Thursday, 31 July 2014

Feature and Follow and Friday #39






Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme that allows book bloggers to interact with each other and find new blogs! It has two hosts, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The rules are...
 
(Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
(Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
If you’re new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog.

This week's question is...


What is the biggest city you live near (or interesting landmark)? Show us a postcard picture.








 I (Kristine) live an hour from Ottawa, Ontario and Terri lives in city. The first picture is of the Parliament Buildings and the second is of the Rideau Canal in the winter. It is a big tourist attraction for the city and people come from all over to skate it. Personally, my favourite part of skating the canal is seeing the ice sculptures and eating a Beaver Tail!

What is the biggest city that you live near?

That is our Feature and Follow Friday for this week! Comment down below if you're a new follower of ours with a link to your blog and we will make sure to follow you back. You can follow us via gfc, bloglovin, email, facebook and/or twitter.


 

Review: Random by Tom Leveen

Late at night Tori receives a random phone call. It's a wrong number. But the caller seems to want to talk, so she stays on the line.

He asks for a single thing—one reason not to kill himself.

The request plunges her into confusion. Because if this random caller actually does what he plans, he'll be the second person connected to Tori to take his own life. And the first just might land her in jail. After her Facebook page became Exhibit A in a tragic national news story about cyberbullying, Tori can't help but suspect the caller is a fraud. But what if he’s not? Her words alone may hold the power of life or death.

With the clock ticking, Tori has little time to save a stranger—and maybe redeem herself—leading to a startling conclusion that changes everything…


Kindle Edition, 224 pages
Expected publication: August 12th 2014 by Simon Pulse 
Genre: Young Adult

Kristine's Thoughts

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This book tackled the issue of cyber bullying which is a serious and relevant issue amongst young and not so young people today. There have been many tragic stories in the news about young people taking their lives after relentless bullying (mostly cyber) from peers. I was extremely anxious to see how this book would tackle it.

Let me start off by saying that this book is a really easy read and I was able to finish it in just a few hours. It starts with an introduction to Tori as she stresses, sulks and whines in her head about her court date the next day. As the reader we don't know (yet) why she is appearing in court, just that she is in serious trouble. I have to admit that I did not like Tori at this point. She seemed self involved and beyond selfish.

Then she gets a phone call...

The caller says he has called her at random and is going to commit suicide and wants her to give him one good reason why he shouldn't. He seems to want to talk and Tori is uncertain whether he is serious or if it is a prank. She doesn't want to hang up just in case. It is during her conversation with Andy (the boy that called her number) that the details of why she is in trouble comes to light. The cyber bullying takes the stage and we learn about her roll in it.

I'm not going to say anything more about the plot for fear of giving away spoilers. Here's what I thought...

The author does a relatively good job with the issue of cyber bullying and highlighting the consequences of those actions but I felt that the story and characters were a little underdeveloped. The story could have been way more powerful in its message if there had been more development. However, the message is still there even if it is a little condensed.

I wanted to like Tori and I wanted her to redeem herself but in my opinion this did not happen. I did not like her at the beginning, middle or the end. All of her emotions were self motivated and for all the wrong reasons. I never got the impression that she truly understood or owned the consequences of her and her friends actions. This was a shame.

I did like the concept of the story and how the entire book took place over one night. There were a lot of good points in regards to cyber bullying to reflect on. The book would make for some great discussions among teenagers in a learning environment. Although I really disliked the main character I still feel like the story is relevant and important.




About the Author
Tom Leveen is the author of Random, Sick, manicpixiedreamgirl, Party, and Zero (a YALSA Best Book of 2013). A frequent speaker at schools and conferences, Tom was previously the artistic director and cofounder of an all-ages, nonprofit visual and performing venue in Scottsdale, Arizona. He is an Arizona native, where he lives with his wife and young son.
Connect with Tom




Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Review: Cancel the Wedding by Carolyn T. Dingman


A heartfelt fiction debut that will appeal to fans of Emily Giffin’s Southern charm and Jennifer Weiner’s compelling, emotionally resonant novels about the frustrations of blood ties, Cancel the Wedding follows one woman’s journey to discover the secrets of her mother’s hidden past—and confront her own uncertain future.

On the surface, Olivia has it all: a high-powered career, a loving family, and a handsome fiancé. She even seems to be coming to terms with her mother Jane’s premature death from cancer. But when Jane’s final wish is revealed, Olivia and her elder sister Georgia are mystified. Their mother rarely spoke of her rural Southern hometown, and never went back to visit—so why does she want them to return to Huntley, Georgia, to scatter her ashes?

Jane’s request offers Olivia a temporary escape from the reality she’s long been denying: she hates her “dream” job, and she’s not really sure she wants to marry her groom-to-be. With her 14-year-old niece, Logan, riding shotgun, she heads South on a summer road trip looking for answers about her mother.

As Olivia gets to know the town’s inhabitants, she begins to peel back the secrets of her mother’s early life—truths that force her to finally question her own future. But when Olivia is confronted with a tragedy and finds an opportunity to right a terrible wrong, will it give her the courage to accept her mother’s past—and say yes to her own desire to start over?



Paperback, 416 pages
Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Harper Paperbacks
Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Harper Paperbacks via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is August 5, 2014.

