Be omnivorous, don't just read one kind of book, read everything. - Richard Wagamese

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Review: The Queen of Palmyra by Minrose Gwin

Publisher: Harper Perennial 
Pages: 432 
Source: Publisher 

Florence Forrest is an eleven year old living in a small segregated town in Mississippi. Her ordinary life changes when she learns about the impact of racial divides. Her father Win, is a burial insurance salesman with a detestable but not uncommon past-time. Her mother Martha is predominantly supporting the family baking cakes for the neighborhood. Tensions rise and fall in her household. Win's racist comments and ideas are not shared by his wife. Despite his opinions and dominance Martha has her own indiscretions. Try as she might, Florence cannot keep her family together. Her mother's moonshine purchases have become more increasing, and she has begun placing the liquid in a bottle marked 'poison.' Her father has a secret briefcase under lock and key that must never be opened, but he has been frequently leaving during the middle of the night. Florence has been keeping many of their secrets and her parents have begun to distance themselves from her. Her meals become less and less frequent, and no one seems to be noticing that her clothes are ragged and too small. When Florence is in need, she depends on her wealthy grandparents. Throughout the summer she begins to spend more and more time at her grandparents. As a result, she begins to spend an increasing amount of time with their black housekeeper Zenie who begins to tell her the story of Zenobia, The Queen of Palmyra. Zenie becomes a great influence on Florence. Zenie's beautiful, ambitious niece Eva is a strong believer of change and progress. As tensions rise amongst the community, she is assaulted. Florence notices the change in Zenie's demeanor and her ignorance begins to shed. Florence opens her eyes to a new world, a world where her bonds with both the white community and the separated black community has left her torn. 

I thought the book was very well written, and I did enjoy it but I felt like there was something missing. It took long for me to get into the story, and I had to put it aside for awhile. This was due to other book obligations but I had no problem setting it aside. However, when I did pick it up and the pace picked up, I really began to enjoy the novel. I loved Florence, she was a great character. Her innocence shined throughout the novel, and her attachment to her family and Zenie's family was heart wrenching. She lived in a world where she was neglected but she couldn't help but love everyone. As a young child she noticed their flaws, and didn't hold grudges against them. Her relationship with her mother was sincere. She acknowledged her mothers issues, and she tried to understand her. As the story progressed Florence's situation becomes horrific and this novel takes a dark turn. I think each reader will have to read this one on their own, and form their own opinions. I think it was a very interesting read, but it didn't mesh well for me. I do not want my rating to discourage others from reading this one, you really have to read it for yourself.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: Forgotten by Cat Patrick

Publisher: Little Brown
Source: Publisher
Pages: 304
Forgotten is a great debut novel that will leave readers wanting to flip the pages as fast as possible. It may seem like just another book dealing with "memory loss"  but it is an original, unique debut novel. Since London Lane was 6 years old, she has had to deal with a very peculiar problem at precisely 4:33 am London Lane's memories are erased each day, her mind resets and her yesterday is gone. She must rely on detailed notes and her best friend Jamie to begin a new day as normal as possible, convincing everyone around her that she is just forgetful, not damaged. Her note book and cellphone can get her through most days, but lack of details and London may wear the same thing as yesterday, forget her gym clothes, forget a test or forget those around her. Another key trait about London is the fact that she can view glimpses from the future. This helps her gets through by remembering things from the future, she knows her mother, her locker combination and her best friend since they all remain in her future she has no issues knowing who or what they are in the morning. Life gets a little more complicated when Luke Henry comes to town, and London really doesn't want to forget who he is. While she can't seem to see him in her future, she hopes there is a mistake or something that she is missing. London and Luke bond despite her worries however, Jamie and London's friendship falls apart. Jamie struggles with having a friend who can see her future and wants to protect her. Jamie demands that London leave her learn her life lessons on her own. A book that deals with everyday struggles, made all the more complicated by amnesia. 
I really enjoyed "Forgotten" it was a fast-paced read and I haven't read a book like this in awhile. I really loved the characters- London is such an enjoyable character, I was rooting for her from the beginning. I loved Luke and thought there was something more to his story- I was right. I struggled with Jamie, I guess she is just the frustrated teenager who believes she knows best. I did find some holes in the story, I wasn't sure how London could wake up every morning and not be completely astray. It might have something to do with the memories she does hold but I wanted more explanations. Many twists and turns are quickly settled and a great mystery is uncovered. Cat Patrick did a great job, she will leave you wondering "what if." This debut novel is entrancing, absorbing and one you won't want to pass up. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Review: Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella

Publisher: The Dial Press
Source: Personal Ebook
Pages: 448

Lara Lington is going through a rough patch, she withdrew all her savings to start up a headhunting company with her best friend, but her best friend has run off to Goa to live with her new boyfriend. Lara's boyfriend Josh dumped her by email and Lara has no idea why-she's devastated. Lara Lington has to attend her 105 year old great aunt Sadie's funeral. None of the family members really know much about Sadie or her roaring 20's past. Only a few family members attend the funeral, and it seems quite cold. When Sadie's ghost appears before Lara, Lara learns quickly she must agree to help Sadie find her lost neckless if she wants Sadie to stop yelling at her. Lara and Sadie compliment each other in the novel, they help each other come out of their shell. A fun read, filled with many twists and turns.

Twenties Girl' is a light, fun, entertaining read. I bought the ebook based on the author. I've read all the Shopaholic books and really enjoyed Kinsella's writing. This is not at all like the Shopaholic books, but good nonetheless. I really enjoyed this novel. It was not what I expected but I quickly fell in love with the characters. If I would have knew it was a ghost story, I probably wouldn't have picked it up but i'm glad I stuck with it. It was a refreshing read and kept me entertained the whole way through.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

In My Mailbox

I'm back!!! I had a great vacation, and I'm excited to share the books I received. I didn't get as much reading done as I would have liked, but I enjoyed the books I did get to read. Reviews will come soon.

Here is what I got:

Promises, Promises by Erica James ( I have a different cover)

Bought a signed copy of J'Adore New York by Isabelle Lacleche

Happy reading everyone!

If you are interested I have created a Facebook page for my blog. Please feel free to "like" my page.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Review: The Cinderella Society by Kay Cassidy

Publisher: Egmont 
Pages: 303 
Source: Publisher 

Jess Parker is sixteen years old and prefers to remain invisible. She's changed school nine times in the last ten years. Once again she has moved to a new town, new school and has no friends. She's on the cheerleading squad, does volunteer work and works at her grandmother's store. Jess is also being targeted by Lexy, the girl who believes Jess stole her place on the cheerleading squad. Jess may be an outsider but she is not a pushover. On her last day of school she receives a unusual invitation and before she knows it, she is being sworn into an exclusive secret society. The Cinderella Society strives to create confident, compassionate, loyal girls. The Cindy's are on a mission to give girls confidence and bring good to the world. They vow to bring down the Wicked's who prey on girls with low self-esteem. Jess is given a makeover both physically and mentally which causes her crush to take notice. The only problem is Ryan is Lexy's brother. Lexy is a member of the Wicked's, and Jess is committed bring down Lexy.

I had seen this book on another blogger's site, and added it to my wishlist. I was very excited to have Egmont provide me with a review copy. 'The Cinderella Society' is an empowering novel for young girls with a positive message. I loved Jess's transformation. Her transformation was gradual, and at times she wasn't sure of herself. However, in the end she knew who she was and did her best to help others. She was a confident girl who had her own faults. I really enjoyed the fact that the popular girls at school were not the stereotypical mean girls. Even though the Cindy's were trying to do good, Jess often questioned their actions. Jess had her own way of dealing with Lexy. This was a refreshing book with a new concept. It was an easy, enjoyable read.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Review: The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E Pearson

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co
Pages: 272
Source: Personal Copy

Jenna Fox has been lying comatose for a year, after a tragic accident she wasn't expected to survive. Upon waking up, Jenna does not recall anything, including who she is. She struggles to figure out who she is by continually watching home videos hoping to jog her memory. Fragments slowly come back to her but they mean nothing to her. She does not feel connected to the Jenna in the videos, or the Jenna in her memory. Some things are really confusing for Jenna. How can she remember things that happened when she was an infant but not her most recent years? How can she remember so many facts, and school curriculum? She remembers history facts but is told history was never her subject. Jenna becomes suspicious of her parents, and rightfully so. Her parents are very secretive and locked doors are common in her house. Her grandmother seems very distant and cold, despite the fact she remembers they were very close before the accident. Why does her grandmother seem to avoid her? When Jenna beings to piece her past together, and she begins to figures out their secret, she does not like what she learns. It raises more difficult questions for her. Is she still the old Jenna or is the old Jenna gone? Where does she go from here? 

