Friday, March 30, 2012

Debut Spotlight: Absolution by Patrick Flanery



Synopsis:


In her garden, ensconced in the lush vegetation of the Western Cape, Clare Wald, world-renowned author, mother, critic, takes up her pen and confronts her life. Sam Leroux has returned to South Africa to embark upon a project that will establish his reputation – he is to write Clare’s biography. But how honest is she prepared to be? Was she complicit in past crimes; is she an accomplice or a victim? Are her crimes against her family real or imagined? As Sam and Clare turn over the events of her life, she begins to seek reconciliation, absolution. But in the stories she weaves and the truth just below the surface of her shimmering prose, lie Sam’s own ghosts.

Absolution shines light on contemporary South Africa and the long dark shadow of the recent past, the elusive nature of truth and self-perception and the mysterious alchemy of the creative process.


Bio:

Patrick Flanery was born in California in 1975 and raised in Omaha, Nebraska. After earning a BFA in Film from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts he worked for three years in the film industry before moving to the UK, where he completed a doctorate in Twentieth-Century English Literature at the University of Oxford.


He lives in London.







Thursday, March 29, 2012

Review: A Grown-Up Kind of Pretty by Joshilyn Jackson



Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 336
Released: 2012
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5



Synopsis:

Big, the grandmother and matriarch of the family, honestly believes that something bad is about to happen. Every 15 years, something shocks the family; Big got pregnant with Liza when she was 15 years old, Liza had Mosey when she was 15 years old, and Liza suffered a massive strong when she was 30 years old. Mosey has just turned 15, and everyone wonders if she will make the same mistakes. Mosey is on her toes, praying she makes the right choices. It would be too much to break her grandmother’s heart. When Big announces that she will install an outside pool to help with Liza’s recovery, Mosey is adamant that the willow tree not be cut down. That willow tree is Liza’s favorite tree, and Mosey knows that Liza would not agree to cut it down. Big will do anything to help Liza, and she decides the tree has to go. The day the tree is cut down turns the Solcumbs women’s lives upside down; a small silver box is found and inside the box are the bones of a tiny baby, wrapped in a blanket.



Review:

This was my first experience with Joshilyn Jackson, and it was a great experiences. The tone of the book was very conversational, and real. Jackson depicts her characters as strong, independent women who despite their hardships want the best for each other. Although, much of the story is dealing with struggles and secrets, Jackson manages to lighten the book with laugh-out-loud scenes.

I loved the characters of this novel. Mosey is fifteen, as long as she can remember her mother and grandmother have warned her about teenage pregnancy. Despite the fact that she is not sexually active, she hides pregnancy tests to ease her mind. Dealing with her mother’s stroke has not been easy on Mosey, Liza was always the life of the party and now she can barely speak. Liza may have made some big mistakes in her past, but her love for Mosey and Big shines through. Big was my favorite, she was strong, and the root of her family. At fifteen, she raised Liza the best she could, always putting her first.

A Grown-up Kind of Pretty spans three generations, and has a little something for everyone. Three very detailed and multi-layered characters make it very easy for readers to connect with someone. I’m one of those readers who really need to connect with the characters, if I don’t like the characters I have a hard time enjoying this novel. Usually, when I read a story told in different perspectives, I tend to enjoy one more than the other. In this case, I enjoyed all three. The story is absorbing, relatable, and captivating. I recommend this one, and I’d love to explore some of her other novels.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Review: The Book of Lost Fragrances by M J Rose



Publisher: Atria Books
Pages: 384
Source: Publisher (Blog Tour)
Released: 2012
Rating: 3.75/5



Synopsis:

Jac and Robbie L’Etoile are heirs to the famous and once profitable L’Etoile Parfumerie in France. Her brother, Robbie has a great trained nose, while Jac has the true talent. Unfortunately, since the death of her mother, Jac has moved to America and left the business in Robbie’s hands. Jac is haunted by her past, and could not continue to immerse herself in that world. Robbie is facing financial ruin, and has been hinting at a great discovery that could save the family business. When he tries to enlist Jac’s help to formulate the mysterious and possibly powerful perfume, Jac refuses. When her brother goes missing, she has to return to the world she left behind.