This is the type of read that is right up my alley.  A mystery from the past being solved in the present day.  This book is slightly different than most of this genre that I have read that with the exception of the first chapter it is told entirely in the present day and the story is unraveled through clues found in the present.

I am a sucker for a tragic love story and this book delivers.  As we learn more about Janie's past I became more hooked.  I could not wait to find out what happened with George and Oliver even though I knew the outcome could not be good.

Another strength in this book was the story-line and relationships in the present day.  I really enjoyed the interactions between Olivia and her fourteen year old niece.  It added an additional element that kept the story ticking.  And then there is Elliot.  I could write forever about him but I won't.  He had me at hello and I just loved him.  The additional conflict that he created by his presence in Olivia's life as she was dealing with her current issues added another layer to the story.  Did I mention that he was totally dreamy?  Not necessarily in the physical aspect but his personality.  He was the perfect male.  I fell in love with him.

Overall I really liked this story.  I found myself ignoring all the things on my to do list in order to finish this book.  Before starting this story I had pre-judged it to be a fluff story but it had so much more to it.  I will be recommending this to everyone.


About The Author

Carolyn Dingman grew up as a nomadic military brat often making up stories that the adults referred to as "lies." She is now a grown-up and hardly ever lies anymore unless she's writing fiction where it is considered socially acceptable. She studied Architecture at Clemson University which in no way prepared her for a career in writing. Her first novel is called, CANCEL THE WEDDING (HarperCollins, August 2014.)

Carolyn lives in Atlanta with her husband and two girls. She volunteers too much, eats too much chocolate, and prefers beer over wine.



Website:     


Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Review: The House We Grew Up In by Lisa Jewell

Meet the Bird family. They live in a honey-colored house in a picture-perfect Cotswolds village, with rambling, unkempt gardens stretching beyond. Pragmatic Meg, dreamy Beth, and tow-headed twins Rory and Rhys all attend the village school and eat home-cooked meals together every night. Their father is a sweet gangly man named Colin, who still looks like a teenager with floppy hair and owlish, round-framed glasses. Their mother is a beautiful hippy named Lorelei, who exists entirely in the moment. And she makes every moment sparkle in her children's lives.

Then one Easter weekend, tragedy comes to call. The event is so devastating that, almost imperceptibly, it begins to tear the family apart. Years pass as the children become adults, find new relationships, and develop their own separate lives. Soon it seems as though they've never been a family at all. But then something happens that calls them back to the house they grew up in -- and to what really happened that Easter weekend so many years ago.

Told in gorgeous, insightful prose that delves deeply into the hearts and minds of its characters, The House We Grew Up In is the captivating story of one family's desire to restore long-forgotten peace and to unearth the many secrets hidden within the nooks and crannies of home.


Kindle Edition, 400 pages
Expected publication: August 12th 2014 by Atria Books
Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Atria Books via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

This book is an epic family drama that spans thirty years of the Bird family. It begins on Easter Sunday in 1981 with an egg hunt that Lorelei Bird meticulously puts on for her four children, Meg, Beth, Rory and Rhys. It then spans ahead to 2011 with Meg and her daughter picking up the pieces of a shattered family filled with secrets and heartbreak. As the story unfolds we learn what happens in between and how things go quickly down hill after tragic events that take place on a different Easter Sunday.

I loved the way that this story flowed. It goes back and forth between past and present and the voices of all key players are heard. The reader gets a clear picture of each family member, their struggles, thought processes and emotional well being. Using this style I felt that the characters were very well developed. It also kept the pages turning, making a 400 page book feel more like 200.

Every member of the Bird family had issues and this book covers numerous different serious topics in the process. Ultimately though, this story is about family and how each member tries to overcome the trials and tribulations to find answers, forgiveness and acceptance. At times it is not easy, unthinkable things happen, there are many betrayals, a lot of anger, deep dark secrets and guilt.

In the end I adored this book. I loved the story and was invested in each of the characters. I will admit that I wasn't sure how it would play out and if anything could be resolved.  Jewell did a fantastic job with this story. This is the first of her books for me but it definitely won't be the last if this book is any indication of how good her other work is. I highly recommend this book!






About the Author

Lisa Jewell was born and raised in north London, where she lives with her husband and two daughters. She is the internationally bestselling author of ten previous novels, including The Making of Us and Before I Met You.

Connect with Lisa


 

Monday, 28 July 2014

Review: Servants of the Storm by Delilah S. Dawson


A year ago Hurricane Josephine swept through Savannah, Georgia, leaving behind nothing but death and destruction — and taking the life of Dovey's best friend, Carly. Since that night, Dovey has been in a medicated haze, numb to everything around her.

But recently she's started to believe she's seeing things that can't be real ... including Carly at their favorite cafe. Determined to learn the truth, Dovey stops taking her pills. And the world that opens up to her is unlike anything she could have imagined.

As Dovey slips deeper into the shadowy corners of Savannah — where the dark and horrifying secrets lurk — she learns that the storm that destroyed her city and stole her friend was much more than a force of nature. And now the sinister beings truly responsible are out to finish what they started.

Dovey's running out of time and torn between two paths. Will she trust her childhood friend Baker, who can't see the threatening darkness but promises to never give up on Dovey and Carly? Or will she plot with the sexy stranger, Isaac, who offers all the answers — for a price? Soon Dovey realizes that the danger closing in has little to do with Carly ... and everything to do with Dovey herself



Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Simon Pulse    
Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is August 5, 2014.

