinions on books I've read or others have read.
  • It's been so exciting when authors have contacted me directly to review their books.
  • Your comments and feedback have been so imporant to me over this past year, and have helped build confidence.
  • But the number one reason, is YOU, all the wonderful book-loving friends I've met, who have inspired and encouraged me. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!

2) What blogger has helped you out with your blog by answering questions, linking to you, or inspiring you?

There is no way I could name just one, without feeling I might have slighted somene. Everyone book blogger I have posed a question to has been extremely friendly and helpful. I have found that Book Bloggers are not "it's all about me" people. They all seem willing to help at the drop of a hat, and that is very motivating for a NEW blogger like myself. I knew nothing about blogging when I started. It was just intended as a place to record my reviews, but over the past year, it has become so much more.

3) What one question do you have about BBAW that someone who participated last year could answer?

Just one question? seems to me just the seem volume of information required to track all the votes in each category seems like an overwhelming job. Just how do you do this, and do you need help ?

Keep these important BBAW dates in mind:

  • September 7: Shortlists are announced and voting begins
  • September 12: Voting closes at 11:59 PM EST
  • September 14-18: BBAW!
  • Join in on the fun here!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Friday Finds

I came across this title on the new book shelf at the library yesterday (release date 4/2009). It sounds like a moving story that I am looking forward to.

In this poignant tale of self-discovery, a young man struggles to survive the New York City housing projects in the face of familial, communal, and personal devastation. Born to a thirteen-year-old in the bathroom of his family's small apartment, Abraham Sing leton enters a world laden with the obstacles inherent in an impoverished community. In spite of the crack epidemic and the HIV crisis that ravage their neighborhood, the Singleton family -- cousins, an uncle, an aunt, Abraham, and his mother -- is held together by Abraham's heroic grandmother, whose deep faith and stoic nature have always given them a sense of wholeness and hope. But when the family goes through several harrowing losses, not even his grandmother may be strong enough to lead them through.

At the center of this story is Abraham, the youngest of the Singletons. Deeply intuitive and cerebral, he is determined to thrive in a place that has destroyed the dreams of those around him. College means opportunity, yet it also means leaving behind those he loves. Abraham's journey into adulthood will break his heart but ultimately offer the possibility of redemption.

In this haunting, lyrical, and evocative novel, Matthew Goodman composes a paean to the power of family and belonging in the African-American community. Hold Love Strong is a spellbinding coming-of-age tale about love, hope, and the will to survive, and a stunning universal story about the incredible capacity of the human spirit.

Did you find anything interesting this week? Share please.

What Pattern is Your Brain?

What pattern is your brain? Care to find out?
If so take the quiz here. Share your results...please.

I'm Creative according to this quiz.

You have a dreamy mind, full of fancy and fantasy. You have the ability to stay forever entertained with your thoughts. People may say you're hard to read, but that's because you're so internally focused. But when you do share what you're thinking, people are impressed with your imagination.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Booking Through Thursday - Recent Best

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

I enjoyed Richard Russo's new book : That Old Cape Magic so much, that I just ordered (4) more of Russo's books:

One thing that really appeals to me about Russo's writing is his ability to vividly capture his characters and show parallels between them. Between parent and child and one generation to the next. That Old Cape Magic and Empire Falls are both good examples of this. You can read my review here of That Old Cape Magic.

129 - Heroic Measures; Jill Ciment

Heroic Measures is a short novel that takes place, all in one weekend. Three major events are going on in this story over this weekend: (1) - A gasoline tanker truck is stuck in the midtown tunnel, and a possible hostage situation has the city residents in a panic wondering if they are in the midst of another terrorist attack. (2) - Ruth, a former teacher, and Alex, an artist, are elderly New York City residents, who have lived in a 5th floor walk up for 45 years. The time has come to sell their apartment, and for them to find something in a building with an elevator, for them and their beloved dachshund, Dorothy. (3) - Dorothy, the 12-year old dog of the couple appears to be suddenly paralyzed, and is rushed by the couple to an animal hospital at the other end of the city, while the city is in crisis. Dorothy is clearly the life blood of this elderly, childless couple. They are filled with anxiety waiting for calls from the Vet, to find out how Dorothy is doing. All the while, numerous people tour their apartment which is on the market, and a bidding war develops. Prices fluctuate with every news update on the hostage situation terrorizing the city.

