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Friday, August 31, 2012

Review: Dead Embers by T.G. Ayer

Title: Dead Embers
Author: T.G. Ayer
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Evolved Publishing
Publish Date: August 31, 2012 (Today!)
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.



Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a young adult fiction fan.
  • You're a mythology fan.
What's the Story:

From Goodreads.com: "Valkyrie-in-training Bryn Halbrook just can't catch a break. With her boyfriend stuck in Hel and the taunting laughter of Loki still ringing in her ears, she struggles to concentrate on her training and duties in Odin's realm. The last thing she expects or wants is more adventure—but then treachery, a shocking abduction and a chilling discovery send her forth on another perilous, globe-hopping mission.

As the ultimate battle, Ragnarok, draws closer, it's a race against time for Bryn, Fenrir and their team to discover who kidnapped her foster brother from the halls of Asgard and what's causing the mysterious deaths of so many of Odin's chosen warriors.

In the exciting sequel to DEAD RADIANCE, Bryn encounters dwarfs and dragons, new friends and old foes—but worst enemy of all may be the person she trusts most!"


My Two Cents:

Earlier this summer, I read Dead Radiance, the first book in the Valkyrie series and loved it. So I was very excited to get to read Dead Embers! This book did not disappoint! While I liked it a tiny bit less (but not much, I really had a hard time deciding whether to give this book a 4.5 or a 4) than Dead Radiance, I thought this book was a great follow up to the first book.

Again, one of the things that I loved about this book is the mythology. It's just so cool. I don't know much at all about Viking mythology but this sort of gives you a crash course and it definitely made me want to learn more about this world. A lot of different gods and creatures make an appearance in the book. This book does a good job of showing what all of the different gods and creatures can do instead of making the book feel like a sort of primer on Viking mythology, which I appreciated. It certainly made the book a lot more interesting!

Bryn, the main character, is pretty awesome in this book. She finally has a good understanding about what's going on and who she is and who she was. She's diving in to become a full fledged warrior or rather a Valkyrie. A lot of the story is about her training.

I actually liked the second part of the book a little better. It was a little more interesting to see how some of the scenarios from the first book were sorted out and in some cases, not so sorted out. I did wish more of this had come towards the middle of the book rather than the end.

As with the first book, this book ends with a major cliffhanger and again, I'm sort of devastated that I have to wait awhile for the next book. Life is not fair.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Green

Title: Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend
Author: Matthew Green
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Sphere
Publish Date: March 1, 2012
Source: Netgalley






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Budo is Max's imaginary friend. But though only Max can see him, he is real. He and the other imaginary friends watch over their children until the day comes that the child stops imagining them. And then they're gone. Budo has lasted a lot longer than most imaginary friends - four years - because Max needs him more. His parents argue about sending him to a special school. But Max is perfectly happy if everything is just kept the way it is, and nothing out of the ordinary happens. Unfortunately, something out of the ordinary is going to happen - and then he'll need Budo more than ever..."

My Two Cents:

"Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend" definitely has an interesting storyline. It really is told from the perspective of Max's imaginary friend, Budo. I guess I had a hard time suspending my belief. I was almost hoping that in the end, we figure out that Max is using the imaginary friend as a coping mechanism for dealing with being kidnapped. It was kind of hard for me to get over the idea that Budo, for the sake of this book, was real and could do all of the things that he did throughout the book.

This book definitely had a couple holes for me. First off, what happens to Mrs. Patterson??? (I don't want to give anything away so please excuse my intentional vagueness). The story of what she does is the major arc of the book and we never get to hear what happened to her. We really don't get to hear much about why she does what she does besides the fact that she thinks that Max's parents aren't doing what he needs in order to help him. Max has a couple issues and while it's never said what exactly those issues are, it seems like he's somewhere on the autism scale (he doesn't relate well to other people his own age, he doesn't like to be touched, he doesn't hold eye contact, etc).

What it comes down to is that I wanted to know more. Budo is sort of an interesting narrator. Even though he's an imaginary character, he's not totally omniscient so as a narrator, he's still limited as to what he can tell you about the situation.

What kept me going through the book is that the writing is really good. It's so good that I was lamenting the fact that I could not read more of the book at a time. Green pulls you in so even when I was reading and wondering about some of the things in the above paragraphs, I wasn't all that upset. I will definitely be on the look out for more of this author's books in the future!


  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review: Marie Curie and Her Daughters by Shelley Emling

Title: Marie Curie and Her Daughters
Author: Shelley Emling
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Publish Date: August 21, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a non-fiction fan.
  • You like biographies.
  • You like learning about interesting people.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Focusing on the first family in science, this biography of Marie Curie plumbs the recesses of her relationships with her two daughters, extraordinary in their own right, and presents the legendary scientist to us in a fresh way.

Although the common image is that of a shy introvert toiling away in her laboratory, highly praised science writer Shelley Emling shows how Marie Curie was nothing short of an iconoclast. Her affair with a younger and married man drew the enmity of a xenophobic French establishment, who denied her entry to the Academy of Sciences and tried to expel her from France. But she was determined to live life how she saw fit, and passed on her resilience to her daughters. Emling draws on personal letters released by Curie’s only granddaughter to show how Marie influenced her daughters yet let them blaze their own paths. Irene followed her mother’s footsteps into science and was instrumental in the discovery of nuclear fission. Eve traveled the world as a foreign correspondent and then moved on to humanitarian missions.

 Emling also shows how Curie, following World War I, turned to America for help. Few people know about Curie’s close friendship with American journalist Missy Meloney, who arranged speaking tours across the country for Marie and Eve and Irene. Months on the road, charming audiences both large and small, endeared the Curies to American women and established a lifelong relationship with the United States that formed one of the strongest connections of Marie’s life. Without the financial support of American women, Marie might not have been able to go on with her research.

 Continuing the family story into the third generation, Emling also interviews Marie Curie’s granddaughter Helene Joliot-Curie, who is an accomplished physicist in her own right. She reveals why her grandmother was a lot more than just a scientist and how Marie’s trips to America forever changed her. Factually rich, personal and original, this is an engrossing story about the most famous woman in science that rips the cover off the myth and reveals the real person, friend, and mother behind it."


My Two Cents:

Before reading this book, I had very limited knowledge about Marie Curie. I knew that she and her husband were both scientists. I knew she was a woman pioneer with it came to science. I knew she did a lot of important work with radium. I knew that a lot of her research was the basis for a lot of the radiation treatments that are still used today to treat things like cancer. That's about all I knew so it was really interesting to read this book in order to get a better idea of the impact that Marie Curie had as well as who she was as a person.

