Mailbox Monday – Feb. 28

 

 

This month’s host is Library of Clean Reads

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Arranged by Catherine McKenzie

Merci beaucoup to my friend PK. 🙂  Check out PK’s blog  aisle b .

(from the book flap):  Anne Blythe has a great life: a good job, good friends, and a potential book deal for her first novel. When it comes to finding someone to share it with, however, she just can’t seem to get it right.

After yet another relationship ends, Anne comes across a business card for what she thinks is a dating service, and she pockets it just in case. When her best friend, Sarah, announces she’s engaged, Anne can’t help feeling envious. On an impulse, she decides to give the service a try because maybe she could use a little assistance in finding the right man. But Anne soon discovers the company isn’t a dating service; it’s an exclusive, and pricey, arranged marriage service. She initially rejects the idea, but the more she thinks about it-and the company’s success rate-the more it appeals to her. After all, arranged marriages are the norm for millions of women around the world, so why wouldn’t it work for her?

What was in your mailbox?

Skipping a Beat by Sarah Pekkanen

Title: Skipping a Beat

Author: Sarah Pekkanen

Genre: Fiction

About: Skipping a Beat is the story of a marriage. Julia and Michael meet under unusual circumstances and fall in love while still in high school.  After graduation they head toward their future without so much as a backward glance.  After college they follow their dreams and enjoy the rewards of their hard work – to a point.  It seems that somewhere along the way Michael lost sight of what was once so important – Julia and their relationship.  He’s forced to take a new look after he has a near-death experience. Julia isn’t sure what to do with the new Michael. She’s grown accustomed to their ships-in-the-night marriage and hasn’t expected anything from him in a long time.  She’s certain that her perspective of some events in their marriage is the actual truth. Since they rarely have time for meaningful conversations Michael has been unaware of her perspective. He doesn’t understand why she doesn’t want to join him in a second chance at their life.

My take: Sarah Pekkanen gave Julia a true and believable voice. I found it very easy to relate to her. And Pekkanen didn’t stop there. She also shaped Michael as a real guy. I totally bought his perspective and his driven personality.
In any marriage only the spouses know the intricacies of the relationship. So while Michael and Julia appeared to have the perfect power marriage, only they knew the actual imperfections and how fragile their relationship really was. Michael let the chase of his dream take over and Julia felt the security of their love for each other slip away.
I liked the secondary characters. Julia’s best friend Isabelle and a young boy named Noah both figure prominently in the story. I also enjoyed the opera references throughout and how Julia compared specific ones to aspects of her life.
Like most operas, Skipping a Beat depicts the drama and emotions of life.  I found it to be an emotional and wonderful novel. It would be a great book club selection.

Recommend? Yes, definitely!  I also recommend having a box of tissues at hand (trust me on this).

Source: Atria Books and BookSparks PR

This review is being submitted to the Simon & Schuster Skipping a Beat Sweepstakes

The House of Six Doors by Patricia Selbert

Title: The House of Six Doors

Author: Patricia Selbert

Genre: Fiction

About: Mama takes thirteen-year-old Serena and her sister to the US in search of fortune, leaving behind their multicultural family, stability, and the colors of the Caribbean. After driving from Miami to Hollywood, their money and luck run out and a 1963 Ford Galaxie becomes their first American home. Guided by the memory of her native Curaçao and the words of her wise grandmother, Serena confronts unimagined challenges and grows up quickly. What gifts will this new country bring, and at what price?

My thoughts: Isn’t that a lovely cover? (click on it for a closer look)  That’s what drew me to the book and then Patricia Selbert’s characters took over from there. We experience everything through Serena’s eyes.  Her mother is chasing the dream of being rich and doesn’t understand why her children don’t share that dream. Serena and her sister would just like to follow their own dreams but instead end up trying to please their mother by doing whatever she asks/demands from them.

No matter how many times I told Mama that I loved her, she didn’t believe me.  Mama believed love was something that could not survive without money.  Her willingness to distance herself from her family in order to chase prosperity around the world baffled me. She thought she could only be loved if she were rich. (p. 240)

Serena transforms from an innocent girl to a young woman learning about life.  She overcomes obstacles in her education and works through the results of some poor decisions.

