Friday, January 29, 2010

Winter Garden

Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Synopsis(courtesy of Barnes and Noble)

From the author of the smash-hit bestseller Firefly Lane and True Colors comes a powerful, heartbreaking novel that illuminates the intricate mother-daughter bond and explores the enduring links between the present and the past.

Meredith and Nina Whitson are as different as sisters can be. One stayed at home to raise her children and manage the family apple orchard: the other followed a dream and traveled the world to become a famous photojournalist. But when their beloved father fails ill, Meredith and Nina find themselves together again, standing alongside their cold, disapproving mother, Anya, who even now, offers no comfort to her daughters. As children, the only connection between them was the Russian fairy tale Anya sometimes told the girls at night. On his deathbed, their father extracts a promise from the women in his life: the fairy tale will be told one last time - and all the way to the end. Thus begins an unexpected journey into the truth of Anya's life in war-torn Leningrad, more than five decades ago. Alternating between the past and present, Meredith and Nina will finally hear the singular, harrowing story of their mother's life, and what they learn is a secret so terrible and terrifying that it will shake the very foundation of their family and change who they believe they are.

My thoughts

Great book about two sisters who grow up thinking their mother hates them. When their father passes they promise him that they will take care of their mother and make her tell them a childhood fairy tale that she has kept to herself for many years. In doing so they learn who their mother is and much about the women they have become. I had very little sympathy for Anya, the mother in the beginning until she tells her story. As the story progressed she became my favorite character. Another hard to put down novel! Kleenex necessary! Another touching story from Kristin Hannah!

I received my ARC copy of this book through the Early Reviewers Program at Librarything. Thank you to Librarything and St. Martins Press.


Thank you to Vicki @ Reading At The Beach for this award! These awards tickle me because it means someone reads my blog and they like me!

Here are the rules for the award

1. Every winner of the Prolific Blogger Award has to pass on this award to at least seven other deserving prolific bloggers. Spread some love!

2. Each Prolific Blogger must link to the blog from which he/she has received the award.

3. Every Prolific Blogger must link back to This Post, which explains the origins and motivation for the award.

4. Every Prolific Blogger must visit this post and add his/her name in the Mr. Linky, so that we all can get to know the other winners. (Click here for the Mr. Linky page.)

I am passing this lovely award to the following seven bloggers who I enjoy reading their blogs.

1. Chocolate & Croissants
2. Book Chatter
3. Bookmagic
4. One Person's Journey Through a World of Books
5. Books Love Jessica Marie
6. My Life In Not So Many Words
7. CMash Loves to Read

Enjoy your award and thank you again to Vicki for thinking of me and my little old blog!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Eternal On The Water

Eternal On The Water by Joseph Monninger

Synopsis (borrowed from Barnes and Noble)

From the day Cobb and Mary meet kayaking on Maine's Allagash River and fall deeply in love, the two approach life with the same sense of adventure they use to conquer the river's treacherous rapids. But rivers do not let go so easily...and neither does their love. So when Mary's life takes the cruelest turn, she vows to face those rough waters on her own terms and asks Cobb to promise, when the time comes, to help her return to their beloved river for one final journey.

Set against the rugged wilderness of Maine, the exotic islands of Indonesia, the sweeping panoramas of Yellowstone National Park, and the tranquil villages of rural New England, Eternal on the Water is at once heartbreaking and uplifting — a timeless, beautifully rendered story of true love's power.

My thoughts

From page one this book took me in and really held me. At first I was a little leary thinking it was going to be a very depressing book. Boy was I wrong! Mary, one of the main characters is found dead in the Allagash River. I wanted to know why. I like how Joseph Monninger gave us the ending right off the bat and then took us back through the whole story of how Mary met Jonathan Cobb and how they came to be a couple. The story just flows wonderfully just like the river which plays an important role in the book. The book comes full circle with the ending. It's very hard to write this review and not give too much away. Trust me this is one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever read. I found it both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Eternal On The Water is an emotional read that one really needs to experience for themselves. It's very hard to describe but this book is still very much in my thoughts and I finished it over a week ago. I highly recommend this book. I enjoyed Joseph Monninger style of writing very much. It was easy to read but there was a lot of depth to his writing. It was just beautiful.