This book draws a lot on correspondence between Marie Curie and her daughters, one of which became a famous scientist in her own right, which is pretty cool. Although the title is "Marie Curie and Her Daughters," the book really focuses on Marie Curie, mostly in her latter years after she had already become famous for her work, which was just fine with me. Curie was truly fascinating and this book definitely exemplifies this. She fully dedicated herself to science in a world that wasn't really open to her. Women scientists were few and far between back in the day.

One thing that really intrigued me about the book is how ahead of her time Curie was. There are a couple of pictures of Curie in the book at different conferences and meeting other important people and they are all with men. She really was one of the only women in her field, which is really crazy to think about. She definitely paved the way for a lot of women that came after her.

Also, I thought it was sort of interesting how the public, especially the French public in the book seemed to like and dislike her at different times throughout her life. Now France seems all about claiming her as one of their own, even though she was born in Poland. This really illustrates how things can change relatively quickly with time.

This book didn't necessarily satisfy everything that I wanted to know about Marie Curie. It's fairly short and as I said earlier, it only covers the latter half of her life. However, the book definitely whet my appetite to go out and read more about her!


  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review: When Lightning Strikes by Brenda Novak

Title: When Lightning Strikes
Author: Brenda Novak
Format: ARC
Publisher: Harlequin Mira
Publish Date: August 28, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publicist; however, this did not affect my review.






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan. 
  • You're a romance fan.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Simon O'Neal's causing trouble again. And it's up to Gail DeMarco to stop him.Gail DeMarco left Whiskey Creek, California, to make a name for herself in Los Angeles. Her PR firm has accumulated a roster of A-list clients, including the biggest box office hit of all—sexy and unpredictable Simon O'Neal. But Simon, who's just been through a turbulent divorce, is so busy self-destructing he won't listen to anything she says. She drops him from her list—and he retaliates by taking the rest of her clients with him.

Desperate to save her company, Gail has to humble herself by making a deal with Simon. The one thing he wants is custody of his son, but that's going to require a whole new image. He needs to marry some squeaky-clean girl who'll drag him off to some small, obscure place like Whiskey Creek….

Gail's the only one he can trust. She agrees to become his wife—reluctantly. But she isn't reluctant because he's too hard to like. It's because he's too hard not to love!"


My Two Cents: 

"When Lightning Strikes" is a perfect summer book. This is the kind of book where you want a good story that holds your attention but is light and fun. You don't want to think too hard about it. It is a romance but is light on sex scenes for those that don't care for those. There are some but they are few and far between.

I thought that this story was sort of an interesting take on how Hollywood functions. Admittedly, I'm a big fan of gossip rags and they're always a little more interesting when something dramatic is happening. We, the readers, like that drama. We love the messy divorces, the broken friendships, the girls who shave their heads, and the car crashes. The Hollywood stars and their handlers don't like that so much. This book is what could potentially happen with a star's image rehabilitation. A bit of suspension of disbelief is needed here as the situation that Gail and Simon find themselves in is a little bit outlandish and perhaps not realistic but this is a fun book so you can't take it too seriously.

What I really liked this book was the setting. Whiskey Creek seems like the perfect place to go if you've hit a rough patch in your life. This is the first book in a planned trilogy so I have a feeling in the next books that we'll get to know a little bit more about the town and its people. While I found Gail and Simon to be likeable (okay, Simon definitely does not start out likeable but he most definitely grows on you), it would be interesting to know more about some of the other people in Whiskey Creek!

Bottom line: Good romance, great setting!


  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Review: Marrying Up by Wendy Holden

Title: Marrying Up
Author: Wendy Holden
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publish Date: August 1, 2012
Source: Publisher


Why You're Reading This Book:
  • You like chick lit.
  • You're looking for a fun book.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Beautiful but broke student Polly and scheming social climber Alexa may have grown up in the same place, but they couldn't be more different. Polly's just fallen for Max, a handsome country vet. But Alexa can't be bothered with love—any guy with a pedigree will do, mind you, as long as he comes with a title, a mansion, and a family tiara.

Alexa wiggles her way into friendship with Florrie, a clueless aristocrat who could support entire countries with her spare change. Suddenly the grandest doors swing open for Alexa, and a new life is so close she can taste it. Polly could care less about Max's money, but his mysterious habit of disappearing scares her. What's he hiding?"


My Two Cents:

For me, Summer is the time to read fun, frothy books like Marrying Up. It's too hot to focus on anything too heavy. Is this book life-changing? No, probably not (unless you've been thinking of hopping a plane to England and trying to jump into the wonderful world of English high society). One thing I can say is that you're going to certainly have a lot of fun diving in to the world of this book. Marrying Up is part comedy of manners, part comedy of classes, part desperation, and part social commentary.

While I would not be one to relish the sort of social climbing that Alexa and Florrie engage in the book, it was sort of fascinating to see. This story takes place in England where social climbing is just a little bit different from the United States. While America has its own brand of social wisteria, we don't really have titles here, although I guess people here get a little tied on to last names (your Rockefellers, Kennedys, etc.). On the other hand, England is rife with titles, which is exactly what Alexa and Florrie are after. The titles definitely made it a little more exotic to me.

Polly wins as my favorite character hands down, probably because she's the most normal and down to earth character (ok, so is Max but I felt that Polly was a lot more well rounded as a character). She's seems to be a rock of calm in a sea of crazy people in a lot of cases during the book.

One feature that I really liked about the book is the names of the people of the book. Holden comes up with some truly ridiculous names in the book. In a way, they reminded me a lot of some of the names that you find in Charles Dickens books. The names almost seem to describe the people in one way or another. It was an interesting feature. You can kind of tell that Holden is being very tongue in cheek about it.

There were a couple holes here and there but they really did not take away from what the book is, a fun read that definitely does not take itself too seriously. This is the best kind of chick-lit (talk about a loaded term). It's a fun book for summer when you're looking for a book to keep you company and give you a giggle or two. 


  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Review: Cruising Attitude by Heather Poole

Title: Cruising Attitude
Author: Heather Poole
Format: Paperback
Publisher: William Morrow
Publish Date: October 18, 2011
Source: Library






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You like memoirs.
  • You want a laugh.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Flying the not-so-friendly skies...