My favorite parts of the book are those when Serena remembers lessons her grandmother, Oma taught her:

Serena, your mother is taking you away from Curaçao in search of happiness.  She thinks happiness is found in prosperity somewhere out there, but happiness is found only here – in our hearts.

…You can travel the entire world, win the lottery three times over, and still never find happiness. (p.145)

I enjoyed Patricia Selbert’s novel.  I found the story to be strongest in the parts that take place on Curaçao.  The setting and people came alive for me – just like the beautiful cover.

Recommend? Yes, to fans of coming-of-age stories.

Source: BookSparks PR

Mailbox Monday – February 21


This month’s host is Library of Clean Reads

♦ ♦ ♦

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel by Aimee Bender

(for review from Doubleday via Goodreads First Reads)

Synopsis:

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother—her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother—tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden—her mother’s life outside the home, her father’s detachment, her brother’s clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender’s place as “a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language” (San Francisco Chronicle).

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Pale Rose of England: A novel of the Tudors by Sandra Worth

(from Marcia at The Printed Page)  Thanks, Marcia!

Synopsis:

It is 1497. The news of the survival of Richard Plantagenet, Duke of York, has set royal houses ablaze with intrigue and rocked the fledgling Tudor dynasty. With the support of Scotland’s King James IV, Richard-known to most of England as Perkin Warbeck-has come to reclaim his rightful crown from Henry Tudor. Stepping finally onto English soil, Lady Catherine Gordon has no doubt that her husband will succeed in his quest.

But rather than assuming the throne, Catherine would soon be prisoner of King Henry VII, and her beloved husband would be stamped as an imposter. With Richard facing execution for treason, Catherine, alone in the glittering but deadly Tudor Court, must find the courage to spurn a cruel monarch, shape her own destiny, and win the admiration of a nation.

What was in your mailbox?

Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War by Deb Olin Unferth

Title: Revolution: The Year I Fell in Love and Went to Join the War

Author: Deb Olin Unferth

Genre: Memoir

About: (from the book flap) … a new twist on the coming-of-age memoir in this utterly unique and captivating story of the year she ran away from college with her Christian boyfriend and followed him to Nicaragua to join the Sandinistas.

My thoughts: I finished reading this memoir and thought there is no way I would have liked a guy so much I’d have dropped out of college, become an activist and move with him to another country to fight the good fight.  If nothing else, I admire her tenacity and her willingness to be a good sport.

Our main ambition was to help the revolution.  George and I wanted jobs, what we called “revolution jobs,” but it turned out that few people wanted to hire us and if they did, they almost immediately fired us. (p.10)

Deb and George moved from country to country following revolutions, wanting to be a part of the action.  The conditions were deplorable and they fought illness often. Personal safety was always a concern but they seemed to thrive on the danger – that or their naiveté blinded them.  At one point I found myself wondering why Deb didn’t go home when she was so sick.

The two went from being a couple of kids with a dream to a pair showing signs of discontent. Deb’s journal entries showed her observations of the collapse of their relationship.

He began to develop a caught-bird look, an intensely lonely air, which would stay with him, would become his trademark look for the rest of the time I knew him. (p. 144)

Deb Olin Unferth’s memoir seems heartfelt and although I could relate to very little, it’s a pretty amazing story.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Recommend? Yes, it’s an unusual memoir.

Source: Henry Holt

Mailbox Monday – Feb. 14

 

 

This month’s host is Library of Clean Reads

♥ ♥ ♥

Madame Tussaud: A Novel of the French Revolution by Michelle Moran

For review from the author:

In this deft historical novel, Madame Tussaud (1761-1850) escapes the pages of trivia quizzes to become a real person far more arresting than even her waxwork sculptures. Who among us knew, for instance, that she moved freely through the royal court of Louis XVI, only to become a prisoner of the Reign of Terror? Her head was shaven for guillotining, but she escaped execution, though she was forced to make death masks for prominent victims. Novelist Michelle Moran covers this breathtaking period without losing the thread of its subject’s singular story.

I bought: Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

On a May afternoon in 1943, an Army Air Forces bomber crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood.  Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared.  It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane’s bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard.  So began one of the most extraordinary odysseys of the Second World War.

What was in your mailbox?