This was a highly entertaining young adult read.  Fans of the paranormal will certainly enjoy this book as it is full of demons with the main character on a quest to battle them in an effort to save her best friends soul.  Add to this a seedy portrayal of Savannah and it results in a great read.

Although not necessarily an original concept I enjoyed the potential of the love triangle between Dovey, Baker and Isaac.  With Baker being the boy next door constant in Dovey's life while Isaac is the sexy dark stranger that shows up to assist Dovey.  Both boys have something about them that is attractive and I can't really decide which team to be on.

This story moves at a good pace with enough action, gore and drama to keep a reader interested.  I see this as being a hit in it's genre.  Without giving anything away the ending was not what I expected and definitely left me wanting more.  I really hope that this will have a sequel as there were numerous plot openings left to continue on with the story.  I would actually be disappointed if there is not another one!

This is my first introduction to Dawson's work however I will certainly be looking in to her others.  AND...I will be anxiously awaiting another installment of this story...hint...hint...
About the Author

Delilah S. Dawson writes whimsical and dark Fantasy for adults and teens. Her Blud series for Pocket includes Wicked as They Come, Wicked After Midnight, and Wicked as She Wants, winner of the RT Book Reviews Steampunk Book of the Year and May Seal of Excellence for 2013. Her YA debut, Servants of the Storm, is out in August 2014, with another YA from Simon Pulse in April 2015, a pre-dystopian called HIT. Her Geekrotica series under pseudonym Ava Lovelace includes The Lumberfox and The Superfox with The Dapperfox on the way.

She is also an Associate Editor at www.CoolMomPicks.com and www.CoolMomTech.com, where she is given the more eccentric and geeky products to cover. Delilah lives with her husband, two small children, a horse, a dog, and two cats in Atlanta


Website: 

Twitter:  DelilahSDawson



Sunday, 27 July 2014

Review: Trial by Fire: A Helen West Mystery by Frances Fyfield

A woman's abandoned corpse is found in a shallow grave in a posh suburb. The death hits close to home for prosecutor Helen West as she and detective Geoffrey Bailey have just moved into a new house within the gated neighborhood where the body was dumped. But tensions continue to rise when the victim is identified as the wife of the developer who built the estates, and all of the neighbors begin to accuse one another.
As Helen and Geoffrey dig deeper into the secrets of their sleepy commuter village, they discover a hidden world of passion, envy, and betrayal.

Publication date: August 5, 2014 by Witness Impulse
Genre: Mystery

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Witness Impulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

At first I couldn't find any information on this book but then realised that it was originally published under the name Not That Kind of Place in 1990. This book is book two in the Helen West Mystery series.

I really struggled with this book. It took me many attempts just to get past the first few pages. The writing style is definitely not for me. I found it dull and boring and it jumped around way too much. Perhaps this was the reason that I struggled getting into the story. The writing made it hard for the story to grab me and make me want to read more.

There is a decent mystery within the pages but unfortunately for me it got a little lost in the words. There is no denying that Fyfield is a talented writer that I'm sure many others will enjoy but not me. I couldn't relate to the characters and there were too many times that I was tempted to give up on the book. Perhaps it was my mood at the time I read it...I don't know. Maybe I will attempt another book of hers in the future but not any time soon.







About the Author

Frances Fyfield is a criminal lawyer, who lives in London and in Deal, by the sea which is her passion. She has won several awards, including the CWA Silver Dagger.





Connect with Frances


Saturday, 26 July 2014

Review: When The World was Young by Elizabeth Mallory Gaffney


Wally Baker is no ordinary girl. Living in her grandparents’ Brooklyn Heights brownstone, she doesn’t like dresses, needlepoint, or manners. Her love of Wonder Woman comics and ants makes her feel like a misfit—especially in the shadow of her dazzling but unstable mother, Stella.

Acclaimed author Elizabeth Gaffney’s irresistible novel captures postwar Brooklyn through Wally’s eyes, opening on V-J day, as she grows up with the rest of America. Reeling from her own unexpected wartime tragedy and navigating an increasingly fraught landscape, Wally is forced to confront painful truths about the world—its sorrows, its prejudices, its conflicts, its limitations. But Wally also finds hope and strength in the unlikeliest places.

With an unforgettable cast of characters, including the increasingly distant and distracted Stella; Loretta, the family’s black maid and Wally’s second mother; Ham, Loretta’s son, who shares Wally’s enthusiasm for ants and exploration; Rudy, Wally’s father, a naval officer, away serving in the Pacific; and Mr. Niederman, the family’s boarder, who never seems to answer Wally’s questions—and who she suspects may have something to hide—Elizabeth Gaffney crafts an immersive, beautifully realized novel about the truths that divide and the love that keeps us together.



ebook, 320 pages
Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Random House


Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Random House via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is August 5, 2014.

This is not going to be a long review because I feel this is one of those stories that needs to tell itself rather than me sharing my thoughts about it.  It was a wonderful story that follows Wally from the time of her childhood until young adulthood.  It tells the tale of how the decisions that people make have impacts to others that form their future relationships and paths.

This story has a great cast of characters.  Wally was an inquisitive and interesting child.  Ham and Loretta were wonderful support and their side story equally interesting.  The story of Stella was sad yet I couldn't get enough.

