Thursday, August 25, 2016

Recent Reads and Re-Reads...

My reading has been non-stop lately. I can't seem to take a break. As soon as I finish one book, I pick up the next and dive right in. I think its the fact that summer is coming to an end soon that has me trying to squeeze in as many books as possible.  Once Fall begins, time flies by and we are smack dab in the middle of the holiday season. I find that I don't read nearly as much during the holidays - too much going on.  So, for now, I am reading, reading, reading. 

Here are a few of the books I've recently devoured:

The first was a re-read of one of my all-time favorite books - A Confederacy of Dunces.   Yep, I met up with Ignatius J. Reilly once more and walked around New Orleans with him and his hot dog cart. It was pure magic. I must have laughed out loud so many times, that my tear ducts dried up. I swear, that this is one of the only books that has ever made me laugh so much I cried. Its just that damn funny, smart, and captivating.  I loved listening to Mrs. Reilly lament about her son to new friends, Santa and Angelo.  Reading about Ignatius' attempt to take down the Office Manager at Levy Pants was priceless.  And Myrna's letters were the icing on the cake. This is truly one boffo book that I look forward to re-reading again and again. In fact, there's a new hardcover edition coming out in October that I can't wait to buy.  I'm so excited about it, that my valve is closing up - LOL! Read the book and you will know what I mean.
That's a pretty cool cover, eh?  I'm also planning on buying the new hardcover edition of one of my other favorite books, Wide Sargasso Sea.  This one also comes out in October:
Pretty nifty, eh? I've always loved owning multiple copies of my favorite books, so I'm thinking adding this one to my five copies of WSS will round out my collection.  What do you think? Is it weird to own more than one copy of your favorite book? I think its pretty cool. I like having the different editions.  Plus, I only do it for my absolute favorite books.  Hmm...

Since I'm in a re-reading mood, I'm thinking of picking up Beyond the Great Indoors again.  I bought this one on a whim and was so happy that I did.  It is truly one of the BEST impulse buys I have ever made.  I loved it so much that when I heard there was a film version (Elling) I went out and bought it on DVD - it was fantastic! The story is about two outsiders coming to grips with the real world and all it entails. It is such a funny, sweet story that I can't help but smile just thinking of it.
I'm even thinking of re-reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.  Its been ages since I first read it and I feel it calling out to me.  Plus, I recently gobbled up Murakami's amazing short story collection titled Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman.  Once you read a Murakami, you can't help but want another.  And this collection of shorts was classic Murakami.  I just loved his creativity and exploration of loneliness within these stories.  My favorites were: the story about the woman obsessed with buying clothes; the one about the crabs; and the one about the Ice Man. Actually, I also enjoyed the birthday story; the sharpie cakes; and the name-stealing monkey.  So good!!

I also read The Couple Next Door. OMG!! Talk about the perfect summer read.  Chock full of suspense, this one had me on the edge of my seat the whole time.  I started reading it in the morning and didn't stop until I was done.  It was crazy good!  I kept trying to figure out who did what.  And those slow reveals - whoa!  The book is about a couple who returns home from a dinner party over at their neighbor's house.  They go to check on their baby girl and find her MISSING - WTF!!  The big question is: Whodunit!?! 

Another title I tackled was the play, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  How fun was it to be back in the Wizarding world - LOADS!!  I loved this play and getting reunited with some of my favorites characters.  It was truly a fun reading experience.  Plus, I just loved getting to know Albus (Harry's son) and Scorpius (Draco's son) - they are the best BFFs.  As for the stage directions (it is a play), I found them useful in envisioning the story unfold.  Definitely a treat for any HP fan.

I read an ARC of Peter Swanson's latest (it comes out in January 2017) Her Every Fear. Talk about suspense and mystery to the max!!  OMG!! Its about a British woman (Kate) who trades her apartment in London with her cousin (Corbin) who lives in Boston.  Kate has always been anxious, but a horribly, traumatic experience with an ex has left her riddled with nerves.  In a bid to move forward, she agrees to this trade with her cousin.  Unfortunately, once in Boston, things start to get a bit scary for Kate.  This book was so good! Its crazy what Corbin has done in his past and even crazier that Kate gets caught up in it all.  Definitely a must-read for fans of Swanson (The Kind Worth Killing).

And another book that I recently read was Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. 
 My first book by Straub and I loved it. I enjoyed the way it explored relationships, friendships, personal histories, growing up, and living in the now. This was truly great storytelling.  I loved every minute with it.  And, I can't wait to read more of Straub's work.  I'm thinking The Vacationers should be next. 

Not a bad bunch of books, eh? I certainly enjoyed reading them all.  And now I'm off to continue reading Hidden Figures - nonfiction at its best!  Happy reading!!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Another Brooklyn: A Novel by Jacqueline Woodson

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

The acclaimed New York Times bestselling and National Book Award–winning author of Brown Girl Dreaming delivers her first adult novel in twenty years.

