Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween ~ October Reading

Happy Halloween Readers.  Living in a condo we don't really get any trick or treaters, but it doesn't stop us from buying some peanut butter cups (just in case) someone rings or door bell:)  

October was another month that simply flew by. We were lucky enough to enjoy mostly 50-60 degree temps for the entire month with just a few 30 degree nights. Lot's of walking and enjoying the foliage, which was spectacular this year.

Reading

I participated in Carl's RIP Challenge (Sept 1 - October 31) hoping to read (4) theme related books, but actually read (6).  You can check out my RIP Reads Here.

Other Reads during the month of October were:
  1. My Education; Susan Choi - 4/5  (eGalley) (Oct)
  2. The Farm; Tom Rob Smith - (audio & eGalley - 4/5 (Oct) 
  3. That Night; Chevy Stevens (audio & eBook) - 3.5/5  (Oct)
  4. Leaving Time; Jodi Picoult (eGalley/audio) 5/5  - (Oct)
  5. Memories of a Marriage; Louis Begley (eGalley) - 4/5 (Oct)
  6. A Dog's Journey; W. Bruce Cameron (audio) - 4/5 (Oct) 
  7. Five Days Left; Julie Lawson Timmer (audio and print) - 4.5/5 (Oct)
  8. Purr Therapy: What Timmy & Marina Taught Me About Life, Love and Loss; Kathy McCoy PhD - (eBook) - 3/5 (Oct)
  9. Sam and Dave Dig a Hole; Mac Barnett; Jon Klassen - 3/5 (Oct)
  10. I'm My Own Dog; David Ezra Stein - 5/5 (Oct)
  11. How to Be a Good Wife;  Emma Chapman - 4/5 (Oct)

Favorite Read -
Leaving Time; Jodi Picoult 
October - 11 Books
YTD - 120 Books 

November Plans

I definitely hope to read something holiday related and I have a couple of reviews to complete for books that I just finished The Girl Who Fell From the Sky; Heidi Durrow (very good) and Nora Webster; Colm Toibin (also very good).  Finish, The Remedy for Love (very good as well). The rest of what I read will be based on just what looks good to me.

Hope you all had a great month!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - The Voices; F. R. Tallis

 Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think about this novel -- would you try it?
The Voices; F.R. Tallis
Pegasus - December 2014

From Edgar nominee F.R. Tallis, a new novel of psychological suspense that reinvents the classic haunted-house tale
In the scorching summer of 1976—the hottest since records began—Christopher Norton, his wife Laura and their young daughter Faye settle into their new home in north London.

The faded glory of the Victorian house is the perfect place for Norton, a composer of film soundtracks, to build a recording studio of his own. But soon in the long, oppressively hot nights, Laura begins to hear something through the crackle of the baby monitor. First, a knocking sound. Then come the voices.

For Norton, the voices mark an exciting opportunity. Putting his work to one side, he begins the project of a lifetime—a grand symphony incorporating the voices—and becomes increasingly obsessed with one voice in particular. Someone who is determined to make themselves heard . . .

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How To Be a Good Wife; Emma Chapman

How To Be a Good Wife; Emma Chapman
Picador - 2014
In this story Marta Bjornstad, is a married woman living in an unnamed Scandinavian county. She and her husband Hector, have an adult son named Kylan who lives away from home.  Marta never leaves the house, and it's clear from the very beginning of the novel that she suffers from some type of mental health issues, or at the very least something disturbing is going on in her life. She begins smoking and doesn't even know where the cigarettes came from. She also begins having visions of a young girl with blonde hair. 

Hector who is some 20 years older than Marta is always asking his wife if she has taken her medication. She tells him she has, but in truth she has not.  When her anxiety is running high she smokes.  Her mother-in-law is an annoying piece of work, always reminding her how important keeping a fine house and pleasing her husband is. On Marta and Hector's wedding day, the MIL gave her a book called, "How To Be a Good Wife", which Marta has long memorized, frequently reciting the things a "good wife" is expected to do.

So is Marta a reliable narrator?  How did she and Hector meet way back when? Are these visions Marta is having significant to something that may have happened early on in her life? 

