Sunday, April 29, 2012

Mailbox Monday

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all had a great reading week. My reading has been slowing down, because I'm getting ready to move and renovate. So, I may need to take a blogging break in a few weeks. I'm hoping to have some reviews scheduled for that time, but I won't stress about it. I'll just wait and see how it all works out.


Have a great week everyone! Happy reading!

I did receive one review book this week:

A Rural Affair by Catherine Alliott

I did buy a few ebooks this week, but not many...

Belles by Jenn Calonita

Die for Me by Amy Plum Ebook Special

Legacy by Katherine Webb Ebook Special

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Recommendations: Classics

I use to read alot of classic books for school and personal reading. Since I started blogging, I've been caught up reading more recent releases but I can't ignore my love of a great classic. It's amazing that so many books have managed to stay around for so long. Today, I will be sharing some of my favorite classics. I think these classics are not as well known, but I highly recommend them!




Adam Bede by George Eliot 

Goodreads Description:

In Adam Bede (1859) George Eliot took the well-worn tale of a lovely dairy-maid seduced by a careless squire, and out if it created a wonderfully innovative and sympathetic portrait of the lives of ordinary Midlands working people--their labors and loves, their beliefs, their talk. This edition reprints the original broadsheet reports of the murder case that was a starting point for the book, and detailed notes illuminate Eliot's many literary and Biblical allusions

Thoughts: I read both Adam Bede and Middlemarch by George Eliot and Adam Bede really stuck with me. I was so surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did.



Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens

Goodreads Description:

Dombey and Son, Charles Dickens’s story of a powerful man whose callous neglect of his family triggers his professional and personal downfall, showcases the author’s gift for vivid characterization and unfailingly realistic description. As Jonathan Lethem contends in his Introduction, Dickens’s “genius . . . is at one with the genius of the form of the novel itself: Dickens willed into existence the most capacious and elastic and versatile kind of novel that could be, one big enough for his vast sentimental yearnings and for every impulse and fear and hesitation in him that countervailed those yearnings too. Never parsimonious and frequently contradictory, he always gives us everything he can, everything he’s planned to give, and then more.” This Modern Library Paperback Classic was set from the 1867 “Charles Dickens” edition.

Thoughts: I loved Dombey and Son, it is a very large novel but it was fantastic. I loved the ending, and felt really satisfied when I finished it. I think it was a great timely novel, when sons had priority over daughters. Dombey and Son made me realize that readers shouldn't feel overwhelmed by the size of a novel.


Both of the following novels were required reading for my African-American Literature class.

Passing by Nella Larsen

Goodreads Description:

First published to critical acclaim in 1929, Passing firmly established Nella Larsen's prominence among women writers of the Harlem Renaissance. The Modern Library is proud to present Passing — an electrifying story of two women who cross the color line in 1920s New York—together with a new Introduction by the Obie Award- winning playwright and novelist Ntozake Shange

Thoughts: I still have a notebook with all of the quotes that I took from this novel. I haven't read any other of Nella Larsen's books but I loved this one!





Daddy was a Number Runner by Louisa Meriwether

Goodreads Description:

Recently chosen by Essence magazine, this beloved modern classic tells the poignant story of a spirited young woman’s coming of age in -Depression-era Harlem. While 12-year-old Francie Coffin’s world and family threaten to fall apart, this remarkable young heroine must call upon her own wit and endurance to survive amidst the treacheries of racism and sexism, poverty and violence. "The novel’s greatest achievement lies in the strong sense of black life that it conveys: the vitality and force behind the despair . . . a most -important novel."—New York Times Book Review



Thoughts: Daddy was a Number Runner reminds me of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. A great classic, and coming of age novel. I loved Francie, and her story. This one is more of a modern classic. but highly recommended.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Review: Wife 22 by Melanie Gideon



Publisher: Random House
Pages: 400
Source: Publisher
Released: May 2012
Rating: 5/5



Synopsis:

