I somehow have found myself three books behind on book reviews, and all three were excellent books. I have them all posted now with this review for The Big Thirst. One of my office mates came back from Spring Break and told me that this was a book that I had to read. He gave me a summary and told me it was all about one of my favorite subjects, water. I am an environmental engineer / water resources engineer. Water is my career and is now what I am teaching about to the next generation. Would this book enthrall a lady of water like me? The answer is yes. I was fascinated by The Big Thirst, and what is even better, it was written in such a way that you don’t have to be a water expert to enjoy it. Fishman wrote the book at a down to earth level that can easily be understood, while including enough facts and figures to keep someone like me interested.
Fishman tells the story of the importance of water to human beings and how the use of water was revolutionized one-hundred years ago when cities began to pipe clean water to each household in the United States. The problem is that now most Americans take this water for granted.
Fishman explored how the driest city in the United States, Las Vegas, uses innovative means to make sure that their fountains are flowing and guests are supplied with plentiful water in a wonderfully named chapter “Dolphins in the Desert”. I was fascinated, but “water czar” Patricia Mulroy also made me nervous when she stated that she thought Great Lakes water should be piped to places like Las Vegas. I take Fishman to task for not further exploring this idea and why it is not the same as the mining of oil. Water is a replenishable source. If you take it away from the Great Lakes to an outside watershed that far away, it is never coming back. Meanwhile the Great Lakes (which are already at historic lows), would not be able to provide the habitat for its native species, water for the people that live in the many cities that surround them, water for the boats that haul freight, iron ore, etc. on the lakes, and water for tourism which is a large part of the economy of most cities along the great lakes. I believe that if people want Great Lakes water, then they should move to the Great Lakes region. End of story. I will get off my soap box now and politely put it away.
Fishman also examine water uses in other countries – in particular Australia and India. I was amazed about the story of India’s water. I had no idea that the major urban cities do not have 24/7 water service and laugh that the idea is even possible. The water quality in India was distressing. I hope with all of the technical expertise and knowledge that India has, that they will soon tackle and solve this very pressing issue. It was also sad that lower income girls are not able to attend school in India because they spend their time either hauling water home for their families or waiting for the water truck in urban cities. Very sad.
I could go on about this book all day, but I will curb myself. The book did repeat some information towards the end, but Fishman was using it as points to wrap up his conclusions. Overall, this is an excellent book and a must read for everyone who drinks water and would like to continue to do so in the future.
This book had MANY great quotes, but I will pick only a couple to share:
“By 1936, they conclude, simple filtration and chlorination of city water supplies reduced overall mortality in U.S. cities by 13 percent. Clean water cut child mortality in half.”
“The problem is that bottled water is a wacky, funhouse-mirror version of the real world of water. Bottled water subtly corrodes our confidence in tap water, creating the illusion that bottled water is somehow safer, or better, or healthier. In fact, tap water is much more tightly regulated and monitored than bottled water.”
“Just in India, forty children an hour under five years old die from contaminated water. One Indian toddler, not even old enough for kindergarten, dies every ninety seconds from bad water, twenty-four hours a day.”
No, sadly, I have not seen the new movie. I do have the soundtrack and have been vastly enjoying it. I decided to reread the book before the release of the new movie.
I loved The Great Gatsby in high school, and when I had to read it in college. I read it after college and enjoyed it then as well. I love the language of the novel and how I get something different from it each time. I love F. Scott Fitzgerald’s fabled life and his short stories. This knowledge has always deepened my love for The Great Gatsby. My review is going to be on my feelings on reading the novel this time around and not a full synopsis.
This time as I reread The Great Gatsby, I really noticed Tom Buchanan much more than I remembered. He is not a nice guy, but he is more than just a mustache twirling villain. As I read it this time, I noted that he became unfaithful to Daisy very early in their marriage. He of course took Daisy for granted until he discovered that she was Gatsby’s object of desire. He also had his tragic girlfriend Myrtle. At the end of the novel, when Nick confronts Tom about Gatsby, Tom says, “he ran over Myrtle like you’d run over a dog and never even stopped his car.” He also talks about crying after her death. While he was brutal to Myrtle in life (broke her nose!), he was devastated by her death and to him, his actions to Gatsby were warranted.
What were not understandable were Daisy’s reactions. How could she so coldly never tell anyone it was her driving and cause Gatsby’s death. She never even went to his funeral and was never seen again after Gatsby returned her home and stood guard outside her house to make sure Tom didn’t hurt her. That is the real tragedy of the book to me. Gatsby may have made some unsavory deals to become wealthy, but he truly felt for his ideal woman, Daisy. Sadly, she was his ideal, and the reality of who Daisy was would never match it. One of my favorite quotes in a book full of quotes is when Gatsby says, “Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can!” He wanted to return to his version of the past where there was a perfect Daisy that loved only him. Sadly, there never was a perfect Daisy.
I could wax on about The Great Gatsby for quite a while, but needless to say, I vastly enjoyed my reread of it and I look forward to watching the movie. I also read the book as part of Colbert’s Book Club, which if you didn’t see the episode of The Colbert Report on The Great Gatsby, you should!
I also love that this is a novel that is loved by many. I had students tell me that this is one of the only novels they enjoyed in high school. I like that it is loved equally by both men and women. A book that can get everyone to enjoy literature is always a wonderful thing.
