Thursday, June 30, 2011

Review: Mothers & Daughters by Rae Meadows

First line: Sam was hungry for pound cake.

Why I read this: I was sent a request to read and review this book.

From the back cover: When a box of Iris's belongings arrives on Sam's doorstep, she discovers things about her mother she never knew - or could even guess. But she is puzzled by much of what she finds. She learns that Violet, the woman she knows as her grandmother, left New York City as an eleven-year-old girl and found a better life in the Midwest. But what was the real reason behind Violet's journey? And how could she have come that far on her own at such a tender age?

Mothers and Daughters is a luminous novel about three generations of women, the love they share, the dreams they refuse to surrender, and the secrets they hold.

My thoughts: This was a beautifully written and powerful novel with many strong messages throughout. It is the story about how three generations of women - grandmother Violet, mother Iris and daughter Sam - lived their lives, passing on their immense courage to the generations that came after. Each woman's life is absolutely magical and heartbreaking all at the same time, which we see as we're led through three very different worlds. The individual histories of each of the characters are absolutely riveting, and the in-depth look at the mother-daughter 'link' is truly inspirational. I think my favorite story is that of Violet's - I felt that story was the most vivid. Moving back and forth in time, this book propels forward and leaves you wanting more of each of the three women's stories. This is a technique I've come to really enjoy in a book - the moving back and forth in time. I look forward to reading more by Rae Meadows.

I received a complimentary copy of Mothers & Daughters by Rae Meadows from Jason at Henry Holt and Co.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Giveaway Winner: Creed's Honor

CONGRATULATIONS

to

Melissa

winner of 
Creed's Honor by Linda Lael Miller



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

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Review: Beach Lane by Sherryl Woods

First line: Men were the bane of Susie O'Brien's life.

Why I read this: I reserved this from the library and because it's new, I only have it for a week, so I had to read right away!

From the back cover: In the close-knit community of Chesapeake Shores, Maryland, Susie O'Brien and Mack Franklin's "not-dating" claim befuddles everyone, especially since the two spend every spare minute together. Susie's thrilled when their friendship finally heats up. Then, just when happily-ever-after seems within reach, Mack loses the job he loves and Susie faces a devastating diagnosis.

But O'Briens always unite in a crisis. Even her cousin Jess, Susie's rival for most of their lives, becomes her staunchest supporter - especially when Mack's former lover comes to town. The stakes are higher than ever before, but Susie's definitely up to the challenge...as long as Mack's right there by her side.

My thoughts: This is the latest in the Chesapeake Shores series and I was so excited when I got the message from the library that it finally came in. I really love reading this series - it's like catching up with old friends. This time, the story was a bit sad. Susie and Mack, who were introduced as characters in the beginning of the series, finally decided it's time to move forward. Then, fate intervenes - Mack loses his job as a sports reporter for a newspaper in Baltimore and Susie finds out she might have ovarian cancer. As each gets their news, their first thought is that they would be better off without the other one. Can they overcome their own stubbornness and see their way into each other's arms? Of course, this wouldn't be a Chesapeake Shores book without the rest of the boisterous, busy-body O'Brien family to butt in with their two cents. There are even some new romances that begin in this installment and we are left with a great teaser for the next book - a huge family trip to Ireland that might come with a proposal. I can't wait for An O'Brien Family Christmas to come out in October!

(I borrowed this book from the library.)

Monday, June 27, 2011

It's Monday - What Are You Reading? (6.27.11)



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.

Well, it ended up being a productive reading week and a productive week getting reviews done! I also had the opportunity to meet author Lisa See who was touring with her newest book, Dreams of Joy. Hoping this upcoming week ends up being as productive. The holiday weekend means sailing for my husband all three days and that means plenty of quality reading time for me, while sitting on the porch of the club.

