Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Review: The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean

First line: Dora had a rhythm going, or if not a rhythm, a pattern, and it went something like downshift, wipe tears away with back of hand, sob, upshift, scrub running nose with horrible crumpled fastfood napkin, stab at the buttons on the radio, and then downshift again.

From the back cover: Do the clothes make the woman?

Dora has always taken the path of least resistance. She went to the college that offered her a scholarship, is majoring in "vagueness studies," and wears whatever shows the least dirt. She's fallen into a job at the campus coffee shop and a crush on her flirty boss, Gary...but has no idea what she's going to do next.

When Mimi, the grandmother who raised her, suffers a stroke, Dora rushes home to Forsyth, NC and finds herself running her grandmother's vintage clothing store. Surrounded by regal gowns, sexy sheaths, and Jackie-esque suits from decades gone by, Dora makes a curious discovery: Mimi had been secretly writing down and giving away stories about the dresses in her shop. Soon the clothes, her grandmother's legacies, and a handsome young contractor names Conrad begin to make her wonder...She can trade her boring clothes for vintage glamour, but can she trade her boring life for one she actually wants?

My thoughts: I loved this book - it was a fun, whimsical story that has made me want to run to the nearest vintage shop to find some shirt dresses to wear! Upon learning that her grandmother, Mimi, has suffered a stroke, Dora picks up and heads home to see Mimi and to take over the running of Mimi's vintage clothing shop. During this time, Dora comes to learn many things not only about Mimi, but about herself and her family. Watching Dora grow from an immature young girl with no real ambition, who takes life as it comes, into a mature, confident lady with a plan and a vision, was quite an emotional adventure. There were times when I was quite envious of Dora, getting to work in this vintage clothing shop - a shop with history and filled with interesting people.  

I absolutely loved finding out the histories of the dresses, told as each dress is bought/worn - it was so easy to picture the people who previously owned these garments as we learned the story. I only wish there were photos of the dresses. The cover is absolutely beautiful and was one of the things that drew me to this story - the other being that it was about vintage clothing! I am quite eager to now go check out the Erin McKean's web site, A Dress A Day which was the inspiration for this story. While this is Erin's first book, I hope it is not her last...I would love to see more about the histories of different vintage clothing pieces!

(I purchased this book.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Author Interview and Giveaway: Geraldine Brooks

I am pleased to welcome author Geraldine Brooks to Always With a Book. Her newest book, Caleb's Crossing, is set to release on May 3rd. Be sure to enter the giveaway at the end of this - two copies are available!

About the author: Geraldine Brooks is The New York Times bestselling author of People of the Book, March (winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction), and Year of Wonders and the nonfiction works Nine Parts of Desire and Foreign Correspondence. Born and raised in Australia, she lives on Martha’s Vineyard with her husband, the author Tony Horwitz, and their two sons.

About the book: Caleb's Crossing is inspired by the life of Caleb Cheeshahteaumauk, the first Native American to graduate from Harvard College in 1665. Brooks first learned about him during her time as a Radcliffe fellow at Harvard in 2006. Caleb was from the Wampanoag tribe of Native Americans who lived on Martha’s Vineyard and this year Tiffany Smalley will become the second Vineyard Wampanoag to graduate from Harvard. There is little official information on Caleb’s life and Brooks’s novel is an informed imagining of what he might have gone through.

Thanks to Geraldine for answering these questions and thanks to Rebecca at Viking/Penguin Publicity for putting this together!


Caleb Cheeshahteamauk is an extraordinary figure in Native American history. How did you first discover him? What was involved in learning more about his life?
The Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head/Aquinnah are proud custodians of their history, and it was in materials prepared by the Tribe that I first learned of its illustrious young scholar.   To find out more about him I talked with tribal members, read translations of early documents in the Wopanaak language, then delved into the archives of Harvard and the Massachusetts Bay Colony, especially the correspondence between colonial leaders and benefactors in England who donated substantial funds for the education and conversion to Christianity of Indians in the 17th century.   There are also writings by members of the Mayhew family, who were prominent missionaries and magistrates on the island, and John Cotton, Jr., who came here as a missionary and kept a detailed journal.