As the end of the semester speed up to its final conclusion, Thinking of You by Jill Mansell kept me sane. Jill Mansell is one of my favorite “chick lit” authors. She is a British author and writes wonderful books about entire casts of characters that I would love to meet. I would also love to visit them in the United Kingdom. Their communities sound wonderful.
In Thinking of You, Ginny has a case of empty nest syndrome with her daughter Jem off to college. After a misguided adventure trying to visit Jem, Ginny returns now looking for a new roommate, a new job, and a new love. Much adventure ensues with Ginny having many mishaps along the way. Poor Ginny ends up with a bummer of a roommate after a grave misunderstanding. She also ends up with a bummer of a boyfriend. Meanwhile Jem is having adventures of her own. Sharing a flat with the handsome and rich (yet arrogant) Rupert and one of her good friends, Jem begins an ill-advised affair with Rupert. Things do not go well and Jem has much character growth during her first year of college.
There are a lot of wonderful characters in this novel and a plot that finds our heroines making mistakes, but also finding out some wonderful things about themselves. I don’t want to give away more about the plot and ruin the novel. Needless to say though, it is a very well written book, and highly enjoyable. I love to read any new books by Jill Mansell, she is a gifted writer.
Overall, Jill Mansell wrote another winner with Thinking of You and I highly recommend it. It is a perfect “beach read” for the summer.
Book Source: Review copy from Sourcebooks – Thanks!
With The Roots of Betrayal, James Forrester has once again delivered a thrilling historical fiction adventure. It’s been a hectic month with the end of the semester, but this book transported me to another world. It was hard to put it down and get some sleep!
The Roots of Betrayal is the second novel in a trilogy about the William Harley, Clarenceux King of Arms. Clarenceux is a secret Catholic during a time that it was very dangerous to be a known Catholic. In the first novel, Clarenceux worked with Rebecca Machyn to solve a mystery and discovered a document that could bring down Elizabeth I as the legitimate ruler of England. Fearing that this would create a religious Civil War, Clarenceux has concealed the document in his home with the blessing of the Queen’s advisor, Sir William Cecil.
In The Roots of Betrayal, Clarenceux discovers that the document has been stolen from his home and that he has been betrayed by Rebecca Machyn. Clarenceux goes on a perilous voyage to discover the forces behind the betrayal and robbery and also above all, to protect his country from religious warfare. Along the way he meets pirate Raw Carew. Carew was at first seeking the “Catholic Treasure,” but then puts himself on the path of revenge against an individual that harmed the people he loved. Carew and Clarenceux become unlikely allies and work together to solve a perilous mystery.
The Roots of Betrayal was a unique story with a great twist for the ending – I did not see it coming. I love books that lead me on a great adventure and have me guessing until the very end. I loved the setting in 1564 in Elizabethan England. It has always been a fascinating period of history for me. I also enjoyed the characters. I loved the introduction of Raw Carew. He was a “Robin Hood” of the seven seas. He was an interesting character that followed his own moral code. He did some dastardly deeds and was fascinating overall.
Overall, I highly recommend The Roots of Betrayal and Sacred Treason for anyone looking for a fascinating historical fiction thriller or just a great read overall.
Book Source – Review copy from Sourcebooks. Thank-you!
Thank-you to all that entered the April Audiobook Giveaway courtesy of Penguin Audio. I apologize in the delay for announcing the winners. It is the end of the school year for me, so things have been very hectic around here! I am also behind on posting reviews by quite a few books, so look for reviews to be posted in the next week or two as I work to catch up.
All winners were selected using random.org and are as follows:
I have eight great audiobooks available for a giveaway, courtesy of Penguin Audio. I have descriptions from Goodreads of each book below. If you would like to win one of the audiobooks, please leave a comment describing which audiobook is your top pick and why it sounds interesting.
As part of your comment, you must include an email address. If I can't find a way to contact you I will draw another winner.
For an additional entry, blog about this giveaway or post it on your sidebar. Provide a link to this post in your comment.
I will be using random.org (or a Monte Carlo simulation in excel) to pick the winners from the comments.
This contest is only open to US and Canadian residents (Sorry!).
No P.O. Boxes.
The deadline for entry is midnight on Friday May 10th.
Please make sure to check the third week of May to see if you are a winner. I send emails to the winner, but lately I've been put in their "junk mail" folder instead of their inbox.
Mad River by John Sandford
Bonnie and Clyde, they thought. And what’s-his-name, the sidekick. Three teenagers with dead-end lives, and chips on their shoulders, and guns.
The first person they killed was a highway patrolman. The second was a woman during a robbery. Then, hell, why not keep on going? As their crime spree cuts a swath through rural Minnesota, some of it captured on the killers’ cell phones and sent to a local television station, Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigator Virgil Flowers joins the growing army of cops trying to run them down. But even he doesn’t realize what’s about to happen next.
Dark Storm by Christine Freehan
A DARK STORM IS ON THE HORIZON…Return to Christine Feehan’s “steamy and dreamy” (Publishers Weekly) world of her New York Times bestselling Carpathian novels as roiling passions collide in a perfect storm of dangerous desire that only a precious few can hope to outrun…
Awakening after all this time in a world of absolute darkness and oppressive heat, Dax wonders in how many ways the world above must have changed. But it is how he has changed that fills him with dread and loathing. Buried alive for hundreds of years in a volcano in the Carpathian Mountains, Dax fears that he has become the full-fledged abomination that every Carpathian male fears, a victim of the insidious evil that has crept relentlessly into his mind and body over the centuries.
