Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Review: The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen (audio)

Title: The Wishing Thread   
Author: Lisa Van Allen    
Narrator: Amy Rubinate   
Published:  April 2014, Tantor Media 
Length: 11 hours, 3 minutes  
Source: Personal copy via audible 

The Van Ripper women have been the talk of Tarrytown, New York, for centuries. Some say they’re angels; some say they’re crooks. In their tumbledown “Stitchery,” not far from the stomping grounds of the legendary Headless Horseman, the Van Ripper sisters—Aubrey, Bitty, and Meggie—are said to knit people’s most ardent wishes into beautiful scarves and mittens, granting them health, success, or even a blossoming romance. But for the magic to work, sacrifices must be made—and no one knows that better than the Van Rippers.

When the Stitchery matriarch, Mariah, dies, she leaves the yarn shop to her three nieces. Aubrey, shy and reliable, has dedicated her life to weaving spells for the community, though her sisters have long stayed away. Bitty, pragmatic and persistent, has always been skeptical of magic and wants her children to have a normal, nonmagical life. Meggie, restless and free-spirited, follows her own set of rules. Now, after Mariah’s death forces a reunion, the sisters must reassess the state of their lives even as they decide the fate of the Stitchery. But their relationships with one another—and their beliefs in magic—are put to the test. Will the threads hold?

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this book - it was a light tale that just seemed to pull me in right from the beginning. Maybe because it was a tale about sisters or maybe because the setting is so close to where I live, but I felt that I could relate to this book. I also found that the magic that was woven throughout the storyline was so cleverly used that it never once felt contrived - much like Sarah Addison Allen's books are and you know I'm a huge fan of her books! 

I loved that while a big part of this book focused on Aubrey, we did get to "know" all Van Ripper sisters and find out what really pulled them apart. Coming together after the death of their aunt, they learn a lot about each other and just how far they are willing to go in the name of love. 

While I am not a knitter, instead I crochet, I could appreciate the tidbits about knitting and the magic that comes from having that handmade item. Of course, items that comes from The Stitchery go one step further by actually knitting people's wishes into the items, but when we hand-make a blanket or scarf for someone in whatever medium we use, don't we make it with our own version of that - our best hopes and wishes for the recipient? Couldn't that at some level be considered the same thing?

I found this magical tale to be a great story. It was so easy to get totally wrapped up in the story and not want to put it down. I can't wait to see what Lisa Van Allen writes next!


Audio Thoughts: This is the first book I've listened to that Amy Rubinate has narrated and I really enjoyed listening to her. She was able to create unique characters and give this book just the right touch of whimsy I think it needed. I am looking forward to listening to more of her work.


*** Devourer of Books hosts Sound Bytes  - a monthly link-up to share the audio books that everyone is listening to. Stop by and you just might find your next audio book!

 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon

Title: When the Cypress Whispers   
Author: Yvette Manessis Corporon     
Published: April 2014, Harper  
Format: ARC Paperback, 356 pages   
Source: Publisher via TLC Book Tours  

On a beautiful Greek island, myths, magic, and a colorful cast of characters come together in a lushly atmospheric story about past and present, family and fate, love and dreams that poignantly captures the deep bond between an American woman and her Greek grandmother

The daughter of Greek immigrants, Daphne aspires to the American Dream, yet feels as if she's been sleepwalking through life. Caught between her family's old-world traditions and the demands of a modern career, she cannot seem to find her place.

Only her beloved grandmother on Erikousa, a magical island off the coast of Greece, knows her heart. Daphne's fondest memories are of times spent in the kitchen with Yia-yia, cooking and learning about the ancient myths. It was the thought of Yia-yia that consoled Daphne in the wake of her husband's unexpected death.

