Waiting on Wednesday – July 29

Bird in Hand By Christina Baker Kline

Bird in Hand
By Christina Baker Kline

Available Formats: Hardcover

On Sale: 8/11/2009

Four people, two marriages, one lifelong friendship: everything is about to change

It was an accident. It was dark, it was raining, Alison had only had two drinks.

And the other car ran the stop sign.

But Alison finds herself trapped under the crushing weight of grief and guilt,

feeling increasingly estranged from her husband . . .

Jill hosts WOW at Breaking the Spine

Wings by Aprilynne Pike


From the book flap: Laurel was mesmerized, staring at the pale things. They were terrifyingly beautiful – too beautiful for words.

Laurel turned to the mirror again, her eyes on the hovering petals that floated beside her head. They looked almost like wings.

In this extraordinary tale of magic and intrigue, romance and danger, everything you thought you knew about faeries will be changed forever.

* * * * * * *

My thoughts: I don’t want to explain the plot but I will say if you like a magical story that is set in today’s world, you will probably like Wings. I rarely read Teen or YA fiction but decided to give Wings a try after reading a few good reviews. I liked it! It’s a sweet and entertaining tale that fans of this genre will surely embrace.

This book completes the Support Your Local Library Challenge – 2009

Summer House by Nancy Thayer

The wealthy Wheelwright family meets each summer at their home on Nantucket. Matriarch Anne (called Nona by everyone) lives there year-round along with her nurse/housekeeper, Glorious. Nona’s granddaughter Charlotte also lives there and maintains a prosperous organic garden. The men (who all work for the family-owned bank in Boston) commute to the island on the weekends while their wives and children move in for the season. This creates an opportunity for plenty of interesting interactions. I enjoyed reading about the multigenerational relationships.

I like Nancy Thayer’s writing. I think she is spot on with her portrayal of extended family dynamics. I come from a large family and I easily related to a few things. Importance is given to the issues involving each main character – and they’re all dealing with some personal struggle.

Thirty-year-old Charlotte isn’t taken seriously by her family and she feels pressured to settle down and marry the right man. Her mother Helen has just discovered a betrayal and is trying to figure out what to do. Nona is feeling every bit of her ninety years. Her days consist mostly of trying to avoid family strife. She dozes during the day and dreams about things that happened in her life (which fills in a lot of family background for the reader). She’s not looking forward to Family Meeting – the annual discussion of family investments, etc. that usually results in disagreements. And then there’s the relationship between Helen’s youngest child Teddy and his father. Worth refuses to believe that Teddy has changed his errant ways. As the book progresses, secrets are revealed and some are life-changing.

Summer House is exactly what I love a novel to be – I found it almost impossible to put down. I recommend it to any fan of Women’s Fiction and anyone looking for a good book to read on vacation (or any other time).

* * * * * *

Nancy Thayer is the New York Times-bestselling author of The Hot Flash Club, The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again, Hot Flash Holidays, The Hot Flash Club Chills Out, and Moon Shell Beach. Nancy lives on Nantucket. You can visit her website at www.nancythayer.com.

Thanks to Pump Up Your Book Promotion and Ballantine Books for sending the review copy.

The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri

The Lace Makers of Glenmara by Heather Barbieri: Book Cover

I’ve been to Ireland a couple of times and after reading The Lace Makers of Glenmara I really want to go again. I so enjoyed my time spent reading this book. Heather Barbieri wrote an engaging story about people dealing with loss and trying to go on with their lives.

Kate, a young American woman of Irish descent, has travelled from Seattle to Ireland. One day she misses her bus and winds up walking. She takes a ride from a kind stranger who drops her at the road leading to Glenmara. She meets some friendly people in the village who invite her to stay and learn how to make lace. From that point on the world becomes a bit larger for the ladies who dare to try something new and Kate finds a place where people won’t leave her.