But there are some things that never change.
His name is Mitro, the vampire Dax had hunted all these long centuries. Second in command to the prince of the Carpathian people he is the epitome of everything malevolent, and perpetrator of one of the most shocking killing sprees known to man—and beast. Even his friends and family weren’t safe from Mitro’s bloodlust. Neither was Mitro’s lifemate, Arabejila, an extraordinary woman with extraordinary gifts.
But now that Dax has re-emerged, so too has Mitro. The ultimate battle between good and evil has been re-engaged. Between Dax and Mitro, a violent game has begun—one that has marked Riley Parker, the last descendent of Arabejila, as the reward.
Unintended Consequences by Stuart Woods
Stone Barrington finds intrigue abroad in the sensational new thriller by the New York Times–bestselling author. Stone Barrington is no stranger to schemes and deceptions of all stripes—as an attorney for the premier white-shoe law firm Woodman & Weld, he’s seen more than his share. But when he travels to Europe under highly unusual circumstances, Stone finds himself at the center of a mystery that is, even by his standards, most peculiar. Two unexpected invitations may be the first clues in an intricate puzzle Stone must unravel to learn the truth . . . a puzzle that will lead him deep into the rarefied world of European ultra-wealth and privilege, where billionaires rub elbows with spooks, insider knowledge is traded at a high premium, and murder is never too high a price to pay for a desired end. It soon becomes clear that beneath the bright lights of Europe lurks a shadowy underworld . . . and its only rule is deadly ambition.
Collateral Damage by Stuart Woods
Stone Barrington is back in Manhattan and pleased to receive an unexpected visit from his friend and sometime lover Holly Barker, now an assistant director at the CIA. For her part, Holly is glad to leave the staid, official environs of the capital for the dining and atmosphere of New York, but her sojourn isn’t only for pleasure. An explosive incident requires her immediate attention—and Stone’s investigative expertise.
But what initially appears to be a clear-cut case soon becomes increasingly complex—and dangerous. For in the secretive world of government intelligence, national interests all too often conflict with power grabs and turf wars, and extreme wealth allows even the most pursued rivals to slip through the cracks. As Stone and Holly follow the trail from London’s posh embassy district to Manhattan’s Upper East Side, they learn just how well the most cunning plans can be disguised . . . and how far some people will go to wreak vengeance.
Severe Clear by Stuart Woods
Stone Barrington is called to Bel-Air to oversee an exclusive event that will gather the top echelons of the beau monde: Hollywood starlets, socialites, politicos, billionaires from overseas. It’s a task in which Stone has a personal stake, and one that is made all the more pleasurable—though somewhat more complicated—with the arrivals of two beautiful women with whom he’s intimately acquainted.
But the grand occasion has also attracted a dangerous criminal group with sinister plans. The hunt to find them leads Stone into a complex web of deceit and misdirection, in a world where the intrigues of government intelligence collide with the clandestine machinations of the upper crust. As he draws nearer to his quarry, he realizes that the stakes are higher than anybody could ever imagine . . . and that the enemies he’s seeking might just be hiding in plain sight.
Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett by Mick Huckabee
Dear Chandler, Dear Scarlett touches on the time¬less topics of faith, love, family, overcoming adversity, and staying true to your values in the face of failure and temptation. For instance, Huckabee tells how being forced to pick up pecans from the trees in his yard taught him the value of hard work. (“We were told that if we wanted to eat that night and sleep in a bed instead of in the yard, we’d pick up the pecans.”) Years later he learned the real meaning of love after watching a friend care for his dying wife who could no longer recognize him. (“He loved her not because he enjoyed it or found pleasure in it, but because he had promised that he would never leave her until death parted them. And here he was, keeping that promise, faithful to the end.”)
Like his bestseller A Simple Christmas, Dear Chan¬dler, Dear Scarlett isn’t about politics. It’s a deeply personal, heartfelt, inspirational book that can be enjoyed by anyone. As Huckabee writes: “Although my advice comes from my personal experience and I’m writing with my grandkids in mind, I hope any parent, grandparent, child, or grandchild can take away some¬thing valuable from these letters. I’ll try not to be too obnoxious, but don’t worry, if you ever sit next to me on a plane, I’ll still be happy to show you all the photos of Chandler and Scarlett I have on my phone.”
Poseidon’s Arrow by Clive Cussler
“Dirk Pitt is oceanography’s answer to Indiana Jones,” praises the Associated Press. “Exotic locations, ruthless villains and many narrow escapes—Cussler’s fans come for swashbuckling [and] he delivers.”
And now the Cusslers bring us Pitt’s most dangerous adventure of all...
It is the greatest advance in American defense technology in decades—an attack submarine capable of incredible underwater speeds. Nothing else in any other nation’s naval arsenal even comes close. There is only one problem: A key element of the prototype is missing—and the man who developed it is dead.
At the same time, ships have started vanishing mid-ocean, usually never to be found again, but when they are, sometimes bodies are found aboard . . . burned to a crisp. What is going on? And what does it have to do with an Italian submarine that itself disappeared in 1943, lost at sea? Or was she?
