Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

Title: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry    
Author: Gabrielle Zevin         
Published: April 2014, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill  
Format: ARC Paperback, 230 pages   
Source: Publisher/She Reads  

In the spirit of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, Gabrielle Zevin's enchanting novel is a love letter to the world of books-and booksellers-that changes our lives by giving us the stories that open our hearts and enlighten our minds.

On the faded Island Books sign hanging over the porch of the Victorian cottage is the motto "No Man Is an Island; Every Book Is a World." A. J. Fikry, the irascible owner, is about to discover just what that truly means.

A. J. Fikry's life is not at all what he expected it to be. His wife has died, his bookstore is experiencing the worst sales in its history, and now his prized possession, a rare collection of Poe poems, has been stolen. Slowly but surely, he is isolating himself from all the people of Alice Island-from Lambiase, the well-intentioned police officer who's always felt kindly toward Fikry; from Ismay, his sister-in-law who is hell-bent on saving him from his dreary self; from Amelia, the lovely and idealistic (if eccentric) Knightley Press sales rep who keeps on taking the ferry over to Alice Island, refusing to be deterred by A.J.'s bad attitude. Even the books in his store have stopped holding pleasure for him. These days, A.J. can only see them as a sign of a world that is changing too rapidly.

And then a mysterious package appears at the bookstore. It's a small package, but large in weight. It's that unexpected arrival that gives A. J. Fikry the opportunity to make his life over, the ability to see everything anew. It doesn't take long for the locals to notice the change overcoming A.J.; or for that determined sales rep, Amelia, to see her curmudgeonly client in a new light; or for the wisdom of all those books to become again the lifeblood of A.J.'s world; or for everything to twist again into a version of his life that he didn't see coming. As surprising as it is moving, The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is an unforgettable tale of transformation and second chances, an irresistible affirmation of why we read, and why we love.

My thoughts: Every once in a while, you read a book that you just love so much, it's hard to put into words. That's this book. I am so glad that the powers-that-be over at She Reads picked this for our April Book Club Selection - I had never heard of Gabrielle Zevin before, but she is definitely on my radar now.

This book is about a bookseller and his love of books. I loved A.J. - he's a quirky, unique character that just wormed his way into my heart. From the first pages of the book, I was hooked and couldn't put this book down. There was something so endearing about A.J., he's the type of character that stays with you long after you finish the book. I also loved the other characters, too, especially Amelia, Maya and Lambiase. Such an interesting cast of characters make up this book!

There are relationships forged in A.J.'s bookshop that change lives. It's a sweet, charming story that will at times have you laughing and at times have you shedding a few tears. It's about love, second chances and of course, a love of reading.

I've always had a pipe dream of opening my own bookstore and if I ever do, I hope that I have one like Island Books - one that encourages people to read, where people who previously shied away from books start running to the bookstore when new books are released, where the shop becomes a cool place to hang out, where authors love to come visit. This book gives me the hope that maybe one day my dream can become a reality!

This book is definitely a keeper - I certainly foresee myself rereading it many times. It's also a book that will be at the top of my book recommendation list when friends or family ask what to read next!

The April Book Club Selection from She Reads is The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
Head over to the She Reads website to read other reviews and related posts as well as a chance to win a copy of the book.


Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Review: Queen Elizabeth I: A Very Brief History by Mark Black

Title: Queen Elizabeth I: A Very Brief History   
Author: Mark Black     
Published: November 2012; Amazon Digital Services  
Format: E-book, 35 pages   
Source: Personal copy  

Want to learn more about history, but don’t think you have the time? Think again.

Queen Elizabeth I: A Very Brief History’ details the life of one England's most successful monarchs, Elizabeth I. The last Tudor Queen of England and Ireland, nicknamed 'Gloriana' and the 'Virgin Queen', she overcame many challenges and threats at home and abroad to preside over a 'golden age' in English history.

The Very Brief History series is intended to give the reader a short, concise account of the most important events in world history. Each book provides the reader with the essential facts concerning a particular event or person; no distractions, just the essential facts, allowing the reader to master the subject in the shortest time possible.

