Thursday, September 29, 2011

A Sound Among the Trees

A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner

Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: WaterBrook Press (October 4, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0307458857
ISBN-13: 978-0307458858


A house shrouded in time.
A line of women with a heritage of loss.

As a young bride, Susannah Page was rumored to be a Civil War spy for the North, a traitor to her Virginian roots. Her great-granddaughter Adelaide, the current matriarch of Holly Oak, doesn’t believe that Susannah’s ghost haunts the antebellum mansion looking for a pardon, but rather the house itself bears a grudge toward its tragic past.

When Marielle Bishop marries into the family and is transplanted from the arid west to her husband’s home, it isn’t long before she is led to believe that the house she just settled into brings misfortune to the women who live there.

With Adelaide’s richly peppered superstitions and deep family roots at stake, Marielle must sort out the truth about Susannah Page and Holly Oak— and make peace with the sacrifices she has made for love.

My Thoughts

This was a different book than I was expecting. For some reason I was thinking it was going to be about a home that was haunted by a past relative. It is more a story of a home and family that is haunted by the past.

The book starts out with Marielle Bishop moving into the home of her new husband's deceased wife, Sara's family, where Adelaide, the matriarch of the family still resides. Sara was raised by Adelaide, who is her grandmother. Now doesn't that grab your attention? Right away, I thought Marielle was a special woman. I can't think of many women who would move in with the family of the former spouse's family.

Holly Oak, the antebellum house they live in is grand and has housed many generations. Some believe the home to be haunted by the ghost of Susannah Page who is thought by many to have been a Civil War traitor or spy. All is not what it seems.

This book is not a true ghost story but more the story of a family stuck in the past. There seems to be troubles with each generation of women who have resided in the home. All these women are very strong but yet vulnerable. Their stories are pretty involved but it all comes together in the end.

I love when a book includes letters written by the characters. One of my favorite parts of this book is Part 4 where we get to read letters written by Susannah Page. It gives a pretty important glimpse into the Civil War period and how many people did whatever they had to do to survive the war.

This is not a fast paced book. The story evolves slowly but I think that is because it is a very detailed story. The characters are well-developed and have complex issues which add to the story as a whole. It takes awhile to get all their facts out in the open. Even though it is not fast paced, it did keep my attention and I ended up staying up much too late to finish reading this book. I had to know how it all ended once I knew the story of each woman who lived in Holly Oak.

This is the second book I have read of Susan Meissner's. I also recommend her book, The Shape of Mercy. You can tell when reading one of Susan's historical gems that she does quite a bit of research before she tells the stories of her characters. I like how in both of these books, Susan mixes the present day with the past. I recommend both of these books.

I received this book from the publisher through Amazon Vine for my honest opinion. This is no way influenced my review.

This book takes place in Virginia so it counts toward my Southern Belle Challenge.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Mailbox Monday September 26

It's Monday again! Time for another Mailbox Monday post. Mailbox Monday is the creation of Marcia from A Girl and Her Books. The meme is on tour and this month's host is Amused By Books.

I am a bit excited about my mailbox this week. I bought a couple of books that came this week in the mail. One is an old favorite and the other is probably the most talked about book of the season. I also received an audiobook unexpectedly, for review. It looks like a cute book.

The Puppy Diaries by Jill Abramson

Read by Beth MacDonald

Audio CD
Publisher: Macmillan Audio; Unabridged edition (October 11, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1427213186
ISBN-13: 978-1427213181

An instructive and marvelously entertaining chronicle of a puppy's first year, by the executive editor of The New York Times

One sparkling summer day, Jill Abramson brought home a nine-week-old golden retriever named Scout. Over the following year, as she and her husband raised their adorable new puppy, Abramson wrote a hugely popular column for The New York Times's website about the joys and challenges of training this rambunctious addition to their family. Dog-lovers from across the country inundated her with e-mails and letters, and the photos they sent in of their own dogs became the most visited photo album on the Times's site in 2009.

Now Abramson has gone far beyond the material in her column and written a detailed and deeply personal account of Scout's first year. Part memoir, part manual, part investigative report, The Puppy Diaries continues Abramson's intrepid reporting on all things canine. Along the way, she weighs in on such issues as breeders or shelters, adoption or rescue, raw diet or vegan, pack-leader gurus like Cesar Millan or positive-reinforcement advocates like Karen Pryor.

What should you expect when a new puppy enters your life? With utterly winning stories and a wealth of practical information, The Puppy Diaries provides an essential road map for navigating the first year of your dog's life.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Paperback: 960 pages
Publisher: Scribner; 75 Anv edition (May 3, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1451635621
ISBN-13: 978-1451635621

I don't think I need to post the summary for this one. This is one of my very favorite reads and I had to have the 75th Anniversary Edition. Can you hear the theme song from the movie? I hear it every time I look at this book.

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition/First Printing edition (September 13, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0385534639
ISBN-13: 978-0385534635

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway—a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors. Unbeknownst to them, this is a game in which only one can be left standing, and the circus is but the stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will. Despite themselves, however, Celia and Marco tumble headfirst into love—a deep, magical love that makes the lights flicker and the room grow warm whenever they so much as brush hands.

