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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review and Giveaway: The Novel Cure by Ella Berthoud and Susan Elderkin

Title:
Author:
Format: Paperback
Publisher:
Publish Date:
Source:






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "The Novel Cure is a reminder of that power. To create this apothecary, the authors have trawled two thousand years of literature for novels that effectively promote happiness, health, and sanity, written by brilliant minds who knew what it meant to be human and wrote their life lessons into their fiction. Structured like a reference book, readers simply look up their ailment, be it agoraphobia, boredom, or a midlife crisis, and are given a novel to read as the antidote. Bibliotherapy does not discriminate between pains of the body and pains of the head (or heart). Aware that you’ve been cowardly? Pick up To Kill a Mockingbird for an injection of courage. Experiencing a sudden, acute fear of death? Read One Hundred Years of Solitude for some perspective on the larger cycle of life. Nervous about throwing a dinner party? Ali Smith’s There but for The will convince you that yours could never go that wrong. Whatever your condition, the prescription is simple: a novel (or two), to be read at regular intervals and in nice long chunks until you finish. Some treatments will lead to a complete cure. Others will offer solace, showing that you’re not the first to experience these emotions. The Novel Cure is also peppered with useful lists and sidebars recommending the best novels to read when you’re stuck in traffic or can’t fall asleep, the most important novels to read during every decade of life, and many more."

My Two Cents:

Book lovers know that reading can cure all sorts of ills so the message of "The Novel Cure" will come as no surprise. I love the idea of books as medicine. I know that nothing makes me feel better than when I find the perfect book for whatever I am going through. This book is based on the theory of bibliotherapy, something that I did not know much about before reading this book!

This book gives reading advice for all sorts of ailments, both physical and non-physical. There are suggestions for just about everything. Feeling blue? This book has plenty of suggestions. Feeling broken? This book has suggestions for that too. I think it would be a lot of fun to read a lot of the books listed throughout this book. I could see it being a really fun reading project! Hrm, I have all sorts of ideas now!

I could see this being a really good gift book for the reader in your life. I know that this book is one that I will be going back to over and over again. I loved the suggestions that this book had as well as the reasoning that was included for each reading selection!





 Giveaway:

One lucky winner will win a copy of The Novel Cure (U.S. only). We're going to do something a little different for this giveaway.


  1. Choose an ailment.
  2. Choose a book that you believe would help with said ailment.
  3. Put it in the comments
 Example: For the lovelorn, I choose Audrey Niffenegger's The Time Traveler's Wife.

On January 14th, I will choose a winner using Random.org. You can enter as many times as you want (Just put each entry in a separate comment so it can be counted).

 

Review and Giveaway: Moth and Spark by Anne Leonard

Title: Moth and Spark
Author: Anne Leonard
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Penguin Books
Publish Date: December 30, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Prince Corin has been chosen to free the dragons from their bondage to the power Mycenean Empire, but dragons aren’t big on directions. They have given him some of their power, but none of their knowledge. No one, not the dragons nor their riders, is even sure what keeps the dragons in the Empire’s control. Tam, sensible daughter of a well-respected doctor, had no idea before she arrived in Caithenor that she is a Seer, gifted with visions. When the two run into each other (quite literally) in the library, sparks fly and Corin impulsively asks Tam to dinner. But it’s not all happily ever after. Never mind that the prince isn’t allowed to marry a commoner: war is coming. Torn between his quest to free the dragons and his duty to his country, Tam and Corin must both figure out how to master their powers in order to save Caithen. With a little help from a village of secret wizards and rogue dragonrider, they just might pull it off."

My Two Cents:

"Moth and Spark" is a standalone fantasy book about Prince Corin, who is trying to create a legacy for himself through dragon riding. At the same time, he is quickly falling for Tam, a commoner. Corin knows that their love may not be able to survive but he wants to try. This fantasy is part adventure story and part love story. I enjoyed it but wanted to see the two story lines brought together a little bit closer.

I really was interested in the premise of this book. Dragons are fascinating to me and I love them as an element in fantasy books. I liked that the dragons seem really smart in this book. I did wish that we got to know more about the back story of the dragons. We don't get to know much about them other than the aspect of dragon riding. A lot about the dragons simply remains a mystery. Overall, I did wish that there was more world building in this book. I felt like I was missing out on some things. I think stand alone fantasy books can be really difficult from that aspect.

I grew to really like the relationship between Corin and Tam. It definitely starts out as insta-love, which I am not a big fan of but their relationship definitely grew on me as the book went on.

Overall, I liked this book. It felt more like a start than a stand alone in a lot of different ways. I did want more detail as I thought that could really help to make Corin and Tam's world come to life for me!



Giveaway:

One lucky winner will win a copy of Moth and Spark (U.S. only)! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below.


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Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

To all my Christmas celebrating friends, may your holiday be warm and bright! I'll be off for a few days to celebrate with my friends and family. I'll return next week with more bookish-ness next week!

