winner* of Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal by Julie Metz
Giveaway book provided by Voice
* winner selected by random.org
I bought Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter: A Novel by Tom Franklin
I bought Once and Always by Judith McNaught
Simply Irresistible by Jill Shalvis
Giveaway win from Libby at Libby’s Library
Author: Lisa Kleypas
My thoughts: I listened to this holiday romance. It’s a sweet and enjoyable novel about Mark Nolan who seems quite willing to settle for a relationship with the wrong woman and Maggie Conroy, a young widow, who thinks she’s had her one chance at love so she’s not interested in anything more than friendship.
Mark became his young niece Holly’s guardian after the tragic death of his sister. The woman he’s been dating seems to think Holly shouldn’t be considered Mark’s child because he’s not her father. Mark starts to feel not so willing to settle with that woman. He’s becoming more attracted to Maggie anyway but she isn’t interested in dating – ever.
Surprisingly this is the first Lisa Kleypas novel I’ve ever read. I like her easy style as she takes the reader through a not-so-unusual plot but makes it seem fresh, just the same. This is a light, feel-good read that is perfect for the season. It combines Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Why I chose: I read it for the Holiday Reading Challenge.
Recommend? Yes, to fans of holiday romance fiction and Lisa Kleypas. I listened to the unabridged audiobook performed by Tanya Eby. I enjoyed her presentation.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
Author: Daphne Kalotay
About: The story of a Russian ballerina who becomes a star of the Bolshoi Ballet, falls in love with a poet and tries to live the best life possible under Stalin’s rule until that is no longer possible.
My thoughts: This is one of those novels that pulled me in immediately and kept me interested throughout. Daphne Kalotay’s descriptive writing immersed me in life in post WW II Russia – especially what it was like for people in the arts. I felt like I was in the audience watching Nina Revskaya dance in Swan Lake. I could imagine falling asleep at the dacha listening to the nightingale sing. I could even visualize the working crews of women smoothing asphalt on the roads.
Once Nina defects from Russia she travels to London, Paris and finally Boston. She smuggled her jewels with her when she left and now, decades later, crippled and in a wheelchair, she has decided to have her collection auctioned with the proceeds going to the local ballet. The jewels have stories of their own that connect several characters in the novel.
One of the characters is Grigori, a professor of Romance languages in Boston. He has a pendant that he believes is part of Nina’s collection and is trying to find out what the connection is. He has his own assumptions and he would like Nina to confirm them. He has contacted her a few times over the past few decades and each time she has refused to discuss her past or the jewels.
As the auction of the jewels draws near Nina finds herself remembering her past more and more. There are a few twists and turns near the end and Grigori and Drew, who works for the auction house, make their own discoveries which converge in a satisfying conclusion.
Source: Dawn from She Is Too Fond Of Books sent me her review copy. Thank you, Dawn!
Recommend? Yes, especially to fans of historical fiction.
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Author: Julie Metz
About: (book blurb) Julie Metz’s life changes forever on one ordinary January afternoon when her husband, Henry, collapses on the kitchen floor and dies in her arms. Suddenly, this mother of a six-year-old is the young widow in a bucolic small town. And this is only the beginning. Seven months after Henry’s death, just when Julie thinks she is emerging from the worst of it, comes the rest of it: Henry had hidden another life from her.
Thoughts: Perfection is the story Julie Metz tells of finding out her recently deceased husband was a habitual cheater most of the time she knew him. He was a master of manipulation. At one point Julie says she ignored red flags in his behavior that should have warned her. He was often critical of her and at times downright mean.
The story of their marriage and his cheating unfolds through Julie’s memories as well as emails found on his computer after his death and subsequent phone conversations with some of the other women. I was amazed that the women were willing to talk to Julie about their relationship with her husband. What results is a story that I found disturbing and depressing.
I understand that Julie Metz needed to know what made her husband strive for his idea of perfection or whatever it was he was searching for. I admire that she was able to survive such a nightmare of betrayal and move forward with her life. I wish her all the best.
Why I Chose: BookSparks PR invited me to participate in the blog tour.
Recommend? It was a tough read for me but ultimately Julie Metz proves that one can experience incredible betrayal and then move forward. Her inner strength is inspirational.
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About Julie Metz
Julie Metz is a graphic designer, artist and freelance writer whose essays have appeared in publications including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Hemispheres, Glamour, and more. Julie received a MacDowell Fellowship in 2008 where she completed work on Perfection and began work on a novel. She lives in Brooklyn, N.Y.
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Voice is offering one copy of Perfection
to give away to a reader (US or Canada)
Click here to fill out the form.