The authors writing is very vivid, and so funny at times. The story is told from multiple points of view, including Dorothys -- a cute idea indeed. The author's writing style really appealed to me as well.....

(p.96) Alex and Ruth have a date this evening with Rudolph and May, their oldest friends as well as Alex's gallery dealers.....Rudolph is tall and concave with features that look chipped from flint. May is flat and thin as a popsicle stick with a glorious thick gray braid worn down her back. Now at seventy-six, the braid finally reaches the base of her spine. Despite May's family's wealth, bluebloods from Boston, she always looks shabby, whereas Rudolph a rag-picker's son, dresses like a count".

Heroic Measures certainly has a different kind of plot line, but somehow, it works beautifully. This was truly a well done novel, that left me thinking about the things that really matter in life when you get right down to it.

RATING - 4.5/5 stars; Completed - 8/19/09; Library

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

BBAW Thank You

I missed this amazing email I received earlier this am........

"I am so thrilled to inform you that you have been nominated for 2 BookBlogger Appreciation Week Awards in the category Best General Review Blog, and Best Blog Name".

So, I'd just like to say thanks to those who may have nominated me, and put my blog in the mix. I'm stunned, and thrilled that you thought of Bibliophile By the Sea and me.

Best of luck to all the many other wonderful book bloggers out there, who bring so much joy to me and others. On September 7th the Short List will be announced and the voting opens on the BBAW site.

Waiting on Wednesday: Unfinished Desires

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event, and was created by Jill at Breaking The Spine.

Title: Unfinished Desires
Author: Gail Godwin
Pub. Date: December 29, 2009

(From Amazon)

From Gail Godwin, three-time National Book Award finalist and acclaimed New York Times bestselling author of Evensong and The Finishing School, comes a sweeping new novel of friendship, loyalty, rivalries, redemption, and memory.It is the fall of 1951 at Mount St. Gabriel’s, an all-girls school tucked away in the mountains of North Carolina. Tildy Stratton, the undisputed queen bee of her class, befriends Chloe Starnes, a new student recently orphaned by the untimely and mysterious death of her mother. Their friendship fills a void for both girls but also sets in motion a chain of events that will profoundly affect the course of many lives, including the girls’ young teacher and the school’s matriarch, Mother Suzanne Ravenel.

Fifty years on, the headmistress relives one pivotal night, trying to reconcile past and present, reaching back even further to her own senior year at the school, where the roots of a tragedy are buried.

In Unfinished Desires, a beloved author delivers a gorgeous new novel in which thwarted desires are passed on for generations–and captures the rare moment when a soul breaks free.

What is your WOW pick this week?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

128 - Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously; Julie Powell

This is a combination review of the book that follows along with the movie, and the movie.

Julie and; Julia was so entertaining. Julie is a woman who is about to turn 30. She and her husband have just moved to a tiny, cramped apartment in Queens, NY above a pizza shop. She works full time at a just so so government job, and is unsure what to do with her life. Julie does love to eat, she loves to cook, so she comes up with an idea to cook every single recipe in Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking cookbook. She plans to do this all in one year and there are over 500 recipes. Every day she blogs about her cooking experience, and soon she becomes quite popular out there in cyberspace.She becomes totally obsessed with her project, and fortunately for her she has a supportive husband on her cheering squad.

If you see the movie, I think you will agree the Meryl Streep was just fabulous as Julia Child. She sounded just like her, and she too had a supportive husband like Julie, who encouraged her to pursue her interest in cooking, even though she was in her 40's when she did.

It was amazing how they combined Julie Powell's story with Julia Child's : My Life in Paris story. Laugh out loud moments you will want to experience again and again.

Had I just read the book (Julie Powell's true story) and not seen the movie, I might have been a little less enthusiastic with this review. Julie, was a bit of a whiner, or to me, that is how she came across. This was one feel good story/movie, that I will be talking about every opportunity I get. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
RATING - 5/5; Completed - 8/18/09; My Stacks

127 - Daddy's Girl; Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline is a new to me author. This review is based on the unabridged audio book, which is read by Barbara Rosenblat.

Natalie Greco, is a law professor at the University of Pennsylvania. When another professor, Angus Holt invites her to join him in teaching a class at a local prison, she agrees. A riot breaks out while she is at the prison. When Nat is trying to help a badly injured guard, he whispers some dying last words to her "tell my wife it's under the floor".