Alice is all about social media, and the web; she checks Facebook and Twitter constantly. After she attends a work function for her husband, she hears a quick comment about her “small life” that causes her to examine and evaluate her life. It hurts to have someone say your life is “small,” it’s certainly not what she expected, career wise. She’s a part-time drama teacher who’s wanted bigger and better things, but they didn’t fall into place. Alice is now forty-five years old, a mother of two, and she’s been married for twenty years. She’s the same age as her mother was when she passed away, and this causes her to contemplate the kind of things she missed out on. She can’t help but notice that her husband has begun to drift away, they simply don’t connect the same way they use to. His Facebook messages have become cryptic. When she receives an email about a marriage study, she jumps on board to participate. Alice Buckle becomes anonymous “Wife 22” responding to anonymous “Researcher 101.” She simply has to fill out portions of a survey each week and communicate with her researcher. Alice quickly realizes that she has no problem describing the beginning of their relationship when it was fresh and new, when they couldn’t be away from each other but now she barely has anything to say. The decision to participate in the survey changes her life in many ways.



Review:

First, I want to say this book is not sad and depressing. Melanie Gideon has written an incredibly witty book that deals with real life. Although I don’t believe I am the target audience, I fell in love with Alice and understood where she was coming from. The book is filled with snippets of Facebook status’, text messages, and tweets. She has a teenage daughter who comes with her own set of obstacles, perhaps an eating disorder. Why else would she have cupcakes hidden in her closet? Her young son is so sweet, he’s her go-to guy when it comes to beauty tips, and she’s convinced he might be gay. She wants to support him in any way possible. Alice is that friend who is always panicking about everything, the one you want to want to calm down, and tell her to “relax.”

I couldn’t put this book down, I opened it every chance I got until I finished it! I loved Alice’s character, her quirky behaviors and her emotional struggles. I thought she was very easy to relate to, despite her being older than me. The survey really makes her question her life, and I really enjoyed her responses. The questions are omitted within the story, and only her answers are provided however, at the end of the book we are provided with the questions. I found myself flipping back to read her responses once again.

I think this one would appeal to many women, especially those who are evaluating their lives, have been in long-term relationships, or have children who make them worry. Alice is a loving, humorous, and emotional character. If this one sounds interesting, you should definitely pick it up! Please keep in mind this one releases in May.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Prophecy of the Sisters by Michelle Zink


Publisher: Little Brown
Pages: 368
Released: 2010
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4/5

Synopsis:


Lia Milthorpe has always stood by her father's side, always in his library, she's always been a respectable and honorable daughter. When her father dies unexpectedly, and mysteriously, Lia, her twin sister Alice, and younger brother Henry, are left in the hands of their aunt, since their mother has long passed as well. Lia can't forget the expression left on her father's face in his passing. The two sisters who were always very close, begin to grow apart and Lia is alarmed when she catches her sister being very secretive. Alice becomes distant and cold. Lia is bothered by the fact that Alice doesn’t seem to mourn their father’s death, she simply seems to move on. When Lia’s boyfriend uncovers a book that tells of twins sisters, one the gate and one the guardian in a prophecy, Lia must figure out what the book means and why her father had kept it hidden. When a peculiar mark appears on Lia’s wrist, she doesn’t know who to tell. Soon Lia discovers that she and Alice are actually apart of this prophecy, and they have a vital role, they are destined to be pitted against each other. One has the ability to open the gate to Satan, and one has the ability to control the other for the good of mankind.

Review:


I'm really interested to see how the sister's relationship will continue in this series. The Prophecy of the Sisters begins to set up the prophecy and how each sister will play their role. Some shocking tidbits are uncovered, and I really enjoyed the first book. I really liked how Lia seemed very clueless for much of the novel, while Alice seemed to know more than she was letting on. I thought Zink did a fantastic job setting up both sisters. She included some great twists that I never would have guessed.

I really enjoyed the friendships in the story. In Lia's quest for answers, she bonds with Sophia and Luisa when she discovers similar markings on their hands. Both girls don't have much more information for her but they immediately bond together to try and uncover the secrets, that lay within the prophecy. Key factors of the prophecy prove to not be what they anticipated, which throws the girls for a loop. Lia has a much different role than she could have ever imagined.