In her more than fifteen years as an airline flight attendant, Heather Poole has seen it all. She's witnessed all manner of bad behavior at 35,000 feet and knows what it takes for a traveler to become the most hated passenger onboard. She's slept in flight attendant crashpads in "Crew Gardens," Queens--sharing small bedrooms crammed with bunk beds with a parade of attractive women who come and go at all hours, prompting suspicious neighbors to jump to the very worst conclusions. She's watched passengers and coworkers alike escorted off the planes by police. She can tell you why it's a bad idea to fall for a pilot but can be a very good one (in her case) to date a business-class passenger. Heather knows everything about flying in a post-9/11 world--and she knows what goes on behind the scenes, things the passengers would never dream."


My Two Cents: 

I'm not a huge fan of flying (it's more all the rigamarole that you have to go through before you get on the plane) but being a flight attendant has always sort of seemed like it would be a cool job to me. You get to travel to exotic places and see awesome things. It seemed sort of glamorous to me! Heather Poole shows us that while being a flight attendant is exciting, there's also a lot of crazy things that you have to go through or witness in order to do the really cool things.

I loved getting some of the sort of behind the scenes gossip about things like crash pads, what sort of training you have to go through to even be a flight attendant (it's pretty intense), insane passengers, and insane flight attendants (eek - they exist; definitely not something I want to think about next time on the plane; definitely not something I want to think about). This memoir has a couple really funny parts in it that had me laughing out loud.

What I probably liked most about this book was the way that it was written. Poole writes in a way that's very conversational. You feel more like you're talking to a friend instead just reading a book. I love memoirs like this.

Bottom line: This is an entertaining read with a lot of interesting tidbits!


 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review: The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

Title: The Importance of Being Earnest
Author: Oscar Wilde
Format: Ebook
Publish Date: 1895
Source: Owned






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You're a classic fan
  • You like satires.
  • You like a funny read.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Oscar Wilde's madcap farce about mistaken identities, secret engagements, and lovers entanglements still delights readers more than a century after its 1895 publication and premiere performance. The rapid-fire wit and eccentric characters of The Importance of Being Earnest have made it a mainstay of the high school curriculum for decades."

My Two Cents: 

Before I read The Importance of Being Earnest, I did not realize it was a play. This was my first bout with Oscar Wilde but now I know that it will not be the last! This is a short play but it's very witty and funny.

Wilde's sense of humor is definitely on display throughout the entire play. This man knew how to write a good, zippy line. There were definitely a couple that had me laughing. To me, Cecily had some of the funniest lines. You can see why so many people still really enjoy Wilde's writing today. His writing definitely transcends his time.

I also loved the satire in the book. No one is immune from Wilde's jabs. He makes light of society manners. Men, women, everyone is fair game.

The storyline is pretty simple. It's about deception: known and unknown. Why do we deceive each other? What are we trying to do? What are there ulterior motives? Do there always need to be ulterior motives? This play explores all this and more!

This play is a classic but I think that it's still definitely something that the modern reader can read and enjoy because of the universal themes.

Bottom line: This is a classic for a reason!


 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Movie Review: Holy Flying Circus






Monty Python was probably my first introduction to British television (and a good intro it was!!!) so I was very excited to receive a copy of "Holy Flying Circus," compliments from Acorn Media.

Holy Flying Circus is a dramatization of the 1970s uproar about Monty Python's infamous movie, "Life of Brian." It was filmed in 2011. If you've seen "Life of Brian," you can see that some of the material might upset some (some people just don't get satire). The movie is mostly about the controversy surrounding the movie, told in a very humorous, very Monty Python-esque way.

The movie definitely touches a lot on censorship. As the movie shows, "Life of Brian," was not allowed to be shown on British tv until 1995 and it was made in the late-1970s. One recurring theme throughout the movie is many people criticizing the movie even though they had never even watched it. For us bookish people, we're very familiar with this sort of criticism. Just look at how many books have been banned or challenged without people actually reading them and really seeing what they are all about. I loved how much these people were made fun of in the movie. I just don't get how you can have an opinion if you've never seen something and experienced it for yourself. Hey, it seems to happen all the time. So it goes.

I was amazed how much some of the people looked like the original Monty Python people. The guy who played Eric Idle was a dead ringer!

You should definitely watch "Life of Brian" before you watch this docu-drama. You'll still understand it if you don't but "Life of Brian" is hilarious. You should also watch some of the actual show because it's hilarious and you are definitely missing out if you've never seen the show!

Bottom line: Good for a laugh or two (or three or infinity).

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

G!ve@way: The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani

In celebration of the paperback release of The Shoemaker's Wife by Adriana Trigiani, I am very happy to be able to give away a copy of the book (compliments of the publisher).

I loved The Shoemaker's Wife (see my review here) and think you will too.


Just fill out the Rafflecopter below! The giveaway is open to US and Canada only.


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Monday, August 20, 2012

Odds and Ends: Paint Without End

So this weekend we actually took possession of our house. We're not actually moving until next weekend. We got a bit of painting done this weekend so it'll be done before we move in (okay, it will be done-ish when we move in).

On Saturday, we:
- Taped and painted the living room.We were only going to paint but then decided that we might as well do some crown moulding in there as well. When you're married to an Architect, these simple projects snowball quickly, but always with lovely, lovely results.
- Patched a bunch of dings and dents in the master bedroom. The house was built in 1909 and therefore has plaster walls. The amateur historian in me loves this but plaster is not that fun to patch or paint.
- Got the library/office ready for painting.

On Sunday, my husband went back up to the house to work on the crown moulding and he was also able to paint the most important room in the house: the library (and office too!). I stayed in DC and packed and packed and packed.

Things I've already learned:
- Sometimes you don't find issues until you start working on a house. We've already found windows that have been painted shut and some curtain rods that weren't level. I've already mentioned the plaster but let me mention it again because it really is a pain to work with.
- Painting is hard work but the results are instantaneous!
- I see why people end up with beige houses. We're consciously trying to make sure that we don't go that route!



Review: Objects of My Affection by Jill Smolinski

Title: Objects of My Affection
Author: Jill Smolinski
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Blackstone Audio
Publish Date: 2012
Source: Library






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan. 
  • You like really good characters.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Lucy Bloom is broke, freshly dumped by her boyfriend, and forced to sell her house to send her nineteen-year-old son to drug rehab. Although she’s lost it all, she’s determined to start over. So when she’s offered a high-paying gig helping clear the clutter from the home of reclusive and eccentric painter Marva Meier Rios, Lucy grabs it. Armed with the organizing expertise she gained while writing her book, Things Are Not People, and fueled by a burning desire to get her life back on track, Lucy rolls up her sleeves to take on the mess that fills every room of Marva’s huge home. Lucy soon learns that the real challenge may be taking on Marva, who seems to love the objects in her home too much to let go of any of them.