There is little documentation on Caleb’s actual life. What parts of his life did you imagine? Do you feel you know him better after writing this book, or is he still a mystery?
The facts about Caleb are sadly scant.  We know he was the son of a minor sachem from the part of the Vineyard now known as West Chop, and that he left the island to attend prep school, successfully completed the rigorous course of study at Harvard and was living with Thomas Danforth, a noted jurist and colonial leader, when disease claimed his life.  Everything else about him in my novel is imagined.  The real young man—what he thought and felt—remains an enigma.

Bethia Mayfield is truly a woman ahead of her time. If she were alive today, what would she be doing? What would her life be like with no restrictions?
There were more than a few 17th century women like Bethia, who thirsted for education and for a voice in a society that demanded their silence.  You can find some of them being dragged to the meeting house to confess their “sins” or defending their unconventional views in court.   If Bethia was alive today she would probably be president of Harvard or Brown, Princeton or UPenn.

The novel is told through Bethia’s point of view. What is the advantage to telling this story through her eyes? How would the book be different if Caleb were the narrator?
I wanted the novel to be about crossings between cultures.  So as Caleb is drawn into the English world, I wanted to create an English character who would be equally drawn to and compelled by his world.   I prefer to write with a female narrator when I can, and I wanted to explore issues of marginalization in gender as well as race.

Much of the book is set on Martha’s Vineyard, which is also your home. Did you already know about the island’s early history, or did you do additional research?
I was always intrigued by what brought English settlers to the island so early in the colonial period...they settled here in the 1640s.   Living on an island is inconvenient enough even today; what prompted the Mayhews and their followers to put seven miles of treacherous ocean currents between them and the other English—to choose to live in a tiny settlement surrounded by some three thousand Wampanoags?  The answer was unexpected and led me into a deeper exploration of island history

You bring Harvard College to life in vivid, often unpleasant detail. What surprised you most about this prestigious university’s beginnings?
For one thing, I hadn't been aware Harvard was founded so early.  The English had barely landed before they started building a college. And the Indian College—a substantial building—went up not long after, signifying an attitude of mind that alas did not prevail for very long.  It was fun to learn how very different early Harvard was from the well endowed institution of today.  Life was hand to mouth, all conversation was in Latin, the boys (only boys) were often quite young when they matriculated.   But the course of study was surprisingly broad and rigorous—a true exploration of liberal arts, languages, and literature that went far beyond my stereotype of what Puritans might have considered fit subjects for scholarship.

As with your previous books, you’ve managed to capture the voice of the period. You get the idiom, dialect, and cadence of the language of the day on paper. How did you do your research?
I find the best way to get a feel for language and period is to read first person accounts—journals, letters, court transcripts.  Eventually you start to hear voices in your head: patterns of speech, a different manner of thinking.  My son once said, Mom talks to ghosts.  And in a way I do.

May 2011, Tiffany Smalley will follow in Caleb’s footsteps and become only the second Vineyard Wampanoag to graduate from Harvard. Do you know if this will be celebrated?
In May Tiffany Smalley will become the first Vineyard Wampanoag since Caleb to receive an undergrad degree from Harvard College.  (Others have received advanced degrees from the university’s Kennedy school etc.)  I’m not sure what Harvard has decided to do at this year's commencement, but I am hoping they will use the occasion to honor Caleb’s fellow Wampanoag classmate, Joel Iacoomis, who completed the work for his degree but was murdered before he could attended the 1665 commencement ceremony.



Giveaway Information:

Geraldine's publicist has provided two copies of Caleb's Crossing to give away to my readers.  Entries are open to those from the US and Canada only.

To enter leave a comment including your email address.

For extra entries (leave a separate comment for each entry):

+1 Follow this blog (If you are already a follower, just mention that in the comment.)

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3 entry maximum. 
Don't forget to LEAVE A SEPARATE COMMENT for each entry.

Thanks to everyone for entering! Good luck!
 