The Adoration of Jenna Fox is one of the most imaginative, haunting stories i've read in awhile. I was hooked from the first page, and I felt sad to finish and leave Jenna behind. I felt Jenna's frustration and confusion throughout the novel. I also felt for her parents. Jenna was perfect in their eyes. She was their miracle child, and they would stop at nothing to protect her. This book will not disappoint. I will be looking for more novels by Mary E Pearson.

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Review: Tethered by Amy Mackinnon

Publisher: Broadway
Pages: 272
Source: Personal Copy

The protagonist Clare Marsh is a mortician who lives a rather secluded life. We learn that Clare's childhood was not at all happy. She lived a life of emotional and sexual abuse and ran away at a young age. She seems at peace among the dead and most uncomfortable among the living. Her boss Linus and his wife Alma believe themselves to be orphan parents since their young son passed away. They see Clare as an orphan child and love to treat her as their daughter but Clare never fully opens up to them, she does not know how to accept affection and always remains distant. She is constantly thinking about how she is suppose to react in any given situation. Claire is always on guard and she tries to keep her emotions in check. When a young girl named Trecie is found playing in the funeral home, and believed to be linked to an unsolved murder case. Clare sees herself in Trecie, her same desperation and decides she must do whatever she can to help her. Unlike the people in her life who blatantly refused to help her. 

This story in unlike anything I've read before. Tethered took me by surprise and brought me on an emotional ride. It's not the type of novel I usually read, I tend to stay away from mystery novels. I was captivated by this haunting story from the beginning. As a debut novelist, I hope Amy Mackinnon will write more books. Her writing is beautiful, and I just wanted to keep turning the pages. 

The cover, is stunning!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Review: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel

Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. 
Source: Personal Copy 
Pages: 657 

In Wolf Hall Hilary Mantel brings her readers into the ruthless court of the famous Henry VIII. Mantel portray Thomas Cromwell and allows him to tell his story through the first person narrative. Thomas Cromwell a self made man, who rose from being abused by his blacksmith father to being the man standing beside Henry. Henry was focused and determined to annul his marriage to Katherine and marry Anne Boleyn. A young beautiful girl would bring no treaty, no land and no money to the crown. Despite his advisors wanting to marry him to a french princess, Henry had his own goals in mind. Anne Boleyn would be his wife and he would stop at nothing to ensure she would be his. Although, his legal team are not sure how to present Anne Boleyn as a credible match. Thomas Cromwell had a huge influence over Henry and through 'Wolf Hall' we are brought behind the scenes with Henry's legal team. 

Wolf Hall is a large novel, meticulously researched and very well written. There are countless books written about the Tudors and I've never read anything like this before. The style is very distinct and enjoyable. However, at times it is confusing. I don't recommend this book if you don't have a firm knowledge about the Tudors. There are many Thomas' however, that is the fault of Tudor England. At times I had trouble with the flow of the novel. I believe it is due to that large size, I did try to pace myself but found myself not wanting to pick it up. It's the type of novel you can't pick up for 10 minutes you really need to devote time to reading it. 

This book has many mixed reviews and I do see both perspectives. I think the style was different for many readers. Although, I did enjoy the novel it is not one of my favorite reads. I think Mantel is an amazing writer but I had a hard time remaining interested in the book. I kept wondering who 'he' was. I felt like I hardly ever came into contact with Anne or Henry. Main characters in Tudor England have minimal roles in the novel. The book reads more as a dialogue between the legal team. If you're wondering if you should read this, I recommend trying it. There were times when I loved the book, and other times I felt like I would never finish. If you do read it, pace yourself.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Review: After The Moment by Garrey Freymann-Weyr

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 
Pages: 328 
Source: Personal Copy 

'After The Moment' begins with Leigh and Maia Moreland meeting at an unexpected function, a few years after high school. It's clear that Leigh and Maia have impacted each others lives, leaving them awkward and apprehensive to be in each others presence once again. Leigh Hunter was a golden boy, star athlete, and honour roll student. Maia Moreland was a self-proclaimed train wreck, battling anorexia and self-mutilation. Leigh meets Maia, when his stepsister suddenly looses her stepfather. Meggie is distraught, and Leigh's father seeks out his for assistance. Soon after, Leigh decides to move in with his father to spend more time with Meggie. In his final year of high school, Leigh faces many challenges. 