Totoro and Winston wish you a meowy Christmas!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Review: The Dog Year by Ann Wertz Garvin

Title: The Dog Year
Author: Ann Wertz Garvin
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date: June 3, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Dr. Lucy Peterman was not built for a messy life. A well-respected surgeon whose patients rely on her warmth, compassion, and fierce support, Lucy has always worked hard and trusted in the system. She’s not the sort of person who ends up in a twelve-step program after being caught stealing supplies from her hospital.

But that was Lucy before the accident—before her husband and unborn baby were ripped away from her in an instant, before her future felt like a broken promise. Caught red-handed in a senseless act that kept her demons at bay, she’s faced with a choice: get some help or lose her medical license.

Now she’s reluctantly sharing her deepest fears with a bunch of strangers, avoiding her loneliness by befriending a troubled girl, pinning her hopes on her husband’s last gift, and getting involved with a rugged cop from her past. It’s only when she is adopted by a stray mutt and moves her group to the dog park that she begins to truly bond with the ragtag dog-loving addicts—and discovers that a chaotic, unplanned life might be the sweetest of all . . ."


My Two Cents:

In "The Dog Year," it's been a really bad year for Lucy. She lost her beloved husband and her unborn child in one fell swoop. She feels like she is barely just getting by and that's if your definition is pretty loose. Lucy has gone back to her old ways of stealing. Sure, she is only stealing random medical equipment from the hospital that she works at but it's a little bit of a problem. It will take a lot of humor, a village, and one little dog.  Told with a lot of humor, this book explores how you come back from a terrible fall.

This book was a great mix of bitter and sweet that kept me moving through the book quickly. I actually ate this book up in one sitting, always a good sign. I loved the main character, Lucy. She is smart but all of the hurt that she is going through is making her make some not so smart decisions. You can tell that Lucy is definitely one of those people who does not deal well with change (I am one of those too). I really felt for Lucy's plight. She's gone through so much and even though she is hurting, she still manages to keep her sense of humor. I loved some of the secondary characters too, especially Little Dog. Little Dog saves Lucy in a lot of ways. She brings a lot of warmth to this book.

I really liked how this book was written. Lucy is going through a lot of pretty serious stuff but Garvin definitely injects a lot of humor into the book that had me laughing out loud! I really enjoyed this book and would love to read more from this author in the future!



Book Promo:

The author has created a super cute book promo. Take a look!


Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Review and Giveaway: The Maze Runner Movie

On Friday, I had an opportunity to participate in a Twitter chat to watch The Maze Runner, which has just been released on Blu-Ray and DVD and chat with author, James Dashner. I had listened to the audiobook of The Maze Runner and was super excited to see the movie. I had a blast watching and chatting with a whole bunch of other people who were just as excited as I was to see the movie.






The Maze Runner is definitely an action packed movie, although that is no surprise if you have read the book. In this movie, we meet Thomas, a young man who is the latest addition to the Glade. He doesn't fully remember where he was before he came to the Glade and quickly works to get accepted into the Glade society, where he is incredibly drawn to the boys who run in the maze. He wants to be one of them.

I really thought that the movie followed the book very closely, which I definitely liked. It was so cool to see all of the characters and settings that I had in my head brought to life on the screen. I really thought that the people who did the casting did a fantastic job of picking actors to portray the characters in the book. The characters were exactly as I had imagined them.

I also loved how the movie was shot. The setting was really cool and again, I loved the way that the movie makers brought the Glade and the Maze to life. Both settings felt really realistic and the Maze felt especially dangerous, especially the grievers. This was definitely a promising start to a new dystopian film series. The Scorch Trials will be out next year! Yay!

Giveaway:

Win a book/ movie bundle of The Maze Runner (U.S. only)! Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!


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Monday, December 22, 2014

Review, Author Interview, and Giveaway: Angels Sing

Tis the season for lots of Christmas movies in my house. I love a good Christmas movie that leaves you with a warm, happy feeling so I was happy to get a chance to review "Angels Sing," which is based on a book called "When Angels Sing" by Turk Pipkin.


Synopsis:

Harry Connick, Jr. stars as Michael Walker, who, as a child, wished every day was Christmas. That is, until a tragic accident crushed his holiday spirit. Thirty years later, Michael still can’t muster any joy for Christmas, despite encouragement from his playful wife (Connie Britton) and well intentioned parents (Kris Kristofferson and Fionnula Flanagan). But when his young son (Chandler Canterbury) faces a tragedy, Michael needs to make amends with his past. A mysterious man named Nick (Willie Nelson) gives Michael a gift that instills in him the courage to find the Christmas joy that he lost.

Review:

I got together with my sisters to watch this movie and drum up a little holiday cheer. There are a ton of big name stars in this movie. We were especially excited to see Connie Britton (one sister loves her from Friday Night Lights and I love her in Nashville). We were also really excited to see Willie Nelson (our dad is a big fan). We were also just generally excited to see a movie that promised lots of holiday cheer, which we definitely got.