This is a very good debut novel. The writing is edgy and driven by Marta's thoughts, feelings and actions. It is easy to feel sympathy for Marta as well.  There are very few characters in the story and not a lot happens, at least not until a dinner party for her son and his soon-to-be-wife. The evening throws Marta's fragile mental state even more off kilter.  This isn't a very long novel, but it's one that will be remembered. In some ways this novel reminded me of The Night Guest by Fiona McFarlane -- not sure why, except that the protagonist in both stories led a very isolated life, that in some ways affected her well being.  I liked How To Be a Good Wife, even though felt a little disappointed by the ending.  It's a quick read a page turner as well - try it and see what you think.

4/5 stars
(sent by publisher)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

First Chapter First Paragraph ~ Tuesday Intros -The Remedy for Love; Bill Roorbach


Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.

The Remedy for Love; Bill Roorbach
Algonquin - 2014
Part One

One
"The young woman ahead of him in line at the Hannaford Superstore was unusually fragrant, smelled like wood smoke and dirty clothes and cough drops or maybe Ben Gay, eucalyptus anyway.  She was all but mummified in an enormous coat leaking feathers, some kind of army-issue garment from another era, huge hood pulled over her head.  Homeless, obviously, or as homeless as people were in this frosty part of the world--maybe living in an aunt's garage or on her old roommate's couch, common around Woodchuck (actually Woodchurch, though the nickname was use more often), population six thousand, more when college was in session, just your average Maine town, rural and self-sufficient."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


What do you think?


Feel free to join in and post the Intro from one of your reads by linking below.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Blatherings ~ Books and Movies


I love Sundays - especially those when I can throw on some sweats and never leave the house -- like today. A relaxing breakfast, a few cups of coffee, a crock pot full of chicken soup starting to smell wonderful, and a cookbook opened to desserts made from apples.  Life is good.

Movies - 

I've been on a bit of winning streak with picking great movies, so much so that my husband has told me he'll let me pick the next one as well.  Last week it was Gone Girl and this week The Judge (Robert Downey Jr and Robert Duvall (just awesome).  Have you seen  it?  Next pick will be Birdman (Michael Keaton and Ed Norton), provided it gets a full release as it's only in select cities right now.

Books - 

I've got a few books going right now and have been switching off depending on how tired I am.  Edge of Eternity (audio/eGalley) Ken Follett (very good), The Girl Who Fell From the Sky; Heidi Durrow (very good) and Nora Webster; Colm Toibin (very good) (audio/eGalley).

New Books - 
I added (4) books to my shelves last week, but gave away about (30) that I never read so I guess I am ahead of the game (in my mind).
Enjoy Your Day!

Friday, October 24, 2014

2014 Kids Books ~ Candlewick Press - I'm My Own Dog; David Ezra Stein and Sam and Dave Dig a Hole; Mac Barnett (Jon Klassen, Illus)

I'm My Own Dog; David Ezra Stein
Candlewick Press - 2014

I'm My Own Dog is an adorable story about a dog who seemed quite content being "his own dog" and not needing anyone in his life.  

One day all that changes when he has an itch that is driving him crazy and that he cannot reach no matter how hard he tries.  He let's a human scratch his back for him and it felt good. Soon the human followed him home and the dog began to show the human all the things he liked to do alone.  Before long each has a new best friend.

My granddaughter loved this book and so did I. It's one of those books that will be read over and over again. It's a keeper.  The drawings are so cute and colorful, the typeface is fun and bold, with just the right amount of words on each page. Be sure to add this one to your bookshelves; a perfect preschool choice.

5/5 stars
(sent by publisher)

Sam and Dave Dig a Hole; Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen (illustrator)
Candlewick Press - 2014

Sam and Dave decide to dig a hole and they are determined to keep digging until the find something "spectacular."  They dig down deep, deeper --nothing. They dig side ways --nothing, they even split up in different directions --still nothing.  Each illustration shows them digging themselves into deeper and deeper trouble; exhausted by all of the digging, Sam and Dave fall asleep.

When they wake up what has happened made me scratch my head and think...what the heck? It's one of those stories where different readers will have different opinions on what has happened. Personally, I feel like I was left in the dust.

The illustrations are cute and very well done in earth tones on a matte finish. This is probably not a good choice for preschool children in my opinion as there isn't much to discuss other than to point out how big the hole is getting as they dig.  I haven't been asked to reread this one yet.