After years of struggling to raise her child and pay the bills, Daphne now has a successful restaurant, a growing reputation as a chef, and a wealthy fianc?-everything she's ever wanted. But across the ocean, Yia-yia can see through the storybook perfection of Daphne's new life- and now she is calling her back to Erikousa. She has secrets about the past to share with her granddaughter- stories from the war, of loyalty and bravery in the face of death. She also has one last lesson to teach her: that security is not love, and that her life can be filled with meaning again.

My thoughts:  This is a beautiful story about a young woman and the bond she shares with her grandmother. Having a strong bond with my own grandmother, I was pulled into the story and had a hard time putting the book down once I started it.

Daphne has not had an easy life. She has faced many tragedies in her young life and so she becomes almost solely focused on making a good life for her and her daughter, forgetting about the world around her. She doesn't take the time to enjoy life, to enjoy spending time with her daughter doing fun things, sharing things with her. It's not until they head to Erikousa and Daphne's Yia-yia's for her upcoming wedding, that she starts to realize just how much she has let pass her by. 

I loved Yia-yia and her stories. I admit that I am not all that familiar with the Greek myths, but did enjoy reading about the stories that Yia-yia would tell. It kind of makes me want to read up on some of the the Greek mythology! I loved the way Yvette Manessis Corporan was able to take the myths and draw them into the her storytelling - it never once felt forced but rather seemed perfectly blended.

There is much love and heartbreak in this novel. Secrets are revealed, history is shared and food is made - delicious, mouth-watering meals that seem to be the staple of any family. And the descriptions of the setting made it feel as if I were right there in Greece alongside Daphne myself - a place I hope to get to one of the days!!!

I look forward to seeing what else Yvette Manessis Corporon writes, as this one was definitely an enjoyable read.


About the author: Yvette Manessis Corporon is an Emmy Award-winning writer, producer, and author. She is currently a senior producer with the syndicated entertainment news show Extra. In addition to her Emmy Award, Yvette has received a Silurian Award for Excellence in Journalism, and the New York City Comptroller and City Council’s Award for Greek Heritage and Culture. She is married to award-winning photojournalist David Corporon. They have two children and live in New York.
 
Authors Links: 
Website   |   Twitter   |   Facebook 
 



 
To see who else is participating in Yvette Manessis Corporon's When the Cypress Whispers tour, click here.




GIVEAWAY DETAILS - (US/Can only)   
Thanks to Trish at TLC Book Tours I have one copy of When the Cypress Whispers 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/Can residents only and ends April 28th.
  
Good luck!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Sunday Post #20 (4.20.14)

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.  


For those that celebrate, Happy Easter!!! My hubby and I are having a quiet weekend. He's busy getting his new boat, a mini transat, ready to put in the water - the long winter has delayed everything. That's actually fine with me, as I could really use the quiet weekend. Between being away last week at my dad's and then heading out of town again next weekend for my brother's wedding, I'm using this quiet weekend to catch up on everything from cleaning my house to blog stuff!!!

Have a great week everyone!!!

*****************************************************************************************
Last week on the Blog:  

* Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank
* Review: Queen Elizabeth I: A Very Brief History by Mark Black
* Review: The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin
* Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in Apr 11, 2014
* Short & Sweet Review: Deadly Patterns by Melissa Bourbon

Books Read:
* Just One Kiss by Susan Mallery (library book)
* Deadly Patterns by Melissa Bourbon (library book)
* Another Piece of My Heart by Jane Green (library audio book)
* The Wishing Thread by Melissa Bourbon (audio book)
* When The Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon (review book)
   
Currently Reading:
* A Custom-Fit Crime by Melissa Bourbon (mine) 
* The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler (audio book)

Books Up Next:
* A Killing Notion by Melissa Bourbon (review e-book)
* I've Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark (audio review book)
* Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber (library book)

Recent Giveaway Winners:  
* The Idea of Him by Holly Peterson (plus Andrea Schroder candle)...Melanie Backus
* Dash of Peril by Lori Foster...Lindab

Current Giveaways:  
* The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank...1 copy. Ends 4.21.14