"Angels Sing" is a warm holiday movie that is perfect for sharing with family of all ages. My sisters and I liked when Michael and his family move to the most festive part of Austin, Texas where Michael must deal with his dislike of Christmas head-on. They move to a house that happens to be on the most festively decorated street in all of Austin. Here people take home decorating to the highest level possible and Michael isn't sure that he can keep up. Lyle Lovett appears as a well-intentioned, Christmas loving neighbor who tries to teach Michael something about the holiday spirit. The scenes with Lovett were some of the funniest in the movie. Some parts of the movie were a bit predictable but that certainly did not take away from the fun of the movie.

Overall, this was a sweet movie with a good message about being able to let go of the past and enjoy the Christmas season with your family. It was a nice movie that was perfect for the holidays!

Author Q&A with Turk Pipkin:


1. What inspired you to write "When Angels Sing?"

            I wrote When Angels Sing as a Christmas present for my family and close friends. I had thought a lot about the connections between family and Christmas traditions, and was well aware of the mixed emotions many people have about the Christmas holiday. I sent one of those first hand-bound copies to my friend Peter Workman at Workman Publishing, for whom I'd already written one book. Peter loved it and took it on Christmas Day to the woman running his great literary publishing house, Algonquin Books, who published a big national edition the following year.


2. How much of a hand did you have in how the book was translated from book to movie?

            Another of those original books went to my friend Fred Miller, a film producer in Austin. Fred spent years building a team to make the movie. Other than playing a part in the film, my main contribution creatively was to lend a hand on casting. I'd always thought Willie Nelson would be perfect to play the role of Nick, a mysterious man who may or may not be St. Nick. Likewise for Kris Kristofferson, a former army pilot, to play the grandfather. Other friends like Connie Britton, Lyle Lovett, Eloise Dejoria and a great host of wonderful Texas musicians also ended up in the film. Director Tim McCanlies deserves a lot of credit for realizing the musicians like Bruce Robison, Marcia Ball and Charlie Sexton would be great on camera.



3. Are there any big differences between the book and movie?

            The book is actually set in L.A., where I lived for a while and where giant Christmas displays often seem odd amid the busy city with no winter. We wanted to shoot the film in Texas and Austin seemed perfect. And even though the book was set in L.A., parts of great Austin Christmas celebrations were already a big inspiration of the book.


4. What do you feel is the biggest difference between how a book is written and how a movie is written?

            In general, novels have time to let things develop and wind and flow, while screenplays have a mission to get from here to there without wasting much time. A little novel like When Angels Sing doesn't wander so much, but it packs an emotional power with words that has to be shared and partially carried by actors in the film version. I could write five pages about the agony Michael Walker (Harry Connick, Jr.) feels at a family Christmas event, but Harry had to find a way to do that with the character he brought to the set every day. And he was great at it.

            One thing I love about this film is that - at least to me - it's some of the best acting work ever from Harry, Connie, Kris, Willie and Lyle. That's saying a lot. We had a lot of fun and shared a lot of love shooting this film and I think it shows.


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

            Nick Adams from Hemingway's Nick Adams Stories. He could catch all the fish, build the fires, and tell great stories about growing up in the mountains.

            Daisy Buchanan / Gatsby from The Great Gatsby. Nick's going to need someone to mope about.

            Guy Montag from Fahrenheit 451. He could recite lots of great books to me.

Giveaway:

I am excited to be able to giveaway a book and movie bundle to one lucky winner (U.S. only).


Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below!

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

My Christmas List!

'Tis the season for gift giving and dreaming of sugar plums. My shopping is finally finished (phew! I got such a late start that I'm still surprised that I'm finished!). I, of course, have some books that I'm dreaming of on my own Christmas list.

Here's what I'm dreaming of:



















What's on your wish list?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

Title: The Invention of Wings
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Viking
Publish Date: January 7, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Hetty "Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women.

Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid.We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty-five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love.
As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements."


My Two Cents:

You all know that I love historical fiction but I don't seem to get a chance to read a lot of historical fiction set in America. It just doesn't seem as prevalent as historical fiction set in far off places like Europe or elsewhere. It's books like "The Invention of Wings" that make me think that it is a travesty that there is not more historical fiction set in the United States. This was a great read set in the early to mid-1800s, a very difficult time period in America's history when it came to slavery. Historical fiction lovers will find a lot to enjoy within this book!

Before reading this book, I had never heard of the Grimke sisters before. What is so amazing about Sarah (one of the narrators in this book) and her sister, Nina, is that they were both from a slave-owning family in Charleston, South Carolina. Both women became abolitionists, even though it meant pushing away their family to a great degree. They are fascinating as this book shows and it is a shame that they are not more well known. In this book, we get an intimate glimpse at the various struggles that both sisters, especially Sarah go through. Sarah realizes from a very early age that some of the rules when it came to slavery were meant to be broken. One of her first acts of resistance against what she sees as unfair treatment is to teach Hetty, one of the family slaves, how to read. This was incredibly dangerous for both Sarah and Hetty as slaves were not supposed to read at all (being someone who loves to read, it was so hard for me to read about how slaves were pretty much not supposed to be educated whatsoever). I loved seeing how all of the experiences that Sarah had as a young person shaped her into the woman that she would become.