3/5 stars
(sent by publisher)

We did love Extra Yarn (2012) by this author/illustrator team though.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Purr Therapy: What Timmy & Marina Taught Me About Life, Love and Loss; Kathy McCoy PhD

 
  Kathy McCoy PhD - HCI -2014

As a cat lover, I was immediately drawn to the title "Purr Therapy", and curious about how cats, who tend to have a mind of their own, could be used as a therapy pet.  The book, which I guess you could say is part memoir was written by a psychotherapist who shares with readers how two of her cats were successfully used as pet therapy in her private practice.  She explains how the cats helped some of her clients to deal with anger, family/marital issues, loss and to lessen one's grief.

The two therapy cat's were Timmy, a Burmese and red-tabby mix, and after Timmy's needless death by way of tainted cat food, Marina, a flame-point Siamese became the next therapy cat. Sadly, Marina's life was cut short as well due to feline leukemia. Each cat had different personalities, but both could seem to sense when a client in distress needed them on their lap or close by. A therapy cat helped relax some patients and helped therapy progress.

The author shares some details of her sessions with clients and how the therapy cat would react to different types of clients. She also shares some of her personal life challenges and tells how her cats helped her and her husband in trying times, and also gives some lessons to be learned about loss and grieving.

For the most part I thought the book and photos were good, but there was some repetition, and (3) of the cats do die. One thing that really bothered me and it happened right at the beginning of the book, making me almost close it for good, was the story she told about another cat of hers - a 17 year-old cat named Freddie, who was dying from cancer and kidney failure.  According to the author , "the cancer came back, and it spread with vengeance, destroying Freddie's nose, upper lip, and palate." Devastated by the thought of losing him they gave him saline treatments at home, and yet allowed him to roam the neighborhood even when he was sick (seemed like inhumane treatment IMO)  I was really bothered by this and if it's true, it probably would have been better to leave this information out of the book.


3/5 stars
(eGalley)

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - The Boston Girl; Anita Diamant


 Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think about this novel -- would you try it? 

The Boston Girl; Anita Diamant
Scribner - December -2014

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.

 Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the na├»ve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

 Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Five Days Left; Julie Lawson Timmer

Five Days Left; Julie Lawson Timmer
Putnam - 2014

Five Days Left - How would you spend the if you knew someone that you loved was going away for good or that you had five days left to live?  Mara Nichols and Scott Coffman are the individuals for who "five days left" is reality.  The two don't know one another other than interactions in an on-line chat room for individuals with non-traditional families.

Mara is a lawyer, a wife and a mother of a child who was adopted from India and is now in kindergarten.  Adopted herself and unfamiliar with her genetic background, she receives some shocking news, a diagnosis of Huntington's disease, a disease that is always fatal, but not before the neurological impact destroys the body by way of physical, cognitive and psychological changes; There is no cure for this disease. Now as she approaches 42, Mara is seeing some of the effects of this disease.  She is planning to end her life before her body and mind are completely compromised.

Scott is a middle school teacher and foster parent to an eight-year old boy named Curtis (Little Man), a child he has fallen in love with. The child's mother is in jail, but is about to be released, and the child is to be returned to her. Scott and his wife have had the boy for one year and are pleased with his progress. Scott should be thrilled that he and his wife are expecting a baby of their own, but instead he is filled with sadness over his impending loss.

The story is told in alternating voices over the "five days left".  It is a heart wrenching story for very different reasons. It touches on many different areas -  love, sacrifice, letting go, the right to end one's life etc.  I thought Mara's character felt very real given her situation. Scott's situation was compelling as well.  This is a very good debut novel, but definitely not a book for everyone. It is an emotional read, but I do think it would make a good choice for book club discussions.

4.5/5 stars
(review copy)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - What Nora Knew; Linda Yellin


Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon. This one sounds light and fun.

What Nora Knew; Linda Yellin
Gallery Books - 2014
Prologue

Ten minutes after saying "I do" at The Garden City Hotel in Long Island, I was already having my doubts.  But how do you say "I don't" to a man who's considered quite the catch.  Everyone was constantly telling me--even strangers--that Evan Naboshek, of the firm Naboshek, Halla, and Weiss, was a fabulous hell of a prize.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What do you think?
Feel free to join in and post the Intro from one of your reads by linking below.
 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Blatherings - and New Books

Sunday has slipped by and it's almost bedtime but thought I'd do a quick post.  Did you have a good weekend?

