Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Father's Day: A Novel by Simon Van Booy

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

When devastating news shatters the life of six-year-old Harvey, she finds herself in the care of a veteran social worker, Wanda, and alone in the world save for one relative she has never met—a disabled felon, haunted by a violent act he can’t escape.

Moving between past and present, Father’s Day weaves together the story of Harvey’s childhood on Long Island and her life as a young woman in Paris.

Written in raw, spare prose that personifies the characters, this remarkable novel is the journey of two people searching for a future in the ruin of their past.

my thoughts:

Everything Beautiful Began After is one of my favorite books.  Its a beautifully written story that made my heart hurt, my head spin, and haunted me for months after. I loved it to bits! Van Booy's writing was ACE and I couldn't get enough of it.  So, when I heard about his new novel, Father's Day, I immediately asked to review it. I was so excited to read it.  A new book by one of my favorite writers - what more could I want? I just knew I was in for a treat.

Father's Day is the story of Harvey and Jason, a father/daughter duo, reuniting  in Paris to celebrate Father's Day.  Harvey lives in Paris now and wants her dad to see where she lives, where she works, and how well she is doing. She also wants to share with him a secret she uncovered - something she is convinced he knew, but never told her.  Jason just wants to spend time with his daughter in this new world she's created for herself.  Their story unfolds slowly, and the narratives time jump from past to present helping to explain their relationship further - it all makes for quite an affecting read.  I loved getting to know Harvey as a kid and Jason as her uncle who takes on the role of "dad" when she loses both her parents in a car crash. These two lost souls find comfort in each other and their new relationship.  Jason makes sacrifices the way any good father would for his daughter's medical (in this case dental) care.  Harvey provides the teen-aged angst that tests any father's patience.  Its fascinating, relatable, and mesmerizing to read.  The more details that emerge about this family, the more you can't help but figure out the secret that Harvey is waiting to ask her father about.  I have to admit that I suspected what the secret was long before Harvey mentioned it, because from the beginning there is just something in the writing that spells out the truth ( or at least I saw it ).  Either way, I have to admit that this predictable secret/reveal was the only aspect of the novel that disappointed me ( but only slightly ).  In the end, I still managed to tear up reading the truth of Harvey, Jason, and their relationship.  Van Booy's words swept me away into these characters' lives, their past, their present, and the people around them. His penchant for creating a rich, vivid, and emotional story with such simple and sparse story lines is truly breathtaking. I loved this beautiful book to bits. 

I would happily recommend Father's Day to fans of Simon Van Booy's writing and fans of great reads - you will LOVE this book!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Father's Day
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Friday, April 22, 2016

GIVEAWAY of Worlds Elsewhere: Journeys around Shakesepeare's Globe by Andrew Dickson

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
April 23rd, 2016 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare's death. To celebrate the Bard's prolific catalogue of work, I will be giving away a copy of Andrew Dickson's latest book, Worlds Elsewhere: Journeys around Shakespeare's Globe. How exciting!

Described as a combination of cultural history and literary travelogue, this book is Dickson's exploration of  "how and why the world became fascinated with Shakespeare."  Using Shakespeare's fascination with the world as inspiration, Dickson traveled the globe looking for answers - he went to Mumbai, Berlin, and San Diego (to name a few).  His book shares with us the ways in which Shakespeare's works have been reinterpreted over the years; along with, how the Bard's works went global.  Talk about a must-read!  Any fan of Shakespeare will enjoy settling down with Dickson's book, a nice cuppa, and a long afternoon.  I know that I can't wait to learn more about the man who wrote some of my favorite plays (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet).  Plus, how awesome is it that 400 years later, we are still obsessed with Shakespeare and his writings!?! I love it!!

Open to US residents only.  To enter, all you have to do is leave me a comment.  Don't forget to include your email address.  Good luck!!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Alice in Bed: A Novel by Judith Hooper

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

One of her brothers is the greatest English novelist of his time; another is inventing American psychology. The James family is famous in Boston and New York for its brilliance, eccentricity, and mesmerizing conversation. Alice James is no less remarkable than her brothers (Henry and William), but there is a problem: she is a girl. Her education has been haphazard, there are no colleges for women, and young ladies are expected to be Angels in the House. No one could be less suited to angelic domesticity than the tart-tongued, defiantly original Alice. She must chart her own course, but how?