Natalie has no clue what the message she's asked to deliver means, but evidently someone thinks she knows a bit too much. Before long, Natalie is suspected of murder, being pursued by the police, and, even some killers are after her.

Although the book has a few too many coincidences, Daddy's Girl was still and entertaining thriller. The reader Barbara Rosenblat was excellent. She injected humor at times, and did a great job changing her voice to fit the cast of characters. The story was just so so, but still it was a fun listening experience. (BTW: I read that the author really is an adjunct professor at The University of Pennsylvania).

RATING - 3.5/5; COMPLETED - 8/17/09; Library

Tuesday Teasers

Miz B and Teaser Tuesdays asks you to:
Grab your current read.
Let the book fall open to a random page.

Share with us two (2) sentences from that page, somewhere between lines 7 and 12.
You also need to share the title of the book that you’re getting your “teaser” from … that way people can have some great book recommendations if they like the teaser you’ve given!

(p.113)...."Dorothy now shares a semiprivate room with a bulldog recuperating from having eaten a penny, a poodle passing kidney stones, a Mexican hairless with a sinus infection, and a pug in a leg cast. Cages line the green walls".
(Heroic Measures - 2009 - Pantheon Books; Division of Random House).
This novel is just 192 pages. The writing style is great!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mailbox Monday - August 17

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. This week I received four books:

  1. Julie and Julia; Powell - Hachette Giveaway (thanks Anna)
  2. Lift: a memoir; Rebecca O'Connor (from author)
  3. The Only True Genius in the Family; Jeannie Nash (purchase)
  4. The Elegance of the Hedgehog; Barbery (purchase)

Looking forward to reading all of these.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

126 - That Old Cape Magic; Richard Russo

In That Old Cape Magic, the protagonist, Jack Griffin, is a 57 year old, only child of academia parents. As a child, Jack and his parents spent one month every summer on Cape Cod, traveling there from Indiana. Years later, Jack and his wife Joy spent their honeymoon on Cape Cod, where they planned for their future.

The story begins with a wedding on Cape Cod, and ends with a wedding in Maine. The setting, Cape Cod is significant, because, this is the year that Jack's life will be transformed. Cape Cod is the place where Jack struggles to find meaning in his life, and at the same time he is struggling with his own mortality. As Jack arrives at the Cape for the wedding of his daughter Lauren's best friend, he is carrying in his trunk, an urn with his father's ashes. His father died unexpectedly, nine months earlier, but Jack is looking for just the right place to scatter his remains.

Jack's parents, are flawed but memorable characters. They were Ive-League educated, but bitterly resigned to the fact they were only able to teach at "second rate" mid western colleges. Extremely critical people, they cheated on each other, squandered their money away, and thought they were better than most everyone they met. Although they thought Cape Cod was paradise, even there they seemed unhappy with their life.

Jack's parents are portrayed so vividly, that I will never forget them.

(Jack's mother speaking to her granddaughter about colleges): "Do you know what kind of people send their progeny to Williams?" "Rich, privileged, white, republican. Or, Even worse, people who-aspire to all that". (Not so unlike your other grandparents she meant). "Their kids aren't smart enough to get into any Ivy, but they have to go somewhere, so God created Williams".

(Jack reflecting on his father): "His father had left the world in about the same financial condition. Not much to show for life, he couldn't help thinking, though Thoreau would have been pleased. Simplicity, Simplicity, Simplicity".

Told over a time span of one year, and ending with his own daughter's wedding in Maine, That Old Cape Magic, is ultimately a story about coming to terms with one's life.

It was a story that made me think about who I am. How who we are, what we've done with our lives, and the profound effect that our parents, and our childhood has had on our lives. As a baby boomer myself, this story rang true: we are who we are because of them. This story is funny, touching, and reflective. At times I was not sure if the tears in my eyes were tears from laughter or tears of sadness. A wonderful story that moved me deeply, and will stay with me for a long time to come. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. (Release Date - August 11, 2009)

RATING-5/5; Completed - 8/14/09; Library

Friday, August 14, 2009

Book Giveaway - The Day the Falls Stood Still; Cathy Buchanan

I enjoyed this book so much that I decided to give it away so someone else might enjoy it as well. You can read my review here to see if you might be interested in this one. (This is an advanced reader edition; the book hits bookstores on August 25th).
To enter:
  • Leave a comment on this post, and become a follower to enter. (If you are already a follower, just post a comment. You must include an email address.
  • I will be using to pick the winner on Sunday, August 23, 2009.
  • This contest is open to everyone.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

