Thursday, March 6, 2014
Mystery March is looking more and more like a complete bust. I need to read half of The Goldfinch for book club this month; I want to finish Outlander, I've got another TLC Book Tour coming up this month and I'm hoping to finish my nightstand book for Classics Club. I just don't see a whole lot of room for mysteries in there, do you? Now I'm thinking Mystery May.
These books arrived at my house this week:
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Oleander Girl by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Cinder by Marissa Meyer
Now if I were reading three books a week, this would not be a problem. But I'm not. So it is. Also, it's hard to read the books that I already own when there are new books to be read. Did you pick up any new books this week?
Monday, March 3, 2014
Published March 2014 by Crown
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review
After their mother’s probable suicide, sisters Olivia and Jazz take steps to move on with their lives. Jazz, logical and forward-thinking, decides to get a new job, but spirited, strong-willed Olivia—who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights—is determined to travel to the remote setting of their mother’s unfinished novel to lay her spirit properly to rest. Already resentful of Olivia’s foolish quest and her family’s insistence upon her involvement, Jazz is further aggravated when they run into trouble along the way and Olivia latches to a worldly train-hopper who warns he shouldn’t be trusted. As they near their destination, the tension builds between the two sisters, each hiding something from the other, until they are finally forced to face everything between them and decide what is really important.
I don't recall what it was about the pitch from Lisa at TLC Book Tours that made me interested in reading this book; almost as soon as I started reading it, though, I thought I'd made a mistake. In fact, I kept wondering, early on, if I would even finish it. Because even though there's not actually magical realism in the book, there is the feel of it and if you've read this blog long enough, you know I have a problem with magical realism. Ron Rash (Serena) has taught me to love the Appalachian mountains, though, so the story of a family living in a small town in West Virginia intrigued me enough to keep me reading. Plus, it's a book primarily about the relationship between sisters and I'm always interested in books that deal with that complex relationship.
Still, as these two sisters danced around each other and their relationship with their trouble mother, I started to get over the fact that I felt like Olivia was a flake and that Jazz was one hundred percent correct to be fed up with having to look out for her. Both sisters struggled with guilt over their mother's death, kept secrets from each other trying to protect themselves and their mother, and both had no idea how to deal with the other. By having both sisters narrate the book, Walsh allows us to know, and understand, both of them and hold out hope they will also come to understand each other (which, let's be honest, we know they ultimately will).
For other opinions about this book, check out the full tour. Thanks to the ladies at TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. THERESE WALSH is the author of The Last Will of Moira Leahy and the cofounder of Writer Unboxed. She lives in upstate New York with her husband and two children.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Tonight I'm headed off to an Oscar's party - my friend Cheryl hosts it every year and it's so much fun. We're vocal about fashion, compete to see who can
Here's What I'm:
Listening To: Podcasts this past week and I'll probably spend much of the next few weeks catching up with those. I'm all caught up with Satellite Sisters and I'm working on getting caught up with Radio Lab now. Did you know there used to be 415 days in a year??? Okay so it was 450 billion years ago but still. I learn so much every time I listen to Radio Lab!
Watching: The Voice and a lot of college basketball. I'm a little lost since the Olympics ended!
Reading: I finished The Moon Sisters this morning for a TLC Book Tours review tomorrow and now I'm back to Outlander. I really need to get started on The Goldfinch which is the March/April selection for the Omaha Bookworms as well.
Making: Shredded chicken lasagna, chicken enchiladas and, for Miss H's birthday, key lime cupcakes.
Planning: To avoid going outside as much as possible this week. I'm hunkering down until the above average temperatures move in next week.
Grateful for: A husband I enjoy spending time with.
Feeling: Like the weekends are much too short. Why is the more fun you have packed into these two days, the faster they go by?
Thinking: I may have packed too many book commitments into March. I'm not sure I'm going to get any mysteries read at all!
Looking forward to: I think I've covered this already - Oscar party tonight and warmer temperatures!
Posted by Lisa at 12:06 AM
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
Published January 2014 by Ballantine Books
Source: downloaded from the publisher via Netgalley for a TLC Book Tour in exchange for a fair review
At the age of thirty-five, Fanny van de Grift Osbourne has left her philandering husband in San Francisco to set sail for Belgium—with her three children and nanny in tow—to study art. It is a chance for this adventurous woman to start over, to make a better life for all of them, and to pursue her own desires. Not long after her arrival, however, tragedy strikes, and Fanny and her children repair to a quiet artists’ colony in France where she can recuperate. Emerging from a deep sorrow, she meets a lively Scot, Robert Louis Stevenson, ten years her junior, who falls instantly in love with the earthy, independent, and opinionated “belle Americaine.” Fanny does not immediately take to the slender young lawyer who longs to devote his life to writing—and who would eventually pen such classics as Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In time, though, she succumbs to Stevenson’s charms, and the two begin a fierce love affair—marked by intense joy and harrowing darkness—that spans the decades and the globe. The shared life of these two strong-willed individuals unfolds into an adventure as impassioned and unpredictable as any of Stevenson’s own unforgettable tales.