While trying to stay on course toward a strict deadline—and with an ex-boyfriend back in the picture, a new romance on the scene, and her son’s rehab not going as planned—Lucy discovers that Marva isn’t just hoarding, she is also hiding a big secret. The two form an unlikely bond, as each learns from the other that there are those things in life we keep, those we need to let go—but it’s not always easy to know the difference."


My Two Cents: 

As you guys may remember, I'm slowly but surely sticking my toes in the world of audiobooks. Luckily, I've had pretty good experiences with them so far. I really loved "Objects of My Affection." It definitely translated well to the audiobook format.

Lucy is facing a lot of big issues when the book opens. First, she's hired to organize the house of Marva, a famous artist who has now become a hoarder. Lucy must keep this job totally secret in order to protect Marva's identity. On top of it all, Marva is anything but cooperative. Second, Lucy's only son is in rehab fighting an addiction to a litany of prescription drugs. Between these two problems, Lucy has a lot on her mind. I think the way that Lucy tries to work through these issues really made me like her. She's not perfect. She makes some mis-steps. She realizes that she's only human. I sort of like that she wasn't perfect. It made her a lot more relatable. I did find myself wanting to shake her a couple times throughout the book, especially when it came to dealing (or rather not dealing with Ash's drug problem).

Even though the story is told from the point of view of Lucy, I was still very drawn to Marva. Marva is a famous artist although most of her works were done earlier in her life and she's become kind of a recluse. She has a lot of really good one-liners throughout the book and is deliciously full of snark. I loved it!

You really do get invested into the lives of these characters. You care about them and you really want them to succeed. Definitely the mark of a good book!

There were a couple holes in the story but nothing that really took too, too much away from the book. I didn't understand why Marva wanted to do what she wanted to do. Her reasoning didn't seem reasonable when it eventually came to light. I wonder if there was something more to it than what she actually says.

I think this is a good story about how even if you don't do things right the first time, you always can have a second chance to go back and try to do them better the next time.

Bottom line: Definitely a good story!


 

Friday, August 17, 2012

Virtual Author BT Interview and Giveaway: Shobhan Bantwal

Today, I'm very excited to welcome Shobhan Bantwal, author of The Reluctant Matchmaker here to A Bookish Affair as a part of her Virtual Author Book Tour.






1. What was your inspiration behind the book?

Being a very petite woman and happily married to a small-statured man for over three decades, I have always wondered what kind of a relationship a tiny woman would have with a giant of a man.

All my stories have their roots in the concept of "what if?" The Reluctant Matchmaker started with "what if" a diminutive woman fell in love with a big man. To raise the stakes even higher and add some conflict to an already unconventional match, I needed my tall hero to want a suitably statuesque woman to complement his remarkable height. The Reluctant Matchmaker became the story of just such a conflict.

2. You've written several books. Do you have a favorite?

Amongst all my books, my personal favorite is The Unexpected Son. As a woman who was born and raised in India and now settled in the United States for many years, I could totally relate to the protagonist's anguish when she discovers that the son she gave birth to in her teens was not stillborn as her parents had led her to believe. He was born alive and has been living with his adoptive family in India for the past 30 years. Now that she knows she has a son, she has to not only confess her past indiscretions to her arranged-marriage husband of 25 years and her grown daughter, but also make a trip to India to meet that unknown son. And do her best to help him face a life-threatening situation.

3. Was the writing process at all different for "The Reluctant Matchmaker" than your other books?


Although my writing process didn't alter, the story itself was a refreshing change for me. This story is lighter, more humorous, and yet touching at the same time. Unlike some of my earlier books, I have not used a serious women's issue or social evil as the central theme. The Reluctant Matchmaker is simply a sweet and compelling story of a young woman, Meena, who inadvertently and ironically ends up becoming a "matchmaker" to the very man she desires.

4. Do you have a favorite character in "The Reluctant Matchmaker?" Why?


My favorite character is Meena's great aunt, Chandra, affectionately addressed as Akka (big sister). Akka is a feisty octogenarian who goes against all old-fashioned Hindu convention and revels in her renegade behavior. She is full of life and good humor, and she plays a vital role in making Meena learn some valuable lessons about love, tradition, and the sacrifices Meena is willing to make—or not—for the sake of both.

5. If you could bring any three fictional characters with you to a deserted island, who would you bring with you and why?

My three choices for fictional characters to bring with me to a deserted island would be Agatha Christie's Miss Marple, television's Jessica Fletcher (Murder she Wrote), and Sara Paretsky's V.I. Warshawski. I love reading mysteries with bold, brilliant, and inquisitive yet sensitive female sleuths, and in my opinion, these three women are some of the most captivating fictional characters. When thrown together they would surely spark some exciting debates—great company if I ended up marooned on a godforsaken island.

Thank you, Meg, for a great interview, and for your kind support. I enjoyed answering your questions.

Giveaway:

I'm very excited to be able to give away a signed copy of The Reluctant Matchmaker!!!


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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Virtual Author Book Tour Stop: The Reluctant Matchmaker by Shobhan Bantwal

Title: The Reluctant Matchmaker
Author: Shobhan Bantwal
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Kensington
Publish Date: June 26, 2012
Source: Virtual Author Book Tours






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like a good love story!
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "At thirty-one, Meena Shenoy has a fulfilling career at a New Jersey high-tech firm. Not that it impresses her mother and aunts, who make dire predictions about her ticking biological clock. Men are drawn to Meena’s dainty looks and she dates regularly, but hasn’t met someone who really intrigues her. Someone professional, ambitious, confident, caring. Someone like her new boss, Prajay Nayak.

Just as Meena’s thoughts turn to romance, Prajay makes an astonishing request. He wants her to craft a personal ad that will help him find a suitable wife: a statuesque, sophisticated Indian-American woman who will complement his striking height.

Despite her attraction to Prajay and the complications of balancing work and her “marriage consultant” role, Meena can’t refuse the generous fee. And as her family is thrown into turmoil by her brother’s relationship with a Muslim woman, Meena comes to surprising realizations about love, tradition, and the sacrifices she will—and won’t—make for the sake of both."


My Two Cents:

This was a pretty good story. I love stories about people whose traditions are unfamiliar from my own. I'm definitely not familiar with arranged marriages at all. I've only met one person that was in an arranged marriage (she's Indian actually, like Meena in the book) and her arranged marriage has worked perfectly. She's been married for several decades! It's pretty amazing! Anyhow, I liked learning about how Indian- Americans may try to set something like an arranged marriage up from right her in the United States!