Kate stays with Bernie, a 50-something widow whose husband died a year earlier. Over a cup of tea one evening Kate says to Bernie “I was just thinking how funny life is. Seems like the more you want something, the more it eludes you. Then, when you least expect it, there it is.” This is a theme of the story. I liked seeing both small and big changes happen in the characters’ lives – changes that some didn’t even know they wanted.

A lovely book has found a home on my “keeper shelf” and I’ve added another title to my 2009 favorites list. I recommend The Lace Makers of Glenmara to fans of Women’s Fiction and anyone who enjoys an enchanting novel.

My thanks to HarperCollins for the review copy.

For Staci’s review, visit Life in the Thumb

Giveaway – The Blue Star

Blue Star by Tony Earley: Book Cover

Seven years ago, readers everywhere fell in love with Jim Glass, the precocious ten-year-old at the heart of Tony Earley’s bestseller Jim the Boy. Now a teenager, Jim returns in another tender and wise story of young love on the eve of World War Two.

Jim Glass has fallen in love, as only a teenage boy can fall in love, with his classmate Chrissie Steppe. Unfortunately, Chrissie is Bucky Bucklaw’s girlfriend, and Bucky has joined the Navy on the eve of war. Jim vows to win Chrissie’s heart in his absence, but the war makes high school less than a safe haven, and gives a young man’s emotions a grown man’s gravity.

With the uncanny insight into the well-intentioned heart that made Jim the Boy a favorite novel for thousands of readers, Tony Earley has fashioned another nuanced and unforgettable portrait of America in another time–making it again even realer than our own day.
This is a timeless and moving story of discovery, loss and growing up, proving why Tony Earley’s writing “radiates with a largeness of heart” (Esquire).
* * * * * * *

My review: Jim The Boy introduced us to Jim Glass, a boy growing up in 1930s North Carolina. He was 10 years old when the book ended. The Blue Star picks up Jim’s story when he is finishing high school and the world is involved in war. Jim has grown in many ways but finds he still doesn’t always get what he wants. There are lessons to be learned that aren’t taught in the classroom. He’s ready to learn them, though. We leave Jim as he is heading out into the world and I am glad I had a tissue nearby. Tony Earley has written a wonderful story and I hope to read the next installment very soon. Four Stars!

* * * * * * *

Contest is closed

Now for the giveaway of
5 copies

The Blue Star

– restricted to residents of US and Canada
– no P.O. boxes

This is a simple giveaway – just leave a comment and you must include your email address
(no address, no entry)

Contest closes at 10 pm EDT, August 21, 2009

Thanks to Hachette Book Group for the giveaway copies

The Last Chance Cafe by Linda Lael Miller

Cover Image

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Star (May 1, 2003)

When a blinding Nevada snowstorm and a broken-down truck force Hallie O’Rourke and her two young daughters into the warmth of the Last Chance Café, Hallie could not know she would find a new beginning at the roadside diner. Or that the handsome stranger she meets there would change everything she believes about home and family. Chance Qualtrough is a rancher with deep roots in Primrose Creek, and he’s never met a woman as alluring — or downright stubborn — as Hallie. An undeniable passion is pulling them together, but Hallie is fleeing a danger so threatening she dares not let Chance into her heart. Will all that Hallie fears come back with full force, destroying her last chance for the life she’s always dreamed of?

* * * * * * *

I’m not sure if I would categorize this book as romantic suspense or suspenseful romance. It was a pretty good book. There was too much sensual romance for my tastes (or maybe just too much, too soon?) but Linda Lael Miller brings to life some good and colorful characters. 3/5 stars.