I read Horan's Loving Frank with the Omaha Bookworms several years ago and was impressed with her ability to craft a work of fiction so faithfully accurate to the historical truths of the characters' lives she explored. In Under The Wide And Starry Sky, Horan again tells the story of a man consumed by his creative passion and the woman he can't live without. Surprisingly, Horan has once again found an historical figure who falls in love with a married woman, although here Fanny van de Grift Osbourne's marriage had already fallen apart.
"She no longer had any illusions that her connection to Sam was love. It was something stronger, like tangled veins and shared blood and unholy patterns that couldn't be escaped."Like Mamah Cheney, of Loving Frank, Fanny was ahead of her time in her desire to become an independent woman living life on her own terms. And, like Mameh, Fanny is leaving her marriage to make and escape but finding the way out is difficult.
"If I seek to make a mark of my own, am I not a woman, then?"Fanny may or may not have had real talent of her own, but her greatest skill seems to have been in helping Louis (as he preferred to be called) get his dreams onto paper and published. That and keeping him alive. Stevenson was forever battling live-threatening illness and Fanny and he lived like gypsies for much of their lives as the moved from place to place for his health.
While the relationship between the two, the relationships they have with their families and other literary figures of the time is interesting, the story can get bogged down with too much detail, detail that takes the book to nearly 500 pages. Yet much of the detail also adds immeasurably to the book, including, for me, a stop by Fanny in Omaha and the Stevensons' first impressions of the islands of the South Pacific. Part of the pleasure for me with this book, too, was the way it tied into books that I've recently read, The Painted Ladies by Cathy Marie Buchanan and I Am Madame X which dealt with a painting by John Singer Sargent who also painted the Stevensons.
Robert Louis Stevenson died in those islands at the age of 44. Fanny worked tirelessly after his death to keep his name known.
"Maybe he knew that life is not an even fight," Louis mused. "Given the odds, it's the stand on takes that matters."
Thanks to TLC Book Tours for including me on this tour. For other opinions about the book, please check out the full tour.
Posted by Lisa at 1:17 AM
Monday, February 24, 2014
Published December 2012 by Viking Penguin
Source: downloaded to my Nook to read with the Omaha Bookworms
They had nothing in common until love gave them everything to lose . . .
Louisa Clark is an ordinary girl living an exceedingly ordinary life—steady boyfriend, close family—who has barely been farther afield than their tiny village. She takes a badly needed job working for exMaster of the Universe Will Traynor, who is wheelchair bound after an accident. Will has always lived a huge life—big deals, extreme sports, worldwide travel—and now he’s pretty sure he cannot live the way he is.
Will is acerbic, moody, bossy—but Lou refuses to treat him with kid gloves, and soon his happiness means more to her than she expected. When she learns that Will has shocking plans of his own, she sets out to show him that life is still worth living.
I have a confession to make - this book arrived in my mailbox one day, unsolicited, more than a year ago. It sat on my desk in limbo for some time before I decided it sounded it wasn't for me and gave it away. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Read it, they said. It will make you cry, they said. Still, I was a bit nervous about recommending it to the Bookworms. I wasn't even sure, when I did, that it would be a book that was discussion worthy. Is a tear-jerker really a worthy book club choice? Yes, yes it is. Not only did everyone enjoy the book, we had one of our best discussions.
The book gets off to a bit of a shaky start; the prologue is a bit melodramatic. But from there Moyes delivers a story that completely sucked me in and won me over. There is nothing fussy about Moyes' writing but it's exactly her straight-forward style that helps readers connect to her characters and their problems. And they are characters that are so easy to relate to. You have know people like Lou and her parents; you have had relationships like the one between Lou and her sister; you've met people like pre-accident Will and his family.
"It's just that the thing you never understand about being a mother, until you are one, is that it is not the grown man - the galumphing, unshaven, stinking, opinionated offspring - you see before you, with his parking tickets and unpolished shoes and complicated love life. You see all the people he has ever been all rolled into one."Lou and Will are going to stay with me a long time. I loved the way their relationship developed, their repartee, and their honesty.
"Nobody wants to hear that stuff. Nobody wants you to talk about being afraid, or in pain, or being scared of dying through some stupid, random infection. Nobody wants to know how it feels to know you will never have sex again, never eat food you've made with your own hands again, never hold your own child. Nobody wants to know that sometimes I feel so claustrophobic, being in this chair, I just want to scream like a madman at the thought of another day in it. "I'll leave you with some of my favorite gems from the book. Oh, and about that crying? Yep, I absolutely did cry...quite a lot. I defy you not to.
"I just want to be a man who has been to a concert with a girl in a red dress."
"You only get one life. It's actually your duty to live it as fully as possible."
"Her face, when she turned to me, told me I should do the same. It could contain a million message, my mother's face..."
"Some mistakes...just have greater consequences than others. But you don't have to let that night be the thing that defines you."