Books Completed last week:
  • I'll Have Who She's Having by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke (e-book, review book)
  • Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin (mine)
  • Beach Lane by Sherryl Woods (library book)
  • Playing the Game by Barbara Taylor Bradford (library audio book)
  • Room by Emma Donoghue (mine, book club book)
Reading Now:
  • A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand (mine)
  • Beachcombers by  Nancy Thayer (library audio book)
  • Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff (book club book, mine)
Next:
  • Something Blue by Emily Giffin (mine)
  • We Are All Welcome Here by Elizabeth Berg (library audio book)
Reviews completed this past week
Other Posts related to books: 
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • Alone by Lisa Gardner
  • Mothers and Daugthers by Rae Meadows
  • Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin
  • Beach Lane by Sherryl Woods
  • Playing the Game by Barbara Taylor Bradford 
  • Room by Emma Donoghue
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, June 26, 2011

Author Meet & Greet: Lisa See

The local independent bookstore near me, Books and Greetings, has author visits all the time. I've been a few times - to see children's book author Jane O'Connor (she writes the Fancy Nancy books), Nicholas Sparks when he was touring with his latest book, Safe Haven, and Elizabeth Berg, when she was touring with her newest book, Once Upon a Time, There Was You.

The other night, Lisa See was there. I was very excited to meet her and listen to her speak. I first became familiar with Lisa See when my book club was formed - for our first meeting, we read Lisa See's Snow Flower and the Secret Fan. I loved it and thought it was a great book club pick - there is so much that begs discussion. Since then, I've picked up copies of some of her other books - Peony in Love and Shanghai Girls - but just haven't had time to read them. I'm hoping to get to them this summer.

As I did when Elizabeth Berg came to the bookstore, I made sure to get there nice and early. I had already bought my copy of her newest book, Dreams of Joy, a few weeks beforehand and was given #1 for the signing line!!! This time, one of my friends from book club was meeting me there, so I wanted to make sure I got us good seats (row two!) 
 
Lisa started the night by speaking about her background and telling us a little about her family - she comes from quite a line of interesting folk. She then went into the writing of her new book, breaking it into four aphorisms (unfortunately I don't remember what they are now). She also described her trip to China with fellow writer and friend, Amy Tan, both who were doing research for their books.

I found out that she has other books out there and one, On Gold Mountain, is based on her family. She told us how she came to write that story, which I found to be very interesting. I think I am going to be adding this book to my list of ones to read...a list that grows faster than I can keep up with!
 
I'm very grateful to Books and Greetings for having this and so many other great author visits. I find them quite intimate and I love getting to meet the person behind the writing. I can't wait for the next one.

Giveaway Winners: Summer in the South

CONGRATULATIONS

to

Margie,
Kristen,
&
Bailey

winners of 
Summer in the South by Cathy Holton



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

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Review: Slate by Brian Rowe

First line: I am a star.

Why I read this: I was asked by the author to read this book.

Synopsis: Hollywood casting director Vivien Slate thought she had it all, until coming home one day to find her husband cheating on her with a younger woman. With her marriage on the rocks, she decides it's the perfect time to recapture her sexual identity... by finding a younger man of her own.

Vivien realizes she has a dating service right inside her own office; she's a casting director, after all. She devises a scenario to make the town believe her newest film project is as real as any other. She populates the cast with male characters spanning the ages of twenty to forty and begins holding auditions with hundreds of Tinseltown's most eligible bachelors.

Vivien stops at nothing to find her perfect younger man, even if it means leaving her morals behind and ultimately putting her life in danger...

My thoughts: This was an interesting and humorous yet quick read. Vivien is a Hollywood casting director who thought she had the perfect life until she catches her husband cheating on her. After leaving him and trying to get back into the dating scene with no luck, she has an epiphany. She decides that if she can't find the perfect man on the dating scene, she will cast him in a fake movie instead. She gets her assistant to come up with a fake movie script, then she holds auditions for the leading man. There were many characters in this novel, and it was funny that Vivien thought she was too good for anyone to remember their names, even her own interns. I did find it interesting to learn a little about the back story of the movie industry - the casting, the script readings, the editing, and the behind-the-scenes look into a real office life. My only complaint was at times, the sex scenes were a little too explicit. Other than that, it was a funny, laugh-out-loud read that I was able to speed through...if only for the curiosity of  whether Vivien's plan would work.