It is up to NUMA director Dirk Pitt and his team, aided by a beautiful NCIS agent and by Pitt’s children, marine engineer Dirk and oceanographer Summer, to go on a desperate international chase to find the truth, from Washington to Mexico, Idaho to Panama. What they discover at the end of it is a much, much greater threat than even they imagined.
If they don’t succeed in their mission, the world as they know it might end up a very different place—and not a pleasant one.
Filled with breathtaking suspense and extraordinary imagination, Poseidon’s Arrow is further proof that when it comes to adventure writing, nobody beats Clive Cussler
The Tombs by Clive Cussler
Husband-and-wife team Sam and Remi Fargo are intrigued when an archaeologist friend requests their help excavating a top secret historical site. What they find will set them on a hunt for a prize greater than they could ever imagine. The clues point to the hidden tomb of Attila the Hun, the High King who was reportedly buried with a vast fortune of gold and jewels and plunder . . . a bounty that has never been found. As they follow the trail through Hungary, Italy, France, Russia, and Kazakhstan—a trail that they discover leads them not to one tomb, but five—the Fargos will find themselves pitted against a thieving group of amateur treasure hunters, a cunning Russian businessman, and a ruthless Hungarian who claims direct descent from Attila himself . . . and will stop at nothing to claim the tombs’ riches as his own.
Orphan Train was a book that kept me riveted from the beginning to end. The story seamlessly connected two lives that on the surface couldn’t be more different. Vivian is a 91-year old widow living in a mansion in Maine. Molly is a 17-year old foster child that has placed in several different bad homes and has a current problem with the law. In order to not go to juvenile detention, Molly finds a volunteer project, cleaning out Vivian’s attic. As Molly starts to sort through Vivian’s items with the elder lady’s help, the two discover they have a lot in common. And Molly begins to realize that Vivian is going through her items more as a way to look at them all and remember one last time rather than to actually clean them out.
The novel switches between two perspectives, the future through Molly’s perspective, and the past through Vivian’s. I found Molly’s story as a Foster child growing up bouncing between families to be touching and interesting, but I was mostly riveted by Vivian’s story. Vivian was a young Irish immigrant to the United States with her family in the 1920’s. After a devastating fire, she is sent on an “orphan train” from New York City to Minnesota. What she finds upon reaching Minnesota is that often people adopted children from the orphan trains as more indentured servants than as children to love. Vivian finds herself in rather dire situations that were very true to life at the time.
I did not know anything about the orphan trains until I read The Chaperone last year and was also riveted by the orphan train subplot of that novel. It is sad that many of the children were stigmatized coming on the orphan train and not all were able to find a happy ending.
The only thing I didn’t like about the novel was Vivian’s lost child at the end. I felt that was sprung on the reader last minute and didn’t seem true to the character of Vivian. After her troubled times in the system, I could not understand why Vivian would give her child up for adoption, even though she was a young widow. She had her adopted parents to help her out and was a very capable young woman. For other readers of the novel, what was your sense on this development of the novel?
I loved the character development and plot of the novel. I thought the juxtaposition of the two stories and how things can be so similar between the past and present was brilliant. I highly recommend this novel.
Book Source: Review Copy from William Morrow. Thank-you!!
Author: Janet Evanovich & Dorien Kelly
Read by: Lorelei King
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Length: Approximately 8.5 hours (7 CDs)
Source: Kewaunee Public Library
The Husband List is not your typical Janet Evanovich novel. It is not set in the modern day with a sassy detective named Stephanie Plum caught in a love triangle. It is set in 1894 Gilded Age New York with a sassy heiress, Caroline Maxwell and a love triangle between the Irish-American man of her dreams Jack Culhane and the English Lord Bremerton.
The Maxwell family is one of the premier American families during the Gilded Age on level with the Vanderbilts and Rockefellers. Caroline’s mother has her sights set on getting Caroline married into English nobility. Lord Bremerton is the heir to a Dukedom, and in need of funds that he can get from marrying a rich heiress. As Mrs. Maxwell orchestrates a match between Caroline and Lord Bremerton, Caroline longs for the freedom to marry for love, explore the world, or even to explore her intellectual pursuits. As she begins to develop feelings for her brother’s handsome friend, Jack Culhane, she also meets Lord Bremerton and realizes that he is a cold, calculating man with a dark secret. Will Caroline fulfill her family obligations, or will she be able to find her own happy ending?
This book was the April pick for the FLICKS Book and Movie club. Sadly we were supposed to discuss it last night, but the meeting was cancelled due to freezing rain. I listened to this book on audiobook as that is where I seem to do the majority of my reading these days. It was read by my favorite audiobook narrator, Lorelei King. As usual, King did a superb job as a narrator for this novel. She has unique, fantastic voices for each of the characters, complete with accents. The witty writing and excellent narration lead to a few laugh out loud moments on my trips to and from work.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. I love this time period in general and the characters were all fantastic, especially Caroline and Jack. The dialogue and witty play between the two as their feelings for each other grew was wonderful. Bremerton and Mrs. Maxwell were a bit one dimensional, but that added to their humor.
If you are a fan of Downton Abbey and wonder about the life that Cora could have possibly lived, The Husband List is your answer.