“Mailbox Monday” is the brainchild of Marcia at The Printed Page
Mailbox Monday is now on a blog tour. Click here to see the tour schedule!
These are the books that arrived in my mailbox last week:
The Hunchback of Neiman Marcus by Sonya Sones (for review from Harper)
Author: Denise Burroughs
About: At 51 pages, Let’s Eat! may be a slim volume but it’s packed with comfort-food recipes. Many seemed familiar to me – similar to recipes the cooks in my extended family make: Meatball Appetizer; Chicken Casserole; Taffy Apple Salad; Fantasy Fudge. Also included are 10 Tips from the Kitchen; How Much Of This Equals That?; Baking Tips; Baking Substitutions; Preparing Marinades And Sauces; Is It Done Yet? I decided to try the following recipe:
Broccoli and Spaghetti
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2/3 cloves of garlic
14 oz. bag broccoli florets frozen
1 tbs. Red crushed pepper
Salt to taste
1/4 cup water
Grated parmesan cheese
In a medium size pan add 4 Tbsp. olive oil, 2/3 cloves of garlic. Heat until garlic is sizzling but do not brown. Add a 14 oz. bag of broccoli florets, red pepper and salt as desired. Cook on low for about 20/25 minutes until broccoli is soft. You can add a little water at the end if desired. Pour over angel hair pasta. Add grated parmesan cheese on top. Broccoli florets can be either thawed or frozen.
My experience with this recipe: I used 1 teaspoon of the red pepper flakes and I thought it was too hot. Next time I would cut way back on the pepper flakes. My family agreed that while it was tasty it had too much heat.
My Thoughts: The first thing I noticed is that there is no table of contents which I think is essential. I was also a bit confused about a measurement abbreviation in the recipe I made. It called for 1 tbs. of an ingredient. I guessed that meant teaspoon but I was taught that tsp. is the abbreviation. So I went for a teaspoon and hoped for the best.
Despite my quibbles and because the recipes do not seem difficult or intimidating, I think even beginner cooks would feel comfortable using this book. Let’s Eat! might be a useful resource for those times you want to make some comfort food or for your contribution to the neighborhood block party or family get-together.
Source: Denise Burroughs for her virtual book tour with Pump Up Your Book
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About Denise Burroughs: She’s the owner of a paint and body shop and a member of NAPEW (National Association of Professional & Executive Women 2007-2008). A love for cooking and a desire to share wonderful family traditions was put to paper to create Let’s Eat. There have been so many people who have inspired her in her life, but no one inspired her more than her mother. Many of the recipes in this book have been served many times over and enjoyed by family and friends. She is happy to share them all with you and hopes you enjoy every bite as they were all made with lots of love.
You can visit Denise at www.deniseburroughs.com
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Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.
Title: Falling Home
Author: Karen White
About: Cassie Madison has been living in New York for fifteen years. When her estranged sister calls with the news that their father is dying she packs up and goes home to Walton, Georgia.
Descriptive Words: Family relationships, love, acceptance, forgiveness.
Thoughts: I loved the small town Georgia setting of Falling Home. Karen White’s minor characters (citizens of Walton) are warm and caring. I could envision the places and the people. The reason I mention all that is because a subplot of the novel is the wish of a few to modernize the town. Some feel if they don’t update with national chain stores, McMansions, etc. people will leave and the town will die. The local doctor, Sam Parker, is intent on seeing that doesn’t happen. At least, not like the proposed plan.
Cassie, her sister Harriet, and Sam were classmates while growing up. Turns out, Sam always had a crush on Cassie. When she returns he makes his feelings for her known. Cassie is resistant and constantly reminds people that she is engaged to a man in New York and doesn’t intend to stay after her father’s estate is settled. She’s still upset that her sister married the boy she loved when she was in high school and really doesn’t want to stick around to see them and their five children living happily ever after. But things don’t go as Cassie planned.
Overall, I enjoyed the novel even though through much of it I was annoyed by Cassie. At times she seemed to be perfectly happy wallowing in her self-pity which I found tedious. But, that aside, I really liked Falling Home. The strong characters, setting, and plot come together for a satisfying novel. I’ve heard there’s a sequel in the works and I can’t wait to read it! I think Karen White is a terrific storyteller and I’ve added the rest of her novels to my reading list.
Source: From Joy Strazza of Joan Schulhafer Publishing & Media Consulting.
Why I Chose: I’ve always meant to read one of Karen White’s novels so when an arc of her updated Falling Home arrived at my house I added it to my reading list. This book was originally published in 2002.
Recommend? Yes, I liked the family drama and the southern setting.
Rating: 4/ 5 stars