Falling mysteriously ill while crossing the Atlantic at age 38, she becomes confined to her bed in a lodging house in provincial England. Thus begins her second life, when she recalls or redreams her life and struggles to make sense of it.  How did her collapse begin? Was it “Father’s Ideas”? The night she drank absinthe and fell in love with a girl? The time William went to the asylum? The childhood years in Paris, when Father fired each of her governesses in turn? Was it the horrors of the Civil War, the erotic relations with the Temple cousins, the day Henry deserted her and sailed to Europe? Was it simply the oddness of “growing up James”?

Alice in Bed is an absorbing, poignant, sometimes hilarious journey through the Gilded Age with one of literature’s most unusual and captivating heroines.

my thoughts:

Historical fiction at its best! Alice is Bed is a fascinating story that sheds light on a woman's descent into invalidism.  The woman being Alice James - sister to renowned psychologist Williams James and famed author Henry James.   Known for her intellect and wit, Alice's social circle consisted of the Boston intellectual elite.  She was rubbing shoulders with the who's who of Boston society when her illness began to overwhelm her.  Tonics were drunk, doctors were seen, and health spas were visited.  Nothing seemed to truly cure Alice.  And then her illness progressed to the point where she no longer had use of her legs and was bound to a chair.  With no idea of what exactly ailed her and no remedy in sight, Alice remained in England unable to travel across the pond to her family in Boston. She found solace in the letters she received from her loved ones and the writings she penned in her diaries.  Armed with her mind, she wrote observations about the reality of her life, the social issues/expectations affecting women, and the pompous academics of the time.  Published posthumously, her diaries received high praise for their insights, wit, and intellect.

In Alice in Bed, Hooper focuses on Alice's life and shares passages from her diaries to highlight the strength and tenacity of Alice's writing and thoughts.  She also includes excerpts from the letters that Alice wrote/received from her brothers, along with the ones in which they wrote to each other.  It all makes for quite an interesting read.  Not only do we learn about their love for Alice, but we also learn about the ways in which her illness affected them as a family.  And we become privy to the fact that her brothers also suffered from depression, perhaps not to the extremes that she did (suicidal and homicidal thoughts abounded).  Hooper's rich descriptions, engaging story lines, and slow-paced narrative make for quite a thoughtful read. I absolutely loved learning about Alice and her family.  I found myself utterly engrossed in Alice in Bed, especially the end of the book - an afterword dedicated to "What was wrong with Alice James?" (the number 1 question running through my head as I read this book) and the bibliography (a new list of books for me to read!).

Alice is Bed is the perfect read for historical fiction buffs, Henry James buffs, and anyone interested in reading about Alice James - you will all love this book so hard!  How could you not? The writing and storytelling are excellent.  It truly is a great read!

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: Alice in Bed
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Art of Calm: Photographs and Wisdom to Balance Your Life by Rebecca Ascher-Walsh

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

Let’s face it: the more we rush around, the shorter the days can seem. Packed with page after page of inspirational ideas to help you bring your life back to center, this is the perfect antidote to reducing the chaos of everyday life. Filled with exquisite photographs and insightful quotations, this elegant book offers an opportunity to enjoy guilt-free “me” time, as well as easy suggestions for a more peaceful existence—from keeping a bud vase on your desk to tucking yourself into bed an hour early with a book you love. The brilliant images are a reminder to savor the world’s natural beauty—and ease the mind in an instant. This enriching, beautifully illustrated book is an inspiring guide to relaxation and harmony. Simple tips for how to unwind, ideas for spending quality time with loved ones, and illuminating quotes offer ideas on how to slow down and savor life’s simple moments.

my thoughts:

Talk about the perfect book to de-stress with! Filled with fabulous quotes, soothing photos, and helpful tips; The Art of Calm is the go-to book for inspiring its readers to focus on finding balance amidst all of life's chaos.  I absolutely loved it!