I received a complimentary copy of the e-book version of Slate by Brian Rowe from the author.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Review: Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen (audio book)

From the back of the audio case: From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes an Eve Duncan thriller about the search for a child who has been missing for nine agonizing years...

A CIA agent's two-year-old child was stolen in the night as a brutal act of vengeance. Nine years later, Catherine Ling's instincts - maternal and professional - tell her that her son is still alive, but she needs the help of someone as driven and obsessed as she is to find him - and that person is Eve Duncan. Eve has walked this same path and shares Catherine's nightmare, having endured the disappearance of her own daughter, Bonnie. Now Eve must raise her game as a forensic sculptor to another level, using the science of age progression to unite mother and son. But as she is drawn deeper into Catherine's horror, Eve must face looming demons of her own.

Whoever took Bonnie is still out there, and Eve will never rest until he is brought to justice and Bonnie brought home. With two indomitable women enduring the worst fear any mother can imagine, Iris Johansen's latest thrill ride is a testament to a mother's fierce love and devotion and a gut-wrenching journey into the darkest places of the soul.

Read by: Jennifer Van Dyck

My thoughts: This is the 11th in the Eve Duncan series and it was quite an exciting thriller. In Chasing the Night, we are introduced to two new characters, CIA Agent Catherine Ling and 14-year-old Kelly Winters. Catherine has been living every mother's worst nightmare - nine years ago, her then two-year-old son was kidnapped by Russian mobster Rakovac as punishment to Catherine for disrupting his reign of criminal terror. No longer being able to idly sit back and continue her search quietly now that the CIA has decided Rakovac must be eliminated due to his involvement with large scale terror attacks, she seeks the assistance of Eve Duncan. What initially appears to be a simple, yet unwelcome, request for a facial recreation quickly speeds into a large-scale hunt where everyone involved has the potential to become a victim. Aided by Kelly, the 14-year-old, genius whom Catherine had rescued and who can see patterns where others cannot, by Joe, and by Venable, her CIA superior, the group discovers where Luke is being kept. And then they set out to rescue him in a very dangerous game of cat and mouse. I am anxious for the next installment of this series as we are left with an interesting cliff hanger in the last few lines of the book.

As usual, Jennifer Van Dyck's narration of this book was fantastic - she is slowly becoming one of my favorite narrators! She gives each character their own personality and it is very easy to tell who is speaking. I look forward to listening to more books narrated by her.

(I borrowed this audio book from the library.)

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Review: The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan

First line: My sister Kwan believes she has yin eyes.

Why I read this: The publicist promoting the re-release of this book asked if I would be willing to read it.

From the back of the book: Set in San Francisco and in a remote village of Southwestern China, Amy Tan's The Hundred Secret Senses is a tale of American assumptions shaken by Chinese ghosts and broadened with hope.in 1962, five-year old Olivia meets the half-sister she never knew existed, eighteen-year-old Kwan from China, who sees ghosts with her "yin eyes." Decades later, Olivia describes her complicated relationship with her sister and her failing marriage, as Kwan reveals her story, sweeping the reader into the splendor and violence of mid-nineteenth-century China. With her characteristic wisdom, grace, and humor, Tan conjures up a story of the inheritance of love, its secrets and senses, its illusions and truths.

