Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Gone Reading!

Look what I got for my birthday:
Hurrah!!  You can't go wrong with Murakami. Plus, the book was released on my birthday yesterday- talk about meant to be!  Looks like I will finally be able to read the Trilogy of the Rat in its entirety -  I can't wait! And now, I'm off to get lost in Murakami's words. Happy reading!!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Her Sister's Shoes: A Novel by Ashley Farley

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

Proves the healing power of family . . .

Set in the South Carolina Lowcountry and packed with Southern charm and memorable characters, Her Sister’s Shoes is the story of three sisters—Samantha, Jackie, and Faith—who struggle to balance the demands of career and family while remaining true to themselves.

Samantha Sweeney has always been the glue that holds her family together, their go-to girl for love and support. When an ATV accident leaves her teenage son in a wheelchair, she loses her carefully constructed self-control.

In the after-gloom of her dreaded fiftieth birthday and the discovery of her husband’s infidelity, Jackie realizes she must reconnect with her former self to find the happiness she needs to move forward.

Faith lacks the courage to stand up to her abusive husband. She turns to her sisters for help, placing all their lives at risk.

In the midst of their individual challenges, the Sweeney sisters must cope with their mother’s mental decline. Is Lovie in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, or is her odd behavior normal for a woman her age? No one, including Lovie, understands her obsession with a rusty key she wears around her neck.

For fans of Dot Frank and Mary Alice Monroe, Her Sister’s Shoes is a contemporary women’s novel that explores and proves the healing power of family.

my thoughts:

Family drama - especially amongst sisters - is my favorite type of drama.  In Her Sister's Shoes, Farley has written an emotional, relatable, and unputdownable story about relationships, love, and the family bond. 

Set in a small town, this is the story of the Sweeney sisters - three woman dealing with too many Lifetime movie issues to count.  There's the cheating spouse, the abusive husband, the tragic accident, and then the ailing mother. Plus, the family seafood restaurant/market that is being redone.  Talk about too much DRAMA!  And of course, since they are family, all of their individual problems and issues tend to bleed over into each others lives - which I think made for a much more realistic story.  As for the sisters and their mother - they are distinct in their personalities, relatable, and easy to connect with.  I loved getting to know this family and learning more about their lives.  Farley has written a fun and engaging read.  I absolutely loved the easy breezy feel to this story riddled with serious issues - made for the perfect light, beach read.  I would definitely recommend this book to fans of women's fiction and chick lit - you will LOVE Her Sister's Shoes!!

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

Friday, July 31, 2015

My Birthday Book Wish List..

Yep, all I want are books.  Of course, I wouldn't say no to a Saint Laurent handbag, but that's not very likely.  So, books it is.  I'm hoping to get some of these lovelies:

What do you think?  Not a bad bunch,eh?  As you can tell, I'm on a Miriam Toews kick - I am in love with her writing.  Her novel, All My Puny Sorrows, was absolutely BRILLIANT!!!  I need to read more of her work ASAP.  Yoshimoto will soothe my craving for more Japanese Literature and the Coates book is most definitely a must read (especially after watching him discuss his book on a morning show recently).  And the anthology by Moraga and Anzaldua is a blast from my past - a book that I've read countless time, but never actually owned (its about time!). 
I have so many other titles on my wish list, but I chose the ones that I can see myself settling down with sooner, rather than later. Do you have any suggestions about what I should add to the list?

And now, I'm off to read Pretty Baby by Mary Kubica. So far, I'm not so sure if I'll be sticking with it - I'm feeling rather underwhelmed by it.  Has anyone read it?  What did you think?

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Madeleines: Elegant French Tea Cakes to Bake and Share by Barbara Feldman Morse

Yummy! Talk about the perfect treat to have with a nice cup of tea.  Luckily, my mother won a copy of this amazing cookbook - thank you, Quirk Books!!  So, I've added the book to my own collection of cookbooks and have decided to give it a read for this Paris in July.  I wanted to bake something sweet and thought that this delicious  treat would be the perfect dessert to make.  What do you think?  I know that macarons are THE sweet to eat right now, but I thought I would go old school and try something that has been around for some time and has stood the test of time - madeleines!

Filled with easy-to-follow recipes for both sweet and savory treats, this lovely book is the perfect fit for fans of French tea cakes.  There are so many great recipes to choose from, fantastic photos of some mouth-watering treats, and tips on which baking tools and techniques to use.  I absolutely loved flipping through this book and reading up on new recipes.  I had no clue there were so many great recipes for madeleines - plain, chocolate, fruit and nut, dipped in white chocolate, etc.  Plus, you can add sauces to dip them in or eat them with ice cream - a madeleine ice cream sandwich!  So many ways to enjoy such a delectable treat!

