Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Tuesday Teaser - Await Your Reply

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) "teaser"; sentences from somewhere on that page (BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Ryan is still aware enough that his father's words come in through the edges, like sunlight on the borders of a window shade. His eyes are shut tight and his body is shaking and he is trying to hold up his left arm, to keep it elevated.

-Await Your Reply by Dan Chaon, p 3

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Read-it-First: Concord, Virginia: A Southern Town in Eleven Stories

Last week, the St. Martin's Read-it-First selection was Concord, Virginia: A Southern Town in Eleven Stories, a debut by Peter Neofotis. This is a collection of short stories that tells a story. What type of story? Each short takes place in Concord and offers a little piece of history of its inhabitants. Twenty one pages were offered and amongst those pages, there was one complete story and one partial story. In the complete story, The Vultures, we meet a man who accidentally killed his wife. We watch him struggle between nature and keeping a promise to his dead wife. Does he come to terms with things? Can he find meaning in his life after his tragic loss? The story does offer an answer to these questions; however, I am not sure that I agree – it has kept me thinking. In the partial story, The Snake Man, we are introduced to two characters, Sammy and Rachel. Rachel, a reporter for the local paper, wants to interview Sammy, a veteran of the Korean war, about his experiences in order to prepare those going off to Vietnam. Sammy, reluctant to speak of his experiences, goes to great lengths to avoid her. When last we see them, they are swimming in the river while poisonous snakes approach. What will happen next?

I do not read many short story collections; however, this one did intrigue me. I enjoyed the writing style – it was quite descriptive, presenting a clear picture of the surroundings in both stories. The stories were a bit odd but, I would like to read more. Is there more than the locale that ties these stories together? I hope so.

Looking forward to next week's preview!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

East of the Sun

East of the Sun, by Julia Gregson, revolves around the lives of three young Englishwomen bound for India. Each is traveling with a different purpose: Viva, the young inexperienced chaperone, projects an air of mystery and hopes to retrieve personal effects belonging to her deceased parents; Rose, naïve and caring, is engaged to marry a man she met only a handful of times; and, Victoria, bridesmaid to Rose, is just running away - she cannot stand her current environment and wants out - she is looking for a husband, a magic panacea for all her woes. They are considered to be part of the fishing fleet – a term used to describe the Englishwomen who come searching for a husband, unsure of what they will find in this distant land. In addition to the two women, Viva has a third charge, Guy – a loose cannon to say the least – who is returning home after being expelled from school.

The characters were interesting and likable. Each chapter is dedicated to one character and we slowly learn more and more about them. Transitioning between characters from chapter to chapter was seamless and done well. The format and short chapter lengths were just right. At the end of each chapter, I would look at the length of the next to see if I had time to read another (and another and another and …). I wanted to know what would happen to these characters and had to have things wrapped up before I stopped reading. We see the personal growth of each character. They all reach some pivotal dark turning point in their lives and come out on the other side – the reader must decide for themselves whether or not it was for better or worse.

Overall, I liked the novel and recommend to those who enjoy historical fiction and/or romance style novels. This is a long book; however, it is a quick read – which you will enjoy.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Heartfelt Award

Thanks to Sheila at Book Journey for this award.

Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when you’re relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family & friends? You know that feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea ~ or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt award is all about feeling warm inside.

1) Put the logo on your blog/post.
2) Nominate up to 9 blogs which make you feel comfy or warm inside.
3) Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4) Let them know that they have been nominated by commenting on their blog.
5) Remember to link to the person from whom you received your award.

I would like to pass this award on to the following blogs:

A Few Minutes with Michael
Rhapsodyinbook's Weblog

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Blog Awards

Awarded by Jennifer at Just Jennifer Reading!


Awarded by Natalie at The Book Inn!


Awarded by from Jemima at The Reading Journey


Awarded by Sheila at Book Journey.


Awarded by Melissa at Scuffed slippers and wormy books.....


Awarded by Suko at Suko's Notebook.


Awarded by Missy at Missy's Book Nook.


Read-it-First: The Bird Catcher

The Bird Catcher by Laura Jacobs is the story of a woman dealing with one of life's tragedies. With New York's art world as its background, Margret Snow pursues a strange hobby involving dead birds.