My thoughts: This is the first Amy Tan book I've read and I really enjoyed it. While not a fast read, it is a compelling story that captivates you from the first page. The novel chronicles Olivia's relationship with Kwan as well as her early courtship and eventual estrangement from Simon. At the same time, in alternating chapters, it tells the story of one of Kwan's past lives in China during the 1800s - a dramatic love story closely tied to Kwan's (and Olivia's) present lives. The characters of Kwan and Olivia, or Libby-ah as Kwan refers to her, were well developed and the description of the Chinese settings were phenomenal - I felt as if I was right there with them. While the story contrasts the Chinese-American and Chinese outlook on life, it is at the very heart a ghost story. Kwan's ghosts are literal - she sees dead (yin) people. They're a major part of her life, and have always been with her. Olivia's ghosts, on the other hand, are metaphorical - she's haunted by her past actions and she's not coping very well at all. Although Kwan seems annoying and pesky to Olivia with all of her spiritual interests, Olivia learns to appreciate Kwan and her ways. I enjoyed watching how the family dynamics played out in this book - the romantic relations between Olivia and Simon and the sister relations between Olivia and Kwan. The story ends with an optimism that suggests, if you are willing to see them, that loved ones are never very far away.

I received a complimentary copy of The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan from Elaine at Penguin/Viking Publicity

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review: I'll Have Who She's Having by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke

First line: I'm shaking as I leave him, still in shock over what just happened.

Why I read this: I got a request from a publicist wanting to know if I would be interested in participating in the authors blog tour.

Synopsis: What happens when a man comes between one desperately single and one very married sister? Kate’s been depressed ever since yet another long-term boyfriend unceremoniously dumped her. When her younger and married sister Kelly convinces her the way to meet a quality man is for the two of them to sign up for a volleyball class, she’s just desperate enough to agree. But Kate becomes so fixated on their coach that she fails to see an unlikely but perfect match right in front of her.

My thoughts: This was another fantastic book by the dynamic duo of Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke and another book that I devoured in one day!  This time we follow two sisters at different yet similar places in life who finally discover that the grass isn't always greener on the other side. Older sister by Kate is single, depressed about yet another bad breakup and worried she'll never find 'the one.' Younger sister Kelly is married with a child but questions all the decisions she's made in her life. Again, as in The D Word, this tale is told from alternating view points as the story line progresses. It was great being able to get inside not only both sisters' heads as they experienced the same event, but also some of the other major characters. I really commend the authors for being able to write a seamless storyline together - I hope they create more fun stories together!

About the authors: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been friends for over twenty years. They both attended Cal Poly Pomona University and each graduated with a degree in Communication. They co-wrote their previous novel. I'll Have Who She's Having, in 2009. Liz also blogs as the Drama Mama for ModernMom.com while Lisa contributes frequently to Barnes & Noble’s Unabashadly Bookish blog and Mall of America’s Fashion Sense blog. Liz is married with two children, and Lisa is married and gave birth to a daughter in January. Liz resides in Long Beach, California, while Lisa lives in Chicago.

For more, visit http://www.chicklitisnotdead.com/ or follow Liz and Lisa on Twitter www.twitter.com/lizandlisa

I received a complimentary copy of the e-book version of  I'll Have Who She's Having by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke from Crystal Patriarche at BookSparksPR.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Review: The D Word by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

First line: It has been exactly 350 days since I decided I'd be better off without him.

Why I read this: I got a request from a publicist wanting to know if I would be interested in participating in the authors blog tour.

Synopsis: Jordan Daniels and Elle Ryan thought their lives would become less complicated when they walked away from their respective relationships one year ago. But instead, they find themselves vying for a relationship with the same divorced man.

As a spiritual counselor, newly single mother Jordan Daniels makes her living predicting other people’s futures. If only she could foresee her own. A year after filing for divorce from her husband, Kevin, he seems to be the one moving on effortlessly, while Jordan still can’t bring herself to fill his old underwear drawer. But it’s not until Jordan’s polar opposite, Elle steals Kevin’s heart, that Jordan becomes convinced she’ll be replaced both as a wife and a mother to her five-year-old son, Max.

When Elle met Kevin, the last thing she wanted was another relationship. Especially not with a man with baggage-she already had enough of her own. She left her fiancĂ©, Chase right before their wedding to avoid the imminent D word, something she’s convinced runs in her family like a disease. But a year later, she’s no closer to becoming less skeptical about marriage. And despite her attachment to Kevin and his son, when Elle sees just how far Jordan’s willing to go to win Kevin back, Elle starts to question if she should have left Chase in the first place.