(I received this ARC copy courtesy of Barnes and Noble First Look Book Club.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mailbox Monday January 25

Mailbox Monday is a favorite meme hosted by Marcia over at The Printed Page. Here is her explanation of Mailbox Monday: "Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came into their house last week (checked out library books don’t count, eBooks & audio books do). Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles and humongous wish lists." Yes it does lead to toppling TBR piles! I am living proof of that! Go on over to The Printed Page and play along! It's quite fun!

I had a slow week this week which I was very thankful for! I need to get caught up on my reading!

First off is The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes From An Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond. Have you ever gone to The Pioneer Woman's Blog? If you haven't you need to go right now! The recipes are to die for! I have been waiting for this cookbook for quite a while. I ordered it and it was back ordered. Yep it's that good that it was sold out! I waited for a month for it! It was worth the wait! I made Buttermilk Biscuits yesterday from the cookbook. They were yummy. Unfortunately they didn't last long enough for a photo. I have made recipes from her blog. I highly recommend Marlboro Man's Favorite Sandwich and the Crash Hot Potatoes! Both are much loved in this house! Check out her cookbook and the blog!

Next up is Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah. I love the cover on this book. There is a butterfly in a wintry scene. Kind of intriguing if you ask me. I won this from Librarything Early Readers in November. It too took awhile getting here but so far is worth the wait.

What books made their way into your home?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Mailbox Monday January 18

Mailbox Monday is hosted by the lovely Marcia over at The Printed Page. It's a fun meme where we post the wonderful books that have made their way into our homes over the past week.

I was very bad this week again. I hit the Barnes and Noble sale online and then hit the library sale shelves also plus I received a couple of review books.

From the library sale shelves:

1. The Runaway Jury by John Grisham (for my daughter who is on a Law and Order, CSI kick)
2. Train From Marietta by Dortothy Garlock
3. Chopping Spree by Diane Mott Davidson
4. Sticks and Scones by Diane Mott Davidson

From Barnes and Noble and the sale rack at Borders:

1. The Widow of the South by Robert Hicks(audiobook)
2. The Sweet Life by Lynn York
3. Pieces Of The Heart by Karen White
4. Mistress of Mellyn by Victoria Holt
5. Same Sweet Girls by Cassandra King
6. Mudbound by Hillary Jordan
7. Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall and Denver Moore
8. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova
9. The Girl On Legare Street by Karen White (bought used)

For Review:

1. Where The God of Love Hangs Out by Amy Bloom (a goodreads win- thanks to goodreads and Random House)
2. Fireworks Over Toccoa by Jeffrey Stepakoff (Thank you St Martins Press through Shelf Awareness)

What wonderful books made their way into your home?

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Small Kingdoms

Summary (borrowed from Goodreads)

Set in Kuwait during the ominous
years between the two Gulf Wars,
Small Kingdoms traces the intersecting
lives of five people—rich and poor,
native and foreigner, Muslim, Christian,
and non-believer—when they discover
that a teenaged Indian housemaid is
being brutally abused by her employer.

Tensions are high. Just miles away in
Iraq, Saddam Hussein is threatening a
second invasion of this tiny desert
kingdom, which he destroyed six years
before, in 1990. Even without a war on
the horizon, rescuing a maid employed
in a private home is a sticky matter in
this rigid, class-conscious society, where
the rich protect their own; and any intervention
involves great personal risk.

Emmanuella, an impoverished cook
from India, risks losing her job and thus
her ability to support her family back
home. Kit, the young wife of an American
businessman in the Gulf, could face
grave damage to her marriage. Mufeeda,
an upper-class Kuwaiti woman, must
buck the powerful status quo of her
family and her class, as well as her own

And there’s Hanaan, a rebellious
young Arab woman who may have as
much to lose as the desperate maid.
Having fallen in love with Theo, an
American doctor working in the country,
she has already faced violent retribution
from her family. How much more violence
lies ahead she doesn’t know. Stubborn,
charismatic, and dismissive of her
society’s strict codes of behavior for
unmarried women, she will step forward
to help the captive maid.

An Upstairs/Downstairs of the Arab
world, Small Kingdoms tells the intimate
story of ordinary people facing an extraordinary
test in the face of another war.