Victoria Holt got me through college. Her romantic suspense novels were just the kind of escapism reading that I needed to relax myself after a hard day of studying environmental engineering. I have read and own almost all of her novels, but do have a few left that I need to read. At that time, I found most of her novels at antique stores and used book stores, my favorite hunting ground. I was more than a little bit excited to see that Sourcebooks is starting to republish some of Holt’s fiction. I hadn’t read the India Fan yet so I was very happy to review it.
The India Fan is a typical Victoria Holt novel. It is a romantic suspense novel with Gothic undertones set during the Victorian era. While the novel starts off in England, there are trips to exotic locals such as India (and France – can I call that exotic?). Drusilla Delany is the rector’s daughter, plain, practical, and smart. She found herself drawn to the Framling Family, the local aristocrats. Lady Harriet believes that Drusilla is a good influence on her beautiful, bold, and reckless daughter, Lavinia Framling. Drusilla finds herself more interested in the handsome heir, Fabian Framling. Fabian kidnapped her when she was a baby and kept her for his own for two weeks. Since then, they both have felt drawn to each other as they have grown up.
The India Fan does not have one main mystery as other Holt novels do. The intrigue in this novel basically dealt with two items. Lavinia herself leads a reckless life that is self-absorbed and full of men. She gets into various scrapes and Drusilla has to help her lead her way through them. The other main mystery is the India Fan itself. The Framlings have a spinster Aunt Lucille that lives in a wing of their family estate. Drusilla steals a beautiful peacock fan from the wing under Fabian’s orders during a childhood game. Lucille tells Drusilla that she is now cursed with bad luck as she has been an owner of the fan. Lucille tells Drusilla her tragic love story. Drusilla does not believe in the curse, but as she grows older and has a string of bad luck, she starts to wonder. After she accompanies Lavinia to India, the India Fan takes on an entirely new and sinister connotation.
Drusilla has three different love interests in the India Fan, but there is one dark and brooding love interest overall. It was interesting to see how she was not the flashy woman that all of the men were after, but the woman that would be their intellectual equal and helpmate.
The only problem I had with this novel was that it had slightly racist undertones. Basically the way the English people think about and treat the native Indian people is not so nice. Is it accurate to the time, yes. It is a bit jarring now in our time of political correctness, yes. It did not impede my enjoyment of the novel overall, but I thought I would mention it.
Overall, I enjoyed The India Fan and thought it was a great story. It rekindled my interest in Victoria Holt novels. I hope that Sourcebooks publishes more of them. I would love to not only reread my favorites, but also track down the handful that I have not read!
Author: Karen Kingsbury
Read by: January LaVoy
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: Approximately 9 hours (8 CDs)
Source: Simon & Schuster Review Copy – Thank-you!
Fifteen year old Ellie is about to have her entire world turned upside down. Her parents have been fighting, and it turns out her mother is pregnant with another man’s child. Her father makes the abrupt decision to move himself and Ellie from Savannah to San Diego. Ellie is devastated to leave her best friend, Nolan. Together they write a letter about how they feel about each other and bury it under a tree with a promise to meet and retrieve it in 11 years. It is their one “chance” to be together.
Ellie moves away and Nolan and Ellie’s worst fears come to pass. With no way to communicate with each other, their lives move on, but they never forget each other. Eleven years pass, will Ellie and Nolan be able to find each other? What will happen to Ellie’s parents? I don’t want to get into too much detail and ruin the plot!
I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook. January LaVoy was an excellent narrator and had a distinct voice for all of the characters. I found myself happy to drive to and from work just so I would have a chance to listen to more of it. To me, The Chance is a Christian fairy tale novel. The book is not preachy, but does have characters that are living out their faith or that have fallen off the path and are a seeking a way back on. All of the storylines are tied up quite happily with much forgiveness and waiting for true love involved. It is not so much the way the world is, but the way we would like the world to be, like a fairy tale.
I really wanted to know how the storylines would end for all of the characters. I think the main strength of the novel is the well written characters including Ellie’s parents. They started off as one-dimensional characters, but after learning more of their stories, they both had great character growth and development.
Overall, if you are looking for a story that will sweep you off your feet and get you away from the troubles of the real world, I highly recommend this novel.
There are some novels that grip you with a story so unique, yet so heart wrenching that you can’t stop reading. From the Kitchen of Half Truth was just such a novel for me. I was sadly supposed to be a part of a tour on this great new novel on Tuesday, but with work and kids, I didn’t finish the novel until Tuesday night. So you get my review now, a few days later!
Meg May is a twenty-one year old scientist, firmly rooted in the rational world. Her mother is her complete opposite, a loving woman that is passionate about cooking; she has told Meg all sorts of fantastical tales throughout her life about her birth and childhood. Valerie, Meg’s mother, has told her how she met her father, a French chef, when she was just sixteen, but that he then died from a tragic pastry accident. Meg came out a “little undone” so her mother left her on the window sill in the sun to rise. As much as Meg wants to know the truth about her childhood, she can’t get her mother to move beyond the tales.
Meg finds out that her mother is sick, and not only sick, but dying. Meg leaves school to take care of her mother and also to search for the truth about her childhood. Her boyfriend, the rational Mark, is not a fan of her mother, but the cute, but exasperating gardener, Ewan, seems to know exactly how to make her mother feel better. Meg soon finds that looking for the truth is like opening Pandora’s Box. You may find what you are seeking, but it is not always wanted you wanted to find.