In The D Word you’ll walk in the shoes of Jordan and Elle as they discover that sometimes you’re not that different from the person who makes you feel the most insecure.

My thoughts: This was a fun, quick read that I devoured in one day. The characters were all brought to life and it was easy to feel empathy for them and to laugh along with them as they found themselves in some pretty humorous situations. Divorce is not always a light subject to tackle, yet these two authors were able to keep the story line moving while giving you the ability to see all sides. Alternating the points of view from Jordan to Elle as the story progresses, it's hard to tell which writer gave voice to which character, yet the story flowed as if only one writer were writing it - quite an impressive feat! I really enjoyed this book and loved finding out just what a spiritual counselor was all about. I look forward to reading more from this dynamic duo!

About the authors: Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke have been friends for over twenty years. They both attended Cal Poly Pomona University and each graduated with a degree in Communication. They co-wrote their previous novel. I'll Have Who She's Having, in 2009. Liz also blogs as the Drama Mama for ModernMom.com while Lisa contributes frequently to Barnes & Noble’s Unabashadly Bookish blog and Mall of America’s Fashion Sense blog. Liz is married with two children, and Lisa is married and gave birth to a daughter in January. Liz resides in Long Beach, California, while Lisa lives in Chicago.

For more, visit http://www.chicklitisnotdead.com/ or follow Liz and Lisa on Twitter www.twitter.com/lizandlisa

I received a complimentary copy of the e-book version of The D Word by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke from Crystal Patriarche at BookSparksPR.

Spring Reading Thing 2011 Wrap Up



Another reading challenged has come to a close. As you can see from my list, I finished reading 18 out of the 20 books I had listed and I am in the middle of reading one right now. I was also able to read an additional 14 books  during this time that were not on my original list. That puts my total number of books read from March 20 to June 20 to 32 books!!! 


Here's my original list:
  1. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff - STILL READING
  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 - DID NOT READ
  20. Slate by Brian Rowe
Additionally I read the following: 
  1. Already Home by Susan Mallery
  2. The Goodbye Quilt by Susan Wiggs
  3. Family Album by Debbie Macomber
  4. Driftwood Cottage by Sherryl Woods
  5. A Turn in the Road by Debbie Macomber
  6. Moonlight Cove by Sherryl Woods
  7. The Summer We Came to Life by Deborah Cloyed
  8. Releasing Gillian's Wolves by Tara Woolpy
  9. Summer in the South by Cathy Holton
  10. The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by CW Gortner
  11. Ten Beach Road by Wendy Wax
  12. A Creed in Stone Creek by Linda Lael Miller
  13. Creed's Honor by Linda Lael Miller
  14. The D Word by Liz Fenton and Lisa Steinke

Thank you to Katrina over at Callapidder Days for hosting this challenge!!! I got a lot of books read that have been sitting on my bookshelves, in addition to all the review books I had to read.

I read a lot of great books this time around and it's hard to pick one favorite, but some of the top books were: The Secret Lives of Dresses, The Forgotten Garden and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici.

This is the third reading challenge I have participated in where I listed the books to be read beforehand and it's the third time I did not finish the entire list, although I came very close. I did manage to read quite a few additional books not on my original list, so I ended up reading more than I initially planned. I guess you could call it a wash...and that's just fine with me!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Virtual Book Tour & Review: The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner




First line: I am not a sentimental woman.


Why I read this: I love historical fiction and when I saw this book was touring with Pump Up Your Book Promotions, I requested to be part of it. I've also read another book by C.W. Gortner, The Tudor Secret, which I really enjoyed.