I loved the relationship between Lia and James and I hope I get to see more. Their relationship was sweet but not without flaws. Their relationship doesn't overpower the storyline of the prophecy in any way, it remains secondary to the story which I really liked. I hate when YA becomes all about the relationships.

Overall, I really enjoyed this one and I hope to read the second book in the series soon. It does have a Gemma Doyle feel to it, but you can't really compare the novels. Since I've been having a hard time staying interested in YA novels lately, I was really happy to enjoy this one.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Debut Novels That Have Caught My Eye

The Bellwether Revivals (Already Released)

Part Secret History, part Brideshead Revisited for the 21st century, The Bellwether Revivals is a page-turning, romantic, eerie tale of genius and, possibly, madness; a stunning debut for fans of Sarah Waters, Donna Tartt, and Lauren Goff.


The Bellwether Revivals opens and closes with bodies. The story of whose bodies and how they come to be spread about an elegant house on the river near Cambridge is told by Oscar, a young, bright working class man who has fallen in love with an upper-class Cambridge student, Iris, and thereby become entangled with a group of close friends, led by Iris's charismatic, brilliant, possibly dangerous brother. For Eden Bellwether believes he can heal -- and perhaps more -- through the power of music.

In this masterful debut, we too are seduced by this gilded group of young people, entranced by Eden's powerful personality and his obvious talent as a musician, and caught off guard by the strangeness of Iris and Eden's parents. And we find ourselves utterly unsure as to whether Eden Bellweather is a saviour or a villain, and whether Oscar will be able to solve this mystery in time to save himself, if not everyone else.


Above All Things by Tanis Rideout (Releases in June)

The Paris Wife meets Into Thin Air in this breathtaking debut novel of obsession and divided loyalties, which brilliantly weaves together the harrowing story of George Mallory's ill-fated 1924 attempt to be the first man to conquer Mount Everest, with that of a single day in the life of his wife as she waits at home in England for news of his return.


A captivating blend of historical fact and imaginative fiction, Above All Things moves seamlessly back and forth between the epic story of Mallory's legendary final expedition and a heartbreaking account of a day in the life of Ruth Mallory. Through George's perspective, and that of the newest member of the climbing team, Sandy Irvine, we get an astonishing picture of the terrible risks taken by the men on the treacherous terrain of the Himalaya. But it is through Ruth's eyes that a complex portrait of a marriage emerges, one forged on the eve of the First World War, shadowed by its losses, and haunted by the ever-present possibility that George might not come home.

Drawing on years of research, this powerful and beautifully written novel is a timeless story of desire, redemption, and the lengths we are willing to go for honour, glory, and love.

Gilded Age (Releases June)

A debut author transforms Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth into a powerful modern story of one woman’s struggle with independence and love.Ellie Hart made a brilliant marriage in New York, but it ended in a scandalous divorce and thirty days in Sierra Tucson rehab. Now, returning home to Cleveland, she finds that, despite feminist lip service, she will still need a husband to be socially complete. A woman’s sexual reputation matters, and so does her family name in the treacherous social terrain where old money meets new: charitable benefits and tequila body shots, inherited diamonds and viper-bite lip piercings, country house weekends and sexting. Ellie finds that her beauty is a powerful tool in this world, but it has its limitations, even liabilities. Through one misstep after another, Ellie mishandles her second act. Her options narrow, her prospects contract, until she faces a desperate choice.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Recommended Books (Pre Blogging)

I've always been a reader, and blogging has really influenced my reading habits. Much of my reading consists of review copies, or books that I hear about from the blogging community. I would say most of my choices when purchasing books is due to the hype from bloggers. I would really like to highlight some of my favorite books that I have read and loved before my blogging days.

The truly amazing books are those that remain with you long after you've closed the pages.



Synopsis: Seventeen-year-old Novalee is pregnant and forced to live inside a Wal-mart when her boyfriend ditches her. Novalee remains hidden until her baby decides she is ready to come. The hospitality that Novelee receives from a small town in Oklahoma is amiable. She begins to build a new life for her daughter and herself.