Meena is straddling the line between the traditions of her Indian family and her all-American setting. When her boss, Prajay, asks her to do her the favor of helping sift through responses to his matrimonial ad, she's kind of taken aback. I did think that it was sort of strange that Prajay would be willing to ask such an intimate favor of his co-worker. He mentions that it was because Meena was from the same sort of background but it still seemed like sort of a crazy thing to ask your co-worker to do. I really did not get the motivation behind that.

I also did not get why Meena liked Pranay so much. He seems to be really obsessed with a particular look that Meena does not fit in at all. He's very blatant about it. Also, if I were Meena, I would have been way more offended in having to help Prajay look for a wife. I would have been kind of turned off by both of those things so I had a really hard time buying into the attraction until the end of the book.

Meena herself is a good character. I loved exploring how she's trying to make her family happy while staying true to herself. I think that can be really hard to do when your parents have a completely different idea of what you should be doing and how you should be doing it.

This book is definitely more focused on the characters instead of the setting, which works very well for this sort of book where you really need room to fully explore the character. However, I must mention that I get a kick out of any book that shows a sliver of a setting that I'm familiar with. Meena goes on a business trip to the DC area. I loved hearing the parts about Akka, Meena's aunt, doing some of the great sightseeing that we have here.

Bottom line: This is a pretty good story!


 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Is That a Fish in Your Ear? by David Bellos

Title: Is That a Fish in Your Ear?
Author: David Bellos
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Particular Books
Publish Date: 2011
Source: Library






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a non-fiction fan.
  • You have a love of language.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "People speak different languages, and always have. The Ancient Greeks took no notice of anything unless it was said in Greek; the Romans made everyone speak Latin; and in India, people learned their neighbours' languages - as did many ordinary Europeans in times past. But today, we all use translation to cope with the diversity of languages. Without translation there would be no world news, not much of a reading list in any subject at college, no repair manuals for cars or planes, and we wouldn't even be able to put together flat pack furniture.

Is That a Fish in Your Ear? ranges across the whole of human experience, from foreign films to philosophy, to show why translation is at the heart of what we do and who we are. What's the difference between translating unprepared natural speech, and translating Madame Bovary? How do you translate a joke? What's the difference between a native tongue and a learned one? Can you translate between any pair of languages, or only between some? What really goes on when world leaders speak at the UN? Can machines ever replace human translators, and if not, why? The biggest question is how do we ever really know that we've grasped what anybody else says - in our own language or in another? Surprising, witty and written with great joie de vivre, this book is all about us, and how we understand each other."


My Two Cents: 

How do I know when a book is really interesting? If a book is really interesting, I will be compelled to read it aloud to whoever has the fortune (or misfortune, depending on your point of view) of being around at the time. Usually it's my poor, dear husband who is the witness to these readings. Let's just say with this book, he got a lot of it read to him.

Guys, I'm a word nerd. What does that mean? I love the written word, I love the spoken word, I love languages among other things. I think the way that we communicate with each other is fascinating. David Bellos has an extensive background in translation. He takes us through what translation is and what translation isn't. Translations are really substitutes for reading something in another, more accessible to you language than it was originally written in. There are so many books that I would never have access to if it weren't for some really good translations (where would I be without my love, Murakami???).

I learned so much from this book. There's not one way to translate and a lot of times, it seems to be an iterative process to get to a true understanding of the original text. Who knew so much had to go into it?

I think this book is good for anyone who has ever read a translation of a book and wondered about if the book was really getting to the original author's true meaning? How do we know that Murakami or Tolstoy sound the same way that they do in Japanese and Russian as they do in English? It's truly awesome to think about.

Bottom line: This book is for my fellow word nerds.


 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Movie Review: Love in a Cold Climate






 Why You're Watching This:

  • You're a costume drama fan.
  • You like a good story.

What's the Story?:


I was excited to get a chance to review "Love in a Cold Climate", a British mini-series, brought to American audiences from Acorn Media.

"Love in a Cold Climate," is based on books by Nancy Mitford. It is the story of a British family in through the early to mid part of the 1900s. It focuses on practical Fanny who seems to have her head and heart in the right place. There's Polly who seems to end up in less than an ideal situation. Then there's Linda, who follows her heart from one place to another much to the chagrin of her family, who seems to be worried about appearances. Oh, and it also stars the incomparable Dame Judi Dench as the matriarch of the family, which makes this series just that much more awesome!

There are 8 episodes in the series. They start when Polly, Linda, and Fanny are very young and continue up until the second world war. This means that the series covers a lot of ground. Each episode builds on the episodes before.

My Two Cents:

I really, really loved this series! I think that people who really like historical fiction will enjoy this series. It is a great story with some good historical detail about what life was like for (wealthy) people during those decades in England. Although the focus of the mini-series is really on the characters in the series, there is a heavy dose of the historical. The events of the time weave in and out of the lives of the characters.

I loved the characters in the series. Linda and Fanny were probably my favorites. Fanny reminds me a lot of myself. She's kind and always seems to be willing to help out everyone else in her family. She also has the most compelling background. Her mother is absent from her life and seems to be content to run all over the place while not giving Fanny the time of day. Fanny goes to live with her cousin's family where she is acutely aware of the differences between her and gorgeous Linda. I really felt for her throughout the series.

As I mentioned, I also really liked Linda. Linda is just a total wild card. She's one of those characters where you don't totally understand why she does what she does but you have a lot of fun seeing what she does next. She hops from one place to another and almost seems to come a little bit before her time. I loved how free spirited she was!

And as far as the the mark of any good costume drama goes, the costumes were great. I especially liked some of the clothing that Linda wore while she was in Paris. Sigh, so gorgeous!

Bottom line: This is a great mini-series for people who love  great characters and a little bit of historical fiction!


Monday, August 13, 2012

Review: What the Dog Ate by Jackie Bouchard

Title: What the Dog Ate
Author: Jackie Bouchard
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: July 11, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a romance fan.
  • You're an animal lover.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "When Maggie Baxter, a practical, rule-following accountant, finds out what her chocolate Lab ate, her world turns upside down. Maggie thought she had the rest of her life meticulously planned out, but now she needs to figure out Plan B. With her dog, Kona, as her guru, Maggie embarks on a funny, heartwarming quest in search of tail-wagging joy."

My Two Cents:

Looking for a cute, sweet romance? Are you an animal lover? This is the book for you. This book has a really good story about breaking up and putting yourself back together. Maggie has been with Dave for just about forever. Their relationship has slipped into a comfortable sort-of afterthought as Maggie pursues her career of being an accountant.