My thoughts: I don't tend to read a lot of non-fiction, but being a huge fan of all things Tudor, I couldn't pass this up. Having read quite a lot about Queen Elizabeth I, I was already quite familiar with her life, so this was like reading a brief report that hits on the highlights.  There wasn't anything new in here, but I still enjoyed reading it as it's been a while since I've read any historical fiction centering around Queen Elizabeth. I think this would have been really helpful to have read when I first started reading books set during the Tudor period - I remember how confused I was, especially since so many people had similar names. 

I liked this quick non-fiction piece and will definitely be going back to see what other topics are available. Have you read any of these "A Very Brief History" books?

Monday, April 14, 2014

Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank (audio)

Title: The Last Original Wife   
Author: Dorothea Benton Frank   
Narrator: Robin Miles   
Published: Paperback: April 2014, William Morrow & Company / Audio: June 2013, Harper Audio
Format: ARC Paperback, 368 pages / Audio CD, 11.75 hours 
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours / Library 

Leslie Anne Greene Carter is the last original wife among her husband's group of cronies. They've all traded in their first wives-the middle-aged women they long ago promised to love and cherish 'til death did them part-for riper peaches: younger . . . blonder . . . more enhanced models.

Leslie is proud of her status and the longevity of her marriage. Sure the spark isn't quite as bright and sometimes takes a little longer to flame. And it wouldn't be too much to ask if her husband paid just an itty bit more attention to her desires. But there's something to be said for a comfortable and deeply familiar relationship. Or at least she thinks until the day, out golfing with her husband and his friends, she slips into a manhole. And nobody realizes that she's gone.

That one misstep opens Leslie's eyes to the sham her perfect life has become. No longer will she be invisible. No longer will she accept being taken for granted. With the healing powers of South Carolina's lush white beaches, candy-colored sunsets, and fiesty and funny residents, Leslie is going to transform herself and reclaim the strong, vibrant, sexy woman she was meant to be.

The Last Original Wife is classic Dorothea Benton Frank: an intoxicating tale of friendship and love that is as refreshing as a soothing breeze across a golden lowcountry marsh and as invigorating as a dip in cool, salty waters on a sizzling South Carolina summer day.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read/listened to by Dorothea Benton Frank and I am now a fan!!! I found this book to be a fun, light story with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and a few tender ones thrown in as well.

I loved the characters in this book. Dorothea Benton Frank has created delicious characters that you either absolutely love or you really despise. This book is told in the alternating points of view of Les and Wes. After 30 years of marriage, taking care of Wes and her two children, having to skimp and cut coupons, drive used cars, be mindful of every cent she's spent, Les has had enough!!! Going back and forth from the present to the past, we get the full picture of how this marriage worked and as more and more is revealed, I really couldn't find fault with Les for leaving Wes. The question now is how does she put herself first and can she even do it?

The dialogue is sassy and saucy. Even the tone is different between the chapters narrated by Wes than those narrated by Les - this just adds another dimension to these characters. And then there are the supporting characters - what a fun, interesting and even at times, annoying, bunch of individuals. From Les's brother Harlan, to the new wives of Wes's friends to even Wes and Les's children, they all added their own unique qualities to the story.

I cannot wait to pick up another book by Dorothea Benton Frank. I'm thinking her books are great for summer reads. If you've read her, what book would you recommend me reading next?

Audio Thoughts: I loved listening to this book and thought Robin Miles did a great job giving Les and Wes their own unique voices. She was able to infuse just enough sass and humor to her voice when needed. This is the first time I've listened to her narrate a book and will definitely be looking to see what else she's done.

About the author: New York Times bestselling author Dorothea Benton Frank was born and raised on Sullivans Island, South Carolina. She is the author of many New York Times bestselling novels, including Lowcountry Summer and Return to Sullivans Island. She resides in the New York area with her husband.

Authors Links: 
Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook 

To see who else is participating in Dorothea Benton Frank's The Last Original Wife tour, click here.

Thanks to Trish at TLC Book Tours I have one copy of The Last Original Wife to give away to my readers.  

To enter…
  • Leave a comment below & be sure to include your email address.
  • Tweet, share on Facebook, or blog for 2 extra entries.
  • You MUST include email address or entry will be invalid.
  • I will contact winner at the conclusion of the giveaway & they will have 2 days to respond or I will pick a new winner.
This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends April 21st.
Good luck!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Sunday Post #19 (4.13.14)

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead.   