Thoughts: I can remember in high school when a few of my friends in english class were raving about this book. We passed this book around, praising it and excited to have one another read it. Where the Heart is by Billie Letts has remained with me long after my high school days. I've reread this book many times and would have no trouble picking it up once again.




Synopsis: When Astrid's mother murders her boyfriend and is sent to jail, Astrid really suffers from her mother's mistakes. She goes through many foster homes, and her life is literally torn apart. The relationship between Astrid and her mother is strained and difficult. Her mother is jealous of the new relationships Astrid forms and tries to manipulate her from prison.

When I read it: I read White Oleander during my CEGEP days (pre-university) and I was enrolled in the literature program. It seemed like everyone was reading this book, and I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. It really surpassed my expectations and has remained one of my favorite reads.



Synopsis: Bruno's father works in the Nazi army, and when his father is promoted by Hitler, the family quickly packs all of their things. Bruno is young and has no idea that his country is in turmoil. They move far away from any kids Bruno's age. He finally meets a young boy, but a large fence seperates the two. Bruno has no idea that his friend is actually imprisoned in a concentration camp.

Thoughts: I remember finishing the book and staring at it. I couldn't believe what I just read, and had to go back and reread the ending. I'm not normally an emotional reader, but I was so disturbed by the ending. I was shocked, stunned and heartbroken. I had no idea that the book would end the way it did.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Review: The Ruins of Us by Keija Parssinen




Publisher: Harper Perennial
Pages: 352
Released: 2012
Source: Publisher
Rating: 5/5


Synopsis:

American-born Rosalie fell in love with her husband during college; they were inseparable and full of dreams. Abdullah defied his parents when he announced they would marry, knowing they would eventually settle-down and accept her. Abdullah gave Rosalie everything she wished for, including life in Saudi Arabia; a country she has been fascinated with since she was a child. Twenty-five years into the marriage and two children later, Rosalie discovers she is not the only wife. For two years, Abdullah has taken a second wife, and she was oblivious. She honestly believed he was travelling on business, and had no reason to doubt him. She was clueless until a local jeweler made the mistake of asking her about a piece of jewelry she knew Abdullah would never buy her. When she confronts Abdullah, he confesses and explains that he has no plans to live without either wife. He plans to love and provide for both wives. Abdullah has always prided himself on being progressive, and Rosalie is shocked that he would do this to her. Rosalie struggles to keep her family safe, knowing she would never be able to leave the country with her children. Faisal is sixteen and becoming more and more of an extremist in terms of his religion. Their daughter Marium is constantly pushing the boundaries and they need to keep her in check. Rosalie struggles with heartbreak, confusion and bitterness. She has no idea where to go or what to do. Her children remain her priority.



Review:

I loved, loved, loved this one! A stunning debut that had me hooked immediately. The emotions of each character were incredibly written. Rosalie was heartbroken and shocked, but she knew her husband’s actions were legal. She struggled with what to do next. Does she leave him? She’ll never gain custody of her children. Their life is in Saudi Arabia. Does she accept the second marriage and go forward? She still loved her husband but didn’t understand how he could do this to her. Abdullah understood her hurt, was conflicted with that fact that he caused the hurt, but he still loved her. He still wanted to be married to her. Overtime, Rosalie became a “Saudi” wife and her “Texas” personality has long been gone. She was no longer the woman he married and fell in love with.

Parssinen is an incredible writer, and I’m really glad I decided to read this one. Rosalie and Abdullah’s relationship captured me in from the beginning. I didn’t like one character over the other, which really surprised me. I expected to be on Rosalie’s side and hate Abdullah but Parssinen portrayed both characters beautifully. I was shocked that I was actually rooting for Abdullah. I wanted their love to remain intact. I wanted it somehow to work out. Honestly, I couldn’t believe how I felt toward Abdullah.