From the back cover: The truth is, not one of us is innocent. We all have sins to confess. So reveals Catherine de Medici, the last legitimate descendant of her family's illustrious line. Expelled from her native Florence, Catherine is betrothed to Henri, son of Francois I of France. In an unfamiliar realm, Catherine strives to create a role for herself through her patronage of the famous clairvoyant Nostradamus and her own innate gift as a seer. But in her fortieth year, Catherine is widowed, left alone with six young children in a kingdom torn apart by the ambitions of a treacherous nobility. Relying on her tenacity, wit, and uncanny gift for compromise, Catherine seizes power, intent on securing the throne for her sons, unaware that if she is to save France, she may have to sacrifice her ideals, her reputation, and the secret of her embattled heart.

My thoughts: This is the second book I've read by C.W. Gortner and I really like his work. Not knowing anything about Catherine de Medici before reading this, I was captivated from the first page. As I was reading the book, I felt as if I was reading from Catherine's diary - there was an intimate connection between the character and me, the reader. Catherine de Medici is a complicated yet intriguing woman - she was a member of one of the foremost families in Europe, she was alternately a duchess, a dauphone, a queen, the queen mother and regent, and all the while thought to be a witch, accused of masterminding the Bartholomew's Day massacre.

C.W. Gortner tells Catherine's story in her own voice - starting from when she was a child up to her late adulthood. He includes her difficult life in Florence,the challenges of her marriage to Henri where she was largely overshadowed by Henri's long standing mistress Diane de Poitiers, and then her role in the reigns of her sons during an age of almost constant religious and civil war in France. It is almost as if you are sitting down with Catherine as she reminisces about her life.

What a time period for woman, especially those of royalty. I've read a few books about this time period, mainly having to do with the Tudors. To be seen as pawns to bring alliance between countries and the idea of procreation taking place by the age of fourteen is crazy. After reading such an intriguing and engrossing story, I find myself fascinated with this woman who experienced so much within her life.

I look forward to reading more not only about Catherine de Medici but also other works by C.W. Gortner - I am a fan of both now.
 
About the author: C.W. Gortner is the author of the acclaimed historical novels The Last Queen, The Confessions of Catherine de Medici, and The Tudor Secret. He holds an MFA in Writing with an emphasis on Renaissance Studies from the New College of California. In his extensive travels to research his books, he has danced a galliard in a Tudor great hall and experienced life in a Spanish castle. He is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental issues. Half-Spanish by birth, he divides his time between Northern California and Antigua, Guatemala.
 
You can visit the author online at www.cwgortner.com or his blog at http://historicalboys.blogspot.com/.

 I received a complimentary copy of The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. Gortner from Pump Up Your Book Promotion as part of the tour.

It's Monday - What Are You Reading? (6.20.11)



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.

Last week managed to be a productive reading week, but not so much with reviews...I foresee lots of reviews being done this week. I also got a new laptop - the old one crashed one time too many for me. I'm still getting used to the new one, but at least I don't have to worry about it crashing! The Spring Reading Thing ends today and I did pretty well - look for my wrap up post to come out something during the day tomorrow.

Books Completed last week:
  • Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen (library audio book)
  • The Confessions of Catherine de Medici by CW Gortner (review book)
  • Alone by Lisa Gardner (e-book)
  • Mothers & Daughters by Rae Meadows (review book)
  • The D Word by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke (e-book, review book)
Reading Now:
  • I Have Who She's Having by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke (e-book, review book)
  • Playing the Game by Barbara Taylor Bradford (library audio book)
  • Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff (book club book, mine)
Next:
  • Room by Emma Donoghue (mine, book club book)
  • Beach Lane by Sherryl Woods (library book)
Reviews completed this past week
Other Posts related to books: 
Books for which I need to finish reviews:
  • The Hundred Secret Senses by Amy Tan
  • Slate by Brian Rowe
  • Chasing the Night by Iris Johansen
  • The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
  • Alone by Lisa Gardner
  • Mothers and Daugthers by Rae Meadows
  • The D Word by Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke
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, June 19, 2011

In My Mailbox (58) 6.19.11

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.



Borrowed from the library:
 
 
Playing the Game (audio book)
by Barbara Taylor Bradford 

I have read many books by BTB and have enjoyed them all - was thrilled to see this one in audio!