I really felt for Maggie because she finds out in a most unconventional way that her husband is cheating on her (I don't want to give it away but it may have something to do with the title). Maggie was a great character. She's totally broken after the break-up of her marriage but it doesn't take long for her to get back in the saddle and her dog, Kona, a big, loveable lab, may just help her back into love again. I found myself rooting for her throughout the entire book. I found a lot of common ground with her. She kind of has a lot of misgivings about herself since she just got cheated on but she eventually realizes that she did absolutely nothing wrong. She got done wrong and you just really want her to find happiness again.

One issue that I had with the book is that I was not a big fan of Russell. He's one of Maggie's love interests in the book. He comes off as sort of skeevy in the book. He's just very non-committal throughout the book, which kind of bothered me a little bit. I didn't get why Maggie was so into him until the end of the book and then he redeems himself. I really wish that I would have liked him a little bit better earlier in the book.

Bottom line: This is a good summer book with a fun story!


 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Review: Under the Never Sky by Veronica Rossi

Title: Under the Never Sky
Author: Veronica Rossi
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publish Date: January 3, 2012
Source: Library






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a young adult fiction fan.
  • You're a dystopian fan.
  • You're a fan of character driven stories.
What's the Story?: 

From Goodreads.com: "Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered. This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland - known as The Death Shop - are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild - a savage - and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile - everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky."


My Two Cents:

I had heard some good things about this book but this was not my favorite.

The story itself was very interesting. You have two people from two very different places who are trying to put together the pieces of the puzzle for a couple different things. I liked that the story kept me reading in order to figure out what was going on in Aria and Perry's world.

I liked the characters. This whole story was much more character driven than anything else. Aria is a really awesome character. When she first leaves Reverie, she's sort of naive. She is afraid of everything and Perry kind of helps her get acclimated. They make a good team. I loved that we got to see a transformation of Aria through the book. By the end of the book, she's turned out to be a really strong character.

Here's where the book fell flat for me. One of the things that I love in dystopian books is good world building. I love when you can really feel like what it must be like to be in the book's world. In this book, you're sort of thrown into the deep end and it was just really confusing. I couldn't exactly figure out what was going on. I spent the first half of the book wanting to know more about the world. You do eventually get a little bit of towards the end when Aria has the big revelation about her origin and what's going on.

I did like some of the little bit of technology that we get to see in the book. The 'Smarteyes' which are really cool and definitely creative. I also liked the idea of the Realms. I also thought it was interesting about how people in this brave new world are more into genetic engineering than just regular ol' procreation.

Bottom line: This is a dystopian for the character lover!


 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Review: Ali in Wonderland by Ali Wentworth

Title: Ali in Wonderland
Author: Ali Wentworth
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Harper
Publish Date: February 7, 2012
Source: Library






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a memoir fan. 
  • You love to laugh.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Chelsea Handler meets Nora Ephron in this uproarious memoir from an acclaimed actress and comedian. Told in her unique and irresistible voice, "Ali in Wonderland" captures the author's sometimes challenging, often crazy journey to define herself on her own terms and claim her place in the world."

My Two Cents:

I know of Ali Wentworth mostly because she's George Stephanopoulos' wife (I'm a huge Stephanopoulos fan) but she's also an actress and has a career in her own right. Also, Ali Wentworth is pretty funny. This book is her memoir told through a set of stories. Being born and raised in Washington, DC, Ali got to meet some pretty interesting people. The story of Henry Kissinger playing in the pool with her while she was a little girl at her parents house cracked me up (it's so hard to imagine people like that doing normal things!). As Ali points out, these sorts of events were sort of a normal occurrence. DC is a pretty small town for those who run in the higher circles.

This is definitely an entertaining book. It's light and at least one thing in each chapter made me laugh out loud (the true sign of a really funny book). I had to read some things out loud to my husband because he kept asking me what I was laughing about.

This is a great, light read with quite a few laughs!


 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Title: A Discovery of Witches
Author: Deborah Harkness
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Viking
Publish Date: February 8, 2011
Source: Library






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like the paranormal.
  • You have an eye for detail.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Deep in the stacks of Oxford's Bodleian Library, young scholar Diana Bishop unwittingly calls up a bewitched alchemical manuscript in the course of her research. Descended from an old and distinguished line of witches, Diana wants nothing to do with sorcery; so after a furtive glance and a few notes, she banishes the book to the stacks. But her discovery sets a fantastical underworld stirring, and a horde of daemons, witches, and vampires soon descends upon the library. Diana has stumbled upon a coveted treasure lost for centuries-and she is the only creature who can break its spell."

My Two Cents:

I had heard a lot of good things about A Discovery of Witches and with the second book having just come out, I thought it was the perfect time for me to dive into this one. I definitely was not disappointed. Standing at close to 600 pages, I thought that I might get a little bored with the book (I really have the attention span of a flea, especially during the summer). This was not the case at all. The book has a great story line that really keeps you going. There's a lot of mystery in this book and I had a great time trying to put together what was happening in the book.

The characters were cool too. You have Diana, a witch who doesn't really understand the full extent of her power and is happier doing research at the Bodleian Library at Oxford (which I really, really want to go to now). You have Matthew, a vampire who is also another professor. I know you might be saying, oh no, not more paranormal (I was a little incredulous about whether or not I would like this book based on the fact that I'm a twee bit tired of the paranormal myself) but I can promise you that in this book, it's pretty awesome. I really felt myself getting attached to the characters and that really made me excited for the next book! And there's a love story, which I loved!

I loved the writing. Harkness pulls you right into the story. She also does a really good job with vividly describing what's going on in the book. This is a story full of really fantastic detail. I loved how easy it was to imagine the characters and the setting (the French countryside and Oxford).

This is really a great story for book lovers. Some of the mystery surrounds an ancient manuscript. Both main characters are avid readers. The vampire has an enviable collection of first edition books (but what else would you collect if you were living for forever - seriously!). This is a perfect summer read!


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Booking Through Thursday: Branching Out



It's been awhile since I've participated in Booking Through Thursday. Click the link and join the fun.

Here's this week's question: What genre do you avoid reading and why?

If you've ever looked at my review policy, you'll notice that I list a few genres that I don't care to read. Here's why:

Mysteries: I really hate when I figure out what's going on before the book ends.

Thrillers/ Horror: I'm very jumpy by nature. Thrillers make me even more jumpy. It's not a good mix.

Self-help: Some of these books are just so fluffy. I'm not a fan. 

Mysteries are not my favorite but I did find this funny.

What genres will you not read? Why?

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Review: Four Sisters, All Queens by Sherry Jones

Title: Four Sisters, All Queens
Author: Sherry Jones
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: May 8, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.





Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You like family stories.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: " Rich in intrigue and scheming, love and lust, Sherry Jones’s vibrant historical novel follows four women destined to sway the fate of nations and the hearts of kings. . . . Amid the lush valleys and fragrant wildflowers of Provence, Marguerite, Eléonore, Sanchia, and Beatrice have learned to charm, hunt, dance, and debate under the careful tutelage of their ambitious mother—and to abide by the countess’s motto: “Family comes first.”

With Provence under constant attack, their legacy and safety depend upon powerful alliances. Marguerite’s illustrious match with the young King Louis IX makes her Queen of France. Soon Eléonore—independent and daring—is betrothed to Henry III of England. In turn, shy, devout Sanchia and tempestuous Beatrice wed noblemen who will also make them queens.

Yet a crown is no guarantee of protection. Enemies are everywhere, from Marguerite’s duplicitous mother-in-law to vengeful lovers and land-hungry barons. Then there are the dangers that come from within, as loyalty succumbs to bitter sibling rivalry, and sister is pitted against sister for the prize each believes is rightfully hers—Provence itself.

From the treacherous courts of France and England, to the bloody tumult of the Crusades, Sherry Jones traces the extraordinary true story of four fascinating sisters whose passions, conquests, and progeny shaped the course of history."


My Two Cents:

Marguerite, Eleonore, Sanchia, and Beatrice are all sisters and all queens. They all knew from very young ages that they would be married off to men who could increase their family's prestige and power. Talk about pressure. I'm not sure that I could function under that much pressure; I guess it's a good thing that I live now and not in those days. The fact that all four of these women become queens is fascinating.

Being one of three girls, I'm always fascinated with sister stories. That is a really, really special bond. In this book, you really get to see that bond between the sisters (although some of them seem to be more bonded than others throughout the book). This book explores a lot of loyalty issues. From a very young age, the sisters hear that family comes first; however, once they are married and off on their own in their own, they have other loyalties that start pulling on them. It was interesting to see how differently each sister dealt with the various pressures. You get the sense that all four of the sisters have very different personalities, which makes it even more interesting.

The story focuses mostly on Marguerite, who becomes married to the French King, and on Eleonore, who is shipped oh so far away to become the Queen of England. I'm wondering if there isn't a lot of information on Sanchia and Beatrice as there is notably less on both of them. It would be interesting to know more about them.

One thing that I noticed in this book is that it is written in the 3rd person present point of view, which isn't something you see very much. It definitely took me awhile to get used to it but once I got into it, I appreciated that the style brought you into the book a little more actively.

Bottom line: I think this is a good book for historical fiction lovers who like stories about family ties.


  

Review: Island Apart by Steven Raichlen

Title: Island Apart
Author: Steven Raichlen
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Tom Doherty
Publish Date: June 5, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a fiction fan.
  • You like interesting characters.
  • You like vivid cities.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Claire Doheney, recovering from a serious illness, agrees to house-sit in an oceanfront mansion on Chappaquiddick island in Martha’s Vineyard. The New York book editor hopes to find solace, strength, and sufficient calm to finish her biography of the iconoclastic psychotherapist, Wilhelm Reich.
The last thing she expects to find is love.  

Then she meets a mysterious man the locals call the Hermit. No one knows his real name or where he lives. To their mutual surprise, Claire and the stranger discover that they share a passion for cooking that soon sparks something more.

But Claire’s new friend has a terrible secret that threatens to drive them apart forever. The clock is ticking. Can Claire let love into her life once more before it's too late?"


My Two Cents:

This book is amazing! Let me just give you a little taste of what you're in for with this book:

"We're all wounded in some way," he said. "It's not what you have that makes you beautiful. It's what you've lost and still managed to go on living without."

How perfect is that quote? You may want to read it right now and that's okay. But there's more! This book really has a little bit of something for everyone. There's great characters (the two main characters, Claire and the Hermit, are heartbreaking and wonderful and so real). I really, really loved these characters. They're so tragic in their own way and they come together for something really beautiful. There's food! Claire and the Hermit are both wonderful cooks and make things that make you want to lick the pages just so you might get the tiniest taste of what they're cooking. There's a good love story with a great lesson. There's a mystery! See, there's really a little bit of something for everyone.

There's also a great setting. Chappaquiddick is where it's set, which before this book was only known to me as the place where Ted Kennedy had that car accident which killed a young woman. Fun fact: I have a newspaper front page from when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, which happened to be right around when Kennedy had the accident so there is a story on the same front page about that. Kind of creepy, no? Anyhow, what I love about the setting is that from the way that it is written about, you can tell that the author really knows the place. He does a great job of making it come alive.

Now I loved the story but there were a couple things that I didn't get about the story. I don't want to give anything away (you all still really, really need to read this book). First, why didn't Claire do something besides mope when she found on the big twist? I thought that she would take more action. Why didn't Sylvie try to make amends? Would you really send a letter like that? I didn't fully understand the motivations behind the characters, which took me out of the story a little bit.

That being said, this book is still pretty fabulous. This is the book that you get lost in. It's the one where you make sure you have a ton of time to devote to it because you know that you aren't going to want to stop reading it for awhile.


  

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Review: The Island House by Posie Graeme-Evans

Title: The Island House
Author: Posie Graeme-Evans
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Atria
Publish Date: June 26, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "In 2011 Freya Dane, a Ph.D. candidate in archaeology, arrives on the ancient Scottish island of Findnar. After years of estrangement from her father, himself an archaeologist who recently died, Freya has come to find out what she can about his work. As she reads through his research notes, she sees he learned a great deal about the Viking and Christian history of the island. But what he found only scratches the surface of the discoveries Freya is about to make.

In 800 A.D. a Pictish girl named Signy loses her entire family during a Viking raid. She is taken in by the surviving members of the Christian community on Findnar, but when she falls deeply in love with a Viking boy, she is cast out. She eventually becomes a nun and finds herself at the center of the clash between the island’s three religious cultures. The tragedy of her story is that, in the end, she must choose among her adopted faith, her native religion, and the man she loves.

Centuries apart, Freya and Signy are each on the verge of life-changing events that will bring present-day and Viking-era Scotland together. The Island House plunges the reader into a past that never dies and a love that reaches out across a thousand years."


My Two Cents:

This is another book with one story set in the present and one set in the past. There's Freya, a woman, who is looking for clues after her absentee father's death. Then there's Signy who lives in 800 AD who is trying to decide between religion and love. This book has a little touch of the paranormal too; which adds a little more interest.