First and foremost, I did not feel any attachment to these characters. I felt like I was watching this story, but thought it was completely inconceivable. I felt like Leigh was too adaptable. He allows everyone to speak for him, and goes along with whatever he is told. When Meggie asks him to move in, he agrees. When his mother moves in with her boyfriend, he agrees. When Maia is battling her issues, he helps her in every way possible. I felt like he had no real emotions and nothing really disturbed him. His mother also had no real emotions, even though her son has chosen not to live with her. When Leigh's father is coaxing Maia to eat a few more morsels of food, it felt completely bizarre. She has to eat food in order to visit her stepfather in prison. I really bothered me that there was so many 'step' relations. Maia's family seemed to be nonexistent. Honestly, this story really annoyed me

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Review: The Life O'Reilly by Brian Cohen

Publisher: iuniverse 
Pages: 266 
Source: Author 

Does money takes precedence over happiness? Nick O'Reilly is a successful, high profile attorney, working as a partner in a prestigious law firm. He has all the luxuries that money can offer. Nick defends corporate giants in litigation, not something he would have chosen, just something that he happens to be really good at it. Nick is sure his father would turn in his grave, if he knew his son defended the same men he despised. Corporate giants who prey on whomever they can. Nick's best friend has dreams of them opening their own independent firm taking on entertainment clients. However, Nick prefers the stability of Williams Gardner & Schmidt, now that he has made junior partner he hopes to pass on more work to his associates. Nick's professional world changes when the firm assigns him their first Pro Bono domestic dispute case. The firm is worried about their image, and they hope the Pro Bono case will bring positive publicity. Nick is firmly told not to let this case interfere with their 'paying' clients who remain top priority. Nick soon finds his thoughts wrapped up in Dawn and her son Jordan. Nick begins questioning his professional career, he knows his Pro Bono works is the type of work that really makes a difference in this world. Regardless of what he believes, his firm is set in their ways. He will always be trying to prove his worth. Nick and Dawn unsuspectingly being to fall for each other, threatening Nick's law career and life as he knew it. The Life O'Reilly has many twists and turns and the ending is very unexpected and heart-wrenching. 

A pleasant surprise! I really didn't know what to expect from this novel. I quickly found myself absorbed in this novel. A great life-affirming novel. When I closed the book, I kept staring at it, shocked. I highly recommend this one. Brian Cohen did an amazing job bringing these characters alive. Nick, a man who is trying to find meaning in life. Dawn, a scared young woman trying to open one door, when another one closes. My favorite character was Phil, Nick's boss. He's the typical, money-hungry executive, who thinks work comes first and family second. Nick often bites his tongue, and I wished he would have shut him up. Anyone would be tempted to throw something at him... 

Again, I highly recommend this one. It was great! Unpredictable and thought provoking.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Review: Beguiled by Deanne Gist and J. Mark Bertrand

Publisher: Bethany House 
Pages: 332 
Source: Publisher 

Rylee Monroe is a struggling dog walker in the historic district of Charleston, South Carolina. As a young child she lived among the well-to-do residents. However, her parents left her with few resources and now she is the sole provider for her grandmother living in an upscale nursing home. Oddly, many of Rylee's clients have had items stolen from their homes and then donated to non-profit organizations. The systematic burglar, quickly becomes known as the Robin-Hood thief. Money doesn't seem to be his or her motive. As the break-ins continue, the violence is escalated and seems to become more personal. Since Rylee seems to not be far when the crime's occur, the police are keeping an eye on the local dog walker who has access to these houses. As the police begin questioning Rylee, she becomes defensive and appalled by their treatment of her. They begin to belittle her, and reminding her of her painful family history. A family history she is not forthcoming about, and tries to conceal. Logan, a local reporter hot-on-the-trail of the Robin-Hood burglar begins to realize that Rylee is right in the middle of these burglaries. Rylee is now terrified of the streets of Charleston herself. She has a distinct feeling that someone is following her and when her car window is broken and her intimates stolen, her terror is heightened. However, with the police interrogating her, she has a hard time asking for help. Logan, is drawn to Rylee, he wants to help her, he wants to believe her, but every now and then he wonders if the police may be right. 