125 - The Day the Falls Stood Still; Cathy Marie Buchanan

It's the early 1900's and the Heath family had enjoyed a life of comfort. Mr. Heath held an important job with The Niagara Power Company, the family was highly regarded, and Bess, the younger daughter, attended the prestigious Loretto Academy, until her father was fired from her job. When Mr Heath loses his job, he starts staying out late and drinking. Mrs. Heath's friends begin avoiding her, and she is humiliated by the gossip she is hearing. To provided some income for her family, she begins sewing dresses for other women in the community. When tragedy strikes, every ones life is forever changed.

By a chance meeting, enters Tom Cole, a handsome riverman to whom Bess is immediately attracted. The attraction is mutual, but her family objects, as he "is not from their world". Tom's grandfather, Fergus Cole, in the mid-1800's lived a life full of daring river rescues. Tom follows in his grandfather's footsteps, and is somewhat of a local hero because of his devotion to the Niagara Falls River. He has performed many brave rescues himself. Toms commitment to his ideals, and his belief about the harm that is being done by the introduction of hydro-electric power in the area, makes Tom unpopular. He is seen as a threat by the power companies involved who want to harness the power from the falls for the own purpose.

The Day the Falls Stood Still
is an amazing debut novel, steeped with historical detail about the Niagara Falls hydroelectric project. Included in the novel are newspaper articles, and illustrations which really add even more interest to this already terrific story. It is also a love story: Bess and Tom's story. Bess and her amazing strength, and devotion to husband and family, and Tom, his love for his wife, family and the river that is in his blood, and his conflict about right and wrong.

This novel is based in part on a real life Niagara riverman: William "Red" Hill. Although this novel got a bit bogged down at the start, it fully redeemed itself. It made for a novel, I would not have wanted to miss. RECOMMENDED.

(Release date - August 25, 2009)

RATING - 4.5/5 ; COMPLETED - 8/13/09; My review Copy

2009 Christmas / Holiday Reading List Anyone?

I always look forward to a few holiday reads to get me into the spirit of the season. So while browsing for some "coming soon" holiday titles, I was shocked to find new 27 titles.....and there are probably more that I missed.

Do any of these appeal to you?

  1. A Perfect Christmas; Debbie Macomber (9/2009)
  2. The Winter Man; Diana Palmer (9/2009)
  3. Lakeshore Christmas; Susan Wiggs (9/2009)
  4. The Christmas List; Richard Paul Evans (10/2009)
  5. The Christmas Promise; Anne Perry (10/2009)
  6. The Christmas Secret; Donna Van Liere (10/2009)
  7. A Week in December; Sebastian Faulks (10/2009)
  8. The Christmas Dog; Melody Carlson (10/2009)
  9. Christmas Jars Reunion; Jason Wright (10/2009)
  10. Penny's Christmas Jar Miracle; Jason Wright (10/2009)
  11. A Creed Country Christmas; Linda Miller (10/2009)
  12. Angel Time; Anne Rice (10/2009)
  13. Home for Christmas; Andrew Greeley (10/2009)
  14. Home in Time for Christmas; Heather Graham (10/2009)
  15. Plum Pudding Murder; Joanne Fluke (10/2009)
  16. You Better Not Cry; Augusten Burroughs (10/2009)
  17. Holiday Grind; Cleo Coyle (11/1009)
  18. The Gift; Cecelia Ahearn (11/2009)
  19. Merry Merry Ghost; Carolyn Hart (11/2009)
  20. The Body in the Sleigh; Katherine Page (11/2009)
  21. Santa in a Stetson; Janet Daily (11/2009)
  22. Matchless: A Christmas Story; Gregory Maguire (11/2009)
  23. Angel Lane; Sheila Roberts (11/2009)
  24. A Blue and Gray Season; Joan Medlicott (11/2009)
  25. Knit the Season; Kate Jacobs (11/2009)
  26. A Wish for Christmas; Thomas Kincade (11/2009)
  27. A Quilter's Holiday; Jennifer Chiaverini (11/2009)
Can anyone add more holiday titles to this list? I'm looking for a few more mysteries.