I LOVED this book. I liked the hint of romance, the mystery of Meg’s past, but most of all, I loved the relationship between Meg and her mother. Meg started off the novel truly exasperated by her mother, but by the novel’s end, she has grown to understand and appreciate her mother for who she was. It was a great story of personal growth and understanding that I think we all have about our mothers as we grow older. While the novel was sad as Meg had to confront that her mother was dying, it also had many light hearted moments that made me laugh out loud. One such moment is when she thinks this about her boyfriend, “I sometimes think that Mark should wear a spandex leotard, a mask, and a cape with an enormous R printed on the back. Rationality Man to the rescue, applying logic in the midst of chaos.”
The novel was beautifully written by author Maria Goodin, a new British author. Some of my favorite lines included:
“I try to imagine a world without you in it. A world where I have no one to call when I can’t remember the recipe for chicken soup; where no one bakes my favorite chocolate cake on my birthday; where no one rings me on a cold winter’s morning just to check if I have warm socks on. . . A world where no one says, ‘Do you remember when. . . ?’ or ‘When you were little. . . ‘
“What happens when you don’t know the truth but you can’t believe the lies, when you can’t find a way – through fact or fiction – to give meaning to your own existence? Without a narrative for your own life, do you ever really exist at all?”
“On Christmas Day, snowflakes made of sugar drift down from the sky, and in spring the cows grazing in the meadows produce banana milkshakes. There are little bridges made of gingerbread and picket fences made of pastry. . . “
Overall, I highly recommend this unique and wonderful novel. I loved it and I think my book club would really enjoy it as well. It has a reader’s guide in the back that would be good for book clubs. I always think of good books as books that I think about long after I have finished reading them. I finished this book Tuesday night and I’ve been thinking about it since then. A good book can also reduce me to tears, which From the Kitchen of Half Truth did as well.
Book Source: Review Copy from Sourcebooks – Thanks!
I’ll admit that the primary reason I wanted this book was because it contains a story by one of my all-time favorite authors – Diana Gabaldon. The story, A Leaf on the Wind of All Hallows, promised to solve the mysterious disappearance of Roger’s father. I was also intrigued by the allure of George R. R. Martin as an editor. Unfortunately, he does not have a short story in the collection. You also have to admit that the title of this collection of short stories is snappy, as well as the premise of the book. It contains stories from a wide range of authors that are fantasy, science fiction and/or romance with star-crossed love as a premise. Some endings are happy, some are sad, but all are intriguing.
I was more than a little excited to receive this novel for Christmas from my best friend Jenn. I quickly flipped it open, only to discover that Gabaldon’s story was last. I then proceeded to read it, and then start the book from page 1, and read the story again at the end.
There are too many great stories in this book and not enough time to give them all a proper review. I can say thought that the stories were awesome and gave me many new writers to add to my “to read” list. The stories ranged from ill-fated love in space, to stories that were more enchanted fairy tale. I loved each one for its uniqueness. I had never read any of Jim Butcher’s Dresden file books, but he had a fantastic story in this collection. Consider me signed up to check out his books!
Sadly, one of the weaker stories in the collection was actually Gabaldon’s story. It felt like it was a chapter from An Echo in the Bone. If I was going into this story and had no idea who these characters were and the background behind it, I would have been very, very confused. Even being a fan, I finished the story slightly confused and like with all Gabaldon books, wanting more!! The story did answer my question of what happened to Roger’s father, but I want to know what happened to Roger! Hopefully we’ll get more clarification in Gabaldon’s next novel.
Overall, this book is excellent. I am a lover of short stories, romance, and fantasy so this book was right up my alley. If you like your stories to be on the unexpected side are a fan of Gabaldon, Martin, Butcher or shows such as Game of Thrones, or Once Upon a Time, this book is for you!
Book Source: This was a Christmas gift from my best friend Jenn
I didn’t think I could love a historical hero as much as I love William Marshall, the hero of Chadwick’s The Greatest Knight, but Elizabeth Chadwick herself has proven me wrong. Brunin (Fulke) Fitzwarin is an outcast in his own home during the middle ages. Taking after his mercenary grandfather, he is lean and dark in a family of stout fair hair individuals. He is also branded a coward after an incident in a marketplace. Sent out as a squire to Joscelin the Lord of Ludlow Castle, Brunin finds a friend in Joscelin’s youngest tom-boy daughter, Hawise. Brunin also discovers how to be a great fighter and a compassionate man as he grows up as Joscelin’s ward.
Growing up is only half the battle as once Brunin reaches the age to start thinking about his inheritance as the heir of Whittington and Alberbury castles, he finds them broiled in a dispute. His youth was spent during the endless wars of King Stephen and Empress Matilda fighting for the English thrown. As he reaches maturity, Matilda’s son Henry has taken the thrown as Henry II. As both Brunin’s father and Lord Joscelin supported Henry, this is considered a positive. Unfortunately other forces believe that they should be the lords of Whittington and Ludlow and are willing to take it by force. Love and treachery are definitely the major themes of this novel.
I loved Brunin the sensitive, but skilled fighter. The striking picture on the front of this novel helped as well. I also loved Hawise. She was not a typical maiden of the time, but was strong willed and willing to go head to head with Brunin. Joscelin was a kind, compassionate, and powerful lord and I also loved his fierce lady, Sybilla. The villains were also fierce, some were written so compassionately, I felt sorry for them. I can’t say more and ruin the plot!