GIVEAWAY ENDS
AT 6 PM, EST, APRIL 12th
 

Monday, March 28, 2011

It's Monday - What Are You Reading? (3.28.11)



It’s Monday What Are you Reading , hosted by Sheila, is the perfect way for me to begin my week and allows me to focus on what needs to be read and to see what I have or have not accomplished the previous week. I also enjoy discovering new books by visiting other participants blogs.

I had a much more productive week last week...hopefully the trend continues as I have so many good books that I want to get to just sitting on my shelves!
 
 
Books Completed last week:
  • The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean (mine)
  • Brooklyn Story by Suzanne Corso (review book) 
  • Adventures of Huck Finn by Mark Twain (book club book)
Reading Now:
  • Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber (mine, e-book)
  • Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult (library audio book)
  • Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff (book club book, mine)
Next:
  • Blackberry Crumble by Josi S. Kilpack (review book) 
  • The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan (review book)
Reviews completed this past week: 
Other Posts related to books:
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean (mine) 
  • Brooklyn Story by Suzanne Corso (review book)
  • Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain (book club, mine)
Contest information:
  • None right now - more coming soon!

What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading and have a good week!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Review: The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg

First line: Dorothy Shauman Ledbetter Shauman is standing in front of the bathroom mirror in her black half-slip and black push-up bra, auditioning a look.

From the inside cover: From the beloved bestselling author of Home Safe and The Year of Pleasures comes a wonderful new novel about women and men reconnecting with one another - and themselves - at their fortieth high school reunion.

To each of the men and women in The Last Time I Saw You, this reunion means something different - a last opportunity to say something long left unsaid, an escape from the bleaker realities of everyday life, a means to save a marriage on the rocks, or simply an opportunity to bond with a slightly estranged daughter, if only over what her mother should wear.

As the onetime classmates meet up over the course of a weekend, they discover things that will irrevocably affect the rest of their lives. For newly divorced Dorothy Shauman, the reunion brings with it the possibility of finally attracting the attention of the class heartthrob, Pete Decker. For the ever self-reliant, ever left-out Mary Alice Mayhew, it's a chance to reexamine a painful past. For Lester Hessenpfeffer, a veterinarian and widower, it is the hope of talking shop with a fellow vet - or at least that's what he tells himself. For Candy Armstrong, the class beauty, it's the hope of finding friendship before it is too late.

As Dorothy, Mary Alice, Lester, Candy, and the other classmates converge for the reunion dinner, four decades melt away: desires and personalities from their youth reemerge, and new discoveries are made. For so much has happened to them all. And so much can still happen.

In this beautiful novel, Elizabeth Berg deftly weaves together stories of roads taken and not taken, choices made and opportunities missed, and the possibilities of second chances.

My thoughts: This is the first book I have read by Elizabeth Berg and I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a tale of a group of fifty-somethings who are getting ready to attend their fortieth class reunion. This is the last reunion (it's never explained why it's the last) but it motivates many of the class members to attend that might not have otherwise. We are introduced to a wide cast of characters from the jocks to the nerds and find out what they were like in high school and who they have become as adults. I loved the way the story is told from the points of view of five different characters - Dorothy, Mary Alice, Lester, Candy and Pete - and I loved the way you get different perspectives on the same situation. I found myself rooting for these people as if I knew them. Each of these characters has his or her own reasons for wanting to attend the reunion, and his or her own expectations and hopes for what the reunion could possibly mean for the future. While I have not attended any of my high school reunions, I get the feeling that Elizabeth Berg nailed what it would be like, especially attending the later ones. This was definitely a fun, light, quick read and I look forward to reading more from Elizabeth Berg.

(I borrowed this book from the library.)

In My Mailbox (48) 3.27.11

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren. Every week I'll post what books I've received either by mailbox/library/store.


For Review (2)
Already Home by Susan Mallery
The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs

Library (0)

Purchased (0)

Free Downloads (0)

From family member (14)*
The Scent of Jasmine by Jude Deveraux
Here to Stay by Catherine Anderson
Sweet Nothings by Catherine Anderson
The Presence by Heather Graham
Once in a Blue Moon by Eileen Graham
The Homecoming by Joanne Ross
An Engagement in Seattle by Debbie Macomber
Thread of Fear by Laura Griffin
Hunter's Moon by Karen Robards
A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller
The McKettrick Legend by Linda Lael Miller
The Christmas Brides by Linda Lael Miller
The MacGregors: Serena & Caine by Nora Roberts
The MacGregors: Alan & Grant by Nora Roberts

From Paperback Swap - (0)

Won (0) - 
 
*Thanks to my mother-in-law for the great books - it's great that we tend to read the same types of books!!!