Lately, every day is filled with lists and lists of things that have to be done ASAP, leaving little to no breathing room for a ten-minute break.  Its crazy and tiring!  So, I was very excited to find myself with a quiet morning and this handy little tome to peruse over a nice cuppa.  I flipped through the pages and got lost in the images of trees, the beach, seashells, and flowers.  I read quotes by amazing and insightful figures like Louis May Alcott, Michelle Obama, Jane Austen, and Oprah Winfrey.  And the tips scattered throughout were fun and thoughtful - there's even a recipe for brownies (Yum!).  My favorite tip was, "Start every morning with beautiful words by subscribing to a daily poem online. It's food for the mind and the soul." Who doesn't want to wake up to beautiful words, right? 

The Art of Calm turned out to be the perfect book to help remind me that I need to remember to spend a little time with myself now and again.  So, I plan on carving out an hour each morning ( and I mean early morning ) to just read, write, and enjoy a nice cuppa while the rest of the worlds sleeps.  I think it will be a great way to kick off the start to my days. 

To find out what other book bloggers have to say about this amazing book, check out the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for: The Art of Calm
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Decent Proposal: A Novel by Kemper Donovan

(Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book:

A humorous, heartfelt love story built on a tantalizing premise: would you agree to spend two hours a week with a stranger—just talking—to collect half a million dollars at the end of a year?

Struggling Hollywood producer Richard is twenty-nine, hungover, and broke. Ridiculously handsome with an easy charm, he spends his days procrastinating at the Coffee Bean and nights hanging out with his best friend, Michaela, aka “Mike.”

At thirty-three, Elizabeth is on track to make partner at her law firm. Known as “La Máquina”—the Machine—to her colleagues, she’s grown used to a quiet, orderly life with no romantic entanglements of any kind. (Her closest friend is an old man who discusses Virginia Woolf with her at the beach. Enough said.)

Richard and Elizabeth have never met before, but their paths collide when they receive a proposal from a mysterious, anonymous benefactor: they’ll split a million dollars if they agree to spend at least two hours together every week for a year. Both are shocked and suspicious, and agree the idea is absurd, but after Richard anxiously considers the state of his bank account and Elizabeth carefully conducts a cost-benefit analysis of the situation, they agree to give it a try.

As these two perfect strangers wade awkwardly into the waters of modern courtship, discovering a shared affection for In-N-Out burgers, classic books, cult-hit movies, and various Los Angeles locales, they realize that uncovering the secret identity of their benefactor will not only make clear what connects them but change them both forever.

This delightful tale is full of twists, revelations, and above all love in its multitude of forms.

my thoughts:

I wanted to like this book so much.  The premise sounded like it would be such a fun story - two strangers will receive half a million dollars each, if they agree to spend two hours a week together for a year. How crazy is that!?  Who wouldn't say yes to that arrangement?  What's two hours when you are going to earn that much money?! I couldn't wait to find out about this dynamic duo who agreed to this "decent proposal"!  Would they become fast friends? Would they fall in love? Would their lives change as a result of engaging in this arrangement?  Would they be happy that they ever agreed to this arrangement?  So many questions!  And so I dove right in, expecting to fall in love with these characters and their new "job".  Well, lo and behold, I wound up disliking them both and their story.  Yep, this book turned out to be a dud for me.

I just didn't care for either character at all.  They were stereotypical creations that lacked depth.  I suppose that fit in with the LA background which was overly described throughout the story.  Shallow city filled with shallow people - check!  Yes, the two characters wound up bonding over films and books - which I thought was nice, but that was all I thought about it.  Why?  There was nothing substantial about these two or their bonding to keep you invested in them or their story.  Instead of getting a story that included the intricacies of a friendship/love developing- we get a story about two people talking to their friends more than they do to each other.  We don't get the details or conversations that are necessary in selling a love story about two random strangers.  It was just disappointing.

The Decent Proposal was not my cup of tea.  I don't mind a good 'lad lit' novel, but this one was just underwhelming at best.  I don't think I'll be reading any more of Donovan's work in the future. However, don't just take my word on this novel.  You may very well enjoy it.  So, check out what everyone else has to say - some really loved the book. 

Here's the link to the TLC Book Tour schedule for:  The Decent Proposal
Thank you to the publisher and TLC Book Tours for providing me with a copy of this book!