Overall Impression: 

Beguiled was an intriguing suspense read. I really enjoyed this fast-paced novel. Deeanna Gist a romance novelist, and J. Mark Bertrand a suspense writer wove a great romantic mystery. I have never read anything from either writer, but I will be on the lookout for more of their writing. I loved the two voices of the novel. The reader is in for a treat when Rylee and Logan's perspectives are rotated. This novel is a Christian Fiction novel, and I did not find it too preachy. I thought it was believable and relatable. The plot twists were great. I had a feeling who was involves in the thefts, but it was much more complex then I imagined. I really enjoyed the romance thrown into the book, it added another dimension to the novel. I didn't want to put this one down. I will be recommending this one to friends. 

I really liked the cover on this one. The rich curtains, the strong doorway did remind me of the rich neighbourhood. Although, Rylee did treat her clients like family she was always looking in. She was never apart of them. I was even impressed when I was reading and there is a mention of Rylee's short hair, I flipped to the cover and yes, the model has shorter hair. Covers really do impact me. If a book has a beautiful cover, I will tend to pick it up and read what it is about. I thought the cover was well done. I'm just not sure what the model is wearing, it looks a little outdated.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Review The Duggars: 20 and Counting. Raising One of American's Largest Families- How They Do it. by Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar

Publisher: Howard Books 
Pages: 228 
Source: Personal Copy 

Jim Bob and Michelle currently have 19 children. At the time this book was written, they had 17 Children. This family completely amazes me. I have a large extended family as well, and I honestly love having many aunts, uncles and cousins. I have comfort in knowing I have many people who lovingly surround me. My husband has a huge family as well. I firmly believe that extended family is very important. I first began watching 17 Kids and Counting on TLC, and thought wow! I honestly thought this family was strange, and Jim Bob and Michelle must be out of their minds to have 17 children. As I watched a few episodes, I quickly fell in love with this family. I loved how close the children were, how they function as a family, their morals, and their confidence. I love how Michelle and Jim Bob have taught their children to be strong individuals. They are not afraid to pray in front of others, they wear what they are comfortable with and I love how logical their responses are when people question or judge their 'strange' behaviour. Jim Bob and Michelle are constantly reiterate that their choices are for them. They do not push their ideas on others, they do not judge others. 

While reading 20 Kids and Counting, I was truly inspired. Michelle and Jim Bob write about their trials and tribulations as a young married couple. When they chose to leave God decide their future regarding children. They had close family question, judge and firmly state that they were doing the wrong thing. Jim Bob and Michelle stuck to their decision and didn't allow others to influence their decisions. I believe many people in today's society are influenced by others. Everyone wants to be accepted by their peers and I commend them for their strength. I love how they have instilled confidence in their children. When strangers laugh at them and call them Amish, they laugh and continue on with their day. They do not allow others to bring them down. During this book I learned a lot about the Duggars. 

Jim Bob and Michelle were robbed one night at their home. Jim Bob was held at gun point, while Michelle pregnant with Jana and John David slept in the next room with Josh. Jim Bob prayed she would stay asleep. Jim Bob, was bound and gagged while the thieves were furious with him for having a paltry eleven dollars on him. They settled with stealing some cars from their used car lot. Jim Bob was afraid, but told the man that his life was in God's hands. He was not afraid to die. Once the thief was caught, Jim Bob went to jail intending to meet with the man who held a gun to his head. Unable to meet with him, he went to a Christian Bookstore, and bought a bible to give to him. He handed it to one of the workers, who passed along the bible. This story really amazed me, because I don't think I would have the strength to do that. It's not the bible that amazes me, it's Jim Bob's ability to forgive and want to do good for others. 

Another story that I loved was 'The Pink Blanket Miracle.' Jill, their fourth child was asking her parents for a pink blanket like her sister's. She really, really wanted a pink blanket, but her parents were not doing very well financially and could not afford to buy Jill a blanket. Michelle told Jill, that she wasn't sure if a pink blanket was in her future. At this time, money was scarce and it would have been a frivolous purchase their couldn't afford. She asked Jill to pay for a pink blanket. A few days later, Jim Bob acquired a new car for the used car lot. While he was cleaning it out, he looked in the backseat and found a little pink blanket. When he brought this blanket to Jill, she was very excited! This story made me think... 