The other part of the book was narrated by Hetty, also called Handful, who is one of the Grimke family's slaves. Hetty wants so much for herself and I loved reading about her. Her counterpoint in the book gives us a good glimpse at what slaves had to deal with in the South during this time period. Some of the information is difficult to read but it definitely made me appreciated how far this country has come. Hetty also gives us a good counterpoint to Sarah's experience.

The writing is really good and definitely compelling. I really enjoyed Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees and The Mermaid Chair before this and enjoyed them. Kidd definitely has a way of creating characters that feel really real and make you really care about what happens to them. I am going to be thinking about Hetty and Sarah for a long time. I definitely enjoyed this story and look forward to Kidd's next release!


 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review: Secret of a Thousand Beauties by Mingmei Yip

Title: Secret of a Thousand Beauties
Author: Mingmei Yip
Format: ARC
Publisher: Kensington Books
Publish Date: November 25, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Spring Swallow was promised in marriage while still in her mother's belly. When the groom dies before a wedding can take place, seventeen-year-old Spring Swallow is ordered to become a ghost bride to appease his spirit. Under her in-laws' protection, she will be little more than a servant, unable to know real love or bear children. Refusing to accept her fate as a "bad-luck woman," Spring Swallow flees on her wedding day.
 

In the city of Soochow, Spring Swallow joins a community of renowned embroiderers. The women work for Aunty Peony, whose exquisite stitching once earned her the Emperor's love. But when Aunty Peony agrees to replicate a famous painting--a lucrative assignment that will take a year to complete--betrayal and jealousy emerges within the group. Spring Swallow becomes entangled in each woman's story of heartbreak, even while she embarks on a dangerous affair with a young revolutionary. On a journey that leads from the remote hillsides around Soochow to cosmopolitan Peking, Spring Swallow draws on the secret techniques learned from Aunty Peony and her own indomitable strength, determined to forge a life that is truly her own."

My Two Cents:

"Secret of a Thousand Beauties" begins when Spring Swallow, a young woman living in China during the 1930s. She was promised to her mother's friend's son before she was born. He died at birth and now that Spring Swallow is of age, she must become a ghost bride where she will still be married to the son even though he is dead. Instead of a life with her in-laws that she barely knows, she decides to run away and is able to find shelter with a woman that she calls Aunt Peony who teaches her the skill of embroidery. This is the story of one woman's determination to control her own destiny during a time where it may seem like she has no choice in the matter.

I loved following Spring Swallow's journey. She is such a fascinating character and definitely one who lives many lives throughout the book, each one as interesting as the last. With Aunt Peony, she learns a skill that she will be able to use to carry her through the rest of her life. She falls in love with a revolutionary, who might care more about the revolution than he does her. And these are just two of the stages that she lives. I loved reading about where her desires took her. Although she is often limited in what she can do for herself by society, she finds a way to make it work.

The book is told from the perspective of Spring Swallow, which I loved. It really allowed me to fully immerse myself in the story. The storytelling style is simple but powerful. I loved all of the historical detail that the author chose to include. I did not know much about China in the 1930s at all so I really enjoyed getting to visit a new time and place through this story! Overall, this was a great historical fiction that I thoroughly enjoyed!


 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Audiobook Review: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Read by Tim Robbins)

Title:  Fahrenheit 451
Author: Ray Bradbury (Read by Tim Robbins)
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Audible
Publish Date: 1953 (Audiobook released October 2014)
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Ray Bradbury's internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of 20th-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future, narrated here by Academy Award-winning actor Tim Robbins.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television "family". But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn't live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television. When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life."



My Two Cents:

"Fahrenheit 451" is one of the original books on the dangers of banning books. Like many other book lovers, this book is definitely one of my favorites (and if you are a book lover and you have not read this book, get ye to the book store and pick up this book for your own collection and then read it and then read it again).

So in this book, we have Guy, a fireman. In this mixed up (and absolutely frightening world for book lovers) world, it is his job to destroy the written word. If it's a book, it has to go. No one in this world is supposed to read. Everyone must watch television instead. There is no room for thinking out of the box. Eventually he sees the light and realizes that books are sort of awesome and worthy of protecting. See, it's easy to see why this book is still a favorite for so many readers. The story has a great message and serves as a great warning too. This is definitely a book that has stood the test of time and I still love it!

This book is still by far one of my favorite dystopian novels. I have read this book a couple times before and while I have loved it every single time, I might have liked this time a little bit better. I listened to this book for the first time on audiobook, which provided a brand new perspective on this old favorite. Better yet, the book is read by Tim Robbins, a great actor and a person whose voice I really love. I loved the life he brought to this book. It definitely made for a really special experience. Even if you think that you know this book well, Robbins gives the story a new spin and is most definitely worth listening to!