I was not a huge fan of the novel, Gone Girl, but everyone had been raving about the movie, and heck Ben Affleck is easy on my eyes, so yesterday I convinced my husband to go see the movie. WOW WOW WOW - 2 hours and 40 minutes and it just flew by. We both LOVED the movie, so much we will be sure to see this one again multiple times when it's mass released. Have you seen the movie? What did you think?

I didn't get much reading done this weekend or review writing either for that matter. No excuses, it just wasn't in the cards.  I did get some new books in the mail over the last few weeks that look rather good.

Have a Good Week All and Happy Reading


 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Leaving Time; Jodi Picoult

Leaving Time; Jodi Picoult
Ballantine Books and Random House Audio
October - 2014


Jodi Picoult's latest book, Leaving Time, touched me on so many levels. It explores not only the mother/child bond of humans and of elephants, making the reader see how very similar human mothers and elephants mothers are when it comes to emotional bonds and grieving.

The story begins with 13-year-old Jenna Metcalf, a young girl longing to know what happened to her mother. Alice Metcalf was a scientist who had been studying grief among the elephant population. Ten years earlier there was a terrible accident at an elephant sanctuary when Jenna was just three-years old. Mother and daughter have not seen each other since. Jenna's dad, also an elephant researcher, has been in a psychiatric hospital since the accident, and Jenna has been raised by her grandmother, who does not want to talk about what happened.

Jenna is desperate to find out whether her mother is living or dead as her body was never found. She solicits the help of a once well-respected psychic, Serenity Jones, who after some shady dealings claims that she lost the ability she once possessed. Serenity isn't any too anxious to work with someone Jenna's age. There is also a former detective, PI, turned alcoholic, by the name of Virgil Stanhope, who was the detective assigned to Alice's case initially. Virgil feels guilty about the way the investigation of the incident at the sanctuary was handled, and agrees to help.

Meanwhile, Jenna wonders that if in fact her mother is still alive somewhere why did she leave her and why hasn't she even attempted to contact her?

Leaving Time is a wonderful story about the mother/child bond and about the way we grieve. The story takes the reader to an animal sanctuary in New Hampshire to an elephant preserve in Africa. The story is told in split narrative format, much like the author's previous novels. This format works extremely well exploring with each character their POV on the mystery of Alice's disappearance.  I loved the characters in this novel (faults and all), and enjoyed learning so much about the emotional lives of elephants. I think the author did a wonderful job researching and detailing her findings.  Some of what she writes made me smile and some made me tear up. The entire novel was a page-turner for me, but the ending packed a punch and totally took me by surprise.  
 
The audio version is read by multiple narrators: Rebecca Lowman, Abigail Revasch, Kathe Mazur, Mark Deakins who made for a great listening experience. Highly recommended

5/5 stars
(eGalley and audio book)
Ballantine Books / Random House Audio

Thursday, October 16, 2014

A Dog's Journey; W. Bruce Cameron

A Dog's Journey; W. Bruce Cameron
Macmillian Audio - 2012

 A Dog's Journey is the sequel to W. Bruce Cameron’s,  A Dog’s Purpose which I listened to and enjoyed several years ago. In this story, which picks up where the other left off after Ethan, Buddy’s former owner, had passed away. Buddy thought his life was over as well, but he learns that he still has a purpose, and he lives again as companion and protector to Clarity who just happens to be his former master’s granddaughter, who he knew as a baby in his previous life. 

Buddy, now known as Molly, is with Clarity through some difficult times. Clarity’s mother is not your ideal mother. She is very critical of all that her daughter does and the poor girl has no self-confidence or self-esteem. She has a friend who cares deeply about her, yet she latches on to a bad seed who spells trouble, with school suspensions and run-ins with the police.  Meanwhile, Clarity’s witchy mother ignores the poor dog, leaves it in the basement and doesn’t even bother to feed it for days, while her daughter is away. Molly, on the other hand, while extremely hungry can only think about where “his girl” Clarity is and worries about who is watching out for her. The story follows Clarity through some difficult times with her faithful dog's everlasting love there to support her.

I like stories with dogs as narrators, and this one was particularly funny, honest and insightful. Without going into all of the little details of the story, I’ll just say that even though there are sad parts, and a few slow parts as well, A Dog’s Journey, is ultimately a “feel good” story that demonstrates how kind and loyal dogs are to those they love, and just what unconditional love is all about. I think us humans could surely learn a thing of two about humanity if we saw other people in the way our beloved pets see us.