Add to this the time-frame of the story starting at the end of WW11 and the Korean war and racial inequalities it created a rather compelling story.  This is not a book of adventure or where a lot happens.  Instead it is a well written coming of age story with a strong female character.  It is about the emotional growth of characters as they attempt to conquer the world when they have questions about where they came from and what happened in the past.

I really really liked this book



About the Author

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #38




Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme that allows book bloggers to interact with each other and find new blogs! It has two hosts, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The rules are...
 
(Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
(Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
If you’re new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog.

This week's question is...



What is your favorite tv series that you can watch over and over again on Netflix? 

Kristine's answer

I rarely watch tv and just recently got Netflix. I watched the first season of Bate's Motel and have watched the first two seasons of Breaking Bad. Also, my girls (ages 13 & 15) started watching Dawson's Creek so I have been watching it with them. I think that it is cute that they want to watch a show that I watched when I was younger. If I had to pick one show that I could watch over and over it would have to be Criminal Minds. I never get sick of it.


Terri's Answer

The unfortunate part about being a twin is that we have very similar tastes.  So when asked a question such as the one that was just asked and your twin answers first....there is nothing left to say.  How pathetic is it that although we live in different cities my answer is also Bates Motel and Breaking Bad!  Although I have no daughters to watch Dawson's Creek with I wish I did so I could have the excuse to re-live it.  In all reality there is not a whole lot I would watch over and over again (yet) as there are so many series out there that I have not yet experienced.

What can you watch over and over again?

That is our Feature and Follow Friday for this week! Comment down below if you're a new follower of ours with a link to your blog and we will make sure to follow you back. You can follow us via gfc, bloglovin, email, facebook and/or twitter.

Review: Misbehaving by Abbi Glines

An unexpected affair leads to mind-blowing harmony in this Sea Breeze novel from New York Times bestselling author Abbi Glines.

Jason is sick of living in his rock star brother’s shadow. So when he ships off to Sea Breeze, Alabama, he’s looking for a much deserved escape and a chance to blow off some envious steam. Falling for the local bad girl was definitely not the plan. But as the new duo enjoys some naughty fun in the Alabama sun, Jason learns that even though Jax is the musician in the family, he’s not the only brother who can rock someone’s world.


Kindle Edition, 352 pages
Published December 17th 2013 by Simon Pulse 
Genre: New Adult/Romance

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received a copy of this book from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you! The original release date was December 17, 2013 but it appears that it is being re-released on August 5, 2014.

Misbehaving is book #6 in the Sea Breeze series but can be read as a stand alone. I have not had the time or opportunity to read the books that preceded this book but was still able to follow along. Each book tells the story of different characters and enough information is given to understand to some degree the story behind these other characters. Having said this, I do think that I will go back to read these books and learn more about the other players in the book.

This book revolves around Jason and Jess. Jason comes from a world of privilege and expectations and Jess from a world of hardship and poverty. He doesn't have time for a relationship and she doesn't think that someone like him can be interested in anything long term with a girl like her. It is a classic case of opposites attract and misguided communication between two people who's chemistry is off the charts.

I liked the fact that the story went back in forth between Jess and Jason's point of view. I thought that it helped the story flow as well as giving us a better understanding of both characters. Each chapter was short which I also liked even though it had me procrastinating and getting nothing but the book done. What I liked most though, was that the story came before the sex. Yes, the pages heat up quite a bit and there are lots of sexy moments between the two of them but it does not overtake the story. Too often I find that some books are filled with so many steamy sex scenes and the story is like an afterthought. This is not the case with Misbehaving. There was just the right balance between the two to keep it interesting and spicy at the same time.

This book was exactly what I was in the mood for on a hot summer day at the lake. It kept me entertained, even if it was a little predictable, and I enjoyed every minute of it. I will definitely be going back and checking out the first five books in the series. Now I need to know more about the secondary characters from this book and want to read more about Sea Breeze.

Terri (the other half of Twin Spin) reviewed book #5 Sometimes it Lasts back in May and you can find her review here.





About the Author
Abbi Glines is the New York Times, USA TODAY, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of the Rosemary Beach, Sea Breeze, Vincent Boys, and Existence series. A devoted booklover, Abbi lives with her family in Alabama.  

When Abbi isn’t locked away in her office typing away she is hauling her kids to and from their many social activities. You could say her second job is the Glines Kids personal chauffeur. It’s a rather illustrious job.


Connect with Abbi




Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Review: The Liar's Wife: Four Novellas by Mary Gordon


In these absorbing and exquisitely made novellas of relationships at home and abroad, both historical and contemporary, we meet the ferocious Simone Weil during her final days as a transplant to New York City; a vulnerable American grad student who escapes to Italy after her first, compromising love affair; the charming Irish liar of the title novella, who gets more out of life than most of us; and Thomas Mann, opening the heart of a high-school kid in America. These stories dazzle on the surface, with beautifully rendered settings and vistas, and dig deep psychologically. At every turn Gordon reveals in her characters' interactions those crucial flashes of understanding that change lives forever. So richly developed it is hard to believe they fit into novella-sized packages, these tales carry us away both as individual stories and as a larger, book-length experience of Gordon's mastery and human sympathy.

Hardcover, 304 pages
Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Pantheon

Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is August 5 2014.  As this is four novella in one I will review each story separately

The Liars Wife

I had a little bit of a difficult time with the opening story.  I found it extremely wordy and that it took a while to get to any real kind of point.  The main character was not really likeable and seemed to have all sorts of emotional issues that stemmed from nothing.