Running into a long-ago friend sets memory from the 1970s in motion for August, transporting her to a time and a place where friendship was everything—until it wasn’t. For August and her girls, sharing confidences as they ambled through neighborhood streets, Brooklyn was a place where they believed that they were beautiful, talented, brilliant—a part of a future that belonged to them.

But beneath the hopeful veneer, there was another Brooklyn, a dangerous place where grown men reached for innocent girls in dark hallways, where ghosts haunted the night, where mothers disappeared. A world where madness was just a sunset away and fathers found hope in religion.

Like Louise Meriwether’s Daddy Was a Number Runner and Dorothy Allison’s Bastard Out of Carolina, Jacqueline Woodson’s Another Brooklyn heartbreakingly illuminates the formative time when childhood gives way to adulthood—the promise and peril of growing up—and exquisitely renders a powerful, indelible, and fleeting friendship that united four young lives.

my thoughts:

Whoa! This book is AMAZING. Seriously! It is by far one of the best reads I've experienced this year. The writing is excellent, the storytelling is mesmerizing, and the character of August is terrific.

When I received my copy, I sat right down to start reading and didn't get up for nearly an hour. I found myself riveted by Woodson's touching prose and August's coming-of-age tale set in Brooklyn during the 70s.  August and her brother are first prohibited from leaving their front yard and instead sit by the window staring out at the city before them. Eventually, their father lets them walk down the street, etc. Soon, August has three best friends she hangs out with, shares secrets with, and explores the city with. We read about August reassuring her little brother that their mother will be coming soon to join them.  We read about the heat and danger of the city.  We read about August and her first boyfriend stealing kisses. We read about a young lady growing up and experiencing betrayal by her very best friend. We read about what really happened to August's mom and how she won't be coming back to them.  And we read about August leaving Brooklyn behind.  Woodson depicts such a detailed life story in such a short amount of pages - her writing is smart, vivid, and addictive. I found myself turning pages faster and faster, the more enchanted I became with this fantastic story. I found myself transported to Brooklyn and hanging out with August. And I found myself thinking about August long after I turned the last page.  Another Brooklyn is an unforgettable read that I will never forget. I can't wait to read more of Woodson's work! And I would happily recommend this book to fans of Woodson's writing and anyone looking for a new great read - you will LOVE this book!!

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

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Family Tree: A Novel by Susan Wiggs

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

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author comes a powerful, emotionally complex story of love, loss, the pain of the past—and the promise of the future.

Sometimes the greatest dream starts with the smallest element. A single cell, joining with another. And then dividing. And just like that, the world changes. Annie Rush knows how lucky she is. The producer of a popular television cooking show, she loves her handsome husband and the beautiful Los Angeles home they share. And now, she’s pregnant with their first child. But in an instant, her life is shattered. And when Annie awakes from a yearlong coma, she discovers that time isn’t the only thing she’s lost.

Grieving and wounded, Annie retreats to her old family home in Switchback, Vermont, a maple farm generations old. There, surrounded by her free-spirited brother, their divorced mother, and four young nieces and nephews, Annie slowly emerges into a world she left behind years ago: the town where she grew up, the people she knew before, the high-school boyfriend turned judge. And with the discovery of a cookbook her grandmother wrote in the distant past, Annie unearths an age-old mystery that might prove the salvation of the family farm.

Family Tree is the story of one woman’s triumph over betrayal, and how she eventually comes to terms with her past. It is the story of joys unrealized and opportunities regained. Complex, clear-eyed and big-hearted, funny, sad, and wise, it is a novel to cherish and to remember.

my thoughts:

What a terrific story! I absolutely loved Family Tree by Susan Wiggs. It was such a thought-provoking and unputdownable read - I didn't want it to end.

Annie is the producer on her husband's popular cooking show. They have a life that anyone would dream of. Everything seems to be moving along perfectly.  And then Annie's world is turned upside down when she catches her husband cheating on her. There's an accident and Annie winds up in a coma.  When she wakes up a year later, her whole life has changed.  Her husband divorced her and moved her comatose body back to her hometown.  The baby she was carrying passed away as a result of the accident. Everything she once thought she loved in her life is now gone. What is she to do?

Family Tree takes us on Annie's journey of self-discovery as she puts her life back together again. She must deal with her ex-husband's betrayal, the loss of her baby, and so much more.  And she must deal with the toll that the coma has taken on her body.  Annie must work on her mind and body in order to move forward.  Along the way she rekindles a first love and figures out just what it is she really wants from life. 

Talk about a compelling story! I was hooked from start to finish. I loved getting to know Annie and watching her piece her life back together bit by bit. Wiggs' has written such a heartwarming, sad, funny, and unforgettable story. I just loved it!