This book is filled with uplifting stories. Michelle explains how her family functions with jurisdictions, routine, patience and faith. Jim Bob and Michelle struggled, made mistakes and moved on. I'm not a devout religious person. I am catholic, I do go to church and I do not intend on having 19 children. What I took away from this book was encouragement. I tend to flip through the pages and read parts over and over again. This book really stuck with me. It's a quick read, and I'm happy to have this book. 

This book may not be for you, but I honestly loved it. I love the Duggars!

I've reread this one a few times, and I can't wait to read there newest book. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Review: Dead End Gene Pool by Wendy Burden

Publisher: Gotham Books 
Pages: 279 
Source: Publisher 

'Don't judge a person by their relatives.' 

'You can choose your friends, not your family.' 

Wendy Burden is the great-great-great granddaughter of Cornelius Vanderbilt. She was born into a wealthy, powerful, and highly dysfunctional family. The heart of the book is about children growing up among the morally declined. Children were neglected, and raised by the hired hands. A privileged life is not always a life to covet. When Wendy was six years old her father committed suicide. She remembers the night he died, and the lack of communication within the household. Wendy's father was more of an acquaintance. A man who came and went as he pleased. It's was hard to grieve for a father and man she hardly knew. Wendy was told her father had died, but no further explanations were given. Wendy Burden was a highly inquisitive child, left to alone she began sifting through a box in her attic where she came across a newspaper clipping that disclosed her father's cause of death. She was shocked but uneffected, Wendy continued on with her day. Shortly after her mother, excluded from her husband's will, leaves her children and travels the world in search of the perfect tan. Wendy and her two brothers were mandated to monthly visits to Burdenland, their grandparents estate. Boarding an airplane without any adults was typical and frequent. The general rule in the world of bluebloods, the male gender is superior, a potential heir to the fortune. The preferential treatment of her brothers was never closeted, and never expected to be closeted. Wendy, a child starved for attention coped by taking on the persona of Wednesday Adams. A child fascinated with all things morbid. Her Easy Bake Oven became her crematorium, a guillotine was built and many death plots planned while running around Burdenland. Her grandparents attempted to provide her brothers with the best education. They were sent to the 'creme de la creme' boarding schools, while she was overlooked and sent to local schools. This is a story of a dwindling family. The children may have had extravagant gifts, and lovely vacations but they were largely neglected. Burden's family had many secrets, emotional hardships, suicide and addiction became the norm. 

I loved this memoir. Wendy writes a brutally honest, dark and witty memoir. A memoir about the social elite, the bluebloods of New York. The dysfunctional family was heart wrenching and despicable but the writing was very witty. I couldn't believe the neglect. I thought the book flowed very well, and I was immediately drawn into the story. Although this is a story about childhood neglect, the writing is very funny. Burden recalls minuscule details of her childhood and I loved the Wednesday Adams anecdotes. I couldn't help but laugh. I highly recommend this one. A great twisted, entertaining coming of age story.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Review: Sweetness in the Belly by Camilla Gibb

Publisher: Anchor Canada 
Pages: 408 
Source: Personal Copy 

'Sweetness in the Belly' is a beautifully written tale about a young girl who faced harrowing circumstances. Lilly was born to carefree, drug dependant, nomadic parents. The milestones of her life coincided with the different countries she lived in. Lilly's childhood was unconventional and unstable, she was 'breast-fed in the Ukraine, weaned in Corsica, freed from [her] nappies in Sicily and walking by the time [they] got to the Algarve. Just when [she] was comfortable speaking French, [they'd] be off to Spain.' Due to the constant travel, she was deprived of having friends. The family travels end abruptly and Lilly's life is altered forever. Her parents, determined to secure narcotics leave her in the care of a friend and promise to be back within three days. Three days quickly turned to three weeks, and an 8 year old Lilly was informed that her parents were murdered in an alleyway in Morocco. She was suddenly orphaned and placed into the care of Bruce Mohammed, an Islamic convert. Lilly's new guardian shows her the way of life according to the Qur'an and an enlightened Lilly becomes a devout Muslim. After political upheaval, a sixteen year old Lilly is forced to go to the City of Harar where she is placed under the care of a destitute widow. Lilly is faced with hostile neighbors and constantly ridiculed for being a 'farenji.' Her unquestioning faith helps her endure the hardships of life. Lilly adapts, learns the language, the customs and the culture of Ethiopia. Through faith, patience, and determination Lilly finally begins to gain acceptance. Lilly slowly begins to develop feelings for a young Muslim doctor named Aziz. However, political upheaval forces her to flee to London while Aziz is left behind. Life in England is just as difficult and confusing for Lilly. She mourns for a man who may be dead or alive. She allies herself with another Ethiopian refugee named Amina and together they face life in England. Lilly becomes a young woman caught between cultures and identities, fighting for acceptance and Identity. 