The story did pick up when we were introduce to her ex-husband (the liar) and became a little more interesting.  We learn about his live life to fullest attitude which is a stark contrast to Joss' outlook on life.  We also learn about his lies and that there is no malicious intention behind them.

Ultimately this story was about acceptance of what life throws at you and making the most of it.  While interesting at points it was just an average read for me

Simone Weil in New York

I was hoping I would enjoy the second story more than the first but alas it was not meant to be.  This one provoked more frustration than anything.  I did not understand Genevieve's hero worship of Simone.  I get that she was her childhood hero as her teacher but as an adult I would have felt that if she learned anything from her it was free will and thought.  Instead she went along with everything Simone said like a lost puppy.  There were no characters to identify with or invest in although Joe was as close as it gets.

Again this story was too wordy that the actual story gets lost.  So far it will be tough to see this book through but only two more novella's so I will try my best to keep an open mind and enjoy the last two.

Thomas Mann in Gary, Indiana

This was in my opinion another wordy story about nothing.  The main character talked like he was enlightened when he was in fact not.  I found myself getting annoyed as I proceeded through the story

Overall Impression

I put this book down before reading the last story.  I feel it was doing the author an injustice to continue as I clearly did not enjoy this read and since my rule of thumb is if I read it I review it I simply stopped.  While some people may enjoy this type of read I found it full of eloquently strung together words and lacking any real substance.  None of the characters were interesting nor believable and the stories were simply boring.  I hate to give a not so favorable review however this simply was not for me.



About the Author

Mary Gordon was born in Far Rockaway, New York, to Anna Gagliano Gordon, an Italian-Irish Catholic mother, and David Gordon, a Jewish father who converted to Catholicism. While growing up, she attended Holy Name of Mary School in Valley Stream and for high school attended The Mary Louis Academy in Jamaica, N.Y.. She is Catholic.

She received her A.B. from Barnard College in 1971, and her M.A. from Syracuse University in 1973. Gordon lived in New Paltz, New York for a time during the 1980s. She and her husband, Arthur Cash, live in New York City and Hope Valley, Rhode Island. They have two adult children, Anna and David. Gordon is the McIntosh Professor of English at Barnard College. Cash is retired.

In 1981, she wrote the foreword to the Harvest edition of Virginia Woolf's "A Room of One's Own." In 1984 she was one of 97 theologians and religious persons who signed A Catholic Statement on Pluralism and Abortion, calling for religious pluralism and discussion within the Catholic Church regarding the Church's position on abortion.

Novelist Galaxy Craze has said of Gordon, "She loves to read; she would read us passages in class and start crying, she's so moved by really good writing. And she was the only good writing teacher at Barnard, so I
just kept taking her class over and over. She taught me so much."


 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Review: Magnolia by Kristi Cook

In Magnolia Branch, Mississippi, the Cafferty and Marsden families are southern royalty. Neighbors since the Civil War, the families have shared vacations, holidays, backyard barbecues, and the overwhelming desire to unite their two clans by marriage. So when a baby boy and girl were born to the families at the same time, the perfect opportunity seemed to have finally arrived.

Jemma Cafferty and Ryder Marsden have no intention of giving in to their parents’ wishes. They’re only seventeen, for goodness’ sake, not to mention that one little problem: They hate each other! Jemma can’t stand Ryder’s nauseating golden-boy persona, and Ryder would like nothing better than to pretend stubborn Jemma doesn’t exist.

But when a violent storm ravages Magnolia Branch, it unearths Jemma’s and Ryder’s true feelings for each other as the two discover that the line between love and hate may be thin enough to risk crossing over.


ebook, 336 pages
Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Simon Pulse 
Genre: Young Adult

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

Let me start off by saying that this is a YA book and I am a slightly out of my young adult years. OK, who am I kidding? I am quite a few years out of my teenage years. Did it make it hard for me to enjoy this book or relate to it? Absolutely not! What it did was take me back and remember those times when my future was up in the air, boys drove me crazy and parental expectations were high.

The story of boy and girl who hate (or do they?) each other but who are forced into situations together is not a new one. What makes Magnolia  a little different is the history between the two families and their overwhelming desire and pressure on Jemma and Ryder to finally connect the families on a larger scale. Their families are the best of friends dating back to Civil War. Both families have dreamt of connecting their families through marriage but circumstances and timing have never been on their side until Jemma and Ryder are born only weeks apart. While throwing them in cribs, sandboxes, vacations and Sunday dinners together, their mothers (not so secretly) dream and plan up a future for them together.

But...

Seventeen years later, Jemma and Ryder can't stand each other. They are constantly fighting or ignoring each other and their parents hopes are anything but reality. After an incident in the eighth grade the two can barely stand to be in the same room together. Then something happens to Jemma's sister that pulls the family away unexpectedly forcing Jemma and Ryder to weather (literally) a horrific storm together.

Enough about the plot. Here is what I liked about it...

I loved the southern setting and charm of the book. I could see myself there, feel the environment and the old fashioned morals and traditions. Mostly I enjoyed reading about Jemma's struggles to break the mold with her desire to go to school somewhere other than where expected of her. It is more than just a boy meets girl story as she battles her desires against those that she loves most. There are real teenage problems and decisions to be made.