Support Your Local Library Challenge
Completes the Goodreads 75 Books 2009 Challenge

Waiting on Wednesday – July 22

Benny  &  Shrimp: A Novel

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) (July 28, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143115995
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143115991
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5 x 0.7 inches
An international sensation, this addictively readable tale asks the question: Why is it so impossible to get a relationship between two middle-aged misfits to work? The answer lies in the story of Shrimp, a young widowed librarian with a sharp intellect and a home so tidy that her jam jars are in alphabetical order; Benny, a gentle, overworked milk farmer who fears becoming the village’s Old Bachelor; and an unlikely love that should not be as complicated as it seems. Reminiscent of the works of Carol Shields, this quirky, humorous, beautifully told novel breathes new life into the age-old conundrum that is love.
This book came to my attention just this week and I can’t wait to read it.
For more WoW books click over to Breaking the Spine

The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook

The Wildwater Walking Club by Claire Cook: Book Cover

From the book flap: Just put one foot in front of the other. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But when Noreen Kelly takes a buyout from her job and gets dumped by her boyfriend in one fell swoop, she finds it hard to know what that next step is – never mind take it. At first Noreen thinks maybe her redundancy package could be an opportunity, a chance to figure out what to do with the rest of her life while her company foots the bill…

For the first time in a great many years, Noreen has time to herself. And she has no idea what to do with it. When she realizes that she’s mistaken her resume for her personality, Noreen knows that she has to get moving…

When she’s joined by neighbors Tess and Rosie, Noreen realizes that walking is not an extreme sport.

* * * * * * *

My thoughts: I edited the synopsis because I felt it told too much. I read this book in a day – stopping occasionally for things like laundry, errands, etc. That was a good thing because I’d read a few chapters and then have time to really think about the changes taking place in the lives of the three friends (Noreen, Tess and Rosie). It’s a realistic and lovely transformation! The once “wave from the car” neighbors become good friends and find that small changes make a big difference in their lives.

Claire Cook is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. I enjoyed reading Summer Blowout last year. I also liked the film version of her book Must Love Dogs. Her humorous writing shines in The Wildwater Walking Club. I recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys contemporary women’s fiction.

You can read more about the author and her books here.

Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt

Frank McCourt died today, July 19, at the age of 78. His book Angela’s Ashes was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the L.A. Times Book Award. The world has lost a wonderful storyteller.
Angela's Ashes'TisTeacher Man
Ireland Ever: The Photographs of Jill FreedmanBrotherhood

Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton

Crossed Wires

Back of the book: This is the story of Mina, a girl at a Sheffield call centre whose next customer in the queue is Peter, a Cambridge geography don who has crashed his car into a tree stump when swerving to avoid a cat. Despite their obvious differences, they’ve got a lot in common — both single, both parents, both looking for love. Could it be that they’ve just found it? This is a story about the small joys and tribulations of parenthood; about one-ness and two-ness; about symmetry and coincidence; about the things that separate us and the things that bring us together.

* * * * * * *

First of all I’d like to thank Rosy Thornton for sending me her lovely book. It was a pleasure to read. Crossed Wires is a quiet story of people who are not that different from you and me. They’ve endured sorrows and have experienced joy. They not only survive their sorrows but seem to strive to find joy in everyday life – not in big ways, but in the small things. It reminded me of how just being a friend can mean the world to someone. If you’re looking for something a little different and uplifting, Crossed Wires could be the book for you. I’m so glad it “found” me.

Review copy from the author

Roastbeef’s Promise by David Jerome

Roastbeef's Promise by David Jerome: Book Cover
From the bookflap: When Jim “Roastbeef” Hume embarks on a quest to sprinkle his father’s ashes in each of the forty-eight contiguous states, he has no idea that a series of bizarre and ridiculous adventures await. But nothing will deter him from fulfilling the promise he made to his dying father – not a brief incarceration in Iowa or a punctured lung in South Dakota.

Roastbeef’s Promise is a travelogue filled with laugh-out-loud stories, death-defying moments, and extremely unusual people. It is “loosely based on the author’s experiences while visiting the forty-eight contiguous states during the mid-1990s.” When I started reading I didn’t expect the book to become the page-turner it ended up being. It was poignant at times and cringe-inducing at others. David Jerome wrote a well-paced and enjoyable novel that had me thinking it could be a good movie. If you have to skip the family car trip this summer, do yourself a favor and read Roastbeef’s Promise. It was an unusual trip but I enjoyed the ride!