What's in your mailbox?

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Giveaway Winner: Stilettos & Scoundrels

CONGRATULATIONS

to

Gigi Ann

winner of 
Stilettos & Scoundrels by Laina Turner Molaski



Random.org selected the winners. 
Thanks to all who entered the giveaway!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Guest Post: Susan Wiggs

Please join me in welcoming Susan Wiggs, author of the new book, The Goodbye Quilt to Always With a Book! I will be reviewing this book next month so be sure to come back and see what I thought. Today Susan talks about writing The Goodbye Quilt.


The Goodbye Quilt is a different sort of book from me. While readers will find the emotional heart of the book familiar, they might notice that the conflict feels very personal. Any parent who has ever said goodbye to a child as she leaves the nest will relate to Linda’s dilemma in the book–does she want to keep Molly close, or set her free to fly on her own?

The constant changes in a woman’s life are the blood and bone of my fiction–and of the world I live in. Over the course of decades of writing, I’ve found all the kinds of love that fill a woman’s life, as daughter, sister, friend–and finally and most importantly, as a mom.

When my own daughter left for college, I was bereft, but also inspired. Suddenly, after all the years given to this beloved child, my life was my own again. That’s the conflict Linda faces in the book. Sometimes the hardest thing of all is to have all the choices open to you. What do you pick? Do you follow your head or your heart? Is there a way to do both?

In the story, the quilt is a symbol of a woman’s struggle to stitch together all the disparate threads of a long and eventful life. I’m not a quilter, but I adore quilts. The author photo on the back of the book shows me seated on a family heirloom quilt. At the start of the book, Linda thinks of a quilt like this: "A quilt is an object of peculiar intimacy. By virtue of the way it is created, every inch of the fabric is touched. Each scrap absorbs the quilter’s scent and the invisible oils of her skin, the smell of her household and, thanks to the constant pinning and stitching, her blood in the tiniest of quantities."

Here are some pictures of some of the quilts that inspired me: https://picasaweb.google.com/susanwiggsauthor/Quilts?feat=directlink. I'm privileged to live in a community filled with creative women, and one of them generously shared her talent by creating an original pattern for THE GOODBYE QUILT in the book.

Women transitions every day, and The Goodbye Quilt is a celebration of these everyday dramas. I would love to hear how readers deal with life’s transformations every day. After all, my best ideas for fiction come from the readers I write for!


About the author: Susan Wiggs is an internationally bestselling author with millions of copies of her books in print in numerous countries. She continues to draw inspiration from her friends, family and the nuances of human nature that make the headlines every day. Susan, who holds a graduate degree from Harvard, recalls that the first romance novel she ever read was Shanna, by the late Kathleen Woodiwiss, which she devoured while slumped behind a college textbook, studying to become a math teacher.  

Thank you Susan for contributing this great guest post, and thanks to Eric at  Planned Television Arts  for coordinating it.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Guest Post: Susan Mallery

Please join me in welcoming Susan Mallery, author of the new book, Already Home to Always With a Book! I will be reviewing this book next month so be sure to come back and see what I thought. Today Susan talks about what is on her DVR.


Susan Mallery has entertained millions of readers with her witty and emotional stories of women and the relationships that move them. In her latest novel, ALREADY HOME, Jenna Stevens, still reeling from a recent divorce, is unpleasantly surprised by the arrival of her birth parents, who seem to want her to feel a family bond immediately. She was perfectly happy with the loving, traditional parents who raised her. Can she learn to love a second mother without damaging her relationship with the woman who raised her? Join Susan’s Members Only area at www.susanmallery.com for exclusive sneak peeks, short stories, and more.