I was blown away by Camilla Gibb's talent. If I had talent, and could write- I would love to write like Camilla Gibb. She writes an elegant, intricate tale of discovery and I was immediately engrossed in the novel. Lilly was a strong, determined, innocent character and I greatly admired her. The novel is set between England and Ethiopia and each section tells a very different story. Lilly was a Muslim at heart, but she was constantly having to prove who she was. She was an innocent girl caught between identities but she didn't fit the mold. This is a great book club read, and I highly recommend it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Giveaway: Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay

I've recently read and reviewed Sarah's Key, a book I really loved and can't wait to see the movie.

Today, I will be offering one audio book of Sarah's Key.

Thank you to Esther from Macmillan Audio!

Please leave a comment with your email address to be entered. If your profile has your email listed that will be sufficient.

Deadline will be August 27th. I will choose a winner randomly. US Only.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Look what I found...

I opened my review book of The Survivor by Paul Almond, and found this! This is book two in the Alford Saga. 

I was so shocked and excited! 

You can read my review here.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Review: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 288
Source: Personal Copy

Sherman Alexie has written a book that has really hit home with me. This fast-paced read is one that people of all ages will be able to relate to and appreciate what Alexie has put to paper. Junior, a 14-year-old Native American is struggling with everyday life. He’s an awkward boy and being a teenager doesn’t help, being poor is an added issue, having a disability is one more. Despite his issues, he’s quite intelligent. Despite his despair, he’s quite the humorist. School on the reservation is not up to par, at the beginning of the school year Junior is handed a math book with his mother’s name printed inside. Yes, this is the same book is mother was given many years earlier. Junior soon realizes that it may be time to go to public school off the reservation. Junior aspires to become a cartoonist, he wants to break the cycle of “rez life,” and he has the encouragement of one teacher. When Junior takes a leap of faith and transfers to an all-white top-of-the-line school, twenty miles away, he struggles with the reaction of his new peers, and the ones he left behind. Transportation to school and back every day is not easily accessible, and hiding it from everyone is even harder. Since transferring schools, he now lives between two worlds, both of which he has trouble fitting in. At school he is the Indian boy, at home he is the traitor- too good for his people, and now his best friend has turned his back on him. Junior learns that the world is not his oyster but be can’t lives with despair and hopelessness, he needs to figure out how to deal and cope with a reality that is in front of him.

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” explores many issues that are relevant today, among Natives and non-Natives. At times you will laugh along with Junior’s humor, and other times you will feel your heart break. As a Native American, who has never lived on a reservation, I wholeheartedly understand Junior. I may be on the opposite side of the fence, but I had many of the same struggles trying to identify myself. This story really brings forth the idea of everyone wanting to belong, wanting to be a part of something, but also struggling to be unique and yourself. This book has been banned in many schools and libraries, and I really wonder if those who banned the book have read it. The few squeamish details should easily be overlooked and readers need to look at the whole product. Junior is a 14-year-old-boy and his thoughts are accurate. Sometimes to learn a lesson, you need to step outside your comfort zone, stop hiding behind the minute details and experience the whole package. Junior is such a courageous, inspiring character. I never felt it was too much, Junior is not a sentimental boy, but his voice is strong and determined.