During this past week, I received and read approximately twenty seven pages of this St. Martin's Read-it-First selection. Well, let me amend that previous statement, I glossed over a good portion of these pages on days two and three. At first, I was interested but, the detailed descriptions of the mundane did not hook me - this is odd as I do like descriptive writing. I do believe that it was well written; however, I did not find the characters to be realistic or appealing. In fact, they bored me. Granted, we have only been directly introduced to two characters (Margret - boring and Emily - self-centered) at this point in the novel but, the point of this program is to give one the opportunity to preview a book and then decide whether or not one wants to continue reading. With that in mind, the characters, plot, descriptions, etc... need to hook one pretty early - they did not do this. Also, I could find no evidence of the plot in this excerpt - not sure how far into the book one will need to read to find it.

Unfortunately, I will not be adding this book to my to be read list.

Looking forward to next week's preview!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Read-it-First: Last Known Address

The Last Known Address by Theresa Schwegel is the latest selection from the St. Martin's Read-it-First program. This story features Detective Sloane Pearson, recently transferred to the sex crimes unit. Her latest case is to find a serial rapist. Ms. Schwegel introduces us to several characters. Amongst them are the rapist, several cops and Pearson. We get a glimpse into the malevolence of the rapist as we witness an attack and see the contrast between the stereotypical behavior of the male cops and Pearson. Pearson is depicted as a smart, tough and someone who does not care for the bull**** that people spout. She is an interesting character that I could read about. Although the portion of the book that I have read (the first twenty five pages) was well written and easy to read, I don't think that I am up to reading another book about violence towards women at this point in time.

I will keep this book on my to read someday list.

Looking forward to next week's preview!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Kreativ Blogger Award

Thanks to The Reading Journey for sending my way the Kreativ Blogger Award. In order to accept it I am supposed to list my seven favorite things and send it on to my seven favorite bloggers.

Favorite Things:

1. my family
2. books
3. La Femme Nikita
4. chocolate mousse
5. tomatoes from my garden
6. a good workout on my LifeCycle
7. dried fruit

Favorite Bloggers (that I don't believe have received this award lately)

1. Find Your Next Book Here
2. Missy's Book Nook
3. The Book Inn
4. Suko's Notebook
5. Kittling: Boooks
6. A Sea of Books
7. Joyfully Retired

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Tuesday Teaser - Chamomile Mourning

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two (2) "teaser"; sentences from somewhere on that page (BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!) Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

And then, as if to answer the question in everyone's mind, a fluttering shadow suddenly appeared directly in front of Poe's twenty-foot-high image. A body falling from the balcony!

-Chamomile Mourning by Laura Childs, p 22-23

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Read-it-First: There's Something About St. Tropez

There's Something About St. Tropez by Elizabeth Adler was last week's St. Martin's Read-it-First selection. This book is one in a series that follows the adventures of PI Mac Reilly, the star of TV's Mac Reilly's Malibu Mysteries, and his fiancée, Sunny Alvarez. Sunny and Mac are looking forward to an extended vacation in a rented villa in ST. Tropez. Of course, the best laid plans .... They along with several others have been scammed - no fancy villa for them. At the end of the twenty one page installment, Sunny is last seen running from the villa after being scared by a man with a sword raised over his head. The scam seems to be the beginning of this international iceberg.

I believe that this will be a light, entertaining read. Most likely, I will purchase it. I like the occasional light read.

Looking forward to next week's preview!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Woman in White

The Woman in White is a Victorian mystery that is considered to be one of the best mysteries ever written. Written in 1859, it takes the form of an early detective novel with an amateur sleuth. The plot (man marries woman and schemes to get her money), albeit predictable by today's standards, is plausible, entertaining and, at times, slightly suspenseful. I attribute this slightness to the Victorian language itself. I'm not a fan of that style of speaking and found myself frustrated at times and thinking just get on with it all ready, stop dragging things out. The story is told from the viewpoints of several characters – much like a legal deposition where each character relates what he/she knows about certain events.

The characters were interesting and memorable; however, I was disappointed in the characterization/treatment of women – weak and inferior. Was this an accurate portrayal for the times? I don't know. I have read other Victorian novels and didn't come away with the same feeling. Because of his portrayal of women, Mr. Collins didn't do justice to Marion Halcombe, one of the more memorable characters in the novel. A greater role would have been appreciated more by today's society but, in 1859, who knows. Creating a lead woman character who 'out thinks' a man may have been taboo. The other memorable character was Count Fosco, the mastermind behind everything evil in the world. I am being a bit facetious; however, the character was so full of himself that I couldn't help but inflate his imaginary ego a little more. His character was fully developed – I didn't like him and found him frustrating – once again this could be attributed to the Victorian language.

Overall, I did like the novel; however, the above issues prevent me from giving it more than three stars. I recommend to those who enjoy Victorian literature and those who would like to read one of the first mystery novels. This is a long book and not a quick read – you will be in it for the long haul – which you will enjoy.