Audiobook Review: Fog Island Mountains by Michelle Bailat-Jones

Title: Fog Island Mountains
Author: Michelle Bailat-Jones
Format: Audiobook
Publisher: Tantor/ Audible
Publish Date: November 4, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "What if you could rewrite a tragedy? What if you could give grace to someone s greatest mistake? Huddled beneath the volcanoes of the Kirishima mountain range in southern Japan, also called the Fog Island Mountains, the inhabitants of small town Komachi are waiting for the biggest of the summer's typhoons. South African expatriate Alec Chester has lived in Komachi for nearly forty years. Alec considers himself an ordinary man, with common troubles and mundane achievements until his doctor gives him a terminal cancer diagnosis and his wife, Kanae, disappears into the gathering storm. Kanae flees from the terrifying reality of Alec's diagnosis, even going so far as to tell a childhood friend that she is already a widow. Her willful avoidance of the truth leads her to commit a grave infidelity, and only when Alec is suspected of checking himself out of the hospital to commit a quiet suicide does Kanae come home to face what it will mean to lose her husband. Narrating this story is Azami, one of Komachi's oldest and most peculiar inhabitants, the daughter of a famous storyteller with a mysterious story of her own. A haunting and beautiful reinterpretation of the Japanese kitsune folktale tradition, Fog Island Mountains is a novel about the dangers of action taken in grief and of a belief in healing through storytelling."

My Two Cents:

"Fog Island Mountains" takes place in a small island village in Japan. The story focuses on the residents of this village and their dealings with each other as well as the world changing around them. The story is told by Azami, the descendent of a storyteller who seems to be very different from many others in the village. This story is very atmospheric and in some places, almost like dreamlike, although the subject matter is very heavy. This is a book that I know that I am going to be thinking about for a very long time.

The characters are important in this book but in some places, it almost felt like the way that the characters were written was truly the key to understanding the story fully. Aside from Azami, we also meet Alec, a South African ex-pat, and his wife, who is convinced that he is going to die from his recently diagnosed cancer so she runs away. I really wanted to understand these characters fully. They are definitely complex but I loved the way that the author was able to give us a tiny bit of insight little by little in order to give us the ability to see where they are coming from even if we don't fully understand where they are coming from.

The writing of the book was good. I also enjoyed listening to the audiobook. I think listening to this particular book on audiobook was a little difficult because the stories of the characters and their dealings with each other were so intricate but if you pay close attention, you will be engulfed by this story!


 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Premier Virtual Author Book Tours: The Demon Who Peddled Longing by Khanh Ha

Title: The Demon Who Peddled Longing
Author: Khanh Ha
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Underground Voices
Publish Date: November 21, 2014
Source: Premier Virtual Authors Book Tours



What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Set in post-war Vietnam, The Demon Who Peddled Longing tells the terrible journey of a nineteen-year-old boy in search of the two brothers who are drifters and who raped and killed his cousin. It brings together the damned, the unfit, the brave, who succumb by
their own doing to the call of fate. Yet their desire to survive and to face life again never dies, so that when someone like the boy who is psychologically damaged by his family tragedy, who no sooner gets his life together after being rescued by a fisherwoman then falls in love with an untouchable girl and finds his life in peril, takes his leave in the end, there is nothing left but a longing in the heart that goes with him."

My Two Cents:

"The Demon Who Peddled Longing" is the story of Nam, a nineteen year old boy who is in the middle of a journey that will take him all over Vietnam. He is looking for two brothers who raped his cousin. This journey will change him and will take him to meet people he may never have come across otherwise. Each character is struggling with something. These characters will force him to look into himself and to decide the kind of person that he will become. This is the second book that I have read by Khanh Ha and I continued to really enjoy his brand of storytelling.

This book is really hard to describe. It deals with some heavy topics. Nam is dealing with a lot and is a really fascinating character. He is trying to find who raped his cousins. He is also just trying to cope with becoming a man. The topics are heavy but the prose is almost dream-like and sometimes nebulous, which means you have to pay close attention to the book. The writing is also quite stark and I found myself wanting a little more detail about how Nam and some of the supporting characters were feeling. At first, I had a little bit of a hard time getting into the book but once I hit my stride, the story was enjoyable.

The author does not shy away from painting a very real and sometimes brutal picture of what post-Vietnam War Vietnam was like. In this book, we meet several characters that are truly struggling to make ends meet. While I found myself wanting more detail, I did like that the author did not candy-coat Nam's journey! Overall, this is a difficult story but those that appreciate writing that is off the beaten path may want to try this one.

Follow the Rest of the Tour:

Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus Nov 6 Spotlight & Giveaway
Black Heart Magazine Nov 7 Review
Pinky’s Favorite Reads Nov 10 Excerpt
Savvy Verse & Wit Nov 11 Interview
Inspire to Read Nov 12 Excerpt
Oh,For the Hook Of a Book Nov 14 Review & Interview (postponed)
She Trends Softly Nov 17 Review
Flashlight Commentary Nov 18 Review (Postponed)
Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus  Nov 19 Review
Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus  Nov 19 Interview

Cassandra M’s Place Nov 20 Review & Giveaway
Manic Mama of 3 Nov 21 Review
Mary’s Cup of Tea Nov 24 Review
Book Dilettante Nov 25 Review & Giveaway
The Year In Books Nov 26 Review
What U Talking Bout Willis? Dec 1 Excerpt