There’s nothing I love more than reading. My ideal weekend “getaway” would be to go nowhere – and I mean nowhere. I wouldn’t even leave my bed. Food would magically appear at mealtime, and I would have nothing on my agenda but working my way through my To Be Read pile of books. That stack of books has multiplied and is now actually several stacks. The producers of Hoarders have been calling for months, but I can never find the phone in time.

I adore reading, but every once in a while, after spending all day at my computer, my brain working overtime as I write, I don’t have the energy to read. Reading is an active pastime.

Watching TV, on the other hand, can be passive. Especially if you program your DVR to record such mentally stimulating fare as what’s on mine.

What’s on My DVR

 The Judds – As I write this, the series hasn’t started yet, but I’ve already programmed my DVR to save all six episodes for me. First of all, I love their music. But mainly, I’m fascinated by their relationship dynamic. They’re mother and daughter, but they’re also business partners, artistic partners, and they seem like rivals to me, as well.

I find the mother/daughter dynamic in general to be fascinating. It’s primal and complicated. Very few women are lucky enough to have a 100% positive relationship with their mothers. Usually, there are all sorts of other emotions mixed in. No one can push our buttons like the woman who raised us.

In ALREADY HOME, my latest novel, Jenna is 31 years old and loves her mother dearly, but still finds her exasperating at times. Then, when her birth mother also enters the picture, a third female in the mix causes all sorts of emotions to arise in both Jenna and her adoptive mother.

The Biggest Loser – My husband doesn’t understand my love of reality TV, so I try not to make him watch too much. I don’t record American Idol because I insist on watching it live so I can share the fun with all my friends on Twitter. Find me at www.twitter.com/susanmallery. He doesn’t mind that too much, especially this year because Pia is so cute. (Pia’s still in the competition as I’m writing this.) But one show is all I can ask of him, so I record The Biggest Loser and reward myself with it on those days when I finish writing my pages early.

America’s Next Top Model – I love this show. Let me say that again: I lo-o-o-oooove this show. Though I must say, I kind of hated the way they started this season. Did you see it? They tricked the top 14 girls. They told them they’d been rejected, so all these poor girls were crying, and then they surprised them by saying they were going forward after all. Why was that necessary? But that nastiness was over within the first ten minutes of the first episode, and then we get into the show.

So… what’s on your DVR? What do you like to watch when your brain is too tired to read?

Please join the Members Only area at www.susanmallery.com to read a free extended excerpt of ALREADY HOME!



About the author: New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery is known for emotionally complex stories told with charm and wit. With a keen eye for human nature, she breathes life into characters on the page and was recently honored with the prestigious National Readers’ Choice award. Susan has lived all over the United States, including a childhood in the suburbs of Los Angeles, graduate school in the hills of Pennsylvania, and several years in Texas. These days, she makes her home in Seattle, Washington. She’s there for the coffee, not the weather.


Thank you Susan for contributing this great guest post, and thanks to Eric at  Planned Television Arts  for coordinating it.

Review: The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir (audio book)

From the back of the audio case: Following the tremendous success of her first novel, Innocent Traitor, acclaimed historian and New York Times bestselling author Alison Weir turns her masterly storytelling skills to the early life of young Elizabeth Tudor, who would grow up to become England's most intriguing and powerful queen.

Even at age two, Elizabeth is keenly aware that people in the court of her father, King Henry VIII, have stopped referring to her as "Lady Princess" and now call her "the Lady Elizabeth." Before she is three, she learns of the tragic fate that has befallen her mother, the enigmatic and seductive Anne Boleyn, and that she herself has been declared illegitimate, an injustice that will haunt her all her life.

What comes next is a succession of stepmothers, bringing with them glimpses of love, fleeting security, tempestuous conflict, and tragedy. The death of her father puts the teenage Elizabeth in greater peril, leaving her at the mercy of ambitious and unscrupulous men. Like her mother two decades earlier, she is imprisoned in the Tower of London - and fears she will also meet her mother's grisly end. Power-driven politics, private scandal and public gossip, a disputed succession, and the grievous example of her sister, "Bloody" Queen Mary, all cement Elizabeth's resolve in matters of statecraft and love, and set the stage for her transformation into the iconic Virgin Queen.