Chadwick has a gift and is a superb historical fiction writer. Her characters and scenes come alive and I think of them long after I have finished one of her books. She uses vast historical research as well as reenactments to write her novels. I believe that is why one feels that you are there in the time and place. Chadwick’s novels are more than a good read, they are an experience.
Shadows and Strongholds is the prequel to her novel, Lords of the White Castle which is the “story of medieval outlaw Fulke Fitzwarin and his endeavors to have his family lands restored.” I really want to read this and looked it up on amazon. Unfortunately it is not currently in print in the U.S. I hope that Sourcebooks publishes it soon – I really want to know the rest of the story of Brunin and Hawise.
Overall, Shadows and Strongholds is another superb novel by Elizabeth Chadwick. I’ve read a lot of good books lately, but this book reigns supreme over them all. I’ve been watching Game of Thrones a lot lately. If you are a fan of Game of Thrones, I would highly recommend Shadows and Strongholds or any Elizabeth Chadwick novel. History is just as riveting as fiction, although there are less white walkers and dragons.
I was pleasantly surprised on how much I loved this regency romance novel by Jane Ashford. With shades of My Cousin Rachel by Daphne Du Maurier as part of the plot, I was quickly caught up with the compelling characters and raced through this novel. It was another perfect romance for the month of February.
Charlotte Wylde married a much older gentleman, Henry Wylde, at eighteen. While he was a friend of her father, he proved to be a terrible husband that was more interested in using Charlotte’s inheritance to purchase antiques than in Charlotte herself. Needless to say, Charlotte is not as unhappy as she should be at her husband’s demise.
Charlotte and her trusty maid Lucy are shocked to discover that Charlotte has been left with no money. The servants soon leave and Henry’s nephew Alec meets Charlotte for the first time. Henry was eccentric and never bothered to tell any of his family that he had married. Alec is determined to help Charlotte and to discover the mystery of who killed his Uncle. As the two are thrown together, they discover there is a spark between them. A spark that is threatened by the fact that Charlotte is the prime suspect in her husband’s murder.
I also loved the side love story that was happening below stairs between Charlotte’s maid, Lucy, and Alec’s footman, Ethan. Ethan is instantly smitten with Lucy, but Lucy is afraid to throw herself away on a philanderer. Their love grows and it is very sweet.
Overall, I loved this romance. Wonderful characters and a great mystery for a plot drove this novel to a satisfying conclusion. I definitely need to read more Jane Ashford!
I love Grace Burrowes’s Windham family series. Percival Windham, the Duke of Moreland and his Duchess, Esther, together have had a brood of very fascinating children. They also share a love that has held together through the years and is inspiring to their children. I would LOVE to read a novel about the early years of the Duke and Duchess! The Windham family series chronicles the adventures and loves of each of their children. As one can tell from the title, this book deals with one of their younger daughters, Eve. Although part of a series, this book would hold up on its own.
Set in the regency period, Eve is the pretty and diminutive Windham sister. She flirts and gathers suitors at balls, but she keeps them at bay with a determination to marry no one. Eve has a past indiscretion that happened when she was only 15. Fearing this will be known to whoever marries her and also fearing the act itself after the terror at fifteen, Eve does not want to bring disgrace on her family.
Lucas Denning is the new Marquis of Deene. As a handsome titled man, he is terrorized by match-making mothers and daughters whenever he is out on the town. He does need to marry to secure the succession and who would be better than the lovely lady who lives next door, Eve Windham? Although Eve does not want to marry, she cannot deny her attraction.
I love that in Burrowes novels, the romance does not stop at marriage. Indeed marriage is often the midpoint of the novel. The rest of the novel shows how the couple is able to work through various problems to have a strong and loving union. I particularly loved how Eve was able to face her own demons and beat them down by the end.
Overall, Lady Eve’s Indiscretion was another winning romance from Grace Burrowes. It was a perfect light read to read in winter and February, the month of romance.
I’ll admit, the sole reason I am still reading the Stephanie Plum series is because I love, love, love Lorelei King’s narration. Her voices for all of the characters hit the mark and make me laugh out loud while I’m listening to the book driving to and from work. I wasn’t that impressed by the last two novels, but I do love the characters so I tried the latest and greatest, Notorious Nineteen.
Stephanie Plum and Lulu are back in the game. Stephanie is as usual low on funds and trying to catch a couple of guys that are out on bail. One in particular, went to the hospital to get his appendix removed and was never seen again. Where did he go and where is all of the money he stole from the assisted living facility he worked for?
Also to make things interesting, Ranger is in dire need of Stephanie’s help. He and his best friend from his elite Navy Seal days have been receiving death threats. Stephanie is Ranger’s date to various wedding related parties to help protect Ranger and keep an extra eye out for any danger.
Joe Morelli is still on the scene and he and Stephanie has tender moments. Unfortunately, Joe and Stephanie are still locked in a relationship limbo – they are together, but will they take the next step? And will Stephanie give it all up for Ranger?
Luckily Notorious Nineteen did not focus on the romance aspect, which was great as that has been annoying me greatly the past few books. The mysteries were intriguing, the action suspenseful and light hearted at different times. Lula was sadly missing from the last part of the novel, but otherwise, I thought this novel was better than the last few in the series. I hope this continues . . . and that Stephanie makes some forward growth in one of her relationships!