I've decided to try a new weekly meme - a place where I can do both a weekly wrap up and share what books I get all in one post, so I'm going to give The Sunday Post a try, and also link up with Sheila's It's Monday Post over at Book Journey.  

Last week flew by. I was up at my dad's and it was great spending time with him. He's moving around quite well with his broken leg and shoulder. Now I'm home and I have 2 shadows who won't leave my side - my dogs were quite happy to have me back!!!

It will be a busy week with work, but I'm hoping to make time for reading as well. At least the weather will be nice, so hopefully the dogs and I will get some good walks in, too!

Have a great week everyone!!!

Last week on the Blog:  

* Book Spotlight: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
* Review: Steeped in Evil by Laura Childs
* Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson
* Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: Dash of Peril by Lori Foster
* Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in Apr 11, 2014

Books Read:
* The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin (review book)
* The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson (review book)

Currently Reading:
* Just One Kiss by Susan Mallery (library book) 
* Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green (library audio book)
* The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen (audio book)

Books Up Next:
* When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Monessis Corporon (review book)
* Deadly Patterns by Melissa Bourbon (library book)
* Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber (library book)

Current Giveaways:  
* The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson (plus Andrea Schroder candle)...1 copy. Ends 4.17.14
* Dash of Peril by Lori Foster...1 copy. Ends 4.18.14

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank
* Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
* Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
* Review: Queen Elizabeth I: A Very Brief History by Mark Black


Book Haul:  
For Review:  
* In the Mirror by Kaira Rouda (courtesy of author)
* The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen (audio book via Audible credit)
* Dare to Desire by Carly Phillips (e-book via B&N credit)
From Library:  
* Blossom Street Brides - Debbie Macomber

Friday, April 11, 2014

Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in April 11, 2014

This week I'm up in NH at my dad's and the weather's been pretty nice - a bit chilly in the morning, but then it warms up a bit during the day. I got in quite a few outdoor walks and loved every minute of it!!! 

Here's how my week went:  

Apr  5:  rest 
Apr  6:  rest
Apr  7:  30 minutes
Apr  8:  30 minutes 

Apr  9:  45 minutes
Apr 10:  45 minutes 

Apr 11:  30 minutes

How did your week go?

Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: Dash of Peril by Lori Foster

Title: Dash of Peril    
Author: Lori Foster     
Series: Love Undercover, #4     
Published: March 2014, HQN   
Format: ARC e-book, 384 pages    
Source: Netgalley  / Publisher via Meryl Moss Media Relations/BookTrib 

A no-nonsense female cop reluctantly teams up with the one man who makes her lose control in a deliciously sensual new novel from New York Times bestselling author Lori Foster...

To bring down a sleazy abduction ring, Lieutenant Margaret "Margo" Peterson has set herself up as bait. But recruiting Dashiel Riske as her unofficial partner is a whole other kind of danger. Dash is 6'4" of laid-back masculine charm, a man who loves life—and women—to the limit. Until Margo is threatened, and he reveals a dark side that may just match her own.

Beneath Margo's tough facade is a slow-burning sexiness that drives Dash crazy. The only way to finish this case is to work together side by side…skin to skin. And as their mission takes a lethal turn, he'll have to prove he's all the man she needs—in all the ways that matter.

My thoughts: It's no secret that I have absolutely loved Lori Foster's Love Undercover series, and now that I've read book #4, I have to say I'm quite bummed that it's the final book in this series. This series was my introduction to Lori Foster and I have to say - I'm a fan!!! I will definitely be checking out her other books!

I've been patiently waiting for Margo and Dash's story ever since the first book in this series. I loved the interactions between them in that book and saw the potential between them grow with each subsequent book. Now, they finally get their own book and boy, is their story a hot, steamy roller coaster of a ride!!! I fully admit that Margo and Dash's story is hands-down my favorite of the series...there was just something about their journey that I loved! Maybe it's because since book 1 we got to see their attraction to each other begin to build or maybe it was just the way this story was told, but they are definitely going down as one of my all-time favorite couples!

I loved how Dash could break down Margo's walls. She's a tough, no-nonsense Lieutenant, who doesn't need to be babied and certainly doesn't take orders from anyone. But somehow, Dash is able to break down her barriers and let her be vulnerable when the time is right. Their pairing just works - both on a professional level and a personal level.