Sweeping in scope, The Lady Elizabeth is a fascinating portrayal of a woman far ahead of her time - whose dangerous and dramatic path to the throne shapes her future greatness.

Read by: Rosalyn Landor

My thoughts: This is the first time I have listened to the audio form of an historical fiction book and I loved it. The Lady Elizabeth takes us through Elizabeth's life from the age of almost three until she inherits the throne upon her sister Mary's death. Elizabeth is thought to have been a very bright child -we know that she said to her governor at not yet three years old; 'how hath it, yesterday Lady Princess, and today but Lady Elizabeth?' And so to be shown things through this young girl's eyes really illuminates the emotion behind the fact - this child lost her mother (the infamous Anne Boleyn) at the hands of her father, yet rose to great things. I found the story riveting, even with the knowledge that some creative license was taken by weaving some long believed to be true, but never proven rumors into the story. Having it broken into three parts - the king's daughter, the king's sister, and the queen's sister - helped to keep the story in perspective as these were three phases in Elizabeth's life during this time period. While I have read a few books about Elizabeth already, I felt this one really helped me to understand how she came to be the woman she was when on the throne. I loved listening to Rosalyn Landor's voice as she read this story - her voice is well modulated and she is quite adept with her accents and characterizations. I hope to not only read/listen to more of Alison Weir's work but also hope to listen to more books read by Rosalyn Landor.

(I borrowed this audio book from the library.)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Reading Thing 2011



Katrina over at Callapidder Days is hosting the Spring Reading Thing Reading Challenge. The challenge is to pick books you would like to read this spring and then keep a record of how you do. The challenge runs from March 20 to June 20. If you'd like to join, head over here to sign up.


Here's my list as of now:
  1. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
  2. The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean
  3. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  4. Blackberry Crumble by Josi S. Kilpack
  5. The Bone Trail by Nell Walton
  6. The Forgotten Garden by Kate Morton
  7. Elizabeth I by Margaret George
  8. Friendship Bread by Darien Gee
  9. Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda
  10. Brooklyn Story by Suzanne Corso
  11. The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
  12. Bedeviled Eggs by Laura Childs
  13. Mothers and Daughters by Rae Meadows
  14. Alone by Lisa Gardner
  15. Deja Dead by Kathy Reichs
  16. Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber
  17. 10th Anniversary by James Patterson
  18. Shelter Mountain by Robyn Carr
  19. Poison in the Blood by MG Scarsbrook
  20. Slate by Brian Rowe

This is a combination of books I need to review as well as books I have on my TBR pile and my book club selection for the next two months. I think I should be able to get through all these, plus a few others.

Wish me luck! Let me know if you are joining so I can see your list!

It's Monday - What Are You Reading? (3.21.11)



It’s Monday What Are you Reading , hosted by Sheila, is the perfect way for me to begin my week and allows me to focus on what needs to be read and to see what I have or have not accomplished the previous week. I also enjoy discovering new books by visiting other participants blogs.

This was a really slow week for me reading-wise. I had a lot going on for work and then had family and friends over yesterday for our town's annual St. Patty's Day parade, so I was busy preparing for that. I am hoping to be a bit more productive this week reading!
 
 
Books Completed last week:
  • Love You More by Lisa Gardner (review book)
Reading Now:
  • The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean (mine)
  • Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult (library audio book)
  • Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff (book club book, mine)
Next:
  • Brooklyn Story by Suzanne Corso (review book) 
  • Adventures of Huck Finn by Mark Twain (book club book)
Reviews completed this past week:
Other Posts related to books:
  • None this week
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir (library audio book) 
  • The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg (online book club, library book)
Contest information:

What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading and have a good week!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In My Mailbox (47) 3.20.11

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren. Every week I'll post what books I've received either by mailbox/library/store.