Review:

The Book of Lost Fragrances is very difficult to sum up; the novel is multilayered and full of pertinent details. This was my first experience with M J Rose, and she clearly is a talented writer. Full of mystery, suspense, and historical fiction, the novel is not easy to categorize either. M J Rose has developed a unique and absorbing read.

The premise of perfume and reincarnation is really interesting. There is no denying that scents can evoke memories, but can a perfume be a key to memory and ultimately memories of a former life? M J Rose had a lot of offer in this novel, and she did a great job weaving a complex novel with alternating perspectives.

I really enjoyed this one; it felt really unique and different from what I normally read. I was really surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did. It may seem weird but novels about perfume, immediately reminds me of Perfume by Patrick Suskind while really disturbed me. So, I’m a little reluctant to read books about perfume. I’m really glad that I gave this one a change.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Review: The Darlings by Cristina Alger



Publisher: Pamela Dorman Books
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher
Released: 2012
Rating: 4/5



Synopsis:

The Darlings are New York, high society, billionaires. When Paul Ross losses his job in 2008, during one of the biggest economic downturns since the Great Depression, he’s fortunate that his father-in-law is Carter Darling. Not wanting to lean on this father-in-law but not willing to change this lifestyle, Paul accepts Carter’s offer to head the legal team for his prosperous hedge fund. Just as Paul begins to get comfortable within the company, things take a turn for the absolute worst. Carter’s best friend and business partner Morty Reis commits suicide, and the Darlings are thrust into a financial scandal that no one could have foreseen. In hindsight, Carter learns that he was too trusting and he should have questioned Morty’s perfect numbers. Now, it may be too late, the family is in jeopardy. Paul is put into a position to either save himself or protect the family.


Review:

The Darlings is a timely book that will surely grasp your attention. Debut author, Cristina Alger does not simplify the financial world but she does a great job plotting her story, keeping readers engaged. Alger skillfully weaves the financial complexities into the novel, but is careful not to overwhelm the reader. I was surprised by how readable the novel was, I was expecting to be bogged down with financial terms and titles and I found a well written character driven novel.

Alger introduces many points of views throughout the novel, and at times it may take a moment or two to remember who is who. In the end, it comes together rather nicely. The Darlings is seen through the eyes of the wealthy investment bankers, the lawyers, the secretaries who work for them and the journalists who write about them. Despite the initial financial recession, the Darlings are relatively stress-free, as they continue to maintain their lifestyles. Charity functions are toned down a little, but they’re more about the women who organize them and not really about the charity. When the scandal hits, the Darling family is aware that regardless of their innocence, their name has made them front row-center of the action. It’s much more impressive to bring down a Darling, rather than a no-name employee.

Overall, The Darlings was much more than I anticipated. Alger clearly has an insider’s view on this world, and she delivers her story well. I highly recommend this one!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Debut Spotlight: Whole Latte Life

Book Description:

Would you leave everything behind to know who you are?


Sara Beth Riley never dreamt she'd walk straight out of her life. Actually she'd never dreamt a lot of things that had happened this year ... From being kidnapped by her own best friend, to throwing her wedding rings into the Hudson River, to calling an old love in France, to getting inked with said best friend, painting the passionate constellation of these choices into permanence. But mostly, she could never have dreamt what started it all. How could it be that her mother's unexpected death, and the grief which lingered painfully long, turned her into the woman she was finally meant to become?

Sara Beth's escape begins a summer of change - of herself, of marriage, of the lives of those around her. In a story that moves from Manhattan to the sea to a quaint New England town, Whole Latte Life looks at friends we never forget, at decisions we linger with, at our attempts to live the lives we love.