But I am forgetting something...

The most enjoyable part of this book for me was the storm. I could not put the book down when the storm hit and Jemma and Ryder were struggling through it alone. Forget about my family, work, errands and responsibilities. They all had to wait until I (and the storm) were done before they could get any attention from me. Not only was it the physical description of the storm that had me glued but also the interactions between Jemma and Ryder. I loved every little detail from the snake, flooded road and tornado sirens to the confessions, conversations and togetherness of the two characters.

Magnolia is a cute summer book that I am sure readers of all ages will enjoy. With a little young love, a terrifying storm, high family expectations, a little tragedy and other complications there is a little of everything for readers to enjoy. I certainly did!





About the Author
Kristi Cook also publishes adult titles under the names Kristina Cook and Kristi Astor. Her YA novels include Haven, Mirage, Eternal, and Magnolia. Kristi lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters.



Connect with Kristi





Monday, 21 July 2014

Review: All We had by Annie Weatherwax


A poignant and fierce debut novel about the relationship between a teenage daughter and her struggling single mother—from a powerful new voice in fiction.

For Ruthie Carmichael and her mother Rita, life has never been stable. Jobs are hard to find, men come and go. But when a set of unexpected circumstances strands them in Fat River, a small rural town in upstate New York, life takes a turn. Fat River becomes the first place they call home. The modest economic security they gain gives them peace and space for friends. The people of Fat River—Hank and Dotty Hanson, the elderly owners of the local hardware store being driven out of business by the new Walmart; Mel, the flawed, but kindhearted owner of the town diner where Rita finds work; and the cross-dressing Peter Pam, the novel’s voice of warmth and reason—become family. Into this quirky utopia comes Vick Ward, a smooth-talking broker who entices Rita with a subprime mortgage and urges her to buy the ramshackle house she and her daughter have been renting.

Tough and quick-witted, thirteen-year-old Ruthie—whose sardonic voice and plain-spoken observations infuse All We Had with disarming honesty and humor—never minded her hardscrabble existence as long as her mother was by her side. Through it all, the two have always been the center of one another’s lives. But when financial crisis hits, their luck takes a different turn.

All We Had offers an unflinching look at the devastating choices a mother must make to survive and is an achingly funny, heart wrenching tale about love and loss, told with humor and razor sharp vision.


Kindle Edition, 272 pages
Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Scribner
Terri's Thoughts

I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher Scribner via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is August 5 2014.

This was a remarkably easy read with a subject matter that isn't as easy to digest.  The synopsis of the book is bang on and I really don't know what I can say that has not already been included there.

This is not a rainbows and unicorn type of story.  The life of Ruthie and her mother is not sugar coated as you read through the pages.  Although a fictional story it portrays the gritty reality of poverty and touches on some sensitive topics such as rape, theft and trading sexual favors for personal gain.  The character of Ruthie at thirteen is also not naïve.  She knows that these things have occurred and her mother is not shy in sharing these things.

The characters in Fat River are endearing although they are not profiled in any great detail.  I particularly enjoyed the vision of Dotty chasing people with her walker.  Who I did not enjoy was Rita.  I felt that a lot of the decisions she made were selfish particularly nearing the end of the story.  While I sympathized with her early on due to the hardships she endured by the latter part I found her simply annoying.  I did not understand the decisions she made in order to better Ruthie's future.  The connection did tie up neatly for me and left me with questions.

Ruthie on the other hand was a joy to read.  A thirteen year old who basically grew up on the streets and was street smart to boot.  Experiencing her transition when she started learning about the concept of family when she settled in Fat river was really heartwarming.  The growth in her character from beginning to end was astounding.

Overall if you are looking for an easy read that has some subject matter that may be offensive to some, then I would recommend this book.  I really enjoyed it.

About The Author

(From Goodreads)

Before turning to writing I had a long career sculpting superheroes and cartoon characters for DC Comics, Nickelodeon, Pixar and others. My short stories have been published in The Southern Review, The Sun Magazine and elsewhere. I was the 2009 winner of the Robert Olen Butler Prize for Fiction and I have written for the New York Times. A graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, I am currently a full time painter and writer. I teach writers how to see and to paint pictures with their words in Boston and beyond. My favorite thing to do is walk my dog! Please visit my website to see my artwork, read my stories and essays on writing.
Twitter:  WeatherwaxAnnie


Sunday, 20 July 2014

Review: Charlie Glass's Slippers by Holly McQueen

In this delightful, clever spin on Cinderella, Charlie Glass—a heroine as loveable as Cannie Shapiro and Bridget Jones—inherits her father’s shoe empire and snatches up a drop-dead-gorgeous, multi-millionaire Prince Charming. But is he truly the key to her happily ever after?
When Charlie’s beloved father, iconic shoe designer Elroy Glass, dies after a long illness, everyone expects that he’ll leave his business to his glamorous wife and eldest daughters. After all, they’ve been running the company for years. But Elroy surprises everyone from beyond the grave: at the will reading, it’s announced that his fashion empire has been left to Charlie, his youngest—and plumpest—daughter.

Before she can run the company, Charlie decides she needs to make a few changes in her life. After several weeks at a California boot camp, she returns to London a new woman: thinner, blonder, and ready to revitalize the Elroy Glass brand. But as she’ll soon discover, a good esthetician and a killer pair of stilettos can only go so far, and there’s more to reinvention—and running a fashion empire—than meets the eye.