The audio book was read by George K. Wilson who did a fine job.

4/5 stars
(library audio book)

Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You - Driftwood; Elizabeth Dutton

 Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think about this novel -- would you try it? 

Driftwood; Elizabeth Dutton
Skyhorse Publishing- November - 2014

How far would you go for your family? A smart and funny debut about road trips, music, love, and California for fans of The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Run River and Killing Yourself to Live.

Los Angeles, California: Clem Jasper is a trust fund kid with a world famous rock musician for a father. When he dies suddenly (playing ping pong) she discovers he’s left her a strange legacy—a series of letters that take her on a mysterious road trip around California. Ignoring her aunt’s suggestion that she pitch the trip as a reality show, she embarks on her own—to discover just what it was that her father meant her to find. What secret could be so powerful that he had to die before telling her?

With a voice reminiscent of Rainbow Rowell, Dutton’s Driftwood is a surprising, poignant, and funny debut. Dutton perfectly captures the mythology of California with this bright and unusual take on the freedom of the open road, the power of music, and what it means, even in the midst of grief, to be a family. Fans of The Perks of Being A Wallflower, Run River and Killing Yourself to Live will find much to savor here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros - How to Be a Good Wife; Emma Chapman


Every Tuesday I host First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where I share the first paragraph or (a few) of a book I am reading or thinking about reading soon.


How To Be a Good Wife; Emma Chapman
St. Martin's Press - 2013
(1)

"Today, somehow, I am a smoker.

I did not know this about myself. As far as I can remember, I have never smoked before.

It feels unnatural, ill-fitting, for a woman of my age: a wife, a mother with a grown-up son, to sit in the middle of the day with a cigarette between her fingers.  Hector hates smoking.  He always coughs sharply when we walk behind someone smoking on the street, and I imagine his vocal cords rubbing together, moist and pink like chicken flesh."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
What do you think?

Feel free to join in and post the Intro from one of your reads by linking below.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Blatherings - books and pics

Good Morning Readers

Sitting here with a warm comforter, hot cup of coffee and 63 degree indoor temps this chilly morning. I think I need to flip the gas fireplace switch and get the chill out.  Columbus Day weekend has always been a favorite weekend of mine.  I am off from work on Monday, plus I'm taking Tuesday off, so a 4-day weekend makes me happy.

Yesterday dh and I took a ride to the Berkshires for some leaf peeping and a stop at the outlet malls. My (3) favorite stores: Ann Taylor, Talbots and Eddie Bauer had everything in the store on sale for either 60%, 50% or 40% off (imagine how much $$ they make when there isn't a sale).  I got some great bargain and who doesn't love new clothes.

My oldest granddaughter (2.5 years-old) was a flower girl in a wedding in the Berkshires yesterday. I haven't seen all of the pictures yet, but here are a few taken with the iPhone.


flower girl
sisters - October 11th 2014
precious E - 3months

Today we will be visiting my son, DIL and precious E above and will get in even more leaf peeping as they live in a beautiful wooded area with nothing but trees. Tomorrow is a trip to the apple orchards and hopefully I'll be making apple crisp tomorrow night, and then Tuesday another day trip and out for lunch somewhere or if it rains, maybe we'll go and see Gone Girl. 

Reading Notes
About a week ago I finished Jodi Picoult's new book, Leaving Time, which releases this Tuesday, and I just loved it.  It's a very emotional story about a 13 year-old girl who is trying to find out what happened to her mother, a scientist who disappeared while studying the plight of elephants and their emotional attachment to their young. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive this far. This may be my favorite book of the year. No review yet, it's one I've made lots of notes on as I read. 

I'm also listening Edge of Eternity (Book 3); Ken Follett which I am loving and also listening to A Dog's Purpose, W. Bruce Cameron (narrated by a dog) which is good as well. I'm also reading a non fiction book called Purr Therapy; Kathy McCoy, which is making me very angry as I read. (I'll share my reasons when I review this one).
New Books


Have a great weekend everyone!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Memories of a Marriage; Louis Begley