Author Bio:

Joanne DeMaio is an author of contemporary women's fiction, blending family, coffee and friendship on the page. In addition to her novel WHOLE LATTE LIFE, her music essays have appeared in literary journals. Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut, where the coffee is always brewing, either in her country kitchen, or a favorite coffee shop, and the talk is ever flowing over a fresh cup of java.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Review: Yankee Doodle Dixie by Lisa Patton


Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books
Pages: 304
Released: 2011
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 3.75/5



Synopsis:

Leelee Satterfield began her journey in Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter and she’s back in Yankee Doodle Dixie. Leelee did want any good Southern wife should do, she left home and followed her husband to Vermont, where he dreamed to own and operate a local inn. Unfortunately, he also found himself a much older, rich girlfriend and left Leelee and their daughters behind. Leelee was left to take care of their daughters, and deal with the inn. She did her best to keep the inn opened, it would break her heart to lose all of her father’s money. When an offer came up to have the inn sold, Leelee jumped at the opportunity to return south. She needed to pick up the pieces of her life, and salvage what was left. She simply was not cut out for winter, she needed to go home. Now, a single mother Leelee has to provide for her daughters. She has no family left but she leans on her supportive friends and childhood housekeeper. As Leelee tries to settle into her old but new life, she keeps thinking about a certain gentleman who kissed her before she left.



Review:

I loved Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter and I couldn’t wait to start Yankee Doodle Dixie. While I enjoyed the first book more, I wasn’t disappointed in Yankee Doodle Dixie. The heart of the novel was still there, and that was Leelee. I loved her spirit and tenacity. The introduction of Kissie, Leelee’s childhood maid was wonderful. I really enjoyed their interaction, and Kissie is a great character. She’s quite frank when she wants to be. Fourteen months running the inn, was more than enough for Leelee but coming back without her husband raises questions and she’s not ready to tell everyone that Baker left her for an older woman. Gossip runs rampant in a small town, and Leelee tries to remain focused on raising her daughters.

Divorce is not an easy subject, but Lisa Patton does an incredible job keeping the novel light and entertaining. Both novels were a great escape, and I will keep Patton on my radar. The pace was fast, and I easily fell back into Leelee’s world. I was rooting for her the whole time, and I wanted her to have her happily ever after. I would recommend reading the Whistlin’ Dixie in a Nor’easter first, although Yankee Doodle Dixie can be read as a standalone. Leelee has grown tremendously, and you can really see the different between both books. I highly recommend this one, great characters, great setting and best friends any girl would hope to have.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Review: Everything was Good-bye by Gurjinder Basran



Publisher: Penguin Canada
Pages: 272
Source: Personal Copy
Released: 2012
Rating: 4/5



Synopsis:

Everything was Good-bye introduces Meena, a young Punjabi girl living in British Columbia struggling to fit in with her peer’s and fight her strict community. Meena will never experience the freedom of her peer’s unless she walks away from the family, and break her mother’s heart. She’s seen this first-hand when one of her older sisters is expelled from the family. As much as Meena would love to lead her own life and make her own decisions, she can’t put her mother through the torture and embarrassment of another daughter gone astray. Meena is caught in the traditions of her close-knit Punjabi community. As Meena tries to asset her independence, she discovers that there are eyes and ears everywhere, and they never hesitate to report back to her mother. Eventually, Meena gives up and agrees to a traditional marriage. Everyone is jealous of her perfect match, but Meena still wonders about the high school boy who stole her heart.



Review:

The first section of the novel presents a young, frustrated and rebellious teenage Meena. She’s a second generation immigrant who wants freedom and independence. She wants to choose her own discipline, but her mother frowns upon her creative writing skills, her daughter should be a doctor or lawyer and nothing less. Meena is essentially torn between two cultures, desperate to make her own decisions. Readers learn that all of Meena’s sisters are married or about to be married according to the traditions, expect one. Her favorite sister, Harj has been gone for some time and no one has heard from her. As Meena finally decides to live according to the customs, her life enters a new difficult phase. The husband can do no wrong, and no matter what- her mother will always encourage her to return to her rightful place as a wife.