I highly recommend this one. It will no doubt be placed on my list of favorites for 2012. The descriptions were vivid and stunning. At this point, I will state it was my favorite debut so far this year. Parsinnen is without a doubt an extraordinary writer!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Review: A Good American by George Alex



Publisher: Amy Einhorn/Putnam
Pages: 400
Source: Personal Copy
Released: 2012
Rating: 4.5/5



Synopsis:

James Meisenheimer opens the story with a retelling of his grandparent’s voyage to America. Jette and Frederick were hopelessly in love, inseparable and denied by Jette’s wealthy parents. In their eyes, Jette would never marry below her rank. When Jette discovers she is pregnant, she wants to leave Germany and escape the wrath of her mother. She takes a few valuable items from home, and tells Frederick that they must leave right away. Frederick afraid that her parents would think it was him who stole from them is panicked, afraid to loose Jette, he decides they must go right away. The couple book passage on the first available ship to America. Shortly after their arrival, before they are settled-their first son is born. The couple decide to stay in Beatrice, Missouri where they feel comfortable living amongst many Germany immigrants. Jette is immediately home sick, and Frederick throws himself into work and finding out what it means to be American. Mistakes are made, a world war happens, prohibition, and life goes on even during the hardships.


Review:

I couldn’t ignore the amount of buzz that surrounded this book when it was first released, and I’m happy to state that it deserves all the recognition. A truly amazing debut novel, that covers three generations and keeps the reader engaged. The characters are rich, multidimensional and captivating. Alex’s prose is beautiful and well-crafted. I fell in love with the Meisenheimer family, and I was glad to be taken on their journey.

This is a story that I’m sure many can relate to. Jette and Frederick had many hopes and dreams, unfortunately life happens and not everything is happily ever after. It was really interesting to see how the war impacted them. Jette couldn’t agree with German-American’s fighting against Germany, while Frederick sided as an American. Jette was my favorite character; she was strong but realistically flawed. Her emotions and reactions really shined through for me.

James takes readers through his grandparents’, parents’ and then his own generation. I would forget about James, and be taken out of the story which bothered me at first but I did get comfortable and really began to enjoy his narration. Each generation has their own set of issues, and they discover what it means to be American. This book will appeal not only to readers who enjoy historical fiction but readers who enjoy a great family story filled with ups and downs.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

New Books- Review and Ebooks

My blog post disappeared... Ugh!

I'm going to repost but I'm not going to link this time.


For review I received:

The Headmaster's Wager by Vincent Lam

Shelter by Frances Greenslade

I also bought some Ebooks!

Comeback Love by Peter Golden

Grammar Girl's 911 Punctuation by Mignon Fogarty

Nadia Knows Best by Jill Mansell

The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny

The Witch Doctor's Wife by Tamar Myers

These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen

 

Friday, April 13, 2012

Confessions from a Literature Graduate...


I've been thinking more and more about how I would love to be a better writer. I do not consider myself a good writer. I'm very self-conscious of my writing. I have been blogging for approximately 2 1/2 years and I think I've improved dramatically from my first few reviews. This year I really wanted to try a bit harder, and be more expressive when I write my reviews. This seems to be going well, so far.

One thing I really want to work on is my grammar and punctuation skills. I blame the fact that I studied french immersion in high school on my lack of these skills. I easily get mixed up, and I really have to think when writing. Often, french and english have slightly different spelling. For example: grammar and grammer, or Canadian and Canadien. My new goal is to work on this. As I mentioned, this is something that I'm really self-conscious about and I want to improve.

Yesterday, I discovered Grammer Girl Podcasts! I also downloaded the ebook for 1.99$



One more confession, my brain refuses to do math. If you put numbers in front of me, I won't even try. I'll pull out my calculator...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Review: Luna by Julie Anne Peters



Publisher: Little Brown
Released: 2006
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5



Synopsis:

Regan is fifteen years old, and her life is consumed with her brother. She loves him with all her heart, and wants what’s best for him but his decisions ultimately affect her life. She always seems to be running damage control. He’s always on her mind, and she worried about him. Regan accepts and acknowledges what everyone else refuses to see, her brother is really her sister- he’s transgender. Liam’s wants to become Luna, deep down, he really is Luna. The problem is their parents refuse to see the truth. Liam tries to be the son his father wants, but it breaks him down and he wants to transition. Regan doesn’t know how she can be the only one to see the truth.