True love or not, the game must play out, and the fates of everyone involved, from the cast of extraordinary circus per­formers to the patrons, hang in the balance, suspended as precariously as the daring acrobats overhead.

Written in rich, seductive prose, this spell-casting novel is a feast for the senses and the heart.

This book is beautiful! I passed up an advanced copy and later was kicking myself in the rear. Now that I have a gorgeous finished copy in my hot little hands, I am glad I bought the finished copy. It is beautifully done! From what I understand, the writing is beautiful also. This is a book I can't wait to get to!

So what goodies made their way into your home?

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Next To Love by Ellen Feldmen

Next to Love by Ellen Feldman

Next To Love is the story of three women and the role World War II plays on their lives. In the beginning of the story Babe, Grace and Millie all end up sending their men off to fight World War II. The three women have to deal with the separation of war and the constant fear of receiving bad news. Babe works in the Western Union office and gets to see the news that will change peoples lives on a daily basis. We see the women dealing with their lives back home while the men are off fighting the war. Grace is a young mother and wife, while Millie is expecting her first child as their husbands leave to fight the war. All three women have been friends since childhood and stand by each other during this difficult time.

The next part of the story deals with the women and how their lives change after men come home, and the war is over. I really don't want to say too much as I want this review to be spoiler free. Let's just say the war has long lasting effects on all involved. There are losses and demons to be dealt with.

As the storyline continues, we see changes in American history that also brings changes to the three friends and their families. Reading this book made me realize how much our country changed in the time period that the book takes place, 1941-1964. I knew the Women's Movement and the Civil Rights Movement changed life as it was but never gave much thought to the technology changes during this time period. I never thought much of the correlation between all these changes and the war but after reading this book, I see now how World War II played a role in our country's changes.

The author has written this book in a way I found most unusual. Some of the time periods and chapters overlapped. It sounds confusing but as long as I read the heading on the chapter with the date, the story flowed smoothly. The story was told through the viewpoint of each of the women. I found it interesting to read about a certain event through the eyes of two different women. The way the story was told was very effective.

I enjoyed the nostalgia of this book. It took me a very different time in our history and made me understand my mother a bit more, seeing she lived through this time period herself. I enjoyed taking this journey with Babe, Grace and Millie. I highly recommend this book.

I received this book from the publisher through the Amazon Vine Program which in no way influenced my review.

Friday, September 23, 2011


Escape by Barbara Delinsky

In her luminous new novel, Barbara Delinsky explores every woman’s desire to abandon the endless obligations of work and marriage—and the idea that the most passionate romance can be found with the person you know best.

Emily Aulenbach is thirty, a lawyer married to a lawyer, working in Manhattan. An idealist, she had once dreamed of representing victims of corporate abuse, but she spends her days in a cubicle talking on the phone with vic­tims of tainted bottled water—and she is on the bottler’s side.

And it isn’t only work. It’s her sister, her friends, even her husband, James, with whom she doesn’t connect the way she used to. She doesn’t connect to much in her life, period, with the exception of three things—her computer, her BlackBerry, and her watch.

Acting on impulse, Emily leaves work early one day, goes home, packs her bag, and takes off. Groping toward the future, uncharacteristically following her gut rather than her mind, she heads north toward a New Hampshire town tucked between mountains. She knows this town. During her college years, she spent a watershed summer here. Painful as it is to return, she knows that if she is to right her life, she has to start here.

My Thoughts

I am a big Barbara Delinsky fan. When I saw her new novel was out, I knew I had to read it.

This book starts off with a bang. Emily leads a very fast moving, stressful life. One day she has decided she has had enough and just ups and walks out of her job without so much as a word. She goes home, grabs a bag and off she goes, ending up in a town where she spent a very memorable summer. Yep, just ups and leaves her husband and job. There have been times when I would love to take off and just leave all my stress and worries behind so I felt a bit of envy for Emily. The responsible person in me thought Emily was nuts but let's face it, this could make for a great story.

Then the story began to drag for me. I kept waiting for something to happen. Then I found myself thinking, "am I supposed to be feeling like Emily when she realized how quiet life can be and she was contemplating what to do with her life?" Emily kept trying to decide who she was and what she should do next but in my eyes, she wasn't trying all that hard. I began to get very frustrated with her. Then to make things more fun, the guy who stole her heart that memorable summer, strolls into town. He was another character who seemed to have no responsibilities.

The last half of the book picked up again. There is a bit of mystery that comes into play and the story picks up momentum. Emily's husband also plays a bigger role in the story.

I would say this was an okay read. It wasn't my favorite Delinsky book. It kept me interested enough to finish it. If the whole book was as intense as the beginning, it would have made for a great story.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

WWW Wednesday September 21 and Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon

It's Wednesday and time for WWW Wednesday again. Where does the time go? This year is flying by so fast. In fact, I was shocked to see it is almost time for Dewey's 24 Hour Read-a-thon. The read-a-thon is scheduled for October 22nd. Sign-up is open so go here and sign up. It is a blast! Save the date! I know I am! I never make the whole 24 hours but I still manage to have fun and get some reading done.

WWW Wednesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

Escape by Barbara Delinsky

I am reading this for online book club. I haven't gotten too far yet so I am still undecided on it. It's much too early to tell.

What did you recently finish reading?

One Summer by David Baldacci

I read almost this whole book in one sitting. It was a great beach read, even though I was not on the beach. You can read my review here.

Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel

This was an okay read for me. I have seen a few really great reviews for it though so it may be a book you may like. Here is my review.

What do you think you’ll read next?

Southern Fried Women by Pamela King Cable

Here is the summary:

Every once in a while, an author comes along who's non-traditional, unconventional, and doesn't play by all the "rules." She writes Southern fiction - her way. We've got a live one on the Southern literature scene! She can ruffle the feathers of the most stoic, mess with the beliefs of the strictest fundamentalists, and reel you into the story like a mean catfish meant for the fryer. She has woven together the music, the language, the religions, and the traditions of the South. The result is SOUTHERN FRIED WOMEN, a collection of nine short stories of Southern women, and a few men, struggling for answers to unanswered questions, hoping for forgiveness, searching for righteousness, and questioning the existence of God in their lives. No Time For Laura, Vernell Paskins-Mobile Home Queen, Punkin Head, Cry, The Homestead, Old Time Religion, Pigment Of My Imagination, Beach Babies, Coal Dust On My Feet In the spirit of the rural South, Pamela King Cable may well be next on the Southern literature scene of unforgettables. These are the stories in this collection that examine - sometimes seriously and at other times with humor - themes of forgiveness, death, love, discovery, racial conflict, faith, tragedy, innocence, destiny, guilt, and overcoming insurmountable obstacles. Set in various locations and time periods in the South, Southern Fried Women is a compelling collection of stories from Pamela King Cable, a powerful new voice in fiction. Cassandra King, author of Making Waves, The Sunday Wife, The Same Sweet Girls, says . "If you don't find yourself devouring this delicious book of stories, by Pamela King Cable, then you are not a Southern Fried Woman (or Man). After laughing and crying your way through this collection, you will eagerly await new offerings from this talented writer!"

Monday, September 19, 2011

It's Monday again! Time for another Mailbox Monday post. Mailbox Monday is the creation of Marcia from A Girl and Her Books. The meme is on tour and this month's host is Amused By Books.

It's a rainy Monday here this morning, which is a good thing. We have not had hardly any rain in the past month. My lawn will be happy again. It was looking brown and crusty.

My mailbox is very full this week. I went down to Illinois to pick up dog food and meds for the beasts and drove past Borders. There was a huge banner on the store that said "Last 3 Days!" I am sure you can see where this is going. I parked and the parking lot was pretty empty. There were a few cars but it was not hopping like usual.

I walked into see a big barren store with scatterings of bookshelves, some empty, some full. I thought this will be a quick run through, not expecting to find anything. It looked very picked over. 25 books later, I was checking out. In all fairness, 9 are for my mom. She reads every day and I found some christian fiction books for her. (I did not list those books). I didn't pay more than $2.70 a book! And after my order was totaled. The cashier took off another 15%. Then she told me to come back Friday before 3 for better deals. I resisted and did not go back. I kind of had mixed emotions. I got some really great deals but was very sad to see the store closing.

I did receive two books in my actual mailbox, one I won from Gaby at Starting Fresh. Thank you Gaby! I also ordered one that has been on my wishlist and I found on the B&N sale for $2.99. My momma raised a bargain shopper!

Take a gander and enjoy! I kind of panic when I see all these books, wondering when the heck am I gonna find time to read them all.

The Things We Share by Pam Jenoff
This was my won from Gaby. Thank you again Gaby! I love Pam Jenoff! If you haven't read any of her books, give them a try.

Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter by Tom Franklin This was on my wish list for a very long time so I was excited to see it on sale. I have seen many great reviews for this one.

I did not link the rest of these books.

My Reading Life by Pat Conroy
Daily Guideposts 2011
With Love and Laughter, John Ritter by Amy Yasbeck
Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan

Joy For Beginners by Erica Bauermeister
The Gap Year by Sarah Bird
To Be Sung Underwater by Tom McNeal
The Arrivals by Meg Mitchell Moore
The Moment by Douglas Kennedy

The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love by Beth Patillo
Charlotte Figg Takes Over Paradise by Joyce Magnin
Georgia's Kitchen by Jenny Nelson
Free to a Good Home by Eve Marie Mont
Reunion by Therese Fowler
How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly by Connie May Fowler

I just realized the last two authors have the same last name. Interesting. Have you read any of these books and if so did you like them?

So that is my mailbox. What lovely books made their way into your home?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Weekend Cooking - Big Book of Cupcakes

Presented by Southern Living Big Book of Cupcakes: 150 Brilliantly Delicious Dreamcakes by Jan Moon

Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: Oxmoor House (April 12, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0848734378
ISBN-13: 978-0848734374


It's official: The cupcake craze has taken the world by storm. No longer are cupcakes solely for children-these handheld treats now must pass muster with taste-discriminating adults equally ravenous for the little frosted jewels. Big Book of Cupcakes sets a new standard with recipes for cupcakes that actually taste as great as they look. In addition to the traditional favorite flavors everyone craves, such as red velvet and carrot cake, this book offers fun, new flavor twists like Maple Bacon and Caramel Sea Salt Mocha, as well as easy decorating and serving ideas, from classic to creative. In this book, which is organized by season and the events readers want to celebrate with home-baked cupcakes-from New Years to Christmas, birthdays to "just-craving" days-author and cupcake-bakery owner Jan Moon shares her secrets and most requested recipes. Whether you're making the perfect batch of cupcakes for a child's birthday party or satisfying a very adult comfort-food craving, the nostalgic treats that fill this book are sure to delight and surprise. Plus, Jan's creative tips on how to serve and display cupcakes for parties are sure to be crowd-pleasers.

With more than 10 years of experience honing her craft in the Test Kitchens of Southern Living magazine, Jan Moon has embarked on a venture of her own and opened a bakery in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to wedding cakes and custom made treats, Dreamcakes Bakery specializes in delectable cupcakes, and Jan's unique creations keep her loyal customers coming back for more.

About the Author
With over 10 years of experience in the Test Kitchens of Southern Living magazine, author Jan Moon has embarked on a venture of her own and opened a bakery in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to wedding cakes and custom-made treats, Dreamcakes Bakery specializes in delectable cupcakes, and Jan's unique creations keep her loyal customers coming back for more. Southern Living, launched in 1966, is the heart of southern life. Nearly 16 million people turn to the magazine each month for definitive southern recipes, travel tips, gardening guides, and home decorating inspiration. Readers in every part of the country recognize it as the authority for all things southern. They use it, keep it, and live by it.

I won this cookbook from Karen at Bookin' With Bingo. I was very excited to have won it since we are all about the cupcake craze right now. We watch Cupcake Wars all the time here. My daughter and I recently bought some pastry bags and tips and have been experimenting with icing our cupcake creations. We were thrilled when we saw all the cupcake recipes and ideas in this cookbook.

The book begins with many helpful tips on every thing from ingredients to supplies. There is quite a bit of helpful information in the Cupcake 101 chapter. The chapters following are divided into the seasons of the year. Each season has plenty of lovely recipes and decorating ideas. There is a recipe for every level of the baker in this book. Each recipe includes a full page picture of each recipe. I love that in a cookbook. The recipes and instructions are very easy to follow. There is a resource page in the back of the book also along with metric equivalent charts. This is a great cookbook with a huge variety of different cupcake and icing recipes and ideas.

We decided to try the Maple Bacon Cupcakes this morning. I love the sweet/salty thing. I know, I am weird.

We first made the butter cupcakes. It was supposed to make 24 cupcakes but mine only made 18. We even measured the batter when we filled the regular sized cupcake tins. Not sure what the deal was, but no matter. 18 cupcakes are plenty for us. The cake recipe went together without a hitch other than not making 24 cupcakes.

The bacon was cooked and cooled, the cupcakes were cooling on the counter so we moved onto the icing. I am not sure if we didn't let the cooked part of the frosting cool enough(it felt pretty cool to the touch) or if maybe it was the weather. Our frosting never set up. It was more like a glaze. I probably should have added more powdered sugar but honestly after tasting the icing, it was so sweet already that I couldn't imagine adding even more than the 1 pound of brown sugar and the 4 cups of powdered sugar already in the recipe. My only complaint with this recipe is that it calls for 1(16-oz.)package of dark brown sugar and then it calls for 4 cups of powdered sugar. I would have preferred the recipe to have the exact measurements. I don't always have ingredients in the same size package that the recipe may call for. Especially this day and age when package sizes are changing. We went ahead and just spooned the icing on each cupcake and placed the bacon on top. It kind of was a disaster but we went with it anyway.

These sound really strange but were actually very good even though they didn't exactly turn out. It reminded us of pancake, syrup and bacon. Kind of perfect for a lazy Sunday.

Even though our first try at this cookbook didn't turn out so well, we will try another recipe another day. We are thinking maybe Chai Cupcakes or maybe Mint Chocolate Chip.

I am posting the Maple Bacon recipe below. If you need 24 cupcakes be sure to double the recipe. The cake was a very good cake. I will use the butter cake recipe again. The recipe appears on page 172 of Big Book of Cupcakes. That is the picture from the cookbook. Notice how yummy they look compared to ours.

Maple Bacon Cupcake

1 recipe Butter Cake
1recipe Maple Frosting
12 cooked Bacon Slices

1.Prepare Butter Cake as directed.
2.Frost each cupcake with Maple Frosting using metal tip no. 2D. Top each with bacon.

Butter Cake

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose soft-wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla
Paper Baking Cups
Vegetable cooking spray

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2.Beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.
Add eggs,1 at a time, beating until blended after each addition.
3.Combine flour, baking powder,and salt; add to butter mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat at low speed until blended after each addition. Stir in vanilla.
4.Place paper baking cups in 2(12-cup) muffin pan, and coat with cooking spra; spoon batter into cups, filling two-thirds full.
5.Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks, and cool completely. Makes 24 cupcakes.

(If you need 24 cupcakes you should double the recipe. We only were able to make 12 good sized ones and 6 wimpy ones)

Maple Frosting

1 cup butter
1(16-oz.) package of dark brown sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
4 cups of powdered sugar
2 tsp. maple flavoring

1.Melt butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add brown sugar, bring to boil,stirring constantly. Stir in evaporated milk, baking soda,and corn syrup; bring to boil, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat,and let cool. Transfer caramel mixture to a large bowl.
2.Gradually add powdered sugar to caramel mixture; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Stir in maple flavoring. Beat at high speed or until creamy. Icing firms up quickly, so use immediately. Makes 3 cups.

Weekend Cooking is a weekly meme sponsored by Beth Fish Reads.
Weekend Cooking is a chance to share the food love. Be sure to check out all the yummy cooking posts on Beth's blog.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

One Summer

One Summer by David Baldacci

This is a great beach read to finish out the summer with.

Jack Armstrong is dying of a terminal disease. He is determined to live through Christmas so he can spend one last Christmas with his loving wife, Lizzie and his three children, Mikki, Cory, and Jackie. Jack writes a collection of letters for Lizzie, to be found after his death. Right before Christmas, Lizzie is killed in a car accident while picking up prescriptions for Jack. Lizzie's parents come to make arrangements which include putting Jack in a hospice facility and farming the boys, Cory and Jackie, out to their aunts while they take their teenage granddaughter, Mikki to Arizona. Jack is left alone to die in a strange place.

Then the unthinkable happens. Jack begins to show improvement and miraculously recovers. Some might think this is far fetched but go with it here. You'll be glad in the end you did. After a stint in rehab, he rebuilds his life and brings his children back home. They become a family once again but there are troubles to be had. Mikki is an angry teenager, Cory is having problems in school and little Jackie proves to be a handful.

When Jack inherits Lizzie's childhood home on South Carolina's beachfront, he packs up the family and moves there. Life is not much easier there. Jack revisits the letters he wrote to Lizzie to try and make sense of it all. Jack feels the need to reconnect with Lizzie any way he can.

The storyline was very fast moving and I had a hard time putting the book down. I found this book to be full the miracles of hope, love and family. There were many twists and turns in the story. Life can change on a dime and those changes can be quite unexpected.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The descriptions of the South Carolina were stunning. I could almost hear the crashing waves and feel the sand between my toes. The characters were well developed and I felt as though I knew them all, including the ones I was not fond of.

I have not read any books by David Baldacci and I understand this is not his usual type of book. I for one, am glad he broke away from his usual writings and gave us this little gem of a book.

Thursday, September 15, 2011


Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel


When Frances accepts an invitation to visit Stiltsville, a community of houses built on pilings in Biscayne Bay, she has no idea that her simple "yes" to a new friend will determine the course of her life for the next two dozen years. Set in Miami from the late '60s to the 1990s, Stiltsville is a
sweeping journey seen through the eyes of one woman as she experiences love, motherhood, friendship, hurricanes, racial tension, and finally, a tragic death in slow motion.

In her debut novel, Daniel describes the experiences of three generations in one family whose spiritual heart is centered in a modest bungalow built a few feet above the water. When Frances meets and marries Dennis, she learns to live her life on the water, from bay to ocean to everglade to bayou. She navigates through it all — infidelity, empty-nest syndrome, and debilitating illness — sometimes with grace and humor, sometimes with anger and bitterness, but always with the same people by her side.

Daniel excels in capturing the flavor and decadence of Miami as it became a multicultural hotbed. In Stiltsville, she has woven factual events
into Frances's life from a tumultuous period that witnessed racial beatings, the cocaine wars, and Hurricane Andrew. The result is a riveting novel filled with pathos.

My Thoughts

This was an okay read for me. The book begins in 1969 when Frances finds herself in Stiltsville, where she meets Dennis and falls in love with him. I was drawn to their love story immediately. The story of their lives together goes on to them marrying and having a child. They go through several ordeals as a couple and parents. The house in Stiltsville starts out almost being a character in itself. There were times I was more concerned about the house on stilts than I was about Frances and what she was going through. By the end of the book, Stiltsville no longer even plays a roll in the story. The end of the book picked up again for me and I was satisfied with the way it ended although it was an ending that required kleenex. I think I was supposed to come to the conclusion that marriage is like a house on stilts? I would give this book 3 stars. The beginning and the ending drew me in but the middle just lacked something for me. Maybe it just wasn't the book for me. Maybe it was because I didn't connect with Frances and at times I really didn't even care for her as a person. Others have given this book glowing reviews, so be sure to check them out before making your decision to read this book. Maybe it just wasn't my cup of tea. It was a decent read but not an earth shattering read.

I read this book from the public library for the Southern Belle Challenge

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

WWW Wednesdays September 14

It's Wednesday again! Today is our 26th wedding anniversary. We don't have any big plans. I am making a nice dinner. I also bought my hubby a new Farmer's Almanac. I have bought him one pretty much every year since we have been married. He enjoys following it during the year. He loves pointing out to us when it is right on with it's predictions. It does make for interesting reading. Pick one up sometime if you have never read one. They have interesting articles in them. The daughter has the day off of school so I am spending the day being a wife and mother and appreciating it. That is celebration enough for me. On to WWW Wednesday!

WWW Wednesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

Excuse the different book cover sizes. I had troubles today. The control freak in me is really having a hard time seeing the different cover sizes. I am not sure why the one cover would not enlarge.

What are you currently reading?

Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel

I started out really enjoying this but it seems to be slowing down for me. We'll see what I think of it when I get to the end. I am just having a hard time seeing where the story is going. Have you read this one?

What did you recently finish reading?

The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

I loved this book! This was my first Mary Alice Monroe book but will not be my last. Click on the title for my review. This book was full of great female characters.

What do you think you’ll read next?

One Summer by David Baldacci

I am very curious about this. I hear this is not his usual type of book.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Mailbox Monday September 12

It's Monday again! Time for another Mailbox Monday post. Mailbox Monday is the creation of Marcia from A Girl and Her Books. The meme is on tour and this month's host is Amused By Books.

That mailbox reflects how I feel today! I am glad that summer is on it's way out, for the most part. It has been a hot summer here. We don't have air conditioning. We have just never really needed it here before. Heat waves were short and sweet. Not this year. It has been a miserable one. Today should be our last hot day for some time. I am looking forward to the cooler temps, my favorite sweats coming out of hiding and drinking hot tea. I bought some loose herbal teas at our harbor market this summer and I am anxious to try them out with a good book in hand. I am sure at some point I will miss summer. Probably when I am shoveling snow. Although there were several times this summer, I wished for a snow bank to jump into. This winter, I'll be hoping for some warm weather to melt that snow bank. It's vicious circle.

I received one book this past week for review. It looks very interesting.

The Train of Small Mercies by David Rowell

Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Putnam Adult (October 13, 2011)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 039915728X
ISBN-13: 978-0399157288

In haunting and crystalline prose, The Train of Small Mercies follows six characters' intrepid search for hope among the debris of an American tragedy.

In New York, a young black porter struggles through his first day on the job-a staggering assignment aboard Robert F. Kennedy's funeral train. In Pennsylvania, a woman creates a tangle of lies to sneak away from her disapproving husband and pay her respects to the slain senator, dragging her child with her. In Maryland, a wounded young soldier awaits a newspaper interview that his parents hope will restore his damaged self-esteem. And in Washington, an Irish nanny in town to interview with the Kennedy family must reconcile the lost opportunity and the chance to start her life anew.

In this stunning debut, David Rowell depicts disparate lives united by an extraordinary commemoration, irrevocably changed as Kennedy's funeral train makes its solemn journey from New York to Washington.

I received this book from Putnam Books

What wonderful books made their way into your home?

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Today marks a day which changed all of our lives. I find it hard to believe it has been 10 years. I remember that day so vividly. I walked my two youngest kids to the bus stop and came home to Good Morning America on the tv. I always left the tv on when I walked the kids to the bus. I saw the tower on fire and then heard them say it was believed to be plane had crashed into it. It had just happened and there was much confusion. I figured it had to be a small plane and an accident. I phoned my mother as I did every morning at that time while watching the next plane crash into the other tower. That was the moment I knew our lives had changed. I knew it was not an accident. My eyes were glued to the tv all day. I struggled with the decision of leaving my kids at school or bringing them home. I chose to leave them at school so they could have a few more hours of innocence. Being in grade school, I knew my youngest kids were not told much of what transpired. My oldest son was 14 and in high school. His school was a fairly new charter school. They made an announcement. He really didn't understand the magnitude of what had happened until he was home.

That night was surreal. I couldn't help thinking while fixing dinner that night, of the families who would not be together due to this act of terrorism. My heart ached for them. The night was very quiet. We have a busy road that runs behind us and there was not a car on it. The skies were quiet as all airplanes were grounded. In the middle of the night I heard fighter jets flying overhead. Apparently, they were being moved to other locations. I remember feeling very uneasy hearing those jets.

Life changed for all of us that day. Some more than others. Some would never hold their loved ones again. To those people, our hearts go out to you. You do not mourn alone. We mourn with you. We will never forget!

I am editing this post to add this book. I read this long before I knew what a book blog was. I read this when it first showed up in my local library. It is a wonderful, heartwarming side to that fateful day. I highly recommend it.

The Day the World Came to Town: 9/11 in Gander, Newfoundland by Jim DeFede

"For the better part of a week, nearly every man, woman, and child in Gander and the surrounding smaller towns stopped what they were doing so they could help. They placed their lives on hold for a group of strangers and asked for nothing in return. They affirmed the basic goodness of man at a time when it was easy to doubt such humanity still existed."

When thirty-eight jetliners bound for the United States were forced to land in Gander, Newfoundland, on September 11, 2001, due to the closing of United States airspace, the citizens of this small community were called upon to come to the aid of more than six thousand displaced travelers.

Roxanne and Clarke Loper were excited to be on their way home from a lengthy and exhausting trip to Kazakhstan, where they had adopted a daughter, when their plane suddenly changed course and they found themselves in Newfoundland. Hannah and Dennis O'Rourke, who had been on vacation in Ireland, were forced to receive updates by telephone on the search for their son Kevin, who was among the firefighters missing at the World Trade Center. George Vitale, a New York state trooper and head of the governor's security detail in New York City who was returning from a trip to Dublin, struggled to locate his sister Patty, who worked in the Twin Towers. A family of Russian immigrants, on their way to the Seattle area to begin a new life, dealt with the uncertainty of conditions in their future home.

The people of Gander were asked to aid and care for these distraught travelers, as well as for thousands more, and their response was truly extraordinary. Oz Fudge, the town constable, searched all over Gander for a flight-crew member so that he could give her a hug as a favor to her sister, a fellow law enforcement officer who managed to reach him by phone. Eithne Smith, an elementary-school teacher, helped the passengers staying at her school put together letters to family members all over the world, which she then faxed. Bonnie Harris, Vi Tucker, and Linda Humby, members of a local animal protection agency, crawled into the jets' cargo holds to feed and care for all of the animals on the flights. Hundreds of people put their names on a list to take passengers into their homes and give them a chance to get cleaned up and relax.

The Day the World Came to Town is a positively heartwarming account of the citizens of Gander and its surrounding communities and the unexpected guests who were welcomed with exemplary kindness.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Butterfly's Daughter

The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe


Four very different women embark on a transformational journey that follows the migrating monarchs across the United States to Mexico. The story begins when Luz Avila's grandmother, the local butterfly lady, purchases an old, orange VW bug for a road trip home to Mexico. When she unexpectedly dies, Luz is inspired to take her grandmother's ashes home. In the manner of the Aztec myth of the goddess who brings light to the world, Luz attracts a collection of lost women, each seeking change in their lives. The Mexican people believe the monarchs are the spirits of the recently departed and Luz taps into ancient rituals and myths as she follows the spectacular, glittering river of orange monarchs in the sky to home.

My Thoughts

I started reading this book just as the monarch butterflies were showing up in my yard. It was perfect timing to read this book. Each chapter begins with a tidbit about the monarch butterflies life and journey to their winter home in Mexico. I found it very interesting as I watched the butterflies make a quick stop in my yard on what I imagine is part of that journey.

At the same time Luz, the main character, is on a journey which coincides with the monarch butterflies journey. She is taking her grandmother's ashes to home in Mexico, which is where the butterflies are also heading. Luz meets some interesting characters along the way. Each plays a roll in Luz's growth and journey along the way as do the butterflies.

I enjoyed this book and found the journey of the butterflies and Luz beautifully written. This was my first Mary Alice Monroe novel but won't be my last. She captured my attention with her wonderful details and great characters.

As an added note, the book is also a bargain book on Amazon right now.

I received this book from Gallery Books through Goodreads First Reads Giveaway

Friday, September 9, 2011

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer - Audiobook Review

Only Time Will Tell by Jeffrey Archer


From the internationally bestselling author of Kane and Abel and A Prisoner of Birth comes Only Time Will Tell, the first in an ambitious new series that tells the story of one family across generations, across oceans, from heartbreak to triumph.

The epic tale of Harry Clifton’s life begins in 1920, with the words “I was told that my father was killed in the war.” A dock worker in Bristol, Harry never knew his father, but he learns about life on the docks from his uncle, who expects Harry to join him at the shipyard once he’s left school. But then an unexpected gift wins him a scholarship to an exclusive boys’ school, and his life will never be the same again.

As he enters into adulthood, Harry finally learns how his father really died, but the awful truth only leads him to question, was he even his father? Is he the son of Arthur Clifton, a stevedore who spent his whole life on the docks, or the firstborn son of a scion of West Country society, whose family owns a shipping line?

This introductory novel in Archer’s ambitious series The Clifton Chronicles includes a cast of colorful characters and takes us from the ravages of the Great War to the outbreak of the Second World War, when Harry must decide whether to take up a place at Oxford or join the navy and go to war with Hitler’s Germany. From the docks of working-class England to the bustling streets of 1940 New York City, Only Time Will Tell takes readers on a journey through to future volumes, which will bring to life one hundred years of recent history to reveal a family story that neither the reader nor Harry Clifton himself could ever have imagined.

My Thoughts

I was reading this book and was given the opportunity to review the audiobook also. I have been trying to get into audiobooks but have been struggling with it. I was enjoying reading this book so I hoped that the audio version would keep my attention as well. It really worked out well since this was a book that I found hard to put down. I could listen to the audiobook as I did housework or drove in my car. It worked out well. The book is read by Roger Allam and Emelia Fox who both did a wonderful job. The audiobook also includes a bonus interview with Jeffrey Archer, which I found very interesting.

I really loved this book and am looking forward to the rest of the series. I would recommend both the print version and audio version. Below is my review of the print version in case you missed it last month.

Book Review

I have never read a book written by Jeffrey Archer before. After reading this book I will be looking out for more of his books. What an amazing storyteller!

Only Time Will Tell tells the story of two families, the Barringtons, a well to do family and the Cliftons, a struggling family. The Barringtons are shipping magnates while the Cliftons are hard working people. Young Harry Clifton's mother, Maisie is a waitress while his uncle is a dock worker as was his father. Young Harry believes his father died in the war. Maisie will do what she needs to do to get her son the type of education he needs to break the cycle. Harry has a phenomenal voice which just may be his ticket to a good school. When Harry goes off to school he meets Giles Barrington and the two become fast friends. The two boys become connected without realizing they may have always been connected. As Harry learns the truth about his father, the world is getting closer to being at war and decisions are made which will affect them all.

Each chapter is told from the viewpoint of another character. I found this extremely interesting even though some of the same storyline was retold. It gave me a different look at the situation as it happened. Seeing the same situation through the eyes of another can be quite eye-opening.

The characters are well developed. I felt I knew each character very well. The author does a fantastic job creating each character's personality. Each character seems to be harboring some sort of secret by the time this book ends. Some of the characters are not very likeable but make for great reading. Every saga needs a good villain or two. Other characters such as Maisie and Harry will capture your heart. You can't help but feel for Harry and Maisie. I kept hoping life would get easier for them.

The book ends with a huge cliffhanger that has me dying to get my hands on the next installment of this series. I find myself wondering what will happen to each of the characters in the book. This book ends with many unanswered questions but I knew going into this book it was a series spanning many years and many generations. I adore a good family saga and this one does not disappoint! I loved all the unexpected twists. I can't wait to see where Mr. Archer plans on taking this storyline next! He has made me a big fan! I just hope we don't have to wait too long for the next book! I know I'll be reading all installments of The Clifton Chronicles. You don't want to miss this series!

I was given both the print and audiobook in return for my honest opinion. Thank you to Macmillan Audio and St Martin's Press.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

WWW Wednesday September 7

This week is just flying by! I haven't posted WWW Wednesday for awhile. It feels good to get back into the swing of things.

WWW Wednesday is hosted by MizB at Should Be Reading.

To play along, just answer the following three questions…
• What are you currently reading?
• What did you recently finish reading?
• What do you think you’ll read next?

What are you currently reading?

The Butterfly's Daughter by Mary Alice Monroe

I am loving this book! Each chapter begins with a fact on monarch butterflies. It's really very interesting, especially since I have seen a few monarchs in my yard this past week. It is also on sale at Amazon right now!

What did you recently finish reading?
The Art of Forgetting by Camille Noe Pagan

This book was a pleasant surprise for me. You can read my review here.

What do you think you’ll read next?
Stiltsville by Susanna Daniel

I really need to get this read and back to the library. It also is on sale right now at Amazon.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Mailbox Monday September 5

It's Monday again! Time for another Mailbox Monday post. Mailbox Monday is the creation of Marcia from A Girl and Her Books. The meme is on tour and this month's host is Amused By Books.

I have been MIA lately in the blogging world. School started Thursday here. I always feel the need to organize and purge things when school starts. I cleaned out a closet and painted it. In the middle of a heat wave! Not smart! Hopefully things will get back to normal and I'll get some posting and blog hopping done. I'm hoping to settle into a routine this week. The heat is gone and it is 52 this morning! Everyone is complaining but not me! I think it feels good! I have had enough of heat this summer. I am ready to curl up with some hot tea and a good book!

This weeks mailbox is obnoxious. I hit Borders a week or so ago and haven't posted my finds there. The day I went the deals were not as great as they are now. Our store is in it's final 10 days now. It is so sad in the store. The employees are sad and who can blame them. There were quite a few employees there that I could always go to for suggestions or assistance. I will miss going there.

First up are my review books.

Ingenue by Jillian Larkin

Forever by Maggie Stiefvater

These both came courtesy of the publishers(scholastic Press and Delacorte Press)through Amazon Vine. I have seen so many great reviews for both of these YA series so I decided to give both series a try.

The Winters in Bloom by Lisa Tucker

I received this book courtesy of Atria's Galley Alley.

The following books are my Borders treasures.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Easy Slow Cooker Recipes by cookbook resources

Deep Down True by Juliette Fay
Life Sentences by Laura Lippman
The Little Giant of Aberdeen County by Tiffany Baker
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Vixen by Jillian Larkin
The Christmas Cookie Club by Ann Pearlman

This book I pre-ordered and it came this week. I found Angie's blog awhile back. She is a writer and speaker who inspires me to be a better person. I adored her first book, I Will Carry You so I knew I had to read her new book as well.

What Women Fear: Walking in Faith that Transforms by Angie Smith

Whew! That is what came into my home recently. What wonderful books made their way into your home?