I really enjoyed Everything was Good-bye. It surpassed my expectations in many ways. Each section of the novel was engaging and emotional. Meena not only represents the second generation immigrant; she’s represents anyone who has fought against their parent’s wishes, dealt with stereotypes or lived in a strict tight-knit community. Basran did an incredible job describing Meena’s emotions, and thoughts. Readers really get a sense of who she is and where she is coming from. The only issue I had with the novel was the ending felt a little rushed. This one is recommended for those who are curious about immigration, and how families try to retain much of their culture.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Review: The Dry Grass of August by Anna Jean Mayhew



Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 352
Released: 2011
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5





Synopsis:

The Dry Grass of August is a heartfelt story about segregation and racial injustices in the South during the 1950’s. A thirteen-year-old June “Jubie” Watts leaves Charlotte, North Carolina with her mother, three siblings and black maid for a family vacation in Florida. While on their road trip, their maid Mary is not allowed in certain restaurants, hotel accommodations become more difficult, despite Jubie’s mother trying to keep Mary with the family. In many ways Jubie’s family is ahead of the times, and very accepting of Mary. They allow her to use their toilet, shower and try to include her as much as possible. She is more than just the help, she’s a member of the family. For as long as Jubie can remember, Mary has always been there. She’s always been around for the cooking and cleaning, and to run interference when her father’s rage has peaked. On their trip South, they drive though some of the the most violent pro-segregation states. As Jubie notices the segregation signs, and anti-equality slogans, she never would have guessed how unfair life could be. The family learns first-hand that they’re in the minority on their equal treatment of their maid. On their way back from Florida, the family has a minor car accident with consequences far greater than could be expected. No one could have predicted the shocking conclusion of their vacation, the family is forever changed and heartbroken.


Review:

The Dry Grass of August is a novel rich in atmosphere, and well developed characters. Mayhew carefully researched, and weaved an emotional, heartbreaking and powerful read. Readers are taken back to a time and place when African Americans were considered second-class citizens. This is not just another book about segregation, this novel stands on its own and readers will appreciate the original characters and plot. As Jubie’s world begins to unravel, she must confront her parents, risk the wrath of her father and standup for her own convictions. While segregation is a key component of this novel, Jubie’s parents marriage is strained, and this has a great impact on her. Her father’s alcoholism has Jubie relived to be spending time away from him.

Jubie narrates the story, alternating chapters with present-day and defining moments in her childhood. The alternating chapters really gives insight into Jubie’s world. She’s thirteen years old, and still very innocent. Although, not so innocent that she is not aware of her surroundings. Mayhew offers a broader and deeper examination of family dynamics, and class differences during this time in history.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I picked this one up. I had read reviews comparing it to “The Help” and honestly, they’re two very different, equally great, works of fiction. They both deal with segregation, but very different ways. I highly recommend this one!



Sunday, March 18, 2012

Friday, March 16, 2012

Debut Spotlight: The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan


Book Description:

It is the summer of 1914 and Europe is on the brink of war, but Grace Winter’s future finally seems secure as she and her new husband set sail for New York, where she hopes to win over a disapproving and status-conscious mother-in-law. When a mysterious explosion sinks their ship, Grace is thrust into a lifeboat by a quick-witted crew member, who climbs in after her even though the boat is already filled beyond capacity.


As the weather deteriorates and the passengers are forced to choose sides in a brewing power struggle, Grace realizes that her survival could depend on whether she backs the ruthless but experienced John Hardie or the enigmatic but increasingly forceful Ursula Grant. Over the course of three perilous weeks, the lifeboat passengers plot, scheme, gossip and console one another while questioning their deepest assumptions about goodness, humanity and God.

Grace is finally rescued, only to be put on trial for her life. Unsure what to make of their client, Grace’s attorneys suggest she write her story down. The result is a page-turning tale of moral dilemmas, and also a haunting portrait of a woman as unforgettable and complicated as the events she describes.



About the Author


Charlotte Rogan graduated from Princeton University in 1975. She worked at various jobs, mostly in the fields of architecture and engineering, before teaching herself to write and staying home to bring up triplets. An old criminal law text and her childhood experiences among a family of sailors provided inspiration for The Lifeboat, her first novel. After many years in Dallas and a year in Johannesburg, she and her husband now live in Westport, Connecticut.