My thoughts

I was really looking forward to reading this book. It seemed like something different than my usual reads. I don't know much about Kuwait or it's people so I was looking forward to learning a little about the culture. The story starts off slowly and there are many characters to keep track of. I tried to connect with the characters but found myself caring less about what happened to them as the story went on. It made it harder to pick the book back up after setting it down. I can't say I hated this book because I did learn some things. If you like political/social fiction you probably will enjoy this book. I think it just wasn't the book for me. I'm curious what others who read it thought of it.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Mailbox Monday January 11

I know it's Tuesday but my Monday was...well it was a Monday! So I am behind but wanted to share what I got last week anyway. Better late than never, right? If you are not familiar with Mailbox Monday it is a meme hosted by the lovely Marcia at The Printed Page. We share with each other what wonderful books we received. Check out Marcia's blog and play along.

1. Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

I received this copy from Beth(Thank You Beth!). If you get a chance get out and grab a copy of this book today. It is being released today and it is a wonderful book! You won't regret it!

2. Eternal on the Water by Joseph Monninger

I received this book from the Barnes and Noble First Look Book Club.

3. Mennonite in a Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen

I won this book from Marcia at The Printed Page. (Thank You Marcia!)

This set of books made their way home with me from the Barnes and Noble book sale.

1. Summer of my German Soldier by Bette Green
2. The Ladies Of Grace Adieu by Susanna Clarke
3. Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier
4. Sundays at Tiffany's by James Patterson
5. A Change In Altitude by Anita Shreve

What wonderful books made their way into your home?

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Wondrous Words Wednesday

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a fun meme hosted by Kathy at Bermudaonion's Weblog where we post new to us words and meanings found while reading. I haven't had any new words in awhile. I guess I've been reading easy books. I have only read one chapter in this book and I have four words already. The words I found were from Small Kingdoms by Anastasia Hobbet.

biryani–(noun) a spicy Indian dish of rice with meat or vegetables, flavored with saffron or turmeric.

pg.9 -Yes, a pot hitting the kitchen floor, a big pot, which could only mean the biryani.

inshallah-if Allah wills : God willing

pg.13- Mufeeda said with a quiet confidence, "With your guidance all will be well, inshallah."

corollary-1. Mathematics. a proposition that is incidentally proved in proving another proposition.
2. an immediate consequence or easily drawn conclusion.
3. a natural consequence or result.

pg.13-Umm Saleh took this as confirmation of her original appraisal of the girl as a fool, the collary being that Mufeeda had been a fool to hire her.

pakora-is a fried snack found across South Asia.[1] Pakoras are created by taking one or two ingredients, such as chicken, onion, eggplant, potato, spinach, cauliflower, tomato or chilli, dipping them in a batter of gram flour and then deep-frying them.

pg. 13-Mufeeda directed Emmanuella to bring the pakoras from the freezer and bent to the task of scooping the biryani into the dustbin with a serving spoon, tasting its delicate complexity in the very steam.

I think I'll be learning quite a few new to me words reading this book. What new words did you find this week? Be sure to play along!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt

Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman

Synopsis(borrowed from B&N)

Steel Magnolias meets The Help in this Southern debut novel sparkling with humor, heart, and feminine wisdom

Twelve-year-old CeeCee Honeycutt is in trouble. For years, she has been the caretaker of her psychotic mother, Camille-the tiara-toting, lipstick-smeared laughingstock of an entire town-a woman trapped in her long-ago moment of glory as the 1951 Vidalia Onion Queen. But when Camille is hit by a truck and killed, CeeCee is left to fend for herself. To the rescue comes her previously unknown great-aunt, Tootie Caldwell.

In her vintage Packard convertible, Tootie whisks CeeCee away to Savannah's perfumed world of prosperity and Southern eccentricity, a world that seems to be run entirely by women. From the exotic Miz Thelma Rae Goodpepper, who bathes in her backyard bathtub and uses garden slugs as her secret weapons, to Tootie's all-knowing housekeeper, Oletta Jones, to Violene Hobbs, who entertains a local police officer in her canary-yellow peignoir, the women of Gaston Street keep CeeCee entertained and enthralled for an entire summer.

Laugh-out-loud funny, Beth Hoffman's charming debut novel, which Mary Kay Andrews calls "charming, disarming, sweet as the scent of magnolias on a Southern summer night," hums with wacky humor and down-home heart. It is a novel that explores the indomitable strengths of female friendship and gives us the story of a young girl who loses one mother and finds many others.