Anyone who has ever dealt with identity concerns will want to adopt Junior, and cheer him on throughout the novel. I will step off my soapbox now, but please give this book a chance! You will not regret it.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Review: Maine by J Courtney Sullivan

Publisher: Knopf
Pages: 400
Source: Personal Ebook

Maine chronicles the paths of three generations of woman, living with family secrets and uncertain futures. Maine, is the location of the Kelleher family beach house where many memories have been made both good and bad. Four generations later and Alice, the family matriarch doesn’t understand why her family is so distant. Each chapter is dedicated to one of the characters, and we see the Kelleher family through each of their eyes. As we get to know Alice, we learn that she has many grudges against her own children; her grandchildren are seen as an extension of their parents. Alice never wanted to become a mother, never felt that she was right for the role, after the death of her sister, she was married six months later to a man she grew to love. The guilt and loss of her sister remains with her to this day, a secret she wishes to keep. She raised her children as best she could, never keeping many criticisms to herself. If you were her family member, and you gained 5 pounds…you heard about it. Divorce should not be an option, even if your husband cheated on you. Kathleen is one of her children and not Alice’s favorite by any means. When Kathleen’s father fell sick, he confided in Kathleen, leaving Alice bitter. Daniel passed away ten years ago, but Kathleen and Alice have never been able to repair their relationship. Kathleen is now in California, running a successful business with the money her father left her while her family mock her from afar. Maggie is Kathleen’s daughter- currently single, and pregnant. Maggie reluctantly goes to Maine to clear her head and figure out where she needs to go from here, the downside is seeing her grandmother but she is sure she can manage. Ann Marie is the daughter-in-law, the do-gooder, and the perfect mother and wife. She tends to Alice’s needs and remains quietly frustrated that she seems to be the only one taking care of her. As much as she is frustrated she would never imagine confronting anyone. Ann Marie has many family secrets of her own, and her perfect little family isn’t as perfect as she makes them out to be. Family dysfunction at its best.

I really loved Maine, I love seeing each character’s perspective. Alice seemed like a very raw character, and at times I detested her. She seemed selfish and cruel but at the same time she tries to justify her actions. You want to hate her and feel bad for her at the same time. Maggie was by far my favorite character, and I was cheering for her throughout the novel. Kathleen is a strong independent character while Ann Marie may seem like a push-over it’s interesting to read her thoughts. I loved the colorful characters, from the war-torn years to the present the Kelleher family is unique and real. While the family briefly comes together, the impact is enormous. Highly recommended, certainly not just a beach read…pick this one up and you won’t want to put it down.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Review: Sea Witch by Helen Hollick

Publisher: Silverwood Books
Pages: 316
Source: Publicist

Jesamiah Acorne is a young, handsome pirate living life carefree. At the age of fifteen, Jesamiah has escaped his bullying older half-brother Phillippe and began to live a life at sea. Life as he knew it was great, he was a strong, successful pirate sure of himself, until an attack on a merchant ship off the South of Africa goes wrong. What he thought would be an easy win, turned difficult. As his ship is under fire by the Christina Giselle, Jesamiah notices Tiola, a young, beautiful girl on the merchant ship gazing at him. Although it seems that she is a young, innocent, insignificant girl, Tiola is an old soul trapped in a young body harboring the gift of “the craft.” As she doesn’t want him to remember her, she puts a quick spell on him. Their paths soon cross again, and Jesamiah discovers who she really is- a healer, midwife and white witch. Tiola orphaned, and alone tries to provide for her handler as a midwife. Jesamiah is constantly on her mind, she became smitten at first glance. When he appears to be endanger she must use her supernatural skills and brave the unknown. Jesamiah and Tiola soon fall in love, and must escape to the sea to flee a dangerous suitor and Jesamiah’s brother Philippe. 
Jesamiah and Tiola were my favorite characters, and i’m really happy to have the 2nd and 3rd book waiting for me to read. I’m really excited to continue on this journey. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I love Helen Hollick and wanted to take a chance on this one. I didn’t think a “pirate” story would appeal to me, but I loved the characters. I’m really happy that I gave it a chance. It may be a pirate story, but Helen Hollick is a historical writer and she did her research with this one as well. She has an incredible ability to create her characters and their surroundings and throw her readers into this time period. Overall, if you are looking for a fun, historical, love-story you will want to give this one a try. Sea Witch is a wonderful book, and Helen Hollick has amazing skills as a writer. 
Coming shortly, I will review Pirate Code and Bring it Close. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

In My Mailbox

This will be my last In  My Mailbox for two weeks, I will be going on vacation! I can't wait, hoping to relax and get a lot of reading done. I will have reviews scheduled, so please come and visit. 

I did not receive any review books this week, but I did buy a few ebooks. 

Here's what I got: