Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton

The Distant Hours by Kate Morton


A long lost letter arrives in the post and Edie Burchill finds herself on a journey to Milderhurst Castle, a great but moldering old house, where the Blythe spinsters live and where her mother was billeted 50 years before as a 13 year old child during WW II. The elder Blythe sisters are twins and have spent most of their lives looking after the third and youngest sister, Juniper, who hasn’t been the same since her fiance jilted her in 1941.

Inside the decaying castle, Edie begins to unravel her mother’s past. But there are other secrets hidden in the stones of Milderhurst, and Edie is about to learn more than she expected. The truth of what happened in ‘the distant hours’ of the past has been waiting a long time for someone to find it.

Morton once again enthralls readers with an atmospheric story featuring unforgettable characters beset by love and circumstance and haunted by memory, that reminds us of the rich power of storytelling.

My Thoughts

This was my first read by Kate Morton. I had no idea what to expect except from all the wonderful reviews I have read from other bloggers on her books. I received an advance readers copy which was a whopping 672 pages long! Quite a chunkster for me! However, I was looking forward to reading it. I dug in with gusto. The story is very detailed and the characters are very complex. The story comes together rather slowly but it does a great job building suspense, at least it did for me. I'm not sure that if the story moved faster you would get the same effect. It is a very layered story.

I was very curious about Milderhurst and the sister's who lived in the castle. I was very curious about the letter that caused such a reaction for Edith's mother and how everything tied into the castle and the sisters. There are so many questions I had when reading the book. As more of the mystery is revealed, I found myself wondering how in the world it was all going to resolve itself. Ironically, I found the ending when the whole story finally comes together a bit rushed and I ended up reading it three times. I think at that point the suspense was killing me and I was reading it much too fast. Take your time with the ending. It is a very good one and you don't want to miss one bit of it's goodness. I will be reading Kate's other books as I think she is a wonderful storyteller. She is quite descriptive which left me with both beautiful and dark images of Milderhurst. This is a story of family, lost love, mystery and intrigue. I found myself wanting to both hurry through the story to find out the ending and wanting to savor every morsel of the story. I have never had a book do that before. I highly recommend this book.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Mailbox Monday November 29 and Thankfully Reading Weekend Wrap Up

Mailbox Monday is meme created by Marcia from The Printed Page. Marcia says,"Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists." Mailbox Monday is on tour and this months hostess is Julie from Knitting and Sundries. Thank you Julie for hosting! Next months hostess is Lady Q at Let Them Read Books

I received three books this week all of which I am very excited about.

The book blurbs are borrowed from Goodreads.

The Brave by Nicholas Evans

There's little love in eight-year-old Tom Bedford's life. His parents are old and remote and the boarding school they've sent him to bristles with bullies and sadistic staff. The only comfort he gets is from his fantasy world of Cowboys and Indians. But when his sister Diane, a rising star of stage and screen, falls in love with one of his idols, the suave TV cowboy Ray Montane, Tom's life is transformed. They move to Hollywood and all his dreams seem to have come true. Soon, however, the sinister side of Tinseltown casts its shadow and a shocking act of violence changes their lives forever.

What happened all those years ago remains a secret that corrodes Tom's life and wrecks his marriage. Only when his estranged son, a US Marine, is charged with murder do the events resurface, forcing him to confront his demons. As he struggles to save his son's life, he will learn the true meaning of bravery.

Powerfully written and intensely moving, The Brave traces the legacy of violence behind the myth of the American West and explores our quest for love and identity, the fallibility of heroes and the devastating effects of family secrets.

I received this book for review from Little Brown and Company/Hachette books

Night Road by Kristin Hannah

Jude Farraday is a happily married, stay-at-home mom who puts everyone’s needs above her own. Her twins, Mia and Zach, are bright and happy teenagers. When Lexi Baill enters their lives, no one is more supportive than Jude. A former foster child with a dark past, Lexi quickly becomes Mia’s best friend. Then Zach falls in love with Lexi and the three become inseparable. But senior year of high school brings unexpected dangers and one night, Jude’s worst fears are confirmed: there is an accident. In an instant, her idyllic life is shattered and her close-knit community is torn apart. People and Jude demand justice, and when the finger of blame is pointed, it lands solely on eighteen-year-old Lexi Baill. In a heartbeat, their love for each other will be shattered, the family broken. Lexi gives up everything that matters to her the boy she loves, her place in the family, the best friend she ever had while Jude loses even more. When Lexi returns, older and wiser, she demands a reckoning. Long buried feelings will rise again, and Jude will finally have to face the woman she has become. She must decide whether to remain broken or try to forgive both Lexi and herself. Night Road is a vivid, emotionally complex novel that raises profound questions about motherhood, loss, identity, and forgiveness. It is an exquisite, heartbreaking novel that speaks to women everywhere about the things that matter most.

I received this book from the publisher through Librarythings Early Reviewers

Blind Your Ponies by Stanley Gordon West

Hope is hard to come by in the hard-luck town of Willow Creek. Sam Pickett and five young men are about to change that.

Sam Pickett never expected to settle in this dried-up shell of a town on the western edge of the world. He's come here to hide from the violence and madness that have shattered his life, but what he finds is what he least expects. There's a spirit that endures in Willow Cree, Montana. It seems that every inhabitant of this forgotten outpost has a story, a reason for taking a detour to this place--or a reason for staying.

As the coach of the hapless high school basketball team (zero wins, ninety-three losses), Sam can't help but be moved by the bravery he witnesses in the everyday lives of people--including his own young players--bearing their sorrows and broken dreams. How do they carry on, believing in a future that seems to be based on the flimsiest of promises? Drawing on the strength of the boys on the team, sharing the hope they display despite insurmountable odds, Sam finally begins to see a future worth living.

Author Stanley Gordon West has filled the town of Willow Creek with characters so vividly cast that they become real as relatives, and their stories--so full of humor and passion, loss and determination--illuminate a path into the human heart.

I received this book from Algonquin Books through Shelf Awareness

What wonderful books made their way into your home?

This past weekend I participated in Thankfully Reading Weekend. I did pretty good. I didn't set any huge goals..just to read and relax. I read Between Friends by Kristy Kiernan and really enjoyed it. I started The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore and also started Catching Genius by Kristy Kiernan. I wish there were more reading weekends like this. There were a few easy mini challenges that were fun. It was very enjoyable! I would definitely participate next year.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankfully Reading Weekend Mini-Challenge #3

Mini-Challenge #3 is being hosted by Jen at Devourer of Books. Here is what hse has to say:

I hope you’ve been having a great weekend reading so far. Have you been using the #thankfulreading hashtag on Twitter? Reading is a solitary activity, but it is something that is even better when you have a reading community surrounding you, which is part of the reason that many of us started blogging in the first place.

So what I want to know, is what reading community are you thankful for, and why? Are you thankful for book bloggers? The book community on Twitter? Your spouse or family that lets you ramble on and on about what you’re reading and doesn’t complain (at least not too much) about the myriad of books flowing into the house?

I love the book blogging community. I was a lurker for many years. I never thought in a million years that I would join in and create a blog since I am pretty shy and quiet. I jumped in and have never regretted it! I appreciate every one of my followers and fellow book bloggers. I love being able to share what I have read with others and I love reading what others have to say about the books they read. My family is not into books like I am so my book blogging family is super important to me and I love everyone one of you! I also have a friend who I share books with and she with me. It's fun to discuss them after we have both read them, I just wish we lived closer to each other so we could get together over a cup of tea in person to chat about books!

Thankfully Reading Weekend Day 3 and Mini- Challenge #2

I have loved participating in this event. I like how relaxed it is with plenty of time for reading and a few mini-challenges for those times I need my blogging fix. I finished only one book so far...Between Friends by Kristy Kiernan. It was my first Kristy Kiernan read and I loved it! I will be starting a new book in a bit. Not sure which one yet. I have three I really want to read and having a hard time choosing which one will win out.

Mini-Challenge #2 is hosted by Candace of Beth Fish Reads. We were to photograph our TBR pile or a bookshelf or several as the case may be for some. Like me. I only photographed one of my many bookshelves because we are in desperate need of a new camera. After fighting with it, I did get one picture out of the old camera. My son then gave me the ads and said "we need a new camera!" Any who...I have 3 small bookshelves around the house and I still have stacks of books stashed here and there. My name is Beth and I am a bookaholic! Below is one of my many TBR bookshelves. Ignore the dust...it's the maids weekend off..I hear she is reading. Oh wait... that's me. I'll get right on that...maybe... tomorrow.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Thankfully Reading Weekend Day 2

I didn't get quite as much reading done as hoped. I weather proofed a few windows yesterday and it took me longer than I had anticipated. That and I had over 400 posts to glance through on my google reader so I did a bit of speed reading on those. I am working on Between Friends by Kristy Kiernan and I did manage to get over 100 pages read. It is very good and so far I highly recommend it. I am hoping to finish it today. If my eyes weren't so heavy last night, I would have stayed up and finished it. I kept dozing and dropping the book, so I finally gave in and went to sleep.

How is your reading going this weekend?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thankfully Reading Mini-Challenge #1: What Book Are You Most Thankful For?

The first mini-challenge is being hosted by Jenn at Jenn's Bookshelves. Jenn has asked us what book we are most thankful for. Aftre giving this much thought I chose...

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

This was the book that really helped me become the reader I am today. I read the whole series and reread the whole series many times. I just couldn't get enough of the Laura and the whole Ingalls family. I remember the time I spent with them fondly.

Thankfully Reading Weekend Kick Off

It's time for the reading to begin...yay! I have been looking forward to this all week! This is my stack of books that I will be reading from.

I will be only getting one or two books read probably but I wanted an assortment handy. My son made me a wonderful breakfast and did the dishes. Now that my tummy is full and the teapot is on I am reading to dig in!

I will be starting with Between Friends by Kristy Kiernan and maybe throwing in a few chapters of The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons, from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder by Erin Blakemore . Join in the fun. It's a very relaxed reading weekend and should be alot of fun!

Thankfully Reading Weekend

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving. Now that the turkey is put away I am going to spend the long weekend doing what I love best. Hanging out with my family and reading, Leftovers will be in the plan too. It's very cold outside so cuddling up with a throw, my favorite slippers, a cup of tea or coffee and a good book sounds divine! When I saw the Thankfully Reading Weekend posts going up on several blogs I knew I had to join in the fun.

Last year, Candace from Beth Fish Reads, Jen from Devourer of Books & Jenn from Jenn's Bookshelves unveiled Thankfully Reading Weekend. They are hosting it again this year and I am looking forward to participating.

Here are the details:

There are no rules to the weekend, we’re simply hoping to devote a good amount of time to reading, and perhaps meeting some of our reading challenges and goals for 2010. We thought it’d be fun if we cheered each other on a bit. If you think you can join in, grab the button and sign on to Mr. Linky. If you don’t have a blog, use the comments!

I have quite a few books in mind to read this weekend, some have been waiting for quite sometime. There will be reading, eating and some blogging involved for me. This weekend is all about catching up for me. And maybe a bit of Wii with the kids.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mailbox Monday November 22

Mailbox Monday is meme created by Marcia from The Printed Page. Marcia says,"Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists." Mailbox Monday is on tour and this months hostess is Julie from Knitting and Sundries. Thank you Julie for hosting!

I received two books this week. Both are very different but both look very good. The book descriptions and pictures were borrowed from Goodreads.

The Dressmaker by Posie Graeme-Evans

Ellen Gowan is the only surviving child of a scholarly village minister and a charming girl disowned by her family when she married for love. Growing up in rural Norfolk, Ellen’s childhood was poor but blessed with affection. Resilience, spirit, and one great talent will carry her far from such humble beginnings. In time, she will become the witty, celebrated, and very beautiful Madame Ellen, dressmaker to the nobility of England, the Great Six Hundred.

Yet Ellen has secrets. At fifteen she falls for Raoul de Valentin, the dangerous descendant of French aristocrats. Raoul marries Ellen for her brilliance as a designer but abandons his wife when she becomes pregnant. Determined that she and her daughter will survive, Ellen begins her long climb to success. Toiling first in a clothing sweat shop, she later opens her own salon in fashionable Berkeley Square though she tells the world – and her daughter - she’s a widow. One single dress, a ballgown created for the enigmatic Countess of Hawksmoor, the leader of London society, transforms Ellen’s fortunes, and as the years pass, business thrives. But then Raoul de Valentin returns and threatens to destroy all that Ellen has achieved.

In The Dressmaker, the romance of Jane Austen, the social commentary of Charles Dickens and the very contemporary voice of Posie Graeme-Evans combine to plunge the reader deep into the opulent, sinister world of teeming Victorian England. And if the beautiful Madame Ellen is not quite what she seems, the strength of her will sees her through to the truth, and love, at last.

I received this book from Atria Books for my honest review.

Three Seconds by Roslund & Hellstrom

Piet Hoffmann is the best undercover operative in the Swedish police force, but only one other man is even aware of his existence. After a drug deal he is involved in goes badly wrong, he must face the hardest mission of his life - infiltrating Sweden's most infamous maximum-security prison.

Detective Inspector Ewert Grens is charged with investigating the drug-related killing. Unaware of Hoffmann's real identity, he believes himself to be on the trail of a dangerous psychopath. But he cannot escape the feeling that vital information pertaining to the case has been withheld or manipulated.

Hoffmann has his insurance: wiretap recordings that implicate some of Sweden's most prominent politicians in a corrupt conspiracy. But in Ewert Grens they might just have found the perfect weapon to eliminate him.

I received this book as part of the Barnes and Noble First Look Book Club.

I am hoping to get back to blogging a bit regularly again. This time of year seems to get crazy around here so I am hoping that maybe things can quiet down a bit. I have seen there is a readathon going on somewhere in the blogosphere this coming weekend and I really want to participate. I have much reading to catch up on. I just have to find where I saw it. I'm not a Black Friday shopper so staying tucked in with a stack of books sounds like heaven to me!

What wonderful books made their way into your home?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mailbox Monday November 15

Mailbox Monday is meme created by Marcia from The Printed Page. Marcia says,"Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists." Mailbox Monday is on tour and this months hostess is Julie from Knitting and Sundries. Thank you Julie for hosting!

This week I received two books for review, two books I bought for the Okra Picks Challenge and one book that my mom passed on to me. All books have been linked back to Goodreads if you wish to read more about them.

1. Southern Plate by Christy Jordan (Okra Picks Challenge)-I glanced through this when it came and there are many easy comfort recipes I will be anxious to try out and Christy Jordan is a doll!

2. I Still Dream About You by Fannie Flagg (Okra Picks Challenge)Fannie Flagg! Need I say more? I think not!

3. The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens For review from Alfred A. Knopf Books to be released on April 5, 2011. This looks like an excellent children's series.

4. The Heroine's Bookshelf by Erin Blakemore For review from Harper Books through a member's giveaway on Librarything. I'm looking forward to reading about my favorite authors and their characters.

5. Unlocked by Karen Kingsbury This is from my mother. She told me not to pick it up until I could read it straight through. She says I won't want to put it down.

I have been reading The Distant Hours by Kate Morton for what seems like forever. I hope to get it done this week. It is good but it is a bit more involved than some of my usual reads. I'm finding I need to read it a bit more slowly.

So what treasures made their way into your home?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Mailbox Monday November 8

Mailbox Monday is meme created by Marcia from The Printed Page. Marcia says,"Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists." Mailbox Monday is on tour and this months hostess is Julie from Knitting and Sundries. Thank you Julie for hosting!

This week my mailbox was empty! Nada, nothing, zip! All's good though..I have more than enough to read here. I thought I would share these titles with you. I snuck these books into my library a couple of weeks ago when I found out a local bookstore was closing it's doors. It's always sad to see a bookstore close. Things were 60% off on the last day they were open, so I picked up a few deals.

1. Lemon Meringue Pie Murder by Joanne Fluke
2. The Outermost House by Henry Beston
3. Multiple Choice by Claire Cook
4. The Lumby Lines by Gail Fraser
5. Stealing Lumby by Gail Fraser
6. Whiter Than Snow by Sandra Dallas

So what new treasures came into your house last week?