Deal Sharing Aunt Dec 3 Review
Savvy Verse & Wit Dec 3 Review
Two Children and a Migraine Dec 4 Review
Buried In Print Dec 5 Review
My Devotional Thoughts Dec 5 Review

True Book Addict Dec 9 Interview
A Bookish Affair Dec 10 Review

Indie Reviews Behind the Scenes Jan 11 

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Review: Waking Up Joy by Tina Ann Forkner

Title: Waking Up Joy
Author: Tina Ann Forkner
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Publish Date: October 8, 2014
Source: Book Sparks


What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Behind every lost dream lies a second chance…
When adored town spinster Joy Talley ends up in a coma after a peculiar accident, she is surprised and incensed to hear what is being said in her hospital room, including plans for her funeral. When she finally wakes, her well-meaning, but bossy, brothers and sisters dismiss her claims, thinking her accident has knocked her off her rocker, but Joy has never felt better, and is determined to set the past right.
Now Joy must face her darkest secret and risk reopening wounds caused by an old flame who rejected her more than twenty years ago. But taking risks brings change, as well as a new, younger man into Joy’s life, making her feel like a teenager again. Suddenly Joy’s once humdrum life is anything but boring and routine and the future beckons, exhilarating and bright."

My Two Cents:

"Waking Up Joy" is the story of Joy, a never married woman who finds herself in a bit of a predicament at the beginning of this book.  After freak accident, she finds herself in a coma. Although the rest of the world thinks that she can't hear them including her big, comedic family, she can most definitely hear them and all of their different thoughts about what happened and what she meant to them.

At the beginning of the book, we know that Joy has a difficult past that she has been struggling with. The author gives us details little by little, which at times I found very frustrating because it was hard to get emotionally involved with the character without really knowing what was going on with her until towards the end of the book. We get to see you Joy as she wakes up and is determined to make the past right. It was really interesting to me to see how did Joy goes about doing this. In a way, it was interesting that such an event had affected her so much even though she was far removed from when it actually happened.

The writing of the book was okay. Joy's family was a lot of fun to read about. She comes from a huge family filled with a lot of different characters. We definitely got to know Joy the best out of all of her siblings; however, we also get to know one of her nieces pretty well too, which added to the story. Overall, I thought this book was interesting. If you like family stories and don't mind not knowing a lot of details in the beginning, this book might be a good pick for you.


Monday, December 8, 2014

Review: The Sharp Hook of Love by Sherry Jones

Title: The Sharp Hook of Love
Author: Sherry Jones
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publish Date: October 7, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the author; however, this did not affect my review.






What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Among the young women of 12th century Paris, Heloise d’Argenteuil stands apart. Extraordinarily educated and quick-witted, she is being groomed by her uncle to become an abbess in the service of God. But with one encounter, her destiny changes forever.

Pierre Abelard, headmaster at the Nôtre Dame Cloister School, is acclaimed as one of the greatest philosophers in France. His controversial reputation only adds to his allure, yet despite the legions of women swooning over his poetry and dashing looks, he is captivated by the brilliant Heloise alone. As their relationship blossoms from a meeting of the minds to a forbidden love affair, both Heloise and Abelard must choose between love, duty, and ambition.

Sherry Jones weaves the lovers’ own words into an evocative account of desire and sacrifice. As intimate as it is erotic, as devastating as it is beautiful, The Sharp Hook of Love is a poignant, tender tribute to one of history’s greatest romances, and to love’s power to transform and endure."


My Two Cents:

"The Sharp Hook of Love" is a historical fiction story that surrounds the lives of real-life star-crossed lovers, Heloise and Abelard. It is hard to think of a couple with a story that is both filled with equal amounts of romance and tragedy. Heloise and Abelard have sometimes been called the real-life Romeo and Juliet but in this humble reader's opinion, their story may be even more tragic and more heart wrenching. Historical lovers may be familiar with the story of Heloise and Abelard but Jones breathes new life into this love story that had me reading with bated breath.

The main characters in this book are completely compelling and kept me turning the pages. Heloise was a woman before her time. She had a promising life as a scholar and so many in her family were pushing her to follow in her famous mother's footprints. Abelard is a scholar in his own right. They challenge each other mentally through pondering through theology and philosophy together. They fall for each other wholeheartedly but of course, as we know from history, their love was not allowed to be. Because I was so drawn to the characters and liked how their romance unfolded, I so wanted their ending to be different. Even if you know how things end for them, you will still find yourself rooting for Heloise and Abelard.

I was drawn in by not only the characters but the setting and historical detail as well. This book is definitely a feast for the mind for readers. Jones vividly paints a great picture of what life was like for Heloise and Abelard. We see Heloise's family's excitement over her future turn to devastation as they realize how her independent mind is messing up their plans. We also get a good glimpse at French society is during the time. This detail was fantastic and really helped me to understand just how forbidden and how scandalous Heloise and Abelard's relationship must have seemed at the time. This is definitely a book that I am going to be thinking about for a long, long time!


 

Book Deal: Molly Lee by Andrew Joyce

I just wanted to let you all know about a special promotion going on this week. Andrew Joyce's "Redemption," is on sale for only $.99 for this week only. "Redemption" is the story of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn after Twain's book ends. A sequel, "Molly Lee," will be coming out soon!




Sunday, December 7, 2014

Giveaway Winners!

Today, I'm excited to announce a couple giveaway winners!

 
While Beauty Slept:
Terry

If I Stay:
Kayla

The Tiger Queens:
Martha

Friday, December 5, 2014

Review: Both of Me by Jonathan Friesen

Title: Both of Me
Author: Jonathan Friesen
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Blink
Publish Date: December 23, 2014
Source: BookSparks


What's the Story?:

From Goodreads.com: "Elias Phinn has always been considered stupid, but that may be because no one knows his vacant exterior holds a gifted mind. A mind that has learned to focus on his created world of Warilia, through which Elias distills everything he sees in order to cope with the excruciating, actual world around him. But with each passing year, the detailed sketches and notebooks describing Warilia have not only taken over Elias's time, they have become a world he must slip into in order to get through each day. Clara Tobias has been running from her own reality, leaving behind her fragile mother and two siblings in order to have the whirlwind life of travel and adventure she always wanted. She justifies she put in her time caring for others, and that the rest of her life is hers to use as she pleases. Even if guilt won't leave her alone. 

On a flight out of New York---Elias heading home for the summer, Clara on another trip to Somewhere---the two end up side by side. And when their carry-ons are mistakenly switched, Clara opens her bag to discover the histories of Warilia while Elias finds photographs and journals he uses to flesh out the mysterious girl who sat beside him, whom he sees as the beautiful daughter of a Warilian diplomat, making her and her mother an integral part of his entire world. 

When Clara arrives at the Phinn's boarding house for her luggage, she begs Elias to show her Warilia---and he does, taking her to locations that to him are not ordinary landscapes and buildings but epic mountains and massive skyscrapers. But as Clara finds herself further drawn to this intriguing boy, word comes her mother has died. When Elias becomes unable to deal with the death of his diplomat, he and Clara leave on a mission Elias claims will preserve Warilia forever. Though in the end it could be the one thing that allows Clara to piece her own world together."

My Two Cents:

"Both of Me" is the story of misfits. There is Elias, a teen who lives in two different worlds. One is the real world and the other is a world that was created from his own imagination where he gets stuck a lot of times and becomes an outcast for it. Clara is a young woman who is on the run from her past. Her family is utterly broken so she runs away from home and follows her father's extensive travel journal, which takes her to places she never could have imagined. When she And Elias meet, Claire feels a connection and knows that she wants to help Elias whether or not he wants her to. This is definitely a book that you have to play close attention to, especially as Elias moves in and out of his dream world. But if you pay attention, you will fall for these characters like I did!

I love when books can tell me stories that I've never heard of before and this story is definitely original. In this book, Elias has dissociative identity disorder or, which I had never read much about at all. I really like the author's treatment of the disorder and how Elias and those around him deal with it. Much of the book is about how the other characters come to understand his disorder as well as how Clara comes to understand Elias in spite of it.

I loved both of the characters of Clara and Elias. Both of them are dealing with a lot of different things from each other; however, at the same time they are also both dealing with not really understanding their place in the world. Clara has a lot of family issues. Her mother passed away. Her siblings don't seem to know how to take care of themselves and Clara is fed up with having to take care of them since it is such a thankless job that even her own siblings don't seem to appreciate. Her father has just returned from jail. Clara doesn't feel like there's anything for her in London anymore so she leaves to travel. It's only when she meets Elias that she thinks that she may have found a place where she can actually feel at home. I really liked reading about how these characters play it off of each other. On the surface they seem very different, but given a little bit of time it's easy to see how much they care for each other.

The writing of the book is a little difficult to get through at first. You have two main characters who don't always tell the truth. One of them is stuck in a dream world and the other one stretches the truth a little bit in order to save her feelings. Again as I said previously, this is a book that you definitely have to pay close attention to or you may miss out on something wonderful. I found myself reading a couple passages over again to make sure that I understood whether or not we were in Elias' dreamworld. But I didn't mind because the book was so engaging! Overall if you're looking for a young adult fiction book that is off the beaten path and like nothing you've read before, this would be a good pick for you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review: The Unimaginable by Dina Silver

Title: The Unimaginable
Author: Dina Silver
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Publish Date: December 1, 2014
Source: BookSparks



What's the Story?: 

From Goodreads.com: "After twenty-eight years of playing by the rules, Jessica Gregory moves from her small Indiana town to Phuket, Thailand. But her newfound routine is upended with the arrival of Grant Flynn, a captivating, elusive man who is sailing around the world while trying to move on from a past tragedy. Jessica volunteers to help crew Grant’s boat, Imagine, on a passage across the Indian Ocean and finds herself falling in love with him as the voyage gets underway. But when disaster strikes, Jessica must summon her courage as the crew is confronted by unspeakable terrors—and, aboard a boat named for such promise, comes the unimaginable."

My Two Cents:

In "The Unimaginable," we meet Jessica, a schoolteacher who is sort of adrift. She wants to escape her old life and try something completely new so she moves to Thailand, where she quickly moves up the chain at a school and decides that she wants to go even further. She wants to see how far she can go and she ends up on a small boat with Grant, a guy who seems to be hiding from his own life. Together with Quinn, who works on the ship as well, they will encounter numerous dangers that neither one can imagine. This story has some romance and a lot of adventure!

It took me awhile to warm up to Jessica. She is just floating in the beginning of the book. She flits from here to there and we are led to believe that it is because she is trying to figure out her life. Some of her early actions in the book don't seem to add up, like why she leaves the school to post an ad to work on a boat but eventually we get to know her better once she gets on the boat. I did like the romance between her and Grant a lot though. It builds a lot and definitely gave me a lot to be entertained by.


The action in the book was good too. I really enjoyed seeing what happened to Jessica, Grant, and Quinn. The back of the book gives quite a bit away but there are still enough surprises in the book to keep readers on their toes. Overall, I liked the mix of romance and adventure in the book. I also really liked the exotic setting, which was another thing that kept me entertained.


Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review: If I Stay Movie

One of the things that I love about having both of my sisters living so close to me is that we have a lot of chances for random get togethers and one of our favorite get togethers, is a good, old fashioned movie night. A couple weeks ago, I invited my middle sister (I'm the oldest of three girls) to come over to watch "If I Stay" with me. Thanks to Think Jam and Fox Home Entertainment, we had all the gear we needed for a great movie night!






Here we have a soft blanket to cuddle with, candy, popcorn, hot chocolate, tissues to cry with, and a mug.  All of this made for a perfect combo! It was also pretty cool to be able to watch and tweet along with author Gayle Forman

So how was the movie? To start off, it got two thumbs up from both my sister and I. I had read "If I Stay" while my sister had not read the book but both of us still enjoyed it a lot. I liked how closely it stayed to the book while my sister appreciated seeing the story for the first time. You will definitely enjoy this movie whether or not you have read the book (although, I think that you should definitely read the book first because it is always much better that way).

The movie stars Chloe Grace Moretz as Mia, a classical music loving teen who dreams of going to Julliard. It also stars Jamie Blackley as Adam, the guy who steals Mia's heart and makes her wonder about whether or not she is making the right choice when it comes to where she wants to go to school. I loved both of these actors and how they brought such great, strong characters to life. Their acting definitely brought forth the tears. This is definitely a heartfelt movie.

One thing that I really liked is that through the tweet along, I learned just how involved Forman was with the movie. Oftentimes, it seems like you find authors not being really involved when their books are made into movies but in this particular movie, you can definitely see Forman's touch, which made the movie extra special. One of the things that I really enjoyed about the movie was the music. During the tweet along, Forman gave us some insight into how the music was recorded for the movie, which was especially cool as so much of the movie revolves around music.

Overall, I thought this was a great adaptation that both new and old fans alike will fall for!

Monday, December 1, 2014

BookSparks Review: Passionate Nutrition by Jennifer Adler

Title: Passionate Nutrition
Author: Jennifer Adler
Format: ARC
Publisher: Sasquatch Books
Publish Date: December 16, 2014
Source: BookSparks


Why You're Reading This Book:

  • You're looking to get healthier.
  • You like cooking.
What's the Story?:

Synopsis: "This power foods healthy living guidebook will inspire readers will eat well, lose weight, and embrace food as medicine. “Food as medicine” is a powerfully healing way to eat and was embraced by nutritionist Jennifer Adler as she recovered from a malnour­ished childhood and adolescence.

Part power-foods cookbook, part handbook for healthy living and eating, and part memoir,Passionate Nutrition provides digestible information, tips, and techniques for how to find your way to optimal health. She focuses on abundant eat­ing (as opposed to restrictive eating), and explores what she calls “the healthy trinity”—digestion, balance, and whole foods.
Adler guides and encourages readers to shift their diet to achieve this desirable bal­ance, introduces power foods we should all eat, and provides healthy ways to lose weight, along with simple recipes to optimize health. With her personal story interwoven, readers will be inspired to embrace the healthy power of food."
My Two Cents:
In "Passionate Nutrition," Adler uses her knowledge as a nutritionist to provide some common sense guidance for those that are looking to get healthier and to have a healthier relationship with food. Adler's background is very unique in that she had a very difficult life growing up where food was scarce and the scarce food that there was in the house was not healthy at all. As she grew up, she knew that she wanted to make her life's work in showing others how to use food as medicine. It's a fascinating look.
I really liked how much of herself the author chose to infuse this book with. Adler makes a point to say that she usually doesn't tell her clients about her very painful past as she shares her story throughout the book. This truthfulness really adds a lot to this book and definitely enhanced my experience in reading the book. 
There were a lot of different parts of this book that I know that I want to try out in my own life. This book definitely has a lot of food for thought and I love when a book can make you think outside the box, which this one certainly does. This book would be a great pick for anyone looking to revamp their own outlook on food.
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