Endlessly entertaining, surprising, and ultimately inspiring, Charlie Glass’s Slippers is a modern-day fairytale about finding your own magic and transforming yourself from within.

ebook, 464 pages
Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Atria Books 
Genre: Woman's Fiction/ Chick Lit

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received an advanced readers copy of this book from Atria Books via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

As described in the synopsis, this book has a real Cinderella quality to it as well as Bridget Jones. In fact, it reminded me a lot of Bridget Jones. Although the story is not overly original it is still an entertaining and enjoyable read.

I thoroughly enjoyed Charlie's character and found myself giggling on numerous occasions. I particularly liked her thoughts around all of the "grooming" that she found herself enduring in her efforts to transform herself. She was quirky, clutsy, awkward and totally unaware of her positive qualities which made her relatable as well as likeable. She had me in her corner from beginning to end. Not only was Charlie a pleasure to read about but so were her group of friends from Lucy to Ferdy to Olly.

Of course there are always the characters that you love to hate and this book is no exception. With an evil step-mother and spoiled, self centred step-sisters, Charlie finds resistance around every corner in her effort to bring her father's shoes back to life. It was her family dynamic that brought a modern Cinderella quality to the story. Of course no Cinderella story is complete without a "Prince Charming" and Charlie has one of those too...or does she?

This story is really a story about Charlie coming into her own and discovering who she really is and what she wants out of life. Although told in a fun and quirky way, there is a positive message hidden within the pages about acceptance, self worth and being happy within your own skin. This book is an easy and fun summer read that fans of chick lit will be sure to enjoy. I know I did.





About the Author
Holly McQueen has wanted to be a writer ever since discovering that the nuns at her junior school would let her off maths homework if she wrote a story instead. After unexpected detours via law, magazine journalism, and even musical theatre, she began writing her first novel in 2006. Holly lives with her husband in London. She still avoids math.


Connect with Holly






Saturday, 19 July 2014

Review: Ride Around Shining by Chris Leslie-Hynan


A provocative debut novel about a young white chauffeur and his wealthy black employer, an NBA player-a twenty-first century inversion of what we've come to expect stories of race and class to look like, and a discomfiting portrait of envy and obsession

Ride Around Shining concerns the idle preoccupations, and later machinations, of a transplanted Portlander named Jess-a nobody from nowhere with a Master's degree and a gig delivering takeout. He parlays the latter, along with a few lies, into a job as a chauffeur for an up-and-coming Trail Blazer named Calyph West and his young wife, Antonia. Calyph is black and Antonia is white and Jess becomes fascinated, innocuously at first, by all they are that he is not. In striving to make himself indispensable to them, he causes Calyph to have a season-ending knee injury, then brings about the couple's estrangement, before positioning himself at last as their perverse savior.

In the tradition of The Talented Mr. Ripley, The Great Gatsby, and Harold Pinter's The Servant-not to mention a certain Shakespeare play about a creepy white dude obsessed with a black dude-Ride Around Shining tries to say the unsayable about white fixation on black culture, particularly black athletic culture, something so common in everyday life it has gone all but unaddressed.


ebook, 240 pages
Expected publication: August 5th 2014 by Harper
Terri's Thoughts


I received an advanced copy of this novel from the publisher Harper via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  The expected publication date is August 5, 2014.

I enjoy receiving ARC's as it is an opportunity to read stories by authors that are unknown to me as well as the opportunity to discover a story that may not have crossed my path otherwise.  In most cases this pays off however unfortunately it was not the case with this story.

I just didn't get it.  The synopsis describes the storyline as the white fixation on black culture however I just really didn't see that.  What I saw was the character of Jess who really had no redeeming qualities and seemed fixated on destroying and meddling in the lives of the people who had more than him.  There was a twisted sense of entitlement and greed that I never really understood where his motivation came from.

There were quite a few characters in the story of which none drew me in.  I found the story lingered at points that seemed irrelevant or surplus and there was no real flow to it.

If I had to try to summarize the story I would say it was one of greed however I am not really sure that was the point of the whole thing.  For such a short book I really had to work at it to get through it and it took me much longer than it should have.

While this was not for me I think this is one of those reads where people need to decide on their own.  Perhaps someone else can see the brilliance behind the plot that I failed to discover.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Feature and Follow Friday #37

Feature & Follow Friday is a weekly meme that allows book bloggers to interact with each other and find new blogs! It has two hosts, Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. The rules are...
 
(Required) Follow the Follow My Book Blog Friday Hosts {Parajunkee & Alison Can Read}
(Required) Follow our Featured Bloggers
Put your Blog name & URL in the Linky thing. You can also grab the code if you would like to insert it into your posts.
Grab the button up there and place it in a post, this post is for people to find a place to say “hi” in your comments and that they are now following you.
If you are using WordPress or another CMS that doesn’t have GFC (Google Friends Connect) state in your posts how you would like to be followed
Follow Follow Follow as many as you can, as many as you want, or just follow a few. The whole point is to make new friends and find new blogs. Also, don’t just follow, comment and say hi. Another blogger might not know you are a new follower if you don’t say “HI”
If someone comments and says they are following you, be a dear and follow back. Spread the Love…and the followers
If you’re new to the follow Friday hop, comment and let me know, so I can stop by and check out your blog.