Review:

Julia Anne Peters did a great job portraying both Luna and Regan. For as long as Regan can remember her brother has always showed signs of who he really is. Birthday parties consisted of girl friends and no boys. Liam asked his mother for a bra and was disappointed with a basketball. Regan feels bad for being the daughter that Luna would love to be. She worried what the future holds for Liam as he transitions to Luna. She’s his rock, and tries to comfort him.

I thought the emotions and situations were very well written. Liam and Regan’s parents were believable, their mother had an unspoken truth and their father wants desperately for Liam to communicate with him. Unfortunately, he doesn’t want to hear what Liam really wants to tell him. I get the impression he would rather his son be gay, than transgender.

I would really recommend this one for anyone curious about transgender teens. I thought it was very well written and honest. I’m glad that I took the time to read this one. It really makes you think. This book really demonstrated that to grow up transgender is difficult, but having a trans sibling can be just as hard. Regan is constantly covering up for Liam, and worrying about him. She worries about herself and what will people think about her.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

3 Years Married

Yesterday was my birthday and today is my 3rd wedding anniversary! My husband and I share the same anniversary as his grandparents. They were married for over 50 years, so we hope to be just as blessed as them. A few summers ago, we were watching a video of their 50th anniversary party, and I noticed my grandfather sitting at a table. I love that our families have known each other for so long. This year we will celebrate 10 years together and we have so many great things to look forward to.





Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Hunger Games Book vs Movie




My husband and I went to see the Hunger Games movie the weekend it was released, and I thought the movie was really well done. I really wanted to retread the book since it was years since I first read it. This past weekend I reread the book, and it gave me a new appreciation for the movie.
When a book is turned into a movie, it's very important to me that the actors they choose are new to me and not popular actors/actresses. If the trailer doesn't match what I thought the characters look like, I don't want to subject myself to the movie. The Hunger Games trailer looked amazing to me, and I was excited to see it. I thought all the actors did a fantastic job portraying their characters. Jennifer Lawrence was awesome! The Capitol and District 12 were perfect! I thought the movie captured the essence of both places.

I felt the Games were a little rushed in the movie however, after rereading the book I realized most of the main events were included. Books are able to portray more about a characters mindset and I guess that's what I missed in the movie. I wanted the audience to really understand Katniss and who she is as a person and where she came from.

Is it just me or did they not really include the Avoxs? I don't remember seeing the Avoxs in the capitol or the explanation of who they are.

I remembered Katniss and Peeta's relationship a little differently, once I reread the book I realized that it ended with Katniss really confused and up in the air about how she felt. I didn't realized the games influenced their relationship so much. I forgot about the rule change and only remember the berries at the end.

I wish Gale would have gotten more screen time, their relationship is very important. I don't think the audience realized that Katniss and Gale had mutual/hidden feelings for one another. I'm still team Peeta, but Gale is great as well.

Also, the changing of where the mockingjay pin came from bothered me.

So, what did you think about the movie? Any changes you wish they would or wouldn't have made?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mailbox Monday

I'm currently enjoying a four day weekend! Tomorrow is my birthday and I decided there was no reason to work on my birthday, I'm going to enjoy the day at home, relaxing. I hope everyone had a great Easter. I gave up Facebook for lent, and I was happy to get it back.

Have a great week, and happy reading!

For review, I received:

The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones

The Opposite of Tidy by Carrie Mac

Ebooks bought:

Friday, April 6, 2012

TGIF//Weekly Recap




TGIF is hosted by Ginger at GReads. There's a weekly question and then we do a re-cap of the weeks posts.


Q. Book Series Finales: Which book, from any series has been your favorite ending? What about your least favorite ending???

I would say my favorite ending would be the Harry Potter series. I thought the ending came together really well and I really the epilogue.The epilogue made me believe in the happy ending. Rowling had me on the edge of my seat because I really believed that Harry would give up his life to save everyone.

I can't think of a series ending that I liked the least...