Memories of a Marriage; Louis Begley
Nan Talese - 2013

Memories of a Marriage is narrated by Philip, a novelist who has recently lost the love of his life to cancer. Now in his golden years, somewhere around the age of 70, fond memories of Bella and also his young daughter who died help him through the rough times. Philip and Bella did everything together, they traveled extensively and even shared office space (Bella was also a writer).
One day while Philip was attending the ballet, he runs into Lucy De Bourgh, a Rhode Island heiress that Philip knew from his post grad school days in Paris, and a woman who he and many others had a one-night stand with. Lucy was a trust fund baby and a woman with quite the reputation back then. She married Thomas Snow, whose family was beneath her social status and breeding. Snow’s father was a Newport, RI garage repair owner and his wife a bookkeeper. Despite this, Thomas made it big - he graduated from Harvard and had a successful career as an international investment banker and economist. Lucy and Thomas divorced, and although Thomas remarried, he has since passed on.
Lucy and Philip begin talking after the ballet and Lucy begins speaking negatively about her former husband and their marriage, referring to him as a "monster". Philip is shocked and curious about how he could have had such a different impression of what their life together was like. As the two begin seeing one another, Philip becomes more and more obsessed about finding out more about the couple he thought he knew. Each time they meet the bitter Lucy adds a new piece to the puzzle.  Philip begins to speak with old friends and family who knew the couple to find out more. He even learns that Thomas’s second wife, Jane, had a totally different opinion of Thomas and of their life together.
This was a very different story from anything I’ve read recently.  Lucy is an unlikable character to the extreme. The pace is slow, the dialogue is long, yet somehow it seemed to work.  The slow pace worked, older people reflecting on their memories of life and love. Just under 200 pages, there is no real action in the story, but it leaves you with much to think about. [Only the couple in the marriage knows what it’s really like.] It makes you think about the choices we’ve made and how we react when we realize our marriage is less than ideal. Do we leave the relationship, stay together, grow bitter or do we accept the fact that no one is perfect and remain together making the best of it.
4/5 stars
(eGalley)


Friday, October 10, 2014

Landline; Rainbow Rowell


Landline; Rainbow Rowell
St. Martin's Press - MacMillian Audio
I finished this audio book a while ago and while the story is still pretty fresh in my mind, I wanted to share my thoughts.
Landline, takes place over a few days around Christmas. 30-something, Georgie McCool, the main character, tells her husband Neal that she can’t join the family who plan to visit Neal’s mother in Omaha because she has just ten days to work on her new television sitcom project with her writing partner Seth in LA. Her husband, Neal, isn’t any too happy, they argue and he then decides to go anyway with their two daughters. The minute they leave for the airport, Georgie begins wondering whether their marriage is over.

Georgie is so upset she isn’t getting much work done so she goes to her mother’s house in a town close by and camps out in her old bedroom, which is now a trophy room for her show dogs. Anxious to talk to Neil, she finds her cellphone dead, but an old rotary “landline” phone still in her closet from her teen days saves the day.  She plugs the phone into the jack and calls Neil’s mother’s house. Neil’s deceased dad answers the phone and they talk. Georgie is sure that she is going crazy, but after talking to Neil she begins to realize that the magical “landline” phone is a link to the past –fifteen years past. Their conversations provide insight into where their marriage took some bad turns.

Is this marriage doomed? Or will the magical phone save the relationship?

I was a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park and was anxious to try this one as well.  I found the writing both funny and touching, especially when she captures her characters when they are clearly not thinking straight. This story is all about communication and how important it is to make a marriage work.  For me, the whole “landline” magical phone was a bit much at times, but in the end it made the story fall into place with good results.  The audiobook was read by Rebecca Lowman, who did an outstanding job –even with Neal’s voice. This book will not appeal to all Rowell fans I suspect, but it’s still worth a try.

3.5/5 stars
(audiobook library)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Coming Soon to a Book Store near You - On the Edge; Edward St. Aubyn


Here's my "Coming Soon to a Book Store Near You" pick for today.  What do you think about this novel -- would you try it?  


 On the Edge; Edward St. Aubyn
Picador - October 2014

FROM THE MAN BOOKER–SHORTLISTED AUTHOR OF THE PATRICK MELROSE NOVELS

Called “the most brilliant novelist of his generation” (Alan Hollinghurst), Edward St. Aubyn captivated and astonished readers and critics alike with his mesmerizing quintet, the Patrick Melrose novels. Its publication introduced one of the most complex and fascinating protagonists in modern fiction.

Now being published for the first time in America, On the Edge is an uproarious and sharply rendered satire of the New Age, which shows St. Aubyn at his finest.