Release Date: April 3, 2012






Thursday, March 15, 2012

Review: Dreams of Joy by Lisa See




Publisher: Random House
Pages: 400
Source: Personal Copy
Released: 2011
Rating: 4.5/5



Synopsis:

Pearl and May began their journey in “Shanghai Girls” as beautiful, educated and wealthy sisters. When their family was on the verge of bankruptcy their father sent them to America to marry “Gold Mountain Men.” In ‘Dreams of Joy” Pearl and May’s life journey continues, full of obstacles and tough decisions. Joy has lived for 19 years thinking that her mother is Pearl, on the contrary- her aunt is her actual mother and her father is an artist in China. She doesn’t know how she never figured this out; a confused Joy grabs her passport and decides to find her father. Feeling betrayed and angry she wants to go back to China and prove her mother and aunt wrong. Idealist Joy is wholeheartedly advocating for communism, and now is her chance to leave the US. Pearl is not long behind her, hoping to bring her daughter home.


Review:

Lisa See has an amazing ability to bring her stories to life. I really enjoyed See’s portrayal of Communist China and the misconceptions the US Media depicted. A desperate, Pearl is reluctant to return to China, knowing that communism is not what her daughter perceives, she vows to find her and bring her home. Growing up in the US, Joy never understood the hardships her family endured, she brushed off their stories. While in university she joined a group defending Mao’s actions, and allowed her mind to become deluded. She never questioned or criticized the ideology, and jumped at the change to run away. The journey of Pearl and Joy is very interesting to see their growth, and come to terms with what China has become. Nothing would prepare them for what they would face, Joy would make bad decisions and Pearl had to allow her to make those mistakes.

I highly recommend both Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy. I first discovered Lisa See when I picked up “Snow Flower and The Secret Fan.” I love reading about Chinese culture and history, and Lisa See immediately became one of my favorite authors. Surprisingly, “Dreams of Joy” is my first time reviewing one of her books. I would love to read the remaining titles that I haven’t read, and hopefully I will get to do that soon.

In the novels that I have read, I have come to expect a novel full of culture, hardships and strong relationships. “Dreams of Joy” is no different. Her novels carry readers into a world that is full of vivid descriptions that easily come alive. The characters are well developed and realistically damaged. It’s clear that See is an incredible researcher, and an even better writer.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Review: Miracle Beach by Erin Celello



Publisher: NAL Trade
Pages: 352
Source: Personal Copy
Released: 2011
Rating: 4.5/5



Synopsis:

Macy Allen has always loved horses, and when her wealthy grandfather agreed to fund her future, she chose to be an equestrienne. Living in beautiful Vancouver, Macy married the man of her dreams and recently discovered she was expecting. When she least expected it, a tragic accident took her husband and robbed her of her unborn baby. A grieving Macy has to deal with her mother-in-law, Magda, who is not shy about blaming Macy for the death of her son. Nash’s father, Jack, has tried to give his wife time to grieve but when she is unwilling to apologize to Macy, Jack can’t deal with her any longer. Jack decides to visit Macy, and learn more about his son. Macy is reluctant, but understanding about Jack’s visit. When life couldn’t feel crueler, Macy discovers that Nash hasn’t been the most honest, upfront husband. His secrets taint her perfect picture of a husband.


Review:

Miracle Beach was a very interesting read, and I thoroughly enjoyed the storyline. Emotions are real and raw after the death of Nash, and everyone is trying to cope with their feelings in their own selfish way. Magda may seem like a horrible mother-in-law but she is thinking irrationally when her only son dies and everyone caters to Macy. She was his mother, and she feels irrelevant, set aside. Macy would never have guessed that Nash was keeping such a crucial secret. She discovers the shock of her life, and she feels betrayed and heartbroken by a man she is grieving. A man she can no longer confront. No one is able to understand what she is going through.

This novel is told in three perspectives, Macy, Magda, and Jack’s. It was very well written, and as a result the characters were really well developed and able to convey their emotions. I was able to understand where each character was coming from, and how they progressed. Celello did an amazing job creating complex, flawed characters with a real voice and strong opinions.