Weekly Recap


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Review: Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani



Publisher: Harperteen
Pages: 256
Released: 2012
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5



Synopsis:

When Shalini’s father announces to the family that they are moving to America, everyone is shocked. Shalini’s grandfather is livid, families are meant to stay together. Their life in India is comfortable; American will be lonely with just the four of them, in India they live with thirty-seven relatives. Shalini has been engaged since she was three years old and the thought of being away from Vikram for two years is heartbreaking. When Shalini, her parents and sister land in America, everything is new and her father is ecstatic. Shalini accepts his words of encouragement, and tries her best to accept the situation. Starting a new school proves to be very difficult for Shalini, but relatively easy for her younger sister. It’s a surprise to the family, when their mother is severely homesick and begins to suffer from depression. She withdraws from the family and locks herself in her room for days, further burdening Shalini with the household chores. After weeks of being tormented at school, Shalini learns that life is about choices, and she no longer wants to be the girl who doesn’t fit in and cowers in a corner.



Review:

Lovetorn is a great novel that tackles a very real subject. Shalini’s peers laugh at her, and mock her; she would love to pack up and go home but she wants to give her father the opportunity to enjoy his time in America, but hiding her unhappiness proves to be difficult. Her father wholeheartedly throws himself into their new life, and wants his wife to snap out of it. He doesn’t understand why she is having such a hard time adjusting. Eventually Shalini meets new people, and forms new friendships. While working for a charity event, she meets a new boy who gives her the butterflies, and she has no idea how that can happened. Vikram has always been the love of her life, and she has no idea what to do.

I really respected that Daswani never demonstrated that one culture was superior over the other. She portrayed a family experiencing the blending of cultures, and adapting. As Shalini begins to feel more comfortable in America, she never forgets who she is or where she came from. Shalini’s mother has the hardest time coming to American, and I felt that her situation was very real. Her whole life was uprooted, and she couldn’t cope. The only place she felt comfortable with was the Indian grocery store. She had nowhere to go every day, no friends, no extended family; she was very lonely and angry.

I want to mention the cover, and how I don’t think it gives this book justice. The cover portrays a romance/teen novel and this book is so much more. I think they chose this cover because it is geared towards young adult fans, but I don’t find it true to the story at all.

I really love stories that take place in India or portray Indian cultures, and this book did not disappoint. Daswani did a great job creating this family, their difficult story is sure to resemble real life immigrants trying to hold on to their culture while building a new life in a new country.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Review: The Lifeboat by Charlotte Rogan



Publisher: Reagan Arthur Books
Pages: 288
Source: Publisher
Released: 2012
Rating: 4/5



Synopsis:

Grace Winter is newly married and newly widowed, her husband of a few short weeks, secured her a place in one of the lifeboats but now she is on trial for murder. After an explosion on the Luxury liner, the Empress Alexandra has no chance. Two years prior, the Titanic sunk and everyone is hoping that better regulations have been put into place to ensure they will be rescued shortly. The survivors in Lifeboat 14 quickly learn that their boat is over capacity, and they must fight for their survival. As much as they would like to help those in desperate need, they’re own survival is on the line. Seaman John Hardie takes charge of the lifeboat, and causes contention within the boat. Charlotte Rogan has readers questioning if murder is justified for survival.


Review:

The Lifeboat is set during 1914 just before the onset of war. Grace’s husband Henry broke off his engagement to his fiancĂ©, and despite his parent’s wishes, he married Grace. She has yet to meet her in-laws, and now, sitting in a lifeboat she doesn’t know if Henry has survived. As the hours on the boat turn into days, the moral on the boat drastically changes. The boat is overcapacity and they have dwindling supplies that Hardie has taken control over. Survivors are initially relieved to have Hardie take command of the boat, eventually they’re attitudes changed when Hardie keeps a tight reign on the dwindling food and water. Desperate times cause for desperate measures, and now Grace is on trial.

I normally wouldn’t have picked this one up for myself, but Rogan is a 2012 debut author and I wanted to give her a chance. I ended up really enjoying the book. As readers are introduced to the present trail and past flashbacks, we begin to question Grace’s reliability. It’s clear that in this situation there are no easy answers. It becomes evident that some must be sacrificed for the majority to live.