Friday, November 5, 2010

Okra Picks Challenge

Kathy at Bermudaonion is hosting a fabulous challenge, The Okra Picks Challenge. Now I really don't need another challenge to participate in. but when I saw the titles that were included in this challenge I was sold! I love a good southern story so this challenge is right up my alley. Here are the particulars for the challenge as posted by Kathy:

To make this challenge fun for everyone, I’m going to include four different levels:

1-3 Books: Goober
4-6 Books: Tater
7-9 Books: Peach
10-13 Books: Okra


The Okra Picks Challenge will run from October 1, 2010 through March 31, 2011. To join this challenge, all you have to do is pick your level of participation (you can always go up levels, but not down.) Then after you read any of the books, write a review to share your thoughts with others!

I am going to go for the Goober level...gotta love the name! I know I want to buy this book for sure so I will be reading this:

I may also add a title or two more. Go on over to Bermudaonion's Blog and check it out! You too can be a Goober...and that's a good thing!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

How To Be an American Housewife

How To Be an American Housewife by Margaret Dilloway

Summary from Goodreads

How to Be an American Housewife is a novel about mothers and daughters, and the pull of tradition. It tells the story of Shoko, a Japanese woman who married an American GI, and her grown daughter, Sue, a divorced mother whose life as an American housewife hasn't been what she'd expected. When illness prevents Shoko from traveling to Japan, she asks Sue to go in her place. The trip reveals family secrets that change their lives in dramatic and unforeseen ways. Offering an entertaining glimpse into American and Japanese family lives and their potent aspirations, this is a warm and engaging novel full of unexpected insight.

My Thoughts

This is a wonderful debut novel from Margaret Dilloway. The first half of the book is told through Shoko's eyes as she grows up in Japan and eventually becomes a war bride. Shoko moves to America with her husband where they raise a family. There is much conflict in the lives of Shoko and her children due to the differences in cultures. Eventually as she grows older she wants to go home to make amends with her brother. Due to an illness she can no longer travel, so in her place she sends her daughter, Sue and granddaughter, Helena. The second part of the book is told through Sue's eyes as she travels to Japan with her daughter, Helena in search of Taro, Shoko's estranged brother. The descriptions of Japan are beautiful. The characters in the book are well developed and intriguing. This is a great story of family and the secrets they can sometimes hold, of the bonds between mother and daughter, and also a story of forgiveness. In the beginning of each chapter is a little blurb from a fictional book called How To Be An American Housewife. Dilloway based this on a book she found that her father had given to her mother entitled The American Way of Housekeeping. I found these little blurbs quite amusing and a great introduction to each chapter. Margaret Dilloway is great story teller and I hope she will be writing more stories like this. This is a beautiful story and I highly recommend it!

I received this book for my honest opinion from Putnam through LT Early Reviewers.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Mailbox Monday November 1

Mailbox Monday is meme created by Marcia from The Printed Page. Marcia says,"Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week. Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists." Mailbox Monday is on tour and this months hostess is Julie from Knitting and Sundries. Thank you Julie for hosting!

Can you believe it is November! Geesh, time flies quickly these days! I only received one book for review last week. That's okay as I am doing some much needed catching up on books I already have. When I read the description of this book I knew I had to read it. I always tell the family we should really unplug for a week. They grumble and moan and tell me I would be lost without my shuffle (can't vacuum without it) and my computer and tv(I'd die without Survivor and Amazing Race). The sad thing is they are probably right but it still would be interesting to try for a short time. The family in this book unplugged for 6 months! I'm wondering if they made the whole 6 months. Guess I'll find out when I read the book. The book is due out in January 2011. That'll be here before you know it! And I'll probably still be plugged in myself.

The Winter of Our Disconnect by Susan Maushart

Summary from Goodreads

They did it. Could you? For any parent who has ever IM-ed their child to the dinner table - or yanked the modem from its socket in a show of primal parental rage - this account of one family's self-imposed exile from the Information Age will leave you ROFLing (Roll on the Floor Laughing) with recognition. But it will also challenge you to take stock of your own family connections, to create a media ecology that encourages kids - and parents - to thrive. At the simplest level, "The Winter of Our Disconnect" is the story of how one family survived six months of wandering through the desert - digitally speaking - and the lessons learned about themselves and technology along the way. At the same time, their story is a channel to a wider view - into the impact of new media on the lives of families, into the very heart of the meaning of home.

I received this book for my honest review from Tarcher/Penguin through Shelf Awareness

So what goodies did you find in your mailbox?