Miracle Beach is an engaging, emotional read. I highly recommend this one for book clubs, and those who are looking for a book that will leave you stuck contemplating the characters after you’ve closed the cover. This is a story of love, loss and secrets. Life must continue, and people must learn to cope with less than ideal situations.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Review: Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver


Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 320
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 3.5/5

**contains spoilers for Delirium**


Synopsis:


Pandemonium picks up immediately after Delirium. Lena has fled to the wilds, leaving everything behind including Alex, who is presumed dead. Delirium ends with Alex suffering multiple gunshots wounds. Lena is all alone, and has no idea where to go or what to do, following her instinct she runs until she can no longer. An unconscious Lena is found by invalids who take her under their wing. Lena is heartbroken, and filled with grief. She wonders if this is all worth it without Alex. The Invalids are resourceful, determined and they don’t allow much time for grief. Initially, Lena is given time to heal but soon she must decide if she will begin to pull her weight in the group or move on. Her old life is gone; she will never be the same. Lena questions if she’s made the correct choice.


Review:

I really struggled with this review. I had very high expectations for Pandemonium, and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I expected. The novel shifts between a “Now” and “Then” perspective which took awhile for me to get use to. The “Then” is when Lena initially entered the wilds, and the “Now” in present day. Lena and a few of the resistance members have crossed back into mainstream society. It’s not clear why they are there, or what they will be doing. I thought the first half of the book progressed very slowly, and I found myself rather uninterested. The novel does begin to pick up speed towards the middle, and the ending ends in another cliffhanger.

As Lena begins to develop romantic feeling for a new character, I really didn’t feel invested in this new love interest. I thought it was too soon, and it foreshadowed what would inevitably be uncovered. In the end, I was right. The ending really did make up for the slow beginning, but it wasn’t enough for me to give it an outstanding rating.

I really felt that “Pandemonium” suffered from middle book syndrome. Normally, this doesn’t happen to me. Overall, I enjoyed the book but wished I would have been more wrapped up in the storyline. Delirium was very fast paced for me, and I expected much the same for Pandemonium. If you loved Delirium, you will need to read Pandemonium, just be warned that the pace is much different.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

In My Mailbox

Hi everyone,
My reading has slowed down in the last couple of weeks, I really hope to change that soon. Work has been busy, and I haven't been in the reading mood when I come home. I've been using a new app to publish posts from my IPad, it's called Blogsy and I really love it. I mostly use my iPad and I'm so excited to use this app. Thanks to @jjireads for recommending the app!
My subscribers number keeps diminishing on Google Reader, I'm really trying to not let it bother me. I keep hoping to see it get bigger...
This week I received some great review books.

The Reckoning by Alma Katsu
Her Highness the Traitor by Susan Higginbotham
Patient Number 7 by Kurt Palka
Equal of the Sun. Y Anita Amirrezbani
The Bellwether Revivals by Banjamin Wood

Friday, March 9, 2012

Debut Spotlight: The Land of Decoration


Description:

A mesmerizing debut about a young girl whose steadfast belief and imagination bring everything she once held dear into treacherous balance


In Grace McCleen's harrowing, powerful debut, she introduces an unforgettable heroine in ten-year-old Judith McPherson, a young believer who sees the world with the clear Eyes of Faith. Persecuted at school for her beliefs and struggling with her distant, devout father at home, young Judith finds solace and connection in a model in miniature of the Promised Land that she has constructed in her room from collected discarded scraps—the Land of Decoration. Where others might see rubbish, Judith sees possibility and divinity in even the strangest traces left behind. As ominous forces disrupt the peace in her and Father's modest lives—a strike threatens her father's factory job, and the taunting at school slips into dangerous territory—Judith makes a miracle in the Land of Decoration that solidifies her blossoming convictions. She is God's chosen instrument. But the heady consequences of her newfound power are difficult to control and may threaten the very foundations of her world.

With its intensely taut storytelling and crystalline prose, The Land of Decoration is a gripping, psychologically complex story of good and evil, belonging and isolation, which casts new and startling light on how far we'll go to protect the things we love most.


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Review: Home Front by Kristin Hannah



Publisher: St Martin
Pages: 400
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5



Synopsis:

Jolene Zarkades grew up with alcoholic parents, and she found herself alone by the age of seventeen when her parents died in a tragic car accident. Alone, scared and on the verge of adulthood, Jolene joined the military right out of high school. She was looking for independence and a place to belong, along the way she found her husband and hoped to have all her dreams come true. Now, Jolene and Michael find themselves facing everyday pressures, two daughters and demanding careers. Michael is an attorney and Jolene, a Black Hawk pilot for the guard. Michael’s father has recently passed away, and he's been pushing everyone away, spending all his time at the office. He’s been getting home later and later, leaving a non-confrontational Jolene to deal with their daughters. As their struggles become more apparent, Michael tells Jolene he no longer loves her. She barely has time to let this sink in, the next day she is told that she will be deployed to Iraq. Jolene and her best friend Tami, have two weeks to prepare their families before they leave them for one year.