My thoughts

This is a great Southern coming of age story about CeeCee Honeycutt, who you just can't help but fall in love with. After her mother's death she is sent to live with her Aunt Tootie in Savannah where she meets a host of amazing strong women who play very different but important roles in her life. Beth Hoffman's descriptions of Savannah are beautiful and I felt as though I were right there. She describes everything from the architecture to the gardens perfectly. I laughed at the shenanigans that take place in the book and I was deeply touched by the love and tenderness of the characters. I especially loved Mrs. Odell and Oletta. I laughed and cried several times reading this book. It really stirs up emotions. I was truly sad to see the book end even though the characters will stay in my heart for a long time. Beth Hoffman has a wonderful storytelling gift and I can't wait to read more from her in the future.

When I first saw this book on a blog(sorry I can't remember who's it was), I knew I had to read this book and I knew I would love it! I went right over to Amazon and put it on my wish list. A short time later I received an email from Beth Hoffman offering me a copy. I was thrilled beyond words! I knew I wanted it to be my first read of the New Year. What a way to start my reading for the year! Oh, my, my! This book is a must read! Thank you to Beth Hoffman for offering me an advanced copy and for writing one of the best books I have read in a long time! In case you can't tell I adored this book!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Mailbox Monday January 4

Mailbox Monday is a fun meme where you can share the wonderful books you received during the week. It is hosted by Marcia over at The Printed Page. Check it out and play along. Just a warning though, it leads to very large to be read lists as you learn about all the interesting books others have received.

My Mailbox has been very empty lately until this past week.

Summerhouse by Jude Deveraux
Synopsis (borrowed from B&N)

Three best friends, all turning forty, celebrate at a summerhouse in Maine -- and take stock of their lives, loves, and choices. A mysterious "Madame Zoya" now arrives, offering them a chance to relive any three weeks from the past.

I received this book from a friend who just loved it. Thank you Lisa!

Letter To My Daughter by George Bishop
Synopsis(borrowed from B&N)

Dear Elizabeth,
It’s early morning and I’m sitting here wondering where you are, hoping you’re all right.

A fight, ended by a slap, sends Elizabeth out the door of her Baton Rouge home on the eve of her fifteenth birthday. Her mother, Laura, is left to fret and worry—and remember. Wracked with guilt as she awaits Liz’s return, Laura begins a letter to her daughter, hoping to convey “everything I’ve always meant to tell you but never have.”

In her painfully candid confession, Laura shares memories of her own troubled adolescence in rural Louisiana, growing up in an intensely conservative household. She recounts her relationship with a boy she loved despite her parents’ disapproval, the fateful events that led to her being sent away to a strict Catholic boarding school, the personal tragedy brought upon her by the Vietnam War, and, finally, the meaning of the enigmatic tattoo below her right hip.

Absorbing and affirming, George Bishop’s magnificent debut brilliantly captures a sense of time and place with a distinct and inviting voice. Letter to My Daughter is a heartwrenching novel of mothers, daughters, and the lessons we all learn when we come of age.

I received this book courtesy of Random House. Thank you Random House!

One Amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni
Synopsis(borrowed from B&N)

"Divakaruni is a brilliant storyteller; she illuminates the world with her artistry; and shakes the reader with her love."
--Junot Diaz

Late afternoon sun sneaks through the windows of a passport and visa office in an unnamed American city. Most customers and even most office workers have come and gone, but nine people remain. A punky teenager with an unexpected gift. An upper-class Caucasian couple whose relationship is disintegrating. A young Muslim-American man struggling with the fallout of 9/11. A graduate student haunted by a question about love. An African-American ex-soldier searching for redemption. A Chinese grandmother with a secret past. And two visa office workers on the verge of an adulterous affair.

When an earthquake rips through the afternoon lull, trapping these nine characters together, their focus first jolts to their collective struggle to survive. There's little food. The office begins to flood. Then, at a moment when the psychological and emotional stress seems nearly too much for them to bear, the young graduate student suggests that each tell a personal tale, "one amazing thing" from their lives, which they have never told anyone before. And as their surprising stories of romance, marriage, family, political upheaval, and self- discovery unfold against the urgency of their life-or-death circumstances, the novel proves the transcendent power of stories and the meaningfulness of human expression itself. From Chitra Divakaruni, author of such finely wrought, bestselling novels as Sister of My Heart, The Palace of Illusions, and The Mistress of Spices, comes her most compelling and transporting story to date. One Amazing Thing is a passionate creation about survival-and about the reasons to survive.

This book came courtesy of Voice through Shelf Awareness and came with a lovely little Reader's Guide with discussion questions.

What wonderful books made their way to your home?