Peter Thorpe is disillusioned with his conventional life as a merchant banker until he meets Sabine, the most enchanting and enigmatic woman he’s ever encountered. His desire for her reaches such a pitch that he overturns his whole life, leaving everything behind to follow her into the stronghold of the New Age movement among the stunning peaks and valleys of Big Sur, California. There he meets an eccentric cast of spiritual seekers, joining them in pursuit of that elusive something (happiness?), which he never before dared to imagine possible.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

That Night; Chevy Stevens

That Night; Chevy Stevens
St. Martins Press/Blackstone Audio

That Night tells the story of Toni Murphy, a young woman who is released from prison in 2012 after serving nearly 15 years for the murder of her sister, a crime she didn't commit, but was found guilty of. She's an angry young woman and bitter for what she has had to endure by being locked in prison unjustly.  Upon her release, she finds all the people she cared about are either dead or do not want her in their lives. Even Ryan, her old boyfriend who she still cares for is off limits as part of her parole, (he was seen as a bad seed and together the two were wild and into trouble as teens). The only positive thing seems to be the fact that her old boss has given her a job and she has a place to live. 

The story is told in two timelines - Toni's high school days where she has been tormented by the in-crowd, her time in prison and her release and her search for the truth about who murdered her sister Nicole.  The story is told from Toni's perspective and moves kind of slow in the first half of the book. I wanted to believe Toni was innocent, even though we know she was a wild child, that she had  a less than perfect childhood and that she was subjected to intense bullying at school. I often felt bad for Toni and could understand why she was constantly wondering when the next bad thing was going to happen to her.

Toni also came across at times as an unreliable narrator, so on occasion I wondered whether she could have played a part in her sister's death. Yes, this story is part mystery, and there are a few twists along the way, but it also felt like a psychological character study as well.  Overall, this was an okay  -- who-dun-it, even though I wanted to hurry it along at times. The audio book was read by Jorjeana Marie who did a decent job with the narration, but another case I switched between both the eGalley and audio.

3.5/5 stars (audio and ebook)

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Farm; Tom Rob Smith

The Farm; Tom Rob Smith
Grand Central Publishing - 2014

I’ve heard wonderful things about author Tom Rob Smith, but hadn’t read any of his work.  His latest book, The Farm was picked up on my radar and I decided to give it a try.
In this story Daniel is a Londoner living a content life with his partner. His parents, Chris and Tilde have left London and retired to a rural farm in Sweden where Tilde grew up. The farm needs lots of work, but it’s what his parents wanted so he’s happy for them.  One day Daniel gets a telephone call from his father Chris in Sweden saying ….
"Your mother's not well.  She's been imagining things - terrible, terrible things. She's had a psychotic breakdown, and has been committed to a mental hospital." 
Unsure what to think, when Daniel speaks to his mother, she says….
 "I'm sure your father has spoken to you. Everything that man has told you is a lie. I'm not mad. I don't need a doctor. I need the police. I'm about to board a flight to London. Meet me at Heathrow."  
Tilde claims that Chris is involved in a criminal conspiracy. She tells her son that because of this conspiracy, he wants her out of the way. What’s a son to believe, has his mother had a psychotic breakdown? He agrees to meet his mother, Tilde, at the airport and let her stay at his home.
So the unraveling of the mystery begins.  Although Tilde seems to have done her homework, having evidence to prove what she believes to be the truth, as a reader I kept asking myself, is she a reliable narrator or is she overreacting? Just who should Daniel believe?  
I initially started this book on audio, and while it started off very strong,  there were lots of distractions and interruptions as Tilde tries to make her case by telling her story. I found the audio format too scattered. I switched to the eBook and was glad I did. This is an engaging story filled with suspense. Tilde’s recaps seemed believable, yet I still had my doubts about her reliability. The story did drag a bit in parts as Tilde attempts to get through her story, there were always phone calls or something to delay her from just “getting on with it”, all while son Daniel listens and questions her. Ultimately, Daniel needs to visit “the farm” and do his own investigation to decide for himself what is true and what may have been imagined.
It’s a great premise for a novel, and I think that this one felt like somewhat of a psychological thriller, even though there is not any real action. I guess you will have to read it for yourself and decide. For me, although not perfect, it is one of those books that I’ll be thinking about this one for a while.

4/5 (eGalley/audio)