For Review (4)
Here, Home, Hope by Kaira Rouda
Mothers & Daughters by Rae Meadows
The Bone Trail by Nell Watson
Slate by Brian Rowe

Library (0)

Purchased (0)

Free Downloads (0)

Borrowed from family member (0)

From Paperback Swap  (0)

Won (0) 
 

What's in your mailbox?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Giveaway Winner - The Paris Wife

CONGRATULATIONS

to

Jonnie

winner of 
The Paris Wife by Paula McLain



Random.org selected the winners. 
Thanks to all who entered the giveaway!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Virtual Book Tour and Review: Love You More by Lisa Gardner



First line: Who do you love?


About the book:
WHO DO YOU LOVE?

One question, a split-second decision, and Brian Darby lies dead on the kitchen floor. His wife, state police trooper Tessa Leoni, claims to have shot him in self-defense, and bears the bruises to back up her tale. For veteran detective D. D. Warren it should be an open-and-shut case. But where is their six-year-old daughter?

AND HOW FAR WOULD YOU GO . . .

As the homicide investigation ratchets into a frantic statewide search for a missing child, D. D. Warren must partner with former lover Bobby Dodge to break through the blue wall of police brotherhood, seeking to understand the inner workings of a trooper’s mind while also unearthing family secrets. Would a trained police officer truly shoot her own husband? And would a mother harm her own child?

. . . TO SAVE HER?

For Tessa Leoni, the worst has not yet happened. She is walking a tightrope, with nowhere to turn, no one to trust, as the clock ticks down to a terrifying deadline. She has one goal in sight, and she will use every ounce of her training, every trick at her disposal, to do what must be done. No sacrifice is too great, no action unthinkable. A mother knows who she loves. And all others will be made to pay.

Love you more . . .

My thoughts: This is the fifth book in Lisa Gardner's Detective D.D. Warren series. I read the fourth one last summer and now this one and I am hooked! I really need to go back and read the first three books in this series, as I want to understand the development of the major characters, but I still enjoyed this book nevertheless. (No worries if you haven't read any of the other books in this series - Love Your More can stand alone. ) Love You More is one roller coaster ride after another and kept me on the edge of my seat as I flew through the pages trying to figure it all out. Nothing is as it seems in this story. Every time I thought I had figured something out, new information appeared and had me stumped once again. Having the story told from alternating points of view, going back and forth from Tessa's point of view to D.D's point of view, only added to the suspense of the story. It seemed as if every time we learned something critical to the story, it would switch back to the other character. In Love You More, D.D is going through some personal turmoil which makes being involved in Tessa's case very personal. As the story unfolds and we find out little by little what is really going on, I found myself loving, then hating, and then loving again the two main characters, D.D. and Tessa. This is definitely a quick, fast paced book that has left me wanting more and I will certainly be going back and reading the rest of this series as I wait for the next one to come out!


About the author: Lisa Gardner is the New York Times bestselling author of thirteen novels. Her Detective D. D. Warren novels include Live to Tell, Hide, Alone, and the International Thriller Writers’ Award-winning novel The Neighbor. Her FBI Profiler novels include Say Goodbye, Gone, The Killing Hour, The Next Accident, and The Third Victim. She lives with her family in New England.

Lisa’s latest book is Love You More. Visit her online at her website.


 I received a complimentary copy of Love You More by Lisa Gardner from Pump Up Your Book Promotion as part of the tour.

Monday, March 14, 2011

It's Monday - What Are You Reading? (3.14.11)



It’s Monday What Are you Reading , hosted by Sheila, is the perfect way for me to begin my week and allows me to focus on what needs to be read and to see what I have or have not accomplished the previous week. I also enjoy discovering new books by visiting other participants blogs.

Books Completed last week:
  • The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg (on-line book club book, library book)
Reading Now:
  • Love You More by Lisa Gardner (review book)
  • Plain Truth by Jodi Picoult (library audio book)
  • Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff (book club book, mine)
Next:
  • The Secret Lives of Dresses by Erin McKean (mine) 
  • Brooklyn Story by Suzanne Corso (review book)
Reviews completed this past week:
Other Posts related to books:
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir (library audio book) 
  • The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg (online book club, library book)
Contest information:

What about you?  What does your reading week look like this week?  Whatever it is, happy reading and have a good week!