This week's question is...

Post a funny Youtube video (doesn’t have to be book related).
I just love guilty dog videos!


That is our Feature and Follow Friday for this week! Comment down below if you're a new follower of ours with a link to your blog and we will make sure to follow you back. You can follow us via gfc, bloglovin, email, facebook and/or twitter.

Review: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley

At only five years old, Saroo Brierley got lost on a train in India. Unable to read or write, to recall the name of his hometown or even his own last name, he survived alone for weeks on the rough streets of Calcutta before ultimately being transferred to an agency and adopted by a couple in Australia.

  Despite his gratitude, Brierley always wondered about his origins. Eventually, with the advent of Google Earth, he had the opportunity to look for the needle in a haystack he once called home and pored over satellite images for landmarks he might recognize or mathematical equations that might further narrow down the labyrinthine map of India. One day, after years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for and set off to find his biological family.

  A Long Way Home is a moving, poignant, and inspirational true story of survival and triumph against incredible odds. It celebrates the importance of never letting go of what drives the human spirit: hope.

Paperback, 288 pages
Published June 24th 2013 by Penguin Aus. Imprint:Viking 
Genre: Non Fiction/Autobiography/Memoir

Kristine's Thoughts:

I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

I was really excited to receive this book. After reading a few different books that take place in India I have discovered that I have a real fascination with it. Also, my sister Terri (the other half of Twin Spin), spent an extended period of time living there and I found her stories incredible. The way of life there is so extremely different from what I know and I couldn't wait to dive into the book. I did not know Saroo Brierley's story before reading it but I can assure you that I have since thoroughly researched it and watched the 60 Minutes Australia segment on him.

My rating is based solely on the story itself and not on the writing. This is a Memoir and I don't think it is fair to base my thoughts on the actual writing because Brierley is recounting his story and does not have a background in literature and writing. For this my rating is based only on the incredible story itself, how it made me feel and how much of my normal day was ignored in the effort to finish it.

I absolutely loved this story! It is amazing what this man was able to do and if I hadn't read it I never would have believed it was possible. I don't want to go into too much detail because it is not a long book and I could never do it justice. Everyone needs to read this story to believe it. What Brierley goes through as a five year old boy lost in one of the most populated cities in the world to his eventual adoption and his unthinkable search for his birth place is beyond words.

Brierley's story is being made into a major feature film and I for one will be sure to watch it. Readers of all ages will be sure to enjoy the book and eventually the film. It is just a fascinating story.




About the Author
When Saroo Brierley used Google Earth to find his long-lost birthplace half a world away, his story made global headlines. That story is being published in several languages around the world and is currently being adapted into a major feature film. Brierley was born in Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, India. He lives in Hobart, Tasmania.

Connect with Saroo


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Review: The Temporary Gentleman by Sebastian Barry


Jack McNulty is a 'temporary gentleman', an Irishman whose commission in the British army in the Second World War was never permanent. In 1957, sitting in his lodgings in Accra, he urgently sets out to write his story. He feels he cannot take one step further, or even hardly a breath, without looking back at all that has befallen him.

He is an ordinary man, both petty and heroic, but he has seen extraordinary things. He has worked and wandered around the world - as a soldier, an engineer, a UN observer - trying to follow his childhood ambition to better himself. And he has had a strange and tumultuous marriage. Mai Kirwan was a great beauty of Sligo in the 1920s, a vivid mind, but an elusive and mysterious figure too. Jack married her, and shared his life with her, but in time she slipped from his grasp.

A heart-breaking portrait of one man's life - of his demons and his lost love - The Temporary Gentleman is, ultimately, a novel about Jack's last bid for freedom, from the savage realities of the past and from himself.



Hardcover, 320 pages
Published May 1st 2014 by Viking Adult
Terri's Thoughts

I won a copy of this book as part of a Goodreads giveaway.  I originally gave up hope on it as it took so long to arrive but alas it showed up.

I have mixed feelings about this book.  On one hand I enjoyed it greatly and on the other I found I had a hard time getting through it.

This book is about a man reliving his past by writing down his journey in a journal.  The heart of the story is a love story however it is not a one of the conventional kind.  It is about the downward spiral of two people who love each other yet are toxic for each other.  This I found interesting.

I was not particularly fond of Mai or Jack.  I found them both to be selfish and without a great sense of character.  This is where I struggled.  Had they been more likeable I may have enjoyed the book more and had a greater connection with the tragedy of it.  I also had a hard time at first following along with the story.  It is told out of sequence without any real identifier that it has changed course.

Putting aside my struggles with the story the core of it was a good one about the decisions people make and the consequences as a result.  This was not a happy go lucky read but did manage to entertain me.  Without spoiling the story I found the ending appropriate and really the only way it could wrap up.

About the Author

Sebastian Barry is an Irish playwright, novelist and poet. He is noted for his dense literary writing style and is considered one of Ireland's finest writers

Barry's literary career began in poetry before he began writing plays and novels. In recent years his fiction writing has surpassed his work in the theatre in terms of success, having once been considered a playwright who wrote occasional novels.

He has twice been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize for his novels A Long Long Way (2005) and The Secret Scripture (2008), the latter of which won the 2008 Costa Book of the Year and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. His 2011 novel On Canaan's Side was long-listed for the Booker.