I first discovered Kay Scarpetta last year in Red Mist, and was more than a little excited to review the next book in the series, The Bone Bed. I have discovered that I LOVE to listen to mysteries while in the car. With two hours of commute time per day, most of my reading is now done via audiobook. I don’t want to fall asleep while driving, so it is importantly to me to listen to engaging books that keep my attention and make my drive enjoyable.
Kay Scarpetta feels like life is starting to fall out of her control. Her staff is not performing up to par, her husband suspects her of infidelity, and to top it off, she receives a mysterious video on an email that shows a grisly discovery of a missing paleontologist’s ear. Shortly thereafter, she is in Boston Harbor helping to bring aboard a victim from the sea. The rest of the novel is fast paced sleuthing as Kay tries to solve the mystery of the two murders. It is also very interesting how the Chief Examiner tries to keep her personal life in order at the same time.
I really enjoyed this novel and was intrigued with the mystery. The only part I didn’t like was the tying together of the two mysteries, which seemed a bit farfetched. Kate Reading did a great job as a narrator capturing the essence of each character with a distinct voice. Overall, I enjoyed this audiobook and felt it was over too soon!
To Sell is Human makes the convincing argument that we are all salesmen (or women) of some sort or another, no matter what career we have. The audiobook gave a great history of sales and how sales in changing in this new digital world that we live in. It gave a wide range of examples of careers that may be convincing people that they need something from nurses and educators to engineers. I found the examples to be very relevant.
Daniel Pink read the audiobook himself and did an excellent job; he seemed very engaged with the material. Besides giving the fascinating history of sales, the audiobook also gave ideas on how to be a successful sales person using new pitch ideas and what type of person is a good sales person. I thought it was very interesting that the extrovert that we always assume is a good salesperson is not always the successful sales person. I also loved his real world examples, especially the shady used car salesman and his techniques from the 1970’s.
I enjoyed listening to the audiobook as it was well written and engaging. In order to put the tips into practice though, I think I would need to purchase a digital or hard copy version as well to refer to while I practiced the techniques. Otherwise, when I’m listening while driving, I can’t make notes to keep track of the different techniques to use.
Title: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
Author: Adele Faber & Elaine Mazlish
Read by: Susan Bennett
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Length: Approximately 8.5 hours (8 CDs)
Source: Simon & Schuster Review Copy – Thank-you!
I have three kids age’s seven to three. I always like learn new tools to put in my parenting tool box to help to work through the tough times of parenting. I had never heard of How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, but the title intrigued me. I was excited to have the opportunity to review the book, and now that I have – I see it everywhere!
Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish talk about the joys and stresses of raising their children, and different ideas for how to express your frustrations to your children in a constructive way, instead of yelling. It also gives ideas on how to get your children to talk to you about their emotions for a better understanding between parents and kids. The book also gives guidelines on good ways to talk to children so that they know how you feel, but also how they can constructive problem solve to deal with a problem.
I thought many of the ideas were great and started using them immediately with my children. It especially worked well with my eldest son who is seven. He seems to not whine quite so much now that he feels I am listening to his problems and helping him to solve them. It has also helped with my four year old. Instead of yelling about his coat on the floor, I just say, “I see an orange coat on the floor” and he picks it up. I like that I can get him to get things done without the yelling. It has overall helped to make “crunch time” after we get home and are trying to make dinner, easier to deal with.
I also enjoyed the updated section “The Next Generation” by Joanna Faber. Joanna hit the nail on the head with many topics, such as dealing with the shear amount of homework and business that kids these days have. I really enjoyed her section and listening to the many problems that she has counseled different families with. I think the problem solving section was the most useful and also made me feel that my family is not so different than most!
I really enjoyed listening to this book and thought Susan Bennet did a great job narrating it. I felt I was learning something new on my drive to and from work. The only item I did not enjoy about the audiobook was that during the problem solving sections, there wasn’t enough time to think through the problems as the audio continued on. I also felt like I wouldn’t be able to skim back over topics with the audiobook. Therefore, I purchased a hard copy of this book for reference. I enjoy the cartoon examples especially. My husband is listening to this audiobook now and finding it helpful.
This book did not deal with sibling issues much, which is actually the biggest issue we have with the kids right now. I purchased Siblings Without Rivalry by the same authors and hope this will help me out.
Have you read this book? How did you feel about it? What is your favorite parenting guide?
Meghan of What Does that Have to Do With the Price of Butter? Congrats to Meghan! I have notified Meghan via email and she has one week to send me her snail mail address to receive her book. If I haven't heard from Meghan within that time, I will select a new winner.
Meghan was selected using the power of random.org. Thank-you to all who entered the giveaway! I will have a new one up next week so stay tuned.
I LOVED Shadows and Strongholds and hope Meghan enjoys it too. I will hopefully have my review up and posted sometime within the next week.
Thank-you to Elizabeth Chadwick for writing such a compelling novel and for writing a fantastic guest blog post for Laura's Reviews. Thank-you to Sourcebooks for allowing the giveaway.
I am the Environmental Engineering Technology Instructor at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College and a mom with three wonderful children; two sons and one daughter. I have loved to read and watch movies since I was a child. I knew my husband was for me when I found him looking through my books in my apartment during our first date and offering his opinion!
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