Review:

I want to warn you, this novel will break your heart into a million little pieces. Kristin Hannah wrote an incredibly moving work of fiction. This was my first book by her, and I was incredibly moved by her words. I don’t usually get emotional when I’m reading, but this book had me in tears. Every character is so well written, and relatable, not necessarily likable but real.

As Jolene tells Michael that she is being deployed, he blames her. He’s never been supportive of her career, and doesn’t understand why she chose to stay in the guard. One daughter is too young to really understand how long her mother is going and the other feels like Jolene is choosing the military over her. Jolene wants them all to understand that she doesn’t have a choice, she is a soldier. Michael resents that he must pick up her slack and take care of their family. He feels emasculated, and makes sure Jolene is aware that he does not support her.

It’s really interesting how all the relationships revolve while Jolene is away. Michael and Jolene’s relationship is broken, and it doesn’t resolve itself very easily. Jolene doesn’t come back the same person she was when she left, Michael is no longer the man he was when she left. Throughout much of the book, I wondered if they could possibly move forward.

Home Front really did give me an appreciation for military families, and the struggles they face. This book is breathtaking, and highly recommended. I found myself looking for every opportunity to read just a few more pages.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Review: Defending Jacob by William Landay


Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pages: 432
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5



Synopsis:

Andy Barber is a well-respected assistant district attorney, husband and father. When a teen age boy is found killed in a park, Andy is determined to find the murderer and restore the security of his town. He never would have guessed how this case would play out, and change his life forever. As Andy begins to investigate the case, students are hesitant to answer any questions. When students begin to hint that Andy needs to speak with his own son, Andy has no idea why. When shocking Facebook comments and a large knife are found in Jacob’s room, Andy still believes that he is innocent. Andy’s first instinct is to protect his son, but the evidence is piling up and Andy must face facts.



Review:

I don’t read a lot of legal thrillers, but this one sounded like a great read. Overall, I really enjoyed the storyline and the struggles each character faced. I thought the story was well planned, and well executed. Jacob is tried as an adult, and his father desperately wants to believe that his son is innocent. His instinct as a father overpowers his instincts as a district attorney. The community has already made their decision, and they do not need a verdict to determine that Jacob is guilty.

Defending Jacob is an emotional roller-coaster. Andy’s defense mechanism is understandable and relatable. How can his son commit murder? He doesn’t think it’s possible, and ignores what is right in front of him. While Jacob is not a likable, relatable character, readers will find themselves empathetic to Andy. He was completely blindsided by the accusation, and vows to protect his son.

The only problem I had with the book was the question of “bad blood.” The idea that Andy’s father and grandfather had committed murder, and for that reason Jacob’s blood was tainted was really unbelievable and unrealistic to me. Overall, the book was very interesting. I think it was a great legal thriller, and I’m willing to explore this genre a little more. It did tend to drag in certain parts, but I was easily caught up in the story.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Guest Post: M J Rose author of The Book of Lost Fragrances.





Please join me in welcoming M J Rose author of The Book of Lost Frangrances. I'll be reviewing this one next week and I've heard great things about it.






M.J. Rose: I've been fascinated with lost fragrances since long before I started writing The Book of Lost Fragrances... since I found a bottle of perfume on my great grandmother's dresser that had belonged to her mother in Russia. Here is one of those lost fragrances that stirs the senses and the imagination... (researched and described with the help of the perfume writer Dimitrios Dimitriadis)

WEIL - CASSANDRA Cassandra was amongst a series of fragrances created to perfume furs released by Parfums Weil in 1936. A brief topnote of citrus ushers in a good measure of galbanum which cartwheels across a thick, arresting base of resinous benzoin, styrax, oakmoss and musk. There is a huff of sweetness present furnished by vanilla, and a resolute measure of ambergris which serves to intensify the composition. This perfume demonstrated opulence and refinement on a grand scale, and leaves many perfumistas yearning for its return.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

In My Mailbox

Yesterday, I noticed my Google subscriber number drop. I realized my Google Friend Connect was disabled. As a result, many followers are no longer subscribed to my blog and I am no longer subscribed to many blogs. I'm trying to work through this, and re-add many blogs.