Coming Up on the Blog:
* Review: When the Cypress Whispers by Yvette Manessis Corporon (with giveaway!!!)
* Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
* Review: The Wishing Thread by Lisa Van Allen
* Review: A Killing Notion by Melissa Bourbon

 

Book Haul:  
For Review:  
* When We Met by Susan Mallery (Netgalley)
* The Marriage Pact by Linda Lael Miller (Netgalley)
* The Shadow Year by Hannah Richell (courtesy of publisher)
* I've Got You Under My Skin by Mary Higgins Clark (courtesy of publisher)
* Silver Bay by Jojo Moyes (Netgalley)
 Purchased:  
* The Bookstore by Deborah Meyler (audio book via Audible credit)
* A Custom-Fit Crime by Melissa Bourbon
* The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
* A Woman of Substance by Barbara Taylor Bradford (a signed copy!!!)

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Short & Sweet Review: Deadly Patterns by Melissa Bourbon

Title: Deadly Patterns   
Author: Melissa Bourbon     
Series: A Magical Dressmaking Mystery, #3
Published: October 2012, Signet   
Format: Paperback, 297 pages    
Source: Library  

Bliss, Texas, is gearing up for its annual Winter Wonderland festival, but when a mysterious Scrooge ends the merriment with murder, it'll take more than a ghost from Christmas past to set things right.

Designing a holiday fashion show set in the town's most prominent historic mansion seems like a job tailor made for dressmaker Harlow Jane Cassidy. But with the mansion's restoration still in progress and threatening weather on the horizon, she's feeling on pins and needles more than reveling in holiday cheer.

Having volunteered to play Santa in this year's festival, Dan Lee Chrisson was ready to move on after his divorce--until Bliss became his final resting place. Discovering his body puts Harlow at the scene of the crime. She'll need plenty of help from friends and even her late great-grandmother's spirited sleuthing if she's to have a ghost of a chance of catching a killer who's just jumped to the top of the naughty list....

***Short & Sweet Reviews are short, quick reviews. These will mainly be used for series books where I have already done full reviews on some of the earlier books or for books that I feel will suffice with a quick review. These will not be used for review requests or blog tours.

My thoughts: I really enjoy this cozy mystery series. The magic is light, the characters are quirky and fun, and the mystery is engaging with just enough red herrings to keep you guessing right up until the end. Harlow Jane's romance with Will is heating up and she has to decide whether or not to bring him into the fold - can he be trusted with her "gift" and the secrets of her family? And speaking of secrets, yet more secrets are revealed in this installment, including some new additions to Harlow Jane's family tree. 


Books in this series:
  1. Pleating for Mercy
  2. A Fitting End 
  3. Deadly Patterns
  4. A Custom Fit Crime

Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Blog Walkers: Weekly Check-in April 18, 2014

 

I'm back home after a week up at my dad's and the weather was all over the place...it was warm, rainy and we even had a little snow! We've had frost warnings the last two mornings...I thought it was Spring but I think Mother Nature is a bit confused! 


Anyway, the dogs and I have been enjoying taking lots of walks each day - it's really helping to get those steps in! I have a fitbit and wear it all day long. I do my "fitness" walk in the morning, which is what I track below, but I have another goal - to get 10,000 steps in 5 days a week and on my off days, to try to get at least 5,000 steps. (And this week it looks like I'm target to hit that goal!) Do you have a fitbit? If so, and you're looking for friends, let me know! I love the motivation of that leader board!!!
 

Here's how my week went:  

Apr 12:  rest 
Apr 13:  rest
Apr 14:  45 minutes
Apr 15:  45 minutes 

Apr 16:  45 minutes
Apr 17:  45 minutes 

Apr 18:  45 minutes
 

How did your week go?


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?

 

Always With a Book Copyright © 2010 Designed by Ipietoon Blogger Template Sponsored by Online Shop Vector by Artshare