Unlike many of these books that have both a past and present story, I actually liked the present-day story better. I don't know a lot about the Viking times that Signy was living through and I wished that there was a little more historical context to explain what was going on. I felt like I would have gotten more out of it. Freya was a really interesting character to me. She comes to this island where she doesn't know anyone and begins to try to put together the pieces of what her father must have been like but she finds another mystery, which I really liked. This is the part where the little bit of paranormal comes in. I thought that was really a nice feature in this book. I know that it definitely kept me reading.

There was a little bit of romance in both the present and the past stories. Here's where the past story was better than the present. Signy and Bear fall in love but the forces of there cultures keep them from forging a relationship for the long haul. You see why they fall in love and you really feel for their relationship. On the other hand, you have Freya and local man, Dan, who seem to mix like oil and water. And then all the sudden as if a flip had been switched, they fall for each other. This part definitely was confusing. To me, there didn't seem to really be any sort of transition between them not liking each other at all and then falling in love.

Bottom line: Overall, the story is interesting. I liked the paranormal bit. I think historical fiction lovers who like a little bit of flair with their HF will enjoy this story.


  

Monday, August 6, 2012

Odds and Ends (4)

Always.
Last week was a really big week for me. My husband and I closed on our house. We're first time homeowners so it's very, very exciting. It was a little anti-climatic since we're not moving for about three more weeks but still very exciting. I hate moving and am looking forward to just getting settled again. I find it really unfortunate that I can't just teleport my stuff from one place to another.

This weekend was really busy. I went to a bridal shower for a good friend. We had a family dinner for my youngest sister, who will leave this week to go off to graduate school. We had another family lunch to celebrate my aunt's birthday. It was a good way to spend the weekend.

That being said, I didn't get a whole lot read this weekend. C'est la vie!

What's going on in your part of the world?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Review: Wings by Pete Abela

Title: Wings
Author: Pete Abela
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Self-published
Publish Date: June 5, 2012
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this didn't affect my review.





Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan
  • You like romance.
  • You dream of flying.
 What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Wings is a stirring, cross-generational account of the love of flying inspired by the true story of Walt, a WWII RAF pilot, and his grandson Scott who has his sights set on becoming a modern day airline pilot.

Wings weaves together two tales: one set in war-torn northern England, and the other set in the modern-day Illawarra region of New South Wales. As Scott learns about the sacrifices and difficulties Walt overcame to take to the sky, he battles his own challenges in order to follow his dream. As Scott progresses, his grandfather declines - Walt loses his wife, his sight and his hearing - but throughout these difficulties is still there to offer support and encouragement. In following Scott's progress towards his dream, Walt also keeps alive the wonder of his own youth. With insights into the modern day aviation scene and life in the Royal Air Force of World War II, this is a must for anyone who has an interest in history, aviation or simply an old fashioned love story."


My Two Cents:

Wings covers two parallel stories. There is the story of Walt, the grandfather of Scott, who flies during WWII. Then there is the more present day story of Scott, who has his own dreams of flying. While I've never really wanted to fly myself, my husband has dreamt of eventually getting his pilot's license (my Valentine's Day present to him this past year was an introductory flight to make sure he still wanted to fly - he loved it). So I sort of understand the want to fly by proxy, if you will. Walt and Scott get into flying for different reasons but both of them understand the love that each one has for being high up in the air.

I liked both of the stories in the book but the historical story of Walt getting into the military and flying and also of his great love with his wife spoke to me a little bit more than Scott's story. It wasn't that I didn't like Scott's story; I did, but Walt's story is just so interesting to me. I love the World War II time period and I loved Walt's story. Walt is going into the military where there was obviously a lot of uncertainty for military flyers during the war. He's also in love. There are several letters in the book between Walt and his wife, Mary, and I loved them. They were truly romantic. You definitely get the sense that Walt really loved Mary, which is important to understand due to what happens later on in the story.

The writing in this book is pretty good. It's very simple and straight-forward. There's not flourishes there, which is just fine.

I think historical fiction lovers will enjoy the parallel stories!


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Review: Pegasus Falling by William E. Thomas

Title: Pegasus Falling
Author: William E. Thomas
Format: Ebook
Publisher: Acute Angle
Publish Date: March 26, 2012
Source: I received a free copy; however, this did not affect my review.






Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're a historical fiction fan.
  • You like a good love story.
What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Arnhem, 1944. Captain Stanley Adam Malcolm Parker - Sammy to his friends - and his platoon have fought bravely, but it was always a losing battle. The bridge was unwinnable. After he and his men are forced into cattle trucks and transported across Germany on a three day journey without food or water, Sammy lashes out at an SS officer with brutal and devastating consequences...for him and his German opponent.

Instead of spending the rest of his war as a POW, Sammy is sent to a concentration camp.

Spared an immediate death, Sammy discovers firsthand the full horror of the final solution. Amongst the desperation and destitution of the camp, he encounters Naomi, a Jewish housewife from Dresden. Having seen her family murdered, Naomi has learned to survive by making the most unimaginable of sacrifices. She is the woman who Sammy comes to depend on to survive himself.

But when the camp is finally liberated, the couple are separated and Sammy embarks on a journey across a continent devastated by war and wracked by ongoing tensions to find out what happened to the woman he loves."


My Two Cents:

Guys, by now you probably know that I really like WWII fiction. I think it's a fascinating point in time that really changed our world and set into motion some of the things that we still see today (just look at how the UN is set up, it's still very WWII-esque). Automatically, I knew I was going to be very excited for the book.

Now a little background about the coolness of this book in particular. The author, himself, had been working on this book for a long time. He is now 87 and beginning to have difficulties stemming from Alzheimer's disease. His grandson published this book for him. So in more ways than one this story is truly a love story; both in the story itself and how the story is going out to readers.

Now the story itself is pretty good. I especially liked the love story between Sammy and Naomi. I think you really get the sense that throughout the war, all sorts of different people from different walks of life are thrown together to either sink or swim. At first, I had a hard time understanding how quickly Sammy and Naomi fell in love but I think in the situation that they were in, it's easy to see that you would just cling for whatever felt secure. There wasn't time to court and especially with both characters being in Matthausen, a concentration camp, each day was most definitely not assured. Once you take that into account, it becomes easier why they spend so much time searching for each other throughout the book.

I liked that this book covered some of the things that happened during the last part of the war and right after the war.You don't get to see that in a lot of books about WWII but some of the stories that came at the end or during the beginning of reconstruction are very compelling as well. One thing is that it would have been a little bit better to have some more delineation of time. It takes awhile as you go through each chapter to figure out where you are.

Bottom line: A good WWII historical fiction that goes a bit beyond just WWII!


 
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