We Are All Welcome Here (audio book)
by Elizabeth Berg

I have really come to enjoy anything by Elizabeth Berg.





Beachcombers (audio book)
by Nancy Thayer

Heard great things about this book.






Beach Lane 
by Sherryl Woods

This is the latest in the Chesapeake Shores series and I have been patiently waiting for it to come in at the library.







What's in your mailbox?

Friday, June 17, 2011

Guest Post: Tara Woolpy

Please join me in welcoming Tara Woolpy, author of Releasing Gillian's Wolves to Always With a Book! If you missed my review, you can read it here. Today Tara guest blogs about why she included recipes in her new novel.

Releasing Gillian’s Wolves is a novel in four parts. Each section begins with a recipe. Since in many ways this is the story of a woman stepping out of the kitchen and into the light, it may seem odd to lead with recipes. One the other hand, sharing food is central to Gillian’s character and I wanted readers to be able to experience the lushness of her table. I also envision the story as something of a hero’s cycle with the recipes serving signboards along the journey.
We begin with Survive Anything Brownies as Gillian struggles to keep herself afloat in a life that we can see is unsustainable but she is determined to maintain. In the end there isn’t enough chocolate in the world to make that life bearable. Gillian crosses a threshold and begins to contemplate leaving, despite terror that her departure may spark a scandal that could damage her family. This is a bittersweet period and the section begins with a recipe for Tang of Life Tomato Sauce. I began the next section with Les Ailes Escape, a not too subtle play on words. Les Ailes Escape is a clear garlic soup named from the French for garlic (les ails). The recipe for the final section is Start Again with Pasta and represents the return of our heroine, transformed.
Gillian cooks to sooth herself and others. For years she has used elaborate food preparation as a way to contribute to her husband’s campaigns while avoiding the public appearances she dreads. But the meals she prepares are more than a defense mechanism. They are as much an expression of her artistry as her paintings. She nurtures her friends with muffins, pies, pastas, casseroles, soups, salads and cakes. She provides her friend Edward with the meal for his first date with Sam because, as Edward says, “Gillian’s food is sexy.” Her closest friends have abandoned their own kitchens to play sous chef in hers, earning their dinners by washing and chopping and shredding on command. Much of the story takes place in the kitchen because that’s where Gillian feels most alive, serenaded by sizzling saucepans, inhaling the smell of baking brownies and fresh coffee and surrounded by friends.
By including Gillian’s recipes, I’m offering readers an opportunity to experience the warmth of Gillian’s kitchen for themselves. More of her recipes are occasionally posted on the Lacland News Blog at Batsintheboathouse.com.

About the author: Tara Woolpy’s writing career has followed a somewhat unusual trajectory. Throughout her twenties and early thirties she worked hard to learn her craft. Her formal studies included a B.A. in English Literature from Whitworth College and a post graduate year at the Women Writers Center in Cazenovia, New York. In the 1980’s she published poems and short stories in small feminist journals, freelanced for an independent Seattle newspaper and wrote the novel destined for the bottom drawer. Eventually returning to school, she earned a couple graduate degrees in aquatic science and has spent the last several years in that field, most recently as a tenured professor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. As such she published peer-reviewed technical papers and book chapters and edited reams of student writing. Now that she teaches online, she has returned to fiction.

Releasing Gillian’s Wolves is far from autobiographical. However, tidbits from Tara’s personal history are woven into the novel. She imbibed campaigns and politics with her mother’s milk, her mother represented Northern Idaho in the State Senate for seven terms. She currently lives in a house very like Edward’s, works in Sam’s academic field, has survived more than one bad marriage. She has also finally found her own happy ending on a lake in Northern Wisconsin with a wonderful supportive husband and a very friendly Boston terrier.

On her way to happily ever after, Tara has published under a number of last names (Woolpy, Reed, Danaan and Reed-Andersen).

Thank you Tara for contributing this great guest post!
 

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