I have reinstalled the Blogger Follower widget, and I'm hoping to get my followers back.

As for IMM, here are the books, I received for review.

Forgotten Country by Catherine Chung

Whole Latte Life by Joanne Demaio

Sisterhood Everlasting by Ann Brashares

 

 

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Subscribers dropping overnight



Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to advise you that I seem to be having issues with my subscribers. Overnight my google subscribers decreased by 40 +. It seems that my Google Friend Connect badge stopped working as well. I'm assuming because I installed it separate from Blogger, it thought I was a non-blogger blog. I have reinstalled the "Blogger" followers widget. I know blogging isn't really about the number of followers, but I do love blog interaction and I don't want to chance loosing anyone!

So, please take a look and check to see if you are still a follower of my blog.



Friday, March 2, 2012

Debut Spotlight: Comeback Love by Peter Golden



Author's website:

A little about Comeback Love:


Over thirty-five years ago, Gordon Meyers, an aspiring writer with a low number in the draft lottery, packed his belongings and reluctantly drove away, leaving Glenna Rising, the sexy, sharp-witted med student he couldn’t imagine living without.

Now, decades later, Gordon is a former globetrotting consultant with a grown son, an ex-wife, and an overwhelming desire to see Glenna again. Stunned when Gordon walks into her Manhattan office, Glenna agrees to accompany him for a drink. As the two head out into the snow-swept city, they become caught up in the passions that drew them together then tore them apart, and as the evening unfolds, Gordon finally reveals the true reason for his return.

Moving between past and present, Comeback Love is a journey into the hearts of two lovers who came of age in the 1960s and is a sensual exploration of youth, regret, desire, and the bonds that mysteriously endure in the face of momentous change.

RELEASES APRIL 2012



 

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Dinner with Lisa by R L Prendergast



Publisher: Dekko Publishing
Pages: 288
Source: Book Tour
Review: 5/5



Synopsis:

Joseph Gaston is a recent widow, trying to raise four children during disastrous economic times. After the roaring twenties came the dirty thirties, and the economy was hit hard, Canada was largely affected as well. Joseph is encouraged to split up his children amongst family to help ease his burden. He knows that would break his heart, and he packs up his children in search of employment. Joseph and his four children board a train from Ontario to Alberta. His brother and sister-in-law welcome him to a small town in Alberta. Joseph is hoping that Philibuster will give him the financial security that he needs for his children. His childless sister-in-law has agreed to take care of his children during the day, and she is ecstatic to have her home filled with children. Joseph arrives hopeful and excited; unfortunately the job that he had secured before he left has been given to someone else and Joseph is crushed. He clings to the memory of his wife, and the hope that he can survive with the help of family.

Review:

I’m always intrigued by Canadian history, and I was happy to have a chance to review this book. I had no idea that I would enjoy this novel as thoroughly as I did. The characters were fantastically written and developed. Each secondary character had a great storyline. The economic times were historically accurate and very well portrayed. History focuses on the facts; literature transports you to a time and place. Readers begin to live the lives of those people in those situations. A well written historical novel has readers enjoying the ride, and unknowingly learning the facts.

Joseph’s situation is dire, and his brother is very nonchalant. They made a great pair, Henri thought the world of his brother and always had faith that we would get through anything. Henri and Tilda were happy to help with the children, but Tilda has her own motives. She’s always wanted to be a mother and she would love to take Joseph’s children to raise as her own. Joseph must work to gain his children’s attention.

Prendergast has created a great Canadian historical read; he paints a bleak picture of the economic depression with flawed characters and vivid descriptions. The story doesn’t have a lot of dialogue, but reads very well. The story is perfectly paced, filled with many twists and turned. I highly recommend this one; I really enjoyed each and every page.