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Review: Scones & Bones by Laura Childs

First line: A smirking human skull, all hollow eye sockets and pronounced parietal bones, grinned diabolically at Theodosia.

From the back cover: Indigo Tea Shop owner Theodosia Browning is lured into attending the Heritage Society's Pirates and Plunder party by her master tea blender. Amid the gold earrings and doubloons, an antique skull ring set with a huge diamond steals the show - and gets plundered by someone who murders a history intern in the process.

Even with that on her plate, Theodosia still has to attend the Charleston Food and Wine Festival, where she's hosting a tea and cheese tasting - the latest culinary trend. But as her thoughts keep drifting to the victim, Theodosia knows she'll have to whet her investigative skills to find the killer among a raft of suspects...

My thoughts: This is the twelfth book in Laura Child's Tea Shop Mystery series and I loved it. Once again Theo finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. While attending a "Pirates and Plunder" party with Drayton, a party featuring lots of pirate memorabilia, there's a commotion in one room that results in a death and a stolen object. Not one to stay away from the action, Theo, along with the help of Drayton, starts investigating, uncovering some interesting pirate lore along the way. With many twists and turns, I was pulled right into the mix, not wanting to put my book down until I knew who did it. There's also a new love interest on the horizon for Theo - Max Scofield, the newly appointed PR director at the local museum. The only problem is that Theo already has a boyfriend and Max, when Theo first meets him, is dating Delaine, Theo's friend. It's certainly an interesting and entertaining love triangle as it begins to play out and I look forward to seeing how it ends up in subsequent books. I love catching up with the folks at Theo's Indigo Tea Shop and I also enjoy all the tea tips and recipes that are included in the back of the book. This is definitely one book that as I read, I have a nice cuppa tea right along side me. 

Thank you to the author for sending me a copy of this book to review - I loved it!!!

In My Mailbox (46) 3.13.11

In My Mailbox (IMM) is a weekly meme hosted by Kristi @ The Story Siren. Every week I'll post what books I've received either by mailbox/library/store.

Purchased/Won (4)*
Romance Bag:
Friends & Lovers by Barbara Delinksy
A Highlander Christmas by Janet Chapman
To Catch a Highlander by Karen Hawkins
Grand Passion by Jayne Ann Krentz
Eden Burning by Elizabeth Lowell
The Year of Living Scandalously by Julia London
Scoundrel in My Dreams by Celeste Bradley
Heartless by Diana Palmer
Night Tales by Nora Roberts
An Independent Woman by Candace Camp
The Scottish Bride by Catherine Coulter
The House by Danielle Steel
Nerd Gone Wild by Vicki Lewis Thompson
Eve's Christmas by Janet Dailey
The Prize by Brenda Joyce
Flight Lessons by Patricia Gaffney
The Bridegroom by Linda Lael Miller
Ashes in the Wind by Kathleen E. Woodiwiss
Fast Women by Jennifer Crusie
Lord of Sin by Madeline Hunter
Bittersweet Promises by Trana Mae Simmons

Mystery/Thriller Bag:
Ties That Bind by Phillip Margolin
The Codex by Douglas Preston
The Devil's Code by John Sandford
Triptych by Karin Slaughter
Bad Luck and Trouble by Lee Child
The Vanished Man by Jeffery Deaver
Bleachers by John Grisham
Prior Bad Acts by Tami Hoag
Cold Paradise by Stuart Woods
Gone by Lisa Gardner
Warning Signs by Stephen White
Play Dirty by Sandra Brown
The Whole Truth by David Baldacci
Third Degree by Greg Iles
Hitched by Carol Higgins Clark
Evidence by Jonathan Kellerman
Postmortem by Patricia Cornwell
High Five by Janet Evanovich
Edge of Evil by J.A. Jance
State of Fear by Michael Crichton
Blindman's Bluff by Faye Kellerman
Killing Orders by Sara Paretsky
Chain of Evidence by Ridly Pearson



* I was at a scrapbooking event yesterday with all proceeds going to the Make-a-Wish Foundation and I won the two bags of books that had been donated for the raffles - I paid $10 for an arm-length of tickets and certainly scored big!!!

What's in your mailbox?
 

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