Review copy from Hartsock Communications

Waiting on Wednesday – July 8

Product Details

  • Category: Fiction
  • Format: Hardcover, 240 pages – Random House
  • On Sale: July 28, 2009
  • Price: $22.00
  • ISBN: 978-0-345-50731-0 (0-345-50731-2)

Alexandra “Cat” Rucker has been on the run from her past. But a sudden call forces Cat to return to the home and family she never intended to see again. It seems that Cat’s mother is dead. What Cat finds when she returns is disturbing and confusing: a suicide note, written on lilac stationery and neatly sealed in a bag, that reads: Cat, He isn’t who you think he is. Mom xxxooo. Seeking to unravel the mystery of her mother’s death, Cat must confront her past to discover who “he” might be. The closer Cat gets to the truth, the harder it is for her to repress the memory and the impact of the events that sent her away so many years ago.

Waiting On Wednesday is hosted by Jill at Breaking The Spine

How To Score by Robin Wells

Product Details

Synopsis: Museum curator Sammi Matthews isn’t just in a dating slump, she’s putting men on the injured list. After giving one date a black eye and cracking another’s rib, Sammi decides she needs professional help. Enter life coach Luke Jones, who advises Sammi on how to overcome her klutziness. And their phone sessions work! Sammi soon meets a sexy FBI agent who seems to know just what she needs.

When his brother Luke goes into federal protection, FBI Special Agent Chase Jones agrees to cover for him. Then Sammi’s hot voice sizzles down the line, and the usual “phone only” rule is out. With “Luke” coaching her by day, and Chase dating her by night, Sammi’s confidence soars, along with her appeal. Chase falls hard, but how will Sammi feel if and when he comes clean? Chase would rather she break all his bones than risk breaking her heart.

How to Score by Robin Wells is funny, sweet, and yes, a little sexy. It’s a perfect beach read (or stay-cation backyard read). Filled with memorable characters, this romantic comedy would make an adorable movie. I especially loved the accordion-playing, accountant by day, spare time rap composer Horace. He is one of Luke’s clients who (at age 40) really needs to move out of his mother’s home. His rap lyrics cracked me up. I like a book that includes minor characters who grab your attention.

Review copy from Hachette Book Group

Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia by Jessica James

Shades of Gray: A Novel of the Civil War in Virginia

BN synopsis:

Cast your eyes back to the noble and daring achievements of men who preferred death to dishonor, and showed the world how they valued the rights and liberties of their land…

Set in Virginia during the volatile period of the Civil War, Shades of Gray chronicles the clash of a Confederate cavalry officer with a Union spy as they defend their beliefs, their country, and their honor.

Though laced with historical detail, it is less about the clash of armies on the battlefield, as it is about the clash of loyaly and love with honor and conviction.

My thoughts:

I cannot remember how I found this book but I marked it to read in July for the 2009 Southern Reading Challenge. I’m very glad I did. I had a tough time putting it down – which is something since it is a book about the Civil War.

War novels are not a genre I tend to enjoy. That said, it’s more about people than battles. There are plenty of battlefield scenes but the real story is the one involving Alex Hunter, a Confederate officer and Sinclair, a Union spy.

Ms. James wrote a wonderfully paced novel that kept my attention throughout. I think she shows a gift for believable, intelligent dialogue. Although the epilogue told more than I needed/wanted to know, I really hated to see the story end and will count the book among my favorites for the year.

Mailbox Monday – July 6

Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists.
Hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page
(giveaway win at Bookin’ With Bingo)

Product Details
Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton (from the author)
Product Details
Roastbeef’s Promise by David Jerome
(review book from the publisher)