I would happily recommend Family Tree to fans of Wiggs' books and fans of women's fiction - you will LOVE this book!!

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

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Hating Game: A Novel by Sally Thorne

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

Debut author Sally Thorne bursts on the scene with a hilarious and sexy workplace comedy all about that thin, fine line between hate and love.

Nemesis (n.) 1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome.

                       2) A person’s undoing

                       3) Joshua Templeman

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

my thoughts:

Talk about the perfect beach read! A funny rom-com about two co-workers (Lucy and Joshua) competing for the same job.  They keep track of each others' innocuous offenses and try to out-do one another in an effort to win favor.  However, along the way, their interests in each other turn romantic and raises the question - will this job come between their love?

Written from Lucy's perspective we get the inside track to what she really thinks of Joshua and about falling in love with him. Plus, we get to know her family and friends - did I mention that both Lucy and Joshua have some family situations to deal with. Definitely more drama to add to the mix. I would have enjoyed reading from Joshua's perspective as well, but I did enjoy getting to know him via Lucy. Plus, I found Thorne's writing to be terrific - it was filled with rich, vivid descriptions; clever banter between Lucy and Johsua; and some great LOL moments. And I just loved this idea of  'office rivals' falling in love. How crazy to be competing with someone for a job, then suddenly finding yourself romanticizing them?  Makes one wonder whether 'falling in love' was a trick to win the promotion, or if it genuinely happened as a result of spending so much time obsessing over each other at work? Either way, emotions abound - complicated, messy, and confused as Lucy and Joshua try to figure out what they really want from each other and work.

The Hating Game is a charming, sweet read that truly entertains.  I absolutely loved it! And I would happily recommend it to fans of chick lit and fans of romance novels - you will LOVE this book!!

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

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

GIVEAWAY & REVIEW of When Watched: Stories by Leopoldine Core

(Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a copy of this book!)
about book: (On Sale August 9th)

The provocative, lyrical, and wonderfully introverted stories in Leopoldine Core’s debut story collection, WHEN WATCHED (Penguin Paperback Original; ISBN: 9780143128694; On-sale: August 9; $16.00), possess something permanent at their heart. Chronicling characters of all stripes and sexual orientation, Core, a 2015 Whiting Award winner and author of the poetry collection Veronica Bench, has delivered a wise and deeply intimate collection, one that bravely tunnels straight to the center of human suffering and longing. In Core, the quiet, the strange, the cast-aside have found their literary chronicler. 

In these domestic yet almost otherworldly stories set in and around New York City, you never know where you might end up. Populated by sex workers, artists, and recovering addicts, lovers, friends, and nontraditional families, Core’s wholly realized characters are endlessly striving to understand each other. While they may seem to operate at the margins, there is something eminently relatable, even elemental about their romantic relationships, their personal demons, and the strange shapes their joy can take. Battling and balancing their innermost thoughts and fears with greater forces out of their control—a cross country road trip ending in a crash, a child imagining her own kidnapping, a hallucination of George Harrison—the characters in WHEN WATCHED absorb the world around them—its quiet reverberations, its dark contours, the imperceptible yet transformative moments. 

Dirty and squalid, poetic and pure, dark but always illuminating, these carefully crafted stories ruminate on and explore the strange ways in which we experience the world, as it is and as it could be. Refusing to turn away from the place felt from within, Core takes what we know of identity and smashes it. Her characters and stories are belief systems all their own. Reminiscent of the writings of Jane Bowles, Deborah Eisenberg, and Miranda July’s No One Belongs Here More Than You, WHEN WATCHED announces the arrival of a distinct, daring, and deeply sensitive new voice in American fiction.

my thoughts:

Short stories are my jam! I am seriously getting hooked on these amazing little ditties that pack such a powerful punch in such a short amount of pages. They are simply the BEST. Not only do they make dipping in and out of a book easy-peasy, but they have you constantly craving more. Leopoldine Core's debut collection of shorts, When Watched,  is the perfect example of what I am talking about. It is chock full of dark, raw, complicated, and fascinating stories.  They are all so damn good, that I couldn't help but fall in love with each one.  The way she writes about relationships and people's emotional and inner struggles is just fantastic. She's direct and to the point in her language and I found her exploration of issues to be honest and real.  My two most favorite stories from the collection are: Orphans and The Trip. Talk about short stories at their best!!  

I absolutely loved reading When Watched. It was a mix of quirky, relatable, and unputdownable stories that I won't soon forget. I would happily recommend this book to fans of the short story and anyone looking for something great to read next - you will not want to miss out When Watched!!

GIVEAWAY: Thanks to the publisher I'm able to give away three (3) copies of this book!  All you have to do to enter the giveaway is leave me a comment telling me the name of your favorite collection of short stories. Don't forget to include your email address, so that I can contact you in case you win the giveaway.  Last date to enter is August 10th!  Open to US residents only.  Good Luck!!