Cannon has a rather decent role in this book and I was glad to see more of him. I really was intrigued by his character in the last book. And I'm thrilled that he will be getting his own story in Lori Foster's new series, coming out later this year. I guess I know what my next set of Lori Foster books that I read will be!!!

Books in this series:
  1. Run the Risk
  2. Bare It All 
  3. Getting Rowdy
  4. Dash of Peril 

GIVEAWAY DETAILS - (US only)  Thanks to Amanda at Meryl Moss/Book Trib I have one copy of Dash of Peril to give away to my readers.  
To enter…
  • Leave a comment below & be sure to include your email address.
  • Tweet, share on Facebook, or blog for 2 extra entries.
  • You MUST include email address or entry will be invalid.
  • I will contact winner at the conclusion of the giveaway & they will have 2 days to respond or I will pick a new winner.
This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends April 18th.
Good luck!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson

Title: The Idea of Him   
Author: Holly Peterson     
Published: April 2014, William Morrow & Company  
Format: ARC Paperback, 384 pages   
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours  

A fabulous and compelling story from Holly Peterson, the New York Times bestselling author of The Manny

Mary Crawford is a once aspiring screenwriter turned successful public relations executive, mother of two young children, and wife of a hotshot magazine editor whose power base spans the worlds of finance, fashion, culture, entertainment, and society. At 34, she finds herself at a crossroads: between the office and her home, her life has become an endless rotation of people pleasing-whether pulling rabbits out of hats for her mogul boss, entertaining advertisers and phony A-listers for her husband's magazine, or making elaborate costumes for children's school plays. At least, that is, until she meets a head turning, traffic stopping beauty at the bar of the famed Four Seasons Grill Room-where many of the novel's players regularly convene-and shortly thereafter finds the same woman and her husband in an apparently compromising position in her own apartment.

And so begins the story of two very different women bound by similar missions-to uncover the crimes and betrayals of various men in their lives and finally put their own interests front and center. For Mary this ultimately means leaving a husband who is ideal in theory but not in practice, and deciding to risk security for self-fulfillment and a new life on her own. Like so many women, Mary fell for the man she married when she was in her twenties only to realize years later that it wasn't him she fell for as much as it was the idea of him-the idea of a savior who would protect and provide and ferry her from her past into the future. But the guy who seemed so right at the time turned out to be nothing more than a fantasy.

My thoughts: This is the first book I've read by Holly Peterson and I enjoyed the writing. I liked that this was a quick, fun read, with a bit of a mystery and some suspense thrown in. 

What I loved most about this book were the characters. Holly creates some really intriguing characters, some that you love and some that are quite despicable. Right from the start, I found myself liking Allie - she is the woman who seems to have it all on the surface, but when you start to dig a little deeper, you realize that all is not what it seems. Allie has some ghosts from her past that she can't quite let go, and after an incident at a party in her house, realizes her perfect life isn't quite as perfect. 

I also loved the character of Jackie. At first, I had a hard time deciding whether she was inherently a good character or a bad character - I was very weary of her motivations in all she did. I love characters like that - ones that make you constantly question whether they are true or up to no good!

I admit I'm not up on all the financial crises of the world, so some of the financial wheeling and dealings were like reading Greek to me, but it did add to the overall tension of the book and I still got the general gist of what was going on. Between all that and the secrets that were being kept, I had to know how things would end up.

About the author: Holly Peterson is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Manny. She was a contributing editor for Newsweek and editor-at-large for Talk magazine. She was also an Emmy Award-winning producer for ABC News for more than a decade, where she covered global politics. Her writing has been published in the New York TimesNewsweekTalk, the Daily BeastVogueHarper’s Bazaar, and other publications.

Authors Links: 
Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook 

To see who else is participating in Holly Peterson's The Idea of Him tour, click here.

Thanks to Trish at TLC Book Tours, I have one copy of The Idea of Him plus an Andrea Schroder candle to give away to my readers.
To enter…
  • Leave a comment below & be sure to include your email address.
  • Tweet, share on Facebook, or blog for 2 extra entries.
  • You MUST include email address or entry will be invalid.
  • I will contact winner at the conclusion of the giveaway & they will have 2 days to respond or I will pick a new winner.

This giveaway is open to US residents only and ends April 17th. 

Good luck!


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