And now I'm off to bake some madeleines to share with my sister.  Adieu!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Wonder of All Things: A Novel by Jason Mott

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

On the heels of his critically acclaimed and New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Returned, Jason Mott delivers a spellbinding tale of love and sacrifice.

On an ordinary day, at an air show like that in any small town across the country, a plane crashes into a crowd of spectators. After the dust clears, a thirteen-year-old girl named Ava is found huddled beneath a pocket of rubble with her best friend, Wash. He is injured and bleeding, and when Ava places her hands over him, his wounds disappear.

Ava has an unusual gift: she can heal others of their physical ailments. Until the air show tragedy, her gift was a secret. Now the whole world knows, and suddenly people from all over the globe begin flocking to her small town, looking for healing and eager to catch a glimpse of The Miracle Child. But Ava’s unique ability comes at a great cost, and as she grows weaker with each healing, she soon finds herself having to decide just how much she’s willing to give up in order to save the ones she loves most.

Elegantly written, deeply intimate and emotionally astute, The Wonder of All Things is an unforgettable story and a poignant reminder of life’s extraordinary gifts.

my thoughts:

As a fan of Mott's debut novel, The Returned, I could not wait to dive into his latest creation, The Wonder of All Things.  I just knew it would be as addictive, thought-provoking, and emotional as his first book - and I was right (to a degree).  It was all of those things, but it was also predictable and rather relenting in its message regarding obligation/responsibility - if you are blessed with the power to heal people, do you have to heal people (even if it means that doing so will harm you?)  Such is the question at the heart of this story.  We have Ava, a thirteen year old girl who saved her best friend, Wash, by placing her hands over his wound.  Of course, everyone finds out and wants to know how she healed Wash.  Has she always had this gift?  Why did she keep it a secret?  Can she heal others?  Soon, the tiny town of Stone Temple is taken over by religious zealots and people from all over, who have come to see Ava and ask for her help.  Meanwhile, Ava is in hospital.  After healing Wash, she fell ill and has been recovering ever since.  Also, the doctors are curious about her, so they've been running tests on her and her father, Macon (healing could be genetic).  However, Macon is getting fed up of his daughter getting poked and prodded, so he takes her home.  On the way, Ava learns about all of the craziness that has ensued since the incident with Wash.  It terrifies her to think that these people are here for her and knowing what they want from her.  Her father, who happens to be the town's sheriff, tries to comfort her and promise that all the hysteria will eventually die down.  Ava, knows that it won't.  And so the drama ensues - people breaking into Ava's bedroom, her own stepmother asking for Ava's gift, the noise and cameras of the press surrounding her, her father's belief that she should help if she can, etc.  So much is going on, and all Ava can think about is her mother.  She committed suicide years ago and Ava was the one who found her.  Ever since she healed Wash, she's been wondering if she could have saved her mother.  Confounded with such deep emotions and questions, Ava retreats into herself. She can only bear to have Wash around.   As things get more terrifying for Ava, she decides to run away and brings Wash with her.  She realizes what she needs to do to end all of this drama surrounding her and her family. 

Now, I won't go into specific details as to what happens with Ava, Wash, and Macon - suffice it to say, its one emotional read.  The Wonder of All Things explores themes of faith, religion, medicine, obligation, responsibility, family, love, loss, etc.  It questions whether we owe it to one another to help those in need, regardless of the consequences.  Ava can heal, but in return she grows ill.  Should she have to heal people and die for it?  Why does Ava owe anyone anything?  She's just a kid, who happens to have this gift - why should she be forced into such a huge undertaking?  I couldn't help but grow frustrated with her father, Macon.  He obviously didn't know how to handle the situation, but I felt he should have listened to his wife, Carmen (Ava's stepmom).  She seemed to have Ava's best interests at heart (usually) - at least she noticed how sick Ava was getting.  For Macon to agree to work with Reverend Brown, that was just disheartening and disconcerting.  I felt that her father was a weak man, who didn't consider his daughter's health overall - until the very end, when he finally took a good look at her.  In the end, this story captured the fever pitch of mania, danger, and uncertainty enshrouding Ava, her family and friends, and her town.  It showed us the ways in which people can ignore the obvious and trudge on, hoping for the best.  It described the greedy and selfish manner in which people wanted to control Ava.  And, it highlighted a mother-daughter relationship that was happy and sweet, but fraught with underlying emotions of sadness and anger.  The Wonder of All Things is truly a great read.  In spite of any negatives I may have felt towards the editing or plot lines, I found myself utterly mesmerized and unable to put it down - I stayed up til the wee hours finishing it and loving every minute of it.  This is definitely one book that I would recommend to fans of Mott and fans of contemporary fiction with a supernatural twist.  I look forward to Mott's next book!

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