The Lifeboat was a great debut novel for Charlotte Rogan. Once you begin the story, you won’t want to put it down. Readers dive in and are anxious to find out what really happened on the boat. I recommend this one for those looking for a great survival story that will leave you questioning the actions of those survivors. Who should decide who lives and dies? How long do you wait before making these decisions?

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Review: The Weight of Heaven by Thrity Umrigar



Publisher: Harper Perennial
Released: (Paperback) 2010
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5



Synopsis:

Frank and Ellie Benton were living on cloud nine with the birth of their son, Benny. When Benny succumbs to an infection, his parents are lost and a profound sense of loss sets in. They never expected that they would outlive their son. The perfect life they built was shattered without Benny. Their marriage quickly begins to deteriorate when they lay blame on each other and withdraw. When Frank is offered a job in India, Ellie jumps at the chance to move and hopefully start over. It doesn’t take much convincing before he accepts the job offer. Settling into life in India was easier for Ellie, Frank was faced with political unrest and labor strikes. The silver lining for Frank was their cook’s son, Ramesh. Frank sees great potential in Ramesh, and he convinces his parents to transfer his school. Frank absorbs the cost of the school, and despite Ramesh’s parents desires, he continues to buy him material goods that his parents could never afford. Tensions begin to rise and Ellie is not comfortable with opening her heart to Ramesh.


Review:

This is the second novel I have read by Thrity Umrigar, and I loved it! She is my new favorite author, and I’ll have to get the rest of her other books. She has a great ability to create multi-dimensional characters. I loved Ellie, but I was frustrated with her standoffish approach with Ramesh. I understood where she was coming from, but I wanted her and Frank to be happy again. Ellie had no problems adjusting to life in India, away from those who pitied her, away from the people who shared memories of her son. She felt that Benny was no longer just theirs; he was a shared memory amongst everyone. Meeting Benny’s teacher in the grocery store would send her in a tailspin; the awkward meetings would never go away. She would never get over the death of her son but she needed to learn to live with it. As Frank begins to pay more and more attention to Ramesh, and he disregards everyone’s warnings, I began to wonder where the book would lead. It seemed like he was adopting Ramesh as his own, and could care less about everyone else involved, including Ellie. Ramesh’s father is jealous of the man who can give his son everything. Frank clearly wants Ramesh to have a bright future, but poverty doesn’t mean abuse. Ramesh had parents who loved him, and tried their best. I struggled with how I really felt about Frank, I wanted to understand him but I couldn’t accept his actions. I really began to feel like the relationship was unhealthy; Frank didn’t know when to step away.

Umrigar’s prose is astonishing, filled with imagery that paints a vibrant picture of India. The Weight of heaven is fast paced, and emotional. Ellie and Frank were written very personally and honestly. Their thoughts don’t hold back, Umrigar depicts grief-stricken parents who are trying to move on but not forget their son. They’re trying to find a comfortable middle-ground, and time doesn’t really seem to be healing. The change of atmosphere doesn’t take away their memories. As Frank begins to spiral out of control, readers will want to reel him in, and put him on a better path. I was not prepared for the ending, and it will remain with me for a long time.

Overall, I highly recommend this one. Umrigar has amazing talent. Benny’s death is raw and emotional, the emotions his parents are left with are complicating. Despite my issues with Frank, I never disliked him, I was sympathic towards him, I wanted him to start making less emotional decisions. I needed him to start thinking rationally, and better informed.

Once again, highly recommended! There is so much to discuss with this book, I feel like I have just scratched the surface.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Newest purchases: Ebook edition

Here are my newest ebook purchases:

After watching and loving the Hunger Games movie, I really felt like a reread would need to happen soon. I bought the ebook bundle. My husband has also promised to read them :)

Another Piece of my Heart by Jane Green

Green Heart by Alice Hoffman

Ladies Coupe by Anita Nair

Lovetorn by Kavita Daswani